DALLAS, Texas (MSNBC)...American youths are once again behind as many as 10 other industrialized nations throughout the world in reading test scores (though three of said "countries" were actually the Canadian provinces of Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario. Based on the exchange rate, that’s really only 1.99 countries!). The football players of Southern Methodist University aim to fix that through expansion of its summer youth literacy program, known as "Milk and Cookies with the Mustangs". SMU plans to make it a traveling literacy medicine show and take the program around the United States. Independent observers of the program aren’t certain "who’s teachin’ who to read." Another anonymous educator noted, "The kids’ ability to handle Seuss and Potter is questionable, but they can read X’s and O’s with the best of ‘em! It’s gratifying to hear a child who couldn’t read a lick before the program rattle off ‘96 Z-Out, Split Left Whiskey 7 Post’".
In related news, with the No Child Left Behind legislation on-deck for renewal again five years after George W. signed it into law, the Weber Kid joins the fray and starts up "Beer and Doritos with the Vindicator". The perplexing prognosticator hopes to teach kids how to read betting boards and parlay cards, but also wants to increase math skills by showing students how to convert point-spreads to money lines and vice-versa!
Trying to improve upon a career-best 19 bowl-forecast dubyas for 06'-‘07, Vin dons a pair of Lisa Novak’s astronaut diapers so he doesn’t have to miss a minute of any of this year’s 32 games! Risking a 15-yard unsportsmanlike-conduct flag, the fab forecaster calls back-to-back timeouts to ice the bookies and recalls "nothing is certain but death and taxes"...oh...and..um...cockroaches, fruitcake and...
THE WEBER KID’S 2007-08 BOWL PREDICTIONS
(Lines of December 19, over/under totals in parentheses)
SAN DIEGO CREDIT UNION POINSETTIA:
Utah over Navy giving 7 ½ (65): Having watched the Army-Navy game, put no stock in Navy’s big win over Army. The Cadets played well on D, but the offense was disheartened after a dropped pass in the end zone and subsequent missed 28-yard FG on Army’s opening drive, much like the deflation that occurred when the Cadets fumbled away the ball after driving deep into Air Force territory on its opening possession. Army’s kick coverage teams weren’t real special either. Utah had BYU on the ropes. It’s lovely weather for a bowl game together with Utes. Another rare go-against-da’-Middies by the Weber Kid...Utah 39 Navy 27
R&L CARRIERS NEW ORLEANS BOWL:
Memphis over Florida Atlantic taking 2 1/2 (67): While Owls were nothing more than appetizers playing Big Six Conferences, Tigers also struggled early. Tigers played seven regular-season games decided by 4 or less and went 5-1-1 ATS in those contests. Four of those games came away from home. While Memphis managed only a single SU victory in its first four (over an FCS team), Tigers did take 6 of its last 8 (though one of the losses came at home to FAU’s fellow Sun Belt squad, Middle Tennessee). Owls’ early-season triumph over Minnesota was tarnished a bit by Gophers loss to North Dakota State (an upset called by your humble narrator!)... Memphis 24 Florida Atlantic 21
#20 Cincinnati over Southern Miss giving 11 (55): Eagles losses at home by 17 to Central Florida and by 22 at Boise State are only minimally tempered by mere 20-point defeat at Tennessee. Only real knock on the Bearkats is penchant to draw penalties (almost 10 per match for about 81 ypg). If Cincy can help the officials keep the yellow laundry in their pockets and SoMiss doesn’t develop an Air Coryell offense during bowl practices...Cincinnati 40 USM 20
