Thursday, December 16, 2010

Vindy's 2010-11 Bowl Predictions: Part I


SAN FRANCISCO, California (MSNBC)...Local FBI Analysis of evidence taken during a recent national sweep related to the early-summer uncovering of the deep-cover mission established by Russian spies coincidentally revealed an undercover plot of another kind. A doll recovered from the home of the Vegas Vindicator was determined to be a limited-series Barbie Video Girl, previously-thought to be available only to law-enforcement agencies. It turns out that the doll was actually being used by Las Vegas sportsbooks to monitor and pre-empt the fab forecaster’s prediction processes and to get insider information before his picks were even published each week. The devious subversion would help explain Vindicator’s wagering struggles this season. The Weber Kid told authorities that while he thought the doll, received as a “comp” from an undisclosed casino, was odd, given that other gamblers often received free meals, hotel room stays and 2-for-1buffets; he was “grateful for having something tangible” to show for his efforts!

Having cleansed our residence of all possible unwanted surveillance instruments named Babushka Barbie, Comrade Ken and Stalingrad Skip, we feel comfortable in releasing....

(AP rankings; lines of December 16, over/under totals in parentheses)

NEW MEXICO (@ Albuquerque, N.M.):
Brigham Young over Texas-El Paso giving 11 ½ (50):
Mormons finished with five conference wins, which woulda’ been six had Utah not blocked the game-winning FG. Cougars have gone 3-2 SU/ATS in past five bowls, but faced PAC-10 teams in all of those. BYU’s 1-3 ATS non-conference record is reflective of early-season issues that have been corrected and BYU has to be happy playing the post-season somewhere other than Sin City for the first time in 6 years (hmmm...maybe that was the plan all along!). UTEP is in its first bowl since 2005 and did beat C-USA champ SMU in early November, but lost at home to bottom-feeder Tulane and were 1-4 away from home. Miners do have a lot of seniors on offense and despite a rebuilt defense, yielded a reasonable 25.4 points per game ...BYU 31 UTEP 13

Northern Illinois over Fresno State giving 1 ½ (59):
Huskies are off disappointing loss in MAC title game after bull-dozing its way through conference play. Dogs are also under an interim coach after Jerry Kill bolted for Minnesota. NIU defense is solid, allowing only 19 points per game and 3 of 4 opponents who scored at least 26 left the building with victories. Fresno went 8-4 SU this season, but most of their big wins came at home and they lost badly in three of four defeats. FSU will play its 10th post-season tilt in last 11 seasons, have more experience, more depth, a more-experienced coach and lost by just 1at Reno. Marc Lawrence’s Playbook.Com notes the team getting points in Fresno’s last nine post-season matches has won the bowl outright. Fresno just suspended its second-leading tackler. That will benefit NIU’s powerful offense. We’ll buck the trend...NIU35 Fresno 21

R&L CARRIERS NEW ORLEANS (@ N’awlins, Weeziana):
Ohio over Troy taking 2 ½ (57):
Trojans got a piece of the Fun Belt championship but are definitely not as stout as they had been, going just 4-8 against the line, breaking a four-year string of winning spread records. Troy beat Bowling Green in non-conference play early and did lose by just a FG at Oklahoma State, but were later crushed at South Carolina. Bobblecats won 8 games, went 7-4 ATS and blew a chance to play for the MAC title when they got surprisingly smoked at Kent State. Including loss at Ohio State, OU lost just 2 of 6 games away from Athens. Trojans playing 5th bowl in seven years and lost by 3 last year to Central Michigan with a better squad. ‘Cats should run fairly well vs. Troy, who’s in the bottom-third nationally in run defense. Trojans will air it out..Ohio 31 Troy 24

DEC. 21
BEEF O’ BRADY’S (@ St. Petersburg, FL):
Southern Miss over Louisville taking 3 (57):
Cardinals returning to the bowl season for first time since 2006 and went 3-1 ATS this year as chalk. Best victory came at home over Big Least title-holder Connecticut, but Louisville staggered to losses in three of five following that game to close out the regular season. Once a strength for Southern Miss, Golden Eagles scoring D gave up 41 or more to three of last five foes, but scored less than 31 just twice en route to 8-4 SU overall record. USM could actually be 10-2 but lost two of three games decided by a single point. Louisville is good on defense, limiting all but 4 opponents to less than three touchdowns and beat SoMiss 25-23 in 2009. Cards converted just over 39% on third-down, in part due to being the most-penalized team in the conference (94 flags). Eagles drew nearly as many hankies (92), but converted better than half of their third-downs...Eagles 34 Redbirds 27

