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» Any Given Sunday: Rams Over Seahawks

Though it's easy to blame Seattle's loss to St. Louis on trick plays and special teams, Andrew Healy says teams are starting to exploit weaknesses in the Seahawks defense.

27 Dec 2010

SDA: 2010-2011 Bowl Spectacular Part II

by Bill Connelly, Brian Fremeau, and Robert Weintraub

Since only Big Ten and SEC teams are allowed to play on New Year's Day now, the Big 12 and ACC get their showcase in the second batch of bowls this holiday season. Nine of 10 games below feature teams from the two conferences (that is, if you still consider Nebraska a Big 12 team). Strangely though, in no games do the two conferences actually face off.

As is customary, the bowl season has provided all necessary ammunition for both bowl supporters and detractors. Only 20,017 people attended the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl in St. Petersburg (quick question for Beef 'O' Brady's: Is it true that any exposure is good exposure, or do you think that four hours of people asking, "What the hell is a Beef 'O' Brady's, and why do I care?" was detrimental to the cause?), and six of eight bowls have been decided by at least 20 points. On the other hand, the two that weren't (Louisville-Southern Miss and Florida International-Toledo) were fantastic, and the ones that were still featured some outstanding performances. BYU freshmen Jake Heaps, Cody Hoffman, and Joshua Quezada looked great, Chandler Harnish and Northern Illinois made a statement, San Diego State looks like a potential force (as long as Brady Hoke is around, anyway), Boise State shook off rust and dominated, and Tulsa's blowout of Hawaii was all sorts of fun. (The F/+ picks made a statement too, going 6-1-1, but that's neither here nor there.)

You always see what you want to see in bowls -- pointless spectacle or worthwhile opportunities for celebration -- and this year is no different. But for those interested in keeping up with the fun (and not so fun), the SDA crew once again walks you through the second batch of bowls, starting in Shreveport this afternoon.

Previews

AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl: Georgia Tech +3 vs. Air Force (Monday, 5 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

OVERALL When Georgia Tech
Has the Ball ...
When Air Force
Has the Ball ...
Category Ga. Tech
(6-6)
Air Force
(8-4)
Ga. Tech
Off
Air Force
Def
Ga. Tech
Def
Air Force
Off
2010 F/+ Rk 64 46 32 62 94 33
2010 FEI Rk 51 43 33 63 81 29
2010 S&P+ Rk 73 50 43 60 106 36
2010 FPA Rk 68 58
2010 Rushing S&P+ Rk 31 82 98 35
2010 Passing S&P+ Rk 98 45 102 17
2010 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk 39 74 106 35
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
86.7% Run
(third)
86.2% Run
(fourth)
2010 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 70 67 73 44
Run-Pass Ratio
(Pass. Downs)
62.9% Run
(third)
70.4% Run
(second)

With a month of practice time to prepare, surely one of these teams has installed a spread passing package, right? Here's hoping either Tech or The Force at least come out and throw a bomb on the first play of the game. Otherwise, this game might take about 45 minutes, even with the TV timeouts. The Yellow Jackets and the Falcons possess the top two rushing attacks in the nation (Tech averages 327 yards per game, AFU 318), relentlessly pounding away out of different but similarly effective option looks. The likely key to this one is the status of Yellow Jackets quarterback Joshua Nesbitt, who broke a bone in his arm in early November and is questionable the game. Backup Tevin Washington had a few good moments, but he is a far cry from the stout and steadfast Nesbitt. Coach Paul Johnson won five straight over Air Force while at Navy. His opposition, Falcons coach Troy Calhoun, was rumored to be headed to Denver to take over the Broncos, but recently inked a contract to stay in Colorado Springs, shattering Tim Tebow's dream of running the option in the NFL. Calhoun has built one of the nation's best pass defenses at the Air Force, not that it will get much a chance to preen in this matchup.

