Friday's Late Bowl Tips
December 29, 2017
By Brian Edwards
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**Utah State vs. New Mexico State**
-- These schools will collide in tonight’s Arizona Bowl from Tucson. As of early this morning, most books had Utah State (straight up, against the spread) listed as a four-point favorite with a total of 63. The Aggies were +165 on the money line (risk $100 to win $165).
-- New Mexico State (6-6 SU, 6-6 ATS) won three of its last four games to garner bowl eligibility, including back-to-back home wins over Idaho (17-10) and South Alabama (22-17). However, we should point out three consecutive non-covers. The Aggies are 3-2-1 ATS in six games as underdogs with one outright victory at New Mexico (30-28) in Week 2.
-- New Mexico State is ranked fourth in the nation in passing yards and 22nd in total offense. Senior quarterback Tyler Rogers has excellent size and an NFL arm. He has completed 62.3 percent of his passes for 3,825 yards with a 26/16 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Rogers also has seven rushing TDs. Look out for his favorite target and future NFL player Jaleel Scott, who has 73 receptions for 1,042 yards and eight TDs. O.J. Clark has 44 catches for 492 yards and three TDs, while RB Larry Rose III has 49 grabs for 474 yards and two TDs. Clark missed the final regular-season games with a shoulder injury and is listed as ‘questionable
-- Rose, the senior RB who was a third-team All-American in 2015 when he ran for 1,657 yards and 14 TDs, missed one game and rushed for a career-low 792 yards this season. He had seven rushing scores and averaged a career-low 4.7 yards per carry.
-- New Mexico State is winless with a 2-2 spread record in four games against foes that qualified for the postseason. The Aggies faced a pair of Power Five opponents, losing 37-31 at Arizona State and 42-24 at Arkansas.
-- Utah State easily covered the number in its lone appearance as a single-digit favorite this year, thumping San Jose State 61-10 as a two-point road ‘chalk.’ The (other) Aggies’ attempt to win a third straight game was denied by Air Force in their regular-season finale, as the Falcons won a 38-35 decision as 2.5-point home favorites. In the losing effort, redshirt freshman QB Jordan Love completed 17-of-30 throws for 284 yards and two TDs without an interception. Gerold Bright rushed for 102 yards and one TD on nine attempts, while Ron’quavion Tarver had four receptions for 86 yards and two TDs.
-- Love has completed 54.5 percent of his passes for 1,380 yards with an 8/6 TD-INT ratio. He has 164 rushing yards and two TDs with a 4.7 YPC average. Tarver has a team-best 40 catches for 472 yards and seven TDs.
-- Senior RB Lajuan Hunt has run for 695 yards and 10 TDs with a 4.7 YPC average. He also has 27 catches for 162 yards and one TD.
-- Utah State went to bowl games in the first three seasons of Matt Wells’s tenure, but it dipped to a 3-9 mark in 2016. The Aggies, who are 4-6 in the program’s postseason history, are 2-1 both SU and ATS under Wells in bowl games, but they lost a 23-21 decision to Akron in the 2015 Idaho Potato Bowl.
-- Utah State is ranked 18th in the country in pass defense thanks in large part to senior CB Jalen Davis, who has produced five interceptions with 120 return yards and three pick-sixes. Davis has also contributed 32 tackles, four sacks, one tackle for loss, 13 passes broken up and one forced fumble. Davis has 11 career interceptions and four career pick-sixes. The four-year starter garnered first-team All-American honors, becoming just the second player in school history to do so.
-- The ‘under’ has hit in back-to-back games for the Aggies to improve to 7-5 overall. They’ve seen their games average combined scores of 60.1 points per game.
-- The ‘over’ has been a serious money maker in Utah State games, cashing at a 9-3 overall clip. However, the ‘under’ has been a winner in two of USU’s past three outings. USU’s games have averaged combined scores of 58.0 PPG.
-- Kickoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Eastern on the CBS Sports Network.
