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Sports news with a Vegas perspective.

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    09/07/2011 10:47 PM
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Saturday College Football Meineke Car Care Bowl Texas A&M vs Northwestern Start Time, Free Pick

The college football bowl season continues on New Year's Eve with the Meineke Car Care Bowl as Texas A&M will be taking on Northwestern. The game is scheduled for a 12:00 p.m. start time and will be televised nationally on ESPN. Currently the odds have Texas A&M favored by 10 points with the total being set at 69.5 points. Texas A&M will be making its final appearance as a Big 12 school and will be operating under a new coach in interim boss Tim DeRuyter when it faces Northwestern in the Meineke Car Care Bowl, while Northwestern will look for its first bowl win since 1949.

Free Analysis: Interim head coach Tim DeRuyter, who stepped in after Mike Sherman was fired earlier this month, recently accepted the head coaching job at Fresno State to replace Pat Hill, and he will be looking to snap a 10-year bowl win drought for the Aggies. Northwestern is considerably more stable with Pat Fitzgerald at coach and has lower expectations to meet. Still, Fitzgerald and company would love to snap the school’s 62-year drought with a bowl win. he Aggies will be looking to erase the memory of a tough end to the season, which featured four losses in their final five games, several of which came in heartbreaking fashion, including a last-second field goal loss to Texas in the season finale. The Aggies finished the regular season ranked seventh nationally in total offense (497 ypg) and 11th in scoring (39.6 ppg), and they can move the ball with equal effectiveness on the ground (209.1 ypg) and through the air 287.9 ypg).  The offense is led by Ryan Tannehill, who averaged 284.6 passing yards per tilt and completed 61.1 percent of his attempts, and he has been sacked less often than any other signal-caller in the nation, plus he has 28 touchdowns to just 10 interceptions. Defensively, A&M has been rather inconsistent.as they rank 65th in total defense (386.5 ypg allowed) and 76th in scoring defense (28.7 ppg allowed). Opponents have often struggled to find running lanes against the Aggies, who boast the nation's 13th-ranked run defense (106 ypg). However, they also rank 113th in pass defense (280.5 ypg). That passing defense could have problems when they face senior Dan Persa today, who leads the Big Ten in passing yards per tilt (240.3) and ranks second in pass efficiency rating (160.3). He threw 17 touchdowns in nine game and is ranked first in the nation in Completion pct (74.2%). Persa is on pace to become the NCAA's all-time leader in career completion percentage with another solid showing here and he'll look to senior wideout Jeremy Ebert, who became the first Wildcat since 1998 to top 1,000 yards receiving in addition to his 11 touchdown grabs. The Cats defense ranks 81st overall (408.9 ypg) and 65th in points allowed (27.2 ppg), plus they are 62nd vs the pass and 90th vs then. The could have problems vs the high powered aggie offense, but tthe Cats did allow just 18.8 ppg in their last 5 games. This marks the first-ever meeting between these two schools on the gridiron, although Northwestern is facing a representative from the Big 12 in a bowl game for the third time in the last four years.

Free Pick: I'm gonna give out a double dip here as I look for the Cats to cover the 10 spot, while I also look for a high scoring affair. Both of these offenses have been clicking this year, while the defense have not held up their end of the bargain for much of the year. The Cats can pass the ball as they ranked 34th in passing and they should have a field day throwing vs this pathetic Texas A&M pass defense that ranks 113th in the nation. The Aggies may be without their top 2 RB's and that could have Tannehill looking to throw, although the Cats are worse vs the run (90th) than the pass (64th). Still this Aggies offense will put up their fair share off points, but it will be a defense that allowed 38.6 ppg and 444.3 ypg on the road this year that will allow Northwestern to hang around and get the cover. I expect this one to go down to the wire with the Cats keeping close, while the game goes over the total.  Aggies 41-37  

MovieTexas A&M vs Northwestern Betting
Poor 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.