By Ryan of The Sportmeisters
The NCAA postseason kicked off on Dec. 19, with 33 games being played in a three week span. Seniors will get their last hurrah, and teams will attempt to end their season on the winning side, in the hopes of improving recruiting that follows. The Sportmeisters will preview each of the 33 games that lie ahead, and provide our predictions as well. Let’s get to it!
Humanitarian Bowl, Dec. 30, 4:30 PM, Boise, ID
Bowling Green (7-5) vs. Idaho (7-5)
About Bowling Green
When you start your season 1-4, bowl eligibility has to be the last thing on your mind. Bowling Green, however, won two out of its next three, and then reeled off a four-game winning streak to get to 7-5 and earn a bowl berth.
The Falcons like to use the passing game. So much in fact, they are eighth in the nation (310.17 passing yards a game). Senior QB Tyler Sheehan is the benefactor of so much passing, throwing for 3,664 yards and 23 touchdowns. His 302.58 yards per game of offense is seventh in NCAA FBS.
Senior WR Freddie Barnes is first in NCAA FBS in catches (11.5 per game) and second in yards per game (129.25). For the season, he has 138 catches for 1,551 yards and 16 touchdowns. Junior RB Willie Geter is a threat as a runner and receiver; he has 951 rushing and receiving yards and seven touchdowns.
Bowling Green struggles defensively. Its rush defense is a paltry 103rd (192.75 yards per game). Senior LB Cody Basler is the lone bright spot in this pathetic defense. He has 81 tackles (5.5 for loss), three sacks, and an interception. Senior DB Roger Williams leads the team with four interceptions. Bowling Green will beat you in the air and in the air only. Don’t expect too many low-scoring games when they’re involved.
What happens when you’re not respected by peers and the media? For the Idaho Vandals, it’s called proving them wrong. After being picked near the bottom, Idaho ran off wins in six of their first seven games. They faltered slightly, losing three in a row, but still finished at a much improved 7-5.
Much like their opponents, Idaho likes using the passing game, ranking 11th in NCAA FBS (290.58 yards per game). However, Idaho also contributes on the ground, and that combination is a big reason for their being 10th overall in yards per game (451.33).
Senior RB DeMaundray Woolridge is a big benefactor of the constant passing game, with 853 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns. Junior QB Nathan Enderle has improved greatly from consistent passing errors in his first two seasons. He’s thrown for 2666 yards and 18 touchdowns against nine interceptions.
Senior WR Max Komar is his most popular target, with 62 catches for 1036 yards and ten touchdowns.
Of the 120 FBS teams, Idaho is ranked 105th in overall defense (424.50 yards per game), and 112th in scoring defense (35.50 points per game). Junior DB Shiloh Keo leads the team with 105 tackles (three for loss), three interceptions and a fumble return. There really isn’t much else to boast about the Vandals defensive abilities.
Bowling Green is 4-3 in bowl games, its most recent game a 63-7 loss at the hands of Tulsa in the 2007 GMAC Bowl.
Idaho is undefeated in bowl play, holding a 1-0 record thanks to a 1998 Humanitarian Bowl victory over Southern Miss.
This game could be remembered for breaking a scoring barrier, as both teams' offenses will easily overpower the defense. Look for WR Freddie Barnes to break the reception record of 142, set by Manny Hazard of Houston in 1989. Barnes currently has 138, and should break the record easily.
Idaho will benefit from having the ability to run and throw in order to claim victory. Should the Vandals have the lead, they will most likely look to DeMaundray Woolridge to churn some clock off, forcing Bowling Green into a hole. However, look for RB Willie Geter to be the X-factor for Idaho doubling up on Barnes.
Bowling Green has the streak and the weapons, and wins this shootout 50-42.