If you’re reading this on Monday, happy New Year! There are still a number of bowls to bet on before the CFP Championship next week, including the last two New Year’s Six games. The Cotton Bowl features Tulane and USC while the Rose Bowl will be between Penn State and Utah.
There are four in total, but the crown jewel is the Rose Bowl, not only because of tradition but because of who's actually suiting up for each team. For teams that miss the playoff, there’s little incentive other than the prestige of the bowl game a player is playing in to suit up, especially if he’s expected to be selected in the upcoming NFL Draft. The Rose Bowl is the most prestigious bowl game on the slate, and there are a limited number of opt-outs.
The Rose Bowl isn’t the only game where our model shows an edge. Let’s dive in to see where the value lies for Monday’s slate.
Note: All college football odds are from FanDuel Sportsbook. Lines are subject to change throughout the day after this article is published. All ratings are out of five stars. Please check numberFire's model to make sure you're seeing the most updated information.
Over 52.5: 5 Stars
Penn State and Utah each have solid quarterbacks -- Sean Clifford for the Lions and Cam Rising for the Utes.
Utah has the advantage at the position, though; Rising was ninth in ESPN’s QBR nationally while Clifford finished the regular season ranked 31st. Penn State still finished with the third-best offense in terms of yards gained per game in the Big Ten due to Clifford and freshman running back Nick Singleton.
The Utes were fifth in their conference in yards gained per game, but the four teams ahead of them (Washington, UCLA, Oregon, and USC) rounded out the top five in the country behind Tennessee in that statistic. Both teams are clearly able to move the ball on offense.
Most of the significant opt-outs are on the defensive side of the ball. Cornerbacks Joey Porter Jr. for the Lions and Clark Phillips III are the two headlining opt-outs, which likely means receivers will have more room to work in this game.
Our model projects the score to surpass the total with a 76.2% probability, which is good enough for a five-star rating. While this game doesn’t profile like a Big 12-style shootout, both Clifford and Rising should be able to lead their teams down the field enough for the over to hit.
Over 55.5: 5 Stars
Another bowl, another over projection from our model. The Cheez-It Citrus Bowl (not to be confused with the actual Cheez-It Bowl) features LSU and Purdue, neither of which are offensive juggernauts, yet each has talented players on that side of the ball.
Unfortunately, most of the Boilermakers’ offensive stars have opted out of this game. Quarterback Aidan O’Connell, wide receiver Charlie Jones, and tight end Payne Durham won’t be suiting up. Head coach Jeff Brohm took the Louisville job, so offensive coordinator Brian Brohm will be coaching in his place.
Those aren’t great signs for an over to cash in, but that’s not all that makes the Purdue offense tick. The Boilermakers have a solid pass-blocking line, especially on passing downs, where they rank 11th in sack rate according to Football Outsiders. LSU only ranks 72nd in sack rate on defense, so that’s a potential mismatch to be exploited.
Jayden Daniels ranks 18th in QBR and led the Tigers to an SEC West title. Daniels is a dual threat who racked up over 800 yards on the ground in addition to the 2,774 passing yards he amassed during the season. Though Purdue has a good defense, they haven’t seen anyone like Daniels over the course of their season.
As long as Daniels has a good game, bettors can breathe easy during this one.