College football Wednesday night and we will see the Fresno State Bulldogs take on the Rice Owls at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl. The game has a start time of 8:00 pm (Eastern) and will be televised on ESPN. Current Vegas odds have the game listed as a PK, while the total is set at 59.5.
Analysis: The Fresno State Bulldogs come in with a 6-7 record on the year. Normally a sub .500 team doesn't get to a bowl, but this team did win the West division of the MWC and that was enough to get them a bowl invite. The Bulldogs are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games overall, but just 17-40-2 ATS in their last 59 games following a S.U. loss and 0-5 ATS in their last 5 bowl games. The Over is 5-0-1 in Fresno State's last 6 non-conference games, while the Under is 4-0 in their last 4 vs. Conference USA. Fresno State has been an average offensive squad, ranking 56th in total yards, 58th in passing, 45th in rushing and 73rd in scoring (28.1 ppg). The Bulldog defense has not been good at all, ranking 111th in yards allowed, 96th vs the pass, 105th vs the run and 101st in points allowed (32.6 ppg).
The Rice Owls had an up and down year, as they started 0-3, then went on a 6 game run before finishing up the year 1-2 in their final 3 games. Overall the Owls went 7-5, which includes a 5-3 Conference USA mark. The Owls are 10-1 ATS vs. a team with a losing record and 4-0 ATS in their last 4 vs. MWC, but just 2-5-1 ATS in their last 8 games after accumulating less than 100 yards rushing in their previous game. The Under is 5-1 in Rice's last 6 neutral site games, while the Over is 4-0 in the last 4 meetings between these teams. Rice has been a very average offensive team this year, ranking 73rd in total yards, 71st in passing, 58th in rushing and 68th in scoring (28.7 ppg). The defense for this team has not been great, ranking 65th in yards allowed, 93rd vs the pass, 47th vs the run and 91st in points allowed.
Pick: I knew I should have played this game earlier in the day when it was at +2.5. Oh well. Yes Fresno State is the only team in the Bowls with a losing record, but I feel hey have some advantages in this game that will aid them greatly. This is a venue that the Bulldogs have played at before, while many or all of the Rice players will be making their first trip to the Islands. Thats going to be a major distraction for the Owls. Both defenses have struggled this year, but the Owls have allowed 5 more ppg vs bowl teams than the Bulldogs have and on offense and Special teams the Bulldogs do rate the solid edge here. Fresno is the more experienced team, especially in this venue and they would also love to erase the memory of the last time they were in this bowl, in which they lost 43-10 to SMU. Rice's last 2 games away from home they were crushed 76-31 by La Tech and 41-14 by Marshall, plus last year in their bowl game they were crushed 44-7 by Miss State. This is not a team that steps up when needed. Look for the Bulldogs to win this one in the end.
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