Saturday, December 16, 2006

Danny Woodhead of Chadron State wins Harlon Hill Trophy as 2006 Division II College Football Player of the Year

We posted previously at LawPundit about Danny Woodhead being the best running back and best "little guy" in NCAA College Football and we are happy to read that Woodhead has now won the Harlon Hill Trophy as the 2006 Division II College Football Player of the Year.

Kristy Kay : Pop Music Star of Tomorrow

Here in our opinion is an emerging female pop music star of tomorrow, Kristy Kay:

YouTube Video "Who's That Loving You Now"

Song "When You Find Love" (our favorite) . Hothead Dance Hits - available US only
Rhapsody Online leads the user to the following VERY IRRITATING popup here in Germany:
"U.S. Only We're sorry. We have detected that you are outside of the United States. This service is currently only available to residents within the United States." Now we now what it feels like to be in China and have half the stuff you want to see blocked by the government. We expect this to be corrected there in the good old USA.

Video "When You Find Love" (for free, AOL), but we have not been able to get the AOL links to work here in Germany - here they are
http://music.aol.com/artist/main.adp?artistid=743101
http://music.aol.com/artist/kristy-kay/743101/video
http://music.aol.com/artist/kristy-kay/743101/video#top
http://videobeta2.adpqa.aol.com/video/kristy-kay-when-you-find-love/1636125

Song "Don't Break My Heart"

Video "Who's That Loving You Now"

See also
Official Kristy Kay site
Kristy Kay, Featured Artist
Song of the Month "Not So Perfect World"
Kristy Kay at FindArticles
Kristy Kay - Airbrush Artwork
Kristy Kay - Audition for Hollywood
Kristy Kay - Long Island Press: "Something about her.........you gotta LOVE when she sings! Very Happy. Her vocals are VERY GOOD, and the music iz HOT! Very Happy"
Kristy Kay - Promo Only

Remember, you read it at LawPundit first.

Kristy Kay : Pop Music Star of Tomorrow

Here in our opinion is an emerging female pop music star of tomorrow, Kristy Kay:

YouTube Video "Who's That Loving You Now"

Song "When You Find Love" (our favorite) . Hothead Dance Hits - available US only
Rhapsody Online leads the user to the following VERY IRRITATING popup here in Germany:
"U.S. Only We're sorry. We have detected that you are outside of the United States. This service is currently only available to residents within the United States." Now we now what it feels like to be in China and have half the stuff you want to see blocked by the government. We expect this to be corrected there in the good old USA.

Video "When You Find Love" (for free, AOL), but we have not been able to get the AOL links to work here in Germany - here they are
http://music.aol.com/artist/main.adp?artistid=743101
http://music.aol.com/artist/kristy-kay/743101/video
http://music.aol.com/artist/kristy-kay/743101/video#top
http://videobeta2.adpqa.aol.com/video/kristy-kay-when-you-find-love/1636125

Song "Don't Break My Heart"

Video "Who's That Loving You Now"

See also
Official Kristy Kay site
Kristy Kay, Featured Artist
Song of the Month "Not So Perfect World"
Kristy Kay at FindArticles
Kristy Kay - Airbrush Artwork
Kristy Kay - Audition for Hollywood
Kristy Kay - Long Island Press: "Something about her.........you gotta LOVE when she sings! Very Happy. Her vocals are VERY GOOD, and the music iz HOT! Very Happy"
Kristy Kay - Promo Only

Remember, you read it at LawPundit first.

Most Requested Christmas Song by Lisa Layne with Vince Vance and the Valiants

Here it is, the most requested Christmas song at Big Earl 96.3

All I Want for Christmas Is You
sung by Lisa Layne with Vince Vance and the Valiants.

You can get it at:
Amazon.com
CD Universe

See also the IndieMusicGroup

This is not an ad, just our honest opinion. This song is good.

Most Requested Christmas Song by Lisa Layne with Vince Vance and the Valiants

Here it is, the most requested Christmas song at Big Earl 96.3

All I Want for Christmas Is You
sung by Lisa Layne with Vince Vance and the Valiants.

