Ryan Mayer

Bowl season is officially upon us, which means some opportunities to add to your holiday gift pile before the end of the year. Over the next few weeks, there will be over 40 bowls played, several that include Texas teams. One of them, the New Mexico Bowl, kicks off this Saturday, December 15th. So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at the matchup between the North Texas Mean Green and Utah State Aggies.

Spread: Utah State -7.5

Over/Under: 67.5

The Mean Green enter this game as slightly over a touchdown underdogs, despite finishing with just the seventh nine-win season in school history. That should give you an idea of just how good the oddsmakers believe this Utah State team is. The Aggies were dominating this season, as they ranked 21st in Bill Connelly’s S&P+ ratings (20th on Offense, 34th on Defense) and were held under 40 points just four times in 12 games. The Aggies offense blended a nice balance of run and pass, with quarterback Jordan Love throwing for over 3,200 yards and 25 touchdowns and running backs Darwin Thompson and Gerold Bright combining for 1,736 yards and 22 touchdowns. The Aggies will be without head coach, Matt Wells, who left to take the Texas Tech job, but they have found a new coach (sort of), bringing back Gary Andersen.

North Texas, on the other hand, held on to their head coach, Seth Littrell, after he interviewed for the Kansas State job. The Mean Green weren’t far off of the Aggies trail in S&P+ either, checking in at number 31 this season. The main difference is defense, where they lag behind Utah State by 14 spots (48th) and are more prone to giving up explosive plays (68th in IsoPPP). Still, quarterback Mason Fine (3,734 yards 28 TDs) and the offense should be able to put up some points in this one, as they have all season.

The problem lies in North Texas’s record against the spread this season. They are 4-8 on the year, though they have been the underdog just twice and own a record of 1-1. The Aggies, on the other hand, are 9-3 on the year and 7-2 as favorites. The line has come down quite a bit since opening at -10 in Utah State’s favor, an indication that bettors believe North Texas can keep it on the closer side of things. I agree. They may not win, but they’ll cover in a game that I expect to have a little less in the way of fireworks than one may expect. North Texas +7.5; Under 67.5

Local Expert Take: Bill Jones, CBS 11 Sports Anchor