Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, December 6, 2012 at 9:21 AM
Let's roll on with our College Football Bowl Blitz - here we take you through the end of the month and note we'll have all the January quick-hitter Bowl Previews in tomorrow's Jim Sez:
Friday, Dec. 28
INDEPENDENCE BOWL - at Shreveport, LA
UL-MONROE (8-4) vs. OHIO (8-4) - Once upon a time the UL-Monroe Warhawks were the toast of the country following the season-opening win at 29 ½-point favorite Arkansas but fact is things leveled off for QB Kolton Browning (2,830 yards passing with 27 TDs and 7 INTs) and friends and now we'll see if Todd Berry's bunch can rev it up here but take note Ohio Bobcats skid into this post-season tilt on three-game SU (straight-up) losing streak (and all by double-digit margins, to boot!).
RUSSELL ATHLETIC BOWL - at Orlando, FL
RUTGERS (9-3) vs. VIRGINIA TECH (6-6) - Tough to figure out how the Scarlet Knights are gonna get pumped for this one after blowing Big East late-season lead with end-of-year losses at Pitt and at home to Louisville ... so maybe first-year boss Kyle Flood wasn't the reincarnation of Vince Lombardi, after all! Still, keep eyes on hard-hitting Rutgers LB Khaseem Greene who gets our vote as Big East Player of the Year as he goes after highly-predictable V-Tech offense here. Let's hope this one's not a "snooze-fest".
MEINKE CAR CARE BOWL OF TEXAS - at Houston, TX
MINNESOTA (6-6) vs. TEXAS TECH (7-5) - Did you realize that the T-Tech Red Raiders have covered only one bowl game in their last six appearances since the 2005 season? Now, triggerman QB Seth Doege (3,934 yards passing with 38 TDs and 14 INTs) has major challenge on his hands with Minny sporting country's 10th-best pass defense but major mess involving revolving-door quarterback makes the Golden Gophers an iffy proposition each/every game.
Saturday, December 29
ARMED FORCES BOWL - at Fort Worth, TX
AIR FORCE (6-6) vs. RICE (6-6) - This one has pre-noon ET start (it kicks off at 10:45 a..m. local time - yikes!) and so maybe first one to score out of the proverbial starting gate wins here although must advise you that Fly Boys have been held to just 66 total points in season's final four games and we say formula to win pick 'em type game here is to get RB Cody Getz (1,213 yards rushing in 10 games) the ball 25+ times with no questions asked!
FIGHT HUNGER BOWL - at San Francisco, CA
NAVY (7-4) vs. ARIZONA STATE (7-5) - Okay, so the Middies first have to take care of archrival Army this weekend in downtown Philly but head coach Ken Niumatalolo's gang hyped to be here after missing bowl party in 2011 while A-State Sun Devils searching for the school's first bowl win since 2005 (see 45-40 triumph over Rutgers in that year's Insight Bowl) and check out shifty RB Marion Grice (9 rushing TDs and 8 receiving TDs) who's quicker than the speed of light when he gets into the open field ... just ask Arizona!
PINSTRIPE BOWL - at The Bronx, NY
WEST VIRGINIA (7-5) vs. SYRACUSE (7-5) - Third year of this bowl game in "The House that Derek Jeter Built" and one-time Big East rivals will make for fun times (remember the 'Cuse won the debut Pinstripe Bowl with wild 36-34 win against Kansas State two years ago) and keep fingers crossed we get a mild weather day in NYC so slingers Ryan Nassib of Syracuse (3,619 yards passing with 24 TDs and 9 INTs) and WVU's Geno Smith (4.004 yards passing with 40 TDs and 6 INTs) can play ping-pong against opposing team defenses. Hey, the totals price is a whopping 73 ½ right now!
