College football - 5 bowl games

Jan 2, 2010 5:19 PM

 College Football Cotton Bowl: Mississippi -3 vs. Oklahoma State (total 50½): Houston Nutt had hoped for bigger and better things for Mississippi this past season, so it will be interesting to see how his Rebels fare against a middle of the road Big 12 squad like Oklahoma State. The teams are relatively evenly matched; each can run the ball effectively, though Mississippi has a slight edge in the passing attack. The Rebels also have a slightly better defense, which held opposing offenses to just 30 percent conversion of third downs, good for ninth best in the nation. Each of these teams figures to score in the high 20s or low 30s, making the 50.5 total vulnerable to an OVER bet. Since there is little to choose between the two teams, taking the points also merits consideration. Rebels/Cowboys OVER 50½ and Oklahoma State +3 Papa John's Bowl: Connecticut vs. South Carolina -3½ (total 50½): Each of these teams brings a 7-5 record into this match-up, though South Carolina has played the much tougher schedule. The Gamecocks’ strength is their defense, which held opponents to just 20 points/game, a nice feat considering they play in the SEC. Their offense, however, is less than spectacular, though they found a passing attack the latter half of the season (243 yards/game). U-Conn has been a tough squad against Big East opponents, especially as an underdog. Give the Huskies a shot at keeping this one close. Connecticut +3½ with a lean to UNDER the total of 50½ International Bowl: Northern Illinois vs. South Florida -7 (Total 48½): Northern Illinois will try to win one for the MAC, which is already 0-3 in bowl games. It won’t be easy against an athletic South Florida squad, which is coming off an up-and-down campaign. Despite lackluster play at times, South Florida owns victories over Florida State and West Virginia, and if they play up to their capabilities, they should run away with this one. Except for an early win over Purdue, Northern Illinois beat mostly lower-tier MAC teams, so they’re in deep here. South Florida -7 Liberty Bowl: Arkansas -7½ vs. East Carolina (total 63½): At 9-4, East Carolina has a better record than Arkansas (7-5), but they had a much softer schedule. For instance, the Razorbacks lost by a field goal to Florida and LSU, and beat bowl-caliber teams Texas A&M, Auburn and South Carolina. The only bowl teams East Carolina beat were Marshall, Southern Miss and Houston, with Marshall being the only one to win its bowl game (against a MAC team, Ohio). Arkansas features a high octane passing attack 303 yards/game) which helped the Razorbacks average 37 points a game. That doesn’t bode well for an East Carolina defense that had trouble stopping teams on third down (ranked 90th among FBS schools). Arkansas -7½ Alamo Bowl: Michigan State vs. Texas Tech -8 (total 59): Lots of intangibles make this game a difficult handicap. Texas Tech fired its coach, Mike Leach, amid allegations he “abused” one of his players, an allegation that he denies and seems to be refuted by testimony of assistant coaches and the team trainer. Just how they’ll play with an interim coach remains to be seen. Michigan State announced that 14 of its players were suspended for their bowl game amid allegations of participating in an on-campus brawl. Side shows notwithstanding, both of these teams have shown the ability to score points (combined they average 66 points a game), and their defenses are susceptible to opponents passing attacks. Given the Big 10’s success in bowl games so far (Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin won their games while Northwestern lost in overtime, but covered the spread, against Auburn), Michigan State plus the points looks like the right side, along with the total eclipsing 59. Michigan State +8 and OVER the total of 59. Question? Comment? E-mail the staff at: Staff of GamingToday