Posts Tagged ‘NCAA football trends’

2012 Poinsettia Bowl Predictions & Picks: BYU vs. San Diego St 12/20

December 5th, 2012 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist) | Posted in College Football   Comments Off on 2012 Poinsettia Bowl Predictions & Picks: BYU vs. San Diego St 12/20
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Poinsettia Bowl 20122012 Poinsettia Bowl picks are going to be entertaining to make this year, as we have a de facto host of this game in the San Diego State Aztecs. Head Coach Rocky Long’s team will look to avenge last year’s bowl defeat in the New Orleans Bowl when SDSU battles it out with former Mountain West rivals, the BYU Cougars. Join us for our Poinsettia Bowl keys to the game and our BYU vs. San Diego State predictions.

2012 Poinsettia Bowl: San Diego State Aztecs vs. BYU Cougars
2012 Poinsettia Bowl Location: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, CA
2012 Poinsettia Bowl Date/Time: Thursday, December 20th, 8:00 p.m. (ET)
2012 Poinsettia Bowl On TV: ESPN, Watch ESPN

Click Here For The Rest Of The 2012-13 Bowl Game Schedule And Other Bowl Game Previews

Key #1: San Diego State has to figure out how to move the ball on the ground
QB Adam Dingwell has done a great job this year for the Aztecs, stepping in for the injured QB Ryan Katz and leading the team to a perfect record since getting the starting gig. The problem that the Aztecs might have in this one though, is that they could struggle on the ground. Take out the game against the No. 1 team in the land, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, and BYU only allowed 67.3 yards per game this year, and that includes a game against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and their triple option offense. Head Coach Bronco Mendenhall has himself a heck of a defense that has stood up to just about every test it has faced this year. San Diego State though, has two great backs in RB Adam Muema and RB Walter Kazee. These two men just have to keep the ball moving for a SDSU team that averages 229.2 yards per game on the ground. If not and Dingwell has to throw the ball to keep it moving against the Cougars, there could be massive problems. For as well as Dingwell played when he had to this year, he did only average 6.9 yards per pass attempt, and he had just an 8/4 TD/INT ratio.

Poinsettia Bowl Odds at BetGuardian Sportsbook
San Diego State Aztecs +3.5
BYU Cougars -3.5
Over/Under 48
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Key #2: BYU cannot lose ground in the special teams department
Mendenhall will tell you just how badly his special teams units have played this year. The kicking game has been absolutely atrocious, as the team has made just nine of its 17 field goal attempts on the campaign. The return game hasn’t produced a single touchdown all year long, and there hasn’t been a return of a punt or a kick go longer than 44 yards all year either. The one aspect that this team has really capitalized on this year though, has been in the punting department. P Riley Stephenson finished out the year ranked second in the country in yards per punt at 47.3, and he is a real weapon for the team to have. That being said, punting is one very tiny aspect to the game on a regular basis, and without a kicker to rely upon on a regular basis, it is going to make this a difficult game for the Cougs to try to play. This one had better not boil down to a crucial kick, knowing how bad both Stephenson as a field goal kicker and K Justin Sorensen have been all year long.

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Key #3: Riley Nelson has to work the ball up the field
First off, Nelson has to be healthy, and that’s first and foremost. The fifth year senior has been dealing with all sorts of problems all year long, and now, it’s his back that is bothering him. He admits that he isn’t at 100%, but regardless of whether he is or he isn’t, Thursday is going to be the day that he has to take the field against a San Diego State defense that has been deceptively solid all year long. Yes, the team showed that it was prone to some big plays by allowing a pair of 40+ yard touchdowns against the Wyoming Cowboys, but those were the only scores beyond 25 yards that the team allowed since September 29th against the Fresno State Bulldogs. Nelson averages just 6.6 yards per pass attempt, and there isn’t a receiver on the team that averages more than 12.6 yards per catch this year. That’s why RB Jamaal Williams and the gang have struggled getting things going in the running game. There just isn’t all that much of a deep threat on a regular basis. Parlay the fact that the Aztecs haven’t gotten burned by the big play with the fact that BYU doesn’t seem to really have the ability to strike for those long touchdowns with regularity makes this a dangerous spot for the Cougs to be in.

