Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Vindy's Picks Championship Week 2010


WASHINGTON, District of Columbia (ITAR-Tass)...Long a thorn in the sides of various world agencies, WikiLeaks released sensitive, previously-classified diplomatic cables this week. Those cables were part of a “huge encrypted ‘insurance’ file” on the company’s website following last summer’s demands that thousands of secret documents be returned to the U.S. government. But even as American officials tried to prepare other nations in advance of the release, Vindy’s Picks were about to cast serious shadows on international relations across the globe. The cables show U.S. diplomats lambasting other leaders for wagering with the infamous forecasts and Saudi Arabia encouraging Washington to “cut the head off the snake” other words, the Saudis wanted the disbanding of the BCS. Some documents even reveal the use of team names from the picks to indicate success (“Gamehens”) or failure (“Buckeyes” and “Red Raiders”) of military operations! The documents also implicate U.S. diplomats in low-level spying, such as garnering credit card information about other dignitaries or videotaping a 49ers practice session in London.

The favorites continued their torrid ATS charge (now 24-11-1) as Vindy floundered to 9-11 (114-119-3, 489) for the last full week of the regular season.

The South Koreans have blamed North Korea for the sinking of Vindy’s Week 13 picks and have elected to conduct joint-betting exercises with the United States. As a result, China is now jittery over the off-shore presence of...

(Featuring more high-wire acts than the new Spidey musical!)

MAC Championship @ Detroit, MI
#24 Northern Illinois over Miami-Ohio giving 17:
Redhawks are here because the Bobblecats of Ohio shockingly lost by 22 to Kent State. After dropping a match to Iowa State to open the year, Huskies lost just one other tilt in a respectable 6-point defeat at Illinois, then manhandled everybody else (except Western Michigan, whom it beat by 6), including Minnesota. Hats off to NIU coach Jerry Kill for leading his squad to 10 wins (which could well be an even dozen by the end of bowl season) after going just 13-13 in his first two years at the helm. We applaud Miami-O as well on its current 8-4 record after putting a lone game in the “W” column in 2009. Birds have gone 5-1 SU/4-2 ATS recently. Dogs have scored an average of 65 points per game over their last three games. Miami lost 27-22 to last season’s 7-6 Northern Illinois team...NIU 44 Miami-Ohio 24

OREGON STATE over #1 Oregon taking 16 ½:
We hope the Beavers 38-Zippo fall to Stanford had more to do with lousy ball security (5 turnovers) than with concession of the season. State can still bowl with a victory here. OSU has been a Virginia-like enigma....beating Cal and USC, yet losing to UCLA and Wazzou. Beavers have won four of five home games (3-2 ATS), while the Drakes are perfect 5-0 (2-3 ATS) off the Pond. State does own two outright victories as dogs and cashed tickets in 8 of last 11 vs. the Mallards in Corvallis. For the Quack Attack, it’s just win and play for the national crown. Can Beavers guard against Ducks’ usual second-half explosion? If it’s close late, would State cede in order to allow a PAC-10 rival to play for the biggest bucks to draw its conference share of those dollars? Naaaaaahhhhh!...Ducks 33 Beavers 20

SEC Championship @ Atlanta, GA
#18 South Carolina over #2 Auburn taking 4 ½:
Rematch of late September game, won 35-27 by the Tigers. Tigers have had some close calls...last week’s all-but-death-knell vs. ‘Bama included! We thank Auburn for that miracle comeback from an early 24-point hole, which kept Vindicator from an O-fer-Friday! With RB Lattimore being neutralized by Clemson, Chargin’ Chickens proved Stephen Garcia can use his arm to make it happen. Garcia’s hurt, but expected to suit-up. Last four conference titles have alternated between East and West, with the fave winning 3, covering two and pushing one of ‘em. The smallest margin in Auburn’s recent five-game ATS win streak has been 7... KFC 27 Auburn 24

Utah State over #9 BOISE STATE taking 39 ½ : Faster than you can say, “wide right” (twice!), BSU went from BCS-buster to lower-tier bowl in its own stadium or nearby. Closest Boise has come to this situation, losing a perfect season and possible title shot, this late in the year was 12-point defeat to close out 2007 regular season. Broncos then lost by 3 in a bowl game to ECU. Aggies return to the forecast for first time since scarin’ da’ bejeezus outta’ the Sooners in Norman in Week One. Broncos have covered this one the past five years, but have won by this many only in 2007's 52-0 romp, taking the other four by about 32 ppg. Senior-laden USU was off last weekend, following 22-point home loss to Idaho that followed wins over NMSU and San Josie after a 14-point loss at Reno...BSU 51 USU 13

