Dec 29, 2019
Tuesday's Early Bowl Tips
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Belk Bowl (ESPN, 12:00 p.m. ET)
Virginia Tech vs. Kentucky
Belk Bowl Betting History
-- The Virginia Tech Hokies (8-4 straight up, 6-6 against the spread) from Atlantic Coast Conference will square off against the Kentucky Wildcats (7-5 straight up, 9-3 against the spread) from the Southeastern Conference in the Belk Bowl in Charlotte, N.C. at Bank of America Stadium.
-- The Hokies are back at the Belk Bowl for the first time since the 2016 season, and they won 35-24 against Arkansas to cap off that campaign. That was also their most recent bowl victory, and they lost to Oklahoma State in 2017 in the Camping World Bowl and in 2018 to Cincinnati in the Military Bowl. This will be their first matchup with Kentucky in a bowl game, and they're 3-3 SU in six previous battles against SEC teams in bowl games.
-- The Wildcats have a bowl history dating all the way back to 1947 when they won the Great Lakes Bowl in Cleveland against Villanova by a 20-19 score. They were 8-5 in their first 13 bowl games, but dipped below .500 with four straight losses from 2009-17 before finally snapping that losing streak in a mild upset of Penn State last season in the Citrus Bowl, 27-24. This is their first-ever appearnace in the Belk Bowl. They're 0-3 in the past three tries against ACC teams in bowl games, falling to Georgia Tech in the TaxSlayer Bowl in 2016, the BBVA Compass Bowl in 2011 and Clemson in 2009 in the Music City Bowl. They last topped an ACC team when they pushed aside Florida State 35-28 in the Music City Bowl on NYE 2007.
-- The Hokies got a lot better as the season progressed. They started out just 2-2 SU/0-4 ATS through the first four games, including an 0-2 conference start with a loss at Boston College and at home to Duke. They turned things around with a comeback win at Miami on Oct. 5, kicking off a three-game winning streak. They nearly had a seven-game win streak, but fell just short 21-20 at Notre Dame on Nov. 2, although they easily covered in that one. They have a sour taste in their mouths, however, losing 39-30 to Virginia in Charlottesville to close out the season, snapping a 3-0 SU run, and a 5-0 ATS streak.
-- The Wildcats are streaking into bowl season, as they started out with a 2-3 SU/3-2 ATS record, including an 0-3 run in conference. In fact, their first two wins were against MAC teams Toledo and Eastern Michigan. They narrowly avoided upset against a bad Arkansas team on Oct. 12 for their first SEC win, but were blanked at Georgia to sit 3-4 SU on Oct. 19. They fell back under .500 at 4-5 with a 17-13 home loss to Tennessee. However, they posted wins over Vanderbilt, Tennessee-Martin and Louisville to close out the year on a high note. Not exactly a murderer's row, but bowl eligibility is bowl eligiblity.
-- Once QB Terry Wilson (knee) went down in September due to a knee injury, the Wildcats had to get creative. Dual-threat QB Sawyer Smith and WR/QB Lynn Bowden Jr. have been under center. The former Troy signal caller Smith has 690 passing yards to lead the team. If you think that's weird, Bowden Jr. is third on the team with 330 passing yards while tied for second with two touchdown throws. He also leads the team in rushing with 1,235 yards and 11 touchdowns while also leading with 30 receptions, 348 yards and one score. Somehow, with a mish-mash offense, they have made it work for more wins than losses.
-- The Wildcats are 80th overall in total yards on offense (391.8), while ranking just 126th in passing yards (117.1). However, they're fourth in the nation with 274.8 yards per game, while ranking 86th in points per game (26.3). Defensively, the Wildcats are stout, allowing just 324.0 total yards (20th), 172.7 passing yards (4th) and 151.3 rushing yards (60th). They yielded just 18.4 PPG to check in 12th in the country.
-- Virginia Tech is 81st in total yards on offense (390.3), 80th in passing yards (217.3), 53rd in rushing yards (172.9) and 52nd in points scored (30.9). Defensively, they're 42nd overall with 360.4 total yards allowed, hilw ranking 27th against the rush (123.4). They're also 45th in points allowed (23.7). If they have trouble, it's against the pass, but that's not a strong suit - or even much of a part - of Kentucky's game.
