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12/16/2013 03:08 PM
Early Bowl Outlook

December 9, 2013

It happens nearly every single season. Pundits galore spend early November talking about how three or four teams are going to stay undefeated. This year many felt like Oregon, Ohio State, Florida State and Alabama would remain unscathed.

Turns out, only the Seminoles completed the season without a defeat. The Ducks actually lost twice, while Alabama and Ohio State lost to Auburn and Michigan State, respectively.

Therefore, FSU and Auburn will meet in the final BCS Championship Game in Pasadena. Most books are listing the ‘Noles as 8½-point favorites with a total of 65 or 65½. The Tigers are +260 on the money line (risk $100 to win $260).

Gus Malzahn’s team beat Missouri by a 59-42 count to win the SEC in a pick ‘em affair at the Ga. Dome. Tre Mason rushed for 304 yards and four touchdowns to pace AU.

FSU thumped Duke by a 45-7 count as a 29-point favorite in the ACC Championship Game. The ‘Noles are back in the title game for the first time since losing to Oklahoma 13-2 in 2000.

Alabama was forced to settle for a trip to the Sugar Bowl where it will take on Oklahoma. Most spots have the Crimson Tide as a 15-point favorite.

The last time Nick Saban’s team went to the Superdome in New Orleans, it spanked LSU 21-0 to win it all two seasons ago. However, in its last Sugar Bowl appearance, the Tide lost outright to Utah as nine-point favorite in 2008.

Bob Stoops’s squad finished the year on a high note with a win at Oklahoma State in the Bedlam showdown in Stillwater. The Sooners had three straight bowl games until getting smashed by Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl last year.

In the Orange Bowl, Ohio St. is a 2½-point favorite vs. Clemson. Both schools will be in bounce-back mode. The Buckeyes suffered their first defeat of Urban Meyer’s tenure against Michigan St., while the Tigers lost at South Carolina in their regular-season finale.

We’ve got a great Rose Bowl matchup between Michigan St. and Stanford. Most books have made the Cardinal a four-point favorite. The Spartans have won nine in a row since dropping a 17-13 decision at Notre Dame on Sept. 21.

Baylor will take on UCF at the Fiesta Bowl as both schools will be making their debuts in a BCS bowl game. The Bears are heavily favored by 16½ or 17. They closed the regular season by beating up on Texas, while the Golden Knights barely escaped Dallas with a win over SMU.

The best non-BCS game looks like Wisconsin vs. South Carolina in Orlando at the Capital One Bowl. The Gamecocks are 2½-point underdogs.

Missouri is favored by 1½ over Oklahoma St. in the Cotton Bowl, while Texas A&M is favored by 12½ over Duke at the Chick-Fil-A Bowl.

In the Outback Bowl, Iowa and LSU will square off. The Tigers, 7½-point favorites, will be without QB Zach Mettenberger. This is a rematch of the 2005 Capital One Bowl won by the Hawkeyes on a Hail Mary on the game’s final play. It also turned out to be Nick Saban’s final game at LSU.

Nebraska and Georgia will collide in Jacksonville at the Gator Bowl for a rematch of last season’s Capital One Bowl. The Bulldogs rallied to beat the Cornhuskers 45-31 as eight-point favorites last year. Senior QB Aaron Murray won’t be able to play for UGA, nor will Taylor Martinez for Nebraska.
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12/16/2013 04:08 PM
Inside the stats: Best trends and numbers for pre-New Year's bowls

For the longest time College Bowl games played before New Year’s Day were deemed minor bowls. Those played from January 1st out were the main or major bowl games.

That all changed when the Go Daddy’s and other lesser, lightweight bowl games were created to fill a need for cable television broadcasting rights.

Hence, none of the bowl games on the docket prior to New Year’s Day are considered of the heavyweight variety. Instead they are largely populated by two classes of teams: those who suffered disturbing late losses and fell out of major bowl consideration, and those who scraped and clawed and earned a bowl bid thanks to a strong second-half effort.

