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December 20, 2007

2007 Bowl Preview Series

Money is not the only thing on the line in these late December bowls. The early bowls may not seem important now, but they have huge implications going into next year. Although these earlier bowls are sometimes disregarded by casual fans, the players and coaches know how important they can be. Winning can raise a young team’s confidence. Losing can cripple a team‘s morale. Texas, Arizona State, UCLA, and Boise State are all teams that will be considered top 25 squads for next year. A bowl win might push one of these teams from the middle of the pack to the top tier of teams in 2008. Here is an odd note: Two of these bowls match-up teams that played earlier in the season.

Las Vegas | Hawaii | Motor City | Holiday

December 22 - 7:00 PM CST ESPN - Las Vegas, NV

When BYU has the ball...

When these teams met in week 2, UCLA won 27-17. Since that game, BYU is 9-1. UCLA is 4-6. BYU‘s 15th ranked offense is lead by QB Max Hall. The sophomore had thrown 24 touchdowns and for more than 3600 yards. Impressive freshman RB Harvey Unga has ran for 1211 yards. He is also the teams 3rd leading receiver. BYU has a balanced offensive attack that is much more dynamic than it was in week 2.
The UCLA Bruin’s defense is good, but not great. They have shined and struggled throughout the year. They gave up 44 points to Utah. They shut out Oregon, who was without Dennis Dixon. They kept USC to just 24 points, but they gave up over 200 yards rushing. Safety Dennis Keyes is the team’s leading tackler. He also has 3 interceptions. UCLA is very good at getting after the QB. They are ranked 4th and 14th respectively in tackles for loss and sacks. UCLA has to pressure Hall to slow down BYU’s passing attack that averages 304 yards per game.

When UCLA has the ball...

Four different QBs have taking snaps for UCLA this year. Ben Olson, who was pulled for poor play and injuries this year, was replaced by Patrick Cowan. Cowan hurt his left knee against USC, so Olson might be called upon to start against BYU. He has attempted only 15 passes in his last 6 games. UCLA has two very talented running backs in their backfield. Kahlil Bell and Chris Markey combined for 1393 yards and 8 touchdowns this season. Kai Forbath has made 22 out of 26 field goal attempts this year. He needs to convert all of his field goals to give UCLA’s struggling offense confidence.
UCLA‘s strength is running the ball. BYU‘s strength is stopping it. BYU has not allowed a 100-yard rusher all year. Sophomore DE Jan Jorgensen leads the team in sacks and tackles for loss. His 11.5 sacks is a BYU record. BYU‘s defense is underrated and it‘s the main reason they are 10-2 and in the top 25.

Star watch...

Harvey Unga is one of the best freshman in the country. In BYU’s regular season finale, he rushed for 160 yards and scored 4 touchdowns. He has rushed for over 100 yards seven times this year, which is impressive because BYU looks to pass first and run second.

Deciding factor...

UCLA is not only banged up at QB, they are banged up mentally. UCLA fired Karl Dorrell in early December. He has since decided not to coach in the bowl game. UCLA, who already played BYU this year, is going to have to look to interim head coach DeWayne Walker for motivation. UCLA has to come out excited to win. They should be pleased to be playing one more game.

The staff says...

- - - - - F o o t b a l l   S t a f f - - - - - - - - O t h e r   S t a f f - - -
David Gregg Joey Jonathan Matt Ben Daniel Eddie Larry
177-97 169-105 175-99 179-95 165-109 - S e a s o n   R e c o r d s -

SCS.comHAWAII BOWL - East Carolina vs Boise State
December 23 - 7:00 PM CST ESPN - Honolulu, HI

When East Carolina has the ball...

