Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, December 6, 2012 at 8:30 PM
Can you believe it? The 2012 College Football regular season actually ends this weekend with the playing of the annual/traditional Army vs. Navy game and than we're on to the 35 Bowl Games that will help stuff our sports stockings for the next, oh, three-and-a-half weeks!
In fact, you've already probably noted that there isn't even a ...break in the action... anymore as Saturday's Army-Navy game will be followed one week later by a pair of College Bowl Games on Saturday, December 15th - that's the New Mexico Bowl and the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl - and so you better plan on getting all your holiday shopping done on some spare week nights 'cause your December weekends will be chock full of great Football and Basketball action.
Okay, no time to waste and so let's get this College Football-filled Jim Sez column started off with a quickie preview of Saturday's big game between the military rivals ...
ARMY (2-9) vs. NAVY (7-4) (at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia) -- 3 p.m. ET, CBS
In case you've lost track, Navy leads the all-time series 56-49-7 and that includes the Midshipmen's current 10-game SU (straight-up) winning streak that dates back to the 2002 season - the last Army win in this rivalry game was a 26-17 triumph in the 2001 game played at old Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia.
So that's our little history lesson on one of America's great sporting events:
The here-and-now reality is that Navy - a full touchdown betting favorite for this game - is headed to a post-season bowl game (see the Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco versus Arizona State on Dec. 29th) while the Black Knights on the Hudson will be home for the holidays this year and here trying to bounce back from a humbling 63-32 loss to 3 ½-point pup Temple back on November 17th.
Best shot for Army to steal this one will be to get that #1-ranked ground game (369.8 yards per game) crankin' right out of the proverbial starting gate and so keep an eye here on savvy QB Trent Steelman who has rushed for a team-high 1,152 yards this year (or almost 105 rushing yards per game).
Navy has beaten the likes of Air Force, Central Michigan and East Carolina (all bowl-bound teams) - and the Mids will entrust their offense to QB Keenan Reynolds who has rushed for nine scores this year.
Spread Notes - Army enters this showdown with a shabby 3-8 ATS (against the spread) record and the Cadets are also just 3-7 spreadwise in their last 10 tilts against Navy. On the flip side, the Midshipmen are a money-roasting 4-7 versus the vig overall this year and just 3-9 ATS as betting favorites since the start of last season.
THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL REPORT - IT'S THE JANUARY BOWL ROLL CALL
Tuesday, January 1, 2013
HEART OF DALLAS BOWL - at Dallas, TX
PURDUE (6-6) vs. OKLAHOMA STATE (7-5) - In case you're wondering, this is one of four January bowl tilts where someone's a double-digit betting favorite with Okie State Cowboys right now laying a whoperoo 17-point price here and keep in mind the Pokes are gunning for a third straight bowl game win (bested Arizona in the Alamo Bowl two years ago and beat Stanford in last year's Fiesta Bowl). Best stat line of the game here: After spotty career at Purdue, QB Robert Marve actually had 13 TDs and just 3 INTs in his farewell season. Note that Purdue receivers coach Patrick Higgins will coach the team in this bowl after Danny Hope's firing and before now-former Kent State head coach Darrell Hazell takes over the reigns in West Lafayette.
GATOR BOWL - at Jacksonville, FL
MISSISSIPPI STATE (8-4) vs. NORTHWESTERN (9-3) - Like to point out how N'western 'Cats had spiffy 11-1 ATS mark this year and so why isn't ...Coach Fitz... (as in Pat Fitzgerald) getting more Coach of the Year love? If Big 10 guys get RB Venric Mark (1,310 yards rushing and 11 ground scores this year) off-and-running early than Wildcats might well ...cash... again.
OUTBACK BOWL - at Tampa, FL
SOUTH CAROLINA (10-2) vs. MICHIGAN (8-4) - Fans of the maize-and-blue are still wonderin' why head coach Brady Hoke didn't let QB-turned-RB Denard Robinson get more second-half carries in that 26-21 loss to archrival Ohio State back on Nov. 24th (hey, we don't have the answer for that one!) and so stay tuned to see if Robinson (1,319 yards passing and 1,166 yards rushing this year) handles the rock a lot in his final collegiate game - better make sure you know where DE Jadeveon Clowney is at all times, guys!
CAPITAL ONE BOWL - at Orlando, FL
GEORGIA (11-2) vs. NEBRASKA (10-3) - No doubt one of the many flaws regarding current BCS system is that a Georgia Dawgs team that was one play away from winning the SEC Championship Game and thus en route to a BCS Championship Game now instead has to ...settle... for this New Year's Day tilt that probably won't have the blood circulating for many of Mark Richt's players. Does that mean Nebraska could sound the upset alert here as 10-point underdogs? Well, if Big Red doesn't get its act together on defense - now how many teams get to play in a January bowl game after allowing 70 points in its previous tilt? - than Georgia QB Aaron Murray and friends could party big-time here.
