Happy New Year! Time To Review Recent Bowl Stats

JIM HURLEY'S HANDICAPPING NOTEBOOK

HAPPY NEW YEAR! TIME TO REVIEW RECENT BOWL STATS

We're always emphasizing to you the importance of studying boxscores so you can make quality predictions in future games. Certain keys from this past week's games kept repeating themselves. Apply those keys to that's still ahead, and you're going to make some money.

If you're popping in early Saturday hoping for stat previews for the January 1st games...those were presented in our Friday edition of the NOTEBOOK since there were so many early starts. Please check the archives, or call JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK before kickoff to sign up for the New Year's Day Extravaganza! You can also purchase today's official picks here at the website.

Let's pick up where we left off with summaries earlier this week. We'll take you from Maryland-East Carolina through Friday afternoon's action...

MARYLAND 51, EAST CAROLINA 20
Total Yardage: East Carolina 343, Maryland 478
Rushing Yards: East Carolina 32, Maryland 297
Passing Stats: East Carolina 39-62-2-311, Maryland 13-22-2-181
Turnovers: East Carolina 4, Maryland 2
Halftime Score: East Carolina 3, Maryland 16
Vegas Line: Maryland by 8, total of 70
Notebook: The theme that will jump out at you quickly in these bowl summaries is an edge at the point of attack. If you can run the ball, you can advance downfield safely while making fewer turnovers (as a general rule). If you can't, you have to throw the ball a million times and hope for near perfection from your quarterback. This is why we've always emphasized rushing yardage and turnovers in our college boxscores over the years. This season's bowls have been a textbook example of why those categories are so important. Good early result for the ACC, though it did come against a Conference USA team with a horrible defense.

ILLINOIS 38, BAYLOR 14
Total Yardage: Illinois 547, Baylor 434
Rushing Yards: Illinois 306, Baylor 105
Passing Stats: Illinois 18-23-0-241, Baylor 32-44-0-329
Turnovers: Illinois 0, Baylor 2
Halftime Score: Illinois 16, Baylor 0
Vegas Line: Illinois by 2, total of 64
Notebook: Huge dominance for the Illini at the point of attack, winning rushing yardage by about 300-100. Baylor actually did avoid interceptions with their passing game, but fumbled the ball away twice. Impressive early showings by Illinois and Iowa may be hinting at a great New Year's for the Big Ten. We're interested to see how that plays itself out today. Physicality is making a comeback in college football. Spread offenses are starting to look like teams going nowhere on a treadmill. This game is also a data point in the struggles of the Big 12. Last year got ugly. To this point, Missouri and Baylor have been pushed around and bullied up front. Missouri almost won anyway. Baylor never really had a shot even though the game was near pick-em.

OKLAHOMA STATE 36, ARIZONA 10
Total Yardage: Oklahoma State 312, Arizona 370
Rushing Yards: Oklahoma State 72, Arizona 90
Passing Stats: Oklahoma State 25-41-0-240, Arizona 32-50-3-280
Turnovers: Oklahoma State 0, Arizona 4
Halftime Score: Oklahoma State 23, Arizona 7
Vegas Line: Oklahoma State by 4, total of 67
Notebook: A rare good result for the Big 12, but look at the yardage! Okie State was actually outgained here because they couldn't maintain any long possessions. They either hit a bomb, or settled for field goals. Turnovers were the difference-maker, as Okie State played a very clean game, while Arizona lost the ball four times. We're not high on the Pac 10 as a conference this year. This result certainly didn't change our minds about that. Sure, Oregon and Stanford are terrific. The 10-team grouping was not impressive on the whole. How can you "bounce back" from a bowl shellacking to Nebraska with another bowl shellacking? Doesn't speak well of Arizona or their head coach.

ARMY 16, SMU 14
Total Yardage: Army 229, SMU 413
Rushing Yards: Army 199, SMU 111
Passing Stats: Army 2-7-0-30, SMU 23-34-2-302
Turnovers: Army 0, SMU 3
Halftime Score: Army 16, SMU 0
Vegas Line: SMU by 7, total of 50
Notebook: The classic flat spot for a favorite. SMU didn't get up for a home game against an opponent they didn't respect. They were down 16-0 before they realized it was going to be a game. A late rally fell short. Note again the team with an edge on the ground won turnovers by an extreme margin. That proved to be more than an equalizer for an Army team that really isn't bowl caliber, but snuck in thanks to a friendly schedule and this nation's renewed respect for the armed forces teams. Great to see them get a win. Not a great year for Conference USA to this point.

SYRACUSE 36, KANSAS STATE 34
Total Yardage: Kansas State 379, Syracuse 498
Rushing Yards: Kansas State 121, Syracuse 259
Passing Stats: Kansas State 18-25-0-258, Syracuse 13-22-0-239
Turnovers: Kansas State 0, Syracuse 0
Halftime Score: Kansas State 14, Syracuse 14
Vegas Line: Pick-em, total of 48
Notebook: Syracuse had dominant stats, but had to sweat the ending because they didn't force any turnovers. Great game to watch, even more fun if you had the Over! One again the team that could run more effectively got the money...though it was a nailbiter here to be sure. Another loss for the Big 12, as we're now clearly seeing a trend of that league being overrated and soft up front. Nice result for the Big East, though it doesn't make up for West Virginia losing so badly as a favorite to NC State.

