Monday, December 31, 2007

Matchup Comparison Rating: the New Year’s Eve edition

Moving along to the 6 games stuffed into New Year's eve we finally have a matchup of two ranked teams when Clemson meats Auburn. We also get a chance to see Florida State's 3rd string, but before we begin as always here's TNL's MCR:

Armed Forces Bowl
California (6-6) vs. Air Force (9-3)
12:30 PM, ESPN

Air Force plays in its first bowl in five years and it's quite appropriate that it's in the Armed Forces Bowl. While Air Force is giddy to be here Cal is just trying to end up with a winning season after starting out 5-0 and the a No. 2 ranking but they lost six of their last seven while Air Force was winning six of their last seven. The time off for the Bears should be a big bonus as sprained right ankles hobbled Quarterback Nate Longshore most of the season and running back Justin Forsett. Even with the injury Longshore managed to throw for 2,544 yards and 16 touchdowns and Forsett the Pac 10's second-leading rusher and top TD scorer. For Air Force it's easy to see who you have to stop; running back Chad Hall is the only player in the nation to lead his team in rushing and receiving yards and is third in the nation in all-purpose yards.

+1 awesome rushing offense (Air Force is 2nd in the nation)
+1 service academy – watch or the terrorists win
+1 redemption factor

-1 possible motivational letdown

MCR 2 (Microwave Dinner)

Sun Bowl
South Florida (9-3) vs. Oregon (8-4)
2:00 PM, CBS

Cal's not alone in the "ranked number two and lose your ass the next couple weeks" club both South Florida and Oregon are card carrying members as well. Both teams dropped three straight games after being ranked No. 2 in the nation, but unlike Cal, both teams rebounded and are happy to be here. A lot of credit should be given to South Florida head coach Jim Leavitt; only a few years ago, the coaching offices were in trailers and now the program is one game from its first 10-win season.

South Florida is led by quarterback Matt Grothe, a dual threat who completed 60 percent of his passes for 2473 yards in the air and 832 yards on the ground to lead his team. On the other side of the ball the Bulls' defense is led by end George Selvie, the Big East defensive player of the year who led the nation with 31 1/2 tackles for losses and needs one more to set an NCAA single-season record. Oregon's three game skid came because Heisman Trophy candidate Dennis Dixon tore knee ligaments late in the season leaving the Ducks scrambling to find a healthy quarterback because backup Brady Leaf was hurt against UCLA. The Ducks do have some weapons to throw at the Bulls stellar defense, running back Jonathan Stewart led the Pac-10 with an average of 122.4 yards rushing per game but expect South Florida to exploit an injured Oregon team.

+1 dual threat quarterback
+1 strong running game on both sides
+1 two former No. 2's facing each other
-1 depleted offense

MCR 2 (Microwave Dinner)

Humanitarian Bowl
Georgia Tech (7-5) vs. Fresno St (8-4)
2:00 PM, ESPN2

Yellow Jackets head coach Chan Gailey was fired Nov. 26 and will be replaced by new coach Paul Johnson but not until 2008. In the mean time, defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta takes over for Gailey and hopes to get a win in his first head coaching assignment. Fresno State hasn't played particularly well on the blue turf of Bronco Stadium; in the last six seasons they've faced Boise three times and were outscored 145-58 and lost all three.

Georgia Tech is led by a strong defense giving up just 310 yards per game and just over 100 yards on the ground. That's not good news for Fresno State freshman running back Ryan Matthews who led the Bulldogs with just 866 yards rushing so it may come down to the play of quarterback Tom Brandstater. Tech is led by running back Tashard Choice who dominated the ACC and finished with 1310 yards rushing. Both teams have rushing attacks ranked in the top 20.

+1 two strong running attacks
+1 kick-ass defense
+1 1000 –yard rusher

-1 coaching instability

MCR 2 (Microwave Dinner)

Insight Bowl
Indiana (7-5) vs. Oklahoma St (6-6)
5:30 PM, NFL Network

The Hoosiers are playing in their first bowl game in 14 seasons and after the death of head coach Terry Hoeppner they're the feel-good story of the year. Oklahoma State is playing in their fourth bowl in six seasons but none of them were major. Indiana is led by the dynamic duo of quarterback Kellen Lewis and wide receiver James Hardy who Penn State fans know very well. Lewis ended the season with 2839 yards passing and 26 touchdowns with 1075 of those yards going to Hardy. Lewis also leads the team in rushing with 653 yards and another 8 TD's. Oklahoma State's offense isn't exactly chopped liver, they boast a 1000 yard back in Dantrell Savage and four Cowboys receivers have at least 25 catches led by Adarius Bowman who is 68 yards shy of 1000.

+1 two dynamic offenses
+1 1000 yard back
+1 feel-good story of the year
+1 awesome QB/WR combo

-1 game hijacked by NFL Network

MCR 3 (Jessica Simpson Sex Tape)

Music City Bowl
Kentucky (7-5) vs. Florida St (7-5)
4:00 PM, ESPN

This game is hardly worth writing about because Florida State will be without three dozen of its players due to suspension for violating team rules. It's Kentucky's second straight trip to Nashville and they'll be trying for back-to-back postseason wins for the first time in 55 years. The Seminoles weren't that good of a team against the pass with a full roster and that bodes well for Kentucky quarterback Andre Woodson who led the team with 3351 yards tossing 36 touchdowns. That's about all I need to say, this one's over before it starts.

+1 kick-ass quarterback
+1 shear Schadenfreude factor
-1 1/3 of the team gone due to suspension and hopelessly overmatched

MCR 1 (Woman's Heart)

Chick-Fil-A Bowl
Clemson (9-3) vs. Auburn (8-4)
7:30 PM, ESPN

Finally a matchup of two ranked teams and two Tigers - how's that for a fair fight? Clemson quarterback Cullen Harper leads an offense that led the Atlantic Coast Conference in scoring throwing a school-record 27 touchdown passes and 2887 yards. Running backs James Davis and C.J. Spiller combined for 1,648 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns and wide receiver Aaron Kelly has 1045 yards receiving and another 11 TD's. Auburn has one of the country's best defenses, allowing only 298.3 yards and 16.7 points per game but they lack the offensive punch that Clemson has. With a balanced offensive attack, look for Clemson to wear down Auburn in this game.

+1 matchup of two ranked teams that know each other well
+1 balanced offensive attack
+1 explosive offensive weapons
+1 great offense vs. great defense

MCR 4(Viper/Shelby Cobra)

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