A Champ’s Insight

December 28, 2010

Ignore the corny title. However, if I am correct on today’s picks, I will have put myself in great position to contend for the win in my College Bowl Mania group. Thanks to the snoozer in Shreveport last night, I gained a bunch of points on the rest of the competition. Finally, a team that I picked benefited from crucial turnovers.

Here are my picks for the December 28th bowl games.

Champs Sports Bowl

West Virginia vs. NC State

I’m really excited to watch this game. In fact, I featured it in my Bleacher Report article about games people may not have thought about watching, but should. Don’t let the ACC or Big East biases scare you away from this one. While neither of these teams are top ten college football programs this year, they are both arguably top 25 teams, and should put on a good show in Orlando tonight.

One of the big things to keep an eye on in this game is how the West Virginia defense responds to a duel-threat quarterback in Russell Wilson. West Virginia has one of the better defenses in the Big East, and the second best defense against the run in the entire nation. Russell will likely have to have a good game through the air if he wants to lead his team to victory, because the Mountaineers will be tough to beat on the ground.

The biggest factor, however, may come down to how well each team takes care of the ball. West Virginia shot itself in the foot (and probably played their way out of a BCS bid) by not taking care of the football this season. In fact, in the Mountaineers two Big East losses this season, they had seven turnovers to their opponents’ one. They lost those two games by a total of eight points.

If West Virginia can limit their number of turnovers, and maybe cause a few on the defensive end, I think they will be able to win this game. Although it is sometimes hard to determine how well a team will take care of the ball, it has been proven this bowl season that turnover margin is extremely important in deciding who wins these games, as the matchups are usually very even. I have West Virginia for 21 points in the College Bowl Mania game, so I hope they can take care of the ball tonight.

Final Score: 28-20 West Virginia

Insight Bowl

Missouri vs. Iowa

Some people may be thinking that this game will be a blowout since Iowa running back Adam Robinson is suspended. However, I’m here to tell you that if you’re thinking of staying up late to watch this game, it will be anything but a blowout.

Yes, the loss of Adam Robinson is still a pretty major loss for the Hawkeyes. However, it could be worse. Iowa is 9th in the Big Ten in rushing yards per game, and has an offense that really gets going when Ricky Stanzi is hitting his receivers. Iowa will have to work around the loss of Robinson, but it probably won’t completely break down as a result of the suspension.

Although Missouri isn’t a lock to win this game, they are probably feeling pretty good about their chances. They have one of the better defenses in the Big 12, and lead the conference in sacks. They will definitely look to rattle Stanzi in the pocket who, without Robinson, will need to take on a heavier load than usual for the Hawkeye offense. On the offensive end, Missouri will need to be more efficient in the passing game. Tigers quarterback Blaine Gabbert is a talented player, but struggled to find receivers in the end zone near the end of the season. Iowa’s defense is nasty against the run, so the Tigers won’t be able to rely on a good rushing attack to carry them tonight.

The X-factor in this game may be the motivation of Iowa. Ever since losing to Wisconsin in late October (a game in which they should have won), the Hawkeyes haven’t really looked like a team that had preseason expectations of winning the Big Ten Championship. They’ve lost their last three games as well, while Missouri won their last three to close out the regular season.

This should be a good game, that may end up coming down to which team has the better night defensively. I think that Missouri will be able to take advantage of a Hawkeye team that may be a bit down on their luck, and win a hard fought battle. I have the Tigers for 31 points.

Final Score: 30-27 Missouri

– K. Becks

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