Tag:Bowl Predictions
Posted on: January 7, 2012 2:58 pm
Edited on: January 7, 2012 4:26 pm
 

BCS Championship Game Score Predictions

Posted by Eye on College Football Staff

Chip Patterson: The first Game of the Century had the feel of two teams trying just as hard "not to lose" as they were trying to win.  With so much time to prepare, I imagine the first half will be just as low-scoring.  But Les Miles' willingness to adjust on the fly and take chances will be the difference as this game is won (or lost) in the second half.  LSU runs a kick return reverse to catch Alabama off guard for the deciding touchdown. LSU 24, Alabama 17.

Tom Fornelli: I'm with Chip on this one, even if I think 41 points is asking too much. Generally I'm of the opinion that it's hard to beat a team once, and much harder to beat that same team twice, but with this game being played in New Orleans it's hard to pick against the Tigers. LSU has been the best team in college all season, and it won't change in the Superdome, as the Tigers win 20-10.

[Full 2011-2012 bowl schedule]

Adam Jacobi: Tom, LSU's certainly got the best resume, but I don't know if they're the best team. And if anyone's going to turn around their scoring fortunes from first game, I'm picking the one who got into scoring position seven times and has the best running back in all of college football. I think Alabama gets into the end zone thrice, and LSU twice, good enough for a 24-20 Alabama win.

Bryan Fischer: All year I've thought this was the best defense Nick Saban's ever had. Watching them play, I believed it. The offense had Trent Richardson and a great offensive line with solid coordinators on both sides. But, and this is a big but, I can't pick against LSU. Les Miles has a great team and it seems like their destiny is to run the table. The Tigers aren't better than the Tide 11-on-11 but they are the better team and will get things done in New Orleans like they always have. LSU 27, Alabama 24.

Jerry Hinnen: It seems crazy to doubt LSU at this point. I personally doubted them before Oregon, before Mississippi State, before the Prematch, and even once they went down two scores to Georgia. And they've made me -- and all the other doubters -- looks like fools every time. But I'm doubting them one more time, because the formula they used to beat the Tide the first time isn't consistent enough to expect it work a second time. Missed field goals, special teams mistakes, Nick Saban's general conservatism, a botched trick play in LSU territory--these are mistakes the Tide aren't going to make a second time. And down-to-down, offense vs. defense, the Tide had the upper hand. This time, I think they make that advantage count. And if not, well, I'll be the one in the corner wearing the purple-and-gold dunce hat ... again. Alabama 20, LSU 16. 

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Posted on: December 29, 2011 6:04 pm
 

Sun Bowl Key Matchup



Posted by Chip Patterson


A look at the key matchup that could decide the Sun Bowl

Tevin Washington, QB, and Stephen Hill, WR, Georgia Tech vs. Utah secondary

Utah's rushing defense ranks No. 8 nationally, giving up just 98.25 yards per game on the ground. Their front seven is solid, and they get great play from their defensive tackles. If they can get a push on the line and disrupt Georgia Tech quarterback Tevin Washington with his reads, fakes, and pitches; the Utes can hope to force Washington to move the ball through the air.

The Yellow Jackets' sophomore quarterback completed just 46.7 percent of his passes on the season, and only threw for more than 100 yards once in his final six games. After throwing nine touchdowns in his first five games, Washington has failed to reach the end zone through the air since Oct. 1. There has been no single event to describe the drop-off - Washington has still performed well running the ball and the offense - just head-scratching passing plays where Washington simply misses the open man.

More often than not, that open man is 6-foot-5 wide receiver Stephen Hill. Hill led the Yellow Jackets in receiving this season with 785 yards on only 26 receptions. He has the frame and athletic ability to sneak downfield and make plays on jump balls. When a defense commits too many men to the run, Hill is able to beat the coverage and find open space downfield. Washington just struggled to hit him at times down the stretch of the regular season.

Utah would probably prefer the Sun Bowl be a low scoring game, giving John White IV enough carries to wear down Georgia Tech's defense. The Utes' defense has been among the best in the Pac-12 in limiting the big play, and their 17 passing touchdowns allowed is tied for second in the league. Utah has picked off opposing quarterbacks 19 times this season, fourth best among FBS teams, and could have plenty of opportunities with Washington under center. However if the secondary sleeps on Hill, the Utes could give up the big play they can't afford against a ball control team like Georgia Tech.