ROSE BOWL - at Pasadena, CA
WISCONSIN (8-5) vs. STANFORD (11-2) - Wow, it'll be fun watching one-time and now one-game head coach Barry Alvarez patrol the Wisky sidelines after sudden/abrupt resignation of Bret Bielema who takes over troubled Arkansas program but real theme is will Stanford's rock-ribbed defense have the folks to contain a Badgers attack that struck for 70 points in recent Big 10 Championship Game? The Cardinal - who ended the year with four spread wins in its last five games - sport the country's third-best rush defense (allowing just 87.7 yards per game) and now must stick it to TD-record-breaker RB Montee Ball every chance it gets!
ORANGE BOWL - at Miami Gardens, FL
NORTHERN ILLINOIS (12-1) vs. FLORIDA STATE (11-2) - Fact of matter is everyone should ...cool their heels... 'cause there are worst bowl matchups out there on this holiday card and maybe double-digit dog NIU Huskies will stick around here for a long while thanks to do-everything QB Jordan Lynch who threw for 2,962 yards (and 24 TDs) and ran for another 1,771 yards (that leads the country) and 19 TDs and so guess the veteran earned his scholarship after all!
Wednesday, January 2
SUGAR BOWL - at New Orleans, LA
LOUISVILLE (10-2) vs. FLORIDA (11-1) - Only thing that separated the ...mighty Gators... from having played for the SEC Championship was that 17-9 loss to Georgia in late October but otherwise lots to like about Will Muschamp's crew that heads into this prime-timer a two-TD betting favorite and sporting country's fifth-best defense. If Florida RB Mike Gillislee (1,104 yards rushing) finds a couple of creases in sloppy Louisville rush defense, than it could be major stat-sheet stuffing night for the kid!
Thursday, January 3
FIESTA BOWL - at Glendale, AZ
OREGON (11-1) vs. KANSAS STATE (11-1) - Better believe that both the Ducks and Wildcats rue the date of Nov. 17th after both clubs fell from the unbeaten ranks on that fateful night but now this is real pride game with K-State QB Collin Klein (2,490 yards passing with 15 TDs and another 890 yards rushing with 22 TDs) ready/willing/able to close out his career with a bang while Oregon RB Kenjon Barner (1,624 yards rushing and 24 TDs) has different ideas for the country's third-best rushing attack. Hey, Oregon is playing in its fourth consecutive January bowl game and so ...hats off... to boss Chip Kelly and folks!
Friday, January 4
COTTON BOWL - at Arlington, TX
TEXAS A&M (10-2) vs. OKLAHOMA (10-2) - No doubt the Sooners have reason to ...show up... here and especially if A&M's Johnny Manziel gets handed the Heisman Trophy this weekend. Oklahoma's home losses to Notre Dame and Kansas State stung Bob Stoops and Company big-time this year but there's nothing wrong with an offense that scored 40+ points in six different games and ranked fifth nationally in passing yardage. On the flip side, aforementioned ...Johnny Football... takes glittering stats into this bowl bash - he threw for 3,419 yards with 24 TDs and just 8 INTs this year and added 1,181 yards rushing with 19 scores -- but will OU have almost a ...hatred... for Manziel by the time this one kicks off?
Saturday, January 5
COMPASS BOWL - at Birmingham, AL
PITTSBURGH (6-6) vs. OLE MISS (6-6) - Remember that Pitt Panthers played in this very bowl game a year ago and were total no-shows en route to a 28-6 loss against 3 ½-point dog SMU but now first-year coach Paul Chryst promises a better effort (we hope so!) while SEC Rebels know QB Bo Wallace - who had five TD flings in 41-24 Egg Bowl win against rival Miss State last month - can explode if you just give 'em time to throw.
Sunday, January 6
GO DADDY.COM BOWL - at Mobile, AL
KENT STATE (11-2) vs. ARKANSAS STATE (9-3) - You can check this one out following a long weekend of NFL Wild Card Playoff action and there should be some major offensive fireworks (note the totals price is at 62 points and climbing right now) as Ark State slinger Ryan Aplin (3,129 yards passing with 23 TDs and 4 INTs this season) surely one of the country's best players that you probably heard about ... right?
Monday, January 7
BCS CHAMPIONSHIP GAME - at Miami Gardens, FL
ALABAMA (12-1) vs. NOTRE DAME (12-0) - Title tilt isn't expected to be all that close (say the Las Vegas experts!) but do you realize that the ND Fighting Irish defense has surrendered 14 points or less in 10 of the team's 12 games this year and LB Manti Te'o and Company knows this 'Bama attack is vanilla stuff that isn't trying to fool anyone ... advantage Notre Dame? One real key here will be whether or not Irish TE Tyler Eifert (44 receptions and 4 TDs this year) can make some ...chunk plays... on first down and ease up the stress on Notre Dame ground game. No doubt Alabama boss-man Nick Saban is well-versed in these championship bouts (two wins with the Crimson Tide and one with LSU back in 2003) but does he fully trust a defense that's been gouged by Texas A&M and LSU? Stay tuned!
NOTE: Catch our NFL Week 14 News, Notes & Previews in the next edition of Jim Sez plus we'll announce our Heisman Trophy winner!