Big 12 Championship @ Arlington, TX
#13 Nebraska over #10 Oklahoma taking 3 ½:
Huskers mopped up Colorado behind the second-string QB. Despite winning a close one over Oklahoma State, Sooners’ O sputtered three times in the red zone in the 4th Quarter, leading to a trey of chip-shot FGs that allowed State to hang around. Back-to-back appearances in the Big 12 title game now for Big Red, who’s looking for its first title victory in that time (losing 13-12 to Texas in ‘09). Sooners 1-1 on neutral turf this season and lost to Nebraska 10-3 last year in Lincoln. Sooners on 3-0 spread run (2-0 on the road). Children of the Corn and Oklahoma have common losses to Texas A&M, but Nebraska defeated Mizzou and Okie State...the two teams to whom Oklahoma lost...NU 24 Oklahoma 20

ACC Championship @ Charlotte, NC
#12 Virginia Tech over #20 Florida State giving 4:
We underestimated the mission Tech was on last week. We won’t do that again. Hokies in midst of 7th straight season of double-digit SU wins. Injuns could notch their first since 2002 with the victory. State holds a 2-1 SU/ATS edge in past three games vs. the Hokies, winning 30-20 in 2008, and are here because NC State collapsed vs. Maryland. Gators ran for almost 5 yards per carry vs. FSU, but still got blasted... VT 29 FSU 21

LOUISIANA TECH over #14 Nevada taking 10: Best guess for “wish I had it back”. Drop in the line toward the Bulldogs speaks to expected letdown for Wolfpack in wake of emotional roller-coaster 4th quarter and OT that unseated Boise. Tech’s four home games have resulted in 3 losses by 14, 1 and 6 around a 13-point win. Bulldogs did score 20 on Boise and has a lot of seniors, who’ve seen LT cover the past three in this series...UNR 34 LT 27

Rutgers over #23 WEST VIRGINIA taking 20: Mounties steam-rolled Pitt to put themselves in position to win the Big Least, but still need a loss by UConn at South Florida (and a win here) to secure it. We cashed a ticket in Week 13 courtesy of the Knights rolling over against Louisville. Rutgers is listless 2-7-1 ATS on the year, but actually beat UConn outright earlier. Knights loss their early games by 3-4 points each, but have lost 3 of past 5 by 20 or more. Nothing but pride on the line for RU, who had won bowls in each of the previous four seasons. We’re hoping to see the first-half Knights, not the ones from recent Saturdays...WVU 17 Rutgers 3

#25 HAWAII over Nevada-Las Vegas giving 34 ½: Oddly, this game could feasibly (though unlikely to) have some impact on Wisconsin’s post-season destination as Badgers hope to hold their current ranking edge over Ohio State and Michigan State. ‘Bows, on the Island, won by 7 over UNR, who at worst coulda’ lost by 3 to then-national title-contending Broncos. Hawaii’s taken its last four victories by average of 35 points and is 9-2 against the line overall. Rubbles, who need something to build on for 2011, have staggered to 0-6 SU/ATS outside Sam Boyd (and 2-12 back to October 2008). UNLV practiced, during summer camp, on same brand of synthetic field turf used by Super Bowl champion New Orleans. Now if they can just hire Sean Payton, Drew Brees and Reggie Bush!...Haka Dance 49 Sin City 10

Conference USA Championship @ Orlando, FL
Central Florida over Southern Methodist giving 9: LOCK OF DA’ WEEK.
UCF Knights return to the conference title match after a 2-year hiatus and for 3rd time in six seasons. Ponies had to take ECU in OT, combined with a Tulsa loss, to be here. Mustangs did beat Wazzou by two touchdowns, but best win really was 21-18 over Tulsa. SMU finished on a 2-5-1 ATS slide, but was a dog just once in that set and lost by 8 at Texas Tech and 17 to TCU, but by 14 at UTEP and 25 (GASP!) to Houston squad being led by QB well-down the depth chart. Knights are 8-3 ATS overall, though just 1-2 the past three games. UCF lost by 7 to NC State, at KSU by 4 and to Southern Miss by 10. Knights improving steadily in points-allowed the past several years and have held 8 of 12 opponents at or below 17. More experience on both sides of the ball for...Central Florida 34 SMU 17

BETWEEN THE HASHMARKSA new study suggests a statistical flaw relied upon by the NCAA means graduation rates for major college football and men’s basketball players lag behind those of other students, not the other way around (not sure exactly what that means, but we’re sure the BCS will find a way to add it to the formula it uses to determine who plays for the National Title!)