Keep up with all the latest on Georgia Tech and Utah at the Sun Bowl Pregame

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Posted on: December 29, 2011 5:55 pm
Edited on: December 29, 2011 5:56 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Sun Bowl

Posted by Chip Patterson

GEORGIA TECH WILL WIN IF: They can score early and force Utah to play catch-up. The Yellow Jackets will face one of their toughest challenges of the season in Utah's defense, which ranks ninth nationally against the run. The Utes have a strong front seven that has played well against Air Force in recent years, a team that runs an option scheme similar to Georgia Tech. But the Yellow Jackets' best weapon all season has been the big play. If Georgia Tech can break a couple big yardage plays early in the game and get an early lead, they will force Utah out of their comfort zone offensively. The Utes would love to play Georgia Tech in a low-scoring affair, with both teams grinding out hard yards on the ground. But the Yellow Jackets scored more than 20 points in 10 of their 12 contests this season, and could force Utah into turning to their shaky passing game for offense.

UTAH WILL WIN IF: The can establish a dominant rushing attack to match Georgia Tech's pace. The good news for Utah's defense is that offensive coordinator Norm Chow will likely expect running back John White IV to carry 30+ times against the Yellow Jackets. White was the Pac-12's second-leading rusher this season with 1,405 yards and 14 touchdowns. He has been highly effective when healthy, and the junior college transfer is expected to be ready to play after injuring his ankle early in the season finale loss to Colorado. The offensive line has struggled at times with pass rush, and Al Groh's 3-4 scheme has given quarterbacks fits with their multiple blitz packages. If Utah can allow the run to set up the pass, they will take a lot of responsibility out of the hands of quarterback Jon Hays.

X-FACTOR: Preparation time. Two of the four teams that defeated Georgia Tech this season had at least 10 days to prepare for Paul Johnson's offense. Players from those games admitted to benefiting from the extra time to study the different reads and fakes involved in the complex option scheme. Players are given time off after the bowl match ups are announced, but there is definitely an advantage to having 27 days to prepare for a team as unique as Georgia Tech. Johnson's Yellow Jackets have beaten plenty of teams with extra time to prepare, but the long break does seem to favor the Utes in this situation.

Keep up with all the latest on Georgia Tech and Utah at the Sun Bowl Pregame

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Posted on: December 22, 2011 10:17 am
Edited on: December 22, 2011 11:55 am
 

West Virginia without starting DB for Orange Bowl

Posted by Chip Patterson

West Virginia faces arguably one of their toughest defensive assignments of the season with the high-powered Clemson Tigers awaiting them in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 4. Locking down wide receivers like DeAndre Hopkins and ACC Freshman of the Year Sammy Watkins will be much more difficult for Jeff Casteel's unit without junior safety Terence Garvin.

Head coach Dana Holgorsen said Wednesday that Garvin, the Mountaineers third-leading tackler in 2011, underwent season-ending knee surgery to repair an injury he suffered on Dec. 1 in the 30-27 win at South Florida. Garvin suffered damaged cartilage in his knee, and is expected to miss spring practice as well while undergoing the six-month rehabilitation process.

The responsibility of replacing Garvin - who recorded 72 tackles, 3.5 sacks, an interception and an additional pick-six in 11 games of action - will likely redshirt freshman Wes Tonkery, along with Shaw Petteway and Matt Moro. Holgorsen has not made any decisions at this time, and states the starting position is "up for grabs."

For all the latest updates on West Virginia and Clemson until kickoff, check out our Orange Bowl Pregame

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Posted on: December 19, 2011 8:45 pm
 

Beef O'Brady's Bowl Key Matchup



Posted by Adam Jacobi

Key matchup: Kedrick Rhodes, RB, FIU vs. Omar Brown, FS, Marshall

Ordinarily, having a free safety lead a team in tackles by a substantial margin is usually a portender of doom: if ball-carriers are getting to the second level with such regularity that the defense's centerfielder is being required to make a plurality of the tackles, after all, that normally means that the linebackers are having such a rough go of it that forcing third and fourth downs is basically out of the question. And yet, there's Marshall FS Omar Brown, leading the Thundering Herd by a 16-tackle margin over the next leading tackler (LB George Carpenter), and Marshall's defense is still... well, it's not good, but it's okay!

Brown's going to have to spend plenty of time in run support on Tuesday, because FIU's probably going to give the ball to sophomore tailback Kedrick Rhodes at least 20 times -- and perhaps closer to 30 -- in the Beef O'Brady's Bowl. Rhodes broke the FIU record for most rushing yards in a year with 1164 yards this season, topping the mark of 1133 set by Rashod Smith in 2004, and Rhodes was named a 2nd team All-Sun Belt RB as a result. Rhodes isn't exactly a bruiser, but he's hardly a wisp either at 5'11", 190.

