College Football Betting: Rice vs. Fresno State

College Football Betting:  Rice vs. Fresno State

On a short card of action for Wednesday this college football bowl game is all we have to work with. The Hawaii Bowl will feature a somewhat uninspiring matchup between Fresno State and Rice. And while the game may not be ‘must see TV’ viewing it does look like a decent betting opportunity. David Balliff’s Rice Owls at least have a winning record at 7-5. Fresno State is the only team among this year’s bowl participants with a losing record at 6-7.

Fresno State essentially started the season in an 0-3 hole due to some ambitious non-conference scheduling. While this is admirable it didn’t exactly deal head coach Tim DeRuyter the best hand for the 2014 season. As expected, the Bulldogs went 0-3 SU/ATS in their first three games against Utah, USC and Nebraska allowing 166 points combined to these traditional powerhouse programs. Fresno State hasn’t exactly dominated since then but they have become a competent team. Many of the bowl previews I’ve read get all worked up about Fresno State’s #108 ranked total defense but that has to be put into perspective based on their schedule. Ditto their #99 ranked scoring defense–chop off the blowout losses to the aforementioned power schools and Fresno’s PPG becomes a much more palatable #66.

Rice put up good numbers in a weak conference this year but it’s worth noting that they were pounded any time they stepped up in class. That’s excusable when facing powerful non-conference foes like Notre Dame and Texas A&M but less so against conference opponents. Rice lost 2 of 3 to close the year, losing to Marshall 41-14 and Louisiana Tech 76-31. They also lost to FCS opponent Old Dominion along the way. Their wins were against ‘powerhouses’ Hawaii, North Texas, UTSA and UTEP at home, Army, Southern Miss and Florida International on the road.

The ‘elephant in the room’ is Fresno State’s horrible bowl record (6-9) with two SU/ATS losses in their last two games. Impressed with how DeRuyter acknowledged that and vowed to improve that record. Fresno State got better all year long while Rice, if anything, maintained a holding pattern until the last three games. This game opened with Fresno State a -1′ point favorite–despite their losing record. That’s a case of oddsmakers trying to tell you something. We’re getting a better price since the public reflexively bet the team with the better record.