Saturday, December 29, 2012

Vindy's 2012-13 Bowl Predictions (Part III)


With both versions of Miracle on 34th Street playing on multiple televisions throughout the resort between broadcasts of NBA games, NCAA hoops and college bowls, a sports-book ticket-writer at the MGM, like the classic Macy’s-over-Gimbels maneuver in the 1947 and 1999 editions of the film, “put the spirit of Christmas ahead of the almighty dollar”, redirecting gamblers to other casinos who had the games-in-question at better prices or friendlier spreads. Said one anonymous patron…”I never wagered on games here before, but from now on, I’m gonna’ be a regular-bettor at the MGM!”

We’ll spend the final evening of 2012 peekin’ through our fingers at the Tales from the Crypt New Year’s Shockin’ Eve marathon on Fear.Net, but getting a fresh start and a new perspective on things the next morning, with blood-shot eyes wide-open we’ll closely-follow the progress of…

(The ultimate re-gift!)

JAN. 1
TAXSLAYER.COM GATOR (@ Jacksonville, FL)
#21 Northwestern (+1 ½) over Mississippi State (53):
Wildcats won 10 total games this season and covered 10 of 11 vs. I-A teams, losing by 1 to Nebraska and at Ann Arbor in extra frames. Bulldogs were ranked much of the year, but feasted on a cupcake schedule early en route to 7-0 start, but quickly became transparent in significant losses to ‘Bama, A&M, LSU and rival Ole Miss in regular-season finale around a good win over disappointing Arkansas, missing the spread-win four times in those five tilts. N-DUB went 4-0 outright facing non-conference opponents in 2012 and 14-5 across the past four seasons. ‘Cats have been defeated in four consecutive post-season matches, but covered three of ‘em (though getting more than a touchdown in each). We expect the straight-up victory here… Purple Persians 27 MSU 20

Purdue (+17) over Oklahoma State (70):
Seventeen. Widest offered-margin of the bowl season. We’ll favor an “under” here, with at least one, probably both, side(s) prepping without the offensive coordinators that got ‘em to this point. Cowpokes scoring-guru bolted for Southern Miss, and Boilers’ OC will be sidelined while recovering from December surgery. State finished the year at 4th in points-scored (44.7 per game), mostly thru the air behind QB-tandem JW Walsh and Clint Chelf. RB Joseph Randle turned-in a Top 20 rushing effort at 112 ypg. Purdue hit the scoreboard for about 30 per contest with a better-balanced attack. Purdue covered both road-losses admirably, losing at Notre Dame by 3 and in Columbus by 7, and should be motivated to challenge OKSU team that spent time in the Top 25 after facing a pair of ho-hum MAC teams in previous two bowls. Quoting a Pepsi commercial featuring a member of One Direction at wide-receiver and a former Boilermaker quarterback…”Hit me, Drew!”… Cowboys 34 Choo-Choos 27

OUTBACK (@ Tampa, FL)
#11 South Carolina (-6) over #19 Michigan (48):
Wolverines will be minus starters at corner and punter due to violations of team rules and frankly, are lucky to have Denard Robinson for this one after the dual-threat QB was charged recently with operatin’ a vehicle on a suspended-license and failing to (call) signal(s). Big Bluto couldn’t take advantage of a year when rival Buckeyes and Vindy’s alma mater were both ineligible to play beyond November and lost the Rose Bowl bid to non-Top 25 Cheese-Heads. Both sides are without preferred rushing-options due to injury. Wolverines are minus-eight in turnover ratio. Chicken Nuggets are plus-seven in miscues, covered 8 of 11 and lost only at LSU and at Florida. Coach Spurrier will have no reason to launch the head-set…Tenders 24 Red Dawn 13

CAPITAL ONE (@ Orlando, FL)
#6 Georgia (-10) over #23 Nebraska (60 ½):
Which was more-inspirational to fare well here…’Dawgs four-point defeat to ‘Bama that kept ‘em from BCS title game or 39-point loss to Wisconsin that prevented a chance to play in the Rose Bowl? Neither side’s previous post-seasons ended well. Big Dread’s rush defense is one of the nation’s worst, and second-worst among 2012 bowlers. Joja’ plowed through its last five games before that tough one vs. Tide. UGA ground game should be enough to set up play-action by Aaron Murray and carry Georgia to cover of double-digit line…Joja’ 41 Children of da’ Corn 24

Wisconsin (+6 ½) over #8 Stanford (47):
Et tu, Brute?!” OUCH! Just like da’ MAC, all the Big Tenderfoot Conference bowlers were assigned the underdog role. Despite losing three of last five games (2-3 ATS and all three in overtime), Badgers spent November lookin’ a bit more like the squad we all expected to show up in September! This one should feature heavy doses of the run by Wisky’s Montee Ball and Stanford’s Stepfan Taylor against very good rush defenses. Three of Cardinals’ final four games were decided by 4 or less, and a missed 52-yard FG try by UCLA with under a minute to go in the PAC-12 championship bought SU the Rose berth. Getting almost a touchdown here is too good to pass up…Trees 21 Wisconsin 20

#13 Florida State (-13) over #16 Northern Illinois (58 ½):
12-1 Huskies have to be stoked to be in the Orange Bowl. It’s a nice destination as far as the ‘Noles are concerned too. Former NIU coach Dave Doeren has jumped-ship to NC State. Huskies ran the table after 1-point road loss at Iowa to kick-off the year and escaped with track-meet victory over then-ranked Kent State, in double-extras, to claim the MAC Championship. NIU’s only other recent game vs. a Top 25 foe resulted in 49-7 loss to #7 Wisconsin last season. ‘Noles have covered bowls in each of the past eight years, though none with a line quite this big. State allowed just 10 rushing scores all year. ‘Dogs ran into the end zone 44 times in 2012. If Dishonorable-Mention “award”-winning Seminoles (now 3-8 in 11 ‘Picks appearances) secure the pigskin…FSU 34 NIU 17

JAN. 2
ALLSTATE SUGAR (@ Nawlins, Louisiana)
#4 Florida (-14) over #22 Louisville (45 ½):
Cardinals defeated the only defense they saw that was even close to that of Florida, in the form of Rutgers, whom they beat by 3. Gators knocked off the two recognizable defenses they faced, LSU and Florida State, by 8 and 11, respectively. Seven of Louisville’s games saw a final margin of seven or less (and an 8th by 10), but the Sluggers suffered unbelievable back-to-back losses by 19 at