Welcome to the bowl edition of By the Numbers. The ratings give an interesting perspective on which to judge the bowls, which often are the first time the teams have played in years. Historically, the predictions are only about 50-50 against the spread. One reason for this lack of success might be that the relative strengths of conferences are largely set by early season games; the round of ACC vs SEC rivalry games is the exception to this rule (by the way, it was 2-2 this year). Another reason could be the oddity of playing on a neutral site, in Florida sunshine or on a blue field in Idaho. But I suspect that the main reason why bowls are hard to predict is the month or more off for the teams. Bowl games can be more like first games of the year than the tenth-game-in-a-row grind it out that occurs throughout the year. In any case, I don't recommend large bets based on bowl games. (Unless somebody gives you LSU and, say, 15 points.)
If you scroll to the bottom, you'll find this week's ratings. After a couple of days of grousing about LSU making the championship game, I'm a little embarrassed to report that LSU is #1. Actually, my gripe isn't so much about LSU being top two as about them jumping from #7 to #2 on the basis of squeaking by a mediocre Tennessee team. My personal opinion is that at the end of the year Southern Cal and Oklahoma were playing the best. But the fun of this year is how many different versions of #1-#2 are legitimate. But, not too many people have what came out of my computer: Florida #2. Interesting.
Like many people, I thought that Missouri got robbed. The BCS had them above Kansas, but the Orange Bowl had other ideas. I wonder if KU will get to play 12 on defense again, like in 1969 against Penn State. Well, my ratings have Missouri over Kansas but not by much. And both are above the Hokies. It could be like one national reporter wrote, that Kansas' soft schedule and soft coach will be exposed (I hope none of the coach gets exposed), but we'll see. From Appalachian State to Pittsburgh, it has not been safe this year to make a prediction about somebody being overmatched. Which brings up one of the big bowl prediction dilemmas. For an apparent mismatch like Georgia-Hawaii, Florida-Michigan, Missouri-Arkansas, how much does a full month of both teams hearing about the mismatch matter? Will Missouri be fired up or discouraged about being in the Cotton Bowl? How mad will Michigan be about being taken for granted? (To go back to a theme in an earlier edition, they are being taken "for granite.") Will Skip Holtz give his East Carolina crew one of his dad's pep talks about respect?
In looking up info on the teams for the comments below, I got to wondering how many teams have QB-dominated offenses like West Virginia and Florida. It turns out that for 14 of the 64 bowl teams the QB is also the top or second-leading rusher. Half were the leading rusher, including Pat White of West Virginia, Matt Groethe of South Florida and Stephen McGee of Texas A&M. The most impressive statistics actually do not belong to Tim Tebow, but to Dan LeFevour of Central Michigan, who threw for 3360 yards and ran for 1008. (Tebow had 3132 and 838.) And don't talk to me about strength of schedule; CM played Clemson! On a slightly different note, I wonder if Virginia and Georgia have ever seen anything like what Texas Tech and Hawaii will (literally) throw at them. It should be fun.
Enjoy the bowl games and have a great holiday!
BEST BOWLS (largest total ratings):
1. BCS, 2. Fiesta, 3. Orange, 4. Sun (!)
WORST BOWLS (smallest total ratings):
1. New Orleans, 2. New Mexico, 3. GMAC, 4. Texas
BEST TEAMS NOT IN A BOWL :
1. South Carolina, 2. Troy, 3. Arizona, 4. Louisville
WORST TEAMS IN A BOWL :
1. Memphis, 2. Nevada, 3. So.Miss, 4. Houston
The following predictions are directly from the ratings, with no points
added for home field (even New Mexico, Houston and LSU).
The comments are not always backed by good research.
Below each game, I listed what I thought were the teams' best and worst results
of the year.
12/20 Poinsettia Bowl: Utah over Navy by 7
9:00 ESPN. San Diego.
The Navy scores listed are correct; Kaipo and company can score. Utah recovered from a 1-3 start.
Utah (8-4): W UCLA 44-6, L UNLV 0-27
Navy (8-4): W North Texas 79-62, L Delaware 52-59
12/21 New Orleans Bowl: Florida Atlantic over Memphis by 8
8:00 ESPN. News Orleans.
