Washington State Cougars (6-6 SU, 8-4 ATS) vs. Colorado State Rams (7-6 SU, 5-8 ATS)
Gildan New Mexico Bowl
Date and Time: December 21. 2:00 p.m. EST.
Where: University Stadium, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
by Wilson, Pro Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: WSU -4.5/CSU +4.5
Over/Under Total: 66
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The Gildan New Mexico Bowl will feature two teams who are looking to build their programs by getting a bowl game victory. The Washington State Cougars and the Colorado State Rams are basically .500 caliber teams who just need a couple more key recruits to push their wins into the 7 or higher category thus the potential to return to more bowl games in the seasons to come. Both have played top ranked schools which certainly helped them get to this bowl game.
Cougs 2nd year Head Coach, Mike Leach, has quickly made an impact as he is familiar with post season NCAA Football. Leach took his former team, the Texas Tech Red Raiders to ten consecutive bowl games by instilling his Air Raid Offense and tough team discipline and expectations. The Cougs feature a gunslinger of a QB in junior Connor Halliday out of Spokane, Washington who is 4th in the nation in passing. WSU will throw the ball on nearly every down and are notorious for going for it on 4th down. In addition, the Cougs ability to run the no-huddle offense usually flusters opposing defenses because of the frantic pace as well as multiple offensive sets. WSU will occasionally run the draw successfully which really keeps the defense guessing because then they will mix it up with play-action.
Colorado State runs more of a balanced attack by splitting up the run and pass almost evenly. The Rams are No. 39 in the nation in passing at 285.5 yards per game and No.31 in rushing at 202.7 yards per game. Even though the Rams earned 7 victories on the season six of those wins came against FBS opponents who combined for a 17-55 record (not too impressive but enough to sneak into the bowl raffle). Perhaps the most impressive, and reason why the Rams are in the post season is their 31-6 loss early in the season to then No.1 Alabama but regardless of how they made it to a bowl the Rams will have their hands full with a motivated Washington State team.
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The gut feeling is definitely with the Washington State Cougars in this bowl game. Coach Leach has significant bowl game experience and you can bet he will have his team ready to play. The Cougar fans have waited ten years to get back to a bowl game and they will represent well in New Mexico. Mike Leach knows a thing or two about winning bowl games he did it quite often in Texas and I expect hell do it just as well in Washington State. WSUs potential trouble areas will be their secondary on defense and Hallidays decision making under pressurehe tends to throw INTs when put under pressure. Although the Cougs have their flaws they should have no problem taking care of the Rams. WSU has played a tougher schedule. Notably, the Cougs nearly beat top ranked Auburn in week one and then they went to LA and beat No.25 USC adding to Lane Kiffins downfall. Down the stretch of the season WSU got key wins against the University of Arizona on the road and Utah at home which qualified them for a bowl. The quick hitting offense of Washington State will prove too much for the Rams to handle. The Rams, like the Cougs, sneaked into this bowl game but WSU is clearly the stronger team. QB Connor Halliday will come out and spray the pigskin all over the field and the Cougars will put up a lot of points early. If the Rams secondary takes any plays off they will get beat. I like Mike Leachs style and his experience in bowl games to be a major factor in this contest.
Wilson’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: This is the 7th annual New Mexico Bowl and the Cougar fans will out travel the Rams to watch their team earn their first bowl victory since 2003. Take the Cougars minus the points. Luck to ya.
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