Teams try harder when a bowl bid is at stake, at least that is how the theory goes.

Most of the attention in Week 13 of the college football season will be on the games that impact the playoff race (Iron Bowl: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 6 Auburn). While not as sexy, there are 17 teams trying to become bowl eligible in the last game of the regular season.

A bowl trip signals that a program is heading in the right direction, it also means a financial windfall for the school and sweet swag for the players. Here’s the gift bag participants received for last year’s Quick Lane Bowl: $200 Best Buy gift card; JBL headphones; life-sized Fathead decal for each participant of his likeness; hoodie; winter hat; Rock ’Em Apparel socks; backpack; vintage football. Best Buy gift card + a Fathead of yourself = awesome. Teams needing one more win to become bowl eligible are highly motivated but are these squad’s good bets?

Using the Bet Labs database, we looked at every team with a 5-6 record playing its last game of the season, these teams with bowl eligibility on the line have gone 78-82 (48.8%) straight-up. Not great.

Teams expected to win do perform better. Favorites have a 51-19 (72.9%) record. Yet, favorites in all other games win at a 75.2% rate since 2005.

Against the spread, teams with a 5-6 record in the last game of the season are 80-77-3 (51.0%) ATS. If the team is favored or getting points, at home or on the road, playing a good team or a bad one, there isn’t a strong betting angle. I wanted to find a tasty trend but there are none to be had.

It appears that bowl game motivation is not enough to bet these teams. When you are handicapping Saturday’s slate, keep this in mind. Oddsmakers have adjusted for any additional motivation a team might have trying to become bowl eligible. Knowing when not to place a wager is just as valuable as a winning betting system.

Teams trying to become bowl eligible:

  • Buffalo (5-6) vs. Ohio
  • Texas Tech (5-6) at Texas
  • UCLA (5-6) vs. Cal (5-6)
  • Purdue (5-6) vs. Indiana (5-6)
  • Tulane (5-6) at SMU
  • Temple (5-6) at Tulsa
  • Louisiana Tech (5-6) vs. UTSA
  • Duke (5-6) at Wake Forest
  • Utah (5-6) vs. Colorado (5-6)
  • Minnesota (5-6) vs. Wisconsin
  • Middle Tenn St (5-6) vs. Old Dominion (5-6)
  • UNLV (5-6) at Nevada

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