Meineke Car Care Bowl, 1200 on Saturday December 31, Reliant Stadium
It’s noon on the last day of 2011! What are you doing? Watching a pair of 6-6 teams square off in preparation for a 3:30 game involving a pair of 6-7 teams. Woo!
Texas A&M’s final game in the Big 12 will be recorded as a loss to Colt McCoy’s younger brother on a slow-weaving QB scramble from midfield into field goal range in the game’s closing seconds. In the process of reaching bowl eligibility, the Aggies blew double digit halftime leads against Oklahoma State, Arkansas, and Missouri and blew a 10 point lead against Kansas State with just over 6 minutes left in the game. It’s been a kind of dream season for the Aggies, from Austin’s perspective.
Northwestern, the closest team geographically to Madison in the Big Ten Where’s Wisconsin division, somehow lost consecutive games to Army and Illinois, but don’t worry folks – Jim Delany made damn sure that 10 of the 12 Big Ten teams would be playing somewhere this Bowl Season. Yay!
The Wildcats run a pretty high-powered offense, with QB Dan Persa completing an impressive 74% of his passes in a system that calls plays quickly and focuses on short, high percentage throws. Receiver Kain Colter is an x-factor QB/WR here, averaging 49 ypg rushing and 38 ypg receiving. Jeremy Ebert has been the main target through the air though, at 71 total receptions for 93 ypg.
Texas A&M has also been explosive offensively. QB Ryan Tannehill is averaging just shy of 300 ypg, and two RBs are gaining over 95 ypg. Unfortunately, of those two backs, Christine Michael has been lost for the season and Cyrus Gray is questionable. So the offense will probably be a bit less balanced than usual, and you can expect Ryan Swope and Jeff Fuller to see a lot of balls thrown their way.
Overall, we’ve got two pretty good quarterbacks going up against two mediocre-to-bad defenses. My gut trusts the Aggie defense a little more than their NU counterparts, so I’ll go with A&M to win a high-scoring game.
Prediction: Texas A&M 38, Northwestern 27