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Joe Nelson - Blogs

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BETWEEN THE LINES - JAN. 3

By Joe Nelson
Posted 01/03/2012 at 05:28 PM

Field Goal kicking proved pivotal in some of the biggest games in the college football regular season, notably the first game between LSU and Alabama, as well as Boise State’s loss to TCU. In the bowl season kicking has also proved to be a big factor particularly on Monday’s schedule. Stanford played for a field goal at the end of regulation only to see its freshman kicker miss a 34-yarder that would have won the Fiesta Bowl. Two other kicks were also missed in the game including the OT kick that eventually allowed Oklahoma State to win despite Stanford dominating the game statistically. Georgia also played for a winning kick instead of going for a touchdown after intercepting Michigan State in overtime of the Outback Bowl. It didn’t work as the 42-yarder was missed and then in the third OT Michigan State blocked another Georgia field goal attempt to win the game. One of the disadvantages of having a great offense is that your kicker rarely faces pressure packed meaningful kicks in the regular season it in several cases it has shown in big bowl game spots.

 

Everyone likes to keep score between conferences in the bowl season but it must be remembered that the match-ups are not created equally. The Big XII has been one of the worst performing conferences in bowl games over the last decade but this year will go down as a great success, going 6-1 S/U and 5-2 ATS in seven bowl games with Kansas State yet to play. Well, the Big XII was favored in all seven games, including being favored by more than five points in five of the seven games so the success should not be considered that surprising or that impressive. The Conference covered by ever so slim margins in several of the games as well and in the biggest game Oklahoma State had no business beating Stanford as they were thoroughly out-gained and out-played most of the way before the wild finish.

 

The Big Ten takes a lot of heat in the bowl season and it will be a bowl season to forget for the conference, going 3-6 S/U and 2-7 ATS with Michigan still to play. The only two Big Ten teams that were favored both won and covered however. Given the well traveling fan bases in the conference the bowls also create disproportioned match-ups in the bowl season as well for the Big Ten. Michigan State by any measure was the second best team in the conference yet was ‘drafted’ as the fourth Big Ten team to the Outback bowl as Michigan and Nebraska have such big and loyal fan bases.

 

The SEC like the Big XII has been favored in every bowl game and yet has gone just 4-2 S/U and 3-3 ATS. The SEC benefits from huge location advantages in just about every bowl game, generally traveling less than half of the distance that its foe goes which is another factor to consider when one is trying to ‘rank’ conferences on bowl results. The best bowl season this year may belong to the MAC, having gone 3-1 S/U with its champion Northern Illinois yet to play. The MAC had been 4-16 S/U and 4-15-1 ATS in bowl games the past five seasons so it has been a big breakthrough for the conference.

 

The NFL playoffs are here and there are unusually high lines in two of the wild card match-ups. Since 2000 there have been 20 favorites of -9 or more in the playoffs and those teams have gone just 5-14-1 ATS including going 4-5 S/U and 1-7-1 ATS since 2008. Favorites went 6-5 ATS last year in the playoffs but they are just 53-64-3 ATS since 2000.

 

The top two seeds are the heavy favorites to win the Super Bowl with Green Bay at just +145 and New England at +250. Baltimore is +400 and New Orleans is +500 to round out the favorites. The biggest long shot is the Denver Broncos at +5500 along with Cincinnati at +4000. While neither of those teams appears even remotely viable we have seen plenty of success from wild card teams recently. Taking a look at Atlanta +3000, Detroit +2500, or the New York Giants +2400 may present some value. Best of Luck and on to this week’s slate…

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