Friday, December 28, 2012
Pregame: AdvoCare Independence Bowl
By Chris Low
Ohio (8-4, 4-4 MAC) vs. Louisiana-Monroe (8-4, 6-2 Sun Belt)
WHO TO WATCH: Louisiana-Monroe quarterback Kolton Browning. Even though he missed nearly two whole games with a foot injury, Browning passed for 2,830 yards and 27 touchdowns and is also the Warhawks’ leading rusher with 441 yards and seven more touchdowns on the ground. He’s always a threat to take off and run, but is equally effective at scrambling around, buying time and finding open receivers down the field. He's one of the more underrated players in the country.
WHAT TO WATCH: Louisiana-Monroe, making its first postseason appearance since the I-AA playoffs in 1993, is one of the most entertaining teams in college football to watch on offense. The Warhawks spread teams out and chuck the ball all over the field. But they’ve been vulnerable on defense, ranking 71st nationally in total defense and giving up an average of 407.3 yards per game. Ohio possesses the kind of balance on offense that could give Louisiana-Monroe fits. The Bobcats are rushing for more than 200 yards per game (202) and passing for more than 200 yards per game (233.5), and the Warhawks gave up 40 or more points in both of their November losses.
WHY TO WATCH: Both Louisiana-Monroe and Ohio made waves early this season. The Warhawks upset then-No. 8 Arkansas 34-31 in overtime to open the season and then lost close games the next two weeks at Auburn and Baylor. Ohio started out 7-0, including a win at Penn State, and climbed to No. 23 in the polls before losing four of its final five games. Which team can close the season with the kind of momentum it had when it started?
PREDICTION: Louisiana-Monroe 35, Ohio 24. The Warhawks know how to score points. They averaged 35.5 points per game and scored 31 or more points in eight of their 12 games this season. The Bobcats are a good enough running team to keep this one close, but won’t be able to match the Warhawks touchdown for touchdown.