I honestly didn't know what AdvoCare was until seeing that outfit had naming rights to the old Independence Bowl. Must be some good money in energy drinks and weight-loss products is all I can say.
We are starting to see a little movement to the college football odds for this game after the Wildcats started at -7. That spread is now up to 7.5 at many sports books, and 57.5 is the earliest scoreboard hurdle we have seen set at this point.
Arizona Stumbles Into The Bowl Season
Rich Rodriguez's second season in Tucson soured at the end with three losses in the final four games, but the Wildcats are going to their second straight bowl under the former West Virginia and Michigan head coach. Arizona (7-5 straight up, 5-6-1 against the spread) did pull off a big upset vs. Oregon, but followed that up with a humiliating defeat to Arizona State, the Sun Devils' second straight in that series.
The thorough demolishing of the Ducks before Thanksgiving came as 19.5 point underdogs as Ka'Deem Carey and the 'Cats ground game had control from the outset. Arizona State, however, turned the tables on a mistake-prone Arizona team that was getting 10 on the road, and the Wildcats couldn't have covered with three times that many points.
Arizona lost its two previous bowl appearances in convincing fashion to Oklahoma State and Nebraska before getting an Invite to Albuquerque last December. If this game is anything like the Wildcats' thriller in last year's New Mexico Bowl, we're in for a treat. Favored by nine and trailing by 17 entering the final quarter, Arizona rallied with a pair of touchdowns in the final minute to beat Nevada, 49-48.
BC Makes Quick Turnaround From 10-Loss Season
A year ago, Boston College was lamenting a 10-loss campaign that resulted in Frank Spaziani getting his walking papers. Enter Steve Addazio, the former Temple head coach and Florida assistant, and the Eagles are back in the postseason.
Boston College (7-5 SU & ATS) dropped its season finale at Syracuse, 34-31, snapping a 4-game win streak in the process to end tied with the Orange for third place in the ACC's Atlantic Division. The Eagles will be looking for their first bowl victory since topping Michigan State in the 2007 Champs Sports Bowl, enduring three postseason losses since then but standing 8-4 in the last 12 bowl appearances.
Addazio and the Eagles have some question marks on the offensive line where center Paul Gaughan and tackle Win Homer are dealing with a knee injury and concussion, respectively. Plus backup tight end Brian Miller is questionable with knee trouble.
But the good news is tailback Andre Williams should be available. The Heisman Trophy finalist suffered a shoulder injury late in the loss to Syracuse, but is currently listed as probable against Arizona. Williams led the nation this season with 2,102 yards rushing, the first back to top the 2K mark since UConn's Donald Brown in 2008.
You can find all sorts of weather conditions in Shreveport this time of year, from sunny and the 70s to snow or ice and the 20s. Fans heading to Independence Stadium should prepare for both extremes, perhaps with 24 hours of each other, and college football bettors should check the forecast before making their wagers.
I'm curious if Rodriguez might turn quarterback BJ Denker loose early to test what was a porous Eagles pass defense. The Wildcat senior is coming off a bad game against ASU, but some early success would open up the ground game a bit.
More than likely, this matchup will be decided by which team establishes its running game first and which of the two talented backs has the better game. I'm not sure any Rich Rodriguez-coached team is worth laying more than a touchdown on, so BC plus the points will be my free college football pick.
My pick: Boston College +7.5 at Bet365
Reg. Season: 31-15 (+14.5)