Utah State-North Texas Betting Guide: Aggies Staff Depleted for 2018 New Mexico Bowl
USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Jordan Love and Mason Fine
New Mexico Bowl Betting Odds: Utah State-North Texas
- Odds: Utah State -7.5
- Over/Under: 67.5
- Date: Saturday, Dec. 15
- Time: 2 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN
>> All odds as of Thursday night. Download The Action Network App to get real-time bowl odds and win probabilities on your bets.
One of the best early matchups in the 2018-19 bowl season was tampered a bit when Utah State coach Matt Wells took the Texas Tech job. But the Aggies are one of the five best Group of 5 teams in the country and there’s still a lot to like on both sides of the ball.
North Texas fell short of expectations by missing out on the Conference USA title game when the league was wide open. The Mean Green also went under in all but two games this year despite having an excellent quarterback in junior Mason Fine.
Odds Movement for Utah State-North Texas
By Danny Donahue
Bettors are evenly split on this matchup, with each side drawing 50% of tickets. The line movement wouldn’t serve as an indication of that, however. Utah State has fallen from -11 to -7.5 as 61% of actual dollars wagered have landed on North Texas as news swirls about Utah State’s departures on its coaching staff.
The over/under has also seen some significant movement since opening. After beginning the week at 64.5, it’s risen to 67.5 behind 92% of money on 68% of bets.
Trends to Know for 2018 New Mexico Bowl
By Steve Petrella
North Texas went 1-10-1 to the under this season, while Utah State went 9-3 to the over.
When a team that hit the under in at least two-thirds of its games meets a team that went over in at least two-thirds of its games, the under is 23-13-1 (63.9%) in bowl season since 2005.
By John Ewing
North Texas went 4-8 against the spread this season, so a majority of bettors are laying the points with Utah State. But bad ATS teams (covered in 33% or fewer of games) have been good bets in bowl season: 35-23-1 (60%) ATS since 2005.
Coaching Problems for Utah State?
By Steve Petrella
Utah State coach Matt Wells is off to Texas Tech, and he’s bringing both coordinators and six other assistants with him.
But Utah State’s AD insists Wells will be involved in the game planning for the New Mexico Bowl and that Wells be on the sidelines during the game, though he won’t coach. He expects both coordinators to be involved in game planning, as well.
That’s a really weird situation, especially with the early recruiting signing period deadline on Wednesday. I just don’t see how Wells will have his staff focused on this game while trying to recruit for Texas Tech — obviously the much bigger priority for him now — and it might create even more problems if they’re involved in game planning at all.
Teams lose coaches during bowl season all the time, and interim coaches cover about 50% of games against the spread. But losing so much — basically 80% of your full-time coaches — is concerning.
On the flip side, I think North Texas will come in fully motivated, as the seniors look to secure their first and only bowl win after losing each of the past two years — including one in blowout fashion last year, 50-30 to Troy.
North Texas Holds Special Teams Edge
The Mean Green rank No. 5 in S&P+ Special Teams, while Utah State is very average, ranking 66th. Utah State’s punting has been particularly dreadful, which is why it has continued to use two punters, neither of whom has been effective.
As a result, the Aggies rank 114th nationally in net punting average at 34.63 yards. And while kicker Dominic Eberle has a big leg, he has struggled at times, including a 2 for 6 field goal performance in last year’s bowl loss to New Mexico State.
On the other hand, North Texas has done almost everything well on special teams, starting with Arkansas cast-off kicker Cole Hedlund, who has had a fantastic season. The Mean Green’s punting and return units have been strong, too.
If you’re looking for a game changing play on special teams, expect it from the Mean Green. The punting woes in particular could really cause Utah State issues; it almost cost them the game at Colorado State. North Texas will capitalize where the Rams couldn’t.
Neither Team Has Been Tested
By Steve Petrella
These two teams had among the worst strength of schedules in the country this season. Per the Sagarin Ratings, North Texas ranked 139 — it had an easier schedule than nine FCS teams! Utah State wasn’t much better. The Aggies ranked 114th in those same ratings, boosted by losses against Boise State and Michigan State.
Utah State took care of business against a weak schedule, scoring at least 40 points in eight of its other 10 games.
There’s no talent edge (North Texas ranks 101st, Utah State 103rd, per 247Sports) or strength of schedule mismatch that might be creating a difference in perception of these teams, so I’d value them as our ratings do (Utah State -9) before factoring in motivation and coaching.
Bet to Watch
By Ken Barkley