Michigan State Spartans (9-3) at Washington State Cougars (9-3)
College Football: Thursday, December 28, 2017 at 9:00 pm (SDCCU Stadium)
The Line: Washington State Cougars -3.5 -- Over/Under: 44.5 Click to Get Latest Betting Odds
The 18th ranked Washington State Cougars and 16th ranked Michigan State Spartans will square off in the San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl at SDCCU Stadium on Thursday, December 28th.
The Washington State Cougars had a successful season after finishing the regular season with a 9-3 overall record and 6-3 conference record. Washington State almost made the Pac-12 Championship game, coming out of the competitive Pac-12 North, however, couldn’t get the necessary win against in-state rival, the Washington Huskies, in the final game of the regular season. On the season, Washington State is averaging 31.4 ppg on 446.4 total yards per game (374.8 passing yds/g; 71.4 rushing yds/g). Offensively, Washington State has been led by QB Luke Falk who completed 66.9% of his passes for 30 TD and 13 INT while averaging 299.4 passing yds/g. The leading receivers for the Cougars has been Tavares Martin Jr. (6.4 rec/g, 75.5 yds/g, 9 TD), Isaiah Johnson-Mack (5.0 rec/g, 46.3 yds/g, 5 TD), Renard Bell (3.0 rec/g, 43.8 yds/g, 3 TD), and Kyle Sweet (4.2 rec/g, 40.1 yds/g, 2 TD). Leading the way for the Washington State backfield has been Jamal Morrow who had 4 TD’s while averaging 43.5 yds/g on 7.2 att/g. Defensively, Washington State is holding their opponents to an average of 24.4 ppg on 313.6 total yards per game (167.4 passing yds/g; 146.2 rushing yds/g). Leading the way for the aggressive Cougars defense has been DL Hercules Mata’afa who led the team with 9.5 sacks. On the season, Washington State forced 27 turnovers, however, still ended up an overall turnover margin of -2.
The Michigan State Spartans finished the season with an overall record of 9-3 and finished 2nd in the Big-10 East Division, with a conference record of 7-2. Michigan State had a strong finish to their season, winning 3 of their last 4 games which included an impressive 27-24 victory over the Penn State Nittany Lions. On the season, Michigan State is averaging 23.1 ppg on 378.3 total yards per game (215.4 passing yds/g; 162.9 rushing yds/g). Offensively, Michigan State has been led by QB Brian Lewerke who has completed 58.8% shooting from the field for 17 TD and 7 INT while averaging 215.0 passing yds/g. Lewerke also has done some damage with his legs as he had 5 TD’s on the season and is the 2nd leading rusher for the Spartans, averaging 40.5 yds/g. The leading receivers for Lewerke and the Spartans have been Felton Davis III (4.3 rec/g, 54.8 yds/g, 8 TD), Darrell Stewart Jr. (4.0 rec/g, 40.5 yds/g, 2 TD), and Cody White (2.7 rec/g, 37.4 yds/g, 2 TD). The Michigan State backfield has been led by the duo of LJ Scott (16.6 att/g, 71.6 yds/g, 6 TD) and Madre London (7.2 att/g, 26.1 yds/g, 3 TD). Defensively, Michigan State is holding their opponents to an average of 20.3 ppg on 297.8 total yards per game (196.5 passing yds/g; 101.3 rushing yds/g). Michigan State forced 21 turnovers on the season and had an overall turnover margin of +2.
The Cougars are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games following a straight up loss however, are just 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games vs. Big-10 opponents. The Spartans are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 Bowl games and 6-1-1 ATS in their last 8 neutral site games.
Washington State and their record setting QB Luke Falk will bring in one of the best offensive passing attacks in the country into this matchup, however, it’s important to not overlook the aggressive and athletic Cougars defense that does a great job forcing turnovers. Michigan State had another solid year led by an efficient offense and a stout defense which ranked 5th in the country against the run. Washington State can sometimes struggle away from home, however, as long as the offensive limits their turnovers, I think they’ll have success putting up points through the air against the Spartans defense and that the Cougars defense does enough to allow Washington State to cover this spread. Take Washington State to cover.