Friday, December 19, 2008

College Football Pick'em Bowl Edition pt 1

It’s that special time of the year again, and no I am not talking about Christmas. It’s time for the college football bowl games to take center stage. Yes, there are seemingly dozens of bowl games, and yes, over half of the teams in Division I football are eligible to attend a bowl game. But none of that matters to anyone here at Walker-Sports. We all love football, and we are crazy about college football.

The 2008/09 Bowl season kicks off on Saturday morning bright and early in our nation’s capital. So to get everyone on the same page, let’s take a look at the opening day of games beginning with the Eagle Bank Bowl in Washington D.C.

Eagle Bank Bowl Wake Forest vs. Navy: If this game looks familiar it’s because we saw these two teams meet earlier this season in October, on that date Navy was able to emerge victorious. While this may not be the most intriguing game on the surface it does have some underlying storylines that could prove interesting. Mainly the matchup to watch will be Wake Forest’s defense against the triple option attack that Navy has become known for. Everyone knows Navy runs the triple option better than anyone in the country (with maybe the exception of Georgia Tech). Wake Forest has one of the best rush defenses in the nation, they held Virginia to a net of 28 yards when they met in early November, and only give up 116 yards a game on average. On offense it will be key for Wake Forest to control the line of scrimmage, and give Skinner time in the pocket to make plays. The key to beating Navy is putting up points early. The Midshipmen do not want to play catch up. The spread favors Wake Forest by three points. This is essentially a home game for Navy, but their fan base while dedicated is not exactly known for being a ruckus group. Wake Forest played some good football coming down the stretch and look for them to cover the three point spread and win the game.

New Mexico Bowl Colorado State vs. Fresno State: This game showcases two old Western Athletic Conference foes that are till Colorado State moved to the Mountain West Conference when it was formed in 1999. In all honesty while these two programs are familiar with each other (they played in 2006 with Fresno State winning that meeting) there is little actual history between the two programs. Colorado State finished the season with a 6-6 record and they are playing in their first bowl game in four years. Needless to say they are happy to make the post season once again. On the other side of the ball, Fresno State was once thought to have BCS crashing potential at the beginning of the season. However, after an early season lost to Wisconsin the Bulldogs never got their season back on track. Typically this is the type of bowl game that would worry me, because I would question the focus of a team like Fresno State, I do not have those questions at this time. Especially since Fresno State will be playing to support the pride of the WAC. Fresno State is a three point favorite entering Saturday’s game, look for them to handle that spread and walk around with the victory.

St. Petersburg Bowl Southern Florida vs. Memphis: I’ll be the first to admit I’ve never heard of this bowl game before last week. Nonetheless, it does feature two interesting programs. Memphis is a program representing Conference USA that has experienced some measure of success in the past. This season they got off to a rough 0-3 start but bounced back to finish 6-6. In addition they coaches and the players alike are excited about their matchup against a BCS team. Many within the Memphis program have this years bowl circled as their opportunity to show the nation just how could they can be. They are excited at the chance to take out a team from a BCS conference. Southern Florida was the darling of the Big East just a year ago. They spent much of this season ranked in the Top 25 despite losing seemingly every conference game they played. For South Florida their season went downhill after an early lost to Kansas. To be completely honest USF looked uninterested and uninspired most of the season. They played as if the world owed them some favor. The Big East was a wide open conference for the taking, and USF seemed to do everything they could to avoid winning the conference title. The spread stands with USF as an 11 point favorite, which makes sense on paper. USF is a very talented team that should be able to handle Memphis. However, I question the focus of USF. Focus is something that program lacked all season, and I do not see them pulling their act together come game time Saturday evening. USF should have enough in the tank to win the game, especially since it is a home game for them, but I don’t think they cover the 11 point spread.

Las Vegas Bowl BYU vs. Arizona: If there was ever a game to end the day on, this would be the one. BYU and Arizona are two programs that toss the ball around and they can score points in bunches. The Las Vegas Strip is the perfect backdrop for this game, because both teams will be lighting up the scoreboard all game long. There is no doubt this was the season that should have been for BYU. As early as August the Cougars were talking about perfection and the chance at another national title. Nonetheless BYU does have a lot to play for on Saturday. Mainly they will be fighting history. A win on Saturday will mark the third consecutive year the Cougars won 11 games in a season; it would also mark the first time in school history that BYU has won three consecutive bowl games. All of these things are milestones that will not be lost on the BYU players. Despite their loses; BYU is still a very good team, their two loses came to teams ranked within the Top 25 including Sugar Bowl participant Utah. The Arizona Wildcats have come a long way. The Las Vegas Bowl will mark the first time Arizona has played in a bowl game since 1998. It will also be just over a year since the last time Arizona took on BYU. Back in 2007 Arizona débuted their spread offense against BYU and they were essentially shut out. Now a year later and Arizona has mastered the spread offense. Mike Stoops spread offense does share some similarities to the spread his brother runs at Oklahoma, mainly there is an odd amount of balance within the Arizona system. Arizona features a 1,000 rusher in Nic Grigsby. In addition the Wildcats have scored a rushing touchdown in every game this season. This is going to be a great game to watch, and will be worth checking in on a Saturday night. The spread has Arizona favored by three points. However, I have to believe the history and the significance of the game will not be lost on the BYU players. I do not them sitting back and sulking simply because they failed to make a BCS game. BYU pulls the upset if you can call it that, and wins the game.


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