Bowl Mania Round 2 Post-Mortem & Round 3 Picks

Hello again everybody...

Hope your Holidays have been safe and fun! Mine went quite well. Got some neat stuff, including the stuffed version of Rocky you see above! (Every now and then my folks come up with a gem!)

Round 2 of Sports Take Bowl Mania wasn't nearly as productive however. Today I'll break down how we all did. But the good part about bowl season, there are a bevy of games yet to be picked! And in that spirit, today I'll be bringing you Round 3! So off we go!

"I prefer the company of peasants because they have not been educated sufficiently to reason incorrectly."
- Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592), French Renaissance writer

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, no?

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First up today, it's the post-mortem on Round 2...

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl: TCU -3 vs. Boise State

ST Pick: TCU -3
Hammer's Pick: Boise St. +3
Dark Star's Pick: TCU -3

Final Score: TCU 17, Boise State 16

This one lived up to it's billing. I was concerned early when Boise ran out to a 13-0 lead. But as has been the pattern this bowl season so far, my pick made a strong push in the second half.

Unfortunately, it wasn't quite strong enough. TCU had the ball late, and could've added a garbage field goal to cover for me. But head coach Gary Patterson decided that running out the clock and taking the win was good enough.


Much like picking an underdog who then wins outright feels fantastic, picking the winning team that then fails to cover the spread... well that just sucks.

Sports Take: 3-3
Hammer: 2-4
Dark Star: 2-4


Sheraton Hawaii Bowl: Notre Dame -1.5 vs. Hawaii

ST Pick: Hawaii +1.5
Hammer's Pick: Hawaii +1.5
Dark Star's Pick: Hawaii +1.5

Final Score: Notre Dame 49, Hawaii 21

Wow. We were way off on this one. Notre Dame hopped on the gas early and didn't let up until the game was long past decided.

Irish QB Jimmy Clausen broke Notre Dame's bowl record for passing with 401 yards through the air. The bulk of them going to sophomore WR Golden Tate who caught 6 balls for 177 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Anyone see that kind of offense coming from the Irish? Anyone? Yeah, me either.

Oh well. Fortunately, Round 2 only had 2 games. Round 3 is bound to go better!

Sport Take: 3-4
Hammer: 2-5
Dark Star: 2-5

Okay... we're all below the .500 mark. Not the way we wanted to start. But we're only 7 games in to a 34 game schedule. Lots of time to go!

And with that in mind, it's time for Round 3 of Sports Take Bowl Mania!

First up...

Motor City Bowl - Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan
Friday, 12/26, 6:30pm (ESPN)

Florida Atlantic vs. Central Michigan -7

The Owls are 6-6 (4-3). The Chippewas are 8-4 (6-2).

Again, not the biggest marquee match-up in the world, but we're picking them all, so I've got to come up with something, right?

Florida Atlantic finished on a roll winning 5 of their last 6. But that was in a fairly weak Sun Belt Conference. Central Michigan lost their last two, but won the 6 previous to that. The Mid-American Conference isn't a major conference, but it's rated well above the Sun Belt, so I'm going to give the Chippewas a slight edge there.

Throw in the fact that this is a de facto home game for Central Michigan, and I think they're the play here.

And apparently most people agree with me.

Sports Take Pick: Central Michigan -7
Hammer's Pick: Central Michigan -7
Dark Star's Pick: Central Michigan -7


Meineke Car Care Bowl - Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina
Saturday, 12/27, 12pm (ESPN)

West Virginia -2 vs. North Carolina

The Mountaineers are 8-4 (5-2). The Tar Heels are 8-4 (4-4).

While I'm far more familiar with these two teams, this game is just as difficult to pick as the last one.

Neither of these teams has been on much of a roll headed into the post-season. West Virginia went 3-2 in their last 5. And so did North Carolina. I guess you could say that West Virginia's wins were more impressive and their losses were against better teams.

But North Carolina was really beat-up at the end of the season and they're likely to be healthy for their bowl game. Plus the Tar Heels dominated their common opponents: UConn and Rutgers.

And again, we have a home field advantage as North Carolina's playing a scant 2 hours from home.

Put all that together, and I'm going with the underdog in this game.

Sports Take's Pick: North Carolina +2
Hammer's Pick: West Virginia -2
Dark Star's Pick: West Virginia -2


Champs Sports Bowl - Florida Citrus Bowl, Orlando, Florida
Saturday, 12/27, 3:30pm (ESPN)

Wisconsin vs. Florida State -6

The Badgers are 7-5 (3-5). The Seminoles are 8-4 (5-3).

