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NCAAF

Dec 13, 2018

Saturday's Early Bowl Tips

Editor's Note: Don't miss out on college football winners this season from Joe Williams on VegasInsider.com. Click to win!

Tulane vs. Louisiana-Lafayette

Cure Bowl History

-- The Tulane Green Wave (6-6 straight up, 5-7 against the spread) of American Athletic Conference meet the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns (7-6 straight up, 9-4 against the spread) of the Sun Belt Conference at the Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida for the AutoNation Cure Bowl.

-- The Green Wave are bowling for the first time since 2013 when they lost to these same Ragin' Cajuns in the New Orleans Bowl by a 24-21 count. Tulane hasn't won in the postseason since 2002 out in the Hawai'i Bowl, pushing past the hometown team on Christmas Day by a 36-28 count. All time the Green Wave have posted a 4-8 record in 12 bowl appearances. This will be their first appearance in the Cure Bowl.

-- The Ragin' Cajuns will be making their sixth-ever bowl appearance, and their first-ever outside of the city of New Orleans. They posted a 4-1 record in five showings in the New Orleans Bowl, winning their first four in the Big Easy before suffering a 28-21 setback against Southern Mississippi in 2016, their most recent appearance in the postseason.

-- Tulane stumbled out of the chute with a 1-3 SU/2-2 ATS record, including losses to Power 5 teams at home against Wake Forest on Aug. 30, 23-17, and on the road against Ohio State on Sept. 22, 49-6. However, in perhaps their most impressive victory of the season, the Green Wave took it to fellow bowl team Memphis, 40-24, winning outright as 14 1/2-point underdogs at home. Unfortunately they were unable to carry over the momentum, losing two in a row to slide to 2-5 SU/3-4 ATS. That's when Tulane kicked it into high gear, winning a pair of road games at Tulsa and South Florida before taking down East Carolina at home to get back to .500. Bowl eligibility wasn't a certainty after getting throttled at Houston 48-17 on Nov. 15, and they held off a poor Navy team 29-28 to just inch over the finish line and end up 6-6. The Green Wave enter bowl season on an 0-3 ATS slide.

-- Tulane posted very marginal numbers on offense this season except for in the run game. They were 30th in the country with 208.7 yards per game, as Darius Bradwell (165-982-9) and Corey Dauphine (116-754-7) are an impressive one-two punch. They were just 103rd in passing, posting a dismal 186.2 yards per game, and 25.7 points per game (PPG) to rank 93rd. Defensively the Green Wave had trouble stopping the pass, ranking just 115th with 265.2 yards per contest. They were halfway decent agaisnt the run, giving up just 153.9 yards per game to check in 50th in the country.

-- ULL checked in 39th in the country with 437.2 yards per game, and they were potent in the run game with 229.2 yards per game to finish 19th in the land. Trey Ragas managed 1,141 rushing yards (5.8 yards per carry) with eight scores, and Elijah Mitchell scored 12 times on the ground, too. WR Ja'Marcus Bradley (38-557-10) is the threat in the pass game. They also posted 32.5 PPG to rank 39th in the nation. The Cajuns were defensively challenged, ranking 96th in the nation with 432.3 yards per game, and they were hammered for 210.0 per game to rank 107th in rush defense. They also gave up 33.7 PPG to finish 105th overall.

 -- The Green Wave are slight favorites in this one. As a favorite of 9 1/2 or less, they went 2-2 SU/1-3 ATS this season. ULL was a single-digit 'dog on three occasions, going 2-1 SU/ATS.

-- The Green Wave enter 2-5 ATS over the past seven games, and they're 1-4 ATS in the past five following a straight-up victory. They're also 1-4 ATS in their past five games on a fieldturf surface.

-- The Ragin' Cajuns are 8-2 ATS in their past 10 games overall, and they're 4-1 ATS in the past five neutral-site games and 4-1 ATS in their five bowl games all-time. They're also 4-0 ATS in the past four games after a straight-up loss while going 4-1 ATS in the past five on fieldturf.

-- The under has cashed in five of the past six games overall for Tulane, while going 5-1 in their past six outside of the conference. The under is also 4-1 in the past five against teams with a winning overall mark.

-- The over is 11-1 in the past 12 non-conference tilts for ULL. However, the under is 4-1 in their past five overall, and 7-1 in the past eight appearances in the month of December.

-- In this series, the underdog has connected in five straight meetings, and ULL is 4-1 ATS in the past five in this series.

