Wednesday's Late Bowl Tips
December 26, 2017
By Brian Edwards
Editor’s note: Brian Edwards thumped the books with a 4-0 record Tuesday, cashing winners on Utah, Duke, K-St. and the K-St.-UCLA 'under.' His overall record for the season is now 68-55 (55.3%, +8.09 units). Don’t miss out tonight’s pay-if-it-wins-only selection or you can go ahead and sign up for his entire postseason package!
**Missouri vs. Texas**
-- The Southeastern Conference and the Big 12 will collide Wednesday at NRG Stadium in Houston, where Missouri will take on Texas in the Texas Bowl. As of early Tuesday, most betting shops had Missouri (7-5 straight up, 7-5 against the spread) listed as a 2.5-point favorite with a total of 60.5. The Longhorns were +120 on the money line (risk $100 to win $120).
-- Missouri brings a six-game winning streak to the Longhorn State. The Tigers won by at least 29 points in the first five games of this current surge, although we should note quite a few cupcakes on that victim list. Nevertheless, Barry Odom went from a rapidly-warming seat in terms of his job security to a contract extension following his second regular season as head coach.
-- Since losing three home games in a row by 107 combined points to South Carolina (31-13), Purdue (35-3) and Auburn (51-14), Missouri has produced a 7-1 spread record. The lone non-cover came in the regular-season finale, when the Tigers defeated Arkansas 48-45 but failed to take the cash as 10-point road ‘chalk.’ Tuck McCann, who buried a 37-yard field goal to give Missouri a 31-28 lead with seven ticks left in the second quarter, hit a 19-yard field goal with five seconds remaining to lift his team to a victory.
-- Missouri had a 696-446 advantage in total offense over Arkansas, in addition to a 35-19 edge in first downs. Ish Witter rushed for 170 yards and one TD on 39 carries. Drew Lock threw for 448 yards and five touchdowns, but he was intercepted twice. J’Mon Moore had 10 receptions for 160 yards and one TD, while Emanuel Hall had a pair of catches for 111 yards and two TDs. Albert Okwuegbunam had five grabs for 63 yards and two TDs.
-- Witter has run for a team-best 992 rushing yards and five TDs while averaging 5.8 yards per carry. Larry Rountree III has run for 629 yards and six TDs with a 5.6 YPC average.
-- Missouri is ranked eighth in the nation in total offense, ninth in scoring with a 39.3 points-per-game average, 14th in passing yards and 35th in rushing yards. Missouri’s defense is ranked 89th in total defense, 110th out of 130 FBS teams at defending the pass and 94th in scoring ‘D’ (31.8 PPG).
-- Lock earned first-team All-SEC honors by completing 58.2 percent of his throws for 3,695 yards with a 43/12 touchdown-to-interception ratio. The junior signal caller has thrown 33 TD passes compared to six interceptions in his team’s past eight games. Moore has 60 receptions for 1,017 yards and 10 TDs, while Hall has 33 catches for 817 yards and eight TDs. Johnathon Johnson has 38 grabs for 639 yards and five TDs, while Okwuegbunam has 25 receptions for 372 yards and 11 TDs.
-- Missouri is winless against the five foes it has played that qualified for the postseason. The Tigers are 2-2 ATS in their four games as single-digit ‘chalk.’
-- Texas (6-6 SU, 7-4-1 ATS) owns a 4-1 spread record with one outright win in five games as an underdog this season. During Tom Herman’s three seasons as a head coach, including two years at Houston, his teams are 9-1 ATS with six outright victories.
-- How bad has the Texas running game been this year? Well, a true freshman QB that’s only played in parts of eight games is the team’s leading rusher. Sam Ehlinger has run for 364 yards and a pair of TDs with a 3.5 YPC average. He has completed 56.5 percent of his passes for 1,803 yards with a 10/7 TD-INT ratio.
-- Texas enjoyed a 5-0-1 ATS run from early September through October, but the Longhorns struggled to a 1-3 spread record in their last four contests. They were gunning for a third straight SU win in their regular-season finale vs. Texas Tech in Austin. However, the Red Raiders rallied from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to capture a 27-23 win as 7.5-point road underdogs. Ehlinger threw for 239 yards and one TD, but he had a pair of costly interceptions. True freshman RB Daniel Young rushed 13 times for a team-high 55 yards, including a nine-yard TD run that gave UT a 17-10 lead midway through the second quarter.
