Saturday, December 22, 2007

Bowl Scoreboard: 1-1, but still having fun

Yesterday's results:
R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Fla Atlantic 44, Memphis 27

My Bowl Season Record: 1-1

Today's Games:
1PM: Bowl: Cincy vs. So. Miss
4:30PM New Mexico Bowl: Nevada vs. New Mexico
8PM: Las Vegas Bowl: BYU vs. UCLA

Well as you can see I'm back to my old self again, missing badly on my prediction that Memphis would win outright against the up & coming Howard Schnellenberger-led FAU Owls.

Despite a valiant comeback that saw the Tigers cut a 30-13 second quarter lead to 30-27 early in the third, the pesky Owls tacked on a couple more TDs against a butter-soft Memphis D to pull away and win handily.

Ah well, at least I'm back in my comfort zone.

But I can get right back on track today as we have our first multiple-bowl day of the season, with three games on tap, and all three appear to be pretty decent games, and only one has a funky name.

Let's see if I can right this ship before I tumble back into Worst Gambler in the World territory once again (lucky I don't actually waste any money on these things) Bowl:
Southern Miss (7-5) vs. Cincinnati (9-3)
Line: Cincy -11 1/2

This is one of few bowl games that looks like a mortal lock. Cincy had a great start to the season, opening 6-0, before losing 3 of its last 6 games, and are led by senior QB Ben Mauk, a transfer from Wake Forest who had a terrific season for the Bearcats (2700+ yards, 27 TDs, 6INTs). With Mauk at the helm, Cincy averaged nearly 37PPG, good for 15th in the country.

Southern Miss, meanwhile, will be playing its final game for coach Jeff Bower, who resigned under pressure last month after 17 years of leading the school. The Eagles might try and get it together and win one last time for their lame duck coach, and they do have a solid defense (23 points allowed/game), but if Cincy can put its disappointing finish behind them and Mauk can get hot, this one might not be close for Bower's finale.

MY PICK: Cincy 38, So Miss 24

New Mexico Bowl
Nevada (6-6) vs. New Mexico (8-4)
Line: New Mexico -2 1/2

On the surface this game looks like another no-brainer: a local team with a better record playing in a stadium in which it went 5-1 this season going up against a .500 club that allowed 33 PPG and has a freshman starting quarterback.

But dig a little deeper and you'll see this one isn't so obvious a choice. New Mexico starting tailback Rodney Ferguson, who ran for over 1100 yards and 13 TDs, was ruled academically ineligible last week, and he will be replaced by 5'7" junior Paul Baker, who amassed a grand total of 298 yards rushing this season with zero touchdowns.

Throw in the fact that the Lobos haven't won a bowl game since 1961, and the Wolfpack averaged over 500 yards of total offense and 36 PPG, and you can see how this one might not be as much of a clear-cut choice as it would seem to be.

So why are the Lobos favored? Good question. I believe this is what the bettors call a trap, and the combination of the home game and the better record will cause many a novice gambler to fall into it. But me being an experienced loser, err picker, I can see right through the smokescreen, and I say the underdog 'Pack will not only upset the home team and cover the number, but win the thing outright.

MY PICK: Nevada 35, New Mexico 28

Las Vegas Bowl
BYU (10-2) vs. UCLA (6-6)
Line: BYU -6 1/2

An intriguing matchup here. The underachieving Bruins, who fired coach Karl Dorell following this disappointing season, will take on the red-hot Cougars, who won 9 straight to finish the season after dropping two in a row early, including a 27-17 loss to the Bruins in the second week of the season.

Both teams have a solid defense, allowing less than 23 PPG, but BYU also boasts a dynamic offense, scoring over 30PPG, while the Bruins anemic offense barely managed to tally three TDs per contest.

So will the Bruins rally around interim and possible future head coach DeWayne Walker, restore some school pride, and defeat the Cougars for the second time this season? Or will BYU, led by dynamic QB Max Hall (3600+ yards, 26 TDs) and freshman RB Harvey Unga (1200 yards, 8TDs) exact payback against the reeling Bruins?

My guess: payback's a bitch, Bruins.


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