in town for free camps
After a year off, a review of the luckiest teams of the year is back. Two years ago I prepped the concept of “lucky.” It’s been a while so here’s a quick recap of how luck is defined for this exercise.
I define luck as what your record should have been with your full season performance and your schedule versus what your record actually was. It is not about injuries, having an easy schedule or even lucky bounces. Interceptions, punt returns and every relevant rush or pass are included in the full season team score. Fumbles, garbage time, interception returns and a few others play are excluded.
So the annual team score which is an average of up to 12 individual game scores (Championship and Bowl Games are excluded) and I take the schedule for the season and re-simulate it based on the actual quality of all the teams, not the pre-season expectation. I then compare actual records to projected records to find this years luckiest teams.
You could call this over or under-achieving and you would be partially right. The challenge is that over the last several years, I have been unable to find any teams that consistently bias one way by any real margin. You can point to grit, toughness, wanting it more and all the clichés, but with no record of teams being able to repeat, I just call it luck.
80 out of 120 FBS teams perform within 1 game of their projected total, leaving about 20 each in the real lucky and unlucky categories.
|Team||Conf||Proj W||Final W||Vs Exp|
|Kansas St||Big XII||7.5||10||2.5|
|Penn St||Big Ten||7.1||9||1.9|
Ball St is the clear-cut winner for luckiest team of 2011, winning 6 when their performance and schedule predicted less than 3. Kansas St, unsurprisingly is the luckiest BCS team going a full 2.5 games better than they “should” have. Going 9-1 in games decided by a touchdown or less will make you feel pretty lucky.
Sugar Bowl opponent Virginia Tech checks in at #6. As has been discussed elsewhere, the Hokies had a strange season. Got blown out by Clemson twice, several decent wins and some strange close games. Ultimately a weak schedule, blowout losses and narrow wins over four unranked opponents lands VT at 2 games better than expected.
RG3 earned his Heisman carrying the pathetic Baylor defense. Baylor’s overall rating was lower due to their horrendous defense, but the offense was good enough to win games giving 48, 31, 26, 39, 38 and 42 points in the regular season. Of course they cap it off by winning while giving up 56 last night.
Penn St surely doesn’t consider themselves lucky right now but 9 wins was nearly two more than they should have had. The Nittany Lions were the anti-Baylor, doing with a stout defense and a really weak offense. Penn St went 6-2 in Big Ten play despite being outscored and also beat Temple by 4 in a game they had no business pulling out.
|Team||Conf||Proj W||Final W||Vs Exp|
|Texas A&M||Big XII||8.5||6||(2.5)|
|S Florida||Big East||7.2||5||(2.2)|
|Louisiana Mon||Sun Belt||6.1||4||(2.1)|
Some familiar names show up. UCF is tops at 3 games worse than expected. UCF had BCS buster talk heading into the season and failed to even qualify for a bowl. Even the 8 projected wins would have been a disappointment but going 0-6 in games decided by a TD or less really hurts.
Texas A&M’s trials this season are well-documented. They blew leads like crazy, lost five games to bowl teams in OT or by 4 points or less. The Aggies have to feel like in some alternate universe their season and Kansas St’s is switched.
The Big Ten+
|Team||Conf||Proj W||Final W||Vs Exp|
|Ohio St||Big Ten||6.9||6||(0.9)|
|Michigan St||Big Ten||9.3||10||0.7|
|Penn St||Big Ten||7.1||9||1.9|
Michigan checks in at slightly lucky. They were a toss-up between 9 and 10 wins and hit the over. The Wolverines had only 3 games decided by a possession or less and went 2-1 in them.
The hockey team is now roughly halfway through the 2011-12 season. I thought this would be a good time for a recap of the first half, along with a (very) early look at the pairwise rankings heading toward NCAA Tournament selection time. By the way, thanks to MGoBlog for already having a "way too early to be doing this" tag.
First half recap
Michigan got off to a strong start, at one point holding down the #1 ranking in the polls with a 4-0 record following easy wins over Niagara, Bentley (twice), and St. Lawrence. A trip to Northern, resulting in a loss and a shootout win, put a quick end to that. After winning three of four against Ferris and Western, Michigan went on a massive losing streak, with one point in the next seven games, before a 1-0 OT win in Alaska. After getting four of a possible six points two weeks ago against MSU, Michigan now sits 8th in the CCHA with 19 points in 14 games, and has a lot of work to do to get back into the NCAA tournament mix. The defense has been mediocre at best, and Jon Merrill's absence has really hurt. All signs are pointing to Merrill being reinstated for next weekend's matchup against the Lakers, but we'll have to wait and see.
