The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I’ve battled over which way I could go with this post. Over and over again, I’ve thought, it’s December and the end of the year, so I could do an homage to our friends, family, followers and readers to say Happy Holiday season and Happy New Year and thank you all for participating in this effort which started as a way for a bunch of friends who don’t like talking on the phone to keep in touch better.

With all the Mike Davis and other recruiting stories going haywire, I contemplated a; “How to effectively do your part to recruit without committing a secondary violation” for fans. Then, I backtracked, and as the Fall graduates were making their rounds I was going to do a piece on some of our graduating Gators from this Fall. That ended up being way to personal for me, so I bagged it.

Ultimately, I looked back at my last few posts and decided that with the Jerry Sandusky disgrace implicating Penn State, our namesake taking a coaching job earlier than most Gator fans would have liked him too, and the Gator Nation coming across as an angry bunch of mobsters given the difficult month we’ve had, I thought it was time to get back to the roots of and write about what we (think we) know: College Football, and Gambling. (I will come back to that recruiting post in January though…)

So here we are in Bowl season. I spared you all the pre-Christmas Bowl games and picks because I’d mostly just be guessing and it just seemed very early to be having those games. For the second consecutive year, Boise State lost a close game to a ranked team and ends up in a Pre-Christmas day game (Florida and Ohio State went 6-6 and is playing in a Jan. 2 game…). It’s just a shame the way that works… Who wouldn’t rather see them play VTech instead of Michigan? Oh wait… they already played them… beat them… at home (last year with Tyrod Taylor at QB). Granted they don’t play an SEC, or even a B1G schedule every year, but they are good enough to play in a good bowl game. The money just won’t allow for it. <INSERT RANT ABOUT KELLEN MOORE’S 50-3 RECORD HERE>>

We’re gonna give you all what you want!! We’re going to do picks for the post season right here! **Picks and point spreads are for entertainment purposes only**

NOTE: I will indicate which bowl teams have lame duck/recently fired or interim coaches with an ^ symbol… heads up, there’s kind of a lot of them!

Dec. 26th- Independence Bowl: Missouri vs. North Carolina^ (+5) Over/Under: 52.5
Starting off with a bang in our fired coach fiesta here! You can look at these types of things in one of two ways: The players will be unmotivated and disengaged, or the players will be playing to show the new coach what they’ve got and the coaching staff will be “live auditioning” for space on the staff for next year. I think North Carolina will continue to play hard and make an impression on Larry Fedora (former Gator assistant coach), but I think too much James Franklin wins this one in the end, but UNC covers the 5 points. On paper, this game would appear to be one of the best games we’ll see this bowl season. Both teams are 7-5. Both allow 23.5 points per game. Mizzou averages 32.2 ppg and UNC 28.3. Carolina is led by a Top 10 NFL prospect in Quinton Coples (Defensive end), as well as freshman RB Giovani Bernard who ran for 1,200+ yards and 12 TDs in his freshman campaign. In the end, players like Franklin make all the difference in these types of games and Carolina didn’t fare well at all against dual-threat QBs this year. UNC’s interim coach has done a great job, but Everett Withers can only do so much, and oh by the way… he’s already been offered a job at Ohio State with Urban Meyer. So, there’s that… Mizzou 34 UNC 30

Dec. 27th- Little Caesars Bowl: Western Michigan (+2.5) vs. Purdue Over/under: 60
At, I like to think that we’re all friends here and a big happy family. So in the spirit of the holidays, let me help you all out here. If you have ANY, and I mean, ANY disposable income or got a hundred dollar bill from Grandpa or Aunt Vivian and Uncle Cleetus, for the love of everything good in this world… FIND A WAY TO GET ACTION ON THE OVER/UNDER ON THIS GAME which has been set preposterously low at 60!!!
Bowl games, and especially, non-BCS bowl games have a rich tradition of higher scores, so chew on this for a minute: Western Michigan averaged 35.6 pointes per game and has one of the nation’s most exciting offenses. They also don’t play any defense at all. Purdue has been on a roll offensively the past three games as well.

Western Michigan’s best player is WR Jordan White. Gator fans, please sit down before you read this next sentence… you sitting? OK, good. White led the nation in receptions with 127 and yards with 1,646 and scored ::gulp::, 16 touchdowns. I haven’t looked this up, but I’d imagine Jordan White by himself this year has doubled Florida’s entire WR corps in all of 2010 and 2011. ::sigh::
Anyhow, Purdue isn’t very good. I’m not sure if Robert Mavre is still their QB or not, but the game is being played in Detroit, just under 150 miles from Kalamazoo, so there will be some home cookin’ for the Broncos. Because they’re Broncos, I’ll pick Western Michigan to win outright: 45- 42. OVER-OVER-OVER!!!

