The Bowl Season continues this afternoon with two games. First up will be West Virginia and NC State in the Champs Sports Bowl, followed by Missouri and Iowa in the Insight Bowl. Below I will break down each game, and reveal my picks at the end. Along with my picks, I will post the favorite and flip a coin for each game. Whichever method has the most points at the end of Bowl Season, I will use for next year's games.
(Shouldn't this be the Runnerup Sports Bowl? Given that neither team was the Champ of their league or division...)
Champs Sports Bowl, West Virginia Mountaineers (9-3, 5-2 in the Big East) vs NC State Wolfpack (8-4, 5-3 in the ACC), 3:30 PM on ESPN, from the Citrus Bowl in Orlando.
Why You Should Watch: To see how Wolfpack quarterback Russel Wilson handles a WVU Defense that's is ranked second in the nation.
Breakdown: NC State won in Turnovers and Penalties, two huge factors in bowl games. The Mountaineers won their last four games, whereas the Wolfpack has played .500 ball since the start of October, and only won 2 of their last 3. Both teams were equal in SOS and motivation.
I really like the Wolfpack for the upset in this one, and the main reason is QB Russel Wilson. Wilson has thrown for over 3,000 yards this season (averaging 307 yards per game, including running), and 26 Touchdowns. And even though the West Virginia Defense is ranked second in the nation, their worst game came against LSU and their quarterback Jordan Jefferson, who is no where near as talented as Wilson, both through the air and on the ground.
In order to gain some ground in my bowl pools' (You can check out Building the Dam's here), I've got NC State with a big 26 points.
Insight Bowl preview after the break
Insight Bowl, Missouri Tigers (10-2, 6-2 in the Big 12) vs Iowa Hawkeyes (7-5, 4-4 in the Big Ten), 7:00 PM on ESPN, from Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe.
Why You Should Watch: To see two players that will be playing on Sunday's, Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert and Iowa defensive end Adrian Clayborn.
It's also a chance to evaluate the bowl, which is on Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott's list of games to go after when contracts come up for re-negotiation. This bowl once had a tie in with the Pac-10, and being in a Pac-10 town, and now stadium, since it is no longer being contested in the town baseball park, is a candidate for an expanded and improved conference bowl list.
Breakdown: Iowa prevailed in three of the five categories I use for picking bowl games, with the teams even in motivation, and Missouri winning on last three games. Because the Tigers did win their last 3 games, recovering from back to back road losses at Nebraska and Texas Tech.
Iowa lost their last three games, the last two by a field goal, after a 4 point loss at Northwestern. The Hawkeyes also lost by 7 early in the season to Arizona in Tucson. More importantly, Iowa has also lost RB Adam Robinson, who faces drug charges, and WR Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, the Big 10's best kick returner.
But as much as I think turnovers and penalties play big parts in these games, I don't see the 12th ranked Tigers losing.
Could it happen? Absolutely. Especially if Clayborn and inconsistent quarterback Ricky Stanzi have a good night. But a major stat that stands out is that Iowa is 1-5 in games decided by seven points or fewer, which this one could very well be.
I'm going against my formula, but I'm only putting 7 confidence points on the Tigers.
Champs Sports Insight Current Total to Date
Odds West Virginia Missouri 7
Coin NC State Iowa 5
Connor NC State (26) Missouri (7) 4 (70)