The slate may be slimmer for Group of Five programs during bowl season, meaning fewer options when searching through college football odds for a G5 underdog. Still, there are enough games to be broken down and a lot of squads eager to make a little bit of noise — especially if they’re going up against a Power 5 school, or feel like they’re being overlooked.
Between the transfer portal, coaching changes, and opt-outs, bowl games can get dicey. Many distractions arise at this point in the season and bettors can take advantage. I like our chances to do that.
Let’s dive into our Group of Five Underdog for the bowl season, and final G5 dog of the year.
Air Force (spread: +6.5, moneyline +195) vs. Baylor – Armed Forces Bowl
What’s arguably the most difficult offense to stop? The triple option.
Who is most effective running this offense? Probably Air Force. Even though sometimes it doesn’t seem right that the Falcons don’t slice defenses up through the air.
The Falcons lead the country in rushing yards with 330.9 per game, the next closest being Army (289 YPG). Baylor isn’t bad against the run by any means and allows 137.6 YPG on the season, which ranks third in the Big 12. However, Ron Roberts was recently fired as Baylor defensive coordinator. He helped shape a Bears defense that allowed just 18 PPG last season while they finished 12-2 with a Big 12 title and a Sugar Bowl win over Ole Miss.
He won’t be on the sideline or preparing for this Falcons’ ground attack. Instead, he’s already found a new home in Auburn:
Baylor dropped its final three games of the season, all three to ranked teams in TCU, Kansas State, and Texas. The Bears only lost to CFP semifinalist TCU by one point. Air Force rattled off four wins to close out the season and allowed just a combined 25 points in those four outings.
Baylor might not be as motivated going up against a Mountain West school after appearing in the Sugar Bowl last season. The Bears probably feel like they deserve a more quality opponent after beating Oklahoma and Kansas, and perhaps they do. But, I think Air Force and MW Offensive Player of the Year Brad Roberts will provide some unique challenges here and make it a game.
Interestingly enough, this is the only game this season that the Falcons have been underdogs.
Eastern Michigan (spread +4.5, moneyline +150) vs. San Jose State – Idaho Potato Bowl
A three-point loss to Toledo on Oct. 29 was the difference in the Eagles missing the MAC championship game. Still, eight wins is solid for a team that was voted to finish second to last in the MAC West. Following that loss, EMU won its final three games. If they want to end the season on a four-game win streak, or even cover against the Spartans, they’ll need to slow down Chevan Cordeiro and the Spartans’ passing offense.
EMU ranks second in the MAC, allowing just 208.8 passing YPG. San Jose State’s 264 yards through the air are second in the Mountain West. After starting the season hot, the Spartans have cooled down quite a bit and dropped two of their last three games. The Eagles have thrived in the underdog role this season, going 5-1 against the spread in such spots.
Buffalo (spread +4, moneyline +150) vs. Georgia Southern – Camellia Bowl
Georgia Southern plays fast and has success doing so. The Eagles lead the Sun Belt in plays and yardage, racking up 467.75 YPG, by far the most in the league. On the flip side, they allow 496 yards and 32 PPG. This is where Buffalo can give itself a shot. Buffalo leads the MAC in time of possession.
The Bulls are also second in the league with 12 interceptions while Eagles QB Kyle Vantrease leads the Sun Belt with 15 interceptions. Not a huge knock considering he leads the SB in passing attempts by a wide margin, but if the Bulls can secure a few turnovers and keep the Eagles’ offense on the sideline, they’ll give themselves a chance here.