You are using an old web browser. Such browsers do not support modern web technologies and do not offer proper security. Please update your browser or download one of the others suggested for free.
Mozilla Firefox |
Google Chrome |
Internet Explorer |
MICHIGAN vs. SOUTH CAROLINA
Tuesday, Jan 1, 1:00 pm
ESPN It has been a disappointing year to be a Michigan fan. The defense has been sound, but the offense was rocky. And as a result the team lost to their four best opponents of the year. There was really no excuse for them not to be in the Big Ten Championship Game — especially when you consider that it was Nebraska that beat them out, and the Huskers Championship Game performance was as humiliating as any performance can be. This will be an interesting test. The Gamecocks are a big step up in class compared to all of the Big Ten opposition except for Ohio State, so Michigan needs to be on their game to come out on top. For South Carolina the biggest concern may be finding a way to care about this game. They started the season with six wins, they dismantled Georgia, and they looked to have a big opportunity to break through and disrupt the traditional power structure in the SEC. Two weeks later, after they had lost at LSU and Florida, their national aspirations were dead, and they were just playing out the string. They weren’t the same team after that, and now they have to get motivated for a team they have no reason to hate in a bowl game that won’t really prove anything if they win. Steve Spurrier has a major motivational task ahead of him.
You have to wonder how differently things would have turned out if South Carolina hadn’t lost to LSU by two points. They certainly wouldn’t be in this game. That loss shook them up, and they didn’t even show up the next week against Florida. Their season-ending win — and cover — at Clemson was a sign that they are back on track, but it’s hard to know if it will last. This is Steve Spurrier’s eighth year in South Carolina. He has been in a bowl in all but one year, but he has lost four of six games, including his last visit to the Outback. The key player on the team is QB Connor Shaw. He’s very talented, but inconsistent, and he missed the Clemson game due to injury. He’s expected to be back, but nothing is certain.
Michigan has a unique distinction — they lost to the top three teams in the final regular season AP Poll. That’s makes those losses a little more acceptable — at least until you look at how the losses happened. They were crushed by Alabama. They handed the game to Notre Dame with true incompetence on offense. They did the same thing in the second half of the Ohio State game. The fourth loss was to Nebraska. Denard Robinson was hurt early in that one, and the team didn’t have a feasible backup, so they essentially forfeited. The closest thing they have to a respectable win was over a struggling Michigan State, and they needed a miraculous finish to pull that off. Coach Brady Hoke is in his second year at Michigan, and he is coming off a nice Sugar Bowl win over Virginia Tech last year. The offensive key for this team is going to be Denard Robinson. His role isn’t yet clear in this game, but whatever it is there is one sure truth — this team thrives when he thrives and sputters when he struggles.
The Big Ten has been disastrous in recent years in bowl games, and I can only assume that they are going to struggle again this year. Michigan has lost five of their last seven bowl games, though they have won two of their last three, and they have won two of their last three against SEC teams. Given the regular struggles of the conference in the bowls, and their weakness overall this year — especially compared to the SEC — the Wolverines have a lot to overcome in this one. Coach Brady Hoke doesn’t talk a lot, so we aren’t likely to get a firm answer on who will start at QB, or how much he will play, much before game time. Denard Robinson has struggled with an elbow injury and hasn’t thrown a pass in a game for four weeks. Devin Gardner is the QB of the future, and he has been strong in relief. Robinson is a senior, though, so if he is able to play you can be sure he’ll get some opportunities to do so. South Carolina is going to have to prepare for both quarterbacks — and we will have to do the same. South Carolina has managed to average a respectable 31.4 points per game, but they have done that despite struggling to pass and really struggling on the ground after Marcus Lattimore was hurt. They are just 89th in the country in total yards. Michigan’s defense was elite — particularly against the pass, and coordinator Greg Mattison will be on top of his game with more than a month to prepare for this opponent. South Carolina’s defense is going to face a lot of pressure because their offense isn’t going to be an overwhelming force.
