Saturday’s Early Bowl Tips

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New Mexico Bowl (ESPN, 2:00 p.m. ET)

Central Michigan vs. San Diego State

New Mexico Bowl Betting History

-- The Central Michigan Chippewas (8-5 straight up, 9-3-1 against the spread) of the Mid-American Conference will face off against the San Diego State Aztecs (9-3 straight up, 7-5 against the spread) from the Mountain West Conference in the New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque, N.M.

-- The Chippewas will be making their 12th bowl appearance in school history, and first since falling in the Idaho Potato Bowl against Wyoming on Dec. 22, 2017 by a 37-14 score. CMU has dropped four consecutive bowl appearances since topping Kentucky in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl back on Dec. 26, 2012. They're 3-8 SU all-time in bowl games in school history.

-- The Aztecs have posted 17 bowl appearances, going 8-9 in their previous appearances. Like Central Michigan, this will be their first-ever appearance in the New Mexico Bowl. The Aztecs enter on a two-game bowl losing streak, falling in last season's Frisco Bowl against Ohio by a 27-0 score. They topped Houston by a 34-10 score in the Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 17, 2016 for their most recent bowl success.

-- CMU is coming off a disappointing 26-21 loss against Miami-Ohio in the MAC Championship Game at Ford Field on Dec. 7. That loss snapped a three-game win and cover streak to close out the regular season, and the Chips are still 6-2 ATS across the past eight games despite the non-cover vs. Miami. The Chippewas were 2-2 SU/3-1 ATS in four non-conference tilts, including a 42-28 win over New Mexico State in their final non-conference tilts on Oct. 12.

-- San Diego State blew their chance at a conference championship, falling 17-13 against Nevada at home on Nov. 9, and 14-11 at Hawaii on Nov. 23. They scored 20 or fewer points in each of their final five games, while allowing 17 or fewer points in each of their final six. As such, the 'under' connected in each of their final six contests of the regular season. They are 3-0 SU/2-1 ATS in three non-conference tilts, and these two teams have a common opponent - New Mexico State. The Aztecs spanked the Aggies 31-10 back on Sept. 14 to cover a 16.5-point spread, recording their largest margin of victory of the season.

 -- Central Michigan ranks 27th in total yards per game (447.4), 40th in passing yards per game (258.9), 40th in rushing yards per game (188.5) and 44th in points scored (31.9). Defensively the Chips ranked 38th in total yards allowed (351.8), 84th in passing yards allowed (235.2) and 21st in rushing yards allowed (116.7), while checking in 62nd in the country with 26.8 points per game allowed.

-- San Diego State ended up ranked 115th in the nation with 330.1 total yards per game offensively, while finishing 99th in passing yards (194.8) and 99th in rushing yards (135.3). They also posted just 19.0 points per game to finish 119th in the country. On the defensive side of the ball, the Aztecs were dominant, allowing just 288.7 total yards per game to rank fifth, while checking in 53rd with 216.3 passing yards allowed and second with only 72.4 rushing yards per contest. They also yielded only 12.8 PPG to finish fourth in the nation.

-- Aztecs DB Luq Barcoo was tied for second in the country with eight interceptions, while ranking first with 24 passes defensed and he was tied for No. 1 with 16 pass breakups.

-- San Diego State QB Ryan Agnew (calf) is expected to be ready after leaving the regular-season finale due to injury. However, leading RB Juwan Washington (lower body) is a question mark, so RB Chase Jasmin might have to do more of the heavy lifting.

-- Central Michigan is 5-1 ATS in the past six non-conference games and 6-2 ATS in the past eight games overall. However, they're 2-5 ATS in the past seven against winning sides and 0-4 ATS in the past four neutal-site games.

-- San Diego State is 5-2 ATS in their past seven games as a favorite, but they're just 5-13 ATS in the past 18 games on a grass surface and 3-8 ATS in their past 11 appearances in the month of December.

-- The Chippewas have hit the over in six of the past eight games overall, and the over is 4-0 in their past four as an underdog. The over is also 4-1 in their past five non-conference tilts.

