The Bowl Season continues this morning with three games. First up will be East Carolina and Maryland in the Military Bowl Presented By Northrop Grumman, followed by Illinois and Baylor in the Texas Bowl, and Oklahoma State and Arizona to finish the day in the Valero Alamo Bowl, the game of greatest relevance to the Pac. 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.
Military Bowl, East Carolina Pirates (6-6, 5-3 in the C-USA) vs Maryland Terrapins (8-4, 5-3 in the ACC), 11:30 AM on ESPN, from RFK Stadium in Washington DC.
Why You Should Watch: To see ECU quarterback Dominique Davis, who is 6th in the nation in total offense.
Breakdown: Maryland won in four of the five categories I use to pick bowl games, with East Carolina only winning on penalties. Add to the fact that Maryland will be super motivated to win for head coach Ralph Friedgen, the ACC Coach of the Year, who will be coaching his last game as a Terrapin, I like Maryland with 23 confidence points.
The Pirates have quietly built a solid program, and are in their fifth consecutive bowl game. But East Carolina also lost their last two games, and four out of five down the stretch. The Terrapins bounced back from a 2 win 2009 season to win 8 this year, but were only a .500 team in November, which is what ultimately has led to the end of the Friedgen era.
Texas Bowl, Illinois Fighting Illini (6-6, 4-4 in the Big Ten) vs Baylor Bears (7-5, 4-4 in the Big 12), 3:00 PM on ESPN, from Reliant Stadium in Houston.
Why You Should Watch: To see two dual-threat quarterbacks. Robert Griffin III leads Baylor into Reliant Stadium, and the Bears' first bowl game in 16 seasons, while Nathan Scheelhaase leads Illinois.
Breakdown: Both teams won out in two of the categories I use, with Baylor having the better SOS and Turnovers. Illinois won in last three games and penalties, and both teams should be equal on motivation.
I really have no idea in this one, but I know that Robert Griffin III is pretty good, so I'm taking Baylor with 27 confidence points (I have no idea why I was so confident a couple weeks ago).
Alamo Bowl preview after the break
Alamo Bowl, Oklahoma State Cowboys (10-2, 6-2 in the Big 12) vs Arizona Wildcats (7-5, 4-5 in the Pac-10), 6:15 PM on ESPN, from the Alamodome in San Antonio.
Why You Should Watch: It's the first bowl game involving a Pac-10 team. I know nothing about Oklahoma State, besides the fact that they are good, but I know a lot of reasons why you should be watching Arizona. First of all, Mike Stoops could have a heart attack at any moment. Second, Arizona can be a fun and pretty good team to watch. The only problem is they haven't won a game since October. The Cats are on a four game losing streak, with losses to Stanford, USC, Oregon, and Arizona State.
Arizona started out the year 7-1, with their only loss coming to the Oregon State Beavers. Finally, you can see if there are any tackles five yards deep in the end zone. Arizona's known for those every once in a while.
It's also the first appearance by a Pac-10/12 team under the new agreement that gives the Alamo Bowl the first choice after the BCS bowls of Pac teams. Had Oregon St. not mis-managed winnable games in Seattle and LA, this is the game Beaver fans would have been enjoying. A good chance to size up the stadium and the event, one that could be on Oregon St.'s itinerary down the road.
Breakdown: The Wildcats won in turnovers and penalties, while the Cowboys had a better record in the last three games. Both teams motivation and SOS are equal.
Even though Arizona prevailed in my formula, I'm still picking Oklahoma State with 27 confidence points. The main reason is that the Wildcats have lost their last four, two of those against ranked opponents. The Cowboys are ranked 14th in the nation, and favored by 5.5 points by the Vegas guys who make a living by setting the line, so I'm thinking that doesn't bode well for the Cats. Arizona is healthier now, but OK St. was a touchdown from playing in the Big XII championship game.
The Cowboys are capable of delivering a dominating offensive performance, having 47 touchdown drives this season of over 60 yards, third most in the FBS. More importantly, 16 of those have taken less than a minute and a half. That's three more than even fast-break Oregon.
Key matchup: Oklahoma St. has the country's #2 yardage passing offense. Arizona has defensive ends Brooks Reed and Ricky Elmore, who have never encountered a quarterback they haven't been able to sack.
Military Texas Alamo Current Total to Date
Odds Maryland Baylor Oklahoma State 7
Coin Maryland Baylor Arizona 7
Connor Maryland (23) Baylor (27) Oklahoma State (27) 5 (96)