This Christmas Eve, the Fresno State Bulldogs will try and claim an early present when they face the SMU Mustangs in this season’s Sheraton Hawaii Bowl at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu. This MWC/C-USA clash is set to kick-off at 8 p.m. (ET) and the game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN.
Fresno State earned a share of the Mountain West title this season with a 7-1 straight up record in conference play. A 20-10 mid-October loss to No.19 Boise State as a seven-point road underdog proved costly in securing the title outright. The Bulldogs quickly rallied and went a perfect 5-0 both SU and against the spread after that loss to finish the season 9-3 SU and an extremely profitable 11-1 ATS. The total went “over” in three of their final four games.
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The Mustangs notched four SU victories in their last six games just to qualify for a bowl game. This run included a stunning 35-27 win over Tulsa on Nov.24 as 5.5-point underdogs at home. They ended the regular season 6-6 SU and 7-5 ATS, including a 5-3 record in C-USA play. The total went over in five of their last seven games.
Fresno State vs. SMU Betting Storylines
The Bulldogs bring some tremendous balance on offense into this matchup with an average of 322.6 passing yards a game to go along with another 166.7 yards on the ground. Quarterback Derek Carr threw for 3,742 yards and 36 touchdowns while completing a rock-solid 68.1 percent of his passes. Robbie Rouse was responsible for the bulk of the production in the running game with 1,468 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground.
Defensively, Fresno State held its opponents to an average of 22.3 points a game and really tightened the clamps down the stretch by holding teams to 20 points or less in five of its last seven contests. This was a huge complement to an offense that posted 40.3 points a game, which was the 12th highest total in the country.
SMU did not rack up nearly as many yards or points on offense this season. This team features a capable running game led by Zach Line. He rushed for a team-high 1,207 yards on 258 carries while also leading the team in touchdowns with 12. The Mustangs’ passing game will not strike fear into too many secondaries, but quarterback Garrett Gilbert did end up with 2,720 yards passing while gaining another 248 yards on the ground.
The Mustangs’ defense has been shaky at times this season in giving up 35 points or more in five games this season. It finished the season ranked 57th in the nation in points allowed in giving up an average of 27.1 points a game.
Fresno State vs. SMU Sheraton Hawaii Bowl Betting Odds and Trends
BetOnline Pointspread: Fresno State -12.5
Bet Online Total Line: 58.5
The Bulldogs are 13-3 ATS in their last 16 games overall but just 1-4 ATS in their last five bowl games. The total has gone over in their last four postseason bowls.
The Mustangs are 5-1 ATS in their last six games against the MWC but 1-4 ATS in their last five games following a SU win. The total has gone over in four of their last five nonconference games.
These two teams have not played one another since 2004, but Fresno State has won the last five meetings SU with SMU holding a slight 3-2 edge ATS. The total has stayed “under” in the last two meetings.
2012 Sheraton Hawaii Bowl Picks: Fresno State vs. SMU Predictions
You have to give credit to SMU salvaging its season with a late run, but it comes into this matchup out-gunned and over-matched. The gap in talent with Fresno State is just too wide, especially when you compare the Bulldogs’ high-powered offense against the Mustangs’ defense. Stick with Fresno State all the way as it rolls to its 10th win of the season while easily covering the 12.5 points.
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