ECU, the only team to beat UCF in conference play this year, is making its 2nd straight trip to a bowl game. Speedy RB Chris Johnson is the star of the offense. He has 22 total touchdowns this year. Patrick Pickney and Rob Kass have shared the QB duties this year and should split time against Boise State. Pickney is more of a running threat, making the offense more dynamic when he is at QB.
Boise State‘s defense is the best in the WAC when it comes to total, scoring, and rushing defense. ECU relies on the run, so the game will be won in the trenches. Senior Safety Marty Tadman is the leader of the defense. He has 83 tackles and 2 interceptions on the year. He is a possible first day NFL draft pick next year. The defense is very good. It does not have the star power it had last year, but they are still a solid unit, the best in the WAC.

When Boise State has the ball...

Boise State‘s offense is just as potent as it was last year. One year ago, Boise State was preparing for their memorable Fiesta Bowl match-up versus Oklahoma. Only five offensive starters returned, including RB Ian Johnson. Johnson is the 2nd leading rusher in the WAC. He has ran for 1030 yards and 16 touchdowns. Jeremy Avery backs him up. He has 603 yards and 8 touchdowns. Senior Taylor Tharp has thrown for more touchdowns and yards than last year’s QB Jared Zambranksy. WR Jeremy Childs is his favorite target. He has 1045 yards receiving and has found the end zone 9 times.
ECU‘s defense is going to have a hard time shutting down the Broncos. They rank 98th in total defense and 80th in scoring defense. Their pass defense is ranked 115th. They have been dreadful stopping the pass all year. They do excel at creating turnovers. Their +14 turnover margin ranks 6th nationally. Talented safety Van Eskridge leads the team in tackles. They are going to have to play their best game of the year to slow down Boise’s dangerous offense.

Star watch...

Although his numbers are not as good as last years, Ian Johnson is still the biggest offensive threat the Broncos have. After missing two games, Johnson ran for seven touchdowns in his final 4 games. He opens up the passing game for Tharp and the Boise WRs.

Deciding factor...

ECU has to step up on defense or they will get torched. Boise can attack them from either the air or the ground. Gifted coach Skip Holtz and his coaching staff better come up with a tremendous defensive scheme to slow down the Broncos and their balanced offensive attack.

The staff says...

- - - - - F o o t b a l l   S t a f f - - - - - - - - O t h e r   S t a f f - - -
David Gregg Joey Jonathan Matt Ben Daniel Eddie Larry
177-97 169-105 175-99 179-95 165-109 - S e a s o n   R e c o r d s -

SCS.comMOTOR CITY BOWL - Central Michigan vs Purdue
December 26 - 6:30 PM CST ESPN - Detroit, MI

When Central Michigan has the ball...

The champions of the MAC conference have a balanced offense. They pass for 265 yards a game and run for 182 yards. Only three teams ran for more touchdowns this year. On average, 77 of those 182 rushing yards come from QB Dan LeFevour. LeFevour was one of four QBs to run for over 1000 yards this season. He also threw for 3380 yards and 23 touchdowns. In total, he scored 41 touchdowns. Receivers Bryan Anderson and Antonio Brown combined for 1900 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Purdue‘s defense ranked 8th in the Big Ten. CB Terrell Vinson leads the team with 78 tackles and five interceptions. The Boilermaker defense is not known for getting into the backfield. They are 7th and 9th respectively in tackles for loss and sacks in the Big Ten. Stopping Central Michigan will be difficult for this average Big Ten defense.

When Purdue has the ball...

Purdue makes up for their lack of defensive prowess with a offense that averages 33 points per game. Curtis Painter threw for 3300 yards and 26 touchdowns. Dorien Bryant is his favorite target. He has 82 catches for 871 yards and eight scores. Kory Sheets handles most of the carries. He ran for 100 yards all three times he got over 20 carries this season. Purdue was 3-0 in those games.
The only thing that kept this Central Michigan team from being better than last year‘s 10-4 team is their defense. They are ranked 106th in total defense. They give up 35 points a game. Before their win in the MAC championship against Miami (OH), Central Michigan had given up 30 points or more in 6 out of their last 7 games, including 70 to Clemson. Senior LB Thomas Keith leads the team with 139 tackles. He could collect 20 tackles and Central Michigan would still give up 30 points to Purdue.

