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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Sunday, December 30, 2012 at 5:31 PM

The bowl season took a one-day hiatus Sunday for the NFL. But, sports bettors are now confronted with four games Monday, followed by six more Tuesday, for a total of TEN big blockbusters over New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

We’ll cover the four Monday games for you on this report. Then, we’ll be back early evening Monday to post our stat previews for the annual New Year’s Bash. The first game Monday in Nashville starts at noon ET, 9 a.m. Las Vegas time…so let’s get busy!

MUSIC CITY BOWL (Nashville)

NC STATE (7-5) vs. VANDERBILT (8-4)

Vegas Line: Vanderbilt by 7, total of 51.5

Market Moves: There hasn’t been much betting action in this one as of press time. Vanderbilt opened most places at -6.5, and was only bet up to the key number. We’re about to see a lot of the SEC after they sat around watching everyone else play the early games. The ACC has been quiet too, outside of Virginia Tech’s ugly win vs. Rutgers.

STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE

NC State: 71st

Vanderbilt: 42nd

You regulars know we use Jeff Sagarin’s computer ratings from USA Today as they stood when the bowls began. Vandy gets credit for playing a tougher schedule because they’re in a much better league. We need to tweak the stat rankings toward Vandy as a result.

OFFENSE

NC State: 51st (109th rushing, 20th passing)

Vanderbilt: 69th (54th rushing, 72nd passing)

Basically a dead heat once you adjust for schedule. Neither team has impressed. Both have struggled to get the job done vs. quality defenses. Vanderbilt showed more balance…but not in a way that scared anybody.

DEFENSE

NC State: 80th (61st rushing, 98th passing)

Vanderbilt: 17th (51st rushing, 10th passing)

Big edge here for Vandy on defense, which is why they’re favored by a touchdown even though they don’t have much of a postseason reputation. The market is basically telling you the SEC should be a TD better than the ACC once you get past the powers (it’s higher with the powers!). And, the reason the SEC is that superior is because they play much tougher defense top to bottom.

ADDING IT ALL UP

The key here is determining whether or not Vandy is getting too much credit for being an SEC team. It’s still VANDY! Are they ready to be a touchdown favorite in a postseason game? We’ve already seen several unheralded favorites lay eggs in the lesser bowls. JIM HURLEY has been working closely with his sources to see if Vandy will come in overconfident…or if they’ll receive a meaningful boost from playing in their home city.

SUN BOWL (El Paso)

USC (7-5) vs. GEORGIA TECH (6-7)

Vegas Line: USC by 7.5, total of 62

Market Moves: Money has been coming in strong on the Dog and Under through the weekend. It looks like weather is going to be a factor, with strong winds and a chance of rain forecast for the game. Of course, USC has made some negative headlines regarding their apparent lack of respect for the bow, which encouraged dog money too.

STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE

USC: 7th

Georgia Tech: 55th

USC is getting a lot of credit for playing in the Pac 12. That league has been feast or famine so far, with UCLA getting humiliated by Baylor, but Arizona State helping to save face with a rout of Navy. We’re going to stick with the relative edge you see above for the two teams. Our proprietary numbers that we don’t make public have the spread that size…but both teams playing schedules that would rank about 15-20 spots lower.

OFFENSE

USC: 29th (68th rushing, 26th passing)

Georgia Tech: 32nd (4th rushing, 119th passing)

The rankings are close overall, but USC managed it’s numbers against a much tougher schedule. We’ll give them credit for that before making a determination on whether or not they’re going to show up with intensity. Obviously, with a run-heavy attack like Georgia Tech’s option, you have to look at USC’s run defense. Let’s do that now.

DEFENSE

USC: 64th (60th rushing, 70th passing)

Georgia Tech: 54th (47th rushing, 69th passing)

Well, a mediocre job by USC in the trenches this year considering the athletes they’re able to recruit at that school. It should be noted that Arizona State didn’t have much trouble with Navy’s option. Neither did Rice for that matter, and Rice just has a bunch  of undersized smart kids. If USC is in the mood to play, they’ll  strike you as having the better defense.

ADDING IT ALL UP

We’ve seen a few bowls already where big favorites came in flat and ill-prepared. If Texas Tech can struggle vs. Minnesota, or Cincinnati can struggle with Duke before winning late, and if Fresno State can get obliterated by SMU, then sports bettors must stay open-minded about what could happen here. The Vegas spread might have been -14 or even -20 if this game were played on a neutral field in early September. This isn’t the Trojans team we expected…but they still have the kind of athletes that could win big here if they show up. Motivation means everything to JIM HURLEY’S thought process in this one.

