2007 Hawaii Bowl Preview
by T.O. Whenham
Boise State (10-2) vs. East Carolina (7-5)
Conference matchup: WAC vs. Conference USA Date: Dec. 23, 2007, 8:00 p.m. Location: Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii Spread: Boise State -10.5
The setting will be familiar to Boise State - their last game of the season was also in Aloha Stadium, against Hawaii. They will be hoping for a better result here. The fact that the Broncos are playing in a lower level bowl like this is a bit of an insult since they were just one win away from a return to the BCS. These two programs have never met.
Boise State can cover if: They show up and play their game. The Broncos were top five in the country in points scored and top 10 in total yards. They had two losses, but only one, against Washington, in which their offense didn't fire at full capacity. If they are at their best then they should be able to roll over the Pirates defense and almost score at will. East Carolina was weak against the run and totally inept against the pass. Despite, or perhaps because of, their clear superiority, Boise State will have to be focused on the game to avoid an upset. This could be a bit of a challenge given that the players may be upset about their bowl fate, and that they will have very little crowd support, since their fans traveled to Hawaii in full force for their last game. Coach Chris Peterson could also be a distraction if his name continues to come up for high profile coaching vacancies around the country.
East Carolina can cover if: Their offense shows up. The Pirates don't have a highly-ranked offense, but that is the result of inconsistency. When they were at their best they could pile up the points - they scored over 30 points in each of their seven wins. When they lost they had the bad habit of digging a hole early that they couldn't get out of. If they didn't start strong with the ball then they never got going. Given that Boise State is so explosive, coach Skip Holtz needs to find a way to make sure his team is ready to play from the start and doesn't give up the early momentum. East Carolina was an underdog of more than 10 points on three different occasions this year, and they covered twice, so they do have the ability to stay close if they want to. They played particularly well against Virginia Tech in a game against a vastly superior opponent to start the season. The best hope for East Carolina is if they can use the four weeks before this game to create and execute a game plan as they did for that season opener. They played one of their best defensive games of the year then, and they will have to be even better to compete here.
General notes: Though the teams haven't played, they did have a common opponent this season. On Sept. 15, East Carolina lost at home by a touchdown to Southern Mississippi as one-point underdogs. The Southern Miss passing game was only moderately successful, but running back Damion Fletcher and the rest of the running game punished East Carolina. East Carolina passed well, but couldn't get much going on the ground. Two weeks later, the Golden Eagles traveled to Boise. It wasn't pretty. As 10.5-point underdogs, the Eagles got down by two touchdowns in the first 10 minutes and were never in the game. Boise State was equally effective whether they chose to run the ball or air it out. Common opponents don't always tell us much, but this is yet more proof that Boise State is obviously the superior team in this matchup and will be able to have their way in this game if they choose to.
Re: Hawaii Bowl
Hawaii Bowl: East Carolina vs. No. 22 Boise State
By: Chance Harper
This trip back to Hawaii has to sting. Boise State went into Honolulu on Nov. 23 and lost the WAC title 39-27 to the Warriors. Now Hawaii gets to play in a BCS Bowl (specifically, the Sugar) while the Broncos have to come back to Aloha Stadium and somehow get motivated to play a vastly inferior band of Pirates. This is after they turned down a chance to play Georgia Tech at home in the Humanitarian Bowl.
Low morale is just about the only thing that can stop Boise State in this one. The Broncos were 10-2 (6-5 ATS) in the rising WAC. East Carolina was 7-5 SU and ATS in Conference-USA and a poor 73rd in Fremeau efficiency. BSU was 43rd, ahead of Hawaii at No. 46.
This should be a two-TD win at least for the Broncos should they decide to play.
Re: Hawaii Bowl
Boise St. opens Hawaii Bowl practice alongside WAC rival, without top receiver
December 18, 2007
HONOLULU (AP) -- Boise State was greeted by a big banner that read "Western Athletic Conference champions" as it opened practice in preparation for Sunday's Hawaii Bowl.
The banner was proudly displayed at the University of Hawaii, where the Broncos are practicing this week.
"They have the right to put that up there. They earned that. But all that does for us is to put a bitter taste in our mouth," Broncos senior quarterback Taylor Tharp said. "Hopefully the young guys, that motivates them for next year."
