Saturday, December 21: New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque, NM at 2:00 pm EST
Colorado State Rams (7-6) vs. Washington State Cougars (6-6)
Together, these teams are 13-12, which is excuseable only because it is the first bowl game of the season.
Vegas line/spread: Washington State by 4 (over/under 64.5)
The Cougars opened a 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 point favorite to win a fairly high-scoring game.
|Game-comparisons||win %||vs. Spread
Washington State ranks as the better team in the All-Division Strength power rating, at #43 to Colorado State's #68. Consequently most of their game performances rate better than the Rams' performances, and they even take the majority after the spread is taken into account.
Strength power rating: Washington St 36, Colorado St 28 by Median rating: Wash St 37-27
Colo St scoring offense: #54 vs. Wash St scoring defense: #51
Colo St scoring defense: #85 vs. Wash St scoring offense: #36
The Strength power rating makes Washington State about an 8 point favorite. It's a pretty even matchup when Colorado State is on offense, but Washington State's offense outclasses the Rams' struggling defense and that makes the difference in the touchdown+ spread. By median game performance Washington State is nearly a top 25 team and the margin increases to 10 points.
Yardage analysis: Washington St 38, Colorado St 28 per-play: Colo St 27, Wash St 24
Yardage differential: Colo St #57 vs. Wash St #34
Colo St total offense: #46 vs. Wash St total defense: #51
Colo St total defense: #70 vs. Wash St total offense: #28
The yardage stats are a pretty close analogue to the point-margin rankings; both teams rate a bit better by yardage but the spread is about the same, with Washington State a 10-point favorite.
Washington State's offense depends largely on volume of plays, and passing plays in particular; if both teams had an even amount of plays and a balanced offense, then Colorado State would have the edge as shown by the per-play yardage estimate, where the Rams outgain the Cougars on a typical play from scrimmage. Since Washington State's offense is definitely not balanced, this estimate is less useful here.
Adjustments to yardage estimate: Washington State 37, Colorado State 23
- Interceptions: Colorado State has an edge here and may get an extra pick (due to Washington State throwing a lot, and throwing a lot of picks). It's worth about 3 points for the Rams.
- Forced fumbles: The Rams also have a slight advantage here; Washington State gives up the ball quite a bit, even on the ground. We give Colorado State another 1.75 points roughly.
- Sacks: Again, advantage Colorado State. They have a better pass rush and since the Cougars pass so much, they suffer more sacks. The edge is small, maybe 1 sack in an average game, and less than 2 points.
- Red zone%: Here Washington State can claim a sizeable edge, mainly due to their #10 red zone defense. They should stop the Rams about 1/2 the time inside the 20 while scoring about 80% of possible points there themselves; this docks Colorado State about 4 points and adds over 3 points to Washington State, about a touchdown swing.
- 3rd-down%: The Cougars are good on 3rd down situations, particularly on defense, and we give them about 3 points edge for this.
- Special Teams: Washington State gets 1.09 points for special teams, Colorado State .52, netting the Cougars about 1/2 point.
Summary: Overall, Washington State's edge grows from 10 points to 14 points after adjustments, moving even farther away from the Strength power rating estimate. Colorado State's edge is mainly in hard-to-predict turnovers and sacks, which is where they'll have to make their push.
When Colorado St has the ball
|Colo St rushing offense: #51
||Wash St rushing defense: #46
Kapri Bibbs' 1,572 yards is the engine of Colorado State's rushing attack. By raw numbers, Colorado State would appear to have a big advantage with the #31 rushing offense to Washington State's #85 defense, but when both are corrected for their opponents the difference vanishes. Still, expect Bibbs and the Rams to have just over 150 yards on the ground.
|Colo St passing offense: #39||Wash St passing defense: #64 per att: #46|
|Colo St interceptions thrown ranking: #82||Wash St interceptions picked ranking: #27|
|Colo St quarterback protection rank: #49||Wash St pass rush rank: #93|
Garrett Grayson threw for over 3,000 yards for the Rams with 21 touchdowns, and he spreads the ball around pretty well. Freshman Rashard Higgins leads the receivers with 795 yards while Joe Hansley and Crockett Gilmore combine for over 1,000 more. Washington State's pass defense might be slightly above average and covering the Rams will be a challenge. Colorado State should have over 250 yards through the air.
To limit Colorado State's success, the Cougars will look to intercept the ball. Grayson has thrown 10 picks this year which isn't excessive but Washington State might be able to capitalize on it as Damante Horton and Deone Bucannon have five picks each. It's probably a better bet than trying to pressure Grayson, as the Cougars aren't great at rushing the passer.
When Washington St has the ball
|Wash St rushing offense: #122
||Colo St rushing defense: #33
Running the ball is not Washington State's thing since Mike Leach took over; they rank in the bottom five in production. Marcus Mason is their leader with 424 yards, and Colorado State's rushing defense is pretty solid. The Cougars might have less than 50 rushing yards in the bowl game.
|Wash St passing offense: #4||Colo St passing defense: #116 per att: #106|
|Wash St interceptions thrown ranking: #123||Colo St interceptions picked ranking: #99|
|Wash St quarterback protection rank: #63||Colo St pass rush rank: #42|
Washington State puts all its eggs in the passing basket, and this year behind Connor Halliday they ended up in the top five in the nation in production. Halliday has over 4,000 yards this year with 28 touchdowns, and he has a slew of available targets including Gabe Marks (770 yards), Dom Williams (644), and Vince Mayle (501). Unfortunately for Colorado State, their weakness on defense is the pass, and that will be exploited by the Cougars probably to the tune of over 400 yards.
