Friday, December 17, 2010

“We Bowlin Baby” – Week 1

If no one recognizes that quote, check out this video: It is from Saban's arrival at the Tuscaloosa airport when he was hired at Alabama. Man, that is some funny stuff! And it is one of the first things that comes to my mind when I hear of a team talk about going bowling.

Anyway, bowl season is already here and about 60% of the NCAA Division I teams will be playing in a bowl. I’m surprised the NCAA hasn’t mandated that every player dressed out has to play at least one down to continue the little league baseball mentality of including everyone.

The blog’s plan for the bowl season is to break the bowl season into three different posts for each bowl week and a special post for the national title game, give analysis and predict a score on each game along with who I would take against the spread. Some of the analysis will be no more than a sentence because some of these games (especially these earlier ones) aren’t even worth mentioning (if they weren’t a bowl of course). But as we get in to the better games, I hope to add some more insight on each one.

My Bowl Rules

There are always a few things that I take into consideration when analyzing these bowl games. These sometimes make bowl games completely different than if the same two teams met in the regular season. First, there is such a long layoff between regular season and bowl games, it can kill momentum a hot team has had over the last few weeks of the regular season. Second, as coaches leave or get fired, it affects the whole team, so I always take into consideration who has a coach leaving. Historically, it has a negative effect on the team (I’m looking at you Urban). Finally, I always consider the teams who don’t want to be there. Sometimes this is because they had higher expectations than the bowl they ended up in (think Bama and Nebraska). Other times it is because some juniors and seniors already have one foot in the NFL draft and don’t want to get hurt or play hard in the bowl game.

Saturday, the 18th

New Mexico Bowl: BYU vs. UTEP (+12) – These two teams appear to be going in different directions. UTEP started out 5-1 and then lost five out of their last six. BYU started out 1-4 and finished 5-2. So we start off the bowl season with a matchup of 6-6 teams…yawn! But hey at least it’s bowl season. I tried to find an angle to see a team with an upper hand in this matchup, but I just kept coming up with two mediocre teams and 12 points is way too much. Give me the BYU Cougars 28-23.

Humanitarian Bowl: Northern Illinois vs. Fresno State (+1.5) – Northern Illinois has had one of its best seasons ever. Fresno has been as consistent as ever ending the season at 8-4. Fresno being the underdog makes no sense to this guy. NIU's Coach Kill (yes, that is him name) left for the Minnesota job. They also had a disappointing loss in the MAC title game, so you can chalk them up for two factors that will affect its bowl game that I mentioned above. Fresno is familiar with the ugly blue turf they will be playing on and will out to redeem themselves from the beatdown they received last time they were on it. I like Fresno in this one 24-17.

New Orleans Bowl: Ohio vs. Troy (-3) – Ugh...this one should set college football back 20 years. Don't waste your time watching it. Troy 20-14.

Tuesday, the 21st

St. Petersburg Bowl: Southern Miss (+3) vs. Louisville – This should be a good early game.  Flip a coin in this one.  I did, and it said USM 28-24.

Wednesday, the 22nd

Las Vegas Bowl: Utah vs. Boise State (-17) – This one has the ingredients of a letdown for Boise, but Coach Peterson does a great job keeping those guys focused. Also, I can't get the Utes beatdown by TCU out of my head. I normally don't like a spread this big, but this one is too small. Boise 45-21

Thursday, the 23rd

Poinsettia Bowl: Navy (+4.5) vs. San Diego State – The Aztecs are at home, but I see this one being closer than the spread.  San Diego State 31-28

Friday, the 24th

Hawaii Bowl: Hawaii vs. Tulsa (+10) – Get ready for a long, exciting, high-scoring game in this one. These are the two top passing teams in the nation. Hawaii has been surprisingly good this year in my book. I think ten points is too much in this one, but Hawaii pulls it out in the end 45-41.

Sunday, the 26th

Little Caesars Bowl: Florida International vs. Toledo (-1.5) – See New Orleans Bowl above. Sorry to keep hating on these bowls involving Sun Belt teams, but they have no business getting three teams in bowls. Is FIU excited about leaving Miami and going to Detroit in December? Toledo is close to home and rolls in this one 28-17.

Monday, the 27th

Independence Bowl: Air Force vs. Georgia Tech (+3) – Ahh...the triple option bowl. If you're wanting to entertain yourself during this one, grab you a 30 pack of beer and take a drink everytime a team runs the ball. I will be shocked if 10 total passes go up in this one. This game will last two hours. All this being said, I like the team from a bigger conference in this one. Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia Tech 21-20

Tuesday, the 28th

Champs Sports Bowl: West Virginia vs. NC State (+3) – Disclaimer: I'm not a fan of West Virginia since Rich Rod left; they are a program on the decline with Bill Stewart in charge even though he sounds like a really nice guy. Wolfpack QB Russell Wilson, on the other hand, almost had NC State a division championship this year in the ACC. Think about that for a minute...any QB that is good enough to do that, I am rolling with. NC State 35-34 in a minor upset.

Insight Bowl: Missouri (-1) vs. Iowa – This game is off the board now in Vegas because of the uncertainty (read complete mess) surrounding the Hawkeyes players. To apply one of my bowl rules above, Iowa definitely wasn't expecting to be in this bowl when it was ranked in the top 10 at the beginning of the year. Well, five losses later, here they are. Even more, their leading wide receiver is arrested for drugs and suspended, their leading rusher is out for the game, and their is talk that their backup running back has quit the team. Mizzou is looking to build for next year. Depending if Blaine Gabbert comes back, they could return 20 or 21 starters for next season, and a likely top 10 preseason ranking IF they win this game. Give me Mizzou 35-20
Talk to ya next week.

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