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Colorado State Rams vs. Idaho Vandals Odds - Prediction

Colorado State Rams (7-5 SU, 10-2 ATS) vs. Idaho Vandals (8-4 SU, 8-4 ATS)
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Date/Time: Thursday, December 22, 2016 at 7PM EST
Where: Albertsons Stadium, Boise, Idaho
TV: ESPN
by Scott, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com

Point Spread: CSU -13.5/IDHO +13.5
Over/Under Total: 64

The Colorado State Rams meet the Idaho Vandals on Thursday, December 22 in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl at Albertsons Stadium in Boise. Colorado State ended the season looking pretty dangerous with some strong performances and two big wins to end the year at 7-5. Idaho, meanwhile, overcame a long period of failure to register 8 wins this season, making a bowl game after a long spell out of the picture. They ended the season with 4 straight wins and victories in 6 of their last 7 games.

Idaho, which will enjoy playing in their home-state, entered this season with a record of 9-50 in their last 5 season, with 4 of those wins coming last season. Coach Paul Petrino has gotten things turned around, with Idaho a darkhorse candidate for most-improved team. They will have their last year in the Sun Belt next season before going back to the FCS. Games like this might not mean a lot to some teams. No team’s dream is get to the Potato Bowl. But for Idaho, this is about as much as they could have hoped for and one should expect them to play accordingly.

Bolstered by a strong line that has grown under coach Petrino, the Idaho offense was decent in 2016. Big junior quarterback Matt Linehan had a few clunkers in 2016, but was otherwise solid in commandeering this offense. He threw for 2803 yards on 62% completions. The aerial attack was hardly prolific, but he made the most of a deep unit featuring Deon Watson, Trent Cowan, Jordan Frysinger, and others. The RB trio of Aaron Duckworth, Isaiah Saunders, and Denzal Brantley was effective. Not a great offense, it’s a capable one that offered a lot of consistency this season. In their last three games, they scored a combined 122 points, as they hit this game with some nice momentum.

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The Idaho defense was a bit all over the place this season, though like the offense, they seemed to tighten up some later in the campaign. They gave up 14 or fewer points in three of their last four games. They may not have been the most robust defense at times this season, ranked 111th against the pass, while allowing an average of 30 points a game. But there is a playmaking component on this team, with the Vandals securing 25 turnovers on the season. Defensive end Aikeem Coleman has gotten after quarterbacks with his eight sacks, while LB Kaden Elliss was big with three sacks, five interceptions, two forced fumbles, and a touchdown. Corner Jayshawn Jordan was also big in the playmaking department.

Colorado State is a pretty dangerous 7-5 team. The season opened 3-4, with 4 straight wins down the stretch taking a sad song and making it a little better. Their starting QB, Colin Hill, went down with a knee injury, with Nick Stevens appearing to give this team a boost of energy. And in a close road loss to a ranked Boise State, we saw things start to turn around for the Rams, with this team showing a lot of spark and overall moxie. That helps, as they’ve already played in this stadium this season. And their only loss in the last five weeks was a 3-point road defeat to a 9-win Air Force team. Their last win indicates that they might be peaking at the right time—a 63-31 road win over conference champions San Diego State.

Stevens seemed to thrive when he regained his starting QB role with the injury to Hill. He completed over 65% of his throws with 14 TD throws and just three picks. He also ran in two scores and made the most of his offense. In their last three games leading up to this matchup, the Rams scored a combined 158 points. And that came against the conference elite, so Colorado State is a team to watch out for.

Stevens really re-established himself this season after losing the starting gig to the young Hill. There are multiple running threats to support him, with Dalyn Dawkins, Izzy Matthews, and Marvin Kinsey (out) combining for well over 2000 yards and 22 touchdowns this season. They were 30th in the nation in rushing in 2016. There is not a ton of depth in the pass-catching corps, though Michael Gallup established himself as one of the top receivers in the conference with 71 catches, 1170 yards, and 11 scores. Again, this was a group that seemed to be getting better in the latter part of the season.

