The Pi-Rate Ratings

December 31, 2007

PiRate Look at the Bowls–January 1 through January 6


New Year’s Bowl Game Match-ups (1/1-1/6)

Disclaimer: I am giving advice on pointspreads totally as an act of fun.  I do not personally wager money on these games, and I do not advocate you doing so either.  It’s just a game like Monopoly to me.

Here it is New Year’s Eve as this is written, and I still have yet to spend one minute watching or listening to any of the bowls so far.  Who would have thought that the top game in the holiday season would be a Saturday night contest between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants?  The next most important games in this time were the New Orleans Saints and Chicago Bears, the Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys, the Denver Broncos and the Minnesota Vikings, and the Indianapolis Colts and the Tennessee Titans.  These games actually had something on the line, as these teams were fighting to make history or the playoffs.

To the contrary, these bowls have been meaningless to me and most of the country, since they don’t contribute to the national title.  Looking at traffic to this site, it appears more people are interested in the computer simulated playoffs than the actual bowl breakdowns, so I have reduced the coverage of these games.

As I previously stated, if the bowls were used for NCAA playoffs, the Cotton Bowl might have an important quarterfinal round game featuring the eventual National Champion instead of a meaningless game that won’t draw many viewers nor return much bang for their sponsor’s buck.  What if LSU and Southern Cal played in the Cotton Bowl instead of Arkansas and Missouri?  I dare say FOX Sports would get a much higher rating for the game, and AT&T, as the sponsor, would receive a bigger return on their investment.

Here is a brief breakdown of the third wave of bowls.  These used to be the most exciting football games of the year when several of them played a part in the national title decision.  Under the old system, Ohio State would have been playing Southern Cal in the Rose Bowl; LSU would have played Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl (using the theory that LSU played an undefeated Wyoming team in January 1968); Kansas and Virginia Tech would still have played in the Orange Bowl, but with the game having national title repercussions; Oklahoma would have played Arizona State in the Fiesta Bowl; and the Cotton Bowl would have featured Texas against Missouri.  At least three bowls would have played a part in the championship picture, and if LSU, Ohio State, and Kansas would have lost, it would have thrown the door open for a host of teams to claim a part of a national title.  Now, we have the winner of one game and one game only.  It will be played six days after New Year’s Day, so the January 1st bowl games are now a waste of time; there’s no reason to watch unless your favorite team is playing.

The one prediction I can make with absolute certitude is that I won’t spend a minute watching or listening to these games. 

Point spreads and totals are those listed as of 9:00 AM ET Monday, December 31, 2007

Times given are Eastern Standard Tome Zone

Tuesday, January 1-11:00 AM ESPN

Outback Bowl-Tampa

Tennessee 9-4  vs.  Wisconsin 9-3

Vegas:  Tennessee by 1½

PiRate: Tennessee by 2

Mean: Tennessee 30  Wisconsin 28

Tennessee has some distractions heading into this game with offensive coordinator David Cutcliffe now the head coach at Duke.

Wisconsin has defensive liabilities that Tennessee can exploit, but the Badgers’ offense is strong enough to make this game a shootout.  Give the Vols an ever so slight edge here, but it’s almost a 50-50 proposition.

Predicted Score: Tennessee 27  Wisconsin 25

Tuesday, January 1-11:30 AM Fox

Cotton Bowl-Dallas

Arkansas 8-4 vs. Missouri 11-2

Vegas: Missouri by 3½

PiRate: Missouri by 2

Mean: Missouri 37  Arkansas 30

Oh how this bowl has fallen from the penthouse to near the outhouse.  This bowl frequently hosted the eventual national champion in past years; now, an invitation to this bowl gets your coach on the hot seat.  Arkansas coach Houston Nutt fled for Ole Miss, after his Hogs were delegated to this now lower-tier bowl.

Chase Daniel versus Darren McFadden gives this game some appeal, but the overwhelming populace will be watching the Tournament of Roses Parade instead of this game.

