We get to end 2022 by watching some great football games on New Year’s Eve, but the action doesn’t end there, as we can expect 2023 to begin with a bang. After a day off on January 1, we have 4 games set to go on the 2nd. Each of the games are intriguing in their own right, and you may need to have a couple of TVs going to catch all the action, but you don’t need to watch to get your wager going. For the purposes of this piece, we are going to focus on the ReliaQuest Bowl, which will feature the Mississippi State Bulldogs and the Illinois Fighting Illini squaring of as both teams look to end this campaign on a winning note. This is a matchup that the bookies have installed as a pick play, making it a bit of a coin flip. The point total for this one is set at 46. Let’s take a closer look at both teams and how they arrive to this ReliaQuest Bowl games so you can bet on the NCAA Football Bowl Odds.
Who is Playing in the ReliaQuest Bowl? | Mississippi State Bulldogs vs Illinois Fighting Illini Betting Preview
Mississippi State versus Illinois Lines | ReliaQuest Bowl Odds
- When: Monday, Jan 2 at 12 PM EST
- Where: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa
- TV: ESPN2
Why bet on the Mississippi State Bulldogs
The Mississippi State Bulldogs went into the season with many having them as a bit of a sexy pick in the SEC. While finishing at 8-4 on the year is certainly not terrible, it probably fell short of some of those expectations. While they blew through their non-conference games, going 4-0 in those outings, they failed to get traction in what was an admittedly tough SEC schedule, going 4-4 in their conference games and falling a good way short of what was needed to win the West Division. Given their strength of schedule, they did manage to do enough to land in the top 25, but a bowl win would cap a decent season. They averaged about 32 PPG this season and gave up 24 PPG. The Bulldogs are just 2-4 ATS in their last 6 games and have seen the OVER hit in 6 of their last 9. This is a team likely to draw inspiration from the passing of head coach Mike Leach.
Why bet on the Illinois Fighting Illini
For a while, it looked as though the Illinois Fighting Illini might be on track to win the West Division and make a trip to the Big Ten Conference Championship Game. They were sitting at 7-1 and looking great before going off the rails and losing 3 in a row, including a loss to Purdue that helped the Boilermakers eventually win the division. They did manage to bounce back and win their final game of the season against Northwestern, but the damage had already been done by that point. Illinois was in the middle of the pack on offense, averaging 25 PPG, but they were #1 on defense, surrendering just 12 PPG. The Illini have gone 11-4 ATS in their last 15 games, with the UNDER hitting in 13 of their last 20.
Expert Pick and Final Score Prediction
When the bookies have a game this evenly matched, you need to look for some sort of edge, I think the difference here could well be the Bulldogs player wanting to win one for Leach, who recently passed. I am on the Bulldogs to win a close one.
College Football Betting Pick: Mississippi State Bulldogs 23 Illinois Fighting Illini 20