San Diego State Aztecs (9-3 SU, 6-5-1 ATS) vs. Wyoming Cowboys (8-4 SU, 7-5 ATS)
College Football Week 14
Date/Time: Saturday, December 3, 2016 at 7:45PM EST
Where: War Memorial Stadium, Laramie, Wyoming
by Scott, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: SDSU -7/WYO +7
Over/Under Total: 62.5
The San Diego Aztecs meet the Wyoming Cowboys in the Mountain West Conference Championship on Saturday at War Memorial Stadium in Laramie. The Aztecs won 9 games this season with Wyoming going 8-4. Both teams were 6-2 in conference. Neither team finished the season is style. San Diego St, got smacked around at home by Colorado State, 63-31, on Saturday. Wyoming didnít fare much better, absorbing a 56-35 loss at New Mexico. Both teams, however, look to add a nice nugget to their resumes with a conference championship win this week.
San Diego State really floundered on a rainy night at home to Colorado State. As 12-point favorites, they were beaten by 32. They have been good most of the season, but have lost two in a row, including a loss to this very Wyoming team two weeks ago in Laramie on this very field, 34-33. Earlier in the season, they lost by 18 to South Alabama as 18.5-point favorites. In their three losses, they missed covering the spread by a combined 91.5 points. When theyíre off, theyíre really off. And a warm weather team that struggled in the rain and in Laramie the first time around will be in an even colder War Memorial Stadium this week. They better find answers quickly.
The SDSU offense is led by Carlsbad Highís sophomore and hometown product Christian Chapman. He was pretty efficient with 19 TD passes and 5 picks, but the Aztecs are a running team, led by Donnel Pumphrey and his 1908 yards on the ground with 15 touchdowns. He didnít exactly end the season with aplomb, as he tailed off in the last few weeks, which cost him the NCAA rushing title. Luckily for the Aztecs, they are deep in this area and Juwan Washington has stepped up in recent weeks more and more. Also delivering big in spots lately has been Rashaad Penny. The trio of backs makes the Aztecs one of the more effective running teams in the nation. They average over 275 yards on the ground per game. Aerially, they work with a cast of different players, led by Mikah Holder. Chapman has done well to get 19 TDs out of this bunch, with Penny and Pumphrey also contributing in the passing-game.
The San Diego State defense was on a real roll until recently, allowing 97 combined points in their last two games. In the 6 straight wins they had before that, they had allowed a combined 42 points! So the last few weeks have been alarming to say the least. Four times, they held opponents to 3 or fewer points. It all seemingly fell apart in the first game a few weeks ago against Wyoming, as they allowed almost 500 yards in total offense to the Cowboys. The SDSU run-game didnít really fire and Wyoming avoided a late two-point conversion to escape with the one-point win when the Aztecs went for the two.
The Wyoming win over SDSU a few weeks ago is big when breaking this game down, though the Cowboys really couldnít follow it up the following week against New Mexico. Now back in Laramie, they could thrive with weather conditions beginning to set in. In addition to being over 7000 feet above sea level, itís getting pretty frigid in this part of the country. This is a program that was really in the dumps, coming off a 2-10 season. In Craig Bohlís third season, they finally put it all together this season when not many suspected that they could.
The Wyoming offense is a pretty potent bunch. QB Josh Allen has thrown for 2738 yards and 23 touchdowns, while running for 487 yards and 7 scores. Their main weapon is running back Brian Hill, a real force in this conference with 1674 yards and 21 rushing touchdowns. He was big against SDSU a few weeks ago with 131 yards and two scores and has been hot to end the season with 10 TDS in his last four games. Receiver Tanner Gentry is one of the best in the conference with 1132 yards and 11 scores. He is surrounded by a couple good ball-catchers in Jake Mualhardt and Jacob Hollister.
Wyoming has been forced to win a lot of shootouts with a defense that is allowing an average of 35.5 points per game. They are the 116th ranked defense in the nation. They gave up 56 to New Mexico in their last game, 69 to UNLV a few weeks before that, and gobs of points throughout the season. Giving up 158 points combined in their last three points is not a promising number heading into a championship. In fact, it took a little bit of magic for the Cowboys to get to this spot having not scored many more points than theyíve given up this season.
The variables are many heading into this matchup. San Diego State has been a better-rounded team this season, but their collapse in the last two weeks throws all that into a different light. Theyíre favored over a team they lost to a few weeks ago and the conditions seem to favor their opponent. But Wyoming is such a defensive liability that you can never be that sure and they donít exactly soar into this game after getting hammered by New Mexico. Iím going to take the points and go with Wyoming over what looks to be a SDSU team that is falling apart at the wrong time.
Scott's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Iím betting on the Wyoming Cowboys plus 7 points.
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