Monday, December 20, 2010

Bowl Breakdown-Part 3

Military Bowl
December 29, 2:30 EST

East Carolina (6-6) vs. Maryland (8-4)

East Carolina was an enigmatic team in 2010, which is exactly what I had them pegged to be back in August. They had some very nice wins, and some highly questionable losses in Ruffin McNeal's first season at the helm, but due to a bowl glut, here they are.
Dominique Davis was a huge find at QB, as he ran the spread to perfection at times, passing for 3687 yards and 36 TDs. He did toss 14 picks as well, but when you pass as much as ECU does, your bound to do that. Davis was an unheralded transfer from Boston College, but he sure was a find. Jonathon Williams was a nice supporting piece at RB, rushing for 846 yards and 10 TDs on the season. Lance Lewis and Dwayne Harris were the biggest beneficiaries of the passing game, as Harris caught 93 passes for 1055 yards and 10 TDs, while Lewis hauled in 78 grabs for 979 yards and 13 TDs.
LB Dustin Lineback is the team leader in tackles with 111, but don't expect much defense from the Pirates, as they gave up 30+ points 9 times in 2010.
Maryland is coming into this game with a skeletal looking staff. OC James Franklin left for Vanderbilt, and has taken several key assistants with him, and now it appears that Ralph Friedgen is out of a job as well. It will be safe to assume that Maryland will not be focused or well prepared coming into this game, as the strife will have to take a toll.
QB Danny O'Brien had a decent/solid season, but was not phenominal in any way. O'Brien passed for 188 yards per game, and had 21 TDs to just 6 picks. They do not boast a star at RB, as Davin Meggett leads the team in rushing at just 52 yards per game. DJ Adams leads the team with just 7 rushing scores. Torrey Smith is the lone star receiver, as he has 1045 yards receiving and 12 scores on the season.
Maryland has a solid, if unspectacular defense, as they have held opponents to 21 points or under 5 times, but gave up 30+ points in their final regular season games against Florida State and NC State.
I Pick: East many distractions for the Terps to overcome here.

Texas Bowl
December 29, 6PM EST

Illinois (6-6) vs. Baylor (7-5)

In a normal world, Illinois would not be playing in a bowl game, and Ron Zook would be headed out the door, but this is FBS football, where a glut of bowls rewards medicority like nobody's business.
The Illini stumble into this game having lost 3 of 4, with the only win in that period coming against Northwestern at Wrigley Field. Do not expect a strong passing game for Illinois, as Nathan Scheelhaase only goes for 131 yards per game. He has tossed 17 TDs this season, but also has 8 picks. He is the second leading rusher on the team with 806 yards on the season with 4 scores.
Mikel Leshoure is the main rushing threat, and he can run. Leshoure has 1522 yards and 14 scores on the season, and he averages just over 6 yards whenever he touches the ball.
When Scheelhaase does throw the football, AJ Jenkins is the likely target. Jenkins has 694 yards receiving and 7 TDs this season.
The defense is iffy at best. LB Martez Wilson is a tackle machine, but the Illini do a poor job of getting to the QB, with Wilson leading the team with 4 sacks. With the lack of pressure, the Illini also only force just under 1 pick per game. Illinois has held teams to under 21 points 4 times this season, but gave up 67 points to Michigan, and another 38 to Minnesota, and Illinois lost both games.
Baylor has not been bowling in a while. They are struggling, however, limping into the bowl game having lost 3 straight  after a 7-2 start, and they happened to come against 3 of the 4 ranked teams that the Bears played in 2010. That means that Baylor is not all the way back to prosperity yet.
Robert Griffin is the star for the BEars, and if Illinois shuts him down, it's game over. Griffin passed for 3195 yards and 21 TDs this season, but does have 8 picks, which is not horrible. He added 591 more yards on the ground with 8 more scores on the season. Jay Finley has the benefit of everyone watching Griffin, which has resulted in a breakout year for him Finley rshed for 1155 yards and 11 scores on the season, and takes some pressure off of Griffin. Without Griffin running as a distraction, it becomes easy to pile up on Finley.
Kendall Wright and Josh gordon have combined for 102 catches for 1489 yards and 13 scores on the season.
In the three closing losses, the Bears gave up 40 points or more in every game, and did so 6 times in 2010. There are defensive lapses for the Bears, but when the Bears take on lesser opponents, they have held teams to 10 points or less 4 times.
I Pick: Baylor...More star power in Griffin, and the Bears get up for teams that aren't as good as they are record-wise.

Alamo Bowl
December 29, 9:15PM EST

Arizona (7-5) vs. Oklahoma State (10-2)

Arizona was a better team than theiir record would suggest. They were a very tough out all season long. What hurt them badly was an injury to starting QB Nick Foles which took the Wildcats out of rythm and made them change their gameplan dramatically at times.
Arizona lost 4 straight games coming into the bowl, including a loss to arch rival Arizona State, who isn't even going bowling.
Despite his injury issues, Foles still passed for 2911 yards on the season with 19 TDs and 7 picks. Matt Scott came on in relief, but he is more a scrambler than a passer, and only avergaed 110 yards per game with 4 TDs.
Another issue was the Keola Antonin and Nic Grigsby together only generated 98 yards rushing per game on the season, which puts a bunch of pressure on the QB. They did generate 15 TDs together.
Juron Criner is the guy getting the ball in the receiving game. You know that coming in. He has 74 catches for 1197 yards and 10 TDs. Nobody else comes close to his production.
The defense can get the job done at times, but self destructs at others. The Wildcats held teams to 24 points or less 7 times, but gave up 27 points or more in every other contest. In those games, the Cats went 1-5. The Cats only scored 30+ points 4 times this season, which means that the defense had better sharpen up, and that's going to be tough against the OSU offensive circus.
The Cowboys come in having won 4 of 5. They deserved a better bowl than this. They scored 30+ points 11 out of 12 games in 2010. The big question is can they keep it going with OC Dana Holgorsen having left to be coach in waiting at West Virginia? My bet says yes.
It starts at QBwith Brandon Weeden, who has been a maniac this season with 4037 yards and 32 TDs to go against 13 picks. Then you have a beast of a back in Kendall Hunter, who has rushed for another 1516 yards and 16 scores on the season, averaging 126 yards per game on the ground. Add Justin Blackmon, who despite missing a game due to suspension, has caught102 passes for 1665 yards and 18 TDs, you have a true 3 ring circus on offense. Josh Cooper also has 61catches for 683 yards as a secondary receiver.
The key will be defense for OSU. They have held 5 teams to under 20 points this season, but against ranked opponents gave up 35, 51, and 47 to Texas A&M, Nebraska, and Oklahoma.LB Orie Lemon has 119 tackles this season, and will have to be a center piece to making the Cowboy defense grind. OSU does not pressure the QB very well, with only 12 sacks on the season, but OSU has generated 16 picks in 12 games.
I Pick: Oklahoma State...too much firepower for the inconsistent and bumbling Wildcats to stop.

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