Happy New Year, everyone. I hope everyone had a safe and fun night. Lets have a Go Blue 2009!!!
Actually, i'd settle for a turniquet to stop the bleeding. The last two days have been dim for the Bowl Chronicles as its hemorraged for a loss of 4.2 units. Thats a little more than half the profits we had won during bowl season vanishing under the weight of bad picks (I'm looking at you BC and Minny!!). Thats not the way we had hoped 2008 would end.
We're soldiering on with today's games knowing that with a change in the calendar also comes with a chance of strategy. We've been chirping all along that our main focus is taking the underdog in the post Christmas December games. Those puppies ended up 9-6 ATS since the 25th. When January rolls around, the favorites have a tendency to strike back. Over the last nine bowl seasons, January favorites are 48-26-1 ATS (7-4 last year). We've been pointing people to live dogs for much of the last week, however, dont be surprised to see us eating some chalk as the remainder of the bowl season plays out.
Outback Bowl, Tampa Bay, 11 am
South Carolina vs Iowa. Lines, Iowa -3.5, O/U 43
This game begins and ends for me with one man: Shonn Greene. Oh yeah, he's back, my favorite breakout player of the 2008 season. Readers may remember me touting the kid all fall as the Iowa Hawkeyes became the biggest profit wheel of my Big 10 Picks diaries. He's primed for a huge game today and he will be the biggest factor in the eventual outcome of this game today.
Both teams come in with physical, athletic defenese. Both are among the best tackling teams I've seen play this year. The difference, however, is the other side of the ball.
The Gamecocks have nothing to lean on. The run game has been inconsistent at best. Its 108th ranked in the nation trying to carve out yards against the 10th ranked rushing defense. When the Cocks go to throw, the results have not been good either. Spurrier still cant settle on a QB and his quick hook after mistakes I feel has ruined the position in Columbia. Stephen Garcia will start, but I would be shocked if The Visor does not pull him for Chriss Smelley at some point in this contest. Hopefully it comes after a 2-pick first half or something. I love the D-Line of Iowa to own the line of scrimmage and make life miserable for whatever QB is back there.
The Iowa defense has held nine foes to less than 20 points this year. Only one team scored more than 23. South Carolina has the 92dn ranked scoring offense. I dont think they get out of the teens in this one.
When Iowa has the ball, it wont be easy either. But, they have that meal ticket to cash in on that South Carolina does not. Shonn Greene has eclipsed the century mark in all 12 games this season. Iowa is very patient with its run game and will hammer all day. Greene will not only get his 100 yards, but expect a couple of back breaking home runs in the second half as it pounds on the Cocks' D. They've scored 30.25 ppg this season, which puts them in the top quarter of the country, and by milking Green to open up the pass for Stanzi, I expect them get to come close to hitting their average mark.
Turnovers will also swing this game to Iowa. South Carolina coughed up 34 turnovers. The QBs have been turnover machines. Iowa had a couple bad turnover games back in September, but otherwise have been one of the best ball security teams in the country. Iowa is 29th in TO margin, South Carolina 102nd. I love those numbers going in Iowa's favor today.
In conclusion, lets go back to Greene. He's gonna go off for another 100, but I dont think USC can even get 100 yards on the ground as a team. Indeed, they only average 98.33 rusing yards per game. Here's a quick thumbnail rule for handicapping the bowls: The running game is important. How important? In the more than 400 bowls played since 1991, the team that has more yards rushing has covered the spread at a 79% clip. And, the team that has more rushing attempts covered at a 75% clip.
I like Iowa to win both of those stats today. They have an identity and will stick to it.
The Pick: Iowa -3...3 Units....I bought this down to 3, costing me $30 in extra juice....Ok, Iowa, you might be the league's best chance to actually win a bowl game. No pressure, or anything. Also, I ignore the Ferentz rumors distracting this team. Inexplicably, Captain Kirk is a hot commodoity each off season. These are rumors the kids at Iowa probably dont even blink at anymore.
Gator Bowl, Jacksonville, 1 pm
Nebraska vs Clemson. Lines, Clemson -1, O/U 55
While we're supposed to start taking favorites now that it is January, we're playing the short dog Nebraska in the annual Gator Bowl. The Huskers come into town with the proverbial explosive Big 12 offensive attack. It's something that Clemson did not see all season in the offensively challenged ACC.
Husker QB Joe Ganz threw for over 3,300 yards, but his season performance was completely overshadowed by all the other QBs in the league. I think he catches Clemson off guard all day long as the Tigers, despite some of their impressive defensive numbers. Nebraska comes to town with the best QB and offense Clemson has seen all year. The only other comparable is to Alabama and we saw how the Tide picked them apart many weeks ago. Nebraska also gets RB Marlon Lucky back from injury which will only make them more balanced and dongerous for Clemson to contain. Oklahoma limited Nebraska to 28 points, but the Huskers scored over 30 points in all their other games this season.
