Friday College Football Bowl Game Odds & Picks: Predictions, Spreads for Iowa-USC, Washington State-Air Force
Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Chuba Hubbard
- College football bowl season heats up on Friday with five games. We're covering each, with updated odds and our betting picks.
- North Carolina rolled Temple in the Military Bowl, while Washington State-Air Force and Iowa-USC are still on tap, among others.
College football bowl season hits its full swing on Friday with five games starting at noon ET — North Carolina vs. Temple — and running through 2 a.m. ET — Washington State vs. Air Force.
There will be a major clash of styles in Washington State-Air Force, a potential slugfest for Oklahoma State-Texas A&M and one of the best freshman in the country taking on a stingy defense in UNC-Temple.
Odds as of Friday morning and via PointsBet, where Action Network users can access an exclusive promotion to get a 200% deposit match (deposit $50, bet with $150). No strings attached. No rollover required.
College Football Odds & Picks for Friday Bowl Games
North Carolina vs. Temple Odds
- Odds: North Carolina -6
- Over/Under: 53
- Time: Friday, 12 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN
- Location: Annapolis, Mary.
Military Bowl Line Movement
UNC has gotten the majority of action in this game, but the early action came in on Temple.
The Tar Heels opened -7 at Circa Sports in Las Vegas, then fall to -4.5. Since, they’ve creeped back up to -6 closer to game day. — Steve Petrella
When Temple Has the Ball
I expect Temple to attack UNC through the air. The Owls have struggled to run the ball all season and will be facing a UNC front seven that should win the battles at the line of scrimmage.
UNC lost star corner Patrick Rene to injury for the season. That loss, in conjunction with the injury suffered by corner Trey Morrison, really left UNC vulnerable on the backend. The likely return of Morrison for this bowl game will help some but Rene’s absence will still be felt.
Temple has no problems airing it out with quarterback Anthony Russo and shouldn’t against this Heels defense given the matchup. — Stuckey
When UNC Has the Ball
The UNC offensive line was an area of weakness all season, which really limited their rushing attack (83rd in rushing success rate in part thanks to a ranking of 104th in stuff rate) and killed too many drives with critical sacks (110th in sack rate).
Giving up too many negative plays is not a formula for success against a Temple defense that ranks in the top 30 in both Sack Rate and Success Rate. The star of that show up front for Temple is defensive end Quincy Roche, who lives in opposing backfields.
The Temple defense can generate a lot of pressure while playing aggressive coverage on the outside. That combination explains why the Owls rank seventh in passing success rate and in the top 10 in yards per reception (6.1).
However, as a result of their scheme, they can be exploited deep with explosive passes (96th in defending pass explosiveness).
And that’s something the UNC offense excels at doing with Sam Howell and a number of electric weapons on the outside.
So, the question of which side will win out comes down to how much time the UNC offensive line can give Sam Howell? And based on what I’ve seen this year, I think the Owls win that battle more times than not.
If you’re looking to bet the total, from a pace perspective, both of these teams play very fast, ranking in the top 40 in plays per second.
I’ll personally be looking for a live shot on Temple if I don’t hit it pregame as I do make this game closer to a coin toss than where the line currently sits. — Stuckey
Wilson: Why I’m Backing the Big Play Offense
Sam Howell is one of the youngest on the squad as the true freshman led North Carolina to plenty of comebacks.
North Carolina finished top 20 in pass explosiveness and 32nd in passing success rate. That will be put to the test against a Temple secondary that is seventh in passing success rate.
The downfield passing of Howell may be the biggest issue for Temple, like Stuckey mentioned. Wide receivers Dyami Brown and Dazz Newsome have hauled in plenty of explosive pass plays, an area the Temple defense ranks 96th.
Brown is second in the nation in catches over 40 yards, collecting 10 total. Newsome ranks top 20 of all receivers in the nation in catches over 20 yards.
Our Action Network projection is spot on with the number, but I will back the big play offense. North Carolina will be motivated and this game will help bridge the young roster into 2020. — Collin Wilson
Pick: North Carolina -5.5
Michigan State vs. Wake Forest Odds
- Odds: Michigan State -4
- Over/Under: 50
- Time: Friday, 3:20 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN
- Location: New York, N.Y.
It feels like years ago that Michigan State was contending for New Year’s Six bowls on a regular basis. The Spartans even reached the College Football Playoff in 2015.
