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College Bowl Preview

Posted by Chase Stuart on December 18, 2008

Here's a chronological list of every Bowl game. I've also listed each team's Simple Rating System score. The SRS is not a retrodictive system, because it factors in margin of victory and strength of schedule to predict team strength. This particular version of the SRS caps all wins at 40 points and makes all wins of less than seven points equal to seven points. The AvgSRS rating is the average rating of the two teams and the difference column shows the difference in team strength. The favorites, according to the SRS, are in bold:

Bowl                       Tm1                  Tm2               Tm1SRS Tm2SRS AvgSRS  Diff
EagleBank Bowl             Wake Forest          Navy                7.7    5.7    6.7    2.0
New Mexico                 Colorado State       Fresno State       -6.1   -4.4   -5.3    1.7
magicJack St. Petersburg   Memphis              South Florida      -5.6    4.5   -0.5   10.0
Pioneer Las Vegas          Brigham Young        Arizona             7.3   12.6    9.9    5.3
R+L Carriers New Orleans   Southern Mississippi Troy                0.3    2.2    1.2    1.9
San Diego CCU Poinsettia   Boise State          Texas Christian    18.9   19.0   18.9    0.1
Sheraton Hawaii            Hawaii               Notre Dame         -4.9    2.2   -1.4    7.2
Motor City                 Florida Atlantic     Central Michigan   -9.2   -2.1   -5.7    7.1
Meineke Car Care           West Virginia        North Carolina      6.4    8.6    7.5    2.2
Champs Sports              Wisconsin            Florida State       5.7   12.3    9.0    6.6
Emerald                    Miami(Florida)       California          6.3   15.0   10.6    8.7
Independence               Northern Illinois    Louisiana Tech      1.6   -6.3   -2.3    7.9              N.C. State           Rutgers             0.7    8.7    4.7    8.0
Valero Alamo               Missouri             Northwestern       19.7    5.5   12.6   14.2
Roady's Humanitarian       Maryland             Nevada              1.4    3.3    2.4    1.9
Texas                      Rice                 Western Michigan    0.7    2.2    1.4    1.5
Pacific Life Holiday       Oklahoma State       Oregon             19.4   17.3   18.4    2.1
Bell Heli. Armed Forces    Houston              Air Force           3.0    2.8    2.9    0.2
Brut Sun                   Oregon State         Pittsburgh         14.2   11.3   12.7    2.9
Gaylord Hotels Music City  Boston College       Vanderbilt          8.4    3.5    5.9    4.9
Insight                    Kansas               Minnesota          10.1    2.4    6.2    7.7
Chick-fil-A                Louisiana State      Georgia Tech        3.7    9.0    6.3    5.4
Outback                    South Carolina       Iowa                5.6   16.4   11.0   10.9
Capital One                Georgia              Michigan State     11.4   10.1   10.7    1.3
Konica Minolta Gator       Clemson              Nebraska            8.5   12.5   10.5    4.0
Rose Bowl                  Penn State           USC                27.8   29.6   28.7    1.9
FedEx Orange               Cincinnati           Virginia Tech       7.9    7.2    7.6    0.7
AT&T Cotton                Mississippi          Texas Tech         12.6   22.3   17.5    9.8
AutoZone Liberty           Kentucky             East Carolina       3.5    1.2    2.4    2.3
Allstate Sugar             Utah                 Alabama            16.1   20.2   18.1    4.1
International              Buffalo              Connecticut         2.1    5.2    3.7    3.1
Tostitos Fiesta            Ohio State           Texas              20.0   32.4   26.2   12.4
GMAC                       Tulsa                Ball State          6.8   10.3    8.6    3.5
BCS NCG                    Florida              Oklahoma           32.2   35.8   34.0    3.6
  • Quite clearly, this is the best Poinsettia Bowl ever. In fact, it is rated higher than all the Bowls outside of the National Championship Game, the Rose Bowl and the Fiesta Bowl. Even though it's not a BCS Bowl, this game features two of the top twelve teams in the country. It's the best Bowl game we'll see in 2008.
  • The Sugar Bowl will bring all types of viewers. Some fans will feel that Utah got wronged, as it went undefeated and the best it could hope for was an appearance in New Orleans. Others might view this as a snoozer, thinking a team like Alabama will be able to physically manhandle a non-BCS opponent. Perhaps most will be excited to see two great teams that did not lose a game in the regular season. I think it's an interesting matchup and will certainly tune in, but I find both teams overrated. Utah ranks behind Boise State according to the SRS and Jeff Sagarin ranks them 15th in his pure predictor standings. Alabama only handed three of its opponents their worst loss and in my view is the worst of the one loss teams. Alabama and Utah have one thing in common -- they've won a combined 8 games by less than a touchdown and played weaker schedules than any of the other top teams. You can either argue that both teams are great at winning close games or were a bit lucky that their records are as shiny as they are.
  • The Rose Bowl. USC's one of the most polarizing teams in the nation; there is no shortage of USC lovers and haters. Most agree they are the heavy favorite in this game, and I believe you can thank those boys in Columbus for that line of thinking. Objectively, Penn State is close to the equal of USC -- same record, similar quality top wins, similar quality loss, similar margins of victory. This game figures to be very close, and is a must watch for any traditionalist. This is the Trojans' 32nd trip to the Rose Bowl and Joe Paterno's 35th Bowl game appearance.
  • The worst team to make a Bowl game? Florida Atlantic, at 9.2 points below average. Runners up: Colorado State, Memphis, Hawaii and Fresno State.
  • Worst Bowl game? Take your between the Motor City Bowl and the New Mexico Bowl. I'd probably take the one in Detroit, because not only are there two bad teams in this game, but it just might turn into a blowout.
  • Worst Bowl game in 2009? The Liberty, International and GMAC are all post-New Year's Day Bowls, and the Liberty and International Bowls aren't very good. But believe it or not, the BCS Orange Bowl ranks behind four New Year's Day games; in addition to having the lowest average of any major Bowl, it also is the only one without a team 10 points better than average. The Gator, Capital One and Outback Bowl are all better Bowls than the Orange this year. Don't feel too bad for the city of Miami, though: they get to host Oklahoma and Florida on January 8th.
  • The National Championship Preview Bowl, also known as the Cotton Bowl, should be particularly interesting this year. According to the SRS, it features the third best team from the Big 12 (Texas Tech, 13.5 points worse than OU) against the third best team from the SEC (Mississippi, 19.5 points worse than Florida). If Tech wins in a blowout, that might be a good sign for Oklahoma; if Ole Miss keeps it close, that will continue to tell us more about Florida, including that its one loss wasn't so bad. This is the only other B12-SEC Bowl game; the other four B12 Bowl games are three mismatches against Big 10 opponents and the interesting Holiday Bowl.
  • Most overrated Bowl: Notre Dame vs. Hawaii. As bad as the Fighting Irish are, they're a touchdown better than Hawaii. How far have these two teams fallen? They appeared in the last two Sugar Bowls; the Sheraton Bowl doesn't carry quite the same prestige. For Notre Dame, this is the earliest Bowl game they've ever played, and the first time they've ever played on Christmas Eve.
  • Senior WR Michael Reed will be able to tell his kids one day that he went to Brigham Young for four years, and all he got was four free trips to Las Vegas. This is the Cougars' fourth straight appearance in the Las Vegas Bowl and each game has featured a different Pac-10 opponent.
  • The International Bowl marks the second time in a month that Buffalo football fans can watch their team play in Toronto. Only this time, it's against Connecticut and not the Miami Dolphins.
  • Most underrated Bowl: Iowa vs. South Carolina. The Hawkeyes have lost their games by a combined 12 points and won their games by a combined 216 points. That's pretty similar to what Alabama did in one more game (11 points and 247 points, respectively). Iowa gets my award for being the most underrated team in college football: despite ranking 14th in the SRS and knocking off the undefeated Nittany Lions, they are unranked.
  • Here is your annual reminder of what our pre-BCS life was like. Of course, it's impossible to really play this game because the season would have unfolded much differently, but here's my best guess. You'd have the Rose Bowl featuring the Big 10 and Pac 10 champions, the Big 8 champion going to the Orange, SWC champ to the Cotton, and SEC champ to the Sugar.
      Rose Bowl: USC vs. PSU
      Sugar Bowl: Florida vs. at large
      Orange Bowl: Oklahoma vs. at large
      Cotton Bowl: Texas Tech vs. at large
      Fiesta Bowl: at large vs. at large

