The Fresno State Bulldogs are a very healthy team as this game is about to take place. They have no injuries at all that would affect this game. they are missing DB Chris Coleman, but he has missed the whole season so far and it is unclear whether he will play in this one. The Cougars are not as fortunate as 2nd leading receiver Linell Bonner (850 yards) is list as questionable after leaving their last game with an elbow injury. They also may be without RB Dillon Birden (333 yards) for this one as he is still recovering from a dislocated elbow. The defense did lose safety Collin Wilder late in the season, but he was not a huge part of their defense. I see no changes in my plays below.
Houston Cougars vs Fresno State Bulldogs
It’s the Hawaii Bowl and the American Atlantic Conference will square off with the Western Athletic Conference as the Houston Cougars take on the Fresno State Bulldogs at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii. The Cougars are off a 24-14 home win over Navy to finish their regular season at 74, while the Bulldogs enter this game off a 17-14 loss to Boise State in the MWC Title game. The Bulldogs are 9-4 on the year so far.
Cougars Slow Down The Navy Ground Attack
Holding most teams to 217 yards rushing is not holding them down but considering the fact that the Midshippmen were rushing for over 360 ypg coming into that game, the Houston defense did a very good job. That run defense allowed them to keep the navy offense down in their 24-14 win to close out the regular season. The Cougars have now gone 7-4 on the year and will now be playing in their 5th bowl game in a row. They have gone 11-13-1 in bowls in their history so far. The offense for the Cougars has not been as explosive as the last few year, but it has been decent and they put up 380 yards in their win over Navy. Leading their attack in the game was D’Eriq King, who his 21/27 passes for 277 yards with a TD and no INTs. He has started the last four games for the Cougars and has hit 69.8% of his passes for 991 yards with six TDs and an INT. He also ran for 52 yards and two TDs in the win over Navy and has now run for 341 yards and eight TDs on the year. He is a legit dual-threat QB and he will be tested in this one against a Fresno State defense that has been very good this year. This should be a good battle.
Houston has been a solid offensive team this year as they come in ranked 36th in the nation in total offense (436.1 ypg), 38th in passing (260.6 ypg), 54th in rushing (175.5 ypg) and 67th in scoring at 28.4 ppg. On defense, they have been below average as they come in ranked 84th in total yards allowed (417.5 ypg), 119th against the pass (268.1 ypg) and 47th vs the run (149.5 ypg), while allowing just 23.0 ppg, which is 39th in the nation.
Bulldogs Come Up A Bit Short In MWC Title Game
The Fresno State Bulldogs really had a solid season as they went 9-4 overall, including 7-2 within the MWC. They finished the regular season with a 28-17 win over Boise State and then faced them against the next week in the MWC Title game. The result was not the same as they fell in that game by a score of 17-14. They came up just a bit short. The defense has been what has led this team this year and it played well against the Broncos as they allowed them just 364 yards in the game, including just 109 yards on the ground. This is a solid defense that held Boise State to just 17 in BB games and will now take aim at slowing down a good, but not great, Houston offense. The offense for the Bulldogs has not been great this year and they put up just 14 points and 309 yards of total offense against the Broncos in the MWC title game. Their offense will get a stern test from an underrated Houston defense in this one. Marcus McMaryion struggled against the Broncos as he hit just 16/34 passes for 172 yards with no TDs and an INT. He has had a solid year overall as he has hit 61.1% of his passes overall for 2384 yards with 14 TDss and just four INTs. The Broncos hope for him to have a good game in this one, but still, it will come down to how well their defense plays.
The Bulldogs have been below average on offense this year as they come in ranked 82nd in the nation in total offense (387.8 ypg), 66th in passing (229.9 ypg), 77th in rushing (157.9 ypg) and 78th in scoring at 26.8 ppg. On defense, they have been very good as they come in ranked 16th in total yards allowed (319.0 ypg), 37th against the pass (202.4 ypg) and 14th vs the run (116.6 ypg), while allowing just 17.2 ppg, which is 9th in the nation.
- 1-4 ATS in their last five games after allowing less than 170 yards passing in their previous game
- 0-6 ATS in their last six games on fieldturf
Fresno State is:
- 11-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record
- 13-3-1 ATS in their last 17 games on fieldturf
The Houston Cougars finished the season having won three of their last four games, while the Bulldogs have won eight of their last 10 games and nearly beat Boise State in the MWC Title. This Bulldog team is very good and they have been led by their defense, which should be good enough to slow down a good Houston offense. They are the underdogs in this game, but I feel that the wrong team is favored and will be siding with the team that has the better defense and that has been far more consistent this year. Take Fresno state here.
Pick: Fresno State +2.5
The Cougars have a solid offense, but their defense isn’t that bad eight and they just played very well against a good Navy offense. The Bulldogs do not have a good offense, but what they do have is a very good defense that has allowed just 13.5 ppg over their last 10 games. This team has been all about defense and their last nine games have averaged just 36.3 ppg. This game does not have the feel of a high scoring game, so I will be going with the Under, especially since the Under is Under is 13-3 in Fresno State’s last 16 games overall and 14-3 in Houston’s last 17 games overall.