Friday, December 16, 2011

Streit's Bowl Mania Part 2 - The BCS (and a few I missed)

Today is the final part in my series previewing the entire bowl season. today, I will cover the BCS bowls along with two games I accidentally missed along the way.

December 28

8 PM - Holiday Bowl
Matchup: California (7-5) vs. Texas (7-5)

What to watch for: California is a mediocre team with a mediocre record. They do not have a signature win on their resume and are 47th in the country in scoring offense and 52nd in scoring defense. Zach Maynard has thrown for 2800 yards, but only completes 57% of his passes. While Georgia was able to rebound from a losing season in 2010, Texas was not. The Longhorns looked great to start the year, but then got crushed in back to back games to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. They dropped a game to Missouri in which they only scored 5 points. Texas's defense was decent this year and should get better in the future.Texas employs a two young quarterbacks in Case McCoy and David Ash. I think the horns take this one to get back to 8 wins.

The pick: Texas - 29 points

December 29

9 PM - Alamo Bowl
Matchup: Washington (7-5) vs. Baylor (9-3)

What to watch for: This will probably be the final college football game for Heisman winner Robert Griffin III. I could take time to preview Washington or talk about the improvements Baylor has made, but I won't. The reason to watch this game is RGIII.

The pick: Baylor - 30 points

January 2

5 PM - Rose Bowl
Matchup: Wisconsin (11-2) vs. Oregon (11-2)

What to watch for: A classic Rose Bowl matchup between the champions of the Big Ten and Pac-12. Both teams feature running games that can rack up yards and points in a hurry. I would love to save that Russell Wilson and Montee Ball can help Wisconsin score enough to keep up with the Ducks. But I just don't see it. LaMichael James will close out his college career in style as the Ducks send the Badgers home as Rose Bowl losers for the second straight year.

The pick: Oregon - 13 points

8 PM - Fiesta Bowl
Matchup: Stanford (11-1) vs. Oklahoma State (11-1)

What to watch for: Offense. You've got the best quarterback in the country against the oldest quarterback in the country. Andrew Luck is the best college quarterback I have ever seen. He looks like an NFL QB the way he commands the line of scrimmage. If he played at USC, Texas, or Alabama, those schools would have gone undefeated. He has taken Stanford, I repeat Stanford, to two straight BCS bowls. As good as luck is, he does not have the supporting class to beat the Cowboys. Oklahoma State proved they are that good by thumping Oklahoma. Justin Blackmon is Julio Jones with better hands. Lots of points will be scored here.

The pick: Oklahoma State - 11 points

January 3

8 PM - Sugar Bowl
Matchup: Michigan (10-2) vs. Virginia Tech (11-2)

What to watch for: Two teams that had solid years but will be much better next year. Denard Robinson is a fun player to watch, but I still think he is too risky with the football. He made so many risky throws against Notre Dame, yet somehow they won. We know Michigan has a solid defense, but winning this game will be on Denard Robinson. Virginia Tech looked impressive when I saw them play...except against Clemson. Logan Thomas is going to be a very good college QB and I loved watching him get 8 yards a pop on QB sneaks against Tech. David Wilson is fast, and the key for him is getting to the edge against a large Wolverine line. I have no clue who wins this one, this is my least confident pick.

The pick: Virginia Tech - 1 point

January 4

8 PM - Orange Bowl
Matchup: West Virginia (9-3) vs. Clemson (10-3)

What to watch for: Dana Holgerson's passing attack is fun to watch. Unfortunately, it is all they have got. I expect the Wolverines will come out looking strong, but eventually Clemson will shut them down like LSU did. Sammy Watkins will have a field day against the West Virginia secondary. Unless Clemson plays like they did against Georgia Tech.

The pick: Clemson - 20 points

January 9

8 PM - BCS National Championship
The matchup: LSU(13-0) vs. Alabama(11-1)

What to watch for: The rematch. Alabama may be one of the most complete teams I have seen in years. But, LSU beat them at their place. Yes, Bama missed 4 field goals. But, LSU has actually played even better since that game. After seeing the Tigers in person, I know what they can do when they get rolling. If Bama wants to win, they will need to win the second half of the game. That is when LSU bludgeoned Georgia and Arkansas. I can't see the Tigers playing as well as they did in the SEC Championship losing to Bama.