Clemson will get its lick in. The Cornhuskers have been vulnerable on the ground at times this year, giving up 24 rushing scores and have an average y.p.c D. But, I'll take Pellini's chops as a defensive coach to come up with a gameplan to bottle up the James Davis and CJ Spiller show. Pellini will find away to put pressure on Cullen Harper and we'll see just how clear the QB advantage is in this game. Ganz has his offense rolling, but Harper has struggled all year and has as many TD as INTs. I like the Huskers to force more mistakes, especially with their front seven.
Nebraska wants to put a stamp on their season and announce that they'll be factor for next year. They look at the Gator Bowl as unfinished business. Clemson played their tails off to allow their interim head coach Dabo Sweeney to get the fulltime job. That was their goal the back half of the season. That mission was accomplished. They look at this bowl as a reward. My gut tells me this is an intangible edge to Nebraska.
The ACC is 3-5 SU in bowls this season. Now one of their middle of the pack squads faces off with an explosive offense from the best league in the land. I'll take my chances with Nebraska.
The Pick: Nebraska +1, 2 Units; Over, 55 1 Unit.....Clemson is always unreliable in the big spots. And, I just dont think they're ready for a game thats played in the 30s. Nebraska kills them today with their balance. There's also a clear edge in the field goal kicking department for Nebraska. In a coin flip, I'll take that edge to the bank. Although, I dont think we'll need it. Huskers roll 41-28.
Capital One Bowl, Orlando, 1pm
Michigan St vs Georgia. Lines, UGA -10, O/U 57
By all accounts, UGA should wallop Sparty today. The stadium in Orlando will be nothing but a woodshed. I'd take the Bulldogs in a heartbeat had the line stayed at -7. I could see myself buying down a hook and laying that chalk.
But, I am always hesitant when the public backs a team and that has what has been going on the day. This line was 7.5 24 hours ago. It was at 9 this morning and we approach 30 minutes to kick, it has mushroomed further up to -10.
One thing I have noticed this bowl season is when the public lines up on a team, driving the line hard in one direction, the public has lost their respective shirts. Since Christmas, the public has lined up with WVA, Cal, Missou, BC, and Pitt. Those were all losers. The public did win with Florida St and Kansas. All seven of those games saw more than a one point line shift in the final 24 hours before kickoff.
I hate betting with the public.
Am I really going to put cash on Sparty? Hey, they are 20-15 ATS as a dog away from home over the last decade.
Ok, I'll say it: Ohio St, Penn St and Iowa all have better defenses than Georgia. I think that will allow MSU to have a bit more success on offense today than they did earlier in the season in those league showdowns. I think MSU can get into the high 20s today.
Georgia has had turnover issues this season. I like MSU's big play back 7 especially Greg Jones and Otis Wiley. Stafford is a heady pro prospect, but I dont think he throws the best ball and MSU can get a key turnover or two.
You have to wonder if MSU has the full attention of the Bulldogs today. It might take them until the second half to take Sparty seriously. By then, it will be a dogfight.
The Big 10 has won four straight Capital One bowls......and, in these two early SEC/Big 10 showdowns, the SEC is just 2-7 ATS as a favorite, with one cover by the hook and the other in OT. Interesting.
The Pick: MSU +10, 1 Unit; Over 57, 1 Unit.......ok, I guess I'm not playing the favorites after all. Or, ignoring the Totals. My gut is telling me its ie to fade the public. I also think we'll see some fireworks. Remember, all the teams UGA faced this season with top notch running backs really ran all over them. Bulldogs win this one 38-30.
Rose Bowl, Pasadena, 5pm
Penn St vs USC. Lines, USC -10, O/U 45
Alright, I'm killed on Overs, so I am changing horses.
Give me some of today's under in the Granddaddy. I dont see either defenses giving up ground in this one. USC, despite their glitz, has had problems this year against better defenses forging an offensive identity. And, we all know about USC's D. There one of history's greatest, at least statistically, and Penn St is not going to show up and score a bunch of touchdowns.
I see this game playing out like the Rose Bowl did exactly two years ago today. Dont forget UM-USC was tied at 3 at the break. We could see a repeat of that in thise. Both teams will feel each other out and will look to land physical blows and play power football during the first half. Both teams will play conservative and field position.
I like both defenses to limit the number of big plays throughout the game. There will not be quick scores.
Unlike the aforementioned 2007 Rose Bowl, I dont think USC has the firepower to just turn it up a couple of notches coming out of the half the way they exposed Michigan. Penn St is more solid in the back four and USC is not as explosive out wide. Thats a big difference in the matchup.
Penn St will hang in this one the whole way through. USC wins, but in a tight, defensive slugfest.
The Pick: Penn St +10, 1 Unit; Under 45, 1 Unit.....i really dont see either team creeping to far past the 20s, if at all. 21-13 sounds like a likely score
Orange Bowl, Miami, 820pm
Cincy vs VT. Lines, Cincy -2, O/U 42
I feel so stupid taking those underdogs from the Big 10. Yuck.