Howard Schnellenberger brings his growl back to a bowl game with FAU. Memphis overcame a 1-3 start.
Florida Atlantic (7-5): W Troy 38-32, L Oklahoma State 6-42
Memphis (7-5): W So.Miss 29-26, L Middle Tenn 7-21
12/22 PapaJohns Bowl: Cincinnati over Southern Miss by 18
1:00 ESPN2. Birmingham.
Cincy has ex-Deacon QB Ben Mauk and just missed a Big East title. Southern Miss was 6-1 vs non-bowl teams, 1-4 vs bowl teams.
Cincinnati (9-3): W UConn 27-3, L Pitt 17-24
Southern Miss (7-5): W East Carolina 28-21, L Rice 29-31
12/22 New Mexico Bowl: New Mexico over Nevada by 7
4:30 ESPN. Albuquerque.
A second straight trip (?) to this game for the Lobos. A rare battle of the Wolves.
New Mexico (8-4): W Arizona 29-27, L TCU 0-37
Nevada (6-6): W La Tech 49-10, L San Jose 24-27
12/22 Las Vegas Bowl: BYU over UCLA by 5
8:00 ESPN. Las Vegas.
A rematch of a game won by UCLA, 27-17. BYU has won 9 straight, UCLA was riddled by injuries and fired their coach.
BYU (10-2): W Air Force 31-6, L Tulsa 47-55
UCLA (6-6): W BYU 27-17, L Wash St 7-27
12/23 Hawaii Bowl: Boise State over East Carolina by 10
8:00 ESPN. Honolulu.
Not exactly the Fiesta Bowl for Boise; not exactly the east coast for ECU. So who will show up ready to play? ECU was one of the few to beat UCF, one of the few to lose to Marshall.
Boise State (10-2): W So.Miss 38-16, L Washington 10-24
East Carolina (7-5): W UCF 52-38, L Marshall, 7-26
12/26 Motor City: Purdue over Central Michigan by 8
7:30 ESPN. Detroit.
A rematch; the Boilers survived a comeback to win 45-22. CM went 1-4 in a tough out-of-MAC schedule.
Purdue (7-5): W Iowa 31-6, L Michigan State 31-48
Central Michigan (8-5): W Miami O 35-10, L ND State 14-44
12/27 Holiday Bowl: Arizona State over Texas by 6
8:00 ESPN. San Diego.
Longhorn Colt McCoy is only the 2nd best QB named Colt in the country. Still, a great name. ASU just has a Carpenter and a Herring.
Arizona State (10-2): W Colorado 33-14, L USC 24-44
Texas (9-3): W Texas Tech 59-43, L Kansas State 21-41
12/28 Champs Sports Bowl: Boston College over Michigan State by 7
5:00 ESPN. Orlando.
Two good QBs, Matt Ryan and Brian Hoyer, and two first-year coaches.
Boston College (10-3): W Virginia Tech 14-10, L Maryland 35-42
Michigan State (7-5): W Penn State 35-31, L Northwestern 41-48
12/28 Texas Bowl: TCU over Houston by 8
8:00 NFL. Houston.
The Cougars won 6 of their last 7 to get their home town bowl against the Frogs.
TCU (7-5): W New Mexico 37-0, L Wyoming 21-24
Houston (8-4): W Colorado State 38-27, L Tulsa 7-56
12/28 Emerald Bowl: Oregon State over Maryland by 4
8:30 ESPN. San Francisco.
The Beavers won 6 of their last 7. They beat the Ducks, probably won't fear the Turtles.
Oregon State (8-4): W Oregon 38-31, L Cincinnati 3-34
Maryland (6-6): W Boston College 42-35, L Clemson 17-30
12/29 Meineke Car Care Bowl: UConn over Wake Forest by 1
1:00 ESPN. Charlotte.
Both lost 16-17 at UVa, both beat Duke, both are opportunistic. Wake has more bowl experience.
UConn (9-3): W South Florida 22-15, L West Virginia 21-66
Wake Forest (8-4): W Navy 44-24, L Clemson 10-44
12/29 Liberty Bowl: Central Florida over Miss State by 1
4:30 ESPN. Memphis.
