Gildan New Mexico Bowl: Washington State Cougars vs. Colorado State Rams Pick-Odds-Prediction Sat. Dec. 21
Colorado State Rams (7-6) at Washington State Cougars (6-6)
College Football: Saturday, December 21, 2013 at 2:00 pm (University Stadium, Albuquerque, NM )
The Line: Washington State Cougars -4.5 -- Over/Under: 66 See the Latest Odds
Storyline: The Washington State Cougars (6-6) and the Colorado State Rams (7-6) kickoff the 2013-14 Bowl season in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl with both sides looking to put disappointing seasons in the rear view.
The Breakdown: Washington State started its 2013 campaign in promising fashion, losing narrowly to Auburn in the season opener then reeling off three straight wins, including a 10-7 upset of #25 USC in week 2. But the good times were short-lived and a 55-17 spanking against Stanford signaled the beginning of a rough patch. The Cougars pulled out a win over Cal the following week, but then got drubbed in three straight by Oregon State, #2 Oregon and Arizona State. Washington State would take two of its final three games, losing to Washington to end the season.
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There were, however, a few silver linings in the Cougars’ .500 season. Chief among them, Washington State played five teams ranked in the Top 25 and 4 that finished in the top 14 of the final BCS standings. Not a bad way to rationalize a 6-6 finish. The Cougars also possess the nation’s 4th-ranked passing attack at 364.5 yards per contest, led by junior QB Connor Halliday, who’s completed 62.8 percent of his passes for 4,187 yards, 28 TDs and 21 INTs, and a pair of capable targets in sophomore wideouts Gabe Marks (60 REC 770 YDs 6 TDs) and Dom Williams (39 REC 644 YDs 7 TDs). Washington State doesn’t have a running back that’s eclipsed 500 yards rushing this season so look for the passing game to be the focus, particularly against a Colorado State defense that ranks 100th in the country against the pass and 79th in total defense. Defensively, the Cougars weren’t exactly stalwarts themselves, allowing 31.3 points per outing for 92nd in the nation and giving up an average of 4.43 yards per carry for a rank of 80th in the country.
Colorado State, meanwhile, dug themselves a hole right out of the gate, losing their first two and sandwiching wins with losses the entire way through the slate, never winning more than two in a row before a loss showed up to disrupt the party. It’s hard to a pick a highlight in a season devoid of ‘em, but if in fact there was one, it would have to be the Rams holding then #1 Alabama to just 31 points and 338 total yards. Other than that, capping the season off with a 58-13 victory over Air Force, in which the Rams posted 629 total yards is just about the only other high point.
Colorado State did achieve some things on the offensive side this year, though, finishing with the nation’s 29th best scoring offense at 35.3 points per contest, 31st ranked rushing offense with an average of 202.7 yards per outing and 39th best passing offense at 258.5 yards per game. You have to figure that kind of balance will play a role in this game and sophomore RB Kapri Bibbs, who rushed for 1,572 yards and 28 TDs, promises to be central to that end. Bibbs had three games over 200 yards, one of which was a 312 yard, 4 TD performance against Nevada. Junior QB Garrett Grayson should also be a key cog. Grayson completed 62.2 percent of his passes for 3,327 yards, 21 TDs and 10 picks. Freshman WR Rashard Higgins, who led the Rams with 64 catches for 795 yards and 6 TDs, will be Grayson’s primary target. Defensively, Colorado State ranks 48th in the country in rushing defense, allowing 151.9 per contest, 77th in points allowed at 28.6 ppg, 79th in yards allowed at 417.3 and 111th in passing yards allowed at 265.4 per outing.
Rick’s Pick: Washington State is currently a 2.5 point favorite in what should be a dandy of a bowl opener with two offenses that can really light it up and defenses that aren’t exactly known for their, well, defense. Somehow, though, Washington State’s top 5 passing attack hasn’t produced a whole lot in the way of points and averages an underwhelming 29.8 points per game. Conversely, Colorado State’s 39th-rated passing offense is obviously helped along by Bibbs and the running game, making it clear that two dimensions are usually better than one. Unless, of course, you’re up against a high-powered passing game and your pass defense happens to be one of the FBS’s worst. Look for the Cougars to cover the modest spread.
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