College Football Betting News and Notes Friday 12/28

College Football Betting News and Notes Friday 12/28

OHIO U (8 - 4) vs. LA MONROE (8 - 4) - 12/28/2012, 2:00 PM

There are no Top Trends with records of significance that apply to this game.

Head-to-Head Series History
There were no past matchups in this series during this time period.


RUTGERS (9 - 3) vs. VIRGINIA TECH (6 - 6) - 12/28/2012, 5:30 PM

Top Trends for this game.
VIRGINIA TECH is 7-18 ATS (-12.8 Units) in all games over the last 2 seasons.
VIRGINIA TECH is 7-18 ATS (-12.8 Units) in all lined games over the last 2 seasons.
VIRGINIA TECH is 6-16 ATS (-11.6 Units) as a favorite over the last 2 seasons.
VIRGINIA TECH is 7-16 ATS (-10.6 Units) in games played on a grass field over the last 2 seasons.
VIRGINIA TECH is 0-6 ATS (-6.6 Units) in road games in non-conference games over the last 3 seasons.

Head-to-Head Series History
There were no past matchups in this series during this time period.


MINNESOTA (6 - 6) vs. TEXAS TECH (7 - 5) - 12/28/2012, 9:00 PM

There are no Top Trends with records of significance that apply to this game.

Head-to-Head Series History
There were no past matchups in this series during this time period.


OHIO vs. LOUISIANA-MONROE
Ohio is 14-5 SU in its last 19 games
Ohio is 1-7 ATS in its last 8 games
Louisiana-Monroe is 7-2 SU in its last 9 games
The total has gone OVER in 5 of Louisiana-Monroe's last 6 games

RUTGERS vs. VIRGINIA TECH
Rutgers is 0-5 SU in its last 5 games when playing Virginia Tech
Rutgers is 2-5 ATS in its last 7 games when playing Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech is 1-4 ATS in its last 5 games
Virginia Tech is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games when playing Rutgers

MINNESOTA vs. TEXAS TECH
Minnesota is 2-6 ATS in its last 8 games
Minnesota is 2-6 SU in its last 8 games
The total has gone OVER in 5 of Texas Tech's last 6 games
Texas Tech is 1-4 SU in its last 5 games


Ohio U vs. Louisiana Monroe
Ohio U: 1-7 ATS after the first month of the season
LA Monroe: 9-1 ATS off BB games with 40+ pass attempts

Rutgers vs. Virginia Tech
Rutgers: 17-6 ATS away off BB ATS losses
Virginia Tech: 0-6 ATS away vs. non-conference opponents

Minnesota vs. Texas Tech
Minnesota: 9-1 Under after losing 4 or 5 of their last 6 games
Texas Tech: 22-8 ATS after committing 4+ turnovers

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Independence Bowl

UL-Monroe is in its first-ever bowl; they'll be excited and have lot of fan support- this is game Louisiana Tech didn't want to play in, due to their animosity with ULM. Faves won/covered last six Independence Bowls; MAC teams are 0-2 in this bowl the last nine years, losing 17-13/17-10. Ohio is playing in 5th bowl in last eight years, upsetting Utah St 24-23 in LY's Potato Bowl; Bobcats could be diappointed to be here after 7-0 start that included win at Penn State- they lost last three games, allowing 35.3 ppg- they're 1-2 as underdog this year. ULM stumbled when QB Browning was hurt, but he's back now; they're 4-3 vs spread as favorite this year, and also won at Arkansas, lost to Auburn/Baylor by combined total of 8 points. Ohio QB Tettleton is son of former big league catcher; he threw 16 TDs with only three INTs, but Browning (27 TDs, 7 INTs) is key to this game for ULM/ Sun Belt non-conference favorites are 6-3 vs spread this year, 1-1 in bowls; MAC dogs are 18-18, 1-2 in bowls.