Halliday's production does come at a price, however, and that is: interceptions. He has thrown 21 this season, and even though Colorado State has only 9 picks on the year they could get a couple more this game. The Rams have a decent pass rush and Washington State gives up a lot of sacks (27 this year), but that's against well over 400 passing attempts; the Rams should get at least a few sacks but don't expect pressure to be a huge factor.
Colorado St's season (7-6)
Wins vs. bowl-eligible teams (0)
Wins vs. BCS Top 25 teams (0)
Losses (6) to losing teams (2)
- = Colorado L 27-41
- @ Tulsa L 27-30
- Cal Poly SLO W 34-17
- @ Alabama L 6-31
- UTEP W 59-42
- San José St L 27-34
- @ Wyoming W 52-22
- @ Hawai`i W 35-28
- Boise St L 30-42
- Nevada W 38-17
- @ New Mexico W 66-42
- @ Utah St L 0-13
- Air Force W 58-13
Colorado State's résumé isn't all that impressive, to say the least. They opened with losses to 4-8 Colorado and 3-9 Tulsa, and beat UTEP (2-10), Wyoming (5-7), Hawaii (1-11), Nevada (4-8), New Mexico (3-9), and Air Force (2-10)—not a single winning team among the bunch.
But the Rams clearly came a long way since those first two games, especially on offense, where they racked up 59 on UTEP, 52 on Wyoming, 66 on New Mexico, and 58 on Air Force. The defense even played well in that last game—probably because Air Force is a running team.
Washington St's season (6-6)
Wins vs. bowl-eligible teams (2)
Wins vs. BCS Top 25 teams (1)
Losses (6) to losing teams (0)
- @ Auburn L 24-31
- @ Southern Cal W 10- 7
- Southern Utah W 48-10
- Idaho W 42- 0
- Stanford L 17-55
- @ California W 44-22
- Oregon St L 24-52
- @ Oregon L 38-62
- Arizona St L 21-55
- @ Arizona W 24-17
- Utah W 49-37
- @ Washington L 17-27
Washington State didn't know it at the time, but they nearly beat an eventual BCS Championship game team when they lost to Auburn 31-24 on the road. But they definitely knew what it meant when they upset USC on the road 10-7, and it led to a 3-1 start for the Cougars.
Things got rough after that in the tough Pac-12, but Washington State managed a respectable 4-5 conference record and fell only to bowl teams. They finished with three of their strongest games as they upset Arizona on the road, beat a tough Utah team, and fought well at Washington in the Apple Cup loss.
Colorado State has several players, mostly on defense, either out or questionable for the game. Washington State is in a similar predicament. There's probably not much advantage either way but it could make for an even higher-scoring game.
Psychology/Motivation - Some (unscientific) factors that may come into play during the game:
- Colo St's season: +3 wins; Wash St's season: +3 wins
- Colo St's momentum: +2 wins; Wash St's momentum: -2 wins
- Colo St won final game: NO; Wash St won final game: NO
- Colo St glad to be there? Yes; Wash St glad to be there: Yes
- Colo St time zones from home: 0; Wash St time zones from home: 1;
- Colo St coaching situation: stable; Wash St coaching situation: stable
Both teams made good progress this year in reaching a bowl game, and while Colorado State's season progressed along better than Washington State—who hit the skids in mid-season—both teams finished the year strong (though both lost their last game). Both teams will be happy to be part of the bowl season, no doubt, and both coaches are secure in their jobs. The one minor difference we see is that Colorado State has a much shorter travel distance than the Cougars.
The Rams have a pretty balanced offense; Washington State doesn't. The Rams have a 1,500 yard rusher and a 3,000 yard passer; the Cougars don't have a 500-yard rusher, but their quarterback has thrown for well over 4,000 yards.
Being balanced is a good thing in general on offense. The Rams are good enough on the ground and through the air to keep most defenses guessing. Being one-dimensional is bad unless you are very good at the one thing; if your team isn't in the top ten at its one dimensional attack, that's bad. Washington State ranks #4 in passing, so their rock-bottom rushing numbers can be somewhat excused.
The key is how the opposing defense can handle you. The Cougars have a "balanced" defense in that they handle the run and the pass fairly well. They aren't lockdown at either, but neither are the Rams among the best at rushing or passing. It's a pretty fair matchup, and execution will rule the day when Colorado State has the ball.
On the other hand, Colorado State is good at stopping the run but not good at all against the pass. That makes for a potentially long night for the Rams trying to stop Connor Halliday and the Cougars' passing attack. It's doubtful they can stop them enough to make it a low-scoring affair, so they'll have to hope they can match them score for score. If the Rams had shown a knack for intercepting the ball, that would be another route to success but they probably don't excel there enough to exploit that weakness of Halliday.
With a few defensive players out for the game on both sides, it might turn into a shootout. If that's the case, though, we expect Washington State to do enough to win, both on offense and on defense. They've played by far the tougher schedule, and they'll be just as motivated as the Rams. We see a solid Cougar win to kick off the bowl season.
Prediction: Washington State 41, Colorado State 30
More previews, odds, and predictions: View the complete 2012-2013 bowl game schedule.