Rutgers is selling the naming rights for its football stadium and basketball arena, currently known as Rutgers Stadium and Rutgers Athletic Center, respectively. Maybe a little tie-in to The Sopranos or Bruce Springsteen is in order? Bada Bing Arena? Born to Run (Away) Field, (No) Glory Days Stadium, Jungle Land or Badlands (since The Meadowlands is already there), I Surrender Stadium or maybe....Pink Cadillac Pavilion!

The UNLV Rebels have included Southern Utah and Western Illinois in their 2011 schedule. We heard the Dallas Cowboys have an open-date next season as well! Just a thought!

As we noted in last week’s forecast, TCU coach Gary Patterson said he wouldn’t lay 72on an opponent “at the expense of teaching my young people a life lesson.”. But droppin’ 66 on New Mexico is okay???!!! Yo, Coach! Liar, liar....pants on fire!!!!!!

After his Hogs beat LSU, Coach Bobby Petrino was quoted as saying, “We didn’t come to paint”. We watched that game...and we beg to differ. Given the good starting field position the Bengals got following Arkansas punts and kick-offs, we’re pretty sure we saw the Razorbacks coverage units holding brushes and palettes while peering over easels as the Tigers special teams moved the ball downfield! The only things missin’ were smocks and berets!

2010 celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Pony Express (the mail-delivery, not the once-vaunted SMU running game named for it!). It lasted just 19 months, but fans of Vindy’s Picks back then were a lot happier to get them sooner!!

Best Weekly Effort:
No question....Week Twelve’s 12-3-1. Clutch!!!

Worst Weekly “Effort”: Weber’s annual stinker came via Week Two’s 5-13. Uggggggghhh!

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 Fightin’ Fowl of South Carolina (8-2, .800). Splitting Second Place...Oklahoma State and Michigan State (both at 6-2, .750). Reeling in “Honorable Mention” were the Bengals of LSU (8-3, .727), who only last season were in the Dishonorable Mention category! Our sincere appreciation to Auburn for a 7-4 (.636) effort that landed no hardware, but followed up last season’s 10-1, giving the War Eagle 17 forecast wins in the last 22 appearances!

FLAME-THROWERS (Worst percentage on the predicted side of ‘da spread): This year’s “Grill-Master Supreme Award” winner is Reno (1-6, .143), who snuck up on Vindicator while he was busy not paying attention to “Suckin’ Place” winners Arizona (3-6, .333) and surprise entry Virginia Tech (2-4-1, .333). Garnering attention all season was “Dishonorable Mention” winner Ohio State (4-7-1, .364), who shares the distinction with TCU (4-7, .364) and the large...wooden...Badgers...of Wisconsin (4-7, .364).

Didn’t make the cut, but we’ll be watchin’: The Gilded Gerbils of Minnesota finished 1-4 (.200).

Thanks for playing: The Clemson Tigers provided 4 wins in 4 tries.

“Wish I Had That One Back”: We’d like to revisit our choice of Kansas +24 ½ over Missouri after noting the Jayhawks “had reason to play hard (in previous close losses vs. the Tigers)...and has nowhere to go except home after this.”

“Locked in a Box?”: Oh the shame! But we tip our helmet to the Spartans for edging the alma mater in Beaver Stadium for the first time since the Nixon Administration and lifting the lock record to 6-7 (.461), which is one better than where we were this time last season!

Shoppe Talk: Buckeyes finally show up on the predicted side of the number (4-7-1) but simply reduce their standing for post-season ackkkkkolades! Reno hosed us again with the upset of the Broncos (1-6) and were duly “rewarded” as noted above!

Vindy’s Championship Week Best Bets: Last Week: 3-2 Season: 27-32-1 (.458...BTW, we hear ya can write these off for tax purposes!). Slim pickin’s this week, folks. We’ll call UConn +1 ½ over SOUTH FLORIDA and nothing more.

Vin comes up for air, and heads off to feed and water his collection of NCAA garden gnomes (little !@%#!@!! drank all of Vindicator’s beer the last time they were left unsupervised for too long!). Not to worry....we’ll return circa December 16 with our infamous bowl predictions (and we might even provide some bonus coverage this time next week with our thoughts on the Army-Navy game!)

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