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If you like quality defense, avoid Ole Miss-Nebraska

Dec 24, 2002 12:01 AM

Here’s a look at some of the upcoming bowl games.

Thursday, Dec. 26

Motor City, Detroit

Toledo vs BC: MAC meets Big East. Toledo doesn’t care about playing defense (25.2 ppg allowed), but what an offense: 223 yards rushing, 252 yards passing per game! QB Brian Jones is a good passer (21 TDs, 7 INTs) and runner, in a stellar ground attack that features RBs Astin Martin, Trinity Dawson and William Bratton. Pitt is the common opponent. Toledo lost 37-19. BC lost 19-16.

The Eagles were solid under coach Tom O’Brien, losing only to Miami, West Virginia, Virginia Tech and Pitt. BC went 2-2 ATS in those games and upset Notre Dame on the road, 14-7 as a big underdog.

Insight, Phoenix

Oregon State vs Pitt: Interesting battle with Pitt’s strong defense against Oregon State’s outstanding offense. Dennis Erickson’s Oregon State team outscored opponents by a 33-19 average. The Beavers were poor on the road, going 1-4 ATS.

Pittsburgh’s defense allows 18.3 ppg. The Panthers, 3-2 ATS on the road, are making a rare visit to the Southwest. Their last three road games were impressive: a 14-6 loss at Notre Dame, a 28-21 win at Virginia Tech as a +12 dog, and a 28-21 loss at No. 1 Miami as a +19 dog.

Friday, Dec. 27

Houston Bowl

So. Miss vs Oklahoma St: Southern Miss was not a moneymaker this season, going 2-9 ATS! The problem has been an erratic offense behind two young QBs (sophomore Mickey D’Angelo and freshman Dustin Almond). Outstanding RB Derrick Nix is doubtful with kidney difficulties. The Golden Eagles are 0-5 ATS on the road!

By contrast, Oklahoma State brings a 6-3 SU and 7-2 ATS run into this game. The Cowboys can score (34.4 ppg) and be scored on (27.8 ppg). WR Rashaun Woods (16 TDs, 1,531 yards.) is an NFL-caliber receiver and keyed State’s shocking 38-28 upset of Oklahoma.

Independence

Nebraska vs Mississippi: An extreme contrast of styles in Shreveport. Nebraska ran for 268 yards per game. Ole Miss has no running game and passed for 260. Both teams failed to live up to preseason hype. Mississippi did not win a road game (2-3 ATS) and struggled badly against teams able to run the ball. Ole Miss lost 42-7 to Alabama, 48-28 at Arkansas, and 31-17 at Georgia. Nebraska was a dismal 1-4 both SU and ATS away from home, allowing 36 points per game! If you’re a fan of quality defense, make like QB Eli Manning and pass on this Louisiana bowl game.

Holiday, San Diego

Arizona St vs Kansas St Coach Dirk Koetter and the wide-open ASU passing attack oppose Bill Snyder and K-State’s strong defense (10.6 ppg). Arizona State outscored teams by a 32-28 average, and lives by the pass (304 ypg). The Sun Devils played Nebraska, a Big 12 team similar in style to K-State, and lost 48-10. They faced a strong defensive team in USC and lost 34-13.

Kansas State also played USC and won 27-20. The defense was good enough to shut down talented passing teams such as Oklahoma State (a 44-9 win) and Texas (a 17-14 loss). The Wildcats run for 267 yards per game and were 5-2 OVER the total. ASU was 8-4 OVER.

Saturday, Dec. 28

Continental Tire

Virginia vs W.Va: A battle of high-octane offenses in Charlotte. West Virginia has a sensational running attack (287 yards per game) led by QB Rasheed Marshall and RB Avon "Calling" Cobourne. The Mountaineers outscored teams by 10 points and were 5-1 both SU and ATS on the road. They played their worst game against Maryland, an ACC team similar to Virginia, in a 48-17 loss. UVa beat Maryland 48-13. The Cavs offense is led by QB Matt Schaub (27 TDs, 7 INTs). UVa was 2-4 ATS on the road.