The College Football Bowl Blitz (December 23, 2012)

THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL BOWL BLITZ - WE TEE UP THE HAWAII BOWL ON CHRISTMAS EVE AND GET YOU WEDNESDAY'S LITTLE CAESARS PIZZA BOWL TOO!

By Jim Hurley:

Ho-ho-ho.

A most wonderful holiday season to all of our terrific Jim Sez column readers and here's hoping the whole College Football Bowl Season is a major financial blast!

Okay, so with so many bowl games on the docket we'll get you a taste of what's straight ahead with a look at the Monday and Wednesday bowl games this coming week - that's a day-before-Christmas game and a day-after-Christmas game that should keep you going as we drive towards that epic BCS Championship Game between #1 Notre Dame and #2 Alabama on the evening of January 7, 2013.

Hey, Jim Hurley is 5-3 and there's still 29 remaining Bowl Games -- and so cash with 'em now and don't get caught out in the cold! Check in with us on Game Days either right here online or at our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 for all the winners and note the check-in times are after 1 p.m. ET for weeknight action and after 10 a.m. ET on Saturdays and Sundays.

Here's what is straight ahead with the Dec. 24th and Dec. 26th bowl tilts ...

On Monday, December 24 ...
HAWAII BOWL
- at Aloha Stadium; Honolulu, HI
SMU (6-6) vs. FRESNO STATE (9-3) - 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

From a historical viewpoint, take note that three of the last five winners of this annual Hawaii Bowl game were double-digit underdogs (see chart below plus keep in mind East Carolina's last-second 41-38 win against 10 ½-point fav Boise State back in 2007) and so maybe current 12 ½-point pup SMU should feel pretty good about things while entering this prime-time tilt.

No doubt the Ponies - who are making a school-record fourth consecutive post-season bowl trip here - will be counting on star RB Zach Line (1,207 yards rushing in 2012) to pick up the critical yards here and remember he's coming off a third straight 1,000-yard rushing season while QB Garrett Gilbert (2,720 yards passing with 14 TDs) has not been intercepted since mid-October - that's five games in a row without a pick.

Fresno State's defense - a unit that held seven regular-season foes to 20 points or less this year - registered 35 sacks this year and so the aforementioned Gilbert may be running for his life at times.

The Bulldogs' 12th-ranked passing attack (322.6 yards per game) is powered by junior QB Derek Carr who already announced he'll return for his final college season:

Carr's season stats to this point include 3,742 passing yards and a whopping 36 TDs with only 5 INTs and keep an eye peeled for do-everything RB Robbie Rouse who - like SMU's Line - comes off a third consecutive 1,000-yard ground year.

Spread Notes - Fresno State was one of the country's best bets all year long as the Bulldogs piled up a super-impressive 11-1 ATS (against the spread) mark and note only Utah State's 12-1 ATS was any better! The Dawgs, however, have failed to cover their last three bowl appearances (2008-2010) with spread setbacks against Colorado State, Wyoming and Northern Illinois beginning in '08. On the flip side, SMU is 7-5 versus the vig overall this year and the Mustangs are a solid 15-10 against the odds as underdogs since the start of the 2009 campaign.

THE LAST 3 HAWAII BOWL GAMES

YEAR WINNER SPREAD LOSER SCORE
2011 Southern Miss - 7 Nevada 24-17
2010 Tulsa + 10.5 Hawaii 62-35
2009 SMU + 11 Nevada 45-10

 

On Wednesday, December 26 ...
LITTLE CAESARS PIZZA BOWL
- Ford Field, Detroit, MI
CENTRAL MICHIGAN (6-6) vs. WESTERN KENTUCKY (7-5) - 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Pass the salt and pepper and get ready to watch a pair of non-power conference teams - both of whom finished just 4-4 SU (straight-up) in league play - go at it in Motown where Western Kentucky of Sun Belt Conference fame will be led by defensive coordinator Lance Guidry following the earlier-month resignation of head coach Willie Taggart who exited stage left to take the head job at South Florida.

If Guidry plays his cards right here as a one-game play-caller, than RB Antonio Andrews (1,609 yards rushing and 11 TDs this year) should get 25-or-more "touches" here and note Andrews needs some 274 total yards to pass the 1988 mark of Barry Sanders who totaled 3,250 yards in his Heisman Trophy-winning season at Oklahoma State.

Note that Central Michigan - which closed out regular-season play with three consecutive Mid-American Conference victories - has scored 30+ points in six straight games while heading in here and RB Zurlon Tipton (1,391 yards rushing with 19 TDs and a spiffy 6.1 yards-per-carry average this year) remains the key for a Chippewas crew that is making its first bowl appearance since a wild 44-41 win against Troy in the 2009 GMAC Bowl.

Spread Notes - Central Michigan finished regular-season play this year at 5-7 versus the vig overall and keep in mind the CMS Chippewas are a dreadful 2-13 ATS as underdog sides since the start of the 2011 campaign. Meanwhile, Western Kentucky's coming off an 8-4 spread season and that makes the WKU Hilltoppers a sterling 21-6 vig-wise overall since late in the 2010 season (a .778 winning rate). The 'Toppers are just 3-4 ATS as betting favorites this season.

THE LAST 3 LITTLE CAESARS PIZZA BOWL GAMES

YEAR WINNER SPREAD LOSER SCORE
2011 Purdue - 2 Western Michigan 37-32
2010 FIU - 1 Toledo 34-32
2009 Marshall + 3 Ohio 21-17

As you can see, all four teams playing here in these above-mentioned bowl games do hail from non-BCS leagues and so we thought it wise for a moment to take a look at how some other non-BCS bowl-bound teams have fared in their recent bowl games:

  • Bowling Green (Military Bowl vs. San Jose State on Dec. 27th) has failed to cover three of its last four bowl games since 2003
  • Navy (Fight Hunger Bowl vs. Arizona State on Dec. 29th) has notched spread wins in five of its last seven bowl games since 2004
  • Ohio (Independence Bowl vs. UL-Monroe on Dec. 28th) has failed to cover three of its last four bowls since 2006
     

NOTE: Get more NCAA Football Bowl Previews right here in Jim Sez and get our NFL Week 16 in review in the next column!

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