Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Vindy's 2008 Championship Week Picks


BOULDER, Colorado (Reuters)...”Those who can, play. Those who can’t, coach. Those who can’t coach, predict.” So goes the old adage. And for less than $150, parents can find out where their child falls in the spectrum. That’s the premise of a new DNA test that analyzes blood for the presence of ACTN3, a gene linked to top-flight athletes. The results purportedly determine if a child, between the ages of 8 and 12, will ultimately succeed as a defensive end, outfielder, goalie, offensive coordinator or even a sports-gambling tout. The test can also separate out doer from picker by detecting high levels of another enzyme, called Phosphoric Iodized Potassium Nitrate, or PIKN for short, often found in high concentrations among top-flight prognosticators. The Gaming Control Board immediately issued a statement pooh-poohing the study, noting consistent accurate prediction of sporting events against the spread involves multiple factors and years of studying trends, injuries and weather effects as well as schedule situations and individual, unit or coaching match-ups. Secretly, however, casino operators fear creation of an army of super-forecasters, which could bring the legal sportsbooks to their financial knees in the span of a single season or two.

And to think...the Vindicator gave up his childhood dream of being a member of the Egyptian Olympic cross-country ski team to instead produce things like Week 14's record of 7-6-1 (121-115-4, 513). While Vindy shakes the desert sand (and a little pyramid dust) out of his Rossignols, take a gander at...


MAC Championship @ Detroit, Michigan
#12 Ball State over Buffalo giving 14 1/2:
Kudos to Bulls coach Turner Gill for turning a moribund football program into a seven-win, bowl-bound squad in just three seasons, but last week’s home loss to the Golden Flushes of Kent State, who had only two wins over I-A teams until that point, shows Buffalo is not ready yet to be the MAC champ. It was competitive in back-to-back losses to Central Michigan and Western Michigan, both of whom Ball State defeated (by 7 and 22, respectively). Bulls lost to the Cardinals at home by 30 in 2006 and 35 at Muncie last year... Ball State 42 Buffalo 20

SEC Championship @ Atlanta, Georgia
#2 Florida over #1 Alabama giving 9 ½:
But there are a couple reasons to like Alabama in its first conference crown game since 1999. Tide has allowed 9 points or less in four of last five games (but did have to go to the bonus round to drop LSU in Baton Rouge) and did something Florida didn’t...beat Ole Miss. First underdog opportunity for ‘Bama since season-opening blowout over Clemson (also on a neutral field). Florida could add to its league-leading five interceptions returned for touchdown (tied with two other teams) by pressuring John Parker-Wilson (even without a couple of injured defenders) and we can’t forget UF smashed Georgia on a neutral site. Straight-up winner has covered 8 of last 10 SEC title matches...Crocs 34 Alabama 20

Big 12 Championship @ San Antonio, Texas
#4 Oklahoma over #19 Missouri giving 17: LOCK OF DA’ WEEK.
Right or wrong, the Sooners got the BCS nod to be here. The South representative has dominated the conference championship of late, winning and covering 5 of last 6, all as chalk. In fact, the straight-up winner has covered at least the past eleven title games and if Missouri pulls the upset, we’re launching a Congressional investigation, spearheaded by Kansas senator Sam Brownback! The Sooners smacked the Tigers here 38-17 last season and look even stronger this year, while Mizzou has been touched for 42, 56 and 40 against Illinois, Texas and Kansas...with two of those games on neutral sites. Have to think Okies could hit the 60's for the fifth consecutive game. Only knock on Oklahoma is allowing a 90-yard kickoff return for touchdown early in the 4th Quarter at Oklahoma State. Maybe the Tigers can figure out a way to have the Sooners kick the ball to them each down instead of taking snaps...Oklahoma 58 Mizzou 24

