Thundering Herd Ready to Stampede Rams in New Mexico Bowl

new mexico bowl

Swinging Johnson

Thursday, December 7, 2017 2:25 PM GMT

Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017 2:25 PM GMT

The Thundering Herd of Marshall will look to trample the Rams of Colorado State on Dec. 16 in the New Mexico Bowl. Let's check out the college football odds and determine which team covers the number.

Free NCAAF Pick: Marshall +5½Best Line Offered: 5Dimes

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Marshall (7-5 SU, 8-4 ATS) vs. Colorado State (7-5 SU, 4-8 ATS)
  • Colorado State is 0-5 ATS in their last five games following an ATS loss.
  • Colorado State is 0-5 ATS in their last five games as a favorite.
  • Colorado State is 0-5-1 ATS in their last six neutral site games.
  • Marshall is 5-1 ATS in their last six games following an ATS loss.
  • Marshall is 5-0 ATS in their last five bowl games.
  • Marshall is 5-0 ATS in their last five games as an underdog.

Colorado State will seduce the public in this game because the Rams score more points, pass for more yards and run for more yards than their opponents in the New Mexico Bowl. But what they haven't been doing much of lately is winning and what they haven't been doing at all is covering. CSU has failed to cover the number in their last six games, but Joe Q. Public loves to lay it in on favorites and after a cursory glance at the college football odds in this one, the Rams are the people's choice. The optics are all there, but there is more to choosing your college football picks than simply what looks good on the surface.

Marshall won and covered six of its first seven games but the last half of the season has not gone nearly as well. Over the Herd's finals six games, they have alternated covers and non-covers in perfect harmony. If the pattern holds true, Marshall is due for a cover after dropping a 28-27 heartbreaker to Southern Miss as 2-point home chalk. And although that may make us feel better about backing the Herd, it has little bearing on why we are backing this neutral-site underdog.

One thing the Rams do much better than the Thundering Herd is run the ball. Colorado State averages 211 yards per game on the ground, which ranks it 29th in the nation. But the Rams won't be running much against Marshall because the Herd boast an excellent run defense, ranking 20th in all of college football in allowing just 120 yards per game. Speaking of defense, Marshall surrenders just 19.3 PPG (17th), and when Colorado State begins to realize it cannot move the chains on the ground it will become one-dimensional and begin passing early and often. That's when Marshall's opportunistic defense will be able to key on Rams QB Nick Stevens dropping back in the pocket and scanning the field for targets. It's easier to defend against the pass when you don't have to worry about the run.

Marshall has a mediocre offense, but it should look much better after having all this time to prepare and due to the fact that it will face the thoroughly mediocre defense of Colorado State. Defense will win the day for the Herd, but we will grab the points ... just in case.

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