Russell Athletic

This is worst Hokie team since an 8-5 team in '03; they lost 40-12/23-20 in BCS bowls last two years. Virginia Tech covered only 7 of its last 26 games (3-9 this year); they had just three offensive starters back from LY and it showed, going 3-5 SU in last eight games, covering two of eight as a favorite. Rutgers is 5-0 in bowls over last five years, but Schiano is now in NFL and Flood is first-time HC; Knights lost last two games to slip out of BCS game to here, but they've got lot of Florida kids, should still be motivated. Problem is, they scored total of 33 points in last three games, but they also covered three of four as underdog, with SU wins at USF/Arkansas/Cincinnati. Tech allowed 27+ points in all six losses this year; Rutgers scored 27+ in only two of its last eight games. ACC teams are 7-2 in this bowl last nine years; underdogs covered five of last seven, with average total in last three just 32.0.

Meineke Car Care

Domed stadium has lent to high-scoring games in this bowl; average total in last four Car Care Bowls is 51.8. Favorites are 6-2-1 vs spread in this bowl last nine years. 6-6 Minnesota's best WR (walk-on) quit team and trashed coach on his way out door; Gophers are in a bowl for first time in three years- they've lost last four bowls, with three losses by 3 or less points. Minnesota scored 13.5 ppg in last four games. Texas Tech didn't play in bowl LY but is 4-1 in last five bowls, scoring 39 ppg in five games- they played three OT games in last six, winning two of three OT tilts. Tuberville bolted for Cincinnati, so yet another interim coach here. Big X teams lost four of last five appearances in this bowl, with Texas A&M winning here LY, in its last game as a Big X member. Tech (-7) beat Gophers 44-41 in bowl game six years ago, in only series meeting. Houston setting favors Tech; so does Minnesota's 2-6 spread record as an underdog. Big Dozen non-conference underdogs are 4-3 vs spread.

Armadillosports.com

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NCAAF: Streaks, Trends, Notes
Sportspic.com

Minnesota vs Texas Tech


Minnesota Golden Gophers and the Texas Tech Red Raiders are set to square off on Friday at Reliant Stadium in Houston. Offensively challenged Gophers (21.3 PPG) with it's struggling pass-attack (171.4) ended the campaign on a sour note, losing back-to-back games finishing 6-6 with a cash draining 2-6 mark against-the-oddsmaker. Meanwhile, Red Raiders also finishing the season poorly, suffering losses in four of their last five games ended 7-5 overall 6-6 at the betting window. But unlike Gophers, the Red Raiders lead by QB Seth Doege can rack up points (37.8) behind it's solid air-attack (361.9). Bottom line, Red Raiders on the strength of it's offense improve it's 7-0 mark vs Big 10 opponents (4-3 ATS) and notch the eight bowl victory dating back to '02 (7-2 SU, 4-5 ATS).

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Independence Bowl Preview
By Marty Otto
Sportsmemo.com

Ohio vs. Louisiana-Monroe
CRIS Opener: UL-Monroe -6.5 O/U 61
CRIS Current: UL-Monroe -7 O/U 61
Rob Veno's Power Rating: UL-Monroe -7

My alma mater, Ohio University, returns to a bowl game for the fourth straight year after securing the program’s first ever bowl victory in 2011. This was a team widely expected to compete for and win the MAC conference. As we’ll discuss in the coming paragraphs those expectations looked to be spot on early on in the season but eventually went up in smoke.

Ohio returned a core group of 15 starters from a 10-win team in 2011 that included one of the MAC’s more dynamic quarterbacks, a solid offensive line and a stout defense. They went on the road and upset Penn State in Week 1 which would spark a seven-game win streak to begin the season as they headed into their bye week. The unbeaten mark made such an impact that the Bobcats garnered a top 25 ranking for the first time in some 50 years. But a loss at arch-rival Miami-Ohio coming out of the bye, along with some cluster injuries that would see a total of 13 starters go down, left the Bobcats a shell of the team we saw to start the campaign. Ohio would go on to lose four of its final five games and were outscored 106-47 in the last three losses. This team’s dream season ended back in late October and it showed in their play down the stretch. Banged up and demoralized I would be hesitant to back them in this game.

