The 2017 San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl gives us a compelling matchup between the Washington State Cougars and Michigan State Spartans. Game time is at 9:00 EST on Thursday, December 28 at SDCCU Stadium in San Diego. The game is being broadcast on FS1.

Oddsmakers view Washington State as 3-point favorites in this game. The over/under is set at 44.5 points. Click here for a full list of bowl game betting odds and links to game previews.

Holiday Bowl Vegas Spread Preview: Washington State vs Michigan State

The no. 18 Cougars enter bowl season coming off a disappointing loss to in-state rival Washington in their regular-season finale. A win in that game would have put Wazzu in the Pac-12 Championship Game against USC, a team they beat earlier this year. 

Instead of playing for a conference championship, the Cougars will have to settle for their second straight appearance in the Holiday Bowl. On the plus side, with a win, over MSU, Washington State will reach the 10-win plateau for the first time in Mike Leach’s six years at the school.

Meanwhile, the no. 16 Spartans were very quietly 9-3 this season, going 7-2 in the Big Ten. A blowout loss to Ohio State late in the season hurt their perception nationally and kept them from playing in the Big Ten title game and going to a bigger bowl game. 

Of course, after going 3-9 this season, Mark Dantonio’s team should be proud of how well they turned things around. A win over Washington State would give the Spartans a season with double-digit wins for the sixth time in the last eight years. That’s not an accomplishment to take lightly.

Holiday Bowl Free Betting Pick & Predictions: Washington State -3

This game offers up a fascinating matchup between two contrasting teams. The Cougars have a high-scoring air-raid offense while the Spartans like to grind out wins with quality defense. Typically, I prefer the defensive team in this matchup. However, I’m going with the better offense and leaning toward Washington State in the 2017 Holiday Bowl.

There were only a few times this season that senior quarterback Luke Falk and the Washington State offense couldn’t move the ball at will. Falk had off nights when the team lost to Cal and then again during the season finale against Washington. But other than that, he showed great accuracy and was able to distribute the ball effectively to the team’s playmakers.

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I think that Michigan State will have a good game plan to face Falk and the Washington State offense. However, I don’t think the Spartans faced too many quarterbacks at his level in the Big Ten this year. There just aren’t any big-armed quarterbacks that throw the ball 40-plus times a game in that conference. Despite MSU’s prowess on defense, I still think the Cougars will be able to create big plays.

Meanwhile, I’m not all that enamored with the Michigan State offense. The Spartans were held under 20 points in half of their games this season. You can get away with that in the Big Ten. But it’s not going to work when trying to keep pace with the Cougars.

MSU is supposed to be able to lean on their running game. But the Spartans averaged less than 4 yards per rush this season. They also have a quarterback in Brian Lewerke who completed less than 60% of his passes this season and struggled in November.

To be fair, the Washington State defense was vulnerable at times this season. But they held up fairly well considering some of the offenses they had to face in the Pac-12. If the Cougars can avoid getting gashed on the ground and force Lewerke to beat them with his arm, they should be in good shape against the Spartans.

While I respect what Michigan State accomplished this season on the back of their defense, I’m skeptical about whether they’re ready to face a team like Washington State. I think it’ll be business as usual for the Washington State offense, and it’s hard to picture the Spartans being able to keep up in a shootout. I like the Cougars to win comfortably.