The 2012-13 College Bowl Season is here and you can bet there will by quite a few unexpected results just like every year. Here are what we feel are the five most likely upsets.
Rutgers (+2½) +120 vs. Virginia Tech (Russell Athletic Bowl, Dec. 28th) – We feel that the wrong team is favored here as the ACC actually ranked behind the Big East in the final Sagarin conference standings, and the Hokies got to 6-6 with two non-covering wins over weak competition in their last two games. Rutgers came within one win of a BCS bowl and it finished fourth in the country in scoring defense at a mere 14.2 points per game behind Notre Dame, Alabama and Florida. Virginia Tech ranked 81st in scoring at 26.1 points and that was mainly vs. terrible ACC defenses.
Syracuse (+4) +155 vs. West Virginia (Pinstripe Bowl, Dec. 29th) – An old Big East rivalry gets renewed in Yankee Stadium, and the Syracuse offense matches up very well vs. the West Virginia defense. Then again, who does not match up well with a West Virginia total defense that ranked 110th in the country? But what makes this matchup better is that Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib passed for 3607 yards (300.6 per game) and he will be throwing against a Mountaineers’ team than ranked second to last in passing defense at a disgusting 327.1 yards per game on a hideous 9.6 yards per attempt.
Northwestern (+2) +110 vs. Mississippi State (Gator Bowl, Jan. 1st) – While we realize that going against the SEC in bowl games can be hazardous to one’s health, the 9-3 Wildcats had the lead in the fourth quarter in all 12 games it played this season while finishing 11-1 ATS! Northwestern ranked 14th in the country in rushing offense at 230.9 yards per game on 5.0 yards per carry, and the Mississippi State defense is atypical of an SEC team in that is allows 166.0 rushing yards per game on 4.3 yards per rush. Plus the Bulldogs went 1-4 down the stretch.
Michigan (+5) +175 vs. South Carolina (Outback Bowl, Jan. 1st) – We admit that South Carolina is a more dangerous SEC team to go against as it finished 10th on the BCS Standings. However, Michigan went on the road in the season finale vs. an undefeated Ohio State team that might be in the BCS Championship Game if it were bowl eligible and nearly pulled the upset in a 26-21 loss. Michigan averaged 13 yards more per game offensively than South Carolina with 385.4, and surprisingly allowed one yard less at 311.2. This game is more evenly matched than the line indicates and these odds make Michigan worthwhile.
Pittsburgh (+3½) +145 vs. Mississippi (Compass Bowl, Jan. 5th) – No, we are not intentionally picking on the SEC, nor would we be foolish enough to do so. However, the Rebels are a lower echelon SEC team at 6-6 and while these teams are both good against the run with Mississippi allowing 3.6 YPC and Pittsburgh allowing 3.8 YPC, the Panthers were much better against the pass at 6.3 yards per attempt while Ole Miss was at a high 7.6 YPA. Look for Pitt quarterback Tino Sunseri, who had 3101 passing yards with 19 touchdowns against just two interceptions, to take advantage.
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