NC State Wolfpack vs. Texas A&M Aggies
Date and Time: Monday, December 31, 2018, 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: TIAA Bank Field, Jacksonville, FL
Opening CFB Odds: Texas A&M -4.5, 58.5
NC State vs. Texas A&M TV Coverage: ESPN
When you take a look at the Wolfpack’s body of work on paper, they did a tremendous job in handling their business. They won the games they were supposed to and lost the games they weren’t. In the end, NCST ended up with a 9-3 record and went 6-6 ATS. It was good enough for a third place finish in the Atlantic Division of the ACC behind Clemson and Syracuse after dropping the tiebreaker to the Orange. Led by Ryan Finley, the Wolfpack possess a fantastic passing attack that ranks No. 6 overall with just under 330 yards per game. He should be able to excel versus the Aggies No. 115 ranked pass defense.
Like their opponent in the Gator Bowl, the Aggies also did a solid job of taking care of business in winning the games they should and mostly losing the games they shouldn’t. Losses to Clemson, Alabama and Mississippi State in Starkville are nothing to hang your head about. But that loss at Auburn was one they should’ve taken, but late game turnovers ended up being the reason for their demise. When it was said and done, the Aggies went 8-4 both SU and ATS in Jimbo’s first season at the helm in College Station. A&M’s balanced offensive attack should give NCST’s overachieving defense some major problems.
Player To Watch
Kellen Mond – The Aggies sophomore quarterback really grew up under the new coaching staff this season. He really stepped to the forefront in nearly leading A&M to the upset of the Clemson Tigers the second week of the season, and only got better as the season progressed. In the end, Mond threw for 2,967 yards and a 23:8 TD/INT ratio. He also proved to be a capable runner in rushing for 387 yards and 6 TD, and his ability to tuck it and run and pick up big chunks will go a long way in Texas A&M getting much of anything done against an NC State defense that looks good on paper but looks beatable. While dominant against the run in allowing just 104.2 yards per game at 3.4 yards per carry, I’m interested to see how it deals with needing to account for more than just one ball carrier out of the backfield.
Matchup To Watch
This game is going to be decided in the trenches in a number of ways. How will NCST deal with the Aggies running game? Trayveon Williams is a big time back that ran for over 1,500 yards and scored 15 rushing touchdowns. He also played a role in the passing game. More importantly, how will Texas A&M’s offensive line deal with the relentless pressure the Wolfpack is sure to bring? NC State averaged 3.0 sacks per game and countless hurries over the course of the regular season. If there was one glaring weakness the Aggies had this year, it was protecting its quarterback evidenced by Mond getting thrown to the turf an average of 3.0 times per game. If the front wall is unable to give him the time needed to pick apart a Wolfpack secondary ranked No. 125 against the pass, A&M won’t be able to cover the number at offshore sportsbooks.
Bet the Gator Bowl at BookMaker.eu
NC State might’ve played .750 ball in the regular season, but I’m not buying them being able to run with a rock solid team out of the SEC in this matchup. The ACC was one of the weakest conference in college football this season, and I expect that to show right from the opening kick of the Gator Bowl. On the flipside, A&M held its own against Clemson – the same team that curb stomped NCST 41-7 – and beat both Kentucky and LSU; teams with much better defenses than the Wolfpack. Jimbo Fisher is very familiar with what Doeren likes to do having run up against him numerous times while overlooking the Noles. Fisher’s FSU squads went 5-2 SU and 4-3 ATS in the bowl season, and I expect him to have his kids way up for their season finale in hopes of laying the ground work for bigger and better next season. Lay the steamed chalk!
CFB ATS Betting Pick: Texas A&M -7 at BookMaker.eu
CFB Score Prediction: Aggies 35 – Wolfpack 25