UL-Monroe is on the complete opposite side of the spectrum. Coming off a 4-8 season in 2011 this year’s Warhawks were largely projected to be a middle of the road Sun Belt squad. They had never won more than six games in any season the past 10 years and though their positive yardage stats in SBC play in 2011 pointed to some potential they just never showed they could close out games. But similar to Ohio the Warhawks went out on the road in their first game and score a major upset, beating Arkansas 34-31. Their next two games showed the win over the Razorbacks was no fluke as ULM notched easy spread covers against Auburn and Baylor. ULM would go 7-2 against non-BCS opponents while earning its first ever bowl berth. And the two losses in that final nine-game stretch come with big asterisks as dynamo quarterback Kolton Browning missed time due to injury. With Browning under center this offense scored 30 or more points in all but two tilts so it was no surprise when Browning won Sun Belt Offensive POY honors.

According to our ACCU-Stats, UL-Monroe holds advantages in offensive yards per rush, defensive yards per rush and offensive yards per pass. They are the healthier and hungrier bunch and they have the added advantage of playing this game just two hours from campus.

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Russell Athletic Bowl Preview
By Teddy Covers
Sportsmemo.com

Rutgers vs. Virginia Tech
CRIS Opener: Virginia Tech -2 O/U 41.5
CRIS Current: Virginia Tech -2 O/U 41
Rob Veno's Power Rating: Virginia Tech -2

This matchup features a pair of teams that are clearly disappointed to be here.  Rutgers was a major surprise story out of the Big East for much of the season.  They started the campaign flying high at 7-0, including impressive road wins as TD+ underdogs at South Florida and at Arkansas before a home loss to Kent State ended their undefeated season.  Still, the Scarlet Knights were in position to earn their first-ever BCS bowl berth and their first-ever outright Big East Conference title following their road win at Cincinnati in mid-November.

But a Rutgers team that struggled offensively for much of the season finally came unglued down the stretch, suffering back-to-back losses that cost them their BCS Bowl opportunity.  First they were dominated at Pittsburgh, losing by three touchdowns in a game where they managed to gain just 207 total yards while producing only one scoring drive.  Then in front of a national TV audience, at home, with a chance for Big East redemption, the Scarlet Knights took a double-digit lead into halftime.  But first year, first time head coach Kyle Flood watched as his team fell apart in the second half thanks to a second half drive chart that looked like this: punt, punt, punt, field goal, interception, interception.

Rutgers had a truly top notch defense all season.  This unit allowed only 3.7 yards per rush and 6.3 yards per pass according to Sportsmemo’s ACCU-Stats, while giving up more than 20 points only twice all year and holding foes to 10 points or less on five separate occasions.  But woefully bad offensive line play hindered sophomore QB Gary Nova’s development.   

The Knights notched only six rushing touchdowns for the entire season.  Junior RB Jawan Jamison rushed for more than 1,000 yards, but at 5-8, 200, he wasn’t much of a red zone threat; unable to get the tough yards between the tackles when it mattered most.  Receivers Brandon Coleman and Mark Harrison both have big play capabilities – Coleman averaged a whopping 17 yards per reception; Harrison had 71- and 68-yard touchdown receptions.  But Nova rarely had time to find them downfield thanks to the o-line’s inability to protect him.

Unlike Rutgers, Virginia Tech didn’t have a late season meltdown – their problems started early, and basically never stopped.  At 6-6 SU, 3-9 ATS, the Hokies streak of 20 consecutive bowl berths under head coach Frank Beamer was in serious jeopardy when they lost five out of six following a 3-1 start.  Virginia Tech was able to close out the season with a pair of SU victories against Boston College and Virginia to keep the streak alive.

But when we consider that 2-10 BC took them into overtime and 4-8 Virginia led in the second half in Blacksburg while the Hokies needed a field goal as time expired to escape with a three-point win, even those victories weren’t the least bit impressive.  It’s worth noting that the Hokies never sniffed a pointspread cover in either of those two late season wins, as double-digit chalk each time – despite their repeated failures, the betting markets were still giving this team too much credit even in late November.

