Last Updated Jan 02, 2023, 5:03 PM
College Football New Year’s Six Odds and Action Report
US Sports Betting Industry Expert
Yes, the College Football Playoff odds are the main course among the big-time bowl games. But the other four bowl games in the New Year's Six odds market feature some intriguing matchups, too.
Arguably the best among them: The Sugar Bowl, pitting No. 9 Kansas State against No. 5 Alabama, which just missed out on the CFP party.
Multiple oddsmakers provide early insights on New Year's Six bowl odds.
Sugar Bowl - Kansas State vs. Alabama
Orange - Clemson vs. Tennessee
Rose - Utah vs. Penn State
Cotton - Tulane vs. USC
Check back regularly for updates.
Opening line: Utah -1.5; Over/Under 50
Time: 5 p.m. ET Monday, Jan. 2 (ESPN)
UPDATE 3:30 P.M. ET MONDAY, JAN. 2: Ninety minutes before kickoff, Penn State is a 1-point chalk on WynnBet's Rose Bowl odds board, with the line jumping the fence today. Back in early December, the Nittany Lions opened -1 (-105), but the line quickly flipped, reaching Utah -2.5 on Dec. 5.
On Dec. 10, the Utes peaked at -3, then on Dec. 12 returned to -2.5 and stuck there almost the rest of the month. WynnBet moved to Utah -2 Thursday, -1.5 Saturday, then toggled between -1 and pick 'em Sunday and early today. Midmorning, the number got to Penn State -1, and it's now Nittany Lions -1 (-114).
It's two-way point-spread play, with Utah seeing 58% of spread tickets/52% of spread dollars. On the moneyline, 55% of tickets are on Utah, while Penn state is netting 72% of money.
"Our biggest liability is on Penn State moneyline at the moment. So we will need Utah to win it, as it stands," WynnBet trader Andy Morrissey said, before noting today's move to Penn State as the favorite. "A couple respected guys bet them last night, and the market kept going this morning."
UPDATE 4:30 P.M. ET WEDNESDAY, DEC. 28: Caesars opened this matchup a pick 'em on the New Year's Six odds market, but Utah quickly moved to a 2.5-point favorite. The line has since toggled between Utes -2.5 and -3, and it's currently -2.5.
Utah is landing 68% of tickets/54% of money on the spread thus far.
“When we opened this up, the lines that were out there had Penn State favored,” Caesars lead college football trader Joey Feazel said. “Now, is Penn State the better team this year? Probably. But Utah plays well in bowl games, and their coach [Kyle Whittingham] will absolutely get them ready for this. The sharp side was Utah, which is why the line has gone in that direction. But I wouldn’t be surprised if we get more Penn State action closer to kick. This is still the Rose Bowl, so there should be at least some motivation there.”
The total opened at 49.5 back on Dec. 4 and has been steady at 52 since Dec. 22. It's all about the Over at Caesars, where 92% of tickets/96% of dollars are banking on a higher-scoring game.
UPDATE 3:30 P.M. ET MONDAY, DEC. 26: Utah is a 2.5-point favorite at TwinSpires Sportsbook, up a point from the Dec. 4 -1.5 opener. Spread tickets and spread money are both in the 2/1 range on the Utes.
"Utah liability has steadily been growing all month. We'll need Penn State for a considerable amount," TwinSpires' Zachary Lucas said.
The total is up to 52.5 from a 50 opener, with 54% of tickets/64% of money on the Over in TwinSpires' Rose Bowl odds market.
UPDATE 11 P.M. ET SATURDAY, DEC. 17: BetMGM's Rose Bowl odds market opened with Utah a 2.5-point chalk and moved to -3 on Dec. 8. On Monday, the Utes fell back to -2.5 (-115), then adjusted to -2.5 flat Wednesday.
"It's a pretty even split, about 54% on Utah," BetMGM sports trader Christian Cipollini said of early spread betting.
