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Thursday’s bowl betting preview: Remember the opt-outs in the Alamo Bowl

Mohamed Ibrahim and his Minnesota teammates will face Syracuse on Thursday in the Pinstripe Bowl. (Andy Manis/AP)
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We have an interesting bowl schedule Thursday, with three games featuring Power Five teams. Here’s a look at the matchups, including any players and coaches who have departed via the transfer portal or are opting out. Spreads and totals were taken Wednesday from the consensus odds at

Pinstripe Bowl

In New York

Minnesota (-10.5) vs. Syracuse

Over/under total: 44

2 p.m. Eastern, ESPN

Syracuse (7-5) was one of the intriguing stories of the season’s first half, winning its first six games and earning only its second top 25 ranking in 24 seasons. But the Orange’s schedule was backloaded with tougher teams, and that — combined with a host of injuries — sent it careening to a 1-5 finish. Syracuse’s undersized defense got pushed around by the tougher teams on the schedule: It gave up 226.8 rushing yards per game in its five losses and finished the season ranked 119th in rushing defense success rate. Only the three service academies had a higher percentage of rushing plays than Minnesota’s 66.2 percent, and running back Mohamed Ibrahim was second in the nation at 144.9 rushing yards per game for the Golden Gophers (8-4).

Key personnel losses: Sean Tucker, the best running back Syracuse has had in quite some time, opted out to prepare for the NFL draft along with starting left tackle Matthew Bergeron. The Orange also lost both coordinators, with Robert Anae leaving to run North Carolina State’s offense and Tony White departing to become Nebraska’s defensive coordinator. It’s unclear whether Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan will play in his final college game after missing more than a month with a concussion. Linebacker Braelen Oliver and safety Michael Dixon, key parts of the Golden Gophers’ defense, transferred.

Pick: Minnesota -10.5. Tucker’s departure robs Syracuse of its key offensive cog, and Ibrahim could have a massive day against an Orange defense that couldn’t stop anyone.

Cheez-It Bowl

In Orlando

No. 13 Florida State (-9.5) vs. Oklahoma

Over/under total: 65.5

5:30 p.m. Eastern, ESPN

The Seminoles (9-3) averaged 2.2 yards per play more than their opponents, a number bested only by Ohio State’s 2.5, and won their last five games by an average score of 44-15. The Sooners’ defense could not get off the field, its average of 77 plays per game better than only two Football Bowl Subdivision teams, and Oklahoma (6-6) defeated only one team that finished with a winning record (a rivalry win over an Oklahoma State team that finished 7-5). The Sooners allowed fewer than 38 points in only one of their six losses.

Key personnel losses: Florida State will have the bulk of its productive players available. Oklahoma will be down both of its starting tackles (Anton Harrison and Wanya Morris), its leading rusher (Eric Gray, who had 1,366 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground) and its leader in quarterback pressures (defensive tackle Jalen Redmond). All opted out to prepare for the draft.

Pick: Florida State -9.5. These are teams going in opposite directions, with the Seminoles looking to continue their momentum toward a strong 2023 and the Sooners hitting the reset button after Brent Venables’s first season.

Sportsbooks call them risk-free bets. Just don’t read the fine print.

Alamo Bowl

No. 20 Texas (-3) vs. No. 12 Washington

Over/under total: 67.5

9 p.m. Eastern, ESPN

What should have been one of the better matchups of bowl season was knocked down a peg or two because Texas (8-4) lost a few key players since the end of the regular season. Washington (10-2) hasn’t lost since an Oct. 8 upset at Arizona State, and neither team lost a game by more than seven points. Both teams had dynamite offenses in the regular season, but only Texas is strong on defense. Washington ranked 117th in expected points allowed per pass and 99th in expected points allowed per rush.

Key personnel losses: Texas running backs Bijan Robinson (the nation’s leader in scrimmage yards and Doak Walker Award winner) and Roschon Johnson (six yards per carry) opted out to prepare for the draft. No one remaining on the roster has more than 24 carries this season. Linebacker DeMarvion Overshown (first-team all-conference) also opted out. Washington’s roster is mostly unchanged from the regular season. Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. will play in the game even though he was a candidate to opt out.

Pick: Under 67.5. Robinson and Johnson accounted for 89 percent of Texas’s rushing yards and 55 percent of its offensive touchdowns. Even if Washington’s defense isn’t very good, that’s a whole lot of scoring out the window.