Boise State's five-year stranglehold on the WAC was snapped this year by Hawaii, which won its first outright conference title and earned a Bowl Championship Series berth to face Georgia in the Sugar Bowl.
The Warriors are basically trying to repeat the Broncos' season from last year, which was highlighted by a stunning victory over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl.
Broncos coach Chris Petersen said he hopes the Warriors' sign will serve as motivation for his team, which finished the regular season 10-2 and faces East Carolina (7-5) in the Hawaii Bowl.
"Right now, we're concerned with East Carolina and trying to do a good job this week and take care of business, but I'm sure they all saw it," he said.
As if the banner didn't sting enough, the Broncos practiced for about 20 minutes next to the Warriors' workout. The two WAC powerhouses glanced at each other, but didn't exchange any pleasantries.
"It was interesting watching those guys over there," Petersen said.
The Broncos ended the regular season Nov. 23 with a 37-27 loss to the Warriors. When asked if he wanted a rematch on the practice field, Petersen replied: "Next year."
Petersen also announced that the team's top receiver, Jeremy Childs, and two other backup players did not make the trip and will miss Sunday's game for violating team rules.
Besides Childs, who set a school record for receptions this season, cornerback Keith McGowen and linebacker Ben Chandler were suspended for the game.
"Unfortunate, but we'll move forward," Petersen said. "Somebody has always stepped up, carried the flag and we expect no different."
He did not provide details of the violations other than to say they were unrelated.
Childs, a sophomore, was voted first-team all-WAC after finishing the season with 82 catches for 1,045 yards and nine touchdowns.
"Initially, I was devastated," Tharp said.
He called Childs his "go-to guy" this season.
"To not have him out there, I feel like a part of myself is missing," Tharp said. "But like coach Pete said, we have young talent on this team and a lot of guys have been stepping up. That's what we're going to need."
Without Childs, the Broncos will rely on freshmen Titus Young and Austin Pettis, who combined for 74 catches and 11 TDs this year.
Tharp said it will be a chance for the youngsters to shine, but the team cannot afford to lose any more players to injuries or disciplinary problems.
"We had an incident last year with someone being sent home, so we know our coaches are serious about the team rules and taking care of business the right way," he said. "We can enjoy this thing, but we have to enjoy it the right way."
Re: Hawaii Bowl
Hawaii Bowl Preview
By Judd Hall
Boise State (10-2 SU, 6-5 ATS) vs. East Carolina (7-5 SU, 7-5 ATS)
How they got there:
The Broncos are making their sixth straight bowl appearance and eighth in nine seasons. However, closing the year with a 12-point defeat at Hawaii forced them out of winning a sixth consecutive Western Athletic Conference championship.
The Pirates are making their second bowl trip under Skip Holtz after finishing second in Conference USA East. However, they did close out the season with a 3-1 record by outscoring opponents 132-58 in the victories.
What to expect:
If you’re looking for some creative offense, then you’ll find it with Boise State. The Broncos were second in scoring (42.8 PPG), third in passing (283.5 YPG) and third in rushing (192.2 YPG) in the WAC.
Don’t expect East Carolina to just roll over and play dead, though. The Pirates had a potent rushing game (171.3 YPG) and could score well enough in 2007 (30.2 PPG).
Players to Watch:
Boise State – Running back Ian Johnson is the heart and soul of the Broncos’ attack. Stopping him will be ECU’s top priority.
East Carolina – Running back Chris Johnson represented almost half of all the rushing plays that the Pirates ran this season for 1,200 yards. You can bet that Boise State will be focused on him as much as ECU will be on their RB.
Boise State has posted a record of 6-2 SU and 4-4 ATS in bowl games since 1999. The Broncos’ most recent bowl appearance came in last year’s Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma…a thriller that they won as seven-point underdogs, 43-42, in overtime.
The Pirates haven’t had a lot of success in the postseason, going 4-4 in eight bowl contests. They’ve lost as five-point ‘dogs to South Florida in the 2007 Papajohns.com Bowl, 24-7. It was East Carolina’s second straight bowl loss and third in its past four tilts.
This is the first trip to the Hawaii Bowl for either program in the short six-year history of the game. Still, the ‘dog seems to get a little advantage in this contest, going 1-4 SU and 3-2 ATS. The ‘over’ is 3-2 in the past five editions of this match.