DEC. 22
MAACO LAS VEGAS (@ Vegas, Baby!):
#20 Utah over #10 Boise State taking 17 (61):
The roof of the Metrodome fell in this past weekend. It probably only felt that way for Boise after the loss to Nevada that derailed a major BCS bowl opportunity. Will Broncos try to re-set the tone for a new start or just play out the string here? Boise’s non-conference wins are obviously well-known (by 3 over Virginia Tech on a neutral site and by 13 at home vs. Oregon State). State hit the scoreboard for 50+ five times in 2010, while the Utes floundered down the stretch. Collectively, these clubs beat 7 of 9 nine opponents going to bowls this year. Utah has been money-making 6-1 ATS in past 7 bowls (now playing in 8th straight post-season). Based on spreads at the time Vindy published his last three years of bowl predictions, double-digit chalk has gone just 6-7 ATS and five of those spread-losers also lost outright. Utes would put PAC-10 on notice with an upset or at least a close loss...’Taters 31 Utes 19

DEC. 23
Navy over SAN DIEGO STATE taking 3 ½ (60): LOCK OF DA’ BOWLS.
“Home” game for the Aztecs, who took five of six in San Diego this season, but with a naval base nearby, the Middies will have plenty of support in the stands. Ensigns continued the blazing ATS pace by the chalk over the past few weeks, despite letting Army hang around almost long enough to get the cover earlier this month. SDSU boasts an 8-win season and lost by only 3 at Mizzou and again at BYU, as well as recording a 5-point loss at Utah. Second-year coach Brady Hoke has SDSU moving in the right direction, reaching their first post-season since 1998, and took Ball State to bowls in two of his final three years there (Cardinals lost both rather badly however). Middies finished the year on 5-2 ATS run, have won 2 of 3 neutral site games to-date (2-1 ATS) and could register back-to-back ten-win seasons with the victory. Aztecs have seen the 2-point loss to Air Force...but Navy QB Ricky Dobbs can throw it with precision as needed...Navy 27 SDSU 23

DEC. 24
Tulsa over #24 HAWAII taking 10 ½ (73):
Golden Hurricane just missed a C-USA title game berth courtesy of earlier 3-point loss to SMU in Dallas, but get a trip to paradise for their troubles. The “over” looks like the play here, with Tulsa scoring 41 or more six times and Hawaii doing likewise seven times. The defensive edge goes to the Warriors, who held four teams to 10 or less (though we note those four were lower-tier WAC clubs and I-AA Charleston Southern). Tulsa has typical unimpressive C-USA stop-squad. UH beat the spread 10 of 12 tries, missing covers only in losses to Colorado and Boise. Tulsa stumbled early, dropping of three of first six games SU. Two of three came by total of 5 points, but lost at Oklahoma State by 37. ‘Cane returns to the bowls for 5th time in six years (missing last season) and went 3-1 ATS in the previous four. ‘Bows covered all four chances this year laying double-digits and led the country in passing with more than 5000 yards (only team to put up that many)...Hawaii 44 Tulsa 37

DEC. 26
Toledo over Florida International giving 1 ½ (56):
Invoking a Little Caesar’s slogan from years ago, we say...”Pick ‘em, pick ‘em!” Rockets....looked stranded on the moon early with 41-2 loss to Arizona to open the year and a subsequent 5-point home loss to Wyoming, but would win 5 of final 6 (4-2 ATS) to make first post-season appearance in five years. We tip our helmet to ex-Miami assistant Mario Cristobal for getting his Golden Panthers to their first bowl in school history in just his fourth year as head coach. FIU did not take any of its four non-conference matches, but split them ATS. Rematch of 2009's win by Toledo (41-31). We lean a bit toward the “over” given lotsa’ new faces on defense for International...Spaceships 34 Panthers 24

DEC. 27
Air Force over Georgia Tech giving 2 ½ (56):
Both teams run some version of the option and points could be at a premium. Pilots got derailed when their starting full-back went down, suffering a three-game skid in mid-season, but USAF finished with three convincing victories over Army, New Mexico and UNLV (3-0 ATS). Bees were disappointing this season, posting lowest number of victories since 2004, and squeaked into the bowls at 6-6 with no signature wins. ‘Jackets not strong play in the bowls, going just 1-4 ATS while losing all five outright since 2005 with better clubs. In its defense, Tech did have an ugly road schedule, losing 4 of 6 and were defeated badly by NC State and Miami at home. Bees allowed just one more point per game, but scored a touchdown less per game. First time as bowl chalk this decade for Air Force, who’ve gone just 1-2 ATS in previous three...Flight Platoon 24 Bugs 20