You can get it at:
Amazon.com
CD Universe

See also the IndieMusicGroup

This is not an ad, just our honest opinion. This song is good.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL BOWL GAME PREDICTIONS 2006/2007 Nr. 1

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
BOWL GAME PREDICTIONS 2006/2007
Prediction posting Nr. 1

by LawPundit

(Please note that the betting spreads we use may not reflect the odds used elsewhere or may change between the time we checked them and the date of the actual game or the date at which this post is read. The same applies to ratings. Please note also that these predictions are made in good fun only and that no one should rely on them to place bets since sports outcomes are by nature unpredictable. What makes college football predicting such fun is precisely this unpredictability. We expressly disclaim any and all liability for any reliance placed by anyone upon what we write in this posting. Some years our predictions are good and other years they are off the mark. Caveat emptor. And may the best team win.

TEAM STATS ARE LINKED TO YAHOO SPORTS TEAM STATS at the TEAM PAGE


1. The Stagg Bowl Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl
Salem, Virginia - Saturday, December 16, 2006, 4:00 p.m. EST
Division III National Championship Football Game
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (2) v. Mount Union (1)

As written at the Whitewater website:

"Audio
and video for the NCAA Division III football championship will be webcast for free on NCAAsports.com and ESPNU.com. The championship game can be seen live on ESPN2 at 3:00 p.m. (CST) and 4:00 p.m. (EST)."

This year's game is a rematch of last year's 35-28 Mount Union Purple Raiders win over the Wisconsin-Whitewater's Warhawks at the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl. As posted by Pat Coleman at the D3football Daily Dose, the XXXIII Stagg Bowl will for the first time use a replay official, adapting the instant replay rules of the SEC. As one can see from the comments to that post, this move is controversial since there is no instant replay official otherwise in Division III football.

The Massey Ratings have Wisconsin-Whitewater - a team beaten by Mount Union last year - ranked 101st and Mount Union, the perennial Division III champion, ranked 149th, which of course is nonsense, pointing to a serious flaw in many rankings which place too much emphasis on the strength of schedule and mere win-loss records without paying attention to the margin of victory, which is the best predictor of future games and the best guide of a team's strength. Here, Peter R. Wolfe's rankings at UCLA make more sense as he has Whitewater ranked 148th and Mount Union at 156th.

Since we are great fans of the coaching skills of Larry Kehres, we pick the defending champion Purple Raiders to win 28-24 over the eleven of Bob Berezowitz, an outstanding coach in his own right who is retiring at the end of this season, so that this might potentially add enough motivation to Whitewater efforts that they might endanger an upset.

Also worthwhile noting is that Nate Kmic of the Purple Raiders is in super form (see bio), having run for 371 yards in the Mount Union 26-14 semifinal win over St. John Fisher and if he continues to run like that against Whitewater in the finals, Mount Union will win going away.

2. Division II Championship Game
Braly Stadium, Florence, Alabama - Saturday, December 16, 2006, 12:00 p.m. EST
To be televised by ESPN
Grand Valley State Lakers v. Northwest Missouri State Bobcats

At this writing, the finalists for the NCAA Division II Football Championship game are still undecided, as the semifinal games take place today, Sunday, December 10, with Grand Valley State, the defending champion, playing Delta State and Bloomsburg playing Northwest Missouri State. The Grand Valley State Lakers and the Northwest Missouri State Bobcats are favored in our book in those games and we call them for Grand Valley State 38-21 and for Northwest Missouri State 24-17, which would result in a rematch of the 2005 championship game, won by the Lakers 21-17.

If that is the matchup in the final, then we think that Northwest Missouri State, in spite of a great defensive showing against Chadron State and NCAA leading rusher Danny Woodhead, may again lose this year (we predict 22-21) to a Grand Valley State which is setting a standard for athletic excellence in Division II. As written at the Wikipedia:

"GVSU's athletic program has also won the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) Directors' Cup in 2004, 2005, and 2006 after finishing second the two previous years (2002 & 2003). The Director's Cup is awarded to the top athletic program in each NCAA division based on team overall finishes. Grand Valley is the first NCAA DII school east of the Mississippi to win this prestigious award."

The Massey Ratings for College Football place NW Missouri at 63rd, Grand Valley State at 65th with Miami of Florida at 64th. Could these teams really compete with the Hurricanes? Peter. R. Wolfe's rankings at UCLA show a more realistic ranking, putting NW Missouri State and Grand Valley State at 108th and 109th positions respectively - and we think that the actual should be a real close barnburner.

