Fresno State Bulldogs (9-3 SU, 11-1 ATS) vs. SMU Mustangs (6-6 SU, 7-5 ATS)
Sheraton Hawaii Bowl
Date and Time: December 24, 2012, 8:00pm EST
Where: Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii
by Bob, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: FSU -12/SMU +12
Over/Under Total: 59.5
Since 2002, two college football programs and their fans travel to Honolulu, Hawaii for the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl. The game is usually played on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, this season on the Eve of Christmas, we will see the SMU Mustangs and the Fresno State Bulldogs do battle. Fresno St. enters with a record of 9-3, while Southern Methodist barely qualified for a bowl game going just 6-6 on the season. SMU, who plays in Conference USA, finished 2nd in the West division while Fresno State from the Mountain West finished tied for the top spot with Boise State. Both of these teams do a good job scoring the ball so this should be an interesting matchup to watch.
The SMU Mustangs for the past two decades have been trying to recover from their “death penalty” they received in the 1980s. The NCAA laid down the law to them and it has been proven that any team that gets this punishment will suffer for many, many years. SMU at one time was a national powerhouse and overnight they became obsolete. This season was just another so-so performance for the ‘stangs. Under head coach June Jones, they again barely qualified for a bowl going just 6-6, but let’s not be so quick to put these guys down. 3 of their 6 losses were to pretty good opponents. They lost to Baylor, TCU, and Texas A&M. These were all out of conference games that SMU didn’t have to play but they did. With the exception of the Texas A&M loss, they stayed pretty competitive in the others. SMU doesn’t impress you statistically ranking just 96th in the nation in rushing and 59th in passing. Along with that, they rank 60th in scoring and 59th in scoring defense. SMU really is the epitome of average. From the stats I just shared, they rank just about in the middle of the pack in every category. The keys to this matchup for SMU is to score, and keep Fresno State from scoring. Yea, that sounds pretty basic, but it’s very true. If SMU can slow down the Fresno State passing attack enough to hang around, the game could get very interesting late.
Fresno State comes into this game at 9-3 and 7-1 in conference play. At 12 point favorites, the public is leaning heavy on Fresno State getting the easy win here. The Bulldogs rank in the top 15 in scoring offense on the season. They have put up over 40 points in 8 of their 12 games this season including 69 versus Colorado and 52 against both San Diego State and Nevada. The dogs can score and score a lot. Their quarterback, Derek Carr, has thrown for 36 touchdowns and over 3,700 yards. This is where I feel the game could lean in the favor of Fresno. In my opinion, the dogs will spread out SMU and play catch all day. The Fresno receivers are quick and I am not so sure that SMU will have the speed to keep up with them, especially if Fresno runs a more up tempo style of play in this game. The key to victory in this game for Fresno is just what I said, up tempo offense. I think their defense will play well enough to keep SMU from putting up big numbers, while the Fresno offense clicks on all cylinders. However, if the dogs do not come out of the gate scoring, this thing could get very interesting.
Bob’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Bowl games are always so tough to handicap. The teams have had a small break, some teams play for pride, while some teams just go through the motions to get the season over with. It’s always tough to predict how each team will react in these types of games. With that said, I am going to have to lean Fresno State. The Bulldogs just have far too much talent on the offensive side of the ball and what may start out as a pretty good game, will more than likely get out of hand late in the 3rd quarter. I am looking for a 41-21 type game and Fresno will coast to an easy bowl victory in beautiful, sunny, Hawaii. PICK: FRESNO STATE -12!
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