DEC. 28
CHAMPS SPORTS (@ Orlando, FL):
NC State over #22 West Virginia taking 2 ½ (48 ½):
Mounties went 7-3-1 against the number en route to toppling half of the six 2010 season bowl contestants they faced (4-2 ATS). Wolfpack went 8-3 ATS and knocked five of nine going to the post-season this year. State scored a minimum of 27 points in all but one game and plays in 4th straight bowl (winning 3 of ‘em outright). ‘Eers have split the two post-season trips under Coach Stewart, dropping both to the line...NC State 28 WVU 24

INSIGHT (@ Tempe, AZ):
#14 Missouri vs. Iowa
(OFF): Prior to being taken off the board due the drug-related arrest of Iowa’s top pass-catcher, the total was 47 and we would have first looked to play the “under”, with the Hawkeyes and the Tigers each keeping six of their opponents, respectively, at 13 or less and 8 of Iowa’s games totaling less than this number, while six of Missouri tallied under 47as well. Mizzou ended the year winning three consecutive games. Birds, on the hand, dropped 4 of their last 6 and nearly went 0-fer-November. Tigers got buried by Navy in 2009 bowl. They did belt Texas A&M 30-9 earlier. Could be a nice QB duel of Blaine Gabbert vs. Ricky Stanzi. Will Iowa show up? We think they will....Iowa 23 Mizzou 17

DEC. 29
MILITARY Presented By NORTHROP GRUMMANN (@ Washington, DC):
Maryland over East Carolina giving 7 (68 ½):
Terps compiled 8 outright wins, including finale over then-ranked NC State, but have been all over the board offensively...scoring as few as 7 and as many as 62 (twice!). Maryland won 3 of 6 games outside College Park and got points in five of ‘em. We’ll give a nod to the “over” due to ECU’s porous defense (allowing 42 or more nine...count ‘em nine...times!) and potent offense. Pirates playing sixth straight bowl, but are under first year coach (though he was an assistant at East Carolina before this). The Fridge celebrates an excellent rebound from 2009's 2-10 campaign...Box Turtles 45 ECU 31

TEXAS (@ Houston, TX):
Illinois over Baylor taking 1 ½ (62 ½):
Robert Griffin put up the 17th highest passing yardage total (with nice 21-8 TD-to-INT ratio) and Bears got bowl-eligible for first time since 1994, then dropped their final three. While scoring at least 30 in all but 3 games (twice in two of the last three), keeping foes outta’ the end zone was the problem (allowed 42 or better in half a dozen). Illini head coach Ron Zook has been to the post-season four times...and hasn’t pocketed any of ‘em. This is just the second winning season for Zook at Champaign and frankly, he may be gone even if he breaks the bowl skid and wins here. Illini went 7-4 ATS and got the offense running in the second half of the year. Defensively, they allowed 20 ppg (67 in crazy loss to the Wolverines notwithstanding). Baylor toppled just one bowler (K-State in forties shoot-out), but went 4-1 laying considerably more points than this. “Over” might be the way to go...Illini 29 Bears 27

VALERO ALAMO (@ San Antonio, TX):
#16 Oklahoma State over Arizona giving 6 (66):
Wildcats did well with a minimal number of returnees on defense this year, holding 4 of first 6 opponents to single-digits. ‘Cats also won all three non-conference games, including victory over Iowa, but injury to Nick Foles put a major crimp in their season and Arizona’s last win came before prior to Halloween. Cowboys boast one of the best offenses in the country and AZ was smoked by the better scoring teams on their schedule (losing by 25 to Stanford, 19 to Oregon). State knocked off six bowlers, all except Texas A&M by this many (8-3-1 ATS overall), and dropped a tough one to Oklahoma. Unless Foles comes back strong... OKSU 38 AZ 24

DEC. 30
Southern Methodist over Army giving 7 ½ (52):
As noted higher, the Black Knights weren’t blown out by Navy only because of the Ensigns miscues. Army passes were thrown outta’ bounds or dropped and the kicking game was deserving of friendly fire. Fourth neutral site tilt on the year for Army (0-3 SU/1-2 ATS). SMU needs to keep the Cadets at or below 18 (West Pointers rung up 20 or more each game, except final two, which totaled 20 point output). Second bowl for the Ponies in three years under June Jones (blasting a pretty good Reno squad 45-10 last season) and SMU could record back-to-back eight-win years with the victory. Mustangs stop the run fairly well at 141 ypg and have seen Navy’s similar offense...SMU 27 Not Quite in Cadence 17

