College football bettors likely will be foaming at the mouth on Tuesday after there were no games to bet on Christmas. The NCAA postseason returns with three bowl games, the first of the day featuring Utah of the Pac-12 and West Virginia of the Big 12 in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. Let’s see who’s the favorite in the NCAAF lines for this matchup.
2017 Heart of Dallas Bowl Betting Preview: Utah vs. West Virginia
— Heart of Dallas Bowl (@HODBowl) December 26, 2017
When: Tuesday, 1:30 PM ET
Where: Cotton Bowl, Dallas
Radio: ESPN 700 AM (Utah) / Mountaineer IMG Sports Network (West Virginia)
Opening NCAAF Lines: Utah -6.5 (56)
- Chance of Rain: 4°C/40°F
- Humidity: 83%
- Precipitation: 33%
- Wind: 8 mph ENE
- Cloud Cover: 100%
- Type of Stadium: Open
Heart of Dallas Bowl History
This game had had a few names and has been played since the 2010 season. Last year, Army beat North Texas in the game, 38-31. North Texas is the only school to play in the bowl twice; it also did following the 2013 season and beat UNLV. Neither Utah nor West Virginia has played in the game previously. After having been played on January 1 or January 2 for its first four editions, the game moved to a late December date beginning with the 2014 season.
It’s held at the historic Cotton Bowl, which is located at Fair Park in Dallas, home of the State Fair of Texas. That’s where Texas and Oklahoma play each year. The Cotton Bowl Classic called the stadium home from 1937 until the 2009 game, after which it moved to AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
Latest Heart of Dallas Betting Trends
- Utah is 8-3-1 ATS in the last 12 games
- Utah is 2-6 SU in the last 8 games
- The total went OVER in 4 of Utah’s last 5 games
- WVU is 2-4 ATS in the last 6 games
- WVUa is 17-8 SU in the last 25 games
Why Bet on Utah?
Utah (6-6, 3-6 Pac-12) is playing in a bowl for the fourth consecutive season and 21st time overall. The Utes are playing in the Heart of Dallas Bowl for the first time, but it’s the fourth bowl game for the program in Texas. Utah played in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl in 2006 and the Sun Bowl twice (1939 and 2011).
The Utes have played in 11 bowl games under Kyle Whittingham and he has the best bowl win percentage in NCAA history at 91 percent (10-1). The Utes are 110-56 in 13 seasons under Whittingham. Utah’s only previous game against West Virginia was in the 1964 Liberty Bowl in Atlantic City, N.J., won by the Utes, 32-6. Utah, which would not play in another bowl game for 28 years, is now 16-4 in postseason bowls. The Utes have played in the Cotton Bowl once, defeating SMU in 1996.
What If Come Down to Field Goals?
If this comes down to field goals, Utah should win as it has the Lou Groza Award winner in kicker Matt Gay. Gay, in his first season of NCAA football, leads the nation in most major kicking categories, including field goals made (a school-record 27), field goals per game (2.25), field goal attempts (31) and 50-yard field goals (5, tie). He has made 87-percent of his field goal attempts, which leads the Pac-12.
Utah ranks second in the Pac-12 in time of possession (32.01). It is third in the Pac-12 in the following categories: n total defense (353.8), rushing defense (139.8), scoring defense (23.9), pass efficiency defense (116.91) and in fewest opponent first downs (221).
In the four games this year that tailback Zack Moss received at least 20 carries, the Utes were 3-1, including a 34-13 win against Colorado when he ran for 196 yards. Utah is paced by quarterback Tyler Huntley, who has thrown for 2,246 yards, 15 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Why Bet on West Virginia?
The Mountaineers will be looking to snap a two-game losing streak. Coach Dana Holgorsen’s team, which was ranked as high as 22nd this season, lost to Texas and Oklahoma to close out the year.
West Virginia (7-5, 5-4 Big 12) is headed to a bowl game for the 36th time. The Mountaineers are playing in their first Heart of Dallas Bowl. This will be the fifth time West Virginia plays a bowl game in Texas, and the first in 30 years. The Mountaineers’ five previous bowl visits to the Lone Star State were the Sun Bowl three times (1937, 1948 and 1987) and the Bluebonnet Bowl (1984).
Dana Holgorsen is in his seventh season as the head coach at West Virginia, leading the Mountaineers to six bowl games, including the last four years. Holgorsen is 53-36 overall at West Virginia and 2-3 in bowl games.
What can the Mountaineers Expect in this Game?
WVU will be without star quarterback Will Grier. West Virginia still had a chance to play for the Big 12 title deep into the month of November. The Mountaineers were 7-3 overall and 5-2 in conference play, but a home loss to Texas put an end to that possibility. Grier suffered a finger injury vs. Texas and still isn’t ready. Grier completed 64.2 percent of his passes for 3,440 yards, 34 touchdowns and 12 interceptions during his first season as the starting quarterback in Morgantown. He sat out the 2016 and the second half of his 2015 season at Florida after being suspended for taking a banned substance. Chris Chugunov is now starting.
The WVU offense has had 13 scoring drives of 10 plays or more (9 TD/4 FG) and has had 37 scoring drives of 70 yards or more (35 TD/2 FG) including 14 TD drives of 80 or more yards. David Sills V, a Biletnikoff Award finalist, was named to nine All-American teams. He has 18 TDs and is No. 1 nationally in receiving TDs, No. 8 in total touchdowns, No. 13 in scoring per game and No. 28 in receiving yards. Gary Jennings Jr. is No. 3 nationally in receptions per game and No. 23 in receiving yards per game. Ka’Raun White is No. 9 nationally in receiving touchdowns (11) and No. 29 in receiving yards
Expert Prediction & Heart of Dallas Bowl Pick
Hard to ignore Whittingham’s bowl record. If Grier were healthy, I’d back WVU but not without him.