--Texas has all sorts of personnel issues right now. Leading tackler Malik Jefferson, a junior LB, is listed as ‘doubtful’ with a toe injury. Jefferson has 110 tackles, four sacks, six tackles for loss and five QB hurries. The Longhorns will also be without three players due to suspensions and two players who aren’t playing to stay healthy for the upcoming NFL Draft. The biggest loss is that of OT Connor Williams, who was a first-team All-American as a true sophomore in 2016. He and junior starting safety DeShon Elliott won’t play with eyes on their futures on Sunday. Elliott is the Longhorns’ second-leading tackler with 63 tackles, six interceptions for 127 return yards and two TDs, 1.5 sacks, seven tackles for loss, nine passes broken up and three forced fumbles. As for the suspensions, they apply to TE Garrett Gray, RB Toneil Carter and WR Lil’Jordan Humphrey. Carter has run for 252 yards and three TDs while averaging 4.8 YPC. Humphrey is the team’s second-leading receiver with 38 catches for 439 yards and one TD. The Dallas Southlake Carroll High School product also rushed for 41 yards and one TD on six attempts. Gray had four receptions for 18 yards.
-- Herman named sophomore QB Shane Buechele the starter ahead of Ehlinger vs. Missouri a few days ago. Buechele has connected on 65.8 percent of his passes for 1,350 yards with a 6/4 TD-INT ratio. He has a pair of rushing TDs. Buechele was given the starting nod vs. Texas Tech, only to be relieved by Ehlinger after two series.
-- Collin Johnson is UT’s leading receiver, hauling in 51 receptions for 725 yards and two TDs. Armanti Foreman has 27 catches for 261 yards and a team-best four TD grabs.
-- The ‘under’ is on a 6-1 run for Texas to improve to 9-3 overall. UT has seen its games average combined scores of 50.8 PPG.
-- The ‘over’ is 7-5 overall for the Tigers, but the ‘under’ is 3-2 in their last five outings. They’ve seen their games average combined scores of 71.1 PPG.
**Purdue vs. Arizona**
-- Purdue and Arizona will square off Wednesday night at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA., in the Foster Farms Bowl. As of early Tuesday, most spots had Arizona listed as a three-point favorite with a total of 66. The Boilermakers were +140 on the money line (risk $100 to win $140).
-- Purdue (6-6 SU, 8-4 ATS) is in the postseason for the first time since getting pounded 58-14 by Oklahoma St. as a 17-point underdog at the 2012 Heart of Dallas Bowl. Jeff Brohm did an outstanding job in the first year of his tenure since coming to the Big Ten after winning three straight C-USA titles at Western Ky. Remember, the Boilermakers won merely nine total games during four seasons of Darrell Hazell’s tenure.
-- Purdue won three of its past four games both SU and ATS to garner a bowl berth. The Boilermakers closed the regular season with a 31-24 win over Indiana as one-point home ‘chalk.’ They had a 31-10 advantage with six minutes left, only to allow the Hoosiers to score a pair of TDs late in the final stanza to kill my ‘under’ (51) wager. Sophomore QB Elijah Sindelar completed 15-of-29 passes for 159 yards and two TDs without an interception. Markell Jones rushed for 217 yards on 31 carries, while Anthony Mahoungou had a pair of catches for 88 yards and one TD.
-- Purdue went 3-4 against teams that made the postseason, posting victories over vs. Ohio (44-21), at Missouri (35-3) and at Iowa (24-15). The Boilermakers lost four one-possession games, and two of those defeats came by three combined points. In a 17-9 loss at Wisconsin, they were in the red zone threatening to tie at crunch time before a turnover ended their comeback hopes. Purdue also played Louisville tough in the opener before dropping a 35-28 decision in Indianapolis.
-- Purdue owns a 4-2 spread record with a pair of outright victories in six games as an underdog this season.
-- Sindelar became the starter in October when David Blough was injured. Blough briefly returned to the lineup to start Nov. 4 vs. Illinois, but he sustained as season-ending injury vs. the Illini. Sindelar played particularly well in the last four games, throwing eight TD passes compared to just one interception. For the season, Sindelar completed 55.6 percent of his throws for 1,703 yards with a 14/6 TD-INT ratio. He threw for a career-high 376 yards and two TDs in a 23-13 loss at Northwestern.
-- Jones missed all of September injured and played only in spurts through much of October. He was the primary ball carrier in the last two games, rushing for 74 yards on 14 carries at Iowa. Jones finished the season with a team-high 480 yards and one TD with a 5.2 YPC average. He also had 11 catches for 50 yards. Tario Fuller, the team’s third-leading rusher, went down with a season-ending injury in November. He had run for 261 yards and two TDs with a 6.1 YPC average. RB Richie Worship is also done for the year after rushing for 257 yards and three TDs with a 4.8 YPC average.
