College football odds: Early bowl lines & trends


Odds courtesy of

Christmas Eve is annually perhaps the worst sports day of the year in North America because the NHL and NBA always are dark on December 24 and the NFL usually is – which is the case this year. However, there is one college football game Thursday: Hawaii of the Mountain West against Houston of the AAC in the New Mexico Bowl at 3:30 p.m. ET.


Because nothing was normal in this college football season due to COVID-19, the New Mexico Bowl naturally isn’t being played in New Mexico but from Frisco, Texas. State COVID guidelines in New Mexico wouldn’t allow for it to be played there. Houston is a 13-point favorite in the second all-time meeting between the schools (2003 Hawaii Bowl), and the Warriors are 2-5 ATS in their past seven overall.

There is also a bowl game on Christmas (along with an NFL matchup and five NBA games) as Conference USA runner-up Marshall takes on Mid-American Conference runner-up Buffalo in the Camellia Bowl (2:30 p.m. ET) from the Cramton Bowl in Montgomery, Alabama. The Bulls are 3.5-point favorites, but the Thundering Herd are 7-1 ATS in their past eight bowl games.

The first bowl week was to wrap up with six games Saturday, but two bowls – Independence and Guaranteed Rate – were canceled. The first of the day is SEC school South Carolina, laughably in a bowl despite a 2-8 record and having fired Coach Will Muschamp earlier this season, taking on Conference USA champion UAB in the Gasparilla Bowl from Tampa, Florida. The Blazers are 6.5-point favorites. The Gamecocks have covered four straight bowls as underdogs.

No. 19 Louisiana faces UTSA in the First Responder Bowl from Dallas. Louisiana will still have head coach Billy Napier after he turned down overtures from Auburn this week. The Ragin’ Cajuns were declared co-champions of the Sun Belt when that conference title game was canceled. UTSA is from Conference USA. Louisiana is a 14-point favorite and 6-1 ATS in its past seven non-conference games.

The best matchup Saturday, however, is one-loss independent Liberty facing unbeaten and No. 12 Coastal Carolina, the Sun Belt co-champion, in the Cure Bowl from Orlando. Two rising superstar coaches here in Liberty’s Hugh Freeze and Coastal’s Jamey Chadwell – both were rumored as Auburn targets as well, although Chadwell has since signed a long-term extension with Coastal. The Chanticleers are 7-point favorites, but the Flames are on a seven-game ATS winning streak.