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2009 Bowls


FEATURE PICKS ARCHIVES
Week 1: 9/3-9/7
Week 2: 9/10-9/12
Week 3: 9/17-9/19
Week 4: 9/24-9/26
Week 5: 9/30-10/3
Week 6: 10/6-10/10
Week 7: 10/13-10/17
Week 8: 10/21-10/24
Week 9: 10/27-11/1
Week 10: 11/3-11/8
Week 11: 11/10-11/15
Week 12: 11/18-11/21
Week 13: 11/24-11/28
Week 14: 12/3-12/5
Week 15: 12/12-12/12
Week 16: Bowls
Past Season Archives: 2007 | 2008 | 2009 |

EASY PICKINS:
The computer likes the favorite with room to spare.
2009 Regular Season: 71-25 SU (.740), 45-51 ATS (.469)
2009 Bowls: 4-3 SU (.571), 2-5 ATS (.286)

Thursday, December 24
Nevada (-13) by 19.03 over SMU - Nevada has an NCAA-record three 1,000-yard rushers, but leading rusher Vai Taua has been ruled academically ineligible for this game and did not make the trip to Hawaii. I had considered removing this game, but Nevada should still be able to score at will against the nation's 93rd-ranked defense. The Wolf Pack leads the nation in rushing offense and is 2nd in total offense. Nevada ranks just 88th in defense, but SMU is only 64th in offense. An upset of East Carolina was the Mustangs' only win against a school with a winning record. The Wolf Pack only had two such wins, but pounded both Idaho and Fresno State by 25 and 38, respectively.
SMU won 45-10. The computer lost SU, lost ATS.

Saturday, December 26
Pittsburgh (-2) by 5.34 over North Carolina - UNC boasts a strong defense, but ranks just 107th in offense. Pitt's Dion Lewis is the nation's No. 3 runner with 136.7 yards per game. That should help the Panthers who lost  3-0 to Oregon State in last year's Sun Bowl, the lowest scoring bowl game in 50 years.
Pittsburgh won 19-17. The computer won SU, lost ATS.

Wednesday, December 30
Bowling Green (-1) by 10.26 over Idaho - All five of Bowling Green's losses were to bowl teams, and three were to Missouri, Boise State and Central Michigan which combined to go 32-6. Idaho's best win was over Northern Illinois. The BGSU attack features WR Freddie Barnes, the nation's leader in receptions with 138 catches. The CFP and FWAA All-American has 31 more catches than the No. 2 receiver.
Idaho won 43-42. The computer lost SU, lost ATS

Thursday, December 31
Oklahoma (-7) by 14.89 over Stanford - Stanford has the nation's No. 2 RB in Toby Gerhart, but Oklahoma has the No. 7 run defense which held 6 teams to 81 yards or less. Furthermore, Stanford QB Stan Luck will not start and is doubtful to play.
Oklahoma won 31-27. The computer won SU, lost ATS

Missouri (-6) by 7.34 over Navy - Missouri's 12th-ranked run defense goes against Navy's No. 4 rushing offense. The Tigers won 4 of their last 5 games after getting overrun by Nebraska, Oklahoma State and Texas in the middle of the season. Navy has lost its last three bowl games while Missouri has won 4 of its last 6.
Navy won 35-13. The computer lost SU, lost ATS

Virginia Tech (-4) by 10.23 over Tennessee - Virginia Tech returns to Atlanta where it suffered two of its three losses this year. The Hokies lost the opener in the same venue (Georgia Dome) to Alabama by 10 points and later fell at Georgia Tech by 5. The Vols' 58th-ranked run defense will have to slow down redshirt freshman sensation Ryan Williams who ranks 5th in rushing yards per game and 4th in rushing touchdowns.
Virginia Tech won 37-14. The computer won SU, won ATS.

Saturday, January 2
Texas Tech (-8.5) by 10.83 over Michigan State - It's impossible not to list this game as Michigan State has suspended 11 players and dismissed 2 others in the wake of November 22 dormitory fight. Included on the list are the No. 2 and No. 3 receivers, B. J. Cunningham, and Mark Dell. Defensive back Chris L. Rucker also won't be on the roster. Cunningham and Dell combined for 74 receptions for 1,090 yards and 5 TD's. Rucker had 58 tackles, 7 passes defensed, 2 forced fumbles and an interception. Making matters worse is that the Spartans rank 103rd nationally in pass defense and Texas Tech ranks 2nd nationally in pass offense.
Note: Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach was fired 3 days before the game (December 30). He had been suspended two days earlier for alleged mistreatment of an injured player - WR Adam James, son of ESPN analyst Craig James. Defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill served as interim head coach for the Alamo Bowl.
Texas Tech won 41-31. The computer won SU, won ATS.