The pick: LSU - 2 points

So that's it. Are you ready for bowl season, I sure am.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Streit's Bowl Mania Part 3 - January Bowls

today, I preview all the bowls that will take place in January (with the exception of the BCS). I will also preview the Pinstripe Bowl which I accidentally forgot to cover yesterday. Tomorrow, we'll wrap up the Bowl preview.

December 30

3PM - Pinstripe Bowl
Matchup: Rutgers (8-4) vs. Iowa State (6-6)

What to watch for: You can tell how excited I am for this game, I forgot it in yesterday's previews. Rutgers is basically playing a home game in Yankee Stadium. They have the 12th best scoring defense in the country at 18.8 points and nearly won the Big East. The Scarlett Knights are led by the leading receiver in the country, Mohamed Sanu, who has 109 catches for 1144 yards this year. Iowa State pulled the biggest upset of the season when they knocked off Oklahoma State to keep them out of the National Championship game. Freshman quarterback Jared Barnett has played well since taking over mid-season, but Rutgers defense should get the job done.

The pick: Rutgers - 3 points

January 2

12 PM - Ticket City Bowl
Matchup: Houston (12-1) vs. Penn State (9-3)

What to watch for: Houston appeared to be head to the BCS on the arm of record setting quarterback Case Keenum…until they got destroyed by Southern Miss in the Conference USA championship. Houston sports the #1 passing attack in the country at almost 445 yards per game. They have a pair of solid running backs as well. Penn State has gone through more adversity this season than any team in the country, but still finished with a solid 9-3 season. Their offense is not good, with only bright spot being running back Silas Redd. Their defense, on the other hand, has been fantastic for most of the season. They have 5th rated scoring defense in the NCAA and defensive tackle Devon Still is one of the best in the country at making big plays in the back field. After watching Southern Miss shut down the Cougars offense, I think Penn State will be able to do the same.

The Pick: Penn State - 10 points

1 PM - Outback Bowl
Matchup: Georgia (10-3) vs. Michigan State (10-3)

What to watch for: I'll have much more on this game in the coming weeks. This is a solid matchup between two teams coming off losses in their conference title games. Expect great defense from both squads, but you know I'm taking the Dawgs in this one.

The Pick: Georgia - 15 points

1 PM - Capital One Bowl
Matchup: South Carolina (10-2) vs. Nebraska (9-3)

What to watch for: South Carolina's defense has been great all season relying on the strength of the defensive line led by Melvin Ingram and Jadaveon Clowney. The Gamecocks were able to keep it together after losing Marcus Lattimore and Connor Shaw has gotten better and better. Nebraska also relies heavily on its defense to keep them in games. Runningback Rex Burkhead had another great season this year and Taylor Martinez continued to be Taylor Martinez. If the Gamecocks shut down Burkhead, the Huskers will be in trouble.

The Pick: South Carolina - 22 points

1 PM - Gator Bowl
Matchup: Florida (6-6) vs. Ohio State (6-6)
What to watch for: So may subtitles for this game: The Urban Bowl, The Lowered Expectations Bowl, or the How the Mighty Have Fallen Bowl. Neither team is good on offense and decent on defense. Braxton Miller will be a great player under Urban Meyer, but right now he still plays for Luke Fickell. I'd like to see Muschamp send John Brantley out a winner for making him take a tremendous amount of punishment this fall. Florida fans will get to laugh at Urban on this day…but Urban will remember and it is going to be a big deal!

