The Free Analysis page Leans were 3-1 in week 14 and are 87-60-2 for the season. The sides with a 4 points or more differential from the line (i.e. the Leans) were 3-1 and are now 58-52-1 on the season. The totals Leans were 0-0 in week 14 and still 29-8-1 for the season.


The record of the Free Analysis sides was 8-2 ATS in week 14 and are now 280-287-9 for the season. The totals were 5-5 in week 14 and are now 291-255-7 for the season.


In the 2021 season the Free Analysis sides were just 274-256-6 on all games, but were a very profitable 82-56-2 on differences of 4 points or more (i.e. the leans) while totals were 270-274-3.


The record on all Free Analysis sides is now 2618-2399-88 ATS since 2013, which is very good picking nearly every game over 9-plus years. The Free Analysis sides in which my predicted margin was 4 points or more away from the line (i.e Leans) are a profitable 827-694-30. Totals on the Free pages are now 2368-2286-40 in the 8-plus seasons I’ve been tracking them. I used to track totals with differences from the line of 6 points or more but those fell below the break-even of 52.4% last season and I now choose selected Leans on totals, which I think will perform better (and certainly did this season at 29-8-1).


The spreads posted are the consensus lines at the time I posted each analysis.

College Bowl Games

Wisconsin vs
Oklahoma St.

Tue, Dec 27 7:15 PM PT

Rotation: 243, Odds: Oklahoma St. +3.5, Total: 43

Game Analysis view matchup stats

Create an account to get analysis and updates sent to your inbox.

1-Star Best Bet – *Over (43) – Wisconsin (-3.5)  28   Oklahoma State  23

The total on this game opened at 48.5 points and dropped 5 points when Oklahoma State’s Spencer Sanders announced that he was entering the transfer portal. I have Sanders valued at just 3.3 points to the total, which may be too much, and Wisconsin not having their starting quarterback is worth 1.8 points, although there is a chance that his backup could be an upgrade given Mertz’ sub-par 57.3% completion percentage. However, there are a lot of defensive losses for both teams that don’t appear to be factored into the total on this game.

Oklahoma State’s offense was just average with Sanders at quarterback from a compensated yards per play perspective, but the Cowboys fast-paced attack led to 79 plays per game and over 400 yards per game in total offense. Backup quarterbacks Garret Rangel (the likely starter) and Gunnar Gundy combined for just 5.1 yards per pass play on 110 pass plays against FCS teams. However, Rangel was 0.4 yards per pass play better than average in his week 10 start against Kansas (7.0 yppp against a KU defense that would allow 6.6 yppp on the road to an average QB), which is 0.1 yppp better than Sanders’ season rating. Rangel’s other start was the season finale, which was played in steady mid-teens wind and rain throughout the game (mostly heavy rain), so his horrible 3.4 yards per pass play in that game can be explained. Afterall, West Virginia’s quarterback Greene averaged an even worse 2.8 yppp in that game and he was average this season otherwise. I think Rangel is more likely to play like he did against Kansas, when he completed 68% of his passes, than he did in horrendous passing conditions in his other start. This game is being played with the roof closed at Chase Field, so the conditions will be perfect. I’ve never been a fan of Sanders, who over his 3 seasons was the worst passing quarterback that coach Gundy has had in his 18 seasons, and this season was his worst at just 57.6% completions and 6.3 yards per pass play. To be conservative, I made Rangel 0.6 yppp worse than Sanders, with a higher interception percentage, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Rangel performs better than Sanders given every quarterback that Gundy has had is better than Sanders.

There’s a chance that the Cowboys’ #3 receiver Bryson Green may not play due to injury and Green averaged 8.85 yards per target this season. However, Jaden Bray, Langston Anderson, and Braylin Pressley have all transferred and those 3 combined for just 3.73 YPT on 40 targets and not having them would cancel out not having Green, who I’ll assume is out for now and would be a plus if he plays.

Sanders’ value as a runner is worth more than his mediocre passing, as his 486 yards on 89 runs (5.5 yprp) isn’t going to be replaced by Rangel, who is clearly not a runner based on his two starts. However, the Cowboys’ running backs are better without Dominic Richardson, whose pathetic 3.6 ypr is much worse than the rest of the backs, who combined for 4.7 ypr. Ollie Gordon got the start in the season finale against a better than average West Virginia run defense and ran for 136 yards on 17 runs, which is even more impressive given that his longest run was just 24 yards. The improvement in the running backs balances out the loss of Sanders’ running and is worth +1.2 points to the total.

Wisconsin’s defense was 0.9 yppl better than average this season, allowing just 4.8 yppl (against teams that would average 5.7 yppl) and 20.5 points per game but that unit has been hit with 3 defections (NT Burton, LB Herbig, and CB Shaw) who have all opted out to prepare for the NFL draft. Those 3 combined for 11 sacks, 15.5 additional tackles for loss and 11 passes defended and they are worth a combined 3.5 points to the Badgers’ defense, which is more than the negative adjustment I made to the Cowboys’ offense.

