Saturday Service Plays

Saturday Service Plays

Doc

4 Unit Play. #14 Take Wake Forest -2 ½ over Connecticut (Meineke Bowl Saturday 1:00 pm ESPN) Magnificent 7 Game. The Demon Deacons have played a much more difficult schedule and will be better prepared for the match-up in Charlotte. This is just a bus ride away for the black and gold squad since they are located in North Carolina as well and don’t expect UCONN to pack the stands. The Huskies played a terrible non-conference schedule and that accounted for four of their nine wins beating the like of Akron, Duke, Temple, and Maine. This team lost to Virginia and was lucky to beat Temple and will be no match for a BCS Conference opponent. Wake Forest 27, UCONN 17.

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Ferringo

1.5-Unit Play. Take ‘Under’ 56.0 Mississippi State vs. Central Florida

2-Unit Play. Take #416 Mississippi State (+130) over Central Florida

3-Unit Play. Take #416 Mississippi State (+3) over Central Florida

I think we have two physical teams here and two teams that will be trading blows all afternoon long. UCF isn’t going to be able to run on a tough SEC team the same way they rolled over CUSA foes. The ‘under’ is 7-1 in UCF’s last eight games and 11-5-1 in nonconference games. The ‘under’ is also 23-9-1 after an MSU loss and 4-1 overall for the Bulldogs.

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Marc Lawrence - Playbook

Connecticut By 7

Central Florida By 6

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Scott Spreitzer's NFL Saturday Night Game of the Month! *43-22, 66% ATS!

I'm taking the points with the Giants on Saturday night. All of the talk leading up to this one is whether or not Pats' coach Bill Belichik will keep his starters in the game in pursuit of a perfect regular season. I believe the Giants are capable of hanging this big number, whether Brady and company are in the contest deep into the second half or not. That's because the Giants' pass rush will give New England fits, as far as I'm concerned. Their schemes and ability with their four down linemen has been tremendous this season, and no one on the Patriot offensive line can consistently matchup with the speed and athleticism of Osi Umenyiora. Obviously, it doesn't hurt to have Michael Strahan on the other side of the field along with the terrific inside pressure brought by Justin Tuck. Offensively, even though the Giants offer up a solid ground game, I do expect them to attack the Patriots through the air. New England will no doubt load the box, leaving open routes to be had. A couple of decent gains and the Pats will be forced to stay honest, which will put the Giants right back in their "play-action" comfort zone. Finally, once Brady takes a couple of solid hits, Belichick and company will be reminded that the real prize is the Lombardi Trophy, not a perfect regular season. I'm taking the points with the Giants on Saturday. Thanks! GL! Scott.

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Ben Burns College Bowl PERSONAL FAVORITE! (Saturday Afternoon)

I'm laying the points with WAKE FOREST.

I don't feel that the Huskies are as good a team as either the 2006 version of the Demon Deacons or this season's (2007) version. However, I do see several similarities between the 2007 Huskies and the 2006 Demon Deacons. The Demon Deacons entered last season off back to back 4-7 campaigns in 2004 and 2005. Despite the fact that they had a very soft non-conference schedule, nobody expected them to go 11-2 in 2006 and win the ACC. Having over-achieved in the regular season and already very pleased with themselves, the Deacons stumbled when they stepped up in class in the Bowl Game. Like the 2006 Demon Deacons, the 2007 Huskies come off back to back losing campaigns. In fact, they're 9-14 combined record was almost identical to the Deacons combined 8-14 mark in 2005 and 2006. Like last year's Deacons, this year's Huskies made the most of a very soft non-conference schedule. They over-achieved to get the 9-3 record and were rather fortunate to earn a share of the Big East title. I expect the Huskies to continue to match the "pattern" of the 2006 Demon Deacons and for their postseason inexperience to cost them when stepping up in class to face a tough Wake Forest team. Although they didn't win the ACC this season, I actually think the Demon Deacons, who went 8-2 their last 10 games (only losses came at Clemson and at Virginia) are a stronger team than they were last season. QB Riley Skinner, now in his second year leading the offense, completed a whopping 71.9% of his passes this season. That was the second-best completion mark in the entire country. Skinner has benefitted from the emergence of freshman running back Josh Adams, who led the team with 887 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. Adams helped the Demon Deacons get here by running for 111 yards and two touchdowns in a season-ending 31-17 win at Vanderbilt. Of course, Skinner's favorite target is senior Kenneth Moore, who had 87 receptions for 899 yards and five TDs. The Demon Deacons went into Connecticut and beat the Huskies by 11 points last season. This afternoon, they get to face them in Charlotte, which is more or less like their own backyard. Note that the Demon Deacons are 5-1 ATS the last six times they played on a "neutral field." They're also a highly profitable 8-2 ATS the last 10 times they played a game with a line ranging from +3 to -3. Look for last year's bowl experience to pay dividends as the Demon Deacons take "the next step" by earning their first Bowl victory since 2002. *Personal Favorite

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Cappers Access

Sport Favorite Underdog Line Pick

NFL Patriots Giants 13- Giants

CFB Wake Forest UConn 2- UConn

CFB Penn st Texas A&M 5 Penn St

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Mike Rose comp

New York Giants +14.0 (-120)

It’s amazing how fast the 2007-08 regular season went by, and to think the Patriots got through it unscathed to this point is quite remarkable. Regardless of what the public thinks of Head Coach Bill Belichick, the man knows how to win football games and the franchise will be immortalized if he’s able to coach the Pats to a win this evening.

The NFL Network let up its stranglehold of this game, and now the entire country will get to see this game broadcasted on their own TV’s with the announcement that it will be simulcast on both NBC and CBS along with the NFL Network.

The Patriots picked up their 15th win of the season last week when they defeated the Miami Dolphins by a 28-7 final count, but they came just 1-point shy of covering the 22-pooint spread. It was the Pats 5th loss ATS in their L/10 games, ands they come into this spot losers in 4 of 5 against the betting line. Granted, they’ve had to eat a ton of chalk in those games, but those looking to bet this game should take that Vegas is taking back some of the money they lost with the Pats in their first eight games.

