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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Bowl Picks 4

Sun Bowl. Oregon vs. USF

Oregon at one time claimed the best offense in the country, but USF finished only scoring 10 total fewer than Oregon this season. Oregon finally found in Justin Roper a QB that had some post-Dixon success, but against USF's pass D, the real weight on offense will be carried by RB Stewart. USF held WVU to 13 points and has the potential to do the same against Oregon as well. The fate of the Bulls will lie on QB Grothe, who also leads the team in rushes and rushing yards. Oregon's run D is good enough that USF will need to have success throwing the ball (and not throwing interceptions) to win.

The Matrix - USF by 3.1, 40.4% against the spread

Music City Bowl. Kentucky vs. Florida State

Kentucky did not have a late season meltdown. They had two bad games against Vandy (which they won) and Mississippi St (and lost). They outperformed Georgia and Tennessee, but lost both of those games. Earlier in the season, Kentucky got shambloozoled by South Carolina and barely beat Louisville in far worse performances then they put up against the best teams of the SEC East late. Here are the real story lines for this game: 1) Florida State is going to need to pick up some folks from intermurals to field a team, 2) Florida State's offense could only make a mother proud (they're scoring 22 points a game), and 3) Florida State makes two many mistakes in the secondary against a quality passing team and NFL quality quarterback. Florida State is still athletic - every school in Florida, including St. Mary's Girls College, has athletes - but, much like the University of Texas, bad coaching shows up in poorly performing offenses and/or in lots of mistakes in the secondary.

The Matrix - Kentucky by 1, even odds against the spread (but it did not predict that half the Seminoles were changing grades)

Insight Bowl. Oklahoma St vs. Indiana

OSU was supposed to have the best offense in the universe, so they're probably a little disappointed to have the 28th scoring offense in the country. But they do have a very efficient offense (even in the last two games without superhuman Adarius Bowman) and have lost six games because my junior high football team could have thrown for 200 yards against the 106th ranked pass D in efficiency. Indiana and QB Kellen Lewis will have a field day, but Oklahoma St will score points as well. I think this game will come down to the fact that a less talented Hoosier team has been motivated all season by "Play 13" but not "Win the 13th", and Oklahoma State has some incredible athletes on offense that can kill you.

The Matrix - Oklahoma State by 4.8, 50.8% against the spread

Chick-fil-a Bowl. Clemson vs. Auburn

Horrible name for a bowl, but a very interesting bowl matchup all the same. Auburn's defense is as efficient as any (10th against the pass and 25th against the run), but they're offense needs improvement (although it is not as bad as it appears in unadjusted statistics). That Auburn's defense is 6th in scoring defense despite spending more time than they would like on the field is really quite impressive. Clemson plays on both sides of the ball, but is not as efficient as the raw numbers suggest - in fact, these two teams are pretty equally matched once we account for opponent strengths. This game could be decided by the first team to 10, and with a couple of key Clemson defenders ineligible for the game, Auburn has, in my opinion, a slight advantage.

The Matrix - Clemson by 2.1, 48.9% against the spread

Outback Bowl. Wisconsin vs. Tennessee

If the SEC is going to keep up this campaign that the SEC is so much better than everyone else then Tennessee really needs to win this game. Despite being the better team in terms of talent, the Vols inconsistency leaves this game open for question.

The Matrix - Tennessee by 3, 48.3% against the spread

Cotton Bowl. Missouri vs. Arkansas

Missouri was one win from playing for the national championship and instead get a middle of the pack SEC team. These are two teams that have scored points, Missouri through the air and Arkansas on the ground. Arkansas also has the 17th ranked pass D in efficiency, which should keep them in the game. If Missouri can't handle McFadden and the folks at Arkansas aren't two distracted by the arrival of Bobby Petrino, Arkansas might pull of the upset. The Matrix, though, does not see that as being too likely.

The Matrix - Missouri by 7.5, 60.7% against the spread

Capital One Bowl. Michigan vs. Florida

Poor Michigan. At least you have something to look forward to in your new coach, but the New Year won't start well for you. Not only does Florida have the most efficient offense in the country, but it also boasts the 9th most efficient Run D in the country - it could be a rough day for Mike Hart. Two things could influence the outcome of this game - 1) Tebow could have post-Heisman-itus and 2) Michigan will be healthy again, but then on the other hand, Meyer is such a better coach than the Wolverine abiss I just can't see Michigan winning.

The Matrix - Florida by 11.3, 51.6% against the spread

Gator Bowl. Texas Tech vs. Virginia

I would love to see Tech against Navy - the nation's best pass (and worst run) offense against the best run (and worst pass) offense. Tech was supposed to have a rebuilding year until Crabtree turned out to be the best receiver since Randy Moss. Virginia has been led by Chris Long to a lot of close victories in which they were outgained but somehow pulled out the W. Chris Long, though, will be neutralized against Tech who has mastered the 3 step drop and wide splits (so Chris will be starting his rush while holding the coaches hand). Of course, Tech isn't playing OU or A&M, so they will come out flat and will need to score 21 in the 4th quarter to win.

The Matrix - Texas Tech by 3.5, 44.4% against the spread

International Bowl. Rutgers vs. Ball State

That Rutgers ending the season in Canada is a sign that things in the Big East are returning to normalcy. Quite simply, Ball State is not a very good team. Only their pass efficiency is better than the national average - QB Davis has put up some decent numbers - and they will be a facing a very efficient Rutgers pass defense. Regardless, at least Ray Rice is worth watching.

The Matrix - Rutgers by 6.2, 40.9% against the spread

GMAC Bowl. Tulsa vs. Bowling Green

Only Tulsa has a winning record against BYU this year, something they can be proud of. QB Smith is second only to Tech's Harrell is passing yards but, since Tulsa also has a running game, they have led the nation in total yards. Bowling Green has essentially abandoned the whole concept of defense and will need to exploit a weak Tulsa pass D to stay in the game. These two teams might break 100 - individually.

The Matrix - Tulsa by 3.4, 48.4% against the spread


  1. Regarding your Tennessee/Wisconsin thoughts . . . as a lunatic Vols fan, let me just say Fulmer must go. Unfortunately, nothing short of a winless season would wake up the UT Board of Trustees and the UTAD to the idea that MAYBE there should be change. In truth, the Vols football program has been sleepwalking since the second half of the 2001 SEC championship game versus LSU (getting slapped by a back-up QB and RB that ultimately left UT out of a certain Rose Bowl bid - the Vols have never been the same). Neyland Stadium used to be feared (and, in fact, louder than the Swamp), the Vols had that certain "it" factor . . . no longer. Half of Orange Nation actually believes this season shows Fulmer's greatness. What they fail to take note of is this simple fact: The Vols were three missed field goals (South Carolina, Vanderbilt and a block of a Kentucky attempt) away from being 6-6. That is far more representative of where this program is at right now. Should the Vols prepare as they always do for a New Year's Day bowl game that they really don't care about, Wisconsin will be the latest Big 10 team that is inferior to the Vols on paper to beat the Vols on grass . . . and Fulmer will receive an extension/raise. If the Vols somehow win, Fulmer will receive a longer extension/raise. Scott, my one prediction: Most of the state of Wisconsin will be in Raymond James Stadium for the game. Vols fans, who used to travel as well as anyone in college football, will show up in force . . . in their own living rooms.

  2. Good call on the Texas Tech game. 17 points in the 4th quarter to knock off the Cavs.

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