Ball State Cardinals vs. San Jose State Spartans Offerpad Arizona Bowl Betting Picks and Predictions

December 30, 2020

Date:Thursday, December 31st
Time:2:00 PM ET
Network:CBS
Venue:Arizona Stadium
Spread:San Jose State -9.5
O/U:64.5

Trends

  • Cardinals are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 bowl games.
  • Spartans are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games after accumulating more than 280 yards passing in their previous game.
  • Under is 5-0 in Cardinals last 5 neutral site games as an underdog.
  • Under is 5-0 in Spartans last 5 games overall.

When The Ball State Cardinals Have The Ball

The Cardinals have won six straight games after opening their season with a seven-point loss to Miami-Ohio. They’re coming off a 38-28 upset over Buffalo in the MAC Championship and showed just how good they can be on both sides of the ball. They’ll draw an even tougher test against a San Jose State squad that comes in as the 22nd ranked team in the nation. 

Offensively, Ball State wants to throw the ball. Redshirt senior QB Drew Plitt has been superb with 1,947 yards, 16 touchdowns, and six interceptions. He’s not a runner, but he used his size well and has rushed for three scores thus far. When he drops back, Justin Hall (49 rec, 665 yards, 4 TD) is his primary option. He’s backed up by Yo’Heinz Tyler (38 rec, 504 yards, 7 TD) and Antwan Davis (36 rec, 413 yards, TD), rounding out an elite set of wideouts that can overwhelm the best of secondaries. 

The Cardinals have one of the best halfbacks in the nation in Caleb Huntley, but he’s unfortunately out for the season with an injury. Tye Evans will be asked to step up after rushing for 344 yards and a TD through five games. WR Justin Hall will also grab a few carries as he’s a pure weapon and it’s never a bad idea to get the ball in his hands. This is a talented team when the defense plays to par. 

When The San Jose State Spartans Have The Ball

The Spartans are the quietest undefeated team in the country and rightfully so. They haven’t faced a single ranked opponent to date, though wins over Hawaii and Nevada are a bit more impressive after seeing what they did in their respective bowl games. San Jose leans on their defense, led by LB Kyle Harmon. He leads the team with 86 tackles while Cade Hall is a menace on the edge with 10 sacks already. This Spartans defense is going to come out on fire and the offense will look to follow. 

QB Nick Starkel is a former big-time SEC recruit that could never put it all together. He looks a lot better in the blue and gold, throwing it for 1,906 yards with 16 touchdowns and four interceptions. He’s a pure pocket passer that doesn’t have a problem delivering the ball to anywhere on the field. Senior Bailey Gaithers is WR1 and he’s hauled in 41 balls for 725 yards and four scores. Slot wideout Tre Walker isn’t far behind with 38 catches for 546 yards and four TD’s. Tight end Derrick Deese Jr. leads the team in touchdowns with five on just 19 total catches. He’s one to watch inside the 20. 

At running back, Kairee Robinson has been the number one with 73 carries for 285 yards and two scores. He’s backed up by Tyler Nevens, who is the far better back. He’s rushed it for 478 yards and five touchdowns on just 59 rushes, averaging a monstrous 8.1 yards per carry. While Robinson is a bulldog, Nevens is the better back and he should see more carries in this ballgame. Robinson remains a threat in the passing game out of the backfield with 12 catches for 100 yards on the year. 

Spread Prediction

The Pick: San Jose State -9.5

These are two teams that I have made a lot of money on this season. Truth be told, books have underrated these two squads all season long. Coming into the bowl game, things look a lot more accurate. This isn’t my strongest lean of the game, but I’ll take San Jose State. The defense is full of animals and ones that don’t make mistakes or get a ton of penalties called on them. The Spartans offense is efficient and Starkel has done a phenomenal job inside the RZ of finishing drives. Ball State is solid, but they can run dry at times when Plitt is stifled. I like the Spartans to win this one by 10 to 14 points. 

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Total Prediction

The Pick: Under 64.5
Final Score Prediction: San Jose State 34, Ball State 20

I’m a huge fan of the under here. It’s never safe to bet the under when a MAC team is in play, but they’re facing an SJSU defense that will make everything tough. They haven’t allowed more than 24 points in any of their seven games, holding Air Force to just six and Nevada 20. The defense is for real and I expect Ball State to struggle early. Offensively, the Spartans are in no hurry. They throw it more than they run, but that might not be the case against a Ball State team that will be prepared for the pass. I love the under in this game and I’m comfortable laying up to two units on it. 

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