Saturday, January 06, 2007

International Bowl Preview

Record: 20-9

International Bowl: Cincinnati versus Western Michigan

For those of you who don’t know, there are two more bowl games to be played before the BCS Championship Game on Monday night. On of them is Saturday at Noon in the International Bowl. If you’re a fan of the Broncos or Bearcats, or if you’re hankering for an upset check this one out.

The story of this game is the Western Michigan Broncos and their coach Bill Cubit, who has proven that he is no zirconium in his two seasons at the school. The Broncos were 1-10 in 2004, but Cubit has gone an outstanding 15-8 in his two plus seasons on the job. The Broncos win games with their passing attack and their defense. Senior quarterback Ryan Cubit completed over 62% of his passes and while throwing 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Defensively the Broncos are led by Ameer Ismail and his 17 sacks which oh by the way led the nation. With Ismail, the Broncos were very stout on defense. They held opponents to only 2.49 yards per rush and also played effectively against the pass (12 touchdowns and 22 interceptions against).

The Bearcats were very average on offense, something that does not bode well when facing the defense of Western Michigan. They averaged only 3.36 yards per rush and threw the same number of interceptions (15) as touchdowns. Defensively, the Bearcats put up very similar numbers. Opponents averaged 3.69 yards per rush and threw 12 touchdown passes against 12 interceptions.

Cincinnati also went 1-4 away from home this season (though to be fair the 4 losses were to Ohio State, Virginia Tech, Louisville, and West Virginia). On the other hand, Western Michigan was able to go a respectable 3-4 on the road including winning at Virginia and playing Florida State down to the wire. So how is Cincy a 7 point favorite? Beats me. They have a new coach and seem to about even with Western Michigan when you adjust for the strength of their respective schedules. The only aspect of the game Western Michigan should be a little nervous about is punt coverage. The Broncos were 98th in the nation allowing 11.31 yards per return (and 3 touchdowns). However, Cincinnati was only 91st in the nation at returning kickoffs.

Prediction: The Broncos are about even with Cincinnati in terms of team strength plus they don’t have to deal with a new coach for the bowl game. Brian Kelly is a great hire for Cincy, but he will not win his debut.

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