But that’s not where Michigan State is now. The Spartans find themselves at 6-6 in the Pinstripe Bowl against Wake Forest, and needed consecutive wins to end the year to get bowl eligible.
MSU will take on a Wake Forest team with a dynamic passing offense that runs a lightning fast pace.
Who will win out in this clash of styles? Let’s break it down.
Odds as of Thursday night and via DraftKings, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.
Pinstripe Bowl Line Movement
Michigan State opened at -3.5, got as high as -4.5, and has fallen back to -4. The bets are about even, but almost two-thirds of the money wagered has come in on the Spartans. — Steve Petrella
When Wake Forest Has the Ball
The Michigan State defense wasn’t quite as dominant as last season (losing preseason All-American LB Joe Bachi to a suspension earlier in the season didn’t help) but it was still a top 25 unit in college football. The defensive line is downright nasty and helped the Spartans rank No. 1 in the nation in Line Yards, No. 6 in Stuff Rate and No. 7 in Rushing Success.
While not quite as dominant as last year’s rush defense that finished No. 2 overall at a minuscule 2.6 yards per carry, the Spartans still ranked in the top 15 at 3.3 yards per pop.
Don’t expect Wake Forest to get much going on the ground. The Demon Deacons rank 120th in rushing success rate and only averaged 3.9 yards per carry (95th in FBS).
What you should know about the Wake Forest offense is it runs a read option scheme that is slow to develop, but quick-hitting after Newman makes his decision at the mesh point.
What’s not slow developing is Wake Forest after the play, as the Deacs rank No. 1 in plays per game and tied for No. 5 in plays per second. Their fast pace could negate some of the advantages Michigan State has on the interior and limit some of Sparty’s ability to rotate along that defensive line.
The passing offense for Wake was one of the most underrated in the nation, ranking 17th in passing success while also finishing in the top 50 in explosiveness.
However, while Wake should have WR Scotty Washington back from injury for this bowl, it will be without star WR Sage Surratt, who was lost for the year with a shoulder injury. He will play at the next level and eclipsed 1,000 yards in just nine games.
His frame and presence on the outside will be sorely missed against a Michigan State pass defense that has been good but not great. — Stuckey
When Michigan State Has the Ball
There isn’t much positive to say about the Michigan State offense. The problems all start up front along an offensive line that has been decimated all year by injury, which has just crushed the continuity in front of Brian Lewerke.
As a result, a group of young backs haven’t had any holes to run through and couldn’t generate anything on their own. Sparty ranks 123rd in the nation in yards per rush at a meager 3.5.
The passing game hasn’t been much better although potentially getting receiver Darrell Stewart Jr. could help. The Wake Forest defense is nothing to write home about and gives up a ton of explosive plays, but can this Michigan State offense take advantage?
To best describe this Michigan State team, just look at its yards per play statistics. Sparty ranks bottom 25 in yards per play on offense (5.1) while sitting in the top 25 in yards per play allowed at an almost identical 5.0. Can the time off help with some of the issues along the offensive line? That’s certainly possible. — Stuckey
Special Teams Edge, Wake Forest
In a game that should be close, the X-factor could be special teams as Wake Forest was very solid in this department (36th SP+) while Michigan State struggled mightily in the third phase (114th SP+).
The biggest key could be Wake Forest kicker Nick Sciba, who ended his freshman campaign in 2018 with 50 consecutive extra points and 11 field goals made.
And what did he do this year? Made all 45 extra points and 24-25 field goals. Sciba even set an NCAA record this season with 34 straight field goals made. He’s nearly automatic, while Michigan State’s Matt Coughlin went 20 for 29 this year.
That said, my numbers make this closer to Michigan State -6, so I will be looking to see if I can get Sparty -3 pregame or something better than that live. I think their offense will look much better (assuming Stewart is a go) after some time off to work on some things and against a subpar Wake Forest defense. And I think the Michigan State senior-laden defense will show up in a major way. — Stuckey
Miller: Two Programs Heading in Opposite Directions
As so often happens during bowl season, the Pinstripe Bowl features two programs heading in opposite directions. There have been rumors out of East Lansing that Mike Dantonio’s days as the Michigan State head coach may be numbered. Though he’s denied these rumors, there will certainly be changes to his staff this offseason.
Meanwhile, Dave Clawson has Wake Forest in a bowl game for a school record fourth straight time. The arrow seems to be trending up for the Demon Deacons while Michigan State is in quite a bit of turmoil.