Current Pairwise Rankings
For the uninitiated, the pairwise rankings compare every team to every other team in four categories: RPI; record against “Teams Under Consideration (TUCs)”, which means teams with an RPI over .500, as long as both teams have played at least 10 TUCs, not counting each other.; record against common opponents, and head-to-head. Winning one of the first three categories gets you one point, and you get one point for each head-to-head win over your opponent. Any ties are broken by the RPI ranking. The pairwise rankings have accurately predicted the NCAA field for something like ten years, so they are a very useful and important tool.
As an example of how the pairwise rankings work, let’s compare Michigan to Miami right now.
- Michigan has an RPI of 0.5374 to Miami’s 0.5264. Point Michigan.
- Michigan is 5-7-2 against TUCs other than Miami. Miami is 7-9-0, for a slightly better winning percentage. Point Miami.
- Michigan is 3-4-1 against common opponents. Miami is 3-5-0 against those opponents. By a very slim margin, point Michigan.
- Miami has one head-to-head win over Michigan. Point Miami.
This puts the comparison at 2-2. Michigan wins the overall comparison by virtue of having the higher RPI score.
Every team is compared to every other team in the top half (essentially) of the RPI standings, and the teams are ranked based on the number of comparisons won. Right now, Michigan sits 17thin those rankings. I think that based on the really awful stretch Michigan had in November, many would have felt that they would be further down the list, but the CCHA teams are ranked very high in the Pairwise right now based on their incredibly high RPIs. In fact, 9 CCHA teams are in the top 19 in the Pairwise as of this writing. Right now, with very few teams outside of the CCHA having ten games against TUCs, this is a heavily RPI-driven ranking. That will change as the season goes on, and in a bad way for Michigan unless they pick up some big wins down the stretch.
Why is the CCHA doing so well in the pairwise rankings?
It turns out that nonconference games have a huge impact on the Pairwise for a couple reasons. First, having a conference do well overall in its nonconference slate has a big impact on the RPI, because it improves every conference team’s strength of schedule. The CCHA is 40-12-5 out of conference so far this year, for a winning percentage of 0.746. Even terrible Bowling Green, who is 1-11-2 in conference, went 5-0-1 in nonconference play, which helps everyone else in the conference. Secondly, when comparing teams from different conferences, the common opponents part of the Pairwise is usually based on a very small number of games. For example, if we compare Michigan to a Hockey East team such as Merrimack, the common opponents are Boston College, Northeastern, St. Lawrence, and Union (Merrimack won’t play St. Lawrence until Friday, and neither has played BC, but both will). Right now, Michigan is 1-2 against those teams, while Merrimack is 2-1-1 against them (mostly against Northeastern). Had Michigan beaten either Union or Northeastern, it would have made a huge difference. As it stands, beating BC in the GLI would be a huge help in comparisons against all the Hockey East teams, since they will mostly have bad records against BC.
Second half preview
We start with the GLI, and a matchup with #3 Boston College, followed by either MSU or a surprisingly competent Michigan Tech team. The next six series are all against CCHA teams that are in the top 20 in the pairwise, including four (Ohio, Notre Dame, Northern Michigan, and MSU) that are currently in the top 10. The season ends with a two-game set at Bowling Green.
This is both good and bad. Obviously, the schedule down the stretch is pretty brutal, with the Ohio and ND series on the road, and the MSU series as an away/neutral split. The good news is that this gives Michigan a huge opportunity to work its way back into the mix for an NCAA spot and a higher conference standing.
How does Michigan get back to the NCAA tournament?
Well, winning the CCHA tournament would be nice, but I’m not holding my breath. Michigan is going to have a fairly strong RPI for its record no matter how the season ends up; what could hold Michigan back is their sub-.500 record against TUCs, and their losses to Union and Northeastern, which (along with some other losses to CCHA teams) are hurting them in the common opponents comparison in the pairwise rankings. With only the GLI remaining outside the conference, Michigan is going to have to rely largely on improving its record against TUCs. The good news is that there are still plenty of those left on the schedule. With at least 13 regular-season games against TUCs, plus a couple in the playoffs, Michigan should have 15-17 more games against TUCs. Right now, Michigan has a record of 5-8-3 against TUCs. That winning percentage is not going to be good enough, especially given Michigan’s poor record against out-of-conference opponents. They’re going to have to get that TUC record up to at least .500, and probably higher.
To start with, Michigan needs at least a split in the GLI. A loss to BC won’t hurt too badly, but a win would be huge. After that, assuming a sweep against BG to end the season, Michigan is going to have to go through that 12-game CCHA stretch following the GLI with at least a .500 record, and it might be necessary to go as much as 8-4. While the RPI numbers are going to be good for Michigan, the TUC record is going to hurt them down the road if they don’t win more than half of their games the rest of the way.
