NCAA Football Analysis

Unguardable

2015 College Football Bowl Primers: Pre-Christmas #3

Might there be too many bowls?

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl: Boise State Broncos (8-4) vs. Northern Illinois Huskies (8-5). December 23rd 4:30 PM ET, ESPN

Boise hasn’t been doing so great since Chris Petersen left. What’s the issue?

Motivation! Petersen was great at it. Bryan Harsin? Not so much. He tries, but he’s not that good at it. For example:

I’m not sure what this means, and why the S is randomly capitalized. Is Bryan Harsin recruiting for a secret movie he’s filming while pretending to be a coach?

This wasn’t directed at him, nor does it give any sort of helpful football advice. Aren’t football players supposed to be pissed off 24/7? Isn’t that what coaches tell them to do?

Henry Ford was a Nazi. Bad advice.

But do credit Mr. Harsin. He can make the best of a bad situation

Please summarize NIU football in one word.

Confusing. They came within seven points of Ohio State, thanks to the five turnovers they were able to create. The next week, they lost to Boston College 17-14. That game was BC’s high point for offensive production against an FBS school.

What’s the one obvious stat that will decide this game?

Turnovers! Both teams picked off opponents over 20 times this year. Boise State had one more interception, but also threw one more than NIU. The real stat to zero in on here is fumbles. NIU lost 14 of those bad boys, but Boise could only recover six out of 20 opportunities. NIU also only recovered 6/21, so if a fumble happens, that ball is going to be live for a whole quarter.

I feel like Boise is just going to dominate this game. Can you prove me wrong?

I’m absolutely certain Boise is going to run up and down the field on NIU, but only until they get to the red zone. Boise is only scoring touchdowns at a 58% clip, but NIU is incredibly stingy on defence, only allowing 41% of red zone trips to end in scores. Flip it around, NIU is scoring on 72% of red zone trips while Boise is only allowing 52%. If you want to see a 7-6 game, here you go.

Winner: NIU

GoDaddy Bowl: Georgia Southern Eagles (8-4) vs. Bowling Green Falcons (10-3). December 23rd 8:00 PM ET, ESPN

Georgia Southern lost a very winnable game to Georgia State in the final week to make the Panthers bowl eligible. Was there any collusion going on here?

I’m not arguing for either side, but I’ll just point out that Georgia Southern scored 27 points less than they do on an average day and were held 217 yards shy of their average. Just saying.

A spunky yet young Sun Belt team versus an established MAC team. Who wins?

You’re probably going to have to with the MAC team. Bowling Green hasn’t lost to a team that finished worse than 8-4, and three of those teams were ranked at some point in the season. The Falcons also beat four bowl eligible teams. For Georgia Southern, their best opponent was 5-7 South Alabama, with other wins against dismal opponents like Idaho, ULM, New Mexico State,  Texas State, and Troy. Sun Belt livin’.

Give me a football stat to quote just so that I look good.

Georgia Southern had the best rushing offence, with 4,267 yards and 47 touchdowns on the season. Bowling Green had the number one defence in terms of tackles. It’s going to be trench warfare.

But what if Georgia Southern passes?

Mother of Mercy, that’s a terrible idea.  GaSo threw a pick every 13 attempts. To put it another way, they threw a touchdown every 43 attempts. Bowling Green’s passing defence is nothing to mess with either, picking off opponents ever 14.3 attempts and allowing touchdowns every 15.9 attempts. Don’t do it!

This game is truly “for the birds,” if you understand what I mean. Which one has the advantage?

