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  1. #51  
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    Bahamas Bowl Preview
    December 21, 2017



    Alabama-Birmingham folded its program due to financial issues following the 2014 season and didn’t field a team for two years. Nevertheless, in its first season back on the gridiron, UAB (8-4 straight up, 8-3-1 against the spread) is going bowling.


    In fact, Bill Clark’s team is headed to one of the best places in the world in late December. That would be the Bahamas Bowl, where the Blazers will face Ohio at Thomas Robinson Stadium in Nassau on Friday afternoon. ESPN will have the telecast at 12:30 p.m. Eastern.


    As of Thursday afternoon, most betting shops had Ohio (8-4 SU, 8-4 ATS) listed as a 6.5-point favorite with a total of 59. UAB was available on the money line for a +230 payout (risk $100 to win $230).


    Frank Solich’s team went into its last two regular-season games with a four-game winning streak both SU and ATS. Going back further, Ohio had posted a 7-1 record both SU and ATS in its past eight outings. It was on the verge of clinching the MAC East and securing a spot in the conference championship game.


    However, Ohio lost a 37-34 decision at Akron as a 14.5-point road favorite on Nov. 14. This gave the Zips the tiebreaker over the Bobcats if they finished tied atop the division standings. But Solich’s squad could still win the loop if it won at Buffalo in the regular-season finale.


    The Bulls weren’t having it, though. They won a 31-24 decision over Ohio as 6.5-point home underdogs. The Bobcats rallied from a 24-7 deficit late in the second quarter with 17 unanswered points to pull even with 53 ticks left in the third. Buffalo got the go-ahead score on Emmanuel Reed’s one-yard TD run with 8:10 remaining, and Ohio didn’t have an answer at crunch time.


    Ohio had a 424-350 advantage over Buffalo in total offense, but it was undone by a pair of turnovers that left them minus two in TO margin. Nathan Rourke threw for 265 yards and one TD with one interception. The sophomore signal caller ran for 49 yards and a pair of scores on 16 attempts.


    True freshman RB Julian Ross rushed for 81 yards on 19 carries, while redshirt freshman WR Cameron Odom had two receptions for 85 yards and one TD.


    Ohio has been a single-digit favorite five times this year, compiling a 4-1 record both SU and ATS. Meanwhile, UAB has gone 5-2 ATS with four outright victories in seven games as an underdog.


    Ohio isn’t expected to have its leading rusher A.J. Ouellette, who is listed as ‘doubtful’ with a shoulder injury sustained at Buffalo. Ouellette rushed for 985 yards and seven TDs with a 5.3 yards-per-carry average during the regular season. He also had nine catches for 84 yards and one TD.


    Rourke was second on the team in rushing with 877 yards and 21 TDs, averaging 6.5 YPC. The Bobcats’ third-leading rusher Dorian Brown is listed as ‘questionable’ with a hip injury. Brown has run for 605 yards and seven TDs while averaging 6.1 YPC.


    Rourke has completed 54.2 percent of his throws for 2,031 yards with a 15/7 touchdown-to-interception ratio. His favorite target is Papi White, who has 31 receptions for 520 yards and four TDs. Brendan Cope, a senior wideout who is ‘questionable’ with a knee injury, has made 35 catches for 494 yards and four TDs.


    Ohio is ranked 13th in the country in scoring, averaging 38.9 points per game. The Bobcats are 37th in total offense and 17th in rushing yards (245.8 YPG). They’re 11th in the nation in rushing defense, allowing only 111.5 yards per game.


    The Ohio defense is led by senior LB Quentin Poling, a two-time first-team All-MAC selection who has recorded 102 tackles, 5.5 sacks, seven tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, five QB hurries and four passes broken up this year.


    This is Ohio’s ninth postseason appearance during Solich’s 13-year tenure. The Bobcats had been to only two bowls games – in 1962 and ’68 – before his arrival in Athens. However, they’ve lost three straight bowls, including last year’s 28-23 setback against Troy as 4.5-point underdogs at the Dollar General Bowl. Ohio is 2-6 in eight postseason games under Solich, 2-8 in program history.


    UAB’s accomplishments earned Clark National Coach of the Year honors. The Blazers are in just their second bowl game in program history. In the first, they lost 59-40 as four-point road underdogs at Hawaii in the 2004 Hawaii Bowl.


    UAB won six of its last eight regular-season games, including a 28-7 win over UTEP as a 21-point home ‘chalk’ in its finale. The only defeats during this eight-game span were at Florida (36-7) and at Charlotte (25-24) in overtime.


    In the win over Miners, junior QB A.J. Erdely threw for 159 yards and two TDs without an interception. True freshman RB Spencer Brown ran for 98 yards on 22 carries, while Erdely rushed for 29 yards and one score on 11 attempts. Junior WR Collin Lisa had seven receptions for 76 yards and one TD.


    For the season, Erdely completed 61.8 percent of his passes for 2,077 yards with an excellent 16/4 TD-INT ratio. He also rushed for 295 yards and 13 TDs. Brown paced UAB with 1,292 rushing yards and 10 TDs while averaging 5.5 YPC.


    Andre Wilson has a team-best 48 receptions for 619 yards and six TDs, while Lisa has 29 catches for 384 yards and one TD.


    UAB’s stop unit is led by senior LB Tevin Crews, who has 95 tackles, one interception, three sacks, nine TFL’s, three PBU, one QB hurry and one forced fumble. Senior LB Shaq Jones enjoyed an outstanding campaign as well, contributing 55 tackles, three sacks, nine TFL’s, two PBU, two QB hurries and one forced fumble.


    The ‘under’ is 8-4 overall for UAB after cashing in its last three games and finished the year on a 7-1 surge. The Blazers have watched their games average combined scores of 53.9 PPG.


    The ‘over’ is 8-3-1 overall for the Bobcats, 4-1-1 in their last six games. They’ve seen their games average combined scores of 64.7 PPG.
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    Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
    December 21, 2017

    ESPN’s postseason coverage on Friday afternoon will go from the Bahamas to Boise for the late game. That’s Albertson’s Stadium and the smurf turf that’ll host the Famous Idaho Bowl, featuring Central Michigan from out of the MAC up against Mountain West rep Wyoming.


    The Cowboys got good news Wednesday when star QB and NFL prospect Josh Allen was upgraded to ‘probable.’ The junior quarterback missed his team’s last two games due to a shoulder injury and the results weren’t good. Without Allen, Craig Bohl’s squad lost a 13-7 decision at home to Fresno State and came up on the wrong end of a 20-17 decision at San Jose State.


    As of late Thursday afternoon, most books had Wyoming (7-5 straight up, 7-5 against the spread) installed as a three-point favorite with a total of 45. The Chippewas were +145 on the money line (risk $100 to win $145).


    Central Michigan (8-4 SU, 7-5 ATS) has been an underdog eight times, producing a 5-3 record both SU and ATS. John Bonamego’s team was mired in a 1-4 slump both SU and ATS from mid-September to mid-October, but it finished the regular season with five consecutive victories both SU and ATS. Three of those wins came from the ‘dog role, including a 31-24 win over No. Illinois as a 2.5-point home puppy in the regular-season finale.


    Shane Morris hit Corey Willis with a 29-yard scoring strike with 92 seconds left to lift CMU past the Huskies. Morris, the transfer from Michigan, threw for 247 yards and three TDs vs. NIU. RB Jonathan Ward rushed 21 times for 159 yards and one TD, while WR Mark Chapman had three receptions for 74 yards and one TD.


    Morris completed 55.5 percent of his passes for 2,908 yards with a 26/13 touchdown-to-interception ratio during the regular season. Chapman was his favorite target, hauling in 54 receptions for 805 yards and five TDs. Willis has 42 catches for 625 yards and nine TDs, while TE Tyler Conklin has 28 grabs for 406 yards and five TDs.


    Ward has rushed for a team-high 988 yards and nine TDs while averaging 5.9 YPC. The sophomore RB has also contributed 41 catches for 361 yards and two TDs.


    Not surprisingly, CMU’s five-game winning streak coincided with improved QB play from Morris, who has 14 TD passes compared to merely two picks during the win spree. Ward has rushed for seven of his nine TDs in the past five games and has produced three of his four 100-yard rushing efforts.


    CMU’s defense is second in the nation in interceptions with 19. The secondary is stout, ranking 23rd in the country in pass defense.


    CMU senior CB Josh Cox is tied for fourth nationally with six picks for 118 return yards. Cox also has 82 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, four passes broken up and one forced fumble. Sophomore DB Sean Bunting has produced 46 tackles, five interceptions, five PBU, two forced fumbles and 0.5 TFL’s. Also, senior CB Amari Coleman has contributed 42 tackles, three interceptions, one pick-six, four TFL’s, seven PBU and one QB hurry.


    Wyoming owns a 3-0 record both SU and ATS in trio of games as a single-digit favorite. Before Allen’s injury, Bohl’s club had ripped off seven straight spread covers and had won outright six times. The only loss during this stretch came at Boise State, where Wyoming will face CMU on Friday afternoon.


    BSU beat the Cowboys 24-14, but the visitors took the cash as 15.5-point underdogs. Wyoming led 14-10 early in the fourth quarter, but the Broncos scored back-to-back TDs on a Montell Cozart TD run and pass midway through the final stanza.


    Allen completed just 12-of-27 throws for 131 yards and one TD, but BSU intercepted him twice. Allen ran for 62 yards and one TD on 18 attempts.


    For the season, Allen has completed 56.2 percent of his passes for only 1,658 yards with a 13/6 TD-INT ratio. He has run for 207 yards and five scores. Sophomore WR Austin Conway enjoyed a breakout campaign by catching 58 balls for 520 yards and six TDs. C.J. Johnson has 27 receptions for 468 yards and a team-best six TDs.


    Wyoming’s ground attack has been an immense disappointment all season. True freshman RB Trey Woods is team’s leading rusher, but he managed merely 474 rushing yards and two TDs with a pedestrian 3.6 YPC average.


    Despite the presence of Allen, who many draftniks consider a future first-round pick, Wyoming’s offense has been an unmitigated disaster. The Cowboys are ranked No. 126 out of 130 FBS teams in total offense, No. 101 in passing yards, No. 119 in rushing yards and No. 107 in scoring with a 22.3 points-per-game average.


    On the flip side, Wyoming’s stop unit is ranked 12th nationally in scoring ‘D,’ limiting opponents to a 17.8 PPG average. The Cowboys are fifth in the country in pass defense and 22nd in total defense.


    This unit is led by junior safety Andrew Wingard and sophomore LB Logan Wilson. Wingard and Wilson shared team-high honors in tackles with 111 apiece. Wilson recorded an 18-yard fumble return for a TD, one sack, seven tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and one pass broken up. Wingard has registered one sack, four interceptions, one sack, six TFL’s, three PBU and one forced fumble.


    Junior DE Carl Granderson has produced 72 tackles, two interceptions, 7.5 sacks, 7.5 TFL’s, four QB hurries and a pair of forced fumbles.


    Some of Wyoming’s issues can be attributed to injuries along the offensive line. Three o-linemen are unlikely to play Friday. Junior OT Brinkley Jolly is ‘out,’ while OG Jace Webb and OG Kaden Jackson are ‘doubtful.’


    Wyoming is bowling for a second straight season and the 15th time in the program’s history. The Cowboys are 6-8 in 14 postseason games, including last year’s 24-21 loss to BYU at the Poinsettia Bowl. However, they did cover the number in the narrow defeat as 10.5-point underdogs.


    CMU is making a fourth straight postseason appearance and its fifth in the last six years. The Chippewas have dropped three straight bowl games, including last year’s 55-10 defeat vs. Tulsa at the Miami Beach Bowl. They did, however, post one of the most miracle spread covers in postseason history at the 2014 Bahamas Bowl.


    I obviously remember this game vividly because I was heavily invested in Western Kentucky as a three-point ‘chalk’ vs. CMU on that day. The Hilltoppers held a 49-14 lead with less than nine minutes left in the third quarter. That advantage was trimmed to 49-28 with less than seven minutes left, but Western Kentucky was in the red zone only to fumble.


    CMU would score with 1:10 remaining to get to within 49-42, but the ensuing onside kick failed. Western Kentucky was forced to punt from midfield with 10 seconds left. The punt went into the end zone with one second remaining. From its own 20, CMU QB Cooper Rush heaved a Hail Mary that would only get to the WKU 30, but it was caught by a Chippewa.


    The CMU player immediately lateraled to a teammate and three laterals eventually ended up in Titus Davis’s hands. Davis sprinted to the pylon and made it for an unfathomable TD. In this scenario, gamblers like me on the ‘Tops still had a chance to push or cover in overtime.


    However, CMU head coach Dan Enos, who would resign weeks later to become Bret Beliema’s OC at Arkansas, opted to go for two. The conversion failed, but CMU covered as a three-point ‘dog in the 49-48 loss. This is my third-worst Bad Beat ever, behind only Northwestern-Ohio State (2013) and a VCU at Nevada basketball game back in 2009 when college hoops used to have the BracketBuster Weekend. I had Nevada -1.5 and Luke Babbitt was going to the free-throw line to shoot two with 1.8 seconds left and a three-point lead. Babbitt made the first for a four-point lead, so the only way to lose was a missed FT and an 80-foot heave from VCU. Of course, that’s exactly what happened with Joey Rodriguez taking the honors to give the Rams a backdoor cover in the 71-70 loss.


    Let’s get back to Friday’s bowl game and examine the total. CMU has seen the ‘over’ hit in five straight games after the ‘under’ was a winner in six of its first seven contests. The Chippewas have watched their games average combined scores of 56.4 PPG.


    The ‘under’ has been a lucrative money maker in Wyoming games, cashing in six straight games. The Cowboys have seen the ‘under’ go 10-2 overall, with their games averaging combined scores of 40.2 PPG.


    Kickoff is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.


    According to weather.com, temperatures at kickoff will be in the low 30s or upper 20s. The forecast is for cloudy skies and some snow flurries.
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    Friday, December 22


    UAB @ Ohio



    Game 217-218
    December 22, 2017 @ 12:30 pm


    Dunkel Rating:
    UAB
    76.334
    Ohio
    79.872
    Dunkel Team:
    Dunkel Line:
    Dunkel Total:
    Ohio
    by 3 1/2
    54
    Vegas Team:
    Vegas Line:
    Vegas Total:
    Ohio
    by 8
    57 1/2
    Dunkel Pick:
    UAB
    (+8); Under


    Central Michigan @ Wyoming



    Game 219-220
    December 22, 2017 @ 4:00 pm


    Dunkel Rating:
    Central Michigan
    83.665
    Wyoming
    80.740
    Dunkel Team:
    Dunkel Line:
    Dunkel Total:
    Central Michigan
    by 3
    48
    Vegas Team:
    Vegas Line:
    Vegas Total:
    Central Michigan
    Pick
    45 1/2
    Dunkel Pick:
    Central Michigan
    Over



    ***********************


    Friday, December 22


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    UAB (8 - 4) vs. OHIO U (8 - 4) - 12/22/2017, 12:30 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    UAB is 8-21 ATS (-15.1 Units) in road games off a win against a conference rival since 1992.
    OHIO U is 11-3 ATS (+7.7 Units) in non-conference games over the last 3 seasons.


