2008 New Mexico Bowl Preview
by Trevor Whenham - 12/19/2008
Fresno State (7-5) vs. Colorado State (6-6)
Conference matchup: WAC vs. Mountain West
Date: Saturday, Dec. 20, 2:30 p.m.
Location: University Stadium, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Spread: Fresno State -3; total 60
These teams used to be old rivals - Colorado State was in the WAC until leaving for the MWC a decade ago. Now they don't see each other nearly as often. Colorado State owns a 6-5 lead in the all-time series, and they have won the last two. The underdog is 4-1 ATS in the last five games. The stakes are still high in this one - these two conferences both have claims to being the best non-BCS conference of the year, and this game will help to determine which one is best.
The New Mexico Bowl is one of the newer bowls - this is just the third edition. This is the first time that it hasn't been a home game for New Mexico, so the local crowd support won't be what it has been in the past. Neither of these teams have played in the bowl before, but both are experienced bowl participants. Fresno State is 10-7 overall in bowls, and have won four of their last five. Colorado is back in bowl action after missing the last two years. They are 4-7 overall, and have lost their last three.
The line opened at three, and it can now be found at 2.5 in many places. That movement is somewhat surprising - nearly 70 percent of bets placed have been on Fresno State, so you would expect the opposite movement. That could indicate that smart money is in play on Colorado State. The total opened at 61, and fell to as low as 60. Fresno State has gone under three of their last four games. Colorado State has gone over in five of their last six. The teams went over in their last meeting in 2006.
He's Staying, Whether He Wants To Or Not
Fresno State coach Pat Hill has run a pretty successful program, going 92-60 in 11 seasons. He's obviously gotten attention for his work, especially considering he worked for Bill Belichick before going to Fresno. He's always seemed fairly content with the Bulldogs, but this year he has interviewed for at least two different positions. He didn't get either one, but we'll have to see what impact his dalliances will have on his focus and on the attitude of his players and staff.
Not In A Good Place
Fresno State started the season at 5-2, and they came within a field goal of upsetting Wisconsin, then ranked No. 10, at home. Hopes were high before the season, and still high after seven games, but then everything went into the tank. The Bulldogs went 2-3 down the stretch, and they capped it off with a brutal 61-10 blowout at the hands of Boise State. This is not a team in a positive headspace. Even when they were winning they weren't meeting expectations - they only covered two spreads all year, and failed to cover nine in a row following the first game.
Colorado State, on the other hand, will be thrilled to be in the postseason. They were picked by most to be at the bottom of the MWC, but first year coach Steve Fairchild has done a remarkably good job of filling the shoes of the legendary Sonny Lubick. They showed some real spunk, too - they won their last two games to become bowl eligible. They aren't yet a good team, but they seem to be on the right path.
No Pressure From Colorado State
FSU senior QB Tom Brandstater is far from a model of consistency, and he has struggled recently, but he can fling it around nicely when he has the time to find his targets. He should have no problem with that in this game. Colorado State had just nine sacks all season. That ranks them dead last out of all 119 FBS teams. They are no better at tackles for a loss either. There will not be a lot of penetration when the Bulldogs have the ball. Needless to say, the lack of pressure impacts their defensive effectiveness - they are ranked just 99th overall, and worse against the run.
Trends Of Note
The Bulldogs are 4-1 ATS in their last five bowl games, but just 1-5 ATS in their last six against MWC. They don't pick themselves up well when they are down, either - they are 4-27-1 ATS in games following a straight up loss.
The Rams are 5-1 ATS in their last six following a win, and 9-3 ATS in their last 12 games played on grass.