Bowl Preview Vol. 4
New Year’s Day bowl games don’t have the meaning that they once did. The national championship game won’t be played for another week and even the Fiesta and Orange Bowls are no longer played on Jan. 1st. However, this doesn’t mean the New Year’s Day Bowl games have lost all their luster. This is still the holiest of days for college football fans. This year is particularly intriguing with most of the Bowl games featuring teams of contrasting styles. We continue on with our fourth installment as we look at the Jan. 1st bowl match-ups.
Wisconsin vs. Tennessee - Outback Bowl - Jan. 1st – Tampa, Fl
The Vols were one bad interception away from a BCS game. Tennessee’s loss is our gain as the late 4th quarter pick has provided us with a great SEC vs. Big Ten clash to kick-off New Year’s Day. Running back Arian Foster has led the Vols ground game all year and should once again be a solid fantasy start. The Vols' passing game has been a bit spotty this year, but if you’re short on depth you may find relief in quarterback Eric Ainge and wide receivers Lucas Taylor, Austin Rogers and Josh Briscoe
Running back P.J. Hill’s thigh bruise appears to be on the mend and he could see action against the Vols. From a non-fantasy perspective, this is great news for Badger fans. Having Hill, even if it is in limited duty, will help provide a stabilizing force to Badger’s backfield. From a fantasy perspective, however, this is a potential nightmare that you should avoid. Freshman Zach Brown and Sophomore Lance Smith will both see plenty of carries. The top fantasy option for the Badgers is tight end Travis Beckum. Beckum has been nursing a minor shoulder injury, but should be ready go.
Fantasy Options: RB Arian Foster (Tenn), TE Travis Beckum (Wisc),QB Eric Ainge (Tenn), WR Lucas Taylor (Tenn), RB P.J. Hill (Wisc), RB Zach Brown (Wisc), RB Lance Smith (Wisc), WR Austin Rogers (Tenn), WR Josh Briscoe (Tenn)
Missouri vs. Arkansas - Cotton Bowl - Jan. 1st – Dallas, Tx
Get a good look college football fans, as this is likely to be the last time you’ll get to watch running back Darren McFadden in a Hogs' uniform. McFadden is a sure bet (as if there is such a thing) to declare for the 2008 NFL draft. With D-Mac, senior wide receiver Marcus Monk and running back Felix Jones all potentially off to the NFL, look for them to be less affected by the recent coaching change. Keep in mind it will be defensive coordinator Reggie Herring playing the role of interim head coach for the bowl game and not newly hired head coach Bobby Petrino. Herring would be wise (at least it would make me happy) if he scrapped the standard offensive set and ran with D-Mac at quarterback the entire game. Based on reports coming out of Fayetteville, Herring has been keeping the practices upbeat and the players loose, a tactic that should fit this team and situation perfectly for the bowl game.
Obviously quarterback Chase Daniel is a top fantasy pick at quarterback, and Jeremy Maclin is a top fantasy pick at wide out. Daniel and Maclin have been the catalysts of the Mizzou offense all year and this game should be no different. A pair of tight ends in Martin Rucker and Chase Coffman are also must-start players. Coffman, who will have surgery to correct bone spurs in his ankle, should be a go for the bowl game. Coffman at half speed is better than 90% of the tight end options out there, and if there were one position where you can afford to take a risk on an injured player, tight end would be it. With all of the talent on display, the Cotton Bowl is one game you don’t want to miss.
Fantasy Options: RB Darren McFadden (Ark), WR Jeremy Maclin (Mizzou), QB Chase Daneil (Mizzou), RB Felix Jones (Ark), TE Martin Rucker (Mizzou), TE Chase Coffman (Mizzou), RB Tony Temple (Mizzou), K Jeff Wolfert (Mizzou), K Alex Tejada (Ark)
Virginia vs. Texas Tech - Gator Bowl - Jan. 1st – Jacksonville, Fl
The Gator Bowl is the first of what is a run of games pitting two teams of contrasting styles. Virginia prefers to play small ball by playing good defense and running the ball with Mikell Simpson. Texas Tech, will have none of that and will certainly try to impose their will on the Cavaliers with a wide-open passing attack.
With that said, it is not surprising that most of the fantasy options reside with the pass-happy Red Raiders. Quarterback Graham Harrell and wide receiver Michael Crabtree are top picks at their respective positions. But the options don’t stop there. Wide receivers Danny Amendola and Eric Morris, as well as running back Aaron Crawford, are also worthy of fantasy consideration. Amendola is 4th in the nation in receptions at 103, but it has been Eric Morris that has been the steadier performer down the stretch. Morris has scored in each of the last four games.
