Outback Bowl Pick: Gamecocks Just a Little Better

December 31, 2012

The 2013 Outback Bowl should be a great match-up between the South Carolina Gamecocks and the Michigan Wolverines.  Both teams have a lot of similarities, but one is just a little better.

Michigan had a tough season at times.  The Wolverines did have to face both teams who are playing in the National Championship, plus an undefeated Ohio State team.

For the Wolverines, it was supposed to be a dual threat attack with the running ability of QB Denard Robinson and RB Fitzgerald Toussaint.

Toussaint suffered a gruesome ankle injury late in the year, while Robinson developed a nerve injury in his throwing arm, that has relegated him to an all-purpose player, lining up at both quarterback and running back at times.  Devin Gardner is the quarterback for Michigan.

Michigan also has a top-20 defense in terms of points against, ranking 16th in the country.

Meanwhile, for the Gamecocks, this was supposed to be the season that everything was put together, making a run for an SEC Championship.

After being on top of the world with a statement win against then 5th-ranked Georgia, South Carolina lost a tough one on the road against LSU, before having their fate sealed with an embarrassing loss against Florida.

However, for a team that does not have a long history of winning football, a 10-win season still is not too shabby.

The Gamecocks’ offense has had moments of greatness, followed by moments of inconsistent play.  A late season injury to RB Marcus Lattimore also hurt the offense.

This was supposed to be the year that the quarterback position would be stable for South Carolina.  Injuries to starter Connor Shaw opened the door for Dylan Thompson to see some action.  Thompson helped to lead the Gamecocks to two wins, including rival Clemson the last week of the season.

Shaw is the runner with passing ability.  Thompson is the passer, with running ability.

The key to the Gamecocks’ offense is going to be the running game.  South Carolina has to be able to run the ball against Michigan, to take the pressure off the quarterbacks, to give them an opportunity to win.  Senior RB Kenny Miles has a knack for coming up big in significant games.

Defensively, the Gamecocks must force the Wolverines to pass.  Michigan offers a lot of options running the ball, with the versatility of Robinson.  It will be important for the Gamecocks’ front-7, which includes All-American DE Jadeveon Clowney, not to over-pursue the run, and get pressure on the quarterback with the pass.

Despite some good plays, the Gamecocks’ defensive backs are not good enough one-on-one in coverage, without getting pressure on the quarterback to force bad throws.  South Carolina’s defense thrives on that pressure.

At the end of the day, while these two teams match-up well, the Gamecocks are just a little more battle tested, especially this year.

In 2012, the Big Ten Conference’s competition just did not seem up-to-par, as seen when a 7-5 Wisconsin team, only in the championship game because of penalties to Ohio State and Penn State, demolished the conference’s best team, Nebraska.

The SEC was as strong as ever in 2012, with two teams ranked in the top-3 to end the season.  While the strength of this conference is still in the Western Division, there are about 10-12 teams in this conference that could compete with anyone in the country.

Like last year’s Capital One Bowl, it is close for three quarters, but the power of the SEC pulls away late.

Gamecocks 34, Wolverines 24


Week 17 NFL Picks

December 29, 2012

It’s here, the final weekend of the NFL regular season; and with the exception of one or two games, it’s just like any other week.

There are very few games with playoff implications.  The AFC is set, with the exception of a couple of seeds.  The NFC still has a couple of division spots up for grabs (besides NFC East, either San Francisco or Seattle could still win the NFC West), some seeding issues to work out, and the last wild card spot.

Then you also have the teams with coaches who are walking on the sidelines for the final time with their respective teams.

We’ll keep picking games right through the Super Bowl, although next week’s picks will come very early in the week.

Last Week:  13-3 (.813)

Overall:  160-79-1 (.667)

Buccaneers vs. Falcons

Jets vs. Bills  (In this terrible game to have to pick, gut tells me Jets win big.)

Ravens vs. Bengals

Bears vs. Lions  (Another terrible game to have to pick.)

Jaguars vs. Titans  (Another terrible game to have to pick.)

