Bowl season is here and both of West Virginia’s top football schools earned a berth this year.
Marshall will face South Florida in the Gasparilla Bowl, while West Virginia plays Syracuse in the World Camping Bowl.
Read on for more information related to WV sports betting:
World Camping Bowl
Friday, Dec. 28 5:15 p.m. ET
West Virginia (8-3) vs. Syracuse (9-3)
Line: West Virginia -1.5, Total: 68
One of the most entertaining bowl matchups pits West Virginia against Syracuse in the World Camping Bowl, althought the game lost a little of its luster when WV QB Will Grier said he would sit out to prepare for the NFL Draft.
The Mountaineers opened a touchdown favorite with the total being the second highest of bowl season at 74 (Oklahoma/Alabama – 79). So Syracuse and under bettors were excited to hear that Grier would not play. The current spread is WV -1.5, and the total is at 68 at most sportsbooks.
Two tough losses to Oklahoma State and Oklahoma by a combined seven points kept West Virginia out of the Big 12 Championship Game. The Mountaineers finished 8-3 and were 6-3-2 against the spread (ATS) this season.
Betting on the Mountaineers
West Virginia delivered for bettors in a favorite role going 6-3 ATS when laying points. The Mountaineers last five games went over the total.
Syracuse is one of the country’s biggest surprises, going 9-3 straight up and 8-3-1 ATS. The Orange closed the year on a 4-1 ATS run.
Syracuse excelled as an underdog going 4-1 ATS in that spot. The one loss was to Notre Dame when starting quarterback Eric Dungey left with a back injury in the first quarter.
It was not surprising to see the total at 74, considering West Virginia and Syracuse have two of the country’s most explosive offenses. The teams are combined 14-9 to the OVER this year.
Offense and defense
West Virginia ranks ninth in scoring at 42.3 points per game, while Syracuse ranks 12th, averaging 40.8 points per game. The Mountaineers and Orange have each scored at least 40 points eight times this year. No Grier is a problem for the WV offense, though, in theory.
Neither defense will be confused for Alabama. West Virginia ranks 60th in scoring defense allowing 26.5 points per game and Syracuse comes in ranked 72nd at 27.8 points per game. One area of concern for West Virginia is a rush defense allowing 151 yards per game. The Orange average 207 yards per game on the ground.
When it comes to throwing the football, the Mountaineers should have a big advantage even with Jack Allison taking over for Grier. West Virginia ranks third in the country in passing offense at 358 yards per game, while Syracuse’s 110th ranked pass defense is giving up an average of 263 yards per game.
Dungey has thrown for 2,565 yards with 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He’s just as dangerous as a runner with 732 yards and 15 rushing touchdowns.
Grier was one of the nation’s top passers with 3,864 yards, 37 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He ranks third in the country with 351.3 passing yards per game.
The two former Big East rivals don’t play as often as they used to but the under is 4-1 in the last five meetings dating back to 2008.
Thursday, Dec. 20 8 p.m. ET
Marshall (8-4) vs. South Florida (7-5)
Line: Marshall -2.5, Total: 54.5
Marshall’s reward for a second-place finish in Conference USA’s East division is a berth in the Gasparilla Bowl where the Thundering Herd will face South Florida of the American Athletic Conference. Marshall was installed as a slight 2.5-point favorite with the total at 54.5.
Marshall enters the Gasparilla Bowl winning three of its past four games. The Thundering Herd dropped their season finale to Virginia Tech 41-20 as 3.5-point underdogs.
Betting on the Herd
Marshall is coming off a successful 8-4 campaign but the Herd haven’t been profitable to gamblers, going 4-8 ATS. Marshall was just 1-4 ATS in its last five games, falling to cover as a favorite three times during that span.
South Florida was also 4-8 ATS this year. The Bulls ended the year on a five-game losing streak after starting the season 7-0. South Florida is just 2-5 ATS in its last seven games. The Bulls’ late-season struggles can be attributed to issues on both sides of the ball. In its last four games, South Florida averaged just 16.2 points per game, while allowing 35.2 points.
Marshall is 8-4 to the over this year. The over has cashed in four of the Thundering Herd’s last five games. Meanwhile, South Florida is 7-5 to the under. The under is 3-1 in the Bulls’ last four games.
Offense and defense
South Florida averaged 443 yards and 29.2 points this season. The Bulls had the nation’s 36th ranked rushing attack, averaging 202.5 yards per game.
Defensively, South Florida allowed an average of 442 yards and 31.5 points per game. The Bulls really struggled to stop the run, giving up an average of 245 rushing yards per game.
Marshall has a big advantage on defense in this game. The Herd ranked 23rd in FBS giving up an average of with 323 yards and only 104 yards per game on the ground.
Marshall quarterback Isaiah Green finished the season with 2,060 yards passing, 15 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Look for the Thundering Herd to lean on the running back duo of Tyler King and Brenden Knox. The tandem combined to run for 1,020 yards this season and should be able to find success against a soft South Florida rush defense.
South Florida gets the advantage of playing in its own backyard with the game in Tampa at Raymond James Stadium, although Marshall head coach Doc Holliday is a perfect 5-0 in bowl games.