Virginia Tech’s biggest problems were a spotty run defense, a bad run offense and dismal quarterback play.  Junior Logan Thomas is a beast of a man at 6-6, 260, but he was the team’s leading rusher with only 528 total yards; a massive drop-off after losing first rounder David Wilson to the Giants last offseason.  And Thomas regressed as a passer from his solid sophomore season in every way, losing seven points off his completion percentage; more than a half yard off his yards-per-pass attempt numbers while throwing fewer TDs and more interceptions than he did in 2011.  Thomas is a one way QB for me – I’m either going to bet against him and his 7-18-1 pointspread mark as the Hokies starting QB over the last two seasons, or I’m going to leave the game alone.  Slightest of leans towards Rutgers.

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Meineke Car Care Bowl Preview
By Erin Rynning
Sportsmemo.com

Minnesota vs. Texas Tech
CRIS Opener: Texas Tech -12.5 O/U 57
CRIS Current: Texas Tech -13 O/U 55
Rob Veno's Power Rating: Texas Tech -10.5

On the surface, Minnesota and Texas Tech will both be limping into the Meineke Car Care Bowl.  The Gophers dropped three of their last four games – the three losses by 20.6 ppg.  The Red Raiders lost four of their last five games with the lone win coming in overtime against woeful Kansas.  However, Minnesota may have the edge when it comes to momentum.  For starters, this will serve as their first postseason game since losing the Insight Bowl to Iowa State in 2009.  Taking matters further the Gophers haven’t won a bowl game since 2004 under the steady eye of former head coach Glen Mason.  No question, Minny’s seniors and 13 players from the state of Texas will be thirsting for a bowl win.

Of course, on the field, winning (and perhaps even competing) will be a much tougher task.  Can the Gophers match the fire power of Texas Tech?  Minnesota scored 30 or more points just twice this season.  In addition, they’ll be led by true freshman quarterback, Philip Nelson, who started the final six games.  There have also been reports that former starting quarterback MarQueis Gray is splitting practice snaps with Nelson which suggests that more than a few offensive wrinkles will be in place.  Keep in mind, Gray sprained his ankle in their third game of the season and will finally capable of using his highly touted athleticism.

Meanwhile, the Texas Tech program is in transformation mode.  In a small surprise, head coach Tommy Tuberville left in early December for the Cincinnati gig.  In addition, their heady young offensive coordinator, Neal Brown, also decided to leave to become the offensive coordinator at Kentucky.  Texas Tech offensive line coach Chris Thomsen will serve as their interim head coach, while wide receivers coach Sonny Cumbie will fill in as offensive coordinator.  The Red Raiders did name 33-year-old former quarterback Cliff Kingsbury as their new head coach.  Texas Tech should still yield plenty of offensive firepower as they topped 40-plus points seven times this season, while averaging over 500 yards of total offense.  The Gophers defense has shown vast improvement under head coach Jerry Kill, but the stakes will be raised against the Air-Raid attack of Seth Doege and Darrin Moore.

Pre-New Year’s Day bowls can be about motivation and program direction.  The Gophers are a clear favorite with those two factors as Kill has done a solid job rebuilding the program brick by brick.  The Red Raiders burst out to a 6-1 start and were thinking big before reality set in.  Still, Minnesota will have to overcome numerous mismatches playing on the turf in Houston.  The Gophers were largely manhandled at the line of scrimmage when asked to step up in class and with a true frosh under center, they failed to notch an offensive touchdown over their last 14 quarters of football.

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Independence Bowl: What Bettors Need to Know
By Covers.com

Ohio Bobcats vs. UL Monroe Warhawks (-7, 60)


ADVOCARE V100 INDEPENDENCE BOWL STORYLINES


1. It did not take long for either team to make a major splash on the national scene this season. One week after Ohio opened its season Sept. 1 with a victory at Penn State, Louisiana-Monroe started what would become a historic campaign with a win over then-No. 10 Arkansas. The Warhawks are playing in the first bowl game in program history. The Bobcats gained a bowl bid for the fourth straight time and the fifth time since 2006.

2. Both teams had some bumps in the road following their season-opening victories over major-conference opponents, most notably Ohio. The Bobcats gained a Top 25 ranking after going 7-0, but lost four of their last five, the last three by a combined score of 106-47.

