Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank Despite having a higher record and better national ranking than their opponent, #20 Northwestern (9-3) finds themselves the biggest underdog of the bowl season to #23 Missouri (9-4) in Monday night’s Alamo Bowl. Odds-makers have the Tigers a two touchdown favorite over the Wildcats in this San Antonio battle of los gatos peligrosos. On paper, it’s strength versus strength: Northwestern’s 23rd ranking scoring defense versus Mizzou’s 6th ranked offense. If NU wins this side of the ball, they should have their first bowl victory since 1949.
Throw your Hands in the Air…as if you’re Unconcerned
Missouri has huge playmakers everywhere on offense- senior QB Chase Daniel (358 of 484-4,135-37 TDs-15 INT) who often finds electrifying WR Jeremy Maclin (95-1,221-12 TDs) and TE Chase Coffman (83-920-10 TDs). Oh, and the backup QB is named Chase Patton, just in case you thought this team didn’t have enough people with that obscure first name already. (Does Missouri have Chase Bank as one of their sponsors?) And don’t forget tailback Derrick Washington (162-992-17 TDs).
Daniel’s NFL Draft stock is about as high valued as Washington Mutual due to his lack of size. He’s listed at 6’0”, but in reality he’s as close to being 6 as I am to being 9 feet tall. NU’s primary strength this year has been their defensive line, so when they get near Daniel, they must “throw their hands way up in the air and wave ‘em around like you just don’t care,” to disrupt Chase’s passing-lanes vision or (better yet) deflect his passes and hopefully pick off a couple. This is highly doable considering team MVP and DE Corey Wootton is 6’7”, NFL bound DT John Gill is 6’3,” and the rest of the line is that height or taller.
I asked Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year finalist and NU head man Pat Fitzgerald about employing this strategy at the bowl selection announcement presser. “Chase from a quarterback standpoint, maybe he’s not the tallest guy, but he’s very athletic; makes a lot of plays and does a good job extending the plays,” Fitz responded, also adding prior “Like 118 other schools across the country we made a mistake in not recruiting him.”
Prediction- Northwestern 28, Missouri 24. Is 2008 the year of the underdog? Ask the Celtics, Giants, and Phillies! Or maybe I’m just drinking purple colored Kool-Aid.
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For my Washington Times.com blog “Chicago Blue State.”