Monday Service Plays

Monday Service Plays

Pointwise Bowl Games

OKLAHOMA STATE (6-6) vs INDIANA (7-5)
MONDAY, DECEMBER 31
5:30 PM EST -- NFL NETWORK TELEVISION
AOPR AVS FDS RUSH PASS TRN EDGE TO:
Okla St ........ 46.2 .. 33-29 .. 21-20 .. 246-155 .. 238-292 .. - 1 . Okla St
Indiana ....... 40.5 .. 32-27 .. 18-19 .. 156-159 .. 238-239 .. + 0 . by 3.6 Pts

ANALYSIS
For the first time in 14 years (45-20 loss to Virginia Tech in '93 Independence),
the Hoosiers of Indiana grace the bowl scene. They followed that loss to the
Hokies with a 6-5 record in '94, but then suffered through 12 consecutive
losing campaigns, before managing a 7-5 season this year. Lynch (for the
stricken Hoeppner) became the first head coach in program history to reach a
bowl game in his first season. The key to the Hoosiers' season, was its quick
start vs non-conference foes Indiana St, Western Michigan, & Akron, winning
by a combined score of 133-58. No, not the toughest of competition, but just
what Indy, & its 16 returning starters needed, in shaking a losing attitude.
They couldn't stay with Illinois, Mich St, or Wisconsin (112-44 pt deficit), but
their 2 other losses came by just 6 & 3 pts, vs 8-4 Penn St, & at 6-6 Northwestern.
However, check 288-134, 368-22, 192-68, 279-145, & 165-94 RY deficits
in their 5 losses. Hardly enough for QB Lewis (61%), along with his 2,839 yds
& 26 TDs to overcome. And that spells trouble vs an Oklahoma State Cowboy
team which sports not only the land's 9th ranked offense, but 7th best rushing
game, behind do-it-all QB Robinson (2,522 yds, 20 TDs passing; 777 yds, 7
TDs rushing). The 'Pokes scored at least 39 pts in each of their 6 wins, &
have now topped 40 pts 10 times the past 2 years. Thus, defense has to be
their bane, & so it is, ranking 104th overall, & 116th vs the pass, so Lewis has
to be licking his chops. Thus, a barnburner is almost a certainty. In an oddity,
the Hoosiers recorded the only shutout in this bowl's history (24-0 vs Baylor in
'91, when it was known as the Copper Bowl). This should be exact opposite.
PROPHECY: OKLAHOMA STATE 44 - Indiana 30 RATING: 3


CLEMSON (9-3) vs AUBURN (8-4)

MONDAY, DECEMBER 31
7:30 PM EST -- ESPN TELEVISION
AOPR AVS FDS RUSH PASS TRN EDGE TO:
Clemson ..... 44.1 .. 34-18 .. 19-15 .. 147-106 .. 231-168.. +11 . Clemson
Auburn ....... 47.3 .. 24-17 .. 18-17 .. 154-119 .. 174-179.. + 1 . by 7.4 Pts

ANALYSIS
Defense! This one matches a pair of perennial bowl participants, who meet
for the first time since the Tigers (or War Eagles) of Auburn took the measure
of the Tigers of Clemson, 21-17, in the '97 Peach Bowl, which, incidentally, is
the former name of this bowl. And doesn't that seem a logical score for this
contest? When the dust settled, the Tigers ranked 6th in the land in total "D",
8th in scoring "D", 19th vs the run, & 13th vs the pass. Solid credentials. But
the Eagles weren't far behind, ranking 8th, 6th, 25th, & 6th, in those columns,
respectively. So pts will be at a premium. However, if a team is to break out,
offensively, then Clemson would be the obvious choice. CU has exploded for
at least 42 pts on 5 occasions, with 2 of those marks posted vs bowl teams:
70-14 vs Central Michigan, & 44-10 vs Wake Forest. They are led by one of
the more pleasant surprises, QB Harper, who ranks 17th in the nation, as well
as 1st in the ACC in QB ratings, with a 67% pct, & 2,887 yds, along with 27 TD
passes, & just 6 INTs. Davis & Spiller have been "go-to" backs, while Kelly (84
receptions) is a force. The Eagles have been among the elites for ages, &, as
noted above, can take almost any foe out of its game. They thrive in the dog
role, covering 7-of-8 in that rare designation, over the past 4 years. If they are
at a disadvantage here, it is their penchant for the turnover, which has seen a
combined minus 11 in 3 of their 4 losses (5-0 deficit vs So Fla, 5-1 deficit vs
Miss St, 4-2 deficit vs Georgia). Though a veteran, sr QB Cox threw for only 9
TDs this season, while tossing 12 INTs. Thus, the QB edge seems to favor
Clemson, & that may decide it. Hate bucking AU as a dog, but this a CU call.
PROPHECY: CLEMSON 24 - Auburn 17 RATING: 6

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California - Air Force

These two met in ‘04 with Cal leading the series 5-2. HC Tedford & Co enter this game much maligned after losing 6 of L/7 (0-7 ATS) incl an embarrassing loss to Stanford. Cal will be playing a 5th str bowl gm for the 1st time while AF is making its 1st appearance S/‘02. None of AF’s 17 seniors have played in a bowl, and this was their 1st winning ssn S/’03. Cal has played 6 bowl squads being outscored by a 29-27and outgained 399-389 going just 2-4 SU & ATS. AF took on 5 bowl tms and went 3-2 ATS & 2-3 SU being outscored 25-19 and outgained 376-351. During pressn, new AF HC Calhoun told the Cadet Wing that if his tm went 6-0 at home and went bowling (which they did), he would buy the first 200 tickets. AF should have a large crowd edge, drawing many military fans. This is MWC COY Calhoun’s (an AF grad) 1st bowl game as a HC but he was the OC at Ohio and WF where he did go to a bowl in ‘02. Both Cal & AF faced CSU this ssn and while both tms were victorious, Cal was actually outgained 458-391 and they barely held on with a 6 pt win (-14) while the Falcons manhandled CSU outgaining them 437-380 in their 45-21 win (+3). The Bears have 8 senior starters & 20 upperclassmen starters while the Falcons have 14 seniors and 19 upperclassmen.

The Bears’ offense began the ssn on fire avg 39 ppg & 426 ypg on their way to being #2 in the country after 5 gms. QB Longshore (64%, 7-2 ratio in first 5 gms) appeared to be having an even better ssn than LY until an ankle inj suffered late in the gm vs UO caused him to miss the heartbreaking loss to OSU.Following his return the next wk, it was apparent that he was not 100% causing him to struggle for the remainder of the ssn completing just 57% of his passes with a 9-11 ratio over the L/6. Forsett became the 5th straight Cal RB to rush for 1,000+ yds practically carrying the off for most of the ssn. The WR combo of Jackson & Hawkins comb for over 50% of the tm’s rec’s despite both dealing with nagging inj’s most of the yr. The OL avg 6’5” 303 & is led by AA C Mack who helped Cal rush for 163 ypg (4.8) while all’g just 11 sks (#5 NCAA, 2.6%). Overall the off finished with our #30 rankings. Despite losing some key players to graduation the Bears D played surprisingly well earning our #31 overall ranking. The DL avg 6’3” 295 & all’d 152 rush ypg (3.9) while recording just 22 sks as injuries to this position were significant most of the year. The secondary earned a middle of the pack ranking at #54 in pass eff D all’g 223 ypg(61%) with a 16-10 ratio. Opposing tms chose to punt away from dangerous DeSean Jackson for most of the ssn as he returned just 12 punts (1 TD) all ssn long. The Bears finished with our #47 ST ranking.AF’s #36 off is led by MWC Off POY Hall who was the target of a late ssn grass roots Heisman campaign. Hall began the ssn as a WR in Calhoun’s modified offensive scheme, but stepped into the RB role in gm 6 vs UNLV and never looked back (1,257 rush, 6.9 L/6). He needs just 79 yds rush to break AF’s single-ssn rush rec’d (Beau Morgan, 1996) He is also the leading rec when QB Carney choosesto pass it (23% of the time) becoming the only player in the NCAA to lead his team in both rushing and receiving. The OL avg 6’4” 272 with 2 Sr starters and helped pave the way for 299 rush ypg (5.4) which is #2 in the NCAA in rush offense while all’g 13 sks (6.7%). LB Fowler is the tm’s #1 tklr and leads our #59 rated D which is all’g just 131 rush ypg (3.3) with 28 sks. DB Thomas follows close behind, heading up our #62 pass eff D. In their L/3 gms (Army, ND, SDSt) the AF D held each team under 100 yds rush as those teams avg just 57 ypg (1.7), but it could be hard to hold that enthusiasm as they have not played since Nov 17th. The Falcons have our #11 ST’s unit. Hall literally does it all for the Falcons as he is the only player who has returned punts TY and is also the leading KR. PK Harrison helped the season along as he nailed the game winning 33 yarder vs TCU, which spring-boarded AF through a tough conference schedule (7-1 ATS in conf play, only loss to BYU).

The service academies perform well in bowls as they are not distracted by the pageantry and stay focused on their goals. After AF HC Calhoun talked about changing to a pass offense he basically kept the Falcons’ offense the same. California is devastated to be here after being ranked #2 and thinking about a national championship early TY. They now have lost an unthinkable 6 of 7 and need to win tokeep from a losing season. They are now healthy (QB & top 2 DL) and can refocus. The Bears finished last season is a disappointing fashion (1-2 SU & 0-5 ATS) and came out and blasted A&M while AF played only one top #20 team (BYU) and lost that game 31-6.

FORECAST: CALIFORNIA 38 Air Force 27 RATING: 2*

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Oregon - South Florida

This is the 1st meeting in a matchup that features two former #2 ranked tms. The Bulls have never playeda P10 tm and have 37 days to prepare while UO last played Dec 1st (2OT loss to rival OSU). The Ducks are4-2 vs BE tms but haven’t faced one S/’65 (Pitt). The Bulls are 22-11 ATS vs non-conf tms S/’01 while UO hascovered 8 of 10 S/’04. This is USF’s 3rd straight bowl appearance as well as their 3rd bowl inschool history.LY in its 10th yr of existence, USF won its 1st bowl 24-7 (-5) over EC.UnderHC Bellotti Oregon has gone4-6 SU (5-5 ATS) in bowl gms losing their L/4 incl a30 pt loss to BYU LY. This marks UO’s 4th appearancein the Sun Bowl with their last being a31-30 (+4) ‘03 loss to Minny. In ‘07 the Bulls defeated #17 Auburn onthe road & #5 WV at home and achieved their 1st Top 25 ranking in school history. They rose to #2 but after3 straight losses & a challenge by Leavitt, the offense responded avg 48 ppg in their L/3. Oregon also roseto #2 before Heisman front-runner Dixon’s knee inj KO’d him for the season in a 34-24 (-10) loss to AZ tobegin a 3 gm SU & ATS losing streak. USF played 7 bowl caliber tms TY going 4-3 SU & ATS outscoringopp’s 34-21 & outgaining them 409-332. UO has played 8 bowl squads going 5-3 SU & ATS outscoring them32-23 & outgaining them 411-398. The Bulls are 2-3 ATS TY as an AF while UO is 9-4 as an AD since ‘03.USF has 6 seniors among 16 upperclassmen starters while UO has 8 among their 16.

