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THE LINEUP FEATURES THURSDAY'S POINSETTIA & FRIDAY'S BEEF O'BRADY'S BOWL PLUS THERE IS A SATURDAY DOUBLE DIP WITH NEW ORLEANS AND LAS VEGAS BOWLS ON TAP TOO
By Jim Hurley:
Let's call it a bowl appetizer of sorts: This weekend's three College Football Bowl Games may be heavy on non-BCS squads with five-of-six teams in action here hailing from the non-power conferences (save for the Pac-12's Washington Huskies in the Las Vegas Bowl) but we surely can expect some great action and note all three games sport pointspreads of 7-or-less points. Hmmm.
Here's the week's bowl menu with a quickie reminder that next week's bowl card includes a Christmas Eve game - that's the Hawaii Bowl matchup between SMU and Fresno State - plus the day-after-Christmas bowl tilt as Central Michigan battles Western Kentucky in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl and than there's three more bowl tilts on Thursday, December 27th ...
Today it's the POINSETTIA BOWL - Qualcomm Stadium - San Diego, CA
BYU (7-5) vs. SAN DIEGO STATE (9-3) - 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
Hello, old friend! The BYU Cougars and the San Diego State Aztecs go way back - in fact, this showdown marks the 36th time these one-time Mountain West Conference or Western Athletic Conference rivals will battle it out on the gridiron and note BYU - a 3 ½-point betting fav at last glance -- owns a commanding 27-7-1 advantage in this series.
Now, San Diego State hopes to turn the tables here in a veritable home game (the Aztecs won 6-of-7 games in their own backyard this season) with the nation's 16th-ranked rushing attack starring RB Adam Muema (1,355 yards rushing and 16 ground scores) while BYU claims it has not made up its mind who will start under center: Veteran lefty Riley Nelson (2,011 yards passing but with just 13 TDs and 12 INTs) or James Lark who threw for 384 yards and six TDs in a 50-14 romp over lowly New Mexico State back on November 24th.
One real key here: The Aztecs must contain BYU wide-out Cody Hoffman who has 16 catches and 6 TDs in the Cougars' two most recent bowl games.
Spread Notes - The BYU Coogs have split their dozen regular-season pointspread verdicts this year but did you know that the Provo gang is a nifty 4-2-1 ATS (against the spread) in bowl tilts the past seven years and that includes spread wins the last three in a row (versus Oregon State, UTEP and Tulsa). On the flip side, San Diego State's a rock-solid 8-4 versus the vig overall this season and that includes spread "W's" against Washington, Nevada, Boise State and Air Force (all bowl teams this year). Note the last time BYU and San Diego State squared off was back in the 2010 season and 4 ½-point road fav San Diego State lost 24-21 at BYU.
On Friday, it's ...BEEF O'BRADY'S BOWL - Tropicana Field; St. Petersburg, FL
UCF (9-4) vs. BALL STATE (9-3) - 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Don't discount the fact that college football teams love to reach the double-digit win mark and here both UCF - denied win #10 in that painful 33-27 overtime loss at Tulsa in the Conference USA Championship Game back on December 1 - and Ball State (winners of six in a row coming in here) have their shots to get this 10-win goal.
No doubt UCF - a full touchdown betting favorite here at press time - is the healthier crew as Ball State could be down to its third-string quarterback should starter Keith Wenning (2,878 yards passing with 22 TDs and 10 INTs) and top backup Kelly Page both not be able to go here and so that would leave it to freshman Kyle Kamman to make his collegiate debut.
Best shot Ball State would have to win if Kamman is under center is to get the ball to top-flight RB Jahwan Edwards (1,31 yards rushing and 14 TDs) and note that includes a three-TD game in BSU's 31-24 win at Miami-Ohio in the Cards' regular-season finale.
The UCF offense averages 35.2 points a game and all eyes will be on versatile QB Blake Bortles who has thrown for 2,787 yards with 22 TDs and 7 INTs to go along with 7 rushing scores.
Spread Notes - Ball State is a glittering 9-3 ATS (against the spread) this year and that includes outright underdog wins against Indiana, South Florida and Toledo. Note the B-State Cardinals, however, have failed to cover their only two bowl games in recent years: A 52-30 loss to 11-point favorite Rutgers in the 2007 International Bowl and a 45-13 loss to 2 ½-point fav Tulsa in the 2008 GMAC Bowl. On the flip side, the UCF Knights are 6-7 versus the vig this season but the Conference USA club is a rock-solid 21-14 ATS as chalk sides since the start of the 2009 campaign. Since '07, UCF has failed to cover two-of-three bowl games with the lone cover coming in a 10-6 upset of 6-point fav Georgia in the 2010 Liberty Bowl.
THE LAST 3 BEEF O'BRADY'S BOWL GAMES
|2010||Louisville||- 2.5||Southern Miss||31-28|
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On Saturday, it's ...