Star watch...

This is Dorien Bryant‘s last game as a Boilermaker. Bryant is one of the best receivers in school history. He has caught at least 80 passes in his last three seasons (38 freshman year). I think Bryant will have a terrific game against weak Central Michigan pass defense that ranks 111th nationally.

Deciding factor...

Purdue has better athletes at nearly every position except QB. Painter is definitely not the runner that LeFevour is. Purdue rolled Central Michigan 45-22 earlier in the year. Painter threw for 360 yards and three touchdowns. LeFevour needs to have a magical game for Central Michigan to win.

The staff says...

- - - - - F o o t b a l l   S t a f f - - - - - - - - O t h e r   S t a f f - - -
David Gregg Joey Jonathan Matt Ben Daniel Eddie Larry
177-97 169-105 175-99 179-95 165-109 - S e a s o n   R e c o r d s -

SCS.comHOLIDAY BOWL - Arizona State vs Texas
December 27 - 7:00 PM CST ESPN - San Diego, CA

When Arizona State has the ball...

Arizona State will have a lot to prove in the Holiday Bowl. Outside of Missouri, they were the biggest BCS snub this year. Their only two losses were to Oregon and USC when those two teams were playing their best. QB Rudy Carpenter leads a strong Sun Devil passing attack. He threw for 23 touchdowns and 3000 yards this year. He evem played well in ASU’s two losses. Those losses fall mainly on the defense, but we will get to that later. Keegan Herring only rushed for 100 yards three times this year due to a lack of carries. They were to busy getting the ball to sophomore WR Chris McGaha, ASU’s leading receiver. He is a star in the making. His only fault is that he has yet to find the end zone this year. Freshman kicker Thomas Weber has played outstanding this year. He has made 22 of his 23 field goal attempts.
Texas gave up 28 or more points six times this season, three more than last year. They are very good at stopping the run, ranking 10th nationally. However, they struggle against the pass. In their last 4 games, they gave up an average of 393 passing yards per game. They do not have one player ranked in the top 100 in tackles, tackles for loss, sacks, or interceptions. This young defense will be susceptible to the aerial attack of ASU.

When Texas has the ball...

Good news, Colt McCoy threw for more yards this year than last year. Bad news, he threw eight less touchdowns and 11 more interceptions. Although McCoy has underperformed, the Longhorn offense has been hard to stop. They rank 13th in total offense thanks to a strong running game from junior Jamaal Charles. He is the nation’s 12th leading rusher. Against Nebraska, Charles ran for 290 yards and 3 touchdowns. He should have another big game in the Holiday Bowl, the bowl Texas has played in 4 of their last 8 bowl games.
ASU’s defense played very well for most of the year. However, against Oregon and USC, they gave up 35 and 44 points respectively. The defense is good, but not good enough to shut down a high powered offense. DE Dexter Davis leads the team with 10 sacks and 13 tackles for loss. Troy Nolan is a ball-hawking safety who has six interceptions this year, two of which were returned for touchdowns. Arizona State may slow down Texas, but they will not stop them.

Star watch...

Colt McCoy needs to have a big game so he can recover the confidence he lost from this disappointing season. If he has a big game against a very good Arizona State team, Texas might catapult into the top 5 next year. He will be a Heisman contender with a good team coming back. If he falls flat, he will be doubted throughout off-season.

Deciding factor...

Rudy Carpenter should be able to pick apart Texas‘s secondary. If ASU can get a few early scores, McCoy will start forcing the ball, which has been his problem all season long. ASU‘s secondary, who intercepted 17 passes this year, might have a field day.

The staff says...

- - - - - F o o t b a l l   S t a f f - - - - - - - - O t h e r   S t a f f - - -
David Gregg Joey Jonathan Matt Ben Daniel Eddie Larry
177-97 169-105 175-99 179-95 165-109 - S e a s o n   R e c o r d s -

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