The Pick: Florida - 14 points

January 6

8 PM - Cotton Bowl
Matchup: Kansas State (10-2) vs. Arkansas (10-2)

What to watch for: This game matches up two school that should be in the BCS in my opinion. Arkansas scores with the best in the country on the strength of its passing attack that features quarterback Tyler Wilson and a great group of receivers. Joe Adams is one of the most exciting players in all of football and the Wildcats would be wise to not kick him the ball. Kansas State, on the other hand, gets things done using a ground game. They rarely pass (109th in the country) but their quarterback is the star of the offense. Collin Klein has been responsible for 38 touchdowns this year, 1745 yards passing, and 1099 yards rushing. But their defense gives up too many points and the Hogs will score at will.

The Pick: Arkansas - 32 points

January 7

1 PM - Compass Bowl
Matchup: Southern Methodist (7-5) vs. Pittsburgh (6-6)

What to watch for: The Pony Express is back in a bowl for the second year in a row. June Jones tried to leave to take the Arizona state job, but he is now back on the sideline. The offense was not nearly as successful as last year, with Kyle Padron benched in favor of JJ Mcdermot early in the season. SMU's best victory was a defeat of TCU, but overall, this season ahs been a disappointment. Pittsburgh lost its first year coach yesterday, so who knows

The pick: Pitt - 23 points

January 8

9 PM - Bowl
Matchup: Arkansas State (10-2) vs. Northern Illinois (10-3)

What to watch for: Arkansas State lost their coach to an SEC school and immediately replaced him with a coordinator from an SEC school. They won the Sun Belt Conference this year by scoring a lot of points and going undefeated in conference play. Quarterback Ryan Aplin threw for 3,235 yards and receiver Dwayne Frampton caught 90 passes for 1,125 yards. Northern Illinois won the MAC by coming back against Ohio to win 23-20 in the MAC Championship. Chandler Harnish was absolutely amazing this year, passing for almost 3,000 yards and running for almost 1400. That is an amazing feat, and for that, I am giving the edge to the Wolves.

The pick: Northern Illinois - 7 Points

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Streit's Bowl Mania Part 2 - The Tweener Bowls

Today, I preview the bowl games that take place between Christmas and New Year's. There are some good matchups in here.

December 26

5 PM - Independence Bowl
Matchup: Missouri (7-5) vs. North Carolina (7-5)

What to watch for: This is a pretty good matchup between two mediocre teams. The two teams are tied at 43rd in the country in points allowed per game. North Carolina started out strong, charging out to a 5-1 start. But they lost 4 of their last 6, including a 13-0 loss to NC State. The winner of this game will be determined by whether North Carolina can stop Missouri's running game. The Tigers are 11th in the nation in running with mobile quarterback James Franklin, but are missing running back Henry Josey. If North Carolina quarterback Bryn Renner gets hot, the Tar Heels could pull the upset.

The Pick: Missouri - 17 point

December 27
4PM - Little Caesars Bowl
Matchup: Western Michigan (7-5) vs. Purdue (7-5)
What to watch for: Can a strong Western Michigan passing attach, led by quarterback Alex Carder, lead the MAC to a victory over the Big 10? Western Michigan receiver Jordan White leads the nation in receiving yards and total receptions and they also have MAC defensive player of the year, Drew Norak. Purdue is a very average Big 10 team whose best win was beating 6-6 Ohio State. They do not sport any crazy statistics and even lost to Rice. But they should have just enough to beat a middle team from the MAC.

The pick: Purdue - 5 points

8PM - Belk Bowl
Matchup: Louisville (7-5) vs. NC State (7-5)

What to watch for: Louisville was very close to winning a Big East Championship in its second season under Charlie Strong. The Cardinal defense improved to 14th in the country in points allowed per game this year, holding opponents to only 19.2 points per game. They are especially strong against the run, allowing under 100 yards per game. Freshman quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has definitely shown signs that he will be a future star. NC State quarterback Mike Glennon is definitely the leader for the Wolf Pack and he passed for almost 2800 yards and 28 touchdowns this year. The NC State defense is solid overall, but struggles against the pass. Louisville's defense is stronger, and should be the difference in this game.

