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NCAA Football

College Football: 5 Bowl Game Underdogs Who Should Win Outright

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5 Bowl Underdogs Who Should Win Outright

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

You hear the same people say the same thing this time every year:

“There are too many bowl games.”


To me, there are not enough bowl games. As a huge college football fan, this is my favorite time of year: the bowl games from Dec. 21 to the end of the first week of January. There are a few teams left out of the bowl games who deserve to be there. Toledo, a winning team from the tough upper half of the MAC, did not get a bowl invitation despite beating a very good Navy team and dominating one of the best teams in the FCS (Eastern Washington).

The Rockets play a wide-open exciting brand of football and would be an entertaining team to watch against any opponent. Eight other teams were bowl-eligible and did not receive an invitation. Among those was Western Kentucky, who had the best record (8-4) and also beat Navy. The other seven were 6-6.

The best argument for bowl games this time of year is that college football of any kind is better sports programming content than the usual fare of professional soccer, world poker, cricket highlights, Euro League Basketball and The Winter University Basketball Games.

Please give me any college football game over that, so any point of view taking the side of too many bowl games should also include the discussion of the alternatives. Another reason to like college football is the office pools, which are second only to the NCAA March Madness pool in terms of water cooler interest. One relatively new sports network offers a $100,000 reward for a perfect bracket against the spread. Good luck with that one.

I’ve found five teams who the oddsmakers have listed as underdogs who I like the most this year, giving us more than a passing interest in these games:

Mike Gibson is a writer for Follow him on Twitter @papreps , “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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5. Maryland Over Marshall

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

The last time Marshall defensive coordinator Chuck Heater went up against a Maryland team coached by Randy Edsall, he held the Terps to seven points as Temple’s defensive coordinator in a 38-7 win in College Park in 2011. This, though, is a better Terp team and Marshall is not as good as Temple was in that bowl-winning year. Since this Military Bowl is being played in Annapolis, the Terps win this game, 32-24.

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4. Cincinnati Over North Carolina

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In the Belk Bowl played in Charlotte, Cincinnati opened as a 2.5-point underdog and the line has now moved up to three. The Bearcats were a good value at 2.5 and they are better at three. Cincinnati wins this one outright, 27-24.

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3. Boston College Over Arizona

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Boston College head coach Steve Addazio believes in the run game and with Heisman Trophy finalist Andre Williams, they should pound and ground enough to throw the Wildcats off their game. Arizona is a seven-point favorite, which is odd because that’s how many points the Eagles will win by, 24-17, in the AvoCareV100 Bowl in Shreveport, La.

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2. Rice Over Mississippi State

Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

The Owls won the Conference USA championship, beating Marshall, 41-24, in the title game. Mississippi State is a little overvalued by its SEC affiliation, hence its status as a seven-point favorite in this game. This is, after all, an MSU team that was only able to beat MAC champion Bowling Green by one point earlier in the season. Owls win the Liberty Bowl by the same score as that game, 21-20.

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1. Iowa Over LSU

Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

Only one Big 10 team finished the season playing better football than the Hawkeyes and that team is in the Rose Bowl. The Tigers can be up and down and the 7.5-point underdog Hawkeyes will ride the excellent game-planning of head coach Kirk Ferentz to a 31-21 win in Tampa’s Outback Bowl.