Ball State Cardinals vs. San Jose State Spartans Pick – Arizona Bowl December 31, 2020

The Ball State Cardinals and San Jose State Spartans meet in the Arizona Bowl on Thursday afternoon. This game will begin in the second half of the first game of the day between Tulsa and Mississippi State. We have a pick for the Armed Forces Bowl, so if you are interested in more college football bowl betting today, be sure to check it out.

The Arizona Bowl will take place at Arizona Stadium in Tucson. Plenty of bowl games have been forced to move around to different locations and states because of Covid-19, but the Arizona Bowl will be played where it belongs in Arizona.

San Jose State is looking to wrap up an incredible season by putting a bow on top of this campaign in the Arizona Bowl. The Spartans were not expected to amount to much in the Mountain West Conference this season. Definitely not reach the conference championship and win.

That’s exactly what San Jose State was able to pull off, though. In a small upset over the Boise State Broncos, San Jose State defeated Boise State by a score of 34-20. If you watched San Jose State play this season, that result didn’t come as much of a surprise. Boise State didn’t look very special to me, and the special season for the Spartans continued.

The football program may face a fine upon returning to California. Upon leaving Santa Clara County, they broke a Covid-19 violation for failing to quarantine for ten days. They returned home after beating Boise State in the Mountain West Championship from Las Vegas. The rules state a ten-day quarantine is required before leaving.

No word on the punishment, but the Spartans are focused on completing an undefeated season. They go into Thursday with a record of 7-0 and need one more win for the perfect season. It’s going to have to happen against the MAC Champions, the Ball State Cardinals.

As underdogs against Buffalo, Ball State won in impressive fashion for a 38-28 win. Drew Plitt was sharp with 273 yards and 3 touchdowns to lead the Cardinals. The Arizona Bowl will undoubtedly be his biggest challenge of the year. Head below for our free Ball State vs. San Jose State pick on December 31, 2020 in the Arizona Bowl.

Ball State Cardinals vs. San Jose State Spartans Arizona Bowl Betting Odds:


  • Ball St. +9.5 (+100)
  • San Jose St. -9.5 (-120)

  • Ball St. +300
  • San Jose St. -370

  • Over 64 (-110)
  • Under 64 (-110)


Ball State vs. San Jose State Prediction:

Ball State will have to pull off another upset to win the Arizona Bowl. They have one under their belts after beating Buffalo for the MAC title, but San Jose State might prove to be a bigger challenge on New Year’s Eve. The key to a win for Ball State is getting another productive outing from quarterback Drew Plitt.

He was on point against Buffalo, and pretty well throughout this season. Plitt threw for 16 touchdowns and 6 interceptions on 65.8% completions this season. He also scored three times on the ground, along with 38 rushing yards. Plitt isn’t amazing, but has a steady enough arm. Ball State scored an average of 34.3 points and accumulated 453.7 yards per game. That’s great, but Plitt and Ball State have a big challenge against the Spartans.

They didn’t see a defense like San Jose State. The Spartans had one of the better defenses in the FBS this season. San Diego State was a sliver better with regard to points against, as they gave up 17.8 points per game as opposed to 17.9 points for the Spartans. They were effective against the pass and run, with 227.1 yards against through the air and 109.7 yards on the ground. Unlike San Diego State, the Spartans have an offense to support themselves with.

Senior quarterback Nick Starkel held his own for the Spartans. He passed for 16 touchdowns and 4 interceptions on 65.1% completions. The former Razorback and Texas A&M Aggie announced that he’ll be back for his fifth year of eligibility, so he’s not done yet in San Jose. He really struggled against better competition in the SEC, but has etched out an identity with the Spartans. They were second in the Mountain West with 442.9 yards and 30.9 points per game.

San Jose State holds a sizable edge defensively in this matchup. The Cardinals weren’t terrible, but ranked in the back half of the FBS and can’t stop the pass. They gave up 441.7 yards and 27.6 points per game. Starkel should feast against their secondary. The Cardinals were anemic against the pass, with nearly 300 yards allowed a game. Ball State had success against Buffalo because the strength of the Bulls is on the ground. If they could pass, an upset was unlikely going to happen.

Starkel is capable of throwing the ball around the yard, so that could spell danger for Ball State in Arizona. There were only eight teams in the FBS that gave up more passing yards than the Cardinals. Expect the Spartans to be able to exploit the Ball State holes in their secondary, something Buffalo didn’t have the talent to do in the MAC Championship. Look for a close game early, with San Jose State pulling away in the second half for a 37-23 win in the Arizona Bowl.


The Bet
Kyle E / Author

Kyle is a veteran of TheSportsGeek and has spent nearly a decade providing accurate sports picks and writeups here. He has been a sports handicapper for 10+ years and started sharing his picks and thoughts in 2011 at TheSportsGeek. His expertise spans across multiple sports, including the NFL, NCAAF, MLB, NHL, and horse racing. Prior to writing for TheSportsGeek, Kyle was a fantasy football expert, who ultimately parlayed it into a successful sports betting career. You can find his picks daily only at TheSportsGeek.