Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Tulane vs Nevada Picks and Odds

Caron Strong hands out reaction

Nevada quarterback Carson Strong (12) plays against San Jose State during an NCAA college football game Friday, Dec. 11, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
  • Nevada makes a return appearance against Tulane in this year’s Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on Tuesday (ESPN, 3:30pm ET)
  • The line has moved two points closer after opening at 5.5, with the Green Wave as 3.5-point favorites
  • Read below for complete analysis on the game and best bets

The second bowl game on the 2020-21 college football calendar takes place on Tuesday between Tulane and Nevada in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise, Idaho.

For Nevada, the turnaround from its last game is relatively quick. The Wolf Pack finished their regular season in disappointing fashion against San Jose State on December 11, where they lost by 10 after leading by 17 points at halftime. Tulane has been up-and-down all season, but has had more time to prepare for Nevada after its last game — a win against Memphis on December 5.

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Odds

Team Spread Moneyline Total
Tulane -3.5 (+100) -168 O 56.5 (-108)
Nevada +3.5 (-122) +136 U 56.5 (-112)

Odds Taken from FanDuel on Dec. 20

Nevada has quietly been a strong team to bet on this season, and makes a return appearance in this bowl game after losing to Ohio in last year’s edition, 30-21. Despite coming into the game with the stronger record, the Wolf Pack are 3.5-point underdogs to a Green Wave side that has one of the nation’s top rushing offenses.

Strength Against Perceived Strength

For the season, Nevada has had some good defensive totals against opponents’ run games, but part of that has had to do with the potency of its own passing offense. The Wolf Pack have lost two of their last three games, and the Spartans ran up 200 yards on 27 carries against them nine days ago.

In the two games before that, Nevada’s opponents ran the ball for a significantly lower average, but teams have run an average of 78 plays of offense against them over their last three games.

That average looks worse, considering San Jose State State only needed 57 plays. Senior running back Tyler Nevens rattled off two 69-yard runs as part of a 184-yard performance against Nevada.

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Tulane’s last game, a 35-21 win against Memphis, came following a bye week and the Green Wave ran 80 offensive plays. Of that number, 45 were running plays that totaled 165 yards and three touchdowns. Head coach Willie Fritz has found success with tandem of Stephon Huderson and Cameron Carroll, who have combined for 1,337 yards and 15 touchdowns this season.

Strength Against Weakness

Running the ball on offense is simply not a priority to Nevada like it is to Tulane, or most other teams. The Wolf Pack have the fourth-lowest average of rush attempts per game in the country, allowing redshirt sophomore QB Carson Strong to air things out at a pretty high clip.

Strong has the fifth-most completions of FBS quarterbacks in the nation, the 10th-most attempts, and is in the top-15 passers in total yardage. He’s completed 69% of his passes this season for 22 touchdowns and just four interceptions. Strong wasn’t able to get the ball downfield in his last outing, averaging just 5.4 yards-per-attempt, but Tulane has the 18th-highest yards per attempt allowed against the pass this year.

With the exception of Navy in the Wave’s second game, all of Tulane’s losses have come to teams with pass-heavy offenses. Tulane also allowed 343 yards through the air to Tulsa, who has struggled with its consistency all season in the passing game.

Motivational Play

Tulane has had trouble just getting things to click overall this year. Although the Green Wave finished the regular season with a winning record, it let a number of winnable games slip away . Bowl games are typically happy distractions for most teams, especially after all of the challenges of 2020, but Tulane likely had higher expectations for itself.

Meanwhile, this is arguably Nevada’s best team since 2010, when the Wolf Pack enjoyed a 13-1 season and finished as the No. 11 team in the final AP Top 25. After its loss in this game last year, coupled with its collapse in what started out as a winnable regular season finale against a top-25 team last week, the Wolf Pack should come out extra hungry to take back a win here.

Nevada has played a soft schedule, and Tulane is probably the more talented team, but the Wolf Pack should push the Green Wave. The line has already moved nearly three points towards Nevada, but at +3.5, the Wolf Pack still seems like a decent play along with the over on the total of 56.5 points.

The Pick: Over 56.5 (-108)

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