Can there be such a thing as an underrated college football bowl game? Let's roll with yes, in large part because that's what the Music City Bowl is: underappreciated. No, it isn't part of the college football playoff, so it doesn't factor into the National Championship discussion. But Music City Bowl odds still tie-in two of the powerhouse conferences, in the Big Ten and SEC.
That's, like, a big deal. College football odds resonate so much more when they feature nationally recognized schools going head-to-head. The Music City Bowl promises just that, and as one of the secondary end-of-season tilts, it offers a unique betting opportunity for anyone smart enough to invest in it. We're going to explain why, in addition to touching upon oh-so-much more.
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Choosing a sportsbook for your Music City Bowl betting is a more intricate process than just making a deposit anywhere. Odds are offered everywhere, but you should be looking at more than that when sussing out a home for any college football betting.
The factors that we weigh most are transaction speed, customer service, promotional programs, and the timeliness of their updated lines. The latter is especially important because you need to be working with the most accurate odds when making decisions, particularly around bowl season.
Not everyone has time to do such thorough bookie searches. We get it. That's why we've gone ahead and done it for you. Below you'll find our highest rated online sportsbooks, which we value not just for their Music City Bowl spreads, but all of their college football lines:
College Football Music City Bowl Odds
As is the case with every college football bowl game, you're not going to have Music City Bowl futures well in advance of the game itself. The field of potential participants is too undefined given that this isn't one of the ultra-premier season finales.
Every squad within the Big Ten and SEC is first and foremost trying to make the cut for the college football playoff. And if they can't do that, they'll still be vying for a spot in one of the other four New Year's Six bowls. It is only after the second-tier bowl competitions are assigned their participants.
Nevertheless, we will have you covered once the Music City Bowl lines go live. In the interim, those hoping to work big-picture odds should take a look at college football playoff futures and National Championship futures. The odds were last updated on January 11, 2021:
Music City Bowl Odds
|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|
One thing to note throughout all this: You must be prepared to adjust your college football betting strategies for the foreseeable future. The coronavirus pandemic has impacted every section of live sports, and the upcoming NCAA football season is no different.
A handful of conferences have already agreed to delay the start of their schedule until at least the spring. The Big 10, one of the conferences that send a team to the Music City Bowl, is among that group. Every level of college football odds will be impacted by these decisions.
If the NCAA doesn't postpone the season across the board, then you'll see whichever teams that have already delayed their start fall off the bowl-game radar. Conversely, if the season is postponed for everyone, you'll still see schools drop off the top betting odds due to personnel issues.
Some high-profile players have already opted out of the 2021 NCAA football season to focus on getting ready for the 2021 NFL draft. That trend will only heighten if the schedule is moved to the spring. The NFL draft usually takes place in April—though that too is subject to change—and prospects won't want to risk injury or their health so close to entering the pros and receiving their first major payday.
You'll need to keep all of these factors in mind when betting. Sportsbooks certainly will. They've already pulled all their major futures until the NCAA figures out its season. And as far as players opting out of the season goes, you'll want to remain locked on the quarterback position. It doesn't matter when the schedule is set to open. If one of the premier schools in the SEC or Big 10 sees its quarterback elect to focus on draft prep, you can forget about them contending for both the college football playoff and Music City Bowl.
What's at Stake in the Music City Bowl?
When making college football picks, the Music City Bowl doesn't receive the same level of attention as the New Year's Six, which is a collection made up of the following showdowns:
The diminished interest in the Music City Bowl relative to the above competitions isn't inexplicable. Two of these six bowl games make up the college football playoff every year; they change on a rolling basis, with each one being dubbed a semifinals matchup every three years. On top of that, all six bowl games will almost always include teams ranked in the top 12 of the national poll. That drives up intrigue by default.
In contrast, the Music City Bowl falls in the second tier of college football season finales, joining the following games:
Little beyond bragging rights is at stake in these matchups. They don't hold the same cachet as participating in one of the New Year's Six bowls. But that doesn't mean they're not worth a darn.
On the contrary, schools still use their participation as a selling point when recruiting high school prospects. Large cash prizes and trophies are still handed out to the colleges. All of these bowl games are also a significant step above the attaboy bowl games that feature lower-rung teams. Think: The Cheez-It Bowl. (Yes, that's actually a thing.)
In the Music Bowl's case, while it's not typically featuring conference champions, it's still housing big-name schools. We're talking programs like Louisville, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Auburn, Georgia Tech and NC State. Heck, way back in 1998, even Alabama partook in the Music City Bowl. This is big-time football.
Betting Tips for Music City Bowl Odds
Mapping out a betting strategy for the Music City is a little more complicated than it'll be for its sister bowls. Unlike many of the other second-tier games, this one is straddling two lines.
Since you're guaranteed to be dealing with two high-profile teams, you'll want to treat the opening lines like they're for a major bowl game, the college football playoff, or even the National Championship. This is to say, you should place your bets immediately.
The why of it all is simple: Those initial lines are going to move out of your payout favor once oddsmakers adjust to the first wave of action. It happens without fail every year. College football bettors work one side of the equation to an extreme—usually, a team spread or the Music City Bowl over/under—and those opening numbers are then shifted in one direction by one to three points.
Make Your Music City Bowl Picks
That may not sound like much, but when you have such a slim margin on the spread, to begin with—something like -1.5 or -3.5—the slightest swing can make all the difference. Making your Music City Bowl picks right away ensures you won't be subject to the seesaw that is bowl-game betting lines.
For these second-tier games, we are also big fans of parlaying the moneylines of favorites. There are fewer upsets outside the six major bowl games, and if you combine enough of the secondary contests, you can see your potential payout rise dramatically.
We don't deviate from this stance when it comes to the Music City Bowl—for the most part. There's a little more variance in the outcomes given how many elite teams wind up participating in it. You're bound to see smaller spreads, which in turn will make for more coin-toss moneylines on the favorites. Where the Celebration Bowl might have a -350 favorite, you're probably not looking at more than a -200 favorite in the Music City Bowl.
This is both a gift and a curse. On the bright side, a -200 favorite and up makes for a better perspective return. On the not-so-bright side, it also implies that favorite is far more likely to use.
In the end, we still like the idea of parlaying the Music City Bowl favorite alongside four to five other secondary bowl games—unless, of course, you feel strongly about the underdog. You'll want to make sure the favorite is laying at worst a -200 because -175 and brings you into the iffy territory. If that happens, we recommend passing and just building your parlay with other bowl games while using the Music City Bowl as its own standalone bet.