Thursday, December 27, 2012

Bowl Season Predictions, Part 6

Thursday is the beginning of a very, very busy several few days. There are three games on tap.

First up, at 3:00 PM, is the Military Bowl in Washington, D.C. It pits the #24 San Jose State Spartans (10-2) against the Bowling Green Falcons (8-4).

San Jose State’s two losses came in the first game of the season against Stanford 20-17 and early in October against Utah State 49-27. They averaged 37.9 points a game in their 10 victories and that was brought down by a 12-0 shutout over Navy and a 20-14 win over BYU. The Spartans strength is their passing offense, ranked 11th in the nation with 327.5 yards per game.  Their rushing offense isn’t nearly as good as they average just 124.2 ypg for a national rank of 102. Overall, the Spartans are 29th in the nation on the offensive side of the ball. They also are 28th in the nation on defense as they yield just 123.7 ypg rushing (20th) and 227.8 ypg through the air (49th). 

The Bowling Green Falcons’ defense is strong against both the run (116.7 ypg, 15th in the nation) and the pass (173 ypg, 6th in the nation). Overall, the Falcons have the 7th ranked defense in the nation. On offense, they aren’t nearly as good. Bowling Green is just 81st in the nation on offense. They gain just 157.4 ypg on the ground (65th) and 216.5 ypg through the air (77th).

Look for the Spartans to crack the Falcons pass defense and put up some points. They should also be able to stifle the Bowling Green offense.  My pick: San Jose State

The Belk Bowl kicks off at 6:30 PM in Charlotte, N.C. with the Cincinnati Bearcats (9-3) facing the Duke Blue Devils (6-6).

Co-Big East Champion Cincinnati will enter this game with a new head coach scheduled to take over immediately afterward. Coach Butch Jones departed to take the helm at Tennessee. Tommy Tuberville comes over from Texas Tech to take over the Bearcats but he will not be on the sidelines for this one. Defensive line coach Steve Stripling is serving as interim coach. Cincinnati is ranked 42nd in the nation on both offense and defense. On offense, they average 199.8 ypg on the ground (32nd) and 231 ypg passing (62nd). On defense they yield 243.5 ypg through the air (69th) and 130.3 ypg rushing (27th). They’ve given up just 11.8 points per game in their last four games.

Cincinnati’s three losses came against Toledo (who finished the season 9-3), and co-Big East Champions Louisville (10-2) and Rutgers (9-3).  

Duke Has the nation’s #60 offense (118 ypg rushing (105th) and 277.6 ypg passing (32nd)) but they’ve got the nations 105th defense (200.7 ypg rushing (99th) and 262.3 ypg passing (94th)). The Blue Devils lost their last four regular season games yielding almost 50 points per game.

This looks like a good opportunity for Bearcats’ QB Brendon Kay—who took over for a struggling Munchie Legaux mid-season—and running back George Winn to post some big numbers. My pick: Cincinnati

Last on the day’s schedule, at 9:45 PM, for Thursday is the Holiday Bowl in San Diego, CA. The Baylor Bears (7-5) square off against #17 UCLA Bruins (9-4). 

The Baylor Bears have the nations #1 offense. They gain 225.5 ypg on the rushing (18th) and another 353.3 ypg passing (3rd).  So how come they have a record of just 7-5? Their defense stinks. Really, really stinks. They are ranked 122nd in the nation on defense. They yield 190.8 ypg on the ground (86th) and 323.1 ypg through the air (116th). Those numbers go a long way in explaining how they could lose games in which they scored 63 points (to West Virginia 70-63) and 50 points (to Texas 56-50). The Bears average nearly 48.6points per game in their victories. Heck, they average 37.8 points per game in their losses and have not scored less than 21 points in a game all year.

The UCLA Bruins are 30th in the nation on offense (202.9 ypg rushing (27th) and 271.6 ypg passing (36th)). Defensively, they are just so-so, however. Ranked 74th nationally they yield 154.5 ypg rushing (53rd) and 255.4 ypg passing (87th).  The Bruins had big wins over Nebraska, Oregon State, Arizona and USC but they dropped their regular season finale against Stanford and, a week later, the PAC-12 Championship to Stanford again.

UCLA didn’t face the high-powered Oregon Ducks this year.  They’re going to have a difficult time keeping up with the Baylor Bears. The question will be whether the Bears can keep the Bruins out of the endzone. I think they will make just enough stops. My pick: Baylor

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