Champs Sports Bowl: N.C. State +2.5 vs. No. 22 West Virginia (Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

OVERALL When N.C. State
Has the Ball ...
When West Virginia
Has the Ball ...
Category N.C. St.
(8-4)
WVU
(9-3)
N.C. St.
Off
WVU
Def
N.C. St.
Def
WVU
Off
2010 F/+ Rk 26 17 44 1 22 60
2010 FEI Rk 17 14 38 1 11 46
2010 S&P+ Rk 40 18 55 5 34 49
2010 FPA Rk 38 47
2010 Rushing S&P+ Rk 61 5 20 90
2010 Passing S&P+ Rk 52 16 46 27
2010 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk 52 3 50 49
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
47.0% Run
(114th)
64.4% Run
(39th)
2010 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 47 28 31 40
Run-Pass Ratio
(Pass. Downs)
32.7% Run
(67th)
39.4% Run
(25th)

We've had interim coaches in bowl games before, and we've had coaches take to the field for the final time in a bowl. But West Virginia's Bill Stewart has to be one of the first retirees-in-waiting that will trot off the field, then be back on the recruiting trail, lead spring practice, and coach the team again next fall before the new guy steps in for 2012. Nah, nothing weird about that. Hotshot Oklahoma State assistant Dana Holgorsen will grab the reins of the WVU offense that never really sparked under Stewart -- and never claimed a Big East championship either. The defense has been stellar, however -- No. 2 in scoring defense, No. 3 in yards, No. 1 in FEI, No. 5 in S&P+. Defensive end Bruce Ivrin ranks No. 5 nationally in sacks, and will pressure Wolfpack quarterback Russell Wilson to make quick decisions. Wilson led all other ACC passers in yards and touchdowns, plus chipped in nine scores on the ground. Both teams looked like the class of their respective conferences at times this season, but inconsistencies cost them each a game they never should have lost -- WVU to Connecticut, NC State to East Carolina.

Insight Bowl: No. 12 Missouri -3 vs. Iowa (Tuesday, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN)

OVERALL When Iowa
Has the Ball ...
When Mizzou
Has the Ball ...
Category Iowa
(7-5)
Mizzou
(10-2)
iowa
Off
Mizzou
Def
Iowa
Def
Mizzou
Off
2010 F/+ Rk 21 15 38 15 14 27
2010 FEI Rk 20 13 24 6 17 25
2010 S&P+ Rk 21 17 38 22 15 21
2010 FPA Rk 32 38
2010 Rushing S&P+ Rk 57 51 18 7
2010 Passing S&P+ Rk 31 10 13 38
2010 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk 26 14 25 30
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
59.9% Run
(58th)
52.6% Run
(99th)
2010 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 100 50 4 16
Run-Pass Ratio
(Pass. Downs)
34.7% Run
(50th)
29.5% Run
(83rd)

Go ahead, try to figure out what is going to happen in this game. We dare you. How do you make smart predictions about a game in which the team that whipped Texas A&M and got dropped by Texas Tech is by far the more consistent team of the two? Iowa killed otherwise undefeated Michigan State this season and put together a couple of the season's best performances, then inexplicably lost three in a row, including a tumble against lowly Minnesota, to end the season. Only a last-second touchdown pass against Indiana staved off four in a row. In theory, the bowl break was exactly what the Hawkeyes needed. Instead, they lost their No. 1 and No. 3 running backs, their No. 2 wide receiver, and their No. 2 fullback to suspension, dismissal, drug-house arrest, and heart issues, respectively. If the Iowa front seven is able to limit Missouri's short game -- the quick passes to receiver T.J. Moe and All-America tight end Michael Egnew and handoffs to their underrated four-headed running back -- then the offensive losses might not matter so much. If they cannot, and the Tigers are able to execute some early drives, Iowa could be in trouble. Regardless, this game will be decided by who handles standard downs better. The Hawkeyes have one of the best passing downs defenses and the worst passing downs offenses in the country, potentially rendering those downs moot on both sides of the ball.

