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Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: San Diego State vs. Buffalo Pick-Odds-Prediction 12/21/13

Buffalo Bulls (8-4) at San Diego State Aztecs (7-5)

College Football: Saturday, December 21, 2013 at 5:30 pm (Bronco Stadium)

The Line: San Diego State Aztecs +3.5 -- Over/Under: 51 See the Latest Odds


Storyline: The Buffalo Bulls hook up with the San Diego State Aztecs Saturday in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl with both sides looking to notch a couple of postseason firsts. Buffalo is seeking its first ever bowl victory, while third year Aztecs coach Rocky Long is looking for his first at San Diego State after going 0-2 in bowl games the past two seasons.

The Breakdown: The Bulls maybe drew the toughest first two opponents of anyone in the country, opening the season at #2 Ohio State then having to travel to #23 Baylor the following week. The first result, a somewhat mild 40-20 spanking against the Buckeyes, paled in comparison to the 70-13 can of butt whoopin the Bears opened up on ‘em. The loss apparently had some sort of positive effect as Buffalo reeled off its next seven (the highlight a 41-12 rout of UConn) before ending the season with losses in two of its final three, finishing a respectable 8-4 after going a combined 9-27 in the three seasons prior.

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: San Diego State vs. Buffalo Pick-Odds-Prediction 12/21/13

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Spor

Defense is where the Bulls cross the line between middle of the road and elite territory, ranking 27th in the country in scoring defense, allowing 22.3 points per contest. And senior LB Khalil Mack, a projected NFL first-round draft pick, is this unit’s unquestioned leader. Khalil finished the regular season with 94 tackles (19 for a loss) and 10.5 sacks, collecting the Lambert Award (as college football’s top LB) in the process. Buffalo also possesses some next-level talent on the offensive side of the ball in senior RB Brandon Oliver (1,421 yards, 15 TDs) and senior WR Alex Neutz (58 REC, 947 YDs, 11 TDs). Look for both to play key roles in this one.

San Diego State, meanwhile, started the season three games in the hole, dropping contests to E. Illinois, then #3 Ohio State and Oregon State before gaining their footing and winning three straight. The Aztecs then lost an overtime thriller to Fresno State before a four-game winning streak and season-ending loss to UNLV put them at 7-5, resulting in their third consecutive bowl berth.

While San Diego State resides in the bottom third of the barrel in most statistical categories (The nation’s 97th ranked scoring defense, 71st scoring offense, 74th rushing offense) there are some standouts on both sides of the ball. Jr. QB Quinn Kaehler doesn’t top that list or even make it, for that matter, but he was effective enough after getting the start in week 2 to guide the Aztecs through some choppy waters, leading them to impressive victories in 3 of 4 overtime thrillers. Kaehler finished with 2,796 yards, 17 TDs and 9 INTs while completing 60.1 percent of his attempts. More pivotal to any offensive success, though, will be the play of junior RB Adam Muema (1,015 YDs, 12 TDs) and junior WR Ezell Ruffin (63 REC, 1,061 YDs, 3 TDs). On the defensive side, senior Nat Berhe is a sideline to sideline, heat-seeking missile of a safety sure to disrupt some things on the Buffalo side.

Rick’s Pick: Buffalo is currently a 3.5 favorite in this one with a total of 51 points, a tossup to be sure. Neither side is a bad pick here as both have key difference makers on the defensive side and multiple on the offensive side so it should come down to whose skill players bring it. Again, a tossup with neither side having a clear advantage numbers wise. Both are averaging in the neighborhood of 30 points a game, though, so the over looks like the best play.

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