3. Louisiana-Monroe lost only two of its last nine games. It is not a coincidence that those two games came with quarterback Kolton Browning on the sidelines with a foot injury. Since coming back, Browning has returned to form and enters this one on a roll. In his last two games of the regular season, the junior completed 77.8 percent (56-for-72) of his passes and accounted for six touchdowns, including two on the ground.

LINE: Louisiana-Monroe opened as low as -6 and has been bet up as high as -7.5. The total opened at 60 and has moved to 61 points.

WEATHER: There is a 60 percent chance of rain for Independence Stadium and temperatures are expected to be in the low 50s. Winds are expected to blow NNW at 6 mph.

TRENDS:

* Bobcats are 4-1 ATS in their last five non-conference games.
* Warhawks are 0-4 ATS in their last four vs. MAC.
* Over is 4-0 in Bobcats' last four vs. S-Belt.
* Over is 6-0 in Warhawks' last six non-conference games.

ABOUT OHIO (8-4, 4-4 MAC, 4-8 ATS): The Bobcats' 7-0 start was their best since 1968 and it came on the heels of a victory over Utah State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl last season. However, to finish on a strong note again they will need to get over the late-season skid. In the finale against Kent State, Ohio's own mistakes hurt. Frank Solich's squad had two turnovers in the first quarter, both of which were returned for touchdowns. The Bobcats got the usual contributions from junior running back Beau Blankenship, whose 145 rushing yards gave him exactly 1,500 for the season, good enough to rank ninth nationally. Junior quarterback Tyler Tettleton was a steady presence under center. He had 16 touchdowns against only three interceptions and ran for four more scores. Ohio was invited to participate in the Independence Bowl after Louisiana Tech, which finished 9-3, did not immediately act on an invitation from bowl officials.

ABOUT LOUISIANA-MONROE (8-4, 6-2 Sun Belt, 8-4 ATS): Browning's primary target has been Brent Leonard, who ranks sixth nationally with 97 catches, 10 of which have gone for touchdowns. Leonard had 13 catches, including two on the game-winning drive in overtime, in the Warhawks' 23-17 victory over Florida International in the last game of the regular season. That was one of four overtime games for Louisiana-Monroe. They won three of them, including the opener against Arkansas, showing the late-game mettle that has made this the best Warhawks team since it joined what would become the FBS in 1994. This game will be played less than two hours away by car from the Warhawks' campus, making this a veritable home game for Todd Berry's team.

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Russell Athletic Bowl: What Bettors Need to Know
By Covers.com

Rutgers Scarlet Knights vs. Virginia Tech Hokies (-2.5, 41)


RUSSELL ATHLETIC BOWL STORYLINES


1. The two participants in the Russell Athletic Bowl, Rutgers and Virginia Tech, come into the game via different paths. The Scarlet Knights had a shot at the Big East crown and a BCS berth but lost their last game to Louisville, allowing the Cardinals to tie for the league title and take the BCS berth. Meanwhile, the Hokies are just happy to be in a bowl, needing wins in their last two contests to climb to 6-6 on the season and become bowl eligible.

2. These two teams aren't exactly strangers. Before Virginia Tech made the move to the ACC, both schools were in the Big East, where they met 12 times. The Hokies dominated the series 11-1, with the Scarlet Knights' victory coming in the first meeting in 1992.

3. Both teams run very balanced offenses, with Rutgers getting 63.1 percent of its yardage through the air, compared to Virginia Tech's 59.7 percent. The biggest difference is the Scarlet Knights had only six rushing touchdowns on the season compared to the 18 scores on the ground for the Hokies.

LINE: Virginia Tech opened as low as -2 and has been moved to -2.5. The total opened 40.5 and fell as low as 39.5 before coming back up to 41.

WEATHER: The forecast in Orlando is calling for cloudy skies and temperatures in the low 60s. Winds are expected to blow ESE at 6 mph.

TRENDS:

* Favorite is 5-2 ATS in their last seven meetings.
* Scarlet Knights are 2-5 ATS in their last seven meetings.
* Under is 4-1 in Hokies' last five Bowl games.
* Under is 15-5 in Scarlet Knights' last 20 non-conference games.