3. Division I National Championship Game
Finley Stadium, Chattanooga, Tennessee - Friday, December 15, 2006, 8:00 p.m. EST
To be televised by ESPN
Appalachian State Mountaineers (1, defending champions) v. UMass Minutemen (3, University of Massachusetts at Amherst)

The ill-chosen new names for the previous I-A and I-AA NCAA football "sub"-divisions are going to lead to substantial confusion everywhere. As written at the Wikipedia:
"On August 3, 2006, the Division I Board of Directors took action regarding the two football subdivisions in Division I (Division I-A and I-AA), the Board approved new labels. The presidents approved a change in terminology to "Football Bowl Subdivision" for the former I-A classification and "NCAA Football Championship Subdivision" for the former I-AA group. The Collegiate Commissioners Association helped develop the new labels."

I can think of other names for the two "subdivisions", but none of them is as bad as what the NCAA has now chosen and we can only hope that the NCAA reconsiders this nomenclature.

An example of the problem is the former Division I-AA Championship Game which is now called the Division I National Championship Game. So now the Division I-AA champion will be the Division I National Champion and the BCS bowl teams will be mere "Football Bowl Subdivision" teams - without a divisional champion? So what will the national champion in the BCS and polls be a champion of, if not of Division I?

Answer: that team will be a champion of the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision. That is hardly a sensible solution in nomenclature. And what would the champion be called if the BCS system were abandoned in favor of a playoff system in the Football Bowl Subdivision?

We go with the defending champion and call it for Appalachian State 24-20, whose only loss as defending "Division I national champion" was to the football bowl subdivision team North Carolina State. The Sagarin Predictor Ratings would predict an Appalachian State win. The Massey Ratings put UMass at 51st overall (ahead of Florida State !) and Appalachian State 72nd. Wolfe at UCLA has a more sensible ranking of UMass at 67th and Appalachian State 80th, with Florida State 56th.

[Update, December 16: Appalachian State repeated as national champion and won the game, 28-17, as Kevin Richardson ran for 179 yards and 4 touchdowns.]

4. NAIA National Football Championship NAIA
Jim Carroll Stadium, Savannah, Hardin County, Tennessee
Saturday, December 16, 2006, noon, CST "Rumble on the River XI"
St. Francis of Indiana Cougars (Fort Wayne, 13-0) (1) v. Sioux Falls Cougars (South Dakota, 13-0) (2)

After four straight incredible years in which Carroll College (Helena, Montana) won the NAIA championship and two years where St. Francis of Indiana was the runner-up (2004 and 2005), there will be a new champion this year, as Carroll College was eliminated in the playoffs by St. Xavier (Chicago and Orland Park, Illinois) 14-7, who themselves were then ousted by St. Francis.

One thing is sure about this football game involving a match-up of the pre-playoff Nr. 1 and Nr. 2 NAIA ranked teams and that is that "the Cougars" will win.

The Sioux Falls team was a finalist for the championship in 2001, semifinalists in 1997, 2002, 2003 and 2005 and quarterfinalists in 1995, 1998, and 2004. This year they beat 5th-ranked and previously undefeated Missouri Valley 25-18 to gain the finals. St. Francis reached the finals by beating 9th-ranked Carroll-ouster Saint Xavier 49-20, for which reason St. Francis would appear to be the clear favorite. However, the Massey Ratings have Sioux Falls 154th and St. Francis 187th and Wolfe has Sioux Falls at 220th and St. Francis at 236th.

We go with St. Francis because of their domination of the bracket which contained the defending champion and call it 27-24 for them against Sioux Falls. May the Cougars win!

5. The San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl Poinsettia Bowl
Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California - Tuesday, December 19, 2006 8:00 p.m. EST
Northern Illinois Huskies v. TCU Horned Frogs (25)

We link to the TCU Team Stats so that one can see the kinds of parameters we take into account for our prognostications. However, we will not link to these details for all the games below since these stats are easily accessible online.

Although Northern Illinois handed Mid-American Conference champion Central Michigan its only loss, 31-10, the Huskies finished 3rd in the West Division of that conference, losing to bowl-bound Toledo (17-13), Western Michigan (16-14) and bowl-bound Ohio (35-23). The Huskies also lost to the bowl-bound Big 10 teams Ohio State (35-12) and Iowa (24-14). This is a very good football team.

Northern Illinois features the NCAA Division I rushing champion in Garrett Wolfe, who rushed for 1900 yards this year for an average of 158.3 yards per game and 6.6 yards per carry.

The Huskies have an excellent rushing defense but a leaky secondary, allowing over 240 passing yards per game.

