BABY FIRST PICKS UP ESPN
LOS ANGELES, California...Hot on the heels of its successful ratings from broadcasting the 2006 Scripps National Spelling Bee (editorial note: it was won by 13-year-old Katharine Close...’Steroids! It hadda’ be da’ steroids!’), the adult version of the child’s game Paper, Scissors, Rock Championship from Las Vegas and the Soap Box Derby, ESPN has landed a contract with the Baby First TV network, which targets babies and toddlers. Obviously tapping into a newer, younger demographic and not to be outdone by Team Baby Enterprises, who sells videos with a sports theme featuring toddlers in college football unis and pitches math and spelling videos with a sports-related twist, "the world leader" plans to program sports scores and highlights to infants because "any self-respecting parents want their children’s first words to be ..’SportsCenter ...Next!’"
Our perplexed prognosticator, ready for another year, breaks the huddle with his preseason forecasting strategy team of former Coyotes assistant coach Rick Tocchet, Janet Jones (Mrs. Wayne Gretzsky), Bode Miller, Anna Benson, Padres’ massage therapist Kelly Calabrese, Jason Grimsley (without the wire the feds asked him to wear to gather information about Barry Bonds), the Northwestern women’s soccer team, the Duke men’s lacrosse team, ex-ESPN broadcaster Harold Reynolds, Floyd Landis and Ricky Bobby ... because there’s no "I" in "forecast"...and introduces...
THE WEBER KID’S 2006 WEEK 1 FORECAST
(Warning: Vindy scored lower on the Wonderlic test at this year’s combine than Vince Young!)
THURS. AUG. 31
Northern Arizona @ #24 ARIZONA STATE: no line
SAT. SEPT. 2
Northern Illinois over #1 OHIO STATE taking 19: Huskies have senior-laden defensive backfield and should force State to beat them with someone other than WR Ted Ginn (if NIU special teams can keep him from running amuck too). NIU has covered last two vs. Big Ten. Bucks look ahead to Texas...OSU 27 ‘Dogs 13
#2 Notre Dame over GEORGIA TECH giving 7 1/2: Irish might be a bit over-hyped and some folks even like the Bees in an upset. Vindy just can’t get past erratic Wreck QB Reggie Bell, so until he proves himself to this forecaster...he’s a "go-against"...Catholics 27 Bzzzzzzzz 10
North Texas over #3 TEXAS taking 41: Good candidate for "wish I had it back", but with a new quarterback taking his first live-fire snap and a visit from Ohio State next, expect Longhorns to show nothing more than a plain vanilla offense. Mean Green has a truckload of seniors on offense. Steers D won’t give up much, but should allow NT to hang around enough...’Horns 45 Green 10
Washington State over #4 AUBURN taking 14 ½: Tigers are again expected to do very well, just like last year when they fizzled in the opener vs. Joja’ Tech. Coogs went thru a three-game emotional-loss streak, losing by a total of 10 points, then got pummeled by USC. But fresh into this season (in which they’ll take the field 12 straight weeks), they’ll be stoked! An outright Cougar victory wouldn’t surprise this forecaster, but...Auburn 26 Wazzou 19
Marshall over #5 WEST VIRGINIA taking 22: Maybe a little in-bred...er...um...in-state...rivalry going on here and we’ll call for a slow start from the ‘Eers very-potent, but still very-young backfield (and a couple new folks on the O-line). Turns out the person caught spying on the Mounties for the Herd was...Valerie Plame! The SpyGate victory goes to...West Virginny 24 Herd It Thru the Grapevine 10
ARKANSAS over #6 Southern Cal taking 8 1/2: UPSET SPECIAL OF DA’ WEEK. ‘Hogs have 19 starters returning from team that lost 4 games by less than 5 points each and have revenge motive for 70-17 whacking they took at USC last year. (Unfortunately, the projected Arkie starting backfield is out for this one!). New Soooey Pigs OC coached a high school squad that outscored its opponents approximately 6-1. Despite suspensions for the Razorbacks.....Soooeeeey Pig 19 Troy Boys 17
#7 FLORIDA over Southern Miss giving 19 ½: Eagles are fielding a new offensive backfield and a stop squad full of new (albeit upperclassmen) faces and take on a ranked foe for only the second time since November 2003. Crocs have a centennial anniversary of college football this season. Will arch-rival Gators haunt Vindy all year again like they did in ‘05? Could get ugly early...Florida 48 USM 13
#8 LSU over UL-Lafayette giving 30 1/2: Bengals’ front seven on D is pretty young and could be susceptible to improved Indians’ rushing game. They might also be kind to UL given Katrina bond between the two teams. Or they could just try to make up ground early in the rankings by whackin’ the Injuns. We think the latter... LSU 48 Ragin’ Cajuns 7
#9 California over #23 TENNESSEE taking 2: Huge game for two teams trying to establish themselves. One trying to meet expectations of PAC-10 title, the other just trying to rebound from unsatisfactory SEC season. Vols better find a way to score more since defensive front won’t be keeping them close in tight games for a bit...Bears 21UT 17
#10 OKLAHOMA over Alabama-Birmingham giving 21: Weber considered this for lock. Blazers head coach Watson Brown is brother to Texas head coach Mack Brown. All the more reason to play well against hated Sooners. Okies originally-planned starting QB has been permanently flagged but UAB won’t be able to run on the Sooners D nor stop Adrian Peterson...OK 34 Blazers 9
#14 MICHIGAN over Vanderbilt giving 25 ½: Odd to not see a MAC unit opposing Big Blue here. Commodores didn’t fare well ATS out-of-conference even when now-NFL-quarterback Jay Cutler was leading the way. Coach Carr has to feel that candle burning its way through his britches and needs a convincing triumph. Wolverines need a little confidence following five-loss campaign in 2005...UM 38 Vandy 6
Western Kentucky @ #15 GEORGIA: no line
Montana @ #16 IOWA: No line.