Nevada-Reno over NEW MEXICO taking 3 (58): Uh oh! Vin changed his initial choice on this one. Lobos are just 2-3 ATS this season in the home-confines of Albuquerque, though they were just a point away from a push against mighty BYU as a 7-point ‘dog. New Mexico’s eight victories matches its highest win total since 2003, but how stoked can the team be to play in its own backyard for the second straight post-season?! Nothing exciting about Reno’s six wins this year either, but ‘Pack hung tough in losses to Minnesota, Boise and Hawaii and worked hard to actually get here. New Mexico plays its 5th bowl in last 6 seasons, but has failed to cover the last four. UNR posted one of Vindy’s bowl wins last season by losing only 21-20 to listless Miami. Reno will want this win more... Wolfpack 26 Lobos 23
PIONEER PUREVISION LAS VEGAS:
#19 Brigham Young over Ucla giving 5 1/2 (47): Bruins coach Karl Dorrell is history, maybe unfairly considering five bowls in five seasons at UCLA. Former DC-now-HC DeWayne Walker needs to find an offense to keep up rather than game-plan a defense here. Probably, the only person disappointed with Cougars’ presence in Sin City is Vindy himself, who had BCS hopes for BYU back in August. Coogs should delight the Mormon-heavy audience at Sam Boyd once again, though maybe not to the extent they did last year vs. listless Ducks...BYU 34 UCLA 20
East Carolina over #24 Boise State taking 10 ½ (OFF): UPSET SPECIAL. Wow! How many Mainland teams get to play back-to-back matches in the Hawaiian paradise??! Broncos won’t be pullin’ off any of that Statue-of-Liberty silliness that got ‘em nationwide cheers and their playbook some votes as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World earlier this year! State lost by two TDs at UDUB, really hasn’t played anybody other than that except the ‘Bows and is now minus it’s top receiver . Pirates are 25-11 ATS last three seasons and lost by only 10 at Blacksburg...Arrrggghhhh 34 BSU 31
Purdue over Central Michigan giving 8 (71): We changed our minds twice on this, leaning initially toward Purdue, then toward the Chippies then back to the Choo-Choos. And as of this publication, we still ain’t sure. Purdue’s only SU bowl victory was win over UDUB in the ‘02 Sun Bowl. That was also Boilermakers’ only spread win in last 7 post-season appearances. This is a rematch of Purdue’s 45-22 win over CMU in West Lafayette in mid-September. Boilers stagger in here, having finished the regular season 0-3/0-2-1 against the number. Chippewas by comparison won 4 of 5 SU, with four of ‘em away from home...Purdue 44 ChiPs 33
PACIFIC LIFE HOLIDAY:
#12 Arizona State over #17 Texas taking 2 1/2 (62): Ending the regular-season at 109th in pass defense (allowing 275.5 yards per game), perhaps the Longhorns defensive backfield should be sponsored by "Easy Bake Oven". Both teams like to throw. State is a little better in scoring defense. The Sun Devils are in the details...ASU 34 Texas 31
#14 Boston College over Michigan State giving 3 ½ (57): First bowl in four years for Sparty. Eagles have won six consecutive bowl games (and 9 of last 10, covering 8...with the latest ATS miss coming last year against Navy). BC defense won’t allow much of a ground game by State and the advantage at QB definitely goes to senior Matt Ryan ...BC 27 MSU 20
Houston over Texas Christian taking 4 (59 ½): The Cougar offense seems no worse for the wear after losing four-year starting QB Kevin Kolb, but the defense took a bit of a step backwards. East Texas faces West Texas here and because the Toads didn’t live up to potential BCS-buster expectations, we figure interest in this will be low outside of the Lone Star State. Nearly a home game for the Coogs. If TCU’s defense dictates the pace, the Froggies win easily. If a shootout ensues, it’s...TCU 38 Houston 36
Oregon State over Maryland giving 5 (48 ½): Vindy hasn’t been this excited since watching hundreds of inmates in the Philippines dance choreographed moves to "YMCA" and "Thriller" on You Tube! Beavers’ only loss since September was game at USC...OSU 24 Box Turtles 14
MEINEKE CAR CARE:
Wake Forest over Connecticut giving 3 (48 ½): Huskies didn’t fare well against teams with a solid ground game, nor did they play well away from Storr. Deacs are susceptible to the pass. Wake lost only one game in which it was out-rushed by its opponent (at Clemson). Oddly, both teams lost 17-16 to Virginia...The Forest 24 UConn 17
