Idaho Potato Bowl Pick

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Idaho Potato

Bowl Pick

Akron

vs.

Utah State

12/22/15

This is the first of two MAC vs. MWC matchups this bowl season with the MWC as favorites in both. The Idaho Potato Bowl features Akron on a Four-Game winning streak and Utah State, who has lost three of its last Four. Still, the MWC’s Aggies opened as a -6.5 point favorite at 5 Dimes Sportsbook.

The Zips have seven wins on the year, but conveniently none of them are against a team with a winning record. Their best win of the year was against 5-7 Buffalo and that end-of-season winning streak includedthree wins against three-win teams. Maybe their most impressive showings were low-scoring losses to Ohio and Central Michigan.

Utah State only had six wins, but that’s mainly due to a tougher Schedule. Although it can’t be ignored how the Aggies fell apart at the end of the season with losses to New Mexico, Air Force and BYU. They only finished with one road win all year and that was at Fresno State. Akron actually had a better record on the road than at home. The Aggies still get some respect with wins over bowl teams Colorado State, Boise State and Nevada. Granted, all those Games were at home where they thrive.

But for this Game, Utah State has more experience on the blue turf and that could come into play.

This is it for Chuckie Keeton, who was once tabbed a preseason Heisman candidate, but injuries have seemingly derailed him every season. This year, the dual-threat QB missed seven Games and returned for the final two of the season. In his final home Game, the Aggies lost 51-28 against BYU. At his best, Keeton was close to unstoppable as seen in 2012 and 2013 when he combined for 45 TDs and 11 INTs. This year, he hasn’t come close to that mark with 3 TDs and 6 INTs and only one more touchdown on the ground. A day before the Game, USU didn’t even announce its starter, but most are predicting sophomore Kent Myers to get the call, who has been better than Keeton with 17 TDs and only 3 INTs.

Akron wins Games with its defense allowing just 21.5 points per Game. Utah State is inconsistent, but coming off a few weeks of rest, both Myers and Keeton should be ready to go. This offense has put together some huge Games, most notably 52 points on Boise State. However, they have also been shut down multiple times. Receiver Hunter Sharp is by far the team’s top option with 746 yards and 8 TDs, while Devante Mays took over as the lead RB midway through the season and finished with 842 yards and 9 TDs.

The Aggies have slipped on the defensive side, and that’s been highlighted in their recent losses. The good news is that Akron doesn’t have much on offense.

against any team of relevance, the Zips failed to do much on the scoreboard, often failing to reach double digits against teams with a winning record. That’s the main reason they’re the underdog in this Game.

Quarterback Thomas Woodson has done well in his first season as the team’s starter, but his numbers are skewed a bit. He has 16 TDs and 10 INTs on the year, however, eight of those touchdowns came in two wins. He only had more than one passing TD in one other Game. He’s a dual-threat QB and that will be his main advantage against this Aggies defense. Along with Woodson, Akron leans heavily on its run Game with Conor Hundley (883 yards, 10 TDs) leading the way.

Akron will want to keep this Game low scoring for obvious reasons, but both Myers and Keeton have the ability to break the Scorewide open. If the Zips can’t hold Utah State below 20 points, they’ll be in trouble.

Neither one of these teams has a huge trend, but the Zips finished the year 4-0 ATS and the Aggies finished 0-4 ATS.

Our Pick – Utah State has no doubt played the tougher Schedule. But motivational factors favor Akron and note the Utah State defensive yards per point number of 12.5. That ranks DEAD last of all bowl teams and makes Akron a live dog here. Akron +6.5

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