Military Bowl Presented By Northrop Grumman: East Carolina +7.5 vs. Maryland (Wednesday, 1:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

OVERALL When East Caro.
Has the Ball ...
When Maryland
Has the Ball ...
Category ECU
(6-6)
Maryland
(8-4)
ECU
Off
Maryland
Def
ECU
Def
Maryland
Off
2010 F/+ Rk 58 33 10 27 119 47
2010 FEI Rk 70 27 12 25 118 44
2010 S&P+ Rk 47 37 17 35 93 47
2010 FPA Rk 56 22
2010 Rushing S&P+ Rk 9 38 96 79
2010 Passing S&P+ Rk 30 31 84 33
2010 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk 36 33 97 53
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
41.9% Run
(119th)
57.1% Run
(80th)
2010 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 12 37 102 39
Run-Pass Ratio
(Pass. Downs)
20.6% Run
(115th)
33.5% Run
(60th)

The Maryland Terrapins cut ties with Ralph Friedgen -- effective after the bowl game -- to pave the way for presumed successor Mike Leach. Friedgen received the 2010 ACC Coach of the Year award as a lovely parting gift. The 8-4 season was a solid bounce back year for the Terrapins after a dreadful 2009 campaign. Maryland had mixed success on offense this year, largely due to the strength of the opposition faced. They lost games against the No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3 FEI defenses this season but had little trouble against weaker foes. East Carolina's defense was terrible, surrendering 43 points per game, so Maryland should be able to move the ball at will. The Pirates can put up big numbers themselves, and quarterback Dominique Davis ranks fourth nationally in passing yards per game (307). The ECU running game doesn't grab many headlines, but it has been solid according to S&P+. Maryland will be the fourth ACC opponent East Carolina has faced this season (1-2 so far).

Texas Bowl: Illinois +1.5 vs. Baylor (Wednesday, 5 p.m. ET, ESPN)

OVERALL When Illinois
Has the Ball ...
When Baylor
Has the Ball ...
Category Illinois
(6-6)
Baylor
(7-5)
Illinois
Off
Baylor
Def
Illinois
Def
Baylor
Off
2010 F/+ Rk 32 54 56 108 21 15
2010 FEI Rk 34 70 48 106 26 30
2010 S&P+ Rk 33 41 53 91 17 13
2010 FPA Rk 35 82
2010 Rushing S&P+ Rk 45 92 9 14
2010 Passing S&P+ Rk 70 85 27 12
2010 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk 57 77 26 12
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
74.2% Run
(eighth)
58.2% Run
(74th)
2010 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 53 97 18 36
Run-Pass Ratio
(Pass. Downs)
46.8% Run
(seventh)
27.0% Run
(98th)

Here's to hoping that the bowl break does both of these teams a favor. Both Illinois and Baylor pulled off unexpected bowl bids in 2010 and almost completely shut down in November. The Fighting Illini lost three of four to end the season, with only the Wrigley romp over Northwestern salvaging bowl eligibility. The Bears, meanwhile, moved to 7-2 with a win at Texas ... and finished 7-5, giving up 150 points in their final three games. Baylor has home field advantage in this one, and quarterback Robert Griffin III is everything Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase hopes to be in another year or two. The Bears must overcome their absolutely horrendous defense to reach eight wins for the first time since 1991. They allowed more than 40 points in half of their 2010 contests (not surprisingly, they were 1-5 in such games) and perhaps more egregiously, they managed to give up more 20 points to both Colorado and Texas. Illinois, meanwhile, made it to six wins because of an underrated defense, but the D abandoned them late, allowing at least 25 points in every game after Halloween. The pieces are in place for a shootout. Look for Illinois running back Mikel LeShoure and Baylor receivers Kendall Wright and Josh Gordon to have big games.

Valero Alamo Bowl: Arizona +5 vs. No. 14 Oklahoma State (Wednesday, 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN)

OVERALL When Arizona
Has the Ball ...
When Oklahoma St.
Has the Ball ...
Category Arizona
(7-5)
Okla. St.
(10-2)
Arizona
Off
Okla. St.
Def
Arizona
Def
Okla. St.
Off
2010 F/+ Rk 35 18 30 37 43 11
2010 FEI Rk 41 19 23 29 64 13
2010 S&P+ Rk 30 13 33 37 23 7
2010 FPA Rk 73 30
2010 Rushing S&P+ Rk 68 17 19 13
2010 Passing S&P+ Rk 26 55 30 6
2010 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk 44 22 18 5
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
51.6% Run
(104th)
50.3% Run
(108th)
2010 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 13 87 61 10
Run-Pass Ratio
(Pass. Downs)
18.8% Run
(116th)
32.7% Run
(67th)