Let take a look this year’s pre-New Year’s Day bowl card shapes up. All stats are from the 2013 PLAYBOOK Bowl Stat Report.

Conference Call

Like teams and coaches, conferences too develop bowl personalities.

Our database dug deep and found these noteworthy pre-New Year’s Day conference trends. All results are ATS dating back as far as 1980, unless noted otherwise.

ACC: 19-8 as dogs versus an opponent off a win (Miami Florida, Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech).

Big 10: 12-3-1 off back-to-back losses (Michigan and Minnesota).

Big 12: 2-8 as dogs versus .750 or greater opponent (Texas and Texas Tech)

CUSA: 10-3 as dog 7 or more off a win (Rice)

MAC: 1-7 off loss of 8 or more points (Buffalo and Northern Illinois)

MWC: 1-6 versus .800 or greater opponent (Utah State)

PAC 12: 1-11 favorite 6 or more points versus opponent off a loss (Arizona, Arizona State and Oregon)

SEC: 1-8 as a favorite of 8 or more points (Texas A&M)

Second-Half Ups and Downs

The pre-New Year’s Day bowl team whose second half overall stats (from Game 7 out as opposed to the first six games of the season) improved the most was Middle Tennessee State, whose +108 net yards per game improvement tops the pack.

Nipping at the Blue Raiders’ beak were Colorado State and Rice, each showing +83 net stat YPG improvement over the 2nd half of the season.

The pre-New Year’s Day bowl team whose overall team stats regressed the most from Game 7 out was Miami Florida, who slipped a whopping -130 net YPG during the 2nd half of the campaign.

Other teams going backward dramatically after the midway point included Texas Tech (-105) and Oregon (-101).

Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner

It’s important analyzing pre-New Year’s bowl contestants on a performance scale in games against teams that owned a winning record at the time of the meeting this season.

The best pre-New Year’s Day bowl teams from a straight up perspective this year were Fresno State (3-0) and Louisiana Lafayette (3-0).

On the opposite end of the SU ladder was Boise State (0-3).

When the money was on the line, this year’s pre-New Year’s Day best spread beater in games against winning opposition was Boston College (5-0).

And the only minor-bowl squad still looking for its first paycheck in games against a winning opponent this season is East Carolina (0-3).

Tale Of The Tape

Another interesting slant is weighing teams and their performance in games against other fellow bowl teams this season.

The best pre-New Year’s Day bowl spread beater against other bowl foes was Bowling Green (4-0).

The biggest pre-New Year’s Day bowl spread money loser was Texas Tech (0-5), followed closely by Pittsburgh (1-7-1).

In games “In The Stats” (net overall yards versus opponent’s net overall yards), the biggest pre-New Year’s Day bowler Yards Per Game stat winners were: Cincinnati (+184), Bowling Green (+156) and Oregon (+111).

Pre-New Year’s Day bowlers that got trounced on the field, or the biggest Yards Per Game stat losers, were: Rutgers (-179), Buffalo (-171) and Ohio U (-166).


Speaking of stat performance this season, two bowl teams head into the postseason having been pushed all over the field to conclude the 2013 campaign.

We’re speaking primarily of teams who have lost the overall yardage stats in at least their last three games.

This year’s contingent of pushovers includes Arizona and Texas A&M, both of whom are laying points, making them ‘leaking oil’ favorites. Amazingly enough the Wildcats have been out-yarded in each of their last four contests.

Incidentally, last year’s bowl card featured two teams - Duke and Kansas State - that were outgained in each of their final four games of the season. They went 0-2 SUATS, losing by 14 and 18 points, respectively.

Are You Kidding Me

Notre Dame is 0-10 SU and ATS in bowl games when facing an opponent off a win.
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12/16/2013 04:09 PM
NCAAF betting: Five teams poised for letdowns in bowl games

Every college bowl season comes with teams who are playing in games they never thought they would be in after heartbreaking losses. Those teams can often bring value as they can go into the game just wanting to get things over with while their opponents are eying up an upset.

