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The 10 Biggest Bowl Game Mismatches, According To Las Vegas

fans look onto the field during the outback bowl

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 1: Football fans watch the Wisconsin Badgers take on the Auburn Tigers during the Outback Bowl on January 1, 2015 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

College football's regular season is over, but there are still 41 contests to be played. This year, there are 40 bowl games, along with the College Football Playoff National Championship. Of course, not all are worth tuning into. Not all are evenly-matched either.

While the bowl system is designed to feature like teams against each other, it doesn't always work out that way. This year, there is just one game that's considered a "pick 'em" by most sports books - Oregon vs. TCU in the Alamo Bowl. Every other game has a favorite - and 10 of them feature one squad being favored by over a touchdown.

Here are the 10 biggest bowl game mismatches, according to Las Vegas. All spreads are taken from the opening lines at Odds Shark.

Get Started: GoDaddy Bowl >>>

T-10. GoDaddy Bowl: Bowling Green (-7.5) vs. Georgia Southern

This bowl is somewhat diminished by the fact that Bowling Green's staff is in flux, with head coach Dino Babers taking the job at Syracuse, but this should be an interesting clash of styles. Georgia Southern was a bit down this year, finishing 8-4 after a surprising loss to rival Georgia State. The Eagles are known for their terrific rushing attack. This season, they averaged 355.58 rushing yards per game, which is amazingly down from 2014 (379.92).

Bowling Green was similarly prolific, but features a much more balanced attack. Led by senior quarterback Matt Johnson, BGSU is fourth nationally in total offense, putting up 561 yards per game. Johnson leads the FBS with 4,700 passing yards.


— Rickard Bergquist (@sportblogg)

Bowling Green QB Matt Johnson throws to Gehrig Dieter who makes the juggling catch for a... (Vine by @ESPNCFB)

— Rickard Bergquist (@sportblogg) November 5, 2015

">November 5, 2015

Georgia Southern's defense has been strong this season, but the Georgia State loss was legitimately shocking. Combined with Bowling Green making easy work of Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship, and last week's results have likely colored the way Vegas thinks about this game.

Next: Texas Bowl >>>

T-10. Texas Bowl: LSU (-7.5) at Texas Tech

Speaking of a stylistic clash, these two teams couldn't be much more different on offense. LSU will look to run Leonard Fournette as much as possible, as its passing attack never quite materialized this season. Texas Tech, on the other hand, is second in passing yardage, only behind former head coach Mike Leach's Washington State Cougars.

While LSU doesn't put up the points that Tech does, it also has to contend with the SEC West all season, while the Red Raiders are in the offense-happy Big 12. Those setting the lines like this match-up for Fournette, who should feast on a Texas Tech rush defense that allows 271.83 yards per game, third worst in all of FBS play. The Tigers also features far more talent on defense than what Tech is used to, especially in the secondary. This line feels right.

Next: Poinsettia Bowl >>>

8. Poinsettia Bowl: Boise State (-8) at Northern Illinois

In many recent years, Boise State and Northern Illinois have been among the top Group of Five programs nationally. 2015 was a bit of a down season for both. Boise State finished 8-4, losing early to BYU, late to New Mexico and Air Force in back-to-back weeks, and was blown out by Utah State 52-26 in mid-October. It was a strange season for the Broncos, who are usually favorites in the Mountain West.

">@BroncoSportsFB in the @PoinsettiaBowl

— NIU Football (@NIU_Football)

We're extremely excited to announce we'll be playing @BroncoSportsFB in the @PoinsettiaBowl

— NIU Football (@NIU_Football) December 6, 2015

">December 6, 2015

NIU finished 8-5 after a conference title loss to aforementioned Bowling Green. NIU hung close with two Power Five programs—Ohio State and Boston College—but had bookend losses to Central Michigan and Ohio in MAC play. Boise State is definitely the bigger name program, with multiple BCS/New Year's Six wins under its belt, so it is no surprise they are the solid favorite here.

Next: Heart of Dallas Bowl >>>

7. Heart of Dallas Bowl: Washington (-8.5) at Southern Miss

Southern Miss has a big edge in record, with a 9-4 mark vs. Washington's 6-6, but the Pac-12 squad has a big talent edge, a coach who has cut his teeth winning prominent bowl games, and of course, a bigger brand. 