Dec. 27th- Belk Bowl: Louisville (+1) vs. NC State Over/Under: 44.5
So at the Chik-Fil-A Bowl they give out chicken sandwiches in the 4th quarter. What is the gift at the Belk Bowl?? A watch? A pair of slacks? Tempting enough to want to go and see… Not really though. Anyway…
Watch out for the Fightin’ Charlie Strongs!! Louisville is led by Miami product Teddy Bridgewater who can be equally electric and erratic. Think Braxton Miller light. NC State as a team is the same way. This is a team that lost to a less than pedestrian BC squad, then 7 days later beats Clemson. The best summary of NC State’s season is the final game of the year when they were down 41-14 (I love that score!) to Maryland, only to score 42 points in 21 minutes for the win. From a wagering (for fun, of course) standpoint, this is probably a stay away situation, but it’s a 1 point spread, so you’re basically just picking a winner outright.

I go with Louisville and my 2009 Halloween costume Coach Strong (Top button buttoned and all). Look out for them next year… Bridgewater and 4 other freshman on that offense and Charlie orchestrating the defense, they are living the model that Florida and Coach Muschamp WANT to, but with a much longer and softer leash at Louisville than the Champ has in Gainesville.

Louisville 27 NC State 20

Dec. 28th- Military Bowl: Toledo^ (-3) vs. Air Force Over/Under: 70!
The over/under on this one is staggering. 70!? I suppose that’s fair. The Rockets averaged 42 points per game this year with Matt Campell as its Offensive Coordinator. Campbell has since been named Head Coach of the Rockets, with its former HC Todd Beckman taking the University of Illinois job vacated by the firing of Ron Zook. Campbell is now the youngest head football coach in the FBS at 32 years old.

Air Force, of course, they do what they do… run the ball. They are 2nd nationally at 320.3 rushing yards per game. They went 3-4 in conference beating the bottom 3 (UNLV, Colorado State, and New Mexico). They lost to the top half of the Mountain West (TCU, Boise St., Wyoming, and San Diego St.). They beat a few other patsies, in South Dakota, Tennessee State, and Army. They also beat Navy who is having a down year at 5-7 to sweep the other Armed Forces schools. In short, Air Force has not beaten anybody.
Here’s where the rubber meets the road: The Falcons are 109th Nationally against the run (allowing 228 per game). Toledo is 14th Nationally running the ball at 221 ypg. Air Force is 6th nationally against the pass at 162 ypg, but don’t be fooled by that number and ranking. They spent two games in the “chew clock” mode against Army and Navy (95% run play offenses) and another couple against crappy teams like New Mexico and UNLV. Look for this game to be settled on the ground and the Rockets to run away late.

Wagering note: Should Toledo get up by a lot early, it will be interesting to see what a 32 year old coach does in his first game with a 3 or 4 TD lead against a military academy. This can be tricky for a coach to not “run it up” against a military academy in Washington, DC. Running the ball could still end up getting you big plays and some TDs, so they could end up with what I call the, “Tom Osbourne blowout”. Look for some young players to get some PT in this one if it gets tilted early.
I’ve got Toledo over the Falcons 56-28. I wouldn’t go near the over/under given the circumstances.

Dec. 28th- Holiday Bowl: Texas (-3) vs. Cal Over/Under: 47.5
The Holiday Bowl is one of my favorites. Growing up I remember some great games coming from this bowl game. Lots of scoring. I’ll be honest… to me, Texas is basically the Big 12 version of Florida right now. I can’t understand why they’ve gone 5-7, and 7-5 in back to back seasons. Seems like they’ve played 4 different QBs this year and can’t seem to get it right. The got eviscerated by Oklahoma and lost to Baylor for goodness sake. If Gator fans are losing their minds, I can’t imagine what the Longhorn message boards look like these past two years.

I know nothing about Cal. Nothing. Aaron Rodgers went there and so did Jahvid Best. Tony Gonzalez also played Tight End and Power Forward there too. Cal hasn’t beaten anyone of consequence this year. They were 2-5* against Bowl eligible teams this year (That includes 2 losses to USC who was not eligible* and a loss to UCLA who somehow WAS bowl eligible).
Texas is 4-5* against Bowl eligible teams this year (talk about a tough schedule!). The UCLA “thing” is included in this. Their wins are against the likes of: BYU, UCLA*, Iowa State, and Texas A&M: Combined record of 27-22 buoyed by BYUs 9-3). Their losses are against: Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Mizzou, Kansas State, and Baylor: Combined record of 46-14.

To me, this reads that Cal isn’t very good and that Texas is better than its record, but still not all that great. If you want to look at Florida Football from an objective point of view, form an opinion about Texas and they are the Gators with a slightly less tough schedule and without all the noise in the program around the coaching change/transition stuff.
I got Texas 20-10. But it is the Holiday Bowl, so it could end up 40-30…

Part 2 of this column coming up in a couple days… Good Luck out there!

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One Response to The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

  1. Soft 19 says:

    If the two games tonight go the way of the first few picks, I might have to fade you for part 2 of this series. Could make some serious dough. STRAIGHT CASH HOMEY!

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