A look, now, at the three bowl games scheduled for this weekend. All NCAA college football betting lines come courtesy Sports Interaction’s online sportsbook:
New Mexico Bowl: Fresno State (8-4) vs. Wyoming (6-6) Fresno State -10.5, Over/Under 55.0
Let’s not beat around the bush here — Wyoming might be the worst team to ever participate in a bowl game. At least that’s what the Rivals.com game preview suggests. The Cowboys rely on strong special teams and one of the best punting units in the country to keep games close, shift field position and try to pin opponents deep, but that’ll be a tall order against a Fresno State team that can really move the ball offensively. Led by RB Ryan Mathews (who led the nation in rushing this year with a crazy 151.3 yards per game average), Fresno finished 19th in the country in yards per game (435.9) and led the WAC in time of possession, just over 32 minutes per ballgame.
Wyoming is a nice story having rebounded from last year’s disastrous season, but some of their results this year indicate they’re a ways away from competing on the big stage. They were whitewashed by Texas (41-10), TCU (45-10) and BYU (52-0) this year, proof that they have the guns to stick with average teams, but are clearly out of their element when pitted against talented squads.
St. Petersburg Bowl: UCF (8-4) vs. Rutgers (8-4) Rutgers -3.0, Over/Under 44.0
This marks the fourth consecutive year Rutgers has gone to a bowl game, a proud accomplishment for this once-moribund program. The Scarlet Knights flirted with Top-25 status for a good chunk of this season and racked up some quality wins along the way. A 30-1 win over then-No. 23 South Florida, a 34-14 whitewash of Louisville and a tough 24-21 loss to No. 24 West Virginia. As such, they’re favoured over the Knights of Central Florida…but not by a lot. To its credit, UCF has played with some of the better teams in the country this year, hanging with the likes of Miami and East Carolina before the signature win of the season — -a 37-32 win over then-No. 13 Houston in mid-November. This one should be an interesting affair, but give Rutgers the edge in bowl game experience.
New Orleans Bowl: Middle Tennessee State (9-3) at Southern Miss (7-5) Southern Miss -4.0, Over/Under 57.5
This one should be full of fireworks thanks to Middle Tennessee State’s high-octane spread offense. The Blue Raiders averaged 41.2 points and 466.8 yards during a six-game winning streak to close out the season. QB Dwight Dasher knows how to move the ball in this offense effectively: 10 differently players have caught a TD pass this season and nine receivers registered 100-yard games. But Southern Miss is no slouch when it comes to piling up the points either; senior RB Damion Fletcher is one of the most productive players in NCAA history. He has 5,224 career rushing yards and is within striking distance of Herschel Walker (5,259) and LaDainian Tomlinson (5,263) to become eighth on the all-time NCAA list.