Champs Sports Bowl, Orlando, 430pm
Wisconsin vs Florida St. Lines, FSU -7, O/U 51
Doing a new Diary for the other two games today. I'll update in a couple of hours with a look at the Cal-Miami game. The Wisco game starts soon, so I'll do a quick post. Writing with a distracted eye on UNC-WVA, so excuse me in advance for any random swearing.
Revolution Destination 2009
Since UM will be in strong Champs Sports Bowl contention, I figure a quick history of the bowl is in order.
Originally called the Blockbuster Bowl, the first contest was played between Penn St and Florida St in a much ballyhooed matchup of Paterno and Bowden. FSU won 24-17 and the excitement generated from that game helped put the bowl on the New Year's Day menu by its third year.
By 1995, it was back as a December game. After flirtations with new monikers Carquest, Micron PC and Tangerine, the bowl got its current name in 2004. So, dont necessarily go printing UM Champs Sports Bowl shirts just yet. It may have a different name, but I expect to see all you in Orlando anyway.
Its always had an ACC flair to it with a team from that league in this game for the last 13 seasons. The ACC is 8-5 in that span and are on a five game winning streak. The ACC-Big 10 agreement in this game is two years old with Maryland thumping Purdue in 2006 and Boston College squeaking by MSU in 2007.
My favorite Champs Sports Bowl MVP of all time is Glen Foley, who won the award on New Year's Day 1994 leading his team to a victory over Virginia. Ten months later Foley was in South Bend putting a fatal dagger in ND's last legit title contender. They've been returning to glory ever since.
Another interesting factoid is Penn St's game on New Year's Day 1993, a loss to Standford, was its last game before joining the Big 10. Losing to a Pac 10 team in a bowl game? And, you thought you would never fit in. Tsk, tsk.
Wisconsin specialzes in being overlooked as a bowl opponent only to play their butts off and impress. The Badgers are 6-3 ATS as a Bowl Underdog with 5 outright wins. I will awlays put a small amount of coin on Wisco in this role.
Is there that big of a difference between these programs? The Badgers probably have as many pro prospects as the Noles. This is not 1998 anymore down in Tallahasee. I would not trade PJ Hill, Jonathon Clay and Zach Brown for FSU's top 2 tailbacks.
The QB situation is 'meh' on both sides, but I like Sherer, who steadied the team down the stretch as it climbed out of a hole, more than I like Ponder, who has thrown as many TD as INTs this season. Wisco has been up and down all season on Defense, but they've been more consistent against the pass and feel their secondary will force Ponder into a couple of mistakes. Consider this: Ponder had a 6-0 TD/INT ratio in the two games this season against FCS schools, but a 6-13 ratio in his games against Division 1 foes. The Badgers are in the top 25 in passing efficiency D. This will come into play tonight.
Wisco will be for a slugfest against the FSU D. But, the Badgers have been able to get Hill and Clay both going in every game this season. They can do that enough tonight to control parts of the game. Wisco's O-Line is loaded with talent, but has played up and down all season. But, Bowl Season is for redeption and I see a good game out of this unit keeping the intense rush of FSU at bay enough to allo Sherer time to get to his top targets Garrett Graham and David Gilreath.
I could see a shootout, but I am ignoring the Over/Under total. I have not done well on those during the college season. 51 points seem kind of high. I think both teams are going to run, run, run the football with a lot of success. Time could slip away fast, limiting possessions in this one. When I have the Over, I hate those games. Besides, Wisco will look to force one of those games anyway, and I am all for that.
The Pick: Wisco +7.....1 Unit.....So, if the Badgers win does that help Michigan's RPI? Late action drove this all the way up to +7, so this game now fits into the underdog trend spotlighted in last night's FAU-CMU game. If their bowl history is any indication, the Badgers will hang around all night and have a chance to win this one in the fourth quarter.
Update: The FSU punter is driving me to drink. Well, that and Brett Bielema's continued vomitting in key moments. Where was the review on that Defensive score by the Noles....we need to start adding in the Bielema factor when looking at Wisco games.....late FSU score to make it 14-3 at the half
Emerald Bowl, San Francisco, 8pm
Miami Fla vs California. Lines, Cal -10.5, O/U 51
Wow, did late money come in on this game or what. Actually all the money might be on Cal with this one as the line grew from -5 at the opening bell to -10.5 a couple hours before kickoff. Yes, Miami has some suspensions since this game was announced, but the line factored that and in settled in at -8.5 for most of Christmas Week. It was at -9 less than 24 hours ago. Perhaps WVA backers are angrily chasing with the heavy favorite tonight? I dont think thats a wise strategy come bowl season.
Call me crazy, but I always like to be on the side of the book. We dont see too many cash poor bookies out there and those sports books in Vegas are getting more and more plush each day.
Overall, this has the makings of a huge day for bookies. There was enough action of WVA during bowl season to lift the line to -2 and even -2.5 so they won there. In addition to the movement of the Cal-Miami game, the FSU-Wisco line grew a full point to -7 in the day leading up to the game. As it turns out, I am on the side of the books in all three games today. I feel comfortable with that.
Why do people think Cal will destroy Miami today? I just dont see it. Some of the better Pac 10 teams really shredded this Cal D and with Jacory Harris, Graig Copper and Javaris James, the Canes will be able to move the football throughout the day. MSU put up 31 points vs Cal in the season opener, why cant the U duplicate that? They'll come close.
Get to know some of these young Cane defenders, all fresmen: DT Marcus Forston, DE Marcus Robinson and LB Sean Spence. These guys will form a fierce defense that will get Miami back to playing for the league title.
This young team hit a wall to close the season. They'll be rejuvenated with the initial rest of bowl season. They might not win the game. Indeed, the turnover situation scares me in this one, but I think even that can survive a 10-point cushion. Cal might create enough turnovers to get the win, but Miami very well could get enough of their own to notch a cover.
The Pick: Miami +10.5, 1 Unit. Miami might be downgraded here because of those back to back losses to end the season to Ga Tech and NCST. But, Cal would have lost to those squads as well. I am a believer in the ACC and would take a team from that league at +Double Digits against anyone in the Pac that doesn't call the Colisuem home.