The Bulls have our #22 ranked offense avg 35.8 ppg & 422 ypg. LY USF found a dual-threat QB theyhadn’t seen since 2002’s Marquel Blackwell. QB Grothe has been a one man offensive machine leading inpassing & rushing. Much like ‘06, USF got little production from the backfield platooning 3 RB’s until HT Bamatransfer Ford (PS#46) emerged rushing for 112 ypg (5.0) the L/3. Late ssn inj’s to the WR position gave rFrMitchell 22 of his tm leading 37 rec. The OL, avg 6’4” 309, was banged up all ssn giving up 25 sks (6.6%)but still paved the way for 193 ypg (4.4). The offense should be healthy for the bowl. USF’s defense has our#23 ranking all’g 20.7 ppg & 327 ypg with 30 sks. The DL which features 2 Sr’s avg 6’2” 275 and has all’d112 rush ypg (3.2). They are led by BE Def POY DE Selvie who broke the NCAA single ssn tfl record with31.5. This defense held the #4 rush attack (293 ypg) of WV to 188 yds & held L’ville QB Brohm to a seasonlow 213 yds & 3 int. They lead the NCAA in TO’s gained with 40!!! AA CB Jenkins skipped the NFL (#3DC)& teams avoiding him found All-BE Williams on the other side who returned 3 int for TD’s. The Bulls haveour #7 pass eff def all’g 215 ypg (51%) with a 17-23 ratio. USF has our #81 ST’s led by Delbert Alvaradowho had a solid yr despite missing 4 of 7 FG’s vs Auburn which could have given USF a comfortable lead.

Numbers are misleading for UO’s offense as they finished with our #12 offense but inj’s to key playershave decimated the team. QB Dixon earned P10 Off POY honors despite missing the final 2.5 gms as hewas probably the most important player to any tm in the nation. The off avg 41 ppg & 506 ypg in Dixon’s10 starts but just 16 ppg & 244 ypg without him incl the team’s first shutout S/’85 vs UCLA. After an inj tobkup QB Leaf & #3 QB Costa, the Ducks will be forced to use rFr QB’s Roper & Kempt (102 ypg, 36%, 2-4ratio combined). RB Stewart has taken the bulk of the workload (79% of RB att’s) at the RB spot since anACL inj to Johnson in their 6th gm. WR Williams & TE Dickson became UO’s only consistent targets afterinj’s to WR’s Paysinger and Colvin (#2 & #3 on depth chart) early in the ssn. The OL avg 6’5” 311 & is ledby C Unger who helped lead the way for 243 ypg rush (5.1) while all’g just 23 sks (6.0% - 6 in the L/2 gms).

The Duck D had a better than expected ssn earning our #27 ranking. The DL led by DE Reed avg 6’3” 284and the team allowed 137 ypg rush (3.6) with 35 sks. The LB position also battled inj’s losing WLB Tuitelefor most of the ssn (should be available) & MLB Bacon who tore his ACL vs ASU. UO’s secondary featuresan abundance of playmakers led by ROV Chung and they finished #15 in pass eff D all’g 250 ypg (53%)with an 18-16 ratio. The ST unit finished with the #46 ranking featuring astrong 1st yr effort from P Syria.Both teams were ranked as high as #2 earlier this year and each believed they had a legitimatechance to play in the BCS Title game. Oregon lost probable Heisman winner QB Dixon and now will gowith rFr Roper. While he struggled replacing Leaf vs UCLA, he had a week of practice to face Oreg Stand has worked with the #1’s the last month. Both defenses have talent that will be playing on Sundayand by looking at the checklist you’ll see they are very evenly matched. Oregon will try to control theTOP with Stewart running and Grothe has tossed 8 int the L/4 games.

FORECAST: OREGON (+) 21 South Florida 23 RATING: 2*

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Fresno St - Georgia Tech

Tech is one of just 6 schools to play in a bowl gm in each of the L/11Y & ranks 3rd all time inbowl winning % (62.9). This will be the 2nd time GT has played in the Humanitarian Bowl as theydefeated Tulsa, 52-10 in ‘03 & it was the last time the Jackets played on artificial turf. GT & FSUhave met just once before, a 30-21 FSU win in ‘02 Silicon Valley Classic. GT fired their HC Gailey,who led the Jackets to a bowl gm in each of his 6 seasons, after they lost to in-state rival UGA forthe 7th straight yr. DC Tenuta has taken over as the interim HC. This will be Tenuta’s 3rd time vs theBulldogs.

Fresno should have the fan edge as this is in a WAC stadium & GT fans won’t travel thisfar to sit in the snow. FSU played Nov 30th while GT’s last gm was Nov 24th. GT has 16 upperclassmenstarters including 11 Sr’s while FSU has 12 upperclassmen including 6 Sr’s. The Jackets arejust 4-7-1 as an AF and FSU is 3-1 as an AD. GT faced 6 bowl caliber tms going 1-5 ATS & wasoutscored 24-15 & outgained 394-325. Fresno went 1-4 SU & 3-2 ATS vs bowl tms & was outgainedby 121 ypg & outscored by 9 ppg. The Bulldogs had their string of 7 consec bowl gm appearancessnapped LY but turned its ‘06 record of 4-8 around to finish 8-4 in ‘07. Fresno is in a bowl for the 8thtime under HC Hill and the Bulldogs are 3-4 SU & 4-3 ATS. Each of FSU’s 7 bowl gms under Hillwere closely contested & all were decided by single digits, an avg of 6 ppg. Fresno is 2-0 SU & ATSvs tms from the ACC with both meetings occurring in a bowl game. Aside from its win over GT in02, FSU defeated UVA 37-34 (+5) in OT in the MPC Computers Bowl here in ‘04.Tenuta said he will not make any changes on the def or sp tms but expects to do some tinkeringon offense (#52), especially in the passing game which ranks #102 in the NCAA. Tenuta will probablygo with more than 1 QB. FSU ranks #86 in run def & now has to face a healthy Choice (hamstring &knee), who finished as the #1 rusher in the ACC (#15 NCAA). GT’s OL avg 6’3” 295 & has paved theway for a solid 4.8 ypc rush & all’d just 19 sks (5.7%). GT’s rush D is ranked 12th in NCAA all’g 100ypg & GT is #1 NCAA with 47 sks, but now has to face the #16 rush off (FSU avg 205 ypg rush). TheDL avg 6’4” 268 with 2 Sr starters & is allowing just 2.8 ypc. LB Wheeler, GT’s leading tklr, is solidaround the line of scrimmage. As solid as GT’s overall D (#28) has been, it struggled on pass D & is#58 all’g 210 ypg (55%). While they all’d just 11 TD, they only came up with 5 int (#117 NCAA). RayGuy Winner P Brooks, who has the highest career punting avg ever in the ACC, is #4 in the NCAATY & PK Bell is #4 in FG’s on our #3 ST’s unit.

FSU has our #64 offense which is directed by QB Brandstater who really took a step forward inhis progression TY. What’s more, the bigger FSU’s game & opponent, the bigger he played in thosegms. In Fresno’s five gms TY vs BCS conf tms or tms that appeared in the rankings in ‘07, Brandstaterthrew for 1,264 yds (62%) & 10 TD with only 3 int. When RB Dwayne Wright (1462 yds) left early forthe NFL LY, the backfield was a concern for the Bulldogs entering ‘07. However, that concern soongave way to strong performances in FSU’s RB-by-committee backfield that racked up 2,456 yds &30 TD on the ground TY. The OL avg 6’4” 285 & paved the way for 4.7 ypc while allowing 18 sks. TEPascoe led the tm in rec thru 11 gms before WR Moore turned it up down the stretch. In FSU’s finaltwo gms, Moore had 13 rec (18.5) with 2 TD and recorded the only 100 yd rec gms by a Bulldog TY.

FSU DL avg 6’2” 265 & features two Sr’s. The defense is led by LB Riley who posted 51 more tkls thanany other Bulldog en route to earning WAC Def POY honors. FSU had the fewest int by any tm in theNCAA TY with 3. FSU has our #8 rated ST unit & is led by Jefferson who is #1 in the NCAA in KR.Fresno St has lived by HC Pat Hill’s mantra “Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime”. They made a statementknocking off Kansas St and took A&M to OT and would relish a win vs a BCS conferenceteam in a bowl. In LY’s Humanitarian Bowl Nevada had the crowd edge as the Boise fans supportedtheir conference foe and you’ll find the same situation again. Fresno’s offense has been clicking atthe end of the season and Brandstater, at 6’5”, has nimble feet and a cannon for an arm while GTplayers will be thinking about how next season’s switch to the option affects them.

FORECAST: FRESNO ST (+) 30 Georgia Tech 24 RATING: 4*

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Dr Bob Bowls

3 Star Selection
***Georgia Tech (-4.5) 34 Fresno St. 20 (at Humanitarian Bowl - Boise) 11:00 AM Pacific, 31-Dec-07 massive attrition and they’ve been horrible defensively ever since. Fresno lost defensive line stars Jason Roberts and Jason Shirley after 3 games each and then lost DE Ikenna Ike a couple of weeks later. Starting strong safety Lorne Bell has since been added to that list, so the Bulldogs are down 4 defensive starters since the start of the season. Fresno State has not been able to stop the run since losing Roberts and Shirley, as the Bulldogs allowed 6.1 yards per rushing play in their final 9 regular season games (to teams that would combine to average 4.5 yprp against an average defense). The Bulldogs are only slightly worse than average defending the pass, but Georgia Tech won’t need to pass the ball in this game with their strong offensive line going up against Fresno’s weak defensive front. Georgia Tech has two great running backs in Tashard Choice (1310 yards at 5.3 ypr) and Jonathan Dwyer (374 yards at 5.3 ypr) and the Yellow Jackets also give running quarterback Josh Nesbitt a few series each game and he’s run for 302 yards at 6.4 yards per rushing play. Taylor Bennett is nothing special at quarterback (0.2 yards per pass play worse than average) but he won’t be asked to do much in this game, as my math model projects 7.2 yards per rushing play for Georgia Tech against that horrible Fresno defensive front.

Fresno State put up pretty good offensive numbers (5.9 yards per play) but the Bulldogs faced a schedule of teams that would combine to allow 5.8 yppl to an average team and they are at a disadvantage against a solid Georgia Tech defense (4.8 yppl allowed to 11 Division 1A opponents that would average 5.3 yppl against an average defense). The Yellow Jackets are good against the run (4.0 yprp allowed to teams that would average 4.5 yprp) and they have one of the best pass rushes in the nation, averaging 3.9 sacks per game, so they are likely to dominate the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball against Fresno, which is a good indicator of pointspread success. In fact, Georgia Tech applies to a statistical match-up indicator that is 28-3-2 ATS in bowl games.

Fresno State does have an advantage in special teams with All-American kick returner A.J. Jefferson, but Georgia Tech has an All-American punter and their special teams are good too. My math model favors Georgia Tech by 8 ½ points and the indicator favoring the Yellow Jackets makes this an even better play. Fresno State is 25-8 ATS as an underdog against non-conference opponents under coach Pat Hill, but they’ve never had a defense as bad as this year’s edition. I’ll take Georgia Tech in a 3-Star Best Bet at -6 points or less and for 2-Stars at -6 ½ or -7 points.

