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Bettors not backing UNLV in Heart of Dallas Bowl

A lot of football bettors figure to be asleep in a dark room when senior quarterback Caleb Herring leads UNLV into the national spotlight today. A traditionally big day of bowl games is not what it used to mean for the sports books.

“The starting times are bad for us,” LVH sports book director Jay Kornegay said. “New Year’s Day would be a lot bigger if four of the six games didn’t start by 10 a.m.”

The Rebels are 6½-point underdogs against North Texas in the Heart of Dallas Bowl at 9 a.m. The total is 54½. As of Tuesday night, wagering on the game was light, and a majority of the money was riding on the Mean Green.

“Right now, it’s really not getting a lot of attention,” Kornegay said. “About 70 percent of the tickets are on North Texas.”

Bryan Leonard, a handicapper for Footballwinners.com and Pregame.com, recommends a play against the Rebels, who closed the regular season by putting a 45-19 whipping on San Diego State.

“The truth of the matter is that win over the Aztecs was by far their most impressive game of the season. The Rebels went 1-4 against fellow bowlers, losing by margins of 28, 45, 24 and 4 points,” said Leonard, who expects the location of the game to work against UNLV.

“North Texas is playing less than 50 miles from campus. While the Rebels couldn’t come close to selling their allotment of tickets, the Mean Green fans are delighted to be here, and expectations are high. This is a team with a far superior defense that permitted just 10, 21, 7, 16, 14, 13 and 7 points the last seven games of the season. North Texas is 3-2 against fellow bowlers, with only one loss coming by more than a field goal.”

In the other 9 a.m. kickoff, Georgia is a 9-point favorite over Nebraska in the Gator Bowl. It’s one of three clashes today between Big Ten and Southeastern Conference teams.

Wisconsin is a 1-point favorite over South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl, and Louisiana State is an 8-point favorite over Iowa in the Outback Bowl, with both games starting at 10 a.m.

“When you put the SEC against the Big Ten,” Kornegay said, “I can almost guarantee we’re going to need the Big Ten team in almost every game.”

Bettors are siding with Stanford, which is laying 6½ to 7 points against Big Ten champion Michigan State in the Rose Bowl at 2 p.m. The Spartans were dealt a setback when middle linebacker Max Bullough was suspended.

“There’s no doubt Michigan State-Stanford is going to be the game to get the most action,” Kornegay said.

In the 5:30 p.m. finale, Baylor is a 17-point favorite over Central Florida in the Fiesta Bowl.

“I was asked what the five most popular teams were at the betting window this year. We ranked Baylor No. 1,” Kornegay said. “I’m pretty sure we’re going to need Central Florida.”

Favorites are dominating in the bowl season, going 15-7 against the spread prior to the Chick-fil-A Bowl, in which Texas A&M closed as a 13½-point favorite over Duke.

Contact reporter Matt Youmans at myoumans@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2907. Follow him on Twitter: @mattyoumans247.

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