BCS Championship Picks: Oregon vs. Auburn Props 1/10/11

January 9th, 2011 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist) | Posted in College Football   Comments Off on BCS Championship Picks: Oregon vs. Auburn Props 1/10/11
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We have waited for over a month to sink our teeth into this one! Finally, the BCS National Championship Game is here, and NCAA football betting fans can’t wait to watch the Oregon Ducks take on the Auburn Tigers for all of the marbles. Just when you thought we had every angle of this game covered, think again! Today, we’re tackling some of the best props on the board for the biggest game of the year.

Will there be a score in the first 4 1/2 minutes?
Let’s be remotely reasonable here. Every single season, we look and see two teams with these great offenses playing for all of the marbles in the BCS Championship Game, and every single year, we think that we are going to see all of these points hit the board right away in the first quarter and that the scoring will just never look back. Sometimes, like when the USC Trojans played the Texas Longhorns, we end up with that great offensive shootout. Others, like when the Florida Gators beat the Oklahoma Sooners, we get a complete dud. Either way, it usually takes teams quite a while to get into the swing of thing. Sure, it wasn’t all that long ago that WR Ted Ginn Jr. returned the opening kickoff of the National Championship Game for a TD, but we know that the likelihood of that happening here is slim to none. These offenses are going to take awhile to get into the swing of things, and it certainly isn’t going to happen right away in the first 4 1/2 minutes of the game. Even in that Texas/USC epic battle, there was only one score in the entire first quarter. There’s no reason to think that this isn’t a winning proposition at least 60 percent of the time. There will be No Score in First 4 1/2 Minutes (-115 at Hollywood Sportsbook) in the BCS National Championship Game.

LaMichael James Longest Run Over/Under 30.5 Yards
When something happens eight times in 12 games and the sportsbooks are only asking you to make a 50/50 proposition call on it, you just have to jump at the opportunity. Sure, the Tigers held teams to right around 100 yards rushing this year, but this is an exception. You know that Oregon is going to get its yards in this one. It might be a frustrating night for the Heisman Trophy runner up, but James is certainly capable of ripping off at least one run of at least 31 yards in this one. He did that in each of his first five games of the year and three times down the stretch. James should be able to do this at least once. Don’t be shocked to see his longest rush be Over 30.5 Yards (-115 at Hollywood Sportsbook).

Will Kenjon Barner score a TD?
Let’s be real here with Barner for a second. Sure, he had 17 carries in each of his last two games against the Arizona Wildcats and the Oregon State Beavers, but his numbers are inflated thanks to the fact that he had five scores in the first game of the season when RB LaMichael James was suspended. Barner has only found pay dirt three times since then, and two of those scores came against Oregon State. The odds on this prop should probably be about -300 for ‘no’, but because of the fact that the ‘total’ is so high in this game, the oddsmakers are hoping that you fall into all of the traps and bet ‘yes’ on every single one of these props. Not everyone can score a TD in the title game, folks. Barner will be one of those that doesn’t get a chance to celebrate in the end zone. He will Not Have a TD (-170 at Hollywood Sportsbook) against the Tigers.

Will Mario Fannin Score a TD?
Don’t get suckered into the fact that Fannin scored five TDs this year. Two came against the Chattanooga Mocs, and one came against the South Carolina Gamecocks when the SEC Championship Game was already well out of reach. Do you really believe that this game is going to be a blowout? Unless there are some major injuries to either RB Michael Dyer and/or RB Onterio McCalebb to speak of, we’re not even so sure that Fannin gets onto the field, let alone scores a TD in more than one out of four games. He will Not Have a TD (-320 at Hollywood Sportsbook).

Philip Lutzenkirchen Over/Under 1 Reception
Maybe we’re getting suckered into this one just a tad, but we have seen more out of Lutzenkirchen of late than we did for the rest of the season. Maybe he is more likely to have no receptions than two receptions, but we have a feeling that the big guy, one of the feel good stories in this game, will at least get his hands on the pigskin once. Don’t be shocked if he’s a surprise TD scorer, as he is a great option near the end zone. However, the stellar tight end has been the target of at least a couple of passes in each of Auburn’s last three games. We’ll take our chance that he at least gets the one catch, and gets a second one somewhere along the way. Lutzenkirchen should have Over 1 Reception (+110 at Hollywood Sportsbook) against the Quack Attack.

