It will be a very interesting contrast in styles in Mountain West Conference play on Saturday night when the run-oriented Wyoming Cowboys (4-3, 1-2 away) pay a visit to the pass-happy San Jose State Spartans (3-3, 1-1 home) at Spartan Stadium in San Jose, CA at 7:00 ET.
The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Wyoming as a decided underdog for this contest with the current line at +7½ with odds of -112.
Wyoming has come a long way in the four-year tenure of Coach Dave Christensen, a tenure that has included two bowl appearances, and the Cowboys seemed well on their way to a bowl this year before getting surprised by Colorado State last week. Christensen should have Wyoming primed for a nice bounce-back effort this week though and we still like the Cowboys’ chances of reaching a bowl as they are still 4-3 after that upset loss.
San Jose State comes off of a 34-27 win on the road at Colorado State two weeks ago, the same Colorado State team that went into Laramie and beat the Cowboys last week. Thus, fans of the transitive property must be salivating over San Jose State at home here, but football is a game of matchups and the matchups and styles of these teams seem to favor Wyoming’s chances to keep this game close and maybe even springing an upset.
San Jose State is a decidedly one-dimensional passing team that averages 327.5 passing yards per game compared to only 119.7 rushing yards on 3.5 yards per rush. There are a several problems with that offensive composition in this contest however. First of all, quarterback David Fales is not playing as well this season as he did when he was considered one of the best quarterbacks from a non-major conference in the country last year.
Fales has seen his completion percentage drop from 72.5 percent last year all the way down to 59.6 percent this season and he has dropped nearly a full yard in his yards per attempt from 9.3 to 8.5. Secondly, the strength of the Wyoming defense is pass defense as the Cowboys rank 16th in the country in that department allowing only 193.7 passing yards per game.
And thirdly, the Spartans could be short two wide receivers for this game, which would affect them more vs. a stiff pass defense like Wyoming than it did vs. Colorado State.
Speaking of Colorado State, the Rams were able to dominate Wyoming on the ground while winning the Border War convincingly 52-22 last week, but San Jose State is simply not that type of team and the Wyoming defense matches up much better vs. teams like the Spartans that throw the ball so often.
Wyoming also seems to have a positive matchup on offense where the Cowboys average 202.4 rushing yards per game on 5.4 yards per carry, as it was three good running teams in Stanford, Minnesota and Utah State that handed San Jose State its three losses this year while averaging 267.7 rushing yards in those games!
Thus, the styles of these teams on both sides of the ball match up such that Wyoming looks like a nice investment catching a shade over a touchdown on Saturday.
College Football Pick: Wyoming +7½ (-112)