-- The under has connected in four in a row for the Aztecs as a favorite, and 4-1 in their past five neutral-site battles while going 20-8-1 in the previous 29 non-conference tilts.

-- The under is 4-1 in San Diego State's past five bowl games.

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

Cure Bowl (ABC, 2:30 p.m.)

Liberty vs. Georgia Southern

Cure Bowl Betting History

-- The FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl will feature a battle between the independent Liberty Flames (7-5 straight up, 6-6 against the spread) and the Georgia Southern Eagles (7-5 straight up, 5-7 against the spread) at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla.

-- Liberty will be appearing in its first-ever bowl game in just their second-ever season at the FBS level. Head coach Hugh Freeze earned a contract extension on Dec. 10 after securing the historic bowl berth for the Flames.

-- The Eagles are the bowl veterans, although this is just their third-ever postseason appearance. They picked up an exciting 23-21 win over Eastern Michigan in last season's Camellia Bowl. They also blasted Bowling Green by a 58-27 count in the 2005 GoDaddy Bowl, so they've never lost a bowl game in their brief history.

-- Liberty started off the season 0-2 SU/ATS, but rattled off five straight wins to get to the precipice of bowl eligibility in late October. A disappointing loss at Rutgers on Oct. 26 spoiled their momentum, but they routed Massachusetts (who didn't?) by a 63-21 score to gain eligibility in style. They fell at BYU and at Virginia on Nov. 9 and Nov. 23, but crushed New Mexico State by a 49-28 count to end the season on a high note, covering a 14.5-point spread.

-- Georgia Southern opened 1-3 SU in their first four outings of the regular season, and they covered just once in the first six games to open the year. The Eagles recorded their most impressive victory of the season with a 24-21 win at Appalachian State on Halloween night, a treat for Eagles fans everywhere. That also likely spoiled any chance App State had of appearing in the Cotton Bowl, although they were still in the running late.

-- Like CMU and San Diego State above, Liberty and Georgia Southern also had a common opponent in New Mexico State. The Eagles routed NMSU 41-7 to cover a 13.5-point spread on Oct. 26, and Liberty pounded them in the finale as mentioned above.

-- Liberty ranked 34th in the country with 443.3 total yards per game, while also posting 290.5 passing yards per game to end up 21st in the land. They're 32nd in points scored with 33.7, while they struggled with 152.8 rushing yards per game to finish 72nd in the nation. Defensively the Flames were very average, ranking 88th with 422.4 total yards per game allowed, 74th against the pass (229.8), 100th against the run (192.9) and 77th in points allowed (29.1).

-- Georgia Southern was a dismal 112th in total yards per game (333.6), 130th in passing yards per contest (72.8) and 63rd in points scored (29.2). However, the triple-option Eagles rank eighth in the nation with 260.8 rushing yards per contest. The Eagles ranked 53rd in total yards per game allowed 377.3, they were 91st against the pass (240.2) and 38th against the rush (137.1) while yielding 28.6 PPG to check in 72nd in the land.

-- Liberty is 17-7 ATS in the past 24 as an underdog, while going 0-4 ATS in the past four non-conference tilts.

-- Georgia Southern is 1-4 ATS in the past five games following a cover in their most recent appearance.

-- The Flames hit the over in four of the past five games overall, but the under is 5-1 in Liberty's past six games as an underdog.

-- The Eagles hit the over in four of their final five games in the regular season, while the over is 4-1 in the past five against winning teams. The over is also 9-3 in Georgia Southern's past 12 games on a grass surface, while going 5-1 in the past six after a straight-up win and 4-0 in the past four after a cover.

-- Kickoff is slated for 2:30 p.m. Eastern on CBSSN.

Boca Raton Bowl (ABC, 3:30 p.m.)

Southern Methodist vs. Florida Atlantic

Boca Raton Bowl Betting History

(Updated Dec. 20 - 8:50 p.m. ET)

-- The Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl features a battle between the Southern Methodist Mustangs (10-2 straight up, 7-5 against the spread) of the American Athletic Conference and the Florida Atlantic Owls (10-3 straight up, 9-4 against the spread) of Conference USA at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, Fla.