Northeastern @ #17 VIRGINIA TECH: no line
#18 CLEMSON over Florida Atlantic giving 33 1/2: Tigers are Vindy’s very dark horse pick to win it all. Owls open with five straight road games and Tommy doesn’t have to worry about facing Daddy’s club for another two weeks after this...Tigers 45 FAU 6
Akron over #19 PENN STATE taking 16 ½: JoPa hits the sidelines as coach for the 56th time! Lions lost a bunch of folks on both sides of the ball from last year’s nearly-perfect team and have an away match with the Frightenin’ Irish on-deck. A new offensive line and new secondary portend a shootout vs. defending (and contending) MAC title Zips squad. Nifty Lions start slow, covering only 1of last 4 openers (ironically, the sole cover was against the Zips)... Lions 23 Zips 9
#20 NEBRASKA over Louisiana Tech giving 20: Huskers team was definitely an enigma last season, but can’t see Bulldogs club in flux (only 2 back on defense) putting enough offensive or defensive pressure on NU to stay within three touchdowns...Big Red 35 LT 10
#21 OREGON over Stanford giving 11: LOCK OF DA’ WEEK. Trees were 106th in total defense last year. Even with Ducks’ depleted D, Oregon’s biggest question going into this one is which of the 48 possible uniform combos to wear! Cardinal has San Josie State up next, but given 2005 loss to UC-Davis, even that could be an adventure ... Mallards 45 Stanford 20
Southern Methodist over #25 TEXAS TECH taking 26 1/2: Goin’ out on a slight limb here. Ponies have covered two of last three against the Raiders, but those two came at home, while the ATS loss came at Lubbock, where Tech scores twice as many points as on the road...Texas Tech 41 Mustangs 19
SUN. SEPT. 3
Kentucky over #13 LOUISVILLE taking 23: Eighth straight time Wildcats get the Birds to open the year. KY hasn’t fared well ATS here, but did cover the only pair of double-digit spreads in the last 5 seasons (losing by only a TD last year as another 23-point ‘dog!). Vindy will be gunnin’ for Louisville after the Cards posted 8 forecast losses last year in 9 tries...Cards 38 ‘Cats 20
BAYLOR over #22 Texas Christian taking 7 ½: New Bears OC Lee Hays should boost Baylor’s scoring potential. He’s also a former Marine sniper...so if Frogs defenders start dropping to the turf for no apparent reason ....! "Mr. Berringer. Mr. Tom Berringer to the white courtesy phone, please."...Toads 23 Baylor 20
MON. SEPT. 4
#12 MIAMI over #11 Florida State giving 3 ½: Will probably be a battle of defense and special teams with both offenses expected to struggle early. ‘Canes should’ve won it last year. Injuns have covered only two of last nine in this series. Miami will be missing a few good folks in this due to suspension. If the ‘Noles can’t establish the run early, they’re in trouble. "Under" might be the best play considering the total has continued to drop each of the past few years... ‘Canes 17 FSU 12
BETWEEN THE HASHMARKS
Can’t wait to tune into Baby First and watch the commercials during the ESPN segments that hawk Miller Lite in the new formula-bottle six-pack! "Duh-duh-dum...duh-duh-dum!"
This June, Irish safety/punt returner Tom Zbikowski posted a first-round KO in his inaugural pro boxing match. Observers said Tommy Z. came out at the bell, made his opponent miss then set up his blockers and streaked down the left side of the ring past the referee untouched into the neutral corner to score the knockout!
This week on the big screen...Will Ferrell stars as the aging Seminoles’ coach in "Tallahassee Nights: The Ballad of Rickety Bobby Bowden"!
Vols’ back-up QB Jim-Bob Cooter will miss this weekend’s opener vs. Cal after receiving an indefinite suspension in June for incurring a drunk-driving charge. That’s OK. This gives him time to catch-up on re-runs of Dukes of Hazzard.
More on the spelling bee....were questionable spellings in the last two minutes of each round reviewable only by teachers in the booth? The winning word was "ursprache"! Wait! Vindy knows that one...and can even use it in a sentence..."Ahem...’Brian Ursprache makes another tackle for Da’ Bears!’"
Anybody else catch the batting helmets worn by contenders in the Little League World Series this year??!! Shades of Rick Moranis’ "Lord Dark Helmet" character in "Space Balls"!!!!!
Rumor had it an Elvis impersonator was scheduled to perform at the World Cup soccer opening ceremonies and sing "FIFAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA Las Vegas!"
Vindy’s Week 1 Best Bets: Last Week: 0-0 Season: 0-0 (.000)
South Carolina -8 over Mississippi State, Texas-El Paso +2 over SAN DIEGO STATE, Houston -13 over RICE, Hawaii +17 over ALABAMA
Next week...Vindicator reviews some of the off-season silliness around the world of sports, including the NFL (and reveals the location [almost] of...Jimmy Hoffa!) Stay tuned!