UCF's Kevin Smith ran for 2448 and 29 TDs. MSU's first bowl since 2000, will probably not invite Jackie Sherrill in for an inspirational talk.
Central Florida (10-3): W Tulsa 44-23 and 44-25, L South Florida 12-64
Miss State (7-5): W Kentucky 31-14, L LSU 0-45
12/29 Alamo Bowl: Penn State over Texas A&M by 4
8:00 ESPN. San Antonio.
Aggies finished 2-4, have an interim coach, and little recent success in bowls. Gig 'em, JoePa.
Penn State (8-4): W Wisconsin 38-7, L Ohio State 17-37
Texas A&M (7-5): W Texas 38-30, L Texas Tech 7-35
12/30 Independence Bowl: Alabama over Colorado by 2
8:00 ESPN. Shreveport.
Bama lost its last 4; work on the Saban statue has temporarily halted. The Buffs have freshman QB Cody Hawkins, son of the coach.
Alabama (6-6): W Tennessee 41-17, L La-Monroe 14-21
Colorado (6-6): W Oklahoma 27-24, L Iowa State 27-31
12/31 Armed Forces Bowl: Air Force and California even
12:30 ESPN. Fort Worth.
The computer has them even, but ... Old rules: academy teams are good bets, teams that lose 6 of their last 7 are bad bets. Still, DeSean Jackson of Cal breaks a lot of rules.
Air Force (9-3): W Utah 20-12, L BYU 6-31
California (6-6): W Tennessee 45-31, L Washington 23-37
12/31 Sun Bowl: South Florida over Oregon by 2
2:00 CBS. El Paso.
A great matchup in October. Both teams reached #2 then lost 3 straight games. Oregon needed supplemental insurance when Dixon was injured.
South Florida (9-3): W Auburn 26-23, L Rutgers 27-30
Oregon (8-4): W Michigan 39-7, L UCLA 0-16
12/31 Humanitarian Bowl: Georgia Tech over Fresno State by 6
2:00 ESPN. Boise.
The Jackets went 1-5 against bowl teams and fired their coach. Fresno improved as they got healthy.
Georgia Tech (7-5): W Clemson 13-3, L Virginia Tech 3-27
Fresno State (8-4): W Kansas State 45-29, L Oregon 21-52
12/31 Music City Bowl: Kentucky over Florida State by 3
4:00 ESPN. Nashville.
Against bowl teams, the Cats went 3-4 and the Noles 4-4. It's a little strange that the marquee player is a Cat, QB Andre Woodson.
Kentucky (7-5): W LSU 43-37, L Miss State 14-31
Florida State (7-5): W Boston College 27-17, L Florida 12-45
12/31 Insight Bowl: Oklahoma State over Indiana by 5
5:30 NFL. Tempe.
This could be 7-man football. Both teams snap it to the QB and go. Enjoy Zac Robinson and Kellen Lewis.
Oklahoma State (6-6): W Texas Tech 49-45, L Troy 23-41
Indiana (7-5): W Purdue 27-24, L Wisconsin 3-33
12/31 Chick-Fil-A Bowl: Clemson over Auburn by 5
7:30 ESPN. Atlanta.
Tommy leads the orange and purple Tigers into Atlanta, amid reports that he might jump to Arkansas. The Tigers' tradition dates back to John Heisman. Which team am I?
Clemson (9-3): W Wake Forest 44-10, L Georgia Tech 3-13
Auburn (8-4): W Florida 20-17, L Georgia 20-45
1/1 Outback Bowl: Tennessee over Wisconsin by 3
11:00 ESPN. Tampa.
When at Florida, Spurrier liked to joke that you can't spell "Citrus Bowl" without UT. The same joke works for the current name of Outback Bowl. It turns out that all of the bowls can be spelled without "Spurrier." Two teams with inconsistent results, never quite settling in on offense.
Tennessee (9-4): W Georgia 35-14, L Alabama 17-41
Wisconsin (9-3): W Michigan 37-21, L Penn State 7-36
1/1 Cotton Bowl: Missouri over Arkansas by 8
11:30 FOX. Dallas.
