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Military Bowl Pick
San Jose State
Bowling Green will square off against #24 San Jose State in the Military Bowl at RFK Stadium in Washington DC. Currently San Jose is favored by -7 to -7.5 at most sportsbooks with a total of 47. Both teams have come a long way in a short time and for San Jose coach Mike MacIntyre, that means a new job at the University of Colorado. He will not be on the sidelines for this game. SJSU had a very successful season with a 10-2 record after going 1-12 just two years ago. Big wins include their final two home games of the season, beating BYU and Louisiana Tech and also a road win at San Diego State earlier in the season. They lost their first game of the season at Stanford by only three points and fell to Utah State at home in a surprising 49-27 loss.
Bowling Green went 8-4 on the year, but doesn't have the type of wins that the Spartans do. Their biggest win came at Ohio where they were only 2.5-point underdogs. The Bobcats was the only team BGSU beat with a winning record. In like matchups, the Falcons beat Idaho 21-13 at home while SJSU went to Idaho and won 42-13.
Even in the stats department, the discrepancies are fairly large. San Jose State scores 35 points per game which is 12 more than Bowling Green. The Falcons are actually a Top 10 defense in points allowed at 15.8 per game, but when you play five teams with two wins or less, that will tend to happen. The Spartans also have a respectable defense allowing just over 21 points per game and that includes a game against the highest scoring team in the nation (LA Tech).
Against better teams like Toledo and Kent State, the BGSU defense struggled. That's what will likely happen when they face a solid overall attack from SJSU. First year starter David Fales is at the helm and is in the Top 10 in almost every passing category. He's completing 72 percent of his passes for 3,798 yards, 31 touchdowns and only nine interceptions. Even in his first start, he wasn't terrible at Stanford, posting 217 yards with a TD and one pick. Against the Top 10 defense of Utah State, he managed 467 yards and three touchdowns. Noel Grigsby leads the receiving corps with 73 grabs for 1,173 yards and nine TDs. While their passing game is tops, they can still run the ball as seen in the season finale against LA Tech when De'Leon Eskridge ran for 217 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries.
Even with a solid defense and playing a team without their normal coaches, it'll be hard for Bowling Green to shut down this offense completely.
That's where the Falcons offense comes in, who are only scoring 23 points per game. If their defense gives up a quick lead, it's going to be very hard for them to come back. Quarterback Matt Schilz was hoping to improve on his sophomore season numbers of 3,000 yards and 28 touchdowns, but he went the wrong way. This year, Schilz has just 2,426 yards, 14 TDs and 12 INTs. He's averaging a full yard less per attempt and completing three percent less of his passes than he did in 2011. Interceptions have been a problem for him all year and could be in this game. SJSU defensive back Bene Benwikere is tied for second in the country with seven total interceptions on the year, including three in their final game. To limit those mistakes, the Falcons will turn to a ground game led by Anthon Samuel and John Pettigrew. The two have combined for 1,469 yards and 15 touchdowns this season. The over/under is set around 47 for this game as the under as hit every time but once this season for Bowling Green.
Some games are best left alone and that may be the case here for us. Tough spot. Losing a coach for the bowl game can go either way. It can rally a team or completely deflate them. That aside, it's still a difficult game to handicap and certainly if this was the regular season, we would pass right over it without giving it another look. The Spartans are the better team and have performed better against quality opposition. If the coaching situation doesn't have an impact, our best guess is that San Jose covers this number. San Jose -7
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