Posted 12/21/2007 at 08:00 PM
The bowl season got off to a wild start on Thursday night with the Poinsettia bowl. The end result may not have been incredibly dramatic in terms of the actual outcome but the pointspread and the over/under results had serious implications. At halftime Navy led 10-7 and the ‘under’ looked like a sure-thing after a scoreless 1st quarter. Slow starts are not uncommon in bowl games however given the unfamiliar opponent, conservative play-calling early in games, and the overall excitement of the game settings. The Midshipmen put the lead to ten in the 3rd quarter but Utah responded with three consecutive scores to go up 28-17. Navy responded with a score and a 2-point conversion to cut the lead to three and the torture for Utah bettors began. The Utes drove down the field with relative ease on the next possession but a 13-play drive ended up with zero points as the Utes gave the ball back to Navy with just a few minutes remaining. The Utes stopped Navy in four plays however getting the ball back in prime position and going in for the score to put the lead back to ten points with just over two minutes to play. The cover was not safe however as Navy connected on a big passing play and cut the margin back to three. Navy actually recovered the ensuing onside kick but could not cap the comeback. The crazy fourth quarter did earn a fortunate ‘over’ victory with 29 points in the final quarter while Navy stole the cover late.
The bowl games can provide some wild outcomes and adding to the difficulty in recent years is the dark cloud of possible suspensions. Already Florida State, Ohio State, Clemson, Boise State, Florida, New Mexico and Tennessee have seen significant situations that may or have already resulted in players missing from bowl game lineups for academic or behavior reasons. The press tends to leak these stories without full information and without a process for the players to go through with school administrators which can add to the headache as potential suspensions can turn into non-suspensions and vice-versa. There are surely more to come up as this time of year academic reports come up from the end of semesters and bowl trips to exciting cities can always increase the risk of violations. Keep updated on the injury and suspension reports this week as there will be a great deal of updates, some will be meaningful, some may impact lines.
In the NFL the final weeks provide a similar challenge as playing time for key players and motivation can also be difficult to dissect matters. There are still plenty of great situations but there are definitely going to be games to avoid. Good Luck.