Tuesday, January 8, 2008

December 20th & 21st - 2 Bowls

Finally, the bowls are here! I wish we could say we begin with a bang, but that's not really the case. So be it.

Let me take a quick minute to explain how the bowl posts are going to work. The comparison tables are pretty self-explanatory, detailing each participant's opponents throughout the season, from strongest wins (in blue) to weakest losses (in red) top to bottom. Non-conference games are in bold if they're against BCS teams and italics if they're not. To help see the ebb & flow of the teams' seasons, there's an chart that details their comparative progress week by week.

Instead of presenting all 32 games at once, I'm going to be posting about the games the day of or a day before. That's partly because of the spread and partly because of all the intangibles that might affect my prediction. Let's start!

the Poinsettia Bowl
Thursday, December 20th, 9:00pm
San Diego, California
(8-4)_____Mtn West____213.09
WeekOpponentoPtsRes, ScoreWeekOpponentoPtsRes, Score
12New Mexico154.27W, 28-105Air Force233.04W, 31-20
8@ Texas Christian152.78W, 27-207@ Pittsburgh76.94W, 48-45
3UCLA117.96W, 44-610@ Notre Dame-135.92W, 46-44
6@ Louisville106.21W, 44-351@ Temple-154.46W, 30-19
11Wyoming-10.46W, 50-014@ Army-176.1W, 38-3
7San Diego State-84.17W, 23-74Duke-205.27W, 46-43
9@ Colorado State-109.69W, 27-312Northern Illinois-277.36W, 35-24
5Utah State-209.2W, 34-1811@ North Texas-309.82W, 74-62
13@ Brigham Young341.36L, 10-178Wake Forest245.34L, 24-44
2Air Force233.04L, 12-202@ Rutgers146.23L, 24-41
1@ Oregon State209.72L, 7-243Ball State70.73L, 31-34
4@ Nevada-Las Vegas-178.3L, 0-279Delaware-L, 52-59

Same W-L record for these two, but Utah definitely has the edge from playing (and beating) tougher teams. They only lost one bad one to UNLV, while the only decent team Navy beat was Air Force. Losing to DI-AA Delaware really hurts the Midshipman's case too. To their credit, Navy was able to put lots of points on the board, even in their losses.

Both teams have gone upward in the last half of the season, but the Utes have surged ever since week 4, their only blemish being the loss to BYU in the last week of their season.

Intangibles: Navy's coach is now at Georgia Tech, leaving them interim'd for their bowl - not usually a good thing. Utah know's how to prepare for a bowl too, having beaten Georgia Tech, Pitt, and USC to take their bowl-streak to 6 wins.

The Line: Navy +8

The Story: Navy's Run O vs Utah's D. Can the Utes stop the Midshipmen from running all over the field with their triple-spread option? Probably.

The Call: Utah by 10

The Result: Utah 35-32 = Much more entertaining that anticipated, which hopefully bodes well for the bowl season as a whole.

the New Orleans Bowl
Friday, December 21st, 8:00pm
New Orleans, Louisiana
Florida Atlantic
(7-5)_____Sun Belt____42.86
(7-5)_____Conf USA____21.53
WeekOpponentoPtsRes, ScoreWeekOpponentoPtsRes, Score
14@ Troy134.45W, 38-3211@ Southern Mississippi53.31W, 29-26
11Arkansas State-63.38W, 34-319@ Tulane-144.98W, 28-27
1Middle Tennessee State-67.64W, 27-145Marshall-158.83W, 24-21
3Minnesota-195.44W, 42-398@ Rice-221.20W, 38-35
8@ Louisiana-Lafayette-210.36W, 39-3212Alabama-Birmingham-232.53W, 25-9
4@ North Texas-309.82W, 30-2013Southern Methodist-292.91W, 55-52
13@ Florida International-322.15W, 55-233Jacksonville State-W, 35-14
12@ Florida377.83L, 20-594@ Central Florida266.42L, 20-56
6South Florida316.42L, 23-3510East Carolina89.72L, 40-56
5@ Kentucky208.61L, 17-451Mississippi-39.22L, 21-23
2@ Oklahoma State112.55L, 6-425@ Arkansas State-63.38L, 31-35
9Louisiana-Monroe-29.37L, 30-337Middle Tennessee State-67.64L, 7-21

These are the two weakest teams in the bowls, both of them barely finishing in positive territory. They've had rather similar seasons too - same record, one good win for each, a bad loss or two, up and down the whole year, etc. Looking a bit closer though, 4 of Florida Atlantic's 5 losses were to BCS conference teams, while Memphis had a non-conf slate of mainly cream-puffs. So an edge goes to the Owls for having played in tougher matches.

Memphis, after going downhill the first half of the season, is playing well and has won 5 of 6. Streak edge to the Tigers.

Intangibles: This is Florida Atlantic's first bowl ever, and having to adjust to playing in a bowl might help or hurt the team. Memphis has had a rough season, dealing with the tragic death of teammate Taylor Bradford since the beginning of October.

The Line: Memphis +3

The Story: This is a tough call, partly because the teams are so similar. Gut, what do you have to say?

The Call: Florida Atlantic by 7

The Result: Florida Atlantic 44-27 = Another exciting game. Well done by both teams. Good job to you too, gut.

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