Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 9:00 PM
It's time for the College Football kids to rev up their engines with a grand total of 35 post-season bowl games between this Saturday thru the BCS Championship Game between #1 Notre Dame vs. #2 Alabama on the evening of January 7, 2013 and so let's get the show on the road.
Our Jim Sez Bowl Previews will feature lots of great/pertinent info including Bowl Spread Notes plus we'll wrap up this first of many, many bowl columns with our Jim Sez College Football Awards - that's always a lot of fun, right?
COLLEGE BOWL PREVIEWS
NEW MEXICO BOWL - University Stadium - Albuquerque, NM
NEVADA (7-5) vs. ARIZONA (7-5) - 1 p.m. ET, ESPN
The bowl blitz begins with this showdown of offensive-minded squads (note totals price currently at 76 ½ points) and take note the Pac-12 Wildcats allowed 34.3 points per game to rank 103rd nationally out of 124 FBSC schools while the Wolf Pack from the Mountain West Conference surrender a whopping 32.5 ppg.
In short, Nevada must get a handle on Arizona RB Ka'Deem Carey who rushed for 1,757 yards and 20 touchdowns this year and that includes a 366-yard rushing game against woeful Colorado back on November 10th. If Carey is corralled by Nevada's stop unit, than it'll be up to versatile QB Matt Scott to rally the U of A attack after he threw for 3,238 yards with 24 TDs and 12 INTs this season.
No question that Nevada hoped for a better year in 2012 but a pair of one-point losses - to South Florida and San Diego State with the latter game coming in OT - put a major damper on things and here Hall of Fame head coach Chris Ault is trusting oft-erratic QB Cody Fajardo (2,530 yards passing and 981 yards rushing) to make things happen for this pistol offense (and especially in the red zone) while RB Stefphon Jefferson (1,703 yards rushing and 22 TDs) must be a force if the Pack's gonna snag the big upset - at press time Arizona was a 9 ½-point betting favorite.
The Bowl Spread Notes - Arizona's failed to cover two of its last three bowl games dating back to 2008 and that includes a 36-10 loss versus 4 ½-point favorite Oklahoma State in the 2010 Alamo Bowl. Meanwhile, Nevada's a rotten 0-4-1 ATS (against the spread) in bowl games dating back to 2007 with the lone "push" occurring last year in the 24-17 Hawaii Bowl setback against 7-point fav Southern Miss.
FAMOUS IDAHO POTATO BOWL - Bronco Stadium - Boise, ID
UTAH STATE (10-2) vs. TOLEDO (9-3) - 4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
The amazing thing about this year's Utah State squad is it almost went unbeaten versus the vig: The Aggies reeled off 11 consecutive pointspread covers before finally stubbing its spread toe with that regular-season-ending 45-9 non-cover win against 37 ½-point pup Idaho or else Gary Anderson's gang would have gone down in ATS history!
What makes Utah State tick - and keep in mind the WAC crew is a prohibitive 10-point betting favorite here - is a balanced offense starring RB Kerwynn Williams who rushed for 1,277 yards and 12 TDs and than there's do-it-all QB Chuckie Keeton who threw for 3,144 yards with 27 TDs and 9 INTs and added 527 yards rushing - and consider that Utah State has major motivation here after blowing a 13-point lead in the second half of last year's Potato Bowl game against Ohio (see our Bowl Spread Notes below).
P.S., Utah State's won only one bowl game in his history - a 1993 triumph over Ball State in the Las Vegas Bowl.
On the flip side, Toledo has more than a few question marks here including on defense where the Mid-American Conference club surrendered 464.1 yards a game thus ranking 'em 108th in the FBS in total defense. Best way for Toledo to hang in here is for Matt Campbell's club to feed WR Bernard Reedy (82 receptions for 1,051 yards and 6 TDs) early and often. Got it?
The Bowl Spread Notes - Utah State's only bowl appearance the past 10 years occurred last season with the painful 24-23 last-minute loss to Ohio University (a pick 'em affair) while Toledo has failed to cover four-of-five bowl appearances the past 10 years including last season's 42-41 non-cover win against Air Force in the Military Bowl. Note that Toledo's only bowl cover the past 10 years happened back in 2005 with a resounding 45-13 victory against 3-point dog UTEP in the GMAC Bowl.
IT'S TIME FOR THE JIM SEZ COLLEGE FOOTBALL AWARDS
Hey, we let everyone else out there hand out their awards all last week and we sat back and soaked it all in ... now's the time for us to weigh in with our Jim Sez College Football Awards.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
MANTI TE'O, LB, NOTRE DAME - Sorry, but we're not budging! You can quote us every key stat having to do with Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel (a great, great football player) but what can we say except Te'o was the boss of the nation's #1 team and isn't the goal to win? Te'o stats included 7 interceptions and a slew of goal-line stops and all we know is when push came to shove, Te'o and Notre Dame always came out on top.
Top Runner-Up - Who else but Johnny Heisman!
COACH OF THE YEAR
BRIAN KELLY, NOTRE DAME - Again, the Irish finished up 12-0 and faced immense down-the-stretch pressure to keep winning and show up in this year's BCS Championship Game and its third-year head coach never cracked under the pressure. Kelly - who was the right choice from the get-go for this South Bend school - may drive some folks nuts with his occasional musical chairs bit at quarterback but how do you argue with gridiron perfection? You don't!
Top Runner-Up - Bill O'Brien, Penn State.
GAME OF THE YEAR
TEXAS A&M 29, ALABAMA 24 - The funny thing about this November game is that in the end it didn't mean anything in regards to the national championship picture as the Crimson Tide lost and still wound up in the Jan. 7th BCS Championship Game but there was terrific drama here with 'Bama driving late after Manziel had smoked the two-TD favorites in the first quarter with a dizzying array of run/pass successes.
Top Runner-Up - How 'bout Stanford's 17-14 OT win against 19 ½-point fav Oregon as that changed the whole complexion of the BCS race late.
DISAPPOINTMENT OF THE YEAR
USC - When the preseason #1 team winds up with five losses and a berth in the so-what/who-cares Sun Bowl, than you know your season's been a total flop.
Top Runner-Up - Arkansas "edges out" SEC rival Auburn. Phooey on the two of you!
NOTE: Get all the Bowl Previews this week right here in Jim Sez -- and watch out this week for NFL Week 15 and NCAA/NBA coverage too!