Five for Friday: Best Bets for December 23

And after late night action didn’t work for me on Wednesday, it did the exact opposite on Thursday night. I’m not really sure why Zach Wilson’s Jets were favored against Jacksonville, but the Jaguars eased past them. Air Force did the same to Baylor because service academies rarely lose bowl games.

That just left San Francisco to whack Hartford, and whack them they did. The Hawks have two months left before they drop to Division III, but they’re playing with a DIII roster. Against the Dons, they didn’t have a prayer unless San Francisco slacked off. Fortunately, the Dons did the opposite and closed on a 15-3 run to win by 32, easily cashing the parlay.

Hartford’s a bad team that’s only getting worse, and we have 13 more chances to fade the Hawks before they drop. Don’t miss them; the next one comes Dec. 30 against Morgan State.

Back to today’s games, as we’ve got two bowls and a hockey slate at our disposal. We also have a few hoops games, at least those unaffected by the storm. Here are my plays for December 23.

WAKE FOREST TTO 30.5, -110

Missouri’s defense already wasn’t great, and the Tigers got hit hard by opt-outs and injuries. Missouri will play without several key starters, including defensive linemen Isaiah McGuire and Tyrone Hopper and safety Martez Manuel.

And this patchwork defense is supposed to slow down Sam Hartman and friends? The Deacons hit 31 points 10 times in 2022, and the two exceptions were because Hartman threw three picks each against N.C. State and Louisville. As long as he throws to his own shade of black and gold, Wake will have no issues getting to 31 here.


Except for East Carolina, Houston doesn’t stop anybody. The Cougars plan to sling it early and often against Louisiana, and they might come close to this number on their own. As long as the bright lights of facing a soon-to-be Big 12 team doesn’t intimidate Louisiana, the Cajuns should do their share of the scoring. Louisiana can move the football well with Chandler Fields, and again, Houston doesn’t stop teams. This should produce points.


Rutgers is where offense goes to die. Other than UMass-Lowell, which is probably going to win the America East, nobody’s gotten above 57 in the RAC. Yes, it’s technically Jersey Mike’s Arena, but it’s still the RAC to me. By any name, opposing offenses don’t survive in Piscataway. Wake Forest dropped 81 on Duke, but could only score 57 on the Scarlet Knights. Seton Hall came to the RAC and scored 45 points in a win, and Indiana managed just 48 in a convincing defeat.

Bucknell’s a decent Patriot League team, but the Bison don’t have the scoring threat needed to put up points here. Rutgers has held six visiting foes to 50 or less, and the Scarlet Knights might well make it seven today.


This should produce some ugly hockey. Calgary comes in tired, playing its fourth game of the week in California. Plus, the Flames had to go to overtime last night in Los Angeles. Anaheim’s terrible no matter what the situation is, and the Flames will likely be happy to play a slower-paced defensive game tonight. I don’t expect a ton of chances, and I think the Flames will get the lion’s share of them anyway.


Give the Golden Knights a day of rest, and they’re, well, golden. Vegas has gone 20-8 when it’s playing on a full day’s rest, and it’s got that tonight against St. Louis. The Notes had been playing well before losing in Seattle, and odds are they’re ready for the holiday break. Meanwhile, Vancouver just doesn’t win in Edmonton. The Canucks have lost four straight at Rogers Place (confusing, because Vancouver plays at Rogers Arena), and the Oilers should keep that rolling. Edmonton has dropped three of four, but got back on track at Dallas and should roll here.


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