The total jumped from 51 to 52.5 practically right out of the gate on Dec. 5, It's been at 52 since Monday, and Cipollini said pretty much all the action has been on the Over so far.
UPDATE 8 P.M. ET WEDNESDAY, DEC. 7: In the Pac-12 title game, Utah (10-3 SU, 8-5 ATS) got itself to the Rose Bowl while thwarting the conference's only hope of a CFP berth. After falling into a 17-3 hole early in the second quarter, the Utes scored 24 straight points and 44 of the games final 51 points. That gave Utah a 47-24 victory as a 2.5-point underdog.
Penn State (10-2 SU, 9-3-1 ATS) is on a four-game SU win streak and a six-game ATS spree. The Nittany Lions wrapped up the regular season with a 35-16 victory over Michigan State, but pushed as 19.5-point favorites.
The Utes are already up to -3 from a -1.5 opener at TwinSpires, with early ticket count 2/1 and early dollars nearly 3/1 on Utah.
"Lopsided tickets/money so far on Utah. It wouldn't surprise me if this reaches -3," Lucas said this afternoon, shortly before the number in fact moved to Utes -3.
The total went from 50 to 51 on the way to 51.5, with 57% of tickets/65% of early money on the Over.
Opening line: USC -1; Over/Under 63.5
Time: 1 p.m. ET Monday, Jan. 2 (ESPN)
UPDATE NOON ET MONDAY, JAN. 2: An hour before kickoff, the Trojans are laying 2 points on WynnBet's Cotton Bowl odds board. That's down from -2.5 an hour or so ago, but up from the USC -1 (-105) opener.
The Trojans are attracting 79% of spread bets, but just 56% of spread dollars. WynnBet said it has a small need on Tulane, but is in a tight window, as it doesn't want the Green Wave to win outright. The book wants a USC win/Tulane cover, and also needs the Under.
The total is up 2 points just today, from 64 to 66, after opening at 63. The Over is getting 72% of bets and a hefty 88% of dollars.
UPDATE 4:30 P.M. ET WEDNESDAY, DEC. 28: This short line has seen some back-and-forth movement in Caesars Sports' Cotton Bowl odds market. USC opened -2.5, and the number quickly backed up to pick 'em on Dec. 4.
Southern Cal rebounded to -2.5 a day later and peaked at -3 multiple times, the latest in the wee hours of Dec. 21. The Trojans fell to -2 on Dec. 22 and hasn't moved since. Spread ticket count is 2.5/1 on USC, but spread money is running dead even.
In fact, Caesars noted that USC has received the least money to cover the spread of any team on the New Year's Six bowl odds board.
“This is another motivation game,” Caesars lead college football trader Joey Feazel said. “Obviously, USC’s season ended on a rough note after losing the Pac-12 championship. So they went from a win and they’re into the College Football Playoff to now facing a Group of Five team. I think Caleb [Williams] is going to play. He had a press conference where he said he was. If he does play, how long will he play for? It really all depends on how motivated USC is for this one. Tulane has to be ecstatic to play in the Cotton Bowl. Motivation is definitely on their side.”
The total opened at 64, bottomed out at 61 on Dec. 7, climbed to 63.5 midmonth, then made a couple trips down to 62. It's been at 62 since Monday, with 52% of tickets on the Over/61% ow money on the Under.
UPDATE 3:30 P.M. ET MONDAY, DEC. 26: TwinSpires Sportsbook has the Trojans 2-point favorites in the Cotton Bowl odds market. Southern Cal opened -1 and stretched to -2.5 in short order, then backed up to -1.5 before going to -2.
Spread ticket count is almost 2/1 and spread money 3/1 on the USC.
"It's a mix of public and sharp play on the Trojans," TwinSpires' Zachary Lucas said.
The total is down a point from 63.5 to 62.5, with 65% of tickets on the Over/58% of money on the Under.
"Sharp play on Under 63.5," Lucas said.