Here is a look at five teams that will be less than excited with their bowl destinations this holiday season.

Northern Illinois (Lost MAC Championship to Bowling Green)

The Huskies had dreams of another return to the BCS with Heisman candidate Jordan Lynch registering eye-popping rushing numbers as a quarterback along the way before Bowling Green got their revenge on Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship Game in convincing fashion. Luckily for NIU, their opponent Utah State is also coming off a disappointing loss in the Mountain West Championship Game to Fresno State at home last weekend and will also be reeling.

Northern Illinois is getting -1.5 and Utah State lost to the two top quality programs in the Mountain West in Boise State and Fresno, with Lynch putting up such solid numbers and wanting to end his college career on a high note to attract NFL attention, the Huskies are likely not the team to find value when it comes to a lack of motivation following a letdown.

USC (Lost to UCLA to end season)

USC has been a mess all season and are going through the emotional roller coaster of their interim coach Ed Orgeron being replaced by Steve Sarkisian for next season as the Trojans opted to bring in an established head coach following USC's loss to their rivals in UCLA to end their Pac 12 season. Going up against Derek Carr and the Fresno State Bulldogs, a team that has top wide receiver talent and a dominant passing game, the Trojans could be looking at an upset going against the nation's best passer in Carr.

USC are currently sitting as 6-point favorites over Fresno State.

Oregon (Lost to Stanford/Arizona to lose Pac 12 title)

The Ducks were pegged as the team that was going to face Alabama in the BCS National Championship Game backed by the early Heisman favorite in redshirt-sophomore Marcus Mariota before an MCL sprain slowed Mariota and Oregon's offense in losses to Stanford and Arizona to dash their Pac 12 title hopes. The Ducks will now have to settle for a game against Texas to end their season, but they might not mind facing the Longhorns who struggled mightily against a similar offensive scheme in Baylor to end their season. They are two touchdown favorites, but Texas showed that they struggled to match the pace of a high speed offense. Oregon could very well run up the score against the Longhorns who have more than their share of distractions with the current Mack Brown/Nick Saban rumors that ended with Saban extending his contract at Alabama.

Georgia (Lost Aaron Murray to season ending ACL injury)

Georgia hasn't been the same since losing Aaron Murray in what was the final blow of an injury-plagued season for the Bulldogs. They will be playing a Nebraska team that is also missing their starter in Taylor Martinez. But as 9-point favorites without the quarterback who has been the staple of their program for years, Georgia may be in line for an upset against the Cornhuskers.

Miami Hurricanes (Missed ACC Championship Game with three-game losing streak)

Miami expected to win the ACC Coastal to avenge a loss to Florida State in the ACC Championship Game, but instead were shocked by an upstart Duke in the final loss of a three-game losing streak that dashed any dreams of the Hurricanes returning to a BCS bowl. Losing Duke Johnson at running back, Miami has just not been the same team and will be in tough against the 11-1 Louisville Cardinals and likely first overall draft pick Teddy Bridgewater. The Hurricanes run on swagger, and they haven't had much of it since their losing streak.
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12/16/2013 04:09 PM

Monday, December 16

Monday Night Football betting: Ravens at Lions

Baltimore Ravens at Detroit Lions (-6.5, 50)

Two teams clawing to stay in their respective playoff races square off Monday night when the Detroit Lions host the Baltimore Ravens. Both are bordering on must-win situations, as the Lions enter the weekend tied with Chicago atop the NFC North and the Ravens are tied with Miami for the last AFC wild card. "Our playoffs start this week," Detroit running back Reggie Bush told the team's website. "It doesn't start in three weeks. It starts right now."

The Lions do have some wiggle room by virtue of two head-to-head wins over the Bears, but their margin for error became slimmer when they lost 34-20 in blizzard-like conditions in Philadelphia last week. Bush sat out that game after aggravating a calf injury during warmups - a huge blow on a day when passing was nearly impossible - but is expected to be back on the field against Baltimore. The Ravens won a wild one a week ago, topping Minnesota 29-26 in a game that saw six lead changes in the fourth quarter.

