The first bowl game of college football’s postseason kicks off at 1pm ET on Saturday from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome as Troy and North Texas square off in the New Orleans Bowl. The Trojans of the Sun Belt Conference are 6.5-point betting favorites at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
It’s a familiar bowl for both schools as it will be the fifth trip for North Texas of Conference USA but first since 2004. It’s the fourth visit for Troy but first since 2010. The two teams haven’t met in the bowl. The Mean Green (9-4) were champions of the C-USA West Division but were blown out in the conference title game by Lane Kiffin’s FAU team. Troy (10-2) shared the Sun Belt title with Appalachian State. North Texas is a former Sun Belt team and last played Troy in 2012.
The best game on Saturday is the Las Vegas Bowl between Boise State of the Mountain West and Oregon of the Pac-12. The Ducks are 7-point favorites. They were a different team this season when star quarterback Justin Herbert was healthy, and he is now. Oregon (7-5) was 6-1 in the games he played and scored fewer than 42 points once. Herbert missed five games with a collarbone injury. The Ducks lost their head coach, Willie Taggart, to Florida State. Offensive coordinator Mario Cristobal has been promoted to full-time head coach.
Boise State (10-3) was the Mountain West champion. Boise State and Oregon have a common opponent this year: Washington State. The Cougars beat the visiting Broncos 47-44 in triple overtime on Sept. 9 and won at Oregon (Herbert was out) 33-10 on Oct. 7.
In the New Mexico Bowl, Colorado State (7-5) of the Mountain West is a 5.5-point favorite over Marshall (7-5) of Conference USA. The Rams have a terrific offense led by quarterback Nick Stevens and receiver Michael Gallup, who was a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award. Gallup ranked third nationally in receptions (94) and fifth in receiving yards (1,345) during the season. Stevens has thrown for 3,479 yards and 27 scores. Marshall allows just 19.3 points per game.
The latest bowl game of the opening Saturday is the Camellia Bowl from Alabama with Middle Tennessee (6-6) of Conference USA facing Arkansas State (7-4) of the Sun Belt. The Red Wolves are 3.5-point favorites. Middle Tennessee is a former Sun Belt team and is 7-5 all-time against A-State, with the last meeting in 2012. Expect a close game as the three previous Camellia Bowl matchups have been decided by 10 combined points and went down to the wire. It’s the first trip to this bowl for both schools.
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