    Head-to-Head Series History
    There were no past matchups in this series during this time period.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    C MICHIGAN (8 - 4) vs. WYOMING (7 - 5) - 12/22/2017, 4:00 PM

    There are no Top Trends with records of significance that apply to this game.


    Head-to-Head Series History
    There were no past matchups in this series during this time period.




    ------------------------------


    Friday, December 22


    ALABAMA-BIRMINGHAM @ OHIO

    The total has gone UNDER in 7 of Alabama-Birmingham's last 8 games
    Alabama-Birmingham is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games
    Ohio is 10-4 ATS in its last 14 games
    Ohio is 7-3 SU in its last 10 games


    CENTRAL MICHIGAN @ WYOMING
    Central Michigan is 5-0 ATS in its last 5 games
    Central Michigan is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games
    The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Wyoming's last 5 games
    Wyoming is 7-2 ATS in its last 9 games


    -----------------------------

    December 22
    Ohio (-7.5) vs UAB, Bahamas Bowl

    UAB didn’t even field a team the last two years, after briefly dropping the sport. Blazers went 6-2 in last eight games after a 46-43 loss to North Texas; UAB is 5-2 as an underdog this year, 5-1 in games with single digit spread. Ohio U lost its last two games after an 8-2 start; Bobcats are 5-3 as a favorite this year, 6-2 in games with a single digit spread. MAC teams are 5-18 in their last 23 bowls, but they’re 7-1 vs spread when opposing a C-USA team. MAC squads are 5-4 as a non-conference favorite this year. C-USA underdogs are 8-23 vs spread. UAB is in its 2nd bowl; they lost 59-40 to Hawai’i in the 2004 Hawai’i Bowl. Ohio lost its last three bowls, giving up 32 ppg; they’re 2-8 all-time in bowls. C-USA is 2-1 vs MAC in the Bahamas Bowl, with average total of 72.3— underdogs covered two of the three games.

    Wyoming vs Central Michigan, Idaho Potato Bowl, Boise

    Wyoming QB Allen (shoulder) missed last two games; Wyoming lost both, 13-7/20-17. He is expected to play here, to quiet doubts of NFL scouts. Cowboys were 7-3 when he got hurt; they are 5-1 vs spread this season in games with single digit spread. Wyoming lost its bowl 24-21 LY, its first bowl in five years. Central Michigan lost bowls the last three years, allowing 41.7 ppg; they lost 55-10 in a bowl LY. Chippewas won their last five games after a 3-4 start; they’re 5-3 vs spread in games with single digit spread- they scored 37.2 ppg in last five games. Underdogs won last three Potato Bowls SU; average total in last five, 69.2. Since 2011, Mountain West teams are 14-10 vs spread when playing a MAC opponent.


    --------------------------------


    Spread to bet now


    Appalachian State (+7.5) vs. Toledo



    This line for the Dollar General Bowl opened at +8 and was quickly bet down to +7.5. Play it now while it remains above the key number of +7. Appalachian State enters with solid offensive momentum as they scored 31 points or more in three of their final four regular season games. Overall, the Mountaineers averaged 33.4 points per game on 6.5 yards per play this year, while allowing just 21.9 points per game on 5.5 yards per play.


    Toledo also enters off three straight wins, but might be a little flat after winning the MAC championship game. Toledo probably was hoping for a better bowl bid after a solid 11-2 SU season. The Rockets were strong offensively this year, but weak on defense as they allowed 5.6 yards per play versus a schedule of weak offensive opponents that averaged just 5.3 yppl overall. Toledo's defense is now taking a substantial step-up in class. The Rockets lost last year, 31-28, versus Appalachian State in the Camellia Bowl.


    -----------------------------------


    NCAAF


    Friday, December 22



    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Bahamas Bowl Betting Preview and Odds: UAB vs. Ohio
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Dual threat quarterback Nathan Rourke leads a Bobcats' offense that ranks 14th in the nation at 38.9 points per game.


    UAB Blazers vs. Ohio Bobcats (-7.5, 59)


    Game to be played at Thomas Robinson Stadium, Nassau, Bahamas


    Two years after the school shut down its football program amidst financial concerns, UAB won a school-record eight games to earn its second-ever bowl berth. The Blazers, guided by National Coach of the Year candidate Bill Clark, will face Ohio in the Bahamas Bowl on Friday, Dec. 22. UAB earned its invitation to the island paradise by finishing second in the West Division of Conference USA, thanks in part to a ground attack which produced 27 touchdowns.


    Ohio finished second in the MAC's East Division, one game behind Akron. The Bobcats lost to the Zips 37-34 in the penultimate game of the regular season, snapping their four-game winning streak, and capped the campaign with another narrow setback at Buffalo. Despite the consecutive defeats to end the season, the speedy Bobcats still finished the slate ranked 14th in the nation in scoring with an average of 38.9 points.


    Under Clark, who was named the conference's top coach, the Blazers went 6-0 at home and revitalized their fan base to lead the league in attendance. Defensive back Darious Williams earned All-American Honorable Mention laurels after leading the squad with five interceptions, including one pick in four straight games. Ohio is paced by dual threat quarterback Nathan Rourke, who threw for three touchdowns and ran for three more in a 45-28 win over Miami (Ohio) on Dec. 1.

    TV:
    12:30 p.m. ET, ESPN.

    LINE HISTORY:
    The Bobcats opened between 7 and 7.5-point faves depending on the shop and have bounced back and forth between those two numbers since hitting the board. The total opened around 57 and has been bet up to the current number of 59.

    INJURY REPORT:



    UAB - No injuries to report.


    Ohio - QB N. Rourke (Probable Friday, undisclosed), OL J. McCray (Questionable Friday, concussion), DL S. McKnight (Questionable Friday, knee), RB D. Brown (Questionable Friday, knee), WR B. Cope (Questionable Friday, ankle), WR K. Harris (Questionable Friday, foot), RB A. Ouellette (Doubtful Friday, shoulder).

    WEATHER REPORT:
    It should be a beautiful day for football in Nassau. The forecast is calling for partly cloudy skies with temperatures reaching the low 80's during game time and minimal wind.

    ABOUT UAB (8-4, 8-3-1 ATS, 4-8 O/U):
    The last time the Blazers played in a bowl game was in 2004, when they participated in the Hawaii Bowl, and getting back was not an easy endeavor after the program was shut down in 2014. Quarterback A.J. Erdely passed for 2,077 yards with 16 touchdowns and just four interceptions while rushing for 289 yards and 13 more scores. Spencer Brown carried the ball 237 times for 1,292 yards and 10 TDs while Andre Wilson was the team's top receiver, hauling in 48 passes for 619 yards and six touchdowns.

    ABOUT OHIO (8-4, 8-4 ATS, 8-3-1 O/U):
    The Bobcats have won exactly eight games for three straight seasons but suffered bowl losses to Troy last campaign and Appalachian State two years ago. Rourke, who relished the time off to recover from several nagging injuries, racked up 2,018 yards passing with 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions while rushing for 882 yards and 21 scores. A.J. Ouellette finished the regular season with 980 yards and seven scores on 184 carries.

    TRENDS:



    * UAB is 5-0 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
    * Ohio is 12-2 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
    * Under is 7-1 in UAB's last eight games overall.
    * Over is 5-0 in Bobcats last five non-conference games.

    CONSENSUS:
    Bettors are giving a slight edge to the underdogs, with 54 percent of wagers on the Blazers. The total is almost split down the middle, with 52 percent of bets on the Over.


    --------------------------------------


    NCAAF


    Friday, December 22



    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Betting Preview and Odds: Central Michigan vs. Wyoming
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Central Michigan Chippewas vs. Wyoming Cowboys (-3, 45.5)


    Game to be played at Albertsons Stadium, Boise, Idaho


    Will this be Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen's swan song? The rifled-armed 6-5, 233-pound junior had what many consider a disappointing season, completing just 141-of-251 passes (56.2 percent) for 1,658 yards with 13 touchdowns and six interceptions while also rushing for 207 yards and five scores on 84 carries. Although only an Honorable Mention All-Mountain West pick, Allen comes in at No. 6 on ESPN NFL draft guru Mel Kiper Jr.'s top 20 list for 2018 NFL Draft prospects.


    Will Allen, who missed Wyoming's final two games after spraining his right shoulder in a 28-14 win at Air Force on Nov. 11, be healthy enough to play? "The shoulder is getting better day to day," Allen told Wyosports.net on Dec. 5. "I've been getting back in the swing of things with some 7-on-7 and some plays in the team sessions the last couple days of practice. It felt good. (The shoulder) still isn't where I want it to be or it needs to be. There are some throws I still feel some pain, and some I don't feel anything." As far as skipping the bowl to avoid the possibility of further injury should he decide to turn pro, Allen said: "If I'm 100 percent, I'm playing in the game. I owe that to this university and to this team."


    Which team can avoid turnovers? Both clubs thrived on forcing opponents to turn over the ball, with Central Michigan leading the FBS by creating 31 turnovers while Wyoming was right behind with 30. The Cowboys also had a turnover margin of plus-16, which was second-best in the FBS, while the Chippawas finished at plus-eight.

    TV:
    4 p.m. ET, ESPN.

    LINE HISTORY:
    The game opened as a Pick 'Em at most books and has moved to Wyoming -3. The total hit betting boards at 46.5 and has dropped slightly to 45.5.

    INJURY REPORT:



    Central Michigan - DL M. Steinhauer (Questionable, Undisclosed), TE L. Hessbrook (Out Indefinitely, Concussion), WR B. Childress (Out For Season, Knee).


    Wyoming - QB J. Allen (Probable, Shoulder), DL J. Jackson (Questionable, Knee), FB J. Watson (Questionable, Concussion), OL J. Webb (Doubtful, Concussion), G K. Jackson (Doubtful, Knee), T B. Jolly (Out For Season, Pectoral), WR J. Okwoli (Out For Season, Knee), DL R. Holt (Out For Season, Knee), CB D. Watson (Out Indefinitely, Undisclosed), DT C. Cain (Out For Season, Ankle), CB A. Hull (Out For Season, Thigh), DE S. Windsor (Out Indefinitely, Concussion), DL T. Meader (Out For Season, Knee).

    WEATHER REPORT:
    37 and partly cloudy at kickoff - winds at 4mph with 11% chance of precipitation

    ABOUT CENTRAL MICHIGAN (8-4 SU, 7-5 ATS, 6-6 O/U):
    The Chips, who had a 45-27 nonconference win at Kansas of the Big 12, bounced back from a 3-4 start to earn their fourth straight bowl appearance after finishing second to eventual champ Toledo in the MAC's West Division. Sophomore running back Jonathan Ward (988 yards, nine touchdowns, 5.9 yards per carry) and senior wide receiver Corey Willis (42 catches, 625 yards, nine TDs) both were All-MAC Second Team picks while senior quarterback Shane Morris finished second in the conference in passing, completing 226-of-407 attempts for 2,908 yards with 26 TDs and 13 interceptions. Senior linebacker Joe Ostman (12 sacks, 18.5 tackles for loss) and defensive backs Amari Coleman (10 passes defended, three interceptions) and Josh Cox (six interceptions) lead a defense that ranks second in the FBS with 19 interceptions.

    ABOUT WYOMING (7-5 SU, 7-5 ATS, 2-10 O/U):
    If Allen doesn't play, it could be a long afternoon for the Cowboys, who ranked 10th in the Mountain West in scoring (22.3 points) and last in rushing (107.8 yards). Backup quarterback Nick Smith struggled, completing just 54.1 percent of his passes (40-of-74) for 471 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in setbacks against Fresno State (13-7) and lowly San Jose State (20-17), which snapped a 10-game losing streak. Wyoming's defense was one of the best in the conference, allowing just 17.8 points and 332.8 yards while featuring three All-Mountain West First Team picks in defensive linemen Youhanna Ghaifan (five sacks, 13 tackles for loss) and Carl Granderson (7.5 sacks) and safety Andrew Wingard (111 tackles, four interceptions).

    TRENDS:



    * Chippewas are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games overall.
    * Cowboys are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 vs. MAC.
    * Over is 5-0 in Chippewas last 5 games overall.
    * Under is 12-2 in Cowboys last 14 games overall.

    CONSENSUS:
    The public is siding with the favorite Wyoming Cowboys at a rate of 55 percent and the Over is getting 57 percent of the totals action.
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    FRIDAY, DECEMBER 22
    GAME TIME(ET) PICK UNITS



    UAB at OHIO 12:30 PM


    UAB +6.5


    U 57.0



    CMU at WYO 04:00 PM


    WYO -3.0


    U 45.0
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    Ohio beats UAB 41-6 in Bahamas Bowl
    December 22, 2017



    NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) Ohio coach Frank Solich knew his Bobcats were better than their record showed. You'll get no argument from UAB.


    Dorian Brown rushed for 152 yards on just 12 carries and scored four touchdowns, Nathan Rourke threw for two scores and Ohio beat UAB 41-6 in the Bahamas Bowl on Friday.


    It was a stirring comeback for the Bobcats, who lost their last two games of the regular season to miss a shot at the Mid-American Conference title.


    ''I feel like eight wins were not enough with this football team, so this ninth win puts a little icing on the cake,'' Solich said.


    Ohio (9-4) averaged 38.9 points per game during the season, setting a school record with 467 points scored, and the Bobcats exhibited that prowess in the opening half of this one, using big plays to build an insurmountable 27-3 halftime lead.


    Brown, a redshirt senior, scored on runs of 74, 9, 25 and 14 yards, two in the second quarter and two in the third as he carried the load for injured A.J. Ouellette.


    ''It was very important (to go out on a high note),'' Brown said. ''I had to step up and take my role.''


    Brown's heroics were too much for the Blazers, a feel-good team seeking its first bowl victory on just its second try. The loss spoiled the end of a remarkable first season back for UAB (8-5), which was predicted to struggle and didn't.


    UAB President Ray Watts had cut the football program in December 2014 because a university report deemed it too expensive. After public outcry, football was reinstated, but NCAA rules required the school to skip the 2016 season to help the players who stuck it out re-adjust to competing at the top level of college football.


    The Blazers, under Conference USA Coach of the Year Bill Clark, responded by winning a school-record eight games and finished second in the conference's West Division. They won six of their final eight games.


    On this day, though, they ran out of miracles.


    ''It's hurts a lot - to not go out with a victory,'' senior linebacker Tevin Crews said. ''I'm just blessed to be part of a great team with a great coach and a great role model. This is a starting point - our first season back.''