The Patriots opened up as 13-point favorites with the ‘Total’ set at 45. The betting public has bet the Pats up to 14-point road chalks, and they foresee this being a higher scoring game with the ‘Total’ moving up to 46.5 and 47. New England got its biggest scare of the season the last time they were on the road when they barely got past Baltimore, 27-24, as 18-point road favorites.

As for the Giants, they’re coming off a big win last week at Buffalo that locked up their bid for the post-season. They’ve actually been a much better team on the road this year compiling a 7-1 mark as a visitor, but they’re surprisingly just 3-4 SU at home. The last time they won in the Meadowlands came back in late October when they pummeled a struggling 49’ers club. They’ve dropped their L/3 at home to Dallas, Minnesota, and Washington.

That being said, neither club has much to gain by going all out in this one. Sure, NE is the better team by far, but laying two tuddies in the Meadowlands in a game the Giants fans will most definitely be into is just too much. The Pats will win, but the Giants will cover and we’ll never have to listen to another pompous interview of Mercury Morris ever again

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EZ Winners

3 STAR: (766) DAYTON (+3.5) over Pittsburgh
(Risking $330 to win $300)

2 STAR: (740) GONZAGA (-1) over Tennessee
(Risking $220 to win $200)

1 STAR: (720) TEXAS (-7.5) over Wisconsin
(Risking $110 to win $100)

NBA

2 STAR: (716) UTAH (+2.5) over Boston
(Risking $220 to win $200)

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The Rock

Hotline Play for Saturday College Basketball.....Illinois State


Brian Mac

Friday Night Hotside Saturday College Basketball .....Gonzaga/Tennessee Over

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M i c h a e l C a n n o n - went 3-0 yesterday

Saturday's Plays...

40 Dime
MISSISSIPPI STATE

Take the points with Mississippi State today in the Liberty Bowl over Central Florida.
Don’t let the records fool you. Central Florida played in a very weak Conference USA while Mississippi State more than held its own in the SEC.

In fact, I will be disappointed if the Bulldogs don’t walk out of here with the straight up win.

Now, Central Florida does have Kevin Smith and all he did was run for 2,448 yards and 29 TDs. Those are all-world numbers no matter what conference we’re talking about.

But his presence gives us line value and also allows Mississippi State to focus all its efforts into stopping the run.

It’s not like the Bulldogs haven’t faced a caliber of runner like Smith this year. They routinely went against tough offenses in conference play, and held Darren McFadden to 88 yards on 28 carries at Arkansas last month.

Now Mississippi State’s offense didn’t set any records this year, but Central Florida doesn’t possess the kind of stop unit that’s going to keep the Bulldogs out of the endzone.

Running back Anthony Dixon has done a good job for coach Sylvester Croom this year, and he recorded a pair of 100-yard games and five second-half touchdowns versus the two C-USA teams Mississippi State played and beat handily this year.
Central Florida is 1-12 SU against SEC opposition and Conference USA bowlers are 3-12 ATS off a SU double-digit win versus an opponent off a SU win.

SEC bowl dogs off an ATS loss are 25-15 ATS.

Take the points with Mississippi State and like I said before; don’t be surprised if they pull off the outright win.

10 Dime
PENN STATE

Lay the points with Penn State tonight in the Alamo Bowl over Texas A&M.
Penn State definitely has the speed advantage at the skill positions and in the defensive backfield. That alone should give them all they need to cover this line, but they also get some help from the coaching situation that Texas A&M finds itself in for tonight’s game.

The Aggies new coach, Mike Sherman, is still fulfilling his obligations to the Houston Texans as their offensive coordinator, so Gary Darnell will man the headset on an interim basis for this game only. Former head coach Dennis Franchione is not ticketed for another head coaching job at the moment, so every A&M assistant has the same distraction of wondering where they’ll be after this game.

It’s also going to be hard for the Aggies to reach the same level of intensity they showed in their season-ending upset win over rival Texas.

Big 10 bowlers are 12-4 ATS versus the Big 12.

Darnell brings a woeful 0-20 SU and 3-16-1 ATS mark as a dog of more than two points against .500 or better opposition.

Lay the points as Penn State grabs the win and cover.

5 Dime
WYOMING

Lay the points with Wyoming today over Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Wisconsin-Milwaukee has had problems putting the ball in the hoop and their head coach has booted two key leading scorers.

They were able to cover up for the first game without Torre Johnson recently when they were awarded 42 free throws on their home floor in a non-conference game against Central Michigan.

That’s not going to happen on Wyoming’s court, and having to play in the high altitude will take it’s toll on their former bench players who will be getting the extra minutes here.

Wyoming pulls away in the second half here and gets the double-digit win.
Lay the points with Wyoming.

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THE GOLD SHEET ( 6-5)

MEINEKE CAR CARE BOWL
CONNECTICUT (9-3) vs. WAKE FOREST (8-4)
Saturday, December 29 Day at Charlotte, North Carolina (Grass Field)
TEAM GP SUR PSR PF PA YR YP T-R-P YR YP T-R-P TO DIFF OPR
Conn. 11 8-3 8-3 27 20 164 193 34-15-12 167 197 27-13-11 +12 4.7 14.0W. FOREST12 8-4 7-4 28 23 143 191 41-19-12 109 242 34-13-20 +10 3.2 11.8