Mississippi State over Central Florida taking 3 (57 ½): Among the many items from China that got slapped with a recall was Curious George. We can think of a few "Georges" that are worthy of recall long before Knights Coach O’Leary (Jeff, Steinbrenner and of course...Dubya...for starters!). UCF smacked the defense-poor squads of Conference USA, while Mississippi State finally came around for Sly Croom and relied on its staunch defense to get past some powerful SEC offenses, including Auburn and Kentucky (both on the road). We think the Bulldogs do so again here...MSU 20 UCF 17
Penn State over Texas A&M giving 5 ½ (51 ½): Collectively, these two have recorded 10 straight bowl game "unders". Whaddaya think they’ll do playin’ each other??? Lions finished only behind Army and Navy for fewest penalties, so they won’t beat themselves. The alma mater also finished 6th nationally in rush D. A&M’s primary MO is the ground game. Nifty Lions celebrate Coach Paterno’s 500th year...er...um ...game...at the helm for State! JoPa’s not pleased that his $500K annual salary is now common knowledge. That would be one grand for each game he’s ever coached. Hey look, ya don’t make Nick Saban-ish dollars until ya whup the bejeezus outta’ Tennessee then lose to Weeziana-Monroe!...PSU 25 Aggies 16
Colorado over Alabama taking 3 ½ (51): Speakin’ of St. Nick...while many of ‘Bama’s losses were close, have to wonder whether switch to Saban was too extreme for some players, given that the Tide only really went all-out against heated-rival Tennessee. Bison weren’t world-beaters either, but showed some improvement as season went on and do own a win over Oklahoma. We foresee GetNickonDaStick.Com real soon (maybe prior to kickoff!)...Buffs 17 Tide 16
BELL HELICOPTER ARMED FORCES:
California over Air Force giving 3 ½ (54): Bears come limping into bowl season having dropped 6 of 7 outright (and 0-6 vs. the line!), but do have two signature wins over Tennessee and at Oregon (before injury to Dixon). Last year, Cal had a pair of late defeats, but spanked Texas A&M in the Holiday. Troy Calhoun could grab a few votes for Coach of Da’ Year if he helps USAF acquire the victory here with only 10 returning starters at the beginning of 2007 in his first year at the Academy. Berkeley gets "painted"? No...Cal 27 Pilots 20
#23 South Florida over Oregon giving 6 ½ (52): Both teams held the #2 ranking at some point this season. While the underdogs have seriously owned this bowl, we think a victory will mean more to the Bulls as they continue to establish themselves as a team to beat and attempt to post their first 10-win season since joining the FBS. Decoys have failed to cover three of last four post-season games and if they didn’t like Vegas last year, they’ll hate the "booming metropolis" of El Paso this year...USF 34 Mallards 17
Fresno State over Georgia Tech taking 5 ½ (55): Bulldogs have shorter commute, won 3 of last 4 regular season games and might want this more than the Bees, who’s only spread win in last five came at Duke. Former Tech DC Jon Tenuta assumes the head-coaching duties for the game, but he may be distracted too by uncertainty in his own future. Fresno hasn’t covered any of last three visits to Boise, but at least they won’t be weirded-out by the blue field. Known for survival in extreme cold, koi were seen being shuttled in and out between plays to Georgia Tech’s lines during pre-bowl practices...Fresno State 34 Wreckage 30
GAYLORD HOTELS MUSIC CITY:
Florida State over Kentucky: OFF. Unquestionably, the Injuns went through some growing pains adjusting to a whole new bevy of assistant coaches this year, including losses to both Miami and Florida. Not many coaches know how to win in the post-season better than Bobby Bowden, whose ‘Noles have won and covered three straight. Rich Brooks got his second bowl victory in five tries last year. Third straight appearance in this game for the Wildcats, who had higher aspirations after toppling LSU. Late-breaking news has State without the services of about two dozen players due to academic problems (See...just one more reason for Vindy and the Mustangs to take their respective "educational" programs to the masses!)... FSU 29 Kentucky 27
