Game to be played at Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, NV
1. Two schools that are former conference mates square off in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl when No. 25 Utah faces Colorado State. The contest will mark the 80th meeting between the schools (Utah leads 55-22-2) that resided together in both the Western Athletic and Mountain West conferences. The Rams are looking for a win to record the second 11-win campaign in school history, while the Utes are vying for their 11th win in their last 12 bowl games.
2. Dave Baldwin will serve as Colorado State’s interim coach after Jim McElwain left to take the Florida job. Baldwin, who is the offensive coordinator, previously was a head coach at Cal State Northridge and San Jose State and is hoping the bowl performance will land him the Rams’ permanent head coaching job. “These guys know who I am, I have a personality that’s different from the head coach who was here in the past,” Baldwin told reporters. “I’m much more of a hands-on guy.”
3. The Utes regularly play in bowl games and keep chalking up the victories. Coach Kyle Whittingham wouldn’t reveal any program secrets but outlined his reasons for why Utah has experienced so much success in bowl games. “Our guys have historically done a great job of preparing,” Whittingham told reporters. “It’s a reward for the guys and there are a lot of activities, but at the same time you don’t want to go down with any other mission than to win the game.”
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC.
LINE HISTORY: Oddsmakers opened the Rams as either 5 or 5.5-point dogs, but that is now +3.5. The total opened at 58 and is up a half-point.
INJURY REPORT: Utes – DE Moana Ofahengaue (Out, suspension). Rams – WR Jordan Vaden (Probable, undisclosed), LB Aaron Davis (Probable, undisclosed), WR Joe Hansley (Probable, concussion).
WEATHER FORECAST: Temperatures expected to be in the mid-50s under partly cloudy skies. Wind will blow toward the south endzone at around 8 mph.
WHAT CAPPERS SAY: “The Utes may find it difficult getting up for the Las Vegas Bowl this Saturday when they take on the Rams with Utah having had visions of landing a bigger bowl prior to its 2-3 finish to the season. While Colorado State will be without head coach Jim McElwain, who took the Florida job, the coaching staff remains in place and the spirits are high. Can’t trust a bowl favorite that was out gained in 9 of its 12 games this season.” – Covers Expert Marc Lawrence
WHAT BOOKS SAY: “We opened Utah a 4.5-point favorite and we immediately saw sharp money take the points. We went straight through the key number of 4 and down to 3.5. At 3.5 we saw decent 2 way action but eventually we saw more sharp money come in on Colorado St, pushing us further down to Utah -3 – our current number. As for the total, we opened at 58 and haven’t moved off that opening number. We’ve seen great two-way action on this total and unless we see a sharp group get involved, this total won’t be moving anytime soon.” Peter Childs of Sportsbook.ag
ABOUT UTAH (8-4, 5-4 Pac-12): The Utes average 30.2 points and 374.8 yards per game and quarterback Travis Wilson overcame injuries and consistency issues to throw 17 touchdown passes against just four interceptions. Running back Devontae Booker emerged as a star with 1,350 yards and nine touchdowns while the receiving corps was hurt when star receiver Dres Anderson was lost to a season-ending knee injury in late October. Utah allows 26.2 points per game with defensive ends Nate Orchard (school-record 17.5) and Hunter Dimick (10) combining for 27.5 sacks, while returner Kaelin Clay has returned three punts for touchdowns and one kickoff for a score.
ABOUT COLORADO STATE (10-2, 6-2 Mountain West): The Rams roll up an average of 35.9 points and 497.8 yards per game with quarterback Garrett Grayson the ringleader by setting school records with 3,779 yards and 32 touchdown passes. Rashard Higgins had the best receiving season in school history with 89 receptions for 1,640 yards and 17 touchdowns while running back Dee Hart rushed for 1,254 yards and 16 touchdowns. The defense allows 23.4 points per game with strong safety Trent Matthews and cornerback Tyree Simmons sharing the interceptions lead of three and weakside linebacker Aaron Davis recording a team-best 110 tackles.
* Utes are 6-1-1 ATS in their last eight meetings.
* Over is 4-0 in Rams last four Bowl games.
* Utes are 7-2 ATS in their last nine Bowl games.
* Over is 4-1 in Utes last five bowl games.
COVERS CONSENSUS: According to Covers Consensus, 62 percent of bettors are backing the Utes.