And, at last, we are at the end. Since Week One, August 30th, I’ve been covering college football games. 18 weeks later, we arrive at the final set of college football games for the 2011-2012 season. What better way to end the season than to cover the remaining BCS bowl games, including the BCS National Championship?
For those of you keeping track, Big 12 teams are 6-1 (Missouri, Texas, Baylor, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma State won; Iowa State lost). Conference USA teams are 3-1 (Marshall, Southern Miss, and Houston won; Tulsa lost). MAC teams are 3-1 in bowl games (Temple, Ohio University, and Toledo won; Western Michigan lost). SEC teams are 4-2 (Mississippi State, Auburn, South Carolina, and Florida won; Vanderbilt and Georgia lost). Big East teams are 2-1 (Rutgers and Cincinnati won; Louisville lost). Independent teams are 1-1 (BYU won; Notre Dame lost). Sun Belt teams are 1-1 (Louisiana-Lafayette won, Florida International lost). Mountain West teams are 2-3 (TCU and Boise State won; Wyoming, San Diego State, and Air Force lost). Big Ten teams are 3-6 (Purdue, Illinois, and Michigan State won; Iowa, Northwestern, Penn State, Nebraska, Ohio State, and Wisconsin lost). ACC teams are 2-4 (North Carolina State and Florida State won; North Carolina, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, and Virginia lost). PAC-12 teams are 2-5 (Utah and Oregon won; Arizona State, California, Washington, UCLA, and Stanford lost). WAC teams are 0-3 (Utah State, Louisiana Tech, and Nevada).
During the regular season, the Upset Watch reviewed picks from the previous week, noted the bad picks, and pointed out a few games to give the underdog some credit in, even if it was only in Vegas. It also looked at one or two sure-fire favorites (two when Michigan wasn’t playing).
Because this is the bowl season (and our last hurrah for the 2011-2012 regular season), we’ll cover each of the bowl games, splitting them up by week.
Utah (8-5) +3.5 Georgia Tech (8-5). Result: Utah 30 Georgia Tech 27.
Illinois (7-6) -1.5 UCLA (6-8). Result: Illinois 20 UCLA 14.
South Carolina (11-2) +1.0 Nebraska (9-4). Result: South Carolina 30 Nebraska 13.
Oregon (12-2) -5.5 Wisconsin (11-3). Result: Oregon 45 Wisconsin 38.
Stanford (11-2) +4.0 Oklahoma State (12-1). Result: Oklahoma State 41 Stanford 38.
Northwestern (6-7) +11.0 Texas A&M (7-6). Result: Texas A&M 33 Northwestern 22.
Vanderbilt (6-7) -1.5 Cincinnati (10-3). Result: Cincinnati 31 Vanderbilt 24.
Virginia (8-5) +3.0 Auburn (8-5). Result: Auburn 43 Virginia 24.
Penn State (9-4) +9.0 Houston (13-1). Result: Houston 30 Penn State 14.
Georgia (10-4) -2.0 Michigan State (11-3). Result: Michigan State 33 Georgia 30.
Ohio (6-7) +2.0 Florida (7-6). Result: Florida 24 Ohio 17.
The final week of the college football season kicks off Tuesday night when (#13) Michigan meets (#11) Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl (8:30 PM EST/ESPN/ESPN3); this marks only the second meeting between the Big Ten and ACC in the BCS (2005-2006 season featured Penn State and Florida State in the Orange Bowl, with Penn State winning 26-23 in 3OT). On Wednesday night, (#15) Clemson faces off against (#23) West Virginia in the Orange Bowl (8:30 PM EST/ESPN/ESPN3). No games on Thursday night, so we’ll skip to Friday night, for the Cotton Bowl Classic, where (#8) Kansas State and (#6) Arkansas meet at Jerryworld (8:00 PM EST/FOX). Finally, next Monday the 2011-2012 NCAA Champion will be crowned, where conference rivals (#2) Alabama and (#1) LSU meet in New Orleans (8:30 PM EST/ESPN/ESPN 3D/ESPN3).