HOLD YOUR HORSES:
The computer likes the favorite, but by fewer points than the oddsmakers.
2009 Regular Season: 70-19 SU (.787), 48-41 ATS (.539)
2009 Bowls: 0-4 SU (.000), 4-0 ATS (1.000)

Sunday, December 20
Southern Miss (-6) by 2.50 over Middle Tennessee - Southern Miss ranks 112th against the pass. MTSU QB Dwight Dasher is a dual threat who ranks 9th nationally in total offense. Dasher dashed for 953 yards and 11 TD's, and passed for 2,627 yards with 21 TD's. That could spell disaster for USM which has a defense that ranks 112th against the pass and 77th in total defense. The Golden Eagles have QB Martevious Young who threw just 1 INT in 196 pass attempts. Southern Miss RB Damion Fletcher needs just 63 yards to become a 1,000-yard runner for a fourth straight season.
MTSU won 42-32. The computer lost SU, won ATS.

Tuesday, December 29
Miami, Fla. (-6.5) by 2.75 over Wisconsin - These teams are as statistically even as you can get. They rank 40 and 41 on defense, 34 and 36 on offense. Both have 9-3 records. The computer was 8-4 SU with  both teams. The computer was 5-6 ATS with Miami, 6-5 with Wisconsin.
Wisconsin won 20-14. The computer lost SU, won ATS.

Thursday, December 31
Houston (-7) by 4.35 over Air Force - Air Force lost one game all year by more than 7 points and that was a 38-21 setback at BYU in the season finale. The Air Force defense held everyone else to 23 points or less, and 8 teams were held to 17 points or less. The Falcons rank 3rd nationally in rushing offense while the Cougars rank 112th against the run. Houston boasts the top passer in QB Case Keenum, but he was No. 2 last year. Air Force has the nation's top-ranked pass defense. These teams met last year in the same postseason game and Houston won 34-28.
Air Force won 47-20. The computer lost SU, won ATS.

Monday, January 2
TCU (-4) by 1.47 over Boise State - As of this writing, TCU had increased to a 7-point favorite. These teams have met twice previously with the Broncos winning the 2003 Fort Worth Bowl 34-31 and the Horned Frogs taking last year's Poinsettia Bowl 17-16. These teams are a combined 48-3 over the last two seasons. TCU edges Boise State in total offense rankings, 4th to 8th. And the Horned Frogs rank 1st in total defense while Boise State ranks 13th. BSU quarterback Kellen Moore tops the nation in passer rating and has 39 TD passes against just 3 INT's.
Boise State won 17-10. The computer lost SU, won ATS.



UPSETS:
The computer likes the underdog as the outright winner. I don't select the games in this category. Instead, we list every upset projected by the computer.
2009 Regular Season: 29-46 SU (.387), 41-34 ATS (.547)
2009 Bowls: 4-4 SU (.500), 4-4 ATS (.500)

Wednesday, December 23
Utah by 4.65 over California (-2.5) - Utah has won a nation's-best 8 straight bowl games and is 12-3 in its history. Cal has captured four straight bowl victories and is 8-2 in its last 10 bowl trips. The computer was 11-1 SU with the Utes during the regular season, 8-4 with the Golden Bears. Both teams are average on offense as Utah ranks 54th and Cal 46th. But Utah ranks 20th in defense while Cal checks in at No. 69.
Utah won 37-27. The computer won SU, won ATS.

Tuesday, December 29
Temple by -0.80 over UCLA (-4) - You can imagine the number of people who emailed to tell us the computer was nuts when it forecasted Temple to go 11-2 with a loss in the MAC title game. Well, Temple went 9-3, including a season-opening upset loss to FCS national championship finalist Villanova. It still would have made it to the championship game had it not lost to Ohio in the final regular season game. Now, we're certain everyone thinks this upset pick is nuts, and I'm inclined to agree. Though these teams are statistically evenly matched with national rankings in the 30's on defense and 80's on offense, the computer ranks UCLA's strength of schedule at No. 49 and Temple at 119. The computer was 9-3 SU with the Owls, and 11-1 with the Bruins.
UCLA won 30-21. The computer lost SU, lost ATS.

Wednesday, December 30
Nebraska by 4.53 over Arizona (-1) - It took awhile, but Mike Stoops has Arizona on the upswing with back-to-back winning seasons. Last year marked the first bowl appearance for the Wildcats since 1998. A win here over Nebraska would give the school 4 straight postseason victories. Arizona ended the season with road wins at Arizona State and USC. Nebraska had a 5-game winning streak snapped with a 13-12 loss to Texas in the Big 12 championship game. A win would give the Wildcats their best final record under Stoops at 9-4 after going 8-5 a year ago. A victory would give Nebraska its first 10-win season since 2003. The computer is 11-1 SU with the 'Huskers and 9-3 with the 'Cats.
Nebraska won 33-0. The computer won SU, won ATS.

