As 2012 draws to a close, we find ourselves smack in the middle of the bowls. You shouldn’t be bowled-out, either, as the bowls slowly build to the crescendo that is the Alabama/Notre Dame showdown.
Poinsettia Bowl – Qualcomm Stadium - San Diego, CA
San Diego St. +2½ vs. BYU (Thurs): San Diego State’s powerful rushing offense, averaging 229 yards per game, faces a BYU defense allowing just 14.7 ppg game (No. 5 in the nation). The Cougars (7-5) have balance on offense behind senior QB James Lark (8 TDs, 0 INTs) and freshman RB Jamaal Williams (744 yards).
Four of the Cougars’ five losses were by six points or fewer. BYU is 11-2 under the total against a team with a winning record.
The Aztecs (9-3) finished the regular season on a seven-game winning streak to share the conference title with Boise State and Fresno State. SDSU has an incredible backfield punch of sophomore Adam Muema (1,355 yds) and senior Walter Kazee (822), but their defense allowed over 37 points four times.
San Diego State is just two years removed from its last Poinsettia Bowl appearance, a 45-17 victory over Navy in 2010. BYU is 5-2 ATS in its last 7 bowl games.
Beef O Brady's Bowl – Tropicana Field - St. Petersburg
UCF -7 vs. Ball St. (Fri): Central Florida (9-4) claimed its fourth Conference USA East Division title since joining the league in 2005. The offense is potent averaging 35.2 points with sophomore QB Blake Bortles (22 TDs, 7 INTs) and senior RB Latavius Murray (1,035 yds, 5.8 ypc). They impressed in a 31-16 loss to Ohio State with 352 yards, forcing 3 Buckeye turnovers. The Knights are 13-5 ATS in their last 18 games following a loss.
Ball State (9-3) averages 35 points along with over 214 yards rushing and passing behind junior QB Keith Wenning (22 TDs, 10 INTs) and power soph RB Jahwan Edwards (1,321 yds, 6.1 ypc). The only losses came to then-No. 12 Clemson, BCS-bound Northern Illinois and No. 25 Kent State. The Cardinals are 19-7 ATS in their last 26 non-conference games, but 0-6-1 SU in bowls.
Maaco Las Vegas Bowl – Sam Boyd Stadium - Las Vegas, NV
Boise St. -5 vs. Washington (Sat): Boise State (10-2) makes it third straight trip to this bowl and fourth in three years to Sam Boyd Stadium. Boise lost the opener to Michigan State (17-13) but has won 10 of 11 since with one of the top defenses in the nation allowing 14.9 points (No. 6). The offense averages 30.4 points behind junior QB Joe Southwick (17 TDs, 7 INTs) and senior RB D.J. Harper (1,065 yds). The Broncos are 4-0 ATS in their last four bowls, 10-4-1 UNDER in non-conference games.
Washington (7-5) didn’t have the explosive offense many expected behind junior QB Keith Price (18 TDs, 11 INTs), averaging just 23.8 ppg, but an improved defense (23.8 ppg allowed) with a new DC. The Huskies are 15-6-1 ATS in their last 22 games on field turf. The high point came when defeating Pac-12 champion Stanford 17-14 at home. But the last game was a stunning 31-28 loss to Washington State in the Apple Cup as 14-point chalk. Boise State demolished Arizona State 56-24 in last year’s Las Vegas Bowl at Sam Boyd Stadium.
Hawaii Bowl – Aloha Stadium - Honolulu, HI
Fresno St. -12½ vs. Hawaii (Mon): Fresno (9-3) brings a wide-open passing attack that is No. 12 in the nation averaging 40.3 points and 322.6 yards passing behind junior QB Derek Carr (36 TDs, 5 INTs). Throw in RB Robbie House (1,468 yards, 5.5 ypc) and this offense is potent. The Bulldogs are on a 13-3 ATS run and 20-8 ATS on field turf.
SMU (6-6) averages 29.5 points and 237.3 yards passing, led by junior QB Garrett Gilbert (14 TDs, 13 INTs) and senior RB Zach Line (1,207 yds). Gilbert played as a freshman with Texas in the national title game against Alabama three years ago. SMU was 1-4 on the road, getting beat by 22, 25 amd 35 points along with a 7-point loss to Tulane.
Jim Feist, author and leader in sports information for over 40 years, hosts TV’s Proline as well as running National Sports Services since 1975. Reach him at [email protected]