Hot College Football Bowl Picks for Christmas Day and Dec. 26

Custom NCAAF Background

Although the Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl that was to feature UAB vs. South Carolina has been canceled, there are still four college football bowl games slated for Christmas Day and Dec. 26 to whet the appetites of fans and potential bettors. Here are our hot picks for those contests, with all odds courtesy of Betonline.

Camellia Bowl: Marshall vs. Buffalo (-4) O/U: 54

Teams Spread Money Line Total Points
Marshall +4 (-107) +162 O 54 (-115)
Buffalo U -4 (-113) -182 U 54 (-105)

Marshall (7-2) fell to Alabama-Birmingham 22-13 in the Conference USA championship game while previously unbeaten Buffalo (now 5-1) fell to Ball State 38-28 in the MAC championship game, setting up this Christmas Day matchup between two teams who would rather be playing elsewhere. The Thundering Herd has averaged just 6.5 points in the two games they’ve played in the last month. Meanwhile, Buffalo’s offense ranks No. 3 in the nation in scoring at 47.8 points per game. The 28 points in the MAC title game represented by far the fewest points the Bulls had scored all season. Pending unexpected last-minute opt-outs by key players, there is no reason to believe that Buffalo won’t eclipse 35 points in this matchup. The Bulls also lead the country in rushing offense, churning out 309.5 yards per game. That will be their key to a Christmas victory. Marshall’s offense, led by freshman Grant Wells, cannot keep up with the high-octane Bulls’ offense. Marshall will be without its leading rusher Brendan Knox, who has opted out of the bowl game and has declared for the NFL Draft. The Herd defense will be missing the Conference USA defensive player of the year Tavante Beckett as well. The Bulls will run wild over the Thundering Herd behind star running back Jaret Patterson, who rushed for 409 yards in a win against Kent State less than a month ago in which the Bulls racked up 70 points. Lay the 3.5 points and take Buffalo.

My Pick
Buffalo -4

LendingTree Bowl: Western Kentucky vs. Georgia State (-3½)

Teams Spread Money Line Total Points
Western Kentucky +3½ (-110) +155 O 50½ (+100)
Georgia State -3½ (-110) -175 U 50½ (-120)

Western Kentucky (5-6) has made a habit of playing in ugly games this season. The Hilltoppers average 18.8 points per game, while allowing 24.1 points per game. While 5-4 Georgia State allows nearly 33 points a game, Western Kentucky will attempt to control the tempo of this game and limit the total number of possessions. These two sides are fairly even, making a play on the spread fairly useless. It’s worth possibly taking a flyer on Western Kentucky at +155 on the Moneyline, but the better pick is the Under of 51 points. Georgia State has not played a football game in nearly a month and although they were peaking toward the end of the regular season, expect rust to lead to offensive struggles early and often. The play in this game is the Under as neither offense is talented enough to get in a consistent rhythm.

My Pick

SERVPRO First Responder Bowl: UTSA vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (-13½) O/U: 56

Teams Spread Money Line Total Points
UL Lafayette -13½ (-115) -560 O 56 (-110)
UTSA +13½ (-105) +440 U 56 (-110)

Louisiana-Lafayette (9-1) was unable to play in the Sun Belt championship last weekend because of COVID-19 complications within Coastal Carolina’s program. The unbeaten Chanticleers, ranked No. 12 in the nation, are the only team to hand the Rajun’ Cajuns a loss this season and they did so on a last-second field goal in a 30-27 defeat back on Oct. 14. Louisiana-Lafayette has won six straight heading into this bowl game and appears to have caught its stride at the right time. UTSA has won three in a row, allowing the Roadrunners to qualify for just the second bowl game in program history. While UTSA is a feel-good story, it is no match for the powerful rushing attack of a Louisiana-Lafayette team that was able to defeat No. 10 Iowa State 31-14 on the road earlier this season. The Rajun’ Cajuns will easily cover the 14 points in this game as even once they get a two -score lead they will have the potential for breaking long runs to extend their lead while draining the game clock. UTSA and Louisiana both rank inside the top 30 in the nation in rushing yards, which also will help lead to this game going under the total of 57 points. The Under has gone a combined 15-6 this season in games featuring either of these two teams. UTSA ranks 96th in the country in passing yards, meaning they are incapable of playing from behind. Louisiana-Lafayette will win this game and cover the 14 points, as the game finishes under 57 points.

The Bets
UL Lafayette -13½

Cure Bowl: Liberty vs. Coastal Carolina (-7) O/U: 59½

Teams Spread Money Line Total Points
Liberty +7½ (-115) +250 O 59½ (-110)
Coastal Carolina -7½ (-105) -300 U 59½ (-110)

The Flames (9-1) and No. 12 Chanticleers (11-0) were scheduled to play in Conway on Dec. 5, but that showdown was cancelled due to positive COVID-19 tests within the Liberty program. Liberty has not played in a game since Nov. 27 against UMass. Coastal was unable to play in the Sun Belt title game due to COVID-19 complications within their own locker room. Coastal Carolina has been led by redshirt freshman Grayson McCall at quarterback, and while he has been good, the team ranks 64th in the country in passing yards per game. The Chanticleers have enjoyed great success running the football with the lead, however, so they have not had to throw the ball much. They have not been forced to come from behind two scores all season. Meanwhile, Liberty has been led by Auburn transfer Malik Willis who has been phenomenal under center this season, throwing for over 2,000 yards with 20 touchdowns while throwing only four interceptions. Willis has also accumulated over 800 yards on the ground to go along with 10 rushing touchdowns. These two offenses rank 18th and 19th in the country in points per game, respectively, so with the long layoffs for both teams, it is smart to leave the Over/Under alone due to the potential rust factor. Liberty was a blocked field goal at N.C. State away from a perfect regular season of its own. Liberty coach Hugh Freeze is 4-2 in bowl games and has displayed his sideline acumen already this season. The Flames also are undefeated as an underdog this season, including a 38-35 outright win over Virginia Tech when they were 16.5-point underdogs. Liberty finished the season ranked No. 23 in the AP and Coaches polls, but were unable to crack the top 25 in the eyes of the CFP committee. The Flames therefore will have a chip on their shoulder on Saturday night and, frankly, they might just be the better overall team. Take Liberty and the seven points, or feel free to up the ante and risk taking them +250 on the Moneyline. Then watch the Flames pull off the upset.

The Bets
Liberty +7½
Liberty ML
Sub Categories:
Joe Menzer / Author

Joe is an award-winning writer and editor who has covered the NBA, NFL, NASCAR, golf, various collegiate athletics and other sports for newspapers, Turner Sports, Fox Sports and ESPN. He has been on the beat for seven Super Bowls, six Daytona 500s and numerous NBA playoff series and All-Star Games. He once was dispatched to Rome, Italy to spend time with an NBA draft choice who opted to play overseas, after which he produced an award-winning series of stories. He also is passionate about fantasy sports and breaking down games in ways that even novice gamblers can use to make their most intelligent wagering decisions.