Tag:Keys to the game
Posted on: December 16, 2011 6:11 pm
Edited on: December 16, 2011 6:15 pm
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Hawaii Bowl Key Matchup



Posted by Chip Patterson


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

Austin Davis, QB, Southern Miss vs. Brett Roy, DT, Nevada

Austin Davis entered the Southern Miss football program as a walk-on, but when his career as a Golden Eagle finishes on Christmas Eve in the Hawaii Bowl he will have more career passing records than Brett Favre. During his four years in Hattiesburg, Davis has matured from a talented "scrawny" kid (Larry Fedora's words), into a smart and efficient gunslinger with the ability to scramble from the pocket to create a play. Davis threw for 250+ yards in nine different games this season, and finished with 28 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, while adding four touchdowns and 332 yards on the ground.

But on the other side of Davis will be an equally decorated star: senior defensive tackle Brett Roy. Roy led the WAC in sacks and tackles for loss in 2011, and has made his way to numerous end-of-season award lists - arguably the most impressive being SI's All-American First Team. Roy's dominating presence in the trenches helps anchor a Wolf Pack defense that finished second in the WAC in scoring and total defense.

Both of these teams have Top 15 offenses, and if recent history tells us anything you will need to put up points to win this game. Since 2002, the winning team in the Hawaii Bowl has averaged 48.4 points per game. Both teams have surpassed that mark on several occasions this season, and the number one goal of both defensive units will be to avoid that kind of shootout. Roy is arguably the most talented defensive player on either team, and the senior will be looking to finish an impressive career with a bowl victory.

Check out all the latest updates on Southern Miss and Nevada right up until kickoff at the Hawaii Bowl Pregame

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Posted on: December 16, 2011 5:08 pm
Edited on: December 16, 2011 6:29 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Hawaii Bowl

Posted by Chip Patterson

SOUTHERN MISS WILL WIN IF: The Golden Eagles back up their talk about this game meaning something. When Larry Fedora accepted the North Carolina head coaching job, his players were disappointed but understanding. Some players have even said they are happy for their head coach, and the opportunity he'll get moving forward. But even in accepting the job, Fedora wants to coach the Conference USA champions in the Hawaii Bowl for a chance to make program history. In over 100 years of Southern Miss football, no team has ever won 12 games in a season. A win over the Wolf Pack on Christmas Eve would give the 11-2 Golden Eagles a historic finish to the Fedora era in Hattiesburg. But how much of the upbeat "let's make history" motivation is running through the entire roster?

Star quarterback Austin Davis should have plenty of motivation, but the underclassmen are staring down a long flight to an early bowl to play for a coach on his way out the door. Both offenses are ranked in the Top 15 nationally in scoring, and coming out flat would be a fast way to let the game get out of hand. Since 2002, the winning team in the Hawaii Bowl has averaged 48.4 points per game. We know both teams are capable of putting up those kinds of numbers, so Southern Miss will need to play fast and energetic for all 60 minutes to claim that historic 12th win.

NEVADA WILL WIN IF: The Wolf Pack can limit turnovers and establish the running game. Before their arguably effortless blowout victory against Idaho to close the season, Nevada's offense struggled in back-to-back four-point losses to Louisiana Tech and Utah State. In both games Nevada failed to turn successful drives into touchdowns, settling for field goals that in total could have changed the outcome of the game. Also prevalent in both losses, as well as throughout the season, were costly turnovers that kept the Wolf Pack from the end zone. With WAC Freshman of the Year Cody Fajardo returning from his sprained ankle and senior Lampford Mark looking to continue his streak of five-straight 100+ yard games on the ground, there should be plenty of offensive potential as long as Nevada does not shoot themselves in the foot.

X-FACTOR: Cody Fajardo's injured ankle. Fajardo sprained his ankle in Nevada's 21-17 loss at Utah State on Nov. 26, but all signs point to the the WAC's Freshman of the Year returning to start against Southern Miss in the bowl game. Fajardo was just the quarterback head coach Chris Ault needed to replace Colin Kapernick, now with the San Francisco 49ers. The freshman phenom finished the season with six passing touchdowns and 11 rushing touchdowns - the latter being good enough for seventh nationally among quarterbacks. With Mark's aforementioned explosion in the second half of the season, the Wolf Pack rushing attack can be as potent as it was a year ago with Kapernick at the helm. But if Fajardo is tentative or otherwise not 100 percent on his legs, it could play a huge roll in Southern Miss being able to make plays in the backfield.