A lot of things can change between now and March, aside from Michigan's performance. Every game over the next two months is critical, and it's going to be an exciting ride as Michigan tries to extend its consecutive tournament appearance streak.
Brady Hoke's first season as Michigan's head coach will come to an end on Tuesday, and most fans would agree that his rookie season at the helm has been a success. A win against Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl would tie the 2006 team's 11-2 campaign for the best record since going undefeated in 1997. I decided to take a close look at the numbers that these two teams put up this season, and try to organize them and make some sense out of them.
Here's the summary in chart form, read on for a more detailed analysis.
|Michigan Wolverines||Virginia Tech Hokies||Advantage|
|Key Wins||Nebraska 45-17 (Were #16, Now 9-3 and #21), Notre Dame 35-31 (NR, 8-4 and #26)||Georgia Tech 37-26 (Were #21, Now 8-4 and #30), Virginia 38-0 (NR, 8-4 and #33)||Slight Michigan|
|Losses||Michigan State 28-14 (Were #23, Now 10-3 and #12), Iowa 24-16 (NR, 7-5 and NR)||Clemson 23-3 (Were #13, Now 10-3 and #14), Clemson 38-10 (Were #20)||Slight VT|
5.34ypc, 235.7ypg, 31 TDs
4.53ypc, 188.7pyg, 25 TDs
4.07ypc, 129.1ypg, 13 TDs
3.32ypc, 107.8ypg, 15 TDs
8.6ypa, 187.4ypg, 20 TDs, 15 INTs
7.8ypa, 227ypg, 21 TDs, 9 INTs
6.54ypa, 188.5ypg, 12 TDs, 8 INTs
6.85ypa, 206.2ypg, 14 TDs, 15 INTs
|Special Teams- Returns||10.3yds punt return avg (#36), 19.8yds kick return avg (#99)||9yds punt return avg (#51), 19.7yds kick return avg (#100)||None|
|Special Teams- Kicking||33.7yds avg net punt (#107), 71.4% field goals (#70)||33.6yds avg net punt (#108), 82.4% field goals (#46)||Slight VT|
|Turnovers||+6 TO Margin, 0.5pg (#25)||+6 TO Margin, 0.46pg (#29)||None|
|Penalties||4.1 Penalties Per Game (#5)||5.8 Penalties Per Game (#58)||Michigan|
84% RZ Offense (#48),
69% RZ Defense (#4)
75% RZ Offense (#101),
68% RZ Defense (#3)
2.3 sacks per game (#27),
1.3 sacks allowed per game (#27)
2.9 sacks per game (#11),
1.2 sacks allowed per game (#21)
|3rd Down||48.4% 3rd Down Offense (#11), 36.1% 3rd Down Defense (#30)||46.3% 3rd Down Offense (#22), 32.4% 3rd Down Defense (#11)||None|
|4th Down||56.3% 4th Down Offense (#32), 38.9% 4th Down Defense (#21)||47.1% 4th Down Offense (#72), 31.6% 4th Down Defense (#8)||Slight Michigan|
Michigan Rush Offense vs. Virginia Tech Rush Defense
Michigan: #12 Rush Offense, 5.34ypc, 235.7ypg, 31 TDs
Virginia Tech: #17 Rush Defense, 3.32ypc, 107.8ypg, 15 TDs
Michigan has quite the two-headed rushing monster this season, with Denard being Denard -- leading the team with 1,163yds rushing at 5.6ypc, and Fitz finishing the season strong, giving the Wolverines two 1,000 yard rushers (1,011yds, 5.8ypc) for the first time in decades.
Virginia Tech, meanwhile, put up good defensive numbers against average teams, and not so great numbers against good ones. In a win over Georgia Tech they gave up 243 rushing yards, and in the two games that they lost to Clemson, they gave up 350 yards on the ground and looked bad in the process. With all the different looks they'll see from this Michigan offense, not to mention the fact that they'll be facing two legitimate running options on every single play, Michigan should be able to put up big numbers on the ground against this Hokie defense.
Michigan Rush Defense vs. Virginia Tech Rush Offense
Michigan: #34 Rush Defense, 4.07ypc, 129.1ypg, 13 TDs
Virginia Tech: #30 Rush Offense, 4.53ypc, 188.7ypg, 25 TDs
The front seven has made a pretty miraculous turnaround this season, a complete reversal of their performance last season, and has stopped some decent teams cold on the ground. We didn't have to face Wisconsin's dominant ground game this year, and Edwin Baker racked up 167yds on the ground against us in East Lansing, but other than that the run defense has been pretty solid.
