The No. 19 ranked Texas A&M Aggies (8-4) are set to face-off against the NC State Wolfpack (9-3) in the 2018 TaxSlayer Gator Bowl. Kickoff is set for 7:30 EST on New Year’s Eve at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, FL. The game will be televised on ESPN.

Oddsmakers opened up this game with the Aggies at -4.5, but that’s been bet up to Texas A&M -7 and even -7.5 in a couple spots. The total for this contest is currently anywhere from 55 up to 57.

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TaxSlayer Gator Bowl Vegas Betting Preview: Texas A&M vs NC State

The Wolfpack opened up the season 5-0 and were ranked No. 16 in the country, but a 41-7 loss at Clemson and a 10-point defeat at Syracuse quieted any thoughts about NC State being a legit player in the ACC this year. The Wolfpack did finish up 4-1 over their final 5 games, but the wins were against FSU, Louisville, UNC and East Carolina. All teams who failed to make a bowl this year.

This will be the fifth bowl game for NC State under current head coach Dave Doeren and so far he’s got his team to deliver more times than not. The Wolfpack are 3-1 in bowl games under Doeren and the last two haven’t been close. They beat Arizona State 52-31 in last year’s Sun Bowl and Vanderbilt 41-17 in the 2016 Independence Bowl.

I would have to think most Texas A&M fans are excited about how things have transpired in year one under head coach Jimbo Fisher. While the Aggies only won 8-games, two of their losses were to the two best teams in the country in Alabama and Clemson. They also lost true road games to Mississippi State and Auburn.

If they can get a win over NC State, they will secure their first 9-win season since 2013 and you can bet there will be a buzz around this team next year. Good chance that happens, as Fisher went 5-2 in the 7 bowl games he coached at Florida State. Texas A&M enters having lost 3 straight bowls. The last win coming in the 2014 Liberty Bowl against West Virginia.

2018 TaxSlayer Gator Bowl Free Pick & Odds Predictions: Texas A&M -7

My early lean here would have to be laying the touchdown with the Aggies, as I think this might be one of the bigger mismatches this bowl season. I think Texas A&M is hands down the best 8-win team in the country and NC State might be one of the biggest frauds in the nation. I just don’t think it’s going to be close.

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Not only are the Wolfpack a bit overrated coming into this game, but they got two of their best players sitting this out in wide out Kelvin Harmon and linebacker Germaine Pratt. Harmon had 81 receptions for a team-high 1,186 yards and 7 scores, while Pratt led the team in tackles. On top of that, NC State is also having to deal with a new look to their offense, as offensive coordinator Eli Drinkwitz has left to be the new head coach at Appalachian State.

The biggest thing here is I don’t see Ryan Finley and that NC State offense being able to keep pace here. Texas A&M has a really good defense and one that held teams almost 60 yards under their average. They are almost impossible to run against and I just think that defensive front will be living in the Wolfpack backfield.

As for the Aggies offense, they should be able to put up some big numbers here. While NC State’s defense only gave up 22.7 ppg, they really only played two legit offenses all year in Clemson and Syracuse. The Tigers had 41 points and nearly 500 yards, while the Orange put up 51 and 561 yards. Fisher worked wonders with Kellen Mond this year and I think he’s going to light it up in the bowl game. Give me the Aggies -7!