Check out all the latest updates on Southern Miss and Nevada right up until kickoff at the Hawaii Bowl Pregame

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: December 16, 2011 2:31 pm
 

Keys to the game: Holiday Bowl

Posted by Bryan Fischer

CALIFORNIA WILL WIN IF: This game is about a small measure of revenge for the Bears, after Texas successfully lobbied for a Rose Bowl bid over Cal in 2004. That doesn't matter much to the current players - some of whom were in middle school at the time - but it's not like they won't be properly motivated for the trip down to San Diego. The key for California to win lies on offense and if they can move the ball against a generally well-regarded secondary. Zach Maynard has been inconsistent at the quarterback position but has plenty of weapons to deliver the ball to.

TEXAS WILL WIN IF: After a disappointing end to the season, the Longhorns can still get a win and use it to build momentum during the offseason with a young team. The defense looked shaky against Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III but has performed much better than expected, topping the pass-happy Big 12 and finishing 14th in the country in total defense. Mack Brown knows how to prepare his team and win bowls (just one loss since 2003) and expect nothing less this time around.

THE X-FACTOR: Brown has already said that both of his quarterbacks, Case McCoy and David Ash, will see playing time at the Holiday Bowl. Neither has necessarily looked good throwing the football around so the health of the running game will be important against a very good Cal defense. Linebacker Mychal Kendricks may not be a name Longhorns fans know much about but he will be after the game as Texas tries to run the ball.
Posted on: December 16, 2011 12:34 pm
 

Keys to the game: Maaco Bowl

Posted by Bryan Fischer

BOISE STATE WILL WIN IF: This is a total mismatch, there's no doubt about it. The Broncos are better coached and a better team - a decent kicker away from playing for the national title. Instead, they wind up in Las Vegas in the swan song for FBS' winningest quarterback Kellen Moore. It's pretty simple for Boise State, win the game by doing what you've been doing for years. Hit big pass plays, run the ball effectively, get pressure using the front four, run a trick play or two. The Sun Devils are 106th in pass defense so it should make for a big game by Moore.

ARIZONA STATE WILL WIN IF: After a disappointing season and a fired coach on the sidelines, this game gives the Sun Devils a chance to end the season on a high note. The defense never did live up to expectations - due to injury and on-the-field play - but getting stops and forcing turnovers give their offense a chance to score some points. Brock Osweiler and company have done a solid job this year but have to remain balanced, even if they are behind in the game. More than anything, the team is going to have to put together a complete game like they did earlier in the year if they are to have a chance at pulling the upset in Vegas.

THE X-FACTOR: You never know how a team going into a bowl game with a departing coach, in this case Dennis Erickson, will play. They could be inspired and pull off the upset against all odds. They could roll over and play lifeless after being down a score or two. Given the way ASU ended the season, it would be a good bet that it's the latter but you never know. These are two talented football teams playing in an exhibition game to end the year, so it's hard to tell who will be motivated to win it. 


Posted on: December 15, 2011 4:16 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Belk Bowl

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

LOUISVILLE WILL WIN IF: the Cardinals can get things going on the ground. Sounds simple enough, but it's hardly coincidence that the Cards went 7-1 in games in which they topped 100 rushing yards -- including all six of their 5-1 sprint to the 2011 finish line -- and 0-4 in games in which they didn't. With true freshman quarterback Teddy Bridgewater still learning the ropes when it comes to putting the ball in the air (the Cards averaged just 24 pass attempts a game over those final six), the Cards simply don't have the means to overcome consistent 3rd-and-long situations. And that probably goes double against the Wolfpack, who boast All-American safety candidate David Amerson and ranked 31st in the country in opposing quarterback rating. The NCSU rush defense was somewhat softer, though (ranking 41st) and the Cardinal offensive line picked up some legitimate steam down the stretch; if they can give talented backs Victor Anderson and Dominique Brown just a few seams to work with, the Cards should be able to move the ball just enough to earn the victory.