2 Star Selection
**Clemson (-1.5) 26 Auburn 16 (at Chick-fil-A Bowl at Atlanta) 04:30 PM Pacific, 31-Dec-07 Both of these teams are strong defensively, but Clemson has the better offense, isn’t as likely to turn the ball over and has better special teams. Clemson has averaged 5.7 yards per play this season (against teams that would combine to allow 5.4 yppl to an average team), but the Tigers are just average offensively after adjusting for the loss of big play receiver Jacoby Ford, who missed the final 4 regular season games and is out for this game. Ford averaged 18.2 yards on his 17 receptions and the Tigers have nobody to replace those yards with the other top receivers combining to average only 11.8 yards per catch. Ford also ran for 172 yards on just 14 rushing plays and Clemson’s rushing attack goes from 0.4 yards per rushing play better than average to 0.2 yprp better than average if you take Ford’s numbers out. Clemson will have trouble moving the ball against a very good Auburn defense that has yielded just 4.6 yppl in 11 games against Division 1A opponents who would average 5.7 yppl against an average defensive team.

Auburn’s offense doesn’t figure to do much either, as the Tigers were held to 4.8 yppl or lower in 8 of their 11 games against 1A opposition and averaged only 4.8 yppl overall in those games (against teams that would allow 5.1 yppl to an average team). Clemson’s defense yielded only 4.5 yppl in their 11 division 1A games to teams that would combine to average 5.4 yppl against an average team, so they have a 1.2 yppl advantage over Auburn’s offense. Unfortunately, starting linebackers Nick Watkins (leading tackler) and Tramaine Billie (3rd leading tackler) are likely to miss this game due to bad academic standing, which affects the defense a bit. Neither player made a lot of impact defensive plays, as they combined for just 2 sacks and 5 other tackles for loss, so I don’t expect a major drop in performance from the Tigers’ defense - but I’ll dock the Tigers 0.2 yppl for their loss.

With Watkins and Billie out for Clemson, Auburn has a slight edge from the line of scrimmage, but Clemson quarterback Cullen Harper has thrown just 6 interceptions on 400 passes (1.5%) while Auburn’s Brandon Cox has thrown 12 picks on only 277 passes (4.3%). In a defensive battle turnovers will probably make the difference and Clemson is likely to win that battle while also having a slight edge in special teams. Overall my math model favors Clemson by 2 points in this game and Clemson applies to a 37-8-1 ATS bowl situation at -3 points or less while also applying to a 70-28-2 ATS bowl games statistical match-up indicator (also if they are -3 or less).

I’ll take Clemson in a 2-Star Best Bet at -3 points (-112 odds or better) or less. I’ll also lean with the Under at 45 points or higher.

I’ll play this game on the basis of the strong technical indicators and I’ll take Wisconsin in a 2-Star Best Bet at +3 points (-115 odds or less) or more.

Cal (-3 ½) vs Air Force: I lean slightly with Cal.

South Florida (-6 ½) vs Oregon: I lean with Oregon.

Kentucky (-3) vs Florida State: No Opinion at this time with Florida State on the verge of suspensions being handed out. At this point I’d pick Kentucky by 3 points.

Oklahoma State (-4) vs Indiana: I lean with Oklahoma State.

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Arthur Ralph

Superpicks: Cal/Air Force Over

Regular Plays: Oregon, Air Force, Indiana

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THE GOLD SHEET ( 7-8 )

UNDER (54) in the Fresno State-Georgia Tech game
[Humanitarian Bowl, Dec. 31 in Boise]—Fresno’s top RB Mathews is injured;blitzes of Tech interim HC Tenuta are relentless...

ARMED FORCES BOWL
AIR FORCE (9-3) vs. CALIFORNIA (6-6)
Monday, December 31 Day at Fort Worth, ** (Grass Field)
TEAM GP SUR PSR PF PA YR YP T-R-P YR YP T-R-P TO DIFF OPR
Air Force 11 8-3 9-2 29 21 300 115 40-30-7 137 239 27-13-13 +7 3.7 16.2
California 12 6-6 3-9 28 26 164 235 43-20-18 152 223 36-19-16 -1 .3 10.6

Air Force 27 - California 24—
Which Cal team will show up in Fort Worth?
The one that won its first 5 games and ascended to the No. 2 ranking in the
polls after its stirring win against full-strength Oregon in Eugene Sept. 29?
Or the one that didn’t cover a pointspread after that win over the Ducks, and
wheezed into the postseason on the heels of 6 losses in its last 7 games?
True, we were asking some of the same questions last season before the
Bears proceeded to destroy Texas A&M in the Holiday Bowl. But this isn’t 2006.
And we see little evidence to indicate Jeff Tedford will rediscover that earlyseason
magic any better than he could down the stretch of a hugelydisappointing
campaign, especially against a consummate overachieving Air
Force squad.

Indeed, the contrasts couldn’t be much starker. Unlike cold Cal, the Falcons
enter their first bowl since ‘02 riding a 7-game cover streak, having responded
positively to the tweaks 1st-year HC Troy Calhoun made to the familiar option
that was a staple of Ken Hatfield & Fisher DeBerry’s AFA teams over the past
three decades. Although plenty of option elements remain in the jazzed-up
attack, sr. QB Shaun Carney now operates out of the shotgun much of the time,
often managing to spring hybrid WR/KR Chad Hall (1415 YR and 45 receptions,
with 15 TDs) for big plays. Meanwhile, the senior-laden Falc “D” has
consistently executed the various blitz schemes of shrewd 1st-year d.c. Tim
DeRuyter. On the other hand, the Bear “D” lacks the playmakers of recent Cal
stop units, springing plenty of leaks as ‘07 progressed, including its disturbing
defeat at Washington Nov. 17 when allowing a whopping 334 YR.
In past years, Cal’s “O” could be counted upon to compensate for any
defensive deficiencies, but the Bears didn’t exceed 23 points their last 6 games.
And with QB Nate Longshore still limited by an ankle injury suffered in that longago
Oregon win, explosive frosh RB Jahvid Best sidelined, and star WR/KR
DeSean Jackson recovering from a deep thigh bruise, Cal appears unlikely to
pull out of its late-season lurch.
(04-California -14 56-14...SR: California 5-2)

MUSIC CITY BOWL
FLORIDA STATE (7-5) vs. KENTUCKY (7-5)
Monday, December 31 Day at Nashville, TN (Grass Field

TEAM GP SUR PSR PF PA YR YP T-R-P YR YP T-R-P TO DIFF OPR
Florida St. 12 7-5 5-7 23 22 121 239 28-10-14 114 236 33-10-20 +3 .3 11.0
Kentucky 11 6-5 6-5 35 32 145 282 50-15-33 195 212 45-18-21 +1 .9 6.5

Kentucky 31 - Florida State 24—Sometimes, it’s a novel concept in
handicapping. Never mind poinstspread records and historical technical
data. What do we see with our own eyes? Which team flat-out looks better
than the other?

Using that criteria, a strong case can be made for Kentucky over Florida
State...even if we don’t include our favorite Wildcat fan, Ashley Judd, in the
equation.

Certainly, there isn’t much comparison between the respective offenses.
Despite some noticeable improvements under 1st-year o.c. (and future HC)
Jimbo Fisher, the Nole attack remains choppy, unable to consistently establish
an infantry assault (just 3.5 ypc) and often blowing hot-and-cold through the air
despite some upgrades in jr. QB Drew Weatherford’s performance pattern and
occasional breakout plays from NFL-bound WR De’Cody Fagg. But the FSU
“O” is a Chevy compared to UK’s Ferrari, in particular, likely NFL 1st-round
draftee QB Andre Woodson, who tossed 36 TDs from the Cats’ pro-style attack.
And Woodson has an added bonus in now-healthy RB Rafael Little, slowed by
nagging hurts the second half of the season. Moreover, Woodson’s squadron
of targets presents capable underneath (TE Jacob Tamme) and downfield
options. Four UK receivers caught at least 50 passes, and all can move after
the catch. Meanwhile, SEC sources say the Wildcat “D” might not be as
vulnerable as stats suggest, given the accelerated pace of UK’s games due to
its high-powered offense, while the reputation of FSU’s stop unit was tarnished
in blowout losses at Virginia Tech & Florida in November. And remember that
the Cats were good enough to beat top-ranked LSU in October.

Most regional observers also believe Kentucky’s mild late-season regression
was a result of its brutal SEC schedule. But with a month to regroup, and with
lots of regional support in familiar Nashville (the Cats’ third trip to Music City in
12 months), we’ll trust what our eyes have seen all season.
(DNP...SR: Kentucky 3-

MUSIC CITY BOWL
FLORIDA STATE (7-5) vs. KENTUCKY (7-5)
Monday, December 31 Day at Nashville, TN (Grass Field)
Kentucky 31 - Florida State 24—

Sometimes, it’s a novel concept in handicapping. Never mind poinstspread records and historical technical data. What do we see with our own eyes? Which team flat-out looks better than the other?

Using that criteria, a strong case can be made for Kentucky over Florida
State...even if we don’t include our favorite Wildcat fan, Ashley Judd, in the
equation.

Certainly, there isn’t much comparison between the respective offenses.
Despite some noticeable improvements under 1st-year o.c. (and future HC)
Jimbo Fisher, the Nole attack remains choppy, unable to consistently establish
an infantry assault (just 3.5 ypc) and often blowing hot-and-cold through the air
despite some upgrades in jr. QB Drew Weatherford’s performance pattern and
occasional breakout plays from NFL-bound WR De’Cody Fagg. But the FSU
“O” is a Chevy compared to UK’s Ferrari, in particular, likely NFL 1st-round
draftee QB Andre Woodson, who tossed 36 TDs from the Cats’ pro-style attack.
And Woodson has an added bonus in now-healthy RB Rafael Little, slowed by
nagging hurts the second half of the season. Moreover, Woodson’s squadron
of targets presents capable underneath (TE Jacob Tamme) and downfield
options. Four UK receivers caught at least 50 passes, and all can move after
the catch. Meanwhile, SEC sources say the Wildcat “D” might not be as
vulnerable as stats suggest, given the accelerated pace of UK’s games due to
its high-powered offense, while the reputation of FSU’s stop unit was tarnished
in blowout losses at Virginia Tech & Florida in November. And remember that
the Cats were good enough to beat top-ranked LSU in October.
Most regional observers also believe Kentucky’s mild late-season regression
was a result of its brutal SEC schedule. But with a month to regroup, and with
lots of regional support in familiar Nashville (the Cats’ third trip to Music City in
12 months), we’ll trust what our eyes have seen all season.
(DNP...SR: Kentucky 3-1-1)
TEAM GP SUR PSR PF PA YR YP T-R-P YR YP T-R-P TO DIFF OPR
Florida St. 12 7-5 5-7 23 22 121 239 28-10-14 114 236 33-10-20 +3 .3 11.0
Kentucky 11 6-5 6-5 35 32 145 282 50-15-33 195 212 45-18-21 +1 .9 6.5

SUN BOWL
OREGON (8-4) vs. SOUTH FLORIDA (9-3)
Monday, December 31 Day at El Paso, TX (FieldTurf)
South Florida 35 - Oregon 23—There wasn’t much future in being ranked
No. 2 this year. In fact, five different teams held that spot in the BCS standings
for just one week during 2007. Another lasted two. Six straight opening
victories—including upsets at Auburn and vs. West Virginia—found surprising
South Florida at No. 2 when the first BCS rankings were released in mid-
October. But the Bulls went bust that same week at Rutgers. About a month
later, following 8 wins (and covers) in its first 9 games, Oregon also fell
immediately after attaining the seemingly-hexed No. 2 spot, its BCS title hopes
(along with star sr. QB Dennis Dixon’s knee) ruined at Arizona.

