- While Ohio averaged 41.2 points per game during the regular season, a lot of that was built on the run. But San Diego State’s fourth-ranked rushing defense presents a challenge for the Bobcats in the Frisco Bowl.
Frisco Bowl – Ohio Bobcats vs. San Diego State Aztecs (+3)
Wed., December 19, 8:00 p.m. ET
Three things to know before betting on Ohio-San Diego State:
1. In his time as the head coach of San Diego State, Rocky Long and the Aztecs are 9-5 against the spread—12-2 straight up—when facing teams that rush for at least 230 yards per game. San Diego State is also 11-5 against the spread when failing to cover in three of its last four games under Long, which is a good sign for a team that struggled toward the end of the season. One issue for the Aztecs is that they are only 3-4 both straight up and against the spread in bowl games since Long took over as head coach. But two of those wins have come in the last three years. Meanwhile, Ohio has covered in four of its last five bowl games, which dates back to 2012. The problem for the Bobcats is that they only won one of those games straight up, and that comes into play in a game with a spread as small as this one.
2. Ohio’s offense has been remarkable all season. The team’s 41.2 points per game was the 10th-best mark in FBS. The Bobcats put up so many points because of their ability to run the football. Frank Solich’s team featured three players that rushed for more than 800 yards this season, including quarterback Nathan Rourke. Not only did Rourke throw 22 touchdowns this season, but he also added another 13 scores on the ground. He’ll be looking to use his legs often in this one, which means San Diego State will need to stop him and running backs A.J. Ouellette and Maleek Irons—who combined to rush for 1,973 yards and 20 touchdowns this season. But San Diego State is up to the task. The Aztecs have the nation’s fourth-ranked rushing defense, allowing only 94.5 yards per game on the ground. San Diego State also gave up just 14 rushing touchdowns, so it's hard to imagine the Bobcats matching their season scoring average here.
3. Like the Bobcats, the Aztecs offense does the bulk of its work on the ground. Juwan Washington is one of the nation’s most underrated backs. The junior has rushed for 870 yards and 10 touchdowns despite missing four games this season. Washington has legitimate game-breaking speed. If Ohio slips up at all, Washington will make them pay. But considering the Bobcats have college football’s 35th-ranked rushing defense, Washington will have to make the most of his chances when they come. His play is especially important for San Diego State right now, as the team is not getting much from quarterbacks Christian Chapman and Ryan Agnew. The two are both seeing snaps for the Aztecs, which says a lot about where this passing game stands heading into a bowl game.
Pick: San Diego State +3
Confident level: Moderate (on a scale of Low/Moderate/High/Very High/Extremely High)