The pick: Louisville - 8 points

December 28

4 PM - Military Bowl
Matchup: Toledo (8-4) vs. Air Force (7-5)

What to watch for: Toledo's offense is extremely high powered, 29th in the country in passing and 14th in rushing. Their 42.3 points per game is good for 8th in the country. They have scored at least 44 points seven times so defense (89th in the country in scoring) is not too much of a concern. Air Force runs the option and I just don't see them being able to keep up.

The pick: Toledo - 4 points

December 29

5 PM - Champs Sports Bowl
Matchup: FSU (8-4) vs. Notre Dame (8-4)

What to watch for: Many people predicted this would be a BCS matchup. Both of these teams underperformed this fall. Florida State is as talented on defense as any team in the country. Greg Reid may be small, but is one of the best play makers in the country. Brian Kelly hasn't named a starting QB for the game yet, but whoever starts, FSU will only have one goal on defense: stop Michael Floyd. If the Noles shutdown Floyd, Notre Dame has no chance.

The pick: FSU - 9 points

December 30

12 PM - Armed Forces Bowl
Matchup: BYU (9-3) vs. Tulsa (8-4)

What to watch for: BYU returned to being an independent this year and had a successful 9-3 campaign against a pretty easy schedule. The Cougars only faced one team (TCU) that finished in the top 25 and suffered an embarrassing 54-10 loss to in state rival Utah. BYU also changed quarterbacks this year, as once highly touted signal caller Jake Heaps lost the starting job to riley Nelson (and Heaps is now transferring). Nelson found great success as starter, throwing 16 TDs with only 5 picks and helping BYU win 8 of their last 9 games. Tulsa won every game it was supposed to this year, but went 0-4 against ranked teams (and all of those teams finished the season ranked in the top 25, including two in the top 5). They feature a strong passing game and a balanced running attack that saw two backs (Ja'Terian Douglas and Trey Watts) go for over 800 yards each on the ground. Tulsa can score (24th in the country) but their defense isn't up to par. BYU is the better overall team, despite the flashy stats from Tulsa.

The pick: BYU - 21 points

6 PM - Music City Bowl
Matchup: Miss State (6-6) vs. Wake Forest (6-6)

What to watch for: Coming off a 9-4 season, big things were expected in Starkville this fall. But a 6-6 record is not what they expected. I think MSU was really hurt by Manny Diaz leaving for the DC position at Texas. Mississippi State's strength is still its defense, as Chris Relf could not find the success he did a year ago. Vick Ballard had another nice season for the Dogs, rushing for over 1000 yards and 8 scores. Wake Forest was a surprise in the ACC this year, going 5-3. They also played well against ranked opponents, knocking off Florida State and nearly defeating eventual ACC Champ Clemson. Sophomore QB Tanner Price had a great season, throwing for nearly 3000 yards and 20 touchdowns while only throwing 6 interceptions. I see this as a low scoring affair where Mississippi State grinds out a victory in the second half.

The pick: Miss State - 16 points

10 PM - Insight Bowl
Matchup: Iowa (7-5) vs. Oklahoma (9-3)

What to watch for: Oklahoma was the pre-season #1 team and was on a tear until a surprising upset at Texas Tech on October 22. After losing All-American Ryan Broyles, the sooners lost 3 of their last 6 games and found themselves outside of the BCS. This season seems eerily similar to the one suffered by Georgia in 2008 that included a loss to their in state rival who they had recently dominated. Oklahoma still sports the #4 passing attack in college football and Landry Jones will look to get back on track against an Iowa defense that was only 67th in the country against the pass. Kirk Ferentz team averaged 28.7 points per game, but that will not be enough to keep up. Oklahoma, pissed off about their crummy season, blows them out.

The pick: Oklahoma - 34 points

December 31

12 PM - Texas Bowl
Matchup: Texas AM (6-6) vs. Northwestern (6-6)

What to watch for: Texas A&M was one of the best teams in the country in the first half of games, but probably the worst in the second half. The high powered Aggies should have had a much better record this year. This is their last game as a member of the Big XII. Northwestern's Dan Persa is good, but A&M will be motivated to head to the SEC on a victorious note. Plus, I can't see Texas A&M not scoring at least 35 points against the Wildcats defense.

