Tag:Bowl previews
Posted on: January 5, 2012 12:50 pm
Edited on: January 5, 2012 12:51 pm
 

GoDaddy.com Bowl Key Matchup



Posted by Tom Fornelli


A look at the key matchup that could determine the BBVA Compass Bowl.

Chandler Harnish, QB, Northern Illinois vs. Arkansas State defense

Northern Illinois' offense is averaging 481.8 yards per game in 2011, good enough to place the unit ninth in the nation. Quarterback Chandler Harnish finished the season eighth in the country in total offense, averaging 332.6 yards of total offense per game. All of which means Harnish was accountable for 69% of the Huskies offense this season.

So, as you can see, as Harnish goes, so go the Huskies.

Harnish did all of this with both his arm and his legs, averaging 245 yards through the air and 115 yards on the ground per game. With a dual threat like that at quarterback, to stop him it will be up to the entire Arkansas State defense, not just its defenslve line, linebackers or secondary. Not an easy task, but one that Arkansas State's defense seems up to. This unit, which finished 14th in the nation in total defense, is easily the best defense statistically that Harnish will face this season.

The best way for Arkansas State to do this would be to make Harnish one-dimensional. Whether that be by forcing him to throw to beat them, or taking away the passing game, that's up to the Red Wolves. This defense is strong in both areas. What matters is that they execute their game plan and force Harnish to be predictable because Northern Illinois' defense -- which gave up 31.1 points per game -- is going to give up a lot of points. So if Arkansas State can slow Harnish down and keep the Huskies from putting up a ton of points, then Arkansas State should win this game rather comfortably.

Check out all the latest updates on Northern Illinois and Arkansas State right up until kickoff at the GoDaddy.com Bowl Pregame 

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: January 5, 2012 12:18 pm
Edited on: January 5, 2012 12:18 pm
 

Keys to the Game: GoDaddy.com Bowl

Posted by Tom Fornelli

NORTHERN ILLINOIS WILL WIN IF: Northern Illinois won the MAC this season, and did so because it has one of the most explosive offenses in the country. The Huskies finished 9th in the country in total yards per game at 481.8 yards per game while scoring 38.3 points a game, but the biggest difference maker for Northern Illinois in this game may be its defense. Odds are that the Huskies are going to score some points, but can their defense keep somebody else off the board? NIU allowed 31.3 points a game this season, and will be facing an Arkansas State offense that isn't exactly a pushover, as the Red Wolves scored 33.5 points a game and feature Ryan Aplin at quarterback. Aplin finished 10th in the country in total offense for Red Wolves this year. Northern Illinois will need to find a way to keep Aplin in check during this contest, or else we're going to see a game that could end up rivaling the Alamo Bowl, and whichever team has the ball last will win.

ARKANSAS STATE WILL WIN IF: Northern Illinois has a pretty good quarterback of its own in Chandler Harnish, and he will not be an easy test for this Arkansas State defense. Harnish finished eighth in the country in total offense ahead of Arkansas State's Aplin. The biggest difference here between these two teams, and what may decide this game, is that Arkansas State's defense was a lot more successful in 2011. The Red Wolves allowed only 19.3 points a game this year, good enough to place the Red Wolves in the top-15 nationally in scoring defense. Aside from Virginia Tech and Illinois, no offense was able to score more than 24 points in a game against Arkansas State. If Arkansas State's run defense -- which finished the year ranked 14th in the nation -- can keep Chandler Harnish and Jasmin Hopkins from running wild, then the Red Wolves are going to win this game.

X-FACTOR: It's hard to pick only one, so the X-Factors in this game will be both quarterbacks, Ryan Aplin and Chandler Harnish. These are two players who do more for their teams than just about any other player in the country, and odds are whichever one of these two players has the best day, their team is going to win. 

Check out all the latest updates on Northern Illinois and Arkansas State right up until kickoff at the GoDaddy.com Bowl Pregame 

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: January 5, 2012 11:55 am
Edited on: January 5, 2012 11:57 am
 

BBVA Compass Bowl Key Matchup



Posted by Bryan Fischer


A look at the key matchup that could determine the BBVA Compass Bowl.

SMU quarterback J.J. McDermott vs. Pittsburgh's secondary

Live by the quarterback, die by the quarterback. That seems to be SMU's M.O. this season with difficulties winning games when McDermott turns the ball over. Obviously you don't want your signal-caller giving the ball away to the other team and putting more pressure on your defense but it seems as though the Mustangs have a particularly hard time rebounding.

Now, the Pitt secondary isn't littered with NFL talent but they've done a solid job this season. They held explosive West Virginia to just 244 yards through the air and allowed only 12 touchdowns through the air against FBS competition. They're helped out by a pretty good pass rush and generally force teams to make it a point to run the ball. Jarred Holley is the leader of the group and should roam around to cover SMU receivers and help support against the run, making him a busy man.

