The TaxSlayer Gator Bowl, which is the final college football game for 2018, kicks off at 7:30 pm ET on Dec 31. The game features the #19 Texas A&M Aggies (8-4, 2nd SEC – West) playing the NC State Wolfpack (9-3, 3rd ACC – Atlantic). Our Gator Bowl free pick has the Aggies favored by either 7.0 or 7.5 point. The over/under is either 56.0 or 56.5. The New Year brings five more bowl games with the CFP Championship game to be held January 7, 2019 at 8:00 pm ET.
The Aggies had two big wins this season and both were in OT. Texas A&M beat #13 Kentucky 20-14 and then, in the final game of the season, they took down #7 LSU 74-72. In that game, a total of 84 points were scored in the seven OTs. The Wolfpack won their first five games of the season and then over the next four went 1-3. NC State finished the season with a three-game winning streak.
NC State – Analysis
The Wolfpack is good for 35.6 PPG. The team has a very fine passing game that is averaging 327.7 YPG. However, the NC State rush attack, which is grinding out 143.7 YPG, is not quite as productive. On the other side of the ball, the Wolfpack has been allowing 22.7 PPG, giving them a sound PF/PA differential of plus-12.9. They’re holding teams to on average 109.1 YPG rushing, while allowing 271.2 YPG in passing.
Our Gator Bowl free pick notes that this team’s offense is run by the capable Ryan Finley (67.9 COMP%, 24 TDs, 9 INTs). Finley is a pocket quarterback with an accurate arm. He threw for 3,879 yards this season. He’s got a great group of receivers to throw two, including two solid juniors who each have over 1,000 receiving yards each. Kelvin Harmon has made 81 catches and seven touchdowns, while averaging 14.6 YPC. With a total of 89 receptions, Jakobi Meyers leads the team in that category. He’s scored four times while averaging 11.6 YPC. Senior RB
Reggie Gallaspy II anchors the rushing game. This season, he has 214 carries while averaging 4.7 YPC and scoring 18 TDs. He amassed 1,012 yards.
Texas A&M – Analysis
Our Gator Bowl free pick and preview finds that Texas A&M also has a productive offense. The team, which is averaging 34.7 PPG, is rushing for 203.8 YPG. Add to that 262.0 passing yards and the Aggies are creating 465.8 YPG of offense. Their D is giving up 26.3 PPG, which results in the team earning a PF/PA differential of plus 8.4. That may not be as large as NC State’s PF/PA, but it is still sound. Teams have a tough time running against Texas A&M, as they are allowing opponents just 92.0 YPG on the ground. The defense is giving up 262.7 YPG in passing.
Sophomore QB Kellen Mond (57.6 COMP%, 24 TDs, 8 INTs) had a very productive season as he threw for 2,967 yards, and along with tossing 24 scoring passes, ran for six more TDs. Junior RB Trayveon Williams (252 ATT, 6.0 YPA, 16 TDs) generated over 1,500 rushing yards while scoring 16 times. Junior TE Jace Sternberger and sophomore WR Quartney Davis are essential elements of this offense. Together, they’ve scored 17 times while compiling over 1,300 yards.
Five Keys to the Game
- NC State receiving group deeper
- Texas A&M rush attack is potent
- Wolfpack has a fine passing game
- Defenses are fairly equal
- Aggies are, overall, a better team
Our Gator Bowl Free Pick
Here we go with our final picks for 2018. Our Gator Bowl free pick is Texas A&M at -7.0. Our totals pick, despite two good defenses, is the over. We think there are too many offensive weapons on both sides not to go with the over which is at a low 56.0. Make sure you check in with all of our free college football bowl picks. We be posting our Jan. 1 picks tonight and tomorrow morning. Happy New Year!