It's going to be easier for FIU to open up the game and create space for T.Y. Hilton to work his magic if the Marshall defense is preoccupied with stopping the run, and that's only going to happen if FIU can gain significant yardage on the ground to force 2nd and short or 3rd and short. And the extent to which Marshall utilizes Brown -- again, a defensive back, although one who's a tackle machine -- to do so should be a fascinating chess match to watch during the Beef O'Brady's Bowl.



Check out all the latest updates on FIU and Marshall right up until kickoff at the Beef O'Brady's Bowl Pregame.

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Posted on: December 19, 2011 7:05 pm
Edited on: December 19, 2011 8:33 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Beef O'Brady's Bowl

Posted by Adam Jacobi

FIU WILL WIN IF: T.Y. Hilton has one more big game in him. Hilton, the multi-talented wideout and return specialist, caught 64 passes for 950 yards and seven touchdowns in 2011. Once you add in rushes and returns, Hilton registered 104 total touches for 1749 all-purpose yards and eight scores. That works out to 8.66 touches, 145.75 yards, and .66 TDs per game for the electric senior.

In FIU's four losses, however, Hilton's production drops considerably; he touched the ball 5.75 times for 102 all-purpose yards per game, and scored two touchdowns in those four games. In fact, Hilton's stats were substantially lower in every single measurable category in those four losses except kick return average; there, Hilton's YPR jumps all the way from 32.0 to 33.75. So the message here is clear: get the ball in Hilton's hands, or leave the Beef O'Brady's Bowl disappointed. And nobody likes to associate Beef O'Brady's with disappointment, now, do they?

MARSHALL WILL WIN IF: Vinny Curry gets loose. Marshall may be 6-6, but there are a few pretty decent wins hidden in there: 26-20 over Southern Miss, 17-14 at Louisville, and even 24-20 over a 4-8 Rice team that faced a ferocious schedule. One of those most consistent factors in those wins -- and just about all of them -- was Curry. Curry trailed only Houston's Sammy Brown in sacks and tackles for loss in the C-USA this year; indeed, Brown and Curry were 1-2 in the nation in tackles for loss. What's more, in the Herd's six wins, Curry was even more dominant: 13.5 TFLs, 9.0 sacks, four forced fumbles, and two blocked kicks. Those rates -- 2.25 TFL and 1.50 sacks per game -- would be enough to lead the nation if he had maintained them in the Herd's six losses as well. He didn't, of course, so it's going to be crucial for Marshall to get that level of production out of its senior DE one last time. 

X-FACTOR: Mario Cristobal's status. FIU's celebrated coach, who has essentially been the architect of Golden Panther football, has been mentioned as a potential candidate for multiple BCS-level football programs. And while it's unlikely that Cristobal would take a new job that would require him to abandon his team in the 24 hours leading up to the Beef O'Brady's Bowl, it is also the case that Cristobal's time spent in consideration of a new coaching destination is time not spent on game preparation for the Marshall game. Exactly how much effect the distraction of job talks has on FIU's preparation -- if any at all -- remains to be seen, but FIU fans and administrators looking forward to the Golden Panthers' second straight bowl win can't be thrilled that Cristobal is conducting these talks before his team's season is officially over.



Check out all the latest updates on FIU and Marshall right up until kickoff at the Beef O'Brady's Bowl Pregame.

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Posted on: December 19, 2011 6:52 pm
 

Independence Bowl Key Matchup



Posted by Chip Patterson


A look at the key matchup that could decide the Independence Bowl

James Franklin, QB, Missouri vs. North Carolina's defensive front

Ever since Missouri lost running back Henry Josey to a season-ending knee injury, most of the offensive success has been based around what sophomore quarterback James Franklin can create. De'Vion Moore has seen an increased workload at running back and Kendial Lawrence has added three strong performances since the Big 12's leading rusher saw his season ended by the "one in a million" injury.

The good news for Missouri is that Franklin has stepped up in Josey's absence, leading the Tigers to three straight wins to close the regular season. Because of Franklin's rushing ability, the Tigers' offense has not become one-dimensional after the loss of their leading rusher. However, North Carolina's defensive front presents one of Franklin's toughest challenges on the season.

