Ohio-San Diego State Betting Guide: Strength Meets Strength in 2018 Frisco Bowl
USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Christian Chapman and Nathan Rourke
2018 Frisco Bowl Betting Odds: Ohio-San Diego State
- Odds: Ohio -2.5
- Over/Under: 54
- Date: Wednesday, Dec. 19
- Time: 8 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN
>> All odds as of Tuesday afternoon. Download The Action Network App to get real-time bowl odds and win probabilities on your bets.
Sometimes when handicapping bowl season, mismatches you can exploit as a bettor jump off the page. Other times, it’s the opposite.
The Frisco Bowl on Wednesday night will pit one of the nation’s best rushing offenses in Ohio against one of its best rushing defenses in San Diego State. Both are top 10 in yards per carry and rushing S&P+ on their respective sides of the ball.
So which wins out in the Frisco Bowl — offense or defense? Let’s dive in.
Market Moves for Ohio-San Diego State
By Danny Donahue
After opening as a 4.5-point favorite, Ohio has seen its line fall through the key number of three down to -2.5 despite receiving a slight majority of bets throughout the week. The 53% of bettors behind them, though, have accounted for just 34% of actual dollars wagered, indicating a greater liability on San Diego State.
The action on the total has been similar, with tickets close to split between the over and under. While 49% of bets are landing on the under, they’ve generated 72% of the money, causing the total to fall from 55 to 54 (see live betting data here).
Trends to Know for Frisco Bowl
By John Ewing
Ohio has averaged 487.1 yards and 43.9 points per game. San Diego State has limited opponents to 311.1 yards and 21.1 points per game.
When a good defense (400 or fewer yards, less than 25 points) plays a good offensive team (450 or more yards, 33 or more points) in a bowl game, the defensive team has gone 75-50-1 (60%) ATS since 2005.
By Evan Abrams
Ohio enters bowl season one of the hottest offensive teams in the country, scoring 40 points or more in consecutive games and averaging over 40 PPG for the season. Since 2005, teams scoring 40 or more points in consecutive games entering their bowl game are just 33-51-2 ATS (39.3%), failing to cover the spread by 3.9 PPG.
Extended Break May Hurt Ohio
The break may hurt an Ohio team that ended the season on a roll, especially on offense. The Bobs won five of their last six game with the one loss coming at Miami Ohio,30-28. They scored at least 28 points in their final six games, including at least 49 in all five wins.
By Steve Petrella
By the same token, San Diego State needed a break after limping down the stretch with three straight losses, including games to sub-par teams like Hawaii and UNLV. Those two losses came by a combined four points, so there was some bad fortune involved, but the Aztecs were outgained in both.
SDSU Has Quarterback Issues
By Steve Petrella
The Aztecs have always been known for their stellar running backs, but need to find some stability under center. Christian Chapman will get the start after missing six games in the middle of this season and struggling in his final three. He was spelled by Ryan Agnew, who probably slightly outplayed Chapman in those games.
Ohio has no such issues on its offense, with quarterback Nathan Rourke driving the bus. He’s accounted for 35 total touchdowns and averages 8.8 yards per attempt (10th nationally) and 6.5 per carry. He’s as dangerous a dual-threat as they come.
Ohio Is Bucking MAC Trends
The exception to the rule: So many MAC teams have horrid special teams this season (which you see in many years), but Ohio actually has decent special teams. Nothing spectacular, but they have a very good punter, decent return games and a serviceable kicker.
That’s important because SDSU has an excellent special teams unit, ranking eighth overall per S&P+.
By Steve Petrella
MAC teams have traditionally been awful in bowl games (covering 40% since 1980), but Frank Solich and Ohio have been an exception, at least relative to the rest of the league. Solich is 4-4-1 ATS in bowl with the Bobcats, and 3-1-1 in his last five.
SDSU Defense Will Cause Problems
The 3-3-5 SDSU defense is a unique scheme that can really fool teams not familiar with it.
The Aztecs rush defense, in particular, has really excelled this year. That unit will be critical against the elite rushing attack of Ohio. The Bobs average 6.1 yards per attempt, which ranks sixth in the nation. They will try to get that rushing attack going against a stingy Aztec defense that only allows 2.7 yards per carry (fourth in the nation).
But there is a potential mismatch here: SDSU’s defense is vulnerable to big plays in the passing game (88th in defending pass explosiveness) so Ohio’s best shot at moving the ball could come through the air to big plays to star receiver Papi White, especially considering SDSU doesn’t pressure the quarterback at a high level (112th Adjusted Sack Rate on Passing Downs).
SDSU Was..Incredibly Predictable?
By Steve Petrella
Maybe we all should have been betting some hypothetical exact score props with San Diego State this season, because its scoring outputs were remarkably consistent. The Aztecs scored between 16-31 points in all but one game, and allowed between 13-31 points in every game. On the season, they averaged 22.3 and allowed 21.8.
Using pure scoring averages isn’t predictive in any way. But this is all to say that I like the under from a matchup perspective, though it will probably come very close and could either way based on one or two plays.
Who’s More Motivated?
After three straight bowl losses in 2013, 2015 and 2016, Ohio ended that streak with a dominant 41-6 win over UAB in the Bahamas Bowl last season.
This will mark the ninth-straight season that SDSU has made a bowl game. The Aztecs blew a lead in a thrilling loss to Army last season, but won their previous two bowls by a combined score of 76-17.
Both programs are used to being in bowls and have tenured head coaches. I don’t see a motivational edge for either.
Bet to Watch
By Collin Wilson
San Diego State comes into this bowl losing four of its last five games, while covering just once in the last seven weeks of play. And as Stuckey said above, the Ohio offense is absolutely rolling, particularly on the ground.
Ohio is sixth in the nation averaging 3.2 touchdowns per game on the ground. San Diego State should fare well in stopping that, as the Aztecs have allowed just 14 rushing touchdowns all season.
The strength of schedule ranking favors San Diego State at 89th versus Ohio and their 126th ranker, per S&P+. While Ohio had out of conference games against Howard and six other FBS teams that rank 97th or worse in S&P+, San Diego State had a slate chalked full of bowl teams in Stanford, Arizona State and Eastern Michigan.
Not only will I lean with San Diego State, but there is a case to be made for the under.
Ohio is top 30 in standard and passing downs run rate with an adjusted pace of 120th. San Diego State is number one in the nation defensively in allowing a first down on first or second down — meaning teams are always in third down situations, and the clock should run with how often Ohio runs the ball.
Speaking of third downs, the Ohio defense is top 10 in opponent conversions. There should be a slow pace of play, plenty of third downs, and a San Diego State defense that will impede an Ohio offense with time off.
Collin’s Pick: Under 54