Tuesday, December 20, 2011

PS Bowl-A-Thon 2011: Sheraton Hawaii Bowl

Here's a look at last night's bowl entertainment

The Where and When:Saturday, December 24th; 7 p.m. CST.
Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii. ESPN.

The Who:#22 Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles 11-2, (7-2 C-USA) vs. Nevada Wolf Pack 7-5, (5-2 WAC).

The Why:“Mele Kalikimaka is the thing to say, on a bright Hawaiian Christmas Day.” Hey there are worse places to spend Christmas, *cough* Detroit, *cough* Boise.

The Golden Eagles won their 5th Conference USA title. They ended Houston’s chance at a perfect season a few weeks ago and thus earned this just reward. This is their first trip to the Hawaii bowl, but it’s their 14th bowl in the last 15 years. Larry Fedora will also be coaching his final game before heading to North Carolina.

The Wolf Pack are no strangers to excitement. After all, they hail from the biggest little city in the world. This is the 7th straight bowl game and the third time they have spent Christmas in Hawaii since 2005. They are guided by Hall of Fame Head Coach Chris Ault.

What Smartypants Accounting Guy Would Tell You:The Wolf Pack has the nation's fifth-most potent offense, averaging 522.8 yards per game and also ranks eighth nationally in rushing offense at 251.8 yards per game. Freshman QB Cody Fajardo runs the Pistol offense which also features the WAC’s leading receiver, Rishard Matthews (91 rec., 1,364 yds.) who has seven 100-yard receiving games.

Eagle QB Austin Davis runs a balanced offense, one of only 14 in the nation that averages 200+ yards both rushing and passing (including Nevada). That all adds up to the #13th ranked offense and 37.8 ppg. The Eagles had 4 different rushers notch 100-yard games this year. Kelvin Bolden and Ryan Balentine are very good wideouts.

Southern Miss had a new defensive scheme this year using a 4-2-5, under first year coordinator Dan Disch. Whatever it is, it’s the nation’s 20th best defense against the rush. They give up 21 ppg and lead the nation with 8 pick-6s. DB Marquese Wheaton has had multiple picks and was named First Team All-CUSA.

The Nevada Defense is 52nd in the country in total defense and has given up 25 ppg. They have forced 19 turnovers in 2011 and have a couple First Team All-WAC players. The steel curtain they are not.

Pool Prognosticators Pattern:
I’ve never been to Reno and I have no intention of going to Southern Mississippi. Although I did stop at a gas station in Mississippi once where the clerk was also the Sheriff …true story. Also, weirdly the Golden Eagle emblem seems to the same as Liberty North High School…and since that’s where I live, I identify with them more.

Vegas Edge:
Southern Miss opened as a 6 point favorite and is currently a 6.5 pt bet. The Hilton has it as a 62 point over/under. The Eagles are 8-4-1 ATS and the Pack are 5-7 ATS.

The Sweatpants Verdict:Normally the Rainbow Warriors are the home team. Without them, we get a second rate WAC team that frankly isn’t that good.

Southern Miss has the decided edge in this game. In part because they will have had three weeks to figure out the pistol offense. I’m concerned about the Eagle mindset being in Hawaii on an extended vacation and Larry Fedora with one foot out the door. But then again, they are all 20 year olds. I'm sure it will be fine.

I like a high scoring affair and I like the Eagles to cover. USM 38 Nevada 28.

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