Inside the Line: Boise State -10½, 69½
The public has been showing East Carolina a little love when it comes to plunking their cash down at the sportsbooks as the line has shrunk from 12. People have also been big on the ‘under’ as well in this tilt as the number started out at 71 and has moved almost two full points.
Expert Opinion: Christian Alexander
I'm just not impressed with Boise State’s schedule. The Broncos most impressive out-of-conference win was Southern Miss. Granted, the Pirates lost to the Golden Eagles, but that was early in the season when they started out 1-3, the other losses coming to Virginia Tech and West Virginia.
The Pirates have improved, winning six of their last eight games. The most impressive thing about ECU down the stretch was the play of their offense; they averaged 37 points in their last eight games, including a 52-point effort against eventual conference champ Central Florida.
Sure, the Broncos haven’t beaten anyone worth mentioning this year…hell, they lost to Washington!
I’d be crazy not to think that Boise State could cover a double-digit spread. Adding fuel to that fire is the Broncos will be taking on an East Carolina team that will be flying into Honolulu just a few days before the game itself.
Final Score: Boise State 32, East Carolina 15
Re: Hawaii Bowl
Boise State Broncos vs. East Carolina Pirates
The fans at Aloha Stadium will be treated to a game between the Boise State Broncos and the East Carolina Pirates when they take their seats on December 23 for the Hawaii Bowl.
Boise State gave up 573 yards last time out in a 39-27 loss at Hawaii, falling as 3-point road underdogs. The 66 points scored were UNDER the posted total of 75.
Taylor Tharp went 22-for-36 for 231 yards, one touchdown and one interception, and Jeremy Childs had eight receptions for 102 yards for the Broncos.
Chris Johnson ran for two touchdowns and caught another as the Pirates ran over the Tulane Green Wave 35-12 last time out. East Carolina easily covered the 12.5-point spread at home, but the combined score fell UNDER the posted total of 62.5.
Johnson finished with 157 yards rushing off 27 carries and caught four passes for 85 yards in the win.
Boise State: 10-2 SU, 6-5 ATS
East Carolina: 7-5 SU, 7-5 ATS
Boise State most recently:
When playing in December are 5-2
When playing on turf are 8-2
After being outgained are 9-1
When playing outside the conference are 8-2
East Carolina most recently:
When playing in December are 2-4
When playing on turf are 4-6
After outgaining opponent are 4-6
When playing outside the conference are 3-7
A few trends to consider:
Boise State is 23-2 SU in its last 25 games
Boise State is 11-2 SU in its last 13 games on the road
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Boise State's last 5 games on the road
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Boise State's last 5 games
East Carolina is 6-2 SU in its last 8 games
East Carolina is 6-2 ATS in its last 8 games
East Carolina is 6-2 SU in its last 8 games at home
East Carolina is 9-4 ATS in its last 13 games at home
Re: Hawaii Bowl
HAWAII BOWL (at Honolulu)
East Carolina (7-5 SU and ATS) vs. (24) Boise State (10-2, 6-5 ATS)
One year after being BCS darlings, Boise State has to settle for a trip to Honolulu for a matchup with East Carolina in the Hawaii Bowl.
The Broncos shook up the BCS last season with a 43-42 overtime win over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl, and now goes back to the scene of its only Western Athletic Conference loss. Boise State fell to Hawaii 39-27 as 2½-point underdogs back on Nov. 23, costing the school a sixth-straight WAC title.
The Broncos are in their sixth straight bowl game and eighth in nine years, going 5-2 SU and ATS in the previous seven.
East Carolina finished 6-2 SU and ATS in Conference USA action, the Pirates’ best mark since joining the league back in 1997. The offensive-minded Pirates averaged 8.7 more points per game this season than in 2006 when they went to the Papajohns.com Bowl and fell 24-7 to South Florida. East Carolina is 4-4 all-time in bowl games (3-4 ATS).
Overall, East Carolina averages 30.2 points per game this season, still more than 12 less than Boise State’s 42.8 average. The Pirates scored 35 or more points in six of their final eight games.