Arizona had about the worst final month of any team in the nation, losing four straight after climbing into the Top 10, culminating in an excruciating defeat to rival Arizona State thanks to a pair of blocked extra points. Now the Wildcats tangle with 10-2 Oklahoma State, a powerhouse squad that features a lettermen version of the Cowboys triplets in quarterback Brandon Weeden, running back Kendall Hunter, and wide receiver Justin Blackmon. The T. Boone Boys put up 45 points per game and led the nation in offense. If it weren't for Cam Newton, some Heisman buzz might have built around Blackmon, who had 18 touchdowns and 151 yards receiving per game. He settled for the Belitnikoff Award as the nation's best wideout. For Arizona to have a chance at slowing the OSU passing attack, it will have to make some big plays, but unfortunately, the defense only intercepted nine passes on the season. A more likely path to victory is winning a shootout. Arizona has a deadly passing combo of its own, Nick Foles to Juron Criner. The two hooked up for 10 touchdowns, and Foles threw for more yards per game than more heralded Pac-10 quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Jake Locker.

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl: Army +7 vs. SMU (Thursday, 11 a.m. ET, ESPN)

OVERALL When Army
Has the Ball ...
When SMU
Has the Ball ...
Category Army
(6-6)
SMU
(7-6)
Army
Off
SMU
Def
Army
Def
SMU
Off
2010 F/+ Rk 78 55 51 51 99 69
2010 FEI Rk 60 68 65 46 102 60
2010 S&P+ Rk 90 46 73 41 108 62
2010 FPA Rk 17 102
2010 Rushing S&P+ Rk 55 42 113 52
2010 Passing S&P+ Rk 81 36 75 60
2010 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk 73 58 109 65
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
87.0% Run
(second)
42.3% Run
(118th)
2010 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 99 19 108 37
Run-Pass Ratio
(Pass. Downs)
76.6% Run
(first)
36.9% Run
(37th)

The Black Knights return to a bowl game for the first time in 14 years. It's a nice achievement, but one that is only made possible by a 35 game bowl schedule -- the 1996 Army team won 10 games and participated in one of only 18 bowls. It has been 25 years since Army won a bowl game, matching the streak between bowl victories that SMU snapped last season. Army and SMU enter this year's contest with a few other commonalities. They both lost to Navy. They both defeated Tulane. And neither Army nor SMU strung together more than two consecutive FBS victories this year. The Mustangs have the edge defensively according to our metrics, but they are susceptible to long, methodical drives, Army's specialty. Nearly 20 percent of the Black Knights' possessions this year lasted at least 10 plays. That, combined with a strong field possession advantage, is the key to an Army victory. Without those elements, expect June Jones' explosive SMU offense to run (and shoot) wild.

New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Kansas State PK vs. Syracuse (Thursday, 2:20 p.m. ET, ESPN)

OVERALL When Kansas St.
Has the Ball ...
When Syracuse
Has the Ball ...
Category K-State
(7-5)
'Cuse
(7-5)
K-State
Off
'Cuse
Def
K-State
Def
'Cuse
Off
2010 F/+ Rk 50 61 29 36 76 89
2010 FEI Rk 48 47 32 34 92 90
2010 S&P+ Rk 64 79 48 50 68 97
2010 FPA Rk 44 87
2010 Rushing S&P+ Rk 32 66 70 63
2010 Passing S&P+ Rk 71 41 72 105
2010 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk 31 44 41 81
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
71.5% Run
(13th)
58.3% Run
(72nd)
2010 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 59 49 119 98
Run-Pass Ratio
(Pass. Downs)
36.8% Run
(38th)
33.3% Run
(61st)