I make Michigan State a one-point favorite in this game, so I see a good amount of value in the current number. Wake Forest’s special teams edge could be a big factor in a game that will be close and evenly matched.
Starting quarterback Jamie Newman and receiver Scotty Washington have been cleared to play. I see Wake as the more motivated, better trending program so I’m looking to back the Deacs in the Pinstripe Bowl.
Pick: Wake Forest +4
Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma State Odds
- Odds: Texas A&M -6.5
- Over/Under: 54
- Time: Friday, 6:45 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN
- Location: Houston, Texas
Texas A&M is the No. 16 team in our power ratings, but a brutal schedule that featured five losses to top 13 teams didn’t put the Aggies anywhere near a New Year’s Six bowl. Instead, they’ll head to Houston to take on Oklahoma State.
The Cowboys strung together a nice season behind a once-again explosive offense, led by freshman quarterback Spencer Sanders. He’s available for the Texas Bowl after suffering a thumb injury in late November, but we don’t know if he’ll play the whole game. He was previously ruled out for the season.
Can the Aggies’ solid defense get the job done, or will the offense hold them back in the Texas Bowl? Let’s dive in.
Odds as of Thursday night and via DraftKings, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.
Texas Bowl Line Movement
Early action push Texas A&M from -4 to -6.5, and even reached -7 at one point. But that number disappeared quickly and has been trending in Oklahoma State’s direction over the last few days. More than 60% of bets are on the Cowboys.
Almost 70% of bets on the total are on the over, but 60% of money is on the under. — Steve Petrella
Wilson: Signs Point to Slug Fest
Oklahoma State’s offensive numbers in pace and passing success have little meaning with the absence of Sanders and star receiver Tylan Wallace. Despite RB Chuba Hubbard’s decision to play, Texas A&M fields a top 25 defense against rush explosiveness and top 40 in line yards.
The Cowboys defense has quietly been one of the best in the Big 12, as a rank of 33rd against pass explosiveness will eliminate anything downfield from Texas A&M. The Aggies will have rushing success against the Cowboys, particularly in short yardage situations.
The Aggies rank 112th in seconds per play, one of the slowest tempos in college football. Oklahoma State has been without their primary playmakers and went under the total in their final three games against Kansas, West Virginia and Oklahoma.
Texas A&M never went over the total in any trips away from Kyle Field this season. Our Action Network projection sits at 55, so with the factors listed above, I’m looking at the under.
Collin’s Pick: Under 55 or better
Stuckey: Why I Like the Under
All eyes in this one will be on the nation’s leading rusher — Hubbard, who is just 64 yards away from eclipsing 2,000 on the season and is averaging 6.3 yards per carry.
Unlike Hubbard, who decided to participate in this bowl, Texas A&M star defensive tackle Justin Madubuike decided to sit out in preparation of the NFL draft.
Jayden Peevy is a fine backup in the interior of a solid Texas A&M defensive line but the Aggies will no doubt miss their star defender Madubuike, who’s absence will also hurt depth up front. This unit held Georgia to 97 rushing yards on 36 carries.
The A&M defense was rock solid all year, especially considering its gauntlet of a schedule. Mike Elko’s unit did give up a bunch of explosive passing plays but who wouldn’t when you face a schedule that included the likes of Tua Tagovailoa, Joe Burrow and Trevor Lawrence.
I still like this secondary, which should be able to contain an Oklahoma State passing attack without the dynamic Wallace.
Hubbard should get his yards on the ground but he won’t run wild like he does in the Big 12. And when Oklahoma State gets down into the red zone (an area its struggled in all season), Texas A&M should lock down on defense.
On the other side of the ball, the Texas A&M offense just lacks any real explosiveness both in the passing and run games. However, it’s a very efficient offense that should move the ball methodically down the field against a fairly inefficient Oklahoma State defense. The Pokes can get to the quarterback on passing downs, which could be an issue against a Texas A&M offensive line that has struggled with protection at times.
But ultimately, I think quarterback Kellen Mond can move the sticks on a fairly regular basis — just at a very slow pace.
The spread looks about right to me as I have it right around -6/-7. I don’t think you’ll see too many big plays in this one and both teams should sustain a few long drives that will keep the clock moving. Give me a piece of the first half under 27 and under full game, which I may add to at the half.
Stuckey’s Pick: 1H Under 27, FG Under 54.5
Kyle: Injuries Key in Texas Bowl
Finding out who is playing can be just as big of a factor in bowl games than finding out which team is motivated. The Texas Bowl features injuries from both Oklahoma State and Texas A&M, but the Cowboys have been hit much harder throughout the season.