East Carolina uses a two-QB system with dual-threat Patrick Pinkney (10 TD passes and 253 yards rushing) alternating with pocket-passer Rob Kass (1,128 yards passing, 9 TDs, 4 INTs). In addition to the two passers, the Pirates rely heavily on do-everything athlete Chris Johnson, who has 1,200 yards rushing, 496 yards receiving, 29 yards per kick return and 22 combined TDs.
The Broncos’ offense is guided by QB Taylor Tharp, who completed 68 percent of his throws for 28 TDs and 9 INTs in the regular season. Chris Petersen’s also features RB Ian Johnson (1,030 yards rushing, 16 TDs) and WR Jeremy Childs (school-record 82 catches).
Skip Holtz’s Pirates have gone 16-5 ATS in the underdog role during his tenure and 6-1 ATS when getting double digits. Meanwhile Boise State is just 4-9 ATS as a road favorite of at least seven points.
The under was the play in three of the Pirates’ last four games and four of the Broncos’ last five. The under is also 8-2 in Boise State’s last 10 non-conference games.
ATS ADVANTAGE: BOISE STATE and UNDER
Re: Hawaii Bowl
Can favored Boise State meet expectations in Hawaii ?
The Boise State Broncos couldn’t have asked for a bigger bowl-game contrast from last season’s experience.
It was the best of times for Boise State then. The Broncos were a relative unknown, heavy underdogs in the Fiesta Bowl whose win over Oklahoma - capped by a trick play - made them an instant favorite of fans across the nation.
The Broncos will go through something a little more subdued this Sunday. They’re heavily favored against a low-profile school and have nothing to prove.
They’ll also play in a half-empty stadium on an island where the beach is far more attractive than any football game. On the mainland, football fans with remotes in their hands are more likely to tune into a Washington - Minnesota NFL game with playoff implications.
So bettors should forgive the Broncos for having a case of the blahs when they face the East Carolina Pirates in this year’s Hawaii Bowl.
Yet Boise State remains a double-digit favorite. The Broncos opened as high as -13 at some sportsbooks, but settled at -10½ for the bulk of December.
The main line movement for the Hawaii Bowl has revolved around the total, which opened at 72 points but made it down to 69 points by Wednesday.
Totals have dropped a little for most bowl games since the opening numbers came out in early December, but some recent bettors may have taken a turn as weatherman in betting the under. Depending on which forecast you read, Sunday afternoon in Honolulu will feature easterly winds measuring 10-20 mph and there is also a chance of showers.
Another possible reason for the plummeting total might be the suspension of Boise State’s top receiver, Jeremy Childs.
"Jeremy has definitely been a go-to guy," Broncos quarterback Taylor Tharp told reporters after the suspension was announced. "To not have him out there, I feel like a piece of myself is missing."
Childs was named to the All-WAC team after catching 82 passes for 1,045 yards and nine touchdowns this season. He is being suspended for an unspecified violation of team rules. A pair of true freshman, Austin Pettis and Titus Young, will become Tharp’s top receivers.
Almost every point I’ve raised so far comes across as a reason to take the Pirates with the points on Sunday. But I can’t bring myself to do it.
I saw East Carolina hold Virginia Tech to 17 points this year, but I also saw them lose badly to Marshall. And the loss to the Thundering Herd is a lot fresher in my memory.
I enjoyed watching C-USA football games this season because its conference schedule was filled with tight shootouts. But those entertaining games also underlined how defense has become a dirty word in C-USA.
Since their impressive opening-week display against the Hokies, the Pirates played seven games against BCS-conference teams or C-USA rivals that compiled a winning record. ECU allowed 36.3 points per game in those contests.
That’s just not good enough against Boise State, which averaged 48.1 points over its last eight games. The Broncos also demolished Southern Mississippi this season, their only C-USA opponent.
Childs was a productive target, but Tharp’s impressive passing stats aren’t the result of a one-man show in the receiving corps. Remember the offensive ingenuity we saw in last year’s Fiesta Bowl? That’s the way Boise State plays all the time.
More importantly, Boise State brings a top-notch offensive line to Hawaii and running backs to take advantage of the holes it creates. Injuries reduced Ian Johnson to nearly “forgotten man” status this year, but he still racked up over 1,000 yards on the ground and should have a monster game on Sunday.