Football makes its debut in the new Yankee Stadium, 85 years after the first game in the real thing. Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone, who has brought legitimacy and competence to the program after years in the wild, is a Bronx native, so at least he'll be able to lead the Orange to some decent calzones from favored spots on Jerome Avenue. His team flirted briefly with thoughts of claiming the lowest bar to clear in the BCS, the Big East AQ, but collapsed down the stretch to settle to fourth. Top rusher Delone Carter was knocked out of the season finale against BC, but he plans to play in the bowl game. He should want to -- the 'Cats didn't stop the run at all this season, getting carved up for 229 yards per game. In contrast, K-State's top player, running back Daniel Thomas, cranked out 269 yards in his last regular season outing -- albeit against defense-free North Texas. He'll have a tough go to match that in his final game as a Wildcat against Syracuse's tough defense (13th in the nation in scoring defense, partially due to a cushy schedule). The Orange will play the game for punter Rob Long, who underwent surgery to remove a brain tumor a couple of weeks ago.

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl: North Carolina -2 vs. Tennessee (Thursday, 5:40 p.m. ET, ESPN)

OVERALL When N. Carolina
Has the Ball ...
When Tennessee
Has the Ball ...
Category UNC
(7-5)
Tennessee
(6-6)
UNC
Off
Tennessee
Def
UNC
Def
Tennessee
Off
2010 F/+ Rk 37 57 45 58 35 61
2010 FEI Rk 30 64 33 55 22 63
2010 S&P+ Rk 39 52 44 51 42 50
2010 FPA Rk 114 86
2010 Rushing S&P+ Rk 74 68 31 75
2010 Passing S&P+ Rk 32 44 50 45
2010 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk 40 37 36 43
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
55.4% Run
(88th)
54.4% Run
(94th)
2010 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 52 68 29 80
Run-Pass Ratio
(Pass. Downs)
29.1% Run
(85th)
28.3% Run
(88th)

In the Ironic Twist Bowl, the Volunteers, who dropped UNC from the schedule so as to give new coach Derek Dooley a sure win, now gets the Heels in Nashville anyway --reportedly by popular demand, as Tennessee requested bowl officials to invite the boys in blue. UNC had its sights set on bigger game before its program was shredded by the NCAA investigations department. A colossal collapse appeared possible, but the team's gunslinger, T.J. Yates, had an excellent season, mainly due to his accuracy (67.6 percent). Carolina has played in the Meineke Car Care Bowl each of the last three seasons. Assuming the team bus driver doesn't steer toward Charlotte out of habit, the Heels have a good shot at a surprisingly upbeat ending to its otherwise depressing season. They'll have to do it without stud linebacker Bruce Carter, one of the few stars to survive the suspension-laden season in Chapel Hill, who will miss the game with a pec injury. Tennessee was set to have its season defined by the infamous 13-men-on-the-field fiasco against LSU, but then freshman Taylor Bray took over the quarterback gig from Phil's other signal-calling son, Matt Simms. The Vols won four straight under Bray. A partisan sellout crowd (one of the few expected this bowl season) will urge them to make it five.

Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl: Washington +14 vs. No. 18 Nebraska (Thursday, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN)

OVERALL When Washington
Has the Ball ...
When Nebraska
Has the Ball ...
Category Wash.
(6-6)
Nebraska
(11-2)
Wash.
Off
Nebraska
Def
Wash.
Def
Nebraska
Off
2010 F/+ Rk 65 16 40 8 85 35
2010 FEI Rk 74 12 76 8 91 35
2010 S&P+ Rk 51 19 27 12 83 32
2010 FPA Rk 95 12
2010 Rushing S&P+ Rk 37 22 97 26
2010 Passing S&P+ Rk 20 5 68 51
2010 Std. Downs S&P+ Rk 34 27 71 27
Run-Pass Ratio
(Std. Downs)
56.8% Run
(82nd)
77.2% Run
(fifth)
2010 Pass. Downs S&P+ Rk 54 6 64 55
Run-Pass Ratio
(Pass. Downs)
38.2% Run
(27th)
45.4% Run
(10th)

