Middle of college bowl season a great time of year

Dec 22, 2015 3:00 AM

As 2015 draws to a close, we find ourselves smack in the middle of the bowls. You shouldn’t be bowled-out, either, as they build to the crescendo that is the Final Four between Alabama, Michigan State, Oklahoma and Clemson.

Poinsettia

Wednesday, San Diego, Calif.

Northern Illinois (8-5) heads to San Diego on a two game slide, losing to Ohio (26-21) and Bowling Green (34-14), the former as a 12-point favorite.

The Huskies lost quarterback Drew Hare to a leg injury against Toledo and have tried freshman QBs Ryan Graham (6 TDs, 3 INTs) and Tom Fiedler (2 TDs, 3 INTs). The defense faded down the stretch, but lost 20-13 at Ohio State as a +34 dog back in September. UNI is 2-6 ATS in bowl games, plus 12-5 UNDER the total at neutral sites.

Boise State (8-4) also stumbled late on a 1-2 SU/ATS run, losing to New Mexico (31-24) as -30 chalk and to Air Force (37-30) as -10 favorite. Air Force had 607 yards!

Running back Jeremy McNichols (1,244 yards) anchors the attack running for 18 TDs. Boise is 5-2 ATS in bowl games, plus 13-3 over against a winning team.

Hawaii

Thursday, Honolulu, Hawaii

A shorter trip for San Diego State (10-3) to the Islands, a place they visited just two months ago in a 28-14 win. San Diego State is on a 9-0 SU, 7-1-1 ATS run.

The Aztecs lost their starting QB Max Smith (13 TDs, 2 INTs) in the finale with a knee injury and he is questionable. Freshman QB Christian Chapman (323 yards) may have to play but won’t have to carry the load because of RB Donnel Pumphrey (1,554 yards). SDSU is also on a 19-7 UNDER run.

Cincinnati didn’t play well away from home, giving up 55 at Memphis and 65 at South Florida. QB Gunner Kiel (19 TDs, 11 INTs) leads a strong offense on a team that is 4-1 OVER the total in bowl games.

Foster Farms

Saturday, Santa Clara, Calif.

The opponents are meeting for the third time in four years. UCLA won 36-30 in the Rose Bowl three seasons ago, then won 41-21 at Nebraska in 2013.

The Bruins are led by freshman QB Josh Rosen (20 TDs, 9 INTs) and RB Paul Perkins (1,275 yards, 5.7 ypc). UCLA does a good job against the pass, ranking first in the Pac-12 in yards allowed per game (205.7). UCLA is off a loss to USC and is 35-15-1 UNDER the total after a defeat.

Nebraska (5-7) made a bowl despite a losing record and a defense that gave up 33, 36, 55 and 38 in four contests.

QB Tommy Armstong (21 TDs, 16 INTs) leads a strong offense but the Huskers’ pass defense ranks 121st in the nation. Last year Armstrong tore up USC in the Holiday Bowl with 381 yards passing, although Nebraska is 1-4 ATS against the Pac 12.

Military

Monday, Annapolis, Maryland

Pittsburgh (8-4) played well under first-year head coach Pat Narduzzi. The Panthers have a balanced offense behind junior QB Nathan Peterman (19 TDs, 5 INTs) and RB Qadree Ollison (1,048 yards, 5.1 ypc). Pitt is off a loss to Miami, 29-24, and the Panthers are 26-10-1 ATS following a setback.

Navy is playing a home game with the matchup in Annapolis, Md. The Middies beat everyone on their schedule except Notre Dame and Houston. Senior QB Keenan Reynolds leads this option-attack with over 1,000 yards rushing and passing. The Midshipmen are 7-3 ATS in bowl games, though 1-4 ATS versus the ACC.

The teams last met in 2013, with Navy claiming a 24-21 home win on a 30-yard field goal as time expired. Pitt was a -5 chalk, going UNDER 51.

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. Twitter: @JimFeistSports . Email: [email protected]