College Bowl season hits another gear on Thursday, December 27, with three bowl games for college football fans to enjoy. The earliest of those three games features two teams completing remarkable turnarounds. Two seasons ago the teams combined to win just three games, but this year Bowling Green and San Jose State will look to end their successful seasons with a win in the Military Bowl. Here’s how I think it will play out:
When to Watch: 3:00 PM ET, December 27, 2012
Where to Watch: Live on ESPN from RFK Memorial, Washington, DC
What to Watch for…
When San Jose State has the ball: The Spartans role into this game with one of the top 30 offenses in the nation in scoring and total yards and the number 11-ranked passing attack. First-year transfer David Fales finished with 3,798 yards and 31 touchdowns while throwing just nine picks. He has two quality receivers in Juniors Chandler Jones, who finished with 10 touchdowns and 618 yards, and Noel Grigsby who has 1,178 yards and nine touchdowns. Another big target is 6-6 Senior tight end Ryan Otten who is looking for his second consecutive season with 50 catches and 750 yards. Both of those plateau’s are attainable with a good Bowl performance
The Sparan offense ins’t just one dimensional though; they also feature De’Leon Eskridge who has 10 scores and should go over 1,000 yards in this game after a huge 217-yard, three-touchdown performance in the regular season finale against Louisiana Tech.
Unfortunately for San Jose State, they won’t get to play LaTech’s defense in this one. Instead they’ll face Bowling Green’s which was the best defense in the MAC. MAC player of the year DT Chris Jones finished with 12 1/2 sacks and leads a unit that finished seventh in the nation allowing just 289.7 yards a game. The Falcon defense will be looking to star in this game as the unmovable object in the way of SJSU’s irresistible force.
When Bowling Green has the ball: The Falcons offense isn’t their strong-suit. They finished 86th in the nation in scoring and 87th in yards. They were 11th in the MAC in yards per game. Anthon Samuel was their best weapon from his spot at running back. Samuel led the team with 10 touchdowns and 966 yards on the ground but he tailed off a bit towards the end of the year. Quarterback Matt Schilz threw for less than half as many touchdowns as his counterpart with just 14 while throwing three more picks than Fales with 12 interceptions on the season. The Bowling Green offense will have a hard time keeping up if the Spartans offense can move the ball effectively.
The San Jose defense definitely won’t make it easy for them. Led by WAC defensive player of the year Travis Johnson, the Spartans ranked 25th in scoring defense, 19th in rushing defense, 7th in sacks, 23rd in interceptions, and 28th in total defense. Johnson finished with 12 sacks and 19 tackles for loss on the season. He finished the season with 60 tackles and a pair of forced fumbles. Johnson was joined on the WAC All-Conference first team by linemen Travis Raciti and Anthony Larceval, linebacker Keith Smith, and defensive back Bene Benwikere.
Who to Watch for (NFL Prospects)
As you would expect with these two defenses, most of the NFL prospects are on the defensive side of the ball. Chris Jones-Bowling Green-DT will most likely be the highest pick in this game. Right now he projects to go in round two or three, but we’ve seen in the last few drafts that strong, quick defensive tackles rise quickly with Nick Fairley, Dontari Poe, and Kendall Reyes being chief examples. Jones may not get to the top of round 1, but with a good bowl game and combine could easily be an early Round 2 pick.
Other prospects to watch are David Fales-SJSU-QB, Ryan Otten-SJSU-TE, David Quessenberry-SJSU-OT, and Travis Johnson-SJSU-DE. Fales could return for his senior season and suggests he’ll be back to play another year. Johnson and Quessenberry would likely be sixth or seventh round picks. Otten could go as high as the third or fourth round.
The Spartans finished a remarkable 10-2 behind now departed head coach Mike MacIntyre (headed to Colorado). They’ll be coached by their defensive coordinator Kent Baer in this one with Ron Caragher taking over next year. It’s always hard to evaluate how not having a coach can effect the team, but I still like the Spartans to get the win here. In my opinion, the Spartans passing game will give them the edge and like Toledo and Kent State, they’ll be able to score enough points to bury Ball State’s limited offense.
Right now the spread is at 7 and I would give the points and take the Spartans to cover in their second trip to Washington. San Jose State is 8-2 in their last 10 agains the spread.