Bowling Green the College Football Pick in Camellia Bowl

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, December 18, 2014 6:48 PM GMT

Bowling Green may have come up short in the MAC Championship Game, but it should have enough to take care of South Alabama of the Sun Belt Conference Saturday. 

 

The nightcap of the first day of bowl matchups Saturday may not have marquee power, but we do see value in the underdogs when the South Alabama Jaguars (6-6) take on those Bowling Green Falcons (7-6) in the inaugural Camellia Bowl from Cramton Bowl Stadium in Montgomery, AL at 9:15 ET in a game televised nationally on ESPN.

The posted line at Pinnacle Sports has Bowling Green as a small underdog of +2½ for this contest at current odds of -10.


Crushing Loss in MAC Championship
The Falcons won the East Division of the MAC at 5-3 while going 7-5 during the regular season, but they were then trounced by Northern Illinois 51-17 as the Huskies extracted revenge for a loss to Bowling Green when the same two teams met for the MAC Championship last season, at the time ruining a perfect season for the Huskies that would have made them BCS Busters for the second straight season.

The Sun Belt Conference does not play a championship game and South Alabama was in a three-way tie for fourth in the conference at 5-3 with Georgia Southern (8-0), UL Lafayette (7-1) and Appalachian State (6-2) manning the top three spots, The Jaguars then fell to an even .500 for the season at 6-6 by being the losing College Football picks in a non-conference affair 42-40 to Navy in their season finale.


Falcons Offense to Fly High
While neither of these teams closed out the season particularly strong, Bowling Green has the far superior offense and we simply do not see how USA will keep pace. Granted the Jaguars are superior defensively and that is the very season South Alabama is the small favorite here, but the Falcons should still be tough to defend with the long preparation time since losing the MAC Championship on December 5th.

Bowling Green averaged 29.8 points this season and they did so with nice balance, averaging 176.6 rushing yards and 251.6 passing yards. That total offense of 428.2 yards is good for a respectable 49th in the country, especially for a MAC team.

The passing game performed better than expected after losing starting quarterback Matt Johnson and wide receiver Chris Gallon to injuries, as back up signal-caller James Knapke (2805 yards, 13 passing touchdowns, two rushing touchdowns) and wide-outs Roger Lewis (956 yards, five touchdowns) and Ronnie Moore (629 yards, five touchdowns) all stepped up nicely.

Of course, a lot of pressure was taken off of that passing game by the potent running game. Leading rusher Travis Greene missed some time with injuries, but he still managed to rush for 908 yards on a hefty 5.7 yards per carry with 10 rushing touchdowns, also adding 178 receiving yards on 7.1 yards per reception with one touchdown catch.


Run Defense Struggled Late
Now this is the first bowl appearance in the history of the South Alabama program, and as mentioned the Jaguars got here on the strength of their defense. However that defense, or more specifically the run defense, faltered a bit down the stretch allowing an average of 234.7 rushing yards on 5.4 yards per carry in the last three games, and that does not figure to improve vs. a running back of Greene’s caliber.

And when the Jaguars do not defense well, they usually do not win as they rank 90th in the land in total offense at 372.8 yards per game and a dismal 107th in scoring with 22.1 points per game. And that was vs. a schedule ranked 101st in SOS according to the Sagarin Ratings.

It hurts that if South Alabama needs to score a bunch of points to keep pace with Bowling Green, it has more of a game manager at quarterback in Brandon Bridge than a true playmaker. Bridge had just 14 touchdown passes, and while that was vs. throwing only six interceptions all year, he still averaged a lowly 164.8 passing yards per game.


Bounce Back Potential
Finally the Falcons very rarely play back-to-back bad games as they are 28-11-1 ATS in their last 40 games after passing for less than 170 yards in their previous game, and remember that was vs. a Northern Illinois team that has one of the best defenses in the MAC.

South Alabama may deserve some credit for making its first ever bowl game, but we do not believe that the Jaguars merit this small favoritism so look for an outright win by the small underdogs from Bowling Green in the first ever Camellia Bowl Saturday.

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College Football Pick: Bowling Green +2½ (-106)