Heart of Dallas Bowl
The New Year starts off with one of the most lopsided bowl games of the season in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. The matchup pits the Big 12's fourth-placed Cowboys against the Boilermakers who finished eighth in the Big Ten. It's not set to be a close game no matter how you look at it. Oklahoma State is sitting at around 16.5-point favorites with the over/under being steady at 70.
The only team Purdue beat with a winning record was Eastern Kentucky. They won their final three of the games of the season to become bowl eligible over Iowa, Illinois and Indiana, the worst teams in the Big 10. Their most intriguing losses came against Notre Dame (20-17) and Ohio State (overtime). The Boilermakers were able to compete with the No. 1 school in the country, yet fell hard to mediocre teams in the Big 10, most notably a 44-28 loss to Minnesota.
Oklahoma State is easily better and the numbers prove it. While they do have five losses, the Big 12 is considered a much more difficult conference than the Big 10. Every one of their losses came against a team with a winning record. The Cowboys have some nice wins on their résumé beating TCU, West Virginia and Texas Tech. Their only road win came at Kansas which is a bit troubling as they almost lost that game.
The Cowboys have one of the best offenses in the nation scoring 44.7 points per game. Purdue had trouble stopping teams that were scoring only 30 points per game. Led by the ground game of Joseph Randle, OK State really should have no problems moving the football. Randle only has one bad game on the year and that was against then-ranked No. 1 Kansas State. He matched last year's yardage total with 1,351 yards, but has 10 fewer TDs with 14 for the season. Even with three different quarterbacks that have thrown for 1,000 yards, the Cowboys still get the job done. Freshman Clint Chelf has started the last four games of the season and will get the start in the bowl game. His numbers fall right in line with the other two QBs. He can move the ball, yet has a problem turning it over. On the year, Chelf has 12 TDs and six interceptions. Wide receiver Josh Stewart will be used constantly in the passing game. He has triple the amount of receptions as anyone else on the team to go with 1,154 yards and seven touchdowns.
Oklahoma State can be scored on which was seen in their final two games when they allowed a combined 92 points. Purdue will need to replicate their season finale of 56 points scored against Indiana. That might be a little difficult as Indiana probably has the worst defense in their conference. Against Michigan, Wisconsin and Penn State, they were stopped completely unable to put more than 14 points on the board. Sixth-year senior QB Robert Marve will lead the troops even though he's playing with a torn ACL. He's the reason they won their last three games of the year. His numbers have been solid, in only six starts he has 1,522 yards to go with 13 touchdowns and just three interceptions. Akeem Shavers leads a mediocre running attack with 778 yards on 167 carries. He only has six TDS, but in every game he's scored this season, the Boilermakers have won. If he scores against the Cowboys, we could be in for an upset... but that may be a stretch.
Typically in a game like this, we would look at the dog only. Regardless of the differences between the two teams, a bowl game like this, on New Years Day, can make an average team great, if just for a day. If you're looking for something to hang your hat on for the Purdue side, it would be this. The two teams yards per point numbers are fairly close, favoring Oklahoma State by about a point and neither teams numbers, especially defensively, are very good. Oklahoma State played a schedule more difficult by about TD. So, in that scenario, you'd have a number far less than 17 points separating these two teams.
The other thing you'd hang your hat on for the Purdue side, is the fact that they played close games with both Ohio State and Notre Dame. Logic would suggest that of they can come within a TD of those two teams, they could come within 17 points of Oklahoma State.
But the reason we can't play this game is our model. Our model has performed well this year, especially in games where it predicts a blowout, which is the case here. Our model predicts scores of 50-30, 72-28 and 60-24, using different time frame parameters. Wow. Most times our model predicts a game to be that lopsided, it's right on the money. For that reason, we have to pass this game all together as far as the side goes. The over 69.5 may be worth a look though, based on the model, considering one run suggests Oklahoma State will get there on it's own. Lean only, Over 69.5