2008 COLLEGE FOOTBALL BOWL GameS
WISCONSIN VS TENNESSEE
Not impressed with either of these teams this year. The Vols, somehow ended up in the SEC title Game and actually played very well against LSU and almost won the Game!
The Vols wins were more impressive than the Badgers. The SEC is a tougher Conference than the big 10. If you look at Wisky’s biggest tests of the year, they are all losses. Illinois, Penn State and Ohio State all beat Wisky, with Penn St and Ohio State doing so convincingly. Not the case with the Vols. They beat Georgia, South Carolina and Kentucky and came close against LSU.
This isn’t a strong call for us but we simply feel the Vols are a little better here, especially with the questionable status of Wisky back PJ Hill. The Vols have a big edge at QB in Our opinion and as a team have shown the ability to adapt to any style of Game, be it a 52-50 shoot out with Kentucky or a 21-14 title Game war with LSU.
2* TENNESSEE -1.5
ARKANSAS VS Missouri
When in doubt, take the points. Not much of an opinion for us in this one. Missouri was a Game away from playing for a National Title while Arkansas beat one of the teams playing in the title Game. Both squads were involved in some high scoring shoot outs this year so no reason there won’t be more of the same here. Neither is known for defense. We’re going to side with the running back duo of Mcfadden and Jones. They truly are something special. Need to be leary of the coaching change at Arkansas and the possible distractions that can cause, but it may also help this team. They should be lose, opening up the offensive Game plan, with nothing to lose.
1* Arkansas +3.5
CAPTAIN ONE BOWL
Michigan VS FLORIDA
Very difficult to make a case for Michigan here. Their Schedule can’t compare to that of Florida’s. If you’re looking for something to latch on to as a Michigan backer, you’re shot may be in the Florida defense, which isn’t all that great, and in Michigan’s defense, which was actually pretty good down the stretch giving up on average 17 points per Game. Throw in the emotion of it being Lloyd Carr’s last Game and a healthy Chad Henne and Mike Hart to boot, and who knows.
Florida and Heisman winner Tebow present a much bigger problem though. Michigan hasn’t seen anything close to this offense all year long. Tebow ads a new dimension to the offense. Teams become so focused on what Tebow is going to do, that it really opens up the passing Game making this offense just about impossible to stop.
With no real opinion here we are going to take the go against the public route with this Game. When it looks to easy it usually is, so while just about everyone outside the state of Michigan is on Florida here, we’re going to make a contrarian play on the Wolverines to come within the spot.
2* Michigan +11
TEXAS TECH VS VIRGINIA
We actually wanted to be able to make a case for Virginia here. It’s a nice story. A nice taste of success for a program on the rise. But we’re having trouble seeing how they are going to match points wit this potent Texas Tech offense. With the exception of Missouri, Texas Tech has been able to Score points and move the ball on every other team they faced this year, including Oklahoma, who they beat 34-27.
Virginia of course has been getting it done on defense, and yes, they did manage to Scorea bunch of points against Pitt and Miami, but generally speaking, this is a 20 point per Game offense or less and hey, they did allow teams not exactly known for offense hang some points on them. Such as Va Tech and NC St.
It’s very difficult to defend against the Tech offense, especially when you have seen nothing like it all year long. The last time Texas Tech played a team from the ACC in a bowl Game, Clemson, they spanked them to the tune of 55-15. Virginia just isn’t built to come from behind, which figures to be the case here. If the explosive Tech offense jumps out in front by a couple of TD’s, it takes Virginia off their Game plan and forces them to do things they aren’t comfortable. Virginia needs an old fashioned, smash mouth football Game to be successful. Pound the ball, play good defense, and have a chance to win it in the 4th quarter. This Game just doesn’t figure to go that way.
It is worth noting that Alabama was able to slow this offense down in the 2005 Cotton Bowl, a 13-10 Alabama win, so you can be sure Al Groh and company have been watching that tape over and over looking for the answers. But we just don’t see it.
2* Texas Tech -6
ILLINOIS VS USC
The Grand Daddy of them all……..
Let’s cut to the chase. Let’s first look at Our yards per point numbers for this Game.
First the overall numbers///the first numbers are offense, the 2nd are defense.
Illinois 14.7 and 18.2 for a +3.5
USC 13.4 AND 16.3 for a +2.9
Now for the road numbers.
Illinois 14.8 and 17.3 for a +2.5
USC 13.2 and 14.8 for a +1.6
Illinois rates an edge using yards per point both overall and using just road results. Next thing you need to do, to validate those numbers, is look at strength of Schedule. We’re down on the Big 10 in general. Just don’t think the big 10 compares well to other power house conferences like the SEC for example. However, much to Our surprise, the Illinois and USC Schedule strengths are relatively even. So there’s really no adjustment necessary on the above numbers. They are what they are, and they suggest that Illinois can give USC a helluva Game with a straight up win a real possibility. So you can see which way we’re headed here, as the two touchdowns looks very attractive in a Game where a win is not out of the question.