In Brian Kelly I trust. VT has a pedestrian offense and when they do throw expect the Cincy secondary with Mike Mickens to create turnovers. I've played Cincy quite a bit during their march the second half of the season. I think they're the better team tonight.
The Pick: Cincy -2, 2 Units.....about time to follow my on words and get on the favorite train. It could have been so easy to win cash today, but I refused to follow the rule I have been talking about. I be with stoopid.
Second update with the Minny-KU and LSU-GT games.....oh, and, by the way, Wanny you blow. That's your bowl performance?!?!?! Panthers are going nowhere with him running the show.
Just updated the Diary with my guesses for the Sun and Music City bowls......another update on the two evening games to come after the UM hoops game
Yesterday broke a six diary winning streak for the Bowl Chronicles. Holy moly, was that WMU pick a clunker or what? If we had received a few extra points in the Holiday Bowl last night, the damage would have been minimal. Instead, Chronicles registered a loss of 1.8 units. But, it’s still up 6 units during this bowl run and with a quintet of games today, hopefully we can unearth a couple of winners.
Today’s games offer us some interesting challenges. We have a rematch. We have two ACC schools favored to beat pair of SEC clubs. That’s compelling because the ACC is 6-0 ATS in bowls this year, while SEC Bowl Dogs are historically a winning play. We also have three teams playing in their home state, an edge that has seen those clubs go 16-9 ATS since 2006, including 5-3 this year. A lot of trends collide in these games, so leaning on history this afternoon means you’re ignoring history as well.
Of course, you could just play all five underdogs on the blind. Remember, the Chronicles primary bowl season rule is to play the favorites before Christmas and the underdogs after during the December bowl slate. The favorites went 4-3 before Christmas, while the dogs are 7-3 since. That equates to a little more than 4 units of profit just by adhering strictly to that basic strategy. History tells us that by playing the dogs today, you stand a good shot at no worse than 3-2. However, two of those dogs are playing teams in their home state. Once again, history collides.
Looks like I may have to do this the old fashioned way: Throwing darts.
Armed Forces Bowl, Fort Worth, noon
Air Force vs. Houston.. Lines, Houston -3, O/U 64
This game gives me a bad flashback to last year’s Armed Forces Bowl where I saw a nice chunk of change on this very same Air Force program go down the drain when their senior QB, who had been dominating Cal, tore his knee midway through the game. The Falcons did not have a chance after that.
This game also gives me flashbacks to mid September when these two teams played an intriguing 31-28 game won by the Falcons. The 2008-09 Bowl Season began with a rematch between Navy and Wake Forest, with the Deacons, inspired to get even with the Middies for an earlier defeat, pushing past Navy for a late win.
I feel revenge will win out again in this one.
In the original contest, the game was played amid Hurricane Ike conditions. That clearly helped Air Force’s ground attack against the pass first, pass second, pass third offense of the Cougars. In better conditions today, expect the Cougars offense to be more prolific and harder for the Falcons option offense to keep pace. Also, the Cougars were getting used to a new head coach and a slew of first year contributors on offense. Whatever inconsistency those personnel issues created during the first month of the season have completely evaporated.
Over the final eight games of the season, Houston has averaged 45.3 ppg and has not been held below 38 points. Against fellow bowl teams, the Cougars have averaged 37.5 ppg. I think they can hang 40 points on the Falcons this afternoon. Not only do they have revenge on their mind, but I think the Houston offense wants to send a message today. The Cougars led the nation in offense, scored over 40 points in 7 of 8 league games, yet placed only one player—an offensive lineman—on the first-team, all-league team. I think that burns them a bit inside and will motivate them today to let it all hang out.
Remarkably, Air Force won the first game between these two without completing a single pass. They won’t be able to do that again today. The Falcons will not go quietly. They will have tons of success running their option and with the return from injury of TE Travis Dekker and WR Ty Paffett (neither played in the first game) will have some downfield weapons this time around to puncture the vulnerable Cougar Defense.
It won’t be enough as the Cougars, behind stud QB Casey Kennan, win this game on the strength of a pair of explosive fourth quarter drives. Kennan needs four TD passes to break Andre Ware’s single season school record. He’ll spend the fourth quarter padding the new mark.
The Pick: Houston -3 (-130), 1 Unit and Over 65, 1 Unit……the teams combined to score 57 points back in September in less than ideal conditions. Both teams have developed new weapons since then and are playing better. That should translate into at least one more touchdown and sneak this over. I see a 44-37 final score in favor of the Cougars
Sun Bowl, El Paso, 2pm
Pittsburgh vs. Oregon St. Lines, OSU -2.5, O/U 51
For my tastes, this game begins and ends with the loss of Jacquizz Rodgers for Oregon St. The four games played without this year (two at the start of the year before his discovery and two at the end after his injury) have been disasters for Oregon St. Like, Titanic, Hindenburg and Mt. St. Helen combing forces disaster. The Beavers were outscored by more than 70 points in those games.
