2018-19 College football bowl score projections

Every year since 2010, I have used a formula of my own devising to project the scores of every college football bowl game. It has proven to be fairly accurate, going 62.8% correct straight up and 55.1% correct against the spread in the seven combined years. It’s my understanding that 55% right is the threshold for making money off of picking games — I don’t do it and wouldn’t recommend it to anyone else — but I’ve bested 55% ATS in five of eight years.

Here is a link to my 2015 post about the projections with links to the first five years if you want to look at the track record by year. The site I posted the projections on in 2016 and 2017 is no longer with us, so here’s a spreadsheet of them if you are so inclined.

The formula is fairly simple, using points scored and allowed. It largely ignores FCS games and throws out points scored in overtime. The latter isn’t important to most teams, but consider that LSU allowed 17% and Texas A&M 13% of all points they gave up this year in solely the seven overtimes they played against each other.

The point spreads below are the consensus spread from the Las Vegas casinos as reported by OddsShark on Tuesday afternoon. I will update them as necessary on Friday, as it’s my custom with these to use the spreads available the day before the first bowl kicks off. The changing spreads may alter some picks but the projected scores won’t change from now on. (Update: This is me on Friday afternoon, and I have updated the spreads. They will not change again. None of the line moves ended up changing the picks ATS.)

One last note: the team specifically mentioned in the “Projection” column is the one picked to win straight up. I round off the scores to the nearest point to make it easier to read except when doing so makes the ATS pick look wrong or it’d make the projected score appear to be a tie. In the “Pick vs. Spread” column, I add a “+ points” signifier when the formula has picked the betting underdog to make such instances easier to see.

If you want to see the scores, just scroll down to the table. Before then, I’m going to make a few comments on some select games. Happy bowl season!

Cure Bowl: The formula has UL-Lafayette over Tulane by 0.36, the smallest projected margin of victory in the bunch. The only other game under a point is the Belk Bowl, with South Carolina over Virginia by 0.88 points.

Gasparilla: Marshall is about a field goal favorite, but the formula likes South Florida to win by about nine points. Such big disagreements between my numbers and Vegas are unusual, and I don’t even take into consideration that this is basically a home game for the Bulls.

Armed Forces: I have Army beating Houston 37-32, but that seems like way too many points when the Black Knights have been known to bleed 12 minutes off the clock with a single drive.

Independence: The formula has Temple beating Duke by two touchdowns, but keep in mind I don’t have any adjustments for head coaches being gone (whether poached or fired). The Owls can well underperform that projection without Geoff Collins and still cover the field goal line, though.

Camping World: The formula has West Virginia by five, but again — you guessed it — there’s no adjustment for things like Will Grier deciding to sit the bowl out. It’s a very simple formula, and any futzing I’ve tried for things like coaches or players being missing has only made things less accurate.

Peach: The formula likes Michigan by 11, easily covering the touchdown spread against Florida. The reasons are UM’s excellent defense and the fact that UF’s offense looks less impressive without the two FCS games.

Semifinals: The formula likes the two favorites to cover double-digit spreads. That goes for Georgia in the Sugar against Texas as well. A preliminary run of the numbers likes Alabama over Clemson by 2.81 points, though I will re-run it once all other bowls are done to get a proper score projection.

Gator: Texas A&M is a 6-point favorite midweek, but the formula likes NC State by almost four points. This along with the Gasparilla and Fiesta are the two biggest disagreements between my numbers and Vegas.

Outback: I have a score of Mississippi State 18 – Iowa 15, and if I told you that all scoring in this game would consist of a combined 11 field goals, you’d probably believe me.

Fiesta: My formula had UCF beating Auburn outright by a point last year. It has the Knights beating LSU by a full eight points this year. Given how many Tiger defenders are expected to be out, it wouldn’t shock me.

