Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Vindy's 2012-13 Bowl Picks Part I


Despite ongoing concerns about violent collisions causing severe injury to players, even after limitations on the allowable number of players in the “wedge” and movement of the kickoff an additional five yards to create more touchbacks, the NFL rejected a recent suggestion to do away with kickoffs altogether in lieu of having teams either punt 10 yards from its own red zone or make a 4th-and-very long, at the risk of gift-wrapping excellent field position for opponents, should the try fail. Instead, officials are planning to mandate special-teams players to wear inflatable sumo-wrestler outfits. Opponents say the change would add more actual time to the game and create an almost-slow-motion feel for each kick-return. They do, however, acknowledge the entertainment value of watching athletes waddle downfield and bounce off each other in the process. Provisions will be made to keep extra suits available on each sideline, given the likelihood of incidental and “accidental” puncturing by cleats!

Army coulda’ won it outright and didn’t, but we’ll gladly take the 1-0 tally and make it 120-123 (.494) to-date. BTW, your Grinch-like gridiron-guru believes in safety too and we’re fresh outta’ bubble-wrap and Styrofoam peanuts, so inside that holiday package, protected by Cool Whip, Noxema shaving cream, Quaker Oats and stale Apple Jacks, you’ll find…

(Causin’ more morning-sickness than Princess Kate’s pregnancy!)

DEC. 15
GILDAN NEW MEXICO (@ Albuquerque, NM) (over/under in parentheses)

Nevada-Reno (+9 ½) over Arizona (75): Potential for semi-high-scoring track-meet here. ‘Cats allowed about 34 ppg, Reno yielded 32.5. Two of the country’s top four rushers take the field and neither side is especially adept at stopping the run. Reno covered just 3 of 11 FBS games, while AZ went mere 5-6. Wolfpack staggered into this on 1-4 SU/ATS skid. ‘Zona won 7 games (4-2 outright down the stretch) and shows quality losses to Oregon State and Stanford, by 3 and 6, respectively and did win 5 of 7 by double-digits. Vindy’s spies say former Wildcats QB Nick Foles would rather forfeit his Thursday-night NFL start for the Beagles vs. Cincinnati to be under center here!... Arizona 34 Nevada 29

Toledo (+10) over #18 Utah State (58 ½):
Second straight ‘Tater Bowl for USU, who lost here, 24-23, to Ohio last year. Too many points to give in game matching clubs that are very close in most statistical categories. The exception is points-allowed. Two-loss Aggies (by 2 at Wisconsin, by 3 to BYU) are #8 in total defense, yielding about 16 points per game. Rockets gave up 27 per contest. Nonetheless, USU racked up its numbers (including 8 wins by double-digits) vs. the mighty WAC. Each of Toledo’s three losses came by a touchdown and bowl dogs that cover often win outright to-boot, but we’ll just call…State 34 USS Enterprise 28

DEC. 20
Brigham Young (-2 ½) over San Diego State (49):
Have to wonder if either team is more excited about this pairing of former Mountain Jest conference-mates than we are. Aztecs were the better bettor squad, covering 8 of 11 Division I-A games and finishing regular-season on 7-0 SU run following back-to-back defeats by San Josie and Fresno in late September. Only four teams gave up fewer points than BYU…and two of ‘em will play for the national championship. And BTW, Mormons lost 17-14 in South Bend…Cougars 23 SDSU 16

DEC. 21
Ball State (+7) over Central Florida (61 ½):
Best guess for this bowl forecast’s “wish I had it back” pick (and it’s all we can do to not reverse our initial call as we type this!). Though this isn’t a true road-game for Ball State, Cardinals are 21-7 ATS getting points away from Muncie the past six years (7-2 last two seasons, including 3-0 this year, with upset wins at Indiana and Toledo). Gilded Knights last played in OT loss at Tulsa for C-USA crown. Both offenses were runners-up in their respective conferences in scoring (both at approximately 35 ppg). UCF led C-USA in scoring-prevention at 22.5 ppg. Birds…um…well…allowed 31 ppg. Central Florida limited MAC’s top-scoring team, Marshall, to 17 points…at Marshall. Cards in first post-season game since 2008. Knights, who can’t get that up to travel across the bridge for this one, missed 2011 bowls after 10-6 snoozer over Joja’ in 2010 and are 1-10 ATS last two years when final margin is a touchdown or less…UCF 31 Ball State 26

