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San Diego State
This is one of many bowl games this year that features two former division foes going against each other. BYU has won the past five meetings between these schools as favorites and are favorites once again, but only by three points. That's a bit of a surprise as this game is actually being played on San Diego State's home field at Qualcomm Stadium.
The Cougars don't have the same dominant record we've seen from them in year's past at 7-5, but a big part of that being their strength of schedule. Four of their five losses have come on the road at respectable schools such as Utah, Boise State, San Jose State and Notre Dame. Their loss at home came at the hands of 13th ranked Oregon State. On the other end of that, they don't really have a great win. Their best win of the season was a 6-3 defensive battle over Utah State. They do have a road win at Georgia Tech, but the Yellow Jackets still have a losing record.
San Diego State's schedule wasn't as hard and that shows in their 9-3 record. They haven't lost in seven straight games and have a couple nice wins to their name. A road win at Boise State stands out as the Broncos almost never get beaten on their home turf. That happened to be the Aztecs first win over a ranked opponent in 31 tries which says something about the current confidence this team has right now.
The Aztecs defense has solid numbers on the year, but when faced with a tougher opponent, they have slipped up. Luckily for them, BYU's offense is not their strong suit. The Cougars average just under 30 points per game even though they have four big wins over weaker schools scoring at least 45 points in all of them.
BYU still has a decision to make on who its starting quarterback will be. Regular starter Riley Nelson missed their final game due to a rib injury as James Lark stepped in his place and put up 384 yards and six TDs. Don't get too excited because that game was against a one-win team with one of the worst defenses in the country. Nelson could still get the go ahead for the bowl game. He has thrown an interception in all but two starts this year. No matter who's throwing the ball, they will look to wide receiver Cody Hoffman the entire game. At 90 receptions, 1,134 yards and 11 TDs he has triple the amount of catches and yardage of any other receiver on BYU. Their running game hasn't been that great either, especially in their losses. Jamaal Williams took over as lead back five games into the season and his four worst games came against every team that you'd expect. He didn't surpass 71 yards in any competitive game this season.
One thing BYU can do is play defense which will keep them in this game. Four of their losses were by six points or less all because of their defense, and that includes a three-point loss at Notre Dame.
It's not easy to gauge the Aztecs offense due to their strength of schedule, but no matter who they've played this year, they could run the ball. Starting RB Adam Muema leads the team with 1,355 yards and 16 TDs. He averages 6.4 yards per tote and has hit at least 100 yards in six of his past 10 games. In addition to Muema, Walter Kazee has also posted solid numbers whenever needed. Kazee has 822 yards and eight TDs for himself. Adam Dingwell took over at QB five games ago and has done everything that was needed from him as they haven't lost yet. He still has thrown an INT in four straight games which won't help matters against the Cougars. Like many BYU games this year, this one may be lacking in the points department.
This game is as much of a toss up as a game can be. Not sure home field will mean much here. Teams like to be rewarded with a bowl game in a nice, away from home location. How much of a reward is one more home game? That's a potential negative for San Diego State in our opinion. Otherwise, there's really nothing we can sink our teeth into for a selection here so we're going to go with our model, and the better defense. That better defense belongs to BYU and the model says 28-20 BYU. BYU -2.5
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