MIAMI, Florida (BBC)...In an unprecedented display of holiday cheer, two American sports institutions have reached out to two of the world’s most notorious figures. After being "honored" by Fidel Castro’s reference to him as President Bush’s "fat, little brother in Florida", Sunshine State governor, Jeb Bush sent a ticket to the Cuban leader for the governor’s luxury suite at Miami’s Dolphin Stadium, which will host this year’s Orange Bowl between the LSU Tigers and the Miami Hurricanes. No word on whether the communist dictator will accept the offer.
Meanwhile, the West Point Military Academy opened its stadium locker room to Saddam Hussein after the former Iraqi president complained at his trial that he had been denied the opportunity to shower. Members of the Golden Knights football team escorted Saddam to the showers and after Hussein emerged rather bruised and battered, an anonymous trainer said, "Damnedest thing I ever saw. That Hooosane fella’ kept slippin’ and slidin’ on that bar of soap. Musta’ been...two-...three hundred times!"
The sound of linemen driving on blocking sleds made entirely of discarded packages of fruitcake can signal only one thing.....the return of...
THE WEBER KID’S 2005-06 BOWL PREDICTIONS
(Using lines of Dec. 15; over/under totals in parentheses. Known side effects include: fresher breath, lower cholesterol, world peace, nuclear disarmament, clean politics, natural male enhancement, natural female enhancement, brighter smile, better satellite reception, a stronger economy, cheaper oil prices and relief of painful itching & burning)
NEW ORLEANS: Southern Miss over Arkansas State giving 17 (51): Nice to see a different Sun Belt squad here after four straight years of North Texas. Unfortunately, the song remains the same and the opponent wins by a bunch. Win or lose, Eagles played a lot of close games, but in a better conference. Indians may not reach double-digits, but we’ll call it...USM 34 Arkie State 10
GMAC: Toledo over Texas-El Paso giving 2 ½ (62): Miners’ poor ground game makes them one-dimensional and Toledo ain’t bad at defending the pass (15 TDs allowed, 13 interceptions, 57% pass completion allowed). Over/under on total punts here is about 6 ½ as neither team averaged more than 4 punts per game. Rockets run to the win and the cover...Toledo 31 UTEP 24
LAS VEGAS: California over Brigham Young giving 7 (62): Could be a great game. Bears suffered some tough losses. Mormons are 8 points from 8-3 record. Lee Corso will be the keynote speaker at the bowl’s kickoff luncheon on December 21. No word on whether Mayor Goodman will be on-hand to give Cal and BYU the big thumbs off...er..um..thumbs up! (What happens in Vegas.... often shows up in Vindy’s Picks!). In a track meet, the advantage goes to the Coogs. "Not so fast, my friend!"...Cal 28 BYU 20
POINSETTIA: Navy over Colorado State giving 2 1/2 (60): Vindy is simply disappointed he wasn’t in the stands when Rams’ fans started tossing potted Christmas plants onto the field following CSU’s 4-point victory (and spread loss) over dismal UNLV team to get here. Middies were last year’s bowl lock for Weber. Navy could beat any Mountain Jest team, except maybe (maybe!) TCU...Navy 30 CSU 24
FT. WORTH: Houston over Kansas taking 3 (49): Jayhawks only here on strength of finale OT win over Iowa State that also sent Colorado into the wood-chipper against Texas. Kansas D needs to shut down Houston offense, but it allowed a nearly 62% pass completion rate. Not a good stat facing Houston club that throws early and often (and ranks 23rd nationally in pass offense)...Houston 28 Kansas 24
HAWAII: Central Florida over Nevada-Reno taking 2 (63 1/2): Wolf Pack got five turnovers from Fresno to pull out the win, but no other victories standout on Reno’s slate. Knights have faced (and beaten) higher-quality competitors playing in the MAC. UCF will also be better-prepared to play in the Hawaiian weather...Knights 31 Nevada 23
MOTOR CITY: Memphis over Akron giving 5 1/2 (48): Tigers were 3-2 straight up when their opponents posted more total offensive yards. Zips could certainly do just that with potent air game. Expect Memphis RB DeAngelo Williams to keep the chains moving and the clock running though. Barring Tiger turnovers...Memphis 29 Akron 20
CHAMPS SPORTS: #23 Clemson vs. Colorado: OFF Tigers come in with momentum of three regular season wins and usual late-season save-the-coach’s-job mode. Buffs come in with an interim coach and a football camp auditing scandal. Bison offense couldn’t get out of its own way, racking up nearly 10 flags per game just on its own side of the ball...Clemson 24 Colorado 10