N.C. STATE WILL WIN IF: they likewise can get things going in the air. While the Cards likely need some semblance of balance to make their offense work, the Wolfpack should probably just forget trying to run the ball in this matchup; Charlie Strong's defense boasts the 10th-best rush D numbers in the FBS, while the NCSU running attack is ranked 107th. That's a no-go. But Mike Glennon quietly enjoyed a steady-if-unspectacular season under center for the Wolfpack (28 TDs-to-11 INTs) and a deep corps of receivers emerged with six different targets finishing with 25 or more receptions. The Cards struggled with viable passing attacks, too, yielding 11.8 yards an attempt to FIU, 410 yards on more than 9 an attempts to West Virginia, even 8.5 an attempt to Tino Sunseri at Pitt. If the Wolfpack can keep Glennon upright  -- the Cards finished 19th nationally in sacks -- there will be some holes for the Wolfpack to exploit.

THE X-FACTOR: red zone efficiency. While we can talk about what the offenses do and don't bring to the table, don't make any mistake: this is a "battle" between the nation's 104th- and 93rd-ranked total offenses going against a pair of top-40 defenses, and points are going to be at an extreme premium. (That's Louisville and N.C. State, respectively, but the order hardly matters; in yards per-play, the Cards are 91st and NCSU 107th.) That means whatever rare opportunities these two attacks get to put points on the board must be taken advantage of; don't be surprised to see a 17-13 type of scoreline where one touchdown for one side vs. one field goal for the other proves the difference.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview

Posted on: December 15, 2011 3:47 pm
Edited on: December 20, 2011 9:28 pm
 

Keys to the game: Poinsettia Bowl

Posted by Bryan Fischer

TCU WILL WIN IF: How's a trip to San Diego before Christmas for a Mountain West swan song sound? The Horned Frogs dominated conference play for the final time, including a memorable upset of Boise State, and will head to one of just four bowls matching up conference champions. Motivation would normally be a factor for some teams coming from two straight BCS bowls but not for one coached by Gary Patterson - as intense and well-prepared a coach as you will find.

"I think the key is, the team that wins bowl games is the team that wants it the most," Patterson said. "What I’ve found is that you usually find out in the first five minutes of the ballgame how that’s all going to go down, with the intensity level and how they do it. I think this is going to be one of the games people talk about, one of the better ball games in the bowl season."

A win in the bowl game would also give TCU 11 wins for the seventh time in a decade. Though they've taken a few lumps, this team is built on defense and linebacker Tank Carder is looking to cap off a great career by slowing down Louisiana Tech's high-powered offense with help from the secondary. The offense is pretty good too, rounding into form as the season progressed. The Horned Frogs have scored at least 27 straight in every game this year and if quarterback Casey Pachall and the offense - sans coordinator Justin Fuente - keep turnovers to a minimum, they should be riding off to the Big 12 with a bowl game win.

"This ball game is a challenge for us," added Patterson. "Not only is it a challenge at the end of the season but it’s a challenge to go into next season, to teach our kids what it’s about to play at a high level. There are no two ways about it."

LOUISIANA TECH WILL WIN IF: The Bulldogs certainly can score some points, averaging almost 450 yards of offense and 35 points per game ever since Colby Cameron took over at quarterback and started throwing the ball around. The offense gets most of the attention but the defense isn't too shabby either with 20 interceptions on the year - good for third in the nation.

"This will be a bit of a measuring stick for our program and where we are headed," head coach Sonny Dykes said. "This has been a great team to coach, we’ve had a fun ride."

A sound game plan that mixes up a few runs as Cameron finds top wide receiver Quinton Patton should be able to move the chains and find the end zone. If the defense can make some plays and slow down the TCU offense, special teams will come into play and the team has a great weapon in Ryan Allen, who won the Ray Guy Award as the nation's best punter and can help flip the field position battle in favor of LaTech.

"Our guy Ryan Allen had plenty of punts," said Dykes. "We won ball games because of him, especially when we were trying to find an identity offensively early. We were making a quarterback switch and trying to find which direction we were going. Our defense was playing pretty consistent football and our punter was giving us a chance to win. He is a weapon."

"This is the biggest bowl game for us, probably in school history, so we have to see this as an opportunity."

THE X-FACTOR: As always, turnovers. Pachall has been pretty good in not throwing interceptions or fumbling the ball but he has to keep that up in this game. Give Louisiana Tech extra chances to score and things might get interesting. Spread offenses - Baylor, SMU - have hurt TCU already this year and the WAC champions know how to beat teams if the game is close.