The Ducks haven’t won since that fateful trip to Tucson, dropping their last 2
regular-season games as well. USF, on the other hand, bounced back after its
mid-season lull, winning & covering its last 3. That momentum aside, the Bulls
also hold a decisive edge at QB in this matchup. Their indefatigable soph signal
caller Matt Grothe has accounted for 47 TDs in his first 2 seasons, throwing for
more than 5000 yards & running for another 1634. Oregon counters with gangly
6-6 RS frosh Justin Roper (just 31 career pass attempts), who was pressed into
service when sr. backup Brady Leaf hurt his ankle. And Roper didn’t draw an
easy bowl assignment in the swarming USF stop unit that features star soph DE
George Selvie (14½ sacks & nation-leading 31½ tackles for loss!) and procaliber
sr. CBs Mike Jenkins & Trae Williams. Meanwhile, the clicking Bulls (48
ppg last 3) have become tough to contain now that talented frosh RB Mike Ford
(originally signed with Alabama; 337 YR & 6 TDs in last 3 games!) is healthy.
Sure, Roper (2 TDP & a TDR vs. Oregon St.) has potential and speedy bigplay
jr. RB/return man Jonathan Stewart at his disposal. It’s just that Grothe
and “margin” USF (14 of last 16 wins by a TD or more) figure to mount the
majority of scoring drives.
(DNP...SR: FIRST MEETING)
TEAM GP SUR PSR PF PA YR YP T-R-P YR YP T-R-P TO DIFF OPR
Oregon 12 8-4 8-4 37 24 244 218 55-31-22 137 250 34-12-18 +5 3.6 9.8
So. Florida 11 8-3 7-4 37 21 199 228 50-28-15 119 214 26-7-16 +13 3.9 10.5

HUMANITARIAN BOWL
FRESNO STATE (8-4) vs. GEORGIA TECH (7-5)
Monday, December 31 Day at Boise, ID (Artificial
TEAM GP SUR PSR PF PA YR YP T-R-P YR YP T-R-P TO DIFF OPR
Fresno St. 11 7-4 6-5 33 29 199 202 46-26-13 196 242 38-21-16 -6 2.9 15.4
Geo. Tech 11 6-5 4-6 22 20 186 190 26-17-8 102 215 26-14-10 -6 -.9 11.0

Fresno State 27 - Georgia Tech 23—
There isn’t a roadmap to deal with what
to expect when a coaching change is made by a college team prior to a bowl
game. Indeed, we’ve seen numerous examples of some squads responding
and some not responding, including the last time Georgia Tech was in this
situation back in 2001 following George O’Leary’s ill-fated departure to Notre
Dame. The Jackets, with interim HC Mac McWhorter at the helm, beat Stanford in the Seattle Bowl.

Generally speaking, however, such upheaval isn’t seen as a positive, and
certainly not involving the sort of dynamics Tech must deal with for its trip to
Boise. Chan Gailey was dismissed following the regular-season finale vs.
Georgia, with d.c. Jon Tenuta elevated to interim HC for the bowl. The Jackets
subsequently hired Gailey’s successor, Navy’s Paul Johnson, who’s just an
interested spectator for this game. Tenuta has since been linked to other
coordinator openings (LSU in particular), and much of the current GT staff
figures to splinter, with Johnson rumored ready to take many of his Annapolis
assistants to Atlanta. Hardly an ideal set of circumstances with which to deal
with preparation for a far-away bowl game.

But even without those distractions, a persuasive case can be made for
Fresno, which more resembled past no-nonsense Pat Hill Bulldog teams (4-0
as a bowl dog, including a win over GT in the ‘02 Silicon Valley Bowl) than LY’s
injury-riddled 4-8 squad. Jr. QB Tom Brandstater is more confident than he was
in ‘06, tossing just 5 picks. Although slashing frosh RB Ryan Matthews (6.0 ypc)
is sidelined, Fresno retains a physical infantry component now featuring
punishing soph Will Harding (236 YR last 2). The Bulldogs were more than a
physical match for Big XII Kansas State in a Nov. 24 romp. Meanwhile, GT
could never properly complement RB Tashard Choice (1310 YR) with a viable
aerial diversion, not with disappointing jr. QB Taylor Bennett completing just
49% of his throws. So, when adding the Jackets’ recent failures as chalk (1-6-
1 last 8 in role), our preference for Fresno is clear.
(DNP...SR: Fresno State 1-0

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Re: Monday Service Plays

POINTWISE ( 4-11)

OKLAHOMA STATE (6-6) vs INDIANA (7-5)
MONDAY, DECEMBER 31
5:30 PM EST -- NFL NETWORK TELEVISION
AOPR AVS FDS RUSH PASS TRN EDGE TO:
Okla St ........ 46.2 .. 33-29 .. 21-20 .. 246-155 .. 238-292 .. - 1 . Okla St
Indiana ....... 40.5 .. 32-27 .. 18-19 .. 156-159 .. 238-239 .. + 0 . by 3.6 Pts
ANALYSIS
For the first time in 14 years (45-20 loss to Virginia Tech in '93 Independence),
the Hoosiers of Indiana grace the bowl scene. They followed that loss to the
Hokies with a 6-5 record in '94, but then suffered through 12 consecutive
losing campaigns, before managing a 7-5 season this year. Lynch (for the
stricken Hoeppner) became the first head coach in program history to reach a
bowl game in his first season. The key to the Hoosiers' season, was its quick
start vs non-conference foes Indiana St, Western Michigan, & Akron, winning
by a combined score of 133-58. No, not the toughest of competition, but just
what Indy, & its 16 returning starters needed, in shaking a losing attitude.
They couldn't stay with Illinois, Mich St, or Wisconsin (112-44 pt deficit), but
their 2 other losses came by just 6 & 3 pts, vs 8-4 Penn St, & at 6-6 Northwestern.
However, check 288-134, 368-22, 192-68, 279-145, & 165-94 RY deficits
in their 5 losses. Hardly enough for QB Lewis (61%), along with his 2,839 yds
& 26 TDs to overcome. And that spells trouble vs an Oklahoma State Cowboy
team which sports not only the land's 9th ranked offense, but 7th best rushing
game, behind do-it-all QB Robinson (2,522 yds, 20 TDs passing; 777 yds, 7
TDs rushing). The 'Pokes scored at least 39 pts in each of their 6 wins, &
have now topped 40 pts 10 times the past 2 years. Thus, defense has to be
their bane, & so it is, ranking 104th overall, & 116th vs the pass, so Lewis has
to be licking his chops. Thus, a barnburner is almost a certainty. In an oddity,
the Hoosiers recorded the only shutout in this bowl's history (24-0 vs Baylor in
'91, when it was known as the Copper Bowl). This should be exact opposite.
PROPHECY: OKLAHOMA STATE 44 - Indiana 30 RATING: 3

CLEMSON (9-3) vs AUBURN (8-4)
MONDAY, DECEMBER 31
7:30 PM EST -- ESPN TELEVISION
AOPR AVS FDS RUSH PASS TRN EDGE TO:
Clemson ..... 44.1 .. 34-18 .. 19-15 .. 147-106 .. 231-168.. +11 . Clemson
Auburn ....... 47.3 .. 24-17 .. 18-17 .. 154-119 .. 174-179.. + 1 . by 7.4 Pts
ANALYSIS
Defense! This one matches a pair of perennial bowl participants, who meet
for the first time since the Tigers (or War Eagles) of Auburn took the measure
of the Tigers of Clemson, 21-17, in the '97 Peach Bowl, which, incidentally, is
the former name of this bowl. And doesn't that seem a logical score for this
contest? When the dust settled, the Tigers ranked 6th in the land in total "D",
8th in scoring "D", 19th vs the run, & 13th vs the pass. Solid credentials. But
the Eagles weren't far behind, ranking 8th, 6th, 25th, & 6th, in those columns,
respectively. So pts will be at a premium. However, if a team is to break out,
offensively, then Clemson would be the obvious choice. CU has exploded for
at least 42 pts on 5 occasions, with 2 of those marks posted vs bowl teams:
70-14 vs Central Michigan, & 44-10 vs Wake Forest. They are led by one of
the more pleasant surprises, QB Harper, who ranks 17th in the nation, as well
as 1st in the ACC in QB ratings, with a 67% pct, & 2,887 yds, along with 27 TD
passes, & just 6 INTs. Davis & Spiller have been "go-to" backs, while Kelly (84
receptions) is a force. The Eagles have been among the elites for ages, &, as
noted above, can take almost any foe out of its game. They thrive in the dog
role, covering 7-of-8 in that rare designation, over the past 4 years. If they are
at a disadvantage here, it is their penchant for the turnover, which has seen a
combined minus 11 in 3 of their 4 losses (5-0 deficit vs So Fla, 5-1 deficit vs
Miss St, 4-2 deficit vs Georgia). Though a veteran, sr QB Cox threw for only 9
TDs this season, while tossing 12 INTs. Thus, the QB edge seems to favor
Clemson, & that may decide it. Hate bucking AU as a dog, but this a CU call.
PROPHECY: CLEMSON 24 - Auburn 17 RATING: 6

ARMED FORCES BOWL AT FORT WORTH, TEXAS
CALIFORNIA (6-6) vs AIR FORCE (9-3)
MONDAY, DECEMBER 31
12:30 PM EST -- ESPN TELEVISION
AOPR AVS FDS RUSH PASS TRN EDGE TO:
California ... 43.8 .. 28-26 .. 20-21 .. 150-149 .. 218-197 .. + 1 . Air Force
Air Force .... 37.1 .. 29-19 .. 21-18 .. 299-131 .. 120-226 .. + 8 . by 8.6 Pts
ANALYSIS
Questionable motivation vs a streaking competitor. That's pretty much the
story line on this contest. The Golden Bears of California opened the season
with a bang. A 5-0 start, including a 31-24 upset of then-healthy Oregon,
which propelled them to the accursed #2 spot in the nation, where they promptly
lost to Oregon St, as 2-TD chalks. And it has been disastrous ever since,
with just a lone win over their last 7 contests, that by a scant 3 pts, in a 20-17
win over Washington St, also as a 2-TD chalk. And try a 20-13 loss to then 3-
8 Stanford, in their season finale, again as a 2-TD favorite. Thus, an incredibly
embarrassing 1-6 SU windup, along with a money-burning 0-7 ATS, by a
combined 89 pts. In QB Longshore (2,544 yds, 60%, 16 TDs) RB Forsett
(1,406 yds, 13 TDs), & WR Hawkins (69 catches), they sure seem to have the
nucleus, but finished just 56th in the land, offensively, a far cry from LY's 12th
ranked squad, which destroyed Texas A&M, 45-10, in the Holiday Bowl. That
team finished the regular season on an 0-5 ATS slide, by the way. Their foes
here, the Falcons of Air Force return to the bowl scene for the 1st time since
the '02 San Francisco Bowl. They've been turned around by new coach Troy
Calhoun, who replaced the legendary Fisher DeBerry. Led by senior QB
Carney (62.2%) & RB Hall, who led the team in rushing yds (1,415), receiving
yds (488), receptions (46), rushing TDs (14), & all-purpose (12.6 yds per
return), the Falcons finished on 6-1 SU & 7-0 ATS (by 73½ pts) runs. They
finished 2nd in the nation in rushing, altho they aren't on the radar overhead.
Altho LY's Bear bowl rout can't be dismissed, that was a better squad. Falcs!
PROPHECY: AIR FORCE 31 - California 30 RATING: 3