If it sounds like I am down on Michigan, it’s because I am and the offensive coordinator Al Borges is a moron. Despite that, though, when you get this many points you may have to take the Wolverines. South Carolina isn’t going to score, and Michigan has some speed on offense — especially if they use Denard Robinson effectively. Michigan’s defense is very good, and it will be able to contain South Carolina. I won’t be surprised if the Gamecocks win, but they won’t win by a lot, and Michigan has a good chance. Right now I have Sout Carolina winning by almost a field goal. And as the line keeps moving up it may make my decision easier. Right now we will wait and see but taking the points may be the option. Sure do see this as a low scoring game as well.
STANFORD vs. WISCONSIN
Tuesday, Jan 1, 5:00 pm
This is probably no one’s definition of a dream Rose Bowl matchup. With their surprising upset in the Big Ten Championship Game the Badgers become the first five-loss team ever to play in this game. The conference championship game model may generate more revenues for the conference, but it is to blame for ugliness like this. Stanford had a much better regular season and is the deserving representative of their conference. Few would have expected them to be before the season, though, as nearly everyone expected Oregon and USC to battle for supremacy in the Pac-12. It’s not a dream matchup, but it’s what we have so we might as well make the best of it. The Badgers will feel particularly comfortable in Pasadena since this is the third straight year they have played in the Rose Bowl. Unfortunately, they have lost both times — to Oregon last year and TCU two years ago. The good news for bettors and fans is that both games were dramatically more entertaining than it seemed like they would be.
The Stanford Cardinal are heading to the BCS for the third straight year. The Pac-12 Champions are 11-2, and they have won seven in a row, including rare back-to-back victories over UCLA. The two losses came on the road in Washington and, in overtime, at Notre Dame. The two wins against UCLA were both impressive, but the obvious marquee win was at Oregon in the game that shattered Oregon’s national title aspirations.
The Wisconsin Badgers were widely expected to win their division all year, and that’s just what they did. To do so, though, they needed a massive assist from the NCAA. Ohio State and Penn State both finished above Wisconsin in the standings, yet both were ineligible for the postseason. Wisconsin lost to Oregon State, Nebraska, Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State, and their lone noteworthy regular season victory came against Utah State — and that was only by two points at home. That thoroughly underwhelming regular season makes the stunning 70-31 win over Nebraska in the Big Ten Championship Game even more unlikely.
The Badgers are 115th in the country in passing yards, and that’s not misleading — watching this team try to pass is brutally painful. What they can do, though, is run. Ball leads the way, but he’s not the only weapon on a team that was ranked 12th in yards at 238 per game and exploded for 539 yards against Nebraska. Three different runners eclipsed 100 yards against the Huskers. Their strength, though, lines up perfectly against Stanford’s biggest strength — The Cardinal were third best in the country at just 88 rushing yards per game allowed. We know how effective the defense as a whole can be in big games because they were the only team all year that made the Ducks look mortal. If Wisconsin can’t find a way to break through and pile up the yards on the ground then they are in a heap of trouble. This matchup will determine how the game turns out.
Stanford QB Kevin Hogan is a 20-year-old redshirt freshman who was thought to be third on the depth chart heading into the season. In four games as a starter, though, all he has done is beat ranked teams — including the same one twice in a row. He has been remarkably good, and he handles pressure like a grizzled veteran. The Badgers need to find ways to disrupt and confuse Hogan if they want to have a chance in this one. The only quarterback they have really confounded this year was Taylor Martinez last time out, so it’s at least possible that it could happen here.
Wisconsin’s Big Ten Championship win was unquestionably impressive. The question, though, is if they can come even remotely close to duplicating it. I have little respect for Nebraska, and this is a massive step forward. Defensively the Cardinal are the best team Wisconsin has seen, and they will be highly motivated to take home their first Rose Bowl in an eternity. You can’t escape that the Badgers have the most losses of any team ever in this game, and everyone this side of the Atlantic Ocean must believe that Stanford will just show up and win this game. But lets say I got a feeling and its not being sung by the Black Eyed Peas. As a Pac 10 fan I have followed Stanford all year and I honestly believe they are well coached and do what they need to do to win the game. And very possibly they may win this game but I just think that we will be ringing in the new year with an upset win by Wisconsin and they will win by a touchdown. Frosty here at the forum posted that Barry Alvarez may be coaching this game so that should be interesting. Not to mention that you are getting a touchdown so that would just tell me that even with a late game collapse we will be in good shape. I will update the play and analysis as we get closer to game time but already putting some sheckles on this right now. Not really much more to add to this although I do like the Under some in the game. Coming off my 2 best bets of bowl season with Tulsa winning yesterday I would make this game a very strong pick for a Top 5 selection this bowl season.