    ''It's tough,'' Clark added. ''This game is not for the timid or the weak. When it's really important to you, it's going to hurt if it doesn't go the way you want it to.''


    The high-scoring Bobcats have a veteran offensive line with more than 100 starts and they repeatedly took advantage of that experience. Rourke had plenty of time to throw, and when the Bobcats decided to run, holes were there. They finished with a 249-99 edge on the ground.


    ''They're a very experienced bunch and they wanted this a whole bunch,'' said Rourke, who finished 12 of 18 for 185 yards passing and rushed for 30 yards. ''When we get the running game going on and I have all day to throw, that makes my job really easy, and that's when you see our offense start to click.''


    Ohio raced to a 13-0 lead in the first quarter, pretty much sticking to the ground until the end of an 11-play drive. After the Blazers were called for two penalties in the red zone, Rourke hit DL Knock for a 19-yard touchdown midway through the period.


    Rourke then stunned the Blazers with a bomb. After a nifty 23-yard punt return by the elusive Papi White, Rourke took advantage of UAB's preoccupation with the run game and hit White on a play-action pass for a 56-yard touchdown and a 13-0 lead. Brown's 74-yard run early in the second boosted the lead to 20-0.


    When UAB finally mounted a promising drive, the Blazers had to settle for Nick Vogel's 34-yard field goal midway through the second quarter.


    Spencer Brown, who broke the UAB school record for freshman rushing yards with 1,329, finished with 37 yards on 13 carries.


    THE TAKEAWAY


    UAB: The Blazers demonstrated this season that they belong at college football's top level. If the community support that helped resurrect the program continues, the Blazers have a coach in Clark, an Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year finalist, who can take them to the postseason on a regular basis.


    Ohio: The Bobcats have a budding star in Rourke, who next season has a chance to lead them to their first MAC title since the late 1960s. A native of Ontario, Canada, the sophomore set single-season records at Ohio with 21 rushing touchdowns, 22 touchdowns scored and 132 points scored.


    NOT NEEDED


    Ouellette led Ohio with 980 yards rushing during the season, but he re-injured his left arm early in the third quarter and left the game with 26 yards to become Ohio's first 1,000-yard rusher since 2012.


    UP NEXT


    UAB: Its 2018 schedule has not been finalized, but the Blazers are expected to open next season against Savannah State.


    Ohio: The Bobcats open the 2018 season at home against Howard on Sept. 1.


    *****************


    Josh Allen, Wyoming routs sloppy Central Michigan
    December 22, 2017



    BOISE, Idaho (AP) When Wyoming junior quarterback Josh Allen stepped onto the stage to accept his MVP trophy following the Cowboys' 37-14 victory over Central Michigan on Friday in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, it didn't take long for the chant to begin.


    ''Do it! Do it!'' Wyoming players shouted in unison as snow began to fall on the field.


    Surrounded by teammates and a throng of Wyoming fans, Allen couldn't resist the moment and hoisted the trophy over his head before declaring his intentions to skip his senior season to enter the NFL draft.


    ''I was hoping to spend at least a day or two thinking about it,'' Allen said, ''but I think my teammates knew, and they were chanting for me to do it. This was the idea the whole time, to come back and trust what Coach (Craig) Bohl was doing and learn more on the offensive side of the football. It wasn't pre-planned before the season started, but we had a pretty good idea of what we were going to do.''


    Allen missed the final two regular-season games with a sprained right shoulder, resulting in a pair of close losses. In warmups, he looked anxious to return to the field and didn't disappoint the Wyoming contingent on hand for his final collegiate game.


    ''Sitting out for those two games killed me inside,'' Allen said. ''I wanted to be back on the field with my teammates and brothers.''


    Allen completed 11 of 19 passed for 154 yards and three touchdowns without an interception. He didn't have to do much thanks to Wyoming's suffocating defense. But when the Cowboys needed Allen, he produced.


    Allen's first touchdown pass to open the scoring was a 23-yard bullet to Jared Scott. But the potential top 10 draft pick showed off the arm strength and accuracy that has scouts drooling with a 45-yard strike that hit C.J. Johnson in stride in the end zone.


    ''In today's world where players are making all kinds of decisions about bowl games, Josh chose to play and I applaud him for that,'' Bohl said before lobbying for Allen to be drafted. ''If there's any NFL team looking for a player out there, you're never going to find a bigger competitor and a better leader than him.''


    However, Allen's performance didn't have to be all that impressive thanks to a defense that forced eight turnovers.


    Central Michigan (8-5) had won five straight. The eight turnovers broke the previous Famous Idaho Potato Bowl record of six.


    ''I don't feel that today's performance was indicative of the type of team we have,'' Central Michigan coach John Bonamego said. ''The storyline obviously is eight turnovers. You're not going to win many football games against any decent opponent turning it over that many times.''


    Wyoming entered the game first in the nation in turnover margin, but second in forced turnovers with 30 behind Central Michigan, which had 31. But with an 8-0 advantage, Wyoming will likely finish at the top of both rankings after the bowl season concludes.


    Wyoming took a 21-7 lead in the first quarter.


    Wyoming's offense struggled in the red zone after the first quarter, settling for three field goals in three trips.


    Central Michigan struggled everywhere on the field, watching promising drives end on turnovers or other drives stunted due to Wyoming's relentless pass rush. The Cowboys had a season-high five sacks.


    Late in the third quarter, Central Michigan found a spark and cut the deficit to 30-14. The Chippewas strung together a seven-play, 65-yard drive that ended on a 3-yard run by Jonathan Ward.


    But Central Michigan failed to build on that momentum, losing it all on a scoop and score. After a strip sack by Youhanna Ghaifan, Wyoming defensive end Carl Granderson took the fumble and rumbled 58 yards for the touchdowns.


    ''This defense is special,'' Ghaifan said. ''We all do our jobs and do it exceptionally well. ... We got eight turnovers today-that's not too shabby.''


    THE TAKEAWAY


    Wyoming: Finding a replacement for Allen will be a high priority for a Cowboys team that is losing only three starters on offense and three on defense. Wyoming returns leading rusher Trey Woods and a stout defense that should give the Cowboys a strong chance to contend for the Mountain West Conference title.


    Central Michigan: The Chippewas face a rebuilding season next year in the MAC as they lose seven starters on offense and five on defense. The offense is a mix of good and bad. The bad? They lose starting quarterback Shane Morris along with his top two receivers, Mark Chapman and Corey Willis. However, the top three rushers-Jonathan Ward, Kumehnnu Gwilly, and Romello Ross-all return.


    HONORING ENBERG


    Central Michigan honored alum Dick Enberg a day after the sportscasting great died at age 82.


    The team wore helmet stickers with Enberg's ''Oh My!'' signature call, while coaches wrote the phrase on the back of their caps.


    Enberg graduated from Central Michigan in 1957 and played baseball for the Chippewas.


    UP NEXT


    Central Michigan will open the 2018 season on Sept. 1 at Kentucky.


    Wyoming will face New Mexico State on Aug. 25.
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    2017 CFB Bowls Record:..............( BASED ON 5 UNITS )


    DATE W-L-T % UNITS RECORD


    12/22/2017 2-2-0 50.00% -1.00
    12/21/2017 1-1-0 50.00% -0.50
    12/20/2017 2-0-0 100.00% +10.00
    12/19/2017 0-2-0 0.00% -11.00
    12/16/2017 5-5-0 50.00% - 2.50


    Totals...............10 - 10.........50.00%.....-5.00




    Best Bets:..............ATS...............Units........ ..... .....O/U..................Units


    12/22/2017....................1 - 1..................-0.50.................1 - 1.................-0.50
    12/21/2017....................0 - 1..................-5.50.................1 - 0................+5.00
    12/20/2017....................1 - 0.................+5.00.................1 - 0................+5.00
    12/19/2017....................0 - 1.................- 5.50.................0 - 1.................-5.50
    12/16/2017....................3 - 2............,....+4.00.................2 - 3.................-6.50


    Totals.............................5 - 5..................-2.50................5 - 5.................-2.50
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    Saturday's Bowl Notes
    December 22, 2017



    Bowl Notes - Saturday, December 23


    The second week of the college football bowl season kicks off on Saturday with three crucial affairs. Five of the very best Group of Five teams will be in action while the Group of Five will be represented by a Texas Tech team that desperately needs a win for its embattled head coach.


    Guns Up


    Kliff Kingsbury saved his job at his alma mater by the skin of his teeth this year. One of the reasons why he's getting a shot to come back for 2018 is because of the way his Red Raiders have played against non-conference teams. T-Tech hasn't always had great success in the Big XII, but the team is 8-2-1 ATS in its 11 non-conference games played over the course of the last three seasons, including going 4-0 ATS this year.


    The Red Raiders have moved from +2 to +2.5 at BookMaker.eu against a South Florida team that only has losses this year to Houston and UCF.


    The No-Fly Zone


    If you love running the football, you're going to love the Armed Forces Bowl. San Diego State and Army only combine to throw the ball an average of 25.3 times per game against 104.3 rushing attempts. Virtually every single first down will be a running play by these teams, and even simple swing passes or basic wide receiver routes will seem like trick plays.


    However, the Aztecs and Black Knights couldn't possibly be any different.


    Ahmad Bradshaw is one of the more successful triple-option quarterbacks we've seen in recent memory. He isn't adept as a passer, but he's a fantastic runner and always seems to fall forward for extra yardage. After beating Navy for a second-straight season, Bradshaw can become the first quarterback in three decades to lead the Cadets to two bowl game wins in his career.


    The key is going to be stopping San Diego State's two-headed monster in the backfield composing of Rashaad Penny and Juwan Washington.


    Washington is clearly the second fiddle here, but he ran the ball 122 times for 715 yards and seven touchdowns, numbers that many No. 1 backs would love to have.


    Penny, though, is a plodder and a special one at that. He had the ball in his hands 275 times this year and finished with 2,027 rushing yards with 19 touchdowns.


    You'd think with a 4:1 ratio of runs to passes that the under would be a smart play. BookMaker.eu has largely only taken under action in the Armed Forces Bowl even though it has the total in this game listed at 45.5, one of the lowest totals of the entire bowl season.


    The Rockets' Revenge?


    Bowl game rematches don't happen often. In fact, before Clemson and Alabama met in the 2015 and 2016 National Championship Games (and now again this year in the Sugar Bowl), it hadn't happened since the 1992 and 1993 Orange Bowls between Florida State and Nebraska.


    Though most will be focusing in on Alabama/Clemson Act III, don't lose sight of how good the Dollar General Bowl could be. Not only is this game already listed as a complete sellout, but Appalachian State and Toledo put on one heck of a show last year in the Camellia Bowl.


    App State won 31-28, but Toledo literally never went away in that game. Appalachian State had leads of 7-0, 14-7, 21-14 and 28-21. Every time it scored a touchdown, the Rockets scored on the very next drive to tie the game. Toledo had no answer for Michael Rubino's game-winning field goal with 5:14 left to play.


    Little did we know it at the time, but the dramatic ending of the Camellia Bowl only setup what could be a budding Group of Five rivalry between these two schools.


    The Rockets, relatively easy winners of the MAC this season, are expected to exact their revenge. They opened up at -8 against Appalachian State, though BookMaker.eu has since dropped the spread to -7.


    College Football Bowl Game Odds for Saturday, December 23


    Birmingham Bowl: Texas Tech vs. South Florida (-2.5, 66.5)
    Armed Forces Bowl: Army vs. San Diego State (-6, 45.5)
    Dollar General Bowl: Appalachian State vs. Toledo (-7, 61)
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    Saturday's Bowl Tips
    December 22, 2017



    **Texas Tech vs. South Florida**


    -- Texas Tech and South Florida will collide Saturday at Legion Field in the Birmingham Bowl at noon Eastern on ESPN. As of late Friday afternoon, most betting shops had USF (9-2 straight up, 5-6 against the spread) listed as a three-point favorite with a total of 66. The Red Raiders were +130 on the money line (risk $100 to win $130).


    -- USF missed out on a chance to get into the AAC Championship Game when it lost a heartbreaking thriller at UCF by a 49-42 count, but it still made its backers happy by covering the number as a 10-point road underdog. The spread cover for the Bulls halted a 0-4 ATS slide. The 91 combined points soared ‘over’ the 65-point total to end a 3-0 run of ‘unders.’


    -- In the losing effort at UCF, The Knights went in front 35-34 with 7:33 remaining on a 45-yard touchdown pass. Then with 2:21 left, Scott Frost’s squad extended its lead to eight with another TD pass. But with 1:41 remaining, USF senior quarterback Quinton Flowers found Darnell Salomon for an 83-yard scoring strike. The Bulls pulled even when Flowers found D’Ernest Johnson on a two-point conversion pass. However, UCF immediately answered with a 95-yard kickoff return for the go-ahead score, and USF was unable to answer. Flowers generated 605 yards from scrimmage, as his team enjoyed a 653-533 advantage over UCF in total offense. Flowers threw for 503 yards and four TDs with one interception. He also rushed for 102 yards and one TD on 20 attempts. WR Tyre McCants had nine receptions for 227 yards and one TD, while Salomon had five catches for 139 yards and one TD.


    -- Flowers needs only 43 rushing yards against Texas Tech to surpass his former teammate, RB Marlon Mack, who turned pro one year early after the 2016 campaign, as USF’s all-time leading rusher. Flowers has rushed for a team-best 972 yards and 10 TDs while averaging 5.3 yards per carry. Darius Tice has run for 878 yards and 11 TDs with a 5.4 YPC average, while Johnson has 745 rushing yards, seven TDs and a 4.2 YPC average.


    -- Flowers has completed 53.4 percent of his passes for 2,600 yards with a 21/6 TD-INT ratio. He has a 67/23 TD-INT ratio and 40 rushing TDs during his collegiate career. Flowers’ favorite target is Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who has 50 receptions for 746 yards and five TDs. McCants has 30 catches for 598 yards and five TDs, while Salomon has 28 grabs for 465 yards and four TDs.


    -- USF is ranked ninth in the nation in total offense, eighth in rushing yards and 14th in scoring with a 38.3 points-per-game average. The Bulls are ranked 28th in the country in total defense, 22nd versus the run and 36th in scoring ‘D,’ allowing foes to average 22.5 PPG. The stop unit is led by senior LB Auggie Sanchez, who has recorded 76 tackles, two pick-sixes covering 108 return yards, two sacks, seven tackles for loss, two passes broken up and one QB hurry.


    -- How soft was USF’s schedule? The Bulls have nine wins and only one came over a team with a winning record, and that’s Temple, which improved to 7-6 with Thursday’s win over FIU in the Gasparilla Bowl in St. Pete. Charlie Strong’s team faced only two other teams with winning ledgers – UFC and Houston. The Cougars went to Tampa and handed USF its first loss by a 28-24 count as 10-point road underdogs. The Bulls had started the season 7-0 with six wins by double-digit margins until falling vs. UH.


