College Football Picks - 12/15/2012

Last Updated: 12/12/2012 at 8:00 PM ET

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One team covers the spread 57%+ in today's bowl game to qualify as a Paul's Pick for Saturday, December 15.

Gildan New Mexico Bowl: Arizona -9.5 over Nevada (Covers 59.7%)

The Vitals:
Projected Score: Arizona 50.3 - Nevada 33.0
SU Pick and Win%: Arizona wins 70.8%
SU Confidence Rank (of 35 bowls): #5
ATS Pick and Win%: Arizona -9.5 covers 59.7%
ATS Confidence Rank (of 35 bowls): #4
ATS Wager for $50 Player: $77
O/U Pick and Win%: OVER (75) 57.6%
O/U Confidence Rank (of 35 bowls): #8
O/U Wager for $50 Player: $55

The Teams:

  Arizona Nevada
Record 7-5 7-5
Avg. Points For vs. Against 37.3-34.3 37.0-32.5
Strength of Schedule Rank (of all FBS): #10 #110
Passing Efficiency Rank (of 120 in SOS-adjusted metric): #35 #50
Rushing Efficiency Rank #7 #46
Pass Defense Efficiency Rank #72 #84
Rush Defense Efficiency Rank #32 #113
Pass/Run Ratio 50%/50% 40%/60%
Turnover Margin Rank #69 #76

The Breakdown:
Two of the best offenses with two of the best running backs in the country meet in a game that features 83 projected points and a double-digit victory by the team from the significantly better conference that has proven it can put up points against the best teams in the nation. 

In his first year at Arizona, Rich Rodriguez inherited a Wildcat team that was set up almost perfectly for him to succeed right away. The offensive line had been a weakness in 2011, yet every starter from the unit returned from last season and the undersized, young athletic nature of the line fit well with Rodriguez's schemes. Matt Scott is a veteran, dual-threat quarterback that played exceptionally well for the better part of his nine healthy starts to begin the season (all signs point to Scott being as close to 100% as he has been for more than six weeks for this, his final collegiate game. Joining Scott in the backfield, sophomore running back Ka'Deem Carey put up gaudy numbers (1,757 rush yards on 6.4 yards-per-carry and 21 TDs) en route to being named First Team All-American. 

While Carey finished second in the country in rushing yards, Nevada's junior back, Stefphon Jefferson, leveraged Chris Ault's pistol offense to finish fourth in the nation in rushing yards. However, he averaged just 5.0 yards-per-carry and never topped that mark in any of the team's five losses. 

There is no doubting the power of these offenses, particularly on the ground, but, ultimately this analysis comes down to context and defense. Arizona put up almost identical aggregate numbers to Nevada while playing one of the ten toughest schedules in college football. Nevada played the 11th easiest schedule in FBS. In fact, Nevada only played two teams - Fresno State (#37) and Boise State (#48) that ranked in the top 60 of our final college football power rankings. The Wolf Pack got both of those games at home and still went 0-2 and was out-scored 79-57 in those games. Arizona went 2-0 with a combined score of 80-48 in its two games against teams that ranked in the bottom 60 of our FBS rankings. Arizona ranks #23 in those rankings. Nevada is #68. Also, Arizona is significantly better against the run than the pass and Nevada is one of the more run-oriented teams in the country.

Even in the cold New Mexico weather, expect both teams to top 30 points and for Arizona to ultimately run away with the game - in this one of two bowls all season that have normal+ opinions on the side and the total. 

College Football Picks Pages:

December 15: Predictalator Picks  Paul's Analysis
All Bowl Games: Predictalator Picks
Play Analyzer - View Updated Picks on Current Consensus Lines
Customize the Predictalator - Play the Games with Any Lines
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