Archive for December, 2010

Fiesta Bowl Picks: UConn Huskies vs. Oklahoma Sooners Analysis

December 31st, 2010 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist) | Posted in College Football   Comments Off on Fiesta Bowl Picks: UConn Huskies vs. Oklahoma Sooners Analysis

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Upon completion of the Rose Bowl, the eyes of the college football betting world will head to Glendale, where the Connecticut Huskies will play their first BCS bowl game in school history against the Oklahoma Sooners. There are three tremendous keys to this game that we must remember in order to beat the Fiesta Bowl odds on New Year’s night.

Key #1: Connecticut has to act like it has been here before
We know that the Huskies have never played in a game of any sort of magnitude like this, but they have to believe that they can beat the most difficult team on their schedule this year. Last year, the Cincinnati Bearcats won the Big East and got a huge reality check when they were absolutely crippled by the Florida Gators in the Sugar Bowl. We also remember when the Pittsburgh Panthers, the only team in the history of the BCS that wasn’t unranked in one of these tremendous games, getting blasted by the Utah Utes. Being in this game for the first time, Head Coach Randy Edsall has his work cut out for him against one of the proudest programs in the history of college football. The Sooners have to ratchet up the pressure in a hurry to be able to take the fight out of these Huskies as well… which leads us to…

Fiesta Bowl Odds at BetUS Sportsbook
UConn Huskies +16.5
Oklahoma Sooners -16.5
Over/Under 54.5
Click Here to Bet on Your Fiesta Bowl Picks!

Key #2: Connecticut absolutely cannot fall behind in this game
If you’re the Huskies, you want the ball first, and you want to set a tempo in this game. The only way UConn is hanging in there is if it gets something established in the ground game and keeps this contest as short as possible. The clock has to keep running, and the offense has to keep the Sooners off of the field. The main reason for this is to keep RB Jordan Todman rolling. Todman knows that he is going to have to be called upon at least 25 times in this game to have absolutely any chance of helping his team pull off the upset. He has already carried the ball 302 times this year and was one of the best backs in the country at 1,574 yards and 14 scores. More importantly though, Edsall knows that he doesn’t have a quarterback that is good enough to compete against a big time Big XII foe. QB Zach Frazer has only completed 52.7 percent of his passes for 1,202 yards and five TDs on the campaign. None of the quarterback options are solid. QB Cody Endres was dismissed from the team, while QB Michael Box started once this year and proved that he couldn’t get the job done. The ball just has to keep on the ground, but if the Huskies are two scores down, that really isn’t going to be an option.

Key #3: The Sooners need to exorcize the demons from Fiesta Bowls past
This is the biggest thing for Head Coach Bob Stoops to worry about in his locker room. The Sooners have to have nightmares about playing here in Glendale, as this is where the Boise State Broncos and West Virginia Mountaineers both pulled off tremendous upsets. The Broncos simply caught Oklahoma by surprise in a year in which Stoops’ men were disappointed that that they weren’t playing for the BCS Championship. West Virginia used the motivation of the “whole world is against us” in the first game in the post Rich Rodriguez era. Oklahoma knows that it is the superior team in this game and that it should be able to just use its willpower to take care of the Huskies. However, this was also the case a few times before. If the Sooners can get past this and treat this like an entirely different game against another inferior team, they should be fine.

Rose Bowl Picks: TCU Horned Frogs vs. Wisconsin Badgers Analysis

December 31st, 2010 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist) | Posted in College Football   Comments Off on Rose Bowl Picks: TCU Horned Frogs vs. Wisconsin Badgers Analysis
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The BCS gets started on Saturday afternoon in the traditional Rose Bowl in Pasadena. The “Granddaddy of Them All” this year doesn’t feature a Pac-10 team for the second time in the last six years. Instead, the TCU Horned Frogs become the first team from a mid major conference to crash the party in Pasadena in the modern era. They’ll have to put their undefeated regular season record on the line against the Wisconsin Badgers, who won the Big Ten in a three team tiebreaker. These two squads know that they have a lot to prove in this one, but which team will beat the Rose Bowl lines? You can’t afford to miss these keys to the Rose Bowl.

