Wednesday, December 22, 2010

2010 Bowl Previews: Part VII

Part VII of our bowl preview. Part VI was yesterday.

An interesting thing to note about this batch of bowl games is they all involve one actor in the BCS Buster Drama That Was Almost Relevant. Boise State was slated for a spot in a BCS bowl -- or even the National Championship -- but uninspired play against Nevada both dropped the Broncos out of the BCS picture and launched TCU into the #3 spot and the on-deck circle had Auburn slipped up. The Tigers didn't, though, so here we see the full supporting cast for the drama that never happened.

#17: Fight Hunger Bowl (January 9, 2011)
Nevada Wolfpack (12-1, 7-1 WAC) vs. Boston College Eagles (7-5, 4-4 ACC)
GUGS: 51.1

Justin: This one is happening just up the road from us, so maybe it'll be worth checking out. (28) Nevada has been a solid team most of the year, only held back by an at-best-average defense. Even against sub-par opponents, the Wolfpack has allowed 20-30 points. The (58) Eagles have a much better defense that's allowing a stingy 13.8 PPH and hasn't allowed more than 30 points since October 9th. The problem is that Nevada's offense is better than any the Eagles have faced since Virginia Tech. In the end, Nevada just has too many weapons for Boston College to stop them and stand as 2-to-1 favorites to win by about a touchdown.
Eddie: Ah, the Fight Hunger Bowl.  What better place to infect sporting events with moral guilt than the bustling city of San Francisco.  (26) Nevada has been in and out of the RBA top 25 all year, while (58) Boston College hasn't been anywhere close.  Both teams have similar offensive and defensive consistencies, so we'll revert to discussing the means.  The Eagles should muster only 9.3 PPH offensive, despite fielding the ACC's leading rusher, Montel Harris.  In contrast, Nevada's offense is powder keg ready to explode with 22.8 PPH of pistol goodness.  BC holds a slight 2.8 PPH defensive advantage, but it's going to take a Herculean effort to slow down the Wolfpack.  RBA says Nevada win by two possessions, 31-21, with 64.7% confidence.

#16: Rose Bowl (January 1, 2011)
Wisconsin Badgers (11-1, 7-1 Big Ten) vs. TCU Horned Frogs (12-0, 8-0 MWC)
GUGS: 52.1

Eddie:  I'm particularly intrigued about this game because it stands as a referendum on my algorithm.  RBA has tabbed (1) TCU as the best team in the country since Alabama went down versus South Carolina.  (10) Wisconsin is the human golden boy thanks to blowing up helpless Indiana and Northwestern (sans Dan Persa).  Everyone seems to forget the Badgers' escape against Arizona State earlier in the season.  As you may expect, RBA picks TCU to win this one thanks to an 8.6 PPH defensive advantage, but Wisconsin's offense is only 2.9 PPH behind TCU's.  RBA says TCU should win this one 34-24 with 79.4% confidence.
Justin: Like Eddie, I'm viewing this game as a measure of how well TFG handles two top-tier teams with differing strengths of schedule. Some off-the-cuff analysis I've done has indicated that SOS isn't a significant predictor of bowl outcomes, but there's a difference between "this team will likely win" and "TCU will stomp Wisconsin all the way back to Madison". (1) TCU's defense got lazy over the last few games, and by "lazy" I mean, "is only the best defense in FBS by 0.2 PPH instead of 2.2 PPH". On the other side of the ball the (14) Badger offense is second in FBS at 29.2, behind only (2) Boise State. Wisconsin has desperately been trying to make a statement, hammering their last three opponents for an average of 67 points per game. Wisconsin's problem is that TCU's offense is every bit the equal of Wisconsin's, but the Badgers are giving up 7.9 PPH on defense. That works out to a serious advantage for TCU, and one that TFG says Wisconsin has only a 1-in-5 chance of overcoming. TCU by a touchdown.

#15: MAACO Bowl (December 22, 2010)
Utah Utes (10-2, 7-1 MWC) vs. Boise State Broncos (11-1, 7-1 WAC)
GUGS: 52.8

Justin: The TFG algorithm has no sense of drama, no sense of BCS politics, and no sense of conference memberships, and because of that it still has Boise State ranked #2. The Broncos were about 3' away from the inside of the uprights and an undefeated season, and that's the end of the story as far as the TFG algorithm is concerned. The Broncos can ring up points more efficiently than any team in FBS, which is bad news for (20) Utah. The Utes yielded 20 points to TCU, and Boise State is even more explosive. The other side of the ball isn't too encouraging for Utah, either. Boise's defense is a mere 0.8 PPH behind TCU's, and the Horned Frogs held Utah to under 10 points for the first time in almost 4 years. TFG says this one is even more lopsided than the previous game, with the Broncos 81.5% favorites to win by 10 points.
Eddie: Poor Utah.  (38) Utah is in way over its head in this game because they simply don't show up against top competition.  Their offense can be very potent, but a 39.4 +/- 34.3 PPH rating means bad news against a strong team like (7) Boise State.  The Ute defense isn't much better at 0 +/- 26.7 PPH.  Boise sports a +12.5 PPH offensive advantage and an 8.6 PPH defensive advantage.  Nothing about this game says "close."  RBA says that Boise State crucifies Utah, 38-20, with 72.6% confidence in a game that shouldn't be as close as the score indicates.

Home Visitors Odds Home Visitors Odds
(58)Boston College29 (28)Nevada34 66.9 (58)Boston College21 (26)Nevada31 64.6
(1)TCU38 (14)Wisconsin32 80.7 (1)TCU34 (10)Wisconsin24 79.3
(2)Boise St.38 (20)Utah28 81.5 (7)Boise St.38 (38)Utah20 72.6