-- Kickoff is slated for 1:30 p.m. Eastern on CBS Sports Network.

Utah State vs. North Texas

New Mexico Bowl History

-- In the Gildan New Mexico Bowl at Dreamstyle Stadium in Albuquerque, N.M. it will be the Utah State Aggies (10-2 straight up, 9-3 against the spread) of the Mountain West Conference facing off against the Conference USA representative North Texas Mean Green (9-3 straight up, 4-8 against the spread).

-- The Mean Green fired out to a 4-0 SU/3-1 ATS record, including a 27-point thumping of Power 5 conference member Arkansas back in Sept. 15 on the road. QB Mason Fine and the offense rolled up 44 or more points in each of the first four games and they were sailing along until Sept. 29 when Louisiana Tech upset them at home by a 29-27 score. They rebounded with a pair of conference wins at UTEP and against Southern Miss, but they lost a coin-flip game at UAB by a 29-21 margin to take a second conference loss. A second straight trip to the C-USA title game was still in reach, but a 24-21 loss as 14 1/2-point favorites at Old Dominion put the final nail in their coffin. They were able to finish up strong with a revenge-game win over FAU, 41-38 on Nov. 15, and 24-21 at UTSA to close out the season. They didn't exactly finish up strong, going 0-5 ATS in their final five outings, and 1-7 ATS in the last eight.

-- As far as Utah State, they were looking like a legit Group of 5 representative. They opened the season with a 38-31 loss at Michigan State, easily covering a 23 1/2-point spread. In fact, they covered their first six games until a non-cover at Wyoming on Oct. 20. They Aggies didn't lose again until Nov. 24 in Boise State, failing in their bid for a chance to go to the Mountain West Conference championship game and a more prestigious bowl. They also ended up 3-3 ATS in the final six outings after their perfect 6-0 ATS start.

-- When UNT has the ball they're be very up-tempo and fun to watch. They were 15th in the country in total yards (472.8 yards per game), 11th in passing yardage per game (316.2 YPG) and 21st in scoring (36.4 PPG). Defensively they were strong against the run, allowing just 113.4 YPG to finish 15th, and they gave up just 21.8 PPG to finish 31st. If Utah State is going to exploit them, it will be on the pass. UNT was 92nd in the nation against the pass, allowing 246.1 yards per game.

-- Fine threw for 3,734 yards, 27 TDs and five INTs, and his favorite target is WR Rico Bussey Jr. (68-1,017-12). WR Jalen Guyton (50-702-5) is also a threat in the pass game, while it's all about RBs Deandre Torrey (161-942-14) and Loren Easly (74-386-4) in the run game.

-- For USU, they're 11th in the land in total yards (493.8 YPG), 18th in passing yards (288.8 YPC) and third overall in the nation with 47.2 PPG. Defensively, the Aggies were gashed for 240.1 yards per game, just 84th in the nation. QB Jordan Love completed 65.8 percent of his attempts, throwing for 3,208 yards, 28 TDs and five INTs. Mason vs. Love will be one of the better bowl game matchups we'll see all season. RB Darwin Thompson (132-951-14) is the stud, with Gerold Bright (125-785-8) as the strong change-of-pace guy.

-- For the Aggies, they'll be playing for interim coach Frank Maile, as Matt Wells took the job at Texas Tech. They have lost their past two bowl appearances, and they're 4-8 overall in 12 all-time bowl games. They won their only previous appearance in the New Mexico Bowl, pushing aside UTEP 21-6 in Wells' second season in Logan.

-- The Mean Green will be making their third straight bowl appearance in three years under the tutelage of Seth Littrell, and they're hoping the third time is a charm. They lost in the New Orleans Bowl to Troy last season, and to Army in the Heart of Dallas Bowl in 2016. Overall they're just 2-7 in nine previous trips, and this will be their first-ever appearance in the New Mexico Bowl.

-- Utah State is 4-0 ATS in the past four non-conference games, and 9-3 ATS in the past 12 games overall. However, they're 4-15 ATS in the past 19 against winning teams.

-- North Texas is 10-3 ATS in their past 13 non-conference battles, but they're 0-4 ATS in the past four against winning teams, 2-5 ATS in the past seven games in December and 0-5 ATS in the past five overall.

-- The 'under' has cashed in six straight bowl games for Utah State, but the over is 23-9 in their past 32 overall. The over is 4-0 in the past four non-conference games and 4-1 in their past five against winning sides.

