Wednesday’s Cheez-It Bowl and Thursday’s Pinstripe Bowl present solid betting opportunities.
TCU Horned Frogs vs. California Golden Bears (-1)
Moneyline: Horned Frogs -105, Golden Bears -115
Betting Total: 38.5 points
Time (Eastern), TV: 9 p.m., ESPN
TCU will trot out a third-string quarterback and second-string running back against a defense that’s probably the toughest unit they’ve seen all year. That’s not a recipe for success in the Cheez-It Bowl against the Cal Golden Bears.
Senior Grayson Muehlstein makes just his second ever start under center, and though his first last week was solid enough, it came against Oklahoma State. Cal’s stoppers are made of much stronger stuff, rating first in the Pac-12 in yards per game allowed (350). Making matters worse for Muehlstein is the absence of lead running back Darius Anderson. Sewo Olonilua (4.3 yards per carry on 103 attempts and just one TD) will slide in.
The Horned Frogs’ defense was strong for a Big 12 unit, ranking 24th in yards per play, but quarterback Chase Garbers does not need to produce an MVP-caliber performance for the Bears to prevail.
Prediction: Cal wins, 21-10
The play: Cal -1
Miami-FL Hurricanes (-3) vs. Wisconsin Badgers
Moneyline: Hurricanes -155, Badgers +135
Betting Total: 47.5 points
Time (Eastern), TV: 5:15 p.m., ESPN
The three-point spread in the Pinstripe Bowl is indicative of just how tough it is to pick a winner between the Miami Hurricanes and Wisconsin Badgers.
Wisconsin prevailed 34-24 when these programs met in the Orange Bowl last season, but instead of Alex Hornibrook under center, it will be backup Jack Coan in the Pinstripe Bowl. Hornibrook certainly regressed in 2018 (13-11 TD-INT ratio) but it doesn’t seem that the Badgers really trust Coan as a replacement, as he’s averaged just 5.4 yards per attempt. He couldn’t have drawn a much tougher matchup, as the Hurricanes allowed the second-fewest passing yards per game in the country this year.
Fortunately, Wisconsin has Johnathan Taylor to turn to out of the backfield. Taylor ran for over 1,900 yards this season, but Miami’s rush defense was a respectable 24th and know that he’s coming with Coan as the signal caller.
The Hurricanes didn’t have great quarterback play either in 2018, and are now dealing with a distraction after a controversial social media post by N’Kosi Perry. He could be suspended, meaning Malik Rosier (53.5 percent passing, 7.0 yards per attempt, 6-5 TD-INT ratio) would start. Miami has a decent running back tandem in Travis Homer and DeeJay Dallas, but neither can match Taylor.
Points should be at a premium in the Pinstripe Bowl, so take the Under (47.5) with confidence.
Prediction: Miami wins, 23-17
The play: Miami vs. Wisconsin Under 47.5 points