Holiday Bowl – Washington State Cougars vs. Michigan State Spartans
Date and Time: Thursday, December 28, 2017, 9:00 p.m. ET
Location: SDCCU Stadium, San Diego, CA
Opening Holiday Bowl Odds: Washington State -3.5, O/U 44.5
Holiday Bowl TV Coverage: FS1
Both Washington State and Michigan State went 9-3 SU and 7-5 ATS this season. The Cougars averaged just over 31 points per game, while giving up about 24 points per contest. The Cougars went under in 7 of their 12 games this season. Washington State is led by quarterback Luke Falk who threw for 3,593 yards. The problem for the Cougars is that you never know what you are going to get with the offense. In their last six games they scored just 3 points in a loss to California, just 28 in a win over Colorado, 37 in a loss to Arizona, just 24 against Stanford, 33 against Utah and only 14 against Washington. It also doesn’t help that Washington State is without their top two receivers in Tavares Martin Jr. and Isaiah Johnson-Mack who were both dismissed from the team.
The Cougars played in the Holiday Bowl last season and were beaten by a Minnesota team that appeared to be in disarray. Washington State head coach Mike Leach is hoping that this year’s Holiday Bowl turns into a shootout because that type of game would favor his squad. "I think it will be a shootout and a fantastic finish," Leach said in the bowl press conference. "You got kind of contrasts styles. They're big and strong and physical. We're trying to maneuver some stuff around. I think it's a good matchup. I think it will be fun to watch."
The Spartans scored just over 23 points per game and gave up just over 20 per contest. Michigan State relies heavily on quarterback Brian Lewerke who threw for 2,580 yards. He was also second on the team in rushing with 486 yards and five touchdowns. Michigan State went under the total in 7 of their 12 games this season.
This will be the eighth meeting between Michigan State and Washington State with the Spartans holding the 5-2 edge but the teams have not played since 1977. Michigan State is 4-5 in bowl games under head coach Mark Dantonio. The Cougars are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 vs. the Big Ten. The Spartans are 1-6 ATS in their last 7 vs. the Pac-12.
The Under is 5-1 in the Cougars last 6 non-conference games. The Under is 6-2 in the Spartans last 8 non-conference games.
Holiday Bowl Free Picks
There has been some serious line movement toward the Spartans in this game. The Cougars opened up as 3.5-point favorites and the wise guys jumped all over that number. They took it down to 3 and didn’t stop there, as Washington State is now just a 2-point favorite. The total at top online sportsbooks has moved from 44.5 to 45.
Can you trust a Mike Leach team laying points? The Cougars don’t have their top two receivers and despite the big numbers Falk has put up this season, he has been wildly inconsistent. I like the Spartans in this contest, but I liked them at lot more at +3.5 than I do at +2. The total is also of interest, as despite what Leach has said, this could be a low scoring game. The Spartans are very good on defense and surprisingly, the Cougars are also good on defense. I will take this contest under the total.
Holiday Bowl ATS Pick: Spartans +2 and Under 45 at BookMaker.eu
Holiday Bowl Score Prediction: Michigan State 23, Washington State 17