Behind McDermott, SMU has had over 300 yards passing just once in the second half of the season and he had a 6-11 touchdown-to-interception ratio during the stretch run. Against a solid Pitt defense, he's going to have to step his game up to say the least. The running game has found some success but June Jones playcalling obviously calls for a successful short and intermediate passing game and that will mean McDermott has to play within the offense and not take too many chances because the Panthers can give him fits.

Both teams are better than their record suggests but the BBVA Compass Bowl should come down to McDermott taking advantage of the time off to come out sharp and well prepared. If he's on, SMU should be able to beat their BCS AQ opponent and allow Jones to win another bowl game in a place where those wins are few and far between.


Posted on: January 5, 2012 11:47 am
Edited on: January 5, 2012 11:52 am
 

PODCAST: National Championship preview

Posted by Tom Fornelli

We've still got four days before LSU and Alabama finally meet once again in the Superdome down in New Orleans, but the CBSSports.com College Football Podcast continues its series of shows previewing the BCS National Championship Game. This time Adam Aizer and J. Darin Darst break down the game itself.

Will either offense play well enough to actually put up some touchdowns this time around? How big of a factor will special teams play for both teams? Should Alabama go for it on fourth down this time around instead of settling for field goal attempts? Those questions and more are answered, so listen below.

Remember, all of the CBSSports.com College Football Podcasts can be downloaded for FREE from the iTunes Store.


You can listen to the podcast in the player below, pop out a player to keep browsing, or download the MP3 right to your computer.



Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: January 5, 2012 11:08 am
 

Keys to the game: BBVA Compass Bowl

Posted by Bryan Fischer

SMU WILL WIN IF: The Mustangs have no problem throwing the ball around in June Jones' offense but, this year, that has led to plenty of turnovers and they're going to have cut those down if they want to win this game. SMU is dead last in turnover margin - and it's not very close - and throws interceptions as much as they do slant routes (19 on the season). Pitt has shown flashes of being a good team despite their 6-6 record and if they keep getting extra chances to score, should find the end zone enough to win the game. But, if SMU can hold onto the football and the offense is sharp as it can be, a bowl trophy should find its way to the hilltop.

PITTSBURGH WILL WIN IF: Quarterback Tino Sunseri has to step his game up and come through with some efficient drives. Pitt was the definition of average this season with their record, an up-and-down ride through the year that did see them lose several close games and win a few others they could have lost. With running back Ray Graham out, the offense has stalled after going one-dimensional and Sunseri has been making mistakes that just make you scratch your head. The defense will have its hands full with SMU's offense so the team needs the offense to move the ball and limit mistakes and turnovers. Play within themselves and Pitt should end the season on a high note and give something new head coach Paul Chryst can build on.

X-FACTOR: Is either team motivated to be in Birmingham? SMU had their coach flirt with other schools in the offseason and Pitt makes a return trip to this bowl after an average season and their coach informing them via text message that he was headed to warmer climates. They're playing in one of those games in the lull between the title game and other BCS bowls so it's possible both teams come out lackadaisical and uncaring. Add in the fact that just about every coach for the Panthers is either gone or has an interim tag and you don't know how they're going to come out of the tunnel and play. Whoever does come out sharp and executes will likely end up taking home whatever type of trophy BBVA can come up with.

Posted on: January 3, 2012 2:30 pm
 

PODCAST: Alabama beat writer Don Kausler

Posted by Tom Fornelli

We're less than a week away from the rematch between LSU and Alabama down in New Orleans for the BCS National Championship, so with that in mind the CBSSports.com College Football Podcast welcomes Don Kausler to the show. Don covers the Crimson Tide for The Birmingham News, Mobile Press-Register and the Huntsville Times.

Don joins Adam Aizer to talk about what adjustments the Crimson Tide will need to make in their second meeting with the Tigers. He also talks about whether or not Oklahoma State is deserving of a split-title with the Tide should Alabama knock off LSU.

Remember, all of the CBSSports.com College Football Podcasts can be downloaded for FREE from the iTunes Store.


You can listen to the podcast in the player below, pop out a player to keep browsing, or download the MP3 right to your computer.

Posted on: January 2, 2012 6:56 am
 

Keys to the Game: TicketCity Bowl

Posted by Adam Jacobi

PENN STATE WILL WIN IF: Rob Bolden is a different quarterback when he's not looking over his shoulder. Rob Bolden was a highly touted quarterback recruit for Penn State, and when he became the first true freshman to start at quarterback for Penn State in the 2010 season, the primary reaction was one of excitement and not, say, the revulsion that Penn State fans have felt whenever Bolden has come into a game this season as part of the QB rotation. Bolden has completed under half of his 107 passes and has only one touchdown to his name on the year, so we're talking about a level of (non-) production that few quarterbacks who have attempted over 100 passes in a season can match. And now, Bolden is the unquestioned starter, as starting QB Matt McGloin has been ruled out as he continues to recover from the concussion he suffered when WR Curtis Drake knocked him out in a December fight. Perhaps Bolden just needs to get into a groove and not stand on the sidelines for 2/3 of a game. Perhaps he's got a big game dialed up. Perhaps. 

