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Dec 19, 2019

Friday's Bowl Tip Sheet

Editor’s Note: Brian Edwards went 4-0 on Championship Weekend with three EASY winners on FAU, LSU and the Clemson-UVA ‘over,’ which beat the closing numbers by 78 combined points. The fourth winner was on Cincinnati as a 9.5-point underdog in a 29-24 loss at Memphis that only left 4.5 points of breathing room (compared to the others that beat the line by 35.5, 20 and 22.5 pts.). Since Nov. 9, Brian has produced a 27-17-1 record (61.4%, +$1,245 based on $100 plays or +12.45 units of profit!) in college football. His guaranteed plays are on a 7-2 run (77.8%, +4.6 units) in his last nine, so don’t miss out on Friday’s pay-if-it-wins-only selection! If you want to get a nice discount, sign up for all of Brian’s college football winners all the way through the CFP finals.

The Bowl Season starts Friday with a doubleheader. The action starts in the Bahamas, where Buffalo out of the MAC will face Charlotte from Conference USA. The night game is the Frisco Bowl in Texas, where Utah State out of the Mountain West Conference will take on Kent State from the MAC. Let’s break down both games before getting into some Bonus Nuggets…

Bahamas Bowl (ESPN, 2:00 p.m.)

Buffalo vs. Charlotte

Bahamas Bowl Betting History

-- As of early Thursday morning, most books had Buffalo (7-5 straight up, 7-5 against the spread) installed as a 6.5-point favorite with a total of 52. The 49ers were +200 on the money line. For first-half wagers, the Bulls were 3.5-point ‘chalk’ with a total of 26.

-- Buffalo is bowling for the fourth time in program history and is in the postseason in back-to-back years for the first time. The Bulls are 0-3 both SU and ATS in three bowl games, however, including a 42-32 loss to Troy as one-point favorites at last year’s Dollar General Bowl.

-- Lance Leipold’s team returned only five starters on offense and three on defense. Star QB Tyree Jackson turned pro a year early, starting WR K.J. Osborn grad transferred to Miami and starting TE Tyler Mabry grad transferred to Maryland. Jackson was the 2018 MAC Offensive Player of the Year and Osborn was a second-team All-MAC selection in ’18. Nevertheless, Buffalo won five of its last six games by double-digit margins to earn another trip to the postseason.

-- Buffalo is 6-1 ATS in its last seven games. The only outright defeats during this span are a 30-27 loss at Kent State and a 21-20 overtime loss to Ohio as a three-point home underdog. The Bulls got a quality non-conference victory in Week 4 on Sept. 21, drilling Temple 38-22 as 14-point home underdogs. They led 10-7 at Penn State early in the third quarter until the Nittany Lions got a pick-six to swing the momentum their way for good. PSU would win 45-13 and even cover by a hook as a 31.5-point home favorite, but the stats told a story of a misleading final score. Buffalo had a 22-14 advantage in first downs and a 429-357 edge in total offense.

-- Buffalo sophomore RB Jaret Patterson rushed for 1,013 yards and 14 touchdowns, averaging 5.5 yards per carry, as a freshman in 2018. He garnered second-team All-MAC honors. Patterson was the catalyst in UB’s 49-7 home win over Bowling Green in the regular-season finale, producing 298 rushing yards and six TDs on 26 carries. He earned first-team All-MAC honors this year, rushing for 1,626 yards and 17 TDs with a 5.8 YPC average. Patterson also had 13 receptions for 209 yards and one TD. He’s joined by teammate, senior OT Evin Ksiezarczyk, as a first-team All-MAC choice.

-- Two other Buffalo offensive linemen, junior OT Kayode Awosika and senior OG Paul Nosworthy, were second-team All-MAC picks. In addition, junior WR Antonio Nunn garnered third-team All-MAC honors after catching 44 balls for 634 yards and five TDs.