I dont expect a similar blowout today, but I do expect Pitt to eventually get it down against the outgunned Beavers. Not only is Jacquizz out, but so is his brother WR James Rodgers. While not as electric as his younger brother, his removal from the equation really benefits Pitt strategically. The Panthers can now matchup their top cover corner Aaron Berry on OSU's Sammy Strougher. If both were in the lineup, I would not like Pitt's chances trying to contain both. But, with Berry locking down, I think Pitt can handle this and keep OSU's passing game from going too nuts. I also like Pitts physical and active defensive line to get the better of the Beavers and force their smallish quarterback into bad passes and deflections. Without their top two playmakers, the going will be rough all day for OSU.
When Pitt has the ball, expect them to pound, pound and pound with LeSean McCoy. Stanford, Utah, Penn St and Oregon ran up and down the field on the Beavers. Pitt may not be as good top to bottom as those clubs, but it can take over games against just about anyone on the legs of McCoy. This may be his college swan song, and I expect an outing today that will put him near the top of his RB class in the upcoming draft.
Pitt has topped 7 bowl clubs this year. Their formula is simple, and they've executed it against some of the better defenses out there like WVA and USF. I dont think this is too big of a chore today.
The Pick: Pitt +2.5, 1 Unit.......am I really investing in Wanny? Yes, yes I am. I just feel without the Rodgers pair that Pitt is the better team. Plus, remember how I mentioned yesterday about Pac 10 Dogs in bowl games? League favorites, on the other hand, in the bowls represent the other end of the spectrum: Pac 10 bowl favorites, not named USC, are 9-14 ATS
Music City Bowl, Nashville, 3:30pm
Vanderbilt vs. Boston College. Lines, BC -3, O/U 41
These teams are mirror images of each other: tough, stout defenses that excel at getting takeaways and not a whole hell of a lot of offense. On the surface, history points us the Commodores. Not only are they playing in their home state (a 17-9 ATS run in recent seasons), but their also a SEC team catching points, which is another historical benchmark.
But, I am bucking history on this one. Frankly those above historical markers are the only thing Vandy has going for it today. This team had an amazing run of takeaways early in the season to stake itself out to a 5-0 record, paving the way for this bowl bid. Since then, however, they’ve dropped ball games to the likes of Mississippi St, Duke and Tennessee, all last place teams in their respective divisions. Vandy scored a measly 13.25 ppg in closing the season on a 2-6 run.
We have the third to last worst offense in the land, going up against a BC defense that ranked sixth in total D, eighth in rushing D and 19th in scoring D. Vandy will struggle all day with the Eagle defensive front and be in way too many third and longs to have any amount of success over the course of a full four quarters. If BC plays it’s ‘A’ game, we may even see a shutout.
BC’s offense is not that great either and they’re pressing their backup into duty today due to injury. But, their bread is buttered with the power run and as long as they stay true to their identity, they will wear out the Commodores. While Vandy struggled down the stretch, even against woeful teams, the Eagles went 6-3 down the stretch, all against fellow bowlers, and averaged 24.5 ppg, in those contests. They played the tougher schedule down the stretch and performed much better than the Commodores did.
Vandy’s meal ticket all season has been its turnover ratio, but they’re playing a BC team today that ranks right up there with them in the category. The Eagles actually lead the nation in takeaways and whatever momentum-changing, short-field creating turnover the Dores get, the Eagles ought to be able to return the favor.
The Pick: BC -3, 1 Unit…….expect Vandy to play lights out, bolstered by the home crowd, in the early going. In the second half, however, BC’s power will take over and the Commodores shortcomings on offense will rear its ugly head. The Eagles have won a bowl game in eight consecutive seasons, logging a 7-1 ATS mark (they’re 11-2 SU, 10-3 ATS in their last 13 postseason games). They’ll make it 9 in a row with an aesthetically ugly 27-13 win.
Insight Bowl, Phoenix, 6pm
Minnesota vs Kansas. Lines, KU -9, O/U 60
Its been an uneasy strech of games recently for the Chronicles, so we're falling back on an old reliable for this one. Bowls dogs of 7 to 16.5 are 64-36-2, including 4-2 this year, ATS. That puts us on Minnesota. So far, the powerful Big 12 has yet to produce a cover. I like Brewster's ability to coach his team up and keep that turnover mojo going. We said we were going to ride that above system all postseason. So far, we've rode thos to quite a profite, including a 4-unit win with North Carolina St and a 2-unit win with Florida Atlantic. If it aint broke, dont fix it. Gophers are not toally outclassed here. I dont trust the KU D and feel Weber can spread the field out against them and kill them with Decker.
