2014 Liberty Bowl Betting Picks: West Virginia Mountaineers vs Texas A&M Aggies

2014 Autozone Liberty Bowl
West Virginia Mountaineers vs Texas A&M Aggies
Liberty Bowl – Memphis, Tennessee
Monday, December 29, 2014, 2:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: West Virginia -3 1/2
Current Line: West Virginia -2
Opening Total: 64
Current Total: 65 1/2
Opening Money Line: WVU -175 / TAMU +150
Current Money Line: WVU -125 / TAMU +105

West Virginia takes on Texas A&M in the Liberty Bowl Monday.
West Virginia takes on Texas A&M in the Liberty Bowl Monday.

A few seasons ago, the Texas A&M Aggies and Missouri Tigers left the Big 12 for the SEC. The Big 12 invited the West Virginia Mountaineers and TCU Horned Frogs as replacements. This year by the random nature of the bowl system, Texas A&M and West Virginia are matched up against each other in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis. It is the first ever meeting between the teams.

Texas A&M went 7-5 this season and finished sixth in the SEC West. West Virginia also went 7-5 and were sixth in the Big 12 with a 5-4 record.

West Virginia is 14-18 all time in bowl games. West Virginia missed out on a bowl game last year for the first time since 2001. The Mountaineers lost to Syracuse 38-14 in the 2012 Pinstripe Bowl. West Virginia is playing in the Liberty bowl for only the second time and first since 1964.

Texas A&M is 16-19 all-time in bowl games. The Aggies have won 3 straight bowl games including 52-48 over Duke in the Chick-fil-A Bowl last season.  Texas A&M is playing in the Liberty Bowl for only the second time as well and first since 1975.

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West Virginia is coached by Dana Holgorsen. The Mountaineers have losses to Alabama 33-23 in Atlanta, home losses to Oklahoma  45-33, TCU 31-30 and Kansas State 26-20, plus a road loss at Texas 33-16. WVU has road wins over Maryland 40-37, Texas Tech 37-34, Oklahoma State 34-10, and Iowa State 37-24 in the last game of the regular season, plus home wins over Towson 54-0, Kansas 33-14, and Baylor 41-27. The Mountaineers are 7-5 ATS and the total is 3-9 this season. West Virginia was a 10 point favorite at Iowa State and the total was 62.5.

Texas A&M is coached by Kevin Sumlin. The Aggies started off the season 5-0 but have gone 2-5 since then. TAMU has road losses at Mississippi State 48-31 and Alabama 59-0, along with home losses to Ole Miss 35-20, Missouri 34-27 and LSU 23-17. The Aggies have road wins at South Carolina 52-28, SMU 58-6, Arkansas 35-28 in overtime in Arlington, Texas, and at Auburn 41-38, along with home wins over Lamar 73-3, Rice 38-10, and UL-Monroe 21-16. Texas A&M is 4-8 ATS and the total is 5-7 this season. The Aggies were 3 point underdogs against LSU and the total was 53.

West Virginia is outscoring teams 33-26 this season. WVU is #38 in scoring nationally.   The Mountaineers are averaging 502 yards per game on offense including 315 passing and 188 rushing yards. West Virginia  is #11 in total offense and #9 in passing offense. On defense, WVU is allowing 389 total yards including 226 passing and 163 rushing yards. The Mountaineers are -15 in turnovers with 28 giveaways. West Virginia averages 59 penalty yards and opponents average 81 per game. The Mountaineers are 101/230 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 65/212. West Virginia has forced 18 sacks and allowed 28 this season. The Mountaineers are 37/46 scoring in the red zone with 25 touchdowns and opponents are 30/36 with 20 touchdowns. West Virginia has 2 kickoff returns for a touchdown and 2 defensive touchdowns, and has allowed 3 special teams touchdowns.

WVU quarterback Clint Trickett has completed 67.1% of his passes for 3,285 yards with 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, plus a rushing touchdown as well. He retired from football due to numerous concussions and will not play in the bowl game. Skyler Howard played most of the game against Kansas State and started the Iowa State game. Howard has thrown for 483 yards with 5 touchdowns and no interceptions, and also has 12 carries for 107 yards.

Running back Rushel Shell has 164 carries for 766 yards and 7 touchdowns, plus 19 catches for 131 yards. Wendell Smallwood has 140 carries for 645 yards and 2 touchdowns, plus 30 catches for 321 yards.  Dreamius Smith has 79 catches for 454 yards and 5 touchdowns, along with 10 catches. Andrew Buie has 55 carries for 232 yards and 2 touchdowns, plus 6 catches.  Kevin White has 102 catches for 1,318 yards and 9 touchdowns. Mario Alford has 62 catches for 888 yards and 10 touchdowns, plus 2 kickoff returns for a touchdown. Jordan Thompson has 46 catches for 514 yards and 2 touchdowns. Four defensive players are questionable or out.

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Texas A&M is outscoring teams 34-27 this season. The Aggies are #30 nationally in scoring. Texas A&M is averaging 449 yards per game on offense including 306 passing and 143 rushing yards. The Aggies are #33 in total offense and #12 in passing, but #96 in rushing. On defense, TAMU is allowing 449 yards per game including 226 passing and 224 rushing yards. The Aggies are #105 nationally in total defense and #114 in rush defense. Texas A&M is -7 in turnovers with 12 takeaways. The Aggies average 47 penalty yards per game and opponents average 48. TAMU is 77/180 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 88/203. The Aggies have forced 33 sacks and allowed 25 this season. Texas A&M is 38/44 scoring in the red zone with 30 touchdowns and opponents are 34/39 with 22 touchdowns. The Aggies have one defensive touchdown and have allowed two this season.

Texas A&M benched quarterback Kenny Hill after a three game losing streak culminating with the rout by Alabama. Kyle Allen has started the last 4 games. Allen has completed 61.1% of his passes for 1,028 yards with 12 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. Hill has  thrown for 2,649 yards with 23 touchdowns and 8 interceptions along with 52 carries for 156 yards.

Running back Trey Williams has 70 carries for 474 yards and 6 touchdowns, along with 14 catches.  Tra Carson has 99 carries for 448 yards and 5 touchdowns along with 8 catches. Brandon Williams has 86 carries for 374 yards and 3 touchdowns, plus 9 catches. James White has 22 carries for 153 yards and 3 touchdowns along with 3 catches.

Receiver Josh Reynolds has 47 catches for 762 yards and 12 touchdowns. Malcome Kennedy has 46 catches for 529 yards and 4 touchdowns. Speedy Noil has 44 catches for 559 yards and 4 touchdowns. Edward Pope has 30 catches for 454 yards and 4 touchdowns. Ricky Seals-Jones has 48 catches for 444 yards and 4 touchdowns. Three defensive players are questionable or out.

Texas A&M is 8-3-1 ATS after scoring less than 20 points, 2-5 against Big 12 teams, 9-24 against teams with winning records, 2-6 in bowl games, 1-4 in December, 1-5 after failing to cover, and on fieldturf, 2-11 in neutral site games, 1-7 overall, 0-6 after a straight up loss, 0-5 after rushing for more than 100 yards and after allowing 200 rushing yards or more.

West Virginia is 4-1 ATS after rushing for more than 200 yards, 6-14 after gaining more than 450 total yards and on fieldturf, 2-6 in neutral site games and 1-4 in bowl games.

Texas A&M struggles to stop the run and West Virginia should be able to exploit that. The loss of Trickett hurts but I still think West Virginia wins a close shootout with tons of points.

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