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College Football Betting: Alabama Bowl 2020

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Jan/05/2020

There have been a total of 40 officially sanctioned NCAA football bowl games so far.  This is the last one not counting Saturday’s FCS Championship between James Madison and North Dakota State and next Monday’s National Championship Game between Clemson and LSU.  This year’s Alabama Bowl will feature a matchup between the Miami-OH Red Hawks and the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns.  Taking a look at the BetOnline.ag betting board, the Ragin’ Cajuns are installed as a -14 point favorite with the total posted at 54.5.

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Technically, the name of the bowl is the ‘Lending Tree Bowl’  but it has been played under a variety of names and sponsorships.  It began life in 1999 as the Mobile Alabama Bowl which makes sense as the game is played at Ladd Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Alabama.  In 2001, it became the GMAC Bowl for nine seasons.  In 2011, it became the GoDaddy.com Bowl and while the sponsorship would continue for six years after three years they dropped the ‘.com’ and soldiered on as the GoDaddy Bowl.  In 2016, it became the Dollar General Bowl which continued for three seasons.  This is the first year under the sponsorship of online loan marketplace Lending Tree.  The reason that the game is listed as simply the ‘Alabama Bowl’ on so many schedules is that Lending Tree didn’t come on board as sponsors until mid-November.

THE LAST BOWL GAME OF THE SEASON

It’s hard to figure why the Alabama Bowl organizers decided to schedule it when they did.  Actually, bowl organizers have vacillated over when to play the bowl almost as often as it has changed sponsors.  The inaugural game was played on December 22, 1999 with the thinking that it would attract attention as one of the first bowl games of the season.  That continued for six years but in 2007, organizers decided to become one of the last bowl games of the year prior to the National Championship game.  The game was moved to the first Monday in January for nine seasons at which point it was moved back to the December timeframe.  After four seasons with the game scheduled in December this year they’ve returned to the first Monday in January. The logic behind the move might be the desire to be the only football game played on the date.

Although TV ratings will likely determine the success of the bowl (or lack thereof) it still seems like it would be a better fit among the earlier bowl games.  One problem of the game this year is the matchup which doesn’t look to be especially competitive unlike most of the opening week bowl games.  There’s also little to suggest that the viewing public will be so desperate for football with the National Championship Game still a week away that they’ll go out of their way to watch what looks like a one sided affair.

It’s also difficult to see live attendance being very good either.  Were it scheduled at a different time during the holiday season this game would probably draw a good throng of Louisiana-Lafayette fans willing to make the three hour forty five minute drive along the Gulf Coast.  With the holiday season over this becomes a tough trip—even more so considering that most people have returned to their real world responsibilities and likely have work, school, court dates, community service, etc. on Tuesday morning.  It’s even more doubtful that Miami-OH backers will make the ten hour trip South to Mobile.

LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE VS. MIAMI-OH

The handicap for this game looks pretty simple.  The Ragin’ Cajuns of Louisiana-Lafayette have one of the most potent offenses in the country ranking in the top ten in scoring offense, total offense and rushing offense.  The Red Hawks of Miami-OH rank 95th or lower in most offensive categories and 110 or lower in total offense and passing offense.  Miami-OH has been downright awful in non-conference play of late.  This year they went 1-3 SU/ATS in non-conference play and that sounds a lot better than the reality since their only SU non-conference win came against FCS level Tennessee Tech.  Over the past three seasons, the Red Hawks have gone 2-10 SU/ATS against non-conference opposition.  Their other SU non-conference win in that stretch was against another FCS team, Austin Peay in 2017.

Miami-OH just hasn’t done well when stepping up in class.  They lost their three games this year against FBS level non-conference foes by a combined margin 149-32 or an average of 39 PPG.  They’re on a brutal run of 0-4 SU/ATS as double digit underdogs.  This season they showed a lot of tenacity in conference play and they have a decent defense by MAC standards.  That won’t be enough to stop Louisiana-Lafayette from scoring at will.

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