Our bowl previews continue, and we're getting closer and closer to New Year's Day. While that day doesn't hold the same value as it did during my adolescence, there sure as heck is a match up here that brings back lots of memories. All in all, Installment No. Four has two pretty sexy match ups, and three that are anything but. My friend and colleague Tyler Holmes offered an interesting thought today...what if fans could vote on bowl match ups? Maybe then we wouldn't have such stinkers. Anyways, let's keep plowing through the tilts.
The Bowl: Pinstripe
The Matchup: Kansas State vs. Syracuse
The Date: December 30
Is there one? Two 7-5 squads square off in the House that Ruth, I mean Steinbrenner, built after sitting out last post season. It's probably one of the least appealing games of bowl season; maybe someone will run into a foul pole.
Kansas State: Daniel Thomas, Aubrey Quarles, Carson Coffman
Syracuse: Delone Carter, Van Chew, Antwon Bailey
A Stat that Matters: The Orange defense gave up 293.8 yards per game, the Wildcats' rushed for 205.8 ypg.
One stinker down, two to go. The 'Cuse aren't traveling far and have been a solidly boring team all season. There reward is a matchup with Daniel Thomas, who was ninth in the nation in rushing. Neither squad boasts a quarterback that will strike fear in secondaries. Heck, both had games with less than 100 yards passing! Initial reports are that the Wildcats sold out their allotment of 2,300 tickets, but secured more through the Yankees. 2,300 tickets? Look for lots of empty seats, lots of handoffs, and consider a Four Loko if you must watch this in its entirety. Wonder if any of the 'Cats will skip their flight home and stay in this Manhattan instead of their own?
The Bowl: Music City
The Matchup: North Carolina vs. Tennessee
The Date: December 30
Butch Davis continues to wonder what might have been had he followed Auburn's "wait and see" policy, while Derek Dooley's offense looks to close the season out with a bang. These two schools were scheduled to meet in a home-and-home series starting in 2011, but Tennessee decided to pull the "SEC schedule" card, and backed out. Wonder if showing up and playing this one enables them to recoup some of the buyout paid to UNC?
North Carolina: Dwight Jones, Anthony Elzy, T.J. Yates
Syracuse: Tyler Bray, Denarius Moore, Tauren Poole
A Stat that Matters: Tennessee averaged 308.5 yards passing in Bray's four starts, the North Carolina Defense gave up 204.7 passing yards per game.
Apparently wearing orange on December 30th means you get to play a virtual home game. The Volunteer State gets to host their team, and we can expect an overdose of Rocky Top throughout the evening in Nashville. UT comes in riding a four game winning streak, predominately because of Bray's arm. The rookie has thrown 12 touchdowns and just four interceptions in his for starts, but they've come against mighty defenses like Ole Miss, Memphis, Kentucky and Vanderbilt. Another "average" showing here by Bray, and he will vault into the upper echelon of 2011 fantasy quarterbacks.
For teams that come in with a combined 13-11 record, there is a plethora of fantasy talent to explore. Tennessee wideout Denarius Moore has been the biggest beneficiary of Bray's emergence, having scored in five straight. He's also had two 200+ yard days over that span, and is enjoying life now that teammate Gerald Jones is healthy. If you are in deep drafts, don't sleep on Jones. He's been good for five or more catches, 60+ yards and has three scores in the past five outings. North Carolina will counter with Dwight Jones, who flat out exploded from mid-October on, and finished with 895 yards despite having just 104 yards through five games, and 21 career yards before the year started!
The 'Heels second leading receiver is running back Anthony Elzy. Why does this matter? Because before a November 13th game against Virginia Tech, Elzy had five catches for 37 yards. Since Johnny White broke his collerbone however, Elzy has simply been unstoppable. In three starts, he's averaging 24 touches, 177 total yards, and a score. White's clavicle is healing nicely, and while it's possible he returns for a swan song, Elzy has earned his touches and I'd put him in my lineup with confidence. And it would be foolish to forget about Tennessee 'back Tauren Poole, who is just six yards short of 1,000 on the year, and has scored in nine of 12 contests.
