This could be the most challenging bowl season ever to place wagers because the college football landscape is essentially one big free-agent market right now with players deciding to enter the transfer p portal to they can enroll at a new school as soon as January or deciding to skip a bowl game to prepare for the NFL Draft. Here is news on two future NFL QBs who may take the draft route and it would hugely affect their team’s NCAAF college football bowl odds.
Western Michigan vs. Nevada (pick’em)
The Quick Lane Bowl from Detroit on Dec. 27. Nevada was a nearly 7-point favorite but it’s now a pick’em because star QB Carson Strong is expected to skip the game for the draft. Also playing a role in Strong’s potential decision is that head coach Jay Norvell left for the Colorado State job.
Strong underwent right knee surgery in February and had the same knee scoped in August. The knee injury dates to his high school career after he felt discomfort and clicking in that knee while playing in an AAU basketball tournament.
“My surgery was in February, and it’s supposed to be a year-long recovery,” Strong said. “The thing with my surgery that I had, it has to do with some bone and bone just takes kind of a long time to heal. And so just coming back soon, I was dealing with some inflammation problems. After games, I’d get swollen and sore, and so I was just dealing with that. I really do want to play in the bowl game. I want to finish the season strong with my teammates, but I also need to think about my future and how I can get the most healthy for the Senior Bowl and the (NFL) Combine and Pro Day and everything like that. I don’t know for sure yet.”
Strong was named Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year for the second straight season. Strong leads the nation’s 4th-ranked passing attack and the Wolf Pack paced the Mountain West Conference in points per game (36.7). He set program records in passing touchdowns with 36, 2nd all-time in single-season passing yards (4,175) which was also 4th in the nation. Strong is 3rd nationally in completions per game (30.4), 5th nationally in passing yards per game (347.9), 6th in passing touchdowns (36), 8th in completion percentage (69.9), and total offense (330.6). He leads the Mountain West with nine 300-yard passing performances, tying for second-most in a single season in league history and most since 2013.
Nevada is bowl-bound for the fourth consecutive season. The Pack makes its 19th appearance in a bowl game in program history (7-11). It is the first matchup in program history against Western Michigan for Nevada. The Wolf Pack makes its Quick Lane Bowl debut.
#12 Pittsburgh vs. #10 Michigan State (pick’em)Pittsburgh had been a 3.5-point favorite for the Dec. 30 Peach Bowl from Atlanta but it’s now a pick’em due to the likelihood that star QB Kenny Pickett will skip the game to prepare for the NFL Draft. The Heisman Trophy finalist, Johnny Unitas Award winner and ACC Player of the Year told The Dan Patrick Show he’s “undecided” on whether he’ll play. In addition, Pitt has lost offensive coordinator Mark Whipple, who quit to take the same job at Nebraska.
“With recent news out of our team, with coach Whipple and everybody … I’d say I’m undecided right now,” Pickett said. “It’s not something I’ve sat down and discussed with my family. It’s been a crazy past couple of days. … These next couple of days I’ll be able to sit down and figure that out.”
Pickett has achieved the most prolific season ever by a Pitt quarterback. Through 13 games, he has completed 67% of his passes (334 of 497) for 4,319 yards with 42 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. Including his five rushing scores, he has totaled 47 touchdowns this season.
Pickett’s passing yardage, passing touchdowns, total TDs and completions are all Pitt season records. He also set an ACC season record for touchdown passes (eclipsing the prior mark of 41 set by Clemson’s Deshaun Watson in 2016). Pickett stands as Pitt’s all-time leader in passing yards (12,303), pass completions (1,045), total offense (13,112), touchdown responsibility (102) and passing touchdowns (81). His 20 career rushing touchdowns are also a new standard for a Pitt quarterback.
This will mark Pitt’s first appearance in the Peach Bowl. The Panthers last played in a traditional New Year’s Six bowl following the 2004 season (Fiesta Bowl)..