Meineke Car Care Bowl. Wake Forest vs. UConn
Coaches Edsall and Grobe both deserve credit for leading their very small programs to relatively big-time success, but UConn’s co-championship this season is even more impressive considering that Wake’s Grobe can see more talent when he makes a trip to the grocery store than Edsall could find in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine combined. UConn has been stingy – in the top 25 in the nation in fewest interceptions (2nd), fewest total turnovers (7th), turnover margin (7th), penalty yards (23rd), and Pass D efficiency (6th) – but WVU exposed a bad run defense. I don’t think Josh Adams is good enough to exploit that weakness.
The Matrix – UConn by 2.3, 69.4% against the spread
Liberty Bowl. Mississippi St. vs. UCF
Quoting Kevin Smith’s yardage understates his achievement this season. Some may argue that the yards are overstated by his 415 rushing attempts against the nation’s 91st toughest schedule. But if Arkansas had played UCF’s schedule and McFadden had gotten those 111 additional carries, ceteris paribus, he would have finished with only 87 more yards than Smith – and McFadden is one of the more talented athletes to ever strap it up for a college football game (of course, ceteris are never paribus). The Bulldogs kept McFadden under 100 yards on 28 carries, a Herculean achievement, but have been too unpredictable this season for us to expect a similar performance against Kevin Smith.
The Matrix – UCF by 2.6, 48.9% against the spread
Alamo Bowl. Texas A&M vs. Penn State
I had the opportunity to watch the last match-up of these two teams in the Alamo Bowl and even got a live sighting of JoePa on the Riverwalk. As in ’99, Penn State is showcasing the nation’s best linebackers and one really old coach. Like the Texas team A&M beat to end the regular season, Penn State has been very efficient against the run and softer against the pass. If Penn State is not better prepared for the Aggie passing game than the Longhorns were, A&M could pull off another upset – or the Aggies might run it 30 times with their slow quarterback and not score until the 4th quarter, but that’s less likely now that Fran has packed his bags.
The Matrix – Penn St. by 3.4, 42.9% against the spread
Independence Bowl. Alabama vs. Colorado
If the Saban-overhype hasn’t killed all the momentum in Alabama, these two 6-6 teams could be powerhouses again soon. But, for now, this game is terribly uninteresting. Both teams are relatively unremarkable on both sides of the ball and very unpredictable overall. I think they’d both be best to take a tie and not risk the sub .500 season. (Some of you may remember the "Strip Play". If you don't know it, look it up - that was a defining moment of may childhood.)
The Matrix – Alabama by 3.0, 48.6% against the spread
Armed Forces Bowl. California vs. Air Force
This is the bowl season’s most lopsided match-up in terms of talent – and in terms of attitude. If Jackson and Longshore are healthy, and Tedford can play a good shrink, Cal could win another bowl game by 30+. On the other hand, Air Force is 2nd in rushing yards (behind only Navy), one of the nation’s most effective offenses (12th and 28th opponent-adjusted run and pass efficiencies), and has averaged 37 points per contest over their last 6, compared to 19 for Cal, because there is natural ability behind the execution – and if you think the MWC is devoid of talent, just watch BYU/Oregon from last year.
The Matrix – Air Force by .2, 63.8% against the spread (and unaware of Longshore’s chipped ankle)
After the beatdown Georgia Tech gave to Notre Dame to start the season, I thought Georgia Tech was again going to be a force. To their credit, only two losses came against opponents that are currently unranked. Now headless and playing on blue turf, Georgia Tech yields the emotional initiative to Fresno State, who has played many of its biggest games of the Pat Hill era on that field.
The Matrix – Georgia Tech by 3.0, 45.5% against the spreadQuote of the day: I was taking a look at The Wizard of Odds and was directed to Tim Tebow Facts. One of the many factoids it offers: "There are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Tim Tebow lives in Florida."