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Saturday Slate: Best Bets for January 1

I was due for a bad day to come, and that’s what happened as I took a 2-3 day on Friday thanks to Wake Forest coming a point short and Washington State forgetting there’s a such thing as a first half. Luckily, Quinnipiac and Georgia saved the day from being a complete washout, so we’re attempting to bounce back going into Saturday off a middling day instead of an awful one.

It’s a new month, a new year and there’s plenty out there to bet today, so we’ll try to get 2022 off to a good start. Here are my best plays for Jan. 1.


Motivation, motivation, motivation. Arkansas cares about this game; Penn State doesn’t look like it gives a flip about it. The Razorbacks have a healthy line and should be able to handle what this version of the Nittany Lions brings to the table; Arkansas should be the play here based on desire alone.

UTAH ML, +165

Once again, I’m riding motivation. Utah wants to win the Rose Bowl; Ohio State doesn’t appear to care one way or the other. The Utes should come in ready to prove a point, especially after they trounced the Oregon team that Ohio State couldn’t handle on its home field. This is Utah’s time to prove it’s a lot better than where it was during Charlie Brewer’s ill-fated time as the starter.


This looks like a defense-heavy situation. Both of these teams were heavy on stopping points from happening, and neither Spencer Sanders nor Jack Coan inspires confidence in directing the offense. This looks like it’s going to be a low-scoring contest, and it might be first to 20 is the winner. That says under to me.


Oklahoma State-Notre Dame might be first team to 20 wins. Iowa-Kentucky might be first team to score. The Hawkeyes don’t do anything well on offense and the Wildcats have played some rather ghastly defenses to get some points. This looks like it’s going to be a very low-scoring contest.

BAYLOR CBK -7.5, -110

Iowa State has to prove it before I take the Cyclones seriously. Iowa State has played one of the worst schedules in the nation to this point, so even though they’re ranked 8th in the nation, I’m still not buying that their record is legitimate. All they’ve done so far is catch Iowa on a bad shooting night, which is not enough to justify that ranking. Baylor tore apart Villanova, and I think the Wildcats are better than the Cyclones.


Idaho State is going to try to take the air out of the ball, but that’s probably not going to work against a Montana State team that’s going to be looking to shoot after hitting just 15 percent of its 3-pointers against Weber State on Thursday. The Bobcats have hit 69 in nine straight games against the Bengals and tend to play Idaho State pretty well in Bozeman, so I like them to bounce back here.

MONTANA -1, -110

I’m not buying Weber State’s win over Montana State. The Wildcats had to shoot 60 percent from 3-point land to do that, and even though the Grizzlies don’t defend the 3 very well, Weber is usually not a great shooting team from behind the arc. Plus, sweeping the Montana trip in the Big Sky is very hard. The Wildcats haven’t won at both Bozeman and Missoula since 2016, and usually, it’s the game with the Grizzlies that gets them. I like Montana here.


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