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NAVY vs. ARIZONA STATE
Saturday, Dec. 29, 3:15 pm
While many didn’t realize it at the time, most of Arizona State’s early-season efforts and the excitement surrounding new HC Todd Graham that had fans in the Zona briefly dreaming about a BCS trip were quite the false alarm; in retrospect, wins over what would turn out to be extremely-disappointing Illinois, Utah, and Cal teams were nothing to brag about, and a close loss against a Missouri side that would be outclassed in the SEC and was using its backup QB to boot should have been a red flag. Indeed, once the schedule began to upgrade at mideseason, ASU fell back into the Pac-12 South pack as its defense was exposed by more-competent opposition. The question in San Francisco is whether Navy has enough in its unorthodox arsenal to damage the ASU defense, as did the likes of the better teams on the Sun Devil schedule. Or, more specifically, can the Mids do enough damage to exploit the substantial pointspread cushion provided by the oddsmakers? Though not a vintage Navy team, the Navy's efforts definitely improved after true frosh QB Keenan Reynolds relieved starter Trey Miller in the second half at Air Force when Navy rallied for an OT win that effectively turned around their season (with seven victories in their last eight games). The pressure will be on an ASU’s “D” that wasn’t too stout vs. the run and was more adept vs. more traditional offensive sets although playing a true triple option for the first time this season maybe may not be so effective.
There is enough evidence to suggest ASU breaks its 3-game bowl drought. But extending the margin beyond 2 TDs vs. an unorthodox and feisty underdog is another matter limited stature-wise due to military restrictions. They, of course, make it up with heart, enthusiasm, preparation and focus and have always been a solid play in bowls. Arizona States is among the NCAA leaders in sacks and we feel they’ll struggle having to play disciplined defense vs the option. On defense Navy will have to get a pass rush to keep it close but we think they may be able to do that. I have Arizona State winning by almost 2 touchdowns but giving up more than that makes this a no play at this time and will definitely have to wait until later to determine if we are playing this game at all. Still not a strong feeling on this game and do lean with Navy to keep this under the number but all things considered really cant pull the trigger on a side for this game so lets go with the total which I feel pretty strongly about.
OREGON STATE vs. TEXAS
Saturday, Dec. 29, 6:45 pm
ESPN The Alamo Bowl is always one of the best early bowl games of the season. A little-known fact is that the Alamo Bowl has recorded the No. 1, No. 2, and No. 5 most watched non-BCS bowl games in ESPN history. Last year’s Alamo Bowl is in the record books as the single highest scoring regulation bowl game in college football history. Robert Griffin III and the Baylor Bears bested the Washington Huskies 67-56 in that game. It was a game to remember, and it will be talked about for many years.
What about this year’s Valero Alamo Bowl? The Oregon State Beavers from the Pac-12 will take on the Texas Longhorns from the Big 12. This will be the second time that Texas has made an appearance in the Alamo Bowl. Oregon State will be making their first-ever trip to San Antonio. Oregon State wasn’t expected to be in this position. The Beavers were picked to finish near the bottom of the Pac-12. Mike Riley was squarely on the hot seat before this season, but the Beavers put together a terrific 2012. Oregon State first announced to the college football world that they were for real by beating Wisconsin in their season opener. The Beavers started the season 6-0. They did lose three of their final six games, but none of their losses were bad losses.
Texas has to be a little disappointed to be in this spot. The Longhorns started 4-0, and many thought Texas might be improved enough to contend for a BCS bowl. In the end, though, the Longhorns defense let them down too often, and the team lost four of its last eight games. The 63-21 loss to Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry showed just how far this Texas team has to go to compete with the best in the nation. The team has improved quite a bit from its horrific 5-7 year in 2010, but mediocrity isn’t acceptable at a school like Texas. Texas Longhorn fans travel extremely well, and they barely even have to travel to get to this bowl game. San Antonio is less than a 90-minute drive from Austin. Oregon State fans will have a long road to travel to get to the Alamodome. Basically, there won’t be anything neutral about this crowd. Oregon State and Texas both go into this game with a quarterback controversy. It’s a little odd to have a bowl game where neither team knows who will start under center, but that is exactly the case in this one. Oregon State started the season with Sean Mannion at quarterback, but Cody Vaz has taken most of the snaps of late. Both of these guys are underclassmen, and the coaching staff has said this quarterback battle might go on even after this bowl game is over.
