The Gildan New Mexico Bowl takes place on Saturday, December 21st and we will see the Colorado State Rams take on the Washington State Cougars at University Stadium in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The game has a start time of 2:00 pm (Eastern) and be will televised on ESPN. Current odds have Washington State listed as 4.5 point favorites, while the total sits at 65.
Analysis: The first step in the resurgence of the Washington State program under Mike Leach is in full tilt as his team is back in a bowl game for the first time since 2003. Last season, the Cougars were able to win only three games, but have doubled that this season behind an air attack that ranks 4 in the nation, putting up 364.5 passing ypg. this passing attack is led by Connor Halliday, who threw for 4,187 yards, with 28 TDs and 21 INTs. Connor's favorite target is Gabe Marks, who has 69 catches for 770 yards and 6 TD on the season. The Cougars have nine different receivers with at least 200 yards this year, with eight of those receivers catching at least two touchdowns. On defense, Washington State allows 31.3 PPG, which ranks 92nd in the country, while their run defense has been poor allowing 184 ypg on the ground (84th). Washington State (9-3 ATS) has done a good job of beating all the teams it is supposed to beat (4-0 SU and ATS when favored), but its past five losses have all come by double figures, losing by an average of 26.8 ppg over these five defeats.
While the Cougars will go bowling for the first time in 10 years, it has been five since the Rams defeated Fresno State 40-35 in the 2008 New Mexico Bowl. The Rams, who lost four of their first six games, finished third in the six-team Mountain Division of the MWC, while posting an overall record of 7-6 on the year. Junior QB Garrett Grayson (3,327 pass yards, 21 TD and 10 INT) was very good this season, but the offense is really paced by RB Kapri Bibbs, who rushed for 1,572 yards and 28 TDs this season. Rashard Higgins has 64 catches for 795 yards with 6 TDs and is the leading receiver for the Rams. While the offense (35.3 PPG, 29th in FBS) has been very good, the defense has been subpar, allowing 28.6 PPG (79th in nation). The pass defense has been really troubling, ranking 111th in the nation, allowing 265.4 ypg through the air.
Pick: Gotta like the over in this one. The Rams offense has been very good this year and they are balanced, with 203 ypg on the ground and 258 ypg through the air, while putting up 35.3 ppg. Kapri Biggs is a beast in the running game with 1500+ yards this year and will be facing a Washington State defense that is 84th in the nation vs the run, allowing 184 ypg. that should open some passing lanes for Grayson to take advantage of a Cougar pass defense that is 108th in the nation, allowing 261.3 ypg though the air. For the Cougars, they are all about the pass, with the 4th ranked pass offense in the nation and will be taking on a Rams team that struggles mightily vs the pass, allowing 265.4 ypg passing, which is 111th in the nation. Both teams have explosive offenses, while both defenses are very weak and that should lead to a game in the 70's.
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