    -- USF was a double-digit favorite 10 times and an underdog at UCF. The Bulls are in their first single-digit ‘chalk’ spot here.


    -- USF is making its ninth postseason appearance in program history. The Bulls are 5-3 in their eight previous bowl games, winning a 46-39 overtime decision over South Carolina at last year’s Birmingham Bowl. However, the Gamecocks took the cash as 10.5-point underdogs.


    -- Texas Tech (6-6 SU, 7-5 ATS) won 27-23 at Texas as a 7.5-point underdog to garner a postseason bid in the regular-season finale for both Big 12 rivals. Kliff Kingsbury’s team railed from two separate double-digit deficits in the second half. Nic Shimonek hit Cameron Batson on a 16-yard scoring strike to provide the winning points with 1:47 remaining. Shimonek came off the bench to spark the comeback with a pair of fourth-quarter TD passes. Star WR Keke Coutee had nine receptions for 1658 yards against the Longhorns, while T.J. Vasher had five catches for 127 yards and one TD.


    -- Texas Tech has compiled a 3-3 spread record with a pair of outright victories in six games as an underdog. The Red Raiders captured a 27-24 win at Houston as seven-point road ‘dogs on Sept. 23.


    -- Texas Tech is bowling for the third time in Kingsbury’s five-year tenure. In his first season, the Red Raiders smashed 16th-ranked Arizona State 37-23 as 14-point underdogs at the 2013 Holiday Bowl. In the 2015 Texas Bowl, LSU thumped Texas Tech 56-27 as a seven-point ‘chalk.’


    -- Texas Tech went 3-6 (SU) this year in nine games against teams that are in the postseason. In addition to the aforementioned victories at Texas and at Houston, Kingsbury’s club also won a 52-45 decision over Arizona State as a 6.5-point home ‘chalk.’


    -- Texas Tech is ranked 18th in the nation in total offense, 11th in passing yards and 26th in scoring with a 34.3 PPG average. Shimonek has completed 68.2 percent of his throws for 3,457 yards with a 30/8 TD-INT ratio. Justin Stockton has rushed for a team-best 694 yards and four TDs with a 6.1 YPC average, while Tre King has 588 rushing yards, four TDs and a 4.9 YPC average. Desmond Nisby has a team-best seven rushing scores.




    -- Shimonek’s favorite target is Coutee, who has 82 receptions for 1,242 yards and nine TDs. Dylan Cantrell has 67 catches for 790 yards and six TDs, while Batson has 55 grabs for 464 yards and five TDs.


    -- Texas Tech’s defense was vastly improved in 2017. This unit had given up scoring averages of 41.3, 43.6 and 43.5 PPG from 2014-16. This year, though, the Red Raiders gave up 31.8 PPG. Although that’s not exactly a quality stat, which is evidenced by TT’s No. 95 ranking in the country in scoring ‘D,’ it still represents some progress on that side of the ball. The Red Raiders are still struggling against the pass, ranking No. 124 out of 130 FBS teams.


    -- The ‘under’ is 8-4 overall for Texas Tech, cashing in each of its past three games and five of its last six. The Red Raiders have watched their games average combined scores of 66.1 PPG.


    -- The ‘under’ is 7-4 overall for the Bulls, who have seen their games average combined scores of 60.8 PPG.


    **Army vs. San Diego State**


    -- The Armed Forces Bowl be played in Forth Worth, TX., at Amon G. Carter Stadium on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. Eastern on ESPN. As of late Friday afternoon, most spots had San Diego State listed as a six-point favorite over Army. The total was 46, while the Black Knights were +200 on the money line (risk $100 to win $200).


    -- San Diego State (10-2 SU, 8-4 ATS) brings a four-game winning streak both SU and ATS into the postseason. Rocky Long’s squad won each of those four games by margins of 19 points or more. The Aztecs started the season 6-0 with wins at Arizona State (30-20) and vs. Stanford (20-17), only to drop back-to-back home game in mid-October vs. Boise State (31-14) and vs. Fresno State (27-3).


    -- One year after losing college football’s all-time leading career rusher in Donnel Pumphrey, San Diego State had the nation’s leader in rushing yards with 2,027 from Rashaad Penny. The senior RB was third in the country in rushing TDs with 19. Penny averaged 7.4 YPC and also had 18 catches for 142 yards and two TDs. That isn’t it, though. Penny also played special teams, returning a punt for a TD and two kickoffs for TDs. He produced 2,698 all-purpose yards.


    -- San Diego State junior QB Christian Chapman has completed 59.8 percent of his passes for 1,848 yards with a 13/3 TD-INT ratio. WR Mikah Holder is his favorite target, catching a team-best 43 balls for 602 yards and two TDs.


    -- San Diego State went 4-2 SU and 3-3 ATS in six games as a single-digit favorite during the regular season. The Aztecs played five teams that are in the postseason, producing a 3-2 SU record.


    -- During Long’s seven-year tenure, the Aztecs are 3-3 in bowl games. They’ve won back-to-back postseason contests and three of their last four, including last season’s 34-10 win over Houston at the Las Vegas Bowl.


    -- Army (9-3 SU, 6-6 ATS) has won seven of its past eight games with the only loss coming at North Texas (52-49). The Black Knights capped the regular season with a 14-13 win over Navy as 2.5-point underdogs. QB Ahmad Bradshaw rushed for 94 yards and one TD on 21 attempts.


    -- Army is No. 1 in the nation in rushing yards, producing 355.8 yards per game. On the flip side, the Black Knights are ranked No. 130 (last) in passing yards with only 29.6 per game. They average 29.8 PPG.


    -- Bradshaw has rushed for a team-best 1,566 yards and 12 TDs while averaging 7.5 YPC. Darnell Woolfolk has rushed for 725 yards and 12 TDs with a 5.3 YPC average. Bradshaw has completed merely 13-of-40 passes (32.5%) for 279 yards with a ˝ TD-INT ratio.


    -- Army owns a 4-2 spread record with three outright victories in six games as an underdog. The Black Knights went 3-2 (SU) in five games against teams that made the postseason, with their victories coming over Navy, Duke and Temple.


    -- The ‘under’ is 7-4-1 overall for San Diego State, but the ‘over’ has hit in two of its last three games. The Aztecs have seen their games average combined scores of 48.8 PPG. They’ve watched the ‘under’ go 4-2 in their six games that have had totals in the 40s. If this total stays at 46, it will be the lowest the Aztecs have seen all year. Their previous low total was 46.5.


    -- Totals have been an overall wash for Army (6-6), but the ‘under’ went 3-1 in its last four games. The Black Knights have seen their games average combined scores of 50.7 PPG.


    **Appalachian State vs. Toledo**


    -- ESPN’s Saturday tripleheader will conclude in Mobile, AL., where Appalachian State and Toledo will square off in the Dollar General Bowl at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. As of late Friday afternoon, most books had Toledo installed as a 6.5-point favorite with a total of 61.5. The Mountaineers were +200 on the money line (risk $100 to win $200).


    -- This is a rematch of last year’s Camellia Bowl, where Appalachian State won a 31-28 decision over Toledo as a one-point ‘chalk.’ The 59 combined points slithered ‘under’ the 60.5-poin tally. ASU QB Taylor Lamb threw for 119 yards and one TD without an interception, in addition to rushing for 126 yards and one TD on nine attempts. Marcus Cox ran for 143 yards and one TD on 22 carries, while Jalin Moore was held to 35 rushing yards on 16 totes. In the losing effort, Toledo QB Logan Woodside threw for 247 yards and two TDs without an interception. Kareem Hunt rushed for 120 yards and two TDs on 22 carries.


    -- Toledo (11-2 SU, 7-6 ATS) won the MAC Championship Game by thumping Akron 45-28, but the Rockets let a 38-0 lead get away and the Zips went on a 28-7 run to post the backdoor cover as 20.5-point underdogs. Senior QB Logan Woodside threw for 307 yards and four TDs, but he was intercepted twice. Senior RB Terry Swanson ran 21 times for 180 yards and a pair of TDs. Diontae Johnson had nine receptions for 118 yards and two TDs, while Jon’Vea Johnson had six catches for 103 yards and one TD.


    -- Toledo is in the postseason for the fourth consecutive season. The Rockets are 10-6 in 16 postseason games in their program’s history.


    -- Toledo is ranked eighth in the nation in total offense (511.2 YPG), 10th in scoring (39.2 PPG), 21st in passing yards and 26th in rushing yards.


    -- Woodside has enjoyed a remarkable career. He has 93 TD passes compared to only 22 interceptions. As a junior in 2016, Woodside threw for 4,129 yards with a 45/9 TD-INT ratio. He lost last season’s leading receiver Cody Thompson to a season-ending injury in early October, yet still threw for 3,758 yards to surpass Bruce Gradkowski as the school’s all-time leading passer. Woodside had a 28/5 TD-INT ratio during the regular season.


    -- With Thompson going down, Diontae Johnson was provided with more opportunities. He took advantage by snaring 72 receptions for 1,257 yards and 13 TDs. Jon’Vea Johnson has 41 catches for 675 yards and five TDs.


    -- Swanson enjoyed a breakout campaign replacing Hunt, who has enjoyed an outstanding rookie season with the Kansas City Chiefs. Swanson has run for a team-best 1,319 yards and 14 TDs with a 5.7 YPC average. Shakif Seymour has run for 704 yards and 12 TDs with a 6.2 YPC average, while Art Thompkins has 618 rushing yards, two TDs and a 6.1 YPC average.


    -- Toledo has been a single-digit ‘chalk’ four times, producing a 3-1 SU record and a 2-2 ATS mark. The Rockets won outright in four of six games against foes that made the postseason.


    -- Appalachian State (8-4 SU, 5-7 ATS) compiled a 1-1 spread record in a pair of games as an underdog. Scott Satterfield’s squad lost 31-10 at Georgia as a 12.5-point underdog in its season opener. The Mountaineers covered the spread and should’ve won outright in a 20-19 loss to Wake Forest as five-point home underdogs. Lamb threw for 372 yards and two TDs without an interception in the losing effort. ASU had a potential game-winning field goal blocked on the game’s final play and it also missed an extra point in the first half.


    -- Appalachian State took its other two defeats at UMass (30-27 in overtime) and at ULM (52-45) in consecutive weeks. The Mountaineers won by double-digit margins in five of their eight victories. They closed the regular season with three straight wins both SU and ATS. Each of those W’s came by 21 points or more, including a 63-14 win over Louisiana as a 14-point home favorite.


    -- Lamb, a four-year starter, is closing out a stellar collegiate career just like Woodside is. He is second in program history with 9,655 passing yards, behind only Armanti Edwards, who orchestrated the famous upset over fifth-ranked Michigan at The Big House in 2007. Lamb posted career-best numbers this year in completion percentage (61.7%), passing yards (2,606), rushing yards (539), YPC average (7.7) and interceptions (actually a career-low six). The senior signal caller threw 27 TD passes and rushed for five scores. For his career, Lamb has a 90/32 TD-INT ratio and 23 rushing TDs.


    -- Moore led ASU in rushing with 912 yards and nine TD while averaging 5.7 YPC. Terrence Upshaw has run for 314 yards and four TDs with a 4.6 YPC average.


    -- Lamb’s favorite targets are Ike Lewis and Thomas Hennigan. Lewis has 47 receptions for 666 yards and eight TDs, while Henningan has 44 catches for 556 yards and seven TDs.


    -- ASU is in just its fourth season competing at the FBS level in the Sun Belt Conference. Nevertheless, it’s going bowling for a third straight year. The Mountaineers are 2-0 in bowl games, defeating Ohio by a 31-29 count at the 2015 Camellia Bowl.


    -- The ‘over’ is 7-6 overall for the Rockets, who have watched their games average combined scores of 64.8 PPG.


    -- Totals have been an overall wash for ASU (6-6), but the ‘over’ hit at a 4-2 clip in its last six games.


    -- Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.
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    Saturday's Best Bet
    December 21, 2017



    Armed Forces Bowl Betting Preview
    San Diego State vs. Army
    Saturday, Dec. 23, 2017 (ESPN, 3:30 p.m. ET)



    Fresh off their second straight win over Navy (which is quite the feat considering Army had lost 14 in a row in that rivalry), the Army Black Knights are in a Bowl game for the second consecutive season as they square off against San Diego State in the Armed Forces Bowl. Bettors should expect a lot of rushing plays in this game as Army led the nation in rushing yards per game (355.8), while San Diego State wasn't too far behind at 11th in the country with 252.8 rushing yards per game.


    All of that running will lead to the continuing to run, but will a short game lead to a defensive battle between these two?


    San Diego State (-6); Total set at 46


    Not only was 2017 the second straight year Army beat their rivals from Navy, but it's the second straight year the Black Knights have gone Bowling as well. Last year it was a 38-31 OT win over North Texas in the Heart of Dallas Bowl, and this year it's a return to the Armed Forces Bowl for the first time since 2010 – Army's last Bowl appearance prior to 2016. Those were Army's only two Bowl appearances in this century (previous appearance was in 1996) and with both being victories, those grabbing the points with Army as an underdog hae to be feeling confident that recent history is somewhat on their side.


    San Diego State is a program that's no stranger to Bowl appearances as this will be their eighth straight appearance in a Bowl game with the last seven all coming during the Rocky Long era at the school. 2017 also marks the third straight season this program has reached double-digit wins, but a 10-2 SU mark wasn't good enough to reach the Mountain West Championship game as a head-to-head defeat against Fresno cost them in that regard.


    But since that lose the Aztecs finished the year 4-0 SU and ATS, dominating opponents with an average winning margin of 27.5 points. That kind of point differential can go a long way into garnering plenty of support from bettors in this game as they are seeing just under 70% of the wagers ATS according to VegasInsider.com right now. Yet this line actually opened up at San Diego State -7, so there has been some push back from the Army side getting some significant support and causing the reverse line movement.


    Yet, looking into the side is not something I'm that interested in here as recent history in this Bowl game and these two teams plays throughout 2017 makes the total much more appealing. With two predominant running teams, oddsmakers were always going to be forced to put a lower total up, especially when you've got two defenses that give up less than 21 points per game. But just because the clock will be consistently running doesn't mean that points will always be hard to come by, as both of these teams had multiple games this year where they managed to put up 40+ themselves and I do believe we will see both sides bust out some long runs throughout the course of this game.


    Furthermore, the Armed Forces Bowl has been a scoring fest the last three years as we've seen 69, 91, and 93 points scored in this game during that time. We aren't likely to see that many points in this contest, but 50+ points being scored is highly probable and that's more than enough to cash an 'over' ticket.