-- The 'under' is 4-0 in UNT's past four outside of the conference, 12-3-1 in the past 16 overall and 5-2 in their past seven on a grass surface.

-- Kickoff is slated for 2:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.

Arizona State vs. Fresno State

Las Vegas Bowl History

-- In the Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas it will be the Arizona State Sun Devils (7-5 straight up, 7-5 against the spread) taking on the Mountain West Conference champion Fresno State Bulldogs (11-2 straight up, 9-4 against the spread).

-- The season started with a lot of promise for AZ State and first-year coach Herm Edwards, as they spanked UTSA and upset a then-ranked Michigan State team 16-13 on Sept. 8 to open 2-0 SU/ATS. However, a two-game losing skid at San Diego State and Washington splashed cold water on the start, and the Sun Devils found themselves 3-4 SU/4-3 ATS through seven games heading into a late-October battle at USC. They won that one 38-35 in exciting fashion behind stud WR N'Keal Harry, who will be skipping this one to get ready for his pro career and the NFL Draft. Sparky also edged rival Arizona 41-40 on Nov. 24 in Tucson for a seventh win.

-- Fresno State fell 21-14 at Minnesota on Sept. 8, and it appeared maybe it might be a so-so season. However, a 38-14 thumping of UCLA on the road renewed hope, and they punished Toledo 49-27 to wrap up September at 3-1 SU/ATS. They wouldn't lose again until Nov. 9 on a Friday night in Boise State, 24-17. However, they would avenge that loss on the Smurf Turf on Dec. 1 in the MWC Championship Game to punch their ticket to Vegas.

-- Arizona State ranked 44th in total yards (427.2 yards per game), and they ranked 56th in passing yards (241.3 YPG). However, those stats are out with the window with Harry in street clothes. Defensively, AZ State ranked 71st in total yards (402.8 YPG), 82nd in passing yards allowed (238.7 YPG) and 65th against the run (164.2 YPG). QB Manny Wilkins is still playing, though, and he passed for 2,896 yards, 19 TD and four INT while running for 416 yards and eight more scores. RB Eno Benjamin (277-1,524-15) will also be leaned upon, adding to his impressive stat line.

-- Fresno State finished 50th in total yards (421.0 YPG), while posting 274.2 YPG to rank 25th in the country. They were also 26th in the land (34.9 PPG). Defensively, the Bulldogs allowed just 323.8 yards per game to rank 17th in the land, and they were third in points allowed with just 13.7 PPG.

-- QB Marcus McMaryion was a dual-threat option who didn't make many miscues. He passed for 3,453 yards, 25 TD and three INT while rushing for seven touchdowns. RBs Ronnie Rivers (108-531-8) and Jordan Mims (113-436-6) are solid on the ground, while WR KeeSean Johnson (93-1,307-8) and TE Jared Rice (51-624-3) are the top options in the pass game.

-- Fresno State won last season in the Hawai'i Bowl, snapping a six-game bowl skid. That includes their only other trip to the Las Vegas Bowl, a 45-20 pounding inflicted by USC. The Bulldogs are 2-1 all-time against Pac-12 members at the time. They also played Colorado in the Aloha Bowl in 1993, but they were in the Big 12 then.

-- Arizona State has a long bowl history, going 14-15-1, including two trips to the Salad Bowl. They appeared in the Las Vegas Bowl once before, getting smacked around by Boise State 56-24 back on Dec. 22, 2011. Arizona State is 2-6 across their past eight postseason appearances. 

-- The Sun Devils are 2-7 ATS in their past nine bowl games and just 1-6 ATS in their past seven battles against Mountain West foes. They are an impressive 10-4 ATS in the past 14 against teams with a winning overall record.

-- The Bulldogs are an amazing 26-7-1 ATS in the past 34 overall and 16-5 ATS in the past 21 against teams with a winning record. They're also 8-2 ATS in the past 10 non-conference battles. However, Fresno is 1-6 ATS in the past seven bowl games and 4-9 ATS in the past 13 against Pac-12 foes.

-- The 'over' has cashed in eight of the past 10 neutral-site games for Arizona State, and 4-1 in the past five non-conference games. They over is also 6-1 in their past seven bowl appearances.

-- The 'under' is 22-8 in the past 30 overall for Fresno State, but the over is 5-2-1 in their past eight bowl appearances. The over is also 16-4-1 in their past 21 against the Pac-12 and 4-1 in the past five outside of the conference.

-- Kickoff is slated for 3:30 p.m. Eastern on ABC.

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