Key #1: Wisconsin needs to physically overwhelm the Horned Frogs
If there is potentially one knock on this TCU team this year, it is that it is a relatively undersized bunch that hasn’t had to deal with the physical nature of the major conference foes. Sure, beating the Oregon State Beavers, Utah Utes, etc. is nice, but this is a tremendously different type of challenge. The Badgers have three rushers that would be starters and lone backs on most other teams in the country in the form of RB John Clay, RB Montee Ball, and RB James White. These three are all just bruising backs that run behind one of the biggest offensive lines in the country. There is no doubt that the Badgers are going to be coming after the heart of a TCU defense that ranked No. 1 in the land both overall and in scoring, allowing just 11.4 points per game on the campaign. Clay, Ball, and White can all end with 1,000 yards on the season on the ground, and if they do pull it off, they would be the second trio in the history of college football to accomplish the feat. They would also be the first trio of pure running backs to all have at least four digits in yards as well, as the Nevada Wolf Pack did it with QB Colin Kaepernick and two backs.

Rose Bowl Odds at JustBet
TCU Horned Frogs -2.5
Wisconsin Badgers +2.5
Over/Under 57
Click Here to Bet on Your Rose Bowl Picks!

Key #2: Andy Dalton has to be a real winner
All too often in these battles between the big boys and the little giants, the quarterback ends up being the man that makes the big difference. Remember QB Jared Zabransky against the Georgia Bulldogs? Or what about “Z” the next year in the Fiesta Bowl? Two totally different games, two totally different results. Another case of horrible play was Hawaii’s QB Colt Brennan against the Georgia Bulldogs in the Sugar Bowl. Dalton is the winningest quarterback in TCU history, and he is going to have to prove it in this one. The Wisky defense has stopped some of the best passing attacks that the Big Ten has to offer, and though these Horned Frogs prefer to run the ball, Dalton is going to have to make his throws. The senior completed 66.2 percent of his passes for 2,638 yards and 26 TDs this year, but more importantly, he only threw six picks. Dalton absolutely cannot turn the ball over in this game, or the Badgers are going to eat TCU for lunch on the other side of the ball.

Key #3: Scott Tolzien is going to have to make a few plays
When you have 44 rushing touchdowns between the three backs behind you, you don’t really have to do a whole heck of a lot. However, if the rushing game doesn’t do the job, Tolzien is going to have to make a few plays to keep things moving. Wisconsin quarterbacks aren’t rich in history, especially in bowl games, but Tolzien can be the exception to the rule in the biggest bowl game that this team has been at in quite some time. Tolzien threw for 2,300 yards and completed 74.3 percent of his passes, and just a few big shots will loosen up the purple and black defense and could set up a tremendous day for this offense. Don’t forget about how good WR Lance Kendricks and WR Nick Toon really are. Kendricks only caught 39 passes on the year, but he averaged 16.1 yards per catch and had five scores. Toon came back from an injury early in the season, and he came on strong with 33 grabs, 413 yards, and three TDs.

Gator Bowl Picks: Mississippi State vs. Michigan Analysis

December 31st, 2010 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist) | Posted in College Football   Comments Off on Gator Bowl Picks: Mississippi State vs. Michigan Analysis

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In the third game of the “New Year’s Resolution” between the SEC and the Big Ten, the Gator Bowl will pit the Mississippi State Bulldogs against the Michigan Wolverines. These two teams have taken very different paths to get here this year, but they are both going to be proud to be here in Jacksonville. But which team will beat the Gator Bowl odds at Ever Bank Stadium? The three keys to this game are going to be the difference.

