Guess what? We’re in the middle of bowl season! Yes, we’ve had some games that no one truly gives a damn about (Ohio vs. Troy) and we’ve had games that we’re touted as possible barn-burners but fell far short (Boise St. vs. Utah). And for the second straight year, the MAC was involved in what may end up as the most thrilling game of the bowl season (Florida International vs. Toledo). Ahhh, bowl season.
We here at the Bang have done what we do, we picked the winners and turned it into a competition. And inexplicably, Armando is kicking TJ and I’s asses. He called Louisville’s comeback, saw Tulsa’s trouncing of Hawaii coming, and even saw Florida International getting their first bowl win. He sits on top of our little contest with a near-perfect 8-1 record. TJ and I were an identical 3-3 over the last week, while he’s at 6-3 and I’m at 5-4 because of my baseless confidence in the MAC (thanks for nothing Ohio U.).
Anywho, now that I’m back in commission, I’m gonna try to give a quick capsule of each day’s games now through the BCS title game and of course we’ll talk about these games on the Bangcast. Although not this week. We’re all planning on spending some portion of the next few days in a drunken stupor, celebrating having not killed each other or ourselves for another year. This Wednesday night, check us out as we hand out our MMA Awards: The Bangers. Not quite as prestigious as the World MMA Awards, but next year we’re gonna get a band and ties and then we’ll be on our way up.
Champs Sports Bowl: #22 West Virginia (9-3) vs. NC State (8-4)
In a battle of teams that just missed BCS bowls, West Virginia seems to have the edge on paper. The Wolfpack’s passing attack lead by Russell Wilson lead them to over 32 points a game and a top 20 passing offense. Wilson was 11th in the FBS in total offense this year with nearly 3,300 yards through the air and 26 TDs and another 9 on the ground. Target selection has been a bit of a problem for the junior, with 14 interception. Their rushing attack has suffered, with only one back with over 500 yards. The big mark against NC State is their defense, allowing 22.5 points per game. On the flip side, West Virginia’s stingy defense has only allowed 12.8 points a game. The Mountaineers are a more ground-based attack, centered around Noel Devine and Ryan Clarke. Devine’s got the speed and cutting ability to take a seam and bust it into a huge play. The duo has allowed Geno Smith to stretch the field and pass for over 2,500 yards and 26 TDs against just 6 picks. The defense will be the difference for WVU. With 4 All-Big East 1st Team selections, the 2nd ranked rushing defense, and the second-ranked scoring defense, and with 40 team sacks (3rd in the FBS), it’s hard to see NC State getting their offense going.
Insight Bowl: #12 Missouri vs. Iowa
It was a rough November for the Hawkeyes. They ended the season on a 3-game skid with losses to Northwestern, Ohio State, and woeful Minnesota. Then their leading receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos was arrested on drug charges and suspended, leading rusher Adam Robinson was suspended for violation of team rules, and then it was announced that running back Jewel Hampton wouldn’t be available for the bowl either. Iowa will have to lean on their defense (7th in scoring defense) if they want to win a 3rd straight bowl game. Senior standout QB Ricky Stanzi will do what he can with the resources he has with a depleted offense. Marvin McNutt will likely be his top target now and freshman Marcus Coker and his 10 TDs will likely start in the backfield. They’ll try to put points up against one of the country’s stingiest defenses. Missouri only allows 15 points a game (6th in the FBS). Besides that, Missouri’s offense is also one of the top in the nation. QB Blane Gabbart had another solid year, throwing for over 2,700 yards, 15 TDs against 7 picks. He’s also got Mackey Award finalist TE Michael Egnew as well. He’ll have to keep an eye out for Lombardi and Hendricks Award finalist Adrian Clayborn as well. The highly-touted senior will try to be in the backfield all night and disrupt Gabbert, whose looked shaky under pressure this season, including a 6-sack game against Nebraska.
Military Bowl: East Carolina vs. Maryland
Texas Bowl: Baylor vs. Illinois
Alamo Bowl: Arizona vs. #14 Oklahoma State