The Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl, featuring the Nevada Wolf Pack (7-5, 2nd in MW- West) and the Arkansas State Red Wolves (8-4, 1st in Sun Belt – West), is one of three bowl games being played on Saturday, Dec. 29 prior to the CFP Semifinals. The Arizona Bowl is set to start at 1:15 pm ET. The two other games being played prior to the CFP semifinal contests are the Belk Bowl and Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. Both start at 12 pm ET. Our 2018 Arizona Bowl free pick has Nevada at -1.5 and the over/under at 56.0.
Arkansas State – Analysis
The Red Wolves averaged 31.8 PPG while allowing 26.4 PPG. That gave them a differential of +5.4. Our 2018 Arizona Bowl free pick notes that the team’s PF/PA differential is adequate, although certainly not excessive. Of the team’s 463.5 YPG, 282 were through the air and 181.5 on the ground. The defense did a good job of controlling opponent passing games, as they allowed only 175.9 YPG in the air. However, they had a tough time controlling the rush, as opponents averaged 200.7 YPG in rushing.
Senior QB Justice Hansen (67.0 COMP%, 27 TDs, 6 INTs) could have a good day against the Nevada secondary. Justice, who threw for over 3,100 yards this season, has a solid group of receivers to connect with. Senior Kirk Merritt (75 REC, 12.5 YPC, 7 TDs) is Hansen’s go-to pass catcher. He has almost 1,000 yards in receiving. The rush attack includes freshman Marcel Murray. Murray led the team with 137 carries, 793 yards, and seven rushing TDs.
The Wolf Pack put on average 32.3 PPG on the scoreboard. Of the over 440 yards per game of offense, 285 were passing yards and 158 were rushing. On the other hand, the defense gave up 28.1 PPG, giving them a PF/PA differential of +4.2. On defense, this team did well controlling the rush, allowing on average 135.2 YPG. But they struggled versus the pass, giving up 243.1 YPG.
Our 2018 Arizona Bowl free pick notes that senior QB Ty Gangi (61.1 COMP%, 23 TDs, 11 INTs) is a major force on this team. Gangi, who passed for over 3,000 yards, has a deep group of receivers to throw to. Sophomore WR McLane Mannix comes to this game with 50 catches, 875 yards, and seven touchdowns. He averaged 17.5 YPC. Freshman RB Toa Taua (156 ATT, 816 YDs, 6 TDs) averaged 5.2 YPA.
Five Keys to the Game
- QBs will make difference
- Nevada can exploit ASU defense with the rush
- Red Wolves should be able to pass against Wolf Pack
- Wolf Pack has edge in depth on offense
- ASU defense has to rise to the occasion
Our 2018 Arizona Bowl Free Pick
Our 2018 Arizona Bowl free pick is going with the over at 56.0. Neither defense is especially hearty. Plus, both offenses have proved that they can score. The spread is -1.5 with the Pack being favored. We do think that Nevada will be victorious.
The first semifinal game to determine who goes to the championship game will be at 4:00 pm ET, as #3 Notre Dame meets #2 Clemson. The second game, which offers #4 Oklahoma playing #1 Alabama, kicks off at 8:00 pm ET. Also, we have every bowl pick you want right here.