Oklahoma State over Indiana giving 4 (68 ½): Tough pick. Hoosiers make 1st bowl since 1993. Okie State in 5th bowl over last 6 seasons. A very unconfident vote to the Cowpokes offense here...OSU 39 Indy 32
#22 Auburn over #15 Clemson taking 2 (47 ½): Auburn’s security procedures underwent review after a guard dog in the end zone bit a player on the hand. As the result of the review, the Warhawks have asked the Chick-Fil-A Bowl committee to allow their guard dogs to wander the red zone when Clemson gets close and as the designated home team for this game, have requested that Clemson players all wear the number "7" on their jerseys!...Aubie 19 Clemson 16
#18 Wisconsin over #16 Tennessee taking 3 (60): Vols have been a risky bet in the bowls, covering only one of last four and are losing their offensive coordinator David Cutliffe to the head coaching job at (GASP!) Duke! Badgers have gotten points in last five, covered four of ‘em and won three of them outright (including last season’s win over Arkansas). Not certain UT has any motivation here having lost the SEC championship...Wisky 31 Tennessee 27
#7 Missouri over #25 Arkansas giving 3 (59): Okay...the State of Michigan paid the price for holding an earlier-than-authorized caucus and lost their national convention delegates. We’re thinkin’ the folks in the Show-Me State asked for the Big 12 Conference Championship game to be held in November and subsequently got stripped of their poll voters, leading to the Tigers exclusion from the BCS bowls.... Mizzou 34 Sooooeeeyyy Pigs 27
#21 Virginia over Texas Tech taking 6 (60): LOCK OF ‘DA BOWLS. While the Red Raiders eight wins came via lighting up the likes of SMU, Rice and Baylor (we think the Sooners lost focus in season-ending L at Lubbock), the Cavs garnered nine W’s going toe-to-toe with ACC clubs and Big East contender Connecticut (do ya think they’d like another shot at Wyoming??!!). Granted, Tech will be the most prolific passing offense Virginia has faced, but the D should handle the one-dimensional Raiders well-enough...Wahoos 30 Texas Tech 28
#9 Florida over Michigan giving 10 ½ (59): Wolverines have lost 4 straight bowl outings, three of ‘em right here. Rematch of ‘02 Outback Bowl, won by Big Blue 38-30. The Heisman Trophy curse seemingly only applies to NFL careers and BCS Title games, so Gators should be safe here. Candidates on the short list just prior to UM’s hiring of Rich Rodriguez: Tila Tequila, A-Rod, Billary, Vindicator, Vladimir Putin, Senator George Mitchell and Osama Bin Laden (not really, but even an Al-Qaida leader couldn’t pass on a shot at the head coaching job in Ann Arbor and when he shows up for the interview, we’re gonna’ nail the bastard!)...Crocs 44 Michigan 28
ROSE PRESENTED BY CITI:
#6 Southern Cal over #13 lllinois giving 14 (50 ½): Hats off to Ron Zook for getting the Illini to a BCS bowl. As much as we’d like to see Troy get dumped on its collective keister, have to think Coach Carroll will have the Trojans fired up to defend the Rose Bowl in light of multiple collapses by a number of PAC-10 teams formerly above them... USC 41 Illinois 17
#10 Hawaii over #4 Georgia taking 7 ½ (69 ½): Joja’ coach Mark Richt has been singin’ that "‘somebody done somebody wrong’ song" after his ‘Dawgs were snubbed by the BCS for the title shot and may have his team wanting to prove a point. Not-quite-Cinderella Rainbow Warriors have been shedding the "weak schedule" critique all season and will come out ready to test their mettle vs. an SEC squad. Double-digit bowl dogs have been covering at an almost-60% clip (2-2 last year)...Joja’ 35 Hawaii 29
#3 Oklahoma over #11 West Virginia giving 7 ½ (64): Hmmm...was R-Rod’s defection already in the wind when Mounties blew a National Title shot by losing at home to four-touchdown underdog Pitt? While White and Slaton may try to use this game to showoff for potential NFL draft spots, a senior-laden defense (which had been much-improved this year) may feel betrayed...Sooners 34 WVU 20
