Beware the Bowl Bounce for the 2018 Season

Last Updated: 2018-01-03

bowl bounce teamsPreparing for a new college football season can be very difficult. For one thing, it can be really hard to get back into a football mindset four or five months before the year starts. Of course, all of the roster turnover and coaching changes can be tricky to follow. What bettors need to do is make sure that they are planting some reminders in their minds while the memories of the previous season are still fresh.

Bettors want to latch on to what they have most recently seen. It is human nature. The last thing that we remember is the last thing that we saw. For 78 college football teams, the last thing that we saw was a bowl game performance. That’s why you’ll hear about the “bowl bounce” going into the next season. Teams that had a strong final effort are often overvalued going into the next season, especially if most of the key personnel are returning.

It is important to isolate these teams early in the process so that you can remove those recency biases. Sometimes, those teams are just good, but you’ll realize that as you go through the prep work. You don’t want to have preconceived notions about these teams because those can only hurt you in the long run.

Here are some teams to be wary of from the infamous “bowl bounce” going into the 2018 season:

Boise StateWe’ll go in chronological order with this list, beginning with the Boise State Broncos. The Broncos will return Brett Rypien, who will be four-year starting quarterback when his senior season rolls around in August. Running back Alexander Mattison was severely limited, but the sophomore running back will return. Senior wideout Cedrick Wilson caught 10 passes for 221 yards in his last college game.

Boise State knocked off Oregon as more than a touchdown underdog. This is the quintessential example of a bowl bounce team. Boise State won 11 games as a top “mid-major” in CFB. They got back to covering at home. But, the Ducks were in a very weird spot going into this game. The biggest luxury for teams coming into the bowl season is that they get extra practice reps, which have more of an impact for next year. The Ducks lost Willie Taggart to Florida State. They elevated Mario Cristobal to head coach, a move that the players stumped for on social media. They managed to retain Jim Leavitt. In some ways, the bowl game meant nothing, because the focus was clearly on next season.

Not to mention, Royce Freeman sat out to avoid injury going into the scouting combine. While Boise State’s win was impressive, don’t overvalue it going into next season. The Ducks were not in the right mindset and were shorthanded in the Las Vegas Bowl. Not to mention, Boise State goes to Las Vegas with regularity. There had to be more pregame fun for the Ducks players.

TroyThe Trojans rolled North Texas in the New Orleans Bowl. It was a huge win for Neal Brown’s program, but the Trojans are going to look a lot different next year. Four-year starting quarterback Brandon Silvers is gone. Josh Anderson, who stepped in for Jordan Chunn and ran for 113 yards, also exhausted his eligibility. Troy also had one of the most experienced offensive lines in the country.

North Texas had just lost the Conference USA title game to Florida Atlantic. Star running back Jeffery Wilson was unavailable and North Texas became very one-dimensional. Troy’s win, while a good one for the program, means very little going into next season.

Louisiana Tech – I’ll tell you what, I like Louisiana Tech going into next season. J’Mar Smith got a lot of important experience and the Bulldogs really put it on SMU in the Frisco Bowl. But, you had better check yourself before you overvalue LA Tech heading into 2018. For one thing, Conference USA is a better league overall. But, more importantly, SMU rolled with pseudo-interim head coach GJ Kinne as a play caller with Sonny Dykes as the “head coach”.

Chad Morris took SMU from the depths of hell to a relevant program in short order and then got offered a bigger job with Arkansas. Many of his assistants left as well.

The Bulldogs will be better, but don’t overstep with this team in terms of conference futures and season win total overs.

Army – Arguably the most impressive bowl performance came from the Army Black Knights offense. Somehow, Army hung 42 points on the San Diego State 3-3-5 defense of Rocky Long. Long sees the option all the time and still had no answer for it. Army football is enjoying its most successful stretch since the 1980s. Army has back-to-back wins over Navy. Add in a 10-win season this year.

The Black Knights are a great story. Jeff Monken is doing serious work. Don’t go overboard.

Kansas State – Kansas State’s win over UCLA will forever have an asterisk and won’t get a whole lot of attention, but this is a Wildcats team that was drawing a lot of love coming into the 2017 season. The Wildcats were a top-30 team in most sets of power ratings. Did they live up to it with an 8-5 record? Probably not. But, Skylar Thompson looked pretty good in the bowl game and that is what people will overreact to in the lead-up to next season.

UCLA’s defense is horrendous. Kansas State was down 17-7 at halftime to Devon Modster and an interim head coach in Jedd Fisch. Apply proper context to the Wildcats because that bowl performance really wasn’t all that great, contrary to what a 35-17 final suggests.

Purdue – What Jeff Brohm did at Purdue this season was remarkable. The Boilermakers not only made it to a bowl, but beat Arizona in the Foster Farms Bowl. Elijah Sindelar threw for 396 yards and Purdue had a 100-yard rusher in DJ Knox. It was a great performance and a great end to a tremendous season.

Be very careful here, though. Purdue is in the Big Ten West, which is not very good. You’ll have some pundits talking about Purdue as a challenger to Wisconsin. Don’t buy that hype yet. The Boilermakers have a lot of work to do offensively and defensively to build up depth. Brohm is awesome, but you’re going to see expectations placed on Purdue that we haven’t seen since the Drew Brees days. Nick Holt will do work with this defense, but keep everything in a proper perspective. This is still probably a .500 team next year. As a side note, be wary of the Big Ten overall, since the conference’s 7-1 bowl season record has gotten a ton of play.

Michigan StateSpeak of the devil, another Big Ten team. Sparty wound up with some really impressive wins. Michigan State knocked off Penn State and then blew away Washington State in the Holiday Bowl. Luke Falk didn’t play the bowl game. Top wide receiver Tavares Martin was kicked off the team. Defensive coordinator Alex Grinch was sniffing around for a job with Ohio State.

Sparty won 10 games and had one of the biggest win-loss turnarounds in college football. That’s great. Michigan State was an excellent story. This is still a team without a lot of top-end talent, so be very careful with their season win total number. With Saquon Barkley and several others gone from Penn State, there will be a lot of talk about Michigan State as the closest contender to Ohio State in the Big Ten East. Let it go in one ear and out the other.

Iowa StateThe court of public opinion is going to look very favorably at Matt Campbell’s Iowa State Cyclones. The Cyclones went into Memphis, for basically a true road game in the bowl, and won 21-20 while holding the vaunted Tigers offense to just 339 yards.

Well, Memphis only ran 59 offensive plays and had 5.7 yards per play. Iowa State controlled the tempo and had the ball for nearly 38 minutes. The Cyclones beat Oklahoma on the road and TCU at home. Those were the two Big 12 Championship game teams. Iowa State’s five losses were by 25 points. You’re going to see a lot of intrigue with their season win total over. I’d pump the brakes pretty hard on that one. Matt Campbell is doing an awesome job, but depth is still a big problem in Ames.

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