    Army showed in last year's Bowl game that after a hard-fought, gruelling game with Navy, they preferred to open things up in the Bowl game and this year should be no different. Trying a few trick plays, throwing more passes, and keeping a San Diego State team (that sees the triple-option every year vs Air Force) off-balance is going to be a big part of the Black Knights gameplan. And even if it's not, San Diego State's defense only gave up 24 or more points three times this season and one of those did come against Air Force. As the top rushing team in the land, Army's triple-option attack is a bit more honed then the one Air Force brings to the table and I do expect the Black Knights to at least reach the 20's on the scoreboard.


    San Diego State will have no worries about their own rushing game producing points either as they boast the nation's top rusher in Rashaad Penny (2027 rushing yards). Army's defense has had trouble against premier rushers in the past this year – they gave up 172 yards and 2 TD's on just 13 carries to Ohio State's J.K Dobbins, and San Diego State's ability to pass will continually keep Army's dffense off-balance and give Penny more than enough room to have success.


    With the Aztecs offense scoring 28 or more points in nine of their 12 games this year, I'm trusting their offense to hit the high 20's at a minimum, especially with the recent history of this Bowl game favoring points. I see this game finishing with something like a 30-24 scoreline (likely in favor of the Aztecs), and that gives us plenty of room for error regarding the total as opposed to the side. So while conventional wisdom would suggest going 'under' a low number in a game featuring two teams that love the run the ball and bleed the clock, I'm going against that common perception here and expecting both teams to break numerous big runs and cash in with TD's when they can.


    Best Bet: Over 46 points
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    South Florida's Strong facing familiar foe
    December 22, 2017



    BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) Charlie Strong is facing a familiar opponent in his first bowl game with South Florida.


    The former Texas coach leads the 23rd-ranked Bulls (9-2) into the Birmingham Bowl on Saturday against Texas Tech (6-6), the Longhorns' Big 12 Conference rival. Strong isn't banking too much on that familiarity.


    ''It's just totally two different teams,'' said Strong, who was 2-1 against the Red Raiders with the Longhorns. ''You look at last year they had a quarterback (Patrick Mahomes) who was a first-round draft pick. In three years at Texas, we had some really good games and Kliff (Kingsbury) has done a very good job with that team.


    ''It's a very explosive offense, can score at any time, very aggressive on defense.''


    Texas Tech's Kingsbury said there's a different look from those Texas teams because of personnel, including a dual-threat quarterback.


    ''I don't see too much carry over outside the fact that coach Strong's teams are always well coached and play very hard,'' Kingsbury said.


    Strong is trying to finish his first season at South Florida by helping the Bulls reach double-digit wins and finish in the Top 25 for the second straight year.


    Both defenses are tasked with defending dangerous quarterbacks, though they have different styles.


    South Florida's Quinton Flowers is a running and passing threat while Texas Tech's Nic Shimonek is a prolific passer. Kingsbury said it's hard to find a scout teamer to simulate a player like Flowers.


    ''The quickness and athleticism that Quinton brings is a different animal,'' Kingsbury said. ''He's like a very dynamic wide receiver who's a very athletic passer back there, trying to corral him.''


    The Red Raiders became bowl eligible with a comeback win over the Longhorns, who led by 10 points early in the fourth quarter. Strong said he didn't watch the game except while studying Texas Tech film.


    ''It was a really good football game,'' he said.


    Here are some things to watch in the Birmingham Bowl:


    FLOWERS' RECORDS:
    With 11,385 total yards in his career, Flowers needs just 47 total yards to break the American Athletic Conference record held by Temple's Phillip Walker. He needs just 28 rushing yards to reach 2,500 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards for the second time; only Louisville's Lamar Jackson had achieved that entering the postseason.


    ''It's not on my mind,'' Flowers said of the league record. ''I just go out there and play the game. If it happens, it happens. I'm a team player. I'm always going to be a team player.''


    NIC IN CHARGE: Texas Tech quarterback Nic Shimonek is expected to be back in the starting spot after coming off the bench to lead that fourth-quarter comeback in the regular season finale against Texas. It was the only time the senior didn't start this season. Shimonek has passed for 3,547 yards and 30 touchdowns against just eight interceptions.


    DEFENSIVE CHALLENGE: Texas Tech's defense, which ranks 99th nationally in total yards, faces an offense that's ninth in total yards at nearly 509 per game.


    PROTECT THE BALL: Texas Tech has a plus-11 turnover margin, one shy of the school record set in 1997. South Florida, though, has lost a modest 12 turnovers, which is tied for 14th fewest nationally.


    RETURN TRIPS: This is South Florida's second straight Birmingham Bowl game against a Power 5 team. The Bulls beat South Carolina 46-39 in overtime last season with Strong watching from the sidelines before taking over the program. Texas Tech played at Legion Field in the 1989 All-American Bowl, beating No. 20 Duke 49-21.
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    Appalachian State, Toledo meet in bowl for 2nd straight year
    December 22, 2017



    Dollar General Bowl: Appalachian State (8-4, 7-1 Sun Belt) vs. Toledo (11-2, 7-1 MAC), Saturday, 7 p.m. EST (ESPN)


    Line: Toledo by 7.


    Series Record: Appalachian State leads 1-0.


    WHAT'S AT STAKE


    Appalachian State and Toledo meet for the second straight season after the Mountaineers beat the Rockets 31-28 in the Camellia Bowl in 2016. The rematch will also be in Alabama, though it'll take place a few hours south in Mobile. Appalachian State will try to win its third bowl game in three seasons after making the full transition from FCS to FBS. Toledo is trying to tie a school record with 12 wins.


    KEY MATCHUP


    Toledo QB Logan Woodside vs. Appalachian State's defense: Woodside has thrown for 3,758 yards, 28 touchdowns and five interceptions this season. His top target WR Diontae Johnson has 1,257 yards receiving and 13 TDs. The Rockets will match up with a Mountaineers defense that gave up just 10 points per game during its three-game winning streak to end the season.


    PLAYERS TO WATCH


    Appalachian State: QB Taylor Lamb. The senior has thrown for 2,606 yards and 27 touchdowns. He's also run for 539 yards and five touchdowns and is averaging 7.7 yards per carry.


    Toledo: RB Terry Swanson. The Rockets can run just as well as they can throw. Swanson leads the way 1,319 yards rushing and 14 TDs. He's averaging 5.7 yards per carry.


    FACTS & FIGURES


    Toledo won the MAC championship with a 45-28 victory over Akron. It was the Rockets' first league title since 2004. ... Toledo's second-year head coach Jason Candle has a 21-6 record. He was named this year's MAC Coach of the Year. ... Toledo has played in bowls in seven of the past eight years. The Rockets have an 11-5 bowl record. ... Appalachian State coach Scott Satterfield has a 40-22 record over five seasons at the school, including a 35-9 record over the past 44 games. ... The Mountaineers have a 27-3 record in their last 30 games against Sun Belt opponents.
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    Penny vs Army's triple-option in AF Bowl
    December 22, 2017



    FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) Two of college football's most dominant rushing attacks will clash when San Diego State faces Army in Saturday's Armed Forces Bowl - even though the offenses are dramatically different.


    The pro-style offense used by San Diego State (10-2) is led by the top rusher in the Bowl Subdivision, senior Rashaad Penny. The consensus All-American finished fifth in Heisman Trophy voting, ran for 2,027 yards and needs 107 more to break the school's single-season mark set last year by Donnel Pumphrey.


    Army (9-3) leads the nation in averaging 368.1 yards rushing per game and is last with 29.6 yards passing using an option formation that chugs methodically downfield. It's led by senior quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw, whose 1,566 yards rushing rank fifth nationally.


    In winning the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy for the first time since 1996, the Black Knights attempted no passes against Air Force, one against Navy (complete for 20 yards) and 19 all season. San Diego State offensive coordinator Jeff Horton said his unit was ''like an Air Raid team'' compared to Army's grind-it-out, keep-the-ball approach.


    ''It's a very difficult scheme to stop with any consistency,'' Aztecs coach Rocky Long said of the Black Knights' option. ''We are only going to get the ball five or six times for the entire football game. It's very unusual, but for a true football fan, it's going to be very interesting to watch.''


    San Diego State is the first FBS program with consecutive 2,000-yard rushing seasons from different players. Penny could become the fourth player to compile five straight games of 200 yards, and Army coach Jeff Monken knows his defense will need to slow him down.


    ''He's proven he's one of the best players in the nation, if not the best,'' Monken said.


    Some other things to watch for in Saturday's game at the home stadium of TCU:


    NO-SLOUCH DEFENSES


    For all the attention on the offenses, both teams have respectable defenses: San Diego State is 11th in the FBS in total defense and Army ranks 35th.


    BOWL PRIDE


    San Diego State's 6-0 start included wins over Stanford and Arizona State. Then the Aztecs lost at home to Boise State and Fresno State, realistically ending their chances of winning a third consecutive Mountain West championship, and have since won four straight. SDSU is playing in its eighth consecutive bowl, the last seven under Long. The program appeared in eight total bowls prior to this streak. Army ties a school record with a second straight bowl appearance, equaling the 1984-85 teams that were the first in West Point history to accept invitations.


    LINEMAN HURT


    Aztecs senior right guard Antonio Rosales injured his left ankle early this season and hasn't played since mid-October. Long said he plans to start Rosales in his final college game and see how long he can play in trying to open holes for Penny.


    ARMY'S FIELD GENERAL


    Bradshaw needs just 22 yards to have the best rushing season at a service academy. Navy's Napoleon McCallum ran for 1,587 yards in 1983.


    STREAKS


    San Diego State is seeking 11 wins for the third consecutive season. The only other FBS schools to achieve that during the 2015-17 seasons are Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma. ... Monken, in his fourth season at West Point, has led the Black Knights to three straight winning seasons for the first time since 1988-90. A victory would equal the West Point record for wins in a season, owned by the 1996 team that went 10-2.


    ''It's a challenge for us, playing a great team like San Diego State, but exciting to have that opportunity,'' Monken said. ''It's something that we're certainly conscious of.''
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    CFB notebook: Texas suspends trio for bowl game
    December 22, 2017



    Texas suspended three players for the Dec. 29 Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl, Longhorns coach Tom Herman announced.


    True freshman running back Toneil Carter, junior tight end Garrett Gray and sophomore receiver Lil'Jordan Humphrey were suspended for an unspecified violation of team rules, according to Herman.


    Humphrey caught 37 passes for 431 yards, Carter rushed for 263 yards and three touchdowns and Gray had four receptions for 18 yards.


    The suspensions leave Texas (6-6) without at least seven players when it faces Missouri (7-5) in the bowl game at Houston. Junior defense tackle Chris Nelson will miss the contest with an elbow injury, while offensive tackle Connor Williams, safety DeShon Elliott and cornerback Holton Hill are all skipping the contest after declaring for the 2018 draft.


    --Notre Dame tight end Alize Mack has been suspended for the team's Citrus Bowl game against LSU.


    Coach Brian Kelly said Mack's suspension is because of an "internal team matter" and unrelated to academics. The junior was academically ineligible for all of the 2016 season.


    Mack has reeled in 19 catches for 166 yards and a touchdown in 10 games this season. With Mack ruled out for the Jan. 1 game as well as freshman Brock Wright (shoulder), the Fighting Irish likely will turn to either Nic Weishar or freshman Cole Kmet at tight end.


    Notre Dame will also be without sophomore wide receiver Kevin Stepherson and freshman running back C.J. Holmes, who have been suspended indefinitely after an arrest for shoplifting.


    --Louisville junior cornerback Jaire Alexander will not play in next week's TaxSlayer Bowl and will turn pro.


    "I know it was a very difficult decision for Jaire," Cardinals coach Bobby Petrino said in a statement. "I appreciate the contributions he made to the program over the last three seasons, and I wish him all the best in the future."


    Alexander is rated as a late second-round prospect by NFLDraftScout.com. Louisville plays Mississippi State in the TaxSlayer Bowl on Dec. 30 in Jacksonville, Fla.


    Alexander (5-foot-11, 192 pounds) suffered through an injury-plagued junior year in which he sustained a knee injury in the season opener against Purdue and a broken hand in practice in late October. He finished with 19 tackles and one interception in six games.
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    NCAAF


    Saturday, December 23



    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Birmingham Bowl Betting Preview: Texas Tech vs. South Florida
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    The Bulls were a disappointment for Over bettors despite the outstanding play of Quinton Flowers. The dual-threat QB needs just 47 yards to become the AAC all-time leader in offensive yards gained.


    Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. South Florida Bulls (-2.5, 66.5)


    Game to be played at Legion Field, Birmington, Alabama


    When Texas Tech and No. 24 South Florida meet in the Birmingham Bowl at Legion Field on Dec. 23, two of the top offensive teams in the nation figure to light up the scoreboard. Behind senior quarterback Nic Shimonek, Texas Tech ended the regular season ranked 17th in FBS in total offense (468.4 yards per game) and 26th in scoring offense, averaging 34.6 points. USF senior quarterback Quinton Flowers led the Bulls to an average of 508.6 yards per game, ninth nationally, and spearheaded the No. 16 scoring offense in the nation (38.3).


    Flowers has the opportunity to end his collegiate career as one of the most prolific offensive players in American Athletic Conference and school history. Already the school record holder with 11,385 career yards of offense, Flowers needs just 47 more to become the conference all-time leader. Flowers also needs just 44 yards to break Marlon Mack's school record for career rushing yards, one more touchdown pass for sole possession of first with 68, just 312 yards passing to break Matt Grothe's single-season mark of 2,911 and with four scoring strikes would break his own single-season mark of 24 set last season.


    In the final regular season game against rival Texas, Red Raiders coach Kliff Kingsbury went with sophomore quarterback McLane Carter in place of Shimonek, who had started the opening 11 games of the season. But with Texas Tech down by 10 to start the fourth quarter, Shimonek entered the game and rallied the Red Raiders to a 27-23 victory with a pair of touchdown passes and 96 yards through the air. Kingsbury wasted no time in removing any doubt as to who would start the Birmingham Bowl, announcing three weeks out that Shimonek would get the call under center against USF.

    TV:
    Noon ET, ESPN.

    LINE HISTORY:
    Just about all shops opened with the Bulls set as 2.5-point favorites and as we inch closer to game day, some locations are starting to hang a field goal spread. The total opened as high as 69 but the line is holding steady at 66.5.

    INJURY REPORT:



    Texas Tech - DB Jaylon Lane (Suspension, Out), RB Justin Stockon (Concussion, Probable), DB Willie Sykes (Disciplinary, Out), WR Derrick Willies (Disciplinary, Questionable).


    South Florida - WR Deangelo Antoine (Ankle, Out).

    WEATHER REPORT:
    Rain is in the forecast for Saturday's game. Early indications point to an 83 percent chance of precipitation during the game while game time temperatures should be between 51 and 69 degrees.