The Rams’ defense had its ups-and-downs this season. Against some of the better conference teams they played at the end of the season, they didn’t exactly thrive, yielding a combined 111 points in their last three games to close the regular season. Still, they did some good things this season, such as hold opposing quarterbacks to moderate production and generally just being a very scrappy group that plays in rhythm with the offense. At the same time, they were weak in the playmaking department in terms of applying a consistent pass-rush or in getting turnovers. Still, against offenses like the one Idaho brings to the table, this is a defense that can shine in spots.

It’s a nice locale for Idaho, though the drive from Moscow, Idaho to Boise isn’t that much shorter than Colorado State has to travel. One might not want to get too hung up on the game site. This bowl game might not excite most programs, but both teams should be happy to be there—Idaho for turning things around after a putrid stretch, and Colorado State for earning this spot after looking like they might not get to a bowl this season. With all due deference to Idaho’s accomplishments this season, the greater effervescence on both sides of the ball for CSU should resonate late and allow the Rams to get some separation for the cover.

Scott's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the Colorado State Rams minus 13.5 points.

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NCAA Football Week 4 Betting Previews

Here are some additional game previews from this week's college football card.

Free Picks

Editor's Picks - Each weekend our very own in-house All-American Editor makes his NCAA point spread predictions in an attempt to force fumbles, sack and intercept your bookie!

Expert College Football Picks - Free premium college foots plays against the spread from expert handicappers from around the web from week 1 through the National Championship.

Underdog of the Week Pick - We sort through it all and find out which University is getting "too many points" this week. If there was a Heisman Trophy for picking underdogs, we'd be a frontrunner. Expect a 57%+ winning percentage with these picks as we've got a keen ear for loud barking dogs.

Line Movement - NCAA football lines open early in the week and often times move up or down based on wagering activity, injuries to key players and weather. We decipher whether it's square or wiseguy action and predict the point spread winner based on value.

College Football Consensus Picks - We assess the public perception each week and let them pick the winners for us as we fade their selections which provides us with many trips into our bookies endzone.

Computer Picks - We enter them into the computer and the machine makes it's picks. This is a great guide especially when betting totals! These are available after the first few weeks of the season.

Trends - Despite what you have been told or read on tout sites, the trend ain't your friend. We however turn the tables and fade the almighty trend for what should be some great profits over time.

2017/2018 College Football Predictions - Bob gives his picks to win each major conference. At the end, he gives his prediction on who thinks will win the 2018 National Championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on January 8th.

2017 Heisman Trophy Predictions - USC QB Sam Darnold is a heavy pre-season favorite to win college football's most coveted award, but Jay isn't buying it. In fact, he's passing up the top (3) favored players in favor of a QB who he's confident will be NCAA football's best player in 2017.

2017-2018 College Football Championship Predictions - NCAA football experts have the Alabama Crimson Tide running away with the National Championship this season and who can blame them? Roll Tide is LOADED! It never happens that easy though. The USC Trojans (+825), Florida St. Seminoles (+850) and Ohio St. Buckckeyes (+875) all have a legit shot. Oddsmakers have Oklahoma (+1300) on the bubble and everybody looking from the outside in at 20/1 or higher. Jay gives his pick to win it all along with how his top 15 rankings for season's end. Get your bets in early before your favorite team's line drops!

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Heisman Trophy Betting Odds - USC QB Sam Darnold starts the season off as a heavy favorite at +350 odds. Sooners QB Baker Mayfield is second on the list at +700 but can he keep his nose clean? Louisville QB Lamar Jackson should dominate this season but will Louisville be taken seriously? Oregon Ducks RB Royce Freeman is worth a pop at 60/1 if he gets the carries. Bama WR Calvin Ridley brings experience and big-time playmaking ability and will be featured on National TV a bunch, giving him a legit darkhorse shot. But will they throw the ball enough with a QB who likes to run? Missing from this year's list of odds is a defensive player.

Odds to Win the 2017 College Football Championship - The Alabama Crimson Tide are heavy favorites to win the National Championship this year at 5/2 followed by Ohio St. at 13/5, USC at 7/1 and FSU at 17/2. Things drop off a bit with the Oklahoma Sooners coming in at 12/1, Auburn Tigers at 14/1 and Michigan Wolverines at 16/1. Check out your favorite school's odds here!

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