GEORGIA TECH (7-5) vs FRESNO STATE (8-4)
MONDAY, DECEMBER 31
2:00 PM EST -- ESPN2 TELEVISION
AOPR AVS FDS RUSH PASS TRN EDGE TO:
Ga Tech ...... 42.9 .. 26-19 .. 20-16 .. 203-100 .. 183-210 .. - 4 . Ga Tech
Fresno St ... 37.6 .. 32-27 .. 21-21 .. 205-183 .. 202-227 .. - 9 . by 0.6 Pts
ANALYSIS
This marks the eleventh straight bowl year for the Yellow Jackets of Georgia
Tech, with their head coach, Chan Gailey becoming the first head coach in GT
history to post a winning record in every season at the helm, & joining Bobby
Dodd as the only Tech coaches to win a least 7 games in 6 consecutive campaigns.
His reward? A pink slip. So he will not be on the sidelines for this
contest, as he is being replaced by defensive coordinator, Jon Tenuta. Thus,
altho Tech is enjoying a superior bowl run, the 6 seasons under Gailey have
also resulted in 6, 6, 5, 5, 5, & 5 loss campaigns, as well as an extension of
futility vs arch-rival Georgia, which has taken 7 straight from the Jackets. Tech
is led by Tashard Choice, who led the ACC with 1,310 RYs, a full 308 yds
ahead of his nearest competitor. Bennett for Ball at QB isn't anything special
(49%, with 6 TDs & 9 INTs). It has been that Tech "D", which ranks 11th in the
land (12th vs the run), which has been its backbone, with its highlight a 13-3
smothering of Clemson, holding the explosive Tiger running game to 1.1 ypr.
But just a single cover in Tech's last 5 games, & that by a mere 3 pts vs 1-11
Duke. The Bulldogs of Fresno State again take their place as a bowl entrant,
after missing in '06, following 7 straight holiday trips. Fresno is in possession
of a nearly perfectly balanced squad, topping 235 RYs 5 times, & surpassing
205 PYs on 7 occasions. They've averaged 37.9 ppg in their 6 RGs, & that
includes 4 bowl squads (Texas A&M, Oregon, Nevada, & Hawaii). Led by QB
Brandstater (61.2%, 15 TDs, 5 INTs), & RB Matthews (6.0 ypr, 14 TDs), they
are a force. And the dog has covered the last 7 bowl games involving Fresno.
PROPHECY: FRESNO STATE 27 - Georgia Tech 24 RATING: 1

SOUTH FLORIDA (9-3) vs OREGON (8-4)
MONDAY, DECEMBER 31
2:00 PM EST -- CBS TELEVISION
AOPR AVS FDS RUSH PASS TRN EDGE TO:
So Florida .. 43.7 .. 36-21 .. 21-17 .. 193-112 .. 229-217 .. +13 . So Florida
Oregon ....... 45.1 .. 37-24 .. 25-21 .. 244-137 .. 218-250 .. + 5 . by 11.3 Pts
ANALYSIS
This past season, no less than 5 teams were affected by the curse of being
ranked No. 2 in the nation. That is the amount of squads which tumbled out of
that slot, after losing to unranked teams. Three of those five teams were USC,
California, & Boston College, along with the participants in this contest, with
the Bulls of South Florida losing to Rutgers, 30-27, as 2-pt chalks, and the
Ducks of Oregon losing to Arizona, 34-24, as 10½ pt favorites. Oregon, as
just about even casual fans are aware, suffered the loss of their then Heisman
leading candidate QB Dennis Dixon in that loss to Arizona, & with it, not only
OU's national title hopes, but also its Pac 10 title aspirations. The Ducks held
a remarkable 18.3 ATS ppg edge in their 3 road games, which preceded his
loss, including that 39-7 destruction of Michigan at Ann Arbor. An 0-3 finish,
both SU & ATS (by 45½ pts). One man, a team does not make, so the adage
goes, but it sure seems the case with the Ducks. The Bulls play in their 3rd
straight bowl, in only their 11th year of existence. As we've noted before, they
have posted upsets over bowl-bound teams in each of the last 7 years, most
notably '05's 45-15 rout of 20-pt fav Louisville. Led by QB do-everything QB
Grothe, who has thrown for 2,473 yds (60%) & 13 TDs, and run for 832 yds
(4.5 ypr) & 10 TDs, their 3 losses came by a total of just 15 pts, one of which
saw the Bulls turning the ball over 8 times. Among their wins, of course, was
that upset of West Virginia, & note a 44.3 ppg average in their final 4 games.
Just a short time ago, these 2 squads were headed for bowls of much more
significance, but this is how it all shook out. Current Duck free-fall decides it.
PROPHECY: SOUTH FLORIDA 34 - Oregon 17 RATING: 2

KENTUCKY (7-5) vs FLORIDA STATE (7-5)
MONDAY, DECEMBER 31
4:00 PM EST -- ESPN TELEVISION
AOPR AVS FDS RUSH PASS TRN EDGE TO:
Kentucky .... 46.6 .. 37-30 .. 22-22 .. 157-190 .. 282-200 .. + 1 . Florida St
Florida St ... 45.1 .. 23-22 .. 17-17 .. 121-114 .. 239-236 .. + 4 . by 1.2 Pts
ANALYSIS
Seems impossible, but this contest marks just the 4th time in their history that
the Wildcats of Kentucky are in a bowl game in back-to-back seasons. Not
only that, but they have back-to-back bowl wins only once in school history,
coming in the '50 Sugar, & '51 Cotton, respectively. The Seminoles of Florida
State, obviously, are a different matter, altogether, as this marks their 26th
straight bowl season, & 29th in Bobby Bowden's 32 years of leadership. But
there has been a bit of a drop in the 'Noles lately, with this contest making it 2
straight years without a premier New Year's Day slot. From '87 thru '00, the
Sems suffered no more than 2 losses in any season, an incredible 14 year
run. However, they've tasted bitter defeat 31 times since 2001, including 16
setbacks over the past 3 years. Ranking among the best offensive squads
had been a given, but check their 59th, 75th, & 82nd ratings in ball movement
the past 3 seasons (90th in scoring this year). First Weatherford; then Lee; &
now Weatherford again at QB, along with a 90th ranking overland. And check
40-21 & 45-12 losses to Virginia Tech & Florida in 2 of their last 3 games. The
'Cats are led by Heisman worthy QB Woodson, who wound up the season
with 3,351 yds & 36 TD passes (6 in the 52-50 season finale OT loss to Tenn)
& just 10 picks, ranking 20th in the land among passers. Overland, the 'Cats
have been hurting, but should be a full strength for this one, with Little (5.3 ypr)
the main man. A year ago, UK (+10) dominated Clemson, 28-20, in the Music
City Bowl, so bowl confidence galore under head coach Brooks' leadership.
'Noles have had their moments, but don't have the firepower to take this one.
PROPHECY: KENTUCKY 34 - Florida State 24 RATING: 2

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Re: Monday Service Plays

THE SPORTS MEMO ( 13-2 )

California vs. Air Force +3.5 O/U 54 Recommendation: Air Force
Monday, December 31, 12:30 pm EST (ESPN) Fort Worth, Texas
The two teams come into the game headed in opposite directions
with Air Force having won three in a row and six of seven
and Cal having lost six of seven after racing out to a 5-0 start.
Air Force took well to rookie head coach Troy Calhoun’s system,
flying to a 9-3 record and their first winning season since 2003.
Former Academy graduate Calhoun added some spread option
looks and a zone running scheme to the traditional triple option
run by his predecessor Fisher Deberry. Air Force continued
their dominating running attack to finish No. 2 in the nation at
298 ypg. Senior Chad Hall has flourished under Calhoun rushing
for 1,415 yards and 14 touchdowns and adding 46 receptions.
Senior Shaun Carney has been productive at quarterback under
Calhoun completing 62.4% of his passes and rushing for
529 yards. Calhoun also brought in defensive changes playing
a much more aggressive style which allowed Air Force to
give up only 19.3 points-per-game, good for 18th in the nation.
Cal could be the least excited team in the country to be in a
bowl game. The Golden Bears opened the season as hot as any
team and raced to a 5-0 record averaging over 39 points per
game and reached number two in the national rankings before
falling to Oregon State 31-28 on October 13. The explosive offense
fell flat, failing to reach 24 points in any of their final
six contests while managing just one victory down the stretch.
DeSean Jackson was the all purpose threat who was supposed
to be among the nations leaders heading into this game, but
he struggled in his quest to repeat last season’s 1,000-plus
yards and 18 yards per catch production. Jackson suffered a
thigh contusion against Washington and missed the season’s final
game against Stanford, however he should be fine by new
years eve for this bowl game. Jackson’s lack of production can
in part be laid at the feet of quarterback Nate Longshore who
was inconsistent all season throwing 16 TDs and 13 INTs. A year
removed from throwing for 3,000 yards and 24 TDs, Cal’s decline
can’t all be blamed on the talented quarterback, but he
certainly played a role in the Golden Bears’ dismal season. I
believe the Stanford game told the story on Cal, as the Bears
couldn’t get up to play their Bay Area rival. Can’t expect much
motivation to play a lesser conference opponent in Air Force
when expectations were much greater. Cal is well coached and
they have a more talented team than Air Force, but the Bears
have been in hibernation and in a tailspin since mid October and
I don’t look for them to pull out of their dive now. Cal’s defense
was 58th in the nation against the run allowing 151.9 yards-pergame.
Air Force will have creative ways to run the ball with the
extra time to prepare and should have success. Cal looks forward
to putting the ‘07 season behind them as the Falcons are
not only worthy of a play, but also to potentially win outright.

