BetSided Bowl Bash: Best College Football Bowl Bets Today for Saturday, December 23rd

Nov 11, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Utah Utes quarterback Bryson Barnes (16) passes the ball
Nov 11, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Utah Utes quarterback Bryson Barnes (16) passes the ball / Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

It's another glorious loaded slate of bowl games on Saturday, seven games peppering the card and boy do we got bets.

Utah vs. Northwestern is the matchup between Power Five opponents, but there are games starting at noon EST running through midnight on the mainland with the Hawaii Bowl. There are plenty of bets to make and we got you covered here, pulling from our BetSided Bowl Bash tab!

Here's some of our best bets for the Saturday card:

Best College Football Bets for Saturday, December 23rd

  • Arkansas State vs. Northern Illinois UNDER 54.5
  • Air Force ML vs. James Madison
  • Northwestern vs. Utah UNDER 41.5
  • Coastal Carolina vs. San Jose State OVER 48.5

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Arkansas State vs. Northern Illinois Prediction and Pick

While NIU may keep this game on the ground with Brown and turn this into a grinding affair, the lack of threat in the passing game will make things easier for the Red Wolves' typically poor defense.

This is certainly a matchup of contrasting styles as the Huskies check-in outside the top 100 in terms of plays per minute while Arkansas State is top 15 in that same metric. With the dual-threat Jaylen Raynor under center, Arkansas State has been a big play threat at all times. The team is top 35 in the country in both explosive pass and run rate, but the team struggles to string together consistent plays, 100th in success rate.

Meanwhile, the Northern Illinois defense is well equipped to slow down big plays, 45th in explosive rush defense and 13th in explosive pass defense on the year. The team doesn't get a ton of pressure but is overall a standout unit, 25th in yards per play allowed at about five.

Given the NIU offense is going to struggle to move the ball in chunks, but the defense can dictate the terms against a volatile Arkansas State offense, I believe the under is the best look in the Camellia Bowl.


Air Force vs. James Madison Prediction and Pick

Air Force under Troy Calhoun has been strong as a bowl team, mainly because the team's triple option is a tough prep in the mix of a glorified exhibition game. The Falcons have won four straight bowl games (covering all of them) and is 8-4 against the spread in all bowl games.

While James Madison has put up an insane level in its second season in the FBS ranks, this is going to be a shell of its roster without its head coach Cignetti, nor its dynamic quarterback in McCloud. He has passed for 3,357 yards this season and 32 touchdowns through the air while completing 70% of his passes. If McCloud doesn't go, expect this line to shift dramatically in the other direction.

Atkins has very little experience under center and I believe the drop-off is going to be massive for the Dukes offense that has been a bottom 10 rushing offense in terms of EPA/Rush. It also doesn't help that the team's leading rusher, Kaelon Black is in the transfer portal as well.

The Dukes defense has been stout all year, but the roster may be somewhat bare on that side of the ball as James Madison is set to be down three defenders that logged more than 650 snaps this season in James Carpenter, Mikail Kamara and Aiden Fisher.

Air Force may be getting healthier for this one with Larrier trending towards playing -- but it's worth noting that Air Force is tough to get a read on injury news on -- and that should lead to a massive boost in offensive play. Larrier, rushed for over five yards per carry on 123 carries and passed for 760 yards.

The defense is still elite and will face a James Madison team that has backups in the backfield. Air Force is 32nd in EPA/Play and should have an edge on both sides of the ball en route to an underdog victory.

PICK: Air Force +110

Utah vs. Northwestern Prediction and Pick

This game is going to be a slog as both teams prefer to lean on its defense and methodical drives that well position the team to win the battle of field position. Utah is 102nd in EPA/Play and Northwestern isn't far ahead, 99th in that same metric. Meanwhile, both defenses check in inside the top 50 in yards per play allowed.

Neither team is explosive on offense and I expect each defense to dictate the terms, evident in this low total. However, I can only side with the under. The Utah defensive line will be one of the best Northwestern has seen this season, ranking top 20 in Pro Football Focus' tackling grade. There won't be many holes for the Northwestern offense to run through or time for Bryant to find guys downfield.

Northwestern will look to do the same against Utah. The team is top 40 in both explosive pass and rush defense as the team will force the Utes to work its way down the field. However, Utah grades out as a poor offense, 98th in yards per play and is poor at generating touchdowns from in close, 114th in red zone touchdown percentage.

I think this game is going to be devoid of offensive explosiveness, and I'll go with the under.


Coastal Carolina vs. San Jose State Prediction and Pick

It's worth noting that San Jose State is likely without two key contributors on offense, left tackle Fernando Carmona and tight end Dominick Mazotti, each who played more than 500 snaps this season.

However, I'm not sure that will play a massive role against a poor Coastal Carolina defense that is 91st in success rate this season. The Chanticleers are particularly poor at generating a pass rush, outside the top 100 in sacks and defensive line yards. That's a big issue against SJSU, even against a weaker than expected offensive line, which is seventh in yards per carry and sixth in explosive rush rate.

San Jose State is expected to do much of the scoring, but Coastal Carolina may be able to hold up its end of the bargain. In three starts this season, two of which were wins, Vasko led the Chanticleers to 28, 31 and 14 (against James Madison) points. The offense was capable against two sturdy defenses in Texas State and Old Dominion.

San Jose State, despite making strides down the stretch of the season, is still outside the top 100 in EPA/Play. I believe Coastal Carolina can scheme up a few scores in this one and help get this over a modest total.


Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.

Track Reed's bets here!