At press time, Harbaugh had sent Michigan’s athletic department an envelope containing a heavily annotated seating chart, a list of the 63,000 seat views he had found unsatisfactory, and a glowing 70-page report on section 25, row 12, seat 9, which he claimed is “exactly what the great sport of football is all about.”
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.
Who ya got?
It appears that Michigan has sold 86% of their share of Sugar Bowl tickets, which were sold mostly within the first few days. It also appears their sales may end there thanks to Stub Hub. While a ticket through Michigan will set you back $125.00, a fan can easily go on Stub Hub and get tickets as low as $15.00 a piece. I cannot believe tickets are going for this low, and it really screws the schools over. If I ever want a ticket from Stub Hub it always seems like they cost 5 times face value. Did I mention that I really hate Stub Hub ... oh yeah .. and all ticket brokers .. I hate all ticket brokers.
I managed to get out of a meeting earlier than expected, so this shall be the last thing I do at my desk here....
Continuing our series of non-flashy, non-relevant bowl games is the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, played right here in Michigan at the home of the playoff-bound Detroit Lions.
Our contestants are a 7-5 Western Michigan team versus a 6-6 Purdue team. Most pundits are predicting a close one that, either way, shows the world that Purdue has a way to go to relevancy.
4:30 PM on ESPN.
Later this evening, the Belk Bowl. Oh yeah, fun and excitement continues.
So, as we head into the final week of the 2011 NFL regular season, there are a few spots up for grabs in both the NFC and AFC. This weekend should prove to be a dramatic one. Here's how things look right now:
- Green Bay, 14-1 (clinched home field advantage and first-round bye)
- San Francisco, 12-3 (clinched division; can clinch first-round bye with win over St. Louis)
- New Orleans, 12-3 (clinched division; can clinch first-round bye with win over Carolina and San Francisco loss)
- NY Giants/Dallas, 8-7 (winner clinches NFC East, loser is eliminated)
- Detroit, 10-5 (clinched Wild Card; secures 5th seed with win over Green Bay)
- Atlanta, 9-6 (clinched Wild Card; can move up to 5th seed with win over Carolina and Detroit loss)
Green Bay will probably beat Detroit this Sunday at home, unless they rest their starters. Green Bay really has nothing to play for at this point, other than pride, and it's not an uncommon thing to do. I think Rodgers and starters play at least through halftime, though, and the Packers finish the season at 15-1.
San Francisco will probably beat St. Louis to lock up the 2nd seed. Doing so makes New Orleans' game meaningless. New Orleans' game only means anything if they win and San Francisco loses.
The NY/Dallas game is a tossup, in my opinion. That should be a fun game to watch, even though I'm not a fan of either team.
If Detroit loses to Green Bay, it opens the door for Atlanta to move into the 5th seed, since Atlanta beat Detroit in Week 7. Atlanta has a favorable matchup this week against
Carolina [Ed: Tampa Bay. Thanks, my mistake. Still a favorable matchup, as pointed out in the comments], so it looks like they have a decent shot of moving up.
This is exciting to me because, even though we already know most of the teams that will be in the NFC playoffs, each team (except Green Bay) has something to play for this week. The difference between the 5th and 6th seed is the difference between playing a mediocre Dallas/NY team and Drew Brees. I would not want to have to face Brees in the first round at all.
- New England, 12-3 (clinched division and first-round bye; can clinch home-field advantage with win over Buffalo)
- Baltimore/Pittsburgh, 11-4 (see below)
- Houston, 10-5 (clinched division; their game against Tennessee means nothing for them. They are locked into the 3rd seed regardless of the outcome of this game)
- Denver/Oakland, 8-7 (see below)
- Baltimore/Pittsburgh (see below)
- Cincinnati/Tennessee/Oakland/NY Jets (see below)
New England is guaranteed to finish no lower than the 2nd seed in the AFC. A win over Buffalo would lock them in to the #1 seed. A loss opens up the door to either Pittsburgh or Baltimore.
Baltimore has a wide range of possibilites right now: they could finish as high as the #1 overall seed and as low as the #5 seed. A win over Cincinnati on the road guarantees that they finish no lower than the #2 seed. If Baltimore wins and New England loses, Baltimore would clinch the #1 overall seed; however, if Baltimore loses and Pittsburgh wins, Baltimore would fall below Pittsburgh and be stuck with the #5 seed.
Pittsburgh could also finish as high as #1 and as low as #5. If Pittsburgh wins on the road against Cleveland and Baltimore and New England lose, Pittsburgh would clinch the #1 overall seed. If Pittsburgh wins and Baltimore loses, Pittsburgh would clinch the #2 seed. If Baltimore wins or Pittsburgh loses, Pittsburgh would be stuck with the #5 seed.
Houston has no incentive to win their game against Tennessee, unless they want to ruin Tennessee's playoff hopes. Houston has locked up the #3 seed and will host the #6 seed in the first round of the playoffs, no matter what.
Denver's playoff hopes are in their (or dare I say Tebow's) hands. If they beat Kansas City at home, they win the AFC West. If they lose and Oakland wins, then Denver is eliminated from contention. There is absolutely no way they can win the Wild Card, it's AFC West. or bust for them.
Oakland can clinch either the 4th or
5th [Ed: 6th. Thanks, my mistake] seed. They must win to have any chance at all though. It is impossible for them to make the playoffs if they lose at home to San Diego. If Oakland wins, they would clinch the AFC West with a Denver loss. If both Oakland and Denver win, and Cinncinati loses, then Oakland would clinch the Wild Card.
Tennessee can clinch the Wild Card if they beat Houston on the road, and Cincinnati and Oakland lose.
The Jets can clinch the Wild Card if they beat Miami on the road, and Cincinnati, Oakland, and Tennessee lose.
Cincinnati will clinch the Wild Card with a win over Baltimore at home. If Cinncinnati loses, they can only get in if Tennessee, NY, and Oakland lose; OR if Tennessee, NY, and Denver lose, and Oakland wins.
Wow, so you can see that there is much to play for in Week 17. Even though all but 1 team has yet to be determined in the NFC, there is a lot of room for moving around among the qualified teams there. In the AFC, there are 4 teams vying for the 2 remaining playoff spots, and there is a lot of room for variation among the 4 qualified teams. Exciting stuff, for sure.
Finally, here's my weak attempt at a prediction for the first week of playoffs:
#1 Green Bay - BYE
#2 San Francisco - BYE
#3 New Orleans vs. #6 Detroit
#4 Dallas vs. #5 Atlanta
#1 New England - BYE
#2 Pittsburgh - BYE
#3 Houston vs. #6 Cincinnati
#4 Denver vs. #5 Baltimore