The First Responder Bowl will showcase a game between the Rice Owls, who are considered 3.5-point underdogs, and the Texas State Bobcats on December 26, 2023, airing on ESPN. The over/under, which represents the expected total points scored by both teams combined, is set at 59.5 for this matchup.
In their previous game, the Bobcats secured a victory against the South Alabama Jaguars, ending with a final score of 52-44. On the other hand, the Owls’ recent game resulted in a win against the Florida Atlantic Owls, with a final score of 24-21.
Texas State vs Rice Prediction
- The predicted score for the game, based on betting metrics, is Bobcats 32, Owls 28.
- The implied probability from the moneyline suggests that the Bobcats have a 63.4% chance of winning, while the Owls have a 40.8% chance of winning this contest.
- Texas State has a record of 5 wins, 6 losses, and 0 ties against the point spread during this season.
- Rice has beaten the point spread in seven out of 11 games this season.
Texas State vs Rice Prediction Explanation
Daniels had a great year in football, throwing for 2,500 yards and 21 touchdowns while leading his team, the Owls. His team’s passing game, under his leadership, ranked among the top 20 in the nation in efficiency, measured by EPA per Pass.
Daniels was successful at throwing long passes, which made the Owls’ passing game very powerful and dynamic. Luke McCaffery, a top receiver and younger brother of Christian McCaffrey, almost reached 1,000 receiving yards with an impressive average of over 14 yards per catch and scored 12 touchdowns during the season.
The quarterback, in their second year, has received consistently low passing grades (below 53) from Pro Football Focus. They’ve made five impressive throws but also nine risky plays. Additionally, their average yards gained per passing attempt is a modest 6.5 yards.
In the final three games, with Padgett at the helm, the team gained 384 passing yards. The comparison between Daniels and Padgett is highlighted here because the Bobcats’ weakest area is their secondary, making the difference more noticeable.
The Bobcats struggled to defend against passing plays this season, ranking poorly nationally in various metrics: 96th in Pass Success Rate allowed, 111th in Pass Explosiveness allowed, and 123rd in EPA (Expected Points Added) per Pass allowed.
I doubt Padgett’s ability to take advantage of a significant weakness in the opposing team. They lack confidence in Rice’s head coach, Mike Bloomgren, to out-strategize Texas State’s head coach, GJ Kinne. Kinne notably improved the Bobcats in his first season, whereas Bloomgren’s Owls didn’t win against any Bowl teams this year.
I believe that TJ Finley, the starting quarterback for Texas State, has the ability to create successful plays against Rice’s defense.
Rice’s pass defense is decent but not top-tier, ranking around 50th nationally in EPA per Pass allowed. However, their pass rush is weak, finishing 101st in creating pressures. This is problematic when facing Finley, who has significant difficulties when facing pressure during plays.
Finley maintained an average of 8.5 yards per attempt this season, throwing 24 touchdowns along with 17 impressive, high-impact throws. Additionally, the Bobcats ranked among the top 30 teams nationally in Pass Success Rate and EPA per Pass, indicating their efficiency and effectiveness in passing plays.
In crucial passing situations known as “Passing Downs,” Finley excelled, ranking 10th among qualified quarterbacks in Passing Downs Success Rate. Moreover, he exhibited a high Catchable Throw Rate, indicating his ability to deliver accurate and catchable passes specifically in these pressure-filled situations.
If Finley performs well against Rice’s pass defense, it could pose serious trouble for the Owls because their ability to stop the run is comparatively weaker. They ranked 66th nationally in stopping successful rushing plays and 89th in allowing yards per rush attempt, indicating vulnerability against opponents’ rushing attacks.
Ismail Mahdi’s performance as the primary running back for Texas State was noteworthy. He managed to generate 38 runs that gained more than ten yards while breaking through 47 missed tackles throughout the year. Additionally, it’s noted that Mahdi is also a significant threat when it comes to returning kicks or punts, adding to his versatility and impact on the game beyond running the ball.
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