Texans vs. Colts

Panthers vs. Saints

Eagles vs. Giants

Browns vs. Steelers

Chiefs vs. Broncos

Packers vs. Vikings  (Does anyone even realize that the Vikings could, and does have an inside line to make the playoffs?)

Dolphins vs. Patriots

Raiders vs. Chargers  (Another terrible game to have to pick.)

Cardinals vs. 49ers

Rams vs. Seahawks

Cowboys vs. Redskins  (Have to give the edge to the home team.)

Week 16 NFL Picks

December 20, 2012

The NFL is on Saturday and Sunday this week to avoid conflicts with Christmas.

Speaking of Christmas, hopefully the holiday season is as good to you, as it is to my picks.

Last week was great in the early games, but went downhill quick as soon as the 4 p.m. games started.

Last Week:  10-6 (.625)

Overall:  147-76-1 (.656)

Falcons vs. Lions  (What a disappointing season for the Lions this season.)

Saints vs. Cowboys  (It pains me to pick the Cowboys, because as soon as I jump on that bandwagon, they will disappoint.)

Titans vs. Packers

Colts vs. Chiefs

Bills vs. Dolphins

Chargers vs. Jets  (The thriller of a game to pick.  Second straight week of two teams who will have new head coaches.)

Redskins vs. Eagles

Bengals vs. Steelers  (I refuse to believe the Steelers are as bad as they have been playing.)

Rams vs. Buccaneers  (Two teams going in different directions at this point in the season.)

Raiders vs. Panthers

Patriots vs. Jaguars

Vikings vs. Texans

Browns vs. Broncos  (This one might be closer than people think.)

Bears vs. Cardinals

Giants vs. Ravens

49ers vs. Seahawks  (Seattle is hard to beat at home.)

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

2012-13 Bowl Game Picks

December 14, 2012

In past years, I have compared my picks to that of a coin flip.  This year, the coin won’t continue, but the picks will.

Overall, it was a great season picking games, and hopefully the bowl picks keep up the great work.

Last Week:  1-0  (1.000) [Navy beat Army]

Overall:  302-77 (.797)

Nevada vs. Arizona  (First bowl game of the year, should actually be a close one.)

Toledo vs. Utah State

BYU vs. San Diego State  (Essentially a home game for San Diego State.)

Central Florida vs. Ball State  (Essentially a home game for Central Florida.)

Louisiana-Lafayette vs. East Carolina  (Essentially a home game for Louisiana-Lafayette.)

Boise State vs. Washington

Southern Methodist vs. Fresno State  (June Jones gets a win in Hawaii, his old stomping grounds.)

Central Michigan vs. Western Kentucky

Bowling Green vs. San Jose State

Duke vs. Cincinnati  (An upset special.)

UCLA vs. Baylor  (Essentially a home game for UCLA.)

Ohio vs. Louisiana-Monroe

Virginia Tech vs. Rutgers  (Virginia Tech tries to salvage an otherwise disappointing season.)

Texas Tech vs. Minnesota  (Essentially a home game for Texas Tech.)

Air Force vs. Rice

Syracuse vs. West Virginia  (Geno Smith has a great game in his final game.)

Navy vs. Arizona State

Oregon State vs. Texas  (Essentially a home game for Texas.)

TCU vs. Michigan State

North Carolina State vs. Vanderbilt  (North Carolina State has been disappointing after the Florida State win.)

Georgia Tech vs. Southern California

Tulsa vs. Iowa State

Clemson vs. LSU  (Defense should win this game.)

Northwestern vs. Mississippi State  (Northwestern will lead for 3 1/2 quarters, only to lose late.)

Purdue vs. Oklahoma State

Michigan vs. South Carolina

Georgia vs. Nebraska

Wisconsin vs. Stanford  (Defense wins this game.)

Florida State vs. Northern Illinois  (Congratulations to Northern Illinois for making it to a BCS game, that will be about when the celebration ends.)

Florida vs. Louisville

Oregon vs. Kansas State  (The only other good BCS game match-up.)

Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma

Pittsburgh vs. Mississippi

Kent State vs. Arkansas State

Notre Dame vs. Alabama  (Game has the potential to be one of the greatest in college football history.  Alabama just has a little more offense than the Fighting Irish.)

Keep track of all of the bowl game results here.

Week 15 NFL Picks

December 13, 2012

A good weekend of football ahead in the NFL for Week 15, but there are also a number of ‘stinkers,’ or teams looking to position themselves for the 2013 NFL Draft.

Last Week:  9-7  (.563)

Overall:  137-70-1  (.659)

Bengals vs. Eagles

Giants vs. Falcons  (Giants usually start playing well this time of the year, Falcons don’t look so good right now.)

Packers vs. Bears

Redskins vs. Browns

Vikings vs. Rams

Jaguars vs. Dolphins

Buccaneers vs. Saints

Broncos vs. Ravens  (I just do not trust the Ravens, very inconsistent.)

Colts vs. Texans

Seahawks vs. Bills

Lions vs. Cardinals

Panthers vs. Chargers

Steelers vs. Cowboys  (Look for Ben Roethlisberger to have a big game.)

Chiefs vs. Raiders

49ers vs. Patriots  (Brady and the Pats are hitting their stride right now.)

Jets vs. Titans

Week 14 NFL Picks PLUS Navy vs. Army

December 5, 2012

Not too bad of a week for Week 13 in the NFL, losing a couple of heart-breakers, and thankfully missing out on two teams tying, again.

Hopefully Week 14 proves to be a winner as well, with only one week picking below-.500 this season.

Last Week:  11-5 (.688)

Overall:  128-63-1 (.667)

Broncos vs. Raiders  (It was tempting to take the upset, but Oakland isn’t very good, and the potential for a ‘trap’ game goes out the window.)

Rams vs. Bills

Cowboys vs. Bengals

Chiefs vs. Browns  (Win for the Browns would be three-in-a-row; let that sink in for a moment.)

Titans vs. Colts

Bears vs. Vikings

Chargers vs. Steelers (The Chargers are not a good football team.)

Eagles vs. Buccaneers

Ravens vs. Redskins  (How close this game is depends on which Joe Flacco shows up.)

Falcons vs. Panthers

Jets vs. Jaguars  (The most painful game possible to have to pick.  This should be a slam dunk, but this might end up being the most entertaining game of the weekend.)

Dolphins vs. 49ers

Saints vs. Giants  (If New Orleans could just stop an offense, they’d win another game or two.)

Cardinals vs. Seahawks

Lions vs. Packers

Texans vs. Patriots  (This is actually an upset pick; New England’s defense just not quite good enough to beat the Texans.)

And…instead of another whole post for one college football game, here is last week’s summary for college football, and the pick for one of America’s best rivalry games.

Last Week:  15-4 (.789)

Overall:  301-77 (.796)

Navy vs. Army  (Just not Army’s year.)

2012-13 College Football Bowl Schedule

December 2, 2012

Here is the complete listing of the match-ups for all of the bowl games this year, for your viewing pleasure.  There were several winners, and several losers.

Central Michigan gets to a bowl game, but Louisiana Tech stays home.  However, after the reports that emerged about the Bulldogs’ bowl selection process by the athletic’s department, they are probably right where they deserve.

Northern Illinois does end up climbing high enough in the BCS rankings to go to the Orange Bowl as a non-AQ team.  This appears to have created duds in several of the BCS bowls.

Nevertheless, the National Championship game stands to be one for the ages, and several of the ‘other’ bowls are potentially great games.  Picks for all of the games will be coming in a couple of weeks.

So here is the complete list, before ESPN announces it.