ALAMO BOWL - at San Antonio, TX
TEXAS (8-4) vs. OREGON STATE (9-3) - No doubt that this is a bit of a consolation prize for these power conference clubs as Longhorns were 4-and-oh at the start and dreaming big while OSU Beavers started 6-0 SU before reality set in and gut feeling says the winner of this toss-up affair will be the one that gets more "chunk plays" and so State WR Markus Wheaton (11 receiving TDs) should be on your radar screen here while Texas wide-out Mike Davis (54 catches for 909 yards and 7 scores) just wants head coach Mack Brown to chuck it more!
BUFFALO WILD WINGS BOWL - at Tempe, AZ
TCU (7-5) vs. MICHIGAN STATE (6-6) - Folks are gonna find out if the Big 10 teams not named Ohio State and Penn State can "play" this post-season and so this is good test for Sparty squad that that lost five games by a handful of points or less this year and troubled QB Andrew Maxwell (13 TDs and 9 INTs) has lots to prove. And so do you, coach Mark Dantonio!
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will get the NFL Week 14 card rollin' with a Side/Totals Play on Thursday's Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders game (Jim has won his last 5 NFL Prime Time plays and goes for #6 tonight!) plus get all the NBA and NCAA Basketball Winners each and every day - and climb aboard right now with America's #1 Handicapper to cash in big-time with the upcoming College Football Bowl Games that all begin on Saturday, December 15th! Check in with us on Game Days either right here online or at our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 for all the winners.
Monday, December 31
MUSIC CITY BOWL - at Nashville, TN
N.C. STATE (7-5) vs. VANDERBILT (8-4) - Get ready for this never-ending theme of a team being at a bowl site without their head coach as State's Tom O'Brien was canned back on November 25th (and deservedly so, we might add!) as interim boss-man Dana Bible steps in for this clash against semi-host Vandy bunch that rock-n-rolled its way to five-game SU/ATS winning streak to cap rock-solid regular season. If Commodores shiny RB Zac Stacy (1,034 yards rushing and 9 ground scores) gets past the first wave of defense here than he could be stat-sheet stuffer for these SEC favs.
SUN BOWL - at El Paso, TX
USC (7-5) vs. GEORGIA TECH (6-7) - Shame on the Troy Boys for even accepting this invite after disgraceful season that included losses to Arizona and UCLA (two teams that had clearly inferior talent) and so maybe this Lane Kiffin thing isn't a great fit (heck, even his defensive coordinator daddy is leaving for a pro gig!) while G-Tech heads into this game off back-to-back high-profile losses to Georgia and Florida State and the Yellow Jackets are both beaten up and beaten down at this point in time.
LIBERTY BOWL - at Memphis, TN
TULSA (10-3) vs. IOWA STATE (6-6) - The Conference USA champion Tulsa Golden Hurricane have quietly banged out six spread wins in their last eight games and country's 11th-ranked rush attack (averaging a hefty 240.2 yards a game) now sees if it can sledgehammer its way past a BCS conference club that showed multiple personalities (and played multiple quarterbacks) along the way in 2012. Hey, if Cyclones wish to win their second bowl game in past eight years (see ISU 14, Minnesota 13 in 2008 edition of the Insight Bowl) than RB Shontrelle Johnson needs to get his wake-up call!
CHICK-FIL-A BOWL - at Atlanta, GA
LSU (10-2) vs. CLEMSON (10-2) - Sorry, but these teams deserved better than this throwaway New Year's Eve game as argument could be made they should be playing one another New Year's Day or even later if it wasn't for silly BCS "rules". Fact of matter is gamble-crazy LSU boss Les Miles should let QB Zach Mettenberger (11 TDs and 6 INTs) cut it loose against Clemson pass defense that sure got shredded in its losses against Florida State and South Carolina. P.S., did you know that Clemson's lost five of its last six bowl games including last year's stunning 70-33 Orange Bowl loss to West Virginia? Hmmm.
