Holiday Bowl: Washington State Cougars vs Michigan State Spartans

holiday bowl

Doug Upstone

Thursday, December 14, 2017 4:54 PM UTC

Thursday, Dec. 14, 2017 4:54 PM UTC

The Holiday Bowl is a classic Big Ten versus Pac-12 confrontation between two 9-3 teams in Michigan State and Washington State. This will be the last of four bowls played on Dec. 28th.

The Holiday Bowl began in 1978 and was an immediate hit with viewers, as eight of first nine contests were decided by a touchdown or less, including five by a single point. Today its reputation has changed and for those making college football bowls picks, they are very aware that underdogs are 14-6 ATS the past two decades and on a 5-0 ATS run.

When last looking at the college football odds, the Cougars were a 2.5-point choice over the Spartans with a total of 45.

Michigan State Preview

The Spartans should be excited to be in San Diego or anywhere for that matter, after missing a bowl game last year for the first time in coach Mark Dantonio’s 11 seasons. The Michigan State offense was mostly uneven this season in averaging a mere 23.1 points a game (106th nationally). Dantonio was frequently glowing in comments about his QB Brian Lewerke, but the results seldom matched the talk and the Spartans were 77th in passing at 215.4 yards per game. Lewerke is a good enough athlete and ran for 486 yards. A year after being unusually weak defensively, Michigan State roared back and finished 9th in total defense and permitted just 20.2 PPG. How their defense plays in this encounter will be extremely important.

Washington State Preview

The Cougars are back in the same bowl for a second straight season and will want to use a great deal of mouthwash. With a chance to reach the Pac-12 championship, Washington was embarrassed again by rival Washington 41-14, in regular-season finale. Last year they gave a meager performance as eight-point favorites and lost to Minnesota 17-12, hence, the need for getting rid of the bad taste in the mouth. No doubt senior quarterback Luke Falk would like to end a fine career on a winning note and build on 30 touchdown passes thrown this season. The Cougars were No. 2 in passing offense in the country, but the offense line could not keep Falk upright enough and he was sacked 39 times this year. Washington State's defense was again underrated in giving up 24.4 PPG and they held opponents 21 percent below their normal yardage.

Holiday Bowl Outcome

On the side, I will wait closer to game time, hoping to pick up Sparty at +3 on a key number. What I do like is the total in this battle. As mentioned, Michigan State is not a high scoring team and with the total, this low, sportsbooks are saying the Spartans will control the tempo. Yet, when facing teams that had a greater ability to score, Michigan State has gotten into some higher than presumed scoring contests and Washington State fits the bill in that category at 31.4 PPG. When digging deeper I found the Spartans are 10-2 OVER in away contests after allowing 14 points or less in two straight games and the Cougars are 26-9 OVER when the total is between 42.5 and 49. Let's side with higher score.

Free NCAAF Picks: Over 45Best Line Offered: Pinnacle

[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":3375341, "sportsbooksIds":[238,1096,43,1275,169], "LineTypeId":3, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]

comment here