Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:55 AM
Saturday's Best Bets - Totals
Earlier today I took a look at a couple of side plays for this loaded six-game bowl betting board on Saturday, so now it's time to look at the totals options on this card as well. And just like the sides, I do believe this board is rather tricky with totals as well as nothing immediately jumps off the board. Numbers have already seen some movement based on early opening action, and after settling in, these totals have stayed relatively steady.
I'm sure as more action comes in on these games with the closer we get to Saturday, there will be some more movement, but for now, there is one play that I'm confident in firing on.
Arkansas State vs. Florida International (ESPN, 5:30 p.m.)
The Camellia Bowl is one that's always been close historically since moving to its current location in Montgomery, Alabama in 2014. The previous five editions of this game has seen no team win this game by a margin greater then five points, but only once has the combined score eclipsed this year's total of 62.5. So why am I backing the 'over' here?
Well for one, FIU was an awful defensive team on the road this year, giving up 42, 43, 50, 37, and 30 points in their five true road games this season. Yes, this isn't a true road game for the Panthers, but it's not a home game either, so visiting numbers are ones I prefer to use. And given that those five scores average out to 40.4 points allowed per game, and outside of visiting a Top 5 program like Georgia, Arkansas State put up 43, 50, 38, 48, and 30 points offensively in their five true road games against relatively equal competition (again not counting their 55-0 loss @ Georgia), the Red Wolves should have no problems finding paydirt. Those numbers average out to 41.8 points/game, which should let us conservatively count on Arkansas State scoring at least 35 points in this contest.
Now, flipping things over to the other side of the equation, Arkansas State on defense in those road games was just as bad as FIU, as they allowed at least 34 points against in five of their six total road games this year (including that Georgia game). Combined scores in Arkansas State road contests finished with point totals of 60, 55, 93, 90, 89, and 64 – for an average of 75.1 per game – suggesting yet again that this total does appear to be a little short.
FIU's offense away from home wasn't all that great as they put up 27+ points just twice in five tries, but when given extra time to prepare for their opponent this season, the offense did tend to shine in putting up 44 andT 30 points, the latter being a 30-24 win against the Miami Hurricanes, a team that is known to be above average defensively. Hopefully the Panthers coaching staff has used all this bowl practice time to help their team produce similar results on Saturday, as there is plenty of film out there on what works against the Red Wolves.
Finally, if we continue to work under the assumption that this Camellia Bowl will once again be a tight contest decided by a single score - and it's hard not to with the point spread currently sitting at Arkansas State -2.5 – and Arkansas State is likely good for 35+ points here, a single-score victory (35-28) for the Red Wolves gets us 'over' this total on the ultra-conservative end of that spectrum.
That's a risk I'm more then willing to take here, as FIU's offense probably does better then their road numbers suggest against this Arkansas State defense, while even if FIU's defense away from home improves, two extra weeks of practice likely isn't enough to keep Arkansas State below that 30-point threshold.
Furthermore, FIU is on a 5-1 O/U run in their last six games against a winning team, while Arkansas State went 6-3 O/U this year when laying chalk. Both sides should keep those runs in tact, as this one may be one of those bowl games where you'll need 40 points to win.
Best Bet: Over