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.



Friday, December 21, 2007

2007 Bowl Season off to a roaring start

Yesterday's Results: Utah 35, Navy 32

My 2007 Bowl Series Record: 1-0

Tonight's game:
R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
(7-5) vs. Florida Atlantic (7-5)
Line: Fla Atl - 3 1/2

Well, so far so good for my season of predictions.

Although Navy choked away an early lead and blew numerous opportunities to put the Utes away in the first half (such as fumbling the ball near the goal line in the second quarter), only to cave in to the relentless Utah offensive attack in the second half, the Middies still made it enough of a game to cover the number and earn me a win.

And if they hadn't been robbed of what should have been a touchback called with a few minutes left in the game, then wasted a beautiful onsides kick in the final minute when QB Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada (thank you, cut & paste)threw an interception as the Middies were driving towards a potential game-tying touchdown, the Midshipmen could have won the game outright.

Still, it was an exciting opening to the 2007 bowl season, and tonight's Game 2 promises to be another wild & woolly offensive affair.

That's because neither Memphis nor FAU play a lick of defense. Both schools are ranked near the bottom of the NCAA in defense, allowing over 30 points per game, and both schools love to light up the scoreboard, posting 30 PPG.

The difference could come in the history. While the Tigers have a long tradition of football (albeit not very good football), FAU is a relative newborn in the college pigskin ranks, having started the program from scratch just seven years ago. Although the Owls have the ancient field general Howard Schnellenberger leading the way, a 7-year-old team in its first bowl game has no business winning one its first time out.

Therefore I am going to take the Tigers, who average more total yards, passing yards and rushing yards than the upstart Owls, to cover the number and win the game outright. Let's see if I can get on a little winning streak before the season really heats up.

MY PICK: Memphis 37, FAU 33


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Time to go Bowling!

Only the unparalleled rush of College Bowl Season could draw me back to the blogosphere.
Even the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl.

Stop me if you've heard this before: I'm sorry I haven't posted in so long, but...

Can I start again now?

I know it seems as if I stopped and started posting to this blog more times than Bill Parcells has agreed to lead an NFL team only to renege on his deal, but all I can say is that the stress &/or duress of starting a new job, coaching my son's Little League team, and blogging about the World Champion Red Sox every day for 8 months straight caused me to have a severe case of blogging backlash.

Throw in the fact that I don't make a cent to do this, and the choice to step away from the keyboard for a while was a pretty easy one.

But if there's one thing that could draw me back to the monitor like the paparazzo to Brangelina's brood, it's the onset of the college football bowl season.

Are there too many bowls? Hells yes. Over half the teams in Division 1-A, a.k.a. the Bowl Division subset, or whatever the fuck the powers that be in the NCAA are calling it now, will play in a postseason game.

Do the names of the bowls get more ridiculous every year? Thanks to unabashed corporate sponsorship run amok, you bet your sweet Poulan Bell Helicopter Tostitos Emerald Nuts ass they do.

But I'm a sucker for the pomp and pageantry that is NCAA football, and compared to the gigantic hemmorhoid the NFL season (save for the beloved Pats) has been this year, I'm am going to relish--and predict--each and every blessed bowl for the next three weeks, until the undisputed national champion is crowned on January 7th.

Unless I have another horrendous streak like I did last bowl season. then I might have to renege on this posting promise quicker than Papa Tuna fucked over the Falcons.

On to the most wonderful time of the year!

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
(8-4) vs. Navy (8-4)
Line: Utah -8

Throw out the fact that this is the most ridiculously named bowl of all 32, it also happens to be the first of them all, therefore it carries some importance.

Plus you've got two pretty decent teams, each of which is adept at mastering one side of the line of scrimmage.

Navy has become an offensive powerhouse the last couple of seasons, so much so that head coach Paul Johnson has jumped (mid)ship to try and resurrect the flagging Georgia Tech program. The Middies average over 350 rushing yards/game, led by all-name team finalist quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada.

Utah, meanwhile, has hardly suffered from Urban upheaval since coach Meyer took his spread option offense to the Gainseville Swamp. The Utes might not score as much as Navy, but the sure can defend, allowing just over 15 points per game and holding the opponent to just over 130 yards on the ground per game.

As the old saying goes, something's gotta give.

Utah is riding a 6 game bowl winning streak dating back to 1999, but Navy will be playing a de facto home game in San Diego, home to one of the largest contingents of seamen this side of the Spears sisters' bedrooms.

Even though logic says the stingy, fightin' Utes should hold down a restructuring Navy squad, I'm a sucker for offense, so I'm gonna go with the fun & runnin' Middies to plow through the Utah 'D' and win this one for new coach Ken Niumatalolo.

Plus you gotta love these freakin names!

MY PICK: Navy 28, Utah 27