Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 13:55 PM
Tuesday's Best Bets
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I'd like to wish everyone out there a Happy New Year and to be safe with friends and loved ones on New Year's Eve wherever you might end up ringing in the New Year. Hopefully that party can be that much more joyous with a few extra betting units in your pocket from a strong day of college bowl action, and with five games on the board and kicking off all day from 12:00 p.m. ET to 7:30 pm EST, it's a full day of potential in terms of what could be for your betting bankroll.
Tuesday's slate is not the most attractive of boards from top to bottom as the 'big boys' get going on New Year's Day, but there is one side and one total play that do stick out to me and have already been added to the card.
Let's break them down!
Liberty Bowl (ESPN, 3:45 p.m. ET)
Kansas State vs. Navy
Side Best Bet: Kansas State +2.5
If you are willing to pay a bit in juice, getting this number up to +3 makes quite a bit of sense, but I'm not sure it's a necessity, as I do like the Wildcats to ultimately win this game outright. Navy flipped to a favorite prior to the Army/Navy game, but their dominant showing there only helped their cause, and will be one of the things many bettors remember heading into their breakdown of this game.
Navy is a team you tend to know what you're going to get, and it becomes more of a question of whether or not the opponent can handle Navy's option attack. Well, extra time to prepare always helps and Kansas State has had plenty of time for that, and K-State's defense is already decent at stopping the run in giving up just 152.5 yards per game. Now none of the Wildcats past opponents ran the ball as much as Navy does, nor in the style that they employ. But stopping any sort of running game is about knowing your role in terms of gap integrity defensively, and Kansas State has long been a program that's known for its dogged preparation.
K-State wins games they shouldn't (at least according to the point spread) on that dogged determination, and aiming to be fundamentally better then everyone else. Those things are going to be tough to rely on against a program like Navy, but a 5-2 SU and 6-1 ATS run to end the season thanks in large part to their defense being able to minimize the damage when needed, is some positive recent form to fall back on for this game.
As long as the Wildcats have spent their prep time wisely in getting prepared for the option attack, and there is no reason to believe otherwise, this is a spot where the talent on the field favors Kansas State, the ability to deal with a unique scheme (K-State vs Navy offense) is still undetermined, and the situational angle for both sides actually does favor K-State as well in my view.
After missing out on the AAC Title game thanks to Memphis winning that final week, the high watermark in terms of motivating ways to end the season on a high note for Navy was that rivalry game with Army. The senior class for Navy was in danger of getting swept by Army throughout their collegiate time, and for guys in Navy colors, that just can't happen. Navy made sure that didn't happen with the blowout win, and with a double-digit win season already accomplished, and beating Army accomplished as well, what motivation is left for Navy to hang their hat on this season?
For Kansas State, the answer to that question isn't a hell of a lot different, but there is less of a chance of a letdown for them off a big win like Navy is coming off of vs Army. At the same time, K-State head coach Chris Klieman would love to make his first year at the school one that is capped off with a win in a bowl game to help further transition that culture.
Kansas State has always been a money maker as an underdog – 39-19-1 ATS in their last 59 tries as one, and while I'm not sure they deserve to be the 'dog in this matchup, I'll gladly take the points.
Sun Bowl (CBS, 2:00 p.m. ET)
Florida State vs. Arizona State
Total Best Bet: Florida State/Arizona State Over 54
Florida State is an interesting case for this game with the coaching transition they are making from Willie Taggart to Mike Norvell, and while neither will be on the sidelines for this game, I do suspect knowing there has been a change will spark some positive energy from the Seminoles.
There is always the possibility that some guys would have preferred Taggart stay to finish out the year, FSU had given up on that guy long ago. They were a team that played disinterested football most of the year, and just couldn't get out of their own way with all levels of mistakes. If anything, the chaotic time that a program goes through during a coaching change like this when it could potentially hurt bowl prep time is never a horrible thing for an 'over'. And having a FSU defense on the back end of that equation already isn't bad either.
Florida State did show some improvement defensively as the year wore on, but this is the ultimate freelance game for them. The current system they are running is all but useless to them after this game, and the interest level FSU has in making it look good on film probably isn't high.
But you know what does look good on film for guys, especially with a new coach having eyes on you? Flashy, big time plays, INT's, forced fumbles, sacks etc, and from the lack of discipline we've seen from the Seminoles all year, you tempt some of them with individual sustainability in those moments, and should they whiff on those shots taken, ASU won't hesitate to put up points in a hurry.
At the same time, Arizona State finished the year strong with home wins over Oregon and Arizona. Defensively they probably played above their heads in those two games, and there just won't be the same desire or passion to do the same against a former great program on hard times from all the way across the country.
For all of their shortcomings, FSU can still score when they get things humming on offense, and ASU finished with a 3-1 O/U run in road games as it is. Teams that can score the football, generally find success against ASU, and if Florida State does come out playing loose thanks to the culture change, asking them for 28+ points on their end is highly reasonable.
Herm Edwards squad should be able to do the same against a defense that struggled for big chunks of the year and now has a whole new regime to concern themselves with. Arizona State put up at least 24 points in eight of nine conference games this year, with a road trip to Utah (21-3 loss) being the only one they failed to do so. Florida State's defense is far worse then half of the Pac-12 defenses ASU saw this year, and that might even a bit generous.