WAKE FOREST 24 - Connecticut 16—
Being mentioned in connection withsome of college football’s recent high-profile job openings (Arkansas, Michigan,Georgia Tech) is testimony to the high regard for both of these head coaches. Thegood news for Wake Forest & Connecticut is that, at TGS press time, it appearseach will retain its respected mentor for the 2008 season. A year after leading theDemon Deacons to their first ACC title since 1970, wily Jim Grobe has Wake backin a bowl game on the strength of 8 wins in its last 10 games. The Huskies’ RandyEdsall returns to the postseason after a two-year drought, as blue-collar UConnunexpectedly opened the 2007 campaign with 8 wins in its first 9 games.A compelling case can be made for either side. The Deacons (20-10-1 vs. the
spread last 31 on board) are profitable, melding their opportunistic defense &special teams (combined for 10 return TDs TY!) with a cleverly-designed offensetriggered by resourceful soph QB Riley Skinner. And all-conf. jr. PK/P Sam Swankusually cashes in any Wake drives that fall short of goal line. Meanwhile, theHuskies mush to the beat of a slightly different drummer, their fortunes pinned to aground-oriented attack (only 14 giveaways on season) that’s very careful with therock and to a steady stop unit (only 19 ppg) that gives ground grudgingly.UConn counters Swank with accurate jr. PK Tony Ciaravino (21 FGs TY).It would be no big surprise if the Huskies are able to ride soph RBs AndreDixon & Donald Brown (combined 1558 YR) to small upset. However, prefer toback Deacons & Skinner, who not only has the game’s best WR in savvy sr.Kenneth Moore (87 catches), but also emerging RS frosh RB Josh Adams (663YR & 9 TDs in last 7 games). Perhaps “under” is best percentageplay...UConnhas given up more than 19 points only twice TY, while all but five of Wake’s last
26 foes have been held to 24 or fewer.

(06-W. For. 24-CONN. 13...C.22-11 C.47/127 W.38/99 C.19/32/2/197 W.7/16/0/110 W.1 C.1) (06-Wake Forest +6 24-13...SR: EVEN 1-1)


ALAMO BOWL
PENN STATE (8-4) vs. TEXAS A&M (7-5)
Saturday, Dec. 29 Night at San Antonio, Texas (Dome; FieldTurf)
TEAM GP SUR PSR PF PA YR YP T-R-P YR YP T-R-P TO DIFF OPR
Penn St. 12 8-4 5-7 31 18 187 212 45-25-18 88 219 25-7-14 +1 4.5 13.9
TEX. A&M 11 6-5 5-6 28 28 211 192 38-25-13 157 261 39-18-20 +7 .6 7.3


*TEXAS A&M 24 - Penn State 23—

At first blush, might be inclined tofavor the coaching stability of the venerable Joe Paterno over Texas A&M’sscrambled situation. Gary Darnell will lead the Aggies into this game inplace of ousted Dennis Franchione, while Mike Sherman waits to take overthe reigns. Paterno has been at Penn State since the players wore leatherhelmets (well, almost).That being said, there are fundamental and technical reasons to go withunderdog A&M. Penn State has been far from overpowering against the points,covering just 3 of its last 10 games (6-4 SU and just 1 of 5 away from HappyValley), and was just 1-6 vs. the spread facing bowl teams. Although the NittanyLion defense is highly-ranked (6th against the run; 8th in points allowed), thatunit padded its stats by shutting down the lesser teams on its schedule whilestruggling against more dynamic attacks (allowed 33 ppg vs. Illinois, Indiana,Ohio State & Michigan St.). Penn State QB Anthony Morelli had a fineseason...on the surface. Indeed his 18-9 TD-int. ratio was a markedimprovement over last year’s 11-8 mark, but closer examination reveals he threw10 of his touchdowns and only 1 int. in routs of Fla. International, Buffalo & Temple.This continued a pattern of ineffectiveness against good teams for Morelli that wasreally only broken once in his career, when he completed 14 of 25 passes for197 yds., 1 TD and no ints. against Tennessee in last year’s Outback Bowl.The Aggies have one of the top rushing attacks in the country thanks tomammoth TD-machine Javorskie Lane (44 rush TDs in his career) & speedysoph Mike Goodson, who combined for 1392 YR. A&M also has perhaps themost dynamic offensive threat on the field in jr. QB Stephen McGee, who leadsthe team in rushing (858 YR; 5 ypc) and has passed for 4442 yds. & 24 TDs thelast 2 years. McGee was at his best in the last two games, throwing for 609yards and 5 scores against Texas & Missouri. McGee’s run/pass threat willkeep active, aggressive Penn State LBs Dan Connor and Sean Lee off balance,and his mobility, coupled with a veteran OL, should keep Penn State’s soph passrushingphenom Maurice Evans (12½ sacks) from disrupting the Aggieattack.Longstory short, Darnell has been through this drill before, leading Floridainto the ‘89 Freedom Bowl after Galen Hall was fired. And he’s in charge of aTexas A&M side in Aggie territory that has the necessary tools to spring anupset. The A&M defense was susceptible to the pass, but Morelli’s track recordindicates he’s not likely to step up enough to make the difference.
(DNP...SR: Penn St. 2-1)



LIBERTY BOWL
UCF (10-3) vs. MISSISSIPPI STATE (7-5)
Saturday, December 29 Day at Memphis, Tennessee (FieldTurf


TEAM GP SUR PSR PF PA YR YP T-R-P YR YP T-R-P TO DIFF OPR
Ucf 13 10-3 8-5 38 28 243 183 62-41-15 131 248 43-14-26 +4 2.5 17.9
Miss. St. 11 6-5 4-6 22 26 128 170 31-15-11 162 180 34-13-20 -3 -.5 8.0


