Go Daddy, More Summaries

HANDICAPPING NOTEBOOK

KEY NUMBERS IN MTSU/MIAMI
PLUS SHOWCASE SUMMARIES

by Mathew Hurley, Managing Editor

After a quiet Wednesday in the bowl picture, it's time to jump back in the saddle with stat previews!

Today we'll look at tonight's Go Daddy Bowl (that used to be the GMAC Bowl), and catch up on the stat summaries from the Orange and Sugar Bowls earlier this week. Friday's report will preview the Cotton, BBVA Compass, and Kraft Fight Hunger bowls in one fell swoop because we'll be talking NFL over the weekend.

If you haven't already signed up for the rest of football from JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK, you can do so here at the website with your credit card. Game day selections always go up a few hours before kickoff of the first game if you want to try things out day-to-day. If you have any questions, you can always call the office at 1-800-323-4453.

Hopefully Go Daddy has shot some new commercials for Danica Patrick...or this is going to be a long night...

GO DADDY BOWL
MIDDLE TENNESSEE (6-6) vs. MIAMI-OHIO (9-4)
MTSU: 70th offense, 71st defense, 70.4 plays, 165th schedule
Miami: 83rd offense, 29th defense, 66.5 plays, 109th schedule
ATS Records: Middle Tennessee 4-8, Miami of Ohio 8-5
Vegas Line: Middle Tennessee by 2, total of 48
Notebook:
The line has moved here quite a bit since opening with Miami of Ohio as a 3-point favorite. Miami has had some coaching turmoil, with their previous head coach getting hired away by Pittsburgh, then getting in trouble with the law. The market was also reacting to early victories by Troy and Florida International over Ohio and Toledo in previous Sun Belt/MAC bowl showdowns.

We'll start with the full season ratings, which suggest Miami is the superior team by quite a bit. They had a much better defense, and that came against a tougher schedule. It's true that both teams played very easy schedules compared to most of the country. But, Middle Tennessee was off the charts in that regard. We can't recall a schedule ranking that low for a bowl team. It's a bit of a scam that teams this bad get to play in bowl games. You can't argue with the shows put on by Troy, FIU, and Toledo though...so it's fine with us if there's an extra Vegas opportunity to attack!

The first problem with the full season stat rankings is that they include Miami's first team QB for the most part, and he's not expected to play tonight. The backup was very timid, and very predictable in the stunning upset of Northern Illinois. He had a knack for throwing passes into the hands of defensive linemen or linebackers on the same routes over and over again. It took a miracle play on 4th down to help them finish off the upset. We're NOT impressed needless to say. Though the backup did at least maintain his composure in a pressure situation.

The second problem is that Dwight Dasher is an impact quarterback for MTSU, but he missed the first four games of the season because of a suspension. Then, he looked fairly rusty or disinterested upon his return. If he gets his head on straight in an effort to salvage his name in a national TV game, the Blue Raiders will play much better than their full season offensive ranking might suggest.

So, that tells you why Wise Guys have reversed the favorite with their early bets. Middle Tennessee has more step up potential than Miami does. Is there still any value on MTSU after that big a move? Or, is it time to think about Miami as an underdog. We think the Vegas spread captures the statistical nuances pretty well. We'll leave it up to our on-site sources (who are EXTRA valuable in these lesser known bowl games) to let us know which team is entering with the right kind of attitude. You've seen great stuff from interim coaches this year...and horrible stuff. How Miami reacts to their coaching situation will probably determine who wins and covers this one.

Let's catch up with the bowl stat summaries. College football fans were treated to some great stuff Monday and Tuesday from guys who will be starring in the NFL in short order...

STANFORD 40, VIRGINIA TECH 12
Total Yardage: Stanford 534, Virginia Tech 289
Rushing Yards: Stanford 247, Virginia Tech 67
Passing Stats: Stanford 18-23-1-287, Virginia Tech 16-33-1-222
Turnovers: Stanford 2, Virginia Tech 1
Halftime Score: Stanford 13, Virginia Tech 13
Vegas Line:
Stanford by 3, total of 58
Notebook: Andrew Luck earned himself a few million extra dollars with a monster performance against the highly respected Virginia Tech defense. He only had five misses on 23 passes while throwing for close to 300 yards. The Stanford running game was terrific too. This was basically a harmonic convergence of what can happen when:

*Great athletes (Harbaugh has upgraded size and strength significantly)
*Who are BRILLIANT (it's Stanford after all)
*FRESH and HEALTHY (a month off heels the bruises)
*Have EXTRA TIME TO PREPARE!