    Texas might go down to the Sugar Bowl to play Florida or have a rematch against OU in the Orange Bowl (the '79 Orange Bowl featured an Oklahoma-Nebraska rematch). Alabama, Ohio State or Utah would probably go to either the Orange of Sugar (whichever didn't invite Texas), the Cotton and the Fiesta. TCU might be the other opponent in the Fiesta. That would give us a pretty good chance to have split national champions -- the winner of the Texas-OU/UF game would win one title and either OU/UF would claim the other title, if victorious in their bowl. And, of course, the PSU-USC winner would have a decent argument as well.

    As far as other bowls, we'd have:

      Holiday: WAC champion (now most of the MWC) vs. a Big 8 or Big 10 team
      Peach: SEC team vs ACC team (same today, renamed Chick-Fil-A)
      Las Vegas: MAC Champ vs. Big West Champ This would be the Ball State vs Boise State matchup if it still existed.
      Sun: Big 10 vs Pac 10
  • Don't change the channel: the highest scoring Bowl game might be the Holiday Bowl, featuring Oklahoma State's offense, Oregon's offense, and not much else. Both teams average over 68 combined points in their games. The National Championship game will be high scoring, but three other games might match the Holiday Bowl for number of scoreboard changes: The GMAC Bowl, the Cotton Bowl and the Texas Bowl all could see 80 points scored.
  • First to seven wins: on the other side, there are a few games out there where points will be at a premium. BC and Vanderbilt could be the lowest scoring Bowl game of the year -- the Commodores have scored under 15 points in seven of their last eight games and are facing a BC team that's pitched shutouts three times this season. The Orange Bowl should see some defense -- Virginia Tech hasn't allowed 20 points in any of its last five games while Cincinnatti has held four of its last nine opponents to just ten points. The Liberty Bowl features a pair of anemic offenses, not to be confused with good defense.
  • National Championship Game: Like in 2004, we've got the reigning Heisman winner facing off against last year's champion. I'm pretty confident that Tim Tebow won't pull another Jason White, but Sam Bradford just might match Matt Leinart's five touchdown passes. Florida's the small favorite nationally, but Oklahoma's offense seems too good to be stopped. The Sooners have scored five touchdowns in every game this season en route to a sparkling 54.0 points per game average. Controversy about who should be in this game aside, it should be a very exciting championship game featuring two very worthy teams.

This entry was posted on Thursday, December 18th, 2008 at 11:10 pm and is filed under College. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.