The Hokies, on the other hand, have a quality talent in David Wilson, who ran for 1,627yds this season at 6.1ypc. He went off in his first meeting with Clemson, running for 123yds on 20 carries, but Clemson made some adjustments in the rematch and held him to just 32yds on 11 carries. I'm sure Mattison will be studying the film from that game very closely, and the Michigan defense should be able to keep Wilson under 100 yards on the day. Logan Thomas is somewhat of a threat out of the backfield as well, and will scramble if no one is open, but only ran for 416 yards on the year (3ypc) and is definitely no Denard.
Michigan Pass Offense vs. Virginia Tech Pass Defense
Michigan: #90 Pass Offense, 8.6ypa, 187.4ypg, 20 TDs, 15 INTs
Virginia Tech: #39 Pass Defense, 6.85ypa, 206.2ypg, 14 TDs, 15 INTs
Michigan's greatest weakness in the passing game is Virginia Tech's greatest strength defending the pass: interceptions. Denard has thrown 14 picks this season (Michigan is #97 in interceptions thrown), and Virginia Tech has picked off 15 passes this season, good enough to place them at #19 in the country in interceptions. If the Wolverines can keep a majority of their yardage on the ground, and make short, safe passes down the field to keep things mixed up, they'll be hard to stop. If Denard gets antsy and a couple of balls get thrown off his back foot, two or three interceptions might be too much for Michigan to overcome in what could end up being a close game.
Michigan Pass Defense vs. Virginia Tech Pass Offense
Michigan: #17 Pass Defense, 6.54ypa, 188.5ypg, 12 TDs, 8 INTs
Virginia Tech: #66 Pass Offense, 7.8ypa, 227ypg, 21 TDs, 9 INTs
Logan Thomas is kind of Denard Robinson Lite. He's thrown for almost 2,800yds, but has a completion percentage of 59%. He's thrown 9 interceptions, including three against Clemson, a two game series that saw him throw one total touchdown and barely completed 50% of his passes. His legs aren't anything to worry too much about, but he's an inconsistent player who shows flashes of greatness and follows them up with badly timed throws and a couple of dangerous passes into coverage.
This Wolverine Secondary isn't as much of a concern as it was early on in the season, as a couple of young players have stepped up big time, most notably Blake Countess. The safety positions have been a bit of a musical chair situation, but the players have settled into their roles and will be ready after weeks of preparation for the bowl game.
Michigan Special Teams vs. Virginia Tech Special Teams
Michigan: 33.7yds avg net punt (#107), 10.3yds punt return avg (#36), 19.8yds kick return avg (#99), 71.4% field goals (#70)
Virginia Tech: 33.6yds avg net punt (#108), 9yds punt return avg (#51), 19.7yds kick return avg (#100), 82.4% field goals (#46)
Both teams are comically bad at punting this season, and pretty average at punt returns. Kick returns are virtually identical as well (both terrible), and
VaTech has the edge at the Kicker position, but not by much. VT's starting placekicker will not play in the bowl game and will split kicking duties between the back-ups, as the starting kicker was arrested and suspended (HT: MGoShoe). This isn't last year's kicking game for Michigan. Don't expect any major plays in either direction on special teams.
Michigan vs. Virginia Tech: Miscellaneous
Michigan: +6 TO Margin, 0.5pg (#25), 4.1 Penalties Per Game (#5), 84% RZ Offense (#48), 69% RZ Defense (#4), 2.3 sacks per game (#27), 1.3 sacks allowed per game (#27), 48.4% 3DO (#11), 36.1% 3DD (#30), 56.3% 4DO (#32), 38.9% 4DD (#21)
Virginia Tech: +6 TO Margin, 0.46pg (#29), 5.8 Penalties Per Game (#58), 75% RZ Offense (#101), 68% RZ Defense (#3), 2.9 sacks per game (#11), 1.2 sacks allowed per game (#21), 46.3% 3DO (#22), 32.4% 3DD (#11), 47.1% 4DO (#72), 31.6% 4DD (#8)
Lots of fun stats to look at here, make of them what you will. Expect to see both quarterbacks get sacked once or twice, and depending on which refs will be in the bowl, assuming trends hold, Michigan could continue to be one of the most disciplined teams in the country, averaging only 4 penalties per game, compared to almost six for Virginia Tech.
Even though on paper the 2012 Sugar Bowl looks like a pretty evenly matched game, I like Michigan a lot. Clemson has given this defense plenty of film to watch, and has given Mattison the blueprint to stop both Thomas and Wilson. Michigan's ground game should be too much for the Hokies to handle, and I could see both Denard and Fitz going over 100yds on the ground, with maybe another 200 through the air.
Michigan wants to give it's seniors and first year coach a huge, program-changing victory in it's first BCS Bowl Game since 2007, and I think they're going to do it pretty easily. I'll say 38-14. What say you?
