Conference championship week was another winning weekend of Underdogs Against the Spread.
My two underdogs - Northern Illinois and Louisiana - both won outright. The AAC Championship Game between Cincinnati and Houston just got one point above the total for the over to hit. Unfortunately, WKU let me down for the only time this season and Utah State damn near hit the total on their own when we needed the under.
Regardless, it’s guaranteed to be another winning season for me at Underdogs Against the Spread. With a 3-2 mark in the G5 championship games, we are 10 games over .500 heading into the most wonderful time of the year: bowl season.
Throughout most of the season, I have given my five best bets (five G5 bets, get it?), but with it being the final edition of the 2021 season and so many bowl games at our disposal, we are going to go after as many games as possible to break the bank. For one last time this year, let’s dive into some G5 winners.
2021 Record: 28-18
*All lines are according to ScoresAndOdds.com and are accurate at the time this article is published
Boca Raton Bowl: Western Kentucky Hilltoppers vs. Appalachian State Mountaineers (Over 68)
Quarterback Bailey Zappe, who was inexcusably not in the top 10 in the Heisman voting, has thrown for 5,545 yards and 56 touchdowns this season. In comparison, Joe Burrow threw for 5,671 yards and 60 touchdowns in his record-setting and Heisman-winning season. Zappe and the WKU offense leads the nation in passing and is second in scoring (40 ppg). App State is no slouch offensively either, scoring 31.8 points per game. WKU has been in shootouts all season and this one will be no different.
Celebration Bowl: South Carolina State Bulldogs vs. Jackson State Tigers (-10.5)
Fun fact: did you know that Walter Payton went to JSU? I did not prior to writing this piece. Bowl season seems like the perfect time to dip into the HBCUs as Deion Sanders has turned Jackson State into a household name once again. Offensively, they are led by Shedeur Sanders, the son of the legendary coach and winner of the Jerry Rice Award, which is given to the best freshman in the FCS. But their calling card is on defense where the Tigers are phenomenal, leading the FCS in sacks and tackles for loss. The Bulldogs won the MEAC but isn’t nearly as talented on either side of the ball. Coach Prime is looking for his first bowl win as a head coach and will do so in deciding fashion.
Independence Bowl: No. 13 BYU Cougars (-7) vs. UAB Blazers
BYU being ranked 13th in the polls is honestly a slap in the face considering the competition they played this season. They went 6-1 against Power Five opponents and 5-0 against the Pac-12, which includes a win over three-loss and 11th-ranked Pac-12 champion Utah. BYU head coach Kalani Sitake was rewarded with a new contract following the regular season and his team should have no problem taking down a UAB team that will likely be without their top offensive weapon in DeWayne McBridge, who suffered an ankle injury late in the campaign.
Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl: Utah State Aggies (+7) vs. Oregon State Beavers
I had no idea the Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl was even a thing until now. Hell, even Jimmy Kimmel didn’t know who was playing in his own bowl game. After a 4-1 start, Oregon State went 3-4 to finish the season. On the flip side, Utah State has won seven of their last eight, including that decisive conference championship win I wrote about earlier. Utah State is 15th in passing, while Oregon State is 78th against the pass. The Aggies will do just enough through the air to keep this one close and possibly pull off the upset.
Frisco Football Classic: Miami-Ohio RedHawks vs. North Texas Mean Green (+130 ML)
Almost everything falls in the favor of the Mean Green. North Texas is a surprising underdog in what’s essentially a home game as Denton is about a 35-minute drive to Frisco. The Mean Green have won five straight, are 6-0 ATS in their last six games and 9-3 ATS on the year. UNT is also third in the country in rushing, behind service academies Air Force and Army. The RedHawks haven’t won a bowl game since 2010 and have not defeated an FBS team outside the MAC since 2011. UNT will literally run all over them.
Gasparilla Bowl: Florida Gators vs. UCF Knights (+6.5)
These two in-state foes sold out the Gasparilla Bowl rather quickly for a non-New Years Six game. Florida enters this game without head coach Dan Mullen, quarterback Anthony Richardson (who started eight games this season) and star defensive end Zach Carter (who has opted for the NFL Draft). Florida is also 0-6 ATS in their last six games and finished 0-6 ATS outside The Swamp this year. The Knights’ luster has diminished in recent memory but they finished with the best record in the state and will want to prove that is no fluke.
Birmingham Bowl: No. 20 Houston Cougars vs. Auburn Tigers (Over 51.5)
I was surprised to see this total where it is but I said the same thing about the Cougars total in the conference championship game. I really wanted to back the Cougars in this one, but this is essentially a home game for Auburn and it’s hard to forget that Houston has been dreadful in their last four bowl games. The smart play is the over as the Cougars have gone over the total in seven of their last 10 games, in large part of their 15th-ranked scoring offense.
Cotton Bowl: No. 4 Cincinnati Bearcats vs. No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (-13.5)
I couldn’t do this piece without including the G5’s first ever representative in the College Football Playoff. I’ve been one of the many clamoring for Cincinnati to get this opportunity, but you cannot bet with your heart. Heisman winner Bryce Young and the Crimson Tide offense had their way against a Georgia defense that was without a doubt the best in the country heading into that matchup. Other than being a six-point underdog last week, this is the smallest spread Alabama has seen all season. This is a major step up in class for Cincinnati and blowouts have become the norm in the semifinal games. As much as it pains me to do so, the right play is to take Alabama.
Let me know what you think in the comments below or via Twitter. It’s been one hell of a ride and I appreciate all of you for reading and interacting with me this season. Until next season, SHOW ME THE MONEY!!