• Texas A&M was 8-0 straight up and 6-2 against the spread when playing as a favorite this season, and is favored by nearly a touchdown against the Wolfpack.
By Zachary Cohen
December 16, 2018

NC State Wolfpack vs. Texas A&M Aggies (-6)

Mon., December 31, 7:30 p.m. ET

Three things to know before betting on NC State-Texas A&M:

1. Considering Aggies coach Jimbo Fisher spent eight seasons as the head coach at Florida State, he should be rather familiar with the way Dave Doeren and NC State like to do things. As coach of the Seminoles, Fisher was an impressive 5-2 straight up and 4-3 against the spread in bowl games. His teams generally don’t lose focus, and the Aggies took on that same trait under his leadership. When playing as a favorite this year, Texas A&M went 8-0 straight up and 6-2 against the spread. The Aggies really only lost to teams they were supposed to lose to. The same can’t be said for NC State, which played in a weak ACC. Over the course of Doeren's tenure, the Wolfpack are also just 7-12 against the spread when facing teams that rush for at least 4.75 rushing yards per carry, and 7-13 against the spread versus teams that score at least 34.0 points per game.

College Football Bowl Season Expert Best Bets

2. The key in this matchup is going to be the battle in the trenches. Texas A&M is a team that thrives in the running game, as Trayveon Williams is one of the more underappreciated backs in the nation and quarterback Kellen Mond is capable of beating teams with his legs as well. Meanwhile, NC State has the 12th-ranked rushing defense in FBS. The Wolfpack have been able to shut down most of their opponents on the ground this season, but it’s Mond’s ability to run that should make the difference. In most games, NC State can focus strictly on a running back beating them on the ground. But having to account for Mond’s legs is going to add another wrinkle here. Mond has also improved significantly as a thrower this season, and he has plenty of weapons around him. If the Wolfpack load the box, then he’ll make them pay through the air.

3. Texas A&M allowed only 3.2 yards per carry on the ground this season, which was the 10th-best mark in the nation. The Aggies also gave up only 92.0 rushing yards per game this season, which was the second-best number in FBS. The importance of that here is that NC State is a team that really needs the ground game to get going. Ryan Finley is a good quarterback, but he’s not the type that is going to be able to put this Wolfpack team on his back. He needs running backs Reggie Gallaspy II and Ricky Person Jr. to take some pressure off by creating manageable situations on third down. But the Aggies are going to make it extremely difficult, and that’s a major reason this game could end up being one-sided.

Pick: Texas A&M -6

Confidence Level: Extremely High (on a scale of Low/Moderate/High/Very High/Extremely High)