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Arizona Bowl

Utah St

vs.

New Mexico St

12/29/17

Getting placed between a lot of other high-level games, not many eyeballs will be on the Arizona Bowl, which could be a positive in terms of betting. Neither one of these teams had a great season, both finishing 6-6, but here they are playing on Dec. 29. And while it wasn’t an overly impressive year, this is New Mexico State’s first bowl game since 1960 so they’ll definitely be motivated. Coming from the bigger conference, Utah State was a -4 point favorite at 5Dimes Sportsbook a week before the game.

Utah State lost huge to every relevant opponent from Wisconsin and Wake Forest early to Boise State and Colorado State later in the season. In fact, the Aggies didn’t even have a win against a bowl team with their best one coming at a 5-7 UNLV team. Unfortunately for New Mexico State, it’s the same situation outside of not getting blown out by as much against the likes of Arizona State and Arkansas. NMSU’s best win came against teams with four wins. In like matchups, USU won at New Mexico late in the season 24-10, while NMSU won at UNM 30-28 in its second game.

More money is coming in on Utah State, but there’s little to separate these teams. Neither one is better than mediocre on each side of the ball and the only reason to take Utah State is because it comes out of the MWC. Since USU struggled so much this season, it had to turn to freshman Jordan Love at quarterback, who’s completing about eight percent less of his passes than Kent Myers. Neither quarterback showed much for the Aggies this season, which is why LaJuan Hunt and Gerold Bright are going to see a lot of the ball out of the backfield. Bright is a converted wide receiver that has 17 carries in the last two games for 195 yards. If that doesn’t work, this offense could be dead in the water. The positive for NMSU is that it is holding opponents to 4.2 yards per carry. That’s a solid rate and could end up being something that gives the underdog an edge.

As for Utah State, its run defense has been much worse, giving up 220 rushing yards per game on 4.4 yards per carry. That said, playing in the MWC is a bit different than the Sun Belt, which is why those numbers look as such.

NMSU at least has a more balanced offense led by quarterback Tyler Rogers (26 TDs, 16 INTs). This team has turned over a new leaf in recent seasons becoming a pass-first offense where Rogers often attempts more than 50 passes. He can post huge numbers, but whenever NMSU loses, he usually struggles. And while he has 16 interceptions, six of those came in one game. On the ground, Larry Rose also provides experience, although his role is much different than two years ago when he had 240 attempts. This season Rose still posted 807 rushing yards, 474 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. Based on talent and upside alone, New Mexico State may be the easier team to back.

Utah State is favored, but is starting a freshman quarterback and has failed to move the ball at a consistent rate all season. New Mexico State should be plenty motivated in its first bowl game in 57 years so that’s another selling point.

The Aggies of Utah State are 2-9 ATS in their last 11 against the Sun Belt and 9-20 ATS in their last 29 overall. The Aggies of New Mexico State are 6-0-1 ATS in their last seven non-conference games and have covered in their last four against the MWC.

Our Pick - Utah St -4

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