Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 2:30 PM EST odds are subject to change.
Liberty Bowl - Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium, Memphis, TN
Arkansas -2½ over Kansas
3:30 PM EST. As you’ve probably heard 100 times this bowl season, the landscape of college football is changing, as the transfer portal becomes more and more prevalent in the game. To that point, there is no ignoring what has gone down in Fayetteville, as there has been a newsworthy exodus of players leaving the Razorbacks program. On the surface, it looks bad when a team loses a higher percentage of their total games started in a season than any other before a big bowl game, but that is the reality here. Do we care? We do not, however, the media and the market do.
We’ll set aside the talking heads for the moment, as you will not get any shortage of them struggling to come up with any way the Razorbacks could possibly recover from such a roster overhaul in just a few short weeks, and we’ll look strictly at this line, which has dropped significantly from it’s open of Arkansas -5½ to the current price.
As you can see, that number has dropped as there has been an overreaction to the Razorbacks loss of bodies, but we’re inclined to side with quarterback KJ Jefferson, who isn’t phased that Arkansas will only dress 48 scholarship players today, “The main thing I tell my guys is to control the controllable. It’s out of our control. We just want to be able to control what we can control and do the best that we can while controlling it."
Aside from the straightforward message, what we liked most about that quote and why we chose it was that Jefferson called the rest of the Razorbacks suiting up today, “my guys.” That’s a leader, and that’s the kind of pivot those 48 scholarship players (and the walk-ons), who no doubt have a huge chip on their shoulders, are going to want to run through a wall for in this game. It’s worth noting that Jefferson is going to be the Razorbacks starter again next season. Dude is Arkansas through and through, as is running back Rocket Sanders, who will also be back next season.
We talk about the “next man up” philosophy a lot, as it goes hand in hand with the “injury chasers,” or in this case the “portal chasers” strategy we also discuss at length. There is good reason for that. There is inevitably going to be an overreaction in the market to injured or absent players, and there are always going to be dudes right behind them that are chomping at the bit to get a look, especially at this level when the line between being a pro and never playing organized football again is pretty goddamn thin. The money that comes with being drafted or making even just a professional practice roster is much more significant than pumping gas or stocking shelves at Wal-Mart. Imagine if Brock Purdy doesn’t get drafted as “Mr. Irrelevant” last season. Where would he be today? Nobody can say for sure, but he sure as hell would not be the starting QB for a legit Super Bowl contender. Success in life is linked greatly to luck and opportunity.
As for the Kansas Jayhawks—what do you want us to say? This is a program that barely deserves its modest existence in the shadow of a college hoops blue blood. We hope the coaches and players enjoy their first bowl game appearance in 14 years because it might be another 14 before Kansas sees another. We’re not trying to be rude, but when we read and hear that the Jayhawks are “hungry” for a bowl win or that someone “thinks” Kansas is going to be hyped up today because it’s been so long since they’ve seen the postseason, it’s amusing. Trust us when we strongly suggest that the Hogs will be jacked up even more. Motivation on both sides will not be an issue today. That is not the question. The question is where does the value lie in this game? That is of course with the short priced and far superior Razorbacks, shorthanded or not. Swallow the points.
Arkansas -2½ -106 (Risking 2.12 units - To Win: 2.00)