Some contrarian thoughts on the double-digit bowl underdogs

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Author: [College Football] Topic: Some contrarian thoughts on the double-digit bowl underdogs
Josh_Nagel PM Josh_Nagel
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Posted: 12/21/2011 2:29:15 AM
I’m all for situational plays, whether it’s anticipating a letdown, distraction, or other related malady when it comes to bowl games.  

In fact, when it comes to handicapping college sports, I use the psychology in play more than the X’s and O’s, and it has worked for me.

But I’ve run into a problem this year. Ever since bowl spreads were announced, I’ve talked to a few handicappers who have tried to sell me on one or both of the biggest underdogs in the bowl season – Arizona State and Iowa.

To which I say, getting two touchdowns is great, but Arizona State and Iowa … really?

So after hearing these pro-underdog arguments for nearly two weeks now – and this coming from someone who prefers to take points as opposed to give them – I am now going to make a brief argument for the other side in both games.

Although neither game likely will be a big play for me, I just thought I would add some contrarian thinking to what appears to be grass-roots value in these double-digit dogs.

Las Vegas Bowl: Boise State vs. Arizona State (+14)
 
The Sun Devils have been one of the worst teams you possibly could consider backing all year, so why start now?

No one has done less with more talent over the past few years than Dennis Erickson, and the school waited at least a year too long to dump him. Now, there’s even controversy surrounding his replacement, Todd Graham, who evidently forgot to tell Pitt he was leaving after one year.

Looking back, it’s no wonder Sun Devil players showered Erickson with Gatorade after beating USC early in the season. They have played like their season was over ever since.

The idea that Boise State is due for a letdown is akin to the thought that Sandra Bullock is due to look ugly in her next film – it just doesn’t happen.  

Boise went to the Las Vegas Bowl last year and throttled Utah 26-3 after missing out on the BCS and, two years ago, the Broncos were undefeated and left out of the title game and beat TCU 17-10 as a touchdown underdog.

So long as Chris Petersen is still their coach by kickoff, they will be fine. I say, two TDs are a lot and Arizona State backers might get the cash, but if they do, it won’t be because Boise didn’t want to be there.

Insight Bowl: Oklahoma vs. Iowa (+14)

This one is a tad different in that Iowa is noted for playing well both as an underdog and in bowl games, and you’ve got both dynamics in play here.

What’s working against you is that the Hawkeyes are an average team, and Kirk Ferentz might be one of the most quietly overrated coaches in the country.

I understand some of the anti-Sooner sentiment, but not sure why there’s such a long line to join the Iowa bandwagon. This is a 7-5 team that lost to Minnesota and Iowa State and was practically shut out, save for one late TD, by a mediocre Nebraska defense.

I was hoping to lay in the weeds on this one and take Oklahoma if the mercury dropped to -11 here. This seems unlikely now that Iowa star RB Marcus Coker has been suspended for the game. He likely was Iowa’s best chance to ear some clock and keep the game close.

For those who believe Oklahoma won’t show up in this one, I’m not convinced. Wouldn’t guys like Landry Jones want to atone for the embarrassment against Oklahoma State? Moreover, Oklahoma still has the nation’s No. 4 offense.

In fairness, I’m only giving Oklahoma an unexcused absence in one of its last two games. The Sooners lost on the final play of the game against a Baylor team that ended up with the Heisman Trophy winner.

This same Baylor team that, like Oklahoma, got obliterated by Oklahoma State, but no one seems to view them as much worse for the wear.

It’s funny how this stuff goes – I love bowl underdogs but I’ll be keeping this pair on a tight leash.
EricLinny PM EricLinny
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Posted: 12/21/2011 2:34:50 AM
Good write-up
EricLinny PM EricLinny
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Posted: 12/21/2011 2:36:29 AM
Broncos to blow out Sun Devils
RexR PM RexR
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Posted: 12/21/2011 2:52:06 AM
I would've considered ASU covering except they'll be without Jamal miles. He wasn't their leading receiver but his punt and kickoff returns helped out a ton with field position. Not to mention the 3-4 touchdowns he scored on returns this year, too. Actually, it looks like there's an 80% chance he won't make it to the bowl game, claiming personal problems. So I would not call him completely "out."  They had another player pulled for the bowl game, but he was an idiot and won't be missed.

I'll probably play this on the over only. I like BSU by 10 but they could just as easily win by 21. I think ASU will have some success passing, however.
1bajalife PM 1bajalife
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Posted: 12/21/2011 2:55:44 AM
I like ASU too, they have the athletes to keep it close or even win SU. Just depends on their motivation 
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