Mack Brown said late last week that he isn’t ready to commit to a starter for this matchup. David Ash has been the starter for Texas almost all year, but he was injured in the Longhorns loss to TCU on Nov. 22. Ash is listed as probable for this one, but he isn’t likely to be completely healthy in time for this game. Ash did a nice job for Texas this year. And even though Case McCoy did well in his short time under center, I think it will be Ash under center if he is ready to go.
This is a pretty big game for the Texas Longhorns. Back-to-back 8-5 records wouldn’t sit well with the Texas fans, and that is precisely what they’ll have if they lose this game. Playing at the Alamodome is a big advantage for Texas. I really believe this is worth two or three points for the Longhorns. Oregon State hasn’t looked quite as sharp down the stretch. The Beavers should be able to move it through the air, but their running game isn’t very good. The matchup to watch will be Texas’ running game against Oregon State’s solid front seven. The winner of that battle will likely win the game. I do have Oregon State winning this game by a little more than a touchdown so that in itself says something. But right now its just a lean and I will wait until closer to game time to make a final determination although there is no chance I would play Texas. My favorite play on this game may be on the over. Look for a close game where both teams find the end zone several times. As the line continues to move against us glad I took the moneyline early and if you were to play this game feel the moneyline is the way to go to ensure any kind of back door kind of bad beat as often happens in bowl season.
TCU vs. MICHIGAN STATE
Saturday, Dec. 29, 10:15 pm
Two defensive-oriented teams that had much bigger expectations. The Spartans had won a school-record 11 games the previous two seasons and were in the Top 15 of the preseason polls, with many expecting them to win the Big Ten. But it was clear their offense badly missed three-year starting QB Kirk Cousins – now RG3’s backup -- as it struggled all season under new starter Andrew Maxwell. But Sparty might have been the unluckiest team in the nation. It definitely didn’t deserve to beat Notre Dame, but MSU’s five Big Ten losses were by a combined 13 points. The Spartans tied an NCAA record by having seven consecutive games decided by four points or less. At least this game isn’t in East Lansing, where State was 2-5 in 2012 and didn’t cover once.
Texas Christian thought it would contend in its first season in the Big 12, but the team really went in the toilet for a while when starting QB Casey Pachall left the team and then school (top rusher Waymon James was lost to injury early in the season). The Frogs, a very young team, started 5-1 but lost four of their final six – two in overtime. It’s also a good thing this game isn’t in Fort Worth as TCU was just 2-4 there. The Frogs’ five losses this season were as many as Coach Gary Patterson’s defeats in the four previous seasons combined.
TCU’s run defense is excellent but hasn’t faced the type of power game that Bell and the Spartans will bring. That said, the Frogs defense was pretty solid two years against a similar Wisconsin team in the Rose Bowl. If Bell doesn’t have a big game, MSU won’t score. It will come down to the ground game and turnovers. The Frogs have won 47 straight games when rushing for more yards than passing. Since 2005, TCU is 48-2 when ahead in turnover margin. The crowd should be pro-TCU, especially with the Spartans not even being able to sell their allotment of 11,000 tickets. I simply believe the Big 12 is better than the Big Ten this year, and these teams are essentially in the same pecking order in the conference. But all that said I have this game as basically a pickem and right now truly do not have an opinion on the game although I do lean to the Under at the moment. As we get closer Im sure something will move in the right direction. I usually dont like playing on the Big Ten quite often in bowl season but I have had a feeling about this game since the beginning and think with everyone coming back healthy and a month to prepare that Michigan State comes into this game with something to prove. Not an overwhelmingly strong play but lets close off the day with another winner.
