Houston Cougars vs. San Diego State Aztecs Betting Preview
Where: Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, Nevada
When: Saturday, December 17, 3:30 PM ET
Line: Houston Cougars (-3.5) vs. San Diego State Aztecs (+3.5); total: 54.5 – view all NCAA Football odds and lines
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Betting on the Houston Cougars (-3.5)
Tom Herman, who has accepted the head-coaching gig in Austin, will no longer be there to guide Houston in the Las Vegas Bowl this Saturday. But at least the Cougars still have Greg Ward’s arms and legs.
Ward has been fantastic all season long. The dual-threat quarterback had 3,228 passing yards and 22 touchdowns against nine interceptions to finish the season. On the ground, he led the Cougars with 518 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. Ward had 487 passing yards (47/67) with four TD’s and an INT, albeit in a loss to Memphis, 48-44, to close out the Cougars’ regular season schedule.
Ward’s ability to dissect opposing defenses either by air or by ground is going to be critical this Saturday, as Houston is facing San Diego State’s stout defense that ranks 19th in the nation with only 21.0 points allowed per game.
Speaking of defense, the Cougars are second in the nation in rushing defense and that could be the deciding factor in this game. The Aztecs have Donnel Pumphrey, who is among the all-time FBS leaders in rushing yards so how the Cougars will limit Pumphrey’s production is likely going to dictate the outcome of this contest.
The under is 4-1 in the Cougars’ last five games overall.
Betting on the San Diego State Aztecs (+3.5)
Contrary to what most people think, San Diego State isn’t just about Pumphrey. Pumphrey has been a ball of thunder for most of the season, compiling 2,018 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns but opposing defense will certainly pay if they forgot about Rashaad Penny.
Penny isn’t too shabby himself, as he has 995 rushing yards and 11 rushing touchdowns on the year. In the Aztecs 27-24 win over Wyoming last Saturday, Penny led the team with 117 rushing yards and two scores with Pumphrey added 110 and a touchdown.
The Aztecs are seventh national in rushing yards with 273.3 per contest.
But with Houston’s elite run defense on the horizon, the Aztecs will try to involve the passing game more. That means a bit more pressure for quarterback Christian Chapman, who has 1,866 passing yards and 19 touchdowns against six interceptions on the year.
Also note that the Cougars have been bad all year when it comes to covering the spread as faves. In fact, Houston has failed to beat the spread in all of its last six games as the chalk. Conversely, the Aztecs are 2-0 ATS in their last two as the underdogs.
Houston (-3.5) wins, 28-25.
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