TCU placed second to BYU in the Mountain West Conference losing in consecutive games 31-17 to BYU and Utah 20-7. TCU beat 24th ranked Texas Tech 12-3.

TCU has a superb rushing defense so that Wolfe may have a hard time rushing against the Frogs, who were beaten in the air by BYU and Utah so that Northern Illinois will have to muster up a good passing offense to stand a chance in this game. See the photograph of Garrett Wolfe and the caption to that photo at page 1 of Stewart Mandel's article at CNNSI Sports Illustrated on Ranking the Bowl Games.

Wolfe ranks TCU 27th and Northern Illinois 71st whereas the Massey Ratings have TCU 43rd and Northern Illinois 88th.

TCU is favored by 12. We look for Northern Illinois to play a spirited game in this bowl and call it a one-touchdown difference, TCU 24 Northern Illinois 17.

6. Pioneer Pure Vision Las Vegas Bowl Las Vegas Bowl
Las Vegas, Nevada - Thursday, December 21, 2006 8:00 p.m. EST
Oregon Ducks v. BYU (Brigham Young University) Cougars (19)

The Pac-10 has a historical 4-2 edge in this bowl.

Sagarin at USAToday ranks BYU 21st and Oregon 22nd, although his Predictor gives the edge to BYU (10th !) and Oregon (21st). Wolfe has BYU 22nd and Oregon 26th whereas the Massey Ratings have Oregon 21st and BYU 30th.

After losing 2 of their first 3 games in close losses to Arizona 16-13 and Boston College 30-23 in overtime, BYU appeared to get stronger as the season wore on and finished with nine straight wins, including a 31-17 victory over 17th ranked TCU. Oregon had a hotly disputed wrong call instant replay win over Oklahoma in a game which they actually should have lost and also ended the season with three straight losses.

John Beck, the BYU quarterback, is second in the nation in passing efficiency (70.4%) behind Colt Brennan of Hawaii (72.1%), with BYU ranked 5th nationally in total offense and Oregon 8th, so that this could well be a high-scoring ball game, with the outcome likely decided in the air, which would give the edge to BYU.

BYU is favored by 3.5 points, although Oregon comes from the stronger conference, so that our call is a bit courageous, or foolish, as the case may be, depending on the outcome. We call it by 11 points, BYU 42 Oregon 31, but we would not be surprised if the score were reversed.

7. R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl New Orleans Bowl
Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana - Friday, December 22, 2006 8:00 p.m. EST
Rice Owls v. Troy Trojans

The fact that Rice and Troy are in any bowl game at all is amazing. Rice lost 5 of its first 6 games including 52-7 and 55-7 pastings by Texas and Florida State, while Troy 4 lost of its first 5, including a 56-0 blowout by the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Yet, both teams to their credit went on to post winning records, in part by virtue of numerous wins in very close games. Indeed, Rice won three of its last games on their last play.

In 2005 Rice was 1-10. In 2006, their new coach Todd Graham, the newly chosen Conference USA Coach of the Year, led the Owls to a 7-5 record and their first bowl game in 45 years. What a success story that is. There is such a thing as a "track record", at least in the case of Graham, whose Rice turnaround is the best in the NCAA this year. He has helped to do it before:

"At West Virginia University under head coach Rich Rodriguez, Graham helped the Mountaineers improve from a 3-8 mark to a 9-3 record in his second season. At Tulsa under Steve Kragthorpe, the Hurricane jumped from 1-11 in 2002 prior to his arrival, to an 8-4 record in '03. Both the WVU and Tulsa turnarounds were the best in NCAA Division I in those seasons."

For Troy, junior quarterback Omar Haugabook was named Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year as the Trojans won their first Sun Belt Conference Championship.

Wolfe ranks Rice 51st and Troy 69th, whereas the Massey Ratings have Rice 61st and Troy 93rd. Sagarin's Predictor has Rice at 68 and Troy at 107.

Rice is favored by 5 points. By comparative scores we give the edge to Rice by 10 points and call it Rice 45 Troy 35.

8. Papa John's.com Bowl Papa John's.com Bowl

Legion Field, Birmingham, Alabama - Saturday, December 23, 2006 1:00 p.m. EST
South Florida Bulls v. East Carolina Pirates

The Papa John's.com Bowl is partnered with "the Monday Morning Quarterback Club in support of the Crippled Children’s Foundation for 2006."