NORTH CAROLINA 30, TENNESSEE 27 (in OT)
Total Yardage: N. Carolina 385, Tennessee 339
Rushing Yards: N. Carolina 151, Tennessee 27
Passing Stats: N. Carolina 23-40-1-234, Tennessee 27-45-3-312
Turnovers: N. Carolina 2, Tennessee 3
Halftime Score: N. Carolina 17, Tennessee 14
Vegas Line: Pick-em, total of 50
Notebook: One of the few games that breaks the mold, as North Carolina won rushing yardage handily, won turnovers, yet barely got the victory in extra time. If you watched the game, you know they were fortunate to even force an overtime. Inspired effort from Tennessee in front of a friendly crowd. Maybe that's a good sign for next year under Coach Dooley. North Carolina may have trouble recruiting now that they're every move is being watched so closely by the NCAA. We were interested in measuring conference strengths here. Not much to go on because the game was so close. A strike against neither the ACC nor the SEC.

WASHINGTON 19, NEBRASKA 7
Total Yardage: Nebraska 189, Washington 340
Rushing Yards: Nebraska 91, Washington 268
Passing Stats: Nebraska 10-21-1-98, Washington 6-19-0-72
Turnovers: Nebraska 2, Washington 0
Halftime Score: Nebraska 7, Washington 10
Vegas Line: Nebraska by 12, total of 53
Notebook: The least surprising upset in years, as Nebraska came in flat as a pancake against a team they had already crushed, in a bowl game they had already played in, on the field for the last time representing a conference they were dying to leave. Washington didn't light up the scoreboard. But, they controlled the flow of the game with an astounding rushing edge. You had to love their toughness even if their QB still hasn't figured out how to complete passes vs. good defenses. Yeah, he'll be GREAT in the NFL! Once again, rushing yardage and turnovers lead to a blowout cover. And, once again, a Big 12 representative fails to match expectations. We're hesitant to give the Pac 10 any bonus points here. Nebraska did annihilate Washington on the road when both showed up with equal motivation during the regular season.

SOUTH FLORIDA 31, CLEMSON 26
Total Yardage: South Florida 278, Clemson 296
Rushing Yards: South Florida 90, Clemson 50
Passing Stats: South Florida 19-27-1-188, Clemson 24-41-2-246
Turnovers: South Florida 2, Clemson 2
Halftime Score: South Florida 17, Clemson 13
Vegas Line: Clemson by 5, total of 40
Notebook: Odd game, with a lot of scoring for less than 300 yards per team. Both squads mostly punted, but finished off long drives with TD's when things were temporarily clicking. South Florida led 31-10 before Clemson scored late to make the score more respectable. Good result for the Big East, which means we may have to re-evaluate our negativity about the league (UCONN plays Saturday Night, and Pitt plays down the road). A mixed bag for the ACC so far, but that mix is about to take a turn for the worse.

NOTRE DAME 33, MIAMI 17
Total Yardage: Notre Dame 397, Miami 405
Rushing Yards: Notre Dame 202, Miami 86
Passing Stats: Notre Dame 16-30-0-195, Miami 26-40-4-319
Turnovers: Notre Dame 0, Miami 4
Halftime Score: Notre Dame 27, Miami 3
Vegas Line: Miami by 2.5, total of 48
Notebook: The stats are a bit misleading here because the second half was garbage time. Notre Dame jumped out to a 27-0 lead before Miami even got on the board. The Irish spent a lot of the second half running clock rather than padding their lead. Note once again the very one-sided edge on the ground for the winner...and the resulting turnover edge that blew the game open. We're starting to see some strikes now against the ACC. Clemson and Miami both lose early Friday. North Carolina was very fortunate to get a win over Tennessee the way the fourth quarter went there. Maryland's win was over the worst of all bowl defenses. NC State's win was over a West Virginia team dealing with coaching turmoil. From the Notre Dame perspective, Brian Kelly sure looks like he has things heading in the right direction.

CENTRAL FLORIDA 10, GEORGIA 6
Total Yardage: Georgia 279, Central Florida 241
Rushing Yards: Georgia 81, Central Florida 125
Passing Stats: Georgia 21-38-2-198, Central Florida 16-30-2-116
Turnovers: Georgia 2, Central Florida 2
Halftime Score: Georgia 3, Central Florida 3
Vegas Line: Georgia by 6, total of 53
Notebook: Inspired defensive effort from both teams. This looked a lot like last year's game, with the fired up CUSA team (East Carolina last year) taking the bigger and stronger but lackadaisical SEC opponent (Arkansas last year) right down to the wire. Arkansas was lucky to win last year. Georgia got close to a lucky finish, but couldn't quite find the end zone. The blemishes continue to break out for the SEC, who had more poor results last year than they were used to...and didn't turn that around with a loss to a mid-major here.

That will finish off the summaries. Friday's late game in Atlanta was played after publication deadlines. We'll include that when we touch on college football again Monday when we run more bowl previews and summaries. If you haven't yet signed up for JIM HURLEY'S NEW YEAR'S BASH, you can take care of business online with your credit card. Or, call the office at 1-800-323-4453.

Back tomorrow with our NFL previews. HAPPY NEW YEAR if this is your first visit to the site in 2011. We look forward to serving you all season long right here in the handicapping NOTEBOOK!
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