Key #1: Mississippi State’s defense has to use the exact same game plan it used against Auburn
It’s not often that you see Auburn Tigers QB Cam Newton be held down in a game, but that’s exactly what happened when he faced these Bulldogs early in the season. Now, what we need to remember is that this was several months ago before we even knew that Newton was going to be a Heisman candidate, let alone a runaway winner of the award. On that day, he rushed for just 70 yards and threw for just 136 yards and two total scores with a pick. The Tigers were held to just 350 yards on the day, and the Bulldogs were able to stay alive every step of the way to nearly pull off the upset. (However, on that day, MSU was only a one point underdog.) QB Denard Robinson is built in the exact same mold as Newton from the standpoint that he will look to throw the ball after he checks his running options. Newton was originally viewed as a poor man’s Robinson, but what ended up happening was the exact opposite. Still, this is a dynamic rusher that can make a lot of things happen, but the MSU defense needs to figure out how to contain him.

Gator Bowl Odds at BetUS Sportsbook
Mississippi State Bulldogs -4.5
Michigan Wolverines +4.5
Over/Under 59.5
Click Here to Bet on Your Gator Bowl Picks!

Key #2: Michigan has to keep Robinson clean
The problem with Robinson is that he is really a one man band on this team. He handled the ball 495 times this year, 245 of them coming on the ground. He really has no regard for his body at times and takes a tremendous beating. Michigan had to switch to backup QB Tate Forcier on several instances over the course of the year when Robinson either wasn’t at his best or when he had taken a few too many shots. In this game though, Forcier won’t be here. He was ruled academically ineligible for this game, which really just leaves Robinson to take care of himself. The offensive line has to do a great job taking care of him in the pocket, and RB Vincent Smith and RB Michael Shaw might have to do some more carrier of the football at times if Head Coach Rich Rodriguez wants to stay competitive in this game. If anything happens to Robinson, Big Blue is finished.

Key #3: Someone has to step up in the passing game for the Bulldogs
We know that it just isn’t in the nature of the Bulldogs to try to throw the ball all that much, but this secondary for Michigan is very, very bad 260.2 yards per game allowed. Normally speaking, QB Chris Relf would be trying to get the ball in the air to WR Chad Bumphis. However, Bumphis isn’t likely to be in the lineup in this one due to a collarbone injury. Both WR Malcolm Johnson and WR Leon Berry are questionable as well, while TE Marcus Green is definitely out of the game. Relf only threw the ball 195 times this year for 1,495 yards and nine scores, but a ton of his passes were in the direction of his top receiver. With Bumphis out, WR Arceto Clark becomes the team’s top receiver. The problem with that? Clark only had 22 catches for 317 yards and a pair of TDs. Someone has to step it up in a big way to be able to keep this offense balanced.

Capital One Bowl Picks: Alabama vs. Michigan State Analysis

December 31st, 2010 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist) | Posted in College Football   Comments Off on Capital One Bowl Picks: Alabama vs. Michigan State Analysis

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The Alabama Crimson Tide and Michigan State Spartans might not be playing in a BCS game this year, but they are certainly going to be playing in the most illustrious of all of the non-BCS bowls on New Year’s Day, as they’ll meet in Capital One Bowl betting action on New Year’s Eve. Head Coach Nick Saban is going to be facing off with one of his former squads, and the action should be tense, so before you make your Capital One Bowl picks in this one, check out our keys to the game.

Key #1: Saban needs to prove that he can coach in a game that isn’t for a championship
Sure, we know that Saban does have the ability to win games that don’t have that much significance in it, but we’re wondering about these last few seasons. Alabama looked very, very flat at times down the stretch this year, especially in the second half of the Iron Bowl against the Auburn Tigers and for a good chunk of the game against the LSU Tigers as well. The last time the Crimson Tide played in a game that didn’t have a direct impact on the BCS Championship race for the Tide, they were crushed by the Utah Utes, a team that they were supposed to be significantly better than. Now, not only is Alabama not playing in the BCS Championship Game, but it isn’t playing in a BCS bowl game whatsoever. Can the Tide stay mentally tough? We know that the Spartans will, as this is their best bowl bid in years. This might be the biggest key to the entire game.

Capital One Bowl Odds at Diamond Sportsbook
Alabama Crimson Tide -10
Michigan State Spartans +10
Over/Under 52
Click Here to Bet on Your Capital One Bowl Picks!