This match between the Big East's South Florida and the Conference USA's East Carolina is more interesting than might initially expected. In its last regular season game, South Florida upset 7th ranked West Virginia 24-19. East Carolina on its part won 5 of its last 6 games, losing only by one point to a steadily improving Rice.

Wolfe has South Florida 38th and East Carolina 61st. The Massey Ratings have South Florida 31st and East Carolina 62nd, whereas the Sagarin Predictor puts South Florida at 46 and East Carolina at 59.

The Bulls are 3-0 against the Pirates and South Florida is favored by 3.5 points, largely because of the weaker East Carolina defense.

We call it 31 to 24 for South Florida.

9. New Mexico Bowl New Mexico Bowl
University Stadium, Albuquerque, New Mexico- Saturday, December 23, 2006 4:30 p.m. EST
San Jose State Spartans v. New Mexico Lobos

San Jose State can be proud of defensive back Dwight Lowery, who was named to the 2006 Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) All-America team on defense, the first such award for a Spartan player in the 60-year history of the FWAA.

New Mexico linebacker Cody Kase was named to ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America Team.

Wolfe ranks San Jose State 59th and New Mexico 84th. The Massey Ratings have San Jose State at 52nd and New Mexico at 78th. However, the Sagarin Predictor places New Mexico at 80 and San Jose State at 84, so that caution is advised in spite of those ratings.

In fact, New Mexico is favored by the oddsmakers by 4. Nevertheless, given the fact that the Lobos have not won a bowl game since 1961, we give the edge to the Spartans and call it San Jose State 30 New Mexico 27.

10. Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl Armed Forces Bowl
Fort Worth, Texas - Saturday, December 23, 2006 8:00 p.m. EST
Utah Utes v. Tulsa Golden Hurricane

Utah's defense features All-American senior defensive back Eric Weddle, the Mountain West Conference's Defensive Player of the Year.

Tulsa's defense features
senior linebacker Nick Bunting, the 2006 Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year.

Wolfe has Tulsa ranked at 47th and Utah at 64th. The Massey Ratings put Tulsa at 55th and Utah at 63rd.
Sagarin ranks Tulsa 55th and Utah 59th but again, here we see to the contrary that Sagarin's Predictor based on "pure points" puts Utah at 44 and Tulsa at 51 and this pure points predictor accounts for Utah being favored by 2 points over Tulsa.

We know that the pure points approach to a comparison of teams is a more accurate prognosticator than other systems and thus call the game in favor of Utah, 34-27.

11. Sheraton Hawaii Bowl Hawaii Bowl
Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii - Sunday, December 24, 2006 8:00 p.m. EST
Arizona State Sun Devils v. Hawaii Warriors

Although Ohio State's Troy Smith is picking up the big awards this football season (he just won the Heisman Trophy), a good argument can be made that the best pro-type college football quarterback at the present time is Hawaii's Colt Brennan, who leads the nation in most of the statistical quarterback categories and who has also been accorded 2nd team All-American status. A lot of the credit goes to his coach, June Jones, who was selected WAC Coach of the Year.

The Arizona State situation is not optimal for the bowl game since the current head coach, Dirk Koetter, has been fired, and will be replaced in the coming season by Dennis Erickson, the head coach of Idaho, who "has a 149-64-1 record in 18 seasons as a college coach".

Although Koetter's team had a 7-5 won-loss record this year, his tenure as head coach had some visible weaknesses: "Koetter's Sun Devils were 2-19 against ranked teams, 0-12 against Pac-10 teams in California and 21-28 in the Pac-10 overall."

Wolfe ranks ASU 32nd and Hawaii 39th. Massey ranks ASU 24th and Hawaii 37th. The Sagarin ratings have ASU and Hawaii as 27th and 28th respectively, but the Predictor (based on pure points) makes Hawaii 16th and Arizona State 34th. Hawaii is thus favored by 7.5 points, and we think that the Sun Devils pass coverage will have great problems with Colt Brennan, so that we predict a Warrior win 47-31.

12. Motor City Bowl Motor City Bowl
Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan - Tuesday, December 26, 2006 7:30 p.m. EST
Central Michigan Chippewas v. Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders

The Central Michigan Chippewas won the MAC title 31-10 over Ohio. As noted at their web site: "Nationally, the Chippewas rank 19th in passing, 24th in scoring and 31st in total offense."

