First things first–the Frisco Bowl is not played in San Francisco even though the name could lead you to that conclusion. Instead, it takes place in Frisco, Texas which is a booming suburb in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metro Area. Frisco was the fastest growing city in the United States in 2017 and is essentially a ‘bedroom community’ for professionals who work in downtown Dallas. The Frisco Bowl was first played in 2017 and curiously enough takes place in a stadium that is listed as being ‘soccer specific’. That would be the Toyota Stadium, home field of FC Dallas. The FCS Championship game is now played in Frisco every year as well as the Frisco Bowl.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way back to the matter at hand which is an interesting matchup between Utah State and Kent State. The Utah State Aggies didn’t have a great season going 7-5 overall and 6-2 in Mountain West Conference play. They beat the teams they were expected to beat, lost when they stepped up in class and finished third in the Mountain Division behind Air Force and Boise State. Kent State is yet another team that started poorly and on November 5 were just 3-6 SU. They put it together down the stretch, winning their last 3 games and covering their last four. They actually began to play better in early October and ended the year covering 6 of their last 7 games. To some extent, that run was ‘done with mirrors’ though credit to QB Dustin Crum for making it happen. They were outyarded in two of their victories but the net result is that they finished 6-6 and are headed to only their 2nd bowl game in the past 47 years.
Utah State is led by quarterback Jordan Love who is 21-10 as a starter heading into what will be the finale of his college career. He’s indicated that he will make himself available for the NFL draft next season and he’s definitely got the arm strength and general potential to play at the next level. He had to do it all this year whereas last season he had a solid running game to take some of the pressure off. He completed 60% of his passes with 17 TD passes but also threw 16 interceptions this season compared with only 6 last year. The Aggies’ defense is also down from last year which put even more pressure on Love to make things happen.
The Kent State Flashes definitely have some momentum but playing in what is essentially for first bowl game ever they could be in for a long night. Utah State faced a much better class of opposition and have been to a bowl game in 7 of the last 8 years. Remember back at the start of this article where we noted that Utah State ‘beat the teams they should beat’ this year? They’ve shown a marked tendency for that in recent years and are 19-2 SU/16-5 ATS as a favorite over the past three seasons. They’re also 5-1 SU/ATS in this price range (-3.5 to -10 point favorite). The Aggies’ defense isn’t much to write home about and is just marginally better than Kent State’s porous stop unit. Utah State should score enough to win and cover in a game that should go ‘Over’ this generous total.