Saturday, December 18, 2010

2010 Bowl Previews: Part III

Part III of our bowl preview. Part II was yesterday.

#29: Humanitarian Bowl (December 18, 2010)
Northern Illinois Huskies (10-3, 8-0 MAC) vs. Fresno State Bulldogs (8-4, 5-3 WAC)
GUGS: 41.9

Justin: We're finally creeping into "real" bowl games. (34) Northern Illinois was 30 seconds away from winning the MAC title, but instead gave up a freak touchdown and will play the (67) Bulldogs on Boise State's Smurf Turf. Northern Illinois' offense clocks in at 23.5 PPH, somewhere between (7) Oklahoma and (9) LSU. It's the other side of the ball that's holding the Huskies back, as they're giving up 17.9 PPH; that's only a shade better than (103) Vanderbilt. Fresno State has a respectable offense at 20.2 PPH, but a porous defense that yields 22.2 PPH. Fortunately for the Bulldogs this should be a slow game that will give them an opportunity to make some lucky plays. TFG still isn't big on their chances, and picks the Huskies by nearly a touchdown.
Eddie:  Justin is correct that (70) Northern Illinois has a weak defense, although RBA doesn't think it quite as bad against (74) Fresno State.  The Huskies' defense surrenders 15.0 PPH against 0.472 strength  opponents.  On the other hand, the Bulldogs should surrender even more points at 19.0 PPH and have only a +0.8 PPH offensive advantage.  The Bulldogs had better bring some Red Wave Third Down Thunder *clang clang clang* if they want to win this one.  Everything adds up to a relatively close Northern Illinois victory, 31-27, with 55.1% confidence.

#28: Military Bowl (December 29, 2010)
East Carolina Pirates (6-6, 5-3 C-USA) vs. Maryland Terrapins (8-4, 5-3 ACC)
GUGS: 41.9

Eddie:  Continuing the trend from the previous pick, we present (77) East Carolina and its 23.2 PPH defense.  (52) Maryland sports a +9.6 PPH defensive advantage over the Pirates.  I'm sure Justin will disagree with me here, but this game doesn't look particularly close.  The Pirates have a rounding error advantage on offense (+0.1 PPH), so this game comes down to their ability to step up their defense against a relatively consistent Maryland offense.  RBA doesn't think that will happen, predicting a Maryland 34-27 victory with 66.5% confidence.
Justin: At first glance this looks like it should be a walk for Maryland; ECU is a 0.500 team from a non-AQ conference and has lost 4 of their last 5, whereas Maryland finished one game behind FSU and has won 4 of their last 6. But a closer examination shows that (59) Maryland isn't quite the mismatch against (69) ECU as you might expect. The Pirates actually have a better offense than Maryland (19.9 PPH versus 17.9 PPH) but are lacking in defense. It didn't help that ECU gave up 76 points to Navy -- a team that Maryland beat at the start of the year, and just barely (and with some luck) -- but if the Pirates can reign in the Terps' offense, they'll have a chance at the upset.

#27: Pinstripe Bowl (December 30, 2010)
Kansas State Wildcats (7-5, 3-5 Big XII) vs. Syracuse Orangemen (7-5, 4-3 Big East)
GUGS: 42.2

Justin: At one point the (56) Wildcats were in the BCS top 25 and considered legitimate challengers to (12) Nebraska for the Big XII North. Then they went into a tailspin and lost 4 of their last 6. Syracuse has gone 7-5 against a similar slate as the Wildcats, but with consistently mediocre opposition instead of great teams (e.g., Nebraska) and poor teams (e.g., North Texas). The Big East is having another down year, and a winning record in that conference doesn't count for much. Syracuse has nearly a staggering 10.0 PPH disadvantage on offense, but nearly a 5.0 PPH advantage on defense. If the Orangemen can find anything resembling an offense against the Wildcats, they'll have a chance to pull off the upset. Barring that, TFG says this is 2-to-1 in favor of Kansas State to win by 4.
Eddie:  If you had asked me in August, I wouldn't have thought either of these teams would have made a bowl game at all.  (51) Kansas State's offense is highly inconsistent at 33.1 +/- 22.5 PPH and should expect 20.7 PPH against 0.551 strength (67) Syracuse.  The Orangemen are even more inconsistent defensively (if that was possible with a variance of 28.2 PPH.  This game really depends on whether the Wildcat offense or Orangemen defense decides to show up.  If everybody holds true to expectation, we expect the +10.2 PPH K-State offensive advantage to overcome the Syracuse +1.7 PPH defensive advantage.  RBA says the Wildcats win 31-24 with 61.5% confidence.

Home Visitors Odds Home Visitors Odds
(67)Fresno St.32 (34)Northern Ill.38 69.6 (74)Fresno St.27 (70)Northern Ill.31 55.1
(69)East Carolina34 (59)Maryland36 57.9 (77)East Carolina27 (52)Maryland34 66.5
(56)Kansas St.34 (83)Syracuse30 66.4 (51)Kansas St.31 (67)Syracuse24 61.5