Ucf 31 - Mississippi State 21—

Kudos to 4th-year mentor Sylvester Croom(SEC Coach of Year) for guiding Bulldogs to their 1st bowl since 2000 after 9-25 SU mark (4-20 in SEC) his first three campaigns. Following mistake-filled 45-0 home blowout vs. top-ranked LSU in opener, MSU went 7-4, including upsetsvs. Auburn, Kentucky & Bama (second consecutive upset vs. his alma mater).The swift but non-dominating Bulldog defense (25 ppg, 4.3 ypc, 16 sacks)deserves most of the credit. After all, the State 2ndary (CBs A. Johnson &Pegues) returned an int. for TD vs. both Bama (100-yd. return!) & Auburn, whilethe offense mustered only 440 combined yds. & 2 TDs in those wins. And the“D” collected a season-high 6 TOs vs. wounded Kentucky.Poised, 6-1 frosh QB Carroll (53%, 9 TDs, 6 ints.) developed some rapportwith WRs Burks & J. Smith (combined 63 catches, 6 TDs), but bread & butterRBs Dixon (980 YR, just 3.7 ypc) & Ducre (467 YR, 4.4 ypc) must find runningroom to keep the chains moving. Yes, the SEC is the premier league in the land(like LY, another record 9 bowlers in ‘07), but doubt containable MSU attack (22ppg) dramatically increases output vs. jelling UCF stop unit (33 ppg in 1st 7; 21last 6), which contains run (3.7 ypc), pressures QBs (38 sacks), and picks offpasses (23 ints!).UCF’s savvy 4th-year mentor George O’Leary (C-USA Coach of Year for 2ndtime in 3Ys) has squad on 7-game win streak since suffering 64-12 blowout atSouth Florida Oct. 13. Well-protected by a veteran OL, jr. QB Israel (60%, 2085YP, 15 TDs, 8 ints.), a good scrambler (298 YR), directs potent attack (38 ppg)based around electrifying 6-1, 211 jr. RB Kevin Smith (2448 YR on 415 carries,29 TDs, 5.9 ypc). The underappreciated & unselfish A-A Smith (“I’d rather winthe conference and bowl game than the Heisman”)—who wasn’t even a finalistfor any of the major awards—should continue to do his thing vs. Bulldog “D” thatallowed 83 pts. vs. the formidable ground assaults of West Virginia & Arkansas.But if State puts 8-9 in box, improved Israel can connect on timely passestosure-handed WRs Ross (48 grabs) & blossoming 6-2 frosh Aiken (32 for 18ypc,5 TDs), especially with tight-covering MSU soph CB A. Johnson (3 ints; 2TDs)out with broken ankle suffered vs. Ole Miss While demanding, straight-shootingCroom (“We’ll be all business inMemphis”) would love to culminateMSU’s resurgence with bowl victory, preferhotter UCF, motivated to achieveschool-record 11 victories & have Mr. Smith(needs 181 YR) break BarrySanders’ all-time single-season rushing record.Plus, Knights own STs edge with PK Torres (19 of 21 FGs, 6 of 6 from 40-49).
(DNP...SR: Miss. St. 1-0)

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POINTWISE ( 3-8 ) -- 3-0 SWEEP AFTER AN 0-8 START

MEINEKE BOWL
WAKE FOREST (8-4) vs CONNECTICUT (9-3)
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 29
1:00 PM EST -- ESPN TELEVISION
AOPR AVS FDS RUSH PASS TRN EDGE TO:
Wk Forest ... 41.0 .. 28-23 .. 19-19 .. 136- 97 ... 174-220.. +11 . Wk Forest
UConn ........ 41.1 .. 28-19 .. 20-18 .. 165-159 .. 193-188.. + 8 . by 8.1 Pts

ANALYSIS
This contest marks just the first time in school history, that the Deacons of
Wake Forest have participated in the bowl picture in back-to-back seasons,
with just the '46 Gator, '49 Dixie, & '79 Tangerine gracing their resume, before
2 bowls in the '90s, & this, their 3rd since '02. Grobe has done a masterful job
the past couple of seasons, with Wake a combined 19-7, since the onset of
'06. A year ago, they made it to the Orange Bowl, after a 9-6 win over Ga Tech
in the ACC title game, & proceeded to hold mighty Louisville to just 24 pts (16
below the Cards' average), before losing 24-13 (1-pt ATS loss). QB Skinner
has thrown for 1,936 yds, with an eye-popping 72% completion rate. But he
has thrown for just 11 TDs, along with 12 INTs. Frosh RB Adams has been a
pleasant surprise (887 yds & 10 TDs), with WR Moore at 899 yds & 5 TDs.
And that rush "D" ranks 17th in the nation, holding all but 2 foes under 116
RYs. Oh, by the way, rumors of Grobe heading to Arkansas have proven just
that - rumors. He is staying. And so, apparently, is coach Randy Edsall of the
Connecticut Huskies, who was rumored to be heading for Georgia Tech. UConn
has risen quickly, under his tutelage, with this its 2nd bowl in 4 years, the first
a 39-10 rout of Toledo, as a 3½ pt dog, in the '04 Motor City. QB Lorenzen is
their trigger (2,269 yds, 13 TDs, 5 picks), but RBs Dixon & Brown combined
for 1,558 yds & 11 TDs. The Huskies ranked 2nd in the nation in scoring "D",
before being pulverized, 66-21, in their finale vs WVa, so take note of a non
conference schedule vs the likes of Duke, Maine, Temple, & Akron. In an
oddity, both lost to Virginia by the same score, 17-16. Home field decides this.
PROPHECY: WAKE FOREST 26 - Connecticut 19 RATING: 1




WAKE FOREST 26 - Connecticut 19 RATING: 1
CENTRAL FLORIDA (10-3) vs MISSISSIPPI STATE (7-5)
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 29
4:30 PM EST -- ESPN TELEVISION
AOPR AVS FDS RUSH PASS TRN EDGE TO:
Central Fla . 37.0 .. 38-28 .. 22-20 .. 243-131 .. 174-248.. + 4 . Central Fla
Miss St ....... 46.1 .. 22-25 .. 17-18 .. 135-159 .. 170-182.. - 3 . by 8.6 Pts

ANALYSIS
Talk about coaches turning their teams around. After Jackie Sherrill led the
Bulldog of Mississippi State to consecutive bowl games in '98, '99, & '00, the
latter a 43-41 heartstopping (OT) win over Texas A&M in the Independence
Bowl, hard times hit Starkville, with consecutive 3-8, 3-9, & 2-10 campaigns.
Enter Sylvester Croom, the first black head coach in SEC history. Things
didn't go exactly swimmingly, with 3-win seasons in '04-'06, then opening this
campaign with a 45-0 loss to LSU, along with a 200-yd deficit. But it was the
turnover (7) which strangled them in that one, & improvement was obvious, as
they won their next 3, including a shocking upset of Auburn. As a matter of
fact, they have a pair of upsets, as 2-TD dogs, the other over Kentucky (19½
& 31 pt covers). But it must be noted that MSt had a 9 TO edge in those wins.
Croom: SEC Coach of the Year. Offensively, the 'Dogs are nothing special,
ranking 78th overland, with QBs Carroll a combined 10 TDs & 15 INTs. But
their 28th ranked "D" has to be respected. But it will have to put the clamps on
the nation's leading runner, UCF's splendid Kevin Smith, who finished the year
with 2,448 yds & 30 TDs, joining the peerless Barry Sanders, as the only RBs
in history with more than 2,000 RYs, & 30 TDs in a season. Try 284 RYs in
Central's 44-25 rout of Tulsa in the C-USA title game. For the Knights, this
marks their 2nd bowl trip in the 4 years of O'Leary's reign, the other being a
49-48 OT loss to Nevada in the '05 Hawaii Bowl. QB Israel (60%, 2,085 yds,
15 TDs & 8 picks) is the other part of UCF's balanced attack. No questioning
Bulldog improvement, but Knights are bowl experienced, & prevail in tight one.
PROPHECY: CENTRAL FLORIDA 31 - Mississippi State 24 RATING: 6




