Bowl odds roundup: Louisiana Tech, Western Kentucky among week favorites

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The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs and the Navy Midshipmen couldn’t be more different in how they move the first-down chains, but their common thread is both are smarting from losing their regular-season finale.

Quarterback Ryan Higgins and Lousiana Tech are listed as six-point betting favorites against Navy in the matchup for the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas on Friday, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Bulldogs are on a two-loss skid but are 8-3 straight-up in their last 11 games following a loss. Navy, which of course had a 14-year win streak against Army snapped on December 10, is 1-4 against the spread in its last five games against Conference USA teams.

Higgins has the luxury of two big-time receivers, Carlos Henderson and Trent Taylor, who have combined for almost 3,000 receiving yards. Whether Navy can control the tempo with their bruising triple option might count on the decision-making by sophomore QB Zach Abey, who is making only his second career start. Abey struggled mightily in the emotional loss against Army.

The Western Kentucky Hilltoppers are 6.5-point favorites against the Memphis Tigers in the Boca Raton Bowl, which takes place Tuesday. Western Kentucky’s Mike White led his offense to 45 points per game and Memphis’ Riley Ferguson led his to 39.5, but the Tigers also have the more opportunistic defense. That said, WKU is 6-1 ATS in its last seven games against the AAC.

The BYU Cougars are favored by 10 points against the Wyoming Cowboys for the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego on Wednesday. The Cougars, who are 6-4 ATS in the last two seasons when favored by a touchdown or more, could have their way against a Wyoming defense that allows 464 yards per game. The Cougars’ defense gives up 364 yards per outing.

The Colorado State Rams are 13-point favorites against the Idaho Vandals in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise on Thursday. The Rams’ 7-0 ATS streak has been built largely by the combo of QB Nick Stevens and WR Nick Gallup. Idaho is 1-8 SU in their last nine games against Mountain West teams and is 112th in passing yards allowed, but their 15 interceptions attests to a certain peskiness.

The Old Dominion Monarchs are four-point favorites against the Eastern Michigan Eagles in the Bahamas Bowl in Nassau, Bahamas on Friday. Old Dominion QB David Washington has been proficient with a 28-to-4 TD/interception ratio and the Eagles have a shaky defense that allows more than 435 yards per game.

The Troy Trojans are 3.5-point favorites against the Ohio Bobcats in the Dollar General Bowl, which takes place in Mobile, Alabama, on Friday. The Trojans are playing close to home and QB Brandon Silvers’ efficiency could win the day in a matchup between teams with strong offenses and good rush defenses.

And the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders and Hawaii Warriors square off in the Aloha Bowl in Honolulu on Saturday. Oddsmakers are waiting for see whether Blue Raiders QB Brent Stockstill (collarbone) will be cleared to play or redshirt freshman John Urzua will have to start. Hawaii is 0-6 SU in their last six games after consecutive wins.

College football players left in limbo as seasons get pushed

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Kansas State quarterback Skylar Thompson is ready to play football next month.

Or in the winter. Or even the spring.

He just wants to pull on his shoulder pads one last time, run onto the field in front of thousands of adoring fans, and experience the thrill of college football. It doesn’t matter much to Thompson whether flurries are flying or birds are chirping, he just wants an opportunity that the spread of COVID-19 is threatening to take away from him.

“I just want to play football, whenever that time may be,” Thompson said. “I just want to get the ball in my hands and compete. That’s all that worries me is I just want to play football, whenever that time is. Whenever is right.”

Thompson was speaking Tuesday, just as the Big Ten was announcing the cancellation of fall sports and exploring the option of playing football in the spring. Word soon trickled out that the Pac-12 would be following suit, joining mid-majors such as the Mid-American Conference and Mountain West in punting on a traditional college football season.

The Big 12, where the Wildcats play, had not yet made a decision. But as the dominoes begin falling across college sports, it is becoming increasingly unlikely that any of the Power Five schools step on the field next month.

“I want people to be safe. I’m not oblivious to what’s going on,” Thompson said. “But the end of the day, speaking for everybody, it would be nice to have answers, and not just have things pushed around. There’s so much uncertainty every single day – how things can change in 24 hours – it’s very hard on a player. I think if we were just to get some answers, we would be able to process what that would look like, whether that’s what we want or not.”

Many high-profile college players, including Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, have made it clear they want to play this fall. Lawrence was joined by Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard and numerous players from Florida State, Oregon and other high-profile schools over the weekend in using their social media accounts in an attempt to save the fall season – and be part of the decision-making process.

“We all want to play sports this fall. Every athlete, I’m pretty sure, wants to play their sports,” Michigan defensive back Hunter Reynolds said. “They just want to do so safely.”

President Trump even weighed in on the controversy Tuesday, repeating his call for football to happen this fall.

But the decision rests not in the hands of players or politicians but those of university presidents, who must weigh the health and safety of their students against other considerations, among them the significant financial repercussions of not having a college football season.

“This was an extremely difficult and painful decision that we know will have important impacts on our student-athletes, coaches, administrators and our fans,” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said. “We know nothing will ease that.”

Pac-12 players at least know they won’t be playing this fall. The spotlight now turns to leagues that have yet to make a decision, and then to all administrators again as they begin wrestling with the prospects of spring football.

“It’s been a hard road not knowing whether we’re going to play or not,” said Kansas State linebacker Justin Hughes, who was looking forward to his senior season after missing much of last year to a knee injury.

“We have one last go-around. Don’t take it away from us – a year away from us – because there’s a tragedy going on right now,” Hughes said. “We want to do the thing we love safely, and whatever it takes to do that we’ll do it.”

Simply pushing college football to the spring is hardly a cut-and-dried answer. Nobody knows whether there will better treatments or even a vaccine by then, and the state of the world could be much the same as it is right now. And for those players who have NFL aspirations – Lawrence, Hubbard and many others – the prospects of risking injury by playing up until the draft almost certainly means many high-profile stars will ultimately opt out.

No wonder the fear among many college football players is not just of a lost fall but a lost season entirely.

“I need this season. This is my last season,” said Syracuse tight end Chris Elmore, who was awaiting word from the Atlantic Coast Conference on whether it will play this fall. “This could be a make-or-break for me to see whether I go to the next level or not. I’m committed to playing until they pull the plug on me.”

SEC, ACC, Big 12 still hoping to play football this fall

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And then there were three.

The Atlantic Coast Conference, Big 12 and Southeastern Conference were still moving forward Tuesday with plans for a fall college football season even as two other Power Five leagues, the Big Ten and the Pac-12, called things off.

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said he wanted to learn more about the factors that led the Big Ten and Pac-12 decisions. Sankey said he remained comfortable with the 14-member conference’s approach.

“We will continue to further refine our policies and protocols for a safe return to sports as we monitor developments around COVID-19 in a continued effort to support, educate and care for our student-athletes every day,” Sankey said in a statement.

The ACC said it would continue to make decisions based on advice from its medical advisers and state and local health officials.

“We will continue to follow our process that has been in place for months and has served us well. We understand the need to stay flexible and be prepared to adjust as medical information and the landscape evolves,” the league said in a statement.

The Big 12 Board of Directors was meeting Tuesday evening.

The Big Ten’s announcement that it was postponing all fall sports and hoping to make them up in the second semester came first. An hour later, the Pac-12 said all sports in its conference would be paused until Jan. 1, including basketball.