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Reply To: NCAAF • "Christmas Eve Bowl Games" • Thursday 12/24/15

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‘Christmas Eve’ College Football Bowl Games Betting Preview

‘Hawai’i Bowl’

San Diego State Aztecs vs. Cincinnati Bearcats (+3, 56.5)

Game to be played at Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii

Mountain West Conference champion San Diego State will make its second trip to Hawaii in less than three months when its faces Cincinnati on Christmas Eve in the Hawai’i Bowl. The contest will be played at Hawaiian Airlines Field at Aloha Stadium, which came under scrutiny last week when the U.S. women’s national team cancelled its soccer match with Trinidad and Tobago, claiming poor field conditions and tweeting out photos of seams in the artificial turf coming apart, mainly on the sideline area. “We didn’t have any problems when we played on it,” Aztecs coach Rocky Long told the San Diego Union-Tribune of his team’s 28-14 victory over the Rainbow Warriors on Oct. 10. “I don’t think it was a concern when we were there.”

San Diego State rolls into the game with the momentum of a nine-game winning streak, the third-longest active streak in the nation behind Clemson (16) and Alabama (10). That includes a perfect 8-0 mark in the Mountain West regular season and a 27-24 victory over Air Force in the 2015 Sports Authority MW Championship game at Qualcomm Stadium on Dec. 5. It was the 20th conference title in school history and second in the Mountain West era.

Cincinnati was a big preseason media favorite to win both the American Athletic Conference East Division and inaugural league title game. However, the Bearcats finished third in the East behind Temple and USF, which handed Cincinnati its worst loss of the season, 65-27, on Nov. 20. “(The Hawai’i Bowl is) one of the best bowls going,” Bearcats coach Tommy Tuberville said. “I’ve coached in a lot of them, and unless you’re playing for the national championship, what better place to spend the holidays than Hawaii?”

TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN.

LINE HISTORY:
Since opening as 2-point favorites, Cincinnati has seen no love as the line has not only jumped the fence, but gone all the way to San Diego State -3. The total has been bet down slightly since opening at 57, and is down to 56.5.

INJURY REPORT:

San Diego State – QB M. Smith (questionable Thursday, knee).

Cincinnati – WR J. Holton (questionable Thursday, hamstring), QB G. Kiel (out Thursday, personal).

WEATHER REPORT:
It could be messy in Honolulu, with a 51 percent chance of rain showers and a 13-15 mile per hour wind gusting across the field from east to west. Temperatures will be high 70’s at gametime.

ABOUT SAN DIEGO STATE (10-3, 7-5-1 ATS, 6-7 O/U): The big question for the Aztecs is whether starting quarterback Maxwell Smith, who passed for 1,529 yards and 13 touchdowns while throwing just two interceptions, will be able to make it back to play in the bowl game after tearing his left ACL in the regular season finale against Nevada. “I hope he gets ready,” Long told Union-Tribune. “I’d love to see him start the game.” If not, redshirt freshman Christian Chapman, who completed 9-of-14 passes for 203 yards and a touchdown in the championship game, will make his second college start and the Aztecs, who set a school-single season record with 3,061 rushing yards, will lean even more heavily on Donnel Pumphrey, the Mountain West’s Offensive Player of the Year who has rushed for 1,554 yards and 16 TDs.

ABOUT CINCINNATI (7-5, 6-6 ATS, 6-6 O/U): The Bearcats bounced back from the ugly loss at USF to edge East Carolina, 19-16, on Andrew Gantz’s 42-yard field goal on the final play of the game in their regular-season finale. Junior quarterback Gunner Kiel, who began his career at Notre Dame, has completed 206-of-316 passes for 2,777 yards with 19 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, with senior wide receiver Shaq Washington, who set a school single-season receptions mark with 88 catches for 971 yards and six touchdowns, his top target. Senior Hosey Williams (727 yards, 4 TDs) and sophomore Mike Boone (717 yards, 8 TDs) both topped the 700-yard rushing mark while junior linebacker Eric Wilson (103 tackles) leads a defense that ranked just 84th nationally and allowed 190.8 yards per game on the ground.

TRENDS:

* San Diego State is 0-7 ATS in their last 7 non-conference games.

* Cincinnati is 1-7 ATS in their last 8 non-conference games.

* Under is 7-2 in San Diego State’s last 9 non-conference games.

* Over is 4-1 in Cincinnati’s last 5 Bowl games.

CONSENSUS:
The action is fairly split in this bowl game according to the Covers Consensus, with 56 percent of wagers on San Diego State. As for the total, 58 percent of wagers are on the total.

PREDICTION: San Diego State 34, Cincinnati 21