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Tag:Key Match up
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: December 28, 2011 10:58 pm
 

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl Key Matchup



Posted by Bryan Fischer


A look at the key matchup that could decide the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. 

UCLA's pistol offense vs. Illinois defensive line

When it comes to stopping UCLA's Pistol, an attacking front four can cause havoc against the run-based offense. The Bruins have been pretty good on the ground this year - one of the few things they've seemed to execute ok - finishing 29th in the country with 190 yards per game rushing. Kevin Prince wasn't the greatest signal-caller (1,627 yards passing, 10-7 touchdown-to-interception ratio) but was a solid trigger man who could pull the ball and run for a first down when needed. Johnathan Franklin had a big game against Colorado but other than that was nothing to write home about after being held under 100 yards rushing in all but three games this season. Fellow back Derrick Coleman was on and off throughout the year but turned in a productive season.

Though the Bruins have faced some good defensive lines, they haven't faced anybody like defensive end Whitney Mercilus. The 6-foot-4, 265-pound All-American led the country in sacks with 14.5 and led the conference in tackles for loss with a total of 19.5 for the year. Though Illinois struggled down the stretch by losing six straight, it wasn't because of the defense, which finished seventh overall in total defense. Michael Buchanan finished 8th in the Big Ten in tackles for a loss playing on the line and was also a disruptive force at times this season. If the line can get penetration and make some plays, that allows the back seven to matchup well against UCLA's skill position talent that hasn't done much all at all outside of Nelson Rosario. Freeing up linebacker Jonathan Brown to make some plays will be something to watch if the Illini want to win the game.

Points might be hard to come by given the way Illinois' offense has looked down the stretch so that puts the pressure on the defense once again. If the team has any hope of ending the slide, they're going to have to limit big plays from an offense that can create some with misdirection. A good push from the defensive line against a bad UCLA offensive line is where things start.

On the other side, if the Bruins want to avoid going 6-8 on the year, the offense has to execute less like they did against USC and show some of the signs of life like they did against Oregon. Prince can pick up first downs and there should be a solid rushing game but if the o-line can't block Mercilus and the defensive line, interim head coach Mike Johnson could be in for a long night.

Posted on: December 16, 2011 3:38 pm
 

Holiday Bowl Key Match up



Posted by Bryan Fischer


A look at the key matchup that could decide the Holiday Bowl

Texas running backs Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron versus California linebacker Mychal Kendricks

There are plenty of match ups to watch for in this game but Texas' two running backs against the Pac-12 defensive player of the year should be a focus if you're watching at home. Both Brown (turf toe, knee) and Bergeron (hamstring) have been hurt and missed time during the second half of the season but have been practicing and should be full strength for the bowl game.

They're going to need to be 100% against Kendricks. The heart and soul of the Bears' defense, Kendricks was a big reason why the team was solid on that side of the ball despite having to replace several contributors. He averaged eight tackles a game and was third in the conference in tackles for loss at over one per game. His pass defense is pretty good too despite being a bit undersized at 6-foot, 240-pounds and learning the inside linebacker position this season after a few years on the outside.

Highly touted out of high school, Brown took most of the rushing load this season for the Longhorns and finished 7th in the Big 12 in yards. Bergeron was more of a surprise but did just as well, if not better, with fewer carries. The loss of Fozzy Whittaker put even more on the two freshmen and with both battling injuries, was a big factor in the offense slowing down.

Texas needs the ground game to be effective to take pressure off of their so-so quarterbacks and the Longhorns need Brown and Bergeron to be healthy and productive if they want a chance to win. They'll be squaring off against a great, experienced linebacker in Kendricks however. Should be a fun match up to watch.

You can read our complete Holiday Bowl preview here.


Posted on: December 16, 2011 1:42 pm
 

Maaco Bowl Key Match up



Posted by Bryan Fischer


A look at the key matchup that could decide the Maaco Bowl

Boise State secondary versus Arizona State's passing game

Some numbers can lie. Boise State's 25th-ranked pass defense is one of them. If you caught any of their loss to TCU, you'll know why: the Broncos are young and can be picked on with speedy receivers going down field. Guess what Arizona State has? Experienced wide receivers who know how to run routes and get behind defenses.

Gerell Robinson is averaging over 18 yards a catch and has topped the 100 yard mark five times this season for the Sun Devils. Aaron Pflugrad gets close to 15 per grab and though he slowed down after a great start to the year, is a veteran who can slip behind a corner and find holes in zone defenses. Jamal Miles is a multipurpose threat and has to be contained in the return game as well. A sore point in past years, the ASU offensive line was much improved this year and has given quarterback Brock Osweiler some time to throw. Outside of their game against Cal to end the year, this has been a pretty pass-heavy offense at the end of the year.

The Broncos secondary did well with time to prepare against Georgia earlier in the year but was torched by TCU (473 yards, five touchdowns) and San Diego State (350 yards, three touchdowns). Osweiler has thrown for over 3,600 yards and 24 touchdowns on the year and is tall enough (he's 6-foot-8 if you haven't heard) to see open receivers down the field.

Boise State safety George Iloka was moved to cornerback at the end of the year and the secondary improved so it will be interesting to see how ASU attacks the new-look unit. Things are also interesting considering Sun Devils offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone has moved on to the UCLA coaching staff. Very intriguing match up that should determine whether this game is close or a blow out.

You can read our complete Maaco Bowl preview here.

Posted on: December 15, 2011 3:53 pm
Edited on: December 20, 2011 9:17 pm
 

Poinsettia Bowl Key Match up



Posted by Bryan Fischer


A look at the key matchup that could decide the Poinsettia Bowl

Ryan Allen/Louisiana Tech pass defense vs. Casey Pachall

Go through the logs of head coaches pre- or post-game press conference and you're bound to find at least one emphasis on winning the field position battle. It's no surprise that would be a focus in this bowl match up, which features some pretty good offenses and defenses that don't mind some help.

Allen is a huge weapon for Louisiana Tech, winning the Ray Guy Award as the country's best punter thanks to 36 punts inside the 20 during the regular season. He can also kick for distance, averaging an impressive 46.31 yards per punt. Being able to pin the TCU offense back will be a huge help for a defense that is ranked 55th in the country and has had issues with spread attacks featuring speedy skill position players.

"When you have a punter like they do, he can change the ball game," Gary Patterson said. "When you get a 60 or 70-yard punt, all of the sudden, field position changes."

Pachall has filled Andy Dalton's shoes pretty well in his first year as a starter. He's seventh in the country in passing efficiency, throwing for 24 touchdowns against just six picks. The Horned Frogs offense is among the most balanced in the country and it certainly helps to able to turn around and hand the ball off to Matthew Tucker, Ed Wesley and Waymon James. But Pachall does have some young receivers that can get down the field if he's allowed time to throw.

"They’ve got three outstanding running backs, they’ve got a big, physical offensive line, they’ve got speed at the wide receiver position, they’ve got a quarterback who has not missed a beat, who has improved steadily throughout the course of the season," Bulldogs head coach Sonny Dykes said. "It’s a great offensive football team. They can pound you, they can ‘big play’ you."

If Louisiana Tech plays sound on defense and doesn't bite on the play-action passes, they should be able to slow Pachall and the TCU offense down some. Having Allen pin them back would be big in winning the field position battle and giving the Bulldogs offense a short field. Force some turnovers and this turns into a winnable game for LaTech despite being decided underdogs to a 10-win team in TCU.

"Our guys have got some grit about them," said Dykes. "We’re going to have to play extremely well to compete against TCU. They are a
team that knows how to win."

You can read our complete Poinsettia Bowl preview here.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com