Hangover could hurt 'Huskers


Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh almost derailed the Texas Longhorns' road to the Bowl Championship Seres national title game three weeks ago in the Big 12 Conference title game.

Suh spent much of the game mistreating quarterback Colt McCoy, and he punched his ticket to the Heisman Trophy ceremony in the process.

With a BCS berth having slipped away, the Cornhuskers had to settle for an invitation to the Holiday Bowl, where they will play Arizona in San Diego on Wednesday.

Nebraska is disappointed in its postseason destination and must cope with the hangover of an emotional defeat to Texas.

The Cornhuskers, extremely limited offensively, had only five first downs and 106 total yards against the Longhorns.

Arizona's defense is not on the same level with Texas, but the Wildcats are stingy enough on that side of the ball and possess more offensive firepower than the Cornhuskers.

Arizona coach Mike Stoops' teams have performed well against ranked opponents, logging a 14-5 mark against the spread (ATS) in that role. Also, Big 12 teams are 3-9 ATS in the Holiday Bowl in the past 12 appearances.

It all adds up to a bet on the Wildcats as 1-point favorites.

More bowl plays over the next six days:

LITTLE CAESARS PIZZA BOWL, today

Ohio (-3) over Marshall -- Although it qualified for a bowl, Marshall fired coach Mark Snyder after the regular season and will be coached by Rick Minter, a former Cincinnati coach. Minter's tenure at the top will be brief as Marshall tabbed former West Virginia assistant John "Doc" Holliday as its next coach.

Ohio performed much better in the turnover category, finishing the regular season with a plus-14 ratio compared to minus-5 for the Thundering Herd.

MUSIC CITY BOWL, Sunday

Kentucky (+7) over Clemson -- The Tigers are off back-to-back disappointing defeats to in-state rival South Carolina and Georgia Tech in the Atlantic Coast Conference title game.

On paper, Kentucky often appears inferior to its opposition, but the Wildcats always seem to make just enough plays to get within the number, with this season's upset of Georgia a prime example. Southeastern Conference bowl 'dogs of seven points or more are 8-1 ATS over the past decade.

INDEPENDENCE BOWL, Monday

Texas A&M (+7) over Georgia -- Bulldogs coach Mark Richt fired all but one of his defensive assistants, including coordinator Willie Martinez. The result is Georgia will be depending on a handful of graduate assistants to help prepare its defensive game plan against a Texas A&M offense that ranks among the nation's best. The Aggies are excited to be playing anywhere after Christmas.

Texas A&M-Georgia (Over 66) -- The Aggies can generate offensive fireworks behind junior quarterback Jarod Johnson. A&M ranks fifth in the nation in total offense at 465 yards per game, but its 107th-ranked defense allows 431 yards per game.

SUN BOWL, Thursday

Stanford (+8) over Oklahoma -- This is another classic case of one team holding a decisive motivational advantage. The Sooners entered the season with national title aspirations, and they finish it in a midlevel bowl.

If Cardinal quarterback Andrew Luck is able to recover from thumb surgery and play, Stanford becomes a strong bet at a fair price of seven points or more.

CHICK-FIL-A BOWL, Thursday

Tennessee (+5) over Virginia Tech -- Realistic or not, the Hokies had visions of a BCS bowl at midseason. SEC bowl 'dogs of four or more points over the past decade are 13-3 ATS, and coach Lane Kiffin will be handling this game with a great deal of urgency as the Volunteers continue to build for the future.

Last week: 4-1 against the spread

Season: 46-42-1

Texas-based handicapper Paul Stone of Vegassportsauthority.com is providing college football analysis for the Las Vegas Review-Journal this season.

 

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