2009 Las Vegas Bowl Odds and Predictions
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 12/15/2009
The Las Vegas Bowl lucked out with this pairing, a meeting of No. 14 BYU and No. 18 Oregon State in a game three days before Christmas. It is the first time in the 18-year history of the bowl two ranked teams meet. While College Football bowl games and Las Vegas seem like a perfect match, BYU could not be further from the desired demographic for "Sin City". Yet that has not stopped BYU from being invited to its fifth consecutive Las Vegas Bowl.
The game has pitted a team from the Pac-10 against a team from the Mountain West since 2001. The Las Vegas bowl actually gets first dibs on a team from the Mountain West but last year Utah qualified for the Sugar Bowl and this year TCU received an invite to the Fiesta Bowl. So it is the Cougars again for the fifth straight year. This one appears headed to another sell-out at 40,000-seat Sam Boyd Stadium, the home field of UNLV.
BYU is 2-2 in the Las Vegas Bowl over the last four years. Overall the Mountain West has held its own against the Pac-10 competition, going 4-4 SU and 4-4 ATS since the game started matching up the two conferences in 2001.
A hidden fact about this game that may affect things is that both teams have already played in this stadium. BYU visited UNLV in early October and pounded the Rebels, 59-21. Oregon State paid Sam Boyd Stadium a visit in a non-conference game and won, 23-21.
With all bowl games, motivation is a major factor but for the Las Vegas Bowl it takes on a different meaning. The motivation of the Pac-10 team always has to be questioned. They are playing before Christmas in a bowl game nowhere near the caliber of the conference's premier bowl games like the Rose or Holiday Bowl, against a supposed "no name" team and it is in a small Mountain West Conference stadium.
Oregon State (8-4 SU, 7-4 ATS) is in an even stickier situation than most Pac-10 representatives in this game. They were just one game away from winning the Pac-10 and getting ready to play Ohio State in the Rose Bowl. But after losing a second half lead to in-state rival Oregon in the Civil War, the Beavers plummeted from New Year's Day to Dec. 22.
BYU (10-2 SU, 6-6 ATS) has not overlooked this game in the past and even after playing in it four years in a row the Cougars always get up for the challenge of carrying the Mountain West banner against a Pac-10 team.
Despite their different backgrounds both teams are mere images of each other. In their similar spread offenses BYU and Oregon State both like to pass the ball and they both do it well. On defense both the Cougars and Beavers can stop the run while being susceptible to the pass.
This game could end up being a shootout. BYU ranks No. 12 in the country with 289 passing yards per game. Oregon State is not far behind. averaging 276 yards per game through the air, 19th best in the country. The thing that stands out is each team's defense. Neither defense is bad -- Oregon State ranks 50th and BYU ranks 35th -- and both can shut down the run but both are vulnerable through the air; that just happens to be the strength of each team. The Cougars have been gashed for 219 yards per game through the air while the Beavers allow 239 yards per game. The storyline in this game will be the 3,000-yard passers Sean Canfield of Oregon State and Max Hall of BYU.
Line Value and Las Vegas Bowl Odds
The Las Vegas Bowl Odds are set at Oregon State -2.5 with the total at 60.5. In the last eight years this game has been decided by four points or less three times. There is value with the points considering the close nature of the past matchups. The under has hit in nine out of the last 11 Las Vegas Bowls. There has been very little line movement with the Las Vegas Bowl odds since they opened up.
Las Vegas Bowl Predictions
Both teams enter the bowl game ranked but both have struggled against ranked opponents. That being said there is no strong value with either side but there is the Las Vegas Bowl total. Forget about the under hitting nine out of the last 11 years in the bowl, considering the pass offenses each team implore and more importantly the pass defenses, over 60.5 is the play here.
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