TV: 8:40 p.m. ET, ESPN.

LINE: Detroit opened -6 and is now -6.5. The total opened 47.5 and is up to 50.

ABOUT THE RAVENS (7-6): Baltimore hasn't been able to do much on offense all year and has been especially ineffective in the running game, long a staple of its success. Receiver Torrey Smith, who needs 37 receiving yards to reach 1,000 for the first time in his career, is a legitimate deep threat, though, and the Lions have given up a lot of big plays. The Ravens' defense isn't at the elite level as in years past but is still strong against the run, though the secondary could have trouble with Detroit star Calvin Johnson.

ABOUT THE LIONS (7-6): The offense sputtered in the snow in Philadelphia, as two of the Lions' three touchdowns came on special teams and Detroit committed three turnovers, bringing its total to 15 over the past four games. Detroit leans heavily on its passing game, and quarterback Matthew Stafford needs just 27 passing yards for his third consecutive 4,000-yard season. The defense has been solid against the run, last week notwithstanding, but is susceptible to the pass.


* Home team is 4-0 ATS in their last four meetings.
* Ravens are 1-8 ATS in their last nine games in December.
* Under is 6-0 in Lions last six Monday games.
* Lions are 2-5 ATS in their last seven games overall.


1. Flacco needs 262 passing yards to become the first Ravens quarterback with five consecutive seasons of 3,500 yards.

2. Johnson needs seven yards to become the first player in NFL history with 5,000 receiving yards in a three-year span.

3. Ravens K Justin Tucker has made 27 consecutive field goals, the longest active streak in the NFL.

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12/16/2013 04:10 PM

Monday, December 16

Tale of the Tape: Baltimore Ravens at Detroit Lions

The Baltimore Ravens look to continue their improbable run at an AFC playoff berth as they visit the Detroit Lions in the NFL Monday nighter.

The defending-champion Ravens look to be all but out of the postseason picture, but have reeled off three-straight wins to remain in the hunt. The Lions are in the same position, but are coming off a subpar effort in a 34-20 defeat at the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Here's the breakdown in our betting tale of the tape:


Baltimore's offensive attack has been the team's weak spot for most of the season, but has steadily improved over the course of the team's winning streak. The Joe Flacco-led pass assault averages a modest 227.9 yards per game - ranking it in the lower half in the NFL - but tossed three touchdowns in last week's 29-26 triumph over the Minnesota Vikings. The run game remains a black hole, averaging a paltry 82.3 yards per game while compiling just six scores.

The Detroit passing game is among the most potent in the league, coming into the game with an average of 297 yards per contest. Matthew Stafford has thrown 27 touchdown passes on the season, with All-Pro wide receiver Calvin Johnson the biggest beneficiary (1,351 yards, 12 TDs). Detroit has scuffled when it comes to rushing yards - averaging just 112.5 per game - but has racked up 12 touchdowns on the ground, led by Joique Bell's seven scores.

Edge: Detroit


The days of the Ravens owning one of the league's most imposing defenses are long gone, but Baltimore remains at least respectable on the defensive side of the football. They've surrendered an average of 232 passing yards per contest, having allowed 21 touchdowns while forcing just nine interceptions. The Ravens have piled up 37 sacks, and have been particularly stingy against the run - surrendering just 3.8 yards per carry and three scores this season.

Detroit has followed the same recipe as Baltimore on the defensive end through the first 13 games. The Lions have struggled against the pass for the most part, allowing opposing quarterbacks to average 256 yards while giving up 22 touchdowns and snagging 13 interceptions. Teams have had a difficult time running against Detroit, however, averaging just 4.1 yards per attempt while scoring nine TDs.