NORTH CAROLINA STATE vs. VANDERBILT
Monday, Dec. 31, 12:00 pm
NC State fired head coach Tom O’Brien after their season, and they have just hired Northern Illinois’ Dave Doeren. Even though O’Brien has led the Wolfpack to three straight bowl games, his teams have failed to live up to expectations. Future NFL quarterback Mike Glennon and the passing game is the entire offense. Glennon has three 600-yard-plus receivers to throw to in Quintin Payton, Tobias Palmer and Bryan Underwood. But the rushing offense was ranked just 109th in the country. There’s no balance to offset the passing game, and Vanderbilt’s strength is certainly their secondary. They match up well.
The player who can hurt Vandy the most is no doubt Glennon. His ability to make explosive plays against the Dores’ secondary will be key for a Wolfpack upset. What you need to know about Vanderbilt: This team continues to surpass expectations, as this marks the school’s first time in history that they are playing in back-to-back bowl games. James Franklin has created winning momentum and has taken the program to heights everyone thought wasn’t possible. And he just signed an extension and got a raise – can Vanderbilt become the south’s Stanford? The Commodores’ offense has been good, but not great. However, running back Zac Stacy and Jordan Matthews have been great. Vanderbilt’s strength is on the defensive side of the football, as is the case with any successful SEC team, right? The job that Bob Shoop and his staff have done has been nothing short of fantastic. He’s elevated the level of play with players who were inherited as part of a 2-10 roster two years ago. The Commodores’ strength is defending the pass, as they finished 5th in the country in passing defense efficiency. Vandy’s ability to force Glennon into some turnover situations in the passing game will have a massive impact on the outcome. Vanderbilt matches up particularly well to the strengths of the Wolfpack’s offense.
Anytime an SEC team plays against an ACC team, you have to tip your hat to the SEC team, right? Of course you do. I really like the Commodores’ matchup with NC State’s passing game. The Dores might not be the flashiest defense, but they tackle well and are very sound in coverage. So, Vandy’s defense should be able to create some opportunities to get after the quarterback and make Glennon make quick decisions, hopefully forcing a couple turnovers in the process. The Commodores’ running game could end up being the difference. Vanderbilt’s ability to move the chains with Zac Stacy, Brian Kimbrow and Wesley Tate is just as important as defending the pass. The running game and defense is why the SEC excels against lesser foes, and this game will be no different. Stacy’s ground-pounding ability makes quarterback Jordan Rodgers and receiver Jordan Matthews better on play action. I have Vanderbilt winning this game by 2 touchdowns and that to me is a nice cushion and seems to me a no brainer jumping all over Vandy.
GEORGIA TECH vs. USC
Monday, Dec. 31, 2:00 pm
CBS No offense to the Sun Bowl, but one has to assume the USC Trojans are less than thrilled to be here. USC was the top ranked team in the preseason, and Matt Barkley flat out said he had returned for his senior year because he believed this USC team could win a national title. Not only did they not win a national title, but the Trojans lost five games during an extremely disappointing regular season. The Sun Bowl might be a nice bowl destination for some schools, but USC can’t be overjoyed about this game. On the other side of this matchup is the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech is here despite losing more games than they won this year. Georgia Tech put up a valiant effort in the ACC Championship Game against Florida State, but they eventually fell, 21-15. Paul Johnson’s team can still run the option as well as anyone in the country, but they can’t throw and they have had trouble stopping anyone on the defensive side of the ball.