If you read only one wallpaper explanation this year I hope it's this one because this time I have an offering AND a request.
In between family events and having my throwing motion critiqued by Al Borges at Chuck E. Cheese's, I scraped together a little time during our Christmas visit to Ann Arbor to create this Sugar Bowl wallpaper. I've never been to Louisiana but I have been on the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' ride at Disneyland more than once so I know a little something about how a sleepy, firefly-occupied swamp is supposed to look. One of my girls is Princess Tiana-crazed at the moment so I was also inspired by the bayou color palette from Disney's 'The Princess and the Frog'. Conveniently, it turns out that nighttime ambiance in the Louisiana swampland adheres strictly to the athletic department's brand guidelines - even the fireflies know that the split Block M is no longer welcome in these parts.
The images below are previews only. You can get the widescreen, 4:3, iPad and mobile wallpapers at The Art. The Art. The Art!.
I have received kind comments, emails and tweets from many of you over the last two seasons. I create Michigan football-inspired artwork to satisfy a personal creative need and as a way to participate in the fan community so your enjoyment of my work is very gratifying. Some of you have asked if you can donate money to say thanks or pay royalties for hanging prints of my artwork on your walls. Beyond getting me into trouble (again) with the University's legal representation, money exchanging hands doesn't feel right given the spirit of my work.
So, if you're looking for a tangible way to tell me "thanks" I have a non-monetary idea that could be really fun. For the last decade I've coached local youth flag football, and for the last 5 years my family and I have coached and supported the teams at Sunshine Acres Children's Home in Mesa, Arizona. Sunshine Acres takes in children whose parents cannot or will not care for them. I think this year's flag football team will be covered on the budget front so I have an idea that I think will have a way bigger impact on our kids than your dollars anyway.
Here's how you can help:
1. Become a virtual fan by liking the Acres Football Facebook page. The page is pretty sparse at the moment but will be updated as the season goes on. Our first game is Saturday, January 14.
2. Check the Facebook page during the season for game recaps and to post an encouraging comment or two for our players. I'd love to have a few fun comments from out-of-town fans to share with the kids each week.
During most seasons we only have a fraction of the fans that our opponents bring to the field, so we invite our friends and families to act as partisan seat fillers. Fans have a noticeable positive impact on our kids' energy and excitement and it would be pretty cool to be able to tell our players that they have fans all over the country following them on Facebook. Last season was the first where we had enough people for a postgame arm tunnel and, after several seasons of going "feated" (the exact opposite of undefeated) both of our teams made their respective Super Bowls with our 6-8 year old team winning the big trophy for the first time. You can see that championship squad in the image above (yes, I am just as crazy about my Acres football team as I am about Michigan).
The teams we play against are made up of kids who (for the most part) are playing with the specific goal of developing into better football players. While we usually have a few players with strong athletic ability, many of them are raw first-time players without much experience and all of them have burdens much heavier than any child should carry. The chips, as they say, are stacked in an orientation not to our favor, but our players fight on and learn great things about themselves in the process.
Go Acres! Go Blue!
Only the SEC has yet to have had one team play in a bowl game; they’ll finally have one team play on Friday (Mississippi State). We round in to mid-bowl season form this weekend, with 15 games being played between Friday and Tuesday.
For those of you keeping track, Conference USA teams are 2-0 (Marshall and Southern Miss). Big 12 teams are 1-0 (Missouri). Big Ten teams are 1-0 (Purdue). MAC teams are 2-1 in bowl games (Temple and Ohio University won; Western Michigan lost). Mountain West teams are 2-2 (Wyoming and San Diego State lost; TCU and Boise State won). Sun Belt teams are 1-1 (Louisiana-Lafayette won, Florida International lost). ACC teams are 0-1 (North Carolina). PAC-12 teams are 0-1 (Arizona State). WAC teams are 0-3 (Utah State, Louisiana Tech, and Nevada).
During the regular season, the Upset Watch reviewed picks from the previous week, noted the bad picks, and pointed out a few games to give the underdog some credit in, even if it was only in Vegas. It also looked at one or two sure-fire favorites (two when Michigan wasn’t playing).
Because this is the bowl season (and our last hurrah for the 2011-2012 regular season), we’ll cover each of the bowl games, splitting them up by week.
As a reminder, I’ll have more picks on Saturday, December 31st, before noon, covering the games through January 2nd. The Michigan game will be covered on the January 3rd posting.
Be sure to check out my website, Before Visiting the Sportsbook, throughout the week, for more content.
Marshall (7-6) +5.0 Florida International (8-5). Result: Marshall 20 Florida International 10.