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl Picks: Boston College vs. Nevada Analysis

January 7th, 2011 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist) | Posted in College Football   Comments Off on Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl Picks: Boston College vs. Nevada Analysis
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It’ll be a college football betting dichotomy on Sunday night in San Francisco, as we get our chance to sink our teeth into one final appetizer before the main course and the BCS National Championship Game on Monday. The Nevada Wolf Pack will look to run over the Boston College Eagles in a game that should be a ton of fun at Candlestick Park. These two teams have a lot to prove, but they are complete opposites of one another. Don’t be surprised if these three keys to the game prove to make the difference on which club beats the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl odds.

Key #1: The Eagles have to flex their defensive muscles
We know that the Nevada offense is going to get its yards and its points, but there is no reason to think that a month and a half of preparation for this game isn’t enough for the Eagles to be able to put up a great fight here in San Francisco. This is a team that prides itself on the fact that it hasn’t allowed a team to score more than 16 points against it in basically half of a season, and though that clearly won’t stay the case after the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, it is a fantastic goal. BC had the No. 1 ranked rushing defense in the land this year at just over 70 yards per game, and Head Coach Frank Spaziani is doing a lot of things to be able to help this team out. RB Montel Harris is sure to carry the ball at least 20 times in this game (more on this later), which should chew up some clock and keep the Pistol loaded on the sidelines for Nevada.

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl Odds at JustBet
Boston College Eagles +7.5
Nevada Wolf Pack -7.5
Over/Under 55
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Key #2: Colin Kaepernick and Vai Taua have to want to go out victorious
QB Colin Kaepernick and RB Vai Taua have done a lot of things in their illustrious careers here in Reno. Kaepernick became the first man from a non-BCS conference to have at least 20 TDs both on the ground and through the air in the same season this year, and he is only the third to be able to pull off the feat in the history of major college football regardless of conference affiliation. He has thrown for 9,906 yards and 81 TDs, and has rushed for 4,091 yards and 59 TDs in his great career. Taua is now out of the shadow of the man he used to split the backfield with, RB Luke Lippincott. He accounted for 1,750 yards and 22 TDs this year, giving him 4,524 yards and 44 TDs on the ground with another 58 receptions for 561 yards and eight TDs as a receiver. These two have been a part of the only trio of rushers to ever have 1,000+ yards in the same season when they pulled off the feat last year, and they have averaged over 500 yards of offense per game in each of the last three seasons. What they have not done, though, is win a bowl game. In fact, you have to go back to the 2005 Hawaii Bowl in an OT victory against the UCF Knights to find the last win in a bowl game. This team was shut out three years ago by the New Mexico Lobos and was held to just 10 points against the SMU Mustangs last year. It would be a real travesty to see these two leave college without tasting what a bowl victory is like.

Key #3: Chase Rettig has to take care of the pigskin
We don’t care who you are. If you are turning the ball over and making little mistakes against the Wolf Pack, you’re going to lose. Just ask the Boise State Broncos how well they did when they were making dumb mistakes in the second half against these guys. We’ve already talked about the importance of RB Montel Harris, as he is sure to have his touches and will keep this offense moving. This junior has already accounted for 3,599 yards and 27 TDs on the ground in his career, and this is going to be a real showcase game for him here in San Francisco. However, the man of the hour on this offense is QB Chase Rettig. Just a freshman, Rettig was sort of thrown into the fire this year when neither QB Mike Marscovetra nor QB David Shinskie could get the job done. Rettig basically has half of a season of experience now as the team’s starting quarterback, and he threw for 1,117 yards and six TDs against seven picks. He doesn’t have to be a hero, but Rettig is going to have to make a few plays here and there just to keep this offense going. If Nevada is forcing him into some dumb, freshman mistakes though, the Eagles are in a boatload of trouble.

