The 2018 College Bowl Season gets underway in mid-December and runs all the way through New Year’s Day. Following this past Saturday’s betting action for all the Division IA (FBS) conference championship games, Intertops online sportsbook has released the opening betting lines for all of this year’s postseason matchups.

Given the extended gap between these opening point spreads and when the games will actually be played, line movements are a big factor when it comes to betting on the games. Another key factor in the overall handicapping process is some of the recent betting trends for many of these matchups. While the head-to-head play is less of a factor, some of the teams are coming into their bowl games hot against the spread and others are not.

2018 College Football Playoff Semifinals

In a different scheduling twist for this year’s bowl season, the two biggest bowl games on the slate will take place on Saturday, Dec. 29 as part of the four-team College Football Playoff; ahead of the traditional New Year’s Day timeslot. 

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Starting with the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic in a 4 p.m. start on ESPN from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, the No. 3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish will square off against the ACC’s No. 2 Clemson Tigers. The early betting line on this game has Clemson favored by 11 points with the total set at 55 points

Notre Dame played five teams from the ACC this season as part of its 12-game schedule. It went a perfect 5-0 straight-up in those games with a 4-1 record against the spread. The Irish went 6-5-1 ATS overall in its perfect 12-0 SU run to a playoff spot. Clemson is 13-0 SU with a 7-6 record ATS. The Tigers are 7-1 ATS in their last eight postseason bowl games and 11-2 ATS in their last 13 neutral-site matchups.

The second semifinal is the Capital One Orange Bowl from Hard Rock Stadium in Miami at 8 p.m. on ESPN. The Big 12’s No. 4 Oklahoma Sooners have been set as 14-point underdogs against the SEC’s No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide. The total line for this game has been set at 79 points

Oklahoma has covered in four of its last five games against the SEC, but it is just 3-9 ATS in its last 12 games played at a neutral site. The Crimson Tide were 8-5 ATS this season in their perfect 13-0 SU run back to the playoff. They have been able to cover in five of their last seven games coming off an SU victory.  

New Year’s Day Featured Matchups

One of the most interesting bowl games on New Year’s Day pits the AAC’s No. 8 Central Florida Knights against the SEC’s No. 11 LSU Tigers in the Playstation Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. Game time on ESPN is set for 1 p.m. and the undefeated Knights have been opened as 7.5-point underdogs. The total for the game is set at 54.5 points

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UCF went 13-0 SU last season capped off by a 34-27 upset against Auburn as a 15-point underdog. It is 12-0 SU with a 9-3 record ATS heading into this game. The Knights are 5-2 ATS in their last seven nonconference games. LSU is 9-3 SU this season with an even 6-6 record ATS. The Tigers are 2-5 ATS in their last seven bowl games.

Another featured New Year’s Day matchup is in this year’s Rose Bowl in Pasadena between the Pac-12 Champion Washington Huskies and the Big Ten Champion Ohio State Buckeyes. Ohio State is favored by 5.5 points for this 5 p.m. kickoff on ESPN with the total set at 58 points.

The Huskies are 10-3 SU this season, but just 4-9 ATS. They have failed to cover in four of their last five games played outside the Pac-12. The Buckeyes went 12-1 SU with a 6-7 record ATS. They have been able to cover in 13 of their last 17 games against the Pac-12 and they have a 4-1 record ATS in their last five bowl games.

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