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  • Rob Bowron @Beta_Rank_FB

Bowl Season Week II Semi-Final Saturday





Season to date (77-28) Straight Up (56-41)* Against the Spread

The Beta_Rank Matchup Tool


Saturday December, 28th

The Cotton Bowl

#16 Penn State (10-2) vs. #25 Memphis (12-1)

9:00am PT, ESPN

Line: Penn State -7.0

Beta_Rank Win Prob: Penn State 63%

Beta_Rank Line: Penn State -3.56 (DO NOT GAMBLE)


Beta_Rank Breakdown


Rob: This game should be fun. Penn State's offense was sneaky bad at #42 and I don't think James Franklin was wildly broken up about losing his OC. They get a Memphis defense at #64 though that is going to struggle to get stops against them. Neither team has a big run pass split here; Penn State #40/#56 and Memphis #64/#58. Memphis has very good special teams, but so do the Nittany Lions so Penn State isn't likely to get stuck in bad field position. The other side of the ball is a pretty big mystery. The Tigers have an excellent offense under Mike Norvell, coming in at #11, but Mike Norvell isn't going to be on the sidelines. The Nittany Lions do have an excellent defense at #12. The Tigers have a balanced offense with a #28/#22 run/pass split, but the Lions are much better against the run #5/#31. It's worth noting that Penn State is better at preventing teams from staying on the field and putting drives together, #3 in Drive Efficiency, while they do give up some big plays; #27 in Explosive Drives. Memphis is #29 in Drive Efficiency, but #7 in Explosive Drives. If the Tigers do it then they need big plays through the air or turnovers. I am going to take the Penn State here with Norvell out. Bowl season is weird.

Penn State 34 Memphis 23

The Camping World Bowl

#20 Iowa State (7-5) vs. #19 Notre Dame (10-2)

9:00am PT, ABC

Line: ND -3.5

Beta_Rank Win Prob: ND 52%

Beta_Rank Line: ND/Iowa State Pick 'em (DO NOT GAMBLE)


Beta_Rank Breakdown


Rob: There is no such thing as a one game hypothesis test in CFB, especially in bowl season, but the depth of the Big 12 versus the weakness of the ACC is getting a decent hypothesis test in this game. Notre Dame went 5-0 in the ACC this season. The Irish offense isn't great, #39, and they have a #55/#36 run/pass split. They can put some drives together though with a #23 Drive Efficiency. The Iowa State defense is pretty good, at #24, and they are better against the run; #25/#38 split. They do not give up big plays, #10 in Explosive Drives, but they do give up long drives; #107 in Explosive Drives. The other side of the ball is a pretty good Cyclone offense, #20, against an excellent Irish defense; #10. It should be strength on strength because the Cyclones are pass first with a #102/#6 run/pass split and the Irish are #23/#9. The Irish do give up drives though; #41 in Drive Efficiency vs. #7 in Explosive Drives. Both offenses are going to need to be patient against defenses that don't give up home runs.

Notre Dame 24 Iowa State 23

The Peach Bowl

#2 LSU (13-0) vs. #5 Oklahoma (12-1)

1:00pm PT, ESPN

Line: LSU -13.5

Beta_Rank Win Prob: LSU 84%

Beta_Rank Line: LSU -11.56 (DO NOT GAMBLE)


Beta_Rank Breakdown


Rob: In the era of BIG OFFENSE nobody has done more than Oklahoma to prove you can win with an excellent offense and a forgettable defense, the problem for the Sooners is that in the playoffs they keep running into teams that have great defenses and very good to excellent offenses. It's even more troublesome here because LSU has the #1 offense in Beta_Rank. Oklahoma has improved under Grinch, but they come in at #36. LSU has the #1 pass offense and the #56 rush offense, but they get a Sooner defense with a #47/#30 run/pass split. The Tigers should be able to throw it with ease and run when they want. The other side of the ball is going to be a tough matchup for LSU, but they should be good enough to slow down the Sooners. Oklahoma is #4 with a #7/#12 split and they are #1 in Explosive Drives. LSU is #11 with a #22/#13 split and they are #17 in Explosive Drives. LSU is going to give up some points, but they should be comfortably able to get them. Oklahoma probably needs to finish +2 on turnovers to win.

LSU 41 Oklahoma 30

The Fiesta Bowl

#1 Ohio State (13-0) vs. #3 Clemson (13-0)

5:00pm PT, ESPN

Line: Clemson -2.0

Beta_Rank Win Prob: OSU 66%

Beta_Rank Line: OSU -5.17 (DO NOT GAMBLE)


Beta_Rank Breakdown


Rob: The Big Kahuna. It's the #1 from most advanced stats models against #1 from most sports books. The Buckeye's #3 offense against the Tiger's #1 defense. Look, lots of weird stuff could happen, but the game is likely to turn on Clemson's ability to stop the Buckeyes dominant run game. The Buckeyes grade out like a triple option team in the Effective Rush with a #3/#37 run/pass split and the offensive line has been dominant. The Tigers have a #2/#2 split so it is going to be strength on strength in a big way. Something to keep an eye on is that Clemson's special teams kind of suck, at #60, while Ohio State is at #4. Keep an eye out for hidden yards and placekicking being important. The Tigers do have an excellent offense at #5, but the Buckeyes have an equally excellent defense at #5. The Tigers are #18/#19 in run/pass split and the Buckeyes are #14/#3. In the era of big offense I would expect both of these teams to be able to put up points in this game, but I like the Buckeyes to win it.

Ohio State 38 Clemson 33


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