Edge: Baltimore

Special Teams

Baltimore boasts one of the more impressive return games in the league entering Monday night, averaging 25.7 yards per kickoff return and 14.8 yards per punt return - and having scored a touchdown on both. Opponents are averaging just 22.8 yards per kickoff-return try and 9.6 yards per punt-return attempt. Veteran kicker Justin Tucker has been close to automatic all season long, connecting on 29-of-31 field-goal attempts - including 13-of-15 from 40-plus yards.

Like the Ravens, Detroit has recorded a kick-return and a punt-return touchdown, averaging 26 yards per kickoff return and 9.9 yards per punt return. The Lions are allowing a whopping 26.1 yards per kickoff return, but have limited opponents to 126 yards on 25 total punt returns - and a long run of just 17 yards. Kicker David Akers hasn't been as sharp as he has in recent years, missing five of his 20 field-goal chances and he's just 3-of-6 from between 40 and 49 yards.

Notable Quotable

"Their reputation, they definitely live up to it. I don't know if you want to call it physical or dirty. Whatever the refs see, that's what they see. But needless to say, I'm not going to spark any fire." - Ravens RB Ray Rice on the Lions defense

"Sometimes you just need to know when to keep your mouth shut, but you know, he's a rookie, he'll learn." - Lions WR Calvin Johnson in response to Ravens FS Matt Elam, who referred to Johnson as "old"

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12/19/2013 01:47 PM

New Mexico Bowl Colorado State vs. Washington State Albuquerque, N.M. Dec. 21 2 p.m. ESPN

Las Vegas Bowl Fresno State vs. USC Tickets Las Vegas Dec. 21 3:30 p.m. ABC

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl Buffalo vs. San Diego State Tickets Boise, Idaho Dec. 21 5:30 p.m. ESPN

New Orleans Bowl Tulane vs. La.-Lafayette Tickets New Orleans Dec. 21 9 p.m. ESPN

Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl Ohio vs. East Carolina St. Petersburg, Fla. Dec. 23 2 p.m. ESPN

Hawaii Bowl Oregon State vs. Boise State Honolulu Dec. 24 8 p.m. ESPN

Little Caesars Pizza Bowl Pittsburgh vs. Bowling Green Tickets Detroit Dec. 26 6 p.m. ESPN

Poinsettia Bowl Northern Illinois vs. Utah State Tickets San Diego Dec. 26 9:30 p.m. ESPN

Military Bowl Maryland vs. Marshall Tickets Annapolis, Md. Dec. 27 2:30 p.m. ESPN

Texas Bowl Syracuse vs. Minnesota Tickets Houston Dec. 27 6 p.m. ESPN

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl BYU vs. Washington Tickets San Francisco Dec. 27 9:30 p.m. ESPN

Pinstripe Bowl Rutgers vs. Notre Dame Tickets Bronx, N.Y. Dec. 28 Noon ESPN

Belk Bowl North Carolina vs. Cincinnati Tickets Charlotte, N.C. Dec. 28 3:20 p.m. ESPN

Russell Athletic Bowl Miami (Fla.) vs. Louisville Tickets Orlando, Fla. Dec. 28 6:45 p.m. ESPN

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl Kansas State vs. Michigan Tickets Tempe, Ariz. Dec. 28 10:15 p.m. ESPN

Armed Forces Bowl Middle Tennessee vs. Navy Tickets Fort Worth, Texas Dec. 30 11:45 a.m. ESPN

Music City Bowl Georgia Tech vs. Mississippi Tickets Nashville, Tenn. Dec. 30 3:15 p.m. ESPN

Alamo Bowl Oregon vs. Texas Tickets San Antonio Dec. 30 6:45 p.m. ESPN

Holiday Bowl Arizona State vs. Texas Tech Tickets San Diego Dec. 30 10:15 p.m. ESPN

AdvoCare V100 Bowl Boston College vs. Arizona Tickets Shreveport, La. Dec. 31 12:30 p.m. ESPN

Sun Bowl Virginia Tech vs. UCLA Tickets El Paso, Texas Dec. 31 2 p.m. CBS

Liberty Bowl Rice vs. Mississippi State Tickets Memphis, Tenn. Dec. 31 4 p.m. ESPN

