Rice-Western Michigan Football: Mitch Picks the Texas Bowl

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Rice-Western Michigan Football: Mitch Picks the Texas Bowl

I can feel us getting closer to New Year's Day as the quality of teams we are watching keeps getting better and better.

The contenders from the major conferences are starting to take center stage and there is a lot more on the line than just pride, there is conference honor as well.

While I am enjoying participating with the other Bleacher Report Writers in sharing our picks and coverage, I near the end of the line as after my Texas Bowl write up I only have one more game, The Orange Bowl. I certainly hope we have laid the ground work for a tradition we keep going for many years.

As for The College Football Place, Jordan is making his picks as am I and as has been the case all season, when we agree there isn't much of a better play out there as Northwestern covers easily when we both were all over them. I don't keep track of these things but the regulars point this trend out often and they probably know the percentages better than I do.

We've been chatting it up the past few days and the forum has been active as ever and we're finishing the season on a high note, which is fitting for the season we've had. The growth and development of the site has far exceeded our wildest imagination.

In any event, let's get on with today's picks.

 

The Texas Bowl: Reliant Stadium, Houston, TX

Rice (9-3) vs. Western Michigan (9-3)

Tuesday Dec. 30, 2008, 8 p.m. EST; The Line: Western Michigan +3

Overview

Here is another bowl game where we talk about two prolific passing offenses and two defenses which hang on for dear life in hopes their offense squeezes out an extra score or two.

When we look at Rice's schedule their losses came to Tulsa, Texas, and Vanderbilt, all bowl teams. While I had Rice in my preseason "teams that don't stink anymore" list, I didn't even expect them to put 9 wins up. While I would guess their goal would have been a bowl, now they have double digits in the win column in their sights for the first time since the 1940s.

Going to a bowl is nothing new to the Western Michigan Broncos, winning one would be. While the Western Michigan offense is one dimensional, they have proved to be effective. If the Broncos are going to snag their first bowl win, it is going to have to be in their opponents backyard.

Some Stats

Western Michigan

Offensive Averages

Points
29.8
(37th/4th)
Overall Yds
422.7
(24th/3rd)
Passing Yds
301.2
(10th/1st)
Rushing Yds
121.5
(93rd/11th)

Defensive Averages

Points
23.8
(52nd/5th)
Overall Yds
390.3
(84th/7th)
Passing Yds
249.4
(97th/11th)
Rushing Yds
140.9
(62nd/3rd)

* In parenthesis are National and Conference Rank, respectively

Rice

Offensive Averages

Points
41.6
(8th/2nd)
Overall Yds
472.3
(10th/3rd)
Passing Yds
327.8
(5th/2nd)
Rushing Yds
144.4
(62nd/7th)

Defensive Averages

Points
34.9
(108th/10th)
Overall Yds
466.8
(115th/10th)
Passing Yds
273.8
(113th/12th)
Rushing Yds
192.9
(103rd/9th)

* In parenthesis are National and Conference Rank, respectively

*from statsheet.com

Rice has the better offense and Western Michigan has the better defense. The difference in the offense appears to be that Rice can run the ball while WMU hasn't gotten anything done on the ground this year.

Defensively, Rice doesn't do anything well at all while Western Michigan can show life from time to time. While it appears that neither team will be doing much stopping of the other, if there will be any stopping it will probably come from the Bronco defense.

The Trends

ATS Trends

Western Michigan
  • Broncos are 4-0-1 ATS in their last 5 games as an underdog of 0.5-3.0.
  • Broncos are 3-7-1 ATS in their last 11 games following a ATS loss.
  • Broncos are 2-5-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
  • Broncos are 2-5-1 ATS in their last 8 games following a S.U. loss.
  • Broncos are 4-13-1 ATS in their last 18 games following a SU loss of more than 20 points.
Rice
  • Owls are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games as a favorite.
  • Owls are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games overall.
  • Owls are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games after accumulating more than 280 yards passing in their previous game.
  • Owls are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a S.U. win.
  • Owls are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games after allowing more than 40 points in their previous game.
  • Owls are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games after allowing more than 280 yards passing in their previous game.
  • Owls are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games after allowing more than 450 total yards in their previous game.
  • Owls are 4-9 ATS in their last 13 games on grass.
  • Owls are 2-6 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
  • Owls are 5-16 ATS in their last 21 non-conference games.
*From covers.com

The Picks

While I think offense is important I think some offenses are clearly better than others, I think playing against a poor defense can make an offense even better. I think playing against the Rice defense will make up more than the slight differential between the two offenses and give Western Michigan a distinct advantage. I like Western Michigan to win and I'll gladly take whatever points they are willing to give me.

Bleacher Creature Picks

Rice: Trey Bradley, Michael Cline, Lisa Horne, Brian Scott, and Justin Goar

Western Michigan: David Wunderlich and GeorgiaDawg

MITCH'S PICK: WESTERN MICHIGAN +3

 

See the rest of Mitch's Dec. 30 college football bowl picks against the spread.

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