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2018 Gator Bowl Picks – North Carolina State vs. Texas AM

Written by:
Phil Simon
Published on:
Dec/31/2018

Try as he might Jimbo Fisher just can’t escape his ACC roots. Bolting from one of the top conferences in college football for another, Fisher and his Texas AM Aggies will look to close the season with a victory over the North Carolina State Wolfpack in the Taxslayer Gator Bowl.


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It’s not the bowl the Aggies were hoping for when luring Fisher away from Florida State and they came close to better things with half their losses to Clemson and Alabama, who are playing for a national championship.

North Carolina State Wolfpack vs. Texas AM Aggies

Date and Time: Monday, December 31, 2018, 7:30 p.m. ET

Location: TIAA Bank Field, Jacksonville, FL

Opening CFB Odds: Texas AM -7, O/U 55

North Carolina State vs. Texas AM TV Coverage: ESPN

Bet This One In-Play Right Up To The Final Minute

Odds Analysis

NC State would sure love to hand a Fisher-coached team a loss as reminder from his days in the ACC. The Pack has the tools offensively to do that, but they are facing a special Aggies squad. One could say this is NC State’s year, which wouldn’t be too far off. Not a hotbed of football talent over the years, the Pack is staring at its first 10-win season since 2002 and just the second in program history. Not many bettors are giving the Pack a chance with plenty of action on the Aggies pushing the line from an opening of NC State +4.5 to its current +7.

AM can’t win 10 games, but their schedule was more difficult than the Pack’s this season. There was one common opponent and the Aggies had a chance to knock off Clemson early in the season, losing 28-26 as a 12-point dog. NC State was pummeled by the ACC champs, 41-7. The Aggies’ other three losses all came on the road during SEC play to Alabama, Mississippi State and Auburn. Overall, they went 8-4 SU and ATS, ending the regular season with an epic overtime match with LSU that resulted in a 74-72 victory.

Matchup to Watch

The ground game will be a big factor in the outcome of this matchup. Both teams can run the football, but they are also among the best defending the run. Only one team allowed fewer rushing yards per game than Texas AM during the regular season and the Aggies improve their odds if they can slow down Reggie Gallaspy, who scampered for 1,012 yards.

Making NC State one-dimensional doesn’t guarantee a victory since they will be facing one of the best quarterbacks in the country in Ryan Finley. The Pack used the run as more of a complement to Finley’s passing, but Gallaspy was still able to run for more than 1,000 yards at 4.7 yards per attempt while scoring 18 times.

AM will lean on SEC rushing leader Trayveon Williams against the nation’s 13th-best run defense. NC State allowed just over 109 yards per game on the ground, but the Aggies will be without All-conference linebacker Germaine Pratt, who is preparing for the NFL draft. Pratt was the leader of the defense with 104 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and 6.0 sacks. That’s a big void and you can expect Williams and Kellen Mond to exploit it.

Player to Watch

Finley returned for his senior season and he only made himself more desirable for NFL scouts after completing 68 percent of his passes for 3,789 yards and 24 touchdowns during the regular season. He threw for more than 300 yards in a game eight times and twice topped the 400-yard mark for the sixth-best passing attack in the FBS.

The play of Gallaspy on the ground helped balance the attack, but the Pack is a pass-first team and Finley has one last chance to impress against a premiere team. Texas AM had its struggles defending the passing game ranking 111th by allowing 262.7 yards per game. That should allow Finley to have a big day.

Betting North Carolina State vs. Texas AM at BookMaker.eu

Not only will the Pack be without Pratt on defense, they are also going to miss Kelvin Harmon, who topped the SEC with 1,186 receiving yards and scored seven times. Those are impactful losses on both sides of the football and will be tough for NC State to overcome. There are no such holdouts on the AM side and with dual threat Kellen Mond having an exceptional year, the Pack defense should be worried.

Mond showed what he could do with a 430-yard passing game against a menacing Clemson defense and the Aggies balance should allow them to wear down NC State as the game progresses. I like the Aggies to cover the 7-point line and there will be enough offense to cash the over on the final total.

College Football ATS Betting Pick: Texas AM -7 at BookMaker.eu

College Football Score Prediction: Texas AM 34, North Carolina State 24

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