Wisconsin’s offense was 0.4 yppl better than average this season and Mertz was 0.6 yppp better than average despite his sub-par 57.3% completion percentage. I don’t think Mertz will be tough to replace, but I’ll assume that his backups will be 0.6 yppp worse, which is the average for a backup quarterback. Wisconsin’s rush attack also was downgraded due to Isaac Guerendo transferring out. The Badgers still have star Braelon Allen (5.4 ypr) but no Guerendo (385 yards at 6.0 ypr) means more of Chez Mellusi (4.1 ypr) and that difference is worth 1.5 points when combined with the transfer of starting center Joe Tippman. Overall, the Badgers offense was downgraded 3.5 points in this game.

Oklahoma State was just 0.2 yppl better than average defensively in the regular season and the Cowboys have had a lot of defections on that side of the ball too. Defensive end Tyler Lacy has opted out while DE Trace Ford has decided to transfer. Leading tackler Mason Cobb (96 tackles, including 13 TFL) has also hit the transfer portal and those 4 players have combined for 6 sacks, 26.5 total tackles for loss and 9 passes defended (Lacy batted down 6 passes at the line of scrimmage). I value those players at 1.6 points towards the total.

My model would have predicted 49.7 total points in this game before any player or scoring conditions adjustments were made and a compensated points model (excluding overtime points) projects 54.2 total points. The defensive adjustments are about the same as the offensive adjustments, and this game is being played in a dome, which adds 3.4 points (versus average weather conditions) given the projected pace of this game. My math projects 53.3 total points and I’d still project 48.0 total points in this game if I assume that the opening total of 48.5 points was the fair line before the opt outs were announced.

It seems to me that the market has reacted to the offensive defections (I value at -5.6 points) and not at all for all the defensive starters that won’t be playing in this game, which I value at 5.1 points. I don’t recall a bowl game being played in a domed stadium ever having a total this low and an argument can be made that the backup quarterbacks for each team are at least as good throwing the ball as the mediocre starters that they’re replacing (although I downgraded each pass attack).

The over is a 1-Star Best Bet at 44 points or less (Strong Opinion at 44.5 points).

UCF vs

Wed, Dec 28 11:00 AM PT

Rotation: 245, Odds: Duke -3.5, Total: 62.5

Game Analysis view matchup stats

Create an account to get analysis and updates sent to your inbox.

Lean – Central Florida (+3.5)  33   Duke  32

Duke had a great season under first-year head coach Mike Elko, exceeding low expectations with an 8-4 straight up record and an 8-3 ATS mark against FBS Opponents. UCF is 9-4 and was a slightly better team than Duke over the course of the season but the Golden Knights have gone from a favorite to an underdog of more than a field goal due to uncertainty about the health of UCF QB John Rhys Plumlee, the defection of their leading receiver, and 3 starters missing for the Knights’ defense. I think the line movement was too much.

Rhys Plumlee led the Knights in rushing this season and totaled 909 yards on 123 runs after taking out the sacks. He was limited at the end of the regular season by a hamstring injury that he as able to play with but perhaps affected his running – although he did run for 133 yards against USF after running just once against Navy. It’s been quite a while since UCF’s last game and my guess is that Plumlee’s hamstring is just fine by now. Losing leading receiver Ryan O’Keefe (transferred to BC) is most likely going to be a positive, as O’Keefe averaged only 7.0 yards per target with a 44% success rate, which is well below the average of all receivers on the team. If O’Keefe not being on the team means more targets for Baker and Hudson, who combined for 9.3 yards per target and a 54% success rate then the Knight’s offense should be better off. UCF’s offense is 0.5 yppl better than average and I project 448 yards at 6.3 yppl for the Knights in this game against a Duke defense that 0.2 yppl worse than average.

Duke’s offense rates the same as their opponent, as the Blue Devils averaged 6.3 yppl against teams that would combine to allow 5.8 to an average offense and UCF’s defense was 0.4 yppl worse than average for the season. However, that average rating was skewed by the 10.3 yppl that they allowed to Tulane in the AAC Championship game. UCF’s median defensive performance was slightly better than average. The defense will likely be hurt by the absence of CB Davonte Brown (transfer) and S Divaad Wilson, who opted out to prepare for the NFL draft. I value those two at 1.9 points. Not having starting LB Jeremiah Jean-Baptiste could be an upgrade, as the Knights defense was better in the 3 games that he missed this season and new starter Walter Yates played a lot (just 7 fewer tackles than Jean-Baptiste had). I project 436 yards at 7.0 yppl for Duke in this game.

