Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:55 AM
Thursday's Bowl Tips
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Birmingham Bowl (ESPN, 3:00 p.m. ET)
Boston College vs. Cincinnati
Birmingham Bowl Betting History
-- The Boston College Eagles (6-6 straight up, 7-5 against the spread) from the Atlantic Coast Conference will take on the Cincinnati Bearcats (10-3 straight up, 8-5 against the spread) from the American Athletic Conference in the TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala.
-- The Eagles head into this one a mess. Steve Addazio was fired, so interim coach Richie Gunnell will steer the ship for the Eagles in Birmingham. In addition, offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian took the job at Northwestern, so he isn't with the team either. If that wasn't bad enough, ACC rushing leader RB A.J. Dillon has elected to sit out the bowl game to prepare for the NFL Draft and avoid risking an injury. So, needless to say, the .500 Eagles are a bit shorthanded going in.
-- Boston College's bowl history was amazing from the 2000 Aloha Bowl through the 2007 Champs Sports Bowl, as they rattled off eight consecutive postseason wins. That luck dried up in a hurry, however, starting with the 2008 Music City Bowl. They enter play on Thursday with losses in six of their past seven bowl games, with only a 36-30 win in the 2016 Quick Lane Bowl as the exception.
-- The Bearcats registered 10 victories this season, and they are looking for their second straight 11-win season under head coach Luke Fickell. There was some talk about UC being a potential Group of Five representatitve, but Memphis quickly squelched that talk with a 34-24 win in the regular-season finale at the Liberty Bowl, and then a 29-24 loss the following week in the same location against the Tigers in the AAC Championship Game. It's a little surprising that the Bearcats tumbled all the way to Birmingham against a .500 team, but at least they get a chance against a Power Five opponent.
-- Cincinnati did cover those two games against Memphis, at least, although they were 1-4 ATS in the previous five outings. They haven't covered three or more consecutive games since four straight covers from Sept. 14-Oct. 12.
-- Boston College started out 3-1 SU, but they won just once in a four-game stretch from Sept. 28-Oct. 26 to slip to 4-4. They did pick up a huge win at Syracuse, 58-27, to move to the precipice of bowl eligibility on Nov. 2. However, a disappointing loss against Florida State, and a beatdown at Notre Dame put their bowl hopes in jeopardy. They played hard, though, and won outright as nine-point underdogs in Pittsburgh in the regular-season finale.
-- The Bearcats rank just 85th in total offense with 385.0 total yards per game, and 105th in passing yards per contest at 187.4. On the ground, that's their strength, piling up 197.6 yards per game to rank 33rd. RB Michael Warren II rolled up 1,160 yards and 14 touchdowns, so he is the star for UC. Defensively they're just so-so, ranking 52nd in total yards (376.6), 80th in passing yards (233.2), 48th in rushing yards (143.4) and 30th in points (21.7) allowed per game.
-- While BC ranks 26th in total yards per game (450.8), that can be ignored a bit due to the absence of the dynamic Dillon. They ranked sixth in the country on the ground with 267.4 yards per game, but again... They will have to rely on the pass game a little more, and that's where they struggled since QB Anthony Brown (knee) went down with a season-ending injury in mid-October. Defensively, the Eagles were a disaster, ranking 125th in total yards allowed (480.3), 126th in passing yards (299.6) and 96th in points allowed (31.7).
-- Boston College heads in 15-5-1 ATS in the past 21 as an underdog, and 3-1-1 ATS in the past five neutral-site games. However, they're 1-5 ATS in the previous six non-conference battles and 2-7 ATS in their past nine bowl outings.
-- Cincinnati has failed to cover in four consecutive bowl games, and four straight neutral-site contests.
-- The over has hit in five of the past seven games overall for BC, and seven of their previous 10 non-conference tilts. The over is also 4-0 in the past four bowl games.
-- The over has connected in five of the past seven bowl games for UC, while going 5-2 in their past seven vs. ACC foes. However, the under is 4-1 in the past five as a favorite, and 39-19-1 in the previous 59 overall.
Gator Bowl (ESPN, 7:00 p.m.)
Indiana vs. Tennessee
Gator Bowl Betting History
-- The TaxSlayer Gator Bowl has the Indiana Hoosiers (8-4 straight up, 7-5 against the spread) from the Big Ten Conference meeting the Tennessee Volunteers (7-5 straight-up, 7-5 against the spread) from the Southeastern Conference at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Fla.
