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Fresno State vs. Houston - 12/24/17 College Football Pick, Odds, and Prediction

Houston Cougars (7-4) at Fresno State Bulldogs (9-4)

College Football: Sunday, December 24, 2017 at 8:30 pm (Aloha Stadium)

The Line: Fresno State Bulldogs +2.5 -- Over/Under: 50 See the Latest Odds

TV: ESPN

The Fresno State Bulldogs and Houston Cougars will face off in the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl at the Cotton Bowl on December 24th.

The Fresno State Bulldogs had a major turnover around from their 1-11 season in 2016, to finish their regular season with an impressive 9-4 record. The Bulldogs won the Mountain West – West Division with a 7-1 conference record, however, couldn’t bring home to Mountain West Championship after losing to the Boise State Broncos, 17-14, in the championship game. On the season, Fresno State is averaging 26.2 ppg on 386.8 total yards per game (229.9 passing yds/g; 156.8 rushing yds/g). Offensviely, Fresno State was led by QB Marcus McMaryion who finished the season completing 61.1% of his passes for 14 TD and 4 INT while averaging 183.4 passing yds/g. The main receiving targets for McMaryion and the Bulldogs were WR KeeSean Johnson (5.3 rec/g, 70.6 yds/g, 8 TD), WR Da’Mari Scott (4.1 rec/g, 41.8 yds/g, TD), WR Jamire Jordan (1.6 rec/g, 37.1 yds/g, 3 TD), and TE Jared Rice (1.3 rec/g, 25.3 yds/g, 2 TD). Leading the way for the Fresno State backfield was Jordan Mims (11.0 att/g, 46.9 yds/g, 7 TD), Josh Hokit (9.0 att/g, 39.9 yds/g, 7 TD), and Ronnie Rivers (7.9 att/g, 39.4 yds/g, 5 TD). Defensively, Fresno State is holding their opponents to an average of 17.2 ppg on 319.0 total yards per game (202.4 passing yds/g; 116.6 rushing yds/g). LB Jeffrey Allison was incredible for the Bulldogs this season, leading the team with 113 tackles. The Bulldogs committed just 11 turnovers on the season and finished the season with an overall turnover margin of +8.

Fresno State vs. Houston - 12/24/17 College Football Pick, Odds, and Prediction

USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Cougars won 3 of their last 4 games to finished their season with an overall record of 7-4 (5-3 AAC-West) and make it to their 5th consecutive bowl game. On the season, Houston is averaging 28.4 ppg on 436.1 total yards per game (260.6 passing yds/g; 175.5 rushing yds/g). Offensively, Houston has been led by the WR duo of Steven Bunbar (6.0 rec/g; 79.4 yds/g, 3 TD) and Linell Bonner (7.3 rec/g, 85.0 yds/g, 4 TD). Houston has a bunch of talent at the QB position in both Kyle Postma (66.5 Comp %, 5 TD, 6 INT, 160.7 passing yds/g) and Kyle Allen (76.2 Comp %, 4 TD, 4 INT) however, the Cougars found the most success towards the end of the season after going with D’Eriq King who completed 69.8% of his passes for 6 TD and an INT while averaing 110.1 passing yds/g and also had 8 rushing TD’s. King has also done some damage with his legs as he has 8 rushing TD’s. Leading the way for the Cougars backfield has been Duke Catalon (12.6 att/g, 56.5 yds/g, 8 TD) and Mulbah Car (8.1 att/g, 41.3 yds/g, 3 TD). Defensively, Houston is holding their opponents to an average of 23.0 ppg on 417.5 total yards per game (268.1 passing yds/g; 149.5 rushing yds/g). Houston as one of the best DL in the country in Ed Oliver who had 5.5 sacks on the year and was 3rd on the team with 69 tackles. Houston forced 19 turnovers on the season and had an overall turnover margin of -2.

The Cougars are 12-4 ATS in their last 16 non-conference games and 8-3 ATS in their last 11 neutral site games. The Bulldogs are 8-1-1 ATS in their last 10 games following a ATS win however, are 0-6 ATS in their last 6 bowl games.

Fresno State has had an incredible year and was outstanding on the defensive end as they finished the year ranked 9th in scoring defense, which is even more impressive considering they opened up the beginning of the season road games against Alabama and Washington. Houston’s defense is always tough, especially against rush in which they rank 47th in country, however, have to be excited with how the offense has started to roll with D’Eriq King who helped the Cougars upset the South Florida Bulls on the road. Fresno State has been a great story this season, however, I think the Houston defense will be able to contain the Bulldog’s offensive weapons and as I think the Cougars will find some success through the air against Fresno State, I’m taking Houston to cover this small spread. 

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