Overall, Duke has a slight advantage from the line of scrimmage but UCF has better special teams (their place kicker is 1.05 points per game better). The math favors Duke by just 0.5 points after adjusting for the players that UCF will be without and UCF applies to a 68-22 ATS situation that plays on teams off 3 spread losses while Duke applies to a 31-85 ATS bowl situation that applies to teams off 3 or more spread wins. I think recent results have influenced the line too much and I’ll lean with UCF at +3 points or more.

Kansas vs

Wed, Dec 28 2:30 PM PT

Rotation: 247, Odds: Arkansas -4, Total: 69

Game Analysis view matchup stats

Create an account to get analysis and updates sent to your inbox.

Note: I released this Best Bet at couple of weeks ago when the line was +4 and the market agreed with me (closed at +1.5).

2-Star Best Bet – **Kansas (+4)  37   Arkansas  33

Both of these teams are 6-6 but Arkansas is greatly disappointed about how their season went and the Razorbacks are not likely to be as excited about playing this game as a Kansas team that hasn’t been to a bowl game since 2008. Kansas ended their season on a 3-game losing streak but that’s not a negative given that teams on a 3-games or more losing streak are 28-22-1 straight up and 30-21 ATS in bowl games. The Jayhawks are fired up to be playing in a bowl game while Arkansas has had 3 key players opt out for the NFL and another opting for season-ending surgery.

Arkansas will be without 1st-Team All-SEC center Ricky Stromberg, leading pass-catcher Jadon Haselwood, 1st-Team All-SEC LB Drew Sanders (9.5 sacks and 6 passes defended), who all have declared for the NFL draft, and #2 tackler LB Bumper Pool, who is out with a season ending injury.

Arkansas still has Matt Landers (as of December 7), who is their most explosive receiver (11.6 yards per target) but Haselwood led the Razorbacks in catches and success rate (57%) and #3 and #4 wide receivers Ketron Jackson Jr. and Warren Thompson are also no longer with the team. That leaves Landers and a group of inexperienced receivers that have combined for just 10 catches. I assume that Arkansas will lean on their strong rushing attack (243 yards per game at 5.6 yards per rushing play against teams that would allow 4.9 yprp to an average team) but Kansas is not as soft against the run as their raw numbers make them appear to be, as the 208 rushing yards per game allowed at 5.3 yprp were against teams that would combine to average 5.7 yprp against an average defensive team. The Kansas run defense is actually a bit better than what Arkansas has faced on average this season and running the ball more will suit the Jayhawks just fine given that their pass defense is 0.4 yards per pass play worse than average. For the sake of this math model projection, I assume that Arkansas will run the ball the same percentage of plays as normal and the 484 yards at 6.4 yppl that I project will be worse if they decide to run it more often, which is certainly plausible.

Kansas has been great offensively this season, as the Jayhawks have averaged 6.9 yards per play against a schedule of FBS opponents that would allow just 5.3 yppl to an average team. The offense is 0.3 yppl worse with Jalon Daniels at quarterback and I’ll assume he’ll play the entire game, although having Jason Bean to turn to if Daniels struggles is a plus given how well Bean played this season (9.0 yards per pass play in a 5-game stretch when Daniels was hurt). Daniels is a good runner and the Kansas running backs all averaged over 6.0 yards per run and should thrive against a depleted Arkansas defense that gave up 5.9 yards per rushing play this season (to teams that would average 5.4 yprp against an average defense). The Razorbacks were also 0.5 yppl worse than average defending the pass and that will likely get worse without Sanders’ pass-rushing and coverage skills (I valued Sanders and Pool at 2.6 points). Kansas projects to gain 481 total yards at 7.8 yppl in this game, as I expect a lot of big plays from the Jayhawks’ offense that averaged 7.6 yppl and 44 points against the 4 mediocre defensive teams that they faced this season (West Virginia, Houston, Duke, and Oklahoma State), who are all better defensively than Arkansas, who is the worst defensive team that Kansas will face this season other than FCS team Tennessee Tech, who they hung 56 points on.

Kansas is a 2-Star Best Bet at +3.5 or more and 1-Star at +3 (-115 odds or better).


Oregon vs
North Carolina

Wed, Dec 28 5:00 PM PT

Rotation: 249, Odds: North Carolina +14.5, Total: 73.5

Game Analysis view matchup stats

Create an account to get analysis and updates sent to your inbox.

Strong Opinion – Over (73.5) – Oregon  46   North Carolina  35

Lean – North Carolina (+14.5)

A compensated points model would project 76.3 total points on this game and my math model would project 76.1 total points before any adjustments are made for player defections or weather. The weather isn’t likely to be an issue (it may rain a bit, but winds are expected to be low) and the players not playing are worth a bit more than 4 points to the over based on my analysis.

