Independence Bowl, Shreveport LA, 8:15 pm
Northern Illinois vs Louisiana Tech. Lines, LT -2, O/U 47. Moneyline (to win) for LT, -135
Why would you watch an NFL Division Title Game (SD vs Denver) when there is a bowl game on, especially one that could finally give us the elusive answer of which conference produces the less fraudulent bowl team, the MAC or the WAC. Truth seekers have looked high and low for this answer and they may get some tangible evidence tonight when Northern Illinois swaps paint with Louisiana Tech.
That can't hold a candle to deciding an AFC West Champion, or, as I like to call it, Colt Fodder for next weekend. Besides, if you're reading this, aren't you obligated to be watching the Mazie and Blue icers skate in the GLI Final? Its a presitigoous hockey tournament.....against Sparty.....the boys need you, so tune in. It's 1-1 at the first intermission right now.
Typically, the Independence Bowl is a Big 12 vs SEC matchup, which would provide an interesting undercard in advance of the showdon for all their marbles between these leagues respective conferences. They've been the best leagues all season, but ironically neither were able to qualify enough teams for their slots after placing two into the BCS. Blame Auburn, Tennessee, Colorado and Texas AM for regressing in 2008 and making this classic clash between the Huskies and the....ah.....wait a second.....crap, I dont even know La Tech's nickname. Give me a second while I look that one up.
Alright. I'm back. Thanks for cutting me some time there. The Bulldogs, eh? Gun to my head, I would have said Broncos. Dodged a bullet there, I suppose.
Kidding aside, history suggests this game will at least be close and not decided until late. Nine of the last Independence Bowls have been decided by 7 points or less. These two clubs have combined to play a dozen games this season decided by a score or less. NIU always seems to play close games. And, they typically lose those contests. NIU is 8-16 SU in games decided by a TD or less, 2-4 in those types of games this season. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, are 5-3 in those games in the two-season tenure of coach Derek Dooley (the son of UGA legend Vince Dooley), 3-2 this year.
Throw in the fact that LT will be playing this game in fron of a home state crowd, and I like their chances to pull the win. Enough, at least, to risk a one unit wager that the program's historic identities in close games will stay consistent.
The Bulldogs are playing better coming into this game. NIU lost 3 of their last 4 and lost all five of their games this year to fellow 2008 bowlers. LT had a four game winning streak in November, averaging 35 ppg. They did lose their finale, 35-31 to Nevada, but playing Nevada is a harder chore than going against NIU. Going back to mid October, this team has scored more than 32 ppg.
I doubt NIU can keep up for four quarters. Their D has some nice stats, but the teams with relatie offensive acumen, like CMU, WMU, Ball St and Navy have been able to call their shots and drive the ball at will versus this D. LT has the better rushing offense and better rushing defense. Thats a recipe for success.
I am going to promote another little know, mid major running back to look out for tonight. Last week, in the debut diary, I touted Gantrell Johnson, the sparkplug looking, dreadlock wearing tailback for CSU. I said he would be the most fun player to watch in that mid major slug fest. He delivered with almost 400 yards from scrimmage. I made a fatal error, however, when I bet against him. I wont make that mistake here.
Watch out for LT tailback Daniel Porter. Expect him to be the best player on the field today. He has 100 yard games in five of his last seven games as he emerged as a first teamm All-WAC performer. He's shifty, elusive, and dangerous in space, but he has enough power to also run in between the tackles. He's a complete back and reminds me of a more physically formed out Jacquizz Rodgers, the waterbug for Oregon State that nearly dragged the Beavers to Pasadena. Porter will be the Bowl MVP for LT. He'll rip off 150 yards and a couple of scores will the Bulldogs nail down a hard fought 24-17 victory.
The Pick: Louisiana Tech to win on the ML, -135, 1 Unit......the Independence Bowl historically gives us close games. So, after UM bodychecks MSU to a bloody pulp and hoists the GLI Trophy, turn the dial and watch the second half