There are plenty of storylines to go around in this one. USC alone has plenty of storylines to talk about heading into this game. Lane Kiffin has been rumored to be on the hot seat at USC. He might not lose his job if the team loses this game, but it will put that much more pressure on next year’s team to succeed. Kiffin said he’s been assured he’ll be back next year, but we know there have been coaches who have been told that who never came back. An embarrassing performance here would probably make USC administration have some long and difficult conversations. Monte Kiffin, Lane’s father, has already resigned after the Trojans defense put in several pathetic performances this season. This is Matt Barkley’s last game as a college player. He missed the regular season finale with Notre Dame due to shoulder injury, but reports say he should be ready to go in this one. Barkley clearly wants to leave town on a brighter note. His team hasn’t had the success he had hoped for, but Barkley has put together another very good season. There are a lot of NFL teams that would really like to have him on their roster.
Georgia Tech has had one of the best running games in the nation for the past few years, and that is no different this season. The Yellow Jackets are averaging 313 yards per game on the ground, which is fourth best in the country. Senior quarterback Tevin Washington is good at running the option, but he has been terrible throwing the football. Lately, Georgia Tech has been rotating freshman Vad Lee into the game. Lee looks to have a higher upside, but he obviously will have to work through some growing pains. Al Groh was fired as Georgia Tech’s defensive coordinator in October. A few years ago, Groh was considered one of the hottest coaching prospects in college football. He implemented a 3-4 defense at Georgia Tech, and it didn’t work out well. The defense actually improved a tiny bit statistically this season, but they still allowed more than 40 points in six different games. Charles Kelly is now the team’s defensive coordinator, and he is focusing on trying to get more pressure on the opposing quarterback. Needless to say, Georgia Tech better get some heat on Barkley in this game or they’ll be in quite a bit of trouble.
Will USC be motivated for this game? That really is the biggest question that needs to be handicapped in this one. There is no question that USC has far more talent on its roster than Georgia Tech does. Still, even with top-notch talent, the players have to show up and be hungry for a win. It’s hard to determine how the team as a whole will respond to this game, but I do think Barkley will be ready to end his career with a great game. I don’t think Georgia Tech has the personnel to stop USC and its strong passing attack. Georgia Tech has been able to run the ball on almost everyone, and they should be able to run it against USC as well. The problem I see for Georgia Tech is they could very well get behind quickly and be forced to throw it more often than they want to. Understand and most everyone knows that I follow this team as much as anyone. USC's issues are the result of one person and that is Coach Kiffen. His play calling, his halftime adjustments and his practice methods have created an unstable team this year. Obviously some overthrows by Barkley and stupid penalties are also the cause but I think in this game USC’s talent will show up to make a late-season statement. Look for USC to cover, and look for this one to go over the posted total. I will come back with a more definitive play closer to game time but no matter what the numbers say I am taking USC in a game that has the makings of a rout. With all the injury issues will be sticking with what I believe and playing the Over as I stated weeks ago.
IOWA STATE vs. TULSA
Monday, Dec. 31, 3:30 pm
Nothing is worse than two teams playing in a bowl against one another when they already played earlier in the year and that’s in store for this year’s Liberty Bowl. Iowa State beat the eventual Conference USA champions in this season's opener and heads into the Liberty Bowl motivated to finish with a winning record for the first time in three years. Iowa State will try to force some more turnovers while earning its third win in five bowl games. he Cyclones have an uncanny way of getting their opponents to join them in playing a boring, time of possession-filled, disciplined game. Head coach Paul Rhoads doesn’t have the built-in recruiting advantages of most of his counterparts in the Big 12. He finds ‘grinders’ that will buy in to his system and will continue to get better throughout their careers. It really is a testament to his coaching staff and his ability to get the most out of his players' physical abilities. When glossing at the numbers alone, Iowa State certainly doesn’t jump off the page. The Cyclones win with execution, defense, and forcing turnovers. When betting sites online tackle this tilt, they will give Tulsa a very legitimate chance because of improved balance and quality coaching. For a number of years, Tulsa was a talented passing team which was going to air it out on the way to 45-50 point games, aiming to win in shootout fashion. That was the modus operandi under former coach Todd Graham. In 2012 things have changed a bit, as the Golden Hurricanes have become much more balanced under head coach Bill Blankenship, enough to win the championship of Conference USA.
