Bowl season wraps up on Tuesday with the TaxAct Texas Bowl in Houston. It's the final game before the College Football Playoff National Championship and might bring back a little of that sweet taste from the New Year's Day weekend.
numberFire has built comprehensive algorithms to pinpoint the bets with the highest probability of returning money, whether you are betting on the total, the spread, or the moneyline. For those new to numberFire, we use a five-star system to show which bets you should be targeting for any given game. Stars represent how much you should risk on a wager relative to what you would normally bet.
For example, if you would normally bet $110 to win $100 on a -110-spread wager, if we give a 3-star ranking, we suggest risking three times that amount: $330 to win $300. Here are the best bets for this weekend with guidance from our model.
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Kansas State -7.5 (-104): 0 Stars Out of 5
Under 47.5 (-110): 1 Star Out of 5
This one is an overrule of numberFire's model by yours truly. The model is giving a two-star conviction to Louisiana State +7.5 points. While the hook is nice when backing the Tigers, the Michigan Wolverines taught us on New Year's Eve that taking the touchdown plus a hook isn't always the correct side.
The model, based on prior performances, likely doesn't account for this -- LSU does not have a scholarship quarterback left on their active roster after the transfer portal sent Max Johnson to Texas A&M. LSU will either burn the redshirt of quarterback Garrett Nussmeier in the final game of the year (not ideal), or they'll turn to walk-on Tavion Faulk.
The Tigers' quarterback play has been spotty all season (7.6 yards per attempt; 62nd in FBS), and they've made it to a bowl game by leaning on stud running back Tyrion Davis-Price -- but he's headed to the NFL, too. Kansas State is hard to run on regardless (3.7 yards per attempt; 28th in FBS) but especially with LSU down its best back.
The Wildcats have their key pieces on offense intact, and that includes star sophomore tailback, Deuce Vaughn. Vaughn averaged 5.88 yards per attempt in his breakout campaign. LSU is a middle-of-the-road rush defense (63rd in the country in yards per attempt), and Vaughn has eclipsed 100 rushing yards in 8 of his 12 games this year.
The pick is that KSU bottles the Tigers' running game and forces the inexperienced quarterback to make plays on that side of the ball. Vaughn and the Wildcats can also control the tempo of the game with their own offense.
Points should hard to come by in this contest, which normally would point us to the LSU spread, but it's hard to see the ragtag group of Tigers putting together a lot of offensive success as the Tigers' primary focus is on next year's integration of Brian Kelly.