Fantasy Considerations:QB Graham Harrell (Tech), WR Michael Crabtree (Tech), WR Danny Amendola (Tech), WR Eric Morris (Tech), RB Mikell Simpson (Vir), QB Jameel Sewell (Vir), TE Tom Santi (Vir)
Michigan vs. Florida - Capital One - Jan. 1st – Orlando, Fl
The general public and Las Vegas isn’t giving the Wolverines much of a chance in this one, pinning then as 10-point underdogs. Who would have Wolverine faith with superhuman Tim Tebow on the other side of the ball and the potential distraction of recent coaching search? But I’m not buying a Gator beat down. Seniors Chad Henne and Mike Hart should finally be healthy and the Wolverine defense appeared to catch a groove in the later portion of the season. The coaching search may actually have been beneficial to the Wolverines, who have been able to practice and prepare for the Gators in relative obscurity.
There is a reason why Tim Tebow won the Heisman trophy. He is simply the biggest offensive threat in the country. It should come as no surprise that we have Timmy ranked as the #1 quarterback for the bowl season. Tebow is not the only Gator worthy of top fantasy consideration-Percy Harvin and Andre Caldwell are also top picks at wide receiver.
Fantasy Considerations:QB Tim Tebow (Fl), RB Michael Hart (Mich), WR Percy Harvin (Fl), WR Mario Manningham (Mich), TE Cornelius Ingram (Fl), WR Andre Caldwell (Fl)
USC vs. Illinois - Rose Bowl - Jan. 1st – Pasadena, Ca
The Big Ten bashing continues where the Fighting Illini are nearly two touchdown underdogs to USC. The national media seems enamored with the late-season serge by the Trojans. From an offensive standpoint, I’m calling hogwash. The USC passing game has been inconsistent all year. They also only had one 100-yard rusher in the months of October and November (Chauncey Washington 220 yards vs. Cal). Now that last stat is a bit deceiving as USC runs a tailback by committee, but that doesn’t exactly help us fantasy owners now does it? The Illini defense is also only yielding 19.5 points and averaging 3.05 sacks per game. Instead of a USC runaway, I see a game much like last year’s Rose Bowl where Michigan and USC played to a 3-3 tie at halftime, before USC finally pulled away in the second.
On the other side the prospects of Rashard Mendenhall tearing through a USC run defense yielding only 79 yards per game on the ground are not good. Rashard has been held under 100-yards rushing in four contests this year. All four we against top Big Ten defenses in Penn State, Iowa, Michigan and Ohio State. Mendenhall also only had one touchdown in those four games. As tempting as Mendenhall and the USC studs seem, proceed with caution.
Fantasy Considerations:RB Rashard Mendenhall, QB Chauncey Washington, RB Joe McNight, RB Stafon Johnson, QB John David Booty, QB Isiah Williams, WR Arrelious Benn
Hawaii vs. Georgia - Sugar Bowl - Jan. 1st – New Orleans, La
No game is offering up more varying opinions than the Sugar Bowl, where undefeated Hawaii will face their toughest test of the year in piping hot Georgia team. The big question surrounds the passing game and Colt Brennan. From a fantasy perspective, Brennan will always be “live” in this one. Even if Georgia gets after Brennan early and jumps to a big lead, the Hawaii gunslinger will put up points at some point. With a trio of wide receivers at his disposal in Davone Bess, Ryan Grice-Mullen and Jason Rivers, the odds of Georgia holding Brennan in check the entire game simply aren’t good.
On the other side of the ball, Georgia will use a much different type of attack. Running backs Knowshon Moreno and Thomas Brown have been on fire as of late, and the Bulldogs are sure to ride these two horses on New Year’s Day. However Hawaii’s run defense is not as much of a liability as some might think. They are giving up only 120 yards per game on the ground. Obviously this has been against less-formidable running games, but the Hawaii front four does a good job clogging up the middle. Keep in mind that there is a good chance that Kregg Lumpkin (knee) could be back as well. While he won’t be splitting time with Moreno and Brown, you can bet if he is healthy enough, head coach Mark Richt will give the senior a few carries as a nice parting gift.
Fantasy Considerations: QB Colt Brennan (Haw), WR Davone Bess (Haw), WR Ryan Grice-Mullen (Haw), WR Jason Rivers (Haw), RB Knowshon Moreno (Ga), RB Thomas Brown (Ga), K Brandon Coutu (Ga), TE Tripp Chandler (Ga)
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