FLORIDA STATE vs. NORTHERN ILLINOIS
Tuesday, Jan 1, 8:30 pm
It didn’t seem likely for much of the season, but we have a BCS buster. Even more surprising, it isn’t an unbeaten mid-major squad, and it comes from the MAC — hardly the sexiest league in the country. Thanks to a big win over Kent State (another team that would have busted the BCS with a win) in the MAC Championship Game, and losses by UCLA and Nebraska in their championship contests, Northern Illinois was able to climb far enough in the BCS standings to make their selection mandatory. And that’s how we end up with an Orange Bowl pairing that precious few people will care about. So, for casual fans this will be by far the least compelling of the BCS matchups — or any of the bowl matchups, for that matter. Are they right, or are there reasons for people to care about this one?
The Florida State Seminoles won the ACC easily, yet the season ends as yet another disappointment for the team. They had tremendous talent, a favorable schedule, and massive expectations, their National Championship hopes were over after a Week 6 loss to N.C. State, and they wound up 11-2. While the loss to the Wolfpack was ugly, the loss to Florida was disappointing since they were at home. Yet losing to the Gators was far more acceptable. The problem with the schedule is that there just isn’t a great win on it — a home win over Clemson or a win at Miami are probably closest, but they didn’t cover either spread. Coach Jimbo Fisher is in his third year with the team. Despite three disappointing regular seasons, he has yet to lose a bowl game. The team succeeds on their defense, but offensively the key is QB E.J. Manuel.
The Northern Illinois Huskies finished at 12-1 and an impressive 9-2-2 ATS. They got the loss out of the way early — they allowed a late touchdown to lose their opener 18-17 to an Iowa squad that proved to be pretty lousy. They rebounded to win 12 straight, but it was against a very weak schedule and Kent State was their only really notable win. The unquestioned star of the team is quarterback Jordan Lynch. The junior, a first-year starter, would unquestionably be a Heisman finalist if he was at a higher-profile school. He has had a very special year.
The biggest storyline in this game is that NIU head coach Dave Doeren won’t be there. After going 24-3 in two years with the program after previously serving as defensive coordinator at Wisconsin, Doeren has been lured by the brighter lights of N.C. State — ironically the program that was good enough to beat Florida State with a doomed coach. Doeren will not be coaching the team in the bowl game, so the Huskies will go into the BCS with a new coach at the helm. The team reportedly acted quickly and elevated offensive line coach Rod Carey to the head job. This is a strange situation, and the fingerprints of Doeren are all over this team, so it remains to be seen how his departure affects the effort of the team in the game and how confused the transition is. As awkward as this is, it’s not an entirely unprecedented situation.
Lynch has had an unquestionably special year. With all due respect to him, some of that is certainly due to Doeren. Last year, NIU QB Chandler Harnish passed for a ton. We know, then, that the offense works. What we don’t really know is how it can work against a major level opponent. Last year Harnish faced only two BCS conference opponents. This year the only BCS opponent was Iowa. Lynch had by far his weakest game of the year, but it was also his first career start so there is an asterisk. To handicap this game you have to extrapolate on how a confidently and potently the offense can perform against the first major opponent it has ever faced at full strength. And you have to consider that the Seminoles sit second in the country in total yards allowed.
I’m not a big fan of Fisher, and the biggest reason is because he doesn’t have his team ready mentally in their biggest games. In this one the Seminoles will have a massive advantage in talent. The Huskies have nothing to lose, though, so they will be fearless and daring. The biggest concern for Florida State is whether they will have their heads in the game and will do the work required to let their advantage shine through. If they play down to their opponent then we know they can get into trouble.
