Last Saturday we saw the start of the 2012 bowl season, and though both favorites won, only one covered. It took a miracle comeback by Arizona to beat Nevada in the New Mexico Bowl, but the Wildcats never got close to covering a 9 point spread.
Below are 5 games where Trentmoney and I believe the underdog stands a good chance of winning their bowl game outright, and more importantly, where they stand an even better chance of covering the spread.
Military Bowl: Bowling Green +7.5 vs San Jose State
“Defense wins championships” goes the saying, and it helps to cover spreads in bowl games as well. Bowling Green quietly excelled on defense this season, finishing in the top 25 in over ten different categories, including placing 4th in opponents 3rd down % while giving up ~16 pts/gm.
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SJST has played 6 bowl teams this season, and the most it’s been favored by in any of those games is -3.5, so on a neutral field this is a bit of a step up in line value …getting a TD in a game whose total is lined in the 40’s is the side where you’ll usually find me.
Citrus Bowl: Rutgers +2.5 vs Virginia Tech
The Rutgers defense held 10 of their 11 FBS opponents to below their season averages in ypg and rush ypc. Although they did lose their last two games of the season ( to bowl teams @ Pittsburgh, Louisville), first year head coach Kyle Flood did a great job getting his team prepared for the bowl season, going 5-1 SU on the road and 3-1 SU as an underdog.
Virginia Tech struggled all year. They did win their last 2 games to become bowl eligible, but prior to that they lost 3 in a row, all to bowl teams. Their two wins to end the season came against BC (2-10) in OT and UVA (4-8) at home. VT finished 1-5 on the road (0-6 ats, the only win coming in OT) and 2-6 ATS as a favorite. I feel the wrong team is favored here.
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: Michigan State +2.5 vs TCU
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Michigan State lost 5 Big 10 games by a combined 13 points. Only # 1 ranked Notre Dame was able to beat them “convincingly.” The culprit of course was a poor offense, one that avg’s 370 ypg & 20.25 ppg vs teams that allowed 385 ypg & 24.59. But the Michigan State defense is one of the best stop units in the country. The Spartans held 11 of the 12 teams they played this season below their season avg in ypg & ppg. They held 8 of 12 teams below 20 points.
TCU had a pretty good debut season in the Big 12, and as usual the Horned Frogs had a stellar D, holding 10 of 11 teams below their ypg offensive season avg and 9 of 11 below their ppg season avg. However they too struggled to score and only avg 385 ypg (vs team that allowed 431 ypg) & 26.91 ppg (vs teams that allowed 31.39 ppg), and those number were inflated by overtime games vs Texas Tech and West Virginia.
In a game that will most certainly be a low scoring, defensive battle, I’ll take the team getting the points, who also happen to have the better defense and the better running game.
Gator Bowl: Northwestern +2 vs Mississippi State
As you know by my article on bowl motivation I do not place much emphasis on that particular angle, but I do feel confident in saying that Northwestern will have no reason not to be ready to play this game. The Wildcats and HC Pat Fitzgerald desperately want to snap their postseason losing streak. Northwestern has lost four straight bowl games (3-1 ATS) heading into their Gator Bowl match-up against Mississippi State.
“It’s a clean slate,” Fitzgerald said. “You look back at our performances over the last four [bowl games], we could have won all four games; we didn’t. That’s frustrating and motivating. But that’s got nothing to do with this team or where we’re at right now.”
Mississippi State started the season out 7-0, beating such powerhouses as Jackson State, and South Alabama. Their first three SEC games were against 3-9 Auburn, 2-10 Kentucky and 5-7 Tennessee (all three teams fired their HC this season). When the SEC schedule ramped up the Bulldogs went 1-4 (beating only 4-8 Arkansas). They went 0-4 and were outscored 154-61 (38.50 ppg vs 15.25 ppg) vs the only four bowl teams on their schedule.
Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma +4.5 vs Texas A & M
I’ll call this one more of a hunch as my overall numbers do not really support Oklahoma and the points. However the last time these two teams played OU was a 13 point favorite and they beat the Aggies 41-25 in Norman last year. Now A & M is a 4.5 point favorite on a neutral field. Is Johnny Football worth 17.5 points?
Other than Alabama, which was just a terrible spot for the Tide, who have the Aggies beaten? A few average, at best, Mississippi schools and SMU? OU doesn’t have a signature win like the Aggies do, but they were 7-2 against bowl teams. They also have the better defense and 6 weeks to prepare for Manziel.
Last but not least, have you seen Manziel’s girlfriend? Never mind all the usual Heisman distractions he’ll be experiencing leading up to the game, that chick is hot. There is no way he will be 100% focused on OU. LOL!
Let us know what you think of these projected 2012 bowl upsets and which team you think will spring the biggest bowl upset this season.
2012 Bowl Picks (Set 1)
2012 Bowl Picks (Set 2)
2012 Bowl Picks (Set 3)