DEC. 22
East Carolina (+5 ½) over Louisiana-Lafayette (64 ½):
Ugggggh! Stand in line at the Post Office, consume mass-quantities of eggnog and fruit-cake, go shoppin’ at Toys-R-Us without pepper-spray, anything…just find something else to do…or watch some cheery, seasonal fare, such as…Santa Claws or …Silent Night, Bloody Night…on Syfy. or Reindeer Games on AMC. Pirates came alive in the second-half of the season to get here. Ragin’ Cajuns put Florida on-notice with close-loss in the Swamp. Neither stops the pass and the Buckos get the advantage stopping the run and employing the run. “Over” looks like the choice, but regarding a side, the coin, best two outta’ three, likes…UL-Lafayette 38 ECU 34

Washington (+5) over #20 Boise State (46):
Broncos are sayin’ all the politically-correct things, but a third-straight trip to Las Vegas for the post-season? Okay, mayhap we’re a little bias since we live here. UDUB had a tough early schedule, facing five ranked teams in their first eight games, but reeled off four consecutive victories before falling at rival Wazzou in overtime. Sled Dogs went on nice 6-3 spread-run after 0-2 start and did beat Rose Bowl-bound Stanford. They’ve fared well in low-scoring games, improving on last-season’s points-against average by more than a dozen per game, and we expects points to come hard here too. Can’t wait for the first Huskies player to get flagged for “roach-clipping on the return”…Boise State 20 Washington 17

DEC. 24
Fresno State (-11) over Southern Methodist (59 ½):
Researching the match-up, we rediscovered a handwritten note we made in the margin of FSU’s page in Phil Steele’s College Football 2012 Preview mag that reads…”Gotta’ protect ball”. After at least 7 seasons finishing with a minus-turnover ratio and minus-double-digit ratio the last four years, the Bulldogs have done exactly that…showing a plus-17 entering this one. That tiny stat has contributed to the 12th-ranked passing offense and an average 40-22 victory in any given week. Ponies, unfortunately, are stout vs. the run. That could make Fresno one-dimensional. No shame in Bulldogs’ one-point loss at C-USA champ Tulsa nor in losses at Oregon and Boise, all adding-up to 10-1 spread-record. Ponies play closer to the vest, outscoring foes by average of about 2.5 points per game. SMU was 10th in pass D in its own conference…Fresno State 44 SMU 24

DEC. 26
Central Michigan (+5) over Western Kentucky (58 ½): UPSET PICK OF DA’ WEEK #1.
Interestingly, the Sun Belt’s getting’ a lot of early love from the lines-makers as the Hilltoppers, like the Ragin’ Cajuns above, get installed as chalk. Western Kentucky, playing in first-ever I-A post-season, was beaten in four of its last six (going 1-4-1 against the spread). It did win at Kentucky (Who didn’t?! Fine…we’ll give the Wildcats the credit for beating Kent State)in September and smacked a Southern Miss team on a down year a week later. Chippewas took care of business late, winning and covering four of final five and posted a September road- victory over Iowa and have gone 2-2 SU/2-1-1 ATS in its previous four bowls, but haven’t played in December since ‘09. Much respect to third-year coach Willie Taggart, who led the ‘Toppers to a decent year, blemished-badly only by 35-0 rout at the hands of national title contender ‘Bama, and is now off to greener pasture$. But breaking news has WKU inking Bobby Petrino. His new charges won’t be hard to spot. No unis, just Harley Davidson jackets and matchin’ leather pants! …CMU 38 Sons of Anarchy 31

DEC. 27
Bowling Green (+7) over #24 San Jose State (47): UPSET PICK OF DA’ WEEK #2.
We have to cry “foul!” here. All seven (count ‘em, seven!) teams from the Mid-American Conference are getting points in their respective bowl games, while multiple teams from the WHACK…er…um…WAC…and Stun Belt…are favored (as we lamented earlier). Bee Gees ended year with six wins (and covers) in seven tries, losing only to Kent State. All four defeats came against other 2012 bowlers. Love what now-ex-coach Mike MacIntyre has done the last two years for the Spartans, who went 6-2 ATS as chalk this year, leaning on a passing game that registers 327+ yards per contest, and make just second bowl since 1990. We wish him well in his new role as head man at Colorado. Falcons, however, come in at #7, #9 and #13 in total D, scoring D (15.8 ppg) and pass D (106 ypg), respectively. No small feat for a MAC squad! If they can limit SJSU’s fave connection of Fales-to-Grigsby, Birds can win outright…BGU 28 San Jose State 24

BELK (@ Charlotte, NC)
Cincinnati (-7) over Duke (58 ½):
UC allowed an average of 14 ppg over its last five, with Rutgers being the lone loss in that span. Duke qualified early, then dropped five of its last six, getting walloped in four of the five defeats (losing by just 7 to end the regular-season vs. Miami team that probably already knew it was gonna’ sit-out the bowls). Cincy will be under new management for this one as Tennessee settled on former Bearkats coach Butch Jones, Rocky Top’s reported third-choice to replace Derek Dooley. We think UT shoulda’ offered a couple of future coaching picks to move up in the draft and grab Jon Gruden! Maybe it did and just didn’t tell Jones…Cincinnati 41 Duke 17

