Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, December 17, 2014 at 10:12 AM
IT’S TIME TO PREVIEW
THE DECEMBER 30TH AND 31ST BOWL GAMES
PLUS OUR NFL WEEK 16 HOT TOPIC
Folks, today and tomorrow our Jim Sez columns will get you quick-hitter comments regarding the 11 College Football Bowl games being played between December 30th thru January 1st including the College Football Playoff (CFP) tilts between #2 Oregon vs. #3 Florida State in the Rose Bowl and #1 Alabama vs. #4 Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl.
And keep in mind we’ll hit the “re-wind button” and get you more in-depth College Bowl write-ups as we head into all the individual games and so that means it’s a true Bowl Mania blitz going on here the next couple of weeks – and plenty to say about NFL Week 16 action too, so don’t miss out!
COLLEGE BOWLS –
Here’s a look at the Six (6) Bowl Games that will be played on Tuesday, Dec. 30th and Wednesday, Dec. 31st:
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 30
MUSIC CITY BOWL
LP Field – Nashville, TN
NOTRE DAME (7-5) vs. #23 LSU (8-4) – 3 p.m. ET, ESPN
No question this has been major letdown year for both the ND Fighting Irish and LSU Tigers who counted on being part of the January bowl crowd and now you wonder what team will have their “head in the game” here:
Notre Dame ended regular-season play on a four-game SU (straight-up) and ATS (against the spread) losing streak and head coach Brian Kelly was chucked under the proverbial bus for some late-game gaffes while LSU folks are keeping fingers crossed that the rumors having head man Les Miles trek off to Michigan just ain’t true.
Word is the Irish will play both QBs Everett Golson (22 turnovers this year) and Malik Zaire in this bowl game against an LSU defense that ranks eighth nationally after limiting five teams to single-digit point totals this season.
Bank of America Stadium – Charlotte, NC
#13 GEORGIA (9-3) vs. #21 LOUISVILLE (9-3) – 6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
The intrigue here involves current Louisville defensive coordinator Todd Grantham who once-upon-a-time held the same position with the Georgia Dawgs … does that necessarily mean “advantage U of L”? Stay tuned.
The oddsmakers have Georgia listed as a full TD (7-point) betting favorite for this clash and we’ll let y’all know that Mark Richt’s club was the chalk side for every one of its regular-season games while going 7-5 vig-wise and tell us right now how many carries RB Nick Chubb (1,281 yards rushing with 12 TDs this year) gets here and we’ll tell you who wins.
The ‘Ville averaged 36 ppg in its final month of games but will head coach Bobby Petrino trust QB Reggie Bonnafon (just 850 yards passing with 5 TDs) here or will the Redbirds resort to a more balanced attack with RB Brandon Radcliff (11 rushing TDs) getting lots of totes in an attempt to keep Chubb off the field?
SAN FRANCISCO BOWL
Levi’s Stadium – Santa Clara, CA
MARYLAND (7-5) vs. STANFORD (7-5) – 10 p.m. ET, ESPN
Go right ahead and include the Stanford Cardinal as one of the country’s top three or four most disappointing teams in the land this year – wasn’t David Shaw’s crew supposed to be in the conversation when it came to this first-ever four-team playoff race?
Instead, the Pac-12 team lost to USC, Notre Dame, Arizona State, Oregon and Utah and – get this – only beat two bowl-bound teams (see Washington and UCLA) and QB Kevin Hogan (2,603 yards passing with 17 TDs) isn’t exactly the kind of thrower that scares the opposition.
If frisky Maryland – a 13 ½-point underdog at press time – wishes to hang close here than a defense that ranks a dismal 97th against the rush (201.6 ypg) must get tough and the Terrapins need quarterback C.J. Brown (2,083 yards passing with 13 TDs) to make smart red-zone decisions ‘cause he can take unnecessary gambles in this area of the field.
Your attention please …
My handicappers and bloggers have everything all mapped out and you can get the upcoming College Football Bowl Games beginning with Saturday’s Five (5) games including #22 Utah vs. Colorado State in the Las Vegas Bowl plus all the NFL Week 16 games too when you check with us here at Jim Hurley’s Network – make sure you’re all aboard for the week/weekend action online here at www.jimhurley.com or at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453.
Plus don’t forget all the daily/nightly action on the hardwood as there’s NBA and NCAA Hoops action all winter long right here with Jim Hurley!
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 31
CHICK FIL-A PEACH BOWL
Georgia Dome – Atlanta, GA
#9 OLE MISS (9-3) vs. #6 TCU (11-1) – 12:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Here begins the “cream of the crop” matchups with this battle of Top 10 teams and the $64,000 question is will the TCU Horned Frogs be “psyched” to play this game after getting left out of the four-team playoff?
