There is no better time of the year for college football bettors than the bowl-game season. From the college football playoff to the National Championship to the top-notch selection of secondary bowl games, sports gamblers are treated to a buffet of wagering options. The Holiday Bowl ranks among the most popular of these season finales. Though NCAA football bettors will flock more toward one of the six major tilts that help make up the playoff, Holiday Bowl odds still hold a certain curb appeal within the industry.
It isn't hard to understand the popularity. Never mind that it's now considered a second-tier bowl game. The Holiday Bowl has been around since 1978 and features participants from two of the powerhouse conferences: The Pac-12 and Big 10. Anytime mainstream schools are set to be involved, it's a big deal. Ergo, the Holiday Bowl is a big deal.
For those who haven't yet bet on it—and really, even for those who are versed in its importance—it's always a good idea to cannonball into an overview of the Holiday Bowl essentials. How are the participants determined? Can you bet on Holiday Bowl futures? Which other bowls is it competing with? Are there any betting musts you need to know? We're going to answer it all.
Best Holiday Bowl Betting Sites
Too many sports bettors fall into the trap of believing there's no reason to suss out the best Holiday Bowl betting sites. It's a major bowl game. Odds are going to be offered everywhere. This is both true and incorrect.
Maximizing the online-sportsbook experience isn't just about the popularity of the odds. It's about finding a website you can trust from top to bottom. Everything from the customer service to the deposit bonuses to the transaction process matters a great deal. And then there's a little thing called punctuality. You want a betting site that's going to post lines as soon as possible and then update them frequently, if not in real-time.
To answer your question: No, we don't expect you to spend a ton of time searching for the perfect online bookie. We've done it before you. Below is a list of the best sportsbooks around, not just for Holiday Bowl spreads, but for any kind of NCAA football betting you wish to undertake:
College Football Holiday Bowl Betting Odds
High-stakes playoff-like games typically come with futures odds. College football bowl games are different—and yes, this includes the Holiday Bowl.
Narrowing the list of potential participants at the start of the season isn't possible. It doesn't matter that we know the Holiday Bowl will feature schools from the Pac-12 and Big 10. We still don't know which conference seeds they'll be taking. It could be third place in the Pac-12 gets the nod while second place in the Big 10 heads to this matchup. It varies depending on which squads make the college football playoff and which programs earn a bid to play in one of the remaining upper-echelon bowls that edge out the importance of the Holiday Bowl.
At the very least, though, we can promise you we'll provide you with the odds you need once they're released—which typically happens about a week or so before the actual game kicks off.
Holiday Bowl Odds
The odds were last updated on January 11, 2021:
|Ohio State Buckeyes||TBA||TBA||TBA|
|Alabama Crimson Tide||TBA||TBA||TBA|
|Penn State Nittany Lions||TBA||TBA||TBA|
|Texas A&M Aggies||TBA||TBA||TBA|
|Notre Dame Irish||TBA||TBA||TBA|
College football gamblers who really want to participate in bigger-picture betting are free to work college football playoff futures and National Championship futures. Both of those are more of an exact process. For college football playoff futures, you'd be betting on which teams will finish in the top four of the national rankings (more on this later). For the championship tilt itself, you're just trying to predict which school wins the whole darn thing, including its one college football playoff game.
Most unfortunately, however, the coronavirus pandemic has thrown all futures betting—and potential Holiday Bowl participants—for an absolute whirl. Certain conferences have already postponed their season until at least the spring. It just so happens both the Pac-12 and Big 10, our main Holiday Bowl pool, are among those that have made such a call.
Sportsbooks have yanked their futures odds in the aftermath of so many unknowns. Though we can always look to the opening lines from this past spring, those only hold so much value. Chances are the next batch of odds will look drastically different depending on the circumstances.
If the season isn't postponed, you'll see the schools who did delay their schedule fall out of most bowl-game runnings. Of course, this wouldn't technically change the outlook of the Holiday Bowl. The two conferences who partake in it are on the same page and have delayed their season. That said, all teams in the Big 10 and Pac-12 would be automatically ineligible for the college football playoff in such a scenario, meaning that the Holiday Bowl would then become a meeting of the top-seeded teams from each conference.
On the flip side, if the season is delayed for everyone, you'll see other teams tumble down the college football pecking order due to players withdrawing from the slate. Select upperclassmen will inevitably choose to focus on preparing for the 2021 NFL draft and won't want to risk injury. Some heavyweights have actually already made that call.
Point being: Now more so than ever the Holiday Bowl is impossible to predict. Even when odds come back, the potential for schools and players to opt out needs to factor into your investments.
How Important is the Holiday Bowl?
This is a fair question. The Holiday Bowl is not part of the college football playoff—which simply includes the top four teams in the country as determined by a committee of impartial judges—and its participants have no chance at making the National Championship.
On top of that, there are always non-college-playoff bowl games that will exceed its prestige. The New Year's Six is a group of bowl matchups that include two college playoff tilts and four other season finales, all of which trump the honor that comes with making the Holiday Bowl. For reference, the New Year's Six is made up of:
Furthermore, the Holiday Bowl doesn't even necessarily top the list of second-tier bowl games. Their competition includes all of the following:
- Celebration Bowl
- Las Vegas Bowl
- Outback Bowl
- Citrus Bowl
- Alamo Bowl
- Music City Bowl
- Belk Bowl
- Army-Navy Game
As far as the pecking order for this group goes, the Holiday Bowl is potentially edged out by the Citrus Bowl, Outback Bowl, and Belk Bowl. That's fine. It's still within the same tier of bowl game, and schools recognize it as a major achievement on their behalf.
How could they not? The Holiday Bowl's participants come from the Pac-12 and Big 10 for crying out loud. We're talking about teams from two of the toughest conferences in the nation. Even finishing in third place and making a second-tier bowl game is a big accomplishment.
When to Bet on College Football Holiday Bowl
The short answer here: Yesterday.
The longer answer: As soon as possible.
College football bowl game odds are always most attractive when they're first released. In this instance, that's about a week or so before the Holiday Bowl.
Waiting to place your wager gives oddsmakers time to adjust their initial numbers, which they always do. The public descends upon one particular team or line like vultures, prompting such a swing. These shifts can be stark when you're dealing with Holiday Bowl spread and the Holiday Bowl over/under.
Bet Early on the Holiday Bowl
Granted, betting early doesn't guarantee you success. Nor does it ensure you'll be able to spot a market inefficiency. But it does increase the likelihood that you feel good about your bet. For example, betting on the Michigan Wolverines to cover a -3.5 spread against the USC Trojans is a lot easier to predict than if that line suddenly jumps to -4.5 or even -5.5.
Those are the types of Holiday Bowl line changes we're talking about. They are small, verging on subtle, but they always matter. The earlier you make a decision, though, the easier it tends to be.
For props bettors, this piece of advice isn't as important. The lines on props will move from their opening odds, but it's usually not by much—if at all. Not that this implies should you take your time to decide on which props to invest in. Sportsbooks will pull certain Holiday Bowl props if they receive a certain amount of action. So really, when it comes to betting on this Pac-12 vs Big 10 showdown, placing your wager immediately—or as close to it—is always better.