Handicapping college bowl games is very different from handicapping regular season college games. These games are played at neutral sites by teams that have not faced each other in several years, if ever. Bowl games feature teams from different conferences making it very difficult to get a read on who has played a better schedule.
Bowl teams have a break of several weeks between the end of their regular season college football schedule and their bowl game. This is a key factor, for some coaches are much better than others at preparing their team to play after a long layoff. During the college football regular season, coaches have their teams on a schedule. When preparing for a bowl game the normal schedule goes out the window. Some coaches are also better than others at getting their team ready to play in a big game. If a coach is taking a team to a bowl game for the first time, they should be greatly discounted because of inexperience. Study the win/loss record of the coaches in their previous bowl games. Look at both the overall record and their record as an underdog versus their record as a favorite.
Running Hot or Cold
I am talking about teams that are running in either a good or a bad way. This is a very simple angle: Coming into the bowl game, bet against teams that have won three in a row, and bet on teams that have lost three in a row against the spread. Underdogs simply bring so much value to the table that it is a no-brainer to play them whenever the scenario is right.
Offense not the way
The public loves to bet on high scoring offenses. You may have heard an old saying that "a good defense always beats a good offense." Well, in most cases it is the stone cold truth. Let the public take the high octane offense. Take the value and go for a good defense. Offense is predicated on timing and during the long layoff for the bowl game offensive timing always suffers.
David verses Goliath
Smaller schools are always more motivated when competing in bowl games against larger schools. Both players and coaches at the small school want to make a name for themselves by thumping a big time opponent. Big schools, conversely, are usually matched against these smaller conference schools because they had a disappointing season. They may be physically superior to the smaller school, but are simply less motivated. For them, this is the Disappointment Bowl, while for the other team it is the Put Us on the Map Bowl. Bet accordingly.
Bet against teams that lost their last game costing them a chance to play in the playoffs for a National Championship. Any bowl game they play in now will be a letdown considering they put their heart and soul into a very long and grueling season only to have it ripped out from under them in their last game. This is a very powerful angle that plays to player motivation and public perception which affects line value on these games.
Since 1983, bowl dogs catching a TD or more has hit at a 57% winning clip. The teams that qualify this year, as of 12/9/2015, are New Mexico, Northern Illinois, GA Southern, Tulsa, Air Force, Texas Tech, Houston, Michigan State, Northwestern, and Kansas State. Keep your eye on the lines as other teams are very close to qualifying. Another system involves looking at the strength of schedule. You simply take underdogs who are rated higher in strength of schedule. This system has won about three out of every five games since 1997.