It’s an American tradition, right up there with turkey on Thanksgiving, planting zinnias on Arbor Day (what, you don’t?) and the world’s biggest hot dog eating contest on July 4.
Sure, there are plenty of games to bet on this college bowl season, but New Year’s Day is among the highest of holy days for college football and college football bowl betting, something not even moving two of the date’s traditional games — Cotton and Orange, shifted to Dec. 29 as part of the College Football Playoff — can change.
After a six-game appetizer on New Year's Eve, New Year’s Day brings five games, ranging from the straight-up corporate (the Battle for the Bloomin’ Onion!) in Tampa, to the Granddaddy of them All in Pasadena. Here’s everything college football betting fans you need to know about the New Year’s kickoffs to get your 2019 started off right.
2019 New Year’s Day Bowls Betting Tips
- UCF has won nine of its last 11 games against the spread, while LSU has failed to cover three of its last four. And for anyone who thinks the Fiesta Bowl will be a high-scoring game: UCF has gone under in three of its last five, while LSU has gone under in three of its last four.
- Ohio State has been schizophrenic against the spread, but Buckeyes have covered their last two, and gone over the total in their last three — averaging 53 ppg in the process. Their Rose Bowl opponent, Washington, has finished under in 10 of 13 games this season.
- In the SEC championship, Georgia covered a 12-point spread against Alabama for their fifth ATS victory in their last six games. Texas, the Bulldogs’ opponent in the Sugar Bowl, has covered just two of its last seven — failing to cover +9.5 against Oklahoma in the Big 12 title tilt — with one push.
- Kentucky’s rout of Louisville in its regular-season finale was its only ATS victory in its last five games. The Wildcats failed to cover five of their last seven as their offense sputtered down the stretch. Penn State, Kentucky’s opponent in the Citrus Bowl, split its last six against the spread and finished under in its last four.
New Year’s Day is among the highest of holy days for college football and college football bowl betting, something not even moving two of the date’s traditional games — Cotton and Orange, shifted to Dec. 29 as part of the College Football Playoff — can change.
2019 New Year’s Six Picks
The line: Mississippi State -6 vs. Iowa
Will anyone score? Mississippi State leads the nation in scoring defense, allowing an average of 12 ppg, while Iowa ranks 11th allowing 17.4. But the Hawkeyes can’t match the Bulldogs’ rushing game.
Take Mississippi State -6.
The line: Penn State -6 vs. Kentucky
The Wildcats earned nine wins for the first time since 1977, despite the lack of a passing game that’s made them one-dimensional. They’re unlikely to keep up with Penn State, averaging 35 ppg.
Take Penn State -6.
The line: LSU -7.5 vs. UCF
It’s hard to forget last season, when the Knights upset an SEC team (Auburn) in a New Year’s Six game to extend what’s now a 25-game win streak. Now UCF takes on LSU, which struggled to the finish in the SEC, and whose middling offense should let the upstarts stay in the game.
Take UCF +7.5.
The line: Ohio State -5.5 vs. Washington
It’s the best defense in the Pac-12 against one of the best offenses in the country. The Huskies’ offense can sometimes stall — witness a 10-3 victory over Utah in the Pac-12 championship, or a 12-10 loss at mediocre Cal — while the Buckeyes are playing their best approaching Urban Meyer’s finale.
Take Ohio State -5.5.
The line: Georgia -11 vs. Texas
Texas’ defense matches up with a well-rounded Georgia team that pushed Alabama to the brink in the SEC championship. The Bulldogs are easily the better team — but that’s a big line, and both squads have a month to prepare, perhaps making this closer than it would be otherwise.
Take Texas +11.
New Year’s Day 2019 Bowl Best Bets
- Mississippi State vs. Iowa, under 44.5 points: Two great defenses should make for a grinder of a low-scoring game.
- Penn State vs. Kentucky, under 48 points: The Wildcats were woeful offensively down the stretch, while the Nittany Lions finished under the total in each of their last four.
- UCF (+240) vs. LSU: The Tigers’ predictable offense became maddening to watch down the stretch. Can it keep up with a Knights attack averaging 44.2 ppg? If there’s an upset on New Year’s Day, this will be it.