-- The Hokies are 5-1 ATS in the past six games overall, while going 4-1 ATS in the past five neutral-site battles. However, they're 3-9 ATS in the past 12 as a favorite, and 2-5 ATS in the past seven vs. SEC foes.
-- The Wildcats have covered six of the past seven games overall, and they're 4-0 ATS in the past four against teams with a winning record. UK is also 6-0 ATS in the past six non-conference tilts, but only 2-5 ATS in the previous seven neutral-site battles.
-- The under is 4-1 in Virginia Tech's past five, and 5-2 in their past seven as a favorite. However, the over is 6-2-2 in the past 10 neutral-site games and 5-1-1 in their past seven showings vs. SEC.
-- The under has cashed in four of Kentucky's past five bowl games, and six of their past eight neutral-site battles. The under is also 4-0 in the past four as an underdog.
Sun Bowl (CBS, 2:00 p.m.)
Florida State vs. Arizona State
Sun Bowl Betting History
-- The Tony The Tiger Sun Bowl sees the Arizona Sun Devils (7-5 straight up, 4-7-1 against the spread) from the Pac-12 Conference facing off against the Florida State Seminoles (6-6 straight up, 4-7-1 against the spread) of the ACC at the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Tex.
-- The Sun Devils fired out to a 5-1 SU start after a 38-34 win against Washington State on Oct. 12, but they lost four straight to Utah, UCLA, USC and Oregon State, putting their bowl eligibility in severe peril. A loss in Corvallis, 35-34, on Nov. 16, looked particularly damaging. However, they stunned Oregon 31-28 in Tucson to attain bowl eligibility, and then added to their resume with a win over rival Arizona, 24-14, in the season finale on Nov. 30.
-- The Seminoles qualified for a bowl game, but a .500 record wasn't enough to save the job of head coach Willie Taggart. He is now the head man at Florida Atlantic, and the Seminoles have hired Mike Norvell, formerly of Memphis. However, interim coach Odell Haggins will lead the Seminoles into El Paso. FSU managed to win just two games over bowl teams, 35-24 over Louisville on Sept. 21, and 38-31 at BC on Nov. 9.
-- Arizona State lost its first bowl game under Herm Edwards last season, falling 31-20 to Fresno State in the Las Vegas Bowl. They have dropped three in a row in the postseason, and they're 4-10 SU in their previous 14 bowl showings. These two teams met back in 1971 in the Fiesta Bowl, with the Sun Devils winning 45-38 behind legendary head coach Frank Kush.
-- FSU obviously has a long and decorated bowl history. Lately it's been a little less decorated, however. They didn't go to a bowl last season, ending the nation's longest active run. They won 42-13 in the Independence Bowl in 2017, and 33-32 over Michigan before that in the Orange Bowl on Dec. 30, 2016. The last time the Seminoles faced a Pac-12 team in a bowl game they lost to Oregon, 59-20, in the Rose Bowl in a playoff game. Their last win over a Pac-12 team was the Emerald Bowl over UCLA in 2006, although that win was actually vacated due to ineligible players. And, as mentioned above, they also lost to AZ State in 1971. So technically, they're 0-2 all-time in bowl games vs. Pac-12.
-- The Sun Devils rank 89th in the nation with 379.6 total yards and they're just 114th in rushing yards (126.3). However, the Sun Devils were a respectable 48th in passing yards per game with 253.3, led by QB Jayden Daniels, who improved as the season went on. He passed for 2,748 yards, with a majority going to WR N'Keal Harry's replacement, WR Brandon Aiyuk with 1,192 yards. RB Eno Benjamin also posted a respectabe 1,083 yards when they did run the ball. Defensively, the Sun Devils really struggled against the pass, allowing 270.1 yards in the pass-happy Pac-12, but they were a solid 22nd in the nation against the run at 117.0, and they allowed just 23.1 PPG to rank 41st.
-- The Seminoles rank 65th in total yards per game (403.2), 33rd in passing yards (269.4) and 104th in rushing yards (133.8) with 29.1 PPG to rank 65th. On the defensive side of the ball, the Seminoles were horrific, ranking 99th with 436.0 total yards per game allowed, 120th in passing yards (283.5) and 63rd in rushing yards (152.5) allowed. They coughed up 28.5 PPG to rank 71st in the country.
