December 17, 2021

Corrigan's Gambling Corner: Boca Raton, New Mexico Bowl Best Bets - Dec. 18, 2021

It is the first busy day of the bowl season, and we are here to give you the best bets for the Boca Raton and New Mexico Bowl. 

I love the board for this weekend, and we have two great matchups. You can expect a lot of points and a lot of fun. If you decide to tail our picks, we ask that you do so responsibly. 

Here are the winners for the Boca Raton and New Mexico Bowls.

*Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook

Boca Raton Bowl: Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at Appalachian State Mountaineers

Spread: App State -4 | Total: 66.5 | ML: App State (-154), W Kentucky (+126) |

This game kicks off at 11 a.m. Just a reminder for all my fellow east coast, beast coast folks.

Anyway, we are getting a treat for this year's Boca Raton bowl. The country's leading passer, Bailey Zappe, and the Hilltoppers will take on one of the better defenses in the country, from a statistical standpoint. The App State defense is 16th in scoring and yards per game, 17th in yards per play, 15th in yards per rush, and 21st in rushing yards allowed per game.

Against the pass, App State is allowing 6.9 yards per pass, 54% of passes to be completed, and only 205.1 passing yards per game. Offensively, the Mountaineers have a lot of playmakers for Chase Brice to get the ball to. Running backs Nate Noel and Camerun Peoples both average over five yards per rush, and the three-leading receivers for App State have combined for 2,463 yards and 19 touchdowns.

Now, the problem comes at quarterback. Brice is at his third program, and his turnover issues have not gotten much better. In his lone season at Duke in 2020, Brice threw more interceptions (15) than touchdowns (10). This season, he has 23 touchdowns to 10 interceptions, but part of that is because of the talent that surrounds him.

This game just screams over to me. App State has been great on offense, and they should put up some points against the 83rd ranked scoring defense. However, Zappe and the Hilltoppers are third in scoring, second in yards per game, sixth in points per play, and fifth in yards per play. This is going to be a shootout.

The Over has only hit in five of App State's 13 games this season, but the over is 4-1 in Western Kentucky's last five, and they are on a 5-0 run of overs when they are an underdog.

Pick: Over 66.5 (-110)

New Mexico Bowl: UTEP Miners at Fresno State Bulldogs

Spread: Fresno State -11.5 | Total 51.5 | ML: Fresno St (-480), UTEP (+350) |

If Jake Haener plays in this game, UTEP does not stand a chance. The talented quarterback entered the transfer portal, most likely to follow Kalen DeBoer to Washington. After withdrawing from the portal, Haener is allowed to play in the Bowl game, but there is no word as of this moment if he will play.

Haener is 10th in the nation in passing yards and 11th in passing touchdowns. On the season, the Bulldogs rank 10th in passes per game, ninth in passing yards per game, and 47th in yards per pass. Although he is what made this offense as good as it is, Haener is far from the only productive player on this team. Leading receiver, Jalen Cropper hauled in 11 touchdowns, and running backs Ronnie Rivers and Jordan Mims each rushed for over 500 yards.

The offensive line is solid across the board, and although they only run the ball 33 times per game, with Rivers and Mims in the backfield, they can beat you on the ground. The UTEP defense is very strong, especially in that front seven, but Fresno State just has too much going on for the Miners to handle.

The UTEP offense is 13th in yards per pass, but outside of that, they are not a real threat. If Haener plays, take Fresno State on the spread. If he does not, look at the under. Either way, there is a bet to be made with this game.

If Haener doesn't play, the UTEP defense could completely neutralize the Bulldog's passing game. Like I said, the rushing game is very good for the Bulldogs, but the under is the play if both teams have to turn to the run.

Pick: Fresno State -11.5 (If Haener plays), or Under 51.5 (If Haener doesn't play)

Photo: Getty Images