-- Buffalo had the MAC’s best defense, limiting opponents to an average of just 22.3 points per game. This unit is ranked sixth in the nation in total defense, fourth against the run and No. 21 versus the pass. The defensive leaders are senior free safety Joey Banks and junior DEs Taylor Riggins and Malcolm Koonce. All three earned first-team All-MAC honors. Banks had a team-best 76 tackles (52 solo), 3.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions for 70 return yards and one TD, one sack and one forced fumble. Riggins recorded 44 tackles (23 solo), 8.5 sacks, six QB hurries, 1.5 TFL’s, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery, while Koonce produced 29 tackles, seven sacks, four QB hurries, two TFL’s and two forced fumbles.

-- There were three Buffalo players selected as second-team All-MAC members, including OLB Kadofi Wright (17 solo tackles, 11 assists, two interceptions, two sacks, one forced fumble and one pick-six), DL Ledarius Mack (14 solo tackles, five assists, seven sacks, four TFL’s, three forced fumbles and one 35-yard scoop-and-score TD) and junior strong safety Tyrone Hill (47 solo tackles, 18 assists, nine passes broken up and 2.5 TFL’s).

-- Buffalo sophomore QB Matt Myers went down with a season-ending injury on Sept. 28. He was completing merely 46.7 percent of his throws for 602 yards with a 6/4 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Since then, the Bulls are 5-2 with third-year sophomore Kyle Vantrease as their starting signal caller. Again, the two defeats were by four combined points. Vantrease has connected on 60.0 percent of his passes for 1,116 yards with a 7/1 TD-INT ratio. He also has five rushing TDs.

-- Buffalo is +2 in turnover margin, coughing up eight turnovers and getting 10 takeaways.

-- Charlotte (7-5 SU, 6-6 ATS) didn’t even start its football program until 2013, so it’s no surprise that this is the school’s first appearance in a bowl game. The 49ers bring a five-game winning streak to the Bahamas, and they’re 4-1 ATS in that span.

-- After six seasons at the helm, Brad Lambert was replaced by Will Healy as Charlotte’s new head coach. The 33-year-old Healy in the second youngest FBS head coach. His team is off a 38-22 win at Old Dominion as a 10.5-point ‘chalk’ in the regular-season finale. Senior RB Benny LeMay was the catalyst, rushing for 105 yards and two TDs on 18 carries. Sophomore QB Chris Reynolds completed 9-of-12 passes for 166 yards and two TDs with one interception. Reynolds also had 96 rushing yards on 11 attempts.

-- Charlotte went 4-4 ATS with three outright wins in eight games as an underdog. The 49ers failed to cover the number in losses by double-digit margins at Clemson (52-10), vs. FAU (45-27), at FIU (48-23) and at Western Kentucky (30-14). However, they’ve won outright in their last three games as home puppies, beating North Texas (39-38), Middle Tennessee (34-20) and Marshall (24-13) at Jerry Richardson Stadium.

-- Reynolds, who started six games as a freshman in 2018, has connected on 62.2 percent of his passes for 2,366 yards with a 21/10 TD-INT ratio. He also has 757 rushing yards, six TDs and a 5.4 YPC average. LeMay, a first-team All-C-USA selection, ranks second in school history in career rushing yards (3,002). He’s run for 1,027 yards this year, averaging 5.7 YPC with nine rushing scores. LeMay has 19 catches for 242 yards and four TDs.

-- Sophomore WR Victor Tucker leads Charlotte with 49 receptions for 848 yards and two TDs. Sophomore WR Cameron Dollar has 37 catches for 551 yards and two TDs, while junior WR Tyler Ringwood has snagged 20 balls for 331 yards and five TDs.

-- The Charlotte defense is led by senior DE Alex Highsmith, who garnered first-team All-C-USA honors for the second straight season. Highsmith had 40 solo tackles, 28 assists, 14 sacks (second in the nation), 7.5 TFL’s, eight QB hurries, three PBU and one forced fumble. Sophomore DE Markees Watts had 28 solo stops, 23 assists, 9.5 sacks, six QB hurries, three TFL’s and three forced fumbles.