Georgia Tech vs. Fresno State +5 O/U 54.5 Recommendation: Fresno State
Monday, December 31, 2 pm EST (ESPN2) Boise, Idaho
Georgia Tech gets some new life with former Navy head coach Paul
Johnson signed in for next season. He’ll be with the team, but defensive
coordinator Jon Tenuta will take over coaching duties in the
bowl game. The season for the Yellow Jackets was far from gratifying.
The move from former quarterback Reggie Ball to Taylor Bennett
was supposed to bring upon a more efficient passing attack,
but that was far from the case. Bennett completed less than 50%
of his passes and was a turnover waiting to happen against pressure
defenses. Running back Tashard Choice looks back to full strength
after some midseason injuries. The senior rattled off 446 yards his
last three games and should find daylight against a Fresno State defense
that allowed 5.0 yards per carry. The Tech defense was solid
for most of the season, allowing over 28 points only once (Georgia).
Fresno State’s strength is running the football (205 ypg) and the Yellow
Jackets allowed over 100 yards only four times all year. One of
Tech’s biggest problems was finding consistent ways to score. Choice
and Co. scored 26 rushing TDs on the year, but Bennett’s lack of accuracy
led to touchdowns only 50% of the time inside the red zone.
In looking at Georgia Tech’s schedule, you can’t help but notice there
were a lot of close games and they certainly didn’t outclass anyone.
The only win against a bowl bound team was a 13-3 victory over Clemson.
There were two and three-point wins, respectively, over suspect
North Carolina and Maryland, and against the ACC’s elite (Virginia,
Virginia Tech and Boston College), the Yellow Jackets were outscored
a combined 79-36. Fresno State played a decent schedule despite
calling the woeful WAC home. They were destroyed by Oregon earlier
in the year when the Ducks were playing as good as anyone in the
country, but outside that loss, the Bulldogs hung with the likes of
Hawaii, Boise State and Texas A&M. The problem they did have was
being able to stop the run. Despite their competitive nature, they allowed
big yardage on the ground to better foes, and will be getting
a full dose of Choice and others in this contest. FSU also is prone to
giving up pass yardage with a 227 yards per contest average for opponents.
The advantage in this one, however, does go to Fresno who
has an excellent game planner in head coach Pat Hill. Hill’s groups
have always been able to perform against top competition, and the
luxury of playing a bowl game in a conference foe’s backyard (Boise
State) has to make things a lot more comfortable. Georgia Tech on
the other hand has to feel disappointed with their situation, getting
shipped to the lone cold weather bowl game on the slate. Keep in
mind, two years ago, GT was in an almost identical situation after
being sent to the Emerald Bowl in San Francisco to play Utah as a
nine-point favorite. The result was a humiliating 38-10 loss. Fresno
State has one task and one task only and that is to stop the Georgia
Tech running attack. If they can keep Choice under wraps, we
feel they have enough offense (32.2 ppg) to make this a close ball
game and wouldn’t be surprised at all if they came away with the win.

Oregon vs. South Florida -6 O/U 52 Recommendation: South Florida
Monday, December 31, 2 pm EST (CBS) El Paso, Texas
A couple of clubs that were in a position to play in a BCS bowl
game are settling for much less in this bowl matchup in El Paso.
Both Oregon and South Florida were ranked second in the nation
at one point during the regular season. One play appears to
have cost the Ducks a shot at a BCS title. Quarterback Dennis
Dixon’s injury against Arizona was too much to overcome for
the Ducks. Oregon will bring a three-game losing streak into
this contest. Backup quarterback Brady Leaf will try to end the
club’s slide after missing the Civil War game vs. Oregon State
due to injury. He has seen only spot duty behind Dixon in the
last three years and struggled in relief of Dixon at Arizona. The
Ducks still have some offensive weapons to work with despite
Dixon’s absence. Running back Jonathan Stewart led the PAC-10
in rushing with 1,469 yards as part of the nation’s eighth-best
rushing offense. Leaf will try to get WR Jaison Williams (119 receptions
the last two years) involved in the game to bring some
balance to the offense. Oregon’s defense is good but not great
as the unit ranked a respectable 39th in the nation in scoring
defense. This group will face more pressure in this outing as the
Ducks will not be able to control the ball as much without Dixon.
The Sun Bowl will provide a final opportunity for Oregon’s seniors
to win a bowl game. The Ducks are 0-4 in the postseason
since 2002. The stretch includes a dreadful bowl effort a year
ago that saw the Ducks lose by 30 points to BYU in Las Vegas.
The South Florida Bulls have been up and down this season. A
6-0 start was followed up by three straight defeats before the
squad rebounded to win their final three games. Head coach Jim
Leavitt has built this program into a sleeping giant in the landscape
of college football. Wins over Auburn and West Virginia
finally garnered some acclaim for the club in 2007. Dual threat
Quarterback Matt Grothe directs the country’s 20th best scoring
offense. Grothe combined for over 3,300 yards through the
air and on the ground for the Bulls. He is aided in the backfield
by running back Mike Ford who found paydirt 12 times in the
regular season. The stop unit is one of the nation’s best as the
Bulls rank 22nd in total defense. The group was steady and consistent
as all but three foes were held to less than 24 points. The
motivational edge clearly goes to South Florida in this matchup.
The Bulls will likely savor the chance to beat another household
name and further boost the overall appeal of the program. Even
in a non-headline bowl game, USF is more likely to bring a focused
effort as opposed to Oregon. The Ducks are clearly not
the same club without Dixon. While South Florida’s BCS dreams
were crashed in mid-season, Oregon had aspirations of a National
Title and with one knee injury, the wheels fell completely
off. It is hard to imagine the Ducks bringing a big performance
under these circumstances, so we’ll back the Bulls in this one.

Kentucky -1.5 vs. Florida State O/U 56 Recommendation: Over
Monday, December 31, 4 pm EST (ESPN) Nashville, Tenn.
Motivation appears to be the issue in this ACC-SEC bowl matchup.
The circumstances make it difficult to find either squad being
highly inspired to play in this minor bowl contest. It is pretty obvious
why Florida State isn’t likely to be to be too excited to make
the trip to Nashville. The program has been one of the elites in
college football over the last 20 years. In a run that is unlikely to
be duplicated anytime soon, the Seminoles finished in the top five
for 14 straight years from 1987-2000. Because this dominant run
was fairly recent, FSU fans still expect the Seminoles to be within
range of this kind of success. A third straight year with at least five
losses is not what followers of the program have come to expect.
While first-year offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher is set to eventually
replace legendary head coach Bobby Bowden as the leader
of the program, the future seems a bit cloudy for Florida State.
Fisher’s arrival did little to pump any life into an FSU offense that
has been underwhelming in the last couple of years. The Seminoles
(90th in the nation in scoring offense) have been unable to run the
ball with any kind of consistency. Despite some significant playing
time heading into this season, quarterbacks Drew Weatherford and
Xavier Lee have been unable to deliver substantial production for
the offense. The defense, under longtime coordinator Mickey Andrews,
has held up its end of the bargain by ranking 36th in the
nation in total defense. At first glance, Kentucky would appear to be
eager to play in this contest. The “basketball” school is playing in
only their second bowl game in the last eight years. However, this
marks a return trip to the Music City Bowl for the Wildcats after
last year’s upset win over Clemson. The motivation was clearly in
play last year for the club’s first bowl outing since 1999. This time
around, the game will have more of a “been there, done that” feel
to it. Despite having some time to regroup, the Wildcats clearly left
a lot on the field in their heartbreaking OT defeat to rival Tennessee
to close the regular season. The loss was UK’s 23rd straight to the
Volunteers. Even a win over the Seminoles will be unable to take
away the sting of such a bitter defeat. Still, Kentucky will bring a
talented group to Nashville to face the Seminoles. Senior quarterback
Andre Woodson will be looking to raise his NFL stock in this
one as he leads a high-powered attack that ranks 15th in the nation
in scoring offense. Woodson fired 36 TD passes this year as
wideouts Steve Johnson and Keenan Burton emerged as one of the
top receiving tandems in the nation. Running back Rafael Little (861
rushing yards) keeps defenses honest as a quality running threat.
The defense is clearly a notch below FSU’s stop unit as Kentucky
is 65th in the nation in total defense. With motivational issues for
both clubs, the over appears to have some value in this matchup.
Both offenses are pass-first attacks that should be able to strike
some blows in a game where the defenses aren’t likely to bring top
flight intensity. We’ll take the Over in this New Year’s Eve battle.

Indiana +4 vs. Oklahoma State O/U 69 Recommendation: Indiana
Monday, December

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VEGAS HOTSHEET ( 8-11 )

Monday, December 31st
ARMED FORCES BOWL - 12:30pm ET ESPN
451 Air Force 27
452 California 38
CAL -3½

SUN BOWL - 2:00pm ET CBS
453 Oregon 13
454 S Florida 27
S FLORIDA -6½

HUMANITARIAN BOWL - 2:00pm ET ESPN2
455 Fresno St 31
456 Georgia Tech 28
FRESNO ST +4½

MUSIC CITY BOWL - 4:00pm ET ESPN
457 Florida St 23
458 Kentucky 16
FLORIDA ST +3½

INSIGHT BOWL - 5:30pm ET NFLN
459 Indiana 35
460 Oklahoma St 31
INDIANA +4

PEACH BOWL - 7:30pm ET ESPN
461 Auburn 17
462 Clemson 21
CLEMSON -2

FREE PICK: Florida St/Kentucky :: UNDER 56½

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MARC LAWRENCE BOWL PREDICTIONS: 6-9 ( lost 7 striaght!!)

Armed Forces Bowl Air Force by 10

Sun Bowl USF by 4

Humanitarian Bowl Fresno st by 2

Music City Bowl Florida st by 10

Insight Bowl Indiana by 7 *BEST BET*

Chick-Fil-A Bowl Clemson by 3

COLLEGE:

Monday, December 31st
ARMED FORCES BOWL
Amon G Carter Stadium • Fort Worth, TX
5★ BEST BET
A battle between two teams clearly headed in opposite
directions. Cal started the season in rip-roaring fashion,
jumping out to a 5-0 record and a Number 2 national ranking
before hitting the skids. The Bears then lost six of their fi nal
seven games (0-7 ATS) to limp into this bowl matchup with
a 6-6 record. First-year Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun
took over for the legendary Fisher DeBerry and responded
by leading the Flyboys to their best season since 2000 – and
the Force’s fi rst bowl appearance since 2003. Every aspect of
today’s game seems to favor the Falcons. Military teams are
a strong 19-6 ATS as bowlers but improve to a dazzling 10-1
mark when outrushing their opponents… a virtual certainty
here since Air Force’s 299 rushing yards per game ranks second
in the nation. California has been less-than-golden when
taking on fellow bowlers, going 6-13-1 ATS in its last 20 tries
in that role. Factor in Cal’s tendency to come apart down the
stretch (3-18 ATS from Game Eight out over the last four years)
and we’re having a hard time understanding why these Pac
10 underachievers are laying points instead of getting them.
Off we go, into the wild blue yonder…

MUSIC CITY BOWL
LP Field • Nashville, TN
4★ BEST BET
FSU quarterback Drew Weatherford is no stranger to criticism
but he can’t be blamed for making costly offensive mistakes:
Weatherford has not thrown an interception in his last 234
pass attempts. That consistency has been missing from Bobby
Bowden’s team in recent years but the ATS archives tell us ol’
Bobby knows what to do once he reaches postseason play.
The Seminoles are a profi table 17-10-1 ATS as bowlers under
Bowden (7-2-1 off a SU loss) and Florida State has excelled
when facing less than .600 SEC competition, going 11-1 SU
& 10-2 ATS in that role. Kentucky vaulted out to a 5-0 start
but limped home with a 2-5 fi nish, a performance that took
some of the luster off the Wildcats’ October 13th home upset
of then-Number One LSU. Our PLAYBOOK database tells us
that the Bluegrass Cats are just 3-13 SU & 6-9-1 ATS versus
a greater than .500 opponent off a double-digit ATS loss,
and SEC bowl favorites playing off back-to-back SU losses are
pointspread poision, dropping nine in a row to the number.
ACC bowlers are 9-4 ATS as a pick or dog versus SEC foes and
with FSU offi cials fi nally ironing out the ‘Bowden-to-Fisher’
coaching transition, look for a fully-focused Seminole squad
to go cat-skinnin’ today.

