Saturday, December 31, 2011

UCLA vs. Illinois--Gamblers' Nightmare

In bowl history, there have been few like this afternoon's Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, pitting UCLA (6-7) against Illinois (6-6) in San Francisco.

How often do you have a bowl game where both teams are headed by interim coaches because both head coaches were sacked at the end of the season? Another coaching problem with Illinois--four assistant coaches publicly and angrily griping about contracts. Just imagine what practices are like in both camps. Bowl game practices are supposed to help get teams ready for spring practice, but both these teams are so riddled with question marks due to regime changes, these practices are meaningless.

For those who are wagering, what do you use as a guage? For instance, Illinois has a superb defense--ranked No.7 in the nation--but amid all the turmoil, will the unit be at its best? Also, the team's best runner, Jason Ford, isn't playing, putting that offense out of sync. UCLA has a better offense, but at times it has completely and inexplicably vanished. How will that offense play?

Illinois is favored by three, but why? The coaching uncertainties taint all guages. There are so many X factors, this game could go in any direction. Both teams could easily come out flat.

Be smart. Don't bet this game.

One last thing. There's the bowl-name issue. Was there ever a worse name then the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl? Smart alecks have come up with some other titles for this one--like the Waste of Time Bowl. Gamblers have dubbed this one, for obvious reasons, the X Factor Bowl.  My favorite? The Who Cares? Bowl.