McD’s Bowl Picks Part Three

December 27, 2008 – 8:05 pm by McD

Record: 3-4, 2-5 ATS

Updated through Alamo Bowl

Friday, December 26, 2008

7:30pm ET

Motor City Bowl

Florida Atlantic (6-6) at Central Michigan (8-4) (-6)

After the Troy debacle, I’m sure as shit not going with another Sun Belt Conference team against another small conference team. I’m not saying the uh, uh Owls, that’s it, the Owls suck or don’t deserve respect, but a 6-6 Sun Belt team isn’t going to inspire any fear in the opposition or confidence in any gamblers.

But wow does Central Michigan have some issues. I loved this team at the beginning of the year, and they more or less delivered since three of their four losses were to superior teams. Ball State and Georgia were good teams, plus the Georgia loss was early in the season. Okay, who am I kidding? Georgia was terrible and in hindsight, CMU probably should have won that game. But when it was played, the Bulldogs didn’t know they sucked yet, so there you go. There’s also that loss to Eastern Michigan to end the season. Now THAT is a horrible loss. In summary, I don’t trust CMU in big games.

Also, no one in their right mind would trust the Chippewa defense. They allowed 56 points to EMU, 32 points to a horrible Purdue team, and 34 points to a really, really horrible Indiana team. Two of those three were losses and CMU tried their damndest to lose the Indiana game too. So no, I don’t trust them.

But then there’s Dan LeFevour, the MAC’s answer to Tim Tebow. He’s had a down year because of injury, but he’s still thrown for 2,531 yards and 19 touchdowns and is also the team’s leading rusher. I worshipped daily at the Church of Dan LeFevour until injuries derailed his season, but now I’m ready to make my way back to the front pew. The guy is a stud, and if he plays, Central Michigan is going to have the bigger gun in this shootout.

As for FAU, I guess they’re good. Nice to see Howard Schnellenberger back in something like a national spotlight. But their biggest advantage in this game is Central Michigan’s 1-3 bowl record and lack of “balls” in big games this year. Otherwise, this is gonna turn into a shoot out, only Florida Atlantic will be getting shot at.

Pick: Central Michigan

Update: FAU 24 CMU 21.

Darn these bowl games with their ridiculous names and unpredictability. Then again, I might as well be complaining about how college football uses a different ball than the pros. Wait, why DO they do that? The NCAA has to be a pain in the ass about everything.

So does CMU, apparently. They just can’t win big games. Ever. At all. At any point. The Ball State game, the Purdue game, it’s all shitty. I hate Central Michigan. They’re absolutely killing me this year, the very last of the Dan LeFevour Era, by the way. But this shitty record is why I am not counting my bowl picks with my regular season picks. Everything goes to hell in December and January with college kids. They’re done with finals, but the coaches are changing things around. It goes on and on and on. Guh.

Record: 3-5, 2-6 ATS

Saturday, December 27, 2008

1pm ET

Meineke Car Care Bowl

West Virginia (8-4) at North Carolina (8-4) (+1.5)

I love Bill Stewart for taking a subtle shot at Oklahoma by saying this year’s matchup with UNC will be a tougher game for the Mountaineers. Well played, sir, well played indeed. I suppose he could mean how his WVU team is way, way worse than last year’s Pat White/Steve Slaton squad that lit the scoreboards up (except against Pitt-hah!). But I’m going to assume he means OU is overrated because I hate them and I want to.

I spent most of 2008 pumping North Carolina up because the Big East is terrible and the Tar Heels are slightly less terrible than their competition. Plus, they were a team that wasn’t used to success (4-8 in ’07), so they wouldn’t know they were overachieving.

Now, they’re just a team with a seriously suspect offense and a decent defense. Everything is going to have to break UNC’s way for them to win this game, including West Virginia forgetting their jockstraps. Luckily for them, the Meineke Bowl is played in North Carolina, so this is basically a home game for the Tar Heels.

I’m delaying making a decision as I type this because I can’t decide if I dislike what West Virginia has become or what UNC has become more. The Tar Heels let me down a couple of times at the end of the season, but so did WVU. It’s the Who Sucks Less Bowl! ACC and Big East football, it’s fan-tastic!

To pick this game, I’m using the West Virginia/USF game as a point of reference. USF is similarly offensively challenged to UNC, plus both teams have tough, but not perfect defenses. West Virginia ended up holding USF to seven points and winning a close 13-7 matchup. I think both teams will score more points in this bowl game, but the result seems to be similar.

Pick: West Virginia

Update: West Virginia 31 UNC 30.

