The NCAA teases college football bettors with a few opening games this Saturday, August 25, including Wyoming at New Mexico State in the nightcap (10 p.m. ET, ESPN 2). The regular season begins in earnest over Labor Day weekend. Excited yet? We are. Betting preview, pick, and tips for the Cowboys-Aggies showdown here.
Wyoming (-3.5) at New Mexico State
Opening Line: Pick ‘em
Opening Total: 47.5
Kick Off: 10 p.m. ET
Oddsmakers opened the Cowboys-Aggies showdown a pick ‘em in May, but it’s been one-way action in early betting. Wyoming is laying 3.5 points with some books dangling -4 days out from kickoff. The Cowboys peaked at -6 in early August before a slight retreat to the current number. New Mexico State is seeing the majority of action with 52 percent of wagers across most popular online sportsbooks.
2017 SU Record: 8-5 SU
2017 ATS Record: 8-5 ATS
2017 Avg. Line: -2.3
Wyoming fields an experienced squad with 16 returning starters in 2018: eight on offense and eight on defense. Former QB Josh Allen is the one noticeable absence.
In the two seasons head coach Craig Bohl did not have the current Buffalo Bills rookie under center, Wyoming posted 19.0 and 21.1 points per game respectively. The odds the offense takes a big step backwards this year are high.
The Cowboys have won just five of 18 road contests under Bohl. They are 2-4 SU and ATS laying points, failing to cover a -8.8 average line by 7.8 points per contest. A porous defense proves problematic under these conditions, surrendering an average 34.3 points in regulation time. Opponents rumble for 275.8 yards per game on the ground.
IT’S GAME WEEK. ??
— NM State Football (@NMStateFootball) August 21, 2018
New Mexico State Aggies
2017 SU Record: 7-6 SU
2017 ATS Record: 6-6-1 ATS
2017 Avg. Line: 1.5
New Mexico State, fresh of its first bowl game victory in 58 years, returns 15 first-team regulars, but only six on offense. Gone are key position players QB Tyler Rodgers, RB Larry Rose, and WR Jaleel Scott.
Nick Jeanty, a senior, will take the first-team snaps. Jeanty picked up valuable minutes in each of the last three seasons, completing 112-of-188 passes in his collegiate career. Jason Huntley, meanwhile, takes over as the featured back; the junior tallied 6.0 yards per carry on 70 rushes last season. Expect little, if any, dropoff from a unit that scored 29.3 points per game in 2017.
Since the Aggies went Independent in 2013, they are 3-4 SU and 6-1 ATS against Mountain West Conference opponents. Two outright victories occurred in the only three games going off with a single-digit line (New Mexico, 2014, 2017; Utah State, 2017). The lone defeat came by a single field goal. Expect a tight, competitive effort from the Aggies regardless of the final result.
Pick: New Mexico State ML +155
Starting on the road minus Allen will highlight Wyoming’s flaws offensively. Expect sloppy execution and a few turnovers against an aggressive defense that ranked fifth nationally in opponent third down conversion rate (29.4 percent) and 16th in takeaways (2.1 per game) in 2017.