-- Charlotte senior safety Marquavis Gibbs (undisclosed) and senior LB Jeff Gemmell (ankle) are both listed as ‘questionable’ vs. Buffalo. Gibbs produced a team-high 94 tackles (48 solo), four PBU, two QB hurries, one TFL and 0.5 sacks, while Gemmell contributed 80 tackles (33 solo), 5.5 TFL’s, two PBU, one interception, one sack, one QB hurry and one forced fumble.

-- Buffalo redshirt freshman RB Dylan McDuffie is suspended vs. Kent State. In seven games, he ran 23 times for 150 rushing yards, and McDuffie also had three catches for 25 yards and one TD.

-- The ‘over’ has hit in five consecutive Buffalo games to improve to 8-4 overall. The last five combined scores have produced 56, 79, 57, 57 and 63 points.

-- The ‘over’ is 8-4 overall for the 49ers, but they’ve seen the ‘under’ go 4-2 in their last six contests.

-- The forecast in Nassau from weather.com indicates rain on Thursday night and early Friday morning, so the field conditions could be a little wet. However, by game time, there’s only a 25-percent chance of rain with temperatures in the upper 70s. The thing to watch, though, is the wind, which is expected to be blowing at 25 miles per hour.

-- Kickoff on ESPN is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. Eastern.

Frisco Bowl (ESPN, 7:30 p.m.)

Kent State at Utah State

Frisco Bowl Betting History

-- This is the Tropical Smoothie Café Frisco Bowl that’s played in Frisco, Texas. As of Thursday morning, most books had Utah State (7-5 SU, 7-5 ATS) listed as a 6.5-point favorite with a total of 67.5. The Golden Flashes were +200 on the money line.

-- When Matt Wells left to take the Texas Tech job after leading the Aggies to a second double-digit win total during his six-year tenure, Utah State hired its old coach Gary Andersen for a second tour of duty in Logan. Andersen had led the Aggies to an 11-2 record in 2012 during the Chuckie Keeton Era, helping him get the Wisconsin job. However, after posting a 20-7 record for the Badgers in 2013 and ’14, he abruptly left to take an inferior job at Oregon State. Andersen ended up quitting on the Beavers in the middle of his third season when they were 1-5 for the year and 7-23 overall on his watch.

-- Utah State finished 2018 with an 11-2 SU record and a 9-3-1 ATS ledger, but it returned only two starters from an offense that averaged 47.5 PPG. The good news was that one of the starters coming back was junior QB Jordan Love, a second-team All-MWC pick last season when he threw for 3,567 yards with a stellar 32/6 TD-INT ratio. Love and leading rusher Gerold Bright were arrested this past weekend for misdemeanor possession of marijuana. Nevertheless, according to an ESPN report from Wednesday night, Love and Bright practiced Wednesday and are NOT going to be suspended vs. Kent State.

-- Utah State won three of its last four games both SU and ATS, including a 38-25 win at New Mexico as a 12-point road favorite in its regular-season finale. The Aggies led 31-6 at intermission, only to see the Lobos score two TDs to cut the deficit to 31-18 midway through the third quarter. But Love hit Siaosi Mariner with a 10-yard scoring strike with 2:43 left in the third to put the icing on the cake. Love completed 18-of-35 throws for 172 yards and three TDs with one interception. Bright ran 19 times for 113 rushing yards and one TD.

-- Love has already declared for the NFL Draft, although there are conflicting reports that if he doesn’t like the feedback he gets from the league, leaving Logan via the grad-transfer route (possibly to reunite with Wells at Texas Tech) could be a possibility. Whatever the case, Love was unable to match his production from 2018 this year. He’s completed 60.6 percent of his passes for 3,085 yards with a 17/16 TD-INT ratio.