-- Sindelar’s favorite target is Mahoungou, who has 33 receptions for 560 yards and six TDs. Jackson Anthrop has 44 catches for 391 yards and five TDs, while Brycen Hopkins has 23 grabs for 324 yards and three TDs. Cole Herdman has 19 receptions for 316 yards and three TDs. Hopkins, a sophomore TE, is ‘questionable’ vs. Arizona due to a back injury.
-- Purdue is ranked 16th in the nation in scoring defense, giving up only 19.3 points per game. This unit is 29th in the country in rushing defense. Senior LB Ja’Whaun Bentley is the leader, recording 89 tackles, one pick-six that covered 76 return yards, 9.5 TFL’s, three PBU and a pair of forced fumbles.
-- The ‘under’ is 9-3 overall for Purdue. It had cashed in six straight before IU’s late fourth-quarter TDs sent that game ‘over’ the total. The Boilermakers have seen their games average combined scores of 43.5 PPG. If the total remains at 65, it will be the third-highest for Purdue this year. Brohm’s team had totals of 66 vs. U of L (‘under’ the 63 combined pts.) and 76 at Missouri (‘under’ the 38 pts.).
-- Arizona (7-5 SU, 6-6 ATS) started the season 2-2 before going to Khalil Tate as its starting QB. Tate immediately led UA to four consecutive victories and into Pac-12 South contention. Trailing 28-6 at Southern Cal midway through the third quarter of a crucial conference clash, Tate exploded in a span of less than 13 minutes of playing action. During this stretch, he had a 32-yard TD run and TD passes of 30 and 16 yards, as the Wildcats pulled even at 35-35 with 8:23 remaining. It wasn’t to be, though, as the Trojans answered with back-to-back scoring drives and won a 49-35 decision.
-- UA bounced back with a 49-28 win over Oregon St. as a 20.5-point home favorite, only to lose its last two regular-season games. Nevertheless, the Wildcats are back in the postseason after a one-year absence. During Rich Rodriguez’s six-year tenure, they own a 3-1 SU record and a 1-3 ATS mark in four bowl games. They beat New Mexico 45-37 in a true road game at the 2015 New Mexico Bowl, only to fail to cover as nine-point ‘chalk.’
-- Arizona is ranked third in the nation in rushing yards (324.8 YPG), 11th in total offense and sixth in scoring with a 41.8 PPG average. On the flip side, UA is ranked 117th out of 130 FBS teams in total defense, 122nd vs. the pass and No. 109 in scoring ‘D’ (34.1 PPG).
-- Tate will be on the list of Heisman Trophy candidates in 2018. He started eight games and played sparingly in two others. The true sophomore completed 61.4 percent of his passes for 1,289 yards with a 9/8 TD-INT ratio. Most notably, Tate ran for 1,353 yards and 12 TDs while averaging 10.2 YPC.
-- When Tate isn’t keeping the ball himself, most of the touches go to RBs J.J. Taylor and Nick Wilson. Taylor has run for 827 yards and five TDs, averaging 6.1 YPC. Wilson has 585 rushing yards, six TDs and a 4.9 YPC average.
-- Shun Brown has team-highs in receptions (39), receiving yards (511) and TD catches (five). Tony Ellison has 33 catches for 496 yards and three TDs.
-- Arizona went 0-2 ATS in a pair of single-digit ‘chalk’ spots. UA went 2-5 both SU and ATS in seven games against foes who made the postseason.
-- The ‘over’ is 8-4 overall for Arizona, but the ‘under’ cashed in each of its past two regular-season games. Those were brutal beats for ‘over’ backers, however. The Wildcats had second and goal from the one late in the fourth quarter at Arizona State, which held a 42-30 lead (for 72 combined pts.) with the total closing at 75.5. UA came up empty in three plays needing to get one yard into the end zone. In the 48-28 loss at Oregon the week before, I played the ‘over’ at 74.5 points early in the week. The total was still 75 early Friday, only to move up to 77 by Friday afternoon. Therefore, those who took the ‘over’ Friday afternoon or later lost by one point. The ‘over’ hit in six straight games when QB Khalil Tate was initially inserted into the starting lineup. The Wildcats have seen their games average combined scores of 75.9 PPG.
-- FOX will have the telecast at 8:30 p.m. Eastern.
Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.
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