You know this is the antonym of "anticipated rematch" when even Nebraska struggles to sell its allotment of tickets. On September 18, Nebraska headed to Seattle and absolutely mauled the host Washington Huskies. Taylor Martinez spearheaded an unstoppable Huskers rushing attack, going for 137 yards and three touchdowns, while Todd McShay heartthrob Jake Locker went 4-for-20 with two interceptions. It appeared that Nebraska was headed for greatness in 2010, but a Martinez injury foreshadowed a late fade. Nebraska was minutes from a Fiesta Bowl bid, but after losing the Big 12 title game, they fell all the way to the Holiday Bowl after the Big 12 allegedly urged the Insight Bowl to select Missouri (they justifiably did not want a three-hour Big Ten commercial that would result from a Nebraska-Iowa matchup). It is their second straight December trip to San Diego and their second of three games against Washington in a year, and ... needless to say, motivation could come into play. With the "No. 1 pick!" hype disappearing and some mid-season injuries healing, Locker actually played well the last couple of weeks of the season. If they bring their "A" game, can they pull an upset? Probably not, honestly, but this should be a much more competitive game than what we saw almost 15 weeks ago.

Storylines of the Week

Rob Weintraub: The surprise firing of Maryland head coach Ralph Freidgen meant more than extra helpings are now available at the Terrapins' training table. The move was the initial public power play of the biggest booster this side of Oregon's Phil Knight. Like the Nike CEO, Kevin Plank made his millions in athletic gear. As head of Under Armour, Plank has done more than protect this house. UA rivals Nike and Reebok at the top of the food chain in everything but footwear. Plank is a Maryland man, and he has finally come to the realization that rolling in dough means he can decide who makes the pizza, so to speak. Rumored replacement Mike Leach is close to Plank, and Plank outfitted Texas Tech in Under Armour while few schools were willing to suffer the wrath of The Swoosh. So long as the Terrapins don't come out next season in the hideous-uni-of-the-month club decor that has been the hallmark of Oregon under the reign of Knight, it's all good for Maryland to live Under Armour.

Brian Fremeau: Florida International and Toledo provided the most exciting bowl game of the season so far in Sunday night's Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl, so it's understandable if you're feeling a little underwhelmed by this year's college football postseason offerings. The games have been largely uncompetitive, and several have been marred by sloppy turnovers and penalties. There have been big plays, however. Four defensive or special teams touchdowns were scored in the first eight bowl games, and six other touchdowns were scored on the first play of a drive. Combined, there were 562 such momentum-changing plays in the 683 FBS games played in the regular season. Teams that scored a defensive or special teams score went on to win only 73 percent of the time in the regular season, but are three-for-three so far in the bowls -- Louisville, Tulsa (twice), and FIU were each propelled to victory on the strength of touchdown returns. A boxed set of this year's bowl season would collect dust on the shelf, but a highlight reel version would be endlessly watchable.

Bill Connelly: It is difficult to describe just how bad San Diego State and Florida International were not too long ago. The Aztecs ranked 114th in 2008, Chuck Long's final season in charge in San Diego, and with the talent base available in that area, that was simply unacceptable. In walked Brady Hoke. Two years later, SDSU almost knocked off Missouri and TCU and absolutely destroyed Navy in Thursday night's Poinsettia Bowl. In three years, Hoke has led Ball State to an undefeated season, then turned SDSU around from 3-9 to 9-4. And that is possibly less impressive than what Mario Cristobal has done in four seasons at Florida International. Cristobal inherited a wasteland of a Florida International program. The Golden Panthers (awesome name) went 3-20 against FBS competition from 2004 to 2006, and it took 12 tries for Cristobal to win his first game there in 2007. But as the talent began to trickle in (most notably receiver-slash-stud-return-man T.Y. Hilton) and the mentality began to change, he set the table for a dramatic turnaround. FIU was competitive against the likes of Texas A&M and Maryland in non-conference play this year, and the Panthers won six of their first seven Sun Belt games to clinch the conference title. In their first ever game, they looked out of sorts and trailed big at half, but they came back to win with a last-second field goal. As Cristobal himself said last night, "That is awesome." The early portion of the bowl season is reserved for redemption tales like this (then again, in Florida International's case, there is no "re" in redemption -- it was their first experience with any sort of success), and San Diego State and Florida International provided a couple of good ones.