PENN STATE (8-4) vs TEXAS A&M (7-5)
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 29
8:00 PM EST -- ESPN TELEVISION
AOPR AVS FDS RUSH PASS TRN EDGE TO:
Penn St ....... 41.2 .. 31-18 .. 20-16 .. 187- 88 ... 212-219 .. + 1 . Penn St
Tex A&M ..... 46.0 .. 29-26 .. 21-19 .. 216-152 .. 187-264 .. + 8 . by 1.3 Pts

ANALYSIS
Of course, the top sidebar to this game, is the fact that it marks Joe Paterno's
500th game as head man with the Nittany Lions of Penn State. That's right, all
41 years at the same school, with no less than 33 bowl campaigns. Oh, he
has 371 wins, second only to Bobby Bowden's 373. Quite an historic competition.
This year's edition has been noted for its home dominance, where the
Nits held a 226-67 pt edge over all foes, except Ohio St, against whom the
Lions were overmatched. At season's end Penn St ranked 9th best in the land
in total defense, & 6th best against the run. Check bowl-bound Michigan,
Wisconsin, Indiana, & Purdue all being held to 3.0 ypr or less. Offensively, the
Nits are led by RB Kinlaw (1,186 yds, 10 TDs), with QB Morelli a steady 59%
for 2,508 yds (18/9). Even in their loss to Ohio St, the Lions managed 6.0 ypr.
But, as noted above, State wasn't the same squad away from home, failing to
cover all 4 Big Ten RGs, losing 3. The Aggies of Texas A&M made it to the '04
Cotton & '06 Holiday Bowls, under Dennis Franchione, but were mauled 38-7
& 45-10 by Tennessee & California, respectively. He has departed, following,
not only a disappointing season, but also due to some highly questionable offfield
doings. He is replaced by Gary Darnell (defensive coordinator) for this
game, & he has his work cut out. The Ags have had their sporadic moments,
of course, including an upset of arch-rival Texas in the season's finale, but 9
returning starters, including QB McGee, & RB Lane from LY's 18th best "O"
boded far better than this year's 53rd rated unit. The dog has covered the last
3 bowls involving Penn St, & this is a home game for the Ags. Weak dog call.
PROPHECY: Penn State 24 - TEXAS A&M 23 RATING: 6

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THE SPORTS MEMO ( 9-2 !!)

UConn vs. Wake Forest -3 O/U 48.5 Recommendation: Under
If ever there was a team looking to redeem itself for a performance
that closed every eye that was beginning to open up toward them,
it’s Connecticut. On the verge of gaining acceptance as a legitimate
team from the college football public, UConn went out in their final
regular season game and got humiliated by West Virginia 66-21.
The Huskies have a lot of questions to answer here and they’ll be
fired up to answer them positively. While Connecticut has redemption
as motivation to play hard here, Wake Forest has sheer delight
to use as their fuel. Having head coach Jim Grobe choose returning
to Winston-Salem over the lure of becoming the new head man at
Arkansas figures to give the Demon Deacons a real boost here. The
proximity of just 81 miles from Winston-Salem to Charlotte should
assure a solid following for Wake which will add another advantage
to their side. Each team has played excellent defense this season
with Connecticut ranking 31st in the nation and Wake Forest 38th.
However, there are a couple of strength and weakness differences
between the two which could lead toward deciding this contest. After
allowing 150 rushing yards or more in a game just once in their
first seven games, Connecticut allowed 159-plus in each of their final
five games including a whopping 536 to West Virginia. The reason
for concern in this area is simple, UConn’s final five games saw the
schedule toughen up as they faced four bowl teams during that span
after playing only one in their first seven. Wake Forest’s unique deception
style ground attack which will be very difficult for the Huskies
to simulate in practice, could cause a real problem for the Huskies.
That being said, Connecticut’s 14th ranked passing defense and
eighth ranked pass efficiency defense are an excellent match for
Wake’s pedestrian passing game. That will allow them to focus on
and commit to stopping the run. Offensively, Connecticut will find
it hard to move what’s become an excellent Deacons defense. Their
run defense was gashed only once this season and that was by the
wishbone option attack of Navy which Connecticut does not run.
Their conventional ground scheme figures to struggle in this contest
leaving quarterback Tyler Lorenzen and the passing game in charge
of producing yardage and points. Wake Forest has been vulnerable
to the pass allowing over 242 passing yards per game but like Connecticut,
they are a ball hawking group whose 18 interceptions have
led them to the a No. 18 pass efficiency defense ranking. How often
either of these teams will be able to put together scoring drives is in
question so game breaking threats and special teams plays are likely
to be the difference makers here. There are edges for Wake Forest in
those categories as placekicker Sam Swank is proven, strong legged,
and accurate (17-of-20 field goals made this year). Also, Wake’s
home run skill position threats Steven Moore and Josh Adams are
the most dangerous players in this game. These teams will play with
a ton of emotion and their respective defenses will pave the way
to a game that is likely to total somewhere between 37-43 points.



UCF vs. Mississippi State +3 O/U 60 Recommendation: Mississippi State
Saturday, December 29, 4:30 pm EST (ESPN) Memphis, Tenn.

