Monday, December 21, 2009

2009 Emerald Bowl: The bottom line

Now that we've talked about the offenses and defenses that we'll see at the Emerald Bowl on Saturday, I'll first give you a smattering of other stats and pieces of information, which I will then use to justify the pick I will make at the end of this.

*The Eagles' scoring margin this year was +76.
*The Trojans' scoring margin this year was +75.

*BC played one game against ranked competition this year (Virginia Tech), and we know how that went.
*USC was 3-2 against ranked competition.

Of course, both of these teams are UNranked, but this is an indicator of the level of difficulty of each of their schedules.

*BC kicker Steve Aponavicius has missed one kick all season.
*USC kicker Jordan Congdon has missed three.

*BC has 883 kick return yards and 171 punt return yards.
*USC has 924 and 380, respectively.

*BC's average time of possession is 29:23.
*USC's average time of possession is 28:44.

*Both teams suck on 3rd down, converting 30% (BC) and 34% (USC) of the time.

*BC quarterbacks have been sacked 17 times, as have USC quarterbacks.

I think that's enough additional info.  Here are my conclusions based upon the last three football posts I've made:

*If you think USC is going to win just because they're USC, then you're in love with the name and don't know this team.

*Certain statistical categories vary, but these teams are fairly close to even based upon their performance this season, or, at the very least, are not so far apart that one can write BC off.

*Both teams tend to keep their defense out on the field a little more of the time, but BC stops the opposition in the red zone whereas USC tends against it.

Nine months ago, I picked another BC-USC game incorrectly, thinking that both teams had done some good things but that BC would ultimately prevail.  If I make the same mistake twice, then so be it.

I would say my cone of score uncertainty is probably anywhere from USC by 10 to BC by 4.  The average of that would be USC by 3.  Unfortunately, I think this is a possible outcome, but there are other factors to consider here. 

For one thing, might there be a "we're USC and this bowl is beneath us, so we don't give a shit" factor?  Yes, of course.  I mean, I'm sure they want to win, but the Emerald Bowl lacks a certain je ne sais quoi when you're in BCS bowls every year.  On BC's side, I'm sure they're just happy to be there after guys like Andre Ware predicted they'd win two, maybe three games this season.  Further, USC is losing players to academic ineligibility, including starting TE Anthony McCoy and OT Tyron Smith.  This, of course, is right on the heels of the ridiculous Joe McKnight situation that I can't make sense of, nor do I particularly care to.

In this case, I have to ask myself: do I count on Dave Shinskie with the game on the line?  I think that's a fairly uncertain proposition, but I expect the defense to keep BC in the game.  Ultimately, BC is a talented team, but USC is more talented, and chances are they will win.  Remember, though, I'm usually wrong, and I'm banking on it this time.

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