The Pick: Minny +10 (-130), 2 Units..I bought this up a full point for the +10. Cost me an extra $20 in juice...I've had such a roller coaster ride with the Gophers this year. I looked so bright in October. I looked less brigt in November. Then, they Gophers were a winner in one of my bigger bets of the season when they took Wisco to the wire. Yet I followed that up with perhaps the worst bet of the season, taking Minny in their 55-0 loss to Iowa. The Gophers are like that crazy girlfriend you had back in college. Tonight is like hooking up with her one last time before the semester ends.
Peach Bowl, Atlanta, 730 pm
LSU vs Georgia Tech. Lines, GT -4, O/U 54
Like the above intro pointed out, histories collide. SEC teams, LSU, are 12-1 ATS as bowl underdogs. Bowl teams playing in their home state, GT, are 17-8 ATS. As much as I like what the Techsters have done this year ith Paul Johnson, I'm going with the SEC Dog in this one. Here's why:
I dont care what the scenario is but to get an SEC team as a dog in a non conference game is too much to pass up. I went the other way in the Vandy-BC game and am sweating it out right now. I'm not passing it up twice.
LSU's D has fallen apart, but they've cleaned house. While the new folks in charge of the D aren't there yet, I think this is enough of an improvement as is. We saw Maryland thwart the mighty Pistol yesterday ith new defensive coaches leading the way. I think this helps the D because the new folks sprinkle in some looks that surprises the O. Miles has talent galore on the D and they'll have enough new looks today to help sytmie to triple option's momentum.
And, hey, when there is a rule book, use it. Post Xmas Day Decemnber Dogs. They were 7-3 coming into the day and after being on a couple of short favorites earlier in the day, I feel more comfortable getting back with the puppies in the nightcaps.
The Pick: LSU +4, 2 Units......I'm really banking on LSU's talent to finally put it all together. Also, I feel GT will suffer a bit of a letdown after spending the last month basking in their breakthrough victory over hated Georgia.
Did you know the Arena League sponsored bowl games? Just kidding, they don’t. But, if they did, these would be their games. All three of today’s games could tilt the pinball machine and ultimately give us Arena Football like scores. Nevada and Maryland square off in Boise where I believe the state government of Idaho mandates that any game played on Smurf Turf becomes a shootout. Down in Houston, WMU and Rice will provide a look at defense optional football. The loser should score at least 30 in that one. Meanwhile, in San Diego the Holiday Bowl convenes. Just about every Holiday Bowl has involved some wacky scoring tomfoolery. With Oklahoma St and Oregon we have two teams who are more than capable of adding to this bowl game’s high scoring history. It should be a fun day of football, especially if you hate defense.
Of course, this leads to a quandary. I want so much to play the Over in all of today’s games. But I’ve been getting killed on totals throughout the college season. To make matters more challenging are the high numbers set in these games by the oddsmakers. Both teams could reach the 30s in the Houston and Holiday Bowls, for example, and still go under the total of 74 and 76 respectively. My sense is you could put some coin on the Over in all three and likely come away with a 2-1 record.
Humanitarian Bowl, Boise, 4:30 pm
Nevada vs. Maryland. Lines, Nevada -2, O/U 59
Have you seen a picture of Maryland QB Chris Turner? He kind of reminds me of an adult version of that dopey, wimpy neighbor kid from the show ‘My So Called Life.’ I can’t in good conscience put my money on him.
Besides, I think we have an intangible emotional edge today with Nevada. The Wolf Pack is stoked about being here and can’t wait to show off their stuff against a BCS school. You have to wonder about the Terps. The trip to Boise is always something of a gag gift for the ACC school. These are college kids and I sure they would rather be in a sunnier spot playing in more of a showdown game. Instead, they’re in Boise, where it might snow, and they’re playing a little known team and a quirky offense that’s humming at full throttle. Maybe that’s why the WAC is 4-0 ATS in the last four Humanitarian Bowls against the ACC.
Michigan fans may want to look away when Nevada has the ball. They run the Pistol Formation, a weird semi shotgun look that, at times mirrors the zone read, while other times is a pass first look. I expect OSU to use even more Pistol Formation next season and every success Nevada has today with it, try not to picture Tyrell Pryor doing the same.
Nevada has their Pistol working to perfection. And, they should since their longtime coach Chris Ault pioneered the offense. In the past, it’s been a pass first look, but because of his personnel this season, Ault has the Nevada 2008 Pistol gashing people with the run. QB Colin Kaeperneck has rushed for over 1,000 yards and accounted for 19 touchdowns. He’s only the fifth player in history to have 2,000 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing in the same season. Tailback Vai Taua has over 1,400 yards and sports a gaudy 6.5 ypc. They will run all over the questionable Maryland D, which has had issues at the point of attack all season long and enter this game without their DC who left to take another job.
