Saturday, December 23, 2006

Matchup Comparison Rating–Holiday Specials Part I

We’ve managed to dish out the Appetizer portion of the Bowl Game menu it’s now time to move on to something a tad more filling. The following games are what we consider Holiday Specials – the Eggnog and fruitcake of the Bowl season. The games played on Christmas Eve that offer the lucky viewer a respite from ungrateful in-laws and noisy kids. As always, we start by defining our scientifically derived ratings system for reference. Bowl
South Florida
(8-4) vs. East Carolina (7-5)
Dec. 23, 1 PM - ESPN 2

Papa Johns takes their “better ingredients. Better pizza.” motto seriously, too bad they don’t do the same for the bowl games they sponsor. The Pirates and Bulls are the anchovies and pineapple toppings of the college football world; it takes a unique pallet to appreciate them. Both teams like to spread the ball out and neither team has a fantastic defense, although South Florida does boast the 24th ranked total and scoring D. South Florida is run by dynamic freshman QB Matt Grothe who threw for 2,495 yards and 14 touchdowns this season. They rely on Grothe, and as he goes, so go the Bulls. East Carolina would rather establish the run to set up the pass but they don’t have a featured running back. Brandon Fractious has handled the bulk of the load running for 675 yards and 4 touchdowns. Ean Randolph is 6th in the nation in punt returns to lead their conference for the Bulls. Both teams beat central Florida, but South Florida beat West Virginia by 5 while East Carolina lost to the Mountaineers by 10.

+1 game-changing punt returner
+1 pizza related bowl game
-1 two bland offenses

MCR 1 (Woman’s Heart)

New Mexico
New Mexico
(6-6) vs. San Jose State (8-4)
Dec. 23, 4:30 PM - ESPN

Second-year head coach Dick Tomey, he of the Arizona “desert swarm” defense fame, has SJS sitting at a respectable 8-4. The Spartans are unique in the WAC - the conference of basketball scores - as they prefer to line up in the I and run the ball – the horror! Even more horrific is the fact that Tomey would dare to try and play good defense in the wacky WAC. The Spartans are ranked 15th in the nation in rushing, but don’t think SJS doesn’t have weapons – QB Adam Tafralis has 2075 yards passing and 18 touchdowns. New Mexico has some weapons as well with Rodney Ferguson running for 1,132 yards and 7 touchdowns while the two Lobos quarterbacks have combined for 2153 yards with 17 touchdowns. New Mexico relies on a small but athletic defense. Sprinkle in the fact that New Mexico is playing in the New Mexico bowl and you may actually have something worth watching.

+1 good coach with excellent resume
+1 2 decent offenses
+1 New Mexico playing at home
-1 Record disparity

MCR 2 (Microwave Dinner)

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces
Tulsa (8-4) vs. Utah (7-5)
Dec. 23, 8 PM - ESPN

So how have the bowl games been going so far this year? Does lopsided crapfest describe the matchups? Well, buckle your seatbelts we may actually have a good game with two evenly matched teams in Tulsa and Utah. Both teams boast passing offenses in the 30-ish level with the Golden Hurricane registering the 20th best total offense. Tulsa isn’t just the one-dimensional hot chick you meet at the bar either, they have some defensive substance ranking 6th in the nation in pass D and 19th in total on that side of the ball. Utah can’t make the same claims but they have tangible qualities as well, ranking 16th in turnover margin and first in net punting. Translation – they don’t make dumb mistakes and use field position to their advantage. Tulsa QB Paul Smith has 2569 yards passing while Utes QB Brett Ratliff checks in with 2556 yards – how’s that for even? Now that I’ve built the game up as a good matchup Tulsa will probably blow Utah away by 50 points.

+2 first even matchup (on paper) of bowl season
+1 2 good quarterbacks and 2 good offenses

MCR 3 (Jessica Simpson Sex Tape)

Sheraton Hawaii
(10-3) vs. Arizona State (7-5)
Dec. 24, 8 PM - ESPN

So we have New Mexico in the New Mexico bowl and Hawaii in the Sheraton Hawaii bowl, when does Penn State get to play in the Penn State Creamery bowl featuring Peachy Paterno Ice Cream? At any rate, we get a chance to see the #1 offense in all the land. Hawaii has the top passing and total offense yet they have the 86th ranked run offense which means you won’t see much ground game. The Sun Devils, on the other hand, have the 33rd ranked run offense and the 27th ranked defense and will be playing for fired coach Dirk Koetter, who will be coaching in his final game at ASU. Warriors (sans Rainbow) QB Colt Brennan is a rapid-fire-tungsten-lined machine gun of a quarterback who needs one touchdown to tie the national record of 54 set by David Klingler of Houston in 1990. That’s 53 touchdowns and 11 interceptions for those counting at home. Brennan’s 5341 total yards is just over three miles of offense.

+1 top offense in country
+1 possibility of new national TD record
+1 team playing at home with home crowd advantage
+1 run offense vs. Goliath pass offense
-1 possibility of letdown with coach’s last game

MCR 3 (Jessica Simpson Sex Tape)

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