Oklahoma State be without quarterback Spencer Sanders at full strength, and will definitely be without star wide receiver Tylan Wallace. In their two games without Sanders, the Cowboys are averaging just 18 points per game.
Though backup Dru Brown was in the competition to start at quarterback in fall camp, he’s proven to be far less dynamic than Sanders, particularly in the run game. Luckily for Mike Gundy, he’ll still have Hubbard.
Despite having one of the best running backs in the nation, Oklahoma State ranks just 70th in rushing success rate. The Cowboys rely on Hubbard hitting long running plays for their offense to work, a task that will be much more difficult without the threat of Sanders to keep linebackers and defensive ends from flowing directly to Hubbard. This was evidenced by Hubbard’s two lowest rushing totals of the season coming with Brown under center.
This game will be on the shoulders of Kellen Mond and I think he’ll be up to the task since Texas A&M hasn’t run the ball and is down to one scholarship back.
There’s always the chance that a star like Hubbard goes nuts in his last college football game, but I expect Texas A&M to be in control throughout the game.
I make the Aggies a 9-point favorite so I like them in this spot against at banged up Oklahoma State team.
Kyle’s Pick: Texas A&M -6.5
Iowa vs. USC Odds
- Odds: Iowa -2
- Over/Under: 52
- Time: 8 p.m. ET
- TV: FS1
- Location: San Diego, Calif.
Bowl season really heats up Friday, and Iowa-USC should be a big part of that.
The Trojans will bring their Air Raid offense to San Diego to face a stingy Hawkeyes defense. USC quarterback Kedon Slovis began the season as the third-string option, but turned in an excellent season thanks in part to some dynamic weapons on the outside.
Who is the edge in a game expected to be about a coin flip? Our experts dive in.
Odds as of Thursday evening and via FanDuel, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.
USC vs. Iowa Line Movement
The Holiday Bowl has been remarkably boring in terms of line movement, at least leading up to Friday. The total has ticked up from 51.5 to 52, and Iowa has gone from -1.5 to -2.
About 55% of bets have come in on Iowa, while 75% of bets are on the over. — Steve Petrella
Collin Wilson: Iowa Can Handle the Air Raid
The Air Raid is not something you come across often in the Big Ten, so this should be an interesting matchup between two very different Power 5 programs.
Clay Helton has yet to cover a bowl game in three attempts at USC. That could be a meaningless trend, but you do wonder about how prepared Helton will have his team. Iowa was able to get in multiple practices since its season-ending win over Nebraska while, as of mid-December, USC was still working on a schedule for practices.
The good news for USC is that wide receiver Michael Pittman will not sit this game out in preparation for the NFL Draft. Iowa, too, will have its soon-to-be-drafted players — defensive end AJ Epenesa and offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs.
The advanced stats show that Iowa may be able to stymie USC’s air raid. The Hawkeyes rank 27th in defensive passing success rate and are terrific in passing-down situations, ranking sixth against explosiveness and 19th in sack rate in passing downs.
This could be the best passing offense that Iowa sees in 2019, but the Hawkeyes have had success against the air raid under Kirk Ferentz in the past. Iowa figures to be the better prepared team in the Holiday Bowl.
Pick: Iowa -2
Stuckey: Is the Market Too Low on the Trojans?
Iowa’s three losses this season came by a combined 13 points against top-15 teams — Wisconsin, Penn State and Michigan. USC is no stranger to close contests, losing a pair of games (at Notre Dame, vs. BYU) by three points apiece.
Both of these offenses should have success moving the ball in very different ways. Iowa will do it on the ground against a vulnerable run defense, while USC’s prolific passing attack — which figures one of the best receiving corps in the country — should still put up points.
That being said, it’s hard to play an over when Iowa is on the field. Not only is Ferentz a conservative play-caller, but the Hawkeyes move very slowly, ranking 108th in seconds per play. When it comes to finishing drives, Iowa is terrible on offense (109th) but stellar on defense (second). Add in some potential rust for USC’s air raid, and the over becomes a lot less appealing.
As for the side, I think the Trojans could be undervalued. The USC defense is better than its numbers indicate as a result of all of the injuries it has had to deal with this season. Talanoa Hufanga, Drake Jackson and Christian Rector all missed time, which meant USC played a lot of underclassmen in key areas of the field. The Trojans had trouble containing mobile quarterbacks, but they won’t need to fret about that with Nate Stanley under center for Iowa.