But let’s did a little deeper. You’ll here USC backers claim that USC is healthy now, healthier now than at any point during the year, and that some of their poor performances were the result of injuries……..we say, excuses, excuses. They may very well be healthier now, but so what. These “healthy” players, who haven’t played much to begin with, have been sitting around for a month doing nothing but going through the motions in practice. You think there going to be 100%? You think they’ll be the same as if they had played every down this year and were in sync? Every team in football at every level, has to deal with injuries. The fact of the matter is, while USC is a very good football team, they aren’t the same USC team of a year ago, or two years ago, and so on. Yet, you are getting extra points in the line, added value, because of who they were, not who they are.
Let’s look at some USC results from this year that suggest Illinois can compete. Such as giving up 31 points to a terrible Nebraska team. A 3 point win over Washington. A one point LOSS to Stanford. A 7 point win over Arizona. A 7 point loss to Oregon and a 7 point win over Cal.
On the Illinois side, how about wins over Penn St, Wisconsin and the biggie, going into Columbus and beating the team that’s playing in the National Championship Game, Ohio State. Oh, by the way, much is being made of the USC defense and how good they are against the run, all true, but let’s not forget, the Ohio State defense has put up some of the best numbers in the country this year, and Illinois was able to run for 260 yards against them. Throw in a shoot out loss to Mizu as well….no shame there.
How about some emotion……….folks, you could put me out there in this Game, for a few plays anyways, and I guarantee you I make at least one big play, or at least get in on a tackle, just running on pure adrenaline and emotion. (I’m in my 40’s by the way). This is why you play College football. This will be the biggest Game most of these players ever play in, particularly on the Illinois sideline. If you go to USC, you almost expect to be in the Rose Bowl every year. Not the case for the Illini. The success this team has had this year can’t be overstated. They were a 2 win team in 2006 but played some close Games against some very good teams. Many suggest this team is just happy to be here and is going to lay down. We think just the opposite. To complete the success story, a win is in order.
Illinois should be able to run the ball. Why not, they have run on everyone this year and average 5.7 yards per carry. Juice Williams is a Tebow like threat at QB. Not the best arm in the world but keeps opposing defenses honest with his ability to take off and run, and back Rashard Mendenhall is a special back that we’ll all be playing on Sundays soon.
Let’s not forget the Illinois defense which hasn’t received much mention in the press. This is a decent stop unit as the yards per point numbers suggest. With an 18.2 overall number on defense, it’s a defense ranks as one of the better ones in College football. They have held opponents to 19 points per Game on average and while their pass defense may come into question, they have a great pass rush that has registered 38 sacks this year.
If Illinois can have some success running the ball, and keep the USC offense off the field as much as possible, they can keep this Game close. By all means this is NOT a knock on a very good USC team. They are very good, no doubt about it. But we can’t pass up getting double digits with a very capable team in the biggest Game this school has played in for years. We don’t think they’ll disappoint.
5* ILLINOIS +14
HAWAII VS GEORGIA
There’s a saying in sports betting. Don’t bother showing up for the funeral if you weren’t at the wedding. Which means, if you like a Game at +10 or +11 but didn’t bet it, don’t bother betting it at +7.5 after the line moves. That’s what we’re dealing with in this match up. +10 and +11 was widely available when this Game was posted. It now sits at 7.5, with some 8’s here and there. If you like Georgia though, well, keep waiting cause the line figures to drop even more as the country seems to be in love with undefeated underdog Hawaii.
You can’t compare the Schedules of these two. It’s like night and day. Yes, Boise proved to us all last year that a WAC team can compete when they upset Oklahoma. But look at who Georgia has beaten this year…….Florida, Auburn, Alabama, Kentucky…..Hawaii’s biggest win came against Boise. Otherwise, who did they beat? They were lucky to beat Nevada and Fresno. When they played an average team from a real conference, Washington, they came away with a touchdown win.
The best Game to look at for Georgia to see how they’ll do here, may be the Kentucky Game. Kentucky averaged 37 points per Game and put up some big time points against the best teams in the Nation. Georgia held them to 13 points in a 24-13 Georgia win…..Georgia also beat Florida at a Neutral site. You think Hawaii is as good as Florida? Nah.
Unless Georgia takes Hawaii lightly, or doesn’t show up, like when they were blown out by Tennessee this year, they should win this Game. They are the better team. Of this line dips under 7, Georgia becomes even more attractive.
This should be an entertaining Game and a fun one to watch. We lean towards Georgia here and will make a small 1* play on them. If the line drops to under a touchdown, we’ll make it a 2* play.
1* Georgia -7.5
2* Georgia -7 or less