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Wenesday, December 27

   by Larry Ness - 12/27/2006

As everyone knows, this year's bowl season was the biggest of all-time, with 32 bowl games including 64 teams. Since there are only 119 Division I-A schools, that means that 53.8 percent of all schools got to go 'bowling' this year.

All 57 schools that won seven or more games are playing in the postseason and seven 6-6 teams are participating. The first 6-6 school to play was New Mexico (12/23), appropriately enough in the first-ever New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque. Home cookin' wasn't enough though, as the Lobos (a 3 or 3 1/2-point favorite) lost to San Jose State, 20-12.

The bowl season is 25 percent complete (eight of 32 games have been played), after Central Michigan beat Middle Tennessee State on Tuesday in the Motor City Bowl, 31-14. However, an expanded bowl schedule is not the only thing different about this year's bowl season.

While underdogs "ruled the day" during last year's bowl season, New Mexico and Rice (making its first bowl appearance since 1961!) are the only two favorites to have lost, through the first eight games. What a difference a year makes!

Winning during last year's 28-game bowl schedule seemed simple for underdog bettors. Rule No. 1 was to take any underdog of six or more points. That simple strategy produced a record of 13-1 ATS, as only Louisville (at plus-9 1/2) failed to cover in that pointspread range (Cardinals lost in the Gator Bowl 35-24 to Va Tech). That's a winning percentage of 92.9 percent. Also, playing each of those 'dogs' on the moneyline, produced EIGHT outright winners!

Underdog bettors have gone broke in the early going this year though, as SIX of the eight games have been wins and 'covers' for the favorites.!

Last year's bowl season was also a huge bonanza for 'over players,' as 19 of the 28 games went 'over the total,' for a winning percentage of 67.9 percent. That too has changed in the early going this year, as just ONE game (The New Orleans Bowl between Troy and Rice), has gone 'over the total' through the first eight bowls. That means 'under bettors' have cashed seven of eight, for a winning percentage of 87.5 percent.

However, in the sports betting world, things can change very quickly (as we all know) and the bowl season will come at us "fast and furious" these next six days. Beginning with Wednesday night's Emerald Bowl, there will be 19 bowls played over the next six days.

Florida State, another of the 6-6 teams, will meet UCLA in the Emerald Bowl Wednesday (Bruins are favored by three points with a total of 39). A loss would give FSU its first losing season since Bobby Bowden's initial year in Tallahassee (1976).

I'll be posting Ness Notes each day through the remainder of the bowl season plus will include coverage of Week 17 in the NFL as well.

Amazingly, going into the year's final week, 20 NFL teams still have Super Bowl aspirations. Nine teams have already clinched postseason berths and 11 more are in the running for the remaining three spots. It's the most teams still 'alive' in the season's final week, since the 1970 merger.

Ness Notes will be available daily by 1:00 ET.

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