Here is the twist. The team will be coached in the bowl game by interim head coach Jeff Quinn, who was named to that position one day after head coach Brian Kelly accepted the head coaching job at Cincinnati, where he will coach the Bearcats in the January 6, 2006 International Bowl.

Although this situation may appear to be somewhat bizarre, there is a precedent in 1998 for a new coach taking over the reigns of a bowl-bound team, when "David Cutcliffe did so for Mississippi after the 1998 campaign, guiding the Rebels to an Independence Bowl win over Texas Tech."

When one considers that interim coach Quinn came to Central Michigan from the very successful Grand Valley State football program, this bowl game suddenly increases greatly in fan interest.

The Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders were blown off the scoreboard 59-0 by the Oklahoma Sooners early in the season and also lost 44-17 to Louisville and 52-7 to South Carolina, all games in which their leaky pass defense cost them dearly.

Considering that Central Michigan beat Ohio 31-10 in the Mid-American Conference championship game by throwing for 314 yards, those stats do not speak well for the Blue Raiders chances in this bowl game. Sagarin's Predictor ranks Central Michigan 63rd and Middle Tennessee State 82nd, whereas Wolfe has Central Michigan at Nr. 46 and Middle Tennessee State at Nr. 57, with the Massey Ratings putting Central Michigan at 53rd and Middle Tennessee State at 80th.

Central Michigan is favored by 10 points but we think because of the mismatch of a superb passing game against a weak pass defense that that the Chippewas should win this game with ease, that is, if their performance is not hampered by the coaching change. We call it 38-17 for Central Michigan.

13. Emerald Bowl Emerald Bowl
AT&T Park, San Francisco, California - Wednesday, December 27, 2006 8:00 p.m. EST
UCLA Bruins v. Florida State Seminoles

This is simply one of best - and unexpectedly good - matchups in all of the bowl games. The organizers of the Emerald Bowl must be grinning from ear to ear.

UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) is fresh off of a win over defending national champion USC, knocking the Trojans out of the BCS championship game this year, so that the Bruins must feel like world-beaters.

Florida State on the other hand had a deeply disappointing season, losing 6 games and barely winning against weaker teams such as Troy and Western Michigan. On the other hand, their losses were for the most part by slim margins against top competition, including their regular season closing loss, a cliffhanger 21-14 to BCS national championship game participant Florida.

Instructive of the Seminole weaknesses this year is their humiliating 30-0 loss to Wake Forest, where they were overwhelmed by a team possessing an opportunistic offense and defense. Indeed, the Demon Deacons, in spite of an 11-2 record, gave up on average more yards per game in total offense than they gained. Wake Forest has a team that is there when it counts.

Does UCLA have a similarly scrappy team to the Demon Deacons? The answer is yes. The Bruins gained only 16.6 yards per game more than their opponents in putting up a 7-5 record and in their win over USC, they had nearly 100 yards less total offense than the Trojans. But scoring and winning is the name of the game, not merely putting yardage stats on the record books. And did UCLA beat the Trojans because of super coaching? You bet they did. Read this report at Yahoo by AP sports writer John Nadel.

In spite of a four-game losing streak at mid-season, UCLA closed with three straight wins over strong competition. Indeed, the Bruins are favored by 5. The Massey Ratings place UCLA 17th and Florida State 52nd. Wolfe has UCLA 24th and the Seminoles 56th. Sagarin's Predictor has UCLA 24th and Florida State 40th, which is probably a more accurate assessment of the relative strength of these two teams, which is not that far apart.

One worry for Bruin supporters is their 37-15 loss to Washington State, where they were hit for over 400 passing yards, so that Florida State, a weak rushing but strong passing team, has a good chance to win this game in the air. The Florida Gators beat the Seminoles only because their pass defense held the Seminoles to 18 of 43 passing completions. The Bruin pass defense is not that good.

In spite of a sentimental leaning to UCLA in whose immediate environs we have many friends, we call it 24-21 for Florida State.

14. PetroSun Independence Bowl Independence Bowl
Independence Stadium, Shreveport, Louisiana - Thursday, December 28, 2006 4:30 p.m. EST
Oklahoma State Cowboys v. Alabama Crimson Tide

The Independence Bowl presents another interesting situation for football fans, namely, a bowl team - Alabama - which at the moment of this writing has no head coach after the firing of Mike Shula. The defensive coordinator, Joe Kines, is the interim head coach.

