The 2017 Valero Alamo Bowl features the no. 13 Stanford Cardinal and the no. 15 TCU Horned Frogs. Game time is set for 9:00 EST on Thursday, December 28 at the Alamodome in San Antonio. The game will be televised on ESPN.

Oddsmakers list TCU as 2.5-point favorites with an over/under of 47.5 points. Click here to check out a full list of bowl game betting odds and links to game previews.

Alamo Bowl Vegas Betting Preview: Stanford vs TCU

Stanford heads to the Alamo Bowl following a 31-28 loss to USC in the Pac-12 Championship Game. Before that loss, the Cardinal won eight of their last nine games, shaking off a slow start to the season to win the Pac-12 North and finish 9-4. Stanford now needs a win in their bowl game to reach double-digit wins for the sixth time in David Shaw’s seven years as head coach. 

TCU is also coming off a loss in their conference title game. The Horned Frogs were eager to get some redemption against Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship Game but were outclassed by the Sooners, losing 41-17. Despite the loss, the Horned Frogs have a lot to be proud of this season. They head to the Alamo Bowl with a 10-3 record.

2017 Alamo Bowl Free Pick & Predictions: TCU -2.5

My early lean in this game is toward TCU. As much as I like Heisman finalist Bryce Love and admire how well Stanford played down the stretch, I think TCU has more ways of beating teams. Stanford’s path to victory in this game is too narrow. The Horned Frogs only need to win by a field goal to cover, so I have confidence in leaning toward TCU.

Defensively, the Horned Frogs are special. They allowed less than 18 points per game, and that’s against a schedule that includes the entire Big 12 and a potent SMU team. If they can contain some of the better teams in the Big 12, I like their chances of being able to keep Stanford out of the end zone.

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The Cardinal are just not strong enough at quarterback for my liking. At this point in his career, sophomore K.J. Costello is a fine game manager but nothing more. For the most part, he’s going to make the safe throw, which is fine against most teams. But it’s not going to be enough against the TCU defense.

Stanford has been overly reliant on Love running the ball, which is understandable. He’s an incredible running back and his performance against USC with a bum ankle was memorable, to say the least. But I have to believe the Horned Frogs are going to devote a lot of resources toward stopping him and forcing Stanford to beat them through the air. He’ll find a way to run for 100-plus yards, as he always does, but the TCU defense won’t make it easy for him and he’ll have to earn everything the hard way.

Of course, TCU is more accustomed to playing pass-happy teams in the Big 12. However, during the season they faced run-first teams like Arkansas and Kansas State and played quite well against them. The Horned Frogs will be good enough to slow down Love and make Stanford prove they can throw the ball, which should sway the game in TCU’s favor.

I also want to give the TCU offense some credit. Quarterback Kenny Hill has had his ups and downs this season and the Horned Frogs are definitely lacking a marquee receiver. However, the TCU offense has a good balance between run and pass. They may not have a ton of success against the Stanford defense, but they’ll do enough to win the game.

I’m expecting this game to be a low-scoring defensive slugfest. But I’m not convinced the Cardinal will give Love enough support to win the game. I see TCU as the more balanced and well-rounded team, and that’ll allow the Horned Frogs to win by at least a field goal.