Friday, January 1
West Virginia by 1.92 over Florida State (-1) - The line had swung to West Virginia at last check, but these upsets are picked against the opening spread. Bobby Bowden's last game as head coach of FSU features the only two teams that he served with as head coach. Bowden spent 6 seasons leading the Mountaineers from 1970-1975 and 34 with the 'Noles from 1976-2009. West Virginia ranks just 60th nationally on offense while FSU ranks 27th. The Mountaineers have an overwhelming statistical edge on defense, however, as they outrank Florida State 34 to 110. A 6-6 season minimally qualified the 'Noles for their 28th straight bowl appearance, the longest such streak in the nation. Florida State is just 6-7 in its last 13 bowl games after going 13-0-1 from 1982-1995.
Florida State won 33-21. The computer lost SU, lost ATS. (Won both sides against the closing line)

Ohio State by 0.43 over Oregon (-2) - People were quick to write off Oregon after a season-opening 19-8 loss at Boise State and the indefinite suspension of RB LeGarrette Blount for sucker punching a taunting Broncos' player at the end of the game. By the end of the season, redshirt freshman LaMIchael James had become star, first-year head coach Chip Kelly was named PAC-10 coach of the year, and the Ducks were off to their first Rose Bowl since 1994. Hard to imagine that this is Ohio State's first Rose Bowl appearance since 1996, but the Buckeyes have played in 8 BCS games since then, including 3 BCS title games. Oregon has only played in one BCS bowl since its creation in 1998. Ohio State ranks 71st on offense but 5th on defense. The Ducks rank 32nd on defense and 20th on offense, but - thanks to James' 1,476 yards on the ground - they rank 5th in rushing.
Ohio State won 26-17. The computer won SU, won ATS.

Saturday, January 2
Oklahoma State by 2.86 over Mississippi (-2.5) - Neither of the teams lived up to the preseason hype, unless you listened to our predictions. Oklahoma State began the year ranked 11th by the coaches and 9th by the sportswriters, but wound up 18th and 21st. Ole Miss began the year with rankings of 10th and 8th and finished unranked in both. Conversely, the computer projected that Oklahoma State would finish 24th and Ole Miss would end unranked. Further, it forecasted a record of 9-3 for both teams which Oklahoma State nailed and Ole Miss undershot by 1 game. Rebels' QB Jevan Snead was a preseason contender for the Heisman Trophy and viewed as a top candidate for the Maxwell and Davey O'Brien awards, but a 20-17 TD to interception ratio and a 54% pass completion rate killed any shot at those accolades. Ole Miss wound up 3rd in the SEC West at 4-4 instead of contending for the conference title as many pundits expected. The Cowboys lost Dez Bryant, one of the nation's top returning wide receivers, for the season in an odd case of the NCAA getting its underwear in a knot because it was lied to about offseason visits by Bryant to the home of former NFL and collegiate great Deion Sanders. Neither team has any momentum going into this game as both were clobbered by their in-state rival in their season finales - Oklahoma State lost 27-0 at Oklahoma, and Ole Miss fell 41-27 at Mississippi State. The computer was 11-1 SU on its Oklahoma State game picks, and 8-4 with Mississippi.
Mississippi won 21-7. The computer lost SU, lost ATS.

UConn by 1.95 over South Carolina (-3) - UConn's 7-5 record is deceiving as all 5 losses were by 4 points or less, including 3 straight in the immediate aftermath of DB Jasper Howard's death. Howard was stabbed in an on-campus incident, just hours after a homecoming win vs. Louisville. An upset of Notre Dame began a 3-game winning streak to end the season. As for South Carolina's season, it was rather mundane as a 7-5 record is its 6th straight season of being stuck between 6 and 8 wins. South Carolina has won more than 8 games in a season just twice in its history, 1984 and 2001. UConn ranks 47th on offense and 72nd on defense. South Carolina ranks 76th on offense and 15th on defense.
UConn won 20-7. The computer won SU, won ATS.

Thursday, January 7
Texas by 6.93 over Alabama (-4) - The computer was 12-0 SU with Crimson Tide games and 11-1 with Longhorn games, but I'm still surprised at the disparity in the spreads between the oddsmakers and the computer. I'm even more surprised that Texas is favored by the computer, particularly after its narrow 13-12 escape of Nebraska in the Big 12 title game while 'Bama was crushing Florida 32-13 in the SEC championship. However, by the time January 7th and gameday roll around, it will have been 33 days since either team played its last ballgame. Alabama is 2nd nationally on defense while Texas is 3rd. The Tide ranks 35th on offense while Texas is 20th. Alabama features Heisman Trophy-winner RB Mark Ingram who ranks 12th nationally in rushing yards per game with 118.62. Texas QB Colt McCoy won the 2009 Maxwell and Walter Camp player-of-the-year awards, as well as the Davey O'Brien and Johnny Unitas top quarterback awards. McCoy was 3rd nationally with 70.5% pass completions, and 10th in total offense with 290 yards per game.
Alabama won 37-21. The computer lost SU, lost ATS. (Texas QB McCoy injured in first series and did not return).