ABOUT RUTGERS (9-3, 5-2 Big East, 7-5 ATS): The Scarlet Knights have won five straight bowl games, tied with Mississippi State for the nation's longest current streak. Coach Kyle Flood is looking to become the third Rutgers coach - and only first-year coach - in school history to win 10 or more games in a season. The Knights have been stingy on defense all year long, ranking fourth in the nation in scoring defense (14.3 points) and 14th in total defense (321.3 yards per game). Offensively, look for a lot of sophomore running back Jawan Jamison, who rushed for 1,054 yards and can help set up the Rutgers' passing game. Sophomore quarterback Gary Nova is solid, throwing for 2,566 yards in his first full season as a starter.

ABOUT VIRGINIA TECH (6-6, 4-4 ACC, 3-9 ATS):
The Hokies struggled this year after a trip to the Sugar Bowl last season. Quarterback Logan Thomas is a big key for Virginia Tech's success as he ranks as the team's top passer (2,783 yards, 17 touchdowns) and rusher (526, nine). The Virginia Tech defense has been solid against the pass, allowing 204.9 yards per contest. Linebacker Jack Tyler has been a force this year, leading the team in total tackles (112) and tackles for loss (11) while recording 2.5 sacks and 13 quarterback hurries. Getting off to a fast start is important for the Hokies, but it hasn't been easy this year, with the team leading at halftime in only three of its contests.

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Meineke Car Care Bowl: What Bettors Need to Know
By Covers.com

Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders (-13, 55.5)


MEINEKE CAR CARE BOWL OF TEXAS STORYLINES


1. Offensive line coach Chris Thomsen, who has seven years of coaching experience at Abilene Christian, will guide the Red Raiders following the surprise departure of Tommy Tuberville to Cincinnati. The good news is that some players, angered by Tuberville's decision to leave, said they want to take out their anger on Minnesota.

2. Beside stumbling to the finishing line on the field, Minnesota also had its share of issues off it. Wide receiver A.J. Barker, who had a team-best 30 receptions and seven touchdowns, quit the squad late in the season claiming mistreatment by coach Jerry Kill and the training staff over an ankle injury while backup quarterback Max Shortell announced he was transferring.

3. The Gophers, who scored 30 or more points in a game only three times this season, must find a way to slow down a high-scoring Red Raiders' offense that averaged 37.75 points and scored 41 or more points in a game seven times.

LINE: Texas Tech opened around -12.5 and has been bet up to -13. The total opened at 57 and has been bet down to 55.5.

TRENDS:

* Golden Gophers are 4-1 ATS in their last five non-conference games.
* Red Raiders are 1-5 ATS in their last six Bowl games.
* Under is 7-3 in Golden Gophers' last 10 non-conference games.
* Over is 5-0 in Red Raiders' last five bowl games.

ABOUT MINNESOTA (6-6, 2-6 Big Ten, 5-7 ATS): Despite a 2-6 finish in the Big Ten that saw the Gophers outscored by a combined 64-24 in back-to-back regular season ending losses to Nebraska and Michigan State, Jerry Kill's squad is making its first appearance in a bowl game since losing to Iowa State in the 2009 Insight Bowl. Only seven seniors on the squad played in that contest so the Gophers, who went 3-9 in both 2010 and 2011, are happy to be here, especially the 13 players on the team that hail from Texas. Kill, who has had epilepsy for nine years, missed the second half of the season finale against Michigan State after suffering a seizure. The Gophers are solid on defense but have struggled badly on offense, ranking 111th nationally with an average of 317.5 yards. Freshman quarterback Philip Nelson, who took over the starting job for the final month of the season, completed only 50 percent of his passes and threw more interceptions (seven) than touchdowns (six).