UPDATE 11 P.M. ET SATURDAY, DEC. 17: The Trojans are 2.5-point favorites in BetMGM's Cotton Bowl odds market. USC opened -1.5 and quickly got to -2.5 on Dec. 5, then fell back to -1.5 on Dec. 8.
However, on Friday afternoon, Southern Cal returned to -2.5. Also, star QB and Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams (hamstring) thinks he'll be ready to play come Jan. 2. That's still to be determined, though.
"This has the least handle of the New Year's Six games," BetMGM's Christian Cipollini said. "Sharp action led us to that -2.5. Most of our action on USC -1.5 was from sharps. Surprisingly, Tulane +2.5 has a majority of our money, about 85%, and 85% of our moneyline money is on USC.
The total fell from 63.5 to 62.5 within a few hours Dec. 5, then to 62 Dec. 6 and 61.5 Dec. 9. That said, Cipollini said most of the action is on the Over thus far.
UPDATE 8 P.M. ET WEDNESDAY, DEC. 7: Much like Alabama, USC has a big question at QB, after Heisman Trophy favorite Caleb Williams suffered a hamstring injury in the first half of the Pac-12 championship game. Williams played through the injury, but the Trojans (11-2 SU, 8-5 ATS) got drummed by Utah 47-24.
USC not only failed to cover as a modest 2.5-point chalk, but blew a pretty much guaranteed CFP berth by losing the game. So the Cotton Bowl is a consolation prize.
Tulane (11-2 SU and ATS) has been great on the field and at the betting window all season. In the American Athletic Conference title game, the Green Wave let a 31-14 early fourth-quarter lead dwindle to 31-28. But Tulane then pulled away for a 45-28 victory laying 3.5 points.
The Green Wave are the No. 1 spread-covering team in the nation.
TwinSpires opened USC -1 and got to -2.5 in short order, then dialed down to -1.5. The Trojans are drawing 60% of early spread tickets and 70% of early spread money.
"It's a mix of sharp and public play on USC so far," Lucas said.
The total opened at 63.5 and made stops at 63 and 62 on the way down to 61.5. The Over is nabbing 64% of tickets, but money is almost even, at 52% on the Over.
Opening line: Alabama -6; Over/Under 55.5
Time: Noon ET Saturday, Dec. 31 (ESPN)
UPDATE 11 A.M. ET SATURDAY, DEC. 31: An hour before kickoff, the Crimson Tide are up to 8-point favorites in WynnBet's Sugar Bowl odds market. This game opened on Dec. 5 with Alabama a 5.5-point chalk, dipped to Bama -5.5 a couple hours later, then settled in at -5.
In mid-December, on news that 'Bama QB Bryce Young (among others) was set to play, Alabama got to -6. On Friday, the Crimson Tide reached -7, then this morning went to -7.5 and -8.
With that movement, not surprisingly it's all Alabama on the spread. Ticket count is approaching 4/1 and money is 5/1 on the Tide. WynnBet said it needs Kansas State to cover in a big way. In fact, at the moment, it's the biggest decision of this final college football Saturday. WynnBet customers are also pounding Alabama moneyline, so an outright K-State upset would be welcome behind the counter.
The total opened at 55.5, spent some time at 56.5, then was at 56 for pretty much the second half of December. But this morning, it nudged to 56.5 and then to 57. Ticket count is 4/1 and money 2/1 on the Over, and WynnBet said it has a small need on the Under.
UPDATE 4:30 P.M. ET WEDNESDAY, DEC. 28: Alabama landed on Caesars Sports' Sugar Bowl odds board as 6-point chalk, but dipped as low as -3 for about a week, from Dec. 11-16. On Dec. 16, though, the Crimson Tide rose to -4.5, then to -6/-6.5, on the news that Bryce Young will play on New Year's Eve.
This afternoon, the number remains 'Bama -6.5. The Tide are taking 72% of tickets and 58% of money on the spread.
