You’ve been waiting long enough: It’s time to play some football. The first bowl games of the 2022-23 FBS season kick off this Friday, starting bright and early with the Bahamas Bowl (11:30 AM EST, ESPN) in Nassau.
Eight games in total will be played this weekend – yes, we’re including Friday – so you’d better make sure you’ve got the fridge stocked with enough cold beverages to get you through.
As for your college football picks, here are five very important things to remember before you throw your hard-earned money at these early bowl games.
1. Motivation Matters
Many of these early games feature teams from the Power 5 conferences who just didn’t play well enough to qualify for a more prominent bowl.
How will the 6-6 Florida Gators get up for Saturday’s Las Vegas Bowl (02:30 PM EST, ESPN) after spending the first three weeks of the season in the AP Top 25? Can the 7-5 Washington State Cougars keep it together during Saturday’s LA Bowl (03:30 PM EST, ABC) after losing the Apple Cup to Washington?
2. Who’s Coaching?
Not every team that goes bowling makes it there intact. Several coaches have already used this season as a springboard to a better job at a bigger program; others, like UAB Blazers head coach Bill Clark, have announced their retirement.
The Blazers will have Bryant Vincent under the headset at the Bahamas Bowl, filling in on an interim basis while they wait for new head coach Trent Dilfer to take over in Birmingham.
3. Who’s Playing?
The coaches aren’t the only ones who are jumping from team to team at this time of year. The transfer window has never been this wide-open before, thanks in large part to all that NIL money that’s being thrown around.
Just ask the Cougars, who have lost WR De’Zhaun Stribling to Oklahoma State. WR Donovan Ollie and 10 other players have also abandoned Wazzu for greener pastures.
4. Mid-Majors FTW
As a general rule, the mid-major conferences have more betting value than the Power 5, but that dynamic gets amplified during bowl season, with all those casual bettors flooding the marketplace with their NCAAF picks.
Combine this with Tip No. 1, and you get promising situations like the LA Bowl, where the Fresno State Bulldogs (Mountain West) will face the Cougars as 3-point favorites at the NCAAF odds.
5. Manage Your Bet Size
Those casual fans do indeed make for higher potential profit margins, but they won’t have the same impact on these early bowls as they will for the bigger games down the road, especially the New Year’s Six.
Size your bets accordingly at the best sportsbooks, and you’ll maximize your returns this holiday season.