2018 Gator Bowl: Teams, Facts, and Pick
Who gets the chomp?
No, the University of Florida is not in this game, but it is in Florida: it’s the 2018 Gator Bowl.
This is the last college football game to kick off in calendar year 2018, and what a wild ride it has been. The action is far from over, but this might be a good way to send 2018 out in style. We have on our hands here an ACC-SEC matchup with the North Carolina State Wolfpack meeting the Texas A&M Aggies. Which team wins the contest?
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2018 Gator Bowl: This Year’s Bowl Info
|Monday, December 31, 2018, 7:30pm ET (4:30pm PT)|
|TIAA Bank Field, Jacksonville, Florida|
|Broadcast on ESPN|
|$3,168,292 payout (Link: College Football Poll)|
|Texas A&M is a 6.5-point favorite|
2018 Gator Bowl: North Carolina State Wolfpack
|9-3 (5-3 ACC); 3rd in ACC Atlantic|
|Best Wins: Boston College and Virginia|
|Offensive Ranks (out of 130): Scoring Offense 21st, Total Offense 15th, Rushing Offense 98th, 3rd Downs 6th, Time of Possession 12th, Turnover Margin 52nd, Sacks Allowed 4th, Red Zone 40th|
|Defensive Ranks (out of 130): Scoring Defense 37th, Total Defense 54th, Rushing Defense 13th, Opponent 3rd Downs 18th, Sacks Per Game 16th, TFL Per Game 38th, Interceptions 75th, Opponent Red Zone 9th|
|Special Teams Ranks (out of 130): Field Goal Kicking 8th, Punts Per Game 116th|
2018 Gator Bowl: Texas A&M Aggies
|8-4 (5-3 SEC); 2nd in SEC West|
|Best Win: LSU|
|Offensive Ranks (out of 130): Scoring Offense 27th, Total Offense 19th, Rushing Offense 31st, 3rd Downs 57th, Time of Possession 2nd, Turnover Margin 113th, Sacks Allowed 110th, Red Zone 69th|
|Defensive Ranks (out of 130): Scoring Defense 58th, Total Defense 35th, Rushing Defense 2nd, Opponent 3rd Downs 20th, Sacks Per Game 16th, TFL Per Game 21st, Interceptions 117th, Opponent Red Zone 15th|
|Special Teams Ranks (out of 130): Field Goal Kicking 79th, Punts Per Game 110th|
2018 Gator Bowl: Head-to-Head
NC State and Texas A&M have not played each other before this forthcoming game. (Link: Winsipedia)
2018 Gator Bowl: Pick
There is a first time for everything, like the Wolfpack and Aggies getting together. When they do, we are going to see two pretty good offenses on the field at opposing times. Kellen Mond has almost 3,000 passing yards, and Ryan Finley nearly 4,000. The Wolfpack have an exceptional passing game, but this is at the expense of their ground game, which has not been prolific overall. Despite being just barely in the top 100, NC State’s Reggie Gallaspy had over 1,000 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns.
Trayveon Williams of A&M has been even more successful. He had one fewer touchdown with 15, but ran for 1,524 yards. His total is fourth-highest in FBS this year, and he can move up to number three with a solid performance.
One matchup to watch is the Texas A&M offensive line against the NC State pass rush. Kellen Mond can take off whenever he wants, but has also taken 34 sacks. NC State succeeds at getting to the quarterback, which can shorten some Aggie drives. What helps A&M is that they move the ball just as well on the ground as through the air, and not just from Mond getting loose. The Wolfpack had some success against teams with mobile quarterbacks, such as Bryce Perkins (Virginia) and Anthony Brown (Boston College), but not so much against Wake Forest and Syracuse.
North Carolina State seems to be up to staying with Texas A&M on offense. I am concerned that NC State’s best wins weren’t very good whereas A&M has beaten premier teams like LSU (in the 7-OT epic) and Kentucky. Do we dare?
Pick: NC State