Betting the bowls: What's the best bet in Liberty vs. Coastal Carolina?

Sam Cooper

Welcome to bowl season.

Betting on bowl games can be a tricky proposition. In ordinary years, you have to wonder which teams are truly motivated heading into the postseason. This year, teams across the country opted not to participate in bowl games after a season with so many disruptions.

That left teams that are excited to extend their seasons, even if they have a losing record (bowl eligibility requirements were waived for 2020).

Bowl season started with one game on Monday and two on Tuesday, leaving seven more games through Saturday. Below are a few of my favorite plays.

(Note: All times ET, odds from BetMGM)

Montgomery Bowl: Memphis vs. Florida Atlantic

Time: 7 p.m. | TV: ESPN | Line: Memphis -8.5 | Total: 52.5

Based on recent seasons, Memphis and Florida Atlantic have developed reputations for being high-scoring teams. That hasn’t been the case this year.

Memphis, without Kenneth Gainwell, averages only 3.9 yards per rush and had to rely heavily on the passing game with Brady White. FAU, in its first year under Willie Taggart, has been much better on defense than offense and has done well defending the pass. In eight games, FAU’s defense allowed only 14 pass plays of 20-plus yards.

I think the under is the best play here.

Pick: Under 52.5

Camellia Bowl: Marshall vs. Buffalo

Time: 2:30 p.m. (Friday) | TV: ESPN | Line: Buffalo -4.5 | Total: 54

Marshall has looked lost on offense in its last two games. Grant Wells threw five interceptions in the loss to Rice and then completed only eight of his 23 attempts in the Conference USA title game loss against UAB. In the UAB game, more than a quarter of Marshall’s offensive production came on one play.

In the MAC title game, Buffalo jumped out to an early lead but Ball State scored three touchdowns in the final six minutes of the first half en route to a 38-28 upset over UB. Buffalo still put up just under 500 yards of offense, but had a few turnovers and failed to finish drives. I think the Bulls, with a bounce-back performance from Jaret Patterson, will have enough success on offense to win this game and cover the spread.

Pick: Buffalo -4.5

Buffalo running back Jaret Patterson carries the ball during the first half of the team's NCAA college football game against Akron in Amherst, N.Y., Saturday Dec. 12, 2020. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)
Buffalo running back Jaret Patterson carries the ball during the first half of the team's NCAA college football game against Akron in Amherst, N.Y., Saturday Dec. 12, 2020. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

Cure Bowl: Liberty vs. No. 12 Coastal Carolina

Time: 7:30 p.m. (Saturday) | TV: ESPN | Line: Coastal Carolina -7 | Total: 59.5

Coastal Carolina was scheduled to play Liberty back on Dec. 5 but played BYU instead because Liberty was dealing with COVID-19 issues that week. I really liked Coastal to cover the spread then, and the fact that this matchup is being played a few weeks later won’t change my thought process.

Liberty has played one team ranked in the top half of the nation in rushing offense: Virginia Tech. When you remove VT from the equation, the average rank of the rushing offenses Liberty has faced this year is No. 101. That’s really bad. I also think Coastal has a bad taste in their mouths with the way they played in the regular season finale against Troy. The fact that they weren’t able to play in the Sun Belt title game only adds to that.

I think the Chanticleers roll and finish undefeated.

Pick: Coastal Carolina -7

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