Las Vegas Bowl – Houston Cougars (9-3) vs San Diego St. Aztecs (10-3)
The Las Vegas Bowl features one of the premiere non-power five conference match-ups. The Houston Cougars started their season strong with a 33-23 win over Oklahoma on their way to a 5-0 start. Things did not go as smooth for Houston the rest of the season, the Cougars finished 4-3 overall and 1-6 against the spread in their final seven games.
Houston’s only win against the spread among those final seven games was a dominate 36-10 home win over Louisville. Houston will also face the challenge of playing with Tom Herman, who left for the head coaching job at Texas.
The San Diego State Azetcs come in with the nations 7th ranked rushing game and 119th ranked passing game, this feeds into Houston’s strength on defense. Houston comes in 3rd in the nation allowing only 98 rushing yards per game, even though they allowed 306 rushing yards in one game to Navy earlier this season.
Believe it or not San Diego State will come into this game as an underdog for the first time all season, despite being a good football team this also tells you something about the Aztecs schedule this season. San Diego State went 0-4 against teams that will be playing in a bowl game this postseason.
This is a tough game to call because both teams have had moments that make you shake your head. Houston promoting offensive coordinator Major Applewhite to head coach eases some of the concerns that I would typically expect with a coaching change, still I’m not sure which Houston team to expect. Houston is 0-6 against in their last 6 games as a favorite which adds to the reasons I’m not comfortable laying -4 on the Cougars here.
I’ll predict Houston to win here but I would not bet on it.