Key Indicator Stats For All Friday-Saturday College Bowls

HANDICAPPING NOTEBOOK

KEY INDICATOR STATS FOR ALL FRIDAY-SATURDAY COLLEGE BOWLS

by Mathew Hurley, Managing Editor

We have TEN games to discuss, so there's no time to dilly-dally. Today's report will outline our key indicators stats for all the Friday and Saturday games, but we're not allowed to post JIM HURLEY'S official selections. You have to be a customer to receive those. Call 1-800-323-4453 to sign up, or make your purchases here at the website with your credit card.

Remember that there are FOUR early starts on Saturday. If you're the type to "sleep in" after New Year's Eve partying, make sure you've made arrangements to take care of business.

Here we go...

DECEMBER 31ST

MEINEKE CAR CARE BOWL
SOUTH FLORIDA (7-5) vs. CLEMSON (6-6)

S. Florida: 103rd offense, 21st defense, 62.1 plays, 79th schedule
Clemson: 87th offense, 23rd defense, 66.4 plays, 37th schedule
ATS Records: South Florida 5-7, Clemson 5-7
Vegas Line: Clemson by 5.5, total of 40
Notebook: The numbers suggest South Florida's offense is going to be in trouble here. Now, some of that horrible ranking is because Big East games are conservative and run clock faster than other parts of the country. Put South Florida in a 70-play game...and their rank goes up. But, it doesn't go up enough to be any good. Let's also remember they played a fairly unimpressive schedule by national standards (certainly softer than Clemson's based on the big differential in the USA today computer rankings). Clemson has very good defensive numbers vs. that tougher schedule. So, if you're going to take the dog here, you better have some insights into how SF is going to get points on the board. Clemson's in the same boat, but to a lesser degree. At least some of their offensive woes can be traced to the tough schedule. You can see why Vegas made this the lowest total of all the bowls! The numbers point to a defensive struggle. Have they overadjusted? JIM HURLEY has an idea about that.

SUN BOWL
NOTRE DAME (7-5) vs. MIAMI-FLA (7-5)

Notre Dame: 63rd offense, 47th defense, 68.2 plays, 24th schedule
Miami-Fla: 31st offense, 16th defense, 72.7 plays, 32nd schedule
ATS Records: Notre Dame 5-5-2, Miami 5-7
Vegas Line: Miami by 3, total of 47
Notebook: Miami was basically a top 25 caliber team except for the turnover department. They insisted on using a high risk passing attack that continually blew up in their face. That got Randy Shannon fired, as it should have! The sport has evolved past that because you have to value the football. We've been checking with our on site sources to gauge the Miami mindset after the coaching headlines. It's tough to win as a favorite in turmoil. Maryland did so, but they were playing East Carolina, and a coach the players liked was allowed to coach his final game. Shannon won't be coaching here, and Notre Dame is a lot tougher than East Carolina. We're not as gung-ho about Notre Dame's finish as others are. USC faded badly, so beating them isn't all that big a deal. We will have to think about the dog though given Miami's turmoil, and the potential for cool weather to play into Notre Dame's hands.

LIBERTY BOWL
GEORGIA (6-6) vs. CENTRAL FLORIDA (10-3)

Georgia: 48th offense, 29th defense, 62.0 plays, 35th schedule
C. Fla: 58th offense, 18th defense, 64.5 plays, 107th schedule
ATS Records: Georgia 5-7, C. Florida 10-3
Vegas Line: Georgia by 6.5, total of 53.5
Notebook: Motivation will mean everything here. Georgia has more size and athleticism, and graded out well statistically vs. a tough schedule. It's not as great as they had hoped for coming into the season. But, it's still an SEC team with SEC talent. Central Florida played a very soft schedule in comparison, but can make up for that with a sky high effort against a name program. East Carolina took Arkansas to the wire last year in a CUSA-SEC matchup....and that Arkansas team was better than this Georgia team. Our sources will help us make the call here. If Georgia is just playing out the string because 2010 has been such a disappointment...then Central Florida might even be an upset call from NETWORK. But, a good effort from Georgia would put the game right on the number, necessitating a pass. We won't talk about totals in every game. There's a reason for that! The defenses here may have us thinking about the Under if the weather is going to help.