I do think USC might be a little undervalued in this game, but I am waiting on a +3 to pop. If it doesn’t, I may just look for a better opportunity to play this game live.
Clay Helton is my least favorite coach to bet on and he is 9-21-2 against the spread away from home. That includes a 2-11 record as an underdog and an 0-3 record in bowl games — all three of which came against Big Ten teams.
Kyle Miller: Expect Crooked Numbers
While the decision to keep Helton has USC fans and the media questioning the new administration’s ability to return them to glory, Helton has already secured his biggest win of the offseason. Offensive Coordinator Graham Harrell was being courted by programs all over the country, including Texas. He decided to stick with Helton and USC, signing an extension that will keep him in L.A. for at least another year.
Harrell has a wealth of weapons to work with Pittman Jr, Amon-Ra St. Brown, and Tyler Vaughns on the outside. True freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis was forced into action early in the season and has been fantastic. The Trojan offense ranks 15th in yards per play, third in passing success rate, and ninth in overall efficiency. Their offensive line has done a good job protecting Slovis and while they haven’t hit a ton of big plays, the potential is there.
As usual, Iowa has very stout defense and a stale, disappointing offense. That’s a product of Brian Ferentz being one of the worst play callers in all of college football and a banged up, under-performing offensive line.
The Hawkeyes essentially had zero run game all season and relied on Stanley to bail them out on 3rd-and-long. Iowa ranked just 86th in yards per play and struggled in every offensive category besides ranking 41st explosive passing. Iowa did have promising freshman running back Tyler Goodson late in the season though so they may have found something.
USC’s defense has been just as disappointing has Iowa’s offense. The Trojans rank 77th in yards per play and an astonishing 126th in defending rushing success rate. They’ve been able to limit big passing plays but any semblance of a run game will torch USC. That seems to matchup well with how limited Iowa is offensively.
I make USC a small favorite in this game, so I jumped on the Trojans +3 earlier in December. I still like them at that number so I’d suggest playing side should the number get back to a field goal.
My suggested play for this game at current numbers is the over at 52 or better. The ball is going to be in the air for almost the entirety of this game so the clock will be stopped frequently. I trust USC to get their fair share of points and I know Iowa will be able to put up some points, especially if Goodson is the real deal at running back.
Pick: Over 52
Air Force vs. Washington State Odds
- Odds: Air Force -2.5
- Over/Under: 68.5
- Time: 10:15 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN
- Location: Phoenix, Ariz.
Games like Air Force vs. Washington State are what bowl season is all about. And it should be much, much better than the debacle that was the 2018 Cheez-It Bowl.
Friday night’s game pits an efficient triple-option offense against a dynamic Air Raid attack. The Cougars fell off a bit from last year’s stellar season, but still posted huge offensive numbers.
Who has the edge in the Cheez-It Bowl? Let’s break it down.
Odds as of Thursday night and via FanDuel, where Action Network users get a risk-free bet up to $500.
Cheez-It Bowl Line Movement
This line is back to where it started, but did touch Air Force -3 at one point before bettors knocked it back down to -2.5. A slight majority of bets are on the Falcons.
The total has risen 1.5 points to 68.5 with 88% of bets and 97% of money on the over. — Steve Petrella
Collin Wilson: Will Rust Play a Factor?
My first play on this game was Washington State +2.5 for a couple of reasons. First of all, Air Force struggles against the pass. The Falcons rank 83rd in passing success rate and 90th in passes defensed, so the Cougars should be able to have their way in the air.
Secondly, our projected line for this game is Washington State -4.5, so the numbers indicate some value on the Cougars.
After digging into the matchup further, it’s also hard to envision the Cheez-It Bowl going south of the total.
As mentioned, Air Force has been a pushover against pass-first offenses. Colorado State, Hawaii and San Jose State combined for over 1,000 passing yards against the Falcons. Air Force will have its hands full with a Washington State offense that ranks sixth in finishing drives.
The same thing can be said of the Washington State defense against Air Force’s triple-option offense. The Falcons rank first in power success rate, third in stuff rate and ninth in line yards.
The Cougars struggle to stop the run and Air Force ranks 18th in finishing drives, so it’s possible that the Falcons to match Washington State score for score.
There are factors that are keeping me off the over, however.