-- Arizona State is 0-8 ATS in the past eight games as a favorite, and they're 1-6 ATS in the past seven neutral-site battle. They're also 2-8 ATS in the past 10 bowl games, 1-4 ATS in the past five non-conference tilts and 1-4-1 ATS in the past six games overall.
-- Florida State is just 2-5 ATS in the past seven games overall, and 1-4 ATS in the past five against winning teams. They're also 0-6 ATS in the past six non-conference games. However, they're 10-2-1 ATS in the past 13 bowl games.
-- The Sun Devils have hit the over in four of the past five games overall, and 8-3 in the past 11 neutral-site battles. The over is also 6-2 in the past eight bowl games for AZ State, while going 9-4 in the past 13 as a favorite.
-- The over has connected in four bowl games in a row for FSU, while going 13-6-1 in their past 20 against winning teams. The over is also 7-1 in the past eight neutral-site games and 18-5 in their past 23 non-ACC games.
Liberty Bowl (ESPN, 3:45 p.m.)
Navy vs. Kansas State
Liberty Bowl Betting History
-- The Autozone Liberty Bowl features a battle between the Navy Midshipmen (10-2 straight up, 9-3 against the spread) from the American Athletic Conference battling the Kansas State Wildcats (8-4 straight-up, 9-3 against the spread) from the Big 12 Conference at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tenn.
-- Navy heads into this one on the heels of their 10th victory of the season Dec. 14, topping rival Army in their annual battle by a 31-7 score. It was their third straight win and cover since getting pounded 52-20 at Nore Dame on Nov. 16. Their only other loss, oddly enough, was in this stadium back on Sept. 26 when the Middies fell to Memphis in their first AAC road game. They managed a 3-2 ATS mark in their five true road games this season.
-- Kansas State opened with three victories, but then they slipped against Oklahoma State and Baylor to fall to 3-2 SU/ATS. They rebounded with wins against TCU, Oklahoma and Kansas, and they were a 23.5-point underdog in that game against the Sooners at home. They were dumped by Texas and West Virginia, but finished up strong with wins over Texas Tech and a good Iowa State team, ending up 6-2 ATS in the final eight outings.
-- Navy's bowl history dates all the way back to 1924, when they tied Washington 14-14 in the Rose Bowl. It hasn't been quite as long since they were in the Liberty Bowl, but it's been a while. They fell to Ohio State by a 31-28 score in the Liberty Bowl in their final bowl under George Welsh on Dec. 30, 1981. While they'll now play Navy on a fairly regular basis in the AAC, they still don't have a long history at the stadium. The Middies are 4-1 SU across the past five bowl appearances under Ken Niumatalolo. The last time they faced a Big 12 team in a bowl game, they faced Missouri (then in the Big 12) in the Texas Bowl by a 35-13 score on Dec. 31, 2009. They also lost to Texas Tech in 2003 in the Houston Bowl, so officially they're 0-2 SU vs. Big 12 in bowl season.
-- K-State has appeared in 21 bowl games in school history. They're currently on a two-game winning streak, and they have never won three straight bowl appearances in school history. This will also be their first appearance against an AAC team. This will also be their first bowl appearance under Chris Klieman, and just the third in their history without Bill Snyder at the helm. The Wildcats appeared in the Liberty Bowl on Jan. 2, 2016, falling to Arkansas by a 45-23 score.
-- The Midshipmen are 12-3-1 ATS in the past 16 games overall, including 4-0 ATS in the past four as a favorite. They're also 3-1-1 ATS in the past non-conference tilts, and 5-0 ATS in the past five bowl appearances.
-- The Wildcats are 6-1 ATS in the past seven games overall, and 4-0 ATS in the past four against winning teams. They're also 4-0 ATS in the past four outside of the conference, while going 4-0 ATS in the past four in the month of December.
-- However, K-State is 3-7 ATS in the past 10 bowl games, and they're 1-5 ATS in the past six as a bowl 'dog.
-- Navy is 7-3 ATS in the past 10 games overall, and 4-1 in the past five against winning teams. However, the under is 14-2 in the past 16 neutral-site games as a favorite, with the under hitting in 11 of their past 14 neutral-site games overall. The over is 9-4 in their past 13 bowl games.
-- The under is 5-1 in K-State's past six against winning teams, and 18-7-1 in the past 26 games overall.