Free Picks: Russell Athletic Bowl Betting Odds & Spread

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The West Virginia Mountaineers square off against the Miami Hurricanes on Wednesday, December 28th in the 2016 Russell Athletic Bowl. Kickoff inside Camping World Stadium in Orlando is set for 5:30 EST Wednesday night with ESPN providing the television coverage.

Russell Athletic Bowl Betting Line Preview: WVU vs Miami

West Virginia (10-2) finished tied for second in the Big 12 in what has been the most successful season of the Dana Holgorsen era. A 28-56 loss to Oklahoma cost them the title, but the Mountaineers rebounded nicely to beat Iowa State and Baylor to close out the season with double-digit victories.

Miami (8-4) has three different four-game streaks this season. The Hurricanes opened 4-0, but then lost four straight against a brutal schedule before closing the season with four straight victories. They topped Duke 40-21 in their season finale and will be looking to win a bowl game in Mark Richt’s first season.

According to the college bowl odds, Miami is a 2.5-point favorite over West Virginia with a total set of 57 points. Check out my bowl predictions to get my picks on the straight up winner of each bowl game.

Russell Athletic Bowl Vegas Spread Predictions: Miami -2.5

I think the Hurricanes are the happier team to be here. The Mountaineers had a chance to win the Big 12 down the stretch and lost out on a better bowl when they lost to Oklahoma. They proceeded to beat Iowa State and Baylor, but they didn’t play well in either of those games.

They only outgained Iowa State by 52 yards and they were outgained by Baylor by 18 yards in a narrow 24-21 win as 17-point favorites. I think the Mountaineers continue sleep-walking into their bowl game. They already have their 10 wins, so their season is a success no matter what happens in this game.

Miami clearly wants to be here and will have a pep in its step in its first set of bowl practices under head coach Mark Richt. The Hurricanes won their final four games to close out the season in blowout fashion, going 4-0 ATS in the process. They beat Pitt by 23 at home, Virginia by 20 on the road, NC State by 24 on the road and Duke by 19 at home. They outgained their last four opponents by a combined 537 yards in the process. They clearly come in playing their best football of the season.

Adding to Miami’s motivation is the fact that it hasn’t won a bowl game in a decade. The Hurricanes will also be looking to build momentum for the future as they look to regain their past glory under Richt, a former Hurricanes quarterback.

Adding to Miami’s motivation is the fact that it hasn’t won a bowl game in a decade. The Hurricanes will also be looking to build momentum for the future as they look to regain their past glory under Richt, a former Hurricanes quarterback.

Statistically, these teams are pretty even on both sides of the ball, so I think it does come down to motivation. It also helps that Miami will have a home-field edge with this game being played in Orlando. Also, the Hurricanes have a big edge on special teams.

Miami kicker Michael Badgley went 10-of-11 on field goals of 40 or more yards this season. WVU kicker Mike Molina made only 2-of-5 from 40 yards or more. Miami punter Justin Vogel averaged 44.2 yards on 57 punts with 23 punts inside the 20 and only one touchback. WVU punter Billy Kinney averaged 41.4 yards on 51 punts with 14 inside the 20 and five touchbacks.

West Virginia is 6-15 ATS vs. good passing teams with a completion percentage of 58% or better over the last three seasons. The Mountaineers are 6-18 ATS in their last 24 games on a neutral field. West Virginia is 10-22 ATS in its last 32 vs. ACC opponents. Miami is 7-0 ATS off a win by 17 points or more over the last two seasons. The Hurricanes are 8-2 ATS as a favorite this season. West Virginia is 1-6 ATS in its last seven bowl games.

Check out more bowl free picks from myself and the rest of our handicappers here at Betfirm. Also click here to get my premium plays on the college gridiron this bowl season.

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