LAS VEGAS — San Diego State found ways to keep a perfect record into late October while rotating quarterbacks Jordan Brookshire and Lucas Johnson, who do not attract comparisons to Patrick Mahomes and Dak Prescott.
It’s rare when the Aztecs travel by air, and throwing the ball is not what they do well. Brookshire and Johnson have combined to complete 53 percent of their passes with seven touchdowns in eight games for San Diego State, which dropped to 7-1 and fell out of the AP Top 25 after a loss to Fresno State last week.
With their strong defense and ground attack, the Aztecs are built to bully bad teams — teams like Hawaii (4-5). The Warriors are fighting for bowl eligibility and could be on the rebound after veteran quarterback Chevan Cordeiro returned from an extended injury absence last week to pass for 296 yards and three touchdowns.
The last game on Saturday’s betting board always attracts good wagering action, and this one in Honolulu kicks off at 11 p.m. ET. Hawaii was an 11-point underdog in a 27-24 victory over Fresno State on Oct. 2. Cordeiro’s return gives the home dog a shot to pull another upset.
The pick: Hawaii + 7.5
RUTGERS (+ 13) over Wisconsin: The Scarlet Knights earned their first Big Ten win last week, when coach Greg Schiano’s defense stepped up to control an ugly game at Illinois. With a total of 37.5, this game will be another grinder. Schiano knows what’s coming from the Badgers’ one-dimensional offense.
Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz has three touchdown passes and seven interceptions for the season. In the last two games, the Badgers ran the ball a total of 99 times for 456 yards while Mertz attempted only 30 passes and totaled 156 yards.
Texas-IOWA STATE (Over 60): The honeymoon is over for Steve Sarkisian. The Longhorns have dropped three in a row, putting their first-year coach in the line of fire for critics. On the other sideline is Matt Campbell, who’s not such a hot name in coaching searches anymore. Texas (4-4) and Iowa State (5-3) are the most disappointing teams in the Big 12. Instead of picking a side, bet on the offenses.
The Longhorns can be explosive with quarterback Casey Thompson and running back Bijan Robinson leading the way. In a 38-31 loss at West Virginia a week ago, the Cyclones allowed 492 total yards. The bright spot was Breece Hall, who had 167 rushing yards. A terrible Texas defense is unlikely to slow Hall, so look for both teams to score in the 30s.
NEW MEXICO (-2) over UNLV: In two years as Rebels coach, Marcus Arroyo is 0-14. UNLV is the only FBS team not to outgain any opponent this season and has been outgained by 153 yards per game. The Lobos lack talent but they are well coached. New Mexico had a bye week after beating Wyoming 14-3 as a 20-point dog on Oct. 23.
Last week: 2-2
Michigan State (W), Florida (L), UCLA (L), Fresno State (W)