In this post we’ll share three value-driven picks that can give you an edge in your 2020 college football bowl pick ’em contests or confidence points pools. For a primer on our data-driven approach to dominating bowl pools, make sure to read our college bowl pool strategy article.
This analysis is provided by TeamRankings, a site that has helped thousands of subscribers win prizes in football pools. To get customized pick recommendations for your 2020 college bowl pool, check out their Bowl Pick ’em Picks product.
2020 College Bowl Picks: Three Underrated Values
With up to 29 games, college bowl pools typically present a number of opportunities for smart players to get an edge. In this article, we’ll discuss three picks that stand out as value plays based on their combination of win odds and pick popularity. They range from underrated favorites to unpopular underdogs that have a solid shot at pulling off an upset.
Deciding whether to choose these teams should be top of mind when you make your 2020 college bowl picks because they represent some of the best opportunities to differentiate your bowl pool entry from your competitors and gain ground on your opponents in the pool standings. Winning a college bowl pool is all about taking calculated risks, and the teams below offer excellent risk-vs-reward profiles.
Keep in mind that the best picks for your specific college football bowl pool depend on multiple strategy factors, such as the number of entries in your pool, whether it uses confidence points, and the prize structure. If you want our game-by-game recommendations for your pool, check out our Bowl Pick ’em Picks.
Note: Win odds and projected pick popularity data quoted below may change between publication time and kickoff time. If you want to see the latest numbers, our product updates multiple times per day with the latest information.
When a team is favored to win, yet is being picked by less than half of your opponents, that’s as close to a no-brainer pick as you can get.
Gator Bowl: Kentucky (vs. NC State)l
Kentucky was a lackluster 4-6 this season while NC State went 7-3. Kentucky, though, is the favorite in this game by 2.5 points.
The Wildcats being a slight favorite is understandable if you dig a little deeper, but the public is heavily on the team with the better win-loss record here, picking NC State around two-thirds of the time. That presents a great opportunity to pick a favored team while most of the public is going the other way.
The SEC played a 10-game conference schedule with no out-of-conference games this year, and Kentucky lost to powerhouses Alabama, Georgia, and Florida as part of their schedule.
NC State, on the other hand, did not draw either Clemson or Notre Dame in its ACC schedule and lost to North Carolina by 27. They did give Liberty their only loss in a 15-14 game, but their only other win over a bowl team was by three against Wake Forest.
Over the past six years, favorites that had at least two fewer wins and at least two more losses than their opponent in a bowl game have gone 10-3. Last year, there were four such games, and the favored teams went 3-1 (wins by Washington, Michigan State, and North Carolina; a loss by Miami). In general, you should trust the betting markets when a team with a notably inferior win-loss record is still a favorite.
Peach Bowl: Georgia (vs. Cincinnati)
Cincinnati went undefeated and got buzz for a College Football Playoff spot, though it ultimately finished a few spots out. Georgia has two losses, but those were to Alabama and Florida, the No. 1 and No. 7 teams in the country according to our predictive ratings.
Georgia has also been much better offensively since a switch to J.T. Daniels at quarterback three games ago. He’s thrown nine touchdown passes and averaged over 10 yards per pass.
Georgia is up to No. 4 in our predictive power ratings and is favored by a touchdown in this game. With nearly 30 percent of the public going with the upset pick here, likely because of the undefeated status for Cincinnati, it’s wise to stick with the favored Bulldogs playing in Atlanta.
If you are in a confidence pick pool, using Georgia as a high confidence play provides both excellent win odds and some value relative to how others are more likely picking.
All underdogs are not created equal. If you’re going to take a risk on an upset pick, you want to focus on highly underrated teams that have a legitimate shot to win.
Armed Forces Bowl: Mississippi State (vs. Tulsa)
Are you sensing a theme? Another SEC team appears in our value picks. The public seems to be relatively down on the SEC this bowl season, but there’s a good reason why many SEC teams don’t have impressive win-loss records: They played a 10-game schedule in a very tough conference this year.
Mississippi State is another team with a poor-looking record (3-7) because of having to play a 10-game SEC schedule. Meanwhile, Tulsa went 6-2, including going 4-1 in close games to reach the American title game before losing to Cincinnati.
Tulsa is the slight favorite here (2.5 points) but is being picked by 70 percent of the public. For perspective, that’s about how often Georgia, a seven-point favorite, is being picked against Cincinnati.
So, in a game where the Bulldogs are one of the smallest underdogs this bowl season but the public is heavily on Tulsa, taking a modest risk on Mississippi State should give you pick differentiation from the large majority of your opponents.
See All Bowl Picks & Value Plays For 2020
The three picks above provide just a few examples of how we use objective predictions and game theory to give players an edge in bowl pick ’em contests and confidence point pools. By understanding which favorites are underrated and which underdogs the public is sleeping on, you can craft a differentiated pick sheet that gives you the best chance to win your pool.
We’ve aggregated all the data and identified all the 2020 bowl teams being underrated by the public. You can see them all in the Data Grid feature of our Bowl Pick ’em Picks product (as well as get our customized recommendations on which ones you should pick in your pool).
You can also read more about them in our post on the top value pick opportunities for 2020 bowl pools, or just see our complete list of college bowl confidence point picks.