LIBERTY BOWL (Memphis)

IOWA STATE (6-6) vs. TULSA (10-3)

Vegas Line: Iowa State by 1, total of 51.5

Market Moves: We’ve flipped favorite here, as Tulsa opened as small chalk. Money has been coming in on the Cyclones since then, and may continue to do so because sharps respect the differences between major conference and mid-majors. That being said, Tulsa’s Conference USA has scored positive results this postseason with Rice, SMU, and Central Florida. Iowa State’s Big 12 lost twice Saturday with West Virginia and TCU, and almost lost with Texas.

STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE

Iowa State: 9th

Tulsa: 110th

Huge edge here for the Cyclones. Now, it’s possible that Sagarin has overrated the Big 12 and underrated Conference USA based on what we’ve seen in the early bowls. Even if you adjust for that, you’re still going to get a monster advantage for the Big 12 team. We need to account for that in the numbers below.

OFFENSE

Iowa State: 90th (70th rushing, 80th passing)

Tulsa: 25th (11th rushing, 73rd passing)

How much of an adjustment should we make for this? Tulsa is 65 spots better in total offense. Iowa State is 101 spots better in schedule strength! What would Tulsa’s offense do against a Big 12 schedule. What would Iowa State’s offense do against a CUSA schedule? We’re going to call it a wash on these pages, because our behind-the scenes assessment was actually a big factor in determining our official service selection.

DEFENSE

Iowa State: 99th (69th rushing, 113th passing)

Tulsa: 33rd (18th rushing, 58th passing)

Same story here…where Tulsa compiled superficially more impressive numbers against a much easier schedule.

ADDING IT ALL UP

What’s happened in other bowl games where majors played mid-majors? Arizona State crushed Navy with its up-tempo offense, Washington covered at Boise State in a tight loss, but Arizona failed to cover a game they were lucky to win against Arizona. On the whole, that set of data probably favors Iowa State. JIM HURLEY is checking with his Wise Guy connections to see if the line moves since the opener have taken the value away.

CHICK-FIL-A BOWL (Atlanta)

LSU (10-2) vs. CLEMSON (10-2)

Vegas Line: LSU by 6, total of 59

Market Moves: LSU opened just above a field goal, but has been bet up to six since then. Sharps respect the SEC. Sharps don’t respect the ACC. And, everyone remembers what happened to Clemson last year in its bowl game vs. West Virginia.

STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE

LSU: 28th

Clemson: 66nd

LSU played a much tougher schedule, sharing the though SEC West with Alabama and Texas A&M, while also drawing Florida in inter-divisional action.

OFFENSE

LSU: 80th (45th rushing, 92nd passing)

Clemson: 9th (33rd rushing, 13th passing)

Clemson’s version of the spread can run up the stats, particularly against soft opponents. Put them in the SEC, and they wouldn’t have ranked in the top 10. That being said, many were skeptical that Texas A&M’s version of the spread would work in the SEC! Clemson has the more potent attack. LSU has the more physical attack.

DEFENSE

LSU: 8th (9th rushing, 19th passing)

Clemson: 75th (63rd rushing, 82nd passing)

No surprise there if you follow college football. Clemson’s offense will be in for a very stiff test here against an opponent that will be trying to hurt them. Clemson’s defense will need to toughen up significantly if they want to stay off the field. We’ve already seen several soft defenses get blown out in early bowl action. There’s no doubt that LSU will win the point of attack on both sides of the ball.

ADDING IT ALL UP

On paper, particularly the way JIM HURLEY uses paper, this is a physicality mismatch for LSU. If they show up breathing fire, they are going to win in impressive fashion. Will they? Last year they played for the national championship. This year, they’re in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. A bowl, by the way, which is known for one-sided results because respected teams couldn’t get motivated. JIM HURLEY will be working very closely with his on site sources because he wants to win the last football game of 2012!

You can purchase the full New Year’s Eve slate right here at this website with your credit card. Remember to take care of business EARLY because of the three day games! If you have any questions, call the office at 1-800-323-4453.

Back late Monday with stat previews for ALL SIX New Year’s Day showdowns. If you can’t make it back until Tuesday morning, let JIM HURLEY be the first to wish you HAPPY NEW YEAR!


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