While Turner and his top target Darrius Heyward-Bey will land a few haymakers against the weak Nevada pass defense, I just don’t think it will be enough to get the win. Turner will have to put together his best game of the season just for Maryland to keep up with the Nevada attack. I don’t think he has a game like that in him. Plus, I think they’re vulnerable to pressure and Nevada, while hardly stout on the defensive front, has a pair of playmaking defensive ends that remind me of the Utah combo we learned about many weeks ago. I think they’ll fluster Turner enough and force a mistake or two out of an offense that’s just 99th in the country in turnover margin.
I don’t trust Maryland away from home. On the road, the Terps are 1-4 and were outscored 25.85 to 13.2. Away from College Park, Maryland lost to Middle Tennessee State and drubbed 31-0 by Virginia, two teams that are nowhere close to a bowl game.
While the Terps have struggled putting points on the board away from home, Nevada scores wherever they play. They’re second in the nation in running the football (nearly 300 yards per game), 12th in scoring offense (39.74 ppg) and have not been held below 34 points since mid September.
The Pick: Nevada -2, 1 Unit……We have a pair of average defenses in this one. I’ll take the team with the smoother running offense, especially one like Nevada which will control the clock and pace of the game with their multi faceted rushing attack. Also, its Maryland’s first look at the Smurf Turf and it will play with their minds and cause even more focus issues for the Terps.
Texas Bowl, Houston, 8pm
Western Michigan vs. Rice. Lines, Rice -3, O/U 74
When a pair of 9-3 teams from BCS leagues swap paint in a bowl game, it usually generates a buzz and is labeled must see viewing. The same can not be said when 9-3 mid majors square off. That’s too bad because this contest between Rice and Western Michigan ought to be a doozy with two of the premier passing attacks in the country going head to head. Rice’s Chase Clement and WMU’s Tim Hiller are at the top of their games, have next level targets at their disposal and to score all day long.
Both teams look to make history for their programs today. WMU has never won a bowl game, while Rice has not been victorious in a postseason game since the FDR administration. Both are treating this like the Rose Bowl. It ought to be a blast.
Expect this game to cause some panic within the Michigan fan base. Hiller and just about all his weapons will be back next year and open the season in Ann Arbor. Try not to freak out too much as he’s marching the Broncos up and down the Reliant Stadium field. All those open receivers, no worries. I’m sure Stevie Brown will be there to save the day come next September 5.
Both teams enter the game with sick passing stats. Rice is 5th nationally in passing, 8th in scoring and 10th in overall offense. The Broncos counter with the 10th ranked passing offense in the nation and scores a smidge under 30 points per game. Rice QB Chase Clement has accounted for 120 total TDs during his Owl career and this year has a 41 to 7 TD/INT ratio. He tosses five TD games around like its candy. Not to be outdone is WMU’s Tim Hiller. Hiller has fought injuries throughout this career, but he;s been completely healthy this season and threw for 34 TDs to just 8 INTs. Each has a stud WR. For Rice, its Jarret Dillard, who has a speed and deep threat game. For WMU, its Jamarko Simmons, who has more of a physical game. Neither will be stopped much by the other’s teams secondary.
Both teams passing offenses are a wash, so to find a winner in this game, lets try and figure out who will perform the other facets of the game better. I think that answer is Western Michigan. I like their rushing attack with Brandon West a bit better than Rice when the Owls look to run.
More than anything, I think WMU has a better chance at getting a stop or two than the Rice defense does. Rice has allowed 7 non BCS team to score 28 or more points. Against the run, WMU allows just 3.8 ypc while Rice gives up over 5 yards per rush against. This tells me that WMU has a better chance at playing keep away from the high octane Owl attack.
Other factor to consider include WMU has only allowed 14 sacks this year. Rice won’t touch Hiller. And, Hiller is getting his security blanket back, TE and uber possession receiver Brandon Ledbetter, who missed most of the final month of the season with an injury.
In a game where both offenses will rock and roll, I am taking the squad that is better running the football with a bit more of a competent defense.
The Pick: WMU +3, 1 Unit…..The Broncos also have the more reliable kicker in this game, something not to be overlooked in a proverbial coin flip toss up.
Holiday Bowl, San Diego, 8pm
Oregon vs. Oklahoma St. Lines, OSU -3, O/U 76
Two trendy things to do in bowl season collide in this game. Always take the Underdog in the Holiday Bowl. And always take Pac 10 Dogs in bowl season.
In the thirty Holiday Bowls played, the underdog has gone 21-9 ATS, with 11 outright wins. Meanwhile, the Pac 10 has been 16-5 ATS in bowl games when installed as the underdog.
Of course, neither trend worked in this game last year as Texas thumped Arizona St. But, we’re undaunted and back on it again this year. To quote the famous baseball manager Montgomery Burns as he hissed to his petulant outfielder, ”It’s called playing the percentages, Strawberry, playing the percentages. Hopefully, doing so tonight works out as well for me as it did for the Springfield Power Plant back in the day.
