As 2013 draws to a close, we find ourselves smack in the middle of the bowls. You shouldn’t be bowled-out either, in slowly building to the crescendo that is the Auburn/Florida State showdown.
Hawaii Bowl (Dec. 24)
A pair of teams with great passing offenses that slumped down the stretch.
Boise State (8-4 SU/6-6 ATS) Broncos will be playing their first game under interim coach Bob Gregory. Senior QB Joe Southwick (12 TDs, 5 INTs) is back from an October ankle injury while soph RB Jay Ajayi (1,328 yds, 5.9 ypc) is a powerful back. The 91st ranked pass defense gave up 460 yards to Fresno State.
Oregon State (6-6 SU/6-6 ATS) Beavers average 34.5 points, 382 yards passing (No. 3 in the nation) behind junior QB Sean Mannion (36 TDs, 14 INTs, 4,403 yds, 66%) and junior WR Brandin Cooks (1,670 yds, 13.9 ypc, 15 TDs). Mike Riley’s team started 6-1, then folded, losing the last 5. The Beavers are 11-6-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record and the underdogs are on a 6-2 ATS Hawaii Bowl run.
Little Caesar’s (Dec. 26)
Pittsburgh (6-6 SU, 4-7-1 ATS) didn’t exactly tear it up to make this bowl indoors at Ford Field, on a 2-4 SU/2-3-1 ATS run. They were outscored for the season and rank 112th in rushing. The offense has senior QB Tom Savage (21 TDs, 9 INTs) and a pair of talented targets in Tyler Boyd and Devin Street. Panthers on a 7-2 run UNDER with wins over Notre Dame and Duke.
Bowling Green (10-3) is riding high after big upset of undefeated Northern Illinois in MAC title game, 47-27. Ranks fifth in the nation in points allowed (14.8 ppg), averages 35.4 points and over 206 yards rushing and passing, led by sophomore QB Matt Johnson (23 TDs, 7 INTs). However, they lose head coach Dave Clawson who is off to Wake Forest.
Fight Hunger (Dec. 27)
Washington (8-4) is another team in a bowl with a head coaching change, with Steve Sarkisian jumping back to USC. One of the best offenses in the country, led by senior QB Keith Price (20 TDs, 5 INTs), averaging 38.5 points, 243 yards rushing and 271 passing. Own Pac-12’s leading rusher, Bishop Sankey (1,775 yards, 5.8 ypc).
BYU (8-4) scored plenty of points (31.3 ppg) but did it on the ground. Cougars tenth in the nation in rushing with 274.6 yards per game, 74th in passing. Linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Uani’ Unga lead a terrific defense that allows 21.3 points per contest.
Wild Wings (Dec. 28)
Michigan (7-5) squeezed into a bowl despite a 5-0 start, losing 5 of its final 7 games. Put it all on the line against Ohio State in a thrilling 42-41 loss in the finale, but the offense went mostly cold down the stretch scoring 6, 13, 27 and 21 in the previous four. Michigan is on a 4-1 run UNDER the total. This offense finished 100th in the nation in rushing. Wolverines played a pair of multiple overtime games and five others decided by 4 points or less.
Kansas State (7-5) began the season 2-4 before winning 5 of 6. On a 6-2 ATS run. Bill Snyder’s team has great balance, averaging 33.4 points, 220.8 yards passing and 180 rushing behind QBs Jake Waters and Dan Sams, while RB John Hubert (968 yards) averages 5.3 yards per carry. Kansas State has lost its last five bowl games.
Alamo Bowl (Dec. 30)
Texas (8-4) had huge expectations this fall and came up short. Mack Brown, coaching his last game at Texas, felt the heat all season starting and finishing 1-2 sandwiched around a 6-game win streak. The Longhorns were blown out by Ole Miss (44-23), Oklahoma State (38-13) and Baylor (30-10). Texas rides a 12-1 SU streak in its past 13 bowl games.
Oregon (12-2) also fell short of national championship expectations. Ducks third in the nation in points (46.8 ppg), averaging 294.7 yards passing and 278 rushing, but lost to rival Stanford and closed 2-2 SU, 0-4 ATS. Favorites are 4-1 ATS in the past five Alamo Bowls and the UNDER is 6-2 in Oregon’s last eight bowl games.
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. Follow him on twitter: @JimFeistSports . Reach him at Jim[email protected]