Tough Running Game Makes San Diego St. The Bowl Pick Over Cincy

Doug Upstone

Monday, December 14, 2015 7:01 PM GMT

Monday, Dec. 14, 2015 7:01 PM GMT

Though it has been a mild late fall with winter approaching, nothing looks better to those of you from the Midwest and East placing college football picks than tuning into Hawai'i Bowl.

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College Football Pick: San Diego State -1
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

Not everyone can watch the entire game depending on Christmas Eve arrangements, but seeing palm trees swaying and people in comfortable Hawaiian shorts instead of winter jackets sure is appealing.

The sportsbooks college football odds are out on the side and total for this year's Hawai'i Bowl, which features a stark contrast. In one corner is Cincinnati, a premier passing team who was 7-5 (6-6 ATS) and they will match wits with San Diego State, who was has a superior rushing attack and enters as the Mountain West champions at 10-3 (7-5-1 ATS).

Here is your breakdown on each from football handicapper's perspective.

 

Cincinnati Strengths
The Bearcats are elite passing team, listed fourth in the nation at 373.1 yards per contest. The Cincinnati triggerman is Gunner Kiel, who is adapt at making both short or deep throws and tossed for 2,777 yards and 19 touchdowns, despite missing basically two and 3/4 quarters games with concussion. Kiel is has taken himself out of this bowl game for "personal reasons" and backup Hayden Moore will take his place. The team is comfortable with Moore as he played when Kiel was out with concussion and completed 58.5 percent of 195 pass attempts. Moore had 11 TDs, but was picked off eight times. If Moore is sharp , the entire offense opens up and in five different contests the Bearcats rushed for 237 or more yards. Coach Tommy Tuberville has three good choice at running back, with Tion Green (697 yards), Hosey Williams (727) and Mike Boone (717) the most explosive at 7.5 yards a carry. Shaq Washington (88 catches and 6 touchdowns) heads a deep receiving group.

 

San Diego State Strengths
After 1-3 and 0-4 ATS start to the season, coach Rocky Long turned to his offensive linemen and running backs and put a saddle on them and road them hard. San Diego State enters this bowl game on a nine-game winning streak (7-1-1 ATS), with RB Donnel Pumphrey . The 5'9 junior rushed for 1554 yards at 5.5 yards carry and scored a whopping 16 touchdowns. The Aztecs run unconventional 3-3-5 defense and this year has the speed to really make it work and they finished fifth in total defense at 288 yards per game allowed on just 17.2 points a contest.

 

Cincinnati Weaknesses
Despite 36.1 PPG, Kiel and Moore were not always consistent and that played a part in their five losses. Whether it was accuracy or judgment, in half of Cincinnati's games they had three or more turnovers and in those games they were 2-4 SU and ATS. Known as a defensive coach, Tuberville's Bearcats defense permitted 30.2 PPG. Their biggest weakness was up front where they allowed five yards a carry, which in this matchup is a very big deal if you are considering Cincy for college football picks.

 

San Diego State Weaknesses
San Diego State lost starting quarterback Maxwell Smith in final regular season and at this time is not expected to play. Backup Christian Chapman played in the Mountain West Championship game and went 9 of 14 for 203 yards and a touchdown without an interception. However, if Cincinnati offense would jump to say a 21-7 lead, does Chapman have what it takes to become passer his team might require? The only comparable team the Aztecs faced was California in Week 2 and they lost 35-7. Granted, this is a better San Diego State at this time, but that has to create a little insecurity.

 

Oddsmakers Numbers and Outcome
Sportsbooks like Heritage had Cincinnati as 1.5-point favorites which was frankly a little surprising, but the Bearcats are now one-point underdogs with the quarterback switch. No question the AAC was better than the MWC this season, which played into oddsmakers original reasoning But at this point, this a very confident San Diego State squad and its confusing defense can manufacture doubt and with the Bearcats having shown they will make mistakes, this is positive if you like the underdog. In addition, do you really think a mediocre defense will hold up against a tough and physical running game, I don't.

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