By Zach Bingham
We are back with Part 3 of the OKTCs Bowl Season preview and are on the edge of getting into some match ups that America can care about. This round of games features the Heisman Trophy winner, a game no one will watch and big names fallen on hard times in 2011: Texas, Notre Dame, and Florida State.
Here we go.
Military Bowl – Toledo (8-4) vs Air Force (7-5)
Wednesday December 28th at 3:30pm CT on ESPN
Line: Toledo -3
Everyone will be at work not even aware that this game is being played. With that being said, here is a condensed preview.
Toledo operates in a totally different fashion than the fighting Falcons of Air Force. With a successful two quarterback system that reeled off seven conference victories, Toledo utilizes the abilities of quarterbacks Terrance Owens and Austin Dantin fairly well. The Rockets have been on fire when it comes to breaking the plane of the end zone recently. In their last five games, Toledo is averaging 53.3 points per contest. Eighth in the nation in scoring, registering points is not the problem for Toledo but their inability to keep their opponents of the board is. Defense has haggled the Rockets all year long and facing the second best rushing team in the country on Wednesday will be a real test. Look for wide receiver Eric Page to have a big game and catch at least one touchdown pass for Toledo as they try to outscore the Falcons.
Biggest Win: (7-5) Western Michigan
Worst Loss: (5-7) Syracuse
Air Force does one thing and one thing only, run the football. Still stuck in the early 1930’s, the Falcons use the triple option on every single solitary play. Quarterback Tim Jefferson Jr. is the conductor of Air Force’s offense and usually relies on his running back Asher Clark, to be by his side ready for the pitch. Averaging a staggering 320 rushing yards per game, Air Force pounds the ball with either allusiveness or brute force. Like Toledo, with a good offense comes a shaky defense. The Falcons are 65th in points allowed and struggle to contain the opposition. If you are unemployed and like offense, this is your game.
Biggest Win: (5-7) Navy
Worst Loss: (8-5) Wyoming
Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl – California (7-5) vs Texas (7-5)
Wednesday December 28th at 7pm CT on ESPN
Line: Texas -4
I would have rather seen Boise State play Texas in this bowl but rules are rules.
The only advantage that Cal has in this match up is that it is played in the state of California. A very average team, the Golden Bears are the seventh or eighth best team in the Pac12. Junior quarterback Zach Maynard threw for over 2,800 yards on the year but also tossed eleven interceptions in the process. California relies heavily on running back Isi Sifele for much of the time to take pressure off of their passing game. Sifele sets the tempo for the Bears offense by creating play action opportunities for Maynard to take advantage of late in games. Cal catches a Texas team that is rebuilding and has had its struggles throughout the year. A win would be a good recruiting tool going forward.
Biggest Win: Utah (7-5)
Worst Loss: UCLA (6-7)
With two down years in a row, rumors are swirling of Mack Brown’s retirement. Even as word leaked out earlier this week of a contract extension for Brown, could this be his final game with the Longhorns?
Texas football just isn’t what it use to be. Coming off Mack Brown’s worst season in Longhorn history, confusion at quarterback and lack of identity, Texas hasn’t been much better in 2011. Losing three out of their last four games, Texas needs a Holiday Bowl victory to right the ship for next season. Switching back and forth between quarterbacks Case McCoy and David Ash, the Longhorns went through troubled waters for most of the season. 85th in passing yards, McCoy and Ash have struggled to propel Texas into the ranks they are accustomed to being in. The Longhorns have done it with their defense this year. Fourteenth in the nation and first in the Big 12 allowing just 315 total yards per game punched the Horns bowl ticket. If Mack Brown doesn’t return next season, the Texas job will be a hot commodity among elite coaches.
Biggest Win: Texas A&M (6-6)
Worst Loss: Missouri (8-5)
Champs Sports Bowl – #25 Florida State (8-4) vs Notre Dame (8-4)
Thursday December 29th at 4:30pm CT on ESPN
Line: Florida State -3 1/2
Head coach Jimbo Fisher is in his second year as FSU front man and is making his second consecutive bowl appearance. The Seminoles had National Championship hopes to start the season but an injury to quarterback E.J. Manuel early in the year derailed Florida States dreams. The turning point in the season came in week three against then number one Oklahoma. The Noles fell 23-13 and dropped then next two games to Clemson and Wake Forest, putting their record at 2-3. Florida State fought back to become bowl eligible, finishing their season with a win over instate rival Florida. No doubt if Manuel was able to play a full twelve games at 100%, the Noles would be BCS bowl bound. FSU is fourth in the nation when it come to points allowed (just 15.2) so points should be at a premium for the Irish.
Biggest Win: Florida (6-6)
Worst Loss: Wake Forrest (6-6)
One of the better match ups of the Bowl Season, Notre Dame is trying their hardest to get back to the top with a win against the Noles. The Fighting Irish started out the season slow as they lost their first two games to South Florida and Michigan. Quarterback Tommy Rees settled down throughout the year and became a more accurate passer as the season rolled along. With a 65% completion percentage and throwing for over 2,700 yards, the future looks bright for Brian Kelly and the Fighting Irish. Rees will have to pick apart a stout Florida State defense that loves to rush the passer and utilize their lock down cover corners. Wide receiver Michael Floyd is Rees’s main target so look for those two to connect often throughout the day.
Biggest Win: #17 Michigan State (10-3)
Worst Loss: South Florida (5-7)
Valero Alamo Bowl – Washington (7-5) vs #12 Baylor (9-3)
Thursday December 29th at 8pm CT on ESPN
Line: Baylor -9 1/2
Washington has a successful year as the Huskies notched out seven wins on the season but crashed and burned when it came to better opponents. Washington fell to #20 Nebraska, #5 Oregon, #4 Stanford, USC, and the worst team in the Pac12 in Oregon State. Led by quarterback Keith Price, the Huskies find a way to get in the end zone through the air. Price tossed in twenty-nine TD passes with a 67% completion percentage and on seven occasions had three touchdown games. If it’s not Price, then it is running back Chris Polk. The Junior ran in his third consecutive thousand yard season and posted eleven touchdowns on the ground for 2011. The Huskies offense is good but to stop the opposing quarterback on Thursday, it will be their defense that needs to play great.
Biggest Win: Utah (7-5)
Worst Loss: Oregon State (3-9)
There is only one reason that the Baylor Bears won nine games this season and that is because of Robert Griffin III. RG3 reeled off five straight wins to close the season and beat teams like Texas and Oklahoma in the process. Two yards shy of passing for 4,000 yards, the Heisman Trophy winner accounted for forty-five touchdowns this season. With a completion percentage in the seventies, RG3 threw just six interceptions and helped Baylor to rank number five in the nation in passing. This bowl is played in the heart of Texas so everything is pointing the Bears way. RG3’s go-to-guy is Kendall Wright, racking up over 1,500 yards receiving and hauling in thirteen touchdowns in 2011. Baylor has the best player on the field so look for some incredible plays to made on Thursday night.
Biggest Win: #14 Oklahoma (9-3)
Worst Loss: Texas A&M (6-6)
That’s all for Part 3. Next time we get into some SEC teams so you guys have something to look forward to.