Updated: Jan 1, 2022
After a historic 2021 campaign, Kentucky will cap off their season against Iowa in the VRBO Cirtus Bowl on New Year's Day. With less than 24 hours until the Wildcats and Hawkeyes kickoff in Orlando, I had the pleasure of speaking to Vinny Magliulo, an oddsmaker at South Point Casino in Las Vegas.
Bowl season is one of the busiest times of year for the oddsmakers out in the desert. With college football games being played nearly every day from mid-December to early January, fans across the nation take their shot at winning some money. That trend is no different when it comes to Kentucky's bowl matchup against Iowa. In fact, Magliulo says that there is more interest in Kentucky football on the betting side than ever before.
When analyzing spreads for bowl games, there is a lot that has to be taken into account for both oddsmakers and bettors. The biggest question that has to be considered is simple, who is playing? This new era of bowl opt-outs makes it hard to get an idea of who has the upper hand. Iowa will be without their starting running back due to an opt-out. Also, the transfer portal allows players to leave their current school and get immediate eligibility. Typically, players will enter the portal after the regular season concludes, meaning there is often players of impact in the portal when the bowl games roll around. Kentucky will be losing Isaiah Epps to the portal, but he was expected to be out of the game already.
Kentucky opened as a two-point favorite at South Point, and that number has gone up to three since then. According to Magliulo, the money has gone towards Kentucky the whole way. Once Iowa star running back Tyler Goodson opted out of the game, it was to be expected some money would go Kentucky's way, but Magliulo claims people were betting on the Cats beforehand. Despite the news of Josh Ali and Isaiah Epps being out for the game, no drastic movement in Iowa's favor has occurred.
The over/under on the game is sitting at 45, one of the lower numbers this bowl season. When I asked Magliulo why the number was so low, he said it had "a lot more to do with the Hawkeyes than it does the Wildcats." Iowa is going to have a hard time scoring without their top running back and they have yet to name who will start at quarterback. Kentucky will have most of their offensive stars with the exception of Josh Ali as I mentioned earlier. Will Levis, Chris Rodriguez, and Wan'Dale Robinson are all expected to suit up for Kentucky. As of now, the money is going to the over.
A lot is at stake for Mark Stoops and Kentucky on Saturday. Another 10-win season is there for the taking if the Wildcats can come away with a victory. With less than 24 hours to go before kickoff, oddsmakers and bettors are placing their confidence on the Cats in what should be an exciting New Year's Day for BBN.