Gildan New Mexico Bowl – University Stadium, Albuquerque – December 15th, 1 p.m., ESPN

Nevada vs. Arizona

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl – Bronco Stadium, Boise – December 15th, 4:30 p.m., ESPN

Toledo vs. Utah State

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl – Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego – December 20th, 8 p.m., ESPN

BYU vs. San Diego State

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s St. Petersburg Bowl – Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg – December 21st, 7:30 p.m., ESPN

Central Florida vs. Ball State

R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl – Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans – December 22nd, 12 p.m., ESPN

Louisiana-Lafayette vs. East Carolina

MAACO Las Vegas Bowl – Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas – December 22nd, 3:30 p.m., ESPN

Boise State vs. Washington

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl – Aloha Stadium, Honolulu – December 24th, 8 p.m., ESPN

Southern Methodist vs. Fresno State

Little Caesars Pizza Bowl – Ford Field, Detroit – December 26th, 7:30 p.m., ESPN

Central Michigan vs. Western Kentucky

Military Bowl Presented By Northrop Grumman – RFK Stadium, Washington, D.C. – December 27th, 3 p.m., ESPN

Bowling Green vs. San Jose State

Belk Bowl – Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte – December 27th, 6:30 p.m., ESPN

Duke vs. Cincinnati

Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl – Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego – December 27th, 9:45 p.m., ESPN

UCLA vs. Baylor

AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl – Independence Stadium, Shreveport – December 28th, 2 p.m., ESPN

Ohio vs. Louisiana-Monroe

Russell Athletic Bowl – Florida Citrus Bowl, Orlando – December 28th, 5:30 p.m., ESPN

Virginia Tech vs. Rutgers

Meineke Car Care of Texas Bowl – Reliant Stadium, Houston – December 28th, 9 p.m., ESPN

Texas Tech vs. Minnesota

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl – Gerald J. Ford Stadium, Dallas – December 29th, 11:45 a.m., ESPN

Air Force vs. Rice

New Era Pinstripe Bowl – Yankee Stadium, Bronx – December 29th, 3:15 p.m., ESPN or ESPN2

Syracuse vs. West Virginia

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl – AT&T Park, San Francisco – December 29th, 3:15 p.m., ESPN or ESPN2

Navy vs. Arizona State

Valero Alamo Bowl – Alamodome, San Antonio – December 29th, 6:45 p.m., ESPN

Oregon State vs. Texas

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl – Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe – December 29th, 10:15 p.m., ESPN

TCU vs. Michigan State

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl – LP Field, Nashville – December 31st, 12 p.m., ESPN

North Carolina State vs. Vanderbilt

Hyundai Sun Bowl – Sun Bowl, El Paso – December 31st, 2 p.m., CBS

Georgia Tech vs. Southern California

AutoZone Liberty Bowl – Liberty Bowl, Memphis – December 31st, 3:30 p.m., ESPN

Tulsa vs. Iowa State

Chick-fil-A Bowl – Georgia Dome, Atlanta – December 31st, 7:30 p.m., ESPN

Clemson vs. LSU

TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl – Everbank Field, Jacksonville – January 1st, 12 p.m., ESPN2

Northwestern vs. Mississippi State

Heart of Dallas Bowl – Cotton Bowl, Dallas – January 1st, 12 p.m., ESPNU

Purdue vs. Oklahoma State

Outback Bowl – Raymond James Stadium, Tampa – January 1st, 1 p.m., ESPN

Michigan vs. South Carolina

Capital One Bowl – Florida Citrus Bowl, Orlando – January 1st, 1 p.m., ABC

Georgia vs. Nebraska

Rose Bowl Game presented by Visio – Rose Bowl, Pasadena – January 1st, 5 p.m., ESPN

Wisconsin vs. Stanford

Discover Orange Bowl – Sun Life Stadium, Miami – January 1st, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

Florida State vs. Northern Illinois

Allstate Sugar Bowl – Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans – January 2nd, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

Florida vs. Louisville

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl – University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale – January 3rd, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

Oregon vs. Kansas State

AT&T Cotton Bowl – Cowboys Stadium, Arlington – January 4th, 8 p.m., FOX

Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma

BBVA Compass Bowl – Legion Field, Birmingham – January 5th, 1 p.m., ESPN

Pittsburgh vs. Mississippi

GoDaddy.com Bowl – Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile – January 6th, 9 p.m., ESPN

Kent State vs. Arkansas State

Discover BCS National Championship – Sun Life Stadium, Miami – January 7th, 8:30 p.m., ESPN

Notre Dame vs. Alabama