Oregon’s offense should have no trouble topping 40 points in this game. The Ducks faced 5 teams that are at least 0.4 yards per play better than average defensively (Georgia, Washington State, Washington, Utah, and Oregon State) and they averaged just 27 points in those games. However, in the other 7 games the Ducks averaged 48.7 points and scored 41 points or more in each of those contests. The average defensive rating of those 7 mediocre to bad defenses was 0.4 yppl better than North Carolina’s season defensive rating and the average pace that those opponents ran their offense was 8.4 total plays per game slower than the offensive pace that North Carolina plays at. Oregon will be without big play WR Dont’e Thornton (366 yards on just 24 targets), which hurts the pass game by 0.2 yppp, which is worth 0.7 points), but the Ducks’ attack is still potent with Bo Nix at quarterback (8.8 yppp against teams that would allow 6.1 yppp to an average QB) and there is a decent chance that the Ducks will exceed 50 points in this game given their 49 points average against mediocre to bad defensive teams they faced and will have more plays in this game than they had in those games.

North Carolina’s defense allowed an average of 445 yards at 6.3 yppl this season while facing teams that would combine to average just 5.4 yppl on offense (adjusted for facing Virginia without their 3 top wide receivers). The unit is likely to be 0.3 points worse without three-quarters of their secondary, as both starting cornerbacks, Grimes and Duck, and safety Kelly, have transferred. North Carolina’s defense is projected to be 2.4 points worse than their season rating based on the 73 plays that Oregon is predicted to run.

North Carolina’s offense can also score points, as the Tarbeels scored 35 points or more in more than half of their games (7 of 13) while averaging 476 total yards per game at 6.5 yards per play (against teams that would allow 5.5 yppl to an average team). The loss of leading receiver Josh Downs (heading to the NFL) isn’t really an issue given that Downs averaged 8.6 yards per target while the rest of the Tarheels’ wide receivers combined for 9.7 YPT. North Carolina averaged 49 points in the two games that Downs missed this season while quarterback Drake Maye averaged 9.3 yards per pass play in those games against Appalachian State and Georgia State defenses that would combine to allow 6.6 yppp to an average quarterback. That +2.7 yppp rating without Downs is much better than Maye’s overall rating of +1.3 yppp (7.5 yppp against teams that would allow 6.2 yppp to an average QB). I’m not going to make a positive adjustment to UNC’s offense without Downs but there is certainly a case that I should with Antoine Green and J.J. Jones getting more targets (they have combined for 10.9 YPT on 112 targets; Downs has 120 targets by himself).

Oregon’s defense was 0.3 yppl better than average in the regular season (5.9 yppl allowed to teams that would average 6.2 yppl against an average defense) but they did allow an average of 34.5 points to the best 4 offensive teams that they faced (Georgia, Arizona, UCLA and Washington) and now the Ducks will be without NFL-bound opt-outs CB Christian Gonzalez and DE DJ Johnson. Gonzalez has 19% of the team’s passes defended while Johnson had 38% of the Ducks’ sacks this season. Without Johnson there is nobody to put pressure on Maye (the next highest sack man had just 2.5 sacks) and having more time to throw without lockdown CB Gonzalez should make it easy for Maye to find success in the pass game (7.8 yppp expected) and I project 5.6 yards per rushing play for the Tarheels. I value those two players at 2.6 points towards the total and Oregon’s defense rates at 0.3 yppl worse than average heading into this game. North Carolina averaged 35.0 points against teams that combine to rate at 0.2 yppl better than average and 35 or more points for the Tarheels in this game against a worse than average defense is likely.

My math favors Oregon by 13.4 points with 80.7 total points. The situation favors North Carolina, who applies to a 40-9-3 ATS December bowl big underdog situation. The Over is a borderline Best Bet, but I do think there is more variance in my projection than in a normal game, so I’ll consider the Over a Strong Opinion at 75 points or less.

Texas Tech vs

Wed, Dec 28 6:00 PM PT

Rotation: 251, Odds: Mississippi -3.5, Total: 70

Game Analysis view matchup stats

Create an account to get analysis and updates sent to your inbox.

Lean – Mississippi (-3.5)  42   Texas Tech  34

Lean – Over (70)

This is a rare case of a bowl game between two power-5 conference teams with no significant players opting out or transferring – only a defensive back on each side as of Sunday. That probably would have been different had Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin bolted for another job and it speaks to the belief that Texas Tech players have for their first-year head coach.

Texas Tech managed to win and cover the spread in each of their final 3 games with Tyler Shough back at quarterback despite being outplayed by 9 points or more from the line of scrimmage in all 3 of those games. The Red Raiders 3 game win streak was accomplished despite being outgained 459 yards at 5.9 yards per play to 551 yards at 7.2 yppl and those 3 undeserved wins have served to give us some line value on a Mississippi team on a 3-game losing streak in which the Rebels outgained Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi State by a combined 484 yards at 5.9 yppl to 395 yards at 5.8 yppl.