Tulsa won 11 games for the only time in program history in 2008, but it gave itself an opportunity to tie that mark with an overtime victory over Central Florida in the conference title game Dec. 1. The Golden Hurricane feature a trio of backs who have carried the ball 100 or more times. While Alex Singleton has been featured as the red zone back, Ja’Terian Douglas and Trey Watts have each eclipsed 600 yards rushing on their carries. The team has improved its defense immensely from a year ago when it was among the worst in the entire nation. This is how a team moves up the ladder in its conference. Tulsa failed to even win its own division last season. Now it is a conference champion with a coach who delivers more of a return on the school's investment than many other coaches in college football. Blankenship has delivered the kind of value to Tulsa that various athletic directors can only dream of.
It’s possible that Iowa State will not treat this game seriously, having already beaten Tulsa. Iowa State lost five of its last seven games and finished next to last in the Big 12 Conference and Tulsa will get its revenge. Without All-Big12 linebacker, Jake Knott, the Cyclones will not be able to keep up with Tulsa. Tulsa wins the game and we have them winning by more than 3 touchdowns. which makes this game a major play. I will have more on this game as we get closer but making sure everyone jumps on Tulsa early and often.
This should be one of the most intriguing overall bowl matchup of the year outside of the Alabama-Notre Dame national title game and perhaps the Oregon-Kansas State Fiesta Bowl. The orange Tigers weren’t able to defend their ACC Championship, blowing a game at Florida State early in the season. Clemson was still in good shape for a BCS at-large bid before it was rather shockingly beaten soundly by South Carolina and its backup QB in the regular-season finale. LSU opened the preseason at No. 1 in the polls but took a hit early with the dismissal of the “Honey Badger,” Tyrann Mathieu. Still, the defense was among the nation’s best, and LSU just might be playing for a national title if not for a stellar final-minute drive by Alabama QB A.J. McCarron in the classic 21-17 Tide win on Nov. 3. LSU got a bit of a scare when it was announced shortly after the season that coach Les Miles had talked to Arkansas about its head coaching job, but Miles seems to talk to someone every year (Michigan twice). He got his nice new extension. These two couldn’t be much more different. The Clemson offense is one of the best in the nation – so good that coordinator Chad Morris got a few interviews for head coaching jobs and still might be hired at Texas Tech. Behind ACC Offensive Player of the Year and quarterback Tajh Boyd, Clemson set school records (again) and led the ACC in scoring, total offense and passing. The Tigers had a whopping six first-team All-ACC players on offense. This could be the final college game for Boyd and stud receiver DeAndre Hopkins as both might declare for the NFL. At least receiver/return man Sammy Watkins has to stay one more year.
LSU, meanwhile, didn’t get the season expected out of highly-touted QB Zach Mettenberger, although he definitely did get better as the season went on. He was actually better than McCarron in that Alabama game. Still, the Tigers ranked No. 106 in passing. They did find a future star running back in freshman Jeremy Hill. But being as LSU is in the SEC, its defense is the calling card. There are multiple NFL Draft picks on the roster, especially up front.
Clemson scored less than 37 points just twice all year and it was against its two SEC opponents: Auburn and South Carolina. So as good as the Tigers offense is, it clearly can be neutralized by the speed and physicality of SEC teams. LSU has allowed more than 22 points just once, a typical letdown game win over Mississippi. I’m sure both LSU and Clemson want to put last year’s bowl disappointments behind them, with LSU looking offensively inept in the national title loss to Alabama and Clemson looking defensively atrocious in a 70-33 loss to West Virginia. Both teams know this building well and the crowd should be about split. I still remember how the SEC treated the ACC like a little sister on the final weekend of the regular season. But again as there are lots of games that do not seem to be that close this game should be interesting and close. I have LSU winning this game by a point and obviously have to sit back and wait it out until closer to game time to make my final decision. Really makes sense to play Clemson since the line keeps rising and I do have a slight lean on Clemson BUT with New Years Eve and since Im not watching the game I will roll with the Over and take a small shot on that.