Looking back at bowl results since 2000, we found the following data:

Falcons: 7-8 (-18)

Eagles (including the golden variety, but not the Mean Green): 14-10 (+55)

Owls: 6-3 (+39)

Hokies (if those are considered birds): 7-7 (-17)

Cardinals: 6-10 (-95)

Hawkeyes: 6-6 (-7)

Ducks: 8-5 (+59)

Gamecocks: 5-5 (-24)

Warhawks: 0-1 (-31)

Redhawks: 1-1 (+10)

Jayhawks: 3-1 (+23)

Bird Bowls:

Rice Owls 33 vs. Air Force Falcons 14, 2012

Louisville Cardinals 31 vs. Southern Miss Golden Eagles 28

Iowa Hawkeyes 31 vs. South Carolina Gamecocks 10

Kansas Jayhawks 24 vs. Virginia Tech Hokies 21 (THIS HAPPENED IN A BCS GAME)

Virginia Tech Hokies 35 vs. Louisville Cardinals 24

Virginia Tech Hokies 20 vs. Air Force Falcons 13

Conclusions? Don’t name your team the Cardinals.

Winner: Bowling Green

Popeye’s Bahamas Bowl: Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders (7-5) vs. Western Michigan Broncos (7-5). December 24th, 12 PM ET, ESPN

Can we really trust a team that lost to both Vanderbilt and Illinois?

No, probably not. Although they did beat Marshall, MTSU really only got here by playing FCS teams and teams worse than FCS teams.

I can’t accept a reality where the MAC is undefeated in the bowl season. Is there any saving grace to MTSU?

They have an extremely efficient passing game through Brent Stockstill, who averages 8.16 yards per throw, scored 28 touchdowns with only eight interceptions. They also had eight different players score rushing touchdowns. They’re pretty good at this offence thing.

Are there any stats that almost perfectly work with each other?

Of course! MTSU wins are largely determined by which MTSU rushing game shows up. In wins, they averaged 209.3 yards per game with 21 touchdowns. In losses, 62.8 with one touchdown. Thankfully for them, WMU allows 5.3 yards per carry.

MTSU also put quarterbacks on the ground 21 times while only allowing 14. WMU had 14 sacks on the season and allowed 29. The stars are aligning.

Will it be possible for WMU to try and pass off Joe Flacco as Tom Flacco in order to win this game?

  1. No, Joe Flacco is out for the season.
  2. Young Flacco is a budding #elite quarterback himself. He’s completed 81% of his passes and averages 14 yards a throw, sample size be damned. He’s going to win this game if he plays.
  3. He probably won’t play this game.

Winner: MTSU

Hawai’i Bowl: San Diego State Aztecs (10-3) vs. Cincinnati Bearcats (7-5). December 24th, 8PM ET, ESPN

This doesn’t look fair

You would be right. San Diego State is currently on a ten game winning streak where they have only allowed their opponents to score more than 14 points twice. Their nasty defence has taken the ball away 31 times, and their steady offence has only turned it over 12 times, including only three interceptions. People only converted third downs 28% of the time against them. They’re nothing to mess with.

But you could also be wrong! Cincinnati is coming out of their corner with the classic “San Diego State ain’t played nobody,” which is painfully true if you’re an Aztecs fan. Their opponents were a collective 44-68, with three of them barely making bowl games at 6-6 and 5-7 records. Cincinnati had to go through eight bowl eligible opponents on their way to 7-5. Sagarin ranks them four places within each other (56 for SDS, 60 for Cincy), so it might be closer than it looks.

It’s already looking like a mismatch of teams. Tell me how that will playout.

It is certainly defence versus offence, and the burden is on Cincinnati. They do convert over 50% of their third downs, but they also turn the ball over a lot, with a -16 turnover differential. The key will be getting to the quarterback. The Bearcats’ passing offence is lethal when uninterrupted. They only allowed 19 sacks this season, but are facing a team with 33 on the year.

On the flip side, it is still looking bad for Cincinnati. The Aztecs ran for 4.9 yards per carry. The Bearcats allowed 5.0. However, if they can force the Aztecs to stick to passing, they can take advantage. Maxwell Smith doesn’t throw many interceptions because that implies he at least got the ball in the right area. The man has only completed 55% of his passes, and only has 7.65 yards per attempt.

Flip a coin?

Yeah. I advised this for the Cincinnati game last year. They’re a real bag of tricks!

Winner: San Diego State

Have a happy holidays folks! See you afterwards!

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This entry was posted on December 23, 2015 by in Uncategorized.
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