Not only was Ole Miss the better team over the course of the season but they’ve been better down the stretch despite the recent straight up results. Teams that covered the spread in their previous 3 or more games are just 104-149-3 ATS in their bowl game (if facing a team not off 3 spread wins too) and teams on a straight up losing streak of 3 games or more are 30-22 ATS in their bowl games (not against another such team). So, the recent results of these teams are not only misleading given how each team has performed but I think there is line value because of the recent results.

I do believe Texas Tech is considerably better with Shough back at quarterback. He was really good in his one season at Oregon, and he was on track to have a great season at Texas Tech in 2021 before getting injured in week 4. Shough was the opening day starter this season but was injured in that game. I’ll excuse his -18 yards on 5 pass plays off the bench in his return to action against Baylor in week 9 and from week 10 on he was 0.4 yards per pass play better than average, which is 0.8 yppp better than the team’s rating for the season, which equates to a bit more than 4 points per game. Mississippi’s defense has been 0.5 yards per play better than average this season (a bit worse without CB Battle in this game) and I project 524 yards on 89 plays (5.9 yppl) for Texas Tech in this game.

Mississippi is also expected to run a lot of plays and gain a lot of yards, as the Rebels have averaged 494 yards at 6.5 yppl this season against a schedule of teams that would allow 5.4 yppl to an average attack. Texas Tech has been solid defensively over the course of the season, rating at 0.4 yppl better than average after adjusting for the 368 rushing yards at 11.2 yards per rushing play they gave up to Kansas State (mostly on quarterback runs), which I considered an outlier. The Red Raiders’ run defense has been 0.3 yprp better than average defending the run for the season even if I include that game and I rate them at 0.6 yprp better than average. Texas Tech should be able to slow down the Mississippi’s elite rush attack a bit (I project 252 rush yards at 5.5 yprp) but Rebels’ quarterback Jaxson Dart has averaged 7.7 yards per pass play against teams that would allow just 5.9 yppp to an average quarterback, which is 0.5 yppp better than Texas Tech’s pass defense without free safety Reggie Pearson. I project Dart to average 8.5 yppp in this game and for the Rebels to gain 549 yards on 81 plays (6.8 yppl).

The offensive numbers for each team are enhanced by the perfect scoring conditions. With wind and rain expected in Houston Wednesday night the roof will almost certainly be closed, which adds 4.0 points to this game that features two teams that run their offense at a fast pace. My math favors Mississippi by 4.7 points even with the huge upgrade I gave Texas Tech for having Shough at quarterback and the Rebels apply to a 69-28-2 ATS bowl situation in addition to the negative trend against teams that have covered 3 or more straight games. I’ll lean with Mississippi at -4 or less and Over 71 points or less.

Syracuse vs

Thu, Dec 29 11:00 AM PT

Rotation: 253, Odds: Minnesota -11, Total: 44

Game Analysis view matchup stats

Create an account to get analysis and updates sent to your inbox.

Lean – Syracuse (+11)  21   MINNESOTA  26

I don’t understand why Syracuse is a 10-point underdog. I know that the Orange will be without running back Sean Tucker, NFL-bound LT Matthew Bergeron and defensive backs Williams (injured), Chestnut (transfer) and Carter (transfer). However, Tucker averaged only 4.5 yards per rush if you exclude the game against FCS team Wagner and the defensive losses don’t appear to be that severe.

Tucker was well below the 5.1 ypr national average and shouldn’t be too tough to replace. Losing Bergeron hurts more than losing Tucker but even if the new running back would have averaged 4.2 ypr in place of Tucker’s 4.5 ypr the offense without Bergeron (worth a point per game based on my algorithm) would still be 0.1 yppl better than average with Garrett Shrader at quarterback (Del Rio-Wilson was horrible in two games when Shrader was injured).

Minnesota’s defense rates at 0.5 yards per play better than average, which is not nearly as good as the 13.6 points per game allowed (vs FBS teams) suggests. The 27.9% successful third-down conversions allowed is unsustainably low and that percentage was 36.9% the previous 3 season under defensive coordinator Joe Rossi. I project only 281 yards at 5.3 yppl for Syracuse in this game.

Minnesota’s offense also has a third-down conversion rate (51.7% in FBS games) that is higher than it should be. I expect Minnesota to convert more third-downs than an normal team running back Mo Ibrahim rarely losing yardage, but he was the main back the previous two seasons too, with the same quarterback, and the Gophers converted 45.7% in those years. Minnesota’s offense is just 0.3 yppl better than average but their ability to move the chains and control the ball (34.8 average time of possession) makes them better than that and I project the Gophers to run 15 more plays from scrimmage than Syracuse in this game.

