Arkansas State-Nevada Betting Guide: The Most Evenly Matched Bowl?
Kiel Maddox-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Ty Gangi
2018 Arizona Bowl Betting Odds: Arkansas State-Nevada
- Odds: Nevada -1.5
- Over/Under: 56.5
- Date: Saturday, Dec. 29
- Location: Tucson, Ariz.
- Time: 1:15 p.m. ET
- TV: CBS Sports Network
>> All odds as of Friday morning. Download The Action Network App to get real-time bowl odds and win probabilities on your bets
The rest of the sports world may look right past the Arizona Bowl featuring Nevada (-1.5) and Arkansas State, but the money you win on this game is just as green as the money you win on the College Football Playoff game.
Let’s dive in to the Red Wolves vs. the Wolfpack, awooo.
By Danny Donahue
Nevada opened as high as +2 in this one, but is now listed at -1.5 across most of the market. That move has come despite the minority of bettors backing the ‘Pack.
Only 46% of bettors are behind Nevada, but they’ve accounted for 78% of money being wagered, giving oddsmakers no choice but to shift this line.
Bettors have also caused a line shift on the total. With 63% of bets and 89% of dollars landing on the under, this number has fallen from 58.5 to 55.5 (see live betting data here).
By Evan Abrams
When two teams that average at least 30 points per game meet in a bowl game, the over is 94-90-2 (51.1%) since 2005.
While Nevada had a worse strength of schedule, it did win two games over 2018 bowl teams (Hawaii, SDSU), while Arkansas State didn’t win any.
The strength of Nevada is its run defense, which ranks 21st in yards per rush (3.3) and 16th overall in that department, per S&P+. The Pack should neutralize a decent Arkansas State rushing attack, which means this game will come down to Justice Hansen and the Red Wolves passing attack vs. an experienced Nevada secondary, led by seniors Asuani Rufus Dameon Baber.
These are two defenses that can generate a lot of pressure on the QB. In fact, they each recorded 32 total sacks in 12 games (which isn’t surprising considering how evenly matched these teams are). That 2.67 average ranks 30th in the nation.
However, Nevada, thanks to a solid offensive line and experienced QB who gets rid of the ball quickly, only allowed 1.17 sacks per game (top-15 rate nationally).
This is an Arkansas State defense that ranked in the top 10 in Adjusted Sack Rate on both standard and passing downs, but the same can be said for the Nevada offensive line. Arkansas State wasn’t quite as good, but the Red Wolves still only allowed 21 sacks on the season.
In an evenly-matched game featuring two defenses that rank in the top 16 in tackles for loss and two solid offensive lines, it may come down to who can make more individual plays between two elite edge rushers in Nevada’s Malik Reed (first-team all-MWC) and Arkansas State’s Ronheen Bingham (Belt Defensive Player of the Year).
Could Elevation Play a Role?
Tucson is 2,400 feet above sea level which certainly won’t affect Nevada, as Reno lies 4500 feet above sea level. Jonesboro is a couple hundred feet above sea level and Arkansas State didn’t play a road game all year in a city with significant elevation.
Something to keep an eye out for in the second half. The elevation will certainly help both punters, and each team ranks in the top 30 in net punting. It will also help the kickers, but Nevada has a significant advantage in the kicking department, as Arky State has really struggled with field goals all season.
Nevada relies on a big-play offense, ranking in the top 25 in IsoPP+, but it will be without one of their best receivers in McLane Mannix (a freshman All-American last year), who is transferring to Texas Tech. The Wolfpack will sorely miss him in the deep passing game against an Arkansas State defense that ranks 116th in the country in that same category.
Nevada could potentially get back defensive lineman Korey Rush (its best interior linemen) from a broken foot. Rush, who was named first-team All-MWC despite missing the final three games, was recently seen in practice in cleats and pads.
Arkansas State will basically have its full team and will get starting tight end Javonis Isaac back.
Who’s More Motivated
After consecutive losing seasons, Nevada will make its first bowl appearance since 2015, when it actually won the first-ever Arizona Bowl. Bowl games are becoming an expected event for the Red Wolves, who will make their eighth-straight bowl appearance this season.
You’d think Nevada would be the more excited team, but I think it says a lot about Arkansas State that none of its seniors (three or four with pro potential) are sitting out.
Protecting the Rock
Arkansas State finished the season with a +5 (32nd) turnover margin while Nevada ended at -7 (107th).
In maybe the most evenly-matched bowl game in 2018, one key turnover could decide the cover and Arkansas State has valued the ball much more than Nevada.
The Red Wolves have only turned it over 13 times on the season (13th), while Nevada has doubled that with 26 (120th in nation). That Arkansas State defense, ranked 17th in overall Havoc Rate, might just double up Nevada in the takeaway department, as the season stats suggest.
Bet to Watch
By Collin Wilson
This bowl features two teams going in opposite directions.
Nevada ended the season with a non-cover against San Jose State and a straight-up loss to UNLV. The Wolfpack also didn’t look great in a game in which they were outgained by San Diego State before their bye week — and simply didn’t look the same throughout the month of November. Nevada’s recent box scores have been filled with inefficiencies in rushing and passing downs.
Meanwhile, Arkansas State has won and covered each of its past four games, flashing an offense that ranks 25th overall Success Rate, per S&P+. The Red Wolves should pressure Nevada quarterback Ty Gangi with a defense that ranks 17th overall in Havoc Rate.
Third-down conversion rates favor Arkansas State, which ranks 40th in the nation to Nevada’s 116th. The ‘Pack also have issues protecting the ball, as they gave the ball away 26 times this season, which contributed to a -7 turnover margin.
Both defenses rank fairly low in finishing drives, so expect plenty of points. But ultimately, Arkansas State’s defense will just make more plays. I also give the nod to the Red Wolves in the motivation department, as they should really want this win for their head coach Blake Anderson, whose wife is currently battling cancer.
Collin’s Pick: Arkansas State +1.5