Wyoming vs. San Diego State Betting Odds, Pick: Are the Cowboys a Fraud?

Wyoming vs. San Diego State Betting Odds, Pick: Are the Cowboys a Fraud? article feature image

Troy Babbit, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Austin Conway

Wyoming at San Diego State Betting Odds

  • Spread: San Diego State -4
  • Over/Under: 38
  • Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
  • TV: CBS Sports Network

Wyoming is off to a fast 4-1 start but I’m not buying what the Pokes are selling. The Cowboys lost at Tulsa and have the following four wins:

  • Beat Missouri at home but out-gained, 537-389.
  • Won at Texas State but were out-gained, 444-305.
  • Beat Idaho at home by five points but out-gained, 303-287.
  • Beat UNLV at home in convincing fashion.

Wyoming could easily be 1-4 with a home loss to FCS Idaho, which lost 79-7 at Penn State.

So, what does Wyoming do? It runs the ball and does so very well, especially from the quarterback position with Sean Chambers, who averages over 7 yards per carry.

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The Pokes, who average almost 250 yards per game on the ground (top 15), don’t quite run it as much as a triple-option team but they’re close:

For additional context, Buffalo is the only other school that has run it with a frequency greater than 65%.

And running the rock is all Wyoming can do. It arguably has the worst passing offense in the country, even if you include the triple-option teams.

The Cowboys have a putrid 36.7% completion rate which ranks dead last in FBS. And per Sports Info Solutions, only 54.4% of their passes have been on target (only New Mexico is worse).

Bottom line: if you can stop the run, you can stop Wyoming.

Well, that’s exactly what San Diego State can do with its unique 3-3-5 defense. Last season, SDSU finished as a top-10 run defense. They’ve been even better so far this season. The Aztecs are only allowing 46.4 yards per game. That’s best in the country. And its 1.8 yards per rush allowed ranks second in the country behind only Penn State.

The only question coming into the year about the Aztec defense was turnover on the defensive line, as the back-8 is nasty. That’s no longer a concern as the SDSU defensive line ranks No. 1 in stuff rate, No. 2 in Opportunity Rate and No. 4 in Line Yards — all measures of the effectiveness of a run defense, per Football Outsiders.

Wyoming has 12 runs of 20+ yards (top 20) but San Diego State has only allowed 10 rushes of 10 or more yards this year (second in the nation) and has only allowed one rush to go for at least 20 yards.

The Aztecs are stuffing everything in short yardage, getting into the backfield and not giving up anything explosive in the run game.

Since the 3-3-5 defense favors speed over size, a common misconception that the 3-3-5 can’t stop the run. While some teams use it to counter spread attacks, it can also be schemed to effectively stop the run by blowing up gaps and using stunts and various pressure looks to confuse opposing offenses. I can’t see Wyoming having much success against San Diego State.

On the other side of the ball, San Diego State has struggled as it transitions to a more spread attack on offense. Not having a fully healthy James Washington at running back hasn’t helped but the offensive line has been just dreadful.

Don’t expect too much success on the ground against a solid Wyoming defensive front and an aggressive overall unit that ranks inside the top 20 in yards per play. The Cowboys are also one of only nine FBS teams that average four or more sacks per game.

However, where I do think SDSU can have some success is hitting explosive plays through the air against a Wyoming defense that has allowed 73 passes of at least 10 yards (third-most in the country). I think that will ultimately be the difference.

To be fair, it’s not all doom and gloom for Wyoming. Fresh off a much needed bye week, the Cowboys got much healthier, particularly on the right side of the offensive line. It’s also seen the 3-3-5 defense already at Tulsa and plenty of three-man defensive fronts against Texas State.

Both defenses held Wyoming’s rush attack in check and San Diego State is just on a different level than either of those defenses.

I personally already parlayed the San Diego State moneyline with Boise State’s moneyline and will add to that position if this line gets down to -3. Every point matters in what could be a defensive rock fight but I can’t see Wyoming pulling this out without flukes.

In regards to the total, I couldn’t look at the over with these two solid defenses that also excel in the redzone.

And I just don’t know how this one-dimensional Wyoming offense can move the chains with any regularity against a top-five run defense.

But despite how I see this game playing out, going Under 38 is always tough. There’s just no margin for error. A live under might be worthy of a look if we get a quick score or two.

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