Taxslayer Gator Bowl North Carolina State Wolfpack vs. Texas A&M Aggies Pick
This season’s Taxslayer Gator Bowl from Jacksonville is set for New Year’s Eve with the ACC’s North Carolina State Wolfpack tangling with the SEC’s Texas A&M Aggies in 7:30 p.m. kickoff on ESPN.
NC State vs. Texas A&M Game Overview
The Wolfpack made a solid move into the national rankings with a straight-up 5-0 start while going 4-1 against the spread, but the stay did not last all that long with back-to-back road losses to Clemson and Syracuse in later October. They were able to go 4-1 SU (3-2 ATS) over their final five games ending with a 58-3 romp against East Carolina as heavy 25.5-point home favorites on Dec. 1. The total stayed UNDER or ended as a PUSH in NC State’s last four games.
As one of the higher scoring teams in the ACC this season with an average of 35.6 points per game, the Wolfpack relied heavily on a passing attack that averaged 327.7 yards per game to move the ball downfield. Senior quarterback Ryan Finley completed 67.9 percent of his 452 passing attempts for 3,789 yards and 24 touchdowns against nine interceptions. Kelvin Harmon was his top target with 81 receptions for 1,186 yards and seven scores.
Following a 45-23 road loss to Alabama on Sept. 22 as 24.5-point underdogs, the Aggies were 2-2 SU with a perfect 4-0 start ATS. They went on to win six of their last eight games while going an even 4-4 ATS. The season ended like a basketball game in their 74-72 victory against LSU as three-point favorites at home. The total for that game closed at 45.5 points, and it has gone OVER in three of Texas A&M's last four contests.
The Aggies raised their scoring average on the season to 34.2 PPG by scoring at least 38 points in each of their last three games. This was Jimbo Fisher's first season at the helm as head coach, and there was a heavy emphasis on a balanced offensive attack that averaged 262.0 yards a game through the air and another 203.8 yards on the ground. Sophomore quarterback Kellen Mond started every game, and he ended the season with 2,967 passing yards and 23 touchdown throws. Early in the year, he put up 430 yards passing against Clemson with three of those scoring throws.
NC State vs. Texas A&M Betting Trends
- The Wolfpack are 7-2-1 ATS in their last 10 bowl games, but they have failed to cover in six of their previous seven games against an SEC team. The total has gone OVER in their last six postseason bowls.
- The Aggies have covered the spread in their last seven nonconference games, but they slip to 2-5 ATS in their previous seven games against the ACC. The total has gone OVER in four of their last five games in a bowl.
NC State vs. Texas Prediction 12/31/2018
NC State was one of the better teams in the ACC this season, but it could have a tough time keeping pace against a Texas A&M offense that may be just reaching its peak heading into this game. Fisher has plenty of experience beating ACC teams and he probably has a few tricks hidden in his playbook for this matchup.
My lean is towards the Aggies covering the current touchdown spread, but my ‘best bet’ pick is the OVER on the total line in another wild one for Texas A&M.