Another What Could Have Been

By Adam Caparell - December 31, 2007

As the calendar turned to November, the last place Oregon figured it would find itself at the end of December was El Paso, Texas. That was, of course, before the most valuable player in the country went down for the season with a torn ACL along with any hopes of grandeur for the Ducks.

Once Dennis Dixon's left knee gave out on a Thursday night in Arizona, Oregon's swoon was quick to follow. The Ducks lost their final three games of the season with their quarterback reduced to cheerleader status and any thoughts of a shot at the national title or a trip to the Rose Bowl went by the wayside.

So the former No. 2 team in the nation finds itself facing another former No. 2 in USF in the latest edition of the Sun Bowl. The Bulls, led by their own dynamic quarterback in Matt Grothe, who managed to stay healthy the whole season, can easily commiserate with the Ducks about what could have been.

After beating West Virginia and eventually moving up to the No. 2 spot in the BCS standings, the bottom fell out for the Bulls who lost three straight games and finished well short of BCS consideration.

So we have two teams, with some similarities, who fell short of their goals and have been reduced to second status in the bowl system. Storyline sound familiar? Like Holiday Bowl familiar?

In the Holiday Bowl we saw a Texas that feel short of expectations, had its own swoon that cost it a shot at the BCS, only to finally play like it was supposed to play for the first time in a while and beat Arizona State. The Longhorns actually played defense for the first time in months and showed up offensively against a pretty good Sun Devils team. Now the Longhorns should carry some considerable momentum into the off-season as they gear up for another BCS run in '08.

The Texas of the Sun Bowl would have to be USF, a team that showed glimpses this season of BCS worthiness, but lost some games it probably should have won. So just as Texas did, will USF show us something in the Sun Bowl, against a wounded Ducks squad?

The Line: -6.5 USF
O/U: 52

If I Were A Betting Man: USF and the under. Solid USF defense against that Oregon offense that's done nothing with Dixon makes it very hard to see the Ducks winning this one.

As for the day's other five bowl games...

Armed Forces Bowl - Air Force vs. Cal
The Line: -4.5 Cal
O/U: 56

If I Were A Betting Man: Cal and the over. Cal's going to play well in this one and there are going to be a lot of points scored. Both offenses can light up the scoreboard. Just a matter of which defense holds its own. If Cal plays up to its capabilities there's no doubt who the pick is. They have way more talent than Air Force. That being said, they have a defense that can give up yards on the ground. And they're facing the No. 2 rushing team in the country.

Humanitarian Bowl - Georgia Tech vs. Fresno State
The Line: -6 Georgia Tech
O/U: 54

If I Were A Betting Man: Georgia Tech and the under. Don't be surprised if Fresno pulls the upset considering they have quite a history in this bowl game, but I think Georgia Tech can run the ball for some big yards. I think the only question for the Yellow Jackets is how hard are they going to play for Jon Tenuta who's taken over the fired Chan Gailey for just this game.

Music City Bowl - Kentucky vs. Florida State
The Line: -9.5 Kentucky
O/U: 58

If I Were A Betting Man: Kentucky and the under. The suspensions aren't going to hurt the Seminoles on the offensive side too much. It's going to kill them on the defensive side where Andre' Woodson figures to enjoy a much easier day than originially expected without some of FSU's key defenders available for duty. Florida State will have no depth. What's the O/U on the number of third stringers we see in this one?

Insight Bowl - Indiana vs. Oklahoma State
The Line: -9.5 Oklahoma State
O/U: 69

If I Were A Betting Man: Oklahoma State and the under. Cowboys balanced attack shows up against a defense that can he had provided their effective pass rush is picked up. Hoosiers are one of the teams at getting to the quarterback in the country, but the Cowboys happen to be one of the best at protecting theirs.

Chick-fil-A Bowl - Auburn vs. Clemson
The Line: -3 Clemson
O/U: 46

If I Were A Betting Man: Auburn and the under. Tommy Tuberville is the most underrated coach in the country (guy's 6-3 in bowl games) and his defense is better than advertised. It's the offense that worries you. But there have been hints that we could see a new look for two from Auburn. Low scoring, defensive affair between two pretty solid defensive teams. On paper Clemson has the more dynamic offense, but Tommy's boys find a way to stop the other Tigers tand their two headed attack of James Davis and C.J. Spiller.

Bowl Season: 4-11 ATS | 12-3 O/U. Monday's best bet: Music City.

Posted by Adam Caparell at 02:24 AM on December 31, 2007

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