-- Bright has run for 827 yards and eight TDs, averaging 5.1 YPC. He has 31 receptions for 207 yards and one TD. Juco transfer RB Jaylen Warren has run for 561 yards and five TDs while averaging 5.3 YPC. He has 14 catches for 156 yards. Mariner is Love’s favorite target, hauling in 56 receptions for 874 yards and eight TDs. He garnered second-team All-MWC honors. Jordan Nathan is another reliable target who has 47 catches for 510 yards and one TD.

-- Although he went down with a season-ending knee injury in late October and played in just seven games, junior LB David Woodward still recorded a team-best 93 tackles (53 solo), four forced fumbles, three TFL’s, two sacks, two PBU and one fumble recovery that he return eight yards for a scoop-and-score TD. Since Woodward’s injury, the Aggies have given up 35.8 PPG in their past five contests. He was a first-team All-MWC selection in 2018 when he had 134 tackles, 7.5 TFL’s, five sacks, four QB hurries, three PBU, two forced fumbles and two interceptions. Like Love, Woodward has already declared early for the 2020 NFL Draft. He was the only Utah State defensive player chosen as a first-team All-MWC selection.

-- Two Utah State players earned first-team All-MWC honors for their work on special teams, including placekicker Dominik Eberle and kick returner Savon Scarver. Eberle made all 40 of his extra-point attempts and 19-of-22 field-goal attempts. Scarver returned 19 kicks for 557 yards, with a long of 100 yards and an average of 29.3 yards per return.

-- This is Utah State’s eighth trip to the postseason in the last nine seasons. The Aggies are 5-8 in 13 bowl games in program history, but they trounced North Texas 52-13 as 7.5-point favorites in last year’s New Mexico Bowl.

-- Kent State (6-6 SU, 8-4 ATS) brings a three-game winning streak to Texas, a surge that got the team into the postseason for the first time since 2012. Even better, Sean Lewis’s squad has covered the spread in four consecutive games and is 6-1 versus the number in its last seven contests. After going 2-10 in Lewis’s first campaign as HC in ’18, the Golden Flashes improved by four games.

-- Kent State has thrived in the underdog role, compiling a 6-2 spread record with three outright victories. In non-conference play, the Golden Flashes took the money in a 30-7 loss at Arizona State as 24.5-point underdogs in the season opener. However, they were on the wrong side both SU and ATS in losses at Auburn (55-16) and at Wisconsin (48-0).

-- Needing to win out to get bowl eligible, Lewis’s bunch started its run with a 30-27 win over Buffalo as a six-point home underdog. Next, Kent State won a 41-38 decision over Ball State as a three-point home hound. Then in the regular-season finale, the Golden Flashes darted out to a 24-14 halftime lead at Eastern Michigan. They extended the advantage to 31-14 when Jamal Parker returned the opening kick of the second half 96 yards to paydirt. The Eagles would rally, but Kent State hung on for a 34-26 triumph as a four-point road ‘dog. Junior QB Dustin Crum rushed 13 times for 51 yards and a pair of TDs at EMU. He also completed 17-of-23 throws for 197 yards. Junior free safety Keith Sherald had five solo tackles, six assists and two interceptions.

-- Crum enjoyed a breakout campaign. He leads the MAC and is 16th in the country in QB rating (156.07), placing him ahead of QBs like Jayden Daniels, Sam Ehlinger, Cole McDonald, Shea Patterson, Jake Fromm, Kelly Bryant, Jamie Newman, Jacob Eason, Sean Clifford, Shane Buechele, Ian Book and Jack Abraham (among many others!). Crum has completed 68.2 percent of his passes for 2,333 yards with an 18/2 TD-INT ratio. He’s also the Golden Flashes’ leading rusher with 560 yards, five TDs and a 3.9 YPC average.