#5 Southern Cal over UCLA giving 32 1/2: Despite unconfirmed reports suggesting otherwise, we think Trojans likely locked in Charlie Weis’ plane ticket outta’ South Bend last week (and final margin woulda’ been worse had USC not suffered three interceptions). Men of Troy have a very remote shot at the big prize, but will probably face Penn State in Pasadena. We figure they’ll go out swingin’ for the fences and aren’t hesitant about scoring obscene amounts of points. Bruins beat USC 13-9 in 2006 and lost by only 14 last season, but having mustered just 6 in home loss to the Beavers and 9 last week at Arizona State, UCLA could be on the wrong end of a second shutout in 2008 ...USC 41 UCLA 0

#13 Cincinnati over HAWAII giving 7 1/2: Guess there was no reason for the Bearkats to lay the lumber to the ‘Cuse Saturday since Friday’s Pitt win over the Mounties gave UC the Big Fleeced title. Two turnovers and ten penalties didn’t help. Motivation could be an issue for Bearkats team already locked into the Orange Bowl and just enjoying a little Island sunshine. In the shadows of Boise State, Hawaii has quietly compiled nice seven-win season, including victories in six of last eight after slow 1-3 start. ‘Bows 3-2 ATS at home this year and have won four of five outright west of the Mainland. Not bad for a team that brought back just four starters on each side of the ball and introduced a new head coach. ‘Cats have covered 7 of last 9 giving points to non-conference teams...Cincy 31 UH 20

ACC Championship @ Tampa, Florida
#18 Boston College over Virginia Tech giving 1:
Rematch of earlier season game in Chestnut Hill, won 28-23 by the Eagles. Hokies just 2-5 ATS in their past 7 games this year and defeat by BC lowered Tech’s spread record against the Eagles to 2-7. Neither team scoring many points, with VT breaking outta’ the 20's just once (in 35-30 win at Nebraska) and Boston College doing so just three times (once vs. I-AA Rhode Island). Tech having un-Hokie-like year defensively, holding just one FBS opponent (Duke) to single digits. Eagles limited Central Florida to a lone touchdown and pitched shutouts in three other games to-date. BC riding four-game SU win streak. We’ll go with the hotter squad, who also have revenge factor after losing ACC championship 30-16 to these Hokies last year...BC 24 Virginia Tech 20

#23 Pittsburgh over CONNECTICUT taking 2 ½: Panthers would like to return the favor after losing at home by 20 to UConn last season. Pitt just 1-3 SU/ATS last 4 vs. the Dogs, but its only road loss came at Cincinnati (by a TD). Connecticut smoked the Bearkats, but squeaked by Temple and lost to South Florida before last week’s bye. Huskies went one-and-done in only ranked appearance back in Week Six and haven’t impressed the AP voters enough to return since then. They won’t get it done this week either...Panthers 24 UConn 19

C-USA Championship @ Orlando, Florida
East Carolina over Tulsa taking 13 ½:
Third appearance for Tulsa in the very short, now four-year history of the game. The previous two weren’t pleasant as Central Florida won (and covered) both (in ‘05 and ‘07). All three C-USA championships were covered by the favorite, but we think that stops this year. After nice 7-0 SU/6-1 ATS start, Golden Hurricane has slipped to 2-2/1-3 recently, including unsettling 3-point win last week at Marshall. The magic that carried the Pirates to upsets of Virginia Tech and West Virginia in its first pair of tilts of 2008 faded quickly with three consecutive outright losses in mid-October (so did the spread record, which now stands at 4-7-1). ECU is, however, on 14-4 run getting points away from home...Tulsa 35 Arrrrrgh 27

Army over Navy taking 11 (@ Philadelphia, PA): Two of country’s perennial Top Ten rushing attacks square off here. Both also rank in the Top 28 in rush defense, which should be conducive to quick, relatively low-scoring affair. While the Middies have scored 12 more rushing touchdowns than Army, it has faced only one of other option team...Air Force, whom it defeated 33-27 earlier. Keydets have only three straight-up victories, but played hard enough to cover in 16-7 loss to the Falcons and 21-17 loss at Texas A&M (who boasts its own Corps of Cadets). Army owns solid 7-3 ATS record on the season and lost by 3 to Buffalo and 7 to Rice. Middies have won 7 games (including victories over Rutgers, at Wake Forest and shutout at Northern Illinois), but are just 5-4 against the line (1-1 as chalk)...Sailors 20 Ground Pounders 13

It’s a little-known fact that back in the late Sixties, the Sin City Soothsayer participated in highly-classified government experiments, using the aforementioned DNA tests. Vindy’s enzyme profile pegged his only chance at a successful sports career as being one of two specific positions...waterboy for a women’s rhythmic gymnastics team or retail associate at a bobblehead doll concession stand!