Chick-fil-A Bowl Duke vs. Texas A&M Tickets Atlanta Dec. 31 8 p.m. ESPN

Gator Bowl Nebraska vs. Georgia Tickets Jacksonville, Fla. Jan. 1 Noon ESPN2

Heart of Dallas Bowl UNLV vs. North Texas Tickets Dallas Jan. 1 Noon ESPNU

Capital One Bowl Wisconsin vs. South Carolina Tickets Orlando, Fla. Jan. 1 1 p.m. ABC

Outback Bowl Iowa vs. LSU Tickets Tampa, Fla. Jan. 1 1 p.m. ESPN

Rose Bowl Stanford vs. Michigan State Tickets Pasadena, Calif. Jan. 1 5 p.m. ESPN

Fiesta Bowl Baylor vs. UCF Tickets Glendale, Ariz. Jan. 1 8:30 p.m. ESPN

Sugar Bowl Alabama vs. Oklahoma Tickets New Orleans Jan. 2 8:30 p.m. ESPN

Cotton Bowl Oklahoma State vs. Missouri Tickets Arlington, Texas Jan. 3 8 p.m. FOX

Orange Bowl Clemson vs. Ohio State Tickets Miami Jan. 3 8:30 p.m. ESPN

Compass Bowl Houston vs. Vanderbilt Tickets Birmingham, Ala. Jan. 4 1 p.m. ESPN

GoDaddy Bowl Ball State vs. Arkansas State Mobile, Ala. Jan. 5 9 p.m. ESPN

BCS Championship Florida State vs. Auburn Tickets Pasadena, Calif. Jan. 6 8:30 p.m. ESPN

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12/20/2013 11:35 AM
How do College Football Teams with New Coaches Perform in Bowl Games?

With high-profile coaching changes at USC, Washington and Boise State this season, we looked back in our database of sports betting information to examine how teams historically perform ATS (against the spread) with new coaches in bowl games.

Should we expect these teams to suffer a drop in performance? Or do college football teams rally around their new coaches and actually overperform, providing value for bettors?

To perform the analysis, we isolated each instance of a college team playing a bowl game with a new head coach and compiled the results (since 2005) in the table below:
Teams w/ New Coaches

ATS Record

ATS Win %
All Teams 16-14-1 53.3%

At first look, there didn’t appear to be much of an edge with all teams led by new coaches posting a 16-14 (53.3%) ATS record. However, after dicing up the results a bit further, there is a significant difference in performance when comparing favorites to underdogs.
Teams w/ New Coaches

ATS Record

ATS Win %
Underdogs 5-8 35.7%
Favorites 11-6-1 64.7%

While this sample size is incredibly small and not something we’d recommend solely using as a betting system, favorites clearly outperform underdogs when playing bowl games with new coaches.

Even with new coaches, teams that are still favored over opponents in bowl games are most likely expected to win due to greater talent. It makes sense that a team with superior or more experienced players is better equipped to perform well in spite of a late-season coaching change.

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12/20/2013 05:59 PM
New Orleans Bowl

December 20, 2013

New Orleans Bowl (ESPN, 9:00 p.m.)
ULL Ragin Cajuns (8-4 SU, 4-8 ATS) vs. Tulane Green Wave (7-5 SU, 9-3 ATS) Line & Total: Tulane -1.5 & 49.5
Opening Line & Total: Green Wave -2.5 & 49.5

UL-Lafayette tries to win the New Orleans Bowl for the third straight season as they take on in-state rival Tulane on Saturday night.

The Ragin' Cajuns have had plenty of success in the Superdome in the past two postseasons. Two years ago they won a close 32-30 battle against San Diego State, and then won 43-34 against East Carolina in front of a New Orleans Bowl record-setting crowd last season. UL-Lafayette won eight straight games between Sept. 14 and Nov. 16, including starting 5-0 in conference play, before losing their its final two games of the season to Sun Belt foes UL-Monroe and South Alabama.

