Cover The Spread: Your PA Bowl Game Betting Guide

Written By Grant Lucas on December 8, 2018 - Last Updated on May 30, 2019
Penn State football team

The College Football Playoff is set. The bowl game matchups are filled out. The holiday season has begun.

Let us rejoice.

In Pennsylvania, celebrations are bolstered with the advent of PA sports betting. The state’s first sportsbook, The Sportsbook at Hollywood Casino, hit the market in mid-November. To boot, another three operations could go live within the next few weeks:

As such, and as we did a few weeks ago with futures bets, it seems fitting to dive into the bowl season betting lines. To do so, we’ll take a look at offerings in nearby New Jersey with NJ sports betting bookmakers William Hill (which operates at Hollywood) and SugarHouse (powered by Kambi, which will also do so at Rivers and Parx) when it comes to bowl games involving Pennsylvania-based teams and venues.

Dec. 8: Army-Navy Game

It all begins Saturday, with the 119th Army-Navy Game.

Played at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Army (9-2) will have a shot at winning the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy outright for the second-straight year. (As reigning champion, even a loss to Navy, which earlier this season lost to Air Force, which lost to Army, would allow Army to retain the trophy.)

On top of that, the Black Knights have a chance to reach 10 wins, either Saturday or in its bowl game against Houston, for the second-consecutive season. That would mark the first time in program history that Army accomplished such a feat. The last time the program enjoyed a run of this success dates back to World War II, when Army went 27-0-1 and won three nationals titles between 1944 and 1946.

The Black Knights have won each of the last two meetings against Navy (3-9), though only by a combined five points. Only once since 2010 has this game featured a double-digit winning margin.

SugarHouse lists Army as a 6.5-point favorite and -265 on the moneyline (compared with Navy’s line of +210). Alternate point spreads include Army -8.5 points (+115) to -13.5 points (+215) as well as Navy +4.5 points (+123) to -0.5 points (+210). Additionally, bettors can wager on the first team to score: Navy at +130 or Army at -177.

For what it’s worth, Navy has scored first in five of its last seven games; Army has been more successful of late, doing so in each of the past five games.

William Hill also has Army as a 6.5-point favorite, paying +220 on the Navy moneyline and -260 on Army.

Dec. 27: Independence Bowl

Two days after ChristmasTemple makes its fourth-straight appearance in a bowl game.

The Owls (8-4) will be without head coach Geoff Collins, who was hired by Georgia Tech this week. Thought Temple still looks good, what with its only American Athletic Conference loss of the season coming against No. 8 UCF.

In the Walk-On’s Independence Bowl in Louisiana, Temple and Duke meet up for the first time in history. SugarHouse and William Hill both project this to be one of the highest-scoring games of the bowl season with an over/under of 56.5 and 56 points, respectively.

The Blue Devils (7-5) carry a +143 on the SugarHouse moneyline and pay +135 at William Hill. Conversely, Temple, a 3- or 3.5-point favorite, depending on the book, is listed at -175 (SugarHouse) and -155 (William Hill).

Dec. 31: Sun Bowl

The ACC has not had much to brag about this season. Outside of No. 2 Clemson and perhaps No. 20 Syracuse and NC State (both with nine wins), no other conference member finished with more than seven wins. Pittsburgh, with five losses, played for the conference title (and lost by 32 points).

Still, Pitt (7-6) made its first appearance in the ACC championship since joining in 2013. Now, in a rematch of the 1927 Rose Bowl, the Panthers get perennial power Stanford in the Hyundai Sun Bowl on New Year’s Eve.

Pittsburgh has not won a bowl game since 2013, with only one victory in its last six appearances. Against the Cardinal (8-4), it gets no easier for Pitt.

Playing in its 10th straight bowl game, Stanford has won three times in its last four appearances, including in the 2016 Sun Bowl.

SugarHouse favors the Cardinal by 6.5 points, with Stanford at -250 on the moneyline and Pittsburgh at +205. The spread is the same at William Hill, with outright victories by the Cardinal and Panthers paying -260 and +220, respectively.

Jan. 1: Citrus Bowl

New Year’s Day in Orlando will be partying like it’s 1999.

At the VRBO Citrus BowlNo. 12 Penn State and No. 14 Kentucky will square off for the first time in exactly 20 years. That was back in the Outback Bowl when soon-to-be No. 1 pick Tim Couch quarterbacked the Wildcats in a loss.

This time around, Kentucky (9-3) enjoys the program’s best season since 1984 and heads into its third-straight bowl game. The Wildcats still seek their first win in a decade.

Penn State (9-3) is favored by six points at both SugarHouse and William Hill, while the game’s over/under total with each book is identical: 48 points.

As for the moneyline, SugarHouse tabs Kentucky at +188 and Penn State at -235; William Hill pegs Kentucky at +205 and the Nittany Lions at -245.

Playoffs and Heisman outlook

Of course, let us not forget about the races for the national championship and the Heisman Trophy.

Futures to win the national title at SugarHouse and William Hill each heavily favor Alabama:

  • SugarHouse: No. 1 Alabama -250, No. 2 Clemson +250, No. 3 Notre Dame +1,400, No. 4 Oklahoma +1,400
  • William Hill: No. 1 Alabama -200, No. 2 Clemson +275, No. 3 Notre Dame +800, No. 4 Oklahoma +1,200.

SugarHouse also laid lines on the Heisman finalists:

  • Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray, -200
  • Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa, +135
  • Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins +4,000

Photo by Richard Paul Kane /

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Grant Lucas

Grant Lucas is a longtime sportswriter who has covered the high school, collegiate, and professional levels. A graduate of Linfield College in McMinnville, Grant has covered games and written features and columns surrounding prep sports, Linfield, and Oregon State athletics and the Portland Trail Blazers throughout his career.

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