CFB bowl season opening look: Moves around the moneyline
No one could have predicted LSU would part ways with 2019 national champion Ed Orgeron and set off a chain reaction that included Lincoln Riley and Brian Kelly voluntarily leaving Oklahoma and Notre Dame, respectively, as well as other prominent non-voluntary coaching changes.
Those changes - along with opt-outs from numerous players who don't want to risk injury ahead of a potential professional career - create endless uncertainty as we return to a full bowl schedule. Lines popped up throughout Sunday night, and we've seen the favorite flip in a few games, with more of the same likely to follow.
Here's a look at the biggest movers thus far, with other underdogs who could swing to favorites before kickoff:
Music City Bowl: Tennessee -3 (vs. Purdue)
I was stunned to see this open with Purdue as the favorite, and I subsequently went straight to the moneyline for my bet. Sure enough, Tennessee was a 3-point favorite Monday morning. I have this game at Tennessee -4, so there's actually some more to go here. However, I can't recommend the worst of the number, so we'll try to find a few others that still have some room to move.
Boca Raton Bowl: Western Kentucky +2.5 (vs. Appalachian State)
I didn't understand Appalachian State being favored last week, so we were happy to get plus-anything with Louisiana. Meanwhile, professional money poured in on Western Kentucky last week, only to have that not work out. I can see that happening again here, so jump on the Hilltoppers, as I don't think we're going to see the +3 that flashed on Sunday.
First Responder Bowl: Louisville -1 (vs. Air Force)
I hoped the first response for many bowl bettors would be to back the academy in this one, so I thought it might reach Louisville +3 when it opened Air Force -1.5, but the favorite flipped. The good news is there's little risk of getting burned for following that move at -1. While service academies are usually a good bet in December, you don't see anyone like Malik Cunningham in the Mountain West.
Holiday Bowl: NC State -1 (vs. UCLA)
UCLA opened as the favorite, which was puzzling. Then, the first move was in Chip Kelly's favor, and that was even more bizarre. Now, North Carolina State money has shown up to make the Wolfpack the favorites. Similar to the ACC team above, we can still play them, as I make this game closer to NC State -3.
Fenway Bowl: Virginia -1 (vs. SMU)
A perceived down year for the ACC is probably why all these teams were disregarded by market-making oddsmakers, but I was happy to grab Virginia at +1.5. Since then, the line has flipped to a familiar -1, and as long as Brennan Armstrong is good to go, I don't think SMU can keep up with the Cavaliers offensively.
Cheez-It Bowl: Iowa State +1 (vs Clemson)
We'll dig into motivational angles as we get closer to the various kickoffs, but one really has to wonder why Clemson would care against an Iowa State team that's less talented but usually up for a fight. I can see that attitude resulting in Iowa State getting enough attention to flip the favorite.
Citrus Bowl: Kentucky -2.5 (vs. Iowa)
Quick Lane Bowl: Western Michigan +2.5 (vs. Nevada)
This one is on the move. Nevada opened at -6.5, but reports that NFL prospect Carson Strong will likely sit out have caused the line to fall. And it may not be done. Western Michigan should have fans, while the Wolf Pack likely won't since Strong is perhaps the only reason to travel from Reno to Detroit. Feel free to hop on the Broncos.
Frisco Football Classic: North Texas +3.5 (vs. Miami [Oh])
Speaking of advantages, North Texas gets a virtual home game in Frisco, Texas, and comes in hot to conclude the season. This line opened -4.5 and could very well keep moving all the way over the fence to North Texas -1.
Sun Bowl: Washington State +2.5 (vs. Miami Florida)
We'll finish with the one game that features a line move that makes little sense. Miami ousted Manny Diaz, and now it gets a team that's going to be far more interested in playing this game. Obviously, our bias to our favorite quarterback Jayden de Laura has to be considered, but Washington State could easily find itself favored by New Years' Eve.
Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there’s a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.