Early college football bowl predictions: value with Arkansas, Oklahoma?

With games happening sporadically over the next month, it’s important to make college football bowl predictions very early.

The betting lines will shift drastically between now and the bowl games, which take place from December 16th through the College Football Playoff title game on January 9th.

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But with a total of 43 bowls, it’s not hard to find early value. I’ve already made bets on two cups, and I recommend you grab those lines right away.

All lines were kindly provided by FanDuel Sportsbook and are current at the time of writing but are subject to change.

Liberty Bowl: Arkansas -4.5 (-110) vs. Kansas

Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson will return to Fayetteville for another season with the Razorbacks, and his return cannot be overstated. Jefferson’s return keeps Arkansas in the top half of the SEC.

And I would also project Arkansas to a larger positive regression considering the Razorbacks have lost four games by a field goal or fewer this season.

There’s no better time for positive regression than the Liberty Bowl, considering the Kansas Jayhawks have returned to Earth.

After a 5-0 run into the season, Kansas is 1-6 in their last seven games, with a lone win over Oklahoma State. The Jayhawks have improved mightily this season, but they’re still in the minor league of the Big 12.

The biggest problem was defense as the Jayhawks can’t stop a nosebleed. Despite averaging over 425 yards per game this season, the Jayhawks set a losing record by conceding over 450 yards per game.

Kansas is particularly weak on the ground. According to The Action Network’s Brad Cunningham, Kansas is under 120 in expected added points (EPA) per allowable rush, offensive line yards and allowable stuff rate.

With Jefferson in the center and Raheim Sanders in the backfield for the Razorbacks, Arkansas has one of the toughest ground plays to stop. The quarterback has over 100 carries at 5.2 yards per carry while Sanders is nearing 1,500 rush yards at 6.5 yards per carry this season.

The Jayhawks will be overwhelmed by the Razorbacks’ rush offense and I don’t see how Kansas can match.

Things get even worse when you consider the Kansas quarterback situation. Jalon Daniels is back at quarterback for the Jayhawks, but the offense has looked sloppy since his return. Part of me thinks Daniels is still hurt.

However, this line is too short for Arkansas and the Razorbacks Rush Game. ESPN’s Bill Connelly’s SP+ model makes Arkansas a whopping 9.2-point favorite, giving us plenty of value to bet on that number.

Cheez-It Bowl: Oklahoma +7.5 (-120) vs. Florida State

Mike Norvell completely turned the Seminoles around. Florida State has been on the downtrend since Jimbo Fisher left for Texas A&M, but Norvell has that team back in the ACC’s major league.

FSU ended the regular season on a five-game winning streak, including their first win over rivals Florida in three seasons. Defense has been tremendous, Jordan Travis can move the ball on offense, and the Noles are winning games.

However, this is a perfect selling point for the state of Florida.

Oklahoma has lost three of its last four, but all three losses have come from field goals. In addition, starting quarterback Dillon Gabriel is healthy again.

However, the Oklahoma Rush Game makes this a bet for me. The Sooners have a top-40 offensive line by Football Outsiders Line Yards metric and a top-15 line by Pro Football Focus run blocking grades.

The Seminoles dominate in the secondary school but are weak in the top seven. Florida State is under 80 on the Football Outsiders and CFB Graph EPA defensive line yards metric per allowable rush.

The Sooners can run the ball effectively, stringing together long drives that keep the ball out of the Seminoles’ hands. That will make it very difficult for Florida State to cover a touchdown spread.

The Sooners haven’t lost a game by more than seven points this season, so I’ll back them up to get it tight again.

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