Ness Notes: Wednesday, Dec 30

by Larry Ness

This column will be available Monday through Friday (posted no later than 1:00 ET), EXCLUSIVELY at BigAl.com. I like to call it my daily 'random thoughts' on the sports betting world, although I'll pass along that my therapist refers to it as "thoughtful commentary."

The college bowl season resumed on Tuesday after a two-day break with favorites having gone 7-3 SU and 6-4 ATS, while there had been four overs and six unders. The 7-3 Oklahoma State Cowboys took on the 8-2 Miami Hurricanes in the Cheez-It Bowl in Orlando. OSU was ranked 21st in the CFP rankings but unranked in the AP, while Miami entered ranked 18th in both the AP and CFP. The Alamo Bowl featured 6-3 Texas (20th in both the AP and CFP rankings) vs 4-1 Colorado (Buffs had fallen out of both polls when it lost 38-31 at home to Utah on Dec 12). Tuesday was a good day (night) for the Big 12, as Oklahoma St beat Miami 37-34 and Texas, in its 57th all-time bowl, routed Colorado 55-23!

Oklahoma State scored on its first three possessions, taking a 21-0 lead by the end of the first quarter on drives of 75, 82 and 49 yards. Miami suffered a major injury with 4:06 left in the second quarter as QB D'Eriq King left the game with an injured right knee. He watched the second half on crutches but his replacement, N'Kosi Perry completed 19 of 34 passes for 228 yards and two TDs and no INTs. Miami did close to 37-34 with 5:39 left in the fourth punted but then failed on a fourth down in its final two possessions. OSU's Spencer Sanders passed for 305 yards and four TDs.

Texas' big win was marred by a shoulder injury that forced QB Sam Ehlinger out of the game for the second half. Ehlinger passed for 160 yards and a touchdown in what is likely his final appearance for Texas. Casey Thompson, Texas' backup QB, threw four TD passes tying an Alamo Bowl record. Not bad for a guy who had four completions all season before Tuesday. RB Bijan Robinson ran for 183 yards and a score plus caught two TD passes, as the Longhorns outgained Colorado 638 yards to 378. Texas has now won bowl games in all FOUR of head coach Tom Herman's seasons in Austin. Miami lost as a ranked AP team, while Texas won and easily covered. That makes ranked teams playing unranked opponents 3-2 SU but 2-3 ATS in the bowls to-date. Both favorites won (OSU closed as a one-point choice) and both games went over. Favorites are now 9-3 SU and 7-5 ATS, while it's six overs and six unders.

Two bowls are set for Wednesday, with 3-3 Wisconsin taking on 4-4 Wake Forest in the Duke's Mayo Bowl from Charlotte, NC (12 noon ET on ESPN). Wisconsin is in a bowl for the 19th consecutive season, the third-longest active streak in the nation. As for Wake, the Demon Deacons are playing in a school-record FIFTH consecutive bowl. The Badgers have been much busier than Wake Forest recently, playing five games in the last six weeks, while the Demon Deacons have played only once since Nov 14. (note: Wake has played the fewest games of any ACC team this season). However, this will be the Demon Deacons' SEVENTH game in their home state this year. Will that help? Wisconsin is favored by 10 points (over/under is 51 1/2). The first of the New Year's Six bowls will be tonight's Cotton Bowl (8:00 ET from Dallas, Tx on ESPN), as 8-2 Oklahoma takes on 8-3 Florida. The Sooners are ranked 8th in the AP and Gators 10th, giving us our first ranked vs ranked bowl game. The only other time Florida and Oklahoma have played was in the BCS Championship following the 2008 season, when the Tim Tebow-led Gators won the national championship with a 24-14 win. This game had all the makings of a classic offensive shootout, until Florida lost ALL of its main receiving corps. The Gators were a 2 1/2-point choice but there has been a major swing in the odds since, as the Sooners are currently favored by seven points (over/under is 65). What a shame. Pity the poor bettors who had Florida minus-2 1/2 but how about the Oklahoma bettors who got 2 1/2-points. VERY happy I never 'got involved!'

CBB: The AP's new poll was released Monday and 7-0 Gonzaga, the AP's preseason No. 1, got 62 of 64 first-place votes as it held its No. 1 ranking for the 5th consecutive week (preseason and for regular season polls. Why wouldn't the Bulldogs be No. 1, as they own FOUR wins over ranked opponents (all on neutral sites) through just their first seven games, a poll record! 6-0 Baylor is No. 2 and got the remaining two first-place votes. Gonzaga and Baylor were supposed to meet on Dec 5 but the game was postponed for COVID reasons. Here's hoping the two schools DON'T reschedule. Why give us a preview of what seems likely to be our national championship matchup? 8-1 Kansas is up to No.3, having won EIGHT in a row since losing its season-opener 102-90 to Gonzaga. 8-1 Villanova is No. 4, losing only an OT game to now-No. 24 Va Tech. Rounding out the top-5 is Houston, which is 7-0 (note: all records through Sunday). The Big Ten has a record NINE teams in the top-25, including Northwestern, the school's highest ranking this late in a season since 1969 (spoiler alert: Wildcats lost Tuesday at Iowa). Minnesota entered the poll for the first time on Monday with an 8-1 record (T-21) but unlike Northwestern, 'celebrated' by beating No. 17 Michigan St 81-56. It was Minnesota's largest margin of victory ever over Michigan State, which now owns its first 0-3 start in conference play in 19 years! Falling out of the poll were No. 17 North Carolina and No. 22 Xavier, which lost its first game of the season (66-61 at No. 11 Creighton), after an 8-0 start.

Wednesday's card features a 'Battle' of Unbeatens' in the SEC, as No. 7 Tennessee is at No. 12 Missouri. It's the SEC opener for both 6-0 teams, with the Vols favored by four points. No. 2 Baylor (-42.5) will host Alcorn St plus two more ranked teams are in action. No. 23 Virginia (-6.5) at Notre Dame and No. 25 Ohio St (-13) hosting Nebraska. I'll catch up with Y-T-D numbers of games between ranked teams and games between ranked and unranked teams in Thursday's Notes. I'll pick up with daily NBA coverage after this weekend, when the ONLY college football contest remaining will be the national championship game.

Good luck...Larry

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