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2018 Arizona Bowl Pick

College Football

2018 Arizona Bowl: Teams, Facts, and Pick

Duel in the desert.

The land of cacti, the Grand Canyon, and reconstructed London Bridge brings us the 2018 Arizona Bowl.

This is one of the last hurrahs for the Group of Five this season. In fact, you will not see another all-Group of Five bowl game in 2018. It’s UCF and a lot of Power Five schools the rest of the way. The teams you will see here are the Arkansas State Red Wolves, a Sun Belt entry, and the Nevada Wolf Pack, coming from the local Mountain West.

We are set to make our pick in this desert bowl, but first, we have a bit of information on both teams. You can also reference bowls we picked previously so you can either celebrate our prescience or judge our ignorance. If you find occasion to do both, then truly have we accomplished a lot.

Previous Bowls Picked: Cure | New Mexico | Las Vegas | Camellia | New Orleans | Boca Raton | Frisco | Gasparilla | Bahamas | Idaho Potato | Birmingham | Armed Forces | Dollar General | Hawaii | First Responder | Quick Lane | Cheez-It | Independence | Pinstripe | Texas | Music City | Camping World | Alamo | Belk

2018 Arizona Bowl: This Year’s Bowl Info

Saturday, December 29, 2018, 1:15pm ET (10:15am PT)
Arizona Stadium, Tucson, Arizona
Broadcast on CBS Sports Network
$412,920 payout (Link: College Football Poll)
Arkansas State is a 1-point favorite

2018 Arizona Bowl: Arkansas State Red Wolves

8-4 (5-3 Sun Belt); Sun Belt West co-champions
Best Win: Louisiana-Monroe
Offensive Ranks (out of 130): Scoring Offense 45th, Total Offense 20th, Rushing Offense 54th, 3rd Downs 40th, Time of Possession 58th, Turnover Margin 34th, Sacks Allowed 39th, Red Zone 60th
Defensive Ranks (out of 130): Scoring Defense 59th, Total Defense 48th, Rushing Defense 101st, Opponent 3rd Downs 54th, Sacks Per Game 29th, TFL Per Game 16th, Interceptions 65th, Opponent Red Zone 31st
Special Teams Ranks (out of 130): Field Goal Kicking 110th, Punts Per Game 58th

2018 Arizona Bowl: Nevada Wolf Pack

7-5 (5-3 Mountain West); 2nd in MWC’s West Division
Best Wins: San Diego State and Hawaii
Offensive Ranks (out of 130): Scoring Offense 39th, Total Offense 32nd, Rushing Offense 83rd, 3rd Downs 117th, Time of Possession 88th, Turnover Margin 111th, Sacks Allowed 10th, Red Zone 50th
Defensive Ranks (out of 130): Scoring Defense 77th, Total Defense 51st, Rushing Defense 34th, Opponent 3rd Downs 17th, Sacks Per Game 29th, TFL Per Game 12th, Interceptions 90th, Opponent Red Zone 14th
Special Teams Ranks (out of 130): Field Goal Kicking 83rd, Punts Per Game 54th

2018 Arizona Bowl: Head-to-Head

Believe it or not, these teams have met one another five times previously, and this bowl will be number six.

Nevada leads the series, 3-2. It has been since 1999 that they last played one another, and Arkansas State won that game. (Link: Winsipedia)

2018 Arizona Bowl: Pick

Both of these teams know their way around scoring points, and a lot of that is thanks to their quarterback play. Justice Hansen of Arkansas State has thrown 27 touchdowns this season, while Ty Gangi of Nevada tossed 23. Both are over 3,000 yards total and completed over 60 percent of their passes. Hansen had understandable terrible games against Alabama and Appalachian State. Gangi threw three picks against, of all teams, UNLV. That snapped what had been a four-game win streak. This is the streak the Red Wolves are on now, with both teams hot in the second half of the year to reach a bowl.

Though each has been on the shelf for a few weeks, two hot teams coming together should make for a more interesting bowl than one might expect. The numbers are similar for both teams and it is not easy to say based on the eye test that one has a clear advantage. What jumps out at me is the general quality of Arkansas State’s wins. Their best win was ULM, a marginal team that won six games but did not get a bowl invitation. At least Nevada beat some decent teams like San Diego State and Hawaii, who, though maybe marginal themselves, come from a better conference. They also gave Boise State a good fight.

We are going to buck the conventional wisdom and the sports books. Nevada can keep up with Arkansas State on offense, and did a little more in a better conference.

Pick: Nevada

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