    ABOUT TEXAS TECH (6-6 SU, 7-5 ATS, 4-8 O/U):
    The Red Raiders became bowl eligible for the 38th time in school history with a victory against Texas in the regular season finale. The often maligned Texas Tech defense, which ranks 99th in the country in total yards per game allowed, came up with the big plays against Texas as it forced four turnovers overall to fuel the comeback and preserve the victory. After allowing 40 or more points in five of the opening nine games, the Red Raiders held their final three opponents to under 30.

    ABOUT SOUTH FLORIDA (9-2 SU, 5-6 ATS, 4-7 O/U):
    Under first-year coach Charlie Strong, the Bulls can accomplish something never done in program history. With a victory in the Birmingham Bowl, USF can record consecutive seasons with 10 or more wins for the first time since the program was born in 1997. "It's big,'' Strong told reporters. "It allows our seniors to go out on a winning note. Then it prepares us now to step into next season, where you go from 11 wins (in 2016) to 10 wins. Now you're sitting with new expectations, a new team and a new season, you can carry over from that. You can build off of what you've done those last two years.''

    TRENDS:



    *Texas Tech is 4-0 ATS in its last four non-conference games.
    *South Florida is 1-4 ATS in its last five games.
    *The over is 7-1 in the Red Raiders' last eight bowl games.

    CONSENSUS:
    Over 65 percent of players are backing the South Florida Bulls to cover as 2.5-point chalk against the Texas Tech Red Raiders.
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    NCAAF


    Saturday, December 23



    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl Betting Preview and Odds: San Diego State vs. Army
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    San Diego State RB Rashaad Penny was the top rusher in the nation this past season while Army was the top running team in the country. Which ground game will get the edge on Saturday?


    San Diego State Aztecs vs. Army Black Knights (+6.5, 46)


    Game to be played at Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas


    Fans of the ground game won't want to miss San Diego State's Rashaad Penny match up against Army's vaunted run attack at the Armed Forces Bowl Dec. 23 in Fort Worth, Texas. Penny received five All-American awards after leading the country in rushing yards (2,027) and adding 19 touchdowns on the ground. The talented senior saved his best for last, stringing together four straight 200-yard rushing efforts while scoring nine touchdowns over that stretch.


    The Black Knights are no slouches themselves when it comes to producing high-level rushing performances as their 355.8 rushing yards per game led the entire nation, and they joined Navy as the only FBS schools this season to surpass 4,000 total yards on the ground. Quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw was the most dangerous player for Army, rushing for 1,566 yards and 12 TDs. Eleven different Black Knights players had at least one rushing score this season.


    Army comes into this one having played the role of cardiac kids a little too often for its own comfort in recent weeks, with five of its last six games decided by five or fewer points. And while the Black Knights are no worse for wear despite the spate of close games - going 4-1 in those contests - they were fortunate to escape with a 14-13 win against Navy in their annual December showdown to capture the Commander-in-Chief trophy for the first time in 1996.

    TV:
    3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

    LINE HISTORY:
    San Diego State opened as a touchdown favorite but the spread has dropped to just six points. The total opened at 46.5 and has since come down a half point to 46.

    INJURY REPORT:



    San Diego State - OL Antonio Rosales (Ankle, Questionable), FB Grady Vazquez (Knee, Questionable), LB Temerick Harper (Foot, Questionable).


    Army - DB Rhyan England (Undisclosed, Probable).

    WEATHER REPORT:
    The forecast is calling for clear skies and game day temperatures between 37 and 50 degrees.

    ABOUT SAN DIEGO STATE (10-2 SU, 8-4 ATS, 4-7-1 O/U):
    One-sided home losses to Boise State and Fresno State left the Aztecs searching for answers - and boy, did they find them in short order. Behind a highly motivated Penny, San Diego reeled off four consecutive routs to close the season, outscoring Hawaii, San Jose State, Nevada and New Mexico by a combined 110 points en route to their school-record eighth consecutive bowl appearance. Quarterback Christian Chapman will likely only be called upon to give Penny a rest, but acquitted himself well with 1,848 passing yards, 13 TDs and just three interceptions during the season.

    ABOUT ARMY (9-3 SU, 6-6 ATS, 6-6 O/U):
    There isn't much more that can be said about the ultimate run-first offense - the Black Knights threw just 61 passes all year, completing 19 - but the defense is another story altogether, and one that Army fans should be pleased about heading into Dec. 23. Entering its date with Navy, Army allowed opponents to score points on just 70 percent of their red-zone visits - even with USC, and behind only Troy, TCU and Virginia Tech. The Black Knights were also one of the top teams in the country at securing the football, turning it over just nine times in 12 games - tied for third-fewest turnovers in Division I.

    TRENDS:



    *The Aztecs are 4-0 ATS in their last four games.
    *The Aztecs are 2-7 ATS in their last nine games against teams with winning records.
    *The under is 4-0 in Army's last four games against teams from the Mountain West Conference.
    *The under is 4-1 in San Diego State's last five bowl games.

    CONSENSUS:
    About 66 percent of players like San Diego State to cover as a 6-point favorite on Saturday against Army.
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    SATURDAY, DECEMBER 23
    GAME TIME(ET) PICK UNITS



    TTU at USF 12:00 PM
    TTU +3.0
    O 66.5



    SDSU at ARMY 03:30 PM
    ARMY +6.5
    U 45.5



    APP at TOL 07:00 PM
    TOL -6.5
    O 61.0
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    BEST BETS:

    [101] Indianapolis Colts +13.5 1.86

    Game start 12/23/2017 01:30 PM


    [102] TOTAL u41 1.90 (Indianapolis Colts vrs Baltimore Ravens)


    Game start 12/23/2017 01:30 PM
    [104] Green Bay Packers +9 1.84


    Game start 12/23/2017 05:30 PM
    [103] TOTAL o40.5 1.90 (Minnesota Vikings vrs Green Bay Packers)


    Game start 12/23/2017 05:30 PM
    [223] Army +6.5 1.95


    Game start 12/23/2017 12:30 PM
    [224] TOTAL u45.5 1.90 (Army vrs San Diego State)


    Game start 12/23/2017 12:30 PM
    [226] Toledo -6 1.90


    Game start 12/23/2017 04:00 PM
    [225] TOTAL o61 1.90 (Appalachian State vrs Toledo)


    Game start 12/23/2017 04:00 PM
    [228] Fresno State +1.5 1.90
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    Bowl roundup: Flowers leads USF to late win
    December 24, 2017



    BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Quinton Flowers' record-setting career ended with the dynamic South Florida quarterback providing big play after big play.


    It also ended with him hoisting the Birmingham Bowl trophy after his 26-yard touchdown pass to Tyre McCants provided the game-winning points with 16 seconds left in a thrilling 38-34 victory over Texas Tech to allow the Bulls to finish with a 10-2 record.


    The winning touchdown came 1:15 after Texas Tech quarterback Nic Shimonek gave the Red Raiders (6-7) a 34-31 lead with a 25-yard scoring toss to T.J. Vasher. It was that kind of second half.


    Flowers finished with 417 yards in total offense and accounted for five touchdowns. Shimonek threw for 416 yards and three touchdowns.


    Army 42, San Diego State 35


    FORT WORTH, Texas -- Kell Walker ran a two-point conversion after Darnell Woolfolk's 1-yard touchdown run with 18 seconds left to lead Army to a scintillating victory over San Diego State in the Armed Forces Bowl.


    Raashad Penny's 4-yard scoring run with 5:47 to play gave San Diego State a 35-28 lead but the Black Knights (10-3) responded with a 72-yard, 15-play drive and a 1-yard TD blast by Woolfolk. Penny rushed for 221 yards and four touchdowns for the Aztecs (10-3).


    Army eschewed an extra-point attempt and chose to pitch the ball to Walker, who ran untouched around right end for the winning conversion.


    Appalachian State 34, Toledo 0


    MOBILE, Ala. -- Jalin Moore helped Appalachian State bury Toledo 34-0 in the Dollar General Bowl.


    The junior running back and the leading rusher in the Sun Belt Conference churned out 125 yards and recorded his first career three-touchdown game. The Mountaineers became the first team to win three consecutive bowl games after completing its transition to FBS.


    Moore was certainly impressive but so was the defense, which held the Rockets' high-scoring offense in check. Appalachian State (9-4) finished with 458 yards.


    Averaging more than 500 yards and ranked 11th nationally in scoring offense, Toledo (11-3) never got going against a swarming and relentless Mountaineers defense that allowed 146 yards and eight first downs.
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    2017 CFB Bowls Record:..............( BASED ON 5 UNITS )


    DATE W-L-T % UNITS RECORD


    12/23/2017 2-4-0 33.33% -12.00
    12/22/2017 2-2-0 50.00% -1.00
    12/21/2017 1-1-0 50.00% -0.50
    12/20/2017 2-0-0 100.00% +10.00
    12/19/2017 0-2-0 0.00% -11.00
    12/16/2017 5-5-0 50.00% - 2.50


    Totals...............12 - 14.........46.15%.....-17.00




    Best Bets:..............ATS...............Units........ ..... .....O/U..................Units


    12/23/2017....................1 - 2..................-6.00.................1 - 2.................-6.00
    12/22/2017....................1 - 1..................-0.50.................1 - 1.................-0.50
    12/21/2017....................0 - 1..................-5.50.................1 - 0................+5.00
    12/20/2017....................1 - 0.................+5.00.................1 - 0................+5.00
    12/19/2017....................0 - 1.................- 5.50.................0 - 1.................-5.50
    12/16/2017....................3 - 2............,....+4.00.................2 - 3.................-6.50


    Totals.............................6 - 7..................-8.50................6 - 7.................-8.50
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    Hawaii Bowl Preview
    December 21, 2017



    While the Week 16 NFL slate fills up the Christmas Eve schedule there is not a Sunday night game as attention will turn back to the college game with bowl action from Hawai’i in the evening time slot. Fresno State and Houston face off in a closely-lined contest with both teams having success following coaching changes.


    Here is a look at Sunday’s Hawai’i Bowl.


    Matchup: Houston Cougars vs. Fresno State Bulldogs
    Venue: Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawai’i
    Time/TV: Sunday, December 24, 8:30 p.m. ET ESPN
    Line: Houston -2˝, Over/Under 49
    Last Meeting: None



    Among the various bowl destinations the Hawai’i Bowl stands out as a favorable destination for most schools. For Fresno State it will be a second trip to Honolulu, as they won a Mountain West road game at Hawai’i in November. Fresno State also played in this bowl game three seasons ago, losing 30-6 to Rice at the end of the 2014 season. Houston lost to the host in the Hawai’i Bowl in triple overtime in 2003. This bowl matchup will be the first ever meeting between these programs.


    Both teams had coaching changes after last season in much different scenarios. Fresno State finished 1-11 last season leading to the dismissal of Tim DeRuyter with a few games remaining. The Bulldogs reached out to the man that was their quarterback for two seasons in the early 1980s, Jeff Tedford. After a solid 11 year run at California Tedford bounced around the previous three seasons coaching the NFL, CFL, and back as an assistant in college football last season at Washington. Few could have envisioned such a successful homecoming for Tedford back in Fresno where he also was an assistant coach in the mid-1990s.


    For Houston, success the past two seasons led to Tom Herman being plucked away by Texas necessitating a coaching change. The Cougars turned to Major Applewhite, a former Texas quarterback that was an assistant at Alabama and Texas before joining Herman’s staff as the offensive coordinator in 2015. That made for an easier transition for the program and while this season won’t match the success the Cougars had the past two years, returning to a bowl game and featuring a winning season was a solid debut for the 39-year-old first time head coach.


    Tedford has long been known as a developer of quarterbacks, grooming NFL draft picks Trent Dilfter, David Carr, Akili Smith, A.J. Feeley, and Joey Harrington while an assistant at Fresno State and Oregon and then coaching Kyle Boller and Aaron Rodgers at California. He did a magnificent job coaching Oregon State transfer Marcus McMaryion into a very successful season this year with the junior completing 61 percent of his passes with only four interceptions.


    The Bulldogs didn’t post big offensive numbers with just over 28 points per game but they avoided turnovers, finishing +8 in turnover margin on the season and only losing the turnover battle three times this season and never worse than -1. Freshman Jordan Mims and sophomore Josh Hokit split the carries in the backfield with similar production while junior KeeSean Johnson was the fourth leading receiver in the Mountain West.


    The turnaround from 1-11 to 9-4 with a division title was mainly led by the defense. Tedford stepped into a good situation with a lot of returning contributors and despite the awful record, Fresno State lost six games by 14 or fewer points in the 2016 season. After allowing nearly 31 points per game last season the Bulldogs are 9th nationally in scoring defense this season surrendering just over 17 points per game. Only five times all season did Fresno State lose the yardage battle and only Alabama and Washington out-gained the Bulldogs by more than 55 yards. No team scored more than 26 on Fresno State in the final 10 games of the season including the 17-14 loss to Boise State in the Mountain West Championship.


    Houston had some of the inconsistent results one might expect from a team led by a first-time head coach. The program also had to deal with Hurricane Harvey hitting the area just as the season was set to start, cancelling the opening game at Texas-San Antonio. Houston won at Arizona in its first game and nearly had another major conference win with a 27-24 defeat at Texas Tech. After nice wins over Temple and SMU to start the AAC season the Cougars allowed 87 points in back-to-back losses against Tulsa and Memphis. The team rebounded with an upset win at South Florida before closing the season with a defeat at Tulane and a win hosting Navy.


    The quarterback situation revolved over the season. Highly regarded Texas A&M transfer Kyle Allen started the season for Houston but struggled in the first month and was benched in favor of senior Kyle Postma who had played in a few games over the previous two seasons. The best results for the Houston offense came when the team turned to sophomore D’Eriq King who started the final four games with nearly 70 percent completions and only one interception.


    Junior Duke Catalon led the team in rushing for a second straight season but his carries went down significantly with the mobile King taking over at quarterback. Senior Steven Dunbar was the top target with 66 catches on 13.2 yards per reception. The offense has recently lost offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson to Florida where he will re-unite with Dan Mullen.


    Six times Houston’s defense allowed 22 or fewer points but overall the numbers declined dramatically compared with last season. Houston allowed nearly 100 more yards per game and more than half a yard more per game compared with the 2016 numbers. Sophomore Ed Oliver is a top NFL draft prospect after being an All American as a freshman. His 2017 numbers were down from last season drawing a lot of attention. The Cougars still possess a solid run defense allowing just 3.8 yards per rush but that average is almost a yard worse than last season.


    Applewhite did coach Houston in the Las Vegas Bowl last season, a 34-10 defeat against San Diego State from the Mountain West. Tedford was 5-3 in his bowl games while California, losing his last two in 2009 and 2011 however. The 2011 Holiday Bowl loss came against Texas, where Applewhite was an offensive assistant at the time.


