Bet 'Over' When N.C. State Meets Texas A&M In Gator Bowl

Saturday, December 22, 2018 2:58 PM UTC

Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018 2:58 PM UTC

Get the latest college football picks on the Gator Bowl. The game from Jacksonville, Florida is Monday, December 31, at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. Bet confidently with tips from SBRpicks.com.

Gator Bowl: North Carolina State vs. No. 19 Texas A&MMonday, Dec. 31, 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)TIAA Bank Field, Jacksonville, FloridaFree NCAAF Pick: OVERBest Line Offered: 5Dimes

[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":3690923, "sportsbooksIds":[19,238,169,1096,999996], "LineTypeId":3, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]

The North Carolina State Wolfpack are in their sixth year under head coach Dave Doeren, and they’re 3-1 SU and ATS in bowl games during his tenure. The Texas A&M Aggies are in their first season with Jimbo Fisher at the controls; Fisher won the 2013 National Championship with Florida State, and also led them to victory at the 2012 and 2016 Orange Bowls. The Aggies are 7-point favorites at press time after opening at –4.5, with the total holding steady at 58.5.

How They Got Here

The Wolfpack finished third in the ACC Atlantic Division, and were ranked as high as No. 16 in the polls; losing 27-23 to Wake Forest (+19.5 away) in Week 11 damaged their bowl profile somewhat. The Aggies did very well to finish third in the insanely tough SEC West, behind Alabama and LSU. All four of their losses were as underdogs, they closed the regular season with a wild 74-72 overtime win over LSU as 3-point home faves, and they almost beat Clemson in Week 2, falling 28-26 as 12-point home dogs.

Why NC State Can Win/Cover

Although they finished third in their division, NC State rank as the third-best team in the entire ACC, according to the F/+ Combined Ratings at Football Outsiders. They have the Wolfpack at No. 31 overall, not far behind the Aggies at No. 22. ESPN’s Football Power Index projects A&M to win the Gator Bowl 54.6 percent of the time, roughly the same as –2 for a juice-free point spread.

[/]{"component": "embedHTML", "code": "

How Ryan Finley stacked up against the FBS QBs in various metrics pic.twitter.com/9Tjzw09QhX

— PFF College (@PFF_College) 21 de dezembro de 2018
\n"}[/]

The Wolfpack have the superior air attack in this matchup, led by senior QB Ryan Finley (24 TDs, nine INTs), a potential first-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. They check in at No. 13 overall in passing according to the S&P+ Ratings, ahead of Texas A&M at No. 25. Finley was first team All-ACC this year, and he was an Academic All-ACC player last year when he led the Pack to a 52-31 romp over Arizona State (+4.5) at the Sun Bowl. Smart cookie.

Why Texas A&M Can Win/Cover

The Aggies might be behind NCSU in passing efficiency, but they’ve got a promising sophomore QB in Kellen Mond (23 TDs, eight INTs), and they’ve got this year’s Ray Guy winner in punter Braden Mann – who should force Finley to cover more ground than Mond in this matchup. A&M are also ahead of the Pack in rushing and overall defense by a fair margin.

[/]{"component": "embedHTML", "code": "

Texas A&M class rankings:

2018: No. 16
2019: No. 2

The Jimbo Fisher effect. 😎 pic.twitter.com/CcRxA5RI4X

— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) 17 de dezembro de 2018
\n"}[/]


Then you have the two very important people who won’t be playing for NC State. WR Kelvin Harmon (81 catches, 1,186 yards) and LB Germaine Pratt (104 tackles) are sitting this one out to prepare for the NFL Draft – that’s their best players at each position. The sharps had a field day snapping up the Aggies at –4.5; consensus reports at press time still have 70 percent of bettors on the favorites.

Common Opponent/Series History

These two teams have never faced each other, but they did have two common opponents this year: Clemson and South Carolina. Both teams lost to the Tigers; NC State fell 35-28 to the Gamecocks (+7.5 on neutral ground) in Week 1, then Texas A&M beat them 26-23 in Week 7 as 2.5-point road faves.

Final Verdict

Now that the spread has moved to seven points, it’s tempting to take NC State, but the absence of both Harmon and Pratt is a tough pill to swallow. Staying away from the spread and hammering the total looks like the right play; both teams are poor when it comes to defending the pass, the total is within reach at 58.5 (USA Today’s Jeff Sagarin projects the combined final score at 61.29 points), and it shouldn’t be too cold outdoors in Jacksonville on New Year’s Eve.

Gator Bowl Trends & Betting History
comment here