Houston Cougars vs. San Diego State Aztecs Las Vegas Bowl Free Pick - Odds - ATS Prediction

December 17, 3:30 PM EST

Betting Odds

Point Spread: 
Houston -3

College Bowl season gets underway on Saturday, Dec. 17 and one of the top matchups on that day’s slate pits the AAC’s Houston Cougars against the San Diego State Aztecs, out of the Mountain West at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas. Game time for this year’s Las Vegas Bowl is set for 3:30 p.m. (ET) and it will be broadcast nationally on ABC.

Houston vs. San Diego State Game Overview

Houston started this season like a house on fire with five-straight victories including a Week 1 upset against Oklahoma, but the wheels came off a bit in bad losses to Navy and SMU in conference play. With another big upset against Louisville late in the season followed by a loss at Memphis in its final regular season game, this pattern points to the inconsistencies that have plagued this team all year long. Overall, the Cougars are 9-3 straight-up with a 5-7 record against the spread.


Another concern for Houston in this game is the recent departure of Tom Herman as head coach after leaving the program for greener pastures at Texas. Todd Orlando will take over the reigns as interim coach in an effort to land the full-time job. He will look to quarterback Greg Ward Jr. to bolster his chances as the team’s best all-round player.Ward threw for 3,328 yards and 22 touchdowns while also leading the Cougars in rushing with 518 yards and nine scores on 175 carries.

The Aztecs won the West Division title in the Mountain West this season at 6-2 SU in conference play and they went on to knock-off Wyoming 27-24 in the MWC title game as 7.5-point favorites. San Diego State ended the season at 10-3 SU (6-6-1 ATS), but it has now failed to cover in its last three games. The total stayed UNDER 58 in the win against the Cowboys after going OVER in the Aztecs’ previous five games.

Look for San Diego State to go with a heavy dose of Donnel Pumphrey in this matchup. The senior running back was second in the nation in rushing yards with 2,018 on 330 attempts. He added another 205 receiving yards on 26 catches and he led the team in touchdowns with 16. The Aztecs boast two other players with at least 400 rushing yards as part of a ground game that averaged 273.3 yards a game. Defensively, they were ranked 19th in the nation in points allowed (21.0).

Houston vs. San Diego State Game Betting Trends

  • The Cougars are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 neutral-site games and they have gone 16-5 ATS in their last 21 nonconference games. The total has gone OVER in four of their last five games in a postseason bowl.
  • The Aztecs are 2-9-1 ATS in their last 12 games outside their conference and they are 2-6 ATS in their last eight games played in the month of December. The total has gone OVER in five of their last seven nonconference games.
  • This will be the first meeting between these two teams.

Houston vs. San Diego State Game Prediction

Houston may have a few bigger wins on its 2016 resume, but I have the Aztecs as the better all-around team in this matchup. I am also not all that sure just how motivated the Cougars will be with the departure of their head coach to the Big 12.

Even though this is one of the first games on a very crowded college bowl game schedule, I would go big with the Aztecs getting three points in this matchup. I just cannot help by feel that Houston’s defense is going to have a very hard time containing San Diego State’s power running game for all four quarters.

Free Pick: 
Take San Diego State +3

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