BBVA Compass Bowl Picks: Kentucky Wildcats vs. Pittsburgh Panthers

January 7th, 2011 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist) | Posted in College Football   Comments Off on BBVA Compass Bowl Picks: Kentucky Wildcats vs. Pittsburgh Panthers
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Teams that have programs that are clearly heading in the opposite direction right now look to gain some momentum in the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham on Saturday afternoon. The Pittsburgh Panthers will try their best to beat the NCAA football betting odds against the up and coming Kentucky Wildcats. Beating the BBVA Compass Bowl lines in this one could be tough, and though the spread has gone the way of the Panthers for the majority of the last two weeks, the line is inevitably going to be very tight. Which way should you go? Hopefully these three keys to the game will help you out!

Key #1: Pittsburgh has to want to be here
We know that this is a very difficult task for the Panthers. There is no doubt that a Kentucky team that fought all season long in the SEC just to finish at .500 is going to be thrilled to play in a bowl game this year under first year Head Coach Joker Phillips, but there is a real question there for U-Pitt. The team’s Head Coach Dave Wannstedt won’t be here in Birmingham, as he was forced to step down after another very iffy season that resulted in a second tier bowl bid. Defensive Coordinator Phil Bennett is going to be taking over as the team’s head coach for this game, and he very well could end up using this as his interview to be the next man in charge of the team. The only reason this is possible though, is because Head Coach Mike Haywood, who was signed just a few weeks ago, was released from his duties after being arrested for a domestic violence call against him. Now, to top it all off, the up and down Panthers aren’t playing in a BCS bowl game, something that looked like a near certainty at the start of November, as they blew a two game edge in the conference and are stuck playing in one of the last bowl games of the year in one of the least desirable locations for a duel.

BBVA Compass Bowl Odds at JustBet
Kentucky Wildcats +3.5
Pittsburgh Panthers -3.5
Over/Under 52.5
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Key #2: Morgan Newton needs to prove that he is a superstar in the making
Phillips really had a tough time deciding who his quarterback was going to be in camp this year, and he decided to go with experience over athleticism, choosing QB Mike Hartline over QB Morgan Newton. Here at the BBVA Compass Bowl though, he really doesn’t have a lot of options. Hartline was suspended for this game a month ago, and he won’t be making the trip to Birmingham with the team. Instead, the ball belongs to Newton, who will inevitably take most of the snaps over the course of the day. Newton only threw the ball seven times this year, and he had just four carries, but he brings a level of athleticism to the table that kind of looks like another SEC quarterback with the last name of Newton… No, we’re not confusing Morgan for Cameron, but we know that UK’s Newton does have the ability to make plays both with his arm and with his legs, and he can really confuse the defense for the Panthers if he takes full advantage of his skill set. Newton just has to relax and let the game come to him in his first career start, and he should be fine, especially if he listens to Key No. 3…

Key #3: The ball must get into the hands of Randall Cobb
The Panthers have a fantastic defense, ranking No. 9 in the country and ranking in the Top 25 against the rush, the pass, and in scoring. However, this unit clearly has some chink that can be exposed, and it is going to be up to Cobb to make those cracks even bigger. Cobb touched the football an average of 11.8 times per game this year, but that isn’t going to cut it here in the BBVA Compass Bowl. Cobb has the ability to really light up a game in a hurry, as he will take the snap directly as a Wildcat QB, where he can throw the ball, run the ball either to the inside or to the outside, or hand it off, he can take wide receiver sweeps, and he can catch passes. Between those three things, he accounted for over 1,400 yards this year with 15 TDs. Not only does Cobb getting his numbers put points on the board directly for the Wildcats, but it takes attention away from RB Derrick Locke and WR Chris Matthews, the two of which ended up with 19 TDs between them on the year. If the Panthers can’t figure out where Cobb is at all times when he breaks the huddle, they are going to be in a ton of trouble, as this young man can really do it all on the field.

BCS Bowl Picks: Oregon Ducks vs. Auburn Tigers Keys to the Game

January 7th, 2011 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist) | Posted in College Football   1 Comment »

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For several weeks, we have been anticipating how the BCS National Championship picture would pan out. Once and for all, we know that the Auburn Tigers will be facing off with the Oregon Ducks as the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country, and the winning team will collect the hardware as the National Champions in 2010-11. With still a month to go before the game kicks off, we present the three keys to the biggest game of the year that you need to pay attention to before making your BCS Championship picks. The opening National Championship line features Auburn favored by 2.5 points, while the ‘total’ has been set at 74.5.