    Historical Trends: Fresno State has lost six bowl games in a row S/U and ATS with the last victory for the program coming in 2007. Houston is 5-11 S/U and 7-9 ATS in bowl games going back to 1980, though 4-3 S/U & ATS in the past seven appearances going back to 2008. Houston has a remarkable recent record in the underdog role but is 8-13 ATS as a favorite the past two seasons and actually 5-12 ATS in the last 17 instances since October of last season when the team rose to national prominence. Fresno State is on a 12-1 ATS run as an underdog since last October, covering in all six instances this season.
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  21. #71  
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    Fresno State beats Houston 33-27 in the Hawaii Bowl
    December 24, 2017



    HONOLULU (AP) Marcus McMaryion threw for a career-best 342 yards and Jimmy Camacho made four field goals to help Fresno State beat Houston 33-27 on Sunday in the Hawaii Bowl.


    McMaryion completed 33 of 48 passes to tie the Hawaii bowl record for completions set by Hawaii's Colt Brennan against Arizona State in 2006 and also matched by Fresno State's Derek Carr against SMU in 2012.


    The Bulldogs (10-4) had their first 10-win season in five years and completed the biggest turnaround in FBS this season. They went 1-11 last year, and became just the second team in FBS history to go from double-digit losses one season to double-digit wins in the next.


    The Cougars (7-5) were seeking their fifth consecutive season of eight or more wins.


    Camacho was kept busy in his final game for Fresno State. He attempted six field goals, with makes of 27, 38, 26 and 33 yards, but missed a 56-yarder in the second quarter - which would have been a career long - and had a 24-yard try blocked and returned for a Houston touchdown in the third quarter. Camacho broke the Hawaii Bowl record for field goals made.


    Fresno State finished with 480 yards of total offense to Houston's 341.


    Defensive tackle Ed Oliver, the first underclassman to win the Outland Trophy, had his first career carry - a 1-yard touchdown run - to cap Houston's first scoring drive in the first quarter.


    Three plays into the second quarter, Fresno State tied it on McMaryion's 1-yard sneak on fourth down. The drive was extended by McMaryion's 13-yard pass completion to Da'Mari Scott on third-and-1 and a pass-interference penalty against the Cougars that moved the chains on third-and-5 four plays later.


    Camacho's 27-yard field goal with 9:45 left in the second quarter gave the Bulldogs their first lead at 10-7, but Houston answered with a 31-yard field goal by Caden Novikoff a few minutes later.


    Camacho missed the 56-yarderon Fresno State's next possession, but converted from 38 yards as time expired in the second half to send his team into halftime with a 13-10 lead.


    Houston tied it at 13 midway through the third quarter on Novikoff's 42-yard field goal, but the Bulldogs pulled back ahead with McMaryion's 6-yard touchdown run on third down to highlight a nine-play, 75-yard drive with 4:21 remaining in the third.


    Camacho lined up a 24-yard field goal attempt late in the third quarter, but it was blocked by Houston's Jeremy Winchester and returned 94 yards for a touchdown by Alexander Myres.


    The Bulldogs took the lead for good on Camacho's 26-yard field goal with 13:57 left to play and stretched the lead to 26-20 with his 33-yarder with six minutes remaining.


    Jaron Bryant's 44-yard interception return off a deflection with 3:49 wrapped up the win for Fresno State. D'Eriq King's pass was batted up in the air by defensive end Robert Stanley and fell into the hands of Bryant, who maneuvered his way along the left sideline for the score.


    King's 2-yard scoring strike to Linell Bonner in the final minute closed out the scoring.


    KeeSean Johnson caught eight passes for 95 yards for Fresno State and went over the 1,000-yard mark for the season.


    Steven Dunbar, one of two senior receivers for the Cougars, had seven receptions for 168 yards.


    McMaryion and Dunbar were selected as the game's most valuable players for each team.


    It was the first meeting between the teams.


    THE TAKEAWAY


    Houston: The Cougars brought the second-best completion percentage in the country at 70.1 percent. King completed 23 of his 43 pass attempts (53.5 percent) for 269 yards with an interception


    Fresno State: The Bulldogs entered allowing 116.6 rushing yards per game, the fifth-best mark in FBS. They held the Cougars to 72 rush yards - well below their per-game average of 175.5 - on 30 carries, an average of just 2.4 yards per attempt.


    UP NEXT


    Houston, which must replace five starters on each side of the ball, will open its 2018 campaign on the road, but not far from home, when it visits Rice on Sept. 1.


    Fresno State will lose a total of five starters from this year's squad. It will start off coach Jeff Tedford's sophomore season at his alma mater at home against Idaho on Sept. 1.
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  22. #72  
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    Tuesday's Bowl Tip Sheet
    December 24, 2017



    **Utah vs. West Virginia**


    Heart of Dallas Bowl History



    -- The Utah Utes (6-6 straight up, 8-3-1 against the spread) of the Pac-12 Conference meet the West Virginia Mountaineers (7-5 straight up, 5-6-1 against the spread) of the Big 12 Conference in a Power 5 matchup in the Cotton Bowl in the Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl. It's a meeting between two teams who have much loftier goals before the season began. Utah is fairly lucky to be bowling anywhere after a late-season swoon, while the Mountaineers enter on a much higher note. Vegas expects rather moderate scoring in this one, with the total holding steady around 56.


    -- The Utes won their regular-season finale on Nov. 25 against Colorado by a 34-13 score to gain bowl eligibility on the final day of the season, covering in back-to-back games for the first time since opening the season 4-0 ATS in the first four weekends. The Utes fired out of the box with a 4-0 SU/ATS record, but a stunning 23-20 loss to Stanford really kicked them off track back on Oct. 7. They followed that up with a narrow 28-27 loss at USC on Oct. 14, and then they had their doors blown off 30-10 at home against Arizona State. After winning their first four, they endured a four-game losing streak with a 41-20 setback at Oregon back on Oct. 28. They were fortunate enough to face UCLA without pro prospect QB Drew Rosen on Nov. 3, and they went on to a 48-17 win to snap their drought.


    -- When the Utes are on offense, the Mountaineers should expect to see a heavy dose of RB Zack Moss. He was this season's version of Joe Williams (man, I love that guy!). Moss rolled for 1,023 yards on 194 attempts, averaging 5.3 yards per tote while punching in nine touchdowns. When Moss wasn't running the ball, it was dual-threat QB Tyler Huntley doing his thing. He completed 65.4 percent of his pass attempts for 2,246 yards, 15 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while also running for 480 yards and four scores. He missed the regular-season finale due to an unspecified injury, giving way to QB Troy Williams. However, Huntley is fully expected to suit up for this one. Devonta'e Henry-Cole is also a bruiser who averaged 5.0 yards per attempts while finding the end zone twice.


    -- In the pass game it was WR Darren Carrington II showing his playmaking ability, leading the team with 66 receptions, 918 yards and six scores. WRs Raelon Singleton and Siaosi Wilson proved that the Utes aren't a one-trick pony in the receiving corps, as Singleton found the end zone four times with 14.1 yards per reception, whileWilson was good for 20 grabs, 393 yards and a touchdown, gathering nearly 20 yards on every catch. WR Demari Simpkins is another speedster from South Florida who found his way to Salt Lake City, and he has a bright future. He showed glimpses of brilliance with 27 grabs, 337 yards and a score.


    -- Utah was right down the middle in most offensive and defensive categories. They ranked 48th in the nation in total yards (417.7 per game), while accounting for 256.4 passing yards game to rank 44th. They also averaged 29.5 points per game (PPG) to check in 57th in the country. Their field-goal efficiency was one of the better percentages in the nation, converting 84.4 percent of their tries to check in 15th. On defense, Utah was stingy, finishing 32nd in the country in total yards allowed (353.5 yards per game), and they yielded just 138.5 yards per game on the ground to finishing 38th in the country in that category. They also allowed just 23.9 PPG, ranking 43rd overall.


    -- For West Virginia, they were humming along nicely until QB Will Grier suffered a broken middle finger on his throwing hand in the Nov. 18 game against Texas. It was an injury which required corrective surgery. While he has yet to be ruled out for the game, head coach Dana Holgorsen has said it doesn't look good that Grier will be able to play. As such, expect to see QB Chris Chugunov under center for West Virginia.


    -- The Mountaineers finished 14th in the country in total yards (485.5 yards per game), including 324.8 passing yards per game to rank 12th in the nation. However, that's mostly with Grier at the helm. When the team needed to run the ball they were rather middling, averaging 160.8 yards per game on the ground. Justin Crawford wasn't terrible, going for 1,060 yards on 5.5 yards per tote, scoring seven touchdowns. Kennedy McCoy also scored seven rushing touchdowns while averaging 5.1 yards per carry, so there is talent there. Chugunov completed just 54.8 percent of his passes while posting 407 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in his appearances this season. While Grier has some mobility, Chugunov will never be confused with a dual-threat QB, either.


    -- West Virginia's defense is among the worst of all bowl teams, as they allowed 452.5 yards per game to rank 111th in the nation, while finishing exactly 100th in the country in passing yardage allowed (247.8 yards per game) and 105th in rushing yards (204.8 yards per game). Utah should be able to move the ball early and often against a defensive unit which struggled all season, yielding 23 or more points in each of the final three outings, and eight of their final nine matchups.


    -- The Mountaineers have some talented receivers, lead by Gary Jennings. He gathered 94 balls for 1,030 yards, but he managed just one score. A majority of the scoring was done by WRs David Sills V and Ka'Raun White. Sills had just 60 receptions, but 18 of them were good for touchdowns. White posted 58 grabs for 978 yards, but 11 of his receptions resulted in a score, too. WR Marcus Simms also got into them mix with 32 receptions, 630 yards and five touchdowns, so West Virginia has the players to take it to the house on most every play.


    -- As a single-digit favorite this season, Utah finished 4-1 SU/ATS, winning and covering in their past two instances as 9 1/2-point favorites both against Colorado and UCLA. The only time they failed to cover as a single-digit favorite was at Oregon on Oct. 28 as a three-point fave.


    -- As a single-digit underdog this season, West Virginia failed in each outing by going 0-2 SU/ATS. They dropped their opener 31-24 against Virginia Tech as a five-point 'dog, and they were tripped up 50-39 at home back on Oct. 28 against visiting Oklahoma State as an 8 1/2-point underdog.


    -- Utah has posted a 9-3 ATS mark over their past 12 bowl games, and they're 9-3 ATS in their past 12 neutral-site battles, too. The Utes have also posted an impressive 18-7-1 ATS mark over their past 26 against teams with a winning overall record. Outside the Pac-12, Utah has posted a 44-21-2 ATS mark over the past 67 non-conference games, while going 4-0 ATS in their past four against Big 12 foes.


    -- Dating back to the Las Vegas Bowl in 1999, the Utes are on quite the roll when it comes to the postseason. They're a whopping 13-1 SU in their past 14 bowl appearances, falling only to Boise State in the 2010 Las Vegas Bowl. Last season they pushed past Indiana by a 26-24 score in the Foster Farms Bowl in Santa Clara, Calif. These teams actually have met in a bowl game, too, squaring off in the 1964 Liberty Bowl at the Atlantic City Convention Hall. It was Utah winning by a 32-6 score in front of 6,059 fans.


    -- The Mountaineers haven't been very good against the number lately, going 1-4-1 ATS over their past six, and 0-4 ATS in their past four bowl games. They're also a dismal 0-5 ATS in their past five neutral-site appearances.


    -- West Virginia was tripped up by Miami in the Russell Athletic Bowl last season, falling 31-14 in Orlando. They were victorious in their most recent bowl appearance against a Pac-12 side, topping Arizona State in the Cactus Bowl on Jan. 2, 2016 in Phoenix. However, Holgorsen is 2-3 SU in his five games as coach in a bowl game.


    -- Kickoff is slated for 1:30 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.


    **Duke vs. Northern Illinois**


    Quick Lane Bowl History



    -- In the Quick Lane Bowl at Ford Field in Detroit, Mich., the Duke Blue Devils (6-6 straight up, 6-5-1 against the spread) from the Atlantic Coast Conference locks horns with the Northern Illinois Huskies (8-4 straight up, 6-6 against the spread) from the Mid-American Conference.


    -- Both teams should be rather happy to be bowling, especially Duke. They shot out of the chute with four wins to open the season, including an impressive 41-17 victory over Northwestern back on Sept. 9. They also opened 4-0 ATS. However, the Blue Devils endured a six-game losing streak which just about ended any chances of bowl eligibility. They came alive in the final two games, posting a 43-20 win against Georgia Tech, and an impressive 31-23 victory at Wake Forest in the regular-season finale to get their elusive sixth win and go bowling for a fifth time in the past six seasons, quite the feat for the Blue Devils.


    -- Duke didn't pass the ball well this season, ranking 81st in the country with 210.2 yards per game through the air. They also didn't pile up the points, posting a meager 25.8 PPG to finish 84th overall in the land. The reason the Blue Devils are bowling is mostly because of their defense. Duke allowed just 338.8 yards per game to rank 25th in the country, and they were even stingier in pass defense by allowing just 174.8 yards per game, finishing 11th overall. They yielded just 20.8 PPG, too, finishing 26th in the nation.


    -- QB Daniel Jones wasn't terribly effective up top, completing just 55.7 percent of his pass attempts for 2,439 yards, 12 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He did good work on the ground, however, rushing for 432 yards while tying for the team lead with six rushing scores. RB Shaun Wilson led the way with 743 yards and five touchdowns, while Brittain Brown gobbled up 660 yards with a team-high 5.6 yards per total and a team-high tying six rushing scores.


    -- The top three receivers on this team each had just one touchdown grab, so that's an area of concern for Duke. WR T.J. Rahming is this year's version of Conner Vernon or Jamison Crowder, posting 61 receptions for 733 yards and 12.0 yards per grab. The next best receiver was Johnathan Lloyd, who hauled in 37 balls for 364 yards and a score. RB Shaun Wilson came out of the backfield to snag 32 receptions for 241 yards and five scores, while TE Daniel Helm totaled 188 yards and two scores while going for 11.1 yards per grab.


    -- Like Duke, NIU is rather marginal on the offensive side of the ball. They averaged 388.1 yards per game, finishing 82nd in the land, while rushing was their biggest area of success. The Huskies posted 190.0 yards per game to finish 37th overall in the country. That will be the key to this game - NIU's rushing offense vs. Duke's rushing defense. On defense, the Huskies were sharp. They gave up just 328.4 yards per game to check in 18th in the country, and they ranked 11th in the nation with 112.2 yards per game allowed. They also yielded just 20.8 PPG to finish 27th.


    -- The offense is led by freshman QB Marcus Childers, who is rather green, but he has tremendous upside. The frosh completed just 57.3 percent of his throws for 1,445 yards, 15 touchdowns and five interceptions. He also scampered for 459 and five touchdowns, a mark which actually led the team. When Childers wasn't running it was Jordan Huff leading the charge. He averaged a robust 5.8 yards per game, compiling 740 yards with four scores. Marcus Jones is also one to watch, as he racked up 347 yards and two touchdowns.