CHICK-FIL-A BOWL
SOUTH CAROLINA (9-4) vs. FLORIDA STATE (9-4)

S. Carolina: 50th offense, 52nd defense, 64.8 plays, 14th schedule
Florida St.: 55th offense, 41st defense, 63.9 plays, 25th schedule
ATS Records: S. Carolina 7-6, Florida State 7-6
Vegas Line: South Carolina by 3, total of 54
Notebook: Look at those strengths of schedules. These are very good teams even if both lost four games. Remember that it was three apiece before the bonus conference championship games they had to play against Auburn and Virginia Tech. No shame in losing to those teams! You see VERY similar numbers across the board. It's as if we're talking about identical teams. Tough to justify South Carolina as a field goal favorite even after you make minor strength of schedule adjustments. This bowl has a history of blowout results in seemingly evenly matched games. We'll check with our sources to see if one team has lost its focus on New Year's Eve.

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JANUARY 1ST

TICKET CITY BOWL
NORTHWESTERN (7-5) vs. TEXAS TECH (7-5)

N-western: 49th offense, 92nd defense, 71.8 plays, 74th schedule
Texas Tech: 16th offense, 116th defense, 80.8 plays, 27th schedule
ATS Records: Northwestern 3-9, Texas Tech 5-6-1
Vegas Line: Texas Tech by 9.5, total of 60.5
Notebook: Wow, it's been a while since we've handicapped a game with such horrible defenses. Texas Tech gets hurt by playing in a division that loves fast break football. You can see how many offensive plays they have per game...which gives you a sense of how many defensive plays they have per game too. And, they played a tough schedule. Still, it's a lousy defense! Northwestern has horrible numbers despite playing a soft schedule and slower opponents. The Wildcats actually have the lesser of the two defenses when you adjust for context. Clearly we'll have to think about the Over here based on that alone. This game is outdoors in the Cotton Bowl though, so we'll check the weather forecast before making a final call. Can a line of Texas Tech around ten be justified? Vegas hasn't been impressed with Northwestern's backup quarterback. He may have backdoor potential vs. this awful Tech defense.

OUTBACK BOWL
FLORIDA (7-5) vs. PENN STATE (7-5)

Florida: 79th offense, 9th defense, 67.7 plays, 16th schedule
Penn State: 67th offense, 45th defense, 66.3 plays, 53rd schedule
ATS Records: Florida 6-6, Penn State 5-7
Vegas Line: Florida by 7, total of 48
Notebook: It sounds like a marquee matchup because of what these teams have done in past years. Don't lose sight of the fact it's two 7-5 disappointments trying to figure out how to move the ball. Florida gets the nod statistically in terms of who the better team is. It's tough to grade out 9th on defense vs. the 16th sechedule! But, that's factored into this aggressive Vegas line. Can you ask a struggling offense to win by more than a TD vs. Joe Paterno, the master of bowl preparation? Can you take the dog with such a question mark at quarterback? We'll think about the Under. And, we'll spend extra time reviewing Paterno's bowl history as a dog.

CAPITAL ONE BOWL
ALABAMA (9-3) vs. MICHIGAN STATE (11-1)

Alabama: 27th offense, 6th defense, 63.5 plays, 17th schedule
Michigan St.: 38th offense, 31st defense, 63.3 plays, 65th schedule
ATS Records: Alabama 7-5, Michigan State 7-5
Vegas Line: Alabama by 10, total of 52
Notebook: Alabama had tough luck in close games vs. a killer schedule. The TV pundits are right in suggesting they're just as good as teams playing in BCS bowls. Michigan State just missed a Rose Bowl trip, so we can buy this as an "extra" BCS bowl game. Should Alabama be this big a favorite? If they had trouble putting distance between themselves and South Carolina, LSU, and Auburn...is this an automatic blowout? Nobody respects Alabama more than us. They do things the right way on the field, with a talent base that's scary to watch in person. Remember that the SEC has owned the Big 10 in recent national championship games. How does this Alabama team compare to the Florida and LSU squads who beat Ohio State? How does this Michigan State team compare to those Ohio State squads? Vegas has made an assessment, and that's why the line is so high! Your assessment will determine who you like here. We'll think about the Under with those defensive rankings and slow tempo's.