Key #2: A relatively fresh Mark Ingram needs to look like a Heisman Trophy winner
Sure, RB Mark Ingram wasn’t anywhere near as good this year as he was when he won the Heisman Trophy last year, but he is still an incredibly dangerous runner that can rip apart any defense in the country. Ingram was really used a ton last year, as he rushed the ball 271 times and had another 32 receptions in the Heisman Trophy campaign. This year, Ingram was dealing with injuries at the start of the season, but he just wasn’t used as much as he was the year before in general. Rushing for 816 yards was a bitter disappointment for a man that that had double that last year. You want to prove that you’re still one of the best in the nation? Do something that the Wisconsin Badgers and their vaunted rushing attack couldn’t do. Beat up a big, physical Michigan State defense that only averaged allowing 114.0 yards per game this year. The Spartans didn’t allow a single team to score more than 31 points this year, and it’s going to be up to Ingram to make that not stay the case this week.

Key #3: The Spartans cannot be intimidated
If you’re Head Coach Mark Dantonio, you know that you have nothing to lose in this game. Even though you’re easily the higher ranked team, no one is expecting you to win, so even losing by 20 wouldn’t be a bitter disappointment. A win, and you’ve beaten the defending champs. Michigan State has to pretend like this is just any other game. It is a power running team, and even though the Crimson Tide have one of the more vaunted rush defenses in the nation. When the Spartans are ready to take their shots, they should take them and have confidence in QB Kirk Cousins to not turn the ball over. This was a team that averaged 408.5 yards per game against some of the best teams in the Big Ten this year, including that aforementioned win against the Badgers. As long as Michigan State believes in itself, it should be able to compete in the Capital One Bowl.

Outback Bowl Picks: Penn State vs. Florida Analysis

December 31st, 2010 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist) | Posted in College Football   Comments Off on Outback Bowl Picks: Penn State vs. Florida Analysis

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One of the best programs over the past few years, the Florida Gators, reaches the end of an era on Saturday afternoon at the Outback Bowl, as Head Coach Urban Meyer is going to step down when this one is over. For Head Coach Joe Paterno, even at 81 years young, he’s still kicking strong and ready to make this college football betting affair the start of something bigger in Happy Valley. The keys to the game at the Outback Bowl are as follows…

Key #1: UF has to really want to win this one for Meyer
Last year, we saw the Gators pull the same type of stunt. Meyer said that he was stepping down at the end of the Sugar Bowl against the Cincinnati Bearcats, and the end result was an absolutely dominating performance against a previously undefeated team. The difference this year is that there isn’t a man named QB Tim Tebow there on the sidelines pushing the team to do its best. Can QB John Brantley do it? Can RB Jeff Demps do it? Can Mr. Do It All Trey Newton do it? We just find ourselves at a loss for where the confidence on the sidelines. We know that the Nittany Lions never have a problem with motivation, as they came to the table last year in the Capital One Bowl against the LSU Tigers and won a game in a brutal rainstorm after failing to make it to the Rose Bowl.

Outback Bowl Odds at BetUS Sportsbook
Penn State Nittany Lions +7
Florida Gators -7
Over/Under 48
Click Here to Bet on Your Outback Bowl Picks!

Key #2: Evan Royster has to finish up his career in strong fashion
Simply put, if you have a one dimensional offense against the Gators, you’re in a ton of trouble, especially if that one dimension is the pass and your quarterback is a sophomore with about half of a season of experience. The Nittany Lions weren’t really efficient this year on the ground, averaging just 143.4 yards per game. Royster was really supposed to explode in this, his senior season, but it just never really happened. Amazingly, after running for over 2,400 yards over the course of the last two years, the senior only had 916 yards and six trips to the end zone this year. We’ve seen some huge games out of Royster before, but he hasn’t had a game with more than 85 yards on the ground since November 6th against the lowly Northwestern Wildcats. Now, he’s going against a defense that held teams to just 121.8 yards per game on the ground. The Gators did have some big time letdowns this year against teams that can run the rock like the LSU Tigers and the Alabama Crimson Tide, so this is an attainable task. Royster has to have one of the best games of his career, though.

