2008 Emerald Bowl Preview and Pick – Miami Hurricanes vs. California Golden Bears

Miami Hurricanes ( 7-5) +7.5, 50 O/U vs. California Golden Bears (8-4)
Emerald Bowl, San Francisco, C.A., Dec 27th, 8:00PM Eastern

By Jay Horne of Predictem.com

The Miami Hurricanes will have to travel across the nation out west to take on the California Golden Bears in the Emerald Bowl. The Golden Bears bowl draw allows them to stay in state and they will be the favorites heading into this ACC vs. Pac-10 showdown. Miami had an up and down season and they hope to restore some Hurricane tradition by grabbing a much need bowl win. On the other side of the field, the Golden Bears will be going for their 4th bowl victory in 4 years.

California has played pretty well this season on both sides of the ball. The offense has scored on average 33 points per game this season ranking them in the top 25 for scoring offenses in America. The Golden Bears offense is a balanced running and throwing attack that averages 379 yards per game of total offense. Sophomore running back Jahvid Best has been absolutely incredible for the Golden Bears this season. Best has racked up 1,394 yards on the season with 13 touchdowns and an amazing 8.0 yards per carry. Best in his last performance was at his best rushing for a school record 311 yards over Washington and earning the Pac-10 rushing title. Best will get a number of touches and will be a big factor in the December 27th match-up.

Miami has been a roller coaster ride this year in the ACC. The Hurricanes started the year losing 3 of their first 5 games before knocking off 5 straight wins in the middle of the season and closing with 2 straight losses. Although the defense ranks in the top 25 in the country, they have really struggled in Miamis 5 losses this season. Every game Miami has been defeated in this season the defense has given up 25 or more points in all of those contest. Miami is giving up 24 points per game this season and they will look to find answers when they take on a California team that can definitely find the end zone. The Miami offense has been strong at times this season and they will need to be big against the Golden Bears.

Vegas opened the betting line for the Emerald Bowl favoring the home state California Golden Bears by 7.5 points. The over/under for the contest has been posted at the 50 point mark considering both teams have had tendencies for some high scoring ball games. ML numbers have California listed as the -300 favorites while holding Miami as +250 underdogs.

The Hurricanes offense has been plagued by turnovers and they will look to control the ball in their date with Cal. The Miami offense has used two quarterbacks this season and both will likely see playing time. Jacoby Harris has been the most effective throwing for 1,001 yards with 10 touchdowns and 6 picks. QB Robert Marve has thrown for 1,293 yards with 9 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Which ever quarterback lines up behind center, they must hold onto the football if they want to score the victory. This game has all the makings to be one of those high scoring affairs, but the turnovers will be key in determining which team is scoring those points.

California defensively this season has been as good as any in the Pac-10 outside of the USC Trojans. The Golden Bears have held opposing offenses to only 20 points per game this season which ranks 27th in the nation. The California defense is also responsible for the 26th best overall defense in America holding teams to only 317 yards of total offense per game. California defense will need and try to force the Miami quarterbacks into making some bad passes and forcing interceptions. If the Golden Bears, can eliminate the Hurricanes big play capabilities I do not see them losing this game.

Betting Trends
Cal is 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games while reaching the over total in 5 out their last 7 games as well. The Golden Bears are a strong 9-3 ATS this season while the Hurricanes are only 5-6 ATS. Miami is 3-6 ATS in their last 9 games.

Jays Pick - I believe the Golden Bears are too balanced in all aspects of this game. Take Cal -7.5.