Heading into Week 13 of the college football season, 71 teams are bowl eligible. That means those teams have won at least six games to qualify for a bowl invite.
On Thanksgiving weekend, 22 more programs will try to earn their sixth victories and become bowl eligible:
A bowl trip is important for the entire program. Coaches often receive bonuses for playing in a bowl game and they help in recruiting. Bowl games mean a big payday for the school and players love the sweet swag they receive.
Here’s the gift bag participants received for last year’s Quick Lane Bowl: $175 Best Buy gift card, JBL Bluetooth headphones, life-size Fathead decal for each participant of his likeness, Ogio backpack and tag, mini-helmet, hoodie, workout shorts, winter hat and a vintage football.
Teams needing one more win to become bowl eligible are highly motivated. Thus, these squads should be good bets in a must-win game, right?
To test this theory, we used the Bet Labs database. Since 2005, teams with a 5-6 record playing its last game of the season — therefore with bowl eligibility on the line — have gone 90-90 (50.0%) straight up (SU) and 92-85-3 (52.0%) against the spread.
Teams expected to win have performed better. Favorites have a 59-19 (75.6%) record SU and are 44-32-2 (57.9%) ATS. Yet, the win rate for favorites is nothing special.
In all other games, the chalk has gone 7,275-2409 (75.1%) straight up since 2005.
The ATS record is intriguing but bettors haven’t had as much success wagering on favorites in recent years.
From 2005 to 2013, favorites with bowl eligibility on the line went 29-15-1 (65.9%) ATS, but those same teams are just 15-17-1 ATS since 2014.
It appears that bowl game motivation is not enough to bet these teams alone. Oddsmakers have adjusted for any additional motivation a team might have trying to become bowl eligible.