Key #1: Auburn’s Defense Must Stop LaMichael James and the Oregon Ground Attack
Last week, when we analyzed this from the standpoint of the Civil War with the Oregon State Beavers, we wished the Beavs good luck. They needed it. The Ducks rushed for 346 yards without QB Darron Thomas even taking a single step past the line of scrimmage on the day. The Quack Attack is averaging 309.9 yards per game this year on the ground, and that is being parlayed into the most points in the nation at 49.3 per game. To make matters worse for the opponents, if you take out that close call at the Cal Golden Bears, Oregon is averaging 323.1 yards per game on the ground, 562.3 yards per game in total, and 52.5 point per game. If the Ducks end up scoring 61 points or more in this one, they would become the highest scoring team in the history of college football. The only team with more was the 2005 Texas Longhorns, who scored 652 points… in 14 games… Oregon would have pulled this feat off in just 13 games. James is clearly going to be a finalist for the Heisman Trophy this year, as he has rushed for 1,702 yards and 21 TDs on the campaign. However, we can’t forget about RB Kenjon Barner and QB Darron Thomas either. Barner has rushed for 537 yards and six scores and just reached the century mark in the Civil War, while Thomas has 496 yards and five TDs on the ground as well. Auburn’s defense has been great against the rush this year, but it has not faced a foe like this all season long. The Tigers ranked No. 9 in the land at just 104.0 yards per game allowed, but they’ll have to really buckle down to keep the Quack Attack under 250 yards in that department.

Key #2: Cameron Newton Must Play Like Vince Young
We’ve already made one comparison in this game to the 2005 Texas Longhorns, and we are about to make our second. QB Cam Newton has drawn all sorts of comparisons to QB Vince Young, whom many thought was the best player that college football had seen until QB Tim Tebow graced the grounds at the University of Florida. There really were no players like Young that could just single handedly tear apart any defense in the country and do so seemingly without ever breaking a sweat. Who could forget about that legendary National Championship Game against the USC Trojans in January 2006 in which he rushed for 200 yards and three TDs and threw for 267 yards, gliding through one of the best defenses that the collegiate ranks had ever seen. Many think that Newton, just a junior, is better than Young is at this stage of his career. After putting up numbers like this, it’s hard to disagree. Newton, in the significantly tougher SEC, has thrown for 2,589 yards and rushed for 1,409 more, and he has thrown for 28 TDs, rushed for 20 TDs, and has one more as a receiver as well. Newton is one of just two players in the history of college football to both throw and rush for at least 20 TDs in the same season, joining Florida’s Tebow. He has also only been picked off six times and has only lost one fumble. Oregon’s defense has been known to have some holes in it, and it clearly never ran up against an offense like this anywhere in the Pac-10 this year, save perhaps against the Stanford Cardinal. However, there are no signal callers like Newton in the Pac-10, and the Ducks are finally going to get a taste of their own medicine. Still, it will be up to Newton to bust open the Oregon defense time and time again to keep up with the scoring pace that the Ducks are clearly going to be going with.

Key #3: Some Star Must Shine Outside of the Two Heisman Candidates
Believe it or not, there are more than just two players in this game! LaMichael James and Cam Newton are both amazing, but they are not the only men on the field. You can bet that after a month of game planning, the defenses are going to be keyed in on the two studs. However, there are some other men to watch, and inevitably, one of these guys is going to be the difference maker that wins the title for his school. For Auburn, the men to really keep an eye on are DT Nick Fairley, RB Michael Dyer, RB Onterio McCalebb, and WR Darvin Adams. Adams caught that ridiculous Hail Mary pass at the end of the first half of the SEC Championship Game, and he broke the SEC Championship Game record with 217 yards on seven receptions with a pair of scores… and all of those stats came in the first half. Dyer rushed for 950 yards and five scores this year, while McCalebb had 763 yards and nine TDs. Fairley is going to be the top defensive player from either of these teams, and he is the difference maker in the middle of the defensive line that will be responsible for closing down the inside ground game of the Ducks. On the other side of the field, we know that freshman S John Boyett, the team’s leader in INTs, is going to have to be at his best on the game’s biggest stage. We’ve already spoken about what RB Kenjon Barner has the ability to do, but we can’t forget about WR Jeffrey Maehl either. Maehl has been up and down at times this year, but he has 943 yards and 12 scores on a team high 68 receptions. Looking for a dark horse that could be a real difference maker for Oregon? Don’t forget about WR Josh Huff. Huff has done a little bit of everything this year, as he has 13 carries for 210 yards, 19 receptions for 303 yards, and 534 kick return yards with a total of six TDs.