The pick: TAMU - 31 points

2 PM - Sun Bowl
The matchup: Georgia Tech (8-4) vs. Utah (7-5)

What to watch for: Utah has two things going for them in this game: a stroing scoring defense that only allowed 19.7 points per game and running back john White who rushed for over 1400 yards. But their offense is anemic and against a school like Georgia Tech, you definitely need to score points. The key to beating Tech is getting a lead and forcing them to pass. Utah won't make this happen. Tech's running back group of Orwin Smith, Roddy Jones, and David Sims will have big days. Tech scores atleast its season average of 35 points in this one.

The pick: Georgia Tech - 25 points

3 PM - Liberty Bowl
The matchup: Cincinnati (9-3) vs. Vanderbilt (6-6)

What to watch for: Cincinnati (technically) won a share of the Big East championship this fall. They may have easily won it outright if not for the loss of their starting quarterback, Zack Collaros. After losing Collaros in the first half of the West Virginia game, the Bearcats lost by 3 to the Mountaineers and then lost at Rutgers the following week. Without the injury, Cincy may have been a 10 or 11 win team. They sport a solid scoring offense (28th) and a good defense (20 points per game). Vanderbilt has been heaped with praise under first year head coach Tony Franklin. He may have done a good job, but he is a jack ass. Vandy was the dirtiest team Georgia played all year. Jordan Rodgers had a decent season, but he's not his brother. The most impressive player for Vanderbilt is running back Zach Stacy, who was not even supposed be the starter this year. Vanderbilt is really bad in pass defense, and I think Cincinnati will exploit this. Just like many other Vandy games this season, the Commodores will lose a close one in the fourth quarter.

The pick: Cincinnati - 19 points

3 PM - Fight Hunger Bowl
The Matchup: Illinois (6-6) vs. UCLA (6-7)

What to watch for: Two lame duck coaches against each other in a bad bow game. Because of their loss in the Pac-12 Championship, UCLA is playing in a bowl game with a losing record. I think these are two bad, underperforming teams and I really don't care who wins. I'll take Illinois just because I know the Zooker recruits good players.

The pick: Illinois - 18 points

7 PM - Chick-Fil-A Bowl
The matchup: Virginia (8-4) vs. Auburn (7-5)

What to watch for: The defending national champions against one of the surprise teams in college football this season. Auburn has five losses, but all of them came at the hands of teams who finished the season ranked in the top 25. Losing Michael Dyer hurts, but they should still have enough fire power to get past the Cavaliers. Ontarion McCalebb averaged over 5 yards a carry this year and will handle the bulk of the carries for the tigers. Virginia sports the 30th ranked defense in the country, not bad, but not great. They have two solid running backs (Perry Jones and Kevin Parks) who combined for over 1,500 yards this year. Michael Rocco and Kris Burd are one of the better QB and receiver tandems in the country. But in the end, the Tigers will be able to physically beat Virginia down. Whoever players quarterback may have a career day.

The pick: Auburn - 24 points

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Streit’s Bowl Mania Part 1: Pre-Christmas Bowls

Bowl season is just 4 days away. Can you believe it?!? Over the next few days I will preview all of this year's bowl game, provide my pick, and rank each one (1-35) on my confidence in that pick. It should be fun.

December 17

2 PM - New Mexico Bowl
Matchup: Temple (8-4) vs. Wyoming (8-4)

What to watch for: Temple's rushing offense is ranked 7th in the country averaging 256 yards per game. The leader of their rushing attack is Bernard Pierce, who has over 1300 yards and 25 touchdowns this fall. The Owls blew out Maryland 38-7 and played well in a 14-10 loss to Penn State. Their passing offense is horrible, but against Wyoming's 115th ranked rushing defense, they shouldn't need to throw it much.
The pick: Temple - 26 points

5 PM - Idaho Potato Bowl
Matchup: Ohio (9-4) vs. Utah State (7-5)

What to watch for: Ohio is coming off a MAC Championship loss in which they had a 20 point lead at halftime. The Bobcats are led by quarterback Tyler Tettlton who accounted for over 3,600 total yards and 35 touchdowns, but he did throw three picks in the last game. Utah State had defending champion Auburn on the ropes on opening day, only to see an onside kick and a couple of quick scores ruin their upset bid. Despite the early disappointment, they won their final 5 games and finished runner up in the WAC conference. They are led by running back Robert Turbin, who rushed for 1,416 yards and scored 23 total touchdowns this fall. This game will come down to defense, where Ohio is giving up only 22 points per game (while Utah State averages 28). The bobcats win this in a close contest.