ABOUT TEXAS TECH (7-5, 4-5 Big 12, 6-6 ATS): Like Minnesota, the Red Raiders also sputtered to the finish line, losing four of their last five games with the only victory a 41-34 double overtime victory over 1-11 Kansas. That win was sandwiched between losses to Kansas State, Texas, Oklahoma State and to Baylor in double overtime in the season finale. Senior quarterback Seth Doege passed for 3,934 yards and 38 touchdowns while completing 70.4 percent of his passes, including 81 to senior wide receiver Darrin Moore. Although the defense allowed almost 32 points per game in the wild, wild Big 12, it ranked a respectable 39th nationally in total defense allowing 367 yards per game.

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Friday's Bowl Tips
VegasInsider.com

Ohio (8-4 SU, 4-8 ATS) vs. Louisiana Monroe (8-4 SU, 8-4 ATS)

Breakdown: Ohio University arrives in Shreveport, LA with a bad limp; on the losing end of four of their previous five games after a 7-0 start. QB Tyler Tettleton had a fine season by the numbers, but as the opposing team brought more pressure and sacks mounted (22 in the four defeats), Tettleton scrambled too often and the passing offense suffered. The Bobcats back seven will get a workout against Monroe’s pass offense, which totals 296.7 YPG. The Warhawks were early season football darlings with their 5-0 ATS start to the year. Eventually, the oddsmakers and injuries caught up to them and they completed an 8-4 SU and ATS campaign. Because of running back losses to injury, the burden fell more on the shoulders of QB Kolton Browning, who ran the short passing game extremely well and has pass catches which produce yards after the catch. The UL-Monroe defense is hit or miss.

Head-to-Head History: The common theme among early bowl games is unfamiliarity, and in the Independence Bowl, Ohio U and Louisiana-Monroe square off for the first time. The Bobcats lost to fellow Sun Belt member Troy in the 2010 New Orleans Bowl, 48-21, and have gone OVER the total four straight games vs. that league. Monroe makes its first bowl appearance and plays its first lined game ever vs. a MAC foe.

Bowl History: Louisiana-Monroe makes its first ever bowl appearance and is expected to do well, playing as about touchdown favorites versus Ohio U, a team that has grown accustomed to postseason contests. The teams square off in the Independence Bowl, and the Warhawks will be looking to make it seven straight outright and ATS victories for the favorites in this series. It will be the first time that a Sun Belt team has played in this game, while MAC teams sport a 0-2 SU & ATS record in Shreveport. LA Monroe will enjoy a huge home field edge, playing just 100 miles from campus.

Rutgers (9-3 SU, 7-5 ATS) vs. Virginia Tech (6-6 SU, 3-9 ATS)

Breakdown: Virginia Tech’s last second field goal over in-state Virginia kept the Hokies bowl streak alive at 20. Coach Frank Beamer will spend the time off for this encounter trying to develop a better offensive and defensive foundation after an unsavory season. Playmakers have to be found on both sides of the ball and QB Logan Thomas has to be more accurate in tossing the pigskin, with too many throws high or low. Because Rutgers only scores 22.4 PPG, Virginia Tech should stay in this confrontation. The Scarlet Knights lost their last two conference contests and blew a chance for a BCS bid. Coach Kyle Flood has to work on damage control and rebuild the confidence of QB Gary Nova, who threw 12 interceptions in the last five games after having just three in the first seven ballgames. Rutgers lacks size on defense, yet is very quick and disruptive.

Head-to-Head History: Several bowl matchups this season pit former conference rivals. In the Russell Athletic Bowl, former Big East mates Rutgers and Virginia Tech square off. Prior to the Hokies leaving the league in 2004, they had beaten Rutgers 11 straight times while going 6-5 ATS. They are 2-0 SU & ATS vs. Big East team in bowl games since. Rutgers is on a 4-0 UNDER the total run against the ACC.

Bowl History: The Russell Athletic Bowl is a new name for a bowl series that has had several different corporate sponsors over the years. In 2001, the game moved from Miami to Orlando, where it still resides. Virginia Tech has been designated as the home team for this year’s game versus Rutgers, important since these teams had won nine straight ATS prior to last year. The Hokies opened as a slight favorite, but underdogs are on a 5-2 ATS run in the game. In terms of conferences, ACC teams are 8-1 SU & 6-3 ATS since ’03, but Tech has never played in this series.

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