PURDUE vs. OKLAHOMA STATE
Tuesday, Jan 1, 12:00 pm
The Big Ten’s Purdue Boilermakers head deep into the heart of Texas on New Year’s Day to tangle with the Big 12’s Oklahoma State Cowboys in a high-noon showdown at the Cotton Bowl. You know there are just too many bowl games when the fourth-best team in the Big Ten Leaders Division is playing on Jan.1, but postseason bans to both Ohio State and Penn State elevated Purdue’s standing despite a straight up record of 6-6. Purdue did make a bit of noise this season by keeping No.1 Notre Dame on the ropes in a 20-17 loss as a 14-point road underdog as well as taking the undefeated Buckeyes to overtime as a 17-point underdog on the road, but too many inconsistencies on both sides of the ball plagued this team all year long. The Boilermakers gave up 44 points to Michigan and 38 points to Wisconsin and were ranked 72nd in the nation in points allowed. Offensively, Purdue rolled up 48 points or more in four games this season, but the Boilers managed to score only nine points against Penn State and 20 points against Illinois. This created a mix bag that made this team extremely hard to handicap all season long as production on both sides of the ball seemed to come and go like the wind. Oklahoma State was another team that was hard to figure out this season, but that was primarily due to a defense that allowed an average of 29.4 points a game. It gave up 40 points or more in all five losses this season. There was no question about a Cowboys offense that finished the regular season ranked 22nd in the nation in rushing yards per game and seventh passing the ball. The net result was an average of 44.7 points a game, which was the fourth-highest total in the country. Oklahoma State relied on a trio of quarterbacks this season, but wide receiver Josh Stewart was clearly the No.1 target. The workhorse out of the backfield was running back Joseph Randle.
Both these teams come into this matchup flawed, but the Cowboys’ offense is no match for the Boilermakers and should be able to run away with this game from the start. While you never like to give up that many points in a bowl game given the long layoff for both teams, look for Oklahoma State to win this game but right now its showing them winning by only 2 touchdowns. We will wait until closer to kickoff to make a further determination. Since its gametime and I really not sure where I stand I will skip this game. I do lean towards the Over but I never understand when on the biggest day they have 4 games on at the same time of day. Even with Tivo you cant watch everyone. Does it make sense to the sponsors. I dont get it. Wouldnt you get a better rating having a game on a staggered basis and a late game.
NORTHWESTERN vs. MISSISSIPPI STATE
Tuesday, Jan 1, 12:00 pm
Let’s see, Northwestern, a program without a bowl victory in 64 years, is taking less than a field goal against a school from the SEC? The Bulldogs should be worked into a lather by head coach Dan Mullen and staff after they played like a bunch of girls in the season finale defeat at Ole Miss. Mississippi State’s pass defense got worse and worse as the season progressed and the competition improved. The Wildcats haven’t won in the postseason since Harry Truman was President back in 1948! But the charged-up Wildcats are hell-bent to end their 9-game drought. The Wildcats, who have a shot at a 10-win campaign for the first time since 1995. Mississippi State will have trouble establishing their ground game vs. Norhtwesterns rushing defense. I have more faith in the Wildcats’ uptempo, error-free spread option.
I see MSU defense struggling vs. the Wildcats’ spread-you-out attack, as it did vs. the Mississippi similarly-styled offense to end the season. Northwestern has a dead eye kicker as well. These teams are pretty evenly matched but since MSU is from the SEC they are automatically favored. I have Northwestern winning this game by a couple of points and for the most part these numbers have been dead on for us so why stop now. Will come back day of game to update but have to make a play on Northwestern plus the points. Considering we played this weeks ago and grabbed 3 points there is not much more I can do now that the line is basically a pick em. I will obviously stick with Northwestern but I also see this as a high scoring game as well. Remember the smileys for all the totals are worth much less than the sides in any of the selections.