Oklahoma State has an exceptionally strong option offense (51 touchdowns this year and 409 yards average total offense per game) combined with an exceptionally weak defense which allowed 371 yards total offense on average per game. Given the fact that the Crimson Tide offense has been lackluster this year, it is no surprise that the Cowboys are favored to win this game by 2.5 points, because even if Alabama is halfway successful in containing the Cowboy offense, it is still unlikely that they will score enough points to win.

This was the Alabama weakness all year long, as no team scored more than 28 points against them (Florida, LSU) and yet they still lost 6 games - the cause of Shula's demise. It is not enough in modern football to have a good defense, which 'Bama surely does, but you have to be able to score. If you can not, especially in the SEC, you are doomed to defeat in most games.

In spite of all that, the Massey Ratings have the Crimson Tide at 45th and the Cowboys at 67th. Wolfe puts Alabama at 62nd and Oklahoma State at 58th. Sagarin's Predictor makes Oklahoma State 30th (!) and Alabama only 45th. Again, in terms of its past prognostication record, the pure points-based predictor - on average - beats the other systems hands down.

We call it for the Cowboys, 24-21.

15. Texas Bowl Texas Bowl
Reliant Stadium, Houston, Texas - Thursday, December 28, 2006 8:00 p.m. ET
Kansas State Wildcats v. Rutgers Scarlet Knights (16)

We were surprised to read regarding this bowl that Houston is America's fourth largest city. The first three are easy to guess (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago) - but the 4th is difficult. And who would have thought that San Jose, California is 10th? See on this score the Wikipedia on Demographics of the United States and for a rank of the top 50 US cities by population see InfoPlease.

Greg Schiano, the Rutgers coach, is Home Depot Coach of the Year. His surprise team of the year lost a BCS berth in their heartbreaking season-ending three overtime loss to West Virginia 41-39. Rutgers football is marked by solid team play without any perceivable great stars.

Kansas State is led by first-year coach Ron Prince, whose team in November upset then fourth-ranked Texas 45-42. The Wildcats are led by freshman quarterback Josh Freeman, who passed for 1651 yards and of course has been improving as the season has progressed.

Cincinnati's upset of Rutgers was due primarily to a very effective passing game of longer gainers (277 yards on 11 of 15 completions) so that Kansas State has a very good chance to win this game in the air, even though Rutgers ranks 9th in the nation in total defense. At the same time, Kansas State has a relatively weak defense, which, however, is a good matchup to the Scarlet Knights average offense.

Rutgers is favored by 7.5 which we regard to be too large a spread against a team that has beaten Texas this year. It is true that K-State lost to Louisville, which was beaten by Rutgers, but the Wildcat loss was early in the season when Freeman was not yet the starting quarterback and when the emphasis was erroneously on K-State defense and not on its offense. If Kansas State were to play the same strategy against Rutgers that they played against Louisville, they would lose for sure. However, this is now a different team - disregarding Freeman's catastrophic 6 turnovers against Kansas to close the season. He had surely not yet adjusted to the win over Texas and the game against the Jayhawks will have been a lesson for him.

We call the game 27-24 for Kansas State.

16. Pacific Life Holiday Bowl Holiday Bowl
Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California - Thursday, December 28, 8:00 p.m. EST
Texas A&M Aggies (21) v. California Bears (20)

This promises to be one of the best bowl games this year.

Cal finished 2nd in the Pac-10 standings, ending the regular season with a loss to USC 23-9 and a win over 1-win Stanford 26-17, while Texas A&M finished 3rd in the South Division of the Big 12 Conference, closing the season with a stunning 12-7 victory over the then 11th-ranked Texas Longhorns.

Cal is favored by 5 over the Aggies, but we really think that Cal will be hard pressed to win this game. Not only did Texas A&M beat Texas in its last game, but it lost the previous two games by only one point each to very strong and rated Nebraska and Oklahoma teams.

Both teams are about equal in offensive potential, but the Bears have the weaker defensive team, especially against the pass, and so we call this game for Texas A&M 41-38.

This prediction posting Nr. 1 was made at 2:46 P.M Dec. 16, 2006, Central European Time, CET, i.e. 8:46 A.M. EST. Predictions for the remainder of the bowl games follow in the next prediction postings (Nr. 2 and Nr. 3). The prediction for the Appalachian State - UMass game was made several weeks in advance of this posting, but had not been posted online prior to this posting.

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