#5 Virginia Tech over #8 Kansas giving 4 (53 ½): Rock, Jock, Jayhawk! A nice season for the Fightin’ Manginos and Kansas surprisingly has better turnover ratio (tied for 1st nationally in that department) than the Hokies. We think this gets decided by some Beamer Ball on special teams and should stay well-under the total. Hokies no strangers to BCS berths. Jayhawks could be star-struck...Tech 23 Kansas 17
Rutgers over Ball State giving 10 (60): Only fourth-ever bowl game for the Cardinals (1st since ‘96). Ball State went 5-2 ATS away from Muncie. When Vindy hears the word "Toronto", he immediately thinks of a Canadian hotbed for January college football! Yeah right. The Oprah-Obama connection couldn’t put enough butts in seats here to give either side a reason to play hard, though like our note on South Florida, this will simply go toward Rutgers continuing rise. Last May, NBC cut away from the overtime period of Game Five of the NHL Playoffs to bring viewers coverage of the Preakness...an hour-and-a-half before the race. We won’t be crushed if The Deuce dials up a replay of that horse race about 30 minutes into this...Knights 30 BSU 7
Tulsa over Bowling Green giving 4 ½ (75 ½): Could be fairly entertaining if ya like scoring. Golden Dust Devil was a paltry 4-9 ATS, while being favored in 10 of the 13 games. Only Weeziana-Monroe and, ironically, Houston scored less than 23 on Tulsa. Falcons were decent 7-4 against the line and were a bit more stalwart on defense. In Tulsa’s favor was a good win over BYU...Hurricane 38 BGU 31
#1 Ohio State over #2 Louisiana State taking 4 (50): With Bengals’ coach already signed through 2012, Buckeyes faithful, in effort to create more distraction on LSU’s side of the field, have launched a rumor campaign that Les Miles will jump to Michigan in 2013! OSU has won and covered 4 of last 5 post-season matches. Could the underdog win the national title game SU for third straight year? Last time Bucks were getting points in a title game, they won it. OSU posted almost 31/2 sacks per game (5th in the U.S.), while Tigers were #84 in sacks allowed (almost 2.5 per game). Buckeyes can take it outright if they can get to Matt Flynn. We think OSU will capitalize on a second chance to play for it all. This season’s Bowel Colonoscopy Series champion is...Ohio State 28 LSU 24
BETWEEN THE HASHMARKS
Just in case the consecutive time-outs don’t suffice, the Weber Kid also does his best bush-league A-Rod impression and runs up behind the sports ticket-writer just as he settles in under Vindy’s picks and yells, "MINE!"
After getting the Dalai Lama himself to write "Victory to the Blue Bombers" on some of its team’s equipment, Winnipeg won its first-round Canadian Football League playoff game 26-24. Vindy has asked the exiled religious leader to scribe "20 bowl wins to Vindicator" on his crystal ball!
Another note on the lead story...in late August, the Las Vegas Review-Journal ran an ad targeting local teachers for ready-made lesson plans for "pigskin geography" (we kid you not, sports fans!). The intent was to help students learn geography based on the cities of the 32 NFL football teams. Vindy thinks the program could be expanded to include all 119 FBS college football teams...or even the 300-plus NCAA hoops teams! If we’re competing with the world, let’s give the little buggers a fightin’ chance, by golly!!!! (And give yourself extra credit if ya knew Jonesboro, Arkansas was home to the Arkansas State Indians and could quickly point to that location on a U.S. map!).
For those who remember the commercial that aired earlier this year...
Driver: "Hey look. A hitch-hiker. Should we stop?"
Girlfriend: "But he’s got Vindy’s Picks.
Driver: "Yeah, but he’s got Bud Light".."
Girlfriend: "But he’s got Vindy’s Picks."
Driver: "Hey Buddy, what’s with the picks?"
Hitchhiker: "They’re...uh...birdcage liners."
Driver: "Hop in!"