The Syracuse defense is without DBs Williams, Chestnut and Carter but I don’t think they’ll be that much worse. Williams missed the team’s final 4 games and Carter was replaced in the starting lineup by Jason Simmons, who ended up leading the team in passes defended despite starting only 5 games. The Syracuse defense was 0.1 yppl better in those final 4 games without Williams and with Simmons in the starting lineup. I think Carter saw the writing on the wall and transferred because he knew he wasn’t getting his starting spot back. Losing Chestnut is a minor issue given that he defended just 2 passes all season, which is not good. I did adjust a bit for Chestnut being out but it’s not that significant.

It’s unclear which of Minnesota’s quarterbacks will start, as 4-year starter Tanner Morgan is back practicing, but young buck Athan Kaliakmanis looks like he might continue to start. Kaliakmanis did have a significantly higher compensated yards per pass play but he completed just 52% of his 102 passes this season and those down the field throws he likes (he averaged 16.3 yards per completion) aren’t likely to be available against a Syracuse defensive scheme that is designed to take away those types of passes. The Orange keep everything in front of them, which is why they allow just 9.6 yards per completion, and they will give opponents the easy throws (67% completions allowed). I think Morgan (67% completions) is better suited to keep the chains moving against a defense like that than the inaccurate gun-slinger that Kaliakmanis is. I do think that Morgan will also play (and he may start) and I’ll use Minnesota’s overall passing metrics. I project 391 yards at 5.7 yppl for the Gophers in this game and it would be a bit lower if Morgan played the entire game – but with a lower projected interception rate in that case.

Overall, the math favors Minnesota by 7.7 points, which is close to the opening number of 7 points. I think the market has significantly overreacted to the players that Syracuse won’t have, who weren’t particularly good (aside from the offensive left tackle).

In addition to the line value, Syracuse applies to my best bowl situation – a 65-10-2 ATS big underdog situation that continues to win (6-1 the last 3 years). That angle only applies to underdogs of 7 points or more (with some other variables) and those big dogs are 37-40 straight up. I could be wrong about the Syracuse defense not being significantly affected by the two defensive backs that transferred and perhaps the back taking Tucker’s spot is even worse than I project (although projecting 0.9 ypr worse than average running back is pretty bad). I also don’t adjust for coordinators leaving a team before the bowl (both ‘Cuse coordinators are gone) because there is no evidence that it makes a difference. So, there is some variance in the math. However, the situation is good, and I’ll lean with Syracuse plus the points.

Oklahoma vs
Florida St.

Thu, Dec 29 2:30 PM PT

Rotation: 255, Odds: Florida St. -9.5, Total: 65

Game Analysis view matchup stats

Create an account to get analysis and updates sent to your inbox.

Florida State (-9.5)  37   Oklahoma  27

Florida State is one of the elite teams in the nation, as the Seminoles rank 6th in compensated yards per play differential. Oklahoma is also better than their 6-6 record, as the Sooners 13 points better than an average team this season. However, OU won’t be as good in this game without stud running back Eric Gray, two NFL-bound offensive tackles and defensively lineman Jalen Redmond, who has also chosen to focus on the NFL draft rather than play in this game.

Oklahoma’s offense averaged close to 500 total yards per game and the Sooners have been 1.2 yards per play better than average with quarterback Dillon Gabriel. However, Gray averaged 6.4 ypr and his backups combined for just 4.3 ypr, which is a massive difference in production. Losing two NFL caliber offensive tackles is also significant and I rate the Sooners’ attack at just 0.5 yppl better than average heading into this game, which is a bit more than 5 points worse than if they had everyone.

It looks like Florida State’s potential NFL players are going to be playing in this game and the Noles’ defense is 0.9 yppl better than average and projected to limit Oklahoma’s hampered attack to 392 yards at 5.3 yppl even with the Sooners expected to throw the ball more often without Gray.

FSU’s star QB Jordan Travis is going to be a Heisman front-runner next season and he leads an offense that has averaged 6.9 yppl against teams that would allow just 5.5 yppl to an average team. Florida State defense was just 0.4 yppl better than average in the regular season and the Sooners had issues defending elite offensive teams. Giving up an average of 48.7 points to TCU, Texas and Kansas in the middle of the season. That unit is a projected to be about a point worse without Redmond, who was second on the team with 10 total tackles for loss. I project 543 yards at 6.9 yppl for the Seminoles. The math favors FSU by 10 points after including projected turnovers and special teams, which favor the Sooners. I’ll pass.

Texas vs

Thu, Dec 29 6:00 PM PT

Rotation: 257, Odds: Washington +3, Total: 67.5

Game Analysis view matchup stats

Create an account to get analysis and updates sent to your inbox.

