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Posted at 11:30 AM EST.
Saturday, December 15th, 2018 – Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl - Mercedes-Benz Stadium - Atlanta, GA
12:00 PM EST. The Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl has become THE bowl game for the Aggies, as this will be their third appearance in the four-year history of this game. The contest matches the winners of the Southwestern Athletic Conference and the champions of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. North Carolina A&T won the MEAC after racking up four straight Ws to end its season with quarterback Lamar Raynard leading the way with his 1373 yards through the air and a very tidy 16-5 TD/INT ratio. Runner Marquell Cartwright has been gaining steam as well as the season rolls along and he saved his best performance of 2018 for the Aggies last game against NC Central where he rushed for 114 yards and a pair of majors. NC A&T isn't a one-dimensional team either, as they feature a stout defense that can cause havoc for any quarterback with defensive end Darryl Johnson setting the tone on that side of the ball. Johnson has 44 tackles, 18½ tackles for a loss and 10½ sacks. When the Aggies stepped up to play East Carolina, an FBS school, Johnson again led the way with seven tackles and a sack. Defensive back Mac McCain III is one of the best cover corners in America and must also be accounted for. The Aggies defense shutout NC Central in the regular season finale and they gave up more than 20 points just twice this season and have conceded just four rushing TDs while holding their opponents to just 2.4 yards per carry on the ground. They say defense travels and if that's the case, it could be a long day for Alcorn State.
The Braves come into this game as the champions of the SWAC and have won five of their last six games. This game in Atlanta has Alcorn State coming full circle, as it started its season against Georgia Tech although they were outclassed by the Yellow Jackets 41-0. Much is being made here about the Braves hanging around with Alabama State in a 28-25 loss at home in October, as well as a 52-42 defeat at the hands of FBS New Mexico State but a closer look shows that while Alcorn State certainly deserves to be in this game, it could be overmatched against the Aggies. The Braves are giving up 34 more yards per game including more than 20 YPG on the ground. The Aggies feature the number five scoring defense at 13.5 points per game, while the Braves are 18th at 21.3 and perhaps most importantly, the Aggies are much better at getting off the field on third down, as they are the top team in third-down defense while the Braves rank just 22nd. While the Braves appear capable on paper, our model says they’re an outclassed outfit that doesn’t figure to be anywhere near the number. Swallow these points with confidence.
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North Carolina A&T -7½ -101 (Risking 2.12 units - To Win: 2.10)