Sure, veteran head coach Gary Patterson handled the snub in a professional manner but gotta believe his Big 12 team – one that scored 37-or-more points on nine different occasions – might come out in a funk and so let’s see if QB Trevone Boykin (3,714 yards passing with 30 TDs and just 7 INTs) can jump-start TCU from the get-go while Ole Miss looks to make up for a late-season skid that saw the Rebels lost three of their final five games … senior CB Senquez Golson is a first-team All-American who looks to gum up Boykin’s pass-first attack.
University of Phoenix Stadium – Glendale, AZ
#20 BOISE STATE (11-2) vs. #10 ARIZONA (10-3) – 4 p.m. ET, ESPN
Well look at who made it to the New Year’s Eve festivities?
The Boise State Broncos won their final eight regular-season games and became that non-power conference club chosen to play in a monster bowl and so all eyes are on RB Jay Ajayi (1,689 yards rushing with 25 TDs) and this dude’s gotten better/stronger as the season progressed and he offers up a major challenge to an Arizona stop unit that ranks a lowly 102nd nationally.
Meanwhile, the ‘Cats do have some solid ammo and check out WR Cayleb Jones (he’s #1 in your program) who snagged 65 balls worth 902 yards and 9 TDs this season – Boise State has not seen a pass-catch of his ilk this year.
Sun Life Stadium – Miami Gardens, FL
#7 MISS STATE (10-2) vs. #12 GEORGIA TECH (10-3) – 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
Is there a more under-the-radar upper-echelon team than these Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets?
Sure, the close-but-no-cigar 37-35 loss-but-cover versus Florida State in the ACC Championship Game raised more than a few eyebrows but did you know that Paul Johnson’s squad beat five bowl-bound teams this year including haughty “W’s: against Georgia and Clemson?
The country’s third-best ground game (333.6 ypg) will look to get a combined 45-to-50 carries from QB Justin Thomas (965 yards rushing) and RB Synjyn Days (753 yards rushing) while the Miss State game plan just got a little muddled with the announcement that DC Geoff Collins will be leaving for the same position at Florida.
Watch Miss State DE Preston Smith and LB Bernardrick McKinney – both All-SEC first-team performers – to pile up the tackle totals here but whether or not the 7-point favorite M-State Bulldogs win/cover here likely depends on whether one-time Heisman Trophy hopeful QB Dak Prescott (2,996 yards passing with 24 TDs) is on target after some shaky late-season outings.
NFL WEEK 16 HOT TOPIC
Now that ESPN’s Jon Gruden has inked a contract extension through the year 2021 and CBS/NFL Network analyst Bill Cowher continues to “delay” his coaching return, you wonder where NFL teams will be shopping for their head coaches once we get to “Black Monday” on December 29th.
It seems crystal clear the Chicago Bears, the New York Jets and the Oakland Raiders will be among the teams searching for new sideline generals and there’s a pretty good chance that both the Atlanta Falcons and the Carolina Panthers will be axing their head coaches too.
May we suggest to all of the above-named NFL teams that they shouldn’t be shopping in the “recycled bin” area and instead should think of an offensive-minded coach that will have a long-running “marriage” with a young quarterback – yes, the model that the New England Patriots have perfected the past decade-and-a-half with QB Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick.
Okay, so maybe those sort of tandems don’t come along every day but here’s possible QB/head coach mix-and-matches that we’ve come up with these teams:
Chicago – Time to say bye-bye to QB Jay Cutler and head coach Marc Trestman (don’t tell us Cutler’s contract is the sticking point) and how about the Bears making a trade up the draft charts that will net them QB Jameis Winston (Florida State) with current Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton snagging the head coaching job.
New York Jets – The Rex Ryan Era is coming to a halt and this whole J-E-T-S organization is in dire need of an overhaul. Now that the Jets have won a third game and are currently at #6 on the NFL draft board, the idea is to package their first-round pick with a top body or two (maybe LB Davis Harris and/or TE Jace Amaro) and get into the top two where Oregon QB Marcus Mariota would be ideal and top that off with the selection of Seattle OC Darrell Bevell as the team’s new head coach.
Oakland – Good luck trying to figure out the direction the Raiders go with a new head coach to replace interim boss Tony Sparano but at least the silver-and-black feel they’re set at quarterback with Derek Carr and from the suggestion box we say take a shot with one-time Denver head coach and current New England OC Josh McDaniels.