Texas (-3)  35   Washington  32

Washington played just one bad game all season, a 38-45 loss at Arizona State. The Huskies’ other loss was by 8 points on the road against a very good UCLA team and the Huskies enter this game at 10-2 with a win at Oregon and versus top 15 team Oregon State.

Washington is led by Michael Penix Jr., who had one of the best seasons of any quarterback in the nation. Penix Jr. led the nation in pass yards and averaged 8.5 yards per pass play (against teams that would allow 6.5 yppp to an average quarterback) while throwing just 7 interceptions on 500 pass attempts. The Huskies are mediocre running the ball, but they’ve been 1.2 yards per play better than average overall offensively and will likely rely more than usual on the aerial attack given how good the Longhorns are at defending the run (1.4 yards per rushing play better than average). The Texas dfesne was 1.2 yppl better than average overall this season, which is the same as the Washington offensive rating, but the absence of NFL-bound LB DeMarvion Overshown is worth about 0.2 yppl and 1.5 points, which is a lot for a defensive player. Overshown was second on the team in tackles, second on the team in total tackles for loss and sacks and third on team in passes defended, which is impressive for a linebacker. I project 492 yards at 6.3 yppl for Washington in this game, which is enhanced by playing in a dome.

The Texas offense was 1.1 yppl better than average for the season but quarterback Quinn Ewers was worse than backup Hudson Card and both star running backs, Bijan Robinson and Roschan Johnson, have opted out of this game. Those two combined for 2134 rushing yards at 6.1 ypr and while there is still talent at the position it is unlikely that the remaining backs will match the lofty average yards per run of the departed stars (I project 0.6 ypr worse).

Washington’s defense is just 0.4 yppl better than average and I project 432 yards at 6.4 yppl for Texas even without their two NFL-caliber backs. The advantage for Texas in this game is special teams but overall the math only favors the Longhorns by 1.5 points and 66.5 total points. Washington applies to a negative 25-68 ATS bowl situation and I must have a clear advantage to play a Pac-12 team, as that conference is 9-29 ATS in all bowl games the last 7 seasons. I’ll pass.

Notre Dame vs
South Carolina

Fri, Dec 30 12:30 PM PT

Rotation: 263, Odds: South Carolina +3, Total: 50

Game Analysis view matchup stats

Create an account to get analysis and updates sent to your inbox.

Lean – Notre Dame (-3 -115)  27   South Carolina  20

South Carolina ended the regular season with consecutive wins as double-digit underdogs versus Tennessee (63-38) and at Clemson (31-30) but Notre Dame was the better team over the course of the season and there is a lot of time for momentum to dissipate between the regular season and a bowl game. Teams that won their final two games as underdogs of more than 7 points in both games are just 1-4 straight up and 1-4 ATS in their bowl game, and those two impressive wins are weighted the same as the other 10 games that the Gamecocks played this season. The Gamecocks are also hurt more by player absences than the Irish are – on both sides of the ball.

Notre Dame will be without quarterback Drew Pyne, who started 10 of the 12 games and transferred out but opening day starter Tyler Buchner is healthy again and scheduled to start. Buchner wasn’t any more or less impressive in his two games than Pyne was, and I made no adjustment for the change at quarterback. He could be much better but I didn’t see that in losses to Ohio State and Marshall to start the season. There is also a chance he could be worse, but coaches obviously thought he was better than Pyne before the season started and Pyne probably wouldn’t have transferred if he thought he’d be starting next season. Top receiver, TE Michael Mayer, has opted out to prepare for the NFL and while his numbers weren’t off the chart (7.7 yards per targe on 105 targets and a 55% success rate) he was targeted more than twice as much as any other players on the team, and I calculated his value at 1.0 points.

Notre Dame was only 0.1 yppl better than average offensively this season and they become a bit worse than average without Mayer. South Carolina’s defense was 0.4 yppl better than average (5.7 yppl allowed to teams that would combine to average 6.1 yppl against an average defense) but they’ll be without 4 contributors to that unit. DT Zacch Pickens, cornerbacks Cam Smith and Darius Rush and safety Devonni Rush have all opted out. The team’s best CB Marcellas Dial is still with the team but not having Smith and Rush will force some less experienced corners into the game (they usually play nickel coverage). Reed is a non-factor and Pickens’ value isn’t too significant. Overall, I valued those losses at 1.8 points against a Notre Dame team that is likely to run the ball a lot against a defensive front that allowed over 200 rushing yards per game at 5.6 yards per rushing play (to teams that would average 5.2 yprp). I project 388 yards at 5.7 yppl for the Irish in this game.