NORTHWESTERN +3 NORTHWESTERN vs. MISSISSIPPI STATE OVER 53 POINTS
Georgia was one play away from playing for a BCS Championship against Notre Dame. Instead, the Bulldogs will now take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Capital One Bowl. Nebraska was absolutely manhandled by Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game. Capital One Bowl organizers can’t be too disappointed with getting a matchup of two teams in the Top 16. In addition, both schools have a terrific fan base that travels very well. This should be a well-attended game. Both of these teams have quarterbacks who have taken quite a bit of heat in their time at the school, but both quarterbacks have come through with terrific seasons this year. Aaron Murray has been downed by Bulldogs fans in the past for his poor play in big games, but he played extremely well down the stretch this year. Taylor Martinez’s passing numbers improved drastically in 2012, and that made Nebraska much better on offense. Both of these guys will have the spotlight on them as they lead their teams into battle on New Year’s Day.
Which team will want to be here more? It’s no secret that teams who don’t really want to be at a particular game don’t fare well, while others who are fired up about that opportunity tend to do very well. It’s tough to say which team will be more motivated in this one. Nebraska obviously wanted to be playing in the Rose Bowl, but they fell well short of that when they got waxed by Wisconsin. They’ll be playing in the Capital One Bowl for the second straight year. Georgia was less than five yards away from playing in the BCS title game, and now they have to put their arms around being in the Capital One Bowl for the third time in the past 10 years. The most difficult part for Georgia is that they aren’t even in a BCS bowl. How do the players feel about that? A reporter recently asked Murray how the Bulldogs are feeling. He said they are feeling “Maybe a little bit robbed.” I’d say that is an understatement, and it is hard to blame them. Georgia went toe-to-toe with the team nearly everyone says is the best in the nation (Alabama) and was voted down from third to seventh in the polls. Because of the wacky BCS system, Northern Illinois and Louisville will be playing in a BCS game instead of the Georgia Bulldogs.
Before the season, Mark Richt was on the hot seat, but the team’s impressive performance this year has quieted critics quite a bit. What was the real reason for Georgia’s improvement throughout the season? The Bulldogs defense started out the season looking like a big disappointment, but by the end of the year they looked like one of the best units in the country. The secondary shut down opponent after opponent, but the front seven was vulnerable at times against power running attacks. On the other side, Bo Pelini isn’t a very popular guy with Nebraska fans. It isn’t that Pelini has done terribly with the program, but it seems like the Cornhuskers don’t fare well in the biggest games. Nebraska was blasted by Ohio State this year, and then the beat down at the hands of an 8-5 Wisconsin team was just ridiculous. Despite winning 10 games already this season, it’s hard to point to any of Nebraska wins as particularly impressive. Remember, the Big Ten Conference was horribly weak this season. Nebraska was dominated last year by South Carolina in this game. Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall are amazing freshman tailbacks for Georgia. The Bulldogs have been running the ball well against everyone of late. Nebraska averages 255 yards per game on the ground, which is good enough for eighth in the nation. Both of these teams have a big strong offensive line, and they can both pound the football.
While it will likely be the quarterbacks that get the most attention in this one, I really think the key to this game will be the two running games. Both defenses have struggled against the run, and I think that will continue in this game. Look for both teams to get the running game going early and often in this matchup. Nebraska hasn’t beaten anyone good this year, and I don’t think they’ll win this game, either. The Cornhuskers have a good record because the Big Ten as a whole is down in a big way right now. Georgia could end this game by halftime if they are properly motivated. I have Georgia winning this game by more than a touchdown so there is no way I would think of taking Nebraska at this time and I do think Georgia covers the number here, but my favorite play may just come down on the total since Im leaning towards the over. No decision yet but will address it closer to gametime. So the line has moved its way down and really doesnt make the pick any easier. I will stick with Georgia but it will be a really small play and stick with the Over as I have been saying for weeks. Again, if you are reading any of these posts the sides are worth much more than the total regardless of how many smilies.