The Fresno State Bulldogs (11-2) will face off against the Arizona State Sun Devils (7-5) in the 2018 Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl. Kickoff is set for 3:30 EST on Saturday, December, 15th at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, NV and will be televised nationally on ABC.
Oddsmakers opened this thing up at Fresno State -3, but as of right now the Sun Devils are a 4-point favorite. The total for this matchup is currently 53.5 points.
Arizona State vs Fresno State Vegas Game Odds & Betting Preview
The Sun Devils have to be excited with how things went in the first year under head coach Herm Edwards. I get 7-5 is nothing to be super excited about, but a lot of people were picking this team to finish near the bottom of the Pac-12 South. Instead they were just 1-game out of first place and actually beat the South winner Utah in their head-to-head matchup. They also got just their 4th win in the last 19 tries against USC and did so on the Trojans home field. If that wasn’t enough, they capped off the regular-season with a 20-0 4th quarter run to stun in-state rival Arizona 41-40.
It will be interesting to see how Edwards does preparing his team for a bowl game. Arizona State went 2-3 in their 5 bowl games under previous head coach Todd Graham. Last year they got rolled 52-31 by NC State in the Sun Bowl.
The Bulldogs have to be counting their blessings that Jeff Tedford took over this program last year. Fresno State had won just 4 games in two years and were fresh off a 1-11 season before Tedford arrived last year. In his very first season he guided the Bulldogs to the MWC title game (lost to Boise St) and finished up at 10-4. In year two, he got them back to the MWC title game and pulled off an OT win over rival Boise State. Fresno State is 21-5 under Tedford and 3 of the 5 losses are to Power 5 opponents on the road.
Last year the Bulldogs won Tedford’s bowl debut, defeating Houston 33-27 as a 2-point dog. Going back to his days with Cal, Tedford is 6-3 as a head coach in bowl games.
2018 Las Vegas Bowl Free Pick & Betting Predictions: Fresno St -4
My early lean here would be to lay the points with the Bulldogs. I think a lot of people have trouble betting against Power 5 teams when they are matched up against a team from one of the Group of 5 conferences. I think that will definitely be the case here when they look back and see that Fresno State lost at Minnesota, who went 3-6 in the Big Ten this year.
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I just think if you look at the body of work as a whole, it’s hard to not like the Bulldogs. They clearly have one of the better coaches at the Group of 5 level and I absolutely love coaches with a strong track record in bowl games. I also think they are sick and tired of hearing how they can’t hang with the big boys. Motivation can often be everything in a bowl game and there’s little doubt in my mind that Fresno State will be locked in for this one.
I’m sure Arizona State will be excited to play in a bowl game in year one under Edwards, but they already had one of their best players quit on them. Star wide out N’Keal Harry is skipping the game to prepare for the draft. That’s a massive loss. Harry had 73 receptions for 1,088 yards and 9 touchdowns. The rest of the team had just 10 touchdown receptions and there’s quite a gap to the next best in catches (40) and yards (432).
I think he could have made all the difference here, as it would have forced the Bulldogs to honor the pass. Now they can focus all their attention on slowing down Arizona State’s Eno Benjamin (1,524 yards, 15 TDs). Keep in mind the big reason Fresno State is 21-5 in their last 26 is their defense. The Bulldogs ranked 27th against the run (129.8 ypg) and 30th against the pass (194.1 ypg). They actually remind me a lot of the San Diego State team that Arizona State lost to in non-conference play. Aztecs held them to 36 rushing yards on 24 attempts.
Another thing here for me is the Arizona State defense really started to slip down the stretch. I mean they let Arizona rack up 520 yards and the Wildcats had 40-points on the scoreboard thru 3 quarters. As limited as the Bulldogs are offensively, I think they can do enough here to win this game by at least a touchdown and a lot more if the Sun Devils don’t show up to play. Give me Fresno State -4!