Key #3: One of the explosive stars for the Gators has to get the job done
NCAA football betting fans keep asking the questions about what the difference is between this year’s team and last year’s squad. Contrary to popular belief though, it’s not just Tim Tebow. The rest of the big time threats for this squad are still here. RB Jeff Demps had a few great plays this year, but he only ultimately averaged 6.0 yards per carry when push came to shove. It’s a great number, but when you consider the fact that there are three carries of at least 65 yards on the year, it would only bring this average down around 3.5 yards per carry. WR Chris Rainey was expected to be used on the ground a lot as well, but his suspension halfway through the season took him out of the fold, too. Trey Burton might be the man that can do this as well. He had 12 total TDs this year and will touch the ball a ton of times in this game as a runner, a receiver, and potentially as a passer. Someone just needs to explode and this offense needs to play quick, something that it hasn’t done all season long, to succeed.

Ticket City Bowl Picks: Texas Tech vs. Northwestern Analysis

December 31st, 2010 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist) | Posted in College Football   Comments Off on Ticket City Bowl Picks: Texas Tech vs. Northwestern Analysis
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Every single year, the Northwestern Wildcats seem to figure out how to play a few games every year that just make you go “Wow!” College football betting fans hope that one of those games is on New Year’s Day at the Ticket City Bowl. The Texas Tech Red Raiders will basically be playing on their home turf, as this game is played right up the road at the Cotton Bowl. The three keys to this game should help you make your Ticket City Bowl picks to start your New Year’s Day off right!

Key #1: Evan Watkins needs to be a very unexpected hero
When QB Dan Persa went down with an Achilles injury, the argument really could have been made that the season went down the drain with it. This was a Northwestern team that could have played in a significantly better bowl game this year if not for the fact that it really just fell apart with two blowout defeats down the stretch. Watkins was absolutely nowhere near the quarterback that Persa was either in the air or on the ground. Persa threw for 15 TDs and rushed for nine more, completing 73.5 percent of his passes and averaging over 50 yards per game on the ground. Watkins only has 48 total rushing yards, is completing just 53.1 percent of his passes, and has only one score against four picks. The good news is that there has been plenty of time to prepare for this game. This is also a Texas Tech defense that can really be had, especially against the pass. The Red Raiders averaged 306.1 yards per game through the air, ranking second to last in the nation in the regular season.

Ticket City Bowl Odds at JustBet
Texas Tech Red Raiders -9.5
Northwestern Wildcats +9.5
Over/Under 60.5
Click Here to Bet on Your Ticket City Bowl Picks!

Key #2: Both of these teams need to establish a running game
Did you ever think the day would arrive that Texas Tech would be the dominant running team in a game? The days of the Air Raid are said and done with, but this is still a high flying Texas Tech offense. The Red Raiders do have two great backs though, in RB Eric Stephens and RB Baron Batch. Batch was hoping to become the first Texas Tech runner to reach the 1,000 yard barrier since before Mike Leach was in charge of this offense, but he fell a couple hundred yards short. These two did combine for over 1,400 yards and ten TDs on the campaign. For Northwestern, this could be a very tricky situation. The team did run for 151.7 yards per game this year, which ranked a reasonable No. 68 in the country. However, if you take Persa out of the equation, you’re losing 519 yards and nine TDs on the ground. The team’s third leading rusher, RB Arby Fields has transferred, while both No. 1 runner, RB Mike Trumpy, and fourth leading rusher, RB Jacob Schmidt are injured and are listed as questionable. The Red Raiders at least have the ability to win this game without a running attack because of their nature, but Northwestern doesn’t stand a chance with Watkins under center. Still, whichever team gets something going on the ground is probably the one winning this duel.

