Update 12/22/21: Texas A&M cannot field enough players to play in the Gator Bowl due to COVID-19 cases. We will update this Gator Bowl Predictions preview when a new matchup is announced.
Bowl season is here! One of the reasons we love these bowl games so much is because of matchups like these. Wake Forest and Texas A&M may be unlikely opponents, but we all know they will be giving it their all on the biggest stage.
Texas A&M may not be having the season they imagined, but this is their opportunity to end strong. After last season’s success, a lot of people, including myself, were very high on Texas A&M. The combination of returning talent and Jimbo Fisher‘s success thus far made an optimistic outcome easier to see.
Wake Forest has been a bit of a surprise to everyone. With Clemson having a rare down year, the ACC was wide open, and they truly did capitalize off of it. They started the season incredibly hot but definitely cooled off a lot toward the end of the year, ending in a tough blowout loss in the ACC championship.
I expect both teams to be coming with full force for one of the biggest bowl games of the season, and I’m expecting an absolute battle.
All NCAAF gameday odds are courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook and current as of noon ET on Thursday, December 9.
Texas A&M vs Wake Forest Prediction
Let’s address the Elephant in the room in Isaiah Spiller. The star running back, and possible first-round pick, has declared for the NFL draft and foregone his remaining eligibility. Spiller has been the definition of a workhorse for the Aggies this season with 179 carries for 1,011 yards along with seven touchdowns and 189 receiving yards.
While Spiller doesn’t make it 100% clear if he will be missing this bowl game, it seems most likely he won’t be suiting up. With Zach Calzada no longer under center, this team is gonna do what it always does, run the ball and play good defense.
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Devon Achane should now step in to lead back duties but it surely will be a committee. He has already been involved in the run game this year, and once player props become available, he will definitely be someone I’m targeting. He’s displayed an impressive amount of explosiveness, as we saw in last year’s bowl game, and I’m expecting good things here, too.
Wake Forest has been a high-scoring offense all season, and that’s how they are going to have to win this game. In every game this season, either Wake Forest or their opponent has scored more than 35 points. There have been a lot of blowouts this season, going both ways.
Wake Forest took care of business out of the gate, beating eight straight opponents including Florida State, Louisville, Syracuse, and Army. More recently, they faced 20-point defeats to Clemson and Pittsburgh to end the season. Even with an impressive win against NC State, losing three of your last five is not a great place to be.
This is a classic matchup between an offensive juggernaut and a very strong defense. I’m expecting a close game, but I’m not confident this Wake Forest defense can generate enough offense to play their style of football.
Gator Bowl Prediction: Texas A&M 33, Wake Forest 27
Gator Bowl Game Best Bets
Best Bet: Texas A&M -5.5 (-110) at TwinSpires
Wager: 1 Unit
While this spread did open up as Texas A&M being -6.5 favorites, it seems like some money has brought that down a bit. With so much time before the game, and -5.5 being a relatively dead number, waiting around for a -4/-4.5 might be very possible if the public stays with Wake.
The Aggies have definitely had an up-and-down season, but they are still led by their defense, which allowed the fourth-fewest points per game at 15.9 and even held four conference opponents to fewer than 20 points in the toughest division in football.
Despite losing their workhorse back, this team has one of the strongest recruiting classes every single year, and it’s clear they have plenty of backfield talent waiting to step up and get their opportunity.
Most of this comes down to the fact that Wake Forest hasn’t faced many tough defenses this season. If this defense was strong enough to slow down Alabama earlier this year, then I’m confident they can give Wake Forest a tough challenge.
Best Bet: Texas A&M TT Over 30.5 (-130) at TwinSpires
Wager: 0.5 Units
While Texas A&M is not necessarily known for putting up big numbers this year, this still should be a good spot. Wake Forest allowed 31-plus points in seven of their last nine games to end the season.
Additionally, Texas A&M is 5-0 against the spread and 6-0 overall in games when it puts up more than 30 points. If you’re siding with them here, then you will likely also be on board with the spread pick above, which does seem to correlate.
At the end of the day, I think whether this is a close game or not, we hit this number. If Texas A&M takes an early lead, I imagine they do a lot of running for the rest of the game, which I’m not sure Wake can stop. If they fall behind early, we will definitely see Wake put up some points, and the Aggies will be forced to switch up their game plan and play with more tempo. If we have a close game, due to the nature of how Wake plays, I’d imagine it’s gonna be a fairly high-scoring game. I love these spots here.