I’m comfortable taking Oregon for a couple other reasons as well. They always play well in their bowl game. Head Coach Mike Bellotti is 5-1 as a bowl underdog. The one non cover in this stretch occurred when a member of the Leaf Family tree started at QB. Over the last 11 seasons, his Ducks are 23-12 ATS away from home when catching points. And, the Ducks are hot right now, scoring 55 and 65 points respectively, in wins against fellow bowlers Arizona and Oregon St to close the season.
I love the Ducks running back tandem of Jeremiah Johnson and LaGarette Blount. I don’t think Okie St can contain those two which will open the offense even further for Oregon. The Cowboys have their weapons too and if Zac Robinson is the game’s MVP, they cold win in a walk. One concern for OSU is the fact that stud WR Dez Byrant has been a bit of a non factor in a lot of key games this season.
I think Oregon is the established program while Okie St is bit more of an upstart. I think the Ducks history of doing well in bowls, away from home and as an underdog puts them on the ride side on the intangible chart tonight. They more than matchup athletically to the Cowboys and in a neutral setting I will take a Bellotti coached team over a Gundy one any day of the week.
The Pick, Oregon +3, 1 Unit……I always play Pac 10 Dogs. I always play the Dog in the Holiday Bowl. Really, that’s the only true thought I have put into this one. Here’s hoping the Ducks play the pass better tonight than they have all year. Still, I think they can control this game running the football. Bellotti knows how to beat better teams, except for ones that call L.A. home, and I trust that blueprint tonight
Ok, I cant resist on these Overs. I am placing a half-unit wager on all three. Seriously, we’re in for video game football today.
Maryland/Nevada Over 59…….When Nevada has the ball, its Pistol O that nobody has really stopped all year. When the Terps have the ball, they’re going against of the worst pass defenses in the country
WMU/Rice Over 74…….Defense will be optional in this one. WMU is mediocre at best defensively, but they look like the Steel Curtain compared to the Owls.
Oregon/Okie St Over 76…….Both teams are in the top-10 in total offense and scoring offense. Both Defenses are ranked worse than 80th in total defense and worse than 100 in passing defense. Could both clubs really get into the 40s in this one?
So to start off: William Campbell is not enrolled at the University of Michigan…yet.
Uniqnames are given out to people with affiliations to the university. Having a uniqname does not mean that you are a student or faculty at U-M. Go ahead and do some random last name searches on directory. You’ll find a variety of titles, from volunteers to doctors to janitors. Uniqnames are necessary for Mcards, so anybody that has an Mcard has a uniqname. So we can all agree: uniqname does not equal enrollment.
William Campbell is probably not going to be a “Office Assistant, Senior”, you argue. Ok, here’s the second hint. Look at his affiliation. He doesn’t have one, does he?
As a background, students create their uniqnames after they pay their $200 enrollment deposits. The keyword there was not enrollment, but DEPOSIT. As a high school senior, you have the option of paying as many deposits as you want, provided you get into all of those schools. However, in the end you eventually pick one school you go to. The deposits merely hold your place in line, so that the universities don’t give your spot to somebody else. You are free to change your mind at any time, so long as you don’t mind losing that $200. Now, as you may guess, Scholarship Athletes are exempt from paying the $200. They are free to create a uniqname whenever Admissions admits them.
Students are not enrolled at the university until they sign up for their first class. Up until that point, students are free to go to whatever institution they want. For winter term students, this means the first day of winter term. For fall students, this generally means summer orientation. So, until that point, students will HAVE their uniqnames, but WILL NOT be enrolled at U-M…yet.
Once you register for classes, batch security will update your directory account. You will receive an affiliation (Student, Undergraduate Kinesiology) and you will be all set for life as an undergrad. If you notice, Tate Forcier, William Campbell etc. don’t have affiliations and such. Check Elliot Mealer or Martavious Odoms for examples of this.
This was long and probably very unnecessary, but hopefully this will prevent annual internet blowups.
Berets and Rednecks
Or, Hey, this is actually like a diary entry
The 1984 Sugar Bowl was one heck of a game and a bitter-sweet memory for me. My sister lived in New Orleans at the time, so I decided to make the journey. Almost everything worked out perfect. As I was flying down, sis was flying up. I had her apartment to myself and was met at the airport by one her friends—I’ll call her “Betty”. Well, Betty was one heck of a hostess. She took me to that famous New Orleans restaurant (a scene from “Pretty Girl” was shot there) where she worked part time and we ordered (literally) everything on the menu. All it cost us was the tip.
Attended the pep rally held at one of the ballrooms in the motel where the team was staying. Governor Blanchard was there and made a complete fool of himself when he admitted he went to Ohio State and his wife attended MSU. Everybody barraged him with chants of Recall Blanchard and Boo. (What a jerk. I actually sat in the row next to him on the plane ride home. He’s shorter than Mickey Rooney). Even cooler was the fact that I decided to hang out in the back of the room, and that is where all the players started showing up.