South Carolina’s offense was also just 0.1 yppl better than average this season (5.8 yppl against teams that would allow 5.7 yppl to an average team) but the absence of top running back MarShawn Lloyd and some key receivers makes them significantly worse on that side of the ball. Lloyd averaged 5.2 yards on his 111 runs while the other backs combined for just 3.6 ypr. Spencer Rattler was 0.6 yards per pass play better than average this season and finished the season with two strong games, but he’s be without Josh Vann and Jalen Brooks, whom coach Beamer just confirmed would not be playing due to some off the field issues. All-SEC WR Antwane Wells is still available, but replacing Brooks and Wells, who combined for 10.4 yards per target on 77 targets is going to be an issue. The trio of reserve receivers that will be stepping into those roles have combined for just 7.1 YPT. Lloyd’s absence lowers the expected yards per rushing play by 0.5 yprp and not having Brooks and Vann lowers the expected yards per pass play by 0.6 yppp and it may make it tougher for Wells to operate with even more attention focused on him. The top two tight ends are also no longer with the team (a combined 441 yard at 7.4 YPT) but I didn’t adjust for that as those numbers are nothing special. I’ve downgraded South Carolina’s offense by close to 3.3 points per game.

Notre Dame’s defense was 0.6 yppl better than average this season but the Irish will be without edge rusher Isaiah Foskey, who had 11 sacks and was 4th on the team in tackles. Foskey is worth a bit more than a point by himself based on my algorithm and his absence should allow Rattler to have a bit more time in the pocket as the next highest sack total on the Irish defense was just 3 sacks. I project 286 yards at 5.0 yppl for the Gamecocks in this game.

The Irish have a significant advantage from the line of scrimmage but the Beamer family tradition of having great special teams is alive and well with Shane Beamer, as the Gamecocks have elite special teams that are 1.6 points per game better than the good Irish special teams units. My math favors Notre Dame by 6 points and the Irish apply to a 69-29-2 ATS bowl situation.

Ohio vs

Fri, Dec 30 1:30 PM PT

Rotation: 265, Odds: Wyoming +2.5, Total: 41.5

Game Analysis view matchup stats

Create an account to get analysis and updates sent to your inbox.

Ohio (-2.5)  24   Wyoming  23

Ohio is without their star quarterback while Wyoming is without their top 4 running backs and two key defensive players. After all the adjustments I came up pretty close to the market line of Ohio by 2.5.

Ohio’s Kurtis Rourke has a great season, averaging 8.5 yards per pass play with 25 touchdown passes against just 4 interceptions. However, Rourke missed the final two and a half games and will miss this game too. Backup CJ Harris completed just 53% of his passes the final 3 games filling in for Rourke and averaged a modest 6.1 yppp against teams that would allow 6.3 yppp to an average team. The Bobcats’ offense was 0.5 yppl better than average with Rourke but that unit is 0.6 yppl worse than average with Harris at quarterback.

Ohio has run more often with Harris at quarterback and I expect they’ll do the same here against a Wyoming defense that was 0.4 yards per rushing play worse than average during the season but they were average against the pass. That pass defense is likely to be worse without top cornerback Cam Stone and edge rusher Oluwaseyi Omotosho, who was second on the team in sacks (6.5 in 11 games) and led the team in quarterback hurries. Wyoming’s defense was 0.2 yards per play worse than average in the regular season but I rate that unit at 0.4 yppl worse than average heading into this game and project Ohio to gain 363 yards at 5.7 yppl.

Wyoming’s offense is based on the success of the rushing attack and the top 3 backs combined for 1741 yards at 5.6 ypr. However, all 3 of those backs will not be playing in this game and the #4 running back on the depth chart is also out. Wyoming’s run game has been better than average on a national scale for 5 straight seasons and is just as much about the offensive line and the scheme as it is the ball carriers. However, the Cowboys will have a very inexperienced running back getting a lot of carries in this game. I do expect quarterback Andrew Peasley to run the ball more than usual, which should help make up some of the difference. Peasley has been a great runner throughout his career as a backup, as he’d run for 570 yards on 48 runs coming into this season. I thought he’d run more than he did during the regular season but he averaged just 5 runs per game despite averaging 8.2 yards per scramble. I would not be surprised if Peasley runs the ball 10 to 15 times in this game, as that is certainly a better option than having him throw it more (he averaged just 4.8 yards per pass play against teams that would allow 7.2 yppp to an average quarterback).

Ohio is 0.7 yprp worse than average defending the run and they were 0.9 yppp worse than average against the pass in the 11 games that top cornerback Zack Sanders played. I would have projected 6.3 yprp for the Cowboys with all their backs available and I still project 5.7 yprp with Peasley likely to run more. Wyoming is projected to gain 318 yards at 5.6 yppl.

Overall, my math falls right on market as far as the side is concerned, as I favor Ohio by 2.5 points. I do predict 47 total points, which is considerably higher than the 41.5 points total, but there is a lot of variance in that prediction, as it’s hard to say what Wyoming’s #5 back will produce.