Ryan Mayer

The college football bowl season is upon us. With 39 games spread out over the next two and a half 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. Find all our picks here. All lines are as of the date of publication.

SDCCU Holiday Bowl

#18 Washington State (9-3) vs. #16 Michigan State (9-3)

Spread: Washington State -2.5

Total: 45.5

Spread: After a rough 2016, Mark Dantonio and the Spartans rebounded to finish 9-3 and 7-2 in the Big Ten with their losses coming against Notre Dame, Northwestern and Ohio State. They did it by once again locking down on defense, holding opponents under 300 yards per game and allowing just over 20 points per outing (20.2). The defense covered up for the struggles of an offense that was in the bottom-30 in the country in scoring (23.1 PPG) and averaged just 378 yards per game. Brian Lewerke took over the starting job at the QB spot and he did a nice job of not turning the ball over with just six interceptions, but he averaged just 6.5 yards per attempt. Felton Davis III is a potential game-breaker at WR and he was a big catalyst in Sparty’s win over Penn State when the Nittany Lions were #7 in the country. The Spartans defense was very good against the pass (53.3 percent 196 YPG) and they’ll need that for this match-up.

The Cougars are known for their passing attack, running Mike Leach’s “Air Raid” style with senior QB Luke Falk and averaging 374 yards per game through the air en route to scoring just over 31 points per game. Falk spread the wealth to his receivers with five guys hauling in 50+ receptions and nine that had 24+. The top guy was Tavares Martin Jr. who had 80 catches for 831 yards and nine touchdowns. However, Martin was dismissed from the program following a violation of team rules.

The rushing attack left something to be desired averaging just 71 yards per game, but considering the Spartans strength against the run (101 YPG 3.4 YPC), Wazzu will likely stick to slinging it all over the lot. The defense has been solid once again, ranking in the Top 50 in scoring, allowing 24 points per game and holding opponents to 313 yards per outing. The Cougars secondary and pass defense has been particularly good, even better than MSU’s (53.8 percent 167.4 YPG).

The teams posted identical numbers ATS this year at 7-5. Wazzu was 5-3 as a favorite while the Spartans were 2-2 as underdogs. The Cougars covered in two of their last three games, though they were blown out by Washington 41-14. In this game, Falk will be looking to end his college career on a better note and get his second bowl win. I think he does. Washington -2.5

Total: This game features a pair of really good defenses, with both teams going 5-7 against the over/under line this year. Still, 45 is really low, meaning we’re expecting these teams to stay likely below the 20’s. Over 45.

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