Military Bowl and Holiday Bowl Previews

December 28, 2011
By K. Becks

I’m back at .500 for the bowl season…

Thanks to two close games yesterday, I am now at 5-5 and looking to rebound in a big way today. I’m not too concerned about yesterday because I didn’t have a lot of points riding on those games, but a similar performance today would be devastating.

Here is the preview for today’s games.

Military Bowl Presented By Northrop Grumman

Toledo vs. Air Force

Just like the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl yesterday, this game should produce a lot of points. Toledo is similar to Western Michigan in many ways, so it would not be surprising to see a similar gameplan from the Rockets in this one.

Toledo, like Western Michigan, comes in with a very powerful offense capable of scoring lots of points on just about any team in the nation (like the Broncos, Toledo also scored 60+ points this season, and also broke the 50 point barrier two other times). In addition, the Rockets also have a very talented receiver in junior Eric Page. Page is not the fastest or biggest target, but runs good routes and can make defenders miss thanks to his quick footwork. Letting Page into the open after making a catch would be a mistake for Air Force in this game, as he can make a defense pay every time he touches the ball. The Rockets hope to get Page involved in the special teams game as well; he averages 16.3 yards per return on punts and has already taken one back for a touchdown this season. Page isn’t the only source of production, though. Adonis Thomas and the rest of the rushing attack for Toledo have been very solid this season, and are going up against an Air Force defense that has had trouble stopping the run. Getting the running game going will be key for the Rockets if they want to win this game, especially with a forecast predicting high winds.

Air Force may not have had the type of season they hoped for with so many seniors, but the fact is that they are a service academy playing in a bowl game meant for them. The Falcons will be ready to play in this game, and will probably come out firing on all cylinders. The running game is solid as always, but the X-Factor in this game may be the passing game. Quarterback Tim Jefferson is a very capable passer, and can beat Toledo’s defense through the air if they overcompensate to stop the run. The key for the Falcons in this game will simply be to contain. They are not going to be able to completely shut down Toledo’s powerful offense. However, if they can get a few stops every quarter, they have the offense to keep up.

Toledo’s offense is very intimidating. I’ve been high on the Rockets all season, but I have to go with Air Force in this one, considering that this game is being held in our nation’s capital. Anywhere else and I may have picked Toledo, but I have Air Force for 20 points in the College Bowl Mania game.

Final Score: 38-36 Air Force

Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl

California vs. Texas

Both of these teams are looking to get back to where they believe they should be in college football (a.k.a. fighting for BCS bowl spots and national title bids). As a result, this year’s Holiday Bowl is a matchup of two rebuilding teams that have played very well at times, but not all the time. Consistency has been an issue for both teams, but if they come ready to play, then we should get a very entertaining game.

The 2011 Cal Golden Bears football team is the definition of “streaky”. They started the season by winning their first three games, followed it up with four losses in their next five, then ended the season playing their best football and won three of their last four. During that time, junior quarterback Zach Maynard made it clear that he is the guy in Berkeley. Maynard can use his legs as well as his arm, but his improvement throwing the ball is a main reason why Cal is in this bowl game. He will have a difficult task in tonight’s game though, as Texas’ pass defense is stingy. The play of Maynard will dictate how this game goes for the Golden Bears on offense.

Texas is suffering what most would consider their second rebuilding year in as many seasons. The Longhorns have been banged up this year, especially at running back, which was their strength on offense this season. However, they should have those injured players back for this game which makes them dangerous on the ground. If Malcolm Brown is healthy, expect Texas to rely on him offensively. If they can control the clock, then the Longhorns should be in good position to win this game. They are by far the best team in the Big 12 in yards per game given up (315.3 YPG), but have given up lots of yards to teams with good quarterback play. Again, this is why Zach Maynard is so important in this game.

Cal may be playing close to home, but I believe that Texas wants to show the country that they will once again be a team you don’t want to mess with next season. I have the Longhorns for 25 points in the College Bowl Mania game.

Final Score: 27-23 Texas

- K. Becks

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