For those that do tune this one in on their sets, they should see an exciting, high-scoring game.  Give Daniel the slight edge, unless the turf is a sloppy mess.

Predicted Score: Missouri 35  Arkansas 33

Tuesday, January 1-1:00 PM  CBS

Gator Bowl-Jacksonville

Texas Tech 8-4  vs. Virginia 9-3

Vegas: Texas Tech by 6

PiRate: Tossup

Mean: Texas Tech 29  Virginia 27

Here’s another bowl game that has disappeared from the national limelight.  This game used to feature top 10 teams.  Now, it gets middle of the pack teams from their conferences.  Ho hum!  Texas Tech will pass the ball 50-60 times, many of which are nothing more than running plays that begin with a forward toss behind the line of scrimmage.  It’s not much different from the pitchout plays of the pass.

Virginia’s defense has the potential to slow down the Red Raiders, but they won’t be able to stop it.  The Cavs should be able to score just as easily against Tech’s defense, so expect this one to be decided on a big play in the second half, or even go to overtime.

Predicted Score: 34-34 Tie heading to overtime

Tuesday, January 1-1:00 PM  ABC

Capital One Bowl-Orlando

Florida 9-3  vs.  Michigan 8-4

Vegas:  Florida by 10½  

PiRate: Florida by 21

Mean:  Florida 33  Michigan 23

The Heisman Trophy winner gets to play his first game since he received the trophy.  Michigan gets to pay its first game since the 1990’s without Lloyd Carr.  This one should be a dud.  Even if it’s close, there’s no reason to watch unless you are a Gator or Wolverine at heart.  The bigger news in this one is the impending lawsuit between new coach Rich Rodriguez, and his old school.  That will be an interesting event in the coming year.

Predicted Score: Florida 38  Michigan 17

Tuesday, January 1-5:00 PM

Rose Bowl-Pasadena, CA

Southern California 10-2  vs.  Illinois 9-3

Vegas: USC by 13½  

PiRate: USC by 18

Mean: USC 29  Illinois 21

The Grandaddy of them all won’t be much of a battle.  Southern Cal is probably the best team in the nation, even though they won’t have a chance to play for that title.  Yes, they lost twice this year.  So did LSU.  Yes, they fell to Stanford.  LSU lost to Kentucky and Arkansas.  Oh, by the way, Ohio State lost to Illinois, and that’s who the Trojans get to wallop in Pasadena.  In my opinion, a Trojan blowout victory coupled with a small win by either team in the National Championship Game, might give the AP voters reason to think before they cast their final ballots.

Predicted Score: USC 35  Illinois 17

Tuesday, January 1-8:30 PM

Sugar Bowl-New Orleans

Georgia 10-2  vs.  Hawaii 12-0

Vegas: Georgia by 8

PiRate: Georgia by 9

Mean: Georgia 34  Hawaii 28

This will be a game where you will see a future star quarterback in the NFL.  Yes, I’m talking about Matthew Stafford of Georgia.  Stafford is quite underrated, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him outshine Colt Brennan in this game.  Georgia will also be able to control the line of scrimmage when they run the ball, and that will spell doom for the undefeated Warriors.  Wyoming once came to this bowl at 10-0 to face 7-3 LSU.  They had star back Jim Kiick among others.  They gave the Tigers all they could handle-for one half.  LSU dominated in the final 30 minutes and won.  I expect much of the same thing here.

Predicted Score: Georgia 30  Hawaii 21

Wednesday, January 2-8:30 PM  Fox

Fiesta Bowl-Tempe, AZ

Oklahoma 11-2  vs.  West Virginia 10-2

Vegas: Oklahoma by 7½  

PiRate: Oklahoma by 6

Mean: Oklahoma 31  West Virginia 29

This might have been the National Championship Game if Oklahoma had not been upset by Texas Tech and West Virginia had not lost to Pittsburgh in their regular season finale.  Now, this game is overshadowed by the lawsuit filed by the West Virginia against former coach Rich Rodriguez.  Maybe Court TV’s ratings of this trial would be better viewing material than this game.  I don’t like these bowl games being played after New Year’s Day (unless New Year’s Day is a Sunday).  On January 2, the holidays are over, and it’s time to concentrate on the bigger game-the Iowa Caucuses and New Hampshire Primaries.

