Happy New Year, Frumpsters! We’re in our 6th day of Frumpzilla’s 11 Days of Bowling feature, and standing at just a disappointing 4-4-1 for our combined ATS and O/U predictions on select games of the final days of the 2009 college football season. It’s a new year, though. A time for new beginings; a time for change, and today we stake a stab at 3 of the 5 New Year’s Day bowls. Frump it here for our, play money, betting advice on the Capital One and Gator Bowl. We’ll be covering the Sugar Bowl here in a bit…
Capital One Bowl, Penn State vs. LSU. 1 PM ET, ABC. Current Line: Penn State -3, O/U 43.
Here we have a game between two of the most overrated teams in the country, in my humble opinion. #13 Penn State has either lost to, or just edged, nearly every team they’ve played with a pulse this year, and the 12th ranked Bayou Bengals have really only looked worthy of such status in two games, two losses, actually, albeit to Alabama and Florida. Nevertheless, this doesn’t necessarily mean we’re not in store for a good game here, ’cause I think these, classically distinct, SEC and Big 10 squads actually matchup fairly well.
While I think the Nittany Lions may be overrated overall, their defense looks like it could be for real, though perhaps not consistently tested. Holding opponents to under 100 yards rushing, 200 yards passing and 12 points per game, Penn State is statistically one of the best defenses in the country. It will be interesting to see how they handle an LSU offense that, while very, very fast, has a bite pressure closer to that of a kitten than a tiger. With RB’s Charles Scott, Keiland Williams and Richard Murphy all likely missing this game due to injury, LSU, presumably, must find an extra spark from all-purpose back/receiver Trindon Holliday to get anything going on the ground tonight.
Whatever the Tigers lack on offense, however, they generally makeup for on defense, despite some recent struggles. They’re keeping opposing offenses under 17 points per game, and Total Defense numbers put them at 27th in the country despite a tough SEC schedule. Big 10 Co-MVP, Daryll Clark, will be looking to carve LSU’s D up, but I think the Nittany Lion QB will fall short of a big performance, yet again, in a big bowl game.
All that said, I like the Under in this one. Penn State has been Under in 8 of their last 10, and in 5 of their last 6 against SEC opponents. LSU is has been Under more often than not this year as well, and I think the Tiger’s injuries (and offensive woes in general), when faced with such a stout D, keeps the total low enough here.
On the ATS front, everything points to Penn State. LSU is on a current 6-13 ATS run overall, 8-20 ATS on grass, while Penn State is 6-2 ATS in their last eight games. That’s a pretty strong trend, and strong enough to make me stay away from the spread in this one. My gut says LSU wins SU here, and keeps Joe Pa from adding to his, NCAA record, 23 bowl victories, but I’m not gonna commit.
Gator Bowl, West Virginia vs. Florida State. 1 PM ET, CBS. Current Line: West Virginia -2.5, O/U 60
In a game I simply have to cover due to the last hurrah for the legend that is Bobby Bowden, I have a feeling that Bobby’s final farewell will, unfortunately, be a bit lamentable in more ways than one.
We all know that Florida State has no business being in the Gator Bowl. The Seminoles’ selection was purely political, and, though it makes for a nice ending with Bowden getting to play his final game in Florida, not to mention against a team he formerly coached, I think it also may set up nicely for Bobby to lose his final game.
Florida State has one of the worst rushing defenses in college football, allowing over 200 yards on the ground a game. Meanwhile, The Mountaineers are 16th amongst BCS Conference teams in rushing, racking up 184 yards per contest. Read: Expect West Virgina’s Noel Devine to look a lot like he did in those high school recruiting highlights that pretty much made him a household name before he even set foot on a college football field.
The Over is quite high in this one, but, regardless, there’s a lot of precedent to lean that way here. FSU has been Over in 7 of their last 8 games at a neutral site, and in 6 of their last 8 overall. The Seminoles have also hit the Over in 8 of 12 games this season, and are 10-2 on the Over as an underdog the past three seasons. On the other side, West Virginia has been Over in 10 of their last 13 bowl appearances, and have scored enough to make Over speculators happy 20 out of 26 times since 1992 when coming off at least two weeks of rest.
As such, I obviously like the Over here, even if QB Christian Ponder being out for the Noles makes me a bit suspect of their offense’s ability to move the ball on a Mountaineer defense that has been very solid this year.