The night of the game we dined at Antoine’s before heading over to the Superdome. It was great. Auburn fans, at least back then, were great people. They would break out with chants and “War Eagle” and the Michigan fans would respond with “Hail to the Victors”. No one got vicious or too obnoxious. Walked to the Superdome after that with my little crew of hometown fans talking trash every step. Remember, you can walk down the street dranking in New Orleans for free. Watch out for the cops on horses though. Them horses can’t exactly stop on a dime.
And then there was the game. What a game it was. Talk about hitting! After the game Bo Jackson was quoted as saying—and I am paraphrasing her—that when the Auburn team looked over at the Wolverines before the game they couldn’t believe how small they were. They were sure they were going to whoop up on them big time. But after the game, Bo said he felt like he had just been in a heavy weight championship fight. Auburn knew they had escaped with a victory. Watch the game on the Classics channel if you can. That is truly vintage Bo Defense. It surely wasn’t one of Bo’s best teams, but that D was a monster that night. Bo Jackson was running for all he was worth that night, and was getting pounded for every yard. Regardless of the outcome, it was great to be a Michigan Wolverine in New Orleans New Year’s Eve 1984.
My seat was somewhere near the 10 yard line. In front of me were a couple of good old boys in flannel shirts, chewing Skoal, chain smoking and sharing a bottle of Jack Daniels. But, they were cool and well behaved and acting like good Auburn fans. In front of them was this old guy wearing beret and who was a member of the UM Alumni band. He was with his wife and both were resolute Wolverines.
After half time the announcer asked everyone to refrain from smoking. The accumulated smoke, which was thick as morning fog, was bothering the players on the field. Well, the two rednecks ignored the request, which apparently irked Mr. Beret who turned around and started chastising them. At first they just laughed the old guy off, but then Mr. Beret got stupid and reached over and slapped the cigarette out of one of the redneck’s hand. The rednecks were so stunned that they just couldn’t figure out what to do. Apparently, they had never had such an experience before. Thankfully, Beret’s wife reacted quickly and got control of her out of control husband. The rednecks said something like, “Sit your ass down, Old Man!”, and sat down. Beret guy pouted some, and then it was over. Saved by grandma.
Hooked up with some elated Auburn fans who bought me all the Black Russians I could drink and joined my little crew of Wolverine fans at Tippatina’s (when Tippatina’s was Tippatina’s) for the rest of the night.
At the airport, waiting to board the plane, I spotted Jerry Cooney trying to hustle some long-legged blonde at a bar. I cocked blocked the crap out of him begging him for an autograph—which he reluctantly gave me. He was a dang bum anyhow.
Hey, it’s the offseason. I’m posted up some junk.
Here’s one about hockey. It’ll be shorter.
For starters, previously I’ve just been using the USA Today poll. I’m going to start using the USCHO poll too, because, well, why not? They’ll be listed in that order.
Also, no polls really updated this week, or last week for that matter. Which makes enough sense. I’m fairly certain they all will this Monday.
Last week, #11/#12 Michigan won their second straight Great Lakes Invitational against Michigan State in front of a very excited crowd. The crowd for the finals was significantly better than the crowd for the semis, and it seemed that it was a lot of Michigan Hockey fans, not just Michigan fans looking for kicks. Which was awesome. Little Brother bowed down. Michigan has the week off, as do many teams, but, here are the five teams ahead of us in each poll that don’t have the week off.
#12/#11 Air Force: Yesterday, Air Force played UConn in the Connecticut Hockey classic. Air Force won in a shootout, but, for our purposes, the game was a tie. Tonight they attempt to win that tournament against Quinnipiac, which shouldn’t be too demanding a task, but, well, hockey’s hockey. Busy week continues for the Falcons, as they face UConn again in Storrs on Saturday, before trekking to Yale Sunday. UConn just tied them, so they could always pull out the upset, while Yale’s on a bit of a cold streak.
#10/#9 Colorado College is off.
#9/#10 Cornell plays Sunday at UMass. They’re pretty good at home, but, Cornell is in general better.
#8 Princeton beat Minnesota State 5-2 last night, and tonight plays Nebraska-Omaha. CCHA loyalty compels me to root for UNO hard. This weekend, they get Harvard on Saturday, Dartmouth on Sunday. Harvard’s sub-.500, Dartmouth is just over.
#7 Boston College plays a couple of exhibition games against Canadian New Brunswick. So they don’t count.
#6 Northeastern plays an easy one against Western Michigan on Friday in the Dodge Holiday Classic. They go on to face the winner of a game between Brown and Minnesota. Here’s to hoping for a Minnesota win so that Northeastern can fall a bit.
Well, that’s it. I’ll see you Thursday to talk about basketball.
Also, it seems I’ll be at Crisler tomorrow. Join me! Lets make it a loud crowd for the Big Ten opener.