**Ohio State vs. Southern California**
-- These stories programs will collide tonight in the Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. As of early this morning, Ohio State (11-2 SU, 6-7 ATS) was listed as a 7.5-point favorite with a total of 65. The Trojans were +250 on the money line (risk $100 to win $250).
-- Ohio State handed Wisconsin its first loss of the season and won the Big Ten Championship Game by a 27-21 count as a three-point ‘chalk.’ The Buckeyes never trailed and held two separate double-digit advantages. J.T. Barrett connected on 12-of-26 passes for 211 yards and two TDs with two interceptions. The senior signal caller rushed for 60 yards and one TD on 19 attempts. True freshman RB J.K. Dobbins ran for 174 yards on 17 carries. Junior WR Terry McLaurin had two catches for 92 yards and one TD.
-- Ohio State has won four in a row since taking a 55-24 shellacking at Iowa. The Buckeyes have faced seven teams who made the postseason, winning five of those games. They’re 2-1 SU and 1-2 ATS as single-digit favorites.
-- Barrett has completed 64.6 percent of his passes for 2,928 yards with a 35/9 TD-INT ratio. The senior QB has rushed for 743 yards and 10 TDs this year.
-- Dobbins has rushed for 1,364 yards and seven TDs while averaging 7.5 YPC. Mike Weber has run for 608 yards and 10 TDs, averaging 6.3 YPC.
-- Parris Campbell has 38 receptions for 576 yards and three TDs, while K.J. Hill has 55 catches for 546 yards and three TDs. McLaurin has 28 grabs for 434 yards and six TDs, while Johnnie Dixon has 18 receptions for a team-high eight TDs.
-- Ohio State is ranked sixth in the nation in total offense, fifth in scoring (42.5 PPG), 13th in rushing yards and 28th in passing yards. The Buckeyes are eighth in total defense, eighth in rush defense and 20th in scoring ‘D’ (19.9 PPG).
-- Ohio State has won three straight postseason games until taking a 31-0 pimpslap from Clemson in last season’s Fiesta Bowl.
-- USC (11-2 SU, 3-9 ATS) is 0-2-1 ATS in its past three games, but it has won five in a row outright, including a non-covering 31-28 win over Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship Game as a 3.5-point ‘chalk.’ QB Sam Darnold completed 17-of-24 passes for 325 yards and two TDs without an interception. Ronald Jones ran for 140 yards and two TDs on 30 attempts. Michael Pittman Jr. had seven receptions for 146 yards and one TD.
-- USC laid an egg in its only underdog role this year, getting blasted 49-14 at Notre Dame as a four-point underdog.
-- Darnold has completed 63.7 percent of throws for 3,787 yards with a 26/12 TD-INT ratio. He also has five rushing scores. Jones has run for a team-best 1,486 yards and 18 TDs with a 6.1 YPC average. Deontay Burnett has 74 receptions for 975 yards and nine TDs, while Tyler Vaughns has 51 catches for 690 yards and five TDs. Steven Mitchell Jr. has 41 grabs for 644 yards and four TDs.
-- USC sophomore CB Jack Jones is listed as ‘questionable’ with an ankle injury. Jones has recorded 40 tackles, four interceptions, seven PBU and one forced fumble. Star LB Porter Gustin is ‘doubtful’ due to turf toe. Gustin has been limited to four games by multiple injuries, contributing 16 tackles and three sacks.
-- USC improved to 35-18 in the postseason with last year’s thrilling 52-49 win over Penn State in one of the greatest Rose Bowls ever played. The Trojans are 1-1 in the postseason under Clay Helton.
-- The ‘over’ is 8-5 overall for the Trojans after hitting at a 6-1 clip in their past seven outings. They’ve watched their games average combined scores of 60.8 PPG.
-- The ‘over’ is 9-4 overall for the Buckeyes, going 8-2 in their last 10 outings. They’ve seen their games average combined scores of 62.4 PPG.
-- Kickoff is slated for 8:30 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.
Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.
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