Kansas State over Syracuse (PK)(47 ½):
We like the “under” in this Yankee Stadium skirmish and “Era” could in fact be an acronym for “earned run average”-like points. Syracuse, in the first half of 2010, looked like they might have a special season, winning five of seven to open, including road victories at Akron, South Florida and West Virginia. But two of those wins were over FCS teams and a mid-November win came against ready-to-quit Rutgers. K-State stumbled into the post-season, falling in four of final six. One of the wins came via 49-41 trackmeet at Fun Belt’s North Texas. ‘Cuse ended up 2nd in most defensive categories in the Big Least, but 6th or 7th in nearly all offensive stats. KSU gets the edge in strength-of-schedule and bowl-coaching experience. Orange are young at the skills and Doug Marrone has not led a team in the post-season...Kansas State 27 Orange 13

MUSIC CITY (@ Nashville, TN):
Tennessee over North Carolina taking 2 (50 ½):
Vols started by often finishing in the teens on the scoreboard en route to early 1-4-1 spread record, but closed out the schedule with four consecutive victories (3 vs. SEC clubs) and five ATS wins in a row, posting a half-century or more in two of last three. Tarheels were under siege by the NCAA much of the year and were inconsistent. Rocky Top won 3 of 5 away from home (covering 4, either as a DD dog or laying big points), but are in 4th bowl in five seasons under third coach. Which Carolina team shows up? The one that beat Florida State in Tallahassee or the one that edged I-AA William & Mary and Duke by 4 and 5, respectively? We expect the latter...Tennessee 19 UNC 17

#17 Nebraska over Washington giving 13 ½ (53):
Rare redux of a regular season melee. No dis to UDUB coach Steve Sarkisian, but Bo Pelini has better talent to put on the field and has done a better job getting something out of them. Huskies do have some momentum, ending the schedule with a hat-trick after a three-game pounding by Arizona, Stanford and the the average tune of 46-10. Big Dread wilted down the stretch, but still fell just three-points short of a BCS berth. Corn Cobs have won the money in three of prior four years (with 3 decided by 5or fewer), including 33-0 whitewash of Arizona in this same venue in 2009. Extra time to heal will be good for Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez. Can’t see Washington closing the gap that quickly from September’s 56-21 loss to NU...Children of the Corn 42 Seattle’s Best 20

BTW, your violated Vindicator has since circled the wagons and now uses the services of his GI Joe, Cabbage Patch Kid, Buzz Lightyear, Action Jackson (raise yer hand if yer old enuff to remember Action Jackson!) and a sock monkey to form an impenetrable wall around himself and his in-progress picks to obstruct the bookie’s view!

Speaking of walls, Vindy went to the sportsbook-in-question and took a page from possibly-ex-Jets-assisant-coach Sal Alosi, asking several other sports gamblers to stand in a certain spot, forcing a bookie to run around them while Weber stuck out his knee to trip him!!

The Military Bowl this year does not feature any of the usual academies and all three are enjoying post-season outings. But hey...pirates are evil, para-military navy-like groups, right???!!! Close enough.

In June, Nebraska’s top wide-out Niles Paul was charged with possession by a minor and publicly takin’ a leak. The alcohol issue was unknown until a flash of light exposed the bottle in his hand as he urinated on an electric cattle-fence!

Before the ball drops on Times Square, we note that 2010 is the 50th anniversary of The Flintstones. To that end, we simply quip, “Yabba-dabba-Duke!” (BTW, Dino was a Tarheels fan!). Hmmm...Fred & Wilma & Barney & Betty....wasn’t that a movie in the 60's? Oh wait...that was Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice!)

Miley Cyrus was caught hittin’ the bong recently. Apparently, Hannah Montana is not only a pop star...she’s a candidate for the women’s Olympic swim team!

Vindy’s 2010 Bowl Season Best Bets (thru 12/30): Season: 28-32-1 (.467)
HAWAII-Tulsa over 73, Illinois +1 ½ over Baylor, Tennessee-North Carolina under 50 ½

Come on back in about a week as we offer picks on the rest of the bowls, more best bets and better “hash” (we promise!).

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