-- Indiana won eight games, and it seems like they did so rather quietly. Not many people talked about them, but here they are in a prominent bowl game in primetime against a Power 5 team. The Hoosiers were dusted 51-10 by Ohio State at 'The Rock' on Sept. 14, and they fell at Michigan State 40-31 on Sept. 28. Perhaps the reason no one is talking about the Hoosiers is because they won the games they were supposed to, and fell against teams they were supposed to lose against. In fact, they were 8-0 SU/5-3 ATS in eight games against non-bowl teams, and 0-4 SU/2-2 ATS in their four outings against bowl teams.
-- Tennessee stumbled out of the chute with a 38-30 loss at home against Georgia State in their season opener, falling straight-up as a 24.5-point favorite. That had the natives calling for Jeremy Pruitt's head, and it didn't simmer down after a miraculous comeback by BYU in Knoxville on Sept. 7, and an eventual 29-26 loss in overtime for the Vols. They were 0-2 SU/ATS. They beat the brakes off of FCS Chattanooga, 45-0, on Sept. 14, but no one was satisfied. They followed that win with a 31-point loss at Florida and a 29-point loss at Georgia, slipping to 1-4 SU/ATS, and the hot seat was turned up to lava intensity for Pruitt. But a strange thing happened on Oct. 12 against Mississippi State. The Vols won 20-10, perhaps saving their season as five-point 'dogs. They fell, rather expectedly, at Alabama by a 35-13 score, but they put up a pretty solid effort and covered. They used that momentum to springboard into wins over South Carolina and UAB. In fact, since that Bama loss on the 19th of October, the Power T hasn't lost since. They topped rival Kentucky on the road, won at Missouri and ended up with a resounding 28-10 win over rival Vanderbilt. Is Tennessee now 'back'? Well, they're 3-5 SU in eight games against bowl teams, but they do come in on a five-game heater.
-- Tennessee's bowl history goes all the way back to the Orange Bowl in 1939 - and 1931, if you include the New York Charity Game against New York University, which is considered a bowl game by some. They have won three straight bowl games, including a trip to Jacksonville and a win over Iowa, 45-28, back on Jan. 2, 2015. They have appeared in this game five total times, but four of the trips came from 1957-1973. They're 3-2 SU all-time in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl.
-- Indiana's bowl history isn't as extensive, and their success is even shorter. They haven't won a postseason game since the 1991 Copper Bowl when they blanked Baylor 24-0. This will be their first-ever appearance in the Gator. In fact, this is their first-ever appearance in a bowl game in the state of Florida, which is rather surprising given the conference's long-time tie-ins with the Outback (Hall of Fame), Citrus (CapitalOne), Gator (TaxSlayer) Bowls, etc.
-- The Vols ranked 100th in total yards (365.0), 77th in passing yards (220.0) and 88th in rushing yards (145.0) per game while posting 24.3 PPG to check in 97th. Defensively, the Vols were pretty nasty despite a difficult schedule, ranking 28th in total yards allowed (337.1), 17th in passing yards (191.3) and 29th in points (21.7) allowed per game.
-- The Hoosiers ranked 31st in total yards on offense (444.0), 13th in passing yards (308.7) and 41st in points scored (32.6). They struggled on the ground, however, ranking 100th in the nation with 135.3 yards per game. They lost QB Michael Penix Jr. (collarbone) to a collarbone early in early November, and that forced QB Peyton Ramsey into action. He had 2,227 passing yards to end up leading the Hoosiers.
-- Indiana leading rusher Stevie Scott III posted 845 yards and 10 touchdowns, but he is a question mark for this game with a leg ailment. Backup RB Sampson James is also on the injury report, questionable due to an ankle injury. The Hoosiers were led in the receiving game by WR Whop Philyor, who cracked 1,000 yards.
-- The Hoosiers are 6-2 ATS in the past eight against teams with a winning record, but they're just 1-5 ATS in the past six neutral-site battles.
-- The Volunteers are 6-1 ATS in the past seven games overall, but 4-10 ATS in the past 14 as a favorite. They're also 6-2 ATS in the previous eight neutral-site game battles.
-- The over is 5-1 in the past six for Indiana, and 5-0 in their past five as an underdog. The under is 5-0 in their past five non-conference tilts, though.
-- The under hit in the final four for the Vols, but the over is 5-0 in their past five bowl games and 9-1 in the past 10 neutral-site affairs.