The Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl – WSU vs Fresno St. (12/17/22 – 3:30 pm EDT)
Line: Fresno -3
The Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl – Washington State vs Fresno St.
The Jimmy Kimmel Bowl presented by Stifel will feature a fight between conferences on the West Coast with the Pac-12’s Washington State Cougars taking on the Mountain West’s Fresno St. Bulldogs. The Cougars ended their regular season with a 51-33 loss at the hands of in-state rival Washington while the Bulldogs beat Boise St. 28-16 for the final game of their regular season.
Washington State Analysis
The other Washington team from the Pac-12 flew under the radar this season for good reason as they only had a 7-5 record but did so in Power 5 conference plus their six games made them automatically bowl eligible. On that note, the team went only 4-5 in the Pac-12, finishing seventh in the league. The Cougars went 8-4 versus the spread on the year with a 3-9 record against the over/under.
Washington St. had an up-and-down year which is why their record is just two games over .500 coming into this bowl game. They started off the year hot, winning their first three games, including a big win over then-19th-ranked Wisconsin that followed with a 44-41 loss to Oregon that they almost won. After that loss, however, is when the Cougars began losing focus as they would go on to lose three of their next four before ending the regular season winning three out of their final four contests.
There was a time in the Cougars’ history when they were coached by a guy named Mike Leach who fostered nothing but a pass-first offense. Those days are long gone as it was Washington State’s defense this season that led the way as they only allowed 22.4 points a contest, good for 33rd in the country. The Cougars’ defense has also been solid against the run, holding opposing running attacks to 127.3 yards a game, which is ranked 34th overall. Their offense is led by quarterback Cameron Ward who has thrown for 3,094 yards and 23 TDs while completing 64.1% of his passes along with eight interceptions.
Fresno St. Analysis
The Bulldogs have had a far less complicated season than that of the Cougars although a lot of their success has come in the second half of the season rather than their poor start. Fresno St. earned an invitation to this bowl due to their 9-4 record which includes a 7-1 record in conference play as well as a 5-1 home record. The Cougars have gone 6-7 against the spread thus far and 7-6 versus the over/under.
So, how did the Bulldogs earn a trip to this Bowl? If you looked at the first half of their season, you wouldn’t think Fresno St. would have had a chance in hell to make a bowl game as they started the year 1-5. Time must heal because the Bulldogs would flip the script after their fifth loss by winning the final eight games of the season, including the Mountain West Championship Game over Boise St, who had gone undefeated in conference play.
Fresno St. moves the chains well through the air, averaging 269.7 yards a game, which is good for 27th in the nation while they don’t turn it over much either as their five turnovers on the year rank 28th overall. Their defense was impressive as well, holding teams to only 192.7 yards passing, which is 23rd in the country while they only yield 20.5 points a contest, good for 25th overall. On offense, the team relies on running back Jordan Mims to chew up yardage as he would go for 1,161 yards and 16 TDs.
Free Pick – Fresno -3
While the Cougars play in a tougher conference, it’s hard to overlook Fresno State’s recent play as they haven’t lost a game in more than two months now, with the last loss coming on October 9th. There is no doubt Washington St. has played well lately, winning three out of four, but that’s not an eight-game winning streak like the Bulldogs are currently riding. Head coach Jeff Tedford has his team playing like a Top 25 team currently and that shouldn’t stop in the Jimmy Kimmel Bowl against a Cougars team that is solid, but not good enough to stop the surging Bulldogs. We’re taking Fresno -3.