HOUSTON WILL WIN IF: Case Keenum can stay upright for 90% of his pass plays. Case Keenum, the NCAA's leading passer in all of history, is obviously very good at throwing the football, and he's got a host of talented wideouts. What he's also got in the TicketCity Bowl is an opposing defense that ranked fifth nationally (and first in a stingy Big Ten) in pass efficiency defense, and that fact stems from Penn State having both an outstanding secondary and a top-notch defensive line. Houston's offensive line needs to keep the Nittany Lion pass rush as far away from Keenum as possible, because a pass offense as predicated on timing as Houston's is can ill afford to have its QB flushed from the pocket or taking sacks. The cleaner Keenum's jersey stays, the better a chance Houston has of winning this thing.

X-FACTOR: Both teams are working with an interim head coach right now; Penn State has been using defensive coordinator Tom Bradley ever since Joe Paterno was fired mid-season, and Houston's special teams coordinator Tony Levine has been heading the Cougars since Kevin Sumlin was hired by Texas A&M. Penn State's approach has been largely similar to Joe Paterno's tendencies, though the quarterback rotation was quickly scrapped, and it'll be interesting to see if there's any substantial difference between a Kevin Sumlin offense and a Tony Levine offense. Regardless, both Bradley and Levine are basically auditioning as head coaches, as both men are potential candidates for the job, and there should be no shortage of motivation for either of them to put together a winning gameplan. 
Posted on: December 30, 2011 4:30 pm
 

Keys to the game: Rose Bowl

Posted by Bryan Fischer

WISCONSIN WILL WIN IF: The Badgers make their way to Pasadena with a solid, experienced defense - sixth in the country in scoring, allowing just 17 points per game - but they haven't seen anything like the Ducks' fast-paced attack that has been putting up points and yards quicker than you can say "quack." The team played in the Rose Bowl last year against a good team that had some speed but Oregon certainly runs a different style and will mix in plenty of zone-read with between the tackles running. While the big front seven will have to be in shape and prepared to fill their gaps, the secondary will also have to be on alert - not just for LaMichael James or De'Anthony Thomas breaking a big run but for quarterback Darron Thomas, who has been passing the ball more than last year.

On offense, Russell Wilson and Montee Ball have put up some eye-popping numbers and will need to continue their efficient play in the Rose Bowl. Oregon's defense isn't anything to write home about but is very opportunistic. Nick Aliotti is a very good coordinator and has shut down plenty of high powered offenses before as well. The size difference between the lines will be something everybody will point to but the real thing to keep an eye on is if the Wisconsin o-line can have success blocking at the second level to spring Ball for some big gains. This should be a great match up with a team set on coming home with the trophy this year.

OREGON WILL WIN IF: The Ducks come into this game looking to prove that they're an elite team by winning, for a change, a BCS game. The only way they do that is to limit turnovers and, most importantly, convert on third downs. Oregon has had issues with drops and penalties when trying to convert and pick up a first down and has to come out sharp or they'll get a repeat of other games where they've had plenty of time off but came up flat. Getting James, Kenjon Barner or Thomas in space is the priority and hopefully Chip Kelly will have a better game plan than he has had in the past two BCS games. The wide receiver corps has to come through with a good game and avoid the drops that they've had all season long too.

Defensively, this team has faced similarly built teams during the regular season such as Stanford and USC. They won against the Cardinal by forcing turnovers and came back against the Trojans in a similar manner. If they can create penetration and put some pressure on Wilson, the iffy secondary should do just fine against the Wisconsin receivers. There's no doubt the unit will take a pounding but still should be fine. Special teams is one area that the layoff could lend improvement too. The kick return unit has taken a few back but the punt returns definitely need work. Bottom line, if Oregon wants to win the Rose Bowl, it all comes down to execution and the Ducks have to do a better job at the little things than they have in the past.

PODCAST: ROSE BOWL PREVIEW ON THE CBSSPORTS.COM COLLEGE FOOTBALL PODCAST

X-FACTOR: Both teams are coming off wins in their respective conferences' first ever championship game. While the defenses have done well, it's the offenses that are the reason Oregon and Wisconsin are in Pasadena and will likely determine the winner as well. With the Ducks' offense, Wisconsin will likely try to hold onto the ball but that likely won't matter given how quickly they can score. On the flip side, the Badgers can set up play action passes that could be very effective. Oregon will have to focus on sustaining drives and creating big plays while trying to be aggressive but sound on defense. Should be a fun game that might end up coming down to who can give their offense the best field position on special teams.



 
 
 
 
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