-- Crum’s favorite targets are WRs Isaiah McKoy and Mike Carrigan, who both earned third-team All-MAC honors. McKoy had 51 receptions for 767 yards and seven TDs, while Carrigan had 38 catches for 534 yards and five TDs. Senior WR Kavious Price had 47 grabs for 504 yards and three TDs.

-- Kent State’s special-teams units are a strength. Placekicker Matthew Trickett was a first-team All-MAC selection for the second straight season and was named the MAC’s Special Teams Player of the Year. Trickett buried 24-of-29 field-goal attempts and led the MAC with 107 total points. His 24 made FGAs were second-best in the country. Also, punter Derek Adams was a third-team All-MAC choice, averaging 43.3 yards per punt.

-- Kent State is 0-3 SU in the program’s only three postseason appearances. In the 2012 GoDaddy.com Bowl, The Golden Flashes lost a 17-13 decision to Arkansas State as 3.5-point underdogs.

-- ESPN2 will have Friday night’s broadcast at 7:30 p.m. Eastern.

-- According to weather.com, rain showers are in the forecast in Frisco for Friday night. Temperatures will be in the mid-40s at kickoff and move into the low 40s as the game progresses. Winds are predicted to be five miles per hour.

B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets

-- Boise State is a 3.5-point underdog in Saturday’s Las Vegas Bowl vs. Washington at Sam Boyd Stadium. Since taking over at BSU for Chris Petersen, UW’s head coach who shockingly resigned earlier this month, Harsin has compiled a 7-0 spread record with five outright wins in seven games as an underdog (with the late line move on game day last year, the Broncos closed as short favorites in their blowout loss at Oklahoma State). Washington will be without OT Trey Adams, who was a first-team All-American selection in 2017, and star TE Hunter Bryant, who are both skipping the game to stay healthy for the 2020 NFL Draft. Bryant has 52 receptions for 828 yards and three TDs. With Adams ‘out,’ Boise State junior DE Curtis Weaver should be able to cause problems galore for Washington QB Jacob Eason. Weaver is fifth in the nation in sacks with 13.5.

-- Former South Carolina QB Jake Bentley has transferred to Utah, where he’s the likely starting QB in 2020 replacing Tyler Huntley. As for former Florida QB Feleipe Franks, he reportedly visited Kansas this past weekend. KU head coach Les Miles was still at LSU when Franks verbally committed to the Tigers early in the recruiting process. Former UF head coach Jim McElwain eventually was able to flip Franks to UF.

-- LSU star RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire sustained a hamstring injury at Tuesday’s practice. At a presser Wednesday night in Baton Rouge, Ed Orgeron said Edwards-Helaire will be evaluated further in the coming days. I would say he’s closer to ‘doubtful’ than ‘questionable’ for the Dec. 28 Peach Bowl showdown against Oklahoma. If LSU advances (it will with or without Edwards-Helaire), I’m guessing his availability vs. the Ohio State-Clemson winner in the College Playoff finals is also a question mark. Edwards-Helaire is the SEC’s leader in all-purpose yards with 1,903. He has 1,290 rushing yards, 16 TDs and a 6.6 YPC average.

-- The Athletic confirmed an initial report from SoonerScoop on Wednesday that three Oklahoma players are suspended for the CFP semifinals vs. LSU after testing positive for weed. The trio includes DE Ronnie Perkins, who has team-highs in TFL’s (13.5) and sacks (six), and backup RB Rhamondre Stevenson, who has 515 rushing yards and six TDs.

-- Here are some key players that are bucking the trend and playing in their team’s bowl games (how refreshing!) rather than skip out to stay healthy for the 2020 NFL Draft: Utah RB Zack Moss, Auburn DE Derrick Brown, Oklahoma State RB Chuba Hubbard (the nation’s leading rusher) and Florida DE Jonathan Greenard.

