Music City Bowl Pick
The ACC will try and show its worth this bowl season with three Games against the SEC. Of the three Games, the Music City Bowl is the only one in which an ACC team is favored, although by a slim margin. Louisville opened as underdogs, but that line moved in the Cardinals favor and sat at -1 (at 5Dimes Sportsbook) a week after the line was released.
Texas A&M covered in just one of its last seven Games, and never really looked competitive against the SEC’s best. The Aggies finished with eight wins, but after starting 5-0, it was a disappointing start. They took down Arkansas and Mississippi State early on and were even ranked higher than Alabama when the two met in mid-October, but that didn’t last long. The Aggies had a problem at quarterback and that led to 20 total points in their final three losses.
On the other end Louisville wasn’t much better at 7-5 overall, but the Cardinals at least competed against better teams. They started 0-3 and lost to Clemson by just three points, but once the Schedule got a little easier, they soon went on a five-Game winning streak. But in the end, their only win against a bowl team was at NC State back in October. Other than that, they barely scraped by lesser teams such as Boston College (17-14) and Wake Forest (20-19).
Will one of these teams finally show some consistency and break through for a bowl win to salvage disappointing seasons?
Texas A&M had one of the best pass defenses in the country, but in turn was also terrible against the run. That’s not a huge deal for Louisville, but at the least, it looks like the Cardinals will start true freshman LAmar Jackson at quarterback, who leads the team with 734 rushing yards and 9 TDs. Jackson will likely carry the ball a ton as he completed 55.7% of his passes on the year for just 10 TDs and 8 INTs. Expect plenty of running from Jackson and running back Brandon Radcliff. In Louisville’s win over Kentucky in the regular season finale, Jackson ran for 186 yards and two touchdowns. Expect a similar approach to this Game. If that doesn’t work, Louisville will be in trouble, but A&M does give up over 200 rushing yards per Game.
Louisville’s defense doesn’t have a specific weakness like the Aggies, but first things first, Texas A&M needs a quarterback. The reason the Cardinals jumped to favorites is because the Aggies’ two quarterbacks (Kyle Allen, Kyler Murray) transferred away from the school in mid December. That means only one guy is left and it’s sophomore Jake Hubenak. He’s a popular player in the locker room, but that doesn’t mean he’s great on the field. He saw limited time in the season, completing 12-of-27 passes for 92 yards, playing mostly when Games were out of reach for the Aggies.
This all means that Texas A&M will run the ball a ton, mostly behind Tra Carson, who rushed for 1,059 yards and 6 TDs on 4.8 yards per carry this year. Louisville has a stout rush defense, but overall season numbers are skewed a bit due to bad ACC teams.
That said, the Cardinals will likely stack the box against the inexperienced Hubenak, so for the Aggies to have a chance, Hubenak will have to do something with his arm.
Even with its normal quarterbacks, Texas A&M still hasn’t done well against the spread. Now with Hubenak, the chances of winning are even less.
The Aggies have failed to cover in Four straight Games against the ACC, while Louisville’s only trends point to the over, with Four straight Games hitting that. Although with Hubenak on the other side of the field, that trend may not mean much.
Our Pick – The QB situation makes this a no play for us. So, what we’ll do, is post Our models prediction below. Keep in mind, Our models prediction is as if both teams are at full strength.
Texas A&M 25 Louisville 23