I hate trying to pick this one. On instinct, I want to go with Florida State, but my loyalty obviously lies with the Badgers.

So now I've got to try and find a reason to justify my loyalty right?

Lets see. The Badgers won their last 3 regular season contests and 4 of their last 5 with the loss coming at Michigan State by one point to a game Spartans team. Those are solid selling points.

The Seminoles on the other hand, had a roller coaster ride down the stretch, going 2-3 in their last 5 with big wins over Maryland and Clemson. Their losses came to Florida, Boston College and Georgia Tech. Not exactly pushovers.

And the 4-hour trip is pushing the bounds of "de facto home game". Especially considering how well Badger Nation usually travels.

So yeah, I've done it. I've talked myself into taking Wisconsin, even though I'm clearly biased. What the hell, let's do it!

Sports Take Pick: Wisconsin +6
Hammer's Pick: Florida State -6
Dark Star's Pick: Florida State -6

It's starting to look like I'm either going to end up far ahead or far behind!

Next up...

Emerald Bowl - AT&T Park, San Francisco, California
Saturday, 12/27, 7pm (ESPN)

Miami vs. California -9

The Hurricanes are 7-5 (4-4). The Golden Bears are 8-4 (6-3).

At first glance it would appear that Cal has the momentum advantage. They won four of their last six including the last two in a row. Miami on the other hand lost their last two regular season contests.

But if you look a little deeper, you see that Miami won the six games previous to those last two losses. So the big Mo doesn't look to be decidedly in either corner.

Instead what's tipping this one for me is academics. How could academics factor in you ask? I'm glad you asked.

Turns out that Miami starting QB Robert Marve won't be taking the trip out West. He was suspended for the bowl game by head coach Randy Shannon who cited "academics", in the form of missing classes, as the reason for the suspension.

So take away the starting QB for the Hurricanes and suddenly California becomes a rather obvious play.

Sports Take Pick: Cal -9
Hammer's Pick: Cal -9
Dark Star's Pick: Cal -9

Penultimately (I love that word)...

Independence Bowl - Independence Stadium, Shreveport, Louisiana
Sunday, 12/28, 7:15pm (ESPN)

Northern Illinois -1 vs. Louisiana Tech

The Huskies are 6-6 (5-3). The Bulldogs are 7-5 (5-3).

And I thought some of the previous games were tough to pick!

Louisiana Tech lost to Army. Army! But they also squeaked out a win against Fresno State.

Northern Illinois lost to Navy but played Central Michigan close and beat Bowling Green.

Aw hell, I've got no clue here. The game opened at NIU -2 and has dropped to -1, which means that more money's gone on Tech than on the Huskies. So let's take the de facto home team and hope that the dog comes through again!

Sports Take Pick: Louisiana Tech +1
Hammer's Pick: Louisiana Tech +1
Dark Star's Pick: Louisiana Tech +1

Finally... Bowl - Legion Field, Birmingham, Alabama
Monday, 12/29, 2pm CT, (ESPN)

North Carolina State vs. Rutgers -7

The Wolfpack are 6-6 (4-4) . The Scarlett Knights are 7-5 (5-2).

NC State won their last four in a row including wins over Miami, North Carolina and Wake Forest. Rutgers won their last 6 in a row with wins over Louisville, South Florida and Pittsburgh. Maybe a slight edge for the Knights, but not much.

I think in the end this could come down to a question of experience. Rutgers has senior Mike Teel quarterbacking their offense. North Carolina State has freshman Russell Wilson.

Throw in the fact that Rutgers has score 30 or more points in their last 5 straight and I have to go with them. This could be close enough for me to get screwed by the spread, but I'll stick with Rutgers anyway!

Sports Take Pick: Rutgers -7
Hammer's Pick: Rutgers -7
Dark Star's Pick: Rutgers -7

So there you have it. Six games to tide you over the weekend. 3 favorites and 3 underdogs. And seeing how Hammer and Dark agreed the whole way through, there's a chance for some separation here. We shall see!

(Ed's note: Hammer has asked me to point out that he was completely unaware of Dark's picks when he made his own.)

Enjoy your weekend and I'll be back on Monday with 7 more games to ponder! Until then, thanks for reading!

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