Hard to believe not only is UCF favored in this one, but the once
dismal program has been to a bowl game since Mississippi State
last played a post mid-December contest. The Golden Knights
were in the Hawaii Bowl two years ago, while this is the first
time since 2000 that the Bulldogs have appeared in the postseason.
With this game being played in Memphis, we would
think that Mississippi State would have a solid contingent of
fans at the game. This should give them somewhat of an edge,
but the real edge is on the field. Central Florida piled up some
terrific numbers on offense this year against their Conference-
USA brethren. The worst defenses in the nation reside in C-USA,
and what UCF did is a perfect example of that. UCF piled up
5,500 yards of total offense this season, including 3,300 on the
ground at 5.54 yards per carry. They scored at least 34 points
in every conference game they played and had over 40 on six
different occasions. The amazing thing about their scoring is
that most of it came on the ground. Running back Kevin Smith
had a fantastic year, gaining 2,448 yards and rushing for 29
TDs. The ground attack definitely set up the passing game, and
quarterback Kyle Israel tossed 15 TDs and had over 2,000 yards
through the air. These are all great numbers, but considering
they are common among almost every C-USA offense, they are
a tad misleading. UCF did step outside the conference to face
NC State, Texas and South Florida this year and in all three
games their numbers were down. They were outgained 543-
145 by South Florida, 490-326 by Texas, and 357-299 by NC
State. The most glaring number was the lack of a passing game
in those three contests as they had a total of just 254 passing
yards. If Mississippi State slows down Smith and the running
game, will Israel be able to step up and win with his arm? Judging
from the numbers against quality competition, it doesn’t
appear likely. On the other side of the ball, Mississippi State
does not have good numbers, but again, the quality of competition
had a lot to do with it. Mississippi State also had numerous
injuries to all of its quarterbacks and dealt with that most of
the season. Wesley Carroll has done a nice job for the Bulldogs
since he became healthy and he has given them more offensive
balance. State should have no trouble running the ball against
the Central Florida defense. They did not match up well with the
ground game of Texas or South Florida, and the Bulldogs have
the same size advantages. While UCF was beating the likes of
Memphis and Marshall, Mississippi State was notching road wins
against Auburn and Kentucky and beating Alabama at home.
We were shocked to see UCF as the favorite in this one. With
the excitement of reaching a bowl, the close proximity to their
fans, and what should be a solid edge at the line of scrimmage,
we are squarely on the Bulldogs as the underdog in this game



Penn State -5.5 vs. Texas A&M O/U 51.5 Recommendation: Under
Saturday, December 29, 8 pm EST (ESPN) San Antonio, Texas

Two strong college football traditional teams will face-off in
San Antonio when Penn State tackles Texas A&M in this pre-
New Year’s Day splash. Quite simply, the Nittany Lions won’t
be enamored with a trip to the Alamo. This year’s edition featured
bigger dreams, which included a Big Ten title and a BCS
Bowl. Penn State closed the season with an 8-4 record, which
included just a 4-4 mark in the down Big Ten. They’ll at least
be looking to get the bad taste out of their mouth of blowing a
17-point lead in their finale losing to Michigan State 35-31. Senior
quarterback Anthony Morelli’s legacy is somewhat tepid
in Penn State lore after a disappointing career, while elusive
marquee wins are missing from his resume. He certainly has
the playmakers on offense, which includes the trio of receivers
Derrick Williams, Jordan Norwood and Deon Butler. However,
the play calling generally borders on vanilla. The Lions
finished the season with the nations 55th ranked offense and
were hardly a big play team. Defensively, Penn State rarely
has a poor game. The unit ranked ninth in the country this season
at 309 yards per game, which includes their sixth-ranked
rush defense. Senior linebacker Dan Conner led the Big Ten in
tackles with 136 and as a team PSU led the Big Ten in sacks
with 45 (keep an eye on developing sack master sophomore
Maurice Evans). Meanwhile, it’s an unsettled time for the Texas
A&M football program. Embattled former head coach Dennis
Franchione stepped down after their season closing upset over
rival Texas. Defensive Coordinator Gary Darnell will lead the
Aggies to the Alamo Bowl as the interim head coach. The Aggies’
motivation will be in question as well, as they arguably
played their bowl game against Texas. A&M has already hired
Mike Sherman as their new head coach, but his duties won’t
begin until after the NFL season closes. The Aggies finished
the season 7-5, while largely playing under constant duress
with questions surrounding Franchione on a daily basis. Junior
quarterback Stephen McGee holds the reigns on the A&M offense
with the ability to win games with his legs and arm. Of
course, the Aggies are known for their running game with the
thunder and lightning duo of Jorvorskie Lane and Mike Goodson.
It’s certainly no wonder the Aggies finished 13th in the
country garnering 216 yards per game on the ground. However,
when an opponent can shut down their run game, the Aggies
have usually struggled in the passing game. Defensively, A&M
finished the campaign 83rd in total defense allowing 416 yards
per game. Down the stretch, this unit ran out of gas allowing
an average of over 37 points per game in their last three
games. Wow, these two teams mirror each other in many ways.
Look for the focus to be on the ground and that means the
clock moves and we see a lower scoring game than expected

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Hondo 4-6 bowl record

W FORREST
C FLA
PENN St

Sullivan 3-7 bowl record

W FORREST
MISS St
Texas A&M

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Jon Campbell FROM COVERS (4-7 bowl record - 3-0 YESTERDAY)

Meineke Car Care Bowl

Connecticut vs. Wake Forest (-3, 49)

For the second straight year, the Deacs were very good to bettors. They went 8-4 ATS and I think the players will want to win one more on what could be the last time they’ll see coach Jim Grobe.

Pick: Wake Forest -4


AutoZone Liberty Bowl

Central Florida vs. Mississippi State (+3, 60½)

UCF’s Kevin Smith needs 181 rushing yards to break the all-time single season record. I think the Knights are going to be more worried about getting him those yards than they will be about winning the game. Unfortunately for them, this Bulldogs defense is pretty good and likes to hit – hard. MSU hasn’t given up more than 139 yards to a back this season. It held Darren McFadden to 88 yards and the NCAA’s second-leading rusher, Matt Forte, to just 47 yards.

