Idaho Vandals vs. Colorado State Rams Betting Preview
Where: Albertsons Stadium, Boise, ID
When: Thursday, December 22, 2016, 7:00 PM ET
TV Broadcast: ESPN
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Betting on the Idaho Vandals (+13)
Although it’s their second-to-the-last season in the FBS, the Idaho Vandals made sure that one of their last few years in bowl competition will be a memorable one.
The Vandals are entering Thursday’s clash in Boise with a four-game winning streak and wins in six of their last eight games (6-1-1 ATS) en route to finishing fourth in the Sun Belt conference and making it to their first bowl game since 2009.
Idaho’s offense has gotten by rather nicely with Matt Linehan at the helm. The junior quarterback, son of NFL coach Scott Linehan, finished strong in his last regular-season game against Georgia State with three passing touchdowns on 15-of-19 passing. However, Linehan’s been a mixed bag for most of the season, throwing for just 2,803 yards along with 15 TDs to 10 interceptions.
The better half of this Idaho squad has been its defense and special teams units. It has a superstar kicker in Austin Rehkrow, who leads the nation in field goals made per game while missing just three of his field-goal attempts all year and going a perfect 35-of-35 in extra-point conversions as well. The defense, meanwhile, is responsible for the team’s sweet plus-eight turnover margin this season, including having six picks over the last two contests.
However, the secondary has still given up an average of 276.8 passing yards per game (114th in the country), and may have a hard time containing a team outside of their conference with high-powered attack like what the Rams currently possess. This now leads us to…
Betting on the Colorado State Rams (-13)
That’s now four-straight bowl-game appearances for the Colorado State Rams, who shocked the current Mountain West champion San Diego State Aztecs, 63-31, in the final game of the regular season.
The Rams may not be as streaky as Idaho entering Thursday’s match, but four wins in their last five games against stiffer competition is positive momentum nonetheless. Their campaign has been revitalized with the mid-season resurgence of quarterback Nick Stevens, who filled in for the injured Colin Hill. Stevens has completed 71.4 percent of his passes for 14 touchdowns and just one pick since returning under center in the middle of October, and he even capped off his regular-season campaign with four passing TDs against San Diego State.
Stevens has plenty of weapons at his disposal, particularly star wideout Michael Gallup, whose 70 receptions, 11 TDs and over 1,000 receiving yards earned him first-team All-Mountain West honors. Colorado’s backfield is also explosive at times with the tandem of Izzy Matthews and Dalyn Dawkins, who combined for 1,506 rushing yards and 15 scores this season.
The Rams’ scoring defense ranks just 60th at 27.8 points allowed per contest, but that unit is still ranked 16 spots higher in the nation’s standings than Idaho’s, which goes to show that the Vandals’ defensive prowess may be a result of weaker opponents from their mid-major conference. And although Colorado State finished with a mere 7-5 record this season, it still went a solid 9-2-1 against the spread, making the team a pretty safe bet regardless of the odds.
The Rams (-13) spoil the Vandals’ dream season with a dominant 37-21 victory.
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