INSIGHT: Rutgers over Arizona State taking 11 1/2 (62): After a strong spread start, Devils have dropped four of last six. Scarlet Nuts no bargain ATS either at 4-6 but may be more inclined to take advantage of first bowl appearance since 1978 (ironically, that also was against Arizona State). ASU is simply playing across town from its home park...boring!. An outright upset wouldn’t shock this forecaster...Arizona State 34 Rutgers 30
MPC COMPUTERS: #19 Boston College over BOISE STATE (Pick ‘Em) (54 1/2): Vindy considered this for lock. Yeah, it’s on the blue carpet of Broncos’ home stadium (where Boise is 4-1 ATS this year) but Eagles have to take exception to "pick ‘em" status against BSU team that hasn’t been anywhere near as impressive as Boise teams of the past few seasons. Offensive and defensive stats are nearly equal, except BC did it against the ACC, while Broncos got their numbers vs. "mighty" WAC...BC 30 BSU 24
ALAMO: Nebraska over #20 Michigan taking 12 (46 1/2): The really sad thing about this game is that even the victorious coach probably gets sent to the waiver wire following mediocre seasons by both sides... Wolverines 24 Big Red 16
EMERALD: #24 Georgia Tech over Utah giving 8 ½ (46): Most likely to be the "wish I had it back" bowl pick. Vindy is still very wary of what kinda’ performance the Bees will get from QB Reggie Bell, but this also ain’t Urban Meyer’s Utes and we like Tech’s road triumphs at Auburn and Miami more than we like Utah’s away wins at UNLV and BYU. The "under" looks easy here...GT 23 Utah 14
HOLIDAY: #6 Oregon over Oklahoma giving 3 (55): Vindicator’s good name probably got smeared all over Feartheduck.com after he took the Beavers and da’ points in Oregon’s season-ender against Oregon State. Ducks might appeal to Congress about recent BCS snub with only loss being a defeat to #1 USC. Sooners got it together after 2-3 start...Mallards 31 Oklahoma 27
MUSIC CITY: Minnesota over Virginia giving 3 (58 ½): Gophers will run the ball for at least 30 points. Unfortunately, the Minny defense will also give up a ton to the Cavs. The "over" might be the best call... Gerbils 34 Virginia 30
SUN: Northwestern over #17 UCLA taking 3 1/2 (74 1/2): Bruins lost outright to Wyoming in last year’s Las Vegas Bowl as 12-point chalk. NW is 6-2 against the number in its last 8. UCLAns are only 2-4 ATS in their last 6. Bruins are still a young team with some work to do and even disregarding 66 points by USC, UCLA still allowed average of almost 38 points-per-game-against in five games prior to Troy. ‘Cats can light it up. Bruins’ place-kicker Justin Medlock was arrested this past week for DUI. Was he unable to kick in a straight line during the field-sobriety test on the freeway or what?...NW 41 UCLA 35
INDEPENDENCE: South Carolina over Missouri giving 4 (51): With drastic turnaround Spurrier has created in Columbia, it’s only fitting that he leads the Cock-N-Fun to a bowl victory in his return to the NCAA. Reeling Mizzou team has underachieved all year and lost three of four straight up to close out the regular season campaign. Again, the preference is the "under"...SC 23 Tigers 13
PEACH: #9 Miami vs. #10 Louisiana State: OFF
MEINEKE CAR CARE: South Florida over NC State taking 6 (42): Vindy doesn’t think USF can win this outright, but it’s 5th-ranked pass defense should keep it close to Wolf Pack, which also relies on strong defense and a decent passing attack...NCSU 20 Bulls 17
LIBERTY: Fresno State over Tulsa giving 7 (62): Bulldogs consecutive losses to Reno and Weeziana-Teck were part of conspiracy to keep Fresno from at-large BCS bid. Vindy understands smallish line given Fresno’s collapse, but if they play with trademark "anybody, anytime, anywhere" (something like that) attitude and protect the pigskin, they’ll blow the Hurricane off da’ field...FSU 42 Tulsa 20
HOUSTON: #14 Texas Christian over Iowa State giving 4 (48 1/2): LOCK OF DA’ BOWLS. For second straight year, Cyclones melted down in regular-season finale to miss out on conference title game berth. Unlike last year, however, ISU will not pull out a bowl win. These two teams collectively registered 45 interceptions, but Froggies can win (and cover) this on the ground even if passing game misfires. Looks like an easy "over"... TCU 45 Iowa State 24
COTTON: #13 Alabama over #18 Texas Tech taking 2 1/2 (47 1/2): Raiders’ potent air offense collapsed against top-tier contestants and the 511 yards-per-game average was a bit inflated by crushing victories over Florida International, Sam Houston State and Indy State. Tech defense wasn’t bad, yielding only 15.5 ppg over last four. Tide can control the ball and the clock enough to grind out the win. Getting Prothro back on special teams would help, but even without him...’Bama 24 TTU 21