-- SMU has a rich bowl history, and they'll make their first appearance in the Boca Raton Bowl. After going 1-4-1 SU in their first six bowl appearances the Mustangs are 6-4 SU across the past 10 appearances, including 4-2 in the past six. They're 0-1 in their only bowl appearance against a Conference USA foe, falling 51-10 to Louisiana Tech in their most recent bowl showing in the 2017 Frisco Bowl.

-- FAU doesn't have a lengthy bowl history, but it has been successful. They debuted Dec. 21, 2007 with a 44-27 win over Memphis, an AAC opponent, before posting a 24-21 win over Central Michigan in the 2008 Motor City Bowl. In their only previous Boca Raton Bowl showing they routed Akron by a 50-3 score on Dec. 19, 2017.

-- SMU fired out of the box with eight straight victories to open the season, while going 5-0 ATS in the first five contests. The 'over' also went 7-0 in the first seven battles, and 9-0-1 in their first 10 contests. Their only losses came in a 54-48 slugfest at Memphis on Nov. 2, and a 35-28 showdown at Navy on Nov. 23. The Mustangs did limp home with a 1-4 ATS mark in the final five games.

-- The Mustangs ranked ninth in the country with 495.3 total yards per game on offense, while ranking 12th in passing yards (309.3) per contest. They're also 41st in the land with 185.9 rushing yards per game and 43.0 points per game to end up seventh in the nation. Defensively the Mustangs allowed 438.6 total yards per game to rank 102nd, while ranking 121st in passing yards allowed (284.9) and 100th in points allowed (31.8 PPG).

-- SMU QB Shane Buechele threw for 3,626 passing yards with 33 touchdowns and nine interceptions while completing 63.2 percent of his passes. RB Xavier Jones ran for 1,249 yards and 21 touchdowns while WR James Proche ended up with 102 receptions, 1,139 yards and 14 combined touchdowns.

-- The Owls will be playing their first game with interim head coach Glenn Spencer at the helm after Lane Kiffin bolted for the vacant Ole Miss head coaching position.

-- FAU ranked 32nd with 443.5 total yards per game on offense while ranking 30th in passing yards (278.4). They were also 16th in the country with 35.2 PPG. Defensively the Owls were 48th with 371.3 total yards per game allowed, 81st against the pass (233.6) and 41st against the run (137.7). They also ranked 33rd while allowing 22.3 PPG.

-- Owls TE Harrison Bryant posted 1,002 yards while capturing the Mackey Award, recognized as college football's best tight end. However, he is not expected to play, either, as he has been battling an illness recently, and he is expected to prepare for the NFL Draft and doesn't want to risk further injury, a trend we've seen from NFL draft prospects in recent years.

-- On Friday, it was deteremined that slot receiver DeAngelo Antoine and Tavaris Harrison, two starting wideouts, would miss the game due to academic issues. Starting MILB Keke Leroy is also out for the same reasons. As a result, the line skyrocketed from as little as -3 to -9 for SMU, and perhaps it will go as high as double digits before kickoff. Leroy leads the lead in tackles (101), sacks (7.5) and forced fumbles (four) while posting three interestions and a program-record 15.5 tackles for loss in 2019.

-- SMU posted a 4-0 ATS mark in their past four non-conference games, but they're 1-4 ATS in the past five games overall.

-- FAU is 5-1 ATS in the past six games overall, while going 4-0 ATS in the past four against teams with a winning overall mark. They're also 5-0 ATS in the past five neutral-site contests.

-- The over is 9-3 in SMU's past 12 games overall, and 6-2 in the past eight as a favorite. The over is also 6-0 in the past six non-conference games, but the under is 4-0 in the past four neutral-site battles and 5-0 in SMU's past five bowl games.

-- The over is 5-1-1 in FAU's past seven as an underdog, while the under is 7-1 in their past eight appearances in the month of December and 8-3 in the past 11 games on a grass surface.

-- This is the first-ever meeting between SMU and FAU on the gridiron.

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