Ohio (6-6) won four of their last six games to get bowl eligible for the fifth consecutive season and 10th time in the last 11 years, all under the watchful eye of head coach Frank Solich. The Bobcats are also looking to extend their bowl winning streak to three straight after a 27-0 victory over San Diego State in the Frisco Bowl last season. Ohio has played on the blue turf before, having won the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl back in 2011. Senior quarterback Nathan Rourke will be playing in his final collegiate game. Rourke completed 61.4 percent of his passes this season for 2,676 yards and 20 touchdowns with just five interceptions. Rourke also added 780 rushing yards with 12 scores. The Bobcats have the 22nd ranked rushing offense in the nation with 216.5 yards per game.
Nevada (7-5) won three of its last four games to earn a second straight bowl berth. The Wolf Pack has a lot of experience on the “Smurf Turf” as they play in the same conference as Boise State. However, the Wolfpack have lost 11 straight games at Albertsons Stadium dating back to 1997, with nine of those games coming against the Broncos and two being bowl games. Nevada will be without three defensive starters for the game. Nose tackle Hausia Sekona, safety Austin Arnold and cornerback Daniel Brown were suspended by the Mountain West for their involvement in a post-game brawl in the regular-season finale against UNLV. Linebacker Gabriel Sewell was also suspended but just for the first half. The Wolf Pack will also be without defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel and two other assistants who were let go after the UNLV game.
ESPN’s FPI gives Ohio a 70.4% chance of winning this game. We break down the line and offer our best bets and analysis for Friday’s Potato Bowl between the Bobcats and Wolf Pack.
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Ohio vs. Nevada Game Details
Date: Friday, January 3
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Location: Albertsons Stadium (Boise, Idaho)
Spread: Ohio -7.5
This line opened at Ohio -6 and has been bet up to Ohio -7.5 with the majority of the bets and money coming in on the Bobcats. This line is correlated with the action and is moving with the market.
- Ohio is 6-6 SU and 4-8 ATS this season
- Nevada is 7-5 SU and 5-6-1 ATS this season
- Over is 7-5 in Ohio games this season
- Under is 6-6 in Nevada games this season
Analysis & Pick
Considering all the suspensions and distractions surrounding Nevada, it’s hard to back the Wolf Pack in this game. However, based on what we’ve seen from Ohio this year, there’s no way you can lay more than a touchdown with the Bobcats. So lies our conundrum with this meaningless post-New Year’s Day bowl game being played in Boise. When I took a hard look at the total, I realized there could be some value on the over, especially considering the defensive starters and coaches who will be out for Nevada and that it’s Nathan Rourke’s final game for Ohio. Expect Rourke to find the end zone at least once and both offenses to move it with relative ease in a game where not much is at stake except pride and a potato trophy.
PICK: Over 59.5
Follow Jared Smith on Twitter: @jaredleesmith