Monday, December 27, 2010

2010 Bowl Previews: Part XI

Part XI of our bowl previews. Part X was yesterday.

Today brings us to the top 5 bowl games of the season. Both TFG and RBA agree that all the remaining teams are in the top 26, and the matchups will be relatively even. For being so close, though, both Eddie and I agree on most of the outcomes.

#5: Alamo Bowl (December 29, 2010)
Oklahoma State Cowboys (10-2, 6-2 Big XII) vs. Arizona Wildcats (7-5, 4-5 Pac-10)
GUGS: 66.9

Justin: This game is going to be a slight contrast in styles. The (21) Cowboys have been solid most of the year, with their only losses coming to (7) Oklahoma and (12) Nebraska. Oklahoma State hasn't had any problems finding offense -- they tally an impressive 24.4 PPH -- but have struggled to slow down opponents enough, allowing 15.6 PPH. The Cowboys also play blazing-fast, averaging nearly 180 plays per game. The Wildcats have a stout defense that allows a mere 13.3 PPH, comparable to LSU; their offense struggles, though, not breaking the 20 PPH barrier. Arizona will be the underdog, but not as badly as conventional wisdom expects. TFG says that Cowboys are 3-point favorites, but only 54.6% likely to win. If Arizona finds some extra offense and can put their defense to good use, they'll have a shot at the victory.
Eddie: Both (18) Oklahoma State and (22) Arizona are known for their offenses, so conventional wisdom suggests this one should turn into a shootout.  However, RBA isn't so sure of that because both teams have drop-offs in performance against strong competition.  The Cowboys have a 2.6 PPH offensive advantage, but the Wildcats have a 0.9 PPH defensive advantage.  This game likely falls in the realm of statistical error, so it should take only one big play to decide this game.  RBA favors Oklahoma State, 28-27, with 56.8% confidence.

#4: Insight Bowl (December 28, 2010)
Missouri Tigers (10-2, 6-2 Big XII) vs. Iowa Hawkeyes (7-5, 4-4 Big Ten)
GUGS: 69.2

Eddie:  Given the number of players that (12) Iowa has lost since their last game due to suspension and arrest, I'm tempted to call for a mulligan on this one.  Barring those losses, Iowa matches up well against the (20) Tigers.  The Hawkeyes hold a 2.1 PPH offensive advantage and a 2.2 PPH defensive advantage over Missouri, so they should manage a 27-21 victory with 54.5% confidence.
Justin: For those of you who aren't familiar with the back-story to Eddie's comment, (11) Iowa lost their leading receiver and running back to drug issues, and a few other players transferred. The one saving grace is that Iowa does it more with defense (11.2 PPH) than they do with offense (20.8 PPH). The (17) Tigers are somewhat lacking in offense, too (20.1 PPH), but have a similarly excellent defense (12.0 PPH). This is really going to come down to how much Iowa was hurt by the suspensions; while Iowa's defense won't need to get them much offense to win, they'll still need some offense. Pre-scandal, TFG said Iowa squeaks by Missouri, 28-27, but only with 56.6% confidence. This will truly be anyone's guess.

#3: Chick-fil-A Bowl (December 31, 2010)
South Carolina Gamecocks (9-4, 5-3 SEC) vs. Florida State Seminoles (9-4, 6-2 ACC)
GUGS: 69.6

Justin: This game will be about as close as it gets. The (18) Seminoles have the 13th-best offense in FBS (25.5 PPH) and a respectable defense (15.5 PPH). The (19) Gamecocks have the 14th-best offense (24.7 PPH) and a slightly better defense (15.0 PPH). Complicating things will be the fact that both teams play slow, so expect only about 160 plays in this game. A low play count means a freak interception, fumble, or long run could have a tremendous effect on the game's outcome. Even TFG's circuits are scratching their head over this one, as this will come down to a late drive or possibly even OT. For now TFG says the Seminoles by 2, but only with 50.1% confidence.
Eddie: This one should be very close.  (17) Florida State has been somewhat underrated this year because of their record, but they've had some freak losses over the course of the year, fumbling it away against NC State, missing two 4th quarter field goals, and losing their starter in a close loss to Virginia Tech.  (19) South Carolina has had the misfortune of playing Auburn twice and Arkansas and a brain fart against Kentucky.  Both are very good teams, so this should be a great matchup.  The Gamecocks and the Seminoles are dead even defensively, but Florida State holds a 1.0 PPH offensive advantage.  That's statistical noise, as far as I'm concerned.  RBA favors the Seminoles, 28-27, with 59.6% confidence.

Home Visitors Odds Home Visitors Odds
(26)Arizona32 (21)Oklahoma St.35 54.9 (22)Arizona27 (18)Oklahoma St.28 56.7
(11)Iowa28 (17)Missouri27 56.6 (12)Iowa27 (20)Missouri21 54.4
(18)Florida St.35 (19)South Carolina33 50.1 (17)Florida St.28 (19)South Carolina27 59.2