Charlotte (7-5) is an unexpected debutant in a bowl game after starting the season 2-5 overall and 0-3 in Conference USA before winning five straight games to close out the season. The 49ers have overachieved in their first season under head coach Will Healy. Charlotte’s program is still in its infancy, originating in 2013 and joining the FBS in 2015.
Buffalo (7-5) won their final two games of the season to get bowl eligible for the second straight year. The Bulls are 0-3 all-time in bowl games after last year’s 42-32 loss to Troy in the Dollar General Bowl. Jaret Patterson is 6th in FBS with 1,626 yards rushing this season. The Bulls are holding opponents to just 22.3 points per game this season, the fewest in the MAC.
ESPN’s FPI gives Buffalo a 63.3% chance of winning this game. We break down the line and offer our best bets and analysis for Friday’s Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl matchup between the Bulls and 49ers.
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Buffalo vs. Charlotte Game Details
Date: Friday, December 120
Time: 2:00 p.m. ET
Location: Thomas A. Robinson Stadium (Nassau, Bahamas)
Spread: Buffalo -6.5
This line opened at Buffalo -6.5 and has held firm at most books with the majority of bets and money coming in on the Bulls. We have seen significant line movement with the total, which has fallen from 56.5 to 51.5. Windy conditions are expected on Friday in Nassau.
- Buffalo is 7-5 SU and 7-5 ATS this season
- Charlotte is 7-5 SU and 6-6 ATS this season
- Over is 8-4 in Buffalo games this season
- Over is 8-4 in Charlotte games this season
Analysis & Pick
This game is a very tough handicap. When you get to bowl season, motivation is key. I think both teams will be highly motivated for this matchup. Buffalo is trying to earn the program’s first-ever bowl victory, while Charlotte is playing in their first-ever bowl game. Since both teams will be motivated for this matchup, my next instinct was to look at the total, which has plummeted since the line opened earlier this month. The weather can be blamed for that, as windy conditions are expected in the Bahamas on Friday. That being said, I think this total might have moved too much. Yes, Buffalo likes to keep the ball on the ground which should keep the clock moving, but I also expect all of their red zone opportunities to be touchdowns instead of field goals because of their prowess for moving the ball in short-yardage situations. Charlotte will be aggressive in their first bowl appearance so you can expect a few tricks and gadget plays. I don’t expect the weather to be as big of a factor as they are predicting, similar to last year’s high-scoring affair between FIU and Toledo. Bet the over.
PICK: Over 51.5
Follow Jared Smith on Twitter: @jaredleesmith