Sports

2012-13 Bowl Games Preview: BYU, UCF, Ball State, San Diego State and More

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Welcome to Bowl Season. The 2012 Regular Season has come and gone, and hopefully everyone enjoyed the first year of Saturday Edge. As a whole website, we had a very solid season, and we all agreed that this was the most fun we’ve had during a CFB season in a long time. Before I get into my bowl picks, Just wanted to say a few things.

Poinsettia Bowl – Thursday December 20, 8PM – San Diego, CA

2* Units, BYU -3 (-115) vs San Diego St.

BYU battled through their slew of injuries, primarily on offense, to amass a 7-5 record, qualifying them for the Poinsettia Bowl. San Diego St, 9-3 on the other hand, travels too…nowhere, to play in their 2nd consecutive bowl game. On paper, these teams seem pretty similar, but after quite a bit of analysis, BYU gets the edge for a few reasons.

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BYU comes into this game with extremely impressive defense. I have BYU as the 3rd ranked defense in the NCAA. They rank 3rd in Total Yards allowed, 7th in Yards per play, 4th in Yards per Rush, 3rd in 3rd down Defense, 23rd in Sacks, 2nd in Red Zone D, and maybe the most important in this game, 2nd in Net Punting. They really get it done on that side of the ball. San Diego St. has not seen a defense this good. The next best defense this team has played is Boise St who I have ranked 15th. This even seems to be an outlier though, as Boise’s D is better against the pass than they are the run, and as I am about to discuss, SDSU runs, runs, and…runs.

San Diego St. on offense ranks 24th. They are very good at running the ball, averaging 229 yards per game. They get in quite a few short 3rd down and convert at a very high percentage (49%). They also convert very well in the Red Zone. As mentioned, BYU has a very stout run defense. If San Diego St. goes for more than 200 on the ground here, which only happened once on BYU at Notre Dame, BYU to cover and win could be in trouble. I don’t see that happening though. San Diego St. also struggles to throw the ball in throwing situations. Couple that with the fact that BYU gets in the backfield, and SDSU could be in trouble on offense. I think we will see SDSU get stuffed on 1st and 2nd down, and be in those long 3rd down situations, which they aren’t used too, and aren’t as good at. Expect to see a lot of punting from SDSU, which they are only average at as well.

When you can peg one teams score range and feel pretty comfortable about it, it then allows you to predict the other team. I just don’t see SDSU scoring over 17 here. I don’t think they will run all over BYU, and they certainly won’t be passing down the field. So too cover, BYU needs I think 21+. Can they get that?

BYUs offense has been tough to predict. They have scored 14 or under 4 times, and 40+ 5 times. I think BYU will be able to get some scores against SDSU here. I have SDSU D ranked 45th; not great. I like BYU to score a few times because they are very good in key situations. They rank 27th in 1st D/game, 32nd on 3rd down O, and 38th in RZ TD %. Utah St in those same categories on D ranks 68th, 70th, and 108th, respectively. BYU won’t run this one up, but I expect them to score 3+ TDs.

Finally, BYU has shown up better than SDSU against bowl eligible teams they’ve faced. BYUs defense has held strong against the great teams they’ve faced, yielding a positive yard differential while SDSU offense has underperformed slightly, and their defense has been exposed for a negative differential.

BYUs defense is just too good here, and SDSU strength on offense plays right into it. Unless SDSU comes out and passes all over BYU, which is still tough, and they haven’t done all year really, BYU keeps the SDSU offense in check. It may be close for awhile, but BYU should grind them out of this one.

Final Score

BYU 24, SDSU 13

Beef O’Brady’s Bowl- Friday December 21, 7:30PM – St. Petersburg, FL

.5* Units, UCF vs Ball St. Over 61.5

.5* Units, UCF -7 vs Ball St.

After analysing this game for about two days straight, and going back and forth on sides, I finally had some things come clear to a conclusion. I am on UCF and the over here for a few reasons.

This game was particularly hard to line for me for a few distinct reasons. First, these teams both played very weak and non-correlated schedules. It was tough to find opponents that play similar to the other. This makes two teams very hard to compare. Even further on this point, it makes it harder to make season stats relative.

So what do we know?

Ball St. has a crap defense. They are one of the worst in the country. They don’t get in the backfield, they don’t get turnovers, and they allow 31 points on average to mostly subpar teams. UCF is a very balanced team on offense. They actually rank relatively well, coming in at 33rd. I have no doubt that UCF puts up over 35 here, probably getting close to 40. When they get into the RZ, they score 70% of the time, ranking them 21st.

The biggest question for this game is what does Ball St. do on offense. They have a QB that had surgery 2.5 weeks ago that just started practicing. Their back-up got a concussion in the last game of the season. If their offense is firing on all cylinders, it is very solid. For UCF to cover, they need to keep Ball St. in the 20s or very low 30s. Ball St. has been kept in the 20′s 2 times and the low 30′s (30/31) 4 times.

Ball St. has really played 1 or 2 defenses better than UCF’s, and they’ve scored in the 20′s both times. UCF is very talented on the defensive side of the ball, specially in the RZ, and I think they can keep them under the amount we need.

Finally, UCF is coached well. They are the 5th least penalized team in the country and they own the 12th best turnover margin. They haven’t blown too many teams out, and I can’t imagine they are thrilled for this bowl after losing to Tulsa twice in the last 3 weeks, but I still think they play well here.

I like the over because Ball St. is capable of scoring, and I think UCF should get close to 40. I could easily foresee a late, worthless TD by Ball St. sending this over and possibly ruining the UCF cover.

Final Score

UCF 38, Ball St. 27

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