By Ryan Mayer
The college football bowl season is upon us. With 40 games spread out over the next two weeks there is plenty of opportunity to add a little bonus to your holiday gift pile. Our bowl picks series will let you know who we think will come out on top against the spread. All lines and totals courtesy of Sportsline/Bookmaker.eu. Find all our picks here.
Las Vegas Bowl
San Diego State vs. Houston
Spread: Houston -3
Spread: Both of these teams are likely a little disappointed to be here as both looked to have shots at a New Year’s Six spot at different points this season. For Houston, they will be playing this game without head coach Tom Herman, who bolted for Texas when the Longhorns job opened up. Defensive coordinator Todd Orlando will handle the head coaching duties for this game before handing the reins over to Major Applewhite, who was promoted from offensive coordinator to the vacant head coaching position. The Cougars will face an Aztecs offense that relies heavily on the running game and its star running back in Donnel Pumphrey, who rushed for 2,018 yards and 16 touchdowns this year. It’ll be a matchup of the seventh-best rushing attack against Houston’s No.3-ranked rushing defense. The coaching instability for Houston and their tendency towards inconsistency makes me a little wary, but I trust their run defense to be able to find ways to corral Pumphrey and company forcing the Aztecs to try and beat them through the air. Houston -3
Total: Both defenses allow opponents right around 21 points per game on average, while the offenses are about two touchdowns better, averaging between 35 and 38 points per game. While the Aztecs will line up and try and run you over, Houston likes to spread the defense out and use the read-option and play action to gash defenses for big plays. The biggest question is how Houston will perform under an interim head coach (Orlando) who’s going to likely leave to follow Herman to Texas. There are no major injuries to report on either side. Due to the explosiveness of these two offenses, I’m going to say that these teams find a way to beat the relatively low total here. Over 54.5
Ryan Mayer is an Associate Producer for CBS Local Sports. Ryan lives in NY but comes from Philly and life as a Philly sports fan has made him cynical. Anywhere sports are being discussed, that’s where you’ll find him.