The Golden Eagles engineered perhaps the biggest turnaround in college football this season. After going 0-12, 1-11, and 3-9 in their last three seasons, this year's division title under third year head coach Todd Monken was a huge leap forward. 

">@UW_Football will take on Southern Miss in this year's

Big D for Dubs Up! @UW_Football will take on Southern Miss in this year's @HODBowl.

— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) December 6, 2015


— Pac-12 Networks (@Pac12Networks) December 6, 2015

There's a good chance that Washington is better than the 6-6 record would indicate. The team had a very rough Pac-12 schedule, losing games to Cal, Oregon, Stanford, Arizona State, and Utah. The Huskies finished strong, however, blowing out Oregon State and a good Washington State team in consecutive weeks to finish bowl eligible. They'll have a talent advantage, and Chris Petersen teams are always dangerous in bowl play.

Next: Outback Bowl >>>

6. Outback Bowl: Tennessee (-9) vs. Northwestern

No, Tennessee did not break out this season and win the SEC East, but after a rough start to the year, Butch Jones' team came around at mid-season, and has won five straight, and six of seven, with the only loss in the middle coming to Alabama by five points. 


— Tennessee Football (@Vol_Football)

That moment you found out you are headed to the @outbackbowl! #GoVols ????

— Tennessee Football (@Vol_Football) December 6, 2015

">December 6, 2015

Northwestern owns one of the year's best wins—a week one defeat of eventual Pac-12 champion Stanford. That should absolutely not be discounted. The Wildcats are also winners of five straight, but when they faced elite teams in the Big Ten, Michigan and Iowa, in consecutive weeks in October, they lost 38-0 and 40-10.

Tennessee is probably the most talented team Northwestern has seen aside from the Cardinal, Wolverines, and Hawkeyes, but a nine point spread against a 10-2 team does seem a bit much. 

Next: Camellia Bowl >>>

T-5. Camellia Bowl: Appalachian State (-9.5) vs. Ohio

The most notable win in Appalachian State history is one that made fans in the state of Ohio very happy. Now, the Mountaineers have their eyes set on beating a team from the Buckeye State. Not the Buckeyes themselves, of course, but the Ohio Bobcats out of the MAC. The Mountaineers are big favorites in their first bowl game as an FBS program, finishing 2015 with a 10-2 record and a second place finish in the Sun Belt Conference.

">@CamelliaBowl one week from today! ing in Bama

That feeling when you know we leave for the @CamelliaBowl one week from today! ?ing in

— App State Football (@AppState_FB) December 8, 2015


— App State Football (@AppState_FB)

That feeling when you know we leave for the @CamelliaBowl one week from today! ?ing in

— App State Football (@AppState_FB) December 8, 2015

">December 8, 2015

The Bobcats finished second the the MAC East behind Bowling Green at 8-4 (5-3). Ohio doesn't feature an explosive offense like many of the conference's other top teams, and is susceptible to big losses. Ohio dropped three straight from October 17 to November 4, losing to Western Michigan 49-14, at Buffalo 41-17, and at Bowling Green 62-24. The Mountaineers are 18th nationally in scoring offense, and are a very legitimate favorite here.Next: Cotton Bowl >>> T-5. College Football Playoff Semifinal - Cotton Bowl: Alabama (-9.5) vs. Michigan StateMany think the Big Ten overtook the SEC for the title of best college football conference this season, but in a head to head match-up of the leagues' champions, the Crimson Tide are pretty big favorites. Alabama ran through its schedule to a College Football Playoff berth after its loss to Ole Miss, riding Heisman favorite Derrick Henry and an elite defense. With the game in Texas, the Tide will likely have a bit of a home field advantage as well.We wouldn't be so quick to count out Michigan State, however. While this isn't the best Spartans defense under Mark Dantonio, the unit is still formidable, and Sparty has an advantage at quarterback with Connor Cook. That can go a long way. Michigan State has wins against Oregon with Vernon Adams, Michigan, Ohio State, and Iowa. While it hasn't always been pretty, the Spartans aren't going to back down from top competition.Next: New Mexico Bowl >>>3. New Mexico Bowl: Arizona (-11.5) at New MexicoThe Lobos are playing in their home stadium for this one. It's not much of a bowl trip, but Bob Davie's surprising 7-5 team will have a legitimate home field advantage, at least in terms of being familiar with its surroundings. Arizona fell back to the pack after winning the Pac-12 South and making the Fiesta Bowl last season, but the Wildcats still have a lot of talent, with guys like Anu Solomon and Nick Wilson returning from that team. Unfortunately for Wildcat fans, a number of these top players have been hurt for much of the season.

