2008 Emerald Bowl Preview
by Trevor Whenham - 12/17/2008
Miami (7-5) vs. Cal (8-4)
Conference Matchup: ACC vs. Pac-10
Date: Saturday, Dec. 28, 8:00 p.m.
Location: AT&T Park, San Francisco
Spread: Cal -7.5, total 50
You may as well just call this one a home game for Cal. The Bears have a 20-minute bus ride to get to the game, while the Hurricanes have to cross the country. Miami was 4-2 ATS on the road, though this is by far their longest trip. Cal was a perfect 7-0 straight up and ATS when they had their home crowd cheering for them as they will in this one.
The Emerald Bowl is one of the stranger bowl games since it's played in a baseball stadium. The new St. Petersburg Bowl at Tropicana Field is the only other bowl game played in a baseball-only stadium. The field causes some odd circumstances for the game - most notably, both teams share the same sideline. This is the seventh version of the Emerald Bowl, and the first for both of these teams.
The line opened at 6.5 and blew right through the key number of seven quickly. Public action has been heavily tilted towards the Bears, with more than 70 percent of bets on them. The line could keep moving up until kickoff. Both teams went over in the majority of their games, yet the total is dropping. It opened at 51.5, but can be found as low as 49.5.
Will Marve be there?
The status of redshirt freshman Robert Marve, Miami's starting QB, is up in the air. Reports are flying that his grades aren't good, and that they may keep him out of this game. He says that they are fine, but his status won't be known for certain for a while. On top of that, rumors of a transfer to another school, perhaps Florida, are running rampant. Even if Marve does play he might not be at his best through the distractions. It would be easy for bettors to overcompensate for the situation, though. This team is not centered around strong QB play, and Marve essentially platoons with Jacory Harris, so he won't make or break the team's fortunes. Marve is no Sam Bradford, either - he has nine TDs and 13 picks.
That's Your MVP? Really?
Miami has had a solid year, but they aren't the football factory that they were earlier in the decade. Need proof? At their recent awards banquet, the MVP award was given to Matt Bosher. He's the kicker. You can imagine how devoid of standout stars a team has to be in order for the kicker, the least respected position in sports, to get the nod.
Setting the right tone
Miami is not in a good place, having lost their last two. Cal's confidence will be running much higher - they have won their last two games by a combined 85-23. That stat needs a bit of a qualification, though - both games were at home, and their opponents - struggling Stanford and pathetic Washington - were outmatched. Of more concern, Washington is the only one of Cal's last four opponents that the Bears have outgained. Miami has been outgained in their last three as well, so neither team is a clear favorite to set the offensive tone.
The teams have only played twice before, and Miami won both games in blowout fashion. Don't get too excited, though - the last game was in 1990, so a few things have changed since they saw each other. Cal is in their sixth consecutive bowl after a long bowl drought. They have won four of those five bowls during the stretch, including the last three. Miami is back in a bowl after ending a nine-year streak last year. They won seven of those nine bowls, though they were thoroughly humiliated in the Peach Bowl in 2005.
Trends of Note
Cal is 4-0 ATS the last four times they have been the favorites. They are 9-1 ATS in their last 10 following a blowout win of more than 20 points. They are on a hot betting streak, with five covers in their last six.
Miami has not bounced back well. They are 1-4 ATS in their last five following an ATS loss. They have covered eight of their last 11 when an underdog of between a field goal and 10 points.
Several trends point to an over. The Hurricanes have gone over in four of their last five after an ATS loss. Cal has gone over in their last four in neutral sites, in their last five bowl games, in eight of their last 11 non conference games, and in four of their last five as favorites.