Posted on: December 15, 2011 1:52 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2011 1:56 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Military Bowl

Postedy by Tom Fornelli

TOLEDO WILL WIN IF: This game is going to be a very interesting matchup. In order for Toledo to come out on top they'll have to continue to do a lot of the things that they did all season, and that means put up a lot of points. Something that the Rockets should be able to do, even without Tim Beckman around. The Air Force defense isn't terrible, but it did give up nearly 28 points a game this season. Which means that Terrance Owens, Austin Dantin and Eric Page should find plenty of opportunity to make plays for the Rockets. Where the problems for Toledo may come is on the defensive side of the ball. The Rockets defense gave up 31 points a game this season and while the run defense was acceptable, it hasn't faced a rushing attack like Air Force. When you haven't faced an option offense it's hard to stop one because you're not quite sure what you're seeing right away. The good news for Toledo is they've had the extra time to prepare for it, but how well the Toledo defense executes on the field will play a big role in this contest.

AIR FORCE WILL WIN IF: The key for Air Force in this game is simple: keep Toledo out of the end zone. While Air Force's defense hasn't been terrible this season, it's also had some pretty bad games. There was a three week stretch against teams like San Diego State, Notre Dame and Boise State in which the Falcons gave up 45.67 points per game. Now, Toledo's offense is different than any of those three teams because it provides more of a running threat at quarterback, but it does have a lot of similar characteristics. So slowing Toledo down will not be easy, but it will be a must if Air Force wants to win. The Falcons should find success on offense running the ball, but not enough to where they can afford to get into a shootout.

X-FACTOR: Eric Page. Simply put, Eric Page is the most exciting player in this game. He's Toledo's biggest threat on offense and he finished the season with 112 catches for 1,123 yards and 10 touchdowns. The Air Force pass defense hasn't given up a lot of yards this season, but it does allow opposing quarterbacks to complete 61% of their passes, which means Page should find openings on short to intermediate routes and be a favorite target of both Dantin and Owens.

You can read our complete Military Bowl preview here. 
Posted on: December 14, 2011 1:32 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2011 12:45 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Little Caesars Bowl

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

PURDUE WILL WIN IF: They're focused and motivated, which isn't always the easiest task for Big Ten teams squaring off against MAC opposition in the postseason. And let's be honest--a Tuesday afternoon game in Detroit on Dec. 27 doesn't exactly scream MUST-WIN EPIC MATCHUP TO DECIDE FATE OF THE PROGRAM AND ENTIRE WEST LAFAYETTE WAY OF LIFE. It more kind of whispers "hey, guys, a win would be nice." The good news for Danny Hope: after three years of being shut out of a bowl game (including the first two years on Hope's watch), the Boilers should be excited to make any kind of postseason appearance, and they should have enough overall depth and talent to get past a 7-5 MAC team if they are sufficiently motivated. But we'd have said the same thing before their failed trip to Rice in Week 2 of this season, and Western Michigan is much, much better than Rice.

WESTERN MICHIGAN WILL WIN IF: Alex Carder and Jordan White do their thing. Of all the things either the Boilers or the Broncos do, the only one either side does especially well is Western Michigan throwing the ball; they're eighth in the nation at 329 yards per-game behind Carder's pro-grade arm, and White has received All-American notices after leading the FBS in yards and receptions. Purdue, meanwhile, isn't terrible at defending the pass but -- like we said -- isn't great at it, either, ranking 54th in opposing passer rating. Still, WMU hasn't always lived up to that air-it-out billing--Carder failed to top 233 yards in any game of a three-game midseason slump, during which time the Broncos went 1-2 and fell to Eastern Michigan. But as long as the usual Carder/White tag-team shows up, Purude may be hard-pressed to keep pace.

THE X-FACTOR: The Broncos aren't much to look at on defense, statistically speaking -- they finished 100th in total defense -- but they seemed to keep something in reserve for their "punching up" contests, holding Illinois to 23 points and less than 6 yards a play and UConn to 6.2 yards a play in a 38-31 road win. Both YPP marks were above WMU's average (despite them playing in the MAC) and has been a repeating theme under Bill Cubit. On paper the Boilers should certainly be able to make some offensive hay, but the Bronco resistance may be tougher than the numbers make it look.
 
 
 
 
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