First is Air Force’s pace of play. The Falcons are 126th in seconds per play, which means they should be able to dictate the clock. If Air Force falls behind early, however, we can expect plenty of passing plays from both teams.
Additionally, you must be concerned about Washington State’s air raid being in sync after a few weeks off — Mike Leach is 1-4 against the spread in bowl games with the Cougars and 5-10 ATS in bowls overall.
The number is well over our projected total of 61, but there’s too much volatility in this matchup to back the full-game under. Instead, I’m banking on Washington State being out of rhythm and Air Force playing slow while the game is still tight.
Pick: First-half under 34.5
Stuckey: Polar Opposites Collide
These two teams couldn’t be more different.
Air Force runs the ball on 85.25% of its plays. That’s the second-highest rate in college football. Meanwhile, no team runs the ball less than the Cougars, who pass on 78.85% of their plays. What makes this matchup even more intriguing is that both of these offenses match up very well with the opposing defense.
Air Force’s defense creates very little havoc and takes on an offense that doesn’t make many mistakes. The Cougars’ air raid is characterized by quick, low-risk passes so it’s no wonder they rank second in sack rate and third in havoc allowed. Mike Leach’s bunch should methodically move the ball through the air against Air Force throughout the game.
As Collin noted, there is reason to be a little concerned about how long it will take the Cougars to get going. This type of offense is all about being on the same page, which contributes to Leach’s poor bowl record.
That’s not the greatest sample size, but if you dig a little deeper you can see further evidence of Leach’s struggles after a long layoff. Leach is 82-73-2 (52.9%) ATS since 2005.
When he has more than eight days in between games he is 8-16 ATS and failing to cover by almost five points per game. When Leach has under eight days in between games, he is 68-52-2 (56.7%) against the number.
Air Force’s triple-option attack should also feast against a Washington State defense that is allowing 4.9 yards per carry (104th) this season. Almost identical to the mismatch of the Washington State passing attack against the Air Force secondary, Air Force ranks seventh in rushing success rate and will benefit from going up against a Wazzu defense that ranks 93rd in that same category.
This matchup will feature an enormous mismatch in the trenches where Air Force should get a huge push on almost every play and rarely end up behind the chains. Expect its offense to march up and down the field on the ground while mixing in a few surprise deep shots (Air Force ranks No. 1 in pass explosiveness) against a Washington State defense that ranks outside the top 100 in explosive passing.
One other reason I will back the over is that both of these teams will be aggressive on fourth down, so don’t expect many punts near midfield — an under bettor’s worst nightmare.
As for the side, I love betting service academies in bowl games, which often come down to motivation. You can almost always count on the service academies to show up. It’s part of the reason that Army, Navy and Air Force are a combined 36-14 (74%) against the spread in bowl games since 1980.
Instead of playing the spread, take a look at the moneyline (or parlay it with another team to win, I am looking at Louisiana-Lafayette or Florida) instead of laying -2.5. The reason to avoid giving 2.5 points is that teams are more likely to go for two at the end of games instead of forcing overtime. And these two teams in particular would each be prime candidates to do just that.
The Pick: Over 68.5, Air Force Moneyline
Kyle Miller: The Most Interesting Matchup of Bowl Season?
The 2019 Cheez-It Bowl is easily the game I’m looking forward to the most this bowl season. Any time you get a service academy team facing off against the air raid, there’s sure to be plenty of intrigue. Add in the quirky Mike Leach and his poor bowl record and the storylines are plentiful.
As far as the football goes, I expect a ton of points in this matchup. Overall, Air Force has a good defense, but its glaring weakness comes when defending the pass, which isn’t a good thing against the team that throws the most passes in the country. Wazzu does a great job of limiting havoc and protecting the quarterback, two ways an air-raid team could possibly trip up.
Air Force and its triple-option attack is going to be a huge challenge for Washington State. The Cougars have one of the worst defenses in the entire nation and it’ll be tasked with stopping one of the most efficient offenses out there.
While Air Force hasn’t hit many long running plays this season, Washington State will be the team to allow them to finally get loose. The main barrier for points in this game will be the tempo of Air Force. The Falcons know that they have an athlete disadvantage on defense, so they’ll look to play ball control. I just don’t think the Cougars will do enough tackling to keep their offense off the field.
This is going to be a weird football game, but I expect both offenses to put on a clinic. In addition, these teams feature some of the best kickers in the nation so even if drives stall out, we should still get some points. I can’t wait to watch these two teams light up the scoreboard on Friday night.
Pick: Over 68.5