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.
Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl
Utah State (7-5) vs. New Mexico State (9-3)
Spread: Utah State -4
Spread: First off, let’s hear it for the Aggies who are making their first bowl appearance in 57 years, when they played in the Sun Bowl in 1960 and finished the season 11-0. Kudos to Doug Martin for getting this group to the postseason. They did so by putting together an offense that averaged over 29 points and 450 yards per game this season. They’ve done it largely through the air with senior QB Tyler Rogers orchestrating the attack to the tune of a 62 percent completion percentage, over 3,800 yards with 26 touchdowns, though he did throw 16 interceptions. The Aggies averaged over 350 yards per game through the air versus just over 100 (103) per game on the ground. That’s despite having top back Larry Rose III back from the injury that kept him out for most of last year. The defense, well, struggled giving up over 30 points and nearly 400 yards (397) per game. Opponents were effective in the running game averaging just under five yards per carry (4.9) for 164 yards per game.
That plays into the hands of a Utah State team that averages 36 rush attempts per game for 170 yards by using a variety of options. The lead guy was Lajuan Hunt who had 149 carries for 695 yards and 10 touchdowns on the year. But, five other guys had 25+ carries as well this season. At the QB spot, senior Kent Myers started the year in control of the offense before the reins were turned over to Jordan Love, a former Georgia defensive back, the final several weeks of the year. Love was solid in the passing game, averaging 7.3 yards per attempt for over 1,300 yards and eight touchdowns this year. It all combines to form an offense averaging 31 points per game heading into this contest. On defense, the Aggies were solid against the pass (181 YPG, 55.9%) but dreadful against the run (219.9 YPG, 4.6 YPC).
Utah State was 6-6 against the spread this season, but 3-0 as the favorite. NMSU was 6-5-1, while going 3-2-1 as the underdog. Both teams struggle defensively, with pretty explosive offenses, and this has the feel of a closer game. NMSU +4
Total: Utah State went 9-3 against the total this year with NMSU going 5-7. But, as stated above, the defenses have struggled and both offenses have proven capable of putting up points. That could lead to a shootout, so we’ll take the over. Over 61.5