Boise State (12-1) -13.5 Arizona State (6-7). Result: Boise State 56 Arizona State 24 [Props to Trebor and BrewCityBlue for correctly predicting Boise State would cover].
Southern Miss (12-2) -5.5 Nevada (7-6). Result: Southern Miss 24 Nevada 17 [Props to Trebor for correctly predicting Southern Miss would cover].
Missouri (8-5) -3.5 North Carolina (7-6) (@ Shreveport, LA). Result: Missouri 41 North Carolina 24 [Props to Trebor and BrewCityBlue for correctly predicting Missouri would cover].
TCU (11-2) -9.5 Louisiana Tech (8-5) (@ San Diego, CA). Result: TCU 31 Louisiana Tech 24 [Props to BrewCityBlue for correctly predicting Louisiana Tech would cover].
Western Michigan (7-6) +2.5 Purdue (7-6). Result: Purdue 37 Western Michigan 32.
Only three bowl games that take place between now and Friday will have a top 25 team playing in them. In a traditional PAC-12/Big 12 matchup, the Holiday Bowl will pair California and (#24) Texas (8:00 PM EST/ESPN/ESPN3) on Wednesday night. On Thursday night, Heisman trophy winner QB Robert Griffin III leads (#12) Baylor against Washington in the Alamo Bowl (9:00 PM EST/ESPN/ESPN3). A late Friday night game will pair Iowa against (#14) Oklahoma in the Insight Bowl (10:00 PM EST/ESPN/ESPN3).
Louisville (7-5) +3.0 North Carolina State (7-5) (@ Charlotte, NC). The Cardinals are 104th in total offense (94th rushing, 79th passing); North Carolina State is 93rd (107th rushing, 52nd passing). Louisville is 23rd in total defense (10th rushing, 61st passing); the Wolfpack are 39th (41st rushing, 55th passing). Louisville leads the series 3-0, with a 29-10 victory over North Carolina State in 2007, 35-14 in 1994, and 26-2 in 1951. North Carolina State is 13-11-1 all time in bowl games (4-1 SU in last 5; 4-0-1 ATS in last 5; 3-0 ATS as a favorite in last 5). Louisville is 7-7-1 all time in bowl games (3-2 SU in last 5; 2-3 ATS in last 5; 0-2 ATS as an underdog in last 5). Louisville Coach Charlie Strong is 14-12 (15-11 ATS, 8-4 ATS underdog); North Carolina State Coach Tom O’Brien is 85-52 (68-53-3 ATS, 30-31-2 ATS favorite) since 2001. North Carolina State is 2-4 ATS as a favorite this year (5-6-1 overall ATS); Louisville is 6-0 ATS as an underdog this year (8-4 overall ATS). Louisville’s last bowl game was the 2010 Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl, a 31-28 win over Southern Miss; North Carolina State’s last bowl game was the 2010 Champs Sports Bowl, a 23-7 win over West Virginia. Take Louisville to cover the points.
Toledo (8-4) -1.0 Air Force (7-5) (@ Washington, DC). The Rockets are 8th in total offense (14th rushing, 29th passing); Air Force is 19th (2nd rushing, 113th passing). Toledo is 76th in total defense (28th rushing, 109th passing); the Falcons are 70th (113th rushing, 6th passing). These teams have never met before. Toledo is 7-4 all time in bowl games (2-3 SU in last 5; 2-3 ATS in last 5; 2-2 ATS as a favorite in last 5). Air Force is 10-10-1 all time in bowl games (2-3 SU in last 5; 3-2 ATS in last 5; 2-2 ATS as an underdog in last 5). Air Force Coach Troy Calhoun is 34-18 (28-20-1 ATS, 10-7-1 ATS underdog); Toledo Coach Matt Campbell is 0-0 (0-0-0 ATS, 0-0-0 ATS favorite). Toledo is 5-3 ATS as a favorite this year (7-5 overall ATS); Air Force is 2-2 ATS as an underdog this year (5-7 overall ATS). Toledo’s last bowl game was the 2010 Little Caesars Bowl, a 34-32 loss to Florida International; Air Force’s last bowl game was the 2010 Independence Bowl, a 14-7 win over Georgia Tech. Take Toledo to cover the points.