"Everyone was thinking, 'What is Bryce Young playing for, or [linebacker] Will Anderson playing for?'” Caesars lead college football trader Joey Feazel said. “Motivation was perceived to be on Kansas State’s side, which is why the line stayed that low. Then on [Dec. 16], it was Alabama’s press conference day, and all the big guys were practicing. We’ll wait to see if there any opt-outs coming, but that [line of] 3 was set based on these big players aren’t going to play. If this was a regular-season game, this line is north of two touchdowns.”
The total opened at 54.5 and has been at its peak of 56 since Dec. 16. The Over is nabbing 78% of tickets, but 57% of cash is on the Under.
UPDATE 3:30 P.M. ET MONDAY, DEC. 26: This line has been the most active on the New Year's Six bowl odds board. TwinSpires Sportsbook opened Alabama -6 and saw the line steamed down to 'Bama -3.5, then gradually rebounded to -6.5.
This afternoon, Alabama inched to -6 in TwinSpires' Sugar Bowl odds market. Tickets are 2/1 and money approaching 3/1 on the Crimson Tide.
"No surprise, we'll need a Kansas State cover. That's unlikely to change," TwinSpires director of retail trading Zachary Lucas said.
The total had been fairly steady at 55.5, then went to 56 this afternoon. The Over is getting 55% of tickets/53% of money.
UPDATE 11 P.M. ET SATURDAY, DEC. 17: The Crimson Tide opened -5 back on Dec. 5 and fell to -3.5 by Dec. 7 in BetMGM's Sugar Bowl odds market. But the line was on the rise Friday, getting to -5 midafternoon and -6 late in the afternoon. Star QB Bryce Young is set to play for Alabama, even though he's also expected to declare for the NFL Draft.
"This game has the most action of the non-playoff games," BetMGM sports trader Christian Cipollini said. "Sharp action led us back to -6. Most of the money, spread and moneyline, is on Bama, about 85%."
The total opened at 55.5, fell to 54.5 late-night Dec. 6 and held at that number until returning to 55.5 Friday afternoon.
"Almost all money is on the Over," Cipollini said.
UPDATE 8 P.M. ET WEDNESDAY, DEC. 7: The big-money question here is: Who's gonna play for Alabama? Specifically, will star quarterback Bryce Young opt in or opt out? With the spread rapidly declining, it's clear that oddsmakers and early bettors don't see a star-studded 'Bama lineup on New Year's Eve.
The Crimson Tide (10-2 SU, 5-7 ATS) suffered setbacks to Tennessee and LSU in the regular season, just enough to squelch their CFP hopes. Alabama capped the season with a 49-27 home rout of Auburn, barely failing to cover as 22.5-point home favorites.
On the flip side, Kansas State (10-3 SU, 9-3-1 ATS) is riding high after winning the Big 12 championship game. The Wildcats let a 28-17 fourth-quarter lead slip away against previously unbeaten TCU, getting forced to overtime in a 28-28 tie. But K-State emerged with a 31-28 victory as 1.5-point favorites.
The Wildcats hold the fifth-best spread-covering mark in the nation, actually tied with TCU, which will play in the CFP.
TwinSpires Sportsbook is already down 2.5 points on this Sugar Bowl matchup, with 'Bama dipping from -6 to -3.5. The Crimson Tide are taking 66% of early spread bets, but 55% of early spread money is on the Wildcats.
"Sharp play on K-State +6 and +5.5," TwinSpires director of retail sports Zachary Lucas said.
The total is down a point to 54.5, with 61% of tickets on the Over/57% of money on the Under.
Opening line: Clemson -4; Over/Under 63.5
Time: 8 p.m. ET Friday, Dec. 30 (ESPN)
UPDATE 4:30 P.M. ET WEDNESDAY, DEC. 28: Orange Bowl odds are the first on the board among the New Year's Six games. And it's an apropos matchup of two teams whose primary color is orange.
With Tennessee minus star QB Hendon Hooker (ACL), Caesars Sports opened at Clemson -3 back on Dec. 4, and day later, the line was all the way out to Clemson -7. It then spent much of the next couple of weeks toggling between -7 and -6.5.
