We find ourselves smack in the middle of the bowls, which slowly build to the Florida-Oklahoma clash. Here’s our view of some we like this week:
Hawaii Bowl, Honolulu
Notre Dame (6-6 SU/5-7 ATS) ended the regular season 1-4 SU/ATS with fans calling for Charlie Weis’ scalp after a miserable home loss to Syracuse, 24-23. The Irish must throw behind sophomore QB Jimmy Clausen (20 TDs, 17 INTs). They average 22.7 points and 231 yards in the air.
Notre Dame is 2-4 SU, 3-3 ATS on the road and on a 5-1 run under the total. Hawaii (7-6 SU, 7-5 ATS) won six of its last nine. The last five bowls, Hawaii has allowed 36, 48, 40, 24 and 41 points.
Motor City, Detroit
Florida Atlantic and Central Michigan are outstanding passing teams. Florida Atlantic (6-6 SU/7-5 ATS) had a tough start (1-5) under Coach Howard Schnellenberger, but ended on a 5-1 SU, 4-2 ATS run. Junior QB Rusty Smith (22 TDs, 14 picks) leads an offense that scored 24, 29, 46, 40, 14 and 57 points the last six games.
Schnellenberger is 5-0 in bowl games, including a 44-27 win over Memphis last year. Central Michigan won nine games, while averaging 30 points and 292 yards passing behind junior QB Dan LeFevour (19 TDs, 5 INTs) and RB Ontario Sneed. The defense has allowed 34, 30, 24 and 56 points the last four games. Don’t expect much defense.
Champs Sports, OrlandoWisconsin (7-5 SU/5-6 ATS) was ranked as high as No. 9 before a four-game skid. The Badgers won their final three games to make a bowl, including a 36-35 OT win over Cal Poly. Junior QB Dustin Sherer (5 TDs, 5 INTs) is in charge after they demoted senior QB Allan Evridge (5 TDs, 5 INTs) during the slide.
The Badgers are 1-3 SU their last four road games. Florida State (8-4 SU, 6-5 ATS) is led by sophomore QB Christian Ponder (12 TDs, 13 picks). The Noles, like Wisconsin, like to run the ball. Wisconsin is 4-0 under the total their last four bowls.
Emerald, San Francisco
Miami travels 3,000 miles, while California goes 13 across San Francisco Bay. The Hurricanes (7-5 SU, 4-6 ATS) had a 5-game win streak in midseason, then finished 0-2 SU/ATS. Against Georgia Tech they allowed a staggering 472 yards rushing!
Cal (8-4 SU, 8-3 ATS) was a perfect 7-0 SU/ATS at home, but 1-4 SU/2-3 ATS away from Berkeley. This offense is balanced, averaging 33 points, 175 yards rushing, 200 passing with a beast in the backfield in sophomore RB Jahvid Best (1,394 yards).
PapaJohn’s, BirminghamN.C. State (6-6 SU/9-2 ATS) coach Tom O’Brien whipped the young Wolfpack into shape and is on a 7-0 ATS run. The running game is strong with senior Andre Brown (728 yds) and junior RB Jamelle Eugene, while the emergence of freshman QB Russell Wilson (16 TDs, only 1 pick) was key.
Rutgers (7-5 SU, 6-4 ATS) is even hotter, on a 6-0 SU, 5-1 ATS run for coach Greg Schiano. Senior QB Mike Teel (23 TDs, 12 INTs, 3,099 yards) and 6-4 junior WR Kenny Britt (1,252 yds) lead a passing offense that averages 29 points. Britt is the nation’s second leading receiver with an average of 113.8 yards receiving. This offense has scored 54, 35, 49, 30 and 63 points the last five games. Rutgers is 2-0 SU/ATS the last two bowls, but NC State is 7-0 ATS its last seven as a dog.