Humanitarian Bowl Preview and Pick: Bowling Green Falcons vs. Idaho Vandals – Point Spread

Humanitarian Bowl: Bowling Green Falcons (7-5 SU, 7-5 ATS) vs. Idaho Vandals (7-5 SU, 7-5 ATS), 4:30 p.m. EST, Wednesday, December 30, 2009, Bronco
Stadium, Boise, Idaho, TV: ESPN

by Badger of

Point Spread: Bowling Green -1.5/Idaho +1.5
Over/Under: 68

Two teams very familiar with the blue carpet of Bronco Stadium in Boise will meet in the Humanitarian Bowl Wednesday, when the Bowling Green Falcons travel West to face the home-state Idaho Vandals on ESPN.

But how the Falcons got here is the exact opposite to the Vandals.

Bowling Green is back in Boise on the smurf turf for a second straight year, losing in a non-conference game last year to Boise
State, 20-7. However, the Falcons were one of the hottest teams
around at the end of the regular season, turning a 1-4 start under
first-year head coach Dave Clawson into a bowl-bound 7-5 campaign
with a strong 6-2 finish in the Mid-American Conference.

Idaho is back in a bowl for the first time since 1998, when they
played in the same Humanitarian Bowl in the same venue and beat
Southern Mississippi, 42-35. After surprising nearly everyone by
starting out 6-1 and becoming bowl eligible quickly under head coach
Robb Akey, Idaho dropped four of their last five games this season
including a 63-25 whoopin on the blue carpet against Boise State
back in mid-November.

Recent history seems to trump a great storyline too, at least in the eyes of the sports betting public. Oddsmakers opened this game as a
pick em originally, but the early steam moved the number all the way
up to Bowling Green minus 2-points at a few offshore sportsbooks.
Now, a few weeks later, the number is back down to just Bowling Green
minus -1.5 or -1-point at a majority of the houses offshore and in
Las Vegas.

The over/under total opened at 68 and has held firm, although you may find a few sportsbooks that have added the hook to make it 68.5.

Offensively, this game will feature the passing attack for both teams.

Bowling Green features one of the better quarterback/receiver duos in
the NCAA with Tyler Sheehan and Freddie Barnes. Sheehan averages
305.3 yards passing a game (5th in NCAA) and has thrown for 3,6664
yards and 23 touchdowns, including at least one touchdown in his last
21 games (3rd longest active streak in NCAA). Barnes, who has an
unbelievable 138 catches this season and also leads the country in
touchdowns with 16, needs just five catches in the Humanitarian Bowl
to break the NCAA record for catches in a season.

Idaho also likes to throw the ball a lot, featuring the 11th-ranked
passing offense in the country at nearly 300 yards a contest (290.6
ypg). Their leader, quarterback Nathan Enderie, is a very efficient
signal caller (7th in NCAA at 155.75) that has led the Vandals
offense to score 31.8 points per game.

The wildcard for the Vandals is running back DeMaundray Woolridge
(853 yds., 12 TD), who averages over five yards per carry (5.7) and
gives Idaho a little bit of balance the Falcons dont really have in
their huddle.

Defensively it gets ugly in a hurry, which explains the rather large
68-point total.

The Falcons do a considerable job against the pass (allow 201 ypg 35th), but they dont face too many prolific passing teams in the
MAC, so take that for what its worth. Their problem is that they
allow nearly the same yardage on the ground (194.9 ypg 103rd), so
why pass when you can run.

The focus for the Vandals is clearly on offense, because how else can
you explain 424.8 yards allowed each game and 35.5 points.

As you would expect, these two schools have never met on the field.

Strictly going on how these teams finished the year, the Falcons look
like a more attractive wager. Bowling Green not only won four
straight and six of their last seven to close the year, they also
covered the point spread in those final four games and went 5-1 ATS
in their last six. Meanwhile, the Vandals not only lost four of their
last five, but they also failed to cover in all five of those games.

If handicapping the game was that easy though, wed all be on a beach
somewhere warm with boat drinks in our hands.

Despite the large total of 68, the over looks like a good bet on
paper. The over is 4-0 in the Vandals last four games against a MAC
team. The over is also 8-1 in the Vandals last nine non-conference
games too.

Badgers Pick: Unless Idaho somehow found a defense during the month they had off between the regular season and the bowl, this game could
turn into a track meet. Bowling Green is going to score, the big
question is can Idaho match them score for score. I say yes, which is
why my money is on the over. Take the over of 68.