Looks like the Mountaineers aren’t going to help me out with that 1.5 point spread after all. Thanks, guys.

I hope Pat White gets a shot at playing quarterback in the NFL. He’s been so good at the college level, he deserves a shot to fail as a quarterback at WVU’s pro day in a few weeks. This is the guy who put West Virginia football back on the map. He’s the one who made Rich-Rod look like a genius and who allowed Steve Slaton to have room to run because the defenses couldn’t focus solely on him. It was all Pat White. Too bad WVU never had a defense to speak of or they might have actually won something meaningful at some point during White’s four years.

Record: 4-5, 2-7 ATS

4:30pm ET

Champs Sports Bowl

Wisconsin (7-5) at Florida State (8-4) (-5)

The way Wisconsin played this year, I can’t believe they’re 7-5. That’s an achievement in itself, given how shitty they looked in most of their games. I love PJ Hill and John Clay, but because their names sound like old-time Southern Senators, not because they’re such great running backs. On the football field, they’re just big and they run straight ahead. Big and un-flashy runners at Wisconsin? Nah.

It’s just that I hate relying on Florida State to meet any kind of expectations. I would never want my life in Christian Ponder’s hands if he had to save me by playing quarterback. I love it when people make that analogy, by the way, because yeah, sure, it’s going to come down to a random quarterback playing football to save your life like a horrible Van Damme movie or something. Suffice to say, FSU’s offense is fucking catastrophically awful, but Wisconsin’s defense will make them look better than they are.

Pick: Florida State

Update: FSU 42 Wisconsin 13.

Wow does Wisconsin suck. Wow. Has Brett Bielema’s tenure at ‘Sconsin turned into an unmitigated disaster yet or would it have taken a Cal Poly win over the Badgers to cement it? They’ve gotten worse each season under Bielema and this is definitely not what they wanted. Maybe firing their defensive coordinator wasn’t the move that needed to be made before this year. Now he’s at Northwestern and the Wildcat D is better than ever. Maybe start getting some good players in there? Just a thought. You see, I get to be harsh because I’m a blogger.

Record: 5-5, 3-7 ATS

8pm ET

Emerald Bowl

Tha U (7-5) at Cal (8-4) (-8)

Jacory Harris is going to play this entire game for the Hurricanes, so their fans can all exhale. The presence of Robert Marve in this game would have totally changed my pick, but I think we can trust Harris to at least not make things worse.

I don’t understand why Cal is such a heavy favorite. The only advantages they have are all deficiencies on Miami’s side that might be worked out by now anyway. First, Miami had major issues stopping the run in their last two games against Georgia Tech and NC State. Having trouble with Tech is somewhat understandable, but NC State? Yeesh. Second, Miami is a very, very young team. Their leading rusher is a sophomore and their quarterback and two leading receivers are all freshmen.

All that said, it’s the end of the season. The freshmen aren’t like they were at the beginning of the season, and Randy Shannon has had a couple of weeks to get Miami’s D right, which is, after all, his specialty.

There’s no reason to think Jahvid Best will be able to run wherever he wants, and Jeff Tedford has done everything in his power to destroy all of Kevin Riley and Nate Longshore’s confidence throughout this year. With the both of them splitting snaps for the last couple of weeks in practice, there’s no indication either will be ready for Miami’s formidable pass rush.

The other advantage Cal has is this game being played in San Francisco, which is near Berkeley and has the homeless hippies and insane local politics to prove it. If Cal fan doesn’t show up to this game, they might as well disband the program. Miami will definitely have to overcome this particular disadvantage, but it’s at whatever the hell the Giants’ stadium is call now instead of that giant shitpile the Niners play in, so there may be a slight crowd noise advantage for Miami. Besides, the Hurricanes lead the world in fair weather fans and random fat guys in Warren Sapp jerseys, so it may not be as big an advantage as you might think.

Pick: Cal wins but Miami beats the spread.

Update: Cal 24 Miami 17.

Sucks for Miami, since they actually had a shot at this one. But don’t you get the feeling they’re going to be insanely good in a year or two? Everyone on that team is young and really talented, even Jacory Harris. It’s Miami, though. They’ve always been either a giant or a sleeping giant.

Record: 6-5, 4-7 ATS

Sunday, December 28, 2008

8:15pm ET

Independence Bowl

Northern Illinois (6-6) at Louisiana Tech (7-5) (Even)

I’m glad the Independence Bowl managed to score these two teams. I know this is a matchup we’ve all been dying to see all season. Well, now it’s here and it’s impossible to tell who’s going to win. Northern Illinois is resurgent after some pretty crapy seasons and I’m very wary of another WAC team in bowls, since both Boise and Fresno have gone down thus far. Let’s stop pretending anyone is oing to watch this game. I’m going to be chanting complex magical hexes against the Broncos that whole day, so there’s very little room for random bowl games.