This game has a lot of intrigue, and should wake us all up from the coma that was induced via the Pinstripe
The Bowl: Holiday
The Matchup: Nebraska vs. Washington
The Date: December 30
Including a 2005 snoozefest that saw 31 total points, the Holiday Bowl has averaged 61.8 total points since 2000
Nebraksa: Taylor Martinez, Roy Helu, Rex Burkhead
Syracuse: Chris Polk, Jermaine Kearse, Jake Locker
A Stat that Matters: UW's 75th ranked offense (364.4 ypg) takes on the Husker's 10th ranked defense (304.2 ypg)
What are you feeling here...the game's history or the match up? San Diego bowl history predicts we'll have a shoot out, and the pieces are certainly in place for that to happen. One time Heisman candidate Taylor Martinez hasn't had himself a ballgame since an October 23rd outing at Okie State, while one time #1 draft pick Jake Locker hasn't had himself a game all season. Locker's struggles make WR Jermaine Kearse's 1,000 yard season, and RB Chris Polk's 1,200 yard season even more remarkable.
Unless Nebraska is uninterested, this one looks like it should be atop your confidence chart in a pick 'em. If the Blackshirts show up, Locker's draft stock will be at an all time low come New Year's Eve.
The Bowl: Car Care
The Matchup: South Florida vs. Clemson
The Date: December 31
First to double-digits wins? Hell, first to score?
South Florida: Moise Plancher, Dontavia Bogan, B.J. Daniels (?)
Clemson: Jamie Harper, DeAndre Hopkins, Kyle Parker (?)
A Stat that Matters: The 86th and 88th ranked scoring offenses take on the 9th ad 19th ranked defenses. No truth to the rumor title sponsor Meineke considered transferring their rights to Sealy or Tempur-Pedic. Pillows won't be given away at the gates.
I'll watch this one, mostly because I graduated from South Carolina, and I enjoy rooting against Colorado Rockies outfielder Kyle Parker. After allegedly walking out on his team following a beat down to my alma mater, Parker will start, but we can expect to see the "future" of the Tigers' offense in Tajh Boyd often. Boyd has been unspectacular at best in limited action, and does't figure to show well against a stout Bull defense. As of now, there are no indications that running back Andre Ellington will play, which is a shame. He is the one player that could single-handedly make this game worth watching.
The USF offense has been one of the biggest let downs of 2010, and finished the regular season with walk-on QB Bobby Eveld replacing the injured B.J. Daniels.
Yeah, read that again. We probably won't see the best player on either teams' roster, we'll see a lot of backup quarterbacks, and a lot of punts. Watchability = -1.
The Bowl: Sun
The Matchup: Notre Dame vs. Miami
The Date: December 31
C'mon man...it's Catholics vs. Convicts in a town that dodges cartel gun fire. Don't blame it on the 'Canes! I'll make no bones about this, I'm a die hard Miami fan, I'm livid that this game is happening prior to the three year deal the schools recently signed, which opens play in 2012 at Chicago's Soldier field; and I can't wait to get rowdy early on New Year's Eve for this! This old rivalry is why the U is my squad, and if you are 30 or older, there is no excuse to miss this one. None.
Notre Dame: Michael Floyd, Cierre Wood, Tommy Rees
Miami: Leonard Hankerson, Damien Berry, Lamar Miller
A Stat that Matters: Notre Dame gave up 24.9 ppg through their first nine contests, but have only given up 22 total in their last three.
It's virtually impossible to predict how this one will play out. Miami has a new coach, and as I write this, it's anyone's guess as to who is really calling the shots on the sideline, or who is going to start at quarterback. On the opposite sideline, you would think the Irish are a year ahead of the 'Canes in their rebuilding, but they will start backup quarterback, running back and tight end.
We have a terrific battle of wide receivers between Michael Floyd and Leonard Hankerson. Floyd had arguably the quietest 992 yard, 11 score season I've ever seen, while Hank had a U of M best 12 touchdowns and 1,085 yards. We know it's his last game as an amateur, and it's probably Floyd's as well, and it's a safe assumption these two won't go out quietly.
On paper, it looks like Miami has a tremendous edge in talent and speed...but on paper, Miami should have been playing in the Orange Bowl. The Irish D has been lights out lately, and facing a team with tremendous leadership questions, it could be a long, long day for the 'Canes on the field, and in fantasy lineups. If you are looking for a deep, deep sleeper for your bowl roster; consider ND's Robert Hughes. The 245 pound bruiser carried a season high 11 times against SoCal, and his style should hit Miami up the middle, where they can be vulnerable.
But you know what, this is my last few lines until Preview VII, so let my bias reign supreme. This is payback for the refs cheating Cleveland Gary and the 'Canes out of a title in 1988. Hope y'all are ready to be hit!