BetSided Bowl Bash: Best College Football Bowl Bets for Saturday, Dec. 16

College football best bets for Saturday, Dec. 16 including UCLA vs. Boise State and Cal vs. Texas Tech.

Nov 18, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; UCLA Bruins tight end Hudson Habermehl (81) celebrates
Nov 18, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; UCLA Bruins tight end Hudson Habermehl (81) celebrates / Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Bowl Season!

It's the first day of the 2023 college football bowl calendar and we have six games to chew on come Saturday, including a few Power Five teams littered on the slate. While we have you covered with EVERY bowl game here, we are going to cover our three favorite bets for the opening slate of games this season below.

The games get underway Saturday at 11 a.m. EST and will end well after midnight with Cal and Texas Tech playing in a potential high scoring affair.

Here are our three favorite bets for the Saturday bowl slate!

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Best College Football Bets for Saturday, December 16th

  • Ohio vs. Georgia Southern UNDER 48.5
  • Boise State vs. UCLA UNDER 48.5
  • Texas Tech ML (-154) vs. Cal

Ohio vs. Georgia Southern Prediction and Pick

These two teams finished the season in differing directions. Ohio won its last three games all by double digits, while Georgia Southern lost four straight and allowed 38 or more in three of them.

However, I can't trust Ohio's offense that lost its top two running backs to the transfer portal and is expected to miss this game. The Bobcats' passing game could not get vertical all season, 121st in explosive pass rate, and overall is just 101st in yards per play. Not only that, the team has an unproven player under center with Rourke being a late addition to the transfer portal.

The team flipped the script from last season when it was an elite offense and poor defense, as it's the D that kept the team in the MAC title race, ranking 13th in tackles for loss, and 10th in yards per pass attempt. This has been one of the best defenses in the G5 ranks.

I mentioned above that the Georgia Southern offense sputtered at the end of the season, and I believe the team may struggle yet again here. The team is 115th in red zone touchdowns percentage and is just national average in yards per play.

Both defenses can get in the backfield, Georgia Southern is 18th in TFL's and I think this leads to a lot of unsuccessful drives and punts.

I'll take the under in the first bowl game of the year.


Boise State vs. UCLA Prediction and Pick

With starting quarterback Taylen Green in the transfer portal and backup Maddux Madsen out for the year, the Broncos will start true freshman CJ Tiller against a loaded UCLA front that, while short handed due to opt outs, will be among the toughest the team has faced all season. Tough first start for Tiller.

Bruins first year defensive coordinator D'Anthony Lynn took the same job at USC already and won't be coaching this game. He built a unit that is 11th in EPA/Play and 17th in success rate that should still dominate in the trenches against a rush-heavy Boise State offense.

I believe UCLA still poses a talent advantage against Boise State's hamstrung offense and should dictate the terms of the game even without its DC. However, I'm not sure the Bruins offense, which has struggled all season will put up a big number on the scoreboard. UCLA scored more than 28 points just once in the final five games of the regular season, scoring 10 or fewer three other times.

While this is a Mountain West defense, UCLA hasn't been explosive on offense all season.

Given all the questions, my look right now is on the under.


Cal vs. Texas Tech Prediction and Pick

One key news item to note for this one is that Cal's offensive coordinator Jake Spavital took the same job at Baylor last week, a big hit to a revamped Golden Bears offense. While the team will implement the same scheme, this will lower its effectiveness as Spavital did a fine job in his lone season with the team (he was there before taking the head coaching job at Texas State).

I do think this is a bad draw for the Cal defense, though, the team is 113th in success rate and 123rd in tackles for loss. I expect Texas Tech, who has an elite offensive line (19th in line yards) and a dependable running back, can keep the chains moving at will.

The Red Raiders lost some tight games early in the year to the likes of Wyoming (on the road in overtime), and Oregon (at home in the last two minutes) and had injuries to its starting quarterback and Brehen Morton (who is starting this game). However, the team finished the season strong, outside of getting shelled by College Football Playoff-bound Texas, winning three straight to close the year.

Cal also had some tough losses, but its defense has been a leaky faucet all season, allowing six of nine PAC-12 games. To be fair, Texas Tech had lofty goals entering the season and might be realizing some of that upside down the stretch.

This should be a fun game with plenty of plays, each team is top 20 in terms of snaps per minute, but I trust Texas Tech to take care of business and win and cover in Joey McGuire's second straight bowl game.

PICK: Texas Tech ML (-154)

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.

Track Reed's bets here!