The 2017 Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl will feature the New Mexico State Aggies and Utah State Aggies. Kickoff is set for 5:30 EST on Friday, December 29 at Arizona Stadium in Tucson. Fans can watch the game on CBS Sports Network.
Oddsmakers are listing Utah State as 3-point favorites in this game with an over/under of 61 points. Click here to check out a full list of bowl game betting odds and links to game previews.
Arizona Bowl Point Spread: Utah State vs New Mexico State
Utah State was able to sneak into a bowl game with a 6-6 record. Coming off a 3-9 campaign in 2016, this was a good step in the right direction for the Aggies. Head coach Matt Wells has now guided Utah State to a bowl game in four of his five years at the school. After doing a little rebuilding, the Aggies would love to finish 2017 with a bowl win to help create momentum heading into 2018.
The situation is a little different for New Mexico State, who is going to their first bowl game since 1960 when they beat Utah State in the Sun Bowl. The Aggies won three of their final four games to get to 6-6 on the season and get to a bowl game. Head coach Doug Martin is still just 16-44 in his four seasons at New Mexico State. But he clearly has the Aggies moving in the right direction.
2017 Arizona Bowl Prediction & Free Pick Against the Spread: Utah State -3
In this battle of the Aggies, I’m going to lean toward Utah State. They have the more established program and have some bowl experience on their roster. New Mexico State will be so ecstatic to be in a bowl game that they may forget that they actually have to play a football game. With just a 3-point spread to cover, I feel good siding with Utah State.
Oddly enough, both of these teams managed to reach a bowl game without actually beating another team that’s playing in a bowl game. However, I will give Utah State a slight edge in strength of schedule. The Mountain West, which has six teams in a bowl, is a better league than the Sun Belt, which has only four. That should make Utah State a little more prepared for their bowl game.
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I also like the fact that Utah State has the more balanced offense between the two teams. It took the Aggies a while, but they finally decided on freshman Jordan Love as their starting quarterback. He was finally able to settle in as the starter and start playing well late in the season. He also adds to an already solid running game.
NMSU, on the other hand, isn’t balanced enough offensively. The Aggies don’t run the ball that much, and when they do, they average less than 4 yards per carry. To be fair, they have a bonafide gunslinger in senior quarterback Tyler Rogers. He’s been instrumental in rebuilding the program over the last four years, and he’ll want to go out on a high note. However, the Utah State defense has seen their fair share of quality quarterbacks this season. They’ll be well-prepared to slow down Rogers and the one-dimensional New Mexico State offense.
Despite this not exactly being a marquee matchup this bowl season, I’m expecting this to be an entertaining game with both teams capable of putting points on the board. Ultimately, I see Utah State as having a little more talent and experience. That should be enough to cover a 3-point spread.