NFL WEEK 14 KEY MATCHUPS
Let's dig into some of this Sunday's top NFL Week 14 showdowns:
BALTIMORE (9-3) at WASHINGTON (6-6) - 1 p.m. ET, CBS
This Beltway Battle suddenly has two teams heading in opposite directions with the host Redskins entering this tilt on a three-game SU and ATS winning streak and it's not all just about Robert Griffin III, you know. Rookie RB Alfred Morris - who now has rushed for 1,106 yards this year - must prove he can out-tough D-linemen Haloti Ngata and Terrence Cody who tip the scales between 'em at some 700 pounds of beef. Game plan for this Baltimore offense that has been held to 13, 16 and 20 points the past three weeks? Make sure RB Ray Rice gets a minimum of 30 "touches" here after just 12 carries and 1 single reception in last Sunday's 23-20 loss to Pittsburgh. Or is this too much to ask, Mr. Harbaugh?
DALLAS (6-6) at CINCINNATI (7-5) -1 p.m. ET, Fox
Don't look now but the Cincy Bengals have won/covered four in a row and QB Andy Dalton has thrown just two interceptions in these wins against the NY Giants, Kansas City, Oakland and San Diego. (note both picks came last week in the 20-13 victory at the Chargers). In fact, Dalton is clicking his heels that the Bengals' ground game "is back" after RB Benjarvus Green-Ellis rushed for 118 yards on 25 pops last Sunday. Now, if Green-Ellis can navigate his way through a battered Dallas LB corps, the Bengals could be breathing easier in terms of an AFC wild card berth.
CHICAGO (8-4) at MINNESOTA (6-6) - 1 p.m. ET, Fox
The Bears have lost three of their last four games with the lone win the past month coming in a 28-10 triumph over these Vikings just two weeks ago and just consider that Chicago WR Brandon Marshall has caught a grand total of 22 passes the past two weeks! Now, Marshall - who nabbed 10 passes for 165 yards in last week's heartbreak OT loss to Seattle - hopes the rebuilt Bears O-line can hold it together against a Minnesota pass rush that didn't generate a single sack last week in Green Bay. Go figure!
ATLANTA (11-1) at CAROLINA (3-9) - 1 p.m. ET, Fox
Two key stats from that first matchup this year between the Falcons and Panthers: In Atlanta's come-from-behind 30-28 non-cover win back in Week 4, the Panthers sacked Falcs' QB Matt Ryan seven times - really! - and Atlanta wide-out Roddy White snagged eight balls worth 169 yards including that heroic 59-yard bomb that set up the game-winning field goal. If Ryan gets dusted a handful-or-more times here - and if White's kept more under wraps - than the 3 ½-point home dogs could get their revenge.
NEW ORLEANS (5-7) at NEW YORK GIANTS (7-5) - 4:25 p.m. ET, Fox
Memo to the defending Super Bowl champion Giants: You better get your offense on track or it'll be too late to salvage this here-and-now 2012 season. The Giants have scored just 16, 13 and 20 points in three of their last four games - all losses! - and in last Monday Night's game against the 'Skins there was Tom Coughlin's crew pounding out three separate double-digit play drives in the first half and yet the end result was three Lawerence Tynes field goal and one Eli Manning-to-Martellus Bennett scoring strike. Now, with the NFL's worst defense in town - the Saints have surrendered 28-or-more points six times this year - the G-men will have no further excuses.
On Sunday Night, it's ...
DETROIT (4-8) at GREEN BAY (8-4) - 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC
The Packers already copped a 24-20 win against the Lions back in Week 11 action when defensive back M.D. Jennings raced 72 yards with a "pick six" to turn the beat around in that NFC North showdown and now the Green Bay defense - with or without hamstrung LB Clay Matthews - will be looking for more turnovers after getting two INTs and a fumble in that first go-round with the Motowners.
NOTE: Catch our College Football January Bowl Blitz in tomorrow's jam-packed edition of Jim Sez plus get our Heisman Trophy winner and more later in the week!