The pick: Ohio - 6 points

9 PM - New Orleans Bowl
Matchup: San Diego State (8-4) vs. Louisiana Lafayette (8-4)

What to watch for: Both teams are 8-4, but I do not expect this to be a close game. Lafayette reeled off 6 straight wins early in the season, but went just 2-3 down the stretch. Their defense is weak, giving up 30 points a game and almost 400 yards of offense. The Cajuns junior quarterback, Blane Gautier, led the Sun Belt in passing but it will not be enough. San Diego State senior quarterback Ryan Lindley is a four year starter with over 12,000 career passing yards and 87 touchdown passes. Sophomore running back Ronnie Hillman has rushed for 1,656 yards and 19 touchdowns this year. I don't see Lafayette being able to stop this duo. Plus, the Aztec defense has only given up 72 second half points all year.

The pick: San Diego State - 28 points

December 20

8 PM - St. Petersburg Bowl
Matchup: Florida International (8-4) vs. Marshall (6-6)

What to watch for: We are..not winning this game. FIU had their best year in school history, including its first ever win over a BCS conference school (against Louisville in September). Receiver TY Hilton has nearly 1000 yards receiving this year. Marshall barely made it to a bowl game by defeating East Carolina and Memphis to close the season. Their best player is defensive end Vinny Curry, who had 11 sacks and 21 tackles for a loss.

The pick: Florida International - 12 points

December 21

8 PM - Poinsettia Bowl
Matchup: TCU (10-2) vs. Louisiana Tech (8-4)

What to watch for: This is a matchup of two conference champions, as TCU won the Mountain West while Louisiana Tech won the WAC. But lets be honest, Louisiana Tech only won the Wac because that conference is really horrible and Boise State is now in the MWC. TCU should have been back in the BCS, in my opinion. They lost to Baylor to open the season in a crazy game but 10-1 the rest of the way, despite replacing almost all of their major players from last year's Rose bowl squad. TCU will win, we don't even need to talk details. This is my highest confidence pick.

The pick: TCU - 35 points

December 22

8PM - Las Vegas bowl
Matchup: Arizona State (6-6) vs. Boise State (11-1)

What to watch for: This will be the final game for Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore. The senior who has rewritten the NCAA record books should lead his squad out with a victory. Arizona State was a popular pick to win the Pac-12 South, but they failed to live up to the hype and recently fired Coach Dennis Erickson. If Boise State plays anywhere close to how I saw them play against the Dawgs in September, this one isn't close.

The pick: Boise State - 33 points

December 24

8 PM - Hawaii Bowl
Matchup: Nevada (7-5) vs. Southern Miss (11-2)

What to watch for: Southern Miss is one of the hottest teams in the nation after knocking off previously undefeated Houston to win the conference USA Championship. This will be coach Larry Fedora's last game before he moves on to take the job at North Carolina. Two early season losses to Marshall and UAB are the only blemishes on the Golden Eagles' record. They have a strong defense that has intercepted 18 passes this year and only gives up 21 points per game. Linebacker Jamie Collins had 94 tackles, in 19.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. They also boast the 14th ranked scoring offense in the country, led by senior QB Austin Davis. Nevada does not have the same potent offense as the 2010 WAC Championship team did, but they did finish 8th in the country in rushing. Unfortunately, their defense gives up over 30 points a game against bowl teams.

The pick: Southern Miss - 27 points

I'll be back with Part 2, the 'tweener games, tomorrow!