Chase Daniel threw for 4170 yards, McFadden ran for 1725 and "backup" Felix Jones for another 1117. Should be a lot of fun.
Missouri (11-2): W Kansas 36-28, L Oklahoma 17-38
Arkansas (8-4): W LSU 50-48, L Tennessee 13-34
1/1 Gator Bowl: Virginia over Texas Tech by 3
12:00 CBS. Jacksonville.
Graham Harrell threw for 5298 yards and 45 TD. This year. So far. The Hoos pass D needs to Groh up in a hurry.
Virginia (9-3): W UConn,Wake 17-16, L Wyoming 3-23
Texas Tech (8-4): W Oklahoma 34-27, L Missouri 10-41
1/1 Capital One Bowl: Florida over Michigan by 9
1:00 ABC. Orlando.
Lloyd Carr's last game. Is it fair to call Chad Henne versus Tim Tebow a battle of "old style" versus "new style QBs? If so, which one is which might depend on your age.
Florida (9-3): W Tennessee 59-20, W Georgia 30-42
Michigan (8-4): W Illinois 27-17, Appalachian State 32-34
1/1 Rose Bowl: Southern Cal over Illinois by 5
4:30 ABC. Pasadena.
When the Trojans are healthy and motivated, they can be frightening. Illini QB Juice Williams will try for slow time-consuming drives (white Bronco optional).
Southern Cal (10-2): W Arizona State 44-24, L Stanford 23-24
Illinois (9-3): W Ohio State 28-21, W Iowa 6-10
1/1 Sugar Bowl: Georgia over Hawaii by 9
8:30 FOX. New Orleans.
Colt Brennan threw for 4174 yards and 38 TD. His backup went for 1092 and 9. Hawaii could be this year's Boise, but could end up as Dawg meat.
Georgia (10-2): W Florida 42-30, L South Carolina 12-16
Hawaii (12-0): W Boise State 39-27, W La Tech 45-44
1/2 Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma over West Virginia by 1
8:00 FOX. Glendale.
When Bradford and Patrick are healthy, OU wins. When Pat White is healthy, the Eers win. Which one prevails may depend on whether WV gets its groove back.
Oklahoma (11-2): W Missouri 38-17, L Colorado 24-27
West Virginia (10-2): W UConn 66-21, L Pitt 9-13
1/3 Orange Bowl: Kansas and Virginia Tech even
8:00 FOX. Miami.
The Jayhawk offense led by Todd Reesing against the Hokie defense, right? Except that sometimes the key ends up being whether the Hokie offense can stay on the field. And Beamer sometimes makes the whole issue moot with special teams.
Kansas (11-1): W Oklahoma State 43-28, L Missouri 28-36
Virginia Tech (11-2): W Boston College 30-16, L LSU 7-48
1/5 International Bowl: Rutgers over Ball State by 8
12:00 ESPN2. Toronto.
Ray Rice rewrites the Rutgers recordbook. One measure of success: Rutgers is disappointed to be in this bowl game. Ball State is delighted to be here. The Cardinals played Nebraska and Illinois tough.
Rutgers (7-5): W South Florida 30-27, L West Virginia 3-31
Ball State (7-5): W Navy 34-31, L Central Michigan 38-58
1/6 GMAC Bowl: Tulsa over Bowling Green by 2
8:00 ESPN. Mobile.
Tulsa lost twice to UCF, once to Oklahoma but beat BYU. Bernie Falcon won his last four games.
Tulsa (9-4): W Houston 56-7, L Oklahoma 21-62
Bowling Green (8-4): W Minnesota 32-31, L Miami O 14-47
1/7 BCS Title Game: LSU over Ohio State by 1
8:00 FOX. New Orleans.
My inclination is to say that a healthy LSU at home is too strong and fast for the Buckeyes. But I haven't correctly picked an Ohio State championship game since Rex Kern was QB.
LSU (11-2): W Virginia Tech 48-7, L Kentucky 37-43
Ohio State (11-1): W Michigan 14-3, L Illinois 21-28
|78||N Dakota St||70.08|
|98||S Dakota St||64.79|
|100||San Diego St||64.69|
|140||Wm & Mary||56.11|
|152||New Mexico St||53.70|