Texas (7-5) -3.0 California (7-5) (@ San Diego, CA). The Golden Bears are 37th in total offense (48th rushing, 38th passing); Texas is 45th (19th rushing, 85th passing). California is 26th in total defense (37th rushing, 43rd passing); the Longhorns are 14th (11th rushing, 47th passing). Texas leads the series 5-0, with a 56-15 victory over California in 1970, 17-0 in 1969, 28-3 in 1961, and 33-0 in 1959. Texas is 25-22-2 all time in bowl games (4-1 SU in last 5; 2-3 ATS in last 5; 1-2 ATS as a favorite in last 5). California is 10-9-1 all time in bowl games (4-1 SU in last 5; 2-3 ATS in last 5; 0-0 ATS as an underdog in last 5). California Coach Jeff Tedford is 79-47 (64-58-1 ATS, 16-16-1 ATS underdog); Texas Coach Mack Brown is 113-28 (70-67-3 ATS, 55-48-2 ATS favorite) since 2001. Texas is 5-3 ATS as a favorite this year (6-6 overall ATS); California is 2-2 ATS as an underdog this year (7-5 overall ATS). Texas’s last bowl game was the 2009 BCS National Championship, a 37-21 loss to Alabama; California’s last bowl game was the 2009 Poinsettia Bowl, a 37-27 win over Utah. Take Texas to cover the points.
Florida State (8-4) -2.5 Notre Dame (8-4) (@ Orlando, FL). The Seminoles are 73rd in total offense (99th rushing, 34th passing); Notre Dame is 33rd (51st rushing, 33rd passing). Florida State is 6th in total defense (2nd rushing, 18th passing); the Irish are 34th (58th rushing, 34th passing). Florida State leads the series 4-2, with a 37-0 victory over Notre Dame in 2003, 31-26 in 1996 (Orange Bowl), 23-16 in 1994, and 19-13 in 1981; Notre Dame defeated Florida State 34-24 in 2002 and 31-24 in 1993. Florida State is 23-14-2 all time in bowl games (4-1 SU in last 5; 5-0 ATS in last 5; 1-0 ATS as a favorite in last 5). Notre Dame is 12-11-1 all time in bowl games (2-3 SU in last 5; 2-3 ATS in last 5; 2-2 ATS as an underdog in last 5). Notre Dame Coach Brian Kelly is 71-32 (52-41-4 ATS, 20-9-2 ATS underdog); Florida State Coach Jimbo Fisher is 18-8 (14-12 ATS, 12-8 ATS favorite). Florida State is 6-4 ATS as a favorite this year (6-6 overall ATS); Notre Dame is 0-1 ATS as an underdog this year (5-7 overall ATS). Florida State’s last bowl game was the 2010 Chick-fil-A Bowl, a 26-17 win over South Carolina; Notre Dame’s last bowl game was the 2010 Sun Bowl, a 33-17 win over Miami (FL). Take Florida State to cover the points.
Baylor (9-3) -9.0 Washington (7-5) (@ San Antonio, TX). The Huskies are 57th in total offense (67th rushing, 51st passing); Baylor is 2nd (18th rushing, 5th passing). Washington is 94th in total defense (54th rushing, 116th passing); the Bears are 114th (102nd rushing, 112th passing). Baylor leads the series 3-1, with a 17-14 victory over Washington in 1965, 13-7 in 1955, and 34-7 in 1954; Washington defeated Baylor 35-14 in 1964. Baylor is 8-9 all time in bowl games (2-3 SU in last 5; 2-3 ATS in last 5; 1-2 ATS as a favorite in last 5). Washington is 15-14-1 all time in bowl games (3-2 SU in last 5; 4-1 ATS in last 5; 3-0 ATS as an underdog in last 5). Washington Coach Steve Sarkisian is 19-18 (20-17-0 ATS, 11-12-0 ATS underdog); Baylor Coach Art Briles is 58-53 (54-52-1 ATS, 30-20-1 ATS favorite). Baylor is 6-2 ATS as a favorite this year (8-4 overall ATS); Washington is 3-3 ATS as an underdog this year (7-5 overall ATS). Baylor’s last bowl game was the 2010 Texas Bowl, a 38-14 win over Illinois; Washington’s last bowl game was the 2010 Holiday Bowl, a 19-7 win over Nebraska. Take Baylor to cover the points.
Brigham Young (9-3) -1.0 Tulsa (8-4) (@ Dallas, TX). The Cougars are 41st in total offense (52nd rushing, 46th passing); Tulsa is 24th (25th rushing, 41st passing). BYU is 17th in total defense (21st rushing, 29th passing); the Golden Hurricane are 90th (38th rushing, 118th passing). Brigham Young leads the series 6-1, with a 49-24 victory over Tulsa in 2006, 49-39 in 1997, 55-30 in 1996, 45-35 in 1995, 38-15 in 1984, and 25-7 in 1971. Tulsa defeated Brigham Young 55-47 in 2007. Brigham Young is 11-17-1 all time in bowl games (4-1 SU in last 5; 3-1 ATS in last 5; 2-1 ATS as a favorite in last 5). Tulsa is 8-9 all time in bowl games (4-1 SU in last 5; 5-1 ATS in last 5; 2-1 ATS underdog in last 5). Brigham Young Coach Bronco Mendenhall is 65-24 (48-37-1 ATS, 33-26-0 ATS favorite); Tulsa Coach Bill Blankenship is 8-4 (7-5 ATS, 2-3 ATS underdog). Brigham Young is 5-4 ATS as a favorite this year (8-4 overall ATS); Tulsa is 2-3 ATS as an underdog this year (7-5 overall ATS). Tulsa’s last bowl game was the 2010 Hawai’i Bowl, a 62-35 victory over Hawai’i; Brigham Young’s last bowl game was the 2010 New Mexico Bowl, a 52-24 win over UTEP. Take Brigham Young to cover the points.