NEW ORLEANS BOWL - Superdome; New Orleans, LA
UL-LAFAYETTE (8-4) vs. EAST CAROLINA (8-4) - 12 p.m. ET, ESPN
Play it again, Sam? The UL-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns are back for an encore inside the Louisiana Superdome one year after a stirring 32-30 win against favored San Diego State when kicker Brett Baer banged home a 50-yard field goal with no time left on the clock but now this time the Sun Belt Conference crew is banking on sophomore QB Terrance Broadway - a Houston transfer - to steer 'em to the winner's circle after he threw for 2,526 yards and rushed for an additional 661 yards after taking over for a then-injured Blaine Gautier (broken left hand) way back on September 29th.
If East Carolina is gonna close out this season on a four-game winning streak than QB Shane Carden must be the key after he threw for a school-record 439 passing yards in the Buccos' wacky 65-59 double-OT win against Marshall that closed out regular-season play. Note that Carden's top target - soph WR Justin Hardy - had 84 catches in the regular season for 1,046 yards overall and that included a 16-catch game against the Thundering Herd.
Spread Notes - East Carolina is a dead-even but vig-losing 6-6 against the odds this year and that includes a shoddy 2-4 ATS log away. The ECU Pirates are 2-3 spreadwise in all bowl games dating back to the 2006 season and that includes a 20-17 loss-but-cover against 7 ½-point fav Arkansas in the 2009 Liberty Bowl. Meanwhile, UL-Lafayette enters this bowl tilt at 7-5 spreadwise this season and the Ragin' Cajuns - a 5-point betting fav here - are 5-4 ATS as chalk sides this year and ULL won/covered its only recent bowl appearance with last year's wildly exciting 32-30 triumph over 6-point favorite San Diego State in this very New Orleans Bowl game.
THE LAST 3 NEW ORLEANS BOWL GAMES
|2011||UL-Lafayette||+ 6||San Diego State||32-30|
|2009||Middle Tenn. State||+ 3.5||Southern Miss||42-32|
MAACO LAS VEGAS BOWL - Sam Boyd Stadium - Las Vegas, NV
#19 BOISE STATE (10-2) vs. WASHINGTON (7-5) - 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
The Boise boys are back for more!
The Broncos - as you can see the only bowl team playing this weekend ranked in the current BCS Standings - are shooting for a third straight win in this Las Vegas Bowl following 23- and 32-point wins against Utah and Arizona State, respectively, the past two years (see our Jim Sez Spread Notes below) and it's a defense that ranks ninth overall nationally (and fourth passing) that takes center stage here for seventh-year head coach Chris Petersen's crew. The Boise State stop unit has held nine foes to 17 points or less and three of them (that's BYU, Fresno State and UNLV) have registered 10 points or less ... not bad!
If the Broncos are gonna lock up a third straight Las Vegas Bowl win, than the "D" starring soph DE Demarcus Lawrence (9 ½ sacks) must contain Huskies slinger Keith Price who's thrown for 2,484 yards this year with 18 TDs and 11 INTs but his lost fumble in the 31-28 Apple Cup game loss against rival Washington State still haunts the junior quarterback. The Huskies need RB Bishop Sankey (1,234 yards rushing with 15 TDs) to bust some big gainers here and keep an eye on Sankey in his runs between the guards.
On the flip side, Boise State QB Joe Southwick has been scorching hot late in the year with 7 TDs and 0 INTs in the team's final three regular-season games but note the oft hot-and-cold Southwick enters this bowl game having thrown 7 INTs in the season's first nine games.
Will Boise State be juiced about playing a third straight Las Vegas Bowl? Stay tuned.
Spread Notes - Boise State is just 6-6 versus the vig this year and just 12-16 ATS overall since late in the 2010 season (that after going a collective 68-39 from 2002 through late in the aforementioned '10 campaign) and note the Broncos are 7-3 ATS in all bowl games dating back the past 10 years including four consecutive bowl tilts since 2008. Washington, on the other hand, is 7-5 against the odds the odds this season and the Huskies are a rotten 12-18 ATS in all away games dating back to the start of the 2008 season. Note the Dawgs have split their two recent bowl verdicts with a 19-7 upset of two-TD fav Nebraska in the 2010 Holiday Bowl followed last year by the wild 67-56 loss to Robert Griffin III and 8-point fav Baylor in a memorable Alamo Bowl.
THE LAST 3 LAS VEGAS BOWL GAMES
|2011||Boise State||- 14||Arizona State||56-24|
|2010||Boise State||- 16.5||Utah||26-3|
|2009||BYU||+ 3.5||Oregon State||44-20|
NOTE: Get all the NCAA Football Bowl Previews this week and next week right here in Jim Sez -- and watch for our NFL Week 16 coverage too!
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