Pick: Mississippi State +3


Valero Alamo Bowl

Penn State vs. Texas A&M (+5½, 51½)

Coach Fran is finally gone and that might just be a bit of a relief for A&M’s players. The Aggies had their best offensive game of the season in their last effort, a 38-30 win over Texas. I think they’ll carry that over into bowl season against a Penn State team I feel is overrated.

Pick: Texas A&M +5 ½

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THE SPORTS REPOTER

ALAMO BOWL

SUPER BEST BET
PENN STATE over TEXAS A&M by 27

"Our intention is to bring the same great Aggie spirit to San Antonio that we had in our
last game against Texas," says Texas A&M’s definitely interim coach Gary Darnell, the
likely ex-defensive coordinator after this game. Intention does not equal or guarantee
intensity. Incoming A&M head coach Mike Sherman has yet to make an appearance,
because he is still coordinating the Houston Texans’ offense. Former head coach Dennis
Franchione is not ticketed for another head coaching job at the moment, so every A&M
assistant has the same key distraction as they prepare the Aggies for this game: “Where
am I working next year?” It is the same dilemma faced by the Notre Dame staff four
years ago prior to an Insight.com Bowl. Tyrone Willingham had been booted and incoming
head coach Charlie Weis first had to fulfill his NFL commitment as a New England
assistant. The Irish trailed 21-7 at halftime for interim head coach Kent (Who?) Baer, and
eventually lost 38-21 in a game that really wasn’t as close as the score might have indicated.

Getting all the way back up after the high of whupping a young Texas team at Kyle
Field on November 23 will be difficult for A&M to replicate under the current circumstances.
It will be also be a surprise if Penn State’s defense allows itself to get beat by
a “smash-mouth” offense where the focus is on the running backs, tight ends and the
quarterback’s wheels. Penn State’s corners do not figure to need extra help against a
wide receiver group that accounted for only 4 TDs and whose most “dangerous” wideout
Kerry Franks caught only 8 passes in his last 5 games. It will also be a surprise if
Penn State’s receivers don’t do as well or better than the super-stiffs on the Miami-FL
offense who yanked the pants off A&M’s defense earlier in the year. PENN STATE, 41-14.


LIBERTY BOWL

BEST BET
MISSISSIPPI STATE over CENTRAL FLORIDA by 9

The nation’s leading rusher Kevin Smith gained 2,448 yards on the ground this season
and his team averaged 426 yards of offense per game – in a C-USA where eight bad
defenses yielded between 438 and 542 yards per game! Central Florida is coming off the
high of a C-USA Championship, and, although the opposing Bulldogs’ 7-5 SU record
doesn’t indicate it, George O’Leary’s Knights are probably moving up in class as far as
the caliber of opposing defense. On the other side of the ball, Mississippi State’s offense
gained only 305 yards per game, last in the 12-team SEC. But eight SEC defenses yielded
360 or fewer yards per game despite playing against serious offensive personnel ticketed
for collegiate trophies and big-paying NFL careers. Operating within class matchups
similar to today’s, Mississippi State running back Anthony Dixon has found plenty of
room for Sylvester Croom, recording a pair of triple-digit rushing yardage games and a
total of five second-half touchdowns vs. the two C-USA defenses that Mississippi State
played and beat handily this season. Meanwhile, Smith is no bigger, faster or more punishingthan any running back that Mississippi State faced in the SEC, or in their outingat West Virginia for that matter. UCF quarterback Kyle Israel had a 9-for-26 passing afternoonvs. Texas and might be ready for another. MISSISSIPPI STATE, 29-20.

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WINNING POINTS ( 5-6)

ALAMO BOWL

PENN STATE over TEXAS A&M by 9

Although he will not be directly involved in coaching the team for this game(defensive coordinator Gary Darnell is in the interim role), you can mike sure thatnew Texas A&M hire Mike Sherman will be watching this one closely. What he willsee is that the Aggies need a major influx of speed if they are going to have a chanceto move up to a higher level. It was most apparent in road wipeouts at Oklahoma,Missouri, Texas Tech and even Miami F., games that they lost by a combined 87points, and it is also going to be a factor here. With ample time to prepare we canexpect the usual fundamental soundness from a Penn State defense against anoption attack, which takes the running of QB Stephen McGee and the plowing ofRB Jorvorski Lane out of play. That forces the Aggies to have to throw in order tobe successful, and while McGee had one of the better games of his career againstTexas in the finale, that is hardly an indication of what is to come. And in thosefour road games that we referenced above, note that the A&M defense allowed1,336 passing yards at an ugly 77.3 percent completions, not getting a single interception.The Nittany Lions have thespeed at WR to exploit those issues, and nowthat the pressure is off we would not be surprised if the disappointing career of QBAnthony Morrelli ends on a positive note. The only Aggie bowl appearances of thelast five seasons were blowout losses by 31 and 35 points, which also creates a crisisof confidence as well. PENN STATE 31-22


MEINEKE CAR CARE BOWL

WAKE FOREST over CONNECTICUT by 5

We keep checking the wires, waiting for the inevitable announcement that Jim
Grobe would be leaving Wake Forest to take over a more prominent program. It
has not happened yet, and indeed may not happen at all, which means a great ‘win’
for the Wake Forest program. Grobe has done such a solid job with the Deacons
that it is not just about tactics any more – the talent on hand was good enough to
win five games in double figures this season, and they closed with a lot of momentum
in whipping N. C. State and Vanderbilt. That carries over here, particularlywith a lot of local support. Connecticut may be on the verge of a similar climb inthe years to come, but not just yet. In November step-up road games againstbowlboundCincinnati and West Virginia the Huskies were humbled by a collective 93-24, and that does bring anywhere near the level of momentum that Grobe and hissquad carry through the practice weeks leading up to kickoff. The Huskies lackplaymakers on offense, not averaging 200 yards per game either running or passing,and with ample prep time can be shut down by an under-rated Wake Forestdefense. Meanwhile the +13 turnover differential that got them here also does notget in play vs. afundamentally sound opponent. WAKE FOREST 27-22


