Bowl action continues on Christmas Eve with the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl Monday night (8:00pm ET) from Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, HI featuring the Fresno St. Bulldogs (9-3) of the Mountain West Conference and the Mustangs of Southern Methodist University (6-6). The Bulldogs are 11-1 ATS this season; they have not failed to cover since a 20-10 loss at Boise St. on October 13th. SMU is 7-5 ATS this season, and the Mustangs covered the spread in five of their final seven games this season, including a 35-27 win over Tulsa as a 5.5 point underdog to close out the regular season and gain their bowl eligibility.
The Fresno St. offense ranks among the top scoring offenses in the nation under new Head Coach Tim DeRuyter with an average of 40.2 points per game scored to rank 12th among FBS teams in scoring and 489.2 yards per game of total offense to rank 14th among FBS teams in that category. Junior quarterback Derek Carr (3,742 yards passing, 36 TDs, 5 INTs) was the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year; his top target is league freshman of the year Davante Adams (89 receptions, 97.3 YPG, 13 TDs). Fresno St. fields a strong defensive unit as well, having allowed 22.2 PPG to rank 27th among FBS teams in scoring defense, and allowing 335.8 YPG to rank 19th in the nation in total defense.
SMU’s offense has not lived up to expectations under Head Coach June Jones, a noted guru of high-octane offense, as the Mustangs have averaged 29.5 PPG (60th among FBS teams) and rank a dismal 95th in the country in total offense with 366.2 YPG. Texas transfer Garrett Gilbert (2,720 yards passing, 14 TDs, 13 INTs) is the quarterback for the Mustangs, and Running back Zach Line (1,207 yards, 12 TDs) has been the only threat for a ground game that ranks 96th nationally in production with 128.9 YPG. Defensively SMU has been a middle-of-the-pack team, ranking 57th in the nation in scoring defense with 27 PPG allowed and 66th in total defense with 400.2 YPG surrendered.
Fresno St. vs. SMU Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Fresno St. Bulldogs -12
@ SMU Mustangs +12
Over 59.5 (-110)
Under 59.5 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
Fresno St. vs. SMU Pick:
Fresno St. has a 4-0 record ATS in their last 4 non-conference games, a 20-8 record ATS in their last 28 games on field turf and a 13-3 record ATS in their last 16 games overall. SMU is 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games against Mountain West teams and 501 ATS in their last 6 games on field turf. The over is 4-0 in the Bulldogs’’ last 4 bowl games, 6-1 in their last 7 December games and 4-0 in their last 4 neutral site games. The over is 5-2 in the Mustangs’ last 7 games overall and 3-0-1 in their last 4 games against Mountain West teams; and the under is 13-6 in their last 19 games on field turf and 4-1 in their last 5 non-conference games.
SMU is a vastly inferior team to Fresno St., and the Mustangs have not shown any consistency on either side of the ball this season. Their lack of offensive firepower leaves them ill-equipped to keep pace in a shoot-out with the Bulldogs. Fresno has outstanding skill [players on offense, and also ha playmakers on the defensive side of the ball in safety Phillip Thomas, the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year who led the nation with 8 interceptions. This gives them a decided advantage over an SMU team that has been turnover prone with an inconsistent quarterback in Gilbert. Fresno is a solid bet in this game, take the Bulldogs to cover.
PICK = Fresno State -12