BOWL SEASON YTD : 9-9, -2.9 Dimes
What started out looking like a great day with a 2 dime victory in the early game and a 2 dime 24-pt half time lead, while getting 7.5 with Arkansas, turned into an equally brutal finish with Arkansas collapsing and even losing the cover before Colorado was torched in the night cap. Back for more today with the early plays here and the rest of the day’s slate shortly. Let’s go!
LIBERTY BOWL – Memphis, TN
Noon / ESPN : Georgia (5-7,7-5) vs. TCU (3-9,6-6) – TCU -3, 49
As disappointing as this season has been for Georgia in Kirby Smart’s first year, including losses to rivals Tennessee, Florida and Georgia Tech, the future is very bright for the Bulldogs. They will have most of the team coming back next year to go along with Kirby’s first fabulous recruiting class. Chubb is said to be returning for a senior season and they may have the franchise QB in Jesus Eason. Eason has been fairly inconsistent this season with Georgia keeping the restraints on him for most of the season but he definitely has the talent and arm strength to flourish over the next couple seasons. Isaiah McKenzie has been the only real playmaker on this team but he has been explosive in spurts, as they have found more creative ways to get him the ball as the season progressed. They have an uber talented FR TE in Isaac Nauta and the pieces are there to be a juggernaut over the next couple seasons. This is an opportunity for Georgia to kick start a really exciting future, especially with the mess that is the SEC East.
TCU has been dominant in a few games this year but have also been blown out in 3 others (@WVU by 24, Okie St by 25, K-State by 24). The running game is average at best and the passing game has been consistently inconsistent, with Kenny Hill finishing with a 15/13 ratio. I don’t see anything standing out here that says they can move the ball with regularity against a Georgia defense that has been fairly solid and often disruptive this season. TCU is -3 in TO Margin on the season, which ranks 83rd in the country. I expect Georgia to come away with 2-3 TO’s in this one to turn the field and change momentum.
TCU can also use this as a springboard to a huge 2017, as they are expected to get about 17 starters back. One key factor here is that Gary Patterson is one of the best in the nation at getting his teams ready with extra time to prepare (8-2 L10 bowls), while Kirby will be going through bowl preparation for the first time as HBC. Nonetheless, this Georgia defense should be able to contain a struggling TCU offense, while the TCU defense will have all kinds of problems stopping a healthy Chubb and Michel 1-2 punch in the running game. TCU allowed almost 900 rushing yards in their last 3 games and will be lucky to hold this rested running game of Georgia under the 300 yard mark. Georgia will need to establish the run early too because, as bad as the TCU defense has been, they can rush the passer, coming up with 40 sacks on the season. Establish the run to keep those pass rushers off balance, mix in some play action with Eason, and let the Dawgs fly on defense and this will be an exciting offseason for the UGA faithful.
BET : Georgia +3 — 2 Dimes
SUN BOWL – El Paso, TX
2:00 / CBS : #16 Stanford (7-5,9-3) vs. North Carolina (7-5,8-4) – Stanford -2.5, 54.5
Stanford started the season with a couple huge wins against K-State and USC, who have been two of the hotter teams in the nation down the stretch, but they ultimately started 4-3 before winning 5 in a row to close the regular season. The 3 losses were absolutely blowouts against the Washington schools and then a baseball game against Colorado, where the offense came up with only 3 points in a 10-5 loss. The five wins down the stretch were against absolutely pathetic competition so Stanford has not played anyone with a pulse since the Colorado loss on October 22. Christian McCaffrey is obviously sitting this one out, which could be a major problem considering Stanford’s complete lack of a passing game and inability to move the ball on anyone with 11 semi-talented bodies on the field. They were completely stopped against Washington, Wazzu, Colorado, and Notre Dame but Keller Chryst has given them somewhat of a spark in the 5-game winning streak. Bryce Love came away with 129 rushing yards when filling in for the injured McCaffrey against Notre Dame and finished with 600+ yards on 7.3 ypc.
North Carolina has had some great performances this year but they are coming into this bowl game losing 2 of 3, with those losses coming against rivals Duke and NC State, neither of which did much of anything else this season. Mitch Trubisky is coming off a brilliant season with over 3,400 yards, a 28/4 ratio on 69% passing, while adding another 379 rushing yards and 5 scores. Trubisky very well could be the #1 pick in April but this will certainly be his last game in Tar Heel blue. Mitch will be missing his RB1, with Elijah Hood sitting this one out but he still has a hell of a backup option in the explosive TJ Logan. This guy has gone for close to 600 rushing yards and 7 scores on 5.7 ypc, along with another 241 receiving yards and 3 scores, while avg 33 yards per kick return and 2 TD’s. Carolina also doesn’t lack weapons at receiver with Switzer coming up with 91 catches and two monstrous outside threats in 6’5” Bug Howard and 6’4” Mack Hollins.
While Carolina has the weapons all around the field but a lot of these games have been decided in the trenches this bowl season. Stanford has a solid d-line but their LB’s are some of the most disruptive in the nation. By comparison, Stanford is one of the tops in the nation with 43 sacks on the year, while Carolina only has 20.5 sacks on the entire year. I have enough confidence in Bryce Love stepping in for McCaffrey, as he should explode over the next 2 years and Keller Chryst has shown life at QB. This should be a fun one with several big time matchups to watch.
BET : Stanford -2.5