New Mexico Bowl Preview

The Central Michigan Chippewas battle the San Diego State Aztecs in the New Mexico Bowl on Saturday at 2:00 PM ET. The college football odds favor San Diego State by 3.5 points and the total has been set at 41.

New Mexico Bowl

Central Michigan (8-5) vs. San Diego State (9-3)

Saturday, December 21 at 2:00 PM ET

Dreamstyle Stadium, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Coverage: ESPN

How They Got Here

What Jim McElwain has done for Central Michigan this season is worthy of head coach of the year consideration. Central Michigan was 1-11 last season and he got there and took them to the MAC Championship Game. They did lose 26-24 against Miami (Ohio) on December 7 but they have an 8-5 record and a balanced team, ranking 40th in the nation in both passing and rushing yards per game.

San Diego State is 9-3 and while their offense is far from explosive, ranking 185th in the nation averaging just 19.0 points per game, their defense is very tough to score against, as they allow just 12.8 points per game (5th in the nation).

Central Michigan

Central Michigan has two talented running backs: Jonathan Ward (1,082 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns on 174 carries) and Kobe Lewis (977 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on 177 carries). Their run game has been strong most of the season and Ward had 331 rushing yards in the three wins before the loss against Miami (Ohio). He ran for just 26 yards averaging 2.6 yards per carry in that game.

Lewis also had a tough time in the MAC Championship Game with just 24 rushing yards but he ran for 131 yards in the 49-7 win against Toledo on November 29. Ward and Lewis have to play well if Central Michigan wants to beat San Diego State.

Senior quarterback Quinten Dormady also has to step up, particularly if San Diego State stops their run game. Dormady has 2,148 passing yards and 14 touchdowns with six interceptions and four of his wideouts have at least 496 receiving yards, led by Kalil Pimpleton (79 catches for 823 receiving yards and six touchdowns).

The San Diego State defense is the second-best in the nation against the run, allowing just 72.3 rushing yards per game but Dormady can exploit that they're 52nd against the pass, allowing 216.3 passing yards per game.

San Diego State

The San Diego State defense is one of the best in the nation. It is pretty much the reason why they had success this season. They won't light up the scoreboard on offense though, so they will go as far as their defense can take them.

The Aztecs closed the regular season with a 13-3 win against BYU on November 30. Redshirt freshman Carson Baker led the way, completing 19 of 24 passes for 172 yards and one touchdown, stepping up for the starter Ryan Agnew. He missed the game with a left calf bruise. Agnew could come back against Central Michigan. Will it improve their chances to win? He has completed 216 of 340 passes for 2,175 yards and 11 touchdowns with five interceptions in 11 games but he struggled as of late with just one touchdown in his last three games.

Betting Trends and Prediction

The Central Michigan Chippewas are:

5-1 ATS in their last six non-conference games

6-2 ATS in their last eight games overall

The San Diego State Aztecs are:

3-7 ATS in their last 10 games following an ATS win

5-13 ATS in their last 18 games on grass

San Diego State hasn't allowed more than 20 points in five straight games but they will have their hands full against a Central Michigan offense that averages 34.6 points per game and can be effective through the air or on the ground.

College Football Pick: Central Michigan +3.5

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