The bowl season will just about reach its halfway point when play commences Monday, and SBR has a free college football pick for the clash between Texas A&M and West Virginia.
There was plenty of video making the rounds this week of a section of Kyle Field being imploded as Texas A&M continues its 2-year renovation project where the Aggies call home. The blast came a little more than two months after the 2014 season imploded for head coach Kevin Sumlin and Texas A&M.
Sumlin also endured bad news on the recruiting front while the west side of Kyle Field coming down, and he needs a big win in the Liberty Bowl over the West Virginia Mountaineers if the Aggies are going to regain a little respectability heading into the recruiting season that leads to National Signing Day early next February.
The pair of 7-5 squads are set to boot the pigskin in Memphis a little after 2 PM (ET) on Monday, December 29. West Virginia is 3½ point chalk, down a half from when it was initially offered.
SBR's live NCAA football odds have been following a steady rise in the total since it first went out three weeks before game time. The scoreboard tally first showed up in the 64-64½ range, that figure now up to 67 at most sports books both offshore and in Las Vegas.
'Bama A Common Opponent For Ags, Mountaineers
Monday marks the first-ever clash between Texas A&M and West Virginia who each shifted conferences a few seasons back when the Aggies moved to the SEC as the Mountaineers moved into A&M's former Big 12 alignment. There are several statistical similarities shared between the squads, most notably in the passing yard columns, and they also shared one common opponent in 2014, top-ranked Alabama.
With the exception that both schools added a loss to their ledgers in the games against the Crimson Tide, the end results from the contests couldn't be more dissimilar.
Dana Holgorsen and the Mountaineers caught 'Bama way back in Week 1, putting up a good fight before the Tide finally took charge in the second half of the 33-23 final. The contest took place in front of a pro-Alabama crowd at the Georgia Dome, West Virginia backers coming home with easy cash as a 22 point underdog.
It was another pro-Tide crowd in Tuscaloosa in mid-October when the Aggies were blown away, 59-0. Texas A&M was half the underdog the Mountaineers had been earlier on the schedule, and mustered up just 172 yards of total offense, fewest ever under Sumlin.
Trickett A Game-Time Decision For Holgorsen, WVU
Both offenses ranked among the nation's better units in the aerial department, West Virginia ninth in the land averaging just below 315 yards per game passing and Texas A&M 12th with a 306 YPG clip. The Mountaineers had a better rushing attack by far, running for more than 187 YPG while the Aggies were 94th in the country with fewer than 143 yards on the ground.
Holgorsen also brings a stronger defense into the affair and could look to exploit A&M's stop unit with an early ground attack given his quarterback situation. Clint Trickett missed WVU's season finale at Iowa State after suffering a concussion nine days earlier vs. Kansas State. He is currently listed as probable, but may not start meaning Skyler Howard is likely to spend some time under center. Howard threw for five touchdowns without an interception taking over for Trickett in the final two games.
Cloudy skies and chilly temps are the current forecast for River City on Monday, the thermometer only making it into the mid-to-upper 40s. There is a slight chance of rain, but just 10% or so and only a light easterly breeze.
Texas A&M has won both bowl games under Sumlin, putting up some pretty gaudy numbers in taking down both Oklahoma and Duke the last couple of years. I simply don't see that happening this time, and like the upward movement on the total to give my free free NCAA Football pick, in the 'under' a little more breathing room.
Free College Football Pick: Texas A&M-West Virginia Under 67 at Pinnacle Sports
Season: 62-43-1 (+14.70)