Clemson (10-3) -3.0 West Virginia (9-3) (@ Miami Gardens, FL). The Mountaineers are 17th in total offense (100th rushing, 7th passing); Clemson is 29th (61st rushing, 21st passing). West Virginia is 27th in total defense (51st rushing, 32nd passing); the Tigers are 59th (80th rushing, 34th passing). Clemson leads the series 1-0, with a 27-7 victory over West Virginia in 1989 (Gator Bowl). Clemson is 16-17 all time in bowl games (1-4 SU in last 5; 1-4 ATS in last 5; 1-4 ATS as a favorite in last 5). West Virginia is 13-17 all time in bowl games (3-2 SU in last 5; 1-4 ATS in last 5; 1-0 ATS as an underdog in last 5). West Virginia Coach Dana Holgorsen is 9-3 (6-6 ATS, 2-1 ATS underdog); Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney is 29-18 (21-18 ATS, 14-12 ATS favorite). Clemson is 6-4 ATS as a favorite this year (8-5 overall ATS); West Virginia is 2-1 ATS as an underdog this year (6-6 overall ATS). West Virginia’s last bowl game was the 2010 Champ Sports Bowl, a 23-7 loss to North Carolina State; Clemson’s last bowl game was the 2010 Meineke Car Care Bowl, a 31-26 loss to USF. Take Clemson to cover the points.
Arkansas (10-2) -7.5 Kansas State (10-2) (@ Arlington, TX). The Wildcats are 96th in total offense (29th rushing, 109th passing); Arkansas is 27th (81st rushing, 13th passing). Kansas State is 74th in total defense (39th rushing, 104th passing); the Razorbacks are 51st (79th rushing, 27th passing). Kansas State leads the series 3-1, with a 16-7 victory over Arkansas in 1926, 3-0 in 1911, and 5-0 in 1910. Arkansas defeated Kansas State 28-7 in 1967. Arkansas is 12-23-3 all time in bowl games (2-3 SU in last 5; 1-4 ATS in last 5; 1-2 ATS as a favorite in last 5). Kansas State is 6-8 all time in bowl games (1-4 SU in last 5; 0-5 ATS in last 5; 0-1 ATS as an underdog in last 5). Kansas State Coach Bill Snyder is 59-40 (52-40 ATS, 22-10 ATS underdog) since 2001; Arkansas Coach Bobby Petrino is 74-26 (59-38-1 ATS, 41-22-1 ATS favorite) since 2001. Arkansas is 6-3 ATS as a favorite this year (7-5 overall ATS); Kansas State is 7-1 ATS as an underdog this year (9-3 overall ATS). Kansas State’s last bowl game was the 2010 Pinstripe Bowl, a 36-34 loss to Syracuse; Arkansas’s last bowl game was the 2010 Sugar Bowl, a 31-26 loss to Ohio. Take Arkansas to cover the points.
Southern Methodist (7-5) +7.0 Pittsburgh (6-6) (@ Birmingham, AL). The Mustangs are 53rd in total offense (98th rushing, 22nd passing); Pittsburgh is 84th (68th rushing, 76th passing). Southern Methodist is 37th in total defense (31st rushing, 60th passing); the Panthers are 41st (24th rushing, 70th passing). The series is tied at 2-2-1, with SMU defeating Pittsburgh 7-3 in 1983 (Cotton Bowl) and 33-14 in 1948. Pittsburgh defeated SMU 20-7 in 1942 and 34-7 in 1938. The teams tied 7-7 in 1940. SMU is 5-7-1 all time in bowl games (3-2 SU in last 5; 3-2 ATS in last 5; 3-0 ATS as an underdog in last 5). Pittsburgh is 12-15 all time in bowl games (2-3 SU in last 5; 2-3 ATS in last 5; 2-0 ATS as an favorite in last 5). Pittsburgh Coach Keith Patterson is 0-0 (0-0-0 ATS, 0-0-0 ATS favorite); SMU Coach June Jones is 87-56 (65-68-2 ATS, 29-26-1 ATS underdog) since 2001. SMU is 1-4 ATS as an underdog this year (5-7 overall ATS); Pittsburgh is 2-4 ATS as a favorite this year (7-5 overall ATS). Pittsburgh’s last bowl game was the 2010 Compass Bowl, in Birmingham, a 27-10 win over Kentucky; SMU’s last bowl game was the 2010 Armed Forces Bowl, a 16-14 loss to Army. Take SMU to cover the points, and win.
Arkansas State (10-2) -1.0 Northern Illinois (10-3) (@ Mobile, AL). The Red Wolves are 25th in total offense (55th rushing, 17th passing); Northern Illinois is 10th (9th rushing, 59th passing). Arkansas State is 20th in total defense (15th rushing, 54th passing); the Huskies are 87th (83rd rushing, 75th passing). Northern Illinois leads the series 6-1, with a 31-30 victory over Arkansas State in 1996, 38-16 in 1994, 23-7 in 1993, 31-0 in 1992, 22-21 in 1991, and 35-0 in 1990. Arkansas State defeated Northern Illinois 28-21 in 1995. Arkansas State is 0-1 all time in bowl games (1-0 ATS; 0-0 ATS as a favorite). Northern Illinois is 3-3 all time in bowl games (2-3 SU in last 5; 2-3 ATS in last 5; 1-3 ATS as an underdog in last 5). Northern Illinois Coach Dave Doeren is 10-3 (5-8 ATS, 1-1 ATS underdog); Arkansas State Coach David Gunn is 0-0 (0-0 ATS, 0-0 ATS favorite). Arkansas State is 8-2 ATS as a favorite this year (10-2 overall ATS); Northern Illinois is 1-1 ATS as an underdog this year (5-8 overall ATS). Arkansas State’s last bowl game was the 2005 New Orleans Bowl, a 31-19 loss to Southern Miss; Northern Illinois’s last bowl game was the 2010 Humanitarian Bowl, a 40-17 win over Fresno State. Take Arkansas State to cover the points.