INSIGHT BOWL
Monday, December 31
INDIANA over Oklahoma St by 7

Handicapping college football
games is as much a measure
of common sense as it is the
accumulation of stats and edges.
Simple logic tells us the Hoosiers are
absolutely thrilled to be a participant in
this game. Playing most of the season
on guts and guile, they dedicated the
campaign to former head coach Terry
Hoeppner, who died of brain cancer
earlier in the year. They weren’t the
prettiest team to come down the pike,
just the most emotional. Along the way
they managed to put 27 or more points
on the scoreboard in 10 of their 12
games. Going up against OSU’s 104th
ranked defense, they appear poised to
do the same today. That sets the table
for perhaps the most remarkable of all
bowl stats, given the fact that pre-New
Years Day bowl dogs who score 27 or
more points are a mind-blowing 104-
14 ATS since 1980! That’s not a typo.
It’s a stunning stat, to be sure. Add
in the fact that BIG 12 bowl favorites
are 2-10 ATS against BIG 10 foes and
we’ve suddenly got enough to take us
over the edge. Common sense, stats
and edges. Next to a dog, they’re a
handicapper’s best friend.

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Mighty ! Quinn

Air force + 3 1/2

Fresno + 4 1/2

S Fla - 6 1/2

Kent -1

Indy +4

Auburn +2

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CKO

UNDER (54) in the Fresno State-Georgia Tech game [Humanitarian Bowl, Dec. 31 in Boise]—Fresno’s top RB Mathews is injured,blitzes of Tech interim HC Tenuta are relentless...

AUBURN (+2)
over Clemson [Chick-fil-A Bowl, Dec. 31 at Atlanta]—Tuberville’s defense, STs, sr. QB, SEC pedigree add up to small upset..

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THE SPORTS REPORTER:

ARMED FORCES BOWL
Amon G. Carter Stadium – Fort Worth, TX
BEST BET
AIR FORCE over CALIFORNIA by 8

Excellent punishment for the Cal Bears. ‘OK, kids, in return for losing six of your last
seven games, including the Big Game against Stanford, you get to be land-locked in Fort
Worth, TX and play defense against some Independent triple-option!’ Almost as exciting
as a new pair of pajamas for Christmas. Although he was sacked only six times all season
in 376 pass attempts, Cal’s quarterback Nate Longstiff saw his yards per attempt
drop to 6.8 from 8.0 a year ago, with a TD-INT ratio of 16-13 representing another
decline from his sophomore season’s 24-13. One reason for the dip could be that RB
Marshawn Lynch, currently shredding tacklers in the NFL, meant a lot more to the Cal
offense than anybody realized. As the go-to back, Justin Forsett’s 186 pounds doesn’t
wear down defenses. Cal’s offense gained only 20.5 first downs per game this season
after gaining 20.2 last season, when the games were shorter. Air Force’s offense moved
the chains 21.2 times per game in ’07 with a quarterback Shawn Carney that has put
in four years in the system, tweaked and enhanced by first-season head coach Troy
Calhoun and staff this year. Along the way, Air Force improved its relentless and elusive
ground attack from 4.1 yards per carry up to 5.4. That kind of production keeps the
opposing defense on the field a lot and forces the opposing offense to be near-perfect
when it has the ball. Longstiff and Co. may get a boost if WR DeSean Jackson returns
after missing the Cal game, but Cal did lose five out of the last six with the NFL-eyeing
wideout on the field, and Air Force has a senior-laden secondary. AIR FORCE, 28-20.

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THE MAX

Armed Forces Bowl @Fort Worth, TX
December 31, 2007 12:30 PM EST
California vs. Air Force
Opening Line: Cal –4½, 53½
Current Line: Cal –3½, 54
Analysis by Kevin O’Neill
This is a terrific test of the school of thought that
the break before bowl games is an interruption of
momentum. These teams are at polar opposites
from a performance standpoint heading down the
stretch. After reaching #2 in the BCS after a
fortuitous win at Oregon, Cal not only lost their next
game, they lost six of seven, failing to cover a single
game. Air Force lost consecutive road games to BYU
and Navy, then won six of their final seven, covering
each of the seven games. If you’re looking for
reversals of form in the bowls, here’s your game,
and you can go ahead and play 1-6 straight up, 0-7
against the spread over 6-1 SU, 7-0 ATS.
What happened to Cal? Injuries killed Cal down the
stretch, and it would have been difficult to find a
unit more beat up than the Bears defense. Their
offense had fewer excuses. Chemistry was terrible.
DeSean Jackson, a Heisman candidate in
September, will probably go pro and a lot of people
in the Cal football program won’t shed any tears
over that. The defense gave up 239 yards rushing
to USC and then 334 yards rushing to Washington,
then the team lost to Stanford as a 13½-point
favorite. A weakness defending the run is not a
good sign when you’re playing Air Force.
Air Force’s running game sparked their great year.
Their strength is the running game, as the Flyboys
ran for 298 yards per game and had 33 touchdown
runs. Troy Calhoun did a great job in his first year
and the experienced QB Shaun Carney (45 career
games) and play-any-position runner Chad Hall
excelled. Hall averaged nearly 180 yards per game
in the Falcons last seven games. And there is no
question that a service academy will always bring a
top effort. Can you say the same about Cal’s effort?
After all, this team was once #2 in the BCS
standings and had much, much higher dreams than
New Year’s Eve at a bowl game none of them even
knew existed. After the Stanford loss Cal safety
Thomas DeCoud said, “it's kind of too late to salvage
anything, but we just want to get to a bowl game
and end on the right note so the younger guys can
get this program back to where it was."
That hardly sounds like a motivated team, and Air
Force’s motivation is never, ever in question.
Obviously Cal has the better athletes, especially as
some of their players returned to health over the
break. But Air Force has the better football team,
and their motivation and crowd support will be
superior. No reversal of fortune projection for us.
We’ll take the points. Air Force by 4.

Sun Bowl @El Paso Texas
December 31, 2007, 2:00PM
South Florida vs. Oregon
Opening Line: USF –6½, 51½
Current Line: USF –6½, 52
Analysis by Erik Scheponik
When healthy, with their Heisman caliber Dennis
Dixon under center, the Oregon Ducks were
legitimately one of the nation’s best teams with
perhaps the nation’s best offense. However, that all
seems like a distant memory after the Ducks saw
their season go by the way side that Thursday night
in Arizona, when Dixon limped to the locker room
with a torn ACL. They were then shutout at UCLA
and lost a barnburner at home against rival Oregon
St. to end the season. They were down to their 4th
and 5th QBs to end the season after losing backup
Brady Leaf as well. I expect to see both Conner
Kempt and Justin Roper during this game, and it is
entirely possible that one of them takes a big step
forward practicing with the first unit during the
month of December. The QB position wasn’t the
only MASH unit for Oregon the second half of the
season, and several key players remain out for this
bowl game. Stud RB Jonathan Stewart, a future
first round NFL draft pick, will likely be leaned on
heavily in this game as the young QBs face a tough
South Florida defense.
The Bulls were another team (there were about 20
this season!) that had national championship
aspirations at one point, ranking as high as #2 in
the nation in mid-October. After losing a tough
game at Rutgers, they then went into the customary
swoon that many teams that start 5 or 6-0 go
through, dropping the next game in bad weather at
Uconn, and then losing at home to Cincinnati. They
rallied to win the final 3 SU/ATS. We’ll have plenty
of time to see both conferences by the time this
contest rolls around, and there is NFL type talent at
several positions on their roster. Their D forced a
nation’s best 41 TO’s, and if they can keep Stewart
under wraps, they should win this game as I’m not
sure the Ducks’ young, inexperienced QB’s can
protect the ball against USF’s pressure and
ballhawking secondary.
The Pac-10 is the superior conference, but South
Florida is the healthier team with a better, more
proven QB in Matt Grothe. They are more excited to
be here than UO, as this is the most prestigious
bowl the program has ever played in. However,
teams that come into bowl games red-hot SU/ATS
often cool off in a big way, and there are a couple of
angles that suggest fading the Bulls here. We’ll
have plenty of time to see both conferences by the
time this contest rolls around, and like it’s
conference brother UCLA, we’ll need to monitor
Oregon’s injury situation as game time approaches.
Pass for now.

Humanitarian Bowl @Boise, Idaho
December 31, 2007 2:00 PM EST
Georgia Tech vs. Fresno State
Opening Line: GT –5, 55½
Current Line: GT –5½, 54½
Analysis by Kevin O’Neill
This is a difficult situation for the Georgia Tech
Yellow Jackets. Following their loss to cross-state
rival Georgia, the Yellow Jacket brass fired coach
Chan Gailey, who had made a bowl game in every
season on the Flats (was also fired after making the
playoffs both years with the Dallas Cowboys). Paul
Johnson comes in from Navy with a spread option
offense that is the complete opposite of what has
been done here over the years. The wide receivers
are considering transferring while Johnson convinces
them that he’ll pass the ball more with access to
BCS conference talent. But thoughts of transferring
are superceding the thoughts about this game.
And the players aren’t the only ones distracted. Jon
Tenuta hoped to get the head job, but now the
interim coach is likely entertaining high-paying
options elsewhere (Les Miles has spoken openly of
Tenuta becoming his new defensive coordinator to
replace Bo Pelini, now the coach at Nebraska.
Factor in that with all the ACC destinations in warm
weather climates, Georgia Tech finds themselves in
Boise, Idaho today, and you’ve got the perfect
recipe for a flat, disinterested performance.
Fresno State is a scrappy team that finds ways to
win. The Bulldogs pieced together a four game
winning streak in the middle of the season despite
being outgained in all four games. In the heart of
the season that can be seen as a sign of weakness.
But when analyzing how a team will do in a bowl
game against a distracted team, it is a sign of effort.
And there is no reason to question the effort that
Fresno State will give here. Pat Hill’s teams are
always ready for action against the big boys, with a
pointspread mark of 22-8-1 in their last 31 games
against BCS Conference teams. and there will be
focus, enthusiasm, aggression, and hard hitting on
the Smurf Turf today.
There’s some concern about Fresno’s pliable run
defense against Tech’s Tashard Choice, but the
Bulldogs improved down the stretch in that category
after some poor early performances and effort can
supercede what appear to be matchup advantages
on paper. Georgia Tech has already lost four times
as a favorite this season. Factor in their distraction
and there’s no reason not to look for more of the
same here. Fresno State beat a disinterested
Georgia Tech team in the 2002 Silicon Valley Classic
30-21 as 6½-point dog. Take the points with as the
hard-trying Bulldogs do it again. Fresno State by
3.