It’s time to gamble. The Seminoles are clearly far more talented and have the potential to win this one going away. The Huskies have nothing to lose, though, and will give it everything. Florida State, meanwhile, has focus issues that are a serious problem in a game like this. I expect the favorites to win, but at this price — and especially if the spread goes higher — I’ll gamble that they won’t win by enough to cover. Northern Illinois is my pick and I see Florida State winning this game by a touchdown surprisingly for many. But not for the Spooky followers. Lets roll with Northern Illinois plus the points and check back into this game closer to kickoff. I have vacillated a bit on this game thinking that the size of FSU could make a difference not to mention Lynch the QB of NI calling out FSU not making matters any easier for his team. But I have screwed up prior and not this time, gonna stick to the numbers and really see a big play on the Under tonight as well. If you have stuck to the power ratings and numbers from the initial post you have done really really well this bowl season. Lets hope it continues.
NORTHERN ILLINOIS +14
NORTHERN ILLINOIS vs. FLORIDA STATE UNDER 60 POINTS
LOUISVILLE vs. FLORIDA
Wednesday, Jan 2, 8:30 pm
Judging by the spread, the Sugar Bowl between Big East champion Louisville and BCS No. 3 Florida should be a mismatch. But the Cardinals are likely to be highly motivated as they are playing in just their second BCS bowl – the first being the Jan. 2, 2007, Sugar Bowl, which Louisville won over Wake Forest. Louisville was ranked in the Top 10 after winning its first nine games, but that might have been fool’s gold as not one of the teams was ranked. The Cards then lost back-to-back games at Syracuse and vs. Connecticut – so, yeah, you can see why they should lose to Florida – before beating Rutgers 20-17 in a defacto Big East title game. Star QB Teddy Bridgewater played that game (he didn’t start) with a broken left wrist and couldn’t take snaps under center. The Big East Offensive Player of the Year certainly will play and start in this game and should be mostly healed with the month or so off. BCS bowls used to be old hat for Florida, but this is the Gators’ first since the 2009 season. But UF still thinks it belongs in the BCS Championship Game with the quality of competition it beat. And it might have been if not for coughing up the ball six times in a loss to Georgia that still stings.
The one common bond between these teams is Louisville coach Charlie Strong. He was a former Florida defensive coordinator who was hired at Louisville in 2010. And Strong recruits the Sunshine State like a madman to this day. In fact, the Cardinals have a whopping 35 players from Florida, which is more than twice as many as any SEC school other than the Gators I think. And no matter what happens in this game, Louisville will be happy. That’s because Strong decided not to take the Tennessee job and got a nice new extension. Had Louisville not been given an ejector seat from the dissipating Big East to the ACC, Strong probably would have left. Strong’s last game with the Gators was that Sugar Bowl win over the Bearcats. Bridgewater, who is from Miami and originally committed to the Hurricanes before changing his mind after Randy Shannon was fired, completed 69 percent of his passes for 3,452 yards with 25 touchdowns and seven picks this year (No. 7 nationally in rating). But considering Louisville didn’t face a single ranked team, he’s in for a likely rude awakening against Florida. The Gators have the nation's No. 1 pass efficiency defense (91.5 rating), and that unit is also No. 3 nationally in allowing 12.9 points per game, fifth in total defense and sixth in rushing. I know all this cause Bobalou and I do a lot of number crunching when it comes to bowl season.
The Gators, meanwhile, don’t throw much and rely heavily on workhorse running back Mike Gillislee. He pretty much single-handedly beat LSU and had 140 yards and two scores as UF rallied past FSU in the regular-season finale. All UF coach Will Muschamp asks starting QB Jeff Driskel to do is manage the game and not turn it over. Driskel usually obliged. In that UF loss to Georgia, Driskel had two picks. Louisville’s defense ranks No. 16 nationally against the pass and No. 25 in total defense.
