Thanks to the holiday falling on the weekend, New Year's Day bowl games have been bumped to Jan. 2. That just gives college football bettors an extra day to examine these bowl betting mismatches.
Capital One Bowl
Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. South Carolina Gamecocks (-2, 46)
Taylor Martinez vs. Gamecocks’ defense
Martinez is an explosive runner, able to break away from most defenses and change games with his feet. But he’s also Nebraska’s QB and when he needs to throw, it’s a hold-your-breath moment for Huskers fans.
Martinez has completed just 55.9 percent of his passes, for 1,973 yards, 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Nebraska better get ahead early so it can run the clock, because South Carolina’s defense doesn’t allow much through the air. The Gamecocks rank No. 2 in the nation in pass defense (133 ypg) and have intercepted 18 passes. In the last three games, the Gamecocks have allowed a paltry 70 ypg through the air.
Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl
Florida Gators vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (+2, 44)
Gators’ pass defense vs. Buckeyes’ pass offense
Buckeyes freshman quarterback Braxton Miller is going to be very good some day. But he’s still learning.
Miller has completed just 50 percent of his passes, for 997 yards. Ohio State’s 124.1 pass yards per game is 116th out of 120 teams.
Florida’s had its own problems, but passing defense is not one of them. The Gators still have NFL-caliber talent in the backfield and rank 10th in slowing the pass. Quarterbacks only connected on 52.8 percent of their passes and have just 13 passing touchdowns against Florida.
Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Houston Cougars (-7, 56.5)
Penn State players vs. Off-field distractions
Houston’s offense ranks No. 1 in scoring (50.8 ppg) and passing (443.8 ypg), but Penn State’s defense ranks fifth in points allowed (15.7 ppg) and against the pass (162.2), and faced far superior competition this season.
Penn State, however, must deal with the allegations of former coach Jerry Sandusky that have crippled the once-proud program. With the scandal hanging over the team like a cloud as it prepares for a bowl game, how will the players react on the field? Can they put everything else aside and be both mentally and physically prepared for the explosive Cougars?
Michigan State Spartans vs. Georgia Bulldogs (-3.5, 50.5)
Le’Veon Bell vs. Bulldogs’ front seven
Bell has rushed for 900 yards this season for the Spartans, who rank just 75th on the ground.
Match that against a Georgia defense that ranks No. 13 nationally at stopping the run in the rush-heavy SEC. Teams are averaging just 3.3 yards per carry against the Bulldogs, who have 60 tackles for loss on non-quarterbacks.
Recent history is on the side of UGA, too. The last time these two teams met, Jan. 1, 2009 in the Capital One Bowl, the Spartans managed just 31 yards rushing in a 24-12 Bulldogs win.
Rose Bowl Game Presented by Vizio
Wisconsin Badgers vs. Oregon Ducks (-6, 71.5)
Montee Ball/LaMichael James vs. Run defense
Both teams like to control the game by keeping it on the ground and using the run to set up the pass. And the Badgers and Ducks do it better than anyone.
Wisconsin’s Ball led the nation with 1,759 yards rushing with 38 total touchdowns, second-most in history. Meanwhile, James of Oregon rushed for 1,646 yards, fifth-most, and 18 TD.
Each team had two losses, and in those games, Ball and James were statistically subpar compared to what they did all season long. The running back that “gets theirs” will likely be the one that leads his team to a BCS victory.
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
Stanford Cardinal vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys (-3.5, 73.5)
Brandon Weeden vs. Stanford’s defense
Look out below. The football will be flying through the air all night, and it’s likely Stanford’s Andrew Luck and Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden will both be very successful.
Luck, has been tough to stop, throwing for 3,185 yards, 35 touchdowns and nine interceptions, while completing 70 percent of his passes this year.
But Weeden has been better. He’s thrown for 4,328 yards, 34 scores and 12 picks, connecting with his targets at a 72.6 percent clip.
Oklahoma State’s defense has improved dramatically in the last month, while Stanford’s defense, which ranks No. 79 against the pass, has not. The Cardinal have allowed 48 (USC), 13 (Oregon State), 53 (Oregon) and 28 (Cal) points in the four games before beating Notre Dame in their finale. Against the Cardinal this season, teams that pass well, fare well.