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by Jim Feist - 12/28/2010
As 2010 draws to a close, we find ourselves smack in the middle of the bowls. You shouldn't be bowled-out, either, as they build to the crescendo that is the Oregon/Auburn showdown for the national title.
Eagle Bank Bowl (Wed., Dec. 29): This game is outdoors in Washington, DC, and Ralph Friedgen was fired as Maryland's football coach, effective after this Bowl.
East Carolina (6-6 SU/ATS) is on a1-4 SU/ATS run because of a terrible defense. The Pirates have a great offense for first-year head coach Ruffin McNeill. He has brought in the no-huddle spread offense behind junior QB Dominique Davis (36 TDs, 14 INTs, 3,699 yards), averaging 38.2 points and 319 yards passing per game, but the defense is terrible allowing 43.4 per contest. This team gave up 76 points to Navy and 62 to Rice.
Maryland (8-4 SU/7-4 ATS) is playing well for coach Ralph Friedgen, though he was forced out so this is his last game. During his 10 years at his alma mater, Friedgen went 74-50. The offense has freshman QB Danny O'Brien (21 TDs, 6 INTs), not an explosive offense, with 217 yards passing and 125 yards rushing per game, but a solid 30.7 points pg. The defense played well, allowing 22.3 ppg (38th in the nation). It certainly will be an emotional game for the outgoing coach.
Pinstripe Bowl (Thurs., Dec. 30): This one will take place outdoors in the Bronx, at Yankee Stadium. Let’s play b-b-b-b-b-ball! Kansas State (7-5 SU/6-5 ATS) ended the regular season with a 3-game road trip, which explains a less than impressive 1-2 SU/ATS finish. This is mainly a running team but the offense is getting it done, averaging 33.6 ppg. The ground game (206 yds pg) carries the offense, as the passing attack (172 yds pg) has been weak. Senior QB Carson Coffman (12 TDs, 7 INTs) and senior RB Daniel Thomas (1,495 yards, 5.4 ypc) lead the way. K-State is on an 8-1 run over the total.
Syracuse (7-5 SU/4-5 ATS) has taken everyone by surprise, playing tough defense for Coach Doug Marrone. Sophomore Ryan Nassib (16 TDs, 7 INTs) and senior RB Delone Carter (1,035 yards) lead this ball control offense (21 ppg) while the attacking, monster defense (18 ppg allowed) does the rest. Syracuse has made its quantum leap on the strength of a blitzing defense that creates havoc for quarterbacks and ranks 16th nationally in yards allowed. They are on a 1-3 SU/ATS run and a 6-2 run under the total.
Sun Bowl (Fri., Dec. 31): Notre Dame (7-5 SU/6-5-1 ATS) overcame a lot of adversity and rebuilding to make a bowl under first-year Coach Brian Kelly. Kelly has added an uptempo attack (25.8 ppg, 257 yds passing) to South Bend, like the ones he ran at Cincinnati. They lost Junior QB Dayne Crist (15 TDs, 7 INTs) to a knee injury, but have gone 3-0 SU/ATS under freshman QB Tommy Rees (10 TDs, 8 INTs), including upset wins over Utah (28-3) and at USC (20-16). The defense, always a problem under Charlie Weis, made great improvements, allowing 20.5 ppg. Notre Dame is 9-3 under the total.
While Notre Dame overcame adversity, Miami (7-5 SU, 4-7 ATS) had all theirs come at the end, with the firing of Coach Randy Shannon. Offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland is coaching the team now, and they hired new Coach Al Golden from Temple. Miami has good balance on offense running a pro-style offense, averaging 27.1 points, 190 yards rushing and 232 yards passing. The defense is very good, allowing 19.7 ppg (21st in the nation). Miami is on a 7-2-1 run under the total.
Citrus Bowl (Sat., Jan. 1): Michigan State got shut out of BCS bowls and meets reigning national champ Alabama. It’s also a matchup against Nick Saban, who used to coach Michigan State in the late 1990s before finding glory in the SEC with LSU and Bama. The Big Ten is 7-6 against the SEC in bowls the past five years. Michigan State (11-1 SU/6-5 ATS) has a potent offense (31.3 ppg), averaging 237 yards passing, 169 rushing behind junior QB Kirk Cousins (20 TDs, 9 INTs). The only blemish was a disastrous 37-6 loss at Iowa. Michigan State is 27-17-1 over the total the last three+ seasons, 0-3 SU, 1-2 ATS the last three years in bowls.
Defending champion Alabama (9-3 SU/6-5 ATS) won’t be repeating because of three losses. It was an odd season for a very talented team, whipping opponents by a 34.6-14 average. The offense averages 175 yds rushing, 260 passing per game behind senior QB Greg McElroy (19 TDs, 5 picks, 2,767 yards), RB Mark Ingram (816 yards, 5.6 ypc), and WR Julio Jones (1,084 yards). McElroy is preparing to start his 27th and final game at quarterback for Alabama.
Orange Bowl (Mon., Jan. 3): Virginia Tech (11-2 SU, 10-2 ATS) has won 11 in a row after those early shockers, including 21-16 defeat to James Madison. Mobile senior QB Tyrod Taylor (23 TDs, 4 picks, 2,521 yards) is a terrific runner (637 yards rushing) and passer and there is balance with junior RB Darren Evans (817 yds). V-Tech is on a 5-1 run under the total. Frank Beamer is 2-0 Su/ATS the last two years in bowl and 4-2 ATS the last 6. They blew out Tennessee a year ago (37-14) and won in the Orange bowl two years ago over Cincinnati, 20-7.
Stanford (11-1 SU, 7-3-1 ATS) Coach Jim Harbaugh has a strong offense, No. 8 in scoring in the nation (40.3 ppg). The offense averages 211 yards rushing, 256 passing! Sophomore QB Andrew Luck (28 TDs, 7 INTS, 3,051 yards) has three dynamite receivers, plus an experienced offensive line, one of the nation’s best. They can play defense (17.8 ppg allowed), too. Stanford is 2-6 in its last eight bowl appearances and this is only their second bowl appearance in the last nine years (they lost 31-27 to Oklahoma a year ago as +10 dog).