For what it’s worth, both these teams played Kentucky this year. The Cards won at home 32-14 in their season opener. The Gators routed the Wildcats 38-0 a few weeks later in Gainesville. Here’s what stands out: UK had 373 yards and 24 first downs against Louisville and 219 and 12 vs. Florida. Florida had great success against a quarterback similar to Bridgewater, Florida State’s E.J. Manuel. He was just 18-of-33 for 182 yards with one TD, three picks and a fumble. He did run for a 22-yard score as well, but the game was over by then. Realistically the only chance Louisville has to win is to win the turnover battle significantly. However, the Gators have forced 29 of them and have a plus-17 turnover margin. I can’t see Louisville winning, but I think Florida is conservative enough for the Cards to just cover and I have Florida winning this game by only a field goal. So that said and certainly we have almost 3 weeks until kickoff I am taking Lousiville plus a couple touchdowns to make things interesting, will also take a shot on the money line if the odds are right. I am leaning towards the under but that will come later. As I posted weeks ago rolling with the Under but you know the drill and looking for Louisville to make this a real entertaining game.
OREGON vs. KANSAS STATE
Thursday, Jan 3, 8:30 pm
It has seemed likely for several weeks that the Ducks and Wildcats would meet in the BCS. As soon as Alabama lost to Texas A&M, though, it seemed most likely they would meet in the BCS National Championship Game, not in the Fiesta Bowl. But then within an hour of each other both programs suffered huge losses. Oregon fell to Stanford in a close one, while Kansas State was crushed by Baylor. The Wildcats still won the Big 12 despite that setback, and they secured the Fiesta Bowl bid automatically as a result. Oregon couldn’t even play for the Pac-12 Championship because they lost to the eventual champions, but they were a very attractive at-large team. While some of the luster has come off these two teams because of the losses, there is no doubt that this is still a thrilling matchup between great teams. In fact, I don’t think there is a better game on this year’s bowl menu. Each team is very good at what they do, and each is the product of a strong system run by an outstanding coach — albeit two coaches who are about as different as it is possible to be. The teams will be prepared, and there will be fireworks.
The Kansas State Wildcats were 11-1 on the season, and their 9-2-1 ATS record makes them among the most profitable teams in the country. They had a 10-game winning streak before losing at Baylor. They were sluggish starting off in their final game against Texas, which came after the loss and a bye week, but they shook it off in the second half and were dominant. They will find the path much tougher in this game if they start slow due to rust again. Kansas State’s schedule didn’t wind up being as impressive as it looked early on — only their win at Oklahoma stands up as truly impressive. The driving force of the team is QB Collin Klein. The Heisman was the senior’s to lose, and he lost it against Baylor. Despite his outstanding play, though, this is not a dominant offense.
The Oregon Ducks also wound up 11-1, though the public obviously expected more of them than of the Wildcats because they were just 7-5 ATS. They not only lost to Stanford, but the 14 points they scored in that loss was four touchdowns fewer than they scored in any other game. Their schedule also wasn’t as tough as it looked like it could be thanks to down seasons by Cal and especially USC. The season-capping win at bitter rivals Oregon State stands up nicely, though. Coach Chip Kelly, who is strongly rumored to be coaching in his last BCS bowl game with the NFL beckoning.. He will be playing in his fourth BCS game. He lost the Rose Bowl and BCS Championship Game before winning the Rose Bowl last year. The team is full of stars, but perhaps the brightest all year has been running back Kenjon Barner.
As Stanford alone showed, if you can contain the Ducks offensively you can beat them. Oregon is only competent through the air, but the Ducks are truly elite at running the ball, setting the tempo and, of course, scoring a pile of points — more than 50 per game. Kansas State, thanks to playing in the Big 12, has had more experience with explosive offenses than many teams, though. There are a couple of big differences, however. First, Oregon should be very sharp in this one, while West Virginia and Texas Tech were already inconsistent and troubled when the Wildcats faced them, and Oklahoma State hadn’t been consistent from the start of the year. More significantly, those programs rely more heavily on the passing game to score points. Kansas State has not faced a team nearly as fast or dominant on the ground as the Ducks. They have the 17th-ranked run defense at 117 yards per game, but that statistic is skewed by the opposition they have faced. Kansas State will have to get very creative to try and slow the run and not let the Ducks control the tempo. That’s a massive task.
Chip Kelly flirted seriously with the NFL last year. This year the league will throw even more money at him, and all indications seem to be that he’ll take it. With the coach on his way out combined with the disappointment of not playing in the championship game or even the Rose Bowl, it’s possible that this team will struggle with their focus in the days leading up to this game. As strong as this team has been for the last four years, their biggest issues have come when they have not mentally been in a game. Handicappers need to get a feel of the mental state of the Ducks when making their selection.
