Saturday's college bowl season continues with the AutoZone Liberty Bowl as the Cincinnati Bearcats take on the Vanderbilt Commodores. The game is scheduled for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff and will be televised nationally on ABC. Currently the odds have Vanderbilt favored in this game by 1 point, even though they opened at a -1.5 favorite. Today's total in the contest is set at 49 points.
Free Analysis: Cincinnati enters today's game as the Co-Champions of the Big East, but doesn't get to a BCS bowl game because of some crazy formula and some sort of selection process. All that aside, the Bearcats will pose some problems for Vanderbilt in this game. Sure, Vandy plays in the big and might SEC, but Cincy can spread it out and whip it around the yard with the best of them. Head coach James Franklin has made an immediate impact for the Commodores this season. Down the stretch Vandy only went 3-4 overall but lost those four games to Arkansas, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida by a combined 13 points. Jordan Rodgers coincidentally played each of those games at quarterback, providing Vandy with a dual-threat signal caller. A junior, the QB has thrown 9 TDs to 9 picks this season, but still has played well for the Commodores. Cincinnati, as we mentioned earlier, is a very balanced offense, throwing for more than 215 yards per game while collecting 175 yards per game on the ground. Remember, this Bearcat team won 9 games this season and their three losses were to Tennessee, West Virginia and Rutgers, two of which were on the road. Last year they finished with a dismal 4-8 record. It appears Bearcat QB Zach Collaros is going to play in this game after recovering from a broken ankle. Vandy tailback Joe Stacy will be the difference in the game to me. Stacy broke Vanderbilt's single-season rushing record with 1,136 yards after averaging 125.8 over the final six games, adding 13 TDs. Cincy's rush defense allows just 93 yards per game, so it will be strength vs. strength here. To me, the combination of Vandy hanging onto the ball and running through the tackles with their defense will be the key. The Commodores defense is tied for 19th in the FBS, giving up 324.6 yards per game, and is 27th in points allowed at 20.8 per game. That's pretty productive and they should be ready to go for the first bowl game since 2008's win over Boston College in the Music City Bowl.
Free Pick: SEC teams, as we know, are big, fast and athletic. That doesn't exactly describe Vandy's team this season, but it's close enough. Cincinnati has been good, but I'm not entirely sure how geared-up they will be for this game. I think with Collaros coming back at QB it kind of off-sets the "letdown" factor for a team in this situation, but I think he will be rusty and TIMING will definitely be something to look at. Vandy probably wants to have a better impression in this game, being it's only their third bowl game since 1982. Their defense and rushing offense are both going to be critical tonight. In what should be a low-scoring contest, I'll take the team with the better defense. It's also nice that this game is essentially a "pick'em" with Vandy only being favored by 1 point. Might not be the "right side" but I think they are the better team and have something to prove.
Texas A&M vs Northwestern BettingPoor favorite in Texas A&M and Northwestern motivated to win first bowl game under Coach Fitzgerald plus other factors college football bettors need to know about Texas A&M vs Northwestern (Saturday, December 31, 2011) from Pregame.com - Including predictions from Bryan Leonard and analysis from host Marco D'Angelo.