Saturday, January 8, 2011

Roundtable: It's Time to Go Bowling

As bowl season comes to a close, it's time for the first Roundtable of the New Year. BC was given the distinct honor of playing in the 2nd to last of these bowl games in their matchup versus Nevada in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl (ed note - do these bowl names get progressively worse each year or is it me?). The experts and Vegas have little to no hope for the Eagles in this one. With this, it's a simple question today for our writers: Who you got, give us a score and why?

Roundtable Discussion: BC v. Nevada - Who you got?

Nick: Maybe I'm being overly optimistic here, but I'm going to predict a BC win on Sunday for a number of reasons. For one, I think the Eagle defense seems perfectly suited to limit Colin Kaepernick and the rest of Nevada's pistol offense. On the offensive end, the Eagles might struggle at times but while the raw numbers suggest Nevada's defense is solid, when they are adjusted for schedule strength Nevada looks like nothing more than an average defense at best (for example, check out Football Outsiders' adjusted rankings - Nevada is down the page a bit at number 31). As long as Rettig can make a few key passes for first downs, I think BC can run the clock with Montel and limit Nevada's scoring opportunities. Even if BC can't pull out the win, I'm pretty sure taking the under (the total in this game is at 55) is a pretty good bet. Prediction: BC 17, Nevada 14

Who says BC would never play in a January bowl game against a top 15 BCS
Link opponent? Ok I get it, its not the Orange Bowl but it's a bowl game nonetheless. Anyway back to the game and in this one I'm focusing on one key player - Chase Rettig. With the extra practice time and the 108th ranked pass defense facing him, I'm expecting Rettig to remind everyone why he is the future QB of the program. That said however, Nevada's pistol offense is something BC does not have much experience facing. I expect them to shut down the running aspect on the inside zone reads but Kaepernick is a quality QB who will play at the next level (projected 4th-5th rounder by Mel Kiper). He doesn't have a great deep ball but he has the ability to take advantage of the generous cushion our corners provide. I like BC to cover the spread but Nevada takes it. Prediction: Nevada 23, BC 17.

Alex: I hate to be a Debbie Downer (this is a lie), but I have to go with the mighty Wolf Pack of UNLV Nevada. In my estimation, the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl will be decided in one half-the first. My initial reaction to the match up was, if our Eagles get down, there's no coming back.

A little snooping around later, and I have only become more confident in my initial reaction. Let's begin with BC. I don't think it's a stretch to question our offensive ability. It is no secret that I have little confidence in our offensive coordinator. Our quarterback play has been shaky (to put it nicely). Our greatest offensive weapon has not played in nearly 2 months. We are averaging a paltry 18.9 points per game. That's good for 108th in FBS (and that on an easy schedule in a down ACC). I don't feel the need to cite more BC offensive stats. No one in their right mind has confidence in BC's ability to score.

Now let's turn to the Wolf Pack. Colin Kaepernick's crew hasn’t exactly experienced the same struggles as the BC offense. Say what you will about BC’s line backing corp containing Kaepernick and forcing him outside. A team that averages 42.6 points per game and over 500 yards of offense is going to get in the end zone at some point. The point at which the Wolf Pack score is precisely the point that worries me. If BC gets down I don't see them coming back. Perhaps more accurately, if Nevada takes the lead, I don't see them giving it up. In 13 games this season, Nevada has led in 12 and only fallen behind once. This includes its victory over Boise State (sigh, what could have been) and its only loss which came at the hands of Hawaii. In that contest, Hawaii took the lead and never gave it up. The only game this season that Nevada has fallen behind after leading was against Fresno State. In that game, Nevada never led by more than 7, fell behind, battled back and forth, and won by 1. I am really looking forward to watching Kuechly line up against Kaepernick, but have to go with the Wolf Pack. Prediction: Nevada 31, BC 20.

Mike: I'm going to agree with Nick on this one. Nevada's record and stats are inflated by an easy schedule and they haven't played a D this good all year. Our game plan should be the same as always, keep the opponent's offensive line in check and force the ball to the outside. If we're able to do that, we should be able to neutralize the scariest parts of the pistol offense. Look for Wonderboy and Herzlich to have some huge plays to keep us going (can I go out on a limb and call an interception for each?). Look also for Rettig to have his best game of his career. Nevada will be expecting the freshman and deer-in-the-headlights Rettig, not the seasoned sophomore who is going to cut up their very average D. Look for our offense to finally use the play-action. I think that BC wins in the end after jumping out to a quick lead and almost blowing it when the coaching staff tries to prematurely run out the clock by going with Harris on all three downs. Prediction: BC 24, Nevada 23. Kuechly- 16 tackles.

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