Monday, 24 December 2012

College Bowl Season Week 3: Part 1

Now the bowl season really gets into the meat of it's action with a total of thirteen games being played this week! So in the spirit of Christmas and evening out my writing load, you are going to get a few preview presents at a time over the next week, so keep checking back. First up we have the Christmas Eve and Boxing Day games to take care of, and if any of you support one of these four teams (don't know why you would though), then I hope you get all that you wished for off of the BCS Santa.

Monday 24th December

Fresno State vs SMU
Sheraton Hawaii Bowl @ 01:00 on ESPN

This Christmas Eve clash sees a three loss Fresno team lead by Derek Carr (brother of the infamous David Carr), take on a SMU team, who barely made it into postseason play and are lead by former Texas Longhorns QB Garrett Gilbert. In the end I think this is a rather weak bowl matchup that should see the Mountain West newbies bully their way past the Mustangs of SMU.

Players to Watch
Fresno State: I have already mentioned his name, but he is probably known to most college fans due to his family ties rather than his outstanding play this year, Derek Carr (QB #4). He has a QB rating of 160.6 with 36 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions on the season, so look for him to be slinging the ball all over the field in Hawaii.

SMU: Zach Line, RB #48. This senior will hope to have a big impact in his last game for the Mustangs and he needs to if SMU are going to have any chance against the Bulldogs. It’s the age-old football story of keeping the ball out of the oppositions explosive offense’s hands, Line needs to pound the rock and take some of the pressure off of the shaky Gilbert.

My Pick: Fresno State.
Confidence: 29

Wednesday 26th December

Western Kentucky vs Central Michigan
Little Caesars Bowl @ 00:30 on ESPN 

How do you choose between two average teams from the MAC and the Sun Belt conference? And no, it’s not a joke. For me, the schedules revealed a lot about both sides with Central Michigan having been beaten up by mostly running teams, whilst the Hilltoppers are a good running offence and have only lost to some of the countries surprisingly good teams this year. If it sounds like I’m clutching a little at straws here, it’s because I am, having not watched either of these teams this season I’m probably in the dark as much as you guys.

Players to Watch
Western Kentucky: Antonio Andrews, RB #5. The workhorse of the Western Kentucky offence, he has amassed 1609 yards on the ground as well as another 411 through the air, showing that he’s a big part of their game plan.

Central Michigan: Justin Cherocci, LB #41. The tackling machine in the Chippewa defense that needs to scythe down Andrews on every play, look for him to always be around the ball.

My Pick: Western Kentucky
Confidence: 3

College Bowl Season Week 2 Review

Thursday 20th December

San Diego County Credit Poinsettia Bowl: BYU 23 – Sand Diego State 6

The undisputed player of the game; Kyle van Noy.

This game was intriguing to watch play out, it was a messy football for three quarters with the Aztecs looking good but unable to actually break the whitewash, whilst BYU looked sluggish and almost as if they didn’t want to be playing. But luckily for BYU, Kyle van Noy decided to take over the game and accounted for two touchdowns with both a fumble recovery after his own sack in the endzone as well as a pick six. In the end, the game itself won’t be memorable, but van Noy’s performance will be.

Player of the Game: Kyle van Noy. As previously mentioned he single headedly won the game for the Cougars, having a key punt block, big sacks and two scores on defence. A truly dominant performance!

Players to Watch: Ansah had a nice game with an interception as well a forced fumble. Outshone by van Noy in the end, but overall a solid showing. Muema was the only bright spot for the Aztecs on offence, despite not scoring, he had some excellent runs to really help his team out.

Pick: Correct – 6 confidence points won. Once again, my low confidence looked warranted as BYU were really poor to start with, but in the end I managed to pick up another win and kept adding to my points total.

Friday 21st December

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl St. Petersburg: UCF 38 – Ball State17

In the end, Mr. Bortles was too much for Ball State to handle.

Despite my pick going the wrong way for me, this one was fun to watch. Bortles and UCF’s offence put on a show and ran the game from the get go, never giving the Cardinals a look in. If the Ball State's offence had shown some of their form from earlier in the season, the game could have been close, but credit UCFs defence for stifling them and holding Ball State to only 3 from 9 conversions on 3rd down.

Player of the Game: Blake Bortles: His performance was head and shoulders above the rest as he threw 3 TDs and was also the teams leading rusher with 80 yards off of 9 carries with another score.

Players to Watch: As mentioned, Bortles put in the performance I expected but Ball State’s Edwards didn’t get enough of the ball to make a big impression on the game. I believe this was mainly due to his side playing from behind, but he did average 6.4 yards whilst only having 14 carries, so his production was quite good.

Pick: Wrong – 2 points lost. I felt like this one was a coin flip, hence only 2 points wagered on it, first loss of the bowl season for me.

Saturday 22nd December

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: LA-Lafayette 43 – ECU 34

Despite a solid ECU performance, they trailed LA-La all game.

If I say that there were 45-second quarter points, I think that tells you roughly what you need to know! From 98 yard drives lead by the backup QB for the Ragin’ Cajuns to ECU’s Justin Hardy making a spectacular leaping catch for a touchdown, offensive junkies had a lot to digest. ECU dug themselves a bit of hole, making this game look like one to sleep on before rallying themselves and making a go at but coming up short in then end.

Player of the Game: For me, this could have gone to either Terrance Broadway or Alonzo Harris, but Broadway accounted for 426 yards and 2 scores whilst taking some real punishment, in my eyes, that’s player of the game worthy.

Players to Watch: Broadway certainly did me proud, but Hardy showed glimpses of what he could do without really taking over the game. Carden really shared the ball around the ECU offense so Hardy’s impact was limited, but he did show off his physical talent with the jump he made to haul in his touchdown.

Pick: Correct – 5 points won. My points looked safe early on before ECU found their groove, but UL-La rode the play of Broadway to give me another tick in my ESPN entry.

MAACO Bowl Las Vegas: Boise State 28 – Washington 26

"Wait, you're telling me we're playing them to kick off next year as well??"

The second instalment of bowl play on Saturday night turned out to be another evenly matched encounter that saw the Broncos of Boise narrowly edge the Huskies with a late field goal. There was plenty of trickeration from the Boise offence, which constantly kept the Huskie defence on their heels whereas Steve Sarkisian’s team relied on the more traditional run game, leaving Bishop Sankey to grind out plenty of yards. In the end, despite taking the lead in the fourth quarter for the first time, Washington gave up a big return on the ensuing kick, ultimately making the Broncos offence and Michael Frisina’s job of winning the game a lot easier.

Player of the Game: It’s hard to fault Joe Southwick’s performance, but despite being on the losing team, Bishop Sankey’s performance was the best of the day, keeping his team in the game with 205 yards and a touchdown.

Players to Watch: Sankey’s performance has already been mentioned, justifying my player to watch pick, but Demarcus Lawrence on the other hand let me down massively, so badly in fact that he did not play at all! He was suspended for a violation of team rules late in the week before the game, but at least I was right saying that he was a player to keep an eye on.

Pick: Correct – 18 points won. Boise seemed to be sailing to an 18-point gain for me, but Washington almost threw a spanner in the works at the end, my biggest haul of the bowl season so far!

Double Coverage Bowl Mania Standings after Week 2

With my correct picks in three out of the four games I amassed another 29 points to take my total to 44, but I am still languishing in fourth place. At the top of the league is Zinkus RTR with 71 points after the UCF win netted him 20 points. Next week sees 13 more games being played meaning that the league will really start to take shape.

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