LIBERTY BOWL

MISSISSIPPI STATE over CENTRAL FLORIDA by 2All Kevin Smith did for CentralFlorida this season was rush for 2,448 yards and29 TD’s, statistically one of the best seasons ever for a college running back. Yet itwas not good enough to even get him in the top four in the Heisman voting, whichshows the level of respect for Conference USA. And you know what? We actuallyagree. We like Smith, and he has a chance to be playing on Sunday’s for many yearsahead, but the bottom line is that the defensive play in his conference this seasonwas the worst of any league that we have ever charted. There was only one roadgame all season against a class defense outside of the conference, a short bus ride totake on South Florida in a regional showdown, and not only were the GoldenKnights pummeled 64-12, Smith was held to 55 yards on 18 rushes. That is whatsets the tone for this one. Now Smith and the offense are up against a physicaldefensive front that has been up against his class of performer before, with theBulldogs holding Darren McFadden to 88 yards on 28 carries in a comparablematchup, and we are going to find that they are a one-trick pony. The passinggame? Not even average with Kyle Israel at the helm vs. this class of opponent. Thedefense? Yards and points were easy for opponents to come by. And with theBulldogs playing with a great deal of passion in their first bowl underSylvesterCroom, while also bringing a lot of fans to Memphis, this is not an upset at all.MISSISSIPPI STATE 29-27.

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EROCKMONEY ( 7-4 SO FAR)

Meineke - Wake Forest (-3) v. Conneticut

The Huskies had a solid year, but Wake simply has more talent on the field of play in this one. Charlotte creates a home field advantage for Wake and I expect the Demon Deacons to play inspired ball for coach Grobe after he passed on the Arkansas position. Two great defenses will take the field but I give the edge to Wake.

Pick: Wake by 13

Status: Recommended Play (rank - 5th)


Liberty - UCF v. Miss St.

I would strongly recommend avioding this game. UCF seems to be the real talented team in Conf. USA but Miss St. had an excellent year in the powerfule SEC.

Pick: UCF by 1

Status: No Play


Alamo - Penn St. v. Texas A&M

Penn St. is deadly when they have extended time to prepare for an opponent, but Texas A&M has a huge home field advantage in this one.

Pick: Penn St. by 4

Status: No Play

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DR BOB ( 6-5)

3 Star Selection

***Connecticut 27 Wake Forest (-3.0) 21 (at Meineke Bowl - Charlotte) 10:00 AM Pacific, 29-Dec-07 Connecticut was destroyed by West Virginia 21-66 in their regular season finale, but that shouldn’t take away from the great season that the Huskies had. U Conn was 9-3 for the season and their only losses by more than 1 point were to a very good Cincinnati team and to West Virginia. The other loss was by just 1 point to Virginia and the Huskies have wins against Louisville and South Florida to their credit. Wake Forest, meanwhile, didn’t beat a team all season that is rated higher than Connecticut in my ratings. The best team that the Demon Deacons beat was Florida State, which is about the same as the Huskies, and Wake’s only other victories against better than average teams came at home in overtime against Maryland (when Maryland was a below average team with Steffy at quarterback) and at Vanderbilt.

The strength of this Huskies team is a defense that gave up 19 points or less in 9 of their 11 games with only good offensive teams Cincinnati (27 points) and West Virginia scoring 20 points or more against them. Connecticut’s defensive weakness is stopping good running teams, but Wake Forest is not a good running team (4.0 yards per rushing play against teams that would allow 4.9 yprp to an average team) and Deacons are not likely to take advantage. Wake Forest isn’t a good passing team either, as Riley Skinner averaged 5.9 yards per pass play (against teams that would allow 6.2 yppp to an average quarterback) and he’ll have a tough time throwing against a very good Connecticut pass defense that yielded just 5.0 yppp (to teams that would average 6.2 yppp against an average defense) while picking off 22 passes. Wake Forest faced 4 better than average defensive teams this season (Boston College, Virginia, Clemson, and Vanderbilt) and the Demon Deacons averaged only 4.2 yppl in those 4 games while not topping 4.4 yppl in any of them. I don’t see Wake Forest having much success against Connecticut’s solid defense either.

Wake Forest also has a good defense, as the Demon Deacons allowed just 4.7 yppl to a schedule of teams that would combine to average 5.4 yppl against an average stop unit. Connecticut is nothing special offensively, as the Huskies are average running the ball and slightly worse than average throwing it (5.9 yppp against teams that would allow 6.1 yppp to an average QB), but quarterback Tyler Lorenzen has thrown just 5 interceptions all season, which is why the Huskies are better than average in compensated scoring (27.8 points per game against teams that would combine to allow 25.5 points to an average team). My math model projects 4.7 yppl for both teams in this game, but Wake Forest hasn’t gained more than 4.4 yppl against a better than average defense this season so I think the Huskies will do a better job of moving the football even though my math model projects the yardage as even. Connecticut has an edge in projected turnovers but Wake Forest has a special teams edge. Overall, my math model favors Wake Forest by ½ a point, so the line value favors U Conn and I think the Huskies will win straight up.

Connecticut applies to a 37-8-1 ATS Bowl situation while Wake Forest applies to a negative 7-34 ATS bowl situation. Try not to overreact to Connecticut’s last game (that 21-66 loss to West Virginia), as teams that lost their previous game by more than 38 points are actually 11-2 ATS in bowl games and teams that gave up 65 points or more in their final regular season game are 4-1 ATS in bowls. The fact that Connecticut gave up 66 points in one game and still allowed an average of just 18.6 points for the season tells you how good the Huskies’ defense was for most of the season.

I’ll take Connecticut in a 3-Star Best Bet at +3 points or more (-1.12 odds or less) and for 2-Stars from +3 (-1.13 odds or higher) to +1 point.

Penn State (-5½) vs Texas A&M: I lean slightly with Penn State.

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VEGAS HOTSHEET ( 7-8 SO FAR)


Saturday, December 29th
MEINEKE CAR CARE BOWL - 1:00pm ET ESPN
413 Connecticut 29
414 Wake Forest 17
UCONN +3


LIBERTY BOWL - 4:30pm ET ESPN
415 C Florida 34
416 Mississippi St 17
UCF -3


ALAMO BOWL - 8:00pm ET ESPN
417 Penn St 34
418 Texas A&M 13
PENN ST -5½

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