Creator of Gatorade and University of Florida professor, Dr. J. Robert Cade, passed away last month at the age of 80. We’re told the good doctor’s final wish was to have his ashes put in a trademark bucket of his brand and dumped over some unsuspecting coach following a special on-field win!
The name "America" turned 500 this year....almost as old as the name "Joe Paterno" (and slightly older than "Greg Oden").
For those still scoring at home, the Weber Kid managed a nifty 8-3 on the official games of the championship week and a "why-did-I-bother" 1-6 record for his "guess at da’ rest"!
Face-painted fans that just need to get lives
Punters who drop the kicks inside the fives
Team-logo key-chains and rear-window clings
These are a few of Vin’s favorite things.
Little Brown Jugs and those banned end-zone dances
Paul Bunyan’s axes and onside-kick chances
Bobblehead dolls that are not from Beijing
These are a few of Vin’s favorite things.
Roughing the kicker and Hail Mary tosses.
Over-turned fumbles and tackles-for-losses.
Underdogs winning their Sugar Bowl rings.
These are a few of Vin’s favorite things.
At the NFL Combine this Spring, Vindy impressed coaches by turning in a 4.4 forty...yep, the multi-talented tout downed a 40-ounce beer in 4.4 seconds!
The Notre Dame offense will take an extra class this coming semester...ESL. Uh...End zone as a Second Language! In fact, the latest ish of ESPN Da’ Mag reports a study by Sports Business Journal found the NFL’s Browns to have the least effective logo (while the Cowboys have the top logo). In Vin’s opinion, the Not-So-Frightenin’ Irish get the NCAA vote for least effective emblem (at least for this season!)!
Becoming a big fan of Apolo Ohno after watching the speed-skater compete on "Dancing With the Stars", Santa shaved his beard down to a soul patch! (BTW, Vindy saw mommy taunting Santa Claus!)
Staying with rumors about the traditional end-of-season coaching carousel, officials in Durham, North Carolina have agreed to rename the school Dukla if former Bruins coach Karl Dorrell signs on to lead the Blue Devils!
A place of worship known as The Church of Men uses a shot-clock to limit the length of sermons. If the priest goes over the allotted time and commits a clock violation, does the Devil get possession?
In another effort to go "green" (thereby pleasing the tree-huggin’, tofu-scarfin’, rabble-rousin’ folks at Berkeley), each of Vindy’s bowl picks this year was made from recycled blog entries! In the words of Triumph the Insult-Comic Dog....we keeeeed, we keeeeed!
The Poinsettia, Holiday and Orange Bowls are (GASP!) Thursday-nighters! Consider yourselves forewarned!
The L.A. Dodgers and Anaheim Ducks will enter their respective first-ever floats in the Rose Parade. If we have the quote from Boone in National Lampoon’s Animal House correct..."A bunch of zombies get to ride a box of tissues down the street. Rah-rah."
U.S. News & World Report mistakenly ranked Montpelier High School the #5 public high school in the country this month. No big deal...a week later Montpelier fell to an unranked high school and dropped outta’ the Top 25 altogether anyway!
"Locked in a Box?": Vindy matches his lock record from this time last season at 9-5 (.642) courtesy of Central Florida’s romp over Tulsa!
Shoppe Talk: The championship week saw the Weber Kid get past tilts with USC and Boston College, but Vin took another one in the shorts from those Warriors of Hawaii!
Vindy’s Week 10 Best Bets: Last Week: 0-2 Season: 20-37-1 (.351)
Penn State-Texas A&M under 51 ½, Cincinnati -11 over Southern Miss, BC -3 ½ over Michigan State, Mississippi State-Central Florida under 57 ½
Vindicator offers his traditional holiday greetings to all his readers...Pass on Earth, Goodwill Toward Linemen. On top of ‘dat, we extend...Crimson Tidings of Southern Comfort and joy! Be sure to stop back a few days after completion of the BCS Championship game to check Vindy’s bowl recap and publication of his leftover "hash"!
Now if you’ll excuse him, he needs to go do something about the tongue he got stuck to a frozen parlay card on a triple-dog dare!