GATOR BOWL
MISSISSIPPI STATE (8-4) vs. MICHIGAN (7-5)

Miss. State: 47th offense, 53rd defense, 68.8 plays, 29th schedule
Michigan: 6th offense, 108th defense, 72.9 plays, 39th schedule
ATS Records: Mississippi State 6-6, Michigan 3-9
Vegas Line: Mississippi State by 4.5, total of 59
Notebook: Mississippi State has come a long way under Dan Mullen. They're about 50th in the nation in their raw stats...but move up from that once you adjust for their brutal schedule. They're roughly a top 30 team, which is amazing considering where they were just a few years ago. Michigan has a potent offense, but a shorthanded invisible defense. That leads them to play a lot of shootouts. We'll think about the Over because of that...and because Miss. State wants to make a statement in their first big time bowl appearance in eons. Mississippi State is playing on New Year's Day! Will they choke from the challenge? If so, you want the dog. If the growth and enthusiasm is real, then the off-the-field drama of Rich Rodriguez and Michigan may lead to a Bulldog blowout. All we can say in the article is that we'll have a REALLY big games in one of the Florida-based bowls today.

ROSE BOWL
WISCONSIN (11-1) vs. TCU (12-0)

Wisconsin: 17th offense, 22nd defense, 66.1 plays, 71st schedule
TCU: 9th offense, 1st defense, 73.3 plays, 80th schedule
ATS Records: Wisconsin 7-5, TCU 7-5
Vegas Line: TCU by 3, total of 58
Notebook: It's important when you talk with your buddies about "true" national championship teams that you look at the strengths of schedule here. Auburn went undefeated against a killer schedule. Oregon at least had it tougher than this, even if we think places are overrating the Pac 10. TCU was supposedly a "true" threat last year when they laid an egg in the Fiesta Bowl. Wisconsin has shown vulnerabilities in a few spots this season. This is a game to get excited about because of the records and the rankings. Just keep your heads on straight about what it means in the big picture. Defense often rules playoff style games like this. You see those strong defensive rankings. We'll think about the Under. We'll have to consider the dog at a full field goal because Wiscy is much more big game tested this year.

FIESTA BOWL
CONNECTICUT (8-4) vs. OKLAHOMA (11-2)

Connecticut: 96th offense, 48th defense, 64.8 plays, 78th schedule
Oklahoma: 12th offense, 58th defense, 87.0 plays, 8th schedule
ATS Records: Connecticut 8-4, Oklahoma 7-6
Vegas Line: Oklahoma by 17, total of 55
Notebook: We're not the type to lay spreads this big in the bowls. So, it's probably either dog or a pass for us (or a total). Oklahoma has a way of letting lesser teams hang around and cover. Connecticut is looking to shorted the game if they can get some things going on the ground. Oklahoma's recent bowl woes are well publicized too. We can't say the Big East is knocking our socks off so far in the postseason. Traditional handicapping strategies say you're supposed to hope for the best with the dog in a spot like this. Our read on Oklahoma's defensive intensity will determine our any total releases.

If you're reading this Friday...celebrate safely tonight as you bring in 2011. If you're reading this Saturday morning to get the stats on the big games, HAPPY NEW YEAR!

And, if you haven't made up your mind yet on the games you're going to watch, GET YOUR FIRST BIG JUICY WINNERS OF 2011 FROM JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK!

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