The Green Wave also started conference play in strong fashion, winning their first four games against C-USA opponents. They looked as if they would be competing to play in the conference championship until they lost three of their final four games and finished fourth in the West division. Tulane put up a strong effort against eventual conference champion Rice in its final game, losing only 17-13 as 9.5-point underdogs and held the Owls to zero points in the second half. This will be Tulane’s 11th bowl game and first since 2002, going 4-6 SU in its previous 10, but winning its past two bowls.

The Ragin' Cajuns are currently on a five-game ATS losing streak and are only 4-8 ATS this season while the Green Wave have been an impressive 9-3 ATS, including 7-1 ATS over their past eight games. These two programs squared off last season with UL-Lafayette pounding Tulane by a score of 41-13, but failing to cover the large 31-point spread. They outrushed the Green Wave 294-53 in that game and forced three turnovers. Both teams are relatively healthy for this game, but the big question is whether or not UL-Lafayette QB Terrance Broadway can play after breaking his arm on Nov. 30. He's considered questionable right now, as the doctors have not yet cleared him to play.

After scoring 23+ points in 10 straight games, the Ragin’ Cajuns really missed junior QB Terrance Broadway (2,276 pass yards, 19 TD, 10 INT) in the regular season finale, scoring just eight points at South Alabama with three UL-Lafayette quarterbacks combining to complete just 9-of-26 passes for 143 yards (5.5 YPA), 1 TD and 2 INT. If Broadway is not able to go, freshman QB Brooks Haack (224 pass yards, 6.4 YPA, 1 TD, 1 INT) will be taking the snaps. Broadway also adds a lot to the running game with 421 rushing yards (3.6 YPC) and eight touchdowns on the ground.

The uncertainty at quarterback makes HBs Alonzo Harris (868 rush yards, 4.7 YPC, 13 TD) and Elijah McGuire (818 rush yards, 8.9 YPC, 7 TD) that much more important. McGuire has been lightning in a bottle this season with four games of at least 11 yards per carry, but he rushed the ball only three times for 13 yards in the loss to South Alabama. Junior WR Jamal Robinson has been the main target in the passing game with 812 receiving yards (16.2 avg.) and eight touchdowns, but he is coming off a game where he had only one catch for 11 yards.

LB Justin Anderson (124 tackles) leads this defense that has allowed 26.9 PPG to their opponents this season (68th in nation), including giving up 30+ points in four of the past five games. The Cajuns have done a decent job stopping the run (4.2 YPC), but have allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 61.2% of their passes for 239 YPG.

Tulane surprisingly won seven games this season despite having an offense that ranks 104th in FBS passing yards (176 YPG) and 102nd in rushing yards (128 YPG). QB Nick Montana has a subpar 1,654 passing yards (5.7 YPA) with 14 TD and 9 INT this season, but he has thrown four touchdowns and zero picks over his past contests. That's quite an improvement from his 0 TD and 5 INT in two games to start the month of November.

Senior HB Orleans Darkwa has 780 rushing yards on 172 attempts (4.5 YPC) while adding nine touchdowns, but has been wildly inconsistent. He has three 100+ yard games this year, but has also been held to 50 yards or less in six different contests. The true star on the offense has been senior WR Ryan Grant, who has compiled 926 receiving yards on 70 receptions (13.2 avg.) and nine touchdowns. He has 7+ catches in six games this year, and hopes to be playing on Sundays next season.

The defense has played pretty well all season, allowing only 21.2 PPG (19th in nation), including holding four of the past five opponents to 17 points or less. The defense has been especially tough versus the run, giving up only 119 YPG on 3.1 YPC, and has forced multiple turnovers in all but one game this season, totaling 33 takeaways in the 12 games.
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12/20/2013 06:00 PM
New Mexico Bowl

December 20, 2013

New Mexico Bowl (ESPN, 2:00 p.m.)
Colorado State Rams (7-6 SU, 9-4 ATS) vs. Washington State Cougars (6-6 SU, 9-3 ATS) Line & Total: Washington State -5.5 & 66
Opening Line & Total: Cougars -3.5 & 65

The first step in the resurgence of the Washington State program under Mike Leach is in full tilt as his team is back in a bowl game, taking on Colorado State in the New Mexico Bowl on Saturday in Albuquerque.

