What to know for Tuesday’s bowl games

So many of the recent headlines surrounding the bowl schedule have involved games getting canceled because of COVID-19. On Tuesday, though, there are five games on the schedule to enjoy.

If you’re looking to bet on these games, here’s what you need to know.

Time: Noon | Line: Auburn -2 | Total: 51

Auburn was 6-2 and ranked in the top 15 entering November before losing its last four games to finish 6-6. Three-year starting QB Bo Nix was injured late in the season and transferred to Oregon. T.J. Finley will start in Nix’s place. The Tigers will also be without CB Roger McCreary, LB Zakoby McClain and tackle Broadarious Hamm, all of whom opted out, and veteran lineman Tashawn Manning, who transferred to Kentucky. How motivated will the Tigers be?

Houston lost its opener, won 11 straight and then dropped the AAC title game to Cincinnati. UH will be without star cornerback Marcus Jones in this one. An All-American, Jones had five interceptions and four special teams touchdowns as a returner this season. UH hasn’t won a bowl game since 2015.

Time: 3:15 p.m. | Line: Air Force -1 | Total: 54.5

Louisville was a slight favorite in the weeks leading up to this game, but the line has shifted toward Air Force, which is now favored by a point. Both of these teams can really run the ball. Air Force runs an option-based offense and averages 342 rushing yards per game. Louisville has one of the most exciting quarterbacks in the country in Malik Cunningham. Cunningham will be featured in the run game and can also beat you with his arm and is the most explosive player Air Force has faced this season.

I’m expecting a pretty high-scoring game and like the over 54.5 here. 

Louisville quarterback Malik Cunningham (3) runs against Duke during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Durham, N.C., Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Time: 6:45 p.m. | Line: MSU -10 | Total: 58.5

The biggest storyline here is Mike Leach facing his old school. Leach coached Texas Tech for 10 seasons before a messy ending that he has been very vocal about for years. Don’t be surprised if he runs up the score if he’s in a position to do so.

And he could be in that position. MSU’s Air Raid is a tough matchup for a Texas Tech team that has struggled defending the pass. MSU’s 3-3-5 defense could also present some difficulties for Texas Tech freshman quarterback Donovan Smith. TTU is a program in transition. Matt Wells was fired during the season, Sonny Cumbie was the interim and Joey McGuire is the new head coach. Cumbie was hired as Louisiana Tech’s head coach but will coach TTU in this game.

I picked MSU -9.5 earlier this week. The team totals could be worth a look too.

Time: 8 p.m. | Line: NC State -2 | Total: 59.5

UCLA went a combined 10-21 in Chip Kelly’s first three seasons but broke through with a solid 8-4 mark this year. The Bruins have a fun offense led by senior quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, running back Zach Charbonnet and tight end Greg Dulcich. UCLA hasn’t won a bowl game since 2015 and motivation is high for the Bruins here.

NC State will be motivated too. The Wolfpack has a really solid defense, one of the nation’s most underrated quarterbacks in Devin Leary and a potential first-round tackle in Ikem Ekwonu. A win here would get NC State to 10 wins for just the second time in program history. The only other time that happened was 2002 when Philip Rivers was the QB.

This could be the best game of the day. I don’t have an official pick for this game, but I lean toward NC State.

UCLA head coach Chip Kelly, left, congratulates running back Kazmeir Allen after Allen made a touchdown catch during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Southern California Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

UCLA head coach Chip Kelly, left, congratulates running back Kazmeir Allen after Allen made a touchdown catch during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Southern California Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Time: 10:15 p.m. | Line: Minnesota -5 | Total: 44.5

At 44.5, this game has one of the lowest totals of the bowl slate. It’s understandable based on how Minnesota plays. The Gophers run the ball 67.4% of the time and then try to hit big plays with play-action passes. There have been a few perplexing losses along the way, but generally it’s a formula that has worked. Having an excellent defense helps that cause.

West Virginia has struggled on offense for much of the season and really relied on running back Leddie Brown. Brown opted out of this game, and that will put even more pressure on turnover-prone quarterback Jarret Doege.

I’m on Minnesota -4.5 and still like it at 5.

8 NBA games on the card

If you’re not a college football fan, there’s plenty of NBA action available on Tuesday night. There are eight games in all with the Golden State Warriors hosting Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets as the headliner.

Jokic, the reigning MVP, is having another excellent season, averaging 25.9 points, 13.8 rebounds and 7.2 assists per game. The Nuggets are 16-16 on the year but 13-19 against the spread. The Nuggets are 7.5-point underdogs on Tuesday night. They are 7-11 ATS in road games this year, including a 5-7 ATS mark as a road dog.

The Warriors, meanwhile, have the best record in the NBA at 27-6. They’ve been great against the spread too, going 21-10-2 ATS. That includes a 13-4-1 mark as a home favorite.

A light college basketball slate

College basketball has been decimated by COVID-19 in recent weeks, but there are a still few interesting matchups worth a look on Tuesday night.

Notre Dame is just a 3.5-point favorite on the road against a putrid Pittsburgh team with losses to The Citadel, UMBC and Monmouth. Notre Dame hasn’t been great this year, but it has faced some really tough competition and has a win over Kentucky.

What’s the best bet?

My favorite plays of the day are the Air Force vs. Louisville over 54.5 and Minnesota -5.

I gave my reasoning in my picks column that you can read here.