Free College Football Bowl Picks and Spreads: San Diego St vs UL Lafayette 2011 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Vegas Odds, Free Picks, and Expert Predictions on ESPN Saturday 12/17/11: To say that San Diego State (8-4) and Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4) are entering uncharted territory would be an understatement. When the two programs meet in Saturday’s R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, the Aztecs will be making their second consecutive bowl appearance for the first time in more than 40 years, while the Ragin’ Cajuns will be making their first bowl appearance of any kind in the last 41 years. Needless to say, a victory would mean a lot to either program. Oddsmakers are giving the edge to the Aztecs in this one, making them five-point favorites.
In large part, the outcome of the game will be determined by the play of San Diego State running back Ronnie Hillman. He is probably the best back that a majority of college football fans haven’t heard of, and he has the numbers to proof it. Hillman ran for more than 1,600 yards this season, ranking third in terms of yards per game. He also added 19 rushing touchdowns and averaged nearly six yards per carry. Hillman has game-changing explosiveness, and he has a 99-yard touchdown run and 71-yard touchdown reception among his accomplishments. If Hillman controls the action on the ground, the Aztecs become the heavy favorites in this matchup.
While Hillman will be the only star on the field this weekend, the Ragin’ Cajuns actually score more points per game than the Aztecs this season. The Louisiana-Lafayette passing attack is putting up 265 yards per game this season, and starting quarterback Blaine Gautier is enjoying a career year. He has thrown 20 touchdowns compared to just five interceptions, and he is completing more than 63 percent of his passes this year. Leading receiver Javon Lawson is one of several reliable targets at Gautier’s disposal, and even if Hillman has a big game, the Ragin’ Cajuns may be able to keep pace on offense.
A possible X-factor could be Louisiana-Lafayette tight end Ladarius Green. Although he isn’t an explosive player, he is a red zone threat. Green has seven touchdown catches this year, helping to make up for a mediocre running game. When the Ragin’ Cajuns get in scoring position, Green will have a large role in determining whether or not they come away with six points or have to settle for a field goal.
For Louisiana-Lafayette, slowing down Hillman will be the top priority. If the Aztecs are forced to rely on their passing game, they could struggle. Quarterback Ryan Lindley is completing just over 50 percent of his passes, making him anything but reliable. However, the Ragin’ Cajuns are giving up almost 30 points a game, and stopping Hillman will be easier said than done, even if the load up the box.
At the end of the day, it is going to be tough for Louisiana-Lafayette to compete with the Aztecs with such a porous defense. Hillman is a program-changing type of player, and if he stays in school all four years, he is on pace to become the all-time leading rusher in college football history. Hillman should be able to control the clock and deliver a few big plays in the process. He won’t be able to win the game by himself, but he is a good enough player to tip the scale in favor of the Aztecs. On the back of Hillman, San Diego State should cover the spread.
Prediction: San Diego State Aztecs (-5) Cover the Spread
Free College Football Picks and NCAAF Predictions: San Diego St -5 to cover the spread
|Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: San Diego St vs UL Lafayette
Time: 9:00 PM EST on ESPN
Vegas Odds – Favorite: San Diego St -4.5 Total: Over/Under 60
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