#17 Ucla (PK) over Baylor (79 ½):
Despite some success running the ball (7 ypc) in the rematch vs. Stanford, Bruins should enjoy near-unfettered freedom on offense facing the Bears after being somewhat-thwarted by Cardinal’s defense in back-to-back weeks. The bowl-season in general, and the nature of the match-up itself, suggest the best play is on the “over” as the punt teams should get most of the day off. A ground-effort similar to the one shown vs. Stanford should set-up play-action nicely for UCLA, and we figure the lay-off will be more of a detriment to Baylor’s late-season flurry than to the Bruins, who will take the time to re-group following the two losses. Jim Mora won’t want to squander a very good first-year campaign as coach by ending it with three consecutive defeats. UCLA will have to be more disciplined though, with 123 flags on the season, making Florida look more like a military academy. Unless ‘yer related to- or datin’ a defensive coordinator, this should be a fun, free-wheelin’ one to watch…UCLA 51 Baylor 44


BTW, we think the solution to the injury-problem is to have the tallest wide-receiver or tight-end from each team meet at da’ fitty-yard line and have the referee toss the ball into the air, a la pro and college hoops. The team winning the tip-off gets the ball somewhere between mid-field and its own 40-yard line! No concussion, no major medical maladies. At worst, an elbow in da’ chops! Problem solved!

In related safety news, hunters, including folks like Ted Nugent, are now allowed to be armed only with a bow and a quiver full of…possession-arrows!

We missed the opportunity to note this in the Army-Navy write-up, so we’ll put it here…required reading at West Point?…”Fitty Shades of da’ Long Grey Line”!!!! Oh myne-field!

New WKU coach Petrino wasted little time adding a new pass-route to the Hilltoppers’ playbook…called the “crossing-pattern of misleading behavior”!

The GOP said last week that Obama won the election, especially in Washington and Colorado, because he’s providing all the gifts to players on the bowl teams!
(“Duuuuuude….maybe he’s got Twinkies???!!!”). Ironically, the read-option is being resurrected by NFL teams on offense. Meanwhile, Wazzou, UDUB, Colorado, CSU and Air Force are implementing the…weed-option!

We quote Kris Kringle in Miracle on 34th Street…”Oh, Bowl Season’s not just a couple days, it’s a frame of mind.”

Bowl-less this season (don’t get us started!), the alma mater’s Sam Fickens plans to improve his field-goal success by hangin’ out with the Nifty Lions hoops team so he can practice by kickin’ the extra-point-guard on a regular basis!

Lookin’ to thrill that hard-to-buy-fer sports-gambler in your life this Christmas?...How ‘bout a beloved Sesame Street character and popular seasonal toy that dons the pads and a helmet, and implores consumers to…”Bet On Me Elmo!”

Vikes punter Chris Kluwe, in a not-so-sublime plug for a fellow kicker, slapped a Post-It note over the 50th-Anniversary Hall-of-Fame patch on his Minnesota uni Sunday, imploring readers to “Vote Ray Guy”. Not to be outdone, we donned a sticky-note of our own, proclaiming “Vote Cable Guy!”

On December 5th, Kobe Bryant scored his 30,000th point (Then he put down the Asteroids Game Boy…and broke an NBA record too!)

The club-formerly-known-as da’ Nawlins’ Hornets are changin’ the nickname to the New Orleans Pelicans! Staying with the coastal-fowl theme, we’re switchin’ da’ moniker to da’ Vegas Vin-tern-ator! (Vinty’s Picks???!!!)

Black Shirt: Goes to Army punter Chris Boldt , who, holding on a FG-try to end the first-half, salvaged a bad snap leading to the successful FG-try by Army that would give the Keydets the spread-dubya over Navy!

Vindy’s Bowl Best Bets Part I: Last Week: 0-0 Season: 36-32-1 (.529)
Cincinnati -8 over Duke, Central Michigan +6 over Western Kentucky, Boise State-Washington “under” 46

It’s da’ mossssssst wonderbowl tiiiiiime of…da’ yearrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!! To all our loyal readers, we extend the annual holiday greeting…”Pass on Earth. Goodwill toward linemen.” And “have yerself a Vindy little Christmas …!”

Now if you’ll excuse us, we’re gonna’ try to determine which of the gift-wrapped presents under our tree contain the highly-coveted Lord of the Rings Legos set: Smiegel vs. Rudy Edition, Skylanders Giants men’s skivvies, a gender-neutral Queasy-Bake Oven…and the ever-popular Black-Ops Barbie doll!

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