Alabama (11-1) +1.0 LSU (13-0) (@ New Orleans, LA). The Crimson Tide are 30th in total offense (15th rushing, 72nd passing); LSU is 75th (17th rushing, 105th passing). Alabama is 1st in total defense (1st rushing, 1st passing); the Tigers are 2nd (3rd rushing, 8th passing). Alabama leads the series 45-25-5. In the five recent meetings, LSU leads 3-2, with a 9-6 victory over Alabama earlier this year, 24-21 in 2010, and 41-34 in 2007. Alabama defeated LSU 24-15 in 2009 and 27-21 in 2008. LSU is 22-19-1 all time in bowl games (4-1 SU in last 5; 4-1 ATS in last 5; 3-1 ATS as a favorite in last 5). Alabama is 33-22-3 all time in bowl games (3-2 SU in last 5; 3-2 ATS in last 5; 0-1 ATS as an underdog in last 5). Alabama Coach Nick Saban is 94-24 (66-46-2 ATS, 7-5-2 ATS underdog) since 2001; LSU Coach Les Miles is 103-38 (65-66-5 ATS, 39-39-2 ATS favorite). LSU is 8-3 ATS as a favorite this year (10-3 overall ATS); Alabama is 0-0 ATS as an underdog this year (8-4 overall ATS). Alabama’s last bowl game was the 2010 Capital One Bowl, a 49-7 win over Michigan State; LSU’s last bowl game was the 2010 Cotton Bowl, a 41-24 win over Texas A&M. Take Alabama to cover the points, and win.
The Wolverines are 34th in total offense (12th rushing, 90th passing); Virginia Tech is 38th (31st rushing, 66th passing). Michigan is 18th in total defense (35th rushing, 16th passing); the Hokies are 12th (17th rushing, 41st passing). These teams have never met before. Michigan is 19-21 all time in bowl games (1-4 SU in last 5; 2-3 ATS in last 5; 0-1 ATS as a favorite in last 5). Virginia Tech is 9-15 all time in bowl games (2-3 SU in last 5; 2-3 ATS in last 5; 1-1 ATS as an underdog in last 5). Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer is 110-36 (78-61-2 ATS, 11-4-0 ATS underdog) since 2001; Michigan Coach Brady Hoke is 57-52 (58-43-3 ATS, 24-13 ATS favorite). Michigan is 6-3 ATS as a favorite this year (8-4 overall ATS); Virginia Tech is 0-0 ATS as an underdog this year (4-9 overall ATS). Michigan’s last bowl game was the 2010 Gator Bowl, a 52-14 loss to Mississippi State; Virginia Tech’s last bowl game was the 2010 Orange Bowl, a 40-12 loss to Stanford.
Michigan is 2-1 against teams fielding top 25 defenses, defeating Illinois and Ohio, but losing to Michigan State; the Wolverines are 3-0 against top 40 offenses (Northwestern, Notre Dame, and San Diego State). Virginia Tech’s two losses came at the hands of Clemson, allowing an average of 390 yards (222 passing yards – 56.9% of offense), while being outscored 61-13. The Hokies are 10-1 when they outgain their opponents on the ground (1-1 when outgained on the ground). Virginia Tech is led by QB Logan Thomas (2799 passing yards, 59.2% completion, and 29 total TDs), RB David Wilson (1627 rushing yards, 6.1/carry, and 9 rushing TDs), and WRs Danny Coale (787 receiving yards, 15.1/catch, and 3 receiving TDs) and Jarrett Boykin (731 receiving yards, 12.8/catch, and 5 receiving TDs). Virginia Tech is 2-1 when Wilson is held under 100 yards rushing, being outscored 65-60 (average of 22-20); the Hokies are 9-1 when Wilson meets or exceeds the 100-yard plateau, outscoring opponents 311-158 (average of 31-16). Take Michigan to cover the points.
Michigan 24 Virginia Tech 16