Key #3: The Cats need to put a body on Lyle Leong
WR Lyle Leong is essentially the second coming of WR Michael Crabtree in this Texas Tech offense. The senior did just about everything this year for the Red Raiders, and he is quite often the target deployed right near the goal line in virtually every instance. He only had 64 catches this year, which seems like a pedestrian number, but a whopping 17 of those passes went for TDs. The Cats really had no luck playing defense for the mass majority of the season, and until RB Mikel LeShoure went absolutely bananas against this team on the ground, the pass defense was what really struggled. Allowing 230.5 yards per game through the air in a Big Ten conference that focuses more on the rush than on the pass just isn’t all that good, and if Leong can get loose and continue to find the end zone in this game, the Ticket City Bowl odds are certainly going to be stacked against them.

Chick-Fil-A Bowl Picks: South Carolina vs. Florida State Analysis

December 30th, 2010 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist) | Posted in College Football   1 Comment »

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The storylines between the South Carolina Gamecocks and the Florida State Seminoles are very, very deep for the final game played in 2010 in the college football betting campaign. These two will lock horns in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl at the Georgia Dome as the losers of the SEC and ACC Championship games respectively. But which team will recover and post a win to finish up the calendar year? We have the three keys to the game for your Chick-Fil-A Bowl picks.

Key #1: Christian Ponder needs to prove that he is healthy and ready to go against a stout defense
These Gamecocks were no joke this year defensively, as they held teams to just 356.5 yards and 22.9 points per game this year. However, if you can beat this team, you have to do so through the air. If your name wasn’t the Auburn Tigers, you only averaged about 70 yards per game on the ground against SC this year, which puts the onus on the FSU passing game. Ponder has missed some games this year due to some various ailments, but right now, he is fighting with a bursa sac injury that cost him the 2010 ACC Championship Game against the Virginia Tech Hokies. The senior has probably cost himself a lot of money in the NFL Draft this year, but he did throw for 20 TDs on the campaign and is absolutely a capable signal caller. Ponder does have some explosive receivers at his disposal as well, though none of his top four targets had even 600 total yards on the season. The ball is spread around to four different targets, led by WR Bert Reed, who had 55 grabs for 589 yards and a pair of scores.

Chick-Fil-A Bowl Odds at Diamond Sportsbook
South Carolina Gamecocks -3
Florida State Seminoles +3
Over/Under 54.5
Click Here to Bet on Your Chick-Fil-A Bowl Picks!

Key #2: Mark Stoops has to find a game plan to get into the face of Stephen Garcia
Florida State Defensive Coordinator Mark Stoops has done a tremendous job this year getting his defense back in the saddle after a horrifying few seasons. This was the second best team in the ACC in terms of sacking the quarterback, and there were some fantastic games that this unit played up front. LB Mister Alexander is always terrorizing QBs, and he’s going to be tabbed with getting in the face of QB Stephen Garcia in this one. Garcia has been prone to throwing picks in his career, as he has 11 for the season in 315 pass attempts. The pressure needs to get into the South Carolina backfield in a hurry to keep the corners from having to guard the entire field against WR Alshon Jeffrey. It’s bad enough that Jeffrey can go and get a jump ball anywhere on the field. But to give him more than just a couple seconds to get open really just isn’t fair. Jeffrey caught 79 passes for 1,387 yards and nine TDs this year, and he is really one of the best ball catchers in the entire country. If FSU can’t stop him, it can’t stop this offense.

Key #3: Marcus Lattimore needs to be a workhorse
The Seminoles still have some problems stopping ground games at times, allowing 126.8 yards per game in 2010. Meanwhile, you won’t find a better freshman back in the game than Carolina’s RB Marcus Lattimore. Lattimore really made a name for himself this year against the Florida Gators, when he carried the ball 40 times for 212 yards and three TDs to help SC win the SEC East. The frosh wasn’t just a runner either. He had 26 catches for 364 yards and two TDs out of the backfield. However, when Garcia needs to get some of the pressure off of his shoulders, he turns around and hands the ball to No. 21. Lattimore had 248 carries this year for 1,198 yards and 17 scores, and he is likely to be the big time scorer on the day for the Gamecocks if they are going to beat the Chick-Fil-A Bowl odds.