Nothing Like Home Cooking for the Holidays
By Jeff Frank, The Sports Analyst
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - San Diego State plays its home games at Qualcomm Stadium and that is where the Aztecs will be on Dec. 20 when they take on BYU in the Poinsettia Bowl.
Rocky Long's squad has been one of the more overlooked clubs in the country this year despite going 9-3 - the school's finest regular season since 1977. Furthermore, the Aztecs have won seven consecutive games, including wins at Nevada and Boise State. San Diego State also is 6-1 at home this year and 16-5 going back to 2010.
It is true BYU has owned the Aztecs winning 14 of the last 16 meetings, however, the Cougars have covered just two of the last three games played at Qualcomm Stadium. More importantly, they are not playing anywhere near the level they were at during the first half of the season. BYU has won just three of its last six games and two of the victories came against two of the worst teams in the country - Idaho and New Mexico State.
Even though the Cougars' defense is solid (especially against the run), the offense, led by Riley Nelson, has been lackluster at best. The senior has thrown 10 interceptions in his last six games.
San Diego State has momentum and home-field advantage, which will carry Rocky Long's club to victory.
Take the Aztecs plus three points and under 49.
SIX MORE THRE-STAR SELECTIONS
The next play comes from the New Orleans Bowl where East Carolina takes on Louisiana.
The Pirates have won five of their last six games mostly due to an offense that scored 252 points over that span compared to just 123 over the first six games. On the flip side, they have allowed four touchdowns or more in four of their last five contests.
The key question in this one is can the Ragin' Cajuns match East Carolina point-for-point? They have topped 30 in four of their last five. But as is the case with the Pirates, they also are prone to defensive lapses. Opponents have averaged 30 points per game against them since the middle of October.
Louisiana has home-state advantage, but Lafayette is still over two hours away from New Orleans. Moreover, East Carolina just played at the Superdome in its next-to-last game.
Take the Pirates plus six points and over 64.
Duke squares off with Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl. The Blue Devils are making their first bowl appearance since losing to Wisconsin in the 1994 Hall of Fame Bowl.
It's been over 50 years since they won a postseason affair. To do so, they will need to snap a four-game losing streak, one that saw them give up over 200 points. Nonetheless, two of those games were against Florida State and Clemson.
Despite Cincinnati's 9-3 record, the Bearcats' pass defense is nothing to write home about so look for Duke quarterback Sean Renfree to have a huge game. Additionally, the Bearcats lost their head coach, Butch Jones, to Tennessee. Even though they picked up Tommy Tuberville from Texas Tech, he will not coach the team in this game. A high-scoring affair is expected with the underdog having a great chance to pull off the upset.
Take the Blue Devils plus seven points and over 59.5.
The final play has Minnesota and Texas Tech hooking up in the Meineke Car Care Texas Bowl.
Take away all the games the Red Raiders played against top 25 teams and they are averaging 43.5 ppg. They also have allowed 50 points or more in four of their last six contests.
Minnesota isn't known as an offensive powerhouse but the Golden Gophers should be able to rack up at least four touchdowns against Texas Tech. The Red Raiders have not allowed fewer than 28 points in their last five bowl games.
Take over 57 points.
Go with Minnesota +13 (Texas Tech) and Rice +1 (Air Force).
Take Virginia Tech -2.5 (Rutgers).
AFTER 14 WEEKS
My overall regular season record ended at 93-85-5 after a 2-2 week. The five- star plays went 10-8-2, the three-star selections were 21-24-1, the two-star picks stood at 34-32-1 and the one-star plays ended at 28-21-1.
As a reminder, five-star plays are when my personal plays coincide with my power rating plays (games with at least a five-point differential between my line and the actual line). The three-star choices are my personal picks, the two-star plays are the games the power rating system picks and the one-star plays are my personal secondary selections.
THIS WEEK'S JEFF FRANK "DIRTY DOZEN"
1) Oregon, 109; 2) Alabama, 108; 3) Georgia, 104.5; 4) Texas A&M, 104; 5) Florida State, 99.5; 6-T) Notre Dame, Kansas State and South Carolina, 99; 9) Stanford, 98.5; 10-T) Clemson and Oklahoma, 98; 12) Oklahoma State, 97.5
(The Top 12 is not a reflection of a given team's won-loss record. It is based on power ratings used to predict spreads for the upcoming week. At the beginning of the season, all 124 FBS teams are assigned a power number, which changes on a week-to-week basis depending on the results of the previous week.)
12/12 11:39:07 ET