GoDaddy.com Bowl Picks: Middle Tennessee State vs. Miami Analysis

January 6th, 2011 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist) | Posted in College Football   Comments Off on GoDaddy.com Bowl Picks: Middle Tennessee State vs. Miami Analysis

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After taking the first day off in weeks, college football betting action is back at it on Thursday night with the GoDaddy.com Bowl, which features a pair of teams that have had some interesting seasons this year. By all accounts, the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders underachieved mightily in 2010, finishing at .500 in the regular season in a year in which many in Murfreesboro thought that they were running the table. The Miami Redhawks had perhaps the best transformation in the nation this year, changing from a 1-11 team to one that won the MAC and is on the verge of a double digit win season. Which team has the edge to beat the GoDaddy.com Bowl odds? Find out with these three keys to the game.

Key #1: Dwight Dasher has to put aside a disastrous season to finish out his career on a high note
Simply put, when QB Dwight Dasher doesn’t play well, the Blue Raiders are in a lot of trouble on a regular basis. We saw that at the outset of the season when he was suspended for four games, and we are likely to see that one last time here against the GoDaddy.com Bowl odds if he doesn’t perform at his highest abilities on Thursday. What we know about Dasher is that he is one heck of an athlete. He has the ability to throw for 300 yards and rush for 200 yards in the same game, and he proved it last year at the New Orleans Bowl when he threw for 162 yards and two scores and rushed for 201 yards and two scores in a thumping of the Southern Miss Golden Eagles. One year after throwing for 2,789 yards and rushing for 1,154 more on the ground, his numbers were basically cut by more than half. He only threw for 1,377 yards and rushed for 453 yards, totaling 13 TDs, which was a mere 23 fewer than he had in all of 2009. The one category Dasher didn’t come down in though, was INTs. He threw 14 this season just like he did last year, and one more would set a career high. If there’s any consolation, in his last regular season game, Dasher did account for over 300 yards of offense against the Sun Belt champs, the Florida International Golden Panthers, so he is clearly capable of making some huge waves here at the GoDaddy.com Bowl.

GoDaddy.com Bowl Odds at BetUS Sportsbook
MTSU Blue Raiders -2.5
Miami Redhawks +2.5
Over/Under 48.5
Click Here to Bet on Your GoDaddy.com Bowl Picks!

Key #2: The Redhawks need to find a leader on the field
QB Zac Dysert really cut his teeth last year, throwing for 2,611 yards and 12 scores against 16 picks in the disastrous season in 2009, but he came back this year as a sophomore and was ready to carry the load for the Redhawks. He really played well, throwing for 2,406 yards and 13 TDs versus 12 INTs, but a lacerated spleen took him out of the lineup in the middle of November, and he has not, and is not expected to return to the lineup this year. With Dysert down, Head Coach Mike Haywood was really able to rally his troops, particularly on the defensive side of the ball, to make a big difference. Now, Haywood is gone as well, having left for the bluer waters that the University of Pittsburgh had to offer before it fired him just days later after being arrested for a potential domestic violence charge. Someone needs to step up to replace these two strong forces for Miami to have a shot of beating the GoDaddy.com Bowl lines.

