Scully’s 2018 College Football Bowl Games Free Picks (December 15)
2018 CURE BOWLTulane Green Wave (-3.5) vs UL-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns (Saturday, 1:30 ET)
UL-Lafayette (+3.5) possesses a dynamic rushing attack, ranking 19th with an average of 229.1 rushing yards per game, and we can expect to see big plays Saturday from an offense that ranks ninth nationally with 40 plays of 30+ yards. They’ve got a legitimate chance to win straight up and I like the Rajin’ Cajuns in the underdog role.
Tulane features a better defense but big plays have been a weakness for the Green Wave, who surrendered 33 plays of 30+ yards. That’s potentially an enormous liability and Green Wave doesn’t feature a high-scoring offense (93rd nationally with 25.7 per game).
These opponents know each other and UL-Lafayette 4-1 ATS record in last five meetings. They’ve been outstanding for bettors this season, posting an 8-2 ATS record in last 10 games, and played at a higher level down the stretch than Tulane, who enters on a 0-3 ATS slide.
Trey Ragas leads the way with 1,141 rushing yards and Ragin’ Cajuns’ ground game hurts opponents in multiple ways, with Elijah Mitchell (12 TDs, 900+ rushing yards) and Raymond Calais (9.1 yards per carry) making an impact. UL-Lafayette scores 32.5 points per game behind a fine offensive line that opens run lanes and allowed only 21 sacks. And the defense, which was a sieve last year allowing 40 points per game, has been much-improved. Excluding Alabama and Miss St. games, opponents averaging only 29 points per game this season.
UL-Lafayette is 11-1 ATS in last 12 non-conference games and will continue to run the ball effectively, putting together long, time-consuming drives against Tulane defense that has given up 18 rushing TDs. Take the points with the Ragin Cajuns!
Cure Bowl Free Picks – Bet UL-Lafayette +3.5 over Tulane!
2018 NEW MEXICO BOWLNorth Texas Mean Green (+7.5) vs Utah State Aggies (Saturday, 2 p.m. ET)
North Texas (+7.5) took a step forward in 2018 behind QB Mason Fine, who threw for more than 3,700 yards with 27 TDs and only five interceptions while guiding the nation’s 11th-best passing attack. RB Torrey recorded 14 TDs as the Mean Green averaged 472 total yards and 36.6 points per game.
The second-best team in Conference USA, North Texas hasn’t been a reliable favorite, failing to cover the last four games, and enters on 1-7 ATS run from the last eight games. But they’ve proven to be a dangerous non-conference underdog, recording a 9-3 ATS in the last 12 tries out of conference, and an eight-point spread offers appeal given their high-scoring offense.
Utah State remains a quality opponent, averaging a staggering 47.2 points per game (third-best behind Oklahoma and Alabama), and they really had it rolling at times behind dynamite QB Jordan Love. But the season didn’t end as planned and I’m not expecting their best performance in the New Mexico Bowl.
Aggies struggled to beat lowly Colorado St. in Week 11 before losing by double digits as a slight underdog to Boise St., the latter costing them a spot in the Mountain West conference championship game. Head coach Matt Wells bolted in the aftermath, taking assistants with him to Texas Tech, and the three lowest-scoring games came in the second half of the season.
North Texas finished on the upswing, winning three of the last four to earn this bowl berth, and I’m expecting an entertaining affair between high-scoring teams that could go either way. Give me the points with North Texas!
Bowl Free Picks – Bet North Texas +7.5 over Utah State!
2018 LAS VEGAS BOWLArizona State Sun Devils (+4) vs Fresno State Bulldogs (Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET)
Fresno St. (-4) gets after teams defensively and this spread is too low considering how well they played down the stretch in the Mountain West.
After a 1-11 campaign in 2016, Jeff Tedford was hired and has orchestrated a remarkable turnaround over the past two seasons. Fresno St. enters with an 11-2 SU record and is ranked 19th in the AP and 21st in the CFPR. It all starts with defense as the Bulldogs have held teams to only 13.7 points per game and rank 17th in total defense.
In the conference championship, Fresno St. traveled to Boise St. and kept their high-scoring rival in check, winning 19-16 as an underdog. QB Marcus McMaryion enjoying a big year, throwing for nearly 3,500 yards with 25 TDs and three interceptions, and Bulldogs should have the better passing attack with Arizona St.’s star WR N’Keal Harry (73 catches, 1,088 yards & 9 TDs) skipping the game for the NFL draft. Fresno capable of moving the ball readily on Arizona St.’s defense.
Picked to be at the bottom of conference by media members, Arizona St. exceeded expectations finishing second in Pac 12 South division. Herm Edwards deserves plenty of credit for changing the culture and Sun Devils an up-and-coming program, but this game promises to be a tough match-up.
Arizona St played little-to-no defense down the stretch, surrendering 33 points per game over the final three weeks. They were forced to outscore opponents during the second half of season, recording 35.4 points per game as they won four of the last five games, but that’s not a winning formula against Fresno St. QB Manny Wilkins and RB Eno Benjamin remain dangerous, but Harry is a huge loss and the outstanding punt returner will be missed on special teams as well.
Fresno St. excels against non-conference foes, posting an 8-2 ATS mark in last 10 games, and has too many advantages here. Look for the Bulldogs to slow down the Arizona St. offense and control the clock with an efficient attack. I expect a convincing win from Fresno St., lay the points!
Las Vegas Bowl Free Picks – Bet Fresno St. -4 over Arizona St.!
James Scully is a professional handicapper who hails from the great state of Ohio. You can follow him on Twitter @JamesScully.