This bowl season has been...sort of a major letdown.
The big moments just haven't been there and it's been defined by blowouts and amazingly terrible overtime games (see TCU vs. California and Nevada vs. Arkansas State). But there's still hope for some drama in the season's final few college football games.
Here's the best bets for the New Year's Day bowls.
Iowa vs. Mississippi State (-7)
Normally, Iowa gets to square off against teams without as stingy of a defense as their own.
But that won't be the case against the Bulldogs.
Mississippi State allows 4 yards per play, the second-best number in college football. Iowa isn't much worse, but the fact that the Bulldogs can match the Hawkeyes on that side of the ball should worry Iowa fans.
Mississippi State is far advanced on the offensive side of the ball and the struggles are well-known in recent years from Iowa traveling to Florida bowl games. Both defenses will shine, but Mississippi State owns a solid edge on offense. -- Go Chalk with Mississippi State
UCF vs. LSU (-7.5)
I'm actually surprised that this number has gone down drastically since opening at 10.5.
Central Florida is coming into this game with a backup quarterback, who has only played one game this season. Sure, he was good in that game, but this is a much different order. One reason why there is some trepidation with the Tigers is that they're dealing with injuries, suspensions and some players opting to sit out due to the NFL draft.
But the overall talent gap is too much for Central Florida to overcome. I was more confident in last year's unit, so I'm backing away from Central Florida this season. -- Go Chalk with LSU
Kentucky vs. Penn State (-7)
I hate to continue to take favorites, but this is another game where I'm seeing a distinct talent edge.
Trace McSorley is going to be really good in this game. He's experienced and good enough to carry a team on his shoulders. Kentucky's offense just isn't good enough to keep up with Penn State.
The Wildcats rank 77th in yards per play. The Nittany Lions are 25th. And defensively, Penn State allows fewer yards per play. In bowl games, you can't always trust statistics. In this case, you can. Penn State is the better team, so don't overthink this game. -- Go Chalk with Penn State
Washington (+7) vs. Ohio State
Washington shouldn't be a touchdown underdog. I know there will be a lot of sentimental feelings toward Urban Meyer, but Washington's defense is legit. The Huskies are far better on that side of the ball than Ohio State and I don't trust this re-emergence of the Buckeyes on offense.
Ohio State shouldn't be trusted to be a consistent source on either side of the ball, and I anticipate Washington will have several opportunities at moving the ball, so I'll easily take the points in this contest. -- Go Against The Chalk with Washington
Texas (+13) at Georgia
I'm not going to go overboard with Georgia as this dominating College Football Playoff participant.
The Bulldogs are really good, but there's too much focus on Georgia being left out. And while the Bulldogs are worried about not being invited tot he playoff, the Longhorns have felt disrespected. And that motivation can work in games like this.
Texas can move the ball with consistency and even against a solid Georgia team, I believe the offense can move the chains. This game will be closer than many expect. -- Go Against The Chalk with Texas
Scott Levine blogs about fantasy sports and handicaps games. His Against The Chalk blog has earned him back-to-back Iowa Newspaper Association awards for Best Blog. Check out more sports betting coverage at Against The Chalk.
Scott Levine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ScottLevineCH