San Diego State Aztecs (10-3) at Houston Cougars (9-3)
College Football: Saturday, December 17, 2016 at 3:30 pm (Sam Boyd Stadium)
The Line: Houston Cougars -3 -- Over/Under: 60 Click to Get Latest Betting Odds
The Houston Cougars and San Diego State Aztecs will face at Sam Boyd Stadium in the Las Vegas Bowl on ABC.
The Houston Cougars started off the 2016 season strong winning their first 5 games, which included a 33-23 victory over the Oklahoma Sooners, however, the Cougars struggled down the stretch going 4-3 over their last 7 games and finished the season with a 9-3 record. On the season, Houston averaged 38.0 ppg on 459.2 total yards per game (301.9 passing, 157.3 rushing). Offensively, was led by duel-threat QB Greg Ward Jr. who accounted for 31 total TD’s for the Cougars on the season. Greg Ward Jr. completed 67.6% of his passes for an average of 302.5 yds/g while also rushing for 47.1 yds/g. Leading the way for the Houston backfield was Duke Catalon (16.4 att/g, 63.8 yds/g, 4 TD) and Dillon Birden (5.6 att/g, 26.3 yds/g, 6 TD). Linell Bonner (8.5 rec/g, 97.8 yds/g, 3 TD), Chance Allen (4.7 rec/g, 67.9 yds/g, 6 TD), Steven Dunbar (4.3 rec/g, 55.8 yds/g, 5 TD), and Duke Catalon (5.0 rec/g, 34.0 yds/g, 3 TD) have been the leading receivers for the Cougars. Defensively, Houston has been allowing their opponents to average 22.6 ppg on 325.0 total yards per game (227.1 passing, 97.9 rushing). Houston struggled a bit with turnovers on the season and finished the season with a turnover margin of -3.
The San Diego State Aztecs finished the regular season with a 10-3 record and was able to win the Mountain West Championship with their 27-24 victory over the Wyoming Cowboys. San Diego State looked unstoppable for the majority of the season with a strong rushing attack and solid defense, however, did struggle at the end of the regular season with losses at Wyoming and at home against Colorado State. On the season, San Diego State averaged 35.3 ppg on 419.1 total yards per game (145.8 passing, 273.3 rushing). Offensively, the Aztecs were led by RB Donnel Pumphrey who had 16 rushing TD’s on the season while averaging 155.2 rushing yds/g. Also in the backfield for the Aztecs is Rashaad Penny (9.7 att/g, 76.5 yds/g, 11 TD) and Juwan Washington (4.0 att/g, 33.3 yds/g, 5 TD). QB Christian Chapman completed 60.3% of his passes for 19 TD and 6 INT while averaging 143.5 yds/g. Mikah Holder (2.2 rec/g, 47.4 yds/g, 5 TD), David Wells (1.6 rec/g, 20.1 yds/g, 4 TD), and Rashaad Penny (1.1 rec/g, 16.9 yds/g, 3 TD) have been the leading receivers for the Aztecs. Defensively, San Diego State is allowing their opponents to average 21.0 ppg on 320.2 total yards per game (208.2 passing, 111.9 rushing). The Aztecs forced 25 turnovers on the season and finished the season with a turnover margin of +10.
The Cougars are 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games. The Aztecs are 0-3 ATS in their last 4 games.
Houston and San Diego State are very similar teams as both have solid rushing defenses and have outstanding go-to players on the offense end in Houston’s Greg Ward Jr. and San Diego State’s Donnel Pumphrey. At the same time, both teams struggled towards the end of the season as teams started to expose both defenses through the air. Houston will be without their head coach Tom Herman who took over for Texas, however, I do think Cougars rushing defense will be able to slow down the Aztecs strong rushing attack and as I think Greg Ward Jr. will be able to have some success through the air, I'm going to take Houston to cover this small spread.