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<< NCAA College Football News Big 12 seeks out minor bowl games that fans can easily drive to
As college football gets ready for a shake-up in its postseason system, Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said he would like to have reach agreements with five or six bowl games.
Bowlsby and the other nine major conference commissioners, along with Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick, will meet in southern California this week to pick the final three bowls to be involved in the six-site playoff rotation. Once those are in place, the conferences can turn their attention to the other bowls for 2014 and beyond.
The Big 12s current agreements, which end after this season, do not include a Florida game. Bowlsby said league officials want to change that, while keeping a strong hold on Texas and having a destination out West.
Also, Iowa States successful trip to the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tenn., last season at least in terms of ticket sales has the conference considering deals with bowls closer to campuses.
I think that probably did cause us to think about bowls closer to home, Bowlsby said in a recent phone interview.
Bowlsby declined to talk about specific bowls being targeted by the Big 12, but a person familiar with the conferences plans told The Associated Press league officials are interested in striking a deal with at least one of the Tennessee bowls games the Liberty Bowl or the Music City Bowl in Nashville.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the conference was not discussing details of its plans publicly.
The Liberty Bowls current agreements are with the Southeastern Conference, Conference USA and the Big East. C-USA and the Big East, which will change its name to the American Athletic Conference next season, have been drastically altered by realignment. Seven C-USA teams will join the American during the next two seasons.
Last year, the SEC did not have enough bowl eligible teams to fill the Liberty Bowl slot and game organizers struck a deal with Iowa State. Cylcones fans gobbled up tickets and about 25,000 showed up to watch their team lose to Tulsa. Ames, Iowa, is about a six-hour drive from Memphis.
Most of the other nine Big 12 schools are within seven to 10 hours of Memphis not a short trip but doable in a day.
Our guys said wed be well advised to have some bowl that we can drive to, Bowlsby said.
The Music City Bowls current agreements are with the SEC and Atlantic Coast Conference.
The addition of West Virginia to the Big 12 last year has in part led the conference to turn its attention to the talent-rich southeast part of the country, especially Florida.
The Big 12s current bowl lineup includes: the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio; the Holiday Bowl in San Diego; Meineke Car Care Bowl in Houston; the Pinstripe Bowl in New York; the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl in Tempe, Ariz.; and the Cotton Bowl in Arlington, Texas.
Bowlsby said the conference expects to often have its champion in the final four when the playoff starts, plus send another highly rated team to one of the four other marquee bowl games. The Cotton Bowl is expected to be part of the playoff bowl rotation.
The Big 12 is unlikely to keep its affiliation with the Yankee Stadium game and there has been speculation the Holiday Bowl could switch to a Big Ten affiliation with that conference interested in playing more postseason games in California.
Weve had a 16-year partnership with the Big 12 and its been a great relationship, Holiday Bowl executive director Bruce Binkowski said. We are right now looking at all of our options moving forward. Theres interest in the Big Ten, interest in the Big 12. Were looking at all options to make this the best bowl game that we can.
The top Florida games beyond the Orange Bowl the Outback Bowl in Tampa and the Capital One Bowl in Orlando have SEC-Big Ten matchups. Orlando also hosts the Russell Athletic Bowl earlier in the bowl season. That has tie-ins with the Big East and the ACC.
While the SEC seems likely to keep its flag planted in Florida, and the Big Ten isnt about to vacate the Sunshine State altogether, there could be a spot for the Big 12.
Bowlsby wasnt about to speculate.
Everybody is kind of holding their cards close to the vest right now, he said.
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CFB: Armed Forces Bowl - Air Force vs. Houston (12:00E ESPN)
over the next three days. This is the "meat and potatoes" of the college bowl season and it all gets started early with a noon eastern kickoff from Forth Worth, as Houston and Air Force meet in the Armed Forces Bowl for the second straight year. The Cougars are 5-point favorites at last check, and getting support from 72% of bettors according to the Sportsbook.com BETTING TRENDS page.
It's déjà vu all over again for Air Force and Houston, opponents for a second straight year in this bowl. The Cougars won last year, 34-28, covering the number on a late field goal. At 10-3 SU and 8-4 ATS, the Cougars are looking to culminate its best season since winning 11 games in 1979. Houston is averaging 43.9 points per game and a nation's-best 581.1 yards per game on offense. Air Force was 7-5 and 6-4-1 ATS with just a 1-5 record vs. bowl teams. The Falcons rushed for 273.6 YPG this season, fourth nationally, and will look to take advantage of a Cougars defense that allowed 5.0 yards per rush.
Why watch and wager- Houston's a good play if one believes they can dictate tempo. The Cougars will want to play fast with Case Keenum hitting receivers all over the field, which presumably leads to touchdowns. Houston has covered their last five games off a loss and the defense will have to be disciplined (unlikely) to stop Air Force attack. The Cougs are only 1-8 ATS in road games after outgaining opponent by 125 or more total yards in their previous game. Air Force is a good play if you believe they impose their will on Houston. The Falcons like the other military schools play hard for 60 minutes, which is not always the case for Houston. If Air Force establishes running game, the undisciplined Houston defense can be gashed over and over and if they can keep continual pressure on Keenum to frustrate the Cougars, those points look inviting, considering they are 19-9 ATS after rushing for 200 or more yards.
The StatFox Power Line shows Houston by 5, providing evidence as to why Sportsbook oddsmakers have been reluctant to come off the 5 number despite heavy action on the Cougars.
CFB: Sun Bowl - Stanford vs. Oklahoma (2:00E CBS) The Sun Bowl has become a New Year's eve tradition and for 2009, the opponents in the game are Oklahoma & Stanford. The Cardinal are minus their starting quarterback for the contest, and hence come in as double-digit underdogs to a Sooners team that has become more accustomed to playing in BCS bowl games. Will they be motivated by lesser stakes in this one? Bettors don't seem to think so, as the Sportsbook.com Betting Trends page shows 71% of players on the side of Stanford.
El Paso natives are looking for a better showing than the 3-0 snore-fest a year ago. This bowl has typically been an exciting one, dominated by underdogs, 11-1-1 ATS prior to last year. The Pac-10 has won five straight games (3-2 ATS). All of this could bode well for Stanford, which comes in as a heavy underdog to Sooners without starting quarterback Andrew Luck. The Cardinal were 8-4 (7-5 ATS) this season to earn their first bowl bid since 2001. Oklahoma was 7-5 (4-7-1 ATS) and mostly inconsistent team. The Sooners have lost five of their last six bowl games both SU and ATS, with the one win coming in non-BCS '05 Holiday Bowl.
Why watch and wager- This matchup could be called the "Backup Bowl" as neither will have their original signal caller, which will dramatically impact the outcome. Tavita Pritchard is in charge of completing passes for Stanford so running back Toby Gerhart doesn't have face what would look like two dozen red helmets in the box. Under coach Jim Harbaugh the Cardinal is 7-0 ATS vs. teams outscoring opponents by 10 or more points per game over the last two seasons. Though the Sooners defense wasn't as strong as expected, they had their moments especially against teams that like to run the ball. In November encounters, they stuffed both Texas A&M (59 yards) and Oklahoma State (62 yards) and are wholly capable of doing the same against Stanford, without the threat of the pass. Boomer Sooner's bowl record under Bob Stoops has been lousy of late, however Oklahoma is 11-4 ATS after allowing 175 or less yards in previous game.
The StatFox Power Line shows Oklahoma by 13, perhaps indicating a bit of value on the Sooners against the actual line.