Music City Bowl @Nashville, Tennessee
December 31, 2007, 4:00 PM EST
Florida State vs. Kentucky
Opening Line: Kentucky -1, 56
Current Line: off the board
Analysis by Kevin O’Neill
This will go down as probably our best call of the
bowls, as we were way ahead of the curve with
information about the Florida State suspensions, and
were able to confirm an internet report passed along
to us and share it with you when –1½ was still
widely available. Now that the suspensions are
public currency the game has come down off the
board and depending on who are among the 20+
suspended players, there’s not telling what this line
comes back at. Though this is a slap in the face for
FSU, they made a nice move this week by locking in
Jimbo Fisher to be their coach designate when
Bowden decides to retire. Fisher is largely filling the
role right now, as Bobby hangs out in the tower and
on his golf cart.
While it is difficult to make a comparison since we
don’t know what FSU is bringing to the table, a few
notes about Kentucky. After his long no-INT streak,
Andre Woodson has come back to earth with 11
picks in the last 8 games. UK was 5-0 in September
but have won only twice since then. Big crowd
advantage for the Wildcats, as Nashville is right on
the interstate about 45 minutes from the state line
and an easy day trip from the Bluegrass. Be careful
with the scoring averages for the Wildcats, multiple
overtime games with LSU and Tennessee added 3
points per game to their offensive scoring average
and 2½ points to their defensive average.
Impossible to make a call right now, but if you laid
the point and a half when we emailed you you’ll
have plenty of options by game day. Kentucky by

Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl @Atlanta, Georgia
December 31, 2007, 8:00 PM EST
Auburn vs. Clemson
Opening Line: Clemson –1½, 47
Current Line: Clemson –2½, 47
Analysis by Erik Scheponik
This “Battle of the Tigers” is one of the better bowl
games out there as Southern bragging rights will be
on the line in the Georgia Dome. The Clemson
Tigers are making their record 8th Peach Bowl
appearance due to their late November home loss to
Boston College. Had the Tigers won that game they
would have played Virginia Tech in the ACC
Championship. Tommy Bowden was able to rally
the troops to a big revenge win over rival South
Carolina in the season finale. They feature one of
the nation’s most talented backfields with
underrated QB Cullen Harper (27/6 ratio!), as well
as future NFL RBs James Davis and CJ Spiller, both
of whom can take a simple off tackle run or dump
off pass 50+ yards on any given carry. On defense
their strength is a disruptive front seven that held
bowl opposition to only 3.2 yards per rush. On the
season, CU outyarded bowlers by nearly 100 yards
per game and holds a +1.2 net yards per play
advantage over these Auburn Tigers.
However, although the ACC was improved this
season, and took baby steps towards narrowing the
gap vs. the SEC, that gap definitely still exists. The
bowl caliber teams faced by Auburn are a tougher
group than those faced by Clemson, and the SEC
was deep this season, featuring many explosive
offenses. Despite drawing the two most talented
teams and offenses from the East in Georgia and
Florida on the road, as well as divisional foes LSU
and Arkansas on the road, the War Eagle defense
allowed only 4.7 ypplay in conference action, a
strong number indeed. Against teams that rely on
big plays out of the running game, Arkansas and
Florida, AU allowed 17 and 7 points respectively.
Much like last season, their problems were on
offense where they went for only 18 points per
game, and 4.3 ypplay against bowlers. Spread guru
Tony Franklin was hired last week to replace Al
Borges as offensive coordinator, but its uncertain
how much of his offense, a totally foreign attack,
will be implemented for this game.
Clemson has some statistical advantages in this
game, but Bowden is only 3-4 SU/2-5 ATS in bowl
action, and I’m in no hurry to lay points into
Tuberville’s 20-13 ATS mark as an underdog, or an
SEC team with road wins at Arkansas and Florida
under their belt as well as a loss at LSU where they
led for about 50 minutes of the game. Instead, I’ll
play the under based on two strong, sub-300 yard
per game defenses, (I have Auburn’s rated as a top
10 unit) and AU’s offensive weaknesses and
uncertainties. 21-20 either way! Go under.

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WILD BILL

Clemson -2 (1 unit) Tigers QB and overall defense should be the difference

Fresno State + 4 (1 unit) Bulldogs seem to play a great underdog role.

California -3 (1 unit) Receivers for Bears should get open vs Flyboys

Indiana + 3 1/2 (2 units) Okie State won't be able to keep up with receiver corps for Hoosiers

Over 54 1/2 GT- Fresno State (1 unit) Fresno offensively can put holes in GT with acting HC at helm

Over 69 Okla St- Indiana (2 units) There is no defense for either club.

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AAA

NCAAF: Auburn Tigers at Clemson Tigers - Auburn +2.5 -110 | Unit Value: 2

Note: I do want to make it very clear that I absolutely hate Tommy Tuberville. But, when it comes to laying down money, it is clear that his coached team have been a very good proposition. That is especially true in the big games and he has had a few of those this year beating arch rival Alabama for the 6th straight time to close out the 2007 campaign, winning at Arkansas, beating Florida in the swamp, and giving LSU the scare of their life down there in Tiger Land. This team knows how to win, and more importantly, this team knows how to prepare to win. With preparation time as it is for this game, I suspect that the Tigers from the state of Alabama, ranked 6th in the land in total D, 8th in scoring D, 19th vs the run, & 13th vs the pass, will be up to the task verses the Clemson potent offense. Much has been said about the Clemson QB. Harper, who ranks 17th in the nation, as well as 1st in the ACC in QB ratings, with a 67% pct, & 2,887 yds, along with 27 TD passes, & just 6 Int's, is a good one. However, Clemson is prone to the turnover, and Auburn is one of the hardest hitting teams in Division 1A. They can make you get out of your rythem with extreme pressure on the passer, and a secondary that is probably the 2nd Best the SEC has to offer. That is key in this contest and we have already seen Auburn stop a talented Florida Gator passing attack, as well as holding Vandy to just 7 points. I can promise you that this is not going to be the popular choice in this game. Bettors love to play the best offensive teams and Auburn is not recognized as such. They are averaging 10 points less per contest than Clemson this year, and at time, they have had trouble moving the ball. But there is no doubt that their schedule has been much tougher than Clemson, playing some of the better D's in the country. The Clemson Tigers have 3 losses this year. Boston College, Virginia Tech, and Georgia Tech. Those 3 teams just happen to all have Great D Squads. They all have D teams similar to that of Auburn. None of them are better than this Auburn Crew. Coincidence? I don't think so.




NCAAF: Indiana Hoosiers at Oklahoma State Cowboys - Oklahoma State -4 -110 | Unit Value: 2

Note: Have I mentioned yet that I am not at all impressed with the play in the Big 10 this year?. While this conference has some good teams, overall, they have been as weak as I have seen them for a very long time. Indiana is in the category of just average and the fact is, if they had played in the conference that the Cowboys do, they would not be Bowling this year. I can't even begin to count the money I have made betting for and against the Hoosiers, because they are very predictable. They punish the lessor schools with their potent offensive attack, and they get punished when they play the Big Boys. While I would not say that OK State is a Big Boy, they do bring much more to the table in this one, including more team speed on both sides of the line of scrimmage. You can look at all 5 Indiana losses this year and in every one of them, they had severe stat deficiencies. That is also true in a game in which they won verses Iowa, with a lot of breaks giving them that win. Oklahoma State has the 9th best offense in the country. They also have the 7th best rushing offense. It does not take a Rocket Scientist to look and see, that against the better rushing teams of the Big 10, Indiana was just pathetic. Michigan State alone garnered 368 yards verses this team. Wisconsin 279 yards. Overall Rushing D numbers for Indiana look OK, but when you look further, you see that they played a lot of non-conference foes that pass the ball a lot. That works in their favor. This game does not. The QB for the Cowboys is the real deal and he can pass, and he can RUN. He should have a field day with the Hoosiers, and if OK State does not grab 40+ points in this contest, I will be hugely surprised. I am not here to say that the Hoosiers will not get some points of their own verses the Cowpoke D that is #104 in the country. However, that is somewhat decieving, considering the wide open conference in which they play. OK State will simply outscore Indiana in this game.

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FERRINGO FOOTBALL

2-Unit Play. Take #458 Kentucky (-9) over Florida State (4 p.m., Monday, Dec. 31)
Note: Play up to -9.5. No play at 10.0 or higher.

I think this one is fairly obvious. I like the Wildcats in this one before whole FSU Suspension Fiasco and I don’t think the line here has properly adjusted. Kentucky beat a better Clemson team last year in their bowl game and this year they should handle the undermanned Seminoles. UK was terrible the last month of the year, but a closer look reveals that their losses were to powerhouses Tennessee (by 2), Georgia (by 11) and LSU (by 6). Two of the losses came in overtime. The ACC stinks and I think the Cats win this one by double digits.

3.5-Unit Play. Take #454 South Florida (-6) over Oregon (2 p.m., Monday, Dec. 31)
The Ducks are really on tilt. Since losing Dennis Dixon this team has gone in the tank and I just don’t trust Brady Leaf (or whoever else is quarterbacking the Ducks) in this one. This USF team is battle hardened and they have faced the type of speed they’ll be matched up against in the Sun Bowl. Oregon is 1-3 ATS in its last four bowl games and 1-5 ATS in December. USF is on a 14-6 ATS run and are 5-1 ATS in nonconference games. I think the Bulls drive the final nail in a once promising Oregon season.

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Strike Point Football

4-Unit Play. #459 Take Indiana +4 over Oklahoma State (12/31 - 5:30 pm)

Here is a classic example of a team so excited to be in a bowl game against a team that finished in the middle of the pack in their conference in can't be thrilled to be in a game that is just so-so in their minds. Simply put: Indiana is playing for their late coach Terry Hoeppner and his dream that football could be won at Indiana. This will be their first bowl appearance since 1993, and so many intangibles play into this game that the Hoosiers find a way to win this game. I truly believe that. Also, with two spread offenses, I want the team with the better duel threat in Indiana's Kellen Lewis. Both quarterbacks are mobile, but Lewis can attack with the deep ball to 6'7'' James Hardy or bust one to the house with his feet. Indiana is playing for so much more than a simple bowl victory. And that will be the difference and the reason they capture their program's season goal.

5-Unit Play #462 Take Clemson -2 over Auburn (12/31 - 7:30 pm)

With two athletic defenses and special teams, I look for the offensive production to be the difference in this one. And with Auburn's Brandon Cox still looking like a freshman at times despite his senior status, Clemson is the way to go. I liked what I saw from first year starter Cullen Harper, and the Tigers' ability to put together a balanced attack with C.J. Spiller and James Davis on the ground to keep the Auburn defense off-balanced will have Clemson a winner here. I saw Auburn's inability to score consistently this year and that will have them playing from behind. That's when they do not perform well and thus Clemson gets a bowl win for the ACC.

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Ted Sevransky

20* Bowl Total of year
Over 54 Air Force


Teddy Covers ( SAME GUY)

South Fla -6
Fresno St +6
Auburn +3 -120

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