• Paul Compton

Hawaii Bowl: Cincinnati vs San Diego St.

I've got a Christmas Eve game for you, one you should bet Santa Claus' entire plate of cookies on, so that Santa can have twice as many cookies!

In a game of contrasting offensive styles, Cincinnati will try to win this game by air, San Diego State by land. The key injury coming into this contest is that of SDSU QB Smith, who is supposedly out for the year after missing the final regular season game against Air Force. Dave, you have some information on his injury, though, right?

* If Smith ends up being a no go, local kid and Freshman Chapman will be the QB. He played pretty well against Air Force, so I'm of a mind to think that SDSU's runcentric offense won't suffer too much from Smith's absence. Chapman is the better runner of the two.

* San Diego State is a team that put up some poor stats early in the season. Consequently, after righting the ship midway through the season they are probably the #1 team for in-season positive trending, when combining the 4 main categories. They are tied for 2nd place for the most upward trending rush offense, 17th in pass offense, 15th in pass defense, and 37th in rush defense. As such they provided some great winning betting opportunities down the stretch -- in their final 5 games I bet on them 3 times, against CSU, UNLV and NEV and won all 3. They match up very well against CIN and I'm showing huge value on them.

*SDSU's overall season rushing ranking is pretty average, but as I mentioned they are running extremely hot right now. In their first 6 games SDSU failed to match the ypc average that their opponent usually allows in any games. I don't know how much the return of Senior starting right guard Darrell Greene after a 6 game suspension had to do with it, but In their final 6 game they exceded their opponents' average ypc allowed in every game, averaging 5.7 ypc in those games. Enter Cincinnati, a team with one of the worst run defenses in the FBS. The Bearcats have only once this season held a team to less than its usual ypc average, though they still gave up 266 rush yards in that loss against Houston. In their final against ECU it was only the second time in the Bearcats' other 10 FBS games that they didn't have a "worst" qualifying game of run defense, and ECU is a pretty bad running team. CIN has had 7 "worst" qualifying games of run defense against teams with inferior running offenses than SDSU's. CIN has a fairly young defense that gets younger the closer you get to the line of scrimmage. They don't have a single Senior in their defensive line rotation. They'll be up against an SDSU offensive line comprised of all Juniors and Seniors. CIN actually has, though, my 19th best ranked pass defense. Expect to see CIN put an extra defender in the box and challenge SDSU to beat them through the air. It will be the same philosophy but flipped to defend the pass for SDSU. CIN is a pretty average running team while SDSU has my 16th ranked run defense. SDSU's pass defense is a little better than average, and as mentioned finished the season playing well -- but CIN has the most potent aerial attack that SDSU has seen since week #2 against CAL when the Bears torched the SDSU secondary (who was down a starting safety at the time) pretty handily. I think both teams will get theirs, honestly, so I like the Over. I also think SDSU enjoys the greater offensive mismatch, and my numbers project them to ride that to a healthy victory. There is a little uncertainty, though, with SDSU's inexperienced freshman QB and CIN having a stronger offense than SDSU has faced in a very long time.

*** CIN's QB Kiel is a scratch for the game now, which adds more value to SDSU, but lessens the Over play. Still, I like the Over for a med-small play.