-- On the flip side, players skipping their bowls to stay healthy include Florida CB and three-time All-SEC selection C.J. Henderson, Georgia OT Andrew Thomas, Minnesota LB Kamal Martin, FSU RB Cam Akers, Arizona State WR Brandon Aiyuk, Miami WR Jeff Thomas, Alabama LB Terrell Lewis and DB Trevon Diggs, Texas A&M DL Justin Madubuike, UCF QB Brandon Wimbush, Boston College RB A.J. Dillon, Washington TE Hunter Bryant and OT Trey Adams, Miami DE Trevon Hill and DL Jonathan Garvin and Mississippi State CB Cameron Dantzler. -- Here are some players that I anticipate skipping their bowl games but have yet to announce either way: Arizona State RB Eno Benjamin, Georgia RB De’Andre Swift and Alabama WRs Jerry Jeudy, DeVonta Smith and Henry Ruggs, in addition to ‘Bama RB Najee Harris. Swift is considered by many as the best RB in the 2020 NFL Draft, but he stated on social media earlier this week that he won’t announce a decision about possibly leaving school early until after the Sugar Bowl.

-- Georgia OT Isaiah Wilson has announced he’s turning pro early, but his social-media post declaring for the Draft didn’t specifically state whether he’d be in uniform against Baylor in New Orleans or not. Kirby Smart’s other OT Thomas, a fourth-team All-American in 2018 and a first-team All-SEC pick this year, won’t be playing in the Sugar Bowl. The Bulldogs will be without WRs Lawrence Cager (ankle) and Dominick Blaylock (torn ACL) due to injuries.

-- SMU WR Reggie Roberson Jr. announced this week that he’s returning to the Mustangs for his senior campaign. However, the lower-body injury that kept him out of SMU’s last four regular-season games has him ‘questionable’ at FAU in Saturday’s Boca Raton Bowl. Roberson had 52 catches for 802 yards and six TDs in eight games this year. He also returned five kicks for 206 yards and one TD.

-- David Shaw had won at least eight games in each of the first eight year of his tenure, winning nine or more seven times. But the Cardinal limped to a 4-8 record this season and since the regular-season finale, THIRTEEN players have entered the transfer portal! QB K.J. Costello became the 13th on Wednesday. Costello had an injury-plagued 2019 campaign after earning second-team All-PAC-12 honors in ’18. The lone bright spot for Stanford is that OT Walker Little, who was a preseason first-team All-American and projected first-round pick, has decided to return to school. Little dislocated his knee in the season opener vs. Northwestern (remember that Bad Beat from Hell for Northwestern backers?!) and missed the rest of the year.

-- Florida is a 14-point favorite vs. Virginia in the Orange Bowl. The Gators are 5-0 ATS as double-digit favorites this year, 8-1 ATS as double-digit ‘chalk’ since Dan Mullen took over as HC. UF will be making its fourth appearance in the Orange Bowl. Steve Spurrier won the Heisman Trophy in 1966 and helped UF to a 27-12 win over Georgia Tech on Jan. 2 of 1967. On the same date (Jan. 2) exactly 35 years later, I had the absolute honor of slamming Budweisers galore (Hat Tip to Curtis Hazel for my ticket!) and watching in-person as the Gators destroyed Maryland 56-23 in the last game Spurrier coached for his alma mater. He resigned two days later to pursue an NFL head-coaching gig. In the 1999 Orange Bowl, UF took Syracuse and Donovan McNabb behind the woodshed in a 31-10 victory. Travis Taylor was named Orange Bowl MVP after making seven catches for 159 yards, including a pair of TD grabs from Doug Johnson in the first quarter. I was also in attendance at Dolphin Stadium (currently Hard Rock, formerly Joe Robbie, Pro Player, Sun Life and Land Shark Stadiums) on Jan. 8 of 2009 when Florida beat Oklahoma 24-14 to win the BCS Championship. The Gators have three national titles in the program’s football history, but none since that night in South Florida against the Sooners nearly 11 years ago.

Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.

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