NCAAF Betting: 2020 Gator Bowl Analysis

Posted by Derrick Harper on January 1, 2021 in

It’s not very often that you see a 4-6 football team playing after New Year’s Day, but with all of the issues that COVID-19 has brought on, we’re going to see it this season. The 4-6 Kentucky Wildcats will face the 8-3 North Carolina State Wolfpack on January 2nd in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl. Let’s take a closer look at the upcoming affair so you can bet against their NCAAF odds.

2020 Gator Bowl – NC State vs. Kentucky Betting Preview

Basketball School in Bowl Game

When you think of Kentucky, you automatically think about basketball. What has gone mostly unnoticed is the fact that this is Kentucky’s first sub.-500 season since 2015. Even with a below .500 record, Kentucky was just a few plays away from being on the other side of .500. They competed well in the always stacked SEC. Four of the six Wildcat losses came at the hands of teams that finished in the top eight of the College Football Playoff Rankings.

The 8-3 Wolfpack have exceeded expectations this season. Their three losses have all been against ranked teams, as Miami, North Carolina, and Virginia Tech. While winning eight games is a big accomplishment, North Carolina State doesn’t have a signature win on the season. They have beaten Liberty, Pittsburgh, and Florida State, but those aren’t exactly high quality wins. NC State was lucky in the fact that they didn’t have to play Clemson or Notre Dame.

Kentucky will be looking to do some damage on the ground against the Wolfpack. In their three losses on the season, NC State has given up an average of 276 yards per game on the ground. With Kentucky having dismissed their co-offensive coordinator after the season, and their new OC staying with the Los Angeles Rams until after the playoffs, Kentucky Associate Head Coach Vince Marrow will be in charge of the offense. It will be interesting to see if he plays it safe and runs the ball frequently, or if he’ll try to pull out all of the stops and change things up. Terry Wilson is a dual threat quarterback, and he will give Marrow some offensive options. If Marrow chooses to play it safe and rely on the ground game, Chris Rodriguez Jr. and Asim Rose Jr. give him two good options to attack the weakness of North Carolina State.

As for the NC State offense, Bailey Hockman has been steady at the quarterback position. Hockman took over under center in mid-October, after starter Devin Leary broke his leg. Hockman has been efficient, as he has completed over 63% of his passes. Zonovan Knight and Ricky Person Jr. give the Wolfpack an outstanding rushing duo.

When comparing the two offenses, NC State has the better unit. Defensively, the slight edge goes to Kentucky. Kentucky has seen some of the top offenses in the country this season, so they’ll be ready for the Wolfpack.

Final Analysis

Kentucky is fortunate to be in this spot. In a normal year, they wouldn’t be playing in a bowl game, but with all of the COVID-19 issues, and many teams opting out of the bowl season, the Wildcats were able to earn a bowl berth. We’ll see if Kentucky takes advantage of the situation, or if NC State comes out of this one on top.