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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
by Scott, NCAA Football Handicapper,

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 teamís 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, itís 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.


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 theyíve 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 timeóa 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 Ramsí defense had its ups-and-downs this season. Against some of the better conference teams they played at the end of the season, they didnít 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.

Itís a nice locale for Idaho, though the drive from Moscow, Idaho to Boise isnít 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 thereóIdaho 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 Idahoís 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: Iím betting on the Colorado State Rams minus 13.5 points.

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