Pick: Northern Illinois

Update: Louisiana Tech 17 NIU 10.

My favorite part about this bowl is the fact the SEC and Big XII couldn’t produce a bowl-eligible team to fill the spot that eventually went to Louisiana Tech. Best conferences in football my ass.

As for this game, I guess some stuff happened and somebody won the game. Blah blah blah. I just want to thank the Big XII and SEC for sticking us with a La. Tech/Northern Illinois matchup instead of a major conference team or two who might actually be worth watching. Not that a mediocre WAC and a mediocre MAC team aren’t just fine and dandy with a national television audience.

Record: 6-6, 4-8 ATS

Monday, December 29, 2008

3pm ET Bowl

North Carolina State (6-6) at Rutgers (7-5) (-7)

I’m going to go out on a limb and say Ray Rice had a hell of a lot more to do with Rutgers’ recent success than Mike Teel. Getting Teel to stay in state when he was in high school was a huge success for Greg Schiano, but you can see what happened without Rice. Rutgers did win their final six games, so I have to give them credit, but Schiano had better find some playmakers somewhere, or Rutgers might be Rutgers again in 2009.

NC State won several games at the end of the season that were something of a surprise. This really isn’t a good team, but they made some plays, so my disdain is more petty than anything at this point. They’ve always recruited talent, so their crappiness is still a little inexplicable. I guess they’re on the way up. Their end of the ACC was tough, so this bowl bid is a pretty major success based on where this program has been recently. Rutgers was actually tied for second in the Big East, which is testament to their resilience and the shit-tastic-ness of the Big East. That said, I don’t trust NC State any more than I did during the regular season. This game screams “just happy to be here” for them.

Pick: Rutgers

Update: Rutgers 29 NC State 23.

Coulda won by a touchdown, but no. Rutgers just had to disappoint. Again. Mike Teel went out a winner awash in the disappointing combination of surprising success and mediocrity. That dangerous combination which has plagued the Rutgers quarterback during his entire tenure at the university. He will leave school as a record-holder in most of the statistical categories for quarterbacks, yet at the same time he will remain one of the key reasons his Scarlet Knight teams didn’t experience larger success. In fact, he may be the reason Greg Schiano didn’t get a more high-profile job. Well, that’s probably Schiano’s fault, since it’s HIS team, after all. Besides, I just like to blame Mike Teel. The whole team sucked this year, he was just one of many disappointments for the program.

Record: 7-6, 4-9 ATS


Valero Alamo Bowl

(21) Missouri (9-4) at (23) Northwestern (9-3) (+12)

WIth the way he started, it’s pretty ironic Chase Daniel ended up with the conference lead in interceptions thrown. That’s pretty much symbolic of the way Missouri’s season went. Started off great and everyone is happy, but then they ended up getting their asses kicked several times along the way. It’s funny to think of 9-4 as a disappointing season for Missouri, but that’s what it is.

9-3 for Northwestern is an amazing success, especially with how well they played against teams who normally destroy them. CJ Bacher has played extremely well for the Wildcats, espcially in the absence of Tyrell Sutton. Northwestern is going to need Sutton to play in this game, otherwise it will be exceedingly difficult for them to control the clock.

I have to give Northwestern a slight advantage because their defense is definitely respectable while Mizzou’s is not. The Wildcats have played extremely well and are going to need to disrupt Chase Daniel’s timing. That said, Missouri’s offense is too god. Northwestern hasn’t beaten an offense this potent this season.

Pick: Missouri

Update: Missouri 30 Northwestern 23 (OT).

Remember when Chase Daniel was the reincarnation of Joe Montana earlier this season? Yeah, not so much anymore. Forget what he lacks in size and arm strength, he doesn’t make enough smart reads to play at the NFL level. I actually think his size and arm are fine, but the bad throws and mental mistakes are a really serious problem. It was also nice of ESPN to show us his family’s reaction to every snap of this game. Guess what? His girlfriend didn’t like it when he threw interceptions. Shocking.

Northwestern basically gave this game away when they stopped moving the ball in the fourth quarter. They couldn’t hold onto their lead and should have lost on that last-second field goal, but it took OT to make it happen. I hope Corey Wootton is okay too. Seemed like he hurt his knee pretty badly in the second half.

Record: 8-6, 4-10 ATS

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