Picks

The Picks
(* - "Fred Edelstein Lock of the Week")
Visitor Spread Home Rob F/+
Ga. Tech +3 Air Force Air Force Air Force
N.C. State +2.5 W. Virginia W. Virginia W. Virginia
Missouri -3 Iowa Missouri Missouri
E. Carolina +7.5 Maryland E. Carolina Maryland
Illinois +1.5 Baylor Baylor Illinois
Arizona +5 Oklahoma St. Oklahoma St.* Oklahoma St.
Army +7 SMU Army Army
Kansas St. PK Syracuse Syracuse Kansas St.
N. Carolina -2 Tennessee N. Carolina N. Carolina
Washington +14 Nebraska Nebraska Nebraska*
Season-long Results
("Fred Edelstein Lock of the Week" record in parentheses)
Bowls Vol. 1 Season Total
F/+: 6-1-1 (1-0) 73-70-5 (4-11)
Rob: 2-5-1 (1-0) 72-71-5 (9-6)

Posted by: Bill Connelly on 27 Dec 2010

12 comments, Last at 31 Dec 2010, 2:15pm by Tom Gower

Comments

1
by Tom Gower :: Mon, 12/27/2010 - 6:09pm

I'll go counter-consensus tonight and pick Georgia Tech, but not make it my Edelstein. Other picks and suchnot coming later.

8
by Tom Gower :: Tue, 12/28/2010 - 6:31pm

Stupid Yellow Jackets. Other picks: NC State, Maryland, Illinois, Oklahoma State, SMU (Edelstein), Kansas State, Tennessee, and Washington. Joining the failed GaTech call as counter-consensus picks are the Wolfpack, Mustangs, Vols, and Huskies, which is probably way too many.

4-3-1 (1-0) last time, raising my record to 67-64-3 (5-9) on the year. I went 1-0 counter-consensus (go Aztecs!) to improve to 17-15, while all Rob-F/+ consensus picks went 2-1-1 and are now 44-42-2 on the year.

12
by Tom Gower :: Fri, 12/31/2010 - 2:15pm

Doh, I forgot to pick Mizzou-Iowa. 5-4 (0-1), but nearly so much better as Kansas State and Tennessee both failed me. 2-3 on counter-consensus picks, so yes, too many. I am now 72-68-3 (5-10) on the year, and only 19-18 counter-consensus, while all Rob-F/+ consensus picks went 4-3 and are now 48-47-2 on the year.

2
by Rocco :: Mon, 12/27/2010 - 6:28pm

Am I crazy in thinking UNC -2 is easy money? UT beat a bunch of crappy teams to make their run to .500. Their best win is what, UK? UT against teams with pulses (with the exception of the LSU game) played well for a half then fell apart. UNC has a lot more talent even after the suspensions and injuries, a senior QB, and hasn't won a bowl under Butch Davis and is bound to be motivated.

3
by navin :: Mon, 12/27/2010 - 6:30pm

Tennessee is probably getting a few points for it being a "home" game.

5
by Rocco :: Mon, 12/27/2010 - 9:10pm

True, but that didn't really help UT much against UF, Bama or Oregon. UNC isn't Bama or Oregon, but they're probably on the same level as UF. Vegas is a lot smarter than I am and they may in fact know something I don't but this feels like a game UNC should win going away if both teams do what is expected.

6
by Will :: Tue, 12/28/2010 - 2:26am

Bowl games are too unpredictable (IMO) to ever be easy money.

Will

10
by Rocco :: Thu, 12/30/2010 - 11:57pm

Well I would have won but I'm glad I didn't have money riding on the game. Watching without rooting interests was tough enough.

4
by Thok :: Mon, 12/27/2010 - 6:45pm

I sort of want to see a match up of the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl and the Poulan Weedeater Independence Bowl.

Or maybe a mashup: the Poluan Beef 'O' Brady's Weedeater Independence Bowl.

7
by Dean :: Tue, 12/28/2010 - 1:05pm

I've always thought 2000 Flushes should sponser a bowl and play it in Jerry Jones's new pleasure-palace.

9
by Sid :: Wed, 12/29/2010 - 10:33pm

the times were an hour off today.

2:30, 6, and 9:30 were what they should've said

11
by ODBvernon :: Fri, 12/31/2010 - 12:34pm

Where is SDA, Part III??!?! Games start in 30 minutes...