We've had a chaotic start to bowl season already with some wild finish and insnae comebacks, what can we take away from some of the early results and keep an eye on it moving forward?
One of the biggest takeaways from the bowl games is that the market steam generated from opt outs has not led to immense success thus far. While some teams have been left patchwork by the transfer portal and opt outs, teams have still managed to cover closing spreads. I'll update you on some key findings after the first handful of games as well as two coaches that have been profitable to back in bowl games.
Here's three trends to get set for the bowl action this weekend and beyond!
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Fade the Steam in Bowl Games?
It's a small sample size, but the market has overreacted to some of the information trickling out ahead of bowl games. While there's some nuance to it, the teams that have seen the line move at least three points away from them in bowl games this season are 5-2 against the spread so far, including three outright upset victories in Ohio, Fresno State and Western Kentucky.
Now, not every situation is created equal as much of these line moves generate from key players opting out and the expected drop-off to backups. However, there is more variance in these cases as we have limited information on some of the backups and the games still have little to no stakes, so the market may be moving too far against teams, generating betting opportunities.
I wouldn't blindly play against steam as its typically informed money moving the market, but it is something to note if you are going to bet closer to kick off with as much information available.
Trust Butch Jones and Troy Calhoun in Bowl Games
We'll start with Butch Jones of Arkansas State. The well-traveled head coach has done wonders in bowl games, going 5-1 against the number in bowl games, winning four of them outright. While small samples are in play here, there is something to be said that Jones has consistently outperformed the market in postseason play, a sign that he potentially manages the bowl game in a productive way and gets a strong outing from his team.
The Red Wolves are three-point favorites against Northern Illinois in the Camellia Bowl, Jones' first with the program in three seasons. Arkansas State hasn't made a bowl game (ironically this very bowl) since 2019, so motivation should be high for the team.
Another cash cow in bowl games is Air Force's Troy Calhoun. While there are some availability questions for both the Falcons against James Madison in the Armed Forces Bowl, Air Force is the far more reliable side.
Calhoun is 8-4 against the spread in bowl games, covering in four straight, winning all of them. The triple option is a tough prep for any team that doesn't see it often, and it doesn't help with a ton of key players opting out of the game and looking at the transfer portal. This may be even more glaring on Saturday as James Madison has had to hire interim coaches as head coach Curt Cignetti took the head coaching job at Indiana and took several staffers with him.
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