Two disappointing teams meet in Mountain West Conference play, and does San Diego State really merit giving more than a touchdown to Fresno State Saturday?
Two of the bigger disappointments in the Mountain West Conference meet Saturday night, opening up their conference seasons with the road underdogs seeming to hold inherent value getting more than a touchdown when those Fresno State Bulldogs (1-3, 1-3 ATS) pay a visit to the San Diego State Aztecs (1-3, 0-4 ATS) at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, CA at 10:30 ET in a game televised nationally on CBS Sports Network.
The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Fresno State as a decided underdog for this contest with the current line at +8½ with odds of -106.
Upside Down West Standings?
There two teams were the preseason consensus to finish 1-2 in the West Division of the MWC, and that may still come to pass. However, both teams struggled with the non-conference portions of their schedule with both being the losing college football picks in all three games vs. FBS competition so far.
These two teams finished tied atop the MWC West last season and San Diego State was a popular ‘over’ pick on its posted win total of 7½ this year. However, that choice is already in dire jeopardy with the Aztecs losing three straight games since a non-covering opening win over San Diego of the FCS that also leaves San Diego State at 0-4 ATS.
And Fresno State has not been much better, also losing three straight games after opening with a win over an FCS school, although at least the Bulldogs covered the spread in that 34-13 win over Abilene Christian.
Greenlee Expected Back at Quarterback
The good news for the Bulldogs though is that quarterback Zack Greenlee is expected to start this game after he was suspended last week for disciplinary reasons due to an off-field incident. With Chason Virgil out for the season, Fresno State was forced to go with third string quarterback Ford Childress last Saturday and he had only 159 passing yards in a 49-23 loss at San Jose State.
The return of Greenlee is welcome as he has six touchdown passes vs. just one interception this season and he gives the offense balance along with workhorse running back Marteze Waller, who managed 72 rushing yards on 19 carries last week even with San Jose State keying on him with no respect for the passing game.
Now, the Fresno State defense is a mess but one thing it does do well is get to the passer with 12 sacks in four games.
Pumphrey Not Running Like Last Year
If San Diego State want to avoid that pass rush, it will need more from running back Donnel Pumphrey, who has been a disappointment with just 249 rushing yards in four games on a mere 3.7 yards per carry. This is after Pumphrey rushed for over 1800 yards and 20 touchdowns last season while averaging 6.8 yards per carry, helping cover up the fact that the Aztecs shared the West Division title despite weak quarterback play.
Now that Pumphrey is struggling, the ineffectiveness of quarterback Maxwell Smith is becoming obvious. Smith has completed an atrocious 47.0 percent of his passes while passing for only 394 yards on 6.0 yards per attempt with as many interceptions as touchdown passes at two apiece. The worst part is that Pumphrey is showing no signs of breaking out of his funk as he had 56 rushing yards last week, so Smith will probably have to deal with that Fresno pass rush.
Bulldog ATS Success vs. the Aztecs
Finally, Fresno State is 4-0 ATS in the last four head-to-head meetings overall. The Bulldogs are also 18-7-1 ATS in their last 26 games after gaining less than 275 total yards in their previous game, while San Diego State is 0-5 ATS in its last five games after allowing less than 100 rushing yards in its previous game.
Look for a bounce-back game by Fresno State here with Greenlee back and for the ATS struggles for San Diego State to continue, resulting in the Bulldogs at the very least hanging inside this point spread of more than a touchdown on Saturday.
College Football Pick: Fresno State +8½ (-106)