Vegas Bowl: BYU pass vs. Cal rushing

Dec 20, 2005 12:47 AM

This week, the first bonanza of bowl games bombards us all week long! Here’s a peak at some of the games.

Dec. 20: N. Orleans Bowl

Arkansas State (6-5 SU, 4-6 ATS) is all about ball control behind RB Antonio Warren (1,046 yds, 6.3 ypc). However, they were anything but dominant. The Indians scored 9 against Troy, 3 against Florida Atlantic and won both! They squeaked past a bad North Texas (31-27) along with being blown out against Middle Tennessee State (45-7) and Army (38-10).

Southern Miss has had 11 straight seasons with a winning record. Senior QB Dustin Almond (21 TDs, 13 INTs) leads a balanced offense averaging nearly 30 per game. The Golden Eagles are 6-2 all-time against A-State and whipped North Texas in last year’s bowl as a 6-point favorite, 31-10.

Dec. 21: GMAC

This shapes up as a battle between two great offenses, something bowl and TV executives like. UTEP quarterback Jordan Palmer threw for 3,340 yards and 28 TDs. The Miners (8-3) had another strong campaign under Mike Price, averaging nearly 34 points. Their 310 passing yards ranked sixth nationally. UTEP, at +2, is an underdog for the first time all season. Lifetime, the Miners are 2-3 SU and 3-2 ATS as a dog under Price.

Toledo QB Bruce Gradkowski is equally talented, amassing 2,171 yards and 21 scores. The offense is 12th in rushing (221.6 ypg), 14th in scoring and 16th in total yards (445.2 pg). Defensively, the Rockets rank No.22 nationally, yielding 322 ypg.

Dec. 22: Las Vegas

A classic pass versus run matchup. BYU’s terrific air attack (306 ypg) contributed to a 6-5 record, that including five wins in the last seven outings under first-year coach Bronco Mendenhall. Junior QB John Beck put up some impressive numbers (24 TDs, 11 INTs, 3,357 yards). The Cougars were 1-2 SU, 0-2 ATS in non-conference games, getting shut down by Boston College (20-3 loss) and Notre Dame.

California features a dominant offensive line and rushing attack (234ypg, 5.9 ypc). The Golden Bears have a pair of quality backs in Marshawn Lynch (1,052 yds, 6.1 ypc) and Justin Forsett (962, 7.8 ypc) running behind a veteran offensive line.

Dec. 23: Fort Worth:

This is also a matchup of opposites, though each side won its final regular season game to qualify for this bowl. Kansas has a tough defense and poor offense (16 ppg in Big 12 play). The Jayhawks (6-5) held eight of 11 opponents to 21 points or less, but were 0-4 SU and 1-3 ATS away from home.

Houston (6-5) is all offense behind QB Kevin Kolb, who is the focal point in a versatile attack. However, the Cougars have no defense — allowing 175 rushing yards and 209 passing per game. Houston is 2-2 SU and 3-1 ATS as a dog. The Cougars stepped up once in competition, facing Oregon. The Ducks won as an 8-point favorite, 38-24.

Dec. 24: Hawaii Bowl

You have to look at weather as a factor in many bowls, but not this one! Central Florida is a remarkable story, going 0-11 last year in George O’Leary’s first season. The Knights turned things completely around after snapping a nation’s worst 17-game losing streak in September. The offense is balanced behind QB Steve Moffett and RB Kevin Smith. UCF had a downer in its last game, a 44-27 loss in the C-USA title game to Tulane.

Nevada brings a strong offense, averaging 184 rushing yards and 249 passing behind RBs B.J. Mitchell, Robert Hubbard and QB Jeff Rowe (60 percent completions, 20 TDs, 9 picks.) The WAC champs have been hot, going 7-1 SU and 6-2 ATS in the last eight outings. The streak included a 38-35 home win over Fresno State, which gave top-ranked USC one of its toughest battles this year.

Dec. 26: Motor City

The bowl opponents combined to go 15-7 "under" the posted total. Akron (7-5) got into this bowl with a spectacular finish in the MAC Championship, winning 31-30 on a TD pass with seconds to go. They won despite allowing 250 rushing yards to Northern Illinois. In fact, Akron allowed over 185 rushing yards six times. QB Luke Getsy (3,000 yds, 19 TDs, 12 INTs) will try to get the Zips offense into the end zone.

Memphis (6-5) has one of the nation’s top backs in DeAngelo Williams. The future NFL rusher gained 1,726 yards and 15 TDs in an injury-marred season. The Tigers know something about running the football (260 ypg, 5.3 ypc). Memphis was 7-3 "under" the total.