Iowa State (6-6) +2.5 Rutgers (8-4) (@ Bronx, NY). The Scarlet Knights are 100th in total offense (115th rushing, 46th passing); Iowa State is 55th (35th rushing, 75th passing). Rutgers is 13th in total defense (57th rushing, 10th passing); the Cyclones are 99th (100th rushing, 72nd passing). These teams have never met. Rutgers is 4-2 all time in bowl games (3-2 SU in last 5; 4-0-1 ATS in last 5; 3-0-1 ATS as a favorite in last 5). Iowa State is 3-7 all time in bowl games (2-3 SU in last 5; 3-1-1 ATS in last 5; 3-1-1 ATS as an underdog in last 5). Iowa State Coach Paul Rhodes is 18-19 (20-16 ATS, 13-10-0 ATS underdog); Rutgers Coach Greg Schiano is 67-67 (68-57-1 ATS, 23-26 ATS favorite). Rutgers is 4-2 ATS as a favorite this year (8-4 overall ATS); Iowa State is 7-3 ATS as an underdog this year (7-5 overall ATS). Rutgers’s last bowl game was the 2009 St. Petersburg Bowl, a 45-24 win over UCF; Iowa State’s last bowl game was the 2009 Insight Bowl, a 14-13 win over Minnesota. Take Iowa State to cover the points.
Mississippi State (6-6) -6.5 Wake Forest (6-6) (@ Nashville, TN). The Bulldogs are 87th in total offense (45th rushing, 92nd passing); Wake Forest is 76th (96th rushing, 36th passing). Mississippi State is 43rd in total defense (65th rushing, 23rd passing); the Demon Deacons are 75th (70th rushing, 71st passing). These teams have never met. Mississippi State is 8-6 all time in bowl games (4-1 SU in last 5; 4-1 ATS in last 5; 1-0 ATS as a favorite in last 5). Wake Forest is 6-3 all time in bowl games (4-1 SU in last 5; 4-1 ATS in last 5; 2-1 ATS as an underdog in last 5). Wake Forest Coach Jim Grobe is 68-66 (63-63-4 ATS, 39-26-3 ATS underdog); Mississippi State Coach Dan Mullen is 20-17 (19-17 ATS, 10-6 ATS favorite). Mississippi State is 4-3 ATS as a favorite this year (6-6 overall ATS); Wake Forest is 5-2-1 ATS as an underdog this year (7-4-1 overall ATS). Mississippi State’s last bowl game was the 2010 Gator Bowl, a 52-14 win over Michigan; Wake Forest’s last bowl game was the 2008 EagleBank Bowl, a 29-19 win over Navy. Take Mississippi State to cover the points.
Iowa (7-5) +16.0 Oklahoma (9-3) (@ Tempe, AZ). The Hawkeyes are 70th in total offense (77th rushing, 56th passing); Oklahoma is 4th (49th rushing, 4th passing). Iowa is 68th in total defense (64th rushing, 66th passing); the Sooners are 62nd (49th rushing, 83rd passing). Oklahoma leads the series 1-0, with a 21-6 victory over Iowa in 1979. Oklahoma is 26-17-1 all time in bowl games (2-3 SU in last 5; 1-4 ATS in last 5; 1-1 ATS as a favorite in last 5). Iowa is 14-10-1 all time in bowl games (3-2 SU in last 5; 4-1 ATS in last 5; 1-3 ATS as an underdog in last 5). Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz is 92-46 (75-56-3 ATS, 22-16-3 ATS underdog) since 2001; Oklahoma Coach Bob Stoops is 118-29 (74-67-4 ATS, 55-50-3 ATS favorite) since 2001. Oklahoma is 6-5 ATS as a favorite this year (6-6 overall ATS); Iowa is 1-3 ATS as an underdog this year (5-7 overall ATS). Oklahoma’s last bowl game was the 2010 Fiesta Bowl, a 48-20 win over Connecticut; Iowa’s last bowl game was the 2010 Insight Bowl, a 27-24 win over Missouri. Take Iowa to cover the points.
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