Mitch Picks the PapaJohns.com Bowl and the Alamo Bowl

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Mitch Picks the PapaJohns.com Bowl and the Alamo Bowl

While every Saturday during the season I open my video by saying "It's my favorite day of the week during my favorite time of year," bowl season may be my favorite part of my favorite time of the year.

While we're starting to get into that constant flow of college football every day of the week and at several times a day, it couldn't agree with me any more.

While I had some poorly timed technical problems, my site, The College Football Place, is back up and back to normal. It's good to get back in the forum and chat room and hear what everyone else has to say about these final matchups of the year.

Well even after the games on Dec. 29, we still won't be halfway done with the bowls. Most of the games have been solid match ups and pretty competitive.

After all of the negative things we say about the bowl system and how much I personally complain about several teams getting their bowl-qualifying win against a non D-1 team, we've seen some pretty good football games which at the end of the day is a good thing.

While I still want to see a playoff and a real champion, it's tough not to like the closeness of the match ups and the scores of so many games.

While we have two games on Dec. 29, one of them, The PapaJohns.com Bowl, is my third game I am doing in conjunction with several of the writers at Bleacher Report.

While he doesn't write at Bleacher (yet?), Jordan has posted his picks for these games already as well.

Here are my picks for these games.

The PapaJohns.com Bowl     Legion Field    Birmingham, Ala.

Rutgers (7-5) vs. NC State (6-6)

Monday, Dec. 29,  2008   3 EST    The Line: NC State + 6 1/2

Overview:

When Trey was handing out the game assignments and I drew this one, I was pretty excited. OK, who am I kidding, the first thing that came into my head was "what do they mean PapaJohns.com, is that like a pizza you read about getting delivered?"

Personally, it's been many years since I've had a Papa John's pizza, as here in Chicago, I don't even think they have them, but I do plan on watching this game and it should be a lot better than Googling pizza.

NC State looked to be dead in the water after a 2-6 record. Then they reeled off four consecutive wins to close out the season and made themselves eligible for this bowl game.

While four of NC State's wins and all of their losses came against bowl teams, it's the one win against 1-AA William and Mary that I feel makes NC State another undeserving team going to a bowl game.

While playing 10 bowl teams makes for one of the tougher schedules in the country, I just find it tough to forgive the the fact that they only beat five D-1 teams.

While either this rule will change in the near future or we are going to see some majorly soft scheduling all over the country, the Wolfpack are certainly the beneficiary of what I see as a loophole.

Rutgers was another team that turned it around and were playing as well as any team in the country by the time the season ended.  Rutgers started the season 1-5 and since then have won six games in a row.

Perhaps what is even more impressive isn't just that Rutgers went on that run, it's how they did it; Rutgers blew out each of their last five opponents in games that were essentially over at halftime.

As bad as QB Mike Teel was early in the season when he felt he needed to single-handedly make plays to win, he was equally as smooth when he was just called on to manage the game.

Some Stats:

NC State:

Offensive Averages:

Points
23.5
(81st/7th)
Overall Yds
326.3
(88th/5th)
Passing Yds
200.8
(71st/4th)
Rushing Yds
125.5
(86th/7th)

Defensive Averages:

Points
26.1
(65th/12th)
Overall Yds
387.1
(82nd/12th)
Passing Yds
242.8
(95th/12th)
Rushing Yds
144.3
(67th/8th)

* In parenthesis are National and Conference Rank, respectively

Rutgers:

Offensive Averages:

Points
29.0
(41st/2nd)
Overall Yds
395.2
(41st/2nd)
Passing Yds
266.3
(22nd/1st)
Rushing Yds
128.8
(82nd/7th)

Defensive Averages:

Points
18.5
(18th/2nd)
Overall Yds
323.9
(32nd/5th)
Passing Yds
184.9
(29th/2nd)
Rushing Yds
139.0
(54th/7th)

* In parenthesis are National and Conference Rank, respectively

*from statsheet.com

Statistically, this game is a mismatch. Rutgers appears to have just about every advantage and the differences are pretty large for teams that are just separated by one win and one loss in the record department. Rutgers will probably use the tried and true formula of using the run to set up the pass. NC will try and pound it right at the Rutgers D.

The Trends:

ATS Trends

North Carolina State
  • Wolfpack are 6-0 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
  • Wolfpack are 7-0 ATS in their last 7 games overall.
  • Wolfpack are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 games following a ATS win.
  • Wolfpack are 13-3 ATS in their last 16 games as an underdog.
  • Wolfpack are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a S.U. win.
  • Wolfpack are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 Bowl games.
  • Wolfpack are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games as an underdog of 3.5-10.0.
  • Wolfpack are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 bowl games.
  • Wolfpack are 2-6 ATS in their last 8 games after accumulating more than 200 yards rushing in their previous game.
  • Wolfpack are 2-7 ATS in their last 9 non-conference games.
  • Wolfpack are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 vs. Big East.
Rutgers
  • Scarlet Knights are 7-0 ATS in their last 7 games on turf.
  • Scarlet Knights are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 games following a S.U. win.
  • Scarlet Knights are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games in December.
  • Scarlet Knights are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games after allowing less than 20 points in their previous game.
  • Scarlet Knights are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games overall.
  • Scarlet Knights are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games following a ATS win.
  • Scarlet Knights are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games after accumulating more than 280 yards passing in their previous game.
  • Scarlet Knights are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games after accumulating more than 450 total yards in their previous game.
  • Scarlet Knights are 11-4-1 ATS in their last 16 non-conference games.
  • Scarlet Knights are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games following a SU win of more than 20 points.
  • Scarlet Knights are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games as a favorite of 3.5-10.0.

The Picks:

I think this has a chance to be a pretty low scoring game, but I don't see the teams being close enough that I would rather take the points then stick with the better team.

I think we have a disparity that is big enough that warrants laying nearly a touchdown, which is what is called for if we want to take the Scarlet Knights.

While I wouldn't be overly surprised if the Wolfpack were able to grind out a close win, I would be even less surprised if Rutgers forced turnovers and controlled this game.

Bleacher Creatures' Picks:

Rutgers: Trey Bradley and Brian Scott

NC State: Michael Cline, Lisa Horne, David Wunderlich, GeorgiaDawg, and Justin Goar

MITCH'S PICK: RUTGERS - 6 1/2

 

See Mitch's Alamo Bowl: Northwestern vs. Missouri Pick

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