Las Vegas is one of five cities where the Army is trying “coffee with a soldier”... recruiting America’s future military leaders at local coffee shops. Now we know where the Keydets get their players. If you look closely, you can see the Starbucks logo on the Black Knights’ Gatorade buckets. Talk about getting “up” for the game! Opening jitters have nothin’ to do with’s the iced coffee in those buckets! (Observant fans and viewers at home will also note little plastic sippy-tops on the cups!). As the signals get sent in from the sideline, the QB checks them against a tiny order-menu chalkboard strapped to his wrist! In fact, upon hearing an unsuspecting civilian rattle off his desire for a “caramel latte venti Ristretto...wet!”, a cadet receiver moonlighting recently as a barista off-campus, went in motion behind the pastry case, took advantage of a nice block by a co-worker and picked up a six-yard gain....without spilling a drop!

Joining the league of ESPN college hoops broadcasters this season is former coach Bobby Knight. Showing he’s still passionate about the game and fresh outta’ chairs, The General launched a folding microphone onto the hardwood following a bad call against Texas Tech last week!

Best Weekly Effort:
Week Seven’s nifty 13-5!

Worst Weekly “Effort”: Week Three’s 5-12-1.

WEBER-FRIENDLIES (Best percentage on the predicted side of the spread; minimum 7 at-bats in the forecast): This season’s “You’re in Good Hands Award” goes to...drum roll, please...the Joja’ Bulldogs at 9-1-1 (.900). Second place to the Florida State Seminoles (6-1, .857; who ironically were on “watch” status following an 0-6 forecast record in 2007) and we have a tie for Honorable Mention between the Florida Gators and the Trojans of Southern Cal, both at 9-2 (.818).

FLAME-THROWERS (Worst percentage on the predicted side of ‘da spread): The bookies loved the smell of napalm in the morning... afternoon ...and night...courtesy of this year’s “Grill-Master Supreme Award” winner Texas Tech (1-9, .100...was there ever a doubt??!!). “Suckin’ Place” goes to the Large, Wooden...Badgers of Wisconsin (1-6, .142) and “Dishonorable Mention” to BYUsed Me (2-8, .250).

Below the official radar, but we’ll be watchin’: Utah (4-7, .363) and...Thursday Night (4-9, .303)!

Shoppe Talk: The Red Raiders close out the regular Shoppe season, joined by their Lone Star brethren, the Texas Longhorns, who currently own a 1-4 forecast slide!

Black Shirt: Gets pressed, starched and hung neatly in the locker of Jayhawks QB Todd Reesing, who tossed a pair of 4th Quarter touchdowns to make good on Vindy’s almost-upset pick of Kansas over Mizzou!

“Wish I Had That One Back”: Vindicator called the Texas Tech-Baylor pick mostly likely for this category!

“Locked in a Box?”: OK, there were a few more points scored than predicted (52 more, to be exact!) In the Joja’-Joja’ Tech game, but Bees made good on Vindy’s upset special and boost the lock record to 12-2 (.851)!

Vindy’s Week 9 Best Bets: Last Week: 2-2-1 Season: 37-25-1 (.597)
(Hey...Vindy was a measly 20-35-1, .363 this time last year!) Slim pickin’s this week...TROY -11 over Arkansas State (and that’s all we’d consider among the unranked match-ups!)

Vindicator now gets a well-earned blow (and not a single rolled-up Benjamin to be found!), but worry not, loyal readers. The Omniscient One will return (with his PIKN genes intact) circa December 18 with this season’s version of his infamous bowl predictions! In the immortal words of game-show host Chuck Woolery...”we’ll be back in two and two!”

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