Last season, the Cougars were able to win only three games, but have doubled that this season behind an air attack that averages 364.5 passing yards per game, which ranks fourth in the nation. In the season opener, WSU lost to the Auburn 31-24, and while it didn’t appear to be an important game at the time, Auburn is now in the national championship, showing the Cougars have the ability to play with anybody in the country. Washington State (9-3 ATS) has done a good job of beating all the teams it is supposed to beat (4-0 SU and ATS when favored), but its past five losses have all come by double figures, losing by an average of 26.8 PPG over these five defeats. The Cougars have faced many balanced offenses this season in Pac-12 play, and they are going up against another such offense in this bowl game.

Colorado State (9-4 ATS) has scored at least 27 points in all but two of its games, and one of those exceptions was against Alabama. The Rams have averaged more than 200 yards both rushing and passing this season, but Leach is 20-5 ATS (80%) versus good rushing teams (200+ YPG) as a collegiate head coach. However, excellent rushing teams (4.8+ YPC) such as Colorado State facing a poor rushing team (3.0 to 3.5 YPC) are 108-66 ATS (62%) over the past five seasons. Both of these teams have a tendency to struggle on defense, which should make for an entertaining, high-scoring game.

In a battle of two high-powered offenses, Washington State junior QB Connor Halliday (4,187 pass yards, 28 TD, 21 INT) has the ability to put up monster numbers, but he must limit the turnovers. In his team's six losses, he threw 14 interceptions, compared to just 10 touchdowns. When he remains composed and does not always try to make the big play, the Cougars can be a great on offense. What makes the passing game dangerous is their ability to spread the ball around to many different receivers. With so many passing yards, it is surprising to see that the leading receiver for Washington State is Gabe Marks, who has 69 catches for 770 yards and 6 TD on the season. The Cougars have nine different receivers with at least 200 yards this year, with eight of those receivers catching at least two touchdowns. However, the offense is too one-dimensional at times, ranking 123rd in the country with 58.7 rushing YPG on a paltry 3.1 YPC.

On defense, Washington State allows 31.3 PPG, which ranks 92nd in the country. The unit was playing well at the beginning of the year, holding USC to seven points in Week 2, but has been brutal in its losses, allowing 47.0 PPG in the six defeats. In a loss to Oregon State on Oct. 12, Beavers QB Sean Mannion threw for 493 yards and four touchdowns against the Cougars. The Rams have the ability to throw the ball, but can be equally as dangerous with their potent ground game.

Colorado State junior QB Garrett Grayson (3,327 pass yards, 21 TD and 10 INT) was very good this season, but he has not had to do it all on his own. Sophomore RB Kapri Bibbs (1,572 rush yards, 6.2 YPC and 28 TD) has been a star in his first season getting the carries, as his 28 scores rank second in the nation behind only Navy QB Keenan Reynolds. While his numbers are sensational, he has been somewhat inconsistent on the ground. Bibbs has rushed for over 200 yards in three of his past seven games, (including back-to-back games of 312 and 291) but has also been under 80 yards eight times this season, including three of his past five contests. However, Bibbs has shown enough ability to make the Cougars defense have to respect him, which will open up the passing attack for Grayson.

While the offense (35.3 PPG, 29th in FBS) has been very good, the defense has been subpar, allowing 28.6 PPG (79th in nation). The Rams have really struggled defending the pass, surrendering 265 YPG on 63% completions. Against San Jose State on Oct. 12, David Fales threw for 431 yards and three touchdowns. The bowl season offers many styles of games, and this matchup is for the fans that love high-scoring matchups. Expect lots of touchdowns to be scored in this contest that could go down to the wire.
Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
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