By Dec. 22, however, the number was down to Tigers -5.5, and on Monday, Caesars went to -4.5. Although Clemson has drawn a $55,000 bet at -4.5, Tennessee is still seeing 56% of spread money, along with 62% of spread tickets. Caesars noted that, among all bowl teams, only Georgia and Ohio State – who meet in a Saturday CFP semifinal – are taking more spread dollars than Tennessee.
"When you’re opening these types of games, it’s not totally throwing the regular season out the window, but it’s mainly who’s going to be motivated,” Caesars lead college football trader Joey Feazel said, pointing to the QB change at Clemson. “With D.J. [Uiagalelei] leaving and Cade [Klubnik] taking over the reins, the sharp bettors reacted with those initial bets that pushed the line up that high. But while he’s not Hendon Hooker, Joe Milton played pretty well in the last couple of games. I’m not surprised to see the Tennessee action. They were very good this season, and even with their team right now, they’d be favored over TCU.”
The total opened at 63, got to 64 Dec. 5, backed up to 63 for a few minutes on Dec. 14, then went to 63.5. It's still at 63.5 this afternoon, with ticket count almost dead even and 63% of money on the Under.
UPDATE 3:30 P.M. ET MONDAY, DEC. 26: TwinSpires Sportsbook opened Clemson at -4 back on Dec. 4 and quickly got to -6.5, then reached -7 on Dec. 7. Four days pre-kickoff, the Tigers are -5.5 on the Orange Bowl odds board.
Tennessee is taking 67% of spread tickets, while 60% of spread dollars are on Clemson.
"It's Pros vs. Joes, with Pros on Clemson," TwinSpires' Zachary Lucas said.
The total has stuck around the 63.5 opener most of the month, and it's 63.5 now. Ticket count and money are both in the 2/1 range on the Over.
UPDATE 11 P.M. ET SATURDAY, DEC. 17: Clemson is laying 6.5 points on BetMGM's Orange Bowl odds board. The Tigers opened -4.5 on Dec. 5 and took just a few hours to jump those 2 points to -6.5. The line hasn't moved since.
"It's 60/40 money on Tennessee at that 6.5.," BetMGM sports trader Christian Cipollini said, while noting Tennessee is getting 65% of moneyline dollars so far.
That's despite the Vols not having Heisman Trophy candidate Hendon Hooker (torn ACL).
The total moved from 63.5 to 64.5 on Dec. 9, fell to 63.5 (Over -115) Monday and remains there tonight. Cipollini said action on the total is light so far.
UPDATE 8 P.M. ET WEDNESDAY, DEC. 7: A few weeks ago, Tennessee was on a CFP-worthy roll behind stud QB Hendon Hooker. Then Hooker tore his ACL in a blowout upset loss at South Carolina. So the Vols will settle for the Orange Bowl, greatly diminished under center.
Tennessee (10-2 SU, 9-3 ATS) still finished the regular season with a 56-0 beatdown of Vanderbilt. The rout wasn't so much due to backup QB Joe Milton, but to a rushing game Vandy couldn't stop. Jaylen Wright had just five carries, but racked up 160 yards and two TDs; Dylan Sampson had 12 carries for another 131 yards and a TD; and Jabari Small had 11 carries for 79 yards and two TDs.
Meanwhile, Clemson (11-2 SU, 7-6 ATS) suffered regular-season losses at Notre Dame and in the regular-season finale to South Carolina. That kept the Tigers out of the CFP, though they still rolled over North Carolina 39-10 laying 7.5 points in the ACC championship game.
TwinSpires moved Clemson from -4 to -5 quickly on the way to -6.5, and the Tigers are now -7. Tennessee is taking 60% of early spread tickets, while 70% of early spread cash is on Clemson.
"This is already shaping up to be a Pros vs Joes game. The pros are on Clemson early," Lucas said.
The total went from 63.5 to 64.5, then nudged back to 64. The Over is seeing 62% of tickets/64% of money.