NCAA Football Pick: Fresno State vs Rice to go "Under"

Jeff Grant

Tuesday, December 16, 2014 3:52 PM GMT

Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014 3:52 PM GMT

Fresno State and Rice have struggled offensively at times this season due to saying goodbye to talented signal-callers the year before, which will lead to a low-scoring Hawaii Bowl.

Commonplace 
Fresno State will be making its 14th bowl appearance in the last 16 years, which is important to consider when looking over the college football odds, but head coach Tim DeRuyter has fallen in defeat in his first two tries in that situation since landing the top job on campus.

The Bulldogs and Owls overcame a lot to participate in this matchup at Aloha Stadium, as they became the 20th and 21st teams out of 496 to become bowl eligible after starting out the season with an 0-3 record since 1980.

Over the last two-plus seasons, the squad is 3-0 SUATS when the betting line is between +3 and -3, while the OVER is 2-1 in those three opportunities.

 

Something Historic
Rice has earned a school-record third consecutive postseason berth, and it’s the fourth in eight seasons under head coach David Bailiff, as it accomplished that feat in welcoming back 12 starters from last year’s Conference USA championship team.

The Owls rank fourth nationally in losing just four fumbles en route to a 7-5 SU and 8-4 ATS record, while they sit behind just nine teams in turning the ball over just 12 times overall.

It’s important to point out that the program has covered the number in six of seven games when playing with two or more weeks rest since the start of the 2012-13 campaign.

 

Ground Game
For the first time in 25 years, the Bulldogs started the same five offensive linemen at the same positions for the entire season, which paid dividends after losing star quarterback Derek Carr to the Oakland Raiders in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Fresno State rushed for 183.9 yards per game, which is the highest per game average on the ground since 2009.

 

Getting Stops
The Owls knew it had to play better on defense with the departure of Taylor McHargue, who become the first quarterback to lead them to back-to-back bowl bids.

Rice has held opposing running backs to an average of 3.9 yards per carry over its last nine games, with the stop unit racking up 76 tackles for loss—the most since 2007.

 

Prediction
I’m going to recommend that readers play the total as one of their top college football picks, as the UNDER is 4-0 in the Bulldogs’ last four games versus C-USA members, while the Owls have fallen short of the number in five of their last six neutral site contests.

College Football Pick:  Under 59 at Bookmaker

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