Expert College Bowl Picks 2021: Five underrated favorites, underdogs for pick ’em pools, confidence points pools

In this post, we’ll share five value-based picks that can give you an edge in your 2021 college football pick contests or trust point pools. For a complete introduction to our data-driven approach to mastering bowl pools, be sure to read our college bowl pool strategy article.

This analysis is provided by TeamRankings, a site that has helped thousands of subscribers win prizes in soccer groups. For personalized selection recommendations for your 2021 college bowling group, see your Product Bowl Pick ’em Picks.

2021 College Bowl Elections: Five Underrated Values

With up to 44 games, college bowling groups typically present a number of opportunities for savvy players to gain an advantage. Here, we’ll discuss five picks that stand out as value plays based on their combination of odds of winning and pick popularity. They range from the underrated favorites to the unpopular underdog who have a good chance of landing a surprise.

Deciding whether or not to pick these teams should be a priority when making your 2021 college bowl picks. They represent some of the best opportunities to differentiate your entry and gain ground over your opponents in the group standings. Winning a college bowling group is all about taking calculated risks, and the teams below offer excellent risk versus reward profiles.

Keep in mind that the best picks for your specific group depend on multiple strategy factors, such as the number of entries in your group; whether you use trust points or not; and the structure of the award. For our game-by-game recommendations for your group, check out our Bowl Pick ’em Picks.

Note: Odds of winning and projected popularity data for the selections listed below may change between post time and start time. If you want to see the latest issues, our product is updated several times a day with the latest information.

When a team is the favorite to win, but is chosen by fewer of the opponents in its group than should be expected based on its odds of winning, that’s the closest thing to an obvious choice you can get.

Georgia by 8.5 points
Georgia 79%
Georgia 68%

It’s rare that the national semifinal game gives us a true favorite of value, but that’s what we have this year. The combination of Georgia losing to Alabama in the SEC title game and Michigan beating Ohio State and Iowa in consecutive weeks is how we got here.

Our power rankings and punters have Georgia as the best team. With nearly a third of innings choosing Michigan, he can make a smart play with value simply by sticking with the Bulldogs favorites here.

Western Michigan by 3.5 points
Western Michigan 64%
Western Michigan 30%

Audiences are heavily in Nevada in this game, treating the wolf pack as the favorite, which was when the bowl matchups were announced. But then Nevada head coach Jay Norvell left to take the job in Colorado state, and quarterback Carson Strong, who could be a first-round pick in the NFL draft, has expressed uncertainty about playing in the game.

With the coach out and the starting quarterback not committing to play, the betting markets have changed. Western Michigan now looks like a game of value, as it will get the favorite while the majority of the public will opt for Nevada.

State of Oregon by 7 points
Oregon State 73%
Oregon State 52%

One of the best sources of value is facing a team with a striking win-loss record that is an underdog. Utah State is 10-3 while Oregon State is 7-5, but that’s largely due to close game performance (Utah State is 4-0 in one-score games) and the calendar.

Contestants in the group are fairly divided over who to pick in the group, so picking an Oregon State team that is favored by a touchdown is the smart move.

Some games are almost even, but the public does not treat them as such, strongly choosing a side. In those games, you can try to differentiate your input by choosing the team that is not being chosen as much.

State of Iowa by 1 point
State of Iowa 50%
State of Iowa 29%

This is not your typical Clemson team. Instead of appearing in the national semifinal, the Tigers play in a bowl named after a delicious cracker. Clemson also has a better record (9-3) than his opponent, Iowa State (7-5). However, the Cyclones’ five losses came by 29 points combined.

You can diversify your choice among many of your opponents by choosing the state of Iowa without taking additional risk.

Not all underdogs are the same. If you’re going to risk an unexpected pick, you need to focus on highly underrated teams that have a legitimate chance of winning.

Appalachian State by 3 points
Western Kentucky 43%
Western Kentucky 25%

Appalachian State is a good Group of Five program, and it featured another solid 10-3 season. But Western Kentucky is pretty good too, coming only a few plays away from being much better than its 8-5 record.

The Hilltoppers lost close games to Indiana, Army and Texas-San Antonio twice, and also lost to Michigan State by 17. They have played a tougher schedule than Appalachian State, but are being drafted only by about 25 percent of innings to even though they have a decent chance of achieving surprise.

The five picks above provide just a few examples of how we use objective predictions and game theory to give players an edge in bowl pick contests and confidence point pools. By understanding which favorites are underrated and which are the crowd’s favorites, you can create a differentiated pick sheet that gives you the best chance of winning your group.

We have aggregated all the data and identified all the bowl teams from 2021 that are being underrated by the public. You can see them all in the Data Grid feature of our Product Bowl Pick ’em Picks (In addition to receiving our personalized recommendations on which ones you should choose in your pool).

You can also read more about them in our post on the Best Value Pick Opportunities for Bowl Pools of 2021.