The formations were amazing. The execution almost impeccable. It wasn't chess vs. checkers. It was chess vs. an opponent who was eating play-doh. And, it takes A LOT to make a Frank Beamer coached team look like they're eating play-doh.

Obviously Jim Harbaugh earned himself a few million extra dollars too!

Great showing by a Pac 10 team. Oregon looks even better since they beat Stanford by three touchdowns. Note also that Boise State played Virginia Tech in a neutral field game this year. Stanford was head and shoulders above Boise. If you see any computers, or any oddsmaker polls suggesting Boise State is better than Stanford...you'd better find some other sources for evaluating major college teams.

Another bad showing for the ACC. They've been awful in BCS games (except when they play the even worse Big East). It's been years since the ACC champ looked like somebody who could compete for a national championship. Virginia Tech was supposed to be in the neighborhood at least given their late season form. Note even close. Stanford outclassed them in every possible way.

OHIO STATE 31, ARKANSAS 26
Total Yardage: Ohio State 446, Arkansas 402
Rushing Yards: Ohio State 225, Arkansas 125
Passing Stats: Ohio State 14-25-0-221, Arkansas 24-47-1-277
Turnovers: Ohio State 0, Arkansas 1
Halftime Score: Ohio State 28, Arkansas 10
Vegas Line:
Ohio State by 3, total of 58
Notebook: The game wasn't as great as the final score made it sound. You can see that Ohio State was way up at the half. They took their foot off the gas too early...let Arkansas sneak back in...then almost blew the win entirely in the final moments when a blocked punt set up the Hogs with great field position. Give Ohio State's defense credit for making a timely interception. They clearly deserved to win based on the numbers you see above. More yardage, a lot more rushing yardage, and a much cleaner game all the way around. Ohio State only threw 11 incomplete passes compared to 23 for Arkansas.

A good showing for the Big Ten just when they needed one. Now THIS is what people will remember in the offseason rather than the New Year's Day debacle. Ohio State won a big game that mattered. Wisconsin came close to doing the same thing. The mediocre middle flailed too often, but the true powers didn't embarrass themselves by any means. The SEC takes another hit. It's been feast or famine for the league this year. Some disappointing performances (and this was destined to be a disappointing performance until Ohio State slacked off too quickly), some mega-blowouts.

Did we learn anything about the Oregon-Auburn game next Monday...with Stanford of the Pac 10 looking so great...and Arkansas of the SEC West needing garbage time to make it a game? Here are some points to consider:

*If you thought the Pac 10 powers were pretenders, Stanford just slapped you in the face. Don't go against Oregon because you think the Pac 10 powers were pretenders.

*Arkansas wasn't as good as Auburn, and shouldn't be considered as a proxy for the Tigers in a big game scenario. Let's say it this way, an Arkansas loss doesn't mean Auburn's destined to lose. But, that Stanford win sure does make Oregon look better since Oregon beat Stanford.

*The intensity is going to be CRAZY next Monday night. You saw some very hard hitting on the field and avid crowds making their presence felt in the Rose Bowl between Wisconsin and TCU, and Tuesday Night in New Orleans (not so much in the Orange Bowl after Virginia Tech faded away). Auburn and Oregon will have even more energy early in the game...and it's likely to be a high energy track meet featuring fast break football. You've only got a few days to get yourself in shape!

Back tomorrow to preview the Cotton Bowl featuring LSU and Texas A&M, the BBVA Compass Bowl featuring Pittsburgh and Kentucky, and the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl matching Nevada and Boston College. We'll run our NFL previews for the four Wildcard games Saturday morning since the first game doesn't start until mid-afternoon.

Be sure you're with us EVERY DAY here in the NOTEBOOK. And link up with JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK if you want some BIG JUICY WINNERS during this very exciting football weekend!

This article is part of the VSM MASTERS SERIES presented by VegasSportsMasters.com and JimHurley.com. For more information on JIM HURLEY'S handicapping packages, call 1-800-323-4453.

21
Nov

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