Key #3: Austin Boucher has to play like the man that won the MAC this year
Of course, we are referencing the 26-21 upset over the Northern Illinois Huskies as whopping 18.5 point underdogs that represented one of the biggest upsets of the entire season. The Redhawks came into that one without Dysert, and backup QB Austin Boucher was simply on fire. The frosh went 29-of-46 for 333 yards and a TD in that game, and he is going to need a similar performance to keep up with Dasher and the Blue Raiders. The biggest problem the Redhawks have is that they really don’t have that many offensive weapons to rely on. Sure, WR Armand Robinson and WR Nick Harwell both had pretty good years this year, but someone has to get them the football. No one else on the team had even 30 catches or even 350 yards on the year through the air, while on the other end of the offense, Thomas Merriweather accounted for over half the yards on the ground with 821 and a third of the scores for the entire team with ten.

Sugar Bowl Picks: Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Arkansas Razorbacks

January 3rd, 2011 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist) | Posted in College Football   1 Comment »

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The Ohio State Buckeyes could be reaching the end of an era this week at the Sugar Bowl, where they are going to take on the Arkansas Razorbacks. There are storylines galore to analyze before making our NCAA football picks in this one, and we have the three keys to the game that you have to watch out for here at Bankroll Sports!

Key #1: The Buckeyes have to let the off the field issues stay off the field
Though we know that QB Terrelle Pryor, WR DeVier Posey, and RB Daniel Herron are amongst the five players that have vowed to come back for their senior seasons next year, we aren’t so sure that that is going to be the case. These five juniors, all of which are eligible to go to the NFL Draft next year if they please, were at the center of a scandal in which they were suspended for the first five games of next season. Head Coach Jim Tressel and company were lucky to find out that none of the top Buckeyes were suspended for the biggest game of the season in the Sugar Bowl, though. That being said, nothing is stopping these players from hopping out of Columbus right after this game is over, never getting punished for their actions. All of these distractions could be a tremendous key in this game. If OSU isn’t focused, it is going to be punished by a well disciplined bunch of Razorbacks. The Buckeyes also have to forget about that the Big Ten was dominated on New Year’s Day is bowl games. They are a totally different team this year than the rest of this conference was, and they can’t let the conference’s 2-5 record stop them.

Sugar Bowl Odds at BetUS Sportsbook
Ohio State Buckeyes -3.5
Arkansas Razorbacks +3.5
Over/Under 57
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Key #2: This Buckeye defense has to be as nasty as advertised
After watching the TCU Horned Frogs take down the Wisconsin Badgers in the Rose Bowl, we’re not really so sure about this argument, but this Ohio State defense really could have been the best in the nation this year. The Buckeyes held teams to just 251.6 yards per game this year, and though this was a country mile away from what the Horned Frogs allowed, it was still easily good enough to finish second in the land. OSU ranked No. 6 or better in the land in every single major defensive categories this year. Allowing 13.3 points per game this year, and this was a stat that would have been a lot better had this unit not been victim to a number of special teams and offensive blunders. We also have to remember that this was a fairly brutal schedule this year, and the only team that scored more than 24 points against this ‘D’ was the Wisconsin Badgers.

Key #3: Ryan Mallett has to continue spreading the ball around to the rest of his offensive weapons
Mallett was one of the most unheralded quarterbacks in the nation this year, and we are somewhat bothered by the fact that he really has fallen off of the map as a potential top NFL prospect. We’re not so sure that he isn’t the best signal caller in the land as a pure passer, and that includes Heisman Trophy winner QB Cam Newton in his own conference. Mallett completed 66.5 percent of his passes this year for 3,592 yards and 30 TDs against 11 picks in the toughest conference in America. The recently declared QB Blaine Gabbert for the Missouri Tigers is supposedly a Top 20 pick in the NFL Draft, and he might be up into the Top 5 when push comes to shove. This is really the chance for Mallett to shine against one of the best defenses in the country, though. We also have to remember that Mallett hasn’t had WR Greg Childs since the end of October. Still, there are going to be six receivers on this team that end up with more than 600 yards for the season assuming that TE DJ Williams has at least 11 yards for the game. There are a ton of speed burners on this team right now. WR Cobi Hamilton is averaging 19.6 yards per reception to lead this team, but WR Jarius Wright is at 18.9 yards per catch as well. WR Joe Adams is at 16.9 yards per catch to boot. This is why Mallett is averaging almost ten yards per time that he drops back to throw the pigskin. If that keeps up, the Hogs have a great chance at pulling off the upset.