The 2014 bowl season continues with a Wednesday night Christmas Eve (8:00 pm ET) game featuring the Fresno St. Bulldogs (6-7) of the Conference USA West Conference and the Rice Owls(7-5) of the Mountain West Conference in the Hawaii Bowl from the Aloha Bowl in Honolulu, HI. The Bulldogs lost in the Mountain West Championship Game to Boise St. on December 6th, ending a three game winning streak that propelled them to bowl eligibility. Rice lost their season finale in a spectacular blowout to Louisiana Tech 76-31.
Fresno St. is ranked 69th nationally in scoring offense with an average of 28.1 points per game and 53rd among FBS teams in total offense with 417.7 yards per contest. The Bulldogs rank 99th nationally in points allowed with 32.6 per game and 108th in total defense 455.5 YPG allowed..
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Rice is ranked 65th nationally in scoring offense with an average of 28.7 PPG scored and 70th among FBS teams in total offense with 393.9 YPG. The Owls rank 89th nationally in points allowed with 30.3 per game and 64th in total defense 396.8 YPG allowed.
Fresno St. vs. Rice Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Fresno St. Bulldogs +2.5
@ Rice Owls -2.5
Over 59.5 (-110)
Under 59.5 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
Fresno St. vs Rice Pick
The Bulldogs are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 non-conference games, 0-5 ATS in their last 5 Bowl games and 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games overall. The Owls are 10-3 ATS in their last 13 non-conference games, 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games against Mountain West Conference teams and 7-2 ATS in their last 9 games overall. The Over is 5-0-1 in the Bulldogs’ last 6 non-conference games, 4-1-1 in their last 6 Bowl games and 6-0 in their last 6 games following an outright loss. The Over is 5-2 in the Owls’ last 7 games against a team with a losing record and 36-12 in their last 48 games after allowing more than 40 points in their previous game. In head-to-head play the Over is 4-0 in the last 4 meetings between the two teams.
Fresno St. lost their first appearance in the Hawaii Bowl two years ago against SMU 43-10. Fresno St. had a dismal performance their last time out in the Mountain West title game, they fell behind 28-0 against Boise State before 2 late TDs made the final score more respectable. The Bulldogs dominated the Broncos everywhere but the scoreboard, but were doomed by 3 INTs by QB Brian Burrell and a blocked field goal while the game still in doubt. They are the only team to earn a spot in a bowl game with a sub-.500 record this season.
The Owls also performed poorly in their last outing. They surrendered 677 yards, 408 passing, and were out-gained 269-34 on the ground while allowing 5 TDs of at least 30 yards in their season ending loss to Louisiana Tech. They are heading to a bowl game for a 3rd straight season for the first time in program history. Their appearance in last year’s Liberty Bowl was blowout 44-7 loss to Mississippi St.
Both teams have shown that they have weak defensive units that have not been up to the task of late and historically in bowl games. Taking either team against the line seems like a very precarious pick here, the play here must be the total. With two weak defensive teams and two teams that like to throw the ball, the call here is to take the Over in what has historically been a high-scoring bowl game.