OUTBACK: #25 Iowa over #16 Florida taking 2 1/2 (48): Tough call. Urban Meyer has his first SEC regular season under his belt and is no stranger to post-season planning. Hawkeyes can win it outright though if they execute on special teams and win the turnover differential. Hope Fidel enjoys the game ... Gators 21 Iowa 20
GATOR: #12 Virginia Tech over #15 Louisville giving 7 ½ (55): Battle of pretenders? Cards lost their starting QB and the back-up struggled a bit in win over Uconn. Hokies never got it together in defeat at Florida State. Does Marcus Vick have another bad game in him? Louisville probably has a branding iron warming up for Weber’s behind...VT 34 Redbirds 13
CAPITAL ONE: #7 Auburn over #21 Wisconsin giving 10 ½ (53): Badgers nine-win total is a bit deceptive given three Big Ten conference wins over Illinois, Indiana and a Purdue squad having a down year. War Eagles send Wisky coach Barry Alvarez into the twilight with a bowl loss...Auburn 34 Cheeseheads 21
FIESTA: #5 Notre Dame over #4 Ohio State taking 4 (55): Catholics were out-rushed by nine opponents but have only two losses and are 5-0 against the number away from South Bend. If the Rose turns into a runaway by one side or the other, this match becomes potentially the best game on the board. Buckeyes have offensive balance while Irish throw to off-set the 50th-ranked running game. Average points for- and against each team certainly support the noted total, but Vin thinks this will more resemble Irish’s 17-10 triumph at Michigan. "Under" is a good choice...ND 17 Ohio State 16
SUGAR: #11 West Virginia over #8 Georgia taking 8 (45): Mounties’ 5th-ranked running game should keep this a nice tight contest, if not win it straight up for WVU against Dawgs’ 40th-ranked rush defense (and, a couple of games notwithstanding, it ain’t because Joja’ spent a lot of time way out front of opponents and forcing them to throw to catch up)...’Eers 23 UGA 20
ORANGE: #22 Florida State over #3 Penn State taking 8 (47 1/2): 74-year-old Bobby Bowden faces off against 78-year-old JoPa in the Methuselah Bowl. Losing coach has to lace up the gloves and play Sly Stallone’s opponent in upcoming Rocky VI flick! Injuns will have more fans in the stands at Jacksonville and if the run D that played against the Hokies shows up again here, there’s an upset on-deck...Lions 26 ‘Noles 20
ROSE: #2 Texas over #1 Southern Cal taking 7 (71): ‘Horns will be the best offense Troy has faced and the Trojan D has been a liability. Last chance for somebody to validate Vindy’s rather-adamant pre-season statement that USC will not three-peat...Texas 41 USC 38
BETWEEN THE WHO-HASHMARKS
In news related to this week’s lead story, Condi Rice is investigating allegations detainees have been flown to secret CIA prisons and forced to watch Temple football game film!
Vindy’s bowl picks are full of MILFs. (Oh, behave! That’s..."Match-ups I Liked Forecasting!")
When handing out his post-season "Flame-Thrower" awards, Weber missed those UCLA Bruins, who were 2-6 at the time and now 2-7. They did, however, receive a presidential pardon and were subsequently sent to the petting zoo at Disneyland!
Earlier this month, a panel of scientists lambasted the practice of using cartoon characters to market junk food to children. Does this mean Weber’s plan to hawk brewskis at the Las Vegas Bowl while dressed as SpongeBob is a big no-go???!!!
On da’ big screen, just in time for Christmas.,..a young wizard hits the gridiron and must drop-kick a football between Voltemort’s 20-yard-line and a flaming end zone in..."Harry Punter and the Goal Line of Fire!"Also...a professional hoops league imposes a dress code on its players in..."The Chronicles of the NBA: The Line-Up, The Rich and The Wardrobe". And finally...Ice-T stars as a replay official in South Central Los Angeles in..."Boyz Under Da’ Hood".
The New Orleans Saints were recently kicked to the curb (literally) from the Alamo Dome to the parking lot in favor of a women’s college volleyball team. Guess we know who has the more important group of hitters!!!!
Joe Paterno was named the Home Depot Coach of Da’ Year! JoPa gets a year’s supply of free wood paneling and help actually installing the award in his trophy case!
"Locked in a Box?": 4-10 after MTSU lost outright to I-A rookie Florida International!
Shoppe Talk: Louisville stands currently at 1-9 after missing the cover against UConn.
Vindy’s Bowl Season Best Bets: Championship Week: 1-2 Season: 22-27 (.449)
Ohio State/Notre Dame under 55, West Virginia +8 over Georgia, South Carolina/Missouri under 48 ½, Boston College (PK) over BOISE STATE, Navy -2 ½ over Colorado State
Vindy extends his annual holiday greetings to all of his readers..."Pass on Earth. Goodwill toward linemen."