New Mexico was a nice story this season, heading to its first bowl game since 2007, but Arizona will have a large mismatch when it comes to talent, and even with the game being played in Albuquerque. If 'Zona gets healthy, they should have little issue putting up a bunch of points in this one.Next: Liberty Bowl >>>2. Liberty Bowl: Arkansas (-13) vs. Kansas StateArkansas is strangely consistent in its rapid improvement as the season goes on. In both 2014 and 2015, the Razorbacks lost a bunch of games early, and rebounded to a strong finish in SEC West play. Last year, that led to a Texas Bowl win over the Texas Longhorns. This season, Kansas State and legendary head coach Bill Snyder are on deck for Bret Bielema's club. 

">@RazorbackFB to play in 57th AutoZone Liberty Bowl, one of the hottest teams in the country!

— AutoZoneLibertyBowl (@AZOLibertyBowl)

WOOO. PIG. SOOIE! @RazorbackFB to play in 57th AutoZone Liberty Bowl, one of the hottest teams in the country!

— AutoZone Liberty Bowl (@AZOLibertyBowl) December 6, 2015

">December 6, 2015

Arkansas is far more balanced on offense than it has been in years past. The often run-happy Razorbacks actually rank higher in passing offense (33rd) than they do in rushing (39th). Kansas State would rather Arkansas keep it on the ground. Against the pass heavy Big 12, the Wildcats have struggled, surrendering 283 passing yards per game, 120th in FBS play. We would never totally count out Bill Snyder's wizardry with a month to prepare, but on paper, the Hogs look like a strong favorite when the two teams head to Memphis.Next: Independence Bowl >>>1. Independence Bowl: Virginia Tech (-14) vs. TulsaMost probably didn't envision Frank Beamer's final game coming against Tulsa, but here we are. After hanging with Ohio State for a half in the highly anticipated week one matchup, Virginia Tech limped to a 6-6 record, finishing fifth in the Coastal Division. When Justin Fuente takes over the reigns in Blacksburg, offense shouldn't be an issue, but over the last few years it has been a struggle for the Hokies. This season, Virginia Tech ranked 64th in scoring, and only topped 30 points once in ACC play.The AAC proved to be a very good league this season, with Houston, Memphis, Navy, and Temple all having incredibly impressive years. The Golden Hurricanes managed to finish 6-6, but they couldn't quite hang with the league's top teams, losing to Houston, East Carolina, Memphis, Cincinnati, and Navy by an average of 17 points. Virginia Tech doesn't blow many teams out, but we expect Beamer to go out on top in Shreveport.


— VT Football (@VT_Football)

Just a few reasons to join us at

— Virginia Tech Football (@VT_Football) December 8, 2015

">December 8, 2015

Next: Every Other Bowl Game Spread >>>

Interested in what Vegas thinks about the rest of the bowl slate? Here's a list of the other 30 matchups, in order of lowest spread to highest spread, according to Odds Shark.




Oregon vs. TCU



Temple vs. Toledo



Ark. State vs. L-Tech

Ark. State





Oklahoma vs. Clemson



Miami vs. Wazzu



Indiana vs. Duke



Texas A&M vs. Louisville

Texas A&M


Auburn vs. Memphis



San Diego State vs. Cinci



Middle Tenn. vs. WMU






BYU vs. Utah



USC vs. Wisconsin



Nevada vs. CSU



UNC vs. Baylor



Michigan vs. Florida



San Jose State vs. G-State

San Jose State


UConn vs. Marshall



Pitt vs. Navy



Notre Dame vs. Ohio State

Ohio State


CMU vs. Minnesota



Iowa vs. Stanford



Houston vs. Florida State

Florida State


Cal vs. Air Force



UCLA vs. Nebraska



Akron vs. Utah State

Utah State


Georgia vs. Penn State



OK State vs. Ole Miss

Ole Miss


NC State vs. Miss. State

Miss. State


Next: 5 Most Overrated Teams Of 2015 >>>