    -- WR Spencer Tears won't make anyone cry, but he was pretty effective with 39 receptions for a team-high 461 yards and four touchdowns. Like Duke, the Huskies also like to use their tight end, and it was TE Shane Wimann leading the team with seven receiving TDs, posting 30 grabs for 283 yards and 9.4 yards per receptions. WR Christian Blake, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla. product, tied for the team lead with 39 grabs while adding 421 yards and four scores.


    -- Duke posted a dismal 2-5-1 ATS over their past eight games overall, but they're 19-6-1 ATS in their past 26 non-conference tilts. They re also an impressive 13-1 ATS across their past 14 games on a fieldturf surface. The 'over' has also cashed in each of the past four bowl games for the Blue Devils, although the 'under' was 9-1 over their past 10. The under is also 9-4 in Duke's past 13 non-conference tilts and 5-1 in their past six against teams with a winning overall record.


    -- NIU hasn't been as good against the number recently, posting a 1-4 ATS mark over their past five overall, and 1-6 ATS in their past seven games in the month of December. They're also 0-4 ATS in their past four bowl appearances, while going 5-15-1 ATS across the past 21 neutral-site games. However, they have covered four in a row outside the conference while going 4-1-1 ATS in their past six tries against ACC foes.


    -- Duke won a thrilling Pinstripe Bowl in their most recent postseason appearance, topping Indiana 44-41 back on Dec. 26, 2015. That was their first bowl victory since the 1961 Cotton Bowl when they edged out Arkansas by a 7-6 score. The Blue Devils also have the honor of hosting the 1942 Rose Bowl in their home stadium back in North Carolina, a loss to Oregon State. That Rose Bowl was moved from California to North Carolina due to World War II and the threat to the west coast.


    -- This will be NIU's first bowl appearance since Dec. 23, 2015, a 55-7 spanking from Boise State in the Poinsettia Bowl. The Huskies have been on the short end of their past four bowl appearances, including the 2013 Orange Bowl when they were basically a Group of Six team facing off against Florida State. Their last bowl win was Jan. 8, 2012 in the GoDaddy.com Bowl in Mobile, Ala. against Arkansas State, 38-20.


    -- Kickoff is slated for 5:15 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.


    **Kansas State vs. UCLA**


    Cactus Bowl History

    -- The latest installment of the Cactus Bowl at Chase Field in Phoenix, Ariz. features two more Power 5 Conference teams battling each other. The Kansas State Wildcats (7-5 straight up, 5-6-1 against the spread) from the Big 12 battle the UCLA Bruins (6-6 straight up, 4-8 against the spread) from the Pac-12.


    -- The Bruins will be led by interim head coach Jedd Fisch, who keeps the seat warm until Chip Kelly is ready to take over in the offseason. Fisch is in there because the team elected to can Jim Mora Jr. after the team's loss against USC. He steered them to a 30-27 victory against California in the regular season finale back on Nov. 24, helping the team secure bowl eligibility when it looked rather grim.


    -- UCLA ranked 19th in the nation in total yardage with 465.7 yards per game, and they were fifth in the nation with 345.3 yards per game through the air. That's because of NFL prospect Drew Rosen airing it out early and often. The run game wasn't much to write home about, ranking a dismal 114th in the nation with just 120.3 yards per game. On defense, the Bruins were dinged for 488.8 yards per game, ranking 123rd in the country. That's an area they'll need to shore up if they're to have success. They couldn't stop anyone on the ground, yielding a dismal 282.7 yards per game to check in 129th.


    -- The offense is all about Rosen, and he will play in the bowl game. The trend for pro prospects lately has been to skip the team's bowl game, but he vowed to play. He completed 62.5 percent of his passes for 3,717 yards, 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He also rushed for two scores, but he'll never be confused with Michael Vick or Cam Newton. Bolo Olorunfunmi gave the team some semblance of a run game down the stretch, posting a team-best 542 yards with five scores, while Soso Jamabo scored a team-best six rushing touchdowns while averaging 5.1 yards per carry.


    -- WR Jordan Lasley is Rosen's favorite target, hauling in 61 balls for 1,136 yards and eight scores. He also led the team with a sparkling 18.6 yards per reception. WR Darren Andrews is right there with 773 yards and 12.9 yards per grab, while leading the team with 10 touchdown grabs. TE Caleb Wilson also served as a nice tertiary receiving option, posting 38 grabs, 490 yards, 12.9 yards per catch and one score. Jamabo has the best hands of the receivers out of the backfield, catching 16 balls with 12.4 yards per reception.


    -- K-State struggled on the offensive side of the ball, at least in the passing game. The Wildcats were able to muster just 181.7 yards per game through the air, ranking 97th in the country. Their bread was buttered in the run game, posting 186.7 yards per game, which was good for 41st in the country. They're also decent in the kick game, should the game be decided by a late field goal. On defense, they lock it down against the run, giving up just 121.8 yards per game to check in 19th. That makes it likely UCLA runs even less than they usually do, especially since the Wildcats allowed 310.2 yards per game through the air to rank 129th in FBS. Not good against a QB like Rosen and a pass-first offense.


    -- QB Jesse Ertz was lost for the season in late November to a knee injury, and QB Alex Delton (head) is a question mark for the bowl game. QB Skylar Thompson is likely to start, and he posted a team-best 63.2 completion percent with 662 passing yards, five touchdowns and just two interceptions while running 64 times for 263 yards and three scores. RB Alex Barnes topped the charts with 702 rushing yards and six touchdowns, and Delton was second on the team with 342 yards and five scores, so he could help out if cleared.


    -- With a hodgepodge at quarterback this season, you would think the receiving game struggles, but WR Byron Pringle is a talented playmaker in the mold of a Darren Sproles or Tyler Lockett, two former K-State alumni. He had just 28 grabs, but went for a team-high 705 yards or 25.2 yards per receptions while finding the end zone six times. He is also a big-time threat in the special teams department, so watch for that. WR Isaiah Zuber is a possession receiver who is a go-to guy when trying to move the sticks. He had by far the most catches (51), while posting four scores. WR Dalton Schoen posted 20.4 yards per reception with three scores.


    -- The Wildcats limp into this game with a 2-7 ATS mark over their past nine bowl games, and they're just 2-5 ATS across the past seven neutral-site battles. They're also just 1-5 ATS in their past six tries against teams from the Pac-12 Conference.


    -- The Bruins haven't exactly lit the world afire against the number, either, going 1-7 ATS in their past eight non-conference battles, 4-10 ATS in their past 14 overall and 7-16 ATS in the past 23 on grass surfaces. The Bruins like to go 'over', posting a 5-1-1 mark in their past seven non-conference tilts, and an 11-4 'over' mark in the past 15 vs. teams from the Big 12.


    -- If this seems like a familiar bowl matchup, these two teams did meet in the 2015 Alamo Bowl in San Antonio. The Bruins came away with a 40-35 victory. It's a familiar result for the Wildcats, as they're a dismal 2-7 SU over their past nine bowl games.


    -- UCLA is bowling for the first time since Dec. 26, 2015 in the Foster Farms Bowl, a 37-29 loss in a thriller against Nebraska. Their last bowl victory was that win against K-State in the Alamo Bowl, and they're 2-1 in their past three, but just 6-11 SU over their past 17 postseason appearances.


    -- Kickoff is slated for 9:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.
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  23. #73  
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    Tuesday's Best Bet
    December 22, 2017



    Cactus Bowl Betting Preview
    Kansas State Wildcats vs UCLA Bruins
    Tuesday, Dec. 26, 207 - (ESPN, 9:00 p.m. ET)



    It's the Big 12 vs the Pac 12 in the Cactus Bowl as Kansas State and UCLA make the trip to the home of MLB's Arizona Diamondbacks to square off. Bowl games at baseball diamonds are becoming more of the norm these days, but seeing a pool out there in the bleachers has got to be a new experience for all the guys on both sidelines here.


    This game is significant for UCLA as it's likely QB Josh Rosen's last start with the program before he becomes a mulch-millionaire as a NFL quarterback, and while he is already highly touted and expected to be a Top 5 or Top 10 pick, this is is last chance to showcase his talent in live game action. Granted, Rosen is more likely to potentially hurt his draft stock with a poor performance than drastically increase it with a dominant effort (simply because he's already so highly thought of), but bettors should expect the great Josh Rosen to show up here. Will it be enough to lead UCLA to the outright upset?

    Kansas State (-2); Total set at 64.5



    UCLA finished 2017 with just a 6-6 SU record as despite Rosen's brilliance more often than not, the Bruins defense is very suspect and the overall depth of talent on the entire roster isn't all that deep. But when you've got a NFL-caliber QB in your program, expectations are always high, and the Bruins administration had enough of HC Jim Mora that they fired him with a few regular season games still to go. Everyone knew about how good Rosen is, but it was Mora's inability to either recruit top level talent elsewhere, or his inability to coach his players up – especially on defense – that cost him his gig and the Bruins will be going through quite a few changes once this game is over. The Chip Kelly era at UCLA already has high expectations, but that won't start in earnest until the Rosen era officially ends.


    Kansas State was 7-5 SU on the year playing in the Big 12, but like they do every year they came up with a few surprising victories. They beat OK State in Stillwater as nearly 20-point underdogs, upset Texas Tech on the road in OT, and hung tough with CFB Playoff bound Oklahoma. HC Bill Snyder has this uncanny ability to get the most out of his players each and every year, but at 78 years old and still uncertain about his immediate future as a coach, reports are starting to come out that he's holding this program “hostage.” Eventually K-State will enter a new era themselves once Snyder decides to hang em up, but despite all of Synder's success over the years at the program, that's not always translated to the Bowl games.


    Kansas State is 2-5 SU the last seven years in Bowl efforts during this second era with Synder, and when he was with the program from 1989-2005, K-State's record in Bowl games was just 6-5 SU. In those years where K-State entered their Bowl game with fewer then 10 wins, the Wildcats are just 3-7 SU in their Bowl game, so history isn't exactly on their side here. K-State is also 2-7 ATS in their last nine Bowl appearances overall, and a 1-5 ATS run against Pac-12 opponents suggests that this Wildcats team may struggle a bit. After all, elite QB's like Mason Rudolph and Baker Mayfield each put up 40+ on them, and Rosen's just as good, if not better than both of those guys.


    For UCLA it is all about whether or not their defense can hold down the fort and the entire team can shake their woes away from home. The Bruins were 6-6 SU yes, but that splits up to a 6-0 SU record at home and a 0-6 SU mark on the road. This is probably more of a home game than road game given it's close by in Arizona, but this team has had it's issues away from the Rose Bowl all year long.


    Yet, with Rosen at the helm everything is possible for this Bruins team and there is a good chance the rest of his teammates rally around him in his final collegiate game. UCLA's defense had two of their better performances of the year in their final two games against USC and Cal, and this K-State attack isn't nearly as explosive as the ones they saw on those days. As long as they can hold K-State to 24 or less points (they average 32.1), Rosen and offense should be able to do the rest here.


    In the end, the oddsmakers have the wrong team favored in this game as the Bruins should be the ones who win this game outright. At +2.5 on the spread, buying a half-point up to +3 is the safer route to go, but ML odds of +120ish are just as attractive. Rosen hasn't had a lot of things go right in terms of wins and losses throughout his collegiate career, but as he transitions to the NFL after this game, his last memory of playing college football will be a winning one.


    Best Bets:
    UCLA +2.5
    UCLA ML +120
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  24. #74  
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    Kansas State meets UCLA in the Cactus Bowl
    December 25, 2017



    PHOENIX (AP) Cactus Bowl: UCLA (6-6) vs. Kansas State (7-5), Dec. 26, 9 p.m. Eastern (ESPN).


    Line: Kansas State by 6 1/2.


    Series Record: UCLA leads 2-1, beat the Wildcats 40-35 in the 2015 Alamo Bowl the last time.

    WHAT'S AT STAKE



    UCLA is playing its final game under interim coach Jedd Fisch before former Oregon and Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly takes over the program. Kansas State is closing out its 26th season under Bill Snyder, who has not decided if he will return next season.


    KEY MATCHUP


    UCLA's defense vs. K-State QB Skylar Thompson. The Bruins can put up a lot of points on offense, but also are among the worst in FBS in allowing them, tied for 117th at 36.8 points allowed per game. Thompson, a redshirt freshman, started the season as K-State's third-string quarterback, but has played well since taking over the No. 1 spot. In the final three games, he threw for 515 yards and four touchdowns on 38-of-60 passing, adding 158 rushing yards and two more scores. Slowing him will be key for UCLA.


    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Kansas State: CB D.J. Reed. The junior is a playmaker on defense and special teams. He is second nationally in kick returns with a 35.3-yard average and has four interceptions.


    UCLA: QB Josh Rosen. The Cactus Bowl could be Rosen's final college game, or he may have already played it. The star quarterback might not play in the bowl game because of concussion concerns. So his finale could have been a win over California on Nov. 24, a game in which he sat out the second half because of injuries. Of course, Rosen could also decide to return to the Bruins.


    FACTS & FIGURES


    The Cactus Bowl will be played at Chase Field, home of baseball's Arizona Diamondbacks, for the third straight season. The bowl was temporarily moved as Arizona State's Sun Devil Stadium undergoes renovations. ... Kansas State has played in eight straight bowl games. ... UCLA is playing in a bowl game after missing the postseason a year ago. The Bruins last bowl was the 2015 Foster Farms. ... Kansas State's Byron Pringle leads the nation in yards per catch at 25.18. ... UCLA WR Jordan Lasley had 29 catches for 593 yards his last 3 games.
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  25. #75  
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    [B]1:30 PM EST
    229 UTAH -4.5 -6.5 -15 / -7 / -7 -15 -7.5 -05 -290
    230 WEST VIRGINIA 54 56.5 / 56 / 56.5 56 +237
    UTA-QB-Tyler Huntley-Probable | WVU-QB-Will Grier-Doubtful | WVU-RB-Justin Crawford-OUT | TV: ESPN, DTV: 206. Heart of Dallas Bowl




    5:15 PM EST
    231 NORTHERN ILLINOIS 47.5 47.5 / 47 / 47u13 47 +211
    POWER
    232 DUKE -4.5 -4.5 / -5.5 / -6 -6.5 -15 -255
    TV: ESPN, DTV: 206. Quick Lane Bowl




    9:00 PM EST
    233 KANSAS STATE PK -04 -6.5 / -6.5 -11 / -6.5 -15 -7 -05 -265
    FREE
    234 UCLA 63.5 61.5 / 61.5o14 / 61.5o15 62 +218
    KSU-QB-Jesse Ertz-OUT | UCL-QB-Josh Rosen-Doubtful | UCL-WR-Darren Andrews-OUT | TV: ESPN, DTV: 206. Cactus Bowl
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