Thursday, January 01, 2009

Bowl Season

The Game: Cotton Bowl
The Date: January 2
The Location: Dallas, Texas
The Teams: Texas Tech and Ole Miss
The Line: Texas Tech -4.5
What's at Stake? A win would cap off the best season in Texas Tech history with 12 wins and a top-5 ranking. Ole Miss is seeking their first bowl win since their Cotton Bowl victory over Oklahoma State following the 2003 season.
Why You Should Watch: This could be the final game in the illustrious, but potentially short career of Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree. Keep an eye on Ole Miss defensive end Greg Hardy, who led the Rebels with 8.5 sacks this season (Tech allowed only 11 sacks all season despite throwing the most passes in the nation).
Spread Prediction: Texas Tech has been hit or miss in their wins this season, destroying Kansas State, Oklahoma State, and Texas A&M, but squeaking by Nebraska and Baylor. I think this will be another squeaker, so the Rebs are the pick.

The Game: Liberty Bowl
The Date: January 2
The Location: Memphis, Tennessee
The Teams: East Carolina and Kentucky
The Line: East Carolina -3
What's at Stake? A win would give East Carolina 10 wins for the first time since 1991. Kentucky is looking for their third straight bowl win and third straight winning season.
Why You Should Watch: East Carolina defines winning ugly, but they also a very good defense. Just ask Pat White and David Johnson.
Spread Prediction: Some 6-6 teams belong in a bowl game. Vandy for example beat bowl teams in Ole Miss, South Carolina, Rice, and Kentucky. Kentucky beat no one of note, and in my opinion does not belong in the postseason. In non-conference play, they beat Louisville (5-7), Norfolk State (IAA), Middle Tennessee State (5-7), and Western Kentucky (2-10). In SEC play, their 2 victories were by a point apiece over Arkansas (5-7) and Mississippi State (4-8). It won't be pretty, but East Carolina will win by at least a touchdown.

The Game: Sugar Bowl
The Date: January 2
The Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
The Teams: Alabama and Utah
The Line: Alabama -9
What's at Stake? A 13-win season and top-5 finish for Alabama or an undefeated season and top-5 finish for Utah.
Why You Should Watch: David versus Goliath. Also check out Alabama corner Rashad Johnson who picked off 5 passes and brought 2 back for scores.
Spread Prediction: I think you can make the argument that Utah wasn't the best team in the Mountain West. On a down-to-down basis, TCU was better on both sides of the ball, epecially on defense. Utah has been a great story this season, but Alabama should end the Utes run at perfection.

The Game: International Bowl
The Date: January 3
The Location: Toronto, Canada
The Teams: Connecticut and Buffalo
The Line: Connecticut -5
What's at Stake? The first ever bowl win for Buffalo or Connecticut's first bowl win since 2004.
Why You Should Watch: Connecticut boasts the nation's leading rusher (before the bowls began) in Donald Brown. Buffalo senior quarterback Drew Willy threw 25 touchdown passes and just 5 interceptions this season.
Spread Prediction: Statistically Buffalo was a middling MAC, but they parlayed turnovers and good luck into a conference title. As a Wake Forest fan, believe me, I know it can be done. However, Connecticut had the best defense in the Big East this season, and I don't think Buffalo will be able to move the ball against the Huskies. This looks like at least a touchdown win for Connecticut.

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