Bowl Games That Actually Seem Intriguing
By David A. Lane Predictem.com
Couldn’t help but peruse through the gamut of bowl games on this season’s menu and to be honest, about six out of the 25 available selections actually have appeal for various reasons. Now please don’t go and perceive this opinion as being overly hyper-critical because regardless of what things look like on paper, this IS football, so watching most of the games regardless is inevitable thanks to the enjoyment of having action on them. However, these eight games in particular seem like winners due to a number of reasons:
Las Vegas Bowl: BYU Cougars (16) 10-2 vs. AZ Wildcats 7-5, December 20 at 8PM Eastern- The line is Wildcats favored by 3 to 3.5 for some reason, most likely because the Cougars play in the Mountain West Conference and the Wildcats the PAC 10. It is true that the ‘Cougs are 0-2 ATS as the underdog so far this season (against TCU and Utah) and 3-8 ATS overall, however, they’ve covered two of their last three games and look to be a good value here. Granted, Arizona has played a good team in USC close at home, they have also lost to teams such as New Mexico, Stanford, and Oregon State. Perhaps this one personally has some added appeal because it’s here in Vegas but I’d definitely pick BYU money line here and enjoy.
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Poinsettia Bowl: TCU Horned Frogs (11) 10-2 vs. Boise St. Broncos (9) 12-0, December 23 at 8PM Eastern- The line is TCU by 2.5 and although they’ve had one heck of a good season, their losses were to the only two decent teams on the schedule- Oklahoma and Utah- they otherwise beat the teams they should have. While both teams have had success against the number- TCU is 8-3 ATS while Boise is - TCU excels at defense being ranked second in the nation in total yards allowed, first in rushing yards against, ninth in passing yards, second overall in points allowed, and also have an ample offense that rushes far better than it passes. On the other hand, the Broncos specialty is offense because they are 12th in passing, 12th in points scored, and 13th in total yards, while their defense bends but doesn’t break being third overall in points allowed. Though the game won’t be played on that familiar blue turf in Boise, San Diego should be a perfect place for Boise to finish out undefeated as an underdog being the better team here- Boise St. plus the 2.5 if not the outright money line to win the game.
Rose Bowl: USC Trojans (4) 11-1 vs. Penn St. Nittany Lions (6) 11-1, January 1 at 4:30 Eastern- The line is USC by 9.5 in most places as it well should be. The Big Ten’s recent misfortune against the PAC 10 will be put on display again for all to see as we find out exactly why we were so lucky that Jo Pa’s crew lost at Iowa so we didn’t have to see them in the BCS Championship game. Though the Lions look pretty well balanced on both sides of the ball, they haven’t faced a defense like the Trojans- first in points allowed, passing yards allowed, and total yards allowed, while being fifth in rushing yards- and it will show. The game will be close in the first half, otherwise take USC even though they are not happy about being there.
Sugar Bowl: Utah Utes (7) 12-0 vs. Alabama Crimson Tide (4) 11-1, January 2 at 8PM Eastern- The line is ‘Bama by 10 as the BCS invites the Utes to prove on the field what they couldn’t in the rankings. Facing a SEC team as strong as the Tide’s should make for a rather tough opponent for them here as they play a very good all around game but don’t really rule the rankings in any particular category. The Tide plays great defense, and like the USC Trojans, it will be the best the Utes have yet seen. This should be a low scoring affair in which Utah will probably cover but not win the game- Utah plus 10.
Fiesta Bowl: Texas Longhorns (3) 11-1 vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (10) 10-2, January 5 at 8PM Eastern- The line here is Texas by 8 as well it should be. Everyone knows that Texas was robbed of their chance to play for the title so they should release a special kind of fury in this one. Quarterback Colt McCoy leads what is a very strong team on offense- particularly passing- while their defense is solid against the rush (2nd) but weak against the pass (110). The Buckeyes on the other hand are strong against the pass on defense and really specialize in rushing of offense. This one should be an interesting one for a minute but the Buckeyes won’t be able to keep up with Texas’ prolific offense that reminds one of a player scoring so much on a pin ball machine that its about to go tilt- ‘Horns by 8.
BCS Championship game: Florida Gators (2) 12-1 vs. Oklahoma Sooners (1) 12-1, January 8 at 8PM Eastern- Line is Florida by 3 in THE bowl game that means everything. This game seemingly gets pushed back on the calendar further and further every year or so it seems- but this one should be worth waiting for. Florida has Percy Harvin and Tim Tebow who are reliable on offense while OU has Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford to lead them. The Gators are 3rd in points scored and 5th in points given up so they have been very dominant- especially after they were upset by Mississippi- in most their games. The Sooners are first in points scored and rely heavily on passing when on offense while like Texas they are better against the run (17th) than they are the pass (100th) on defense. Tebow WILL take advantage of the weak OU secondary and will show again why the SEC is the dominant conference in college football. Also, the Sooners have struggled some when away from Norman, Ok, and this game will be played in the Gators back yard- in Miami. Take the Gators and give the three points away in what should be a high scoring game that makes Florida champs again.
Although there are some other games that might be fun to watch, these are the ones I am especially looking forward too. For a number of reasons, this season’s bowl games appear to be a bit of letdown- no offense intended to those who choose the match-ups. However, these six games might just end up making the whole bowl thing worthwhile which is really all we can hope for. Enjoy, Happy New Years, and good luck to all.