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.

Cactus Bowl

Kansas State (7-5) vs. UCLA (6-6)

Spread: Kansas State -2

Total: 64

Spread: How you feel about this game is entirely based on whether Josh Rosen plays for the Bruins. Right now, he’s listed as probable with a shoulder injury. If Rosen plays, the Bruins have a very good chance of winning this game. He’s averaged 337 yards per game through the air, shredding defenses all season. He doesn’t get a ton of help from the run game where the Bruins average just 3.9 yards per carry and 120 yards per game. But, the offense has been fine nonetheless, averaging 33.8 points per game. The defense has been the bigger problem, ranking as one of the worst units in the country allowing 36.8 points and over 488 yards per game. The other thing to take into account here is the Bruins do have a new coach in Chip Kelly and guys that will be returning next year will likely be playing a little harder to prove something to the new coach.

Kansas State’s consistency under Bill Snyder is amazing to behold. Since Snyder returned in 2009, the Wildcats have missed bowl season just once (2009), and have finished below .500 just once (2015, 6-7). However, they’ve struggled in bowl games going just 2-5. This year, they underwent major attrition at the QB spot, first losing Jesse Ertz for the year, then losing Alex Delton for the final three games of the season. They’ve relied more heavily on their ground game because of it, running 39 times per game on average vs. just 21 pass attempts. They do average 4.8 yards per carry and over 180 yards per game on the ground, which bodes well against a Bruins defense that has allowed opponents over 280 yards per game and 5.7 yards per carry.  However, the K-State defense has struggled just as badly against the pass, allowing 310 yards per game.

Both teams were under .500 ATS this year, with UCLA going 4-8 and K-State going 5-7. That makes it difficult to predict this game, but we’ll go with Rosen and the Bruins. UCLA +2

Total: Both teams were much better at hitting the over this season than they were against the spread. UCLA was 8-4 against the number while K-State was 6-6. All eight times that UCLA hit the over, they combined with their opponent for more points than the line here. K-State did the same in five of the six games they hit the over. With the offenses being capable of exploiting the opposing defense’s biggest weaknesses, this looks like an over case. Over 63.5


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