The Tar Heels' front seven is anchored by Quinton Coples, Tydreke Powell, and linebacker Zach Brown. All three received All-ACC honors or mention, and all three are seniors who have earned the interest of NFL scouts. North Carolina ranks No. 2 in the ACC and 14th nationally in rushing defense, allowing just 106.2 yards per game. They were one of the only teams to hold both Miami's Lamar Miller and Virginia Tech's David Wilson under 100 yards rushing this season, and have only allowed nine rushing touchdowns on the year.

But despite the impressive statistics, the defense has suffered lapses at times this season and struggled to get off the field when they needed a big stop. There will likely several occasions in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport where Missouri needs to convert a third down and it will be Franklin against the Tar Heels. Containing the Tigers' star quarterback is the only way North Carolina can hope to give Gio Bernard, Bryn Renner and the Tar Heels' offense a chance to find a rhythm against Missouri's stout D.

Check out all the latest updates on Missouri and North Carolina right up until kickoff at the Independence Bowl Pregame

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Posted on: December 19, 2011 4:47 pm
Edited on: December 19, 2011 4:50 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Independence Bowl

Posted by Chip Patterson

MISSOURI WILL WIN IF: They can limit turnovers on offense and prevent the big play on defense. Sophomore quarterback James Franklin's performance in the regular season finale against Kansas showed both the best and worst of Missouri's offense sans Henry Josey (knee). The worst came early in the game, with Franklin tossing three interceptions in the first 18 minutes of play and the Tigers' offense only producing one scoring drive - which resulted in a field goal. The best came in the second half, with Franklin wearing down the Kansas defense and taking advantage of their weaknesses by creating big plays on the way to a 24-10 win.

North Carolina is much stronger than Kansas, and three first half interceptions may not be something the Tigers can expect to bounce back from in the Independence Bowl. As long as Franklin is smart with the ball and avoids turnovers, he can keep taking his shots through the air and on the ground until he eventually hits the big play. Defensively the Tigers are much better than their numbers suggest, especially when you consider the competition. Still, even the best defense can be broken down by someone like North Carolina wide receivers Dwight Jones, Erik Highsmith, or Jheranie Boyd. Running back Gio Bernard will likely see a heavy load on the ground as well, and the Tigers must keep the shifty freshman from breaking outside and hitting the sidelines.

NORTH CAROLINA WILL WIN IF: The front seven can contain and pressure Missouri quarterback James Franklin. Ever since Henry Josey's season-ending knee injury, much of Missouri's offense has been based around Franklin creating plays. Luckily for the Tigers the sophomore signal caller not only can extend the play with his legs, but take off and make defenders miss in the open field. In the first game without Josey - the Big 12's leading rusher at the time of his injury - Franklin rushed for a career high 152 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries while still adding 172 yards and two touchdowns through the air. North Carolina's front seven is filled with NFL-caliber talent. However, there have been several games this season where it seems the defensive line and linebackers have not lived up to that NFL-caliber hype. With the nationally televised bowl game, it would be in the best interest of these pro prospects to delver their best performance of the season in this game. If Quinton Coples, Tydreke Powell, Zach Brown, and the rest of the front seven are able to contain and frustrate James Franklin, they will benefit their own draft stock and give the Tar Heels a much better chance to win their second-straight bowl game. A win-win scenario for the NFL-hopefuls.

X-FACTOR: Who Wants It More? Missouri certainly enters the game with a momentum advantage, winning four of their final five games while North Carolina lost four of their last six. Missouri picked up the invite after being over by the bowls with a Big 12 tie-in, not a surprise considering the Tigers' upcoming departure for the SEC. It will be the last game for interim head coach Everett Withers, who has already confirmed he's not staying with the Tar Heels "in any capacity" under new head coach Larry Fedora. So with Missouri in between conferences and North Carolina in between coaches, the team that can find the motivation for the moment will have an advantage on Dec. 26 in Shreveport.

That kind of advantage will likely be necessary in a bowl game that has been decided by seven points or less five of the last six years, with Georgia's 44-20 win against Texas A&M in 2009 being the only exception. Regardless of the expectations heading into the game, that matchup has always been close in recent years. Maybe it is the mystic atmosphere of Shreveport, or Independence Stadium - where the game has been played every year since the bowl's creation in 1976 - but advantages in X's and O's seem to matter much less in this game. For either team to get win No. 8 in 2011, they will need an extra dose of "Want" on Dec. 26.

Check out all the latest updates on Missouri and North Carolina right up until kickoff at the Independence Bowl Pregame

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com