Bowl Teams Favorite Projection Pick vs. Spread
New Mexico Utah St. vs. No. Texas USU -7.5 Utah St. 40-30 Utah St.
Cure UL-Lafayette vs. Tulane Tulane -3.5 UL-Lafayette 30-29.6 ULL + points
Las Vegas Fresno vs. Arizona St. Fresno -6 Fresno 29-17 Fresno
Camellia GA Southern vs. E Mich. GSU -3 GA Southern 23-19 GSU
New Orleans App State vs. MTSU ASU -7 App State 29-16 ASU
Boca Raton UAB vs. Northern Ill. UAB -2.5 UAB 20-13 UAB
Frisco Ohio vs. San Diego St. Ohio -3 Ohio 34-20 Ohio
Gasparilla USF vs. Marshall Marshall -2.5 USF 31-22 USF + points
Bahamas Toledo vs. FIU Toledo -6 Toledo 39-37 FIU + points
Potato BYU vs. Western Mich. BYU -12.5 BYU 33-24 WMU + points
Birmingham Memphis vs. Wake Mem -4 Memphis 46-34 Memphis
Armed Forces Army vs. Houston Army -3 Army 37-32 Army
Dollar General Buffalo vs. Troy Buff -2 Buffalo 28-25 Buffalo
Hawaii LA Tech vs. Hawaii Haw -1 LA Tech 41-26 LA Tech
First Responder Boise State vs. BC BSU -3 Boise State 33-22 Boise
Quick Lane Georgia Tech vs. Minn. GT -5.5 Georgia Tech 34-32 Minn + points
Cheez-It Cal vs. TCU Even Cal 16-14 Cal
Independence Temple vs. Duke Tem -4 Temple 36-21 Temple
Pinstripe Miami (FL) vs. Wisc. Mia -4 Miami (FL) 22-19 Wisc + points
Texas Vanderbilt vs. Baylor Van -4.5 Vanderbilt 30-21 Vandy
Music City Auburn vs. Purdue AU -4 Auburn 24-23 Pur + points
Camping World WVU vs. Syracuse WVU -1.5 WVU 40-35 WVU
Alamo Wash St. vs. Iowa St. WSU -3.5 Wash St. 30-23 WSU
Peach Michigan vs. Florida Mich -7 Michigan 32-21 Michigan
Belk S Carolina vs. Virginia SC -5.5 S Carolina 27-26 UVA + points
Arizona Arkansas St. vs. Nevada ASU -1 Arkansas St. 30-26 ASU
Cotton Clemson vs. ND Clem -12.5 Clemson 34-19 Clemson
Orange Alabama vs. Oklahoma Bama -14 Alabama 52-35 Alabama
Military Cincy vs. VT Cincy -6 Cincy 33-15 Cincinnati
Sun Stanford vs. Pitt Stan -6.5 Stanford 30.2-24 Pitt + points
Redbox Oregon vs. Michigan St. Oregon -3 Oregon 23.1-20.4 MSU + points
Liberty Mizzou vs. Oklahoma St. MIZ -8.5 Mizzou 42-32 Missouri
Holiday Utah vs. Northwestern Utah -7 Utah 25-16 Utah
Gator NC State vs. Texas A&M TAMU -6 NC State 30-26 NCSU + points
Outback Miss State vs. Iowa MSU -7 Miss State 18-15 Iowa + points
Citrus Penn State vs. Kentucky PSU -6 Penn State 24.1-18 PSU
Fiesta UCF vs. LSU LSU -7 UCF 32-24 UCF + points
Rose Ohio St. vs. Washington OSU -6.5 Ohio St. 31-24.1 OSU
Sugar Georgia vs. Texas UGA -13 Georgia 37-21 Georgia
CFP Championship Alabama vs. Clemson Bama -5.5 Alabama 33-30 Clemson + points
David Wunderlich
David Wunderlich is a born-and-raised Gator and a proud Florida alum. He has been writing about Florida and SEC football since 2006. He currently lives in Naples Italy, at least until the Navy stations his wife elsewhere. You can follow him on Twitter @Year2