Will Washington State rout CSU?
LAS VEGAS, NV (The Spread) - The college football bowl season starts this Saturday, December 21 and there are some great values. But there's one game that's certain to be an easy blowout winner.
This is the time of the year where some teams are there for the "bling" and the excitement of just going to a bowl game. But the New Mexico Bowl is not exactly in some exotic location like Honolulu or Orlando. This is a game that features two high-scoring teams, but one where there's a side that has a distinct advantage.
Colorado State is getting 4 to 4.5 points depending on the book as I'm writing this. Why are they getting points? Because Washington State is a better football team. In fact, they're much better and here's why.
1) Mike Leach is a master motivator. He was accomplished at Texas Tech and it's spreading to Washington State because he can get mediocre players to become good and good players to become great. He gives his teams a sense of confidence that they can beat anybody. They nearly beat Auburn in their opener, losing by just seven on the road. It took Leach two years to get the Cougars back to a bowl game for the first time since 2003. Colorado State is coached by former Alabama assistant Jim McElwain, who helped the Rams earn their first bowl berth since 2008.
2)Washington State played a much tougher schedule. Sure, the Cougars were inconsistent at 6-6, but had losses to Auburn, USC by three, Stanford, Oregon, Arizona State and Oregon State. Colorado State lost to Colorado by 14, to Tulsa, San Jose State and they were shut out by Utah State (13-0). The Pac-12 is so much better than the Mountain West, it's almost like the men against the boys.
3) Colorado State can't stop the pass. They allowed 27 passing touchdowns and Washington State ranks fourth in the nation in passing yards per game at 364.5. The Rams do not have the secondary to match up with Washington State's receivers led by Gabe Marks, who has 69 catches for 770 yards. Quarterback Connor Halliday has eight receivers with 30 or more catches so he likes to spread it around and doesn't just target Marks. While Halliday has had a few rough games, it's against elite defenses and the Rams do not have anywhere near the talent that Stanford, USC or Oregon possesses.
4) Washington State is playing its best football of the season. They did lose the finale at Washington in Apple Cup, but they didn't play poorly, losing by 10. They were coming off a win over Utah by 12 at home and a great win over Arizona on the road by seven. Utah beat Stanford this year and Arizona destroyed Oregon at home. Washington State beat USC earlier in the season by three on the road, which contributed to Lane Kiffin's firing.
The bottom line is that Halliday will be too much for a Rams' shaky secondary and expect him to get close to 500 yards, if not more. Washington State has had some bad games defensively against powerhouse teams like Stanford and Oregon, but with three weeks to prepare, expect the Cougars to come out strong against the Rams' balanced offense. They also have some talent on that defense led by safety Deone Bucannon, who has five picks and 109 tackles to lead the Pac-12. The Cougars will roll by at least two touchdowns over the spread.