Predicted Score: Oklahoma 28  West Virginia 22

Thursday, January 3-8:30 PM  Fox

Orange Bowl-Miami

Virginia Tech 11-2  vs.  Kansas 11-1

Vegas: Virginia Tech by 3

PiRate: Virginia Tech by 2

Mean: Virginia Tech 27  Kansas 26  

Forget this game!  This is Iowa Caucus night, and that’s the big game that matters on this day.  My picks for the big game are John Edwards and Mitt Romney.  I expect Romney to come from behind with a late touchdown in the fourth quarter due to Mike Huckabee’s second half fumbles.  I expect Edwards to pick up some blocking (from those candidates who fail to receive 15% support) to make and end run and edge Obama and Clinton.

As for the game, I may not know who won until the 2008 football preview magazines hit the stands in the spring.

Predicted Score: Virginia Tech 24  Kansas 22

Saturday, January 5-12:00 PM  ESPN2

International Bowl-Toronto

Ball State 7-5  vs.  Rutgers 7-5

Vegas: Rutgers by 10

PiRate: Rutgers by 12

Mean: Rutgers 32  Ball State 24  

Is this really a bowl?  It’s from Canada.  Maybe this is a hockey match.  It shouldn’t be played if it’s really a football game.  Who gives a flip by January 5? They should have played back around December 20 considering the teams involved.  Saturday is the first round of NFL Playoffs.  You here that, you NCAA dolts?  The playoffs!  That means all the games mean something.  That means multi-millions will be putting everything else aside to tune in to see the first pieces of the Super Bowl puzzle.  Your bowl game wouldn’t generate power if it were moved to Niagara Falls.

Predicted Score: Rutgers 33  Ball State 21

Sunday, January 6-8:00 PM  ESPN

GMAC Bowl-Mobile, AL

Tulsa 9-4  vs.  Bowling Green 8-4

Vegas: Tulsa by 4½

PiRate: Tulsa by 4

Mean: Tulsa 36  Bowling Green 33  

I could have copy and pasted the above description from that Canadian bowl for this one.  This game would have been just as meaningless if it had been played before all the others.  You get more NFL playoffs on Sunday, and the folks in Mobile will spurn this game for the actual one that matters-the Senior Bowl.

Predicted Score: Tulsa 35  Bowling Green 31

This Week’s “Picks”

It seems to be working every week since I instituted this strategy in mid-November, so I will continue to employ the same formula for picking games during the bowls.  So far, these picks are 6-3 against the spread through bowl games of December 30.

Where the PiRates and Mean both fall on the same side of the spread and the difference is more than 2.5 points, that game will be picked against the spread.  When they both agree on the winner, and the line is 10 points or less, that game will be picked on the money line.  There will be no totals or teasers picked. 

Straight Plays Against the Spread

# 1:  Virginia +6 vs. Texas Tech

Money Line Picks

# 2:  Tennessee -120 vs. Wisconsin

# 3:  Missouri -160 vs. Arkansas

# 4:  Georgia -280 vs. Hawaii

# 5:  Oklahoma -270 vs. West Virginia

# 6:  Virginia Tech -150 vs. Kansas

# 7:  Rutgers -380 vs. Ball State

# 8:  Tulsa -195 vs. Bowling Green


Look for the preview to appear here Friday, January 4.

1 Comment

  1. I happen to prefer college over pro any day. Sorry this house will be watching the bowls all of them over any pro game.

    Its’ like MLB who cares till the World Series or The Super Bowl!!!!

    Comment by Bob — December 31, 2007 @ 9:50 am

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