If the Ducks can run they can win. I see no reason why they shouldn’t be able to run all day in this one. The Wildcats aren’t suited to contain them, and I don’t think they’ll be able to keep pace in what should quickly turn into a shootout. If the Wildcats hadn’t shown some frailty in losing to Baylor — a team that is, in a few keys ways, a lesser version of what Oregon has built — then I would be more confident in their chances. As it is, as much as I respect them I can’t give them much of a shot to win the game. But having Oregon winning this game by almost a touchdown, giving up more than a touchdown is not something that jumps at me as a play and right now I am going to sit back and wait until closer to kickoff to make a determination. Although Oregon should be a play if you are utilizing teasers or money line parlays. Well this became an easy selection for me. Line has come way down and when everyone zigs I zag. I am jumping on Oregon to help continue with the hot streak I am on and also definitely believe on the Under in this game as well for a much lesser amount of course.
TEXAS A&M vs. OKLAHOMA
Friday, Jan 4, 8:00 pm
FOX A traditional Big 12 rivalry will be renewed in this season’s AT&T Cotton Bowl when the Oklahoma Sooners clash with the Texas A&M Aggies at Cowboys Stadium. Oklahoma came into this season with serious national title expectations, but they crashed and burned early in the year with a stunning 24-19 loss to then-No.15 Kansas State as a 15.5-point home favorite. The Sooners only other loss this season came at the hands of No.1 Notre Dame as 10.5-point favorites at home to finish 10-2 straight up. Texas A&M’s first year in the SEC was certainly a memorable one that was capped off with the biggest upset of the season in college football: a 29-24 shocker over then-No.1 Alabama as a 13.5-point road underdog. Before the season started, this was supposed to be head coach Bob Stoop’s return to the top of the college world and quarterback Landry Jones’ run to a Heisman Trophy. While it is hard to call a 10-win season a failure, both Stoops and Jones fell well short of these lofty expectations. Nonetheless, they still bring a very high-powered offensive attack into this showdown with an average of 40.3 points a game.
The Oklahoma defense remained solid for most of the season, but it took on water down the stretch by giving up 34 points to Baylor, 49 points to West Virginia and 48 points in a thrilling overtime victory over in-state rival Oklahoma State.
The Aggies started the season with a 20-17 loss to Florida as one-point home underdogs but turned that disappointing setback into a five-game winning streak before coming up just short in a five-point loss to LSU. All the while the legend of Johnny ‘Football’ Manziel began to grow week after week. Everyone in the nation knew who Johnny Football was after the freshman quarterback led his team to that legendary victory over the Crimson Tide. Manziel went on to win the Heisman Trophy behind opening-day odds too high to calculate. Fueled by Manziel, Texas A&M has been able to average 44.8 points a game this season, which is the third-highest total in the country. The Aggies’ defense did its part all year long by holding teams to an average of just 22.5 points a game.
If you look over the past trends for both teams as well as the head-to-head matchups, they certainly paint a bright picture for Oklahoma. However, you can pretty much throw all of them out the window in this matchup. Texas A&M has already proven it can stand up to and beat the best teams in the country, while the Sooners have to question how another BCS title run slipped away. This will be a great, hard-fought contest that will undoubtedly go down to the wire. Right now early on I have Texas A&M expected to win by a little more than a field goal. But that said this game could go a number of ways. Right now I will sit back and wait until we get closer to kickoff to make a decision and see where the Spooky Magic takes us. Well when a game is up in the air you always take the points. The game is really not a very strong play but we have been en fuego and honestly have been doing so well will press this some and go with Oklahoma a little more than I should. I also think the game should stay under the number but its more an opinion than anything else. Either way this is the weakest of the bowl games this year for the most part so nothing crazy.
PITTSBURGH vs. MISSISSIPPI
Saturday, Jan 5, 1:00 pm
By the time I get to the end of the bowl season I am so burnt trying to put a spin on these write ups and everything but here goes. Pittsburgh will try and finish over .500 on the year after posting a 6-6 straight up record in the regular season. Ole Miss had one of its best seasons since 2009 with an overall record of 6-6 SU in the brutal SEC. This will be the Panthers final game as a member of the Big East after deciding to jump ship to the ACC starting next season. As traditionally one of the football powers in their former conference, they have to be disappointed with the losing season in their final campaign after posting a winning record in the Big East the previous four years. Offensively, Pitt relied heavily on the play of quarterback Tino Sunseri and its rushing attack left much to be desired.
The Rebels managed to match their win total from the last two seasons combined, which was definitely a step in the right direction. They finished with just one win in their last four games, but two of the losses were to No.7 Georgia and No.8 LSU. Their biggest win of the season was an impressive 41-24 rout over rival Mississippi State on Nov.24 as one-point home underdogs. Ole Miss brings a balanced offensive attack into this matchup. The Rebels’ defense struggled to keep some of the better teams it faced off of the scoreboard.
At least there is no excuse for doing stupid plays in the NFL. Had Texas A&M to win the game by almost 5 points yesterday and of course like an idiot I play Oklahoma plus the points. The 4th time this bowl season I did this and lost each time. How do you spell stupid? S-P-O-O-K-Y
Both teams have looked great at times this season but remain middle-of-the-road teams in their respective conferences. That being said, we have Pittsburgh winning this game by almost a touchdown which is kind of surprising. I really dont like Pittsburgh much but seeing that the numbers have been absolutely solid again this year going to stick with Pittsburgh to surprise many including myself and keep this game close. Not sold on either of these teams and will look for a low scoring game again and cash another total like we did last night.
ARKANSAS STATE vs. KENT STATE
Sunday, Jan 6, 9:00 pm
This bowl game might as well be called the "Need New Coaches" bowl as both schools will be looking to replace the main guys that got them to this point. Kent State's Darrell Hazell just took the job at Purdue and Arkansas State's Gus Malzahn is heading back to Auburn to try and rebuild a program that is just a few years removed from winning a national title. The Red Wolves won two straight Sun Belt titles. They also finished with nine wins overall, scoring 34 points in their opening game at Oregon in a game they lost. They also fell to Nebraska and Western Kentucky. Malzahn's offensive mind helped Arkansas State win several games and he'll head back to Auburn looking to continue winning there. This year's Red Wolves team scored 36 points per game, averaging 264 yards passing and 217 yards on the ground. Pretty balanced, which will certainly help them in this bowl game. Defensively they've been pretty solid as well, giving up just 25 points per game.
Kent State has had an impressive season overall, winning 11 games already. Prior to losing to Northern Illinois in the MAC Title game, the only blemish on Kent State's record was to Kentucky back in September. They had risen into the Top 15 nationally. They don't spend a lot of time throwing the football. On the ground is where they win football games. On defense they gave up 25 points per game, equal to what Arkansas State gives up.
Defense will be the key in this one. As I have stated before I follow the Sun Belt since my kid went to school at FAU. I have Arkansas State winning this game by almost 2 touchdowns and see no reason not to see them back that up in this game. I always like the game plan they throw at their opponents and unless something changes with the coaching staff heading into this game to change that up, I see the same thing happening. Both have been pretty solid this season and whichever defensive unit can come up with key stops will win and I see that as Arkansas State. Will come back later this week with anything else and thoughts on the total. So to almost close out another winning year in bowl season a couple of thoughts. I always buy the point. Its a no brainer for the most part. Some of the lines may be listed from 2-3 weeks ago when I originally played the game but anytime I can get the benefit of the doubt I do.
My biggest screw ups this bowl season are gonna haunt me though. Minnesota, Georgia Tech, Clemson and Texas A&M we had the right side based on the system and I went the other way. There is not 1 game that I decided to change that worked out in my favor so I guess at some point I need to learn a lesson. If you stuck with the numbers, power rankings and system you would of had an unreal season. And I think we did well anyway. Tomorrow we will run into the same issue so lets get thru todays game. I dont really have Bowl Games of the Year although if we did we would have cashed Cincinnati and Tulsa this year. With that said and totals being a lower priority than the sides in bowl game (and why the difference in smileys) if we had a Bowl Game Total of the Year it would probably have been Florida State game and tonight. Love the Over in tonights game as well. Tomorrow I am not sure about yet. All this said, lets add the Total and hope Arkansas State comes to play tonight and puts up 60 points themselves.
Alabama vs. Notre Dame
Monday, Jan 7, 8:30 pm
The dust has barely settled on an epic SEC Championship, but it’s already time to look a month ahead to the BCS Championship Game. It’s a surprise to few that Alabama is there. If you had suggested at the beginning of the season that Notre Dame would be there, though, you probably would have been checked into the loony bin. Yet here they are, playing for all the marbles. So, can they win? As I see it that question is going to come down to two major factors:
Watching the SEC Championship Game, one thing stood out above all else — Alabama can run like crazy. This isn’t fancy running, either — it is brutal, bashing, relentless running from not one but two elite running backs. The question I was focused on from halftime in that game was whether Notre Dame could handle that. Would they be able to control the run, or would Alabama be able to dominate on the ground? At first glance the news is very good — Notre Dame is fifth in the country in rushing yards allowed with just 92.4 per game. The closer you look at it, though, the worse that looks.
Heading into the BCS Championship Game, Alabama had the 20th-best run offense, producing 215 yards per game — an average they far exceeded with 350 yards against Georgia. Notre Dame faced just one run offense better than Alabama in the run rankings — sixth-ranked Navy. They held Navy to less than half of their season average, so you could argue that the Irish put on a good showing. Two things dispute that, though. First, Notre Dame got ahead early, so Navy was forced to pass earlier than they otherwise would have to try to save the game. Second, when you look at the running backs from Navy, they averaged well over eight yards per carry. That’s not good defense.
The rest of the opponents on the Notre Dame schedule were teams that were either average or lousy on the ground. Michigan was the second-best running team even though they were ranked just 40th in the nation, and they managed 161 yards despite throwing five interceptions that cost them the ball and forced them to keep passing to try to get back into the game. Boston College is the second worst major conference running team, behind only Washington State. Pitt was 89th in the country. Miami was 84th. Michigan State, USC, and BYU were all in the bottom half of the national rankings. I could go on, but you get the point — Notre Dame’s run defense has not been tested, and it can’t be trusted to produce like it has all year. I see no reason why the Tide can’t try to establish the run early and allow that to create opportunities and set the tone of the game.
If Alabama can run — and I think they will be able to — then the pressure is going to be on Golson and the Irish offense to score to keep up. If Alabama does control the ground game then Notre Dame will face the added pressure of having to score reasonably quickly because they won’t have the luxury — or the ability — to run their offense on the ground as well. So, can Golson excel in this situation? I’m doubtful.
I would have troubles trusting Golson against any championship game-caliber opponent. His passing numbers were not that impressive. When you look though, those already-underwhelming stats were inflated against weak opponents — he played 11 games, but eight of his touchdowns and almost 1,100 yards came against just four weaker opponents — Wake Forest, Boston College Pitt, and Purdue. Michigan’s pass defense was rated higher than Alabama’s heading into the SEC Championship. Alabama’s defensive minds have a month to prepare for this game. They will focus on ways to force Golson to pass, and if and when that happens the results won’t be pretty.
I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I think Alabama is going to win this game. The issue, though, is that 10 points is a lot to give up in any situation. I’m really not comfortable doing it, but ultimately I think Alabama is a far superior team, and I really don’t see Notre Dame winning. That means to bet on Notre Dame I would be hoping for them to not lose too badly. That doesn’t seem logical, so I will begrudgingly endorse yet another SEC National Champion for now. I see Alabama winning this game by more than a touchdown. So right now they are a small play but we will wait until we get closer to game time to finalize and hopefully see the line move down some. As I posted towards the end of this thread last year the BCS Championship game was my biggest and best bet of bowl season, this year its definitely not. I have been on the Alabama bandwagon all month and really still not impressed by Notre Dame, taking nothing away from what they accomplished. I think the only thing that stops me from making this a big play is the system showing Alabama to win by a touchdown. So I will stick to my guns but want to buy it down and I have been on the Over since the very beginning and still feel their will be some scoring tonight.