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What You Need To Know About This Week’s Bowl Games: Dec 29-30

  • The Draft Network
  • December 29, 2021
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Bowl season rolls on this week ahead of the College Football Playoff semi-finals. Before we break down the playoff matchups and get to the New Year’s Day bowl games, here are BetPrep’s key trends for the bowls on Wednesday and Thursday of this week. 

New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Maryland (-3.5) vs. Virginia Tech 

2:15 p.m. ET, Wednesday (O/U: 54.5)

Virginia Tech will be shorthanded when it takes on Maryland in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, as the Hokies are expected to be missing six starters. One of those starters is quarterback Braxton Burmeister, who is entering the transfer portal, which leaves redshirt junior Connor Blumrick and Tahj Bullock as the only two signal-callers under scholarship for VA Tech. The Hokies will also be without wide receivers Tre Turner and Tayvion Robinson, cornerback Jermaine Waller, defensive end Amare Barno, nose tackle Jordan Williams and offensive guard Lecitus Smith. Justin Fuente was also fired in mid-November, so J.C. Price will serve as the team’s interim coach.

As for Maryland, the Terps avoided key players opting out but they did lose their second-best wide receiver in Dontay Demus, who suffered an injury in the fifth game of the season. Quarterback Tualia Tagovailoa still broke the school single-season record for passing yards in the team’s regular-season finale against Rutgers.

Maryland Key Trends

  • The Terps are just 1-7 against the spread in their last eight games overall.
  • Maryland is 9-29 ATS in its last 38 games coming off a win.
  • The Over is 4-1 in the Terps’ last five games overall.

Virginia Tech Key Trends

  • The Hokies are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games overall.
  • VA Tech failed to cover in five of its last six non-conference games.
  • The Over is 5-2 in the Hokies’ last 14 games overall.

Cheez-It Bowl: Clemson (-2.5) vs. Iowa State

5:45 p.m. ET, Wednesday (O/U: 44.5)

After making the College Football Playoff every season from 2015-20, Clemson will not be competing for a national championship when it plays Iowa State in the Cheez-It Bowl. The Tigers will be without longtime defensive coordinator Brett Venables, who left the program in late November to become Oklahoma’s next head coach, and the team will also be without receiver Justyn Ross, who had surgery on his foot in November.

Iowa State, meanwhile, will have Brock Purdy under center one last time before he heads to the NFL. Unfortunately for Purdy and the Cyclones, junior running back Breece Hall opted out of the team’s bowl after declaring for the 2022 NFL Draft. Hall rushed for 3,941 yards and 50 touchdowns while also catching 82 passes for 734 yards and an additional six scores at ISU, so the Cyclones will be missing most of their offense when they face Clemson on Wednesday.

Clemson Key Trends

  • The Tigers are 14-2 ATS in their last 16 games played in December.
  • Clemson has covered in 10 of its last 13 bowl games.
  • The Under is 8-3 in the Tigers’ last 11 bowl games.

Iowa State Key Trends

  • The Cyclones are 4-9 ATS in their last 13 non-conference games.
  • Iowa State is 1-4 ATS in its last five games as an underdog.
  • The Under is 8-0-1 in the Cyclones’ last nine bowl games.

Valero Alamo Bowl: Oregon (+7) vs. Oklahoma

9:15 p.m. ET, Friday (o/u 60.5)

Bob Stoops will serve as Oklahoma’s interim coach after Lincoln Riley left the program to become the next head coach at USC. Stoops will oversee one of the top offenses in the nation when it comes to yards per play and averaged 38.4 points per game.

Of course, Oklahoma isn’t the only team in this matchup that will have an interim on the sideline. Following the departure of Mario Cristobal to Miami, wide receivers coach Bryan McClendon will take over for the Ducks. Why didn’t Oregon promote a coordinator to interim coach? Because both Joe Moorhead (Akron) and Tim DeRuyter (Texas Tech) took positions with other teams. At one point this season, Oregon was viewed as the Pac-12’s best chance at reaching the College Football Playoff. But following a 38-7 loss at Utah in Week 12, the Ducks fell out of the mix. They also lost 38-10 to the Utes in the Pac-12 Championship Game.

Oregon Key Trends

  • The Ducks are 6-14-1 ATS in their last 21 non-conference games.
  • Oregon is 5-12 ATS in its last 17 games after accumulating less than 100 yards rushing in its previous contest.
  • The Under is 5-1 in the Ducks’ last six games as an underdog.

Oklahoma Key Trends

  • The Sooners are 5-2 ATS in their last seven bowl games.
  • Oklahoma is 4-0 ATS in its last four neutral site games.
  • The Over is 14-3 in the Sooners’ last 17 games coming off a loss.

Duke’s Mayo Bowl: North Carolina (-9.5) vs. South Carolina

11:30 a.m. ET, Thursday (O/U: 57.5)

Sam Howell and North Carolina will take on South Carolina in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl on Thursday morning. Howell will play his final collegiate game after a disappointing 6-6 season for the Tar Heels. He threw for career lows in passing yards (2,851) and touchdowns (23) this season, while also throwing a career-high nine interceptions.

The Gamecocks also disappointed in coach Shane Beamer’s first season. Starting quarterback Luke Doty missed the first two games of the season with a foot injury, then returned for the start of the team’s SEC schedule but only threw for 975 yards in five games. With South Carolina did have wins over Florida and Auburn in the final month of the season, the Gamecocks wrapped up their regular season with a 30-0 loss to Clemson.

North Carolina Key Trends

  • The Tar Heels are 2-5 ATS in their last seven games overall.
  • North Carolina is 1-4 ATS in its last five games against SEC opponents.
  • The Under is 4-1 in UNC’s last five games against the SEC.

South Carolina Key Trends

  • The Gamecocks are 2-5 ATS in their last seven games overall.
  • South Carolina is 3-7 ATS in its last 10 games coming off a loss.
  • The Under is 6-0 in the Gamecocks’ last six non-conference games.

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: Pittsburgh (+2.5) vs. Michigan State

7:00 p.m. ET, Thursday (O/U: 56)

Pittsburgh will take on Michigan State in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on Thursday night without NFL-bound starting quarterback Kenny Pickett. Head coach Pat Narduzzi confirmed that Nick Patti will start under center for the Panthers, who finished with an 11-2 record with Pickett as their starter. They also covered in 10 of those 13 games, which included a perfect 5-0 ATS record on the road.

Michigan State will also be without a key member of its offense, as running back Kenneth Walker declared for the NFL draft and opted out of the Peach Beach Bowl. He was second in the country with 1,636 yards to go along with his 18 rushing touchdowns. MSU far surpassed expectations this season, finishing with a 10-2 record and ranking in the top-4 of the original College Football Playoff rankings before losing to Purdue.

Pittsburgh Key Trends

  • The Panthers are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games overall.
  • Pittsburgh is 12-5 ATS in its last 17 games in December.
  • The Over is 15-6 in the Panthers’ last 21 games overall.

Michigan State Key Trends

  • The Spartans are 6-1 ATS in their last seven bowl games.
  • Michigan State is 8-2-2 ATS in its last 12 games overall.
  • The Over is 4-1 in Sparty’s last five games overall.

SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl: Wisconsin (-6) vs. Arizona State

10:30 p.m. ET, Thursday (O/U: 41)

While Wisconsin fell short of expectations this season, the Badgers can finish the year on a high note when they take on Arizona State in the SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl. The Badgers started on a sour note, dropping three of their first four games to watch their Big Ten title hopes evaporate. They rattled off seven straight wins before falling 23-13 to Minnesota in their final game of the season.

Arizona State also failed to meet expectations this season, although the Sun Devils did win eight games, which included three victories in their final four contests. That said, they didn’t have a signature win this season unless you count a 31-16 romp over USC as a 9.5-point home favorite in Week 10 and QB Jayden Daniels took a huge step back after turning heads each of the last two seasons.

Wisconsin Key Trends

  • The Badgers are 5-2 ATS in their last seven bowl games.
  • Wisconsin is 22-7 ATS in its last 29 games after accumulating less than 100 yards rushing in its previous contest.
  • The Over is 7-1 in the Badgers’ last eight neutral site games as a favorite.

Arizona State Key Trends

  • The Sun Devils are 1-5 ATS in their last six bowl games as an underdog.
  • Arizona State is 3-8 ATS in its last 11 bowl games.
  • The Under is 8-0 in the Sun Devils’ last eight non-conference games.

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