Hawaii Bowl Pick

183
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Hawaii Bowl Pick

Fresno State

vs.

Rice

12/24/14

The Hawaii Bowl features the only team with a losing record playing in a bowl Game, Fresno State. The line has jumped around a bit since being released. The Bulldogs opened as a 2-point favorite, but currently it’s Rice favored by 2.

Fresno State is playing in a bowl Game for the 14th time in the past 16 years, yet they have lost five straight including a 43-10 loss to SMU at this bowl two years ago. The Bulldogs won the MWC West division and then lost to Boise State in the title Game for the second time this year. They had a tough non-Conference Schedule (USC, Utah, Nebraska) so it’s hard to gauge them from that, while their best Conference wins were against SDSU and Nevada. They also had an inexplicable 45-17 home loss to Wyoming (4-8) in the middle of the year.

Rice is kind of in the same position having a difficult non-Conference Schedule (Notre Dame, Texas A&M), and they also have a Conference loss to Old Dominion that can’t really be explained. After that Game, the Owls figured things out and their only losses after September were on the road against the two best teams in the C-USA, Marshall and LA. Tech.

In similar opponents, Rice beat Hawaii 28-14 on Oct. 4, and Fresno State beat them 28-21 on Nov. 29.

Neither one of these teams is known for having a solid defense, although Rice dominated a lot of the weaker teams they played. Fresno State was off and on as well, holding San Diego State to 13 points one Game, but then giving up 45 to Wyoming.

The Bulldogs lost a lot of talent from last year’s group, but still have enough playmakers to Scoreconsistently. RB Marteze Waller (1,292 yards, 11 TDs) and WR Josh Harper (1,072 yards, 7 TDs) have been everything for this offense. The main issue, however, has been the play of quarterback Brian Burrell (22 TDs, 16 INTs) in his first season as the starter. He has now thrown an interception in 10 straight Games.

Rice is coming off a Game in which they allowed 76 points, but that was against Louisiana Tech’s great offense. They’ve held eight teams to 23 points or less on the year.

The Owls may have the better defense, but they also have the weaker offense. Driphus Jackson (21 TDs, 8 INTs) has been solid in his first season as the full-time starting QB, but isn’t the most accurate of passers, completing 57.3% on the year. Rice will try and get the ground Game going and if their defense holds up, Jackson probably won’t throw all that much. Running backs Jowan Davis (910 yards, 6 TDs) and Darik Dillard (651 yards, 10 TDs) will get plenty of work early on.

FSU’s run defense has been fairly solid throughout the year, and even held Jay Ayaji to 70 yards in the MWC title Game, which was one of his lowest totals of the year.

The Bulldogs have not covered in five straight bowl Games and are 1-4 ATS in their last five vs. the C-USA. The Owls on the other hand have covered in Four straight vs. the MWC and are 7-2 ATS in their last nine overall, and have received most of the early money.

Check back on Game day (maybe sooner) for a pick on this Game.

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