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Best College Football Bets for Saturday, Dec. 23 | CFB Picks & Predictions

Written by: Tanner Kern
Published December 23, 2023
8 min read
Best College Football Bets December 23

We’re in the second of three college football bowl game weeks. The action intensifies as the stakes get raised with more significant games. Bowl games can be challenging to bet on because of all the players opting out and entering the transfer portal, but we like a challenge at WSN.

Check back weekly for our favorite bowl game bets! We break them down every Friday on WSN.

Troy Trojans vs. Duke Blue Devils 

  • Date: Saturday, December 23

  • Time: 12:00 pm EST

  • Moneyline: Troy (-280) | Duke (+225)

  • Spread: Troy -7.5 (-104) | Duke +7.5 (-118)

  • Total: Over 44.5 (-110) | Under 44.5 (-110)

Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook. Bet $5 on any Moneyline and get $150 in Bonus Bets!

PICK: Troy -7.5 (-110)

Like me, you were probably taken back when you saw Troy was laying a full touchdown and a hook against Duke. However, it’s bowl season, and we know anything can happen with all the players opting out and entering the transfer portal.

The Blue Devils lost their entire team, including their head coach and starting quarterback. Head coach Mike Elko took the job at Texas A&M while Riley Leonard is heading to Notre Dame. The one silver lining for the Blue Devils is that freshman quarterback Grayson Loftis has playing experience, relieving Leonard when he suffered an ankle injury. 

This will be his fourth start and sixth appearance. He has eight touchdowns and three picks on the season. We’re going to see rookie mistakes with Loftis. Duke will be without six players on defense, including their two best pass rushers. 

Troy lost their head coach, John Sumrall, who accepted the Tulane job. Yet, they didn’t lose many players in the transfer portal, which is rare for an 11-2 midmajor program that lost its head coach. LB Jayden McDonald is the only player with experience who opted out of the game. 

They have an experienced quarterback in Gunnar Watson and RB Kimani Vidal, who was second in the nation in rushing yards. He should have a field day against Duke without six defensive starters. Vidal ran for 233 yards with five touchdowns in the Sun Belt Championship. 

The experience and hunger are all over Troy in this game. Duke is entering a rebuild with a new head coach, and it shows with their roster, so it’s best to lay the 7.5 points with the Trojans. 

James Madison Dukes vs. Air Force Falcons

  • Date: Saturday, December 23

  • Time: 7:30 pm EST

  • Moneyline: James Madison (-125) | Air Force (+104)

  • Spread: James Madison -1.5 (-112) | Air Force +1.5 (-108)

  • Total: Over 44.5 (-110) | Under 44.5 (-110)

Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook. Head over to FanDuel to bet on our picks.

PICK: Air Force ML (+104)

James Madison is a Top 25 team, laying just 1.5 points against Air Force. This should set off alarms if you’re betting on the matchup and know that the Dukes are depleted. 

They lost six starters and rotational players on defense, their two running backs, their starting quarterback, and a receiver. Their head coach is also on his way to Indiana. This is too much production to replace, and the talent isn’t there with JMU after getting shredded in the portal. 

Every stat we have for JMU has to be thrown out the window, and we know that the young players can’t compete with a talented Air Force team. Their quarterback, Zac Larrier, is healthy for the first time since November 11 and will give the offense a new identity. He accounted for over 1,300 yards and went 8-1 as a starter. 

We haven’t seen the Falcons player great football, losing their final four games to end the season. Yet, Larrier being back should give the offense momentum, and the defense has been fantastic this season, allowing under 18 points per game. If James Madison lights up the scoreboard and plays excellent defense after losing their stars, I’ll tip my cap, but I can’t take them in their current position. 

Utah Utes vs. Northwestern Wildcats

  • Date: Saturday, December 23

  • Time: 7:30 pm EST

  • Moneyline: Utah (-245) | Northwestern (+198)

  • Spread: Utah -6.5 (-110) | Northwestern +6.5 (-110)

  • Total: Over 41.5 (-110) | Under 41.5 (-110)

Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook. Head over to FanDuel to place your bets at NCAA football games!

PICK: Northwestern +6.5 (-110)

Utah battled a lot of challenges this season. The biggest was that they didn’t have Cameron Rising all season, and now junior Bryson Barnes will get the start. He was one of a few quarterbacks who played for the Utes this season but had turnover issues. 

Barnes threw 12 touchdowns and turned it over nine times. This includes seven picks in his last five games. The quarterback will make mistakes, especially without some of the talent he is used to having on the offense. Additionally, this will be his last game at Utah before he enters the transfer portal, so it’s not like he is playing for his Utah legacy. 

Utah didn’t lose much on defense, which is a positive, but Northwestern had an upside coming into this game. When you talk about adversity, no program faced more than Northwestern. Pat Fitzgerald was dismissed from the team after the locker room accusations, but they won four of their final five games to get to a bowl game. 

They haven’t been hit too hard by the transfer portal and have a good quarterback in Ben Bryant starting. They have their primary running back in Cam Porter and their leading wide receiver with Cam Johnson. It will be tough to move the ball on Utah, but the momentum for the Wildcats is high, and they have the talent to win a lot of matchups in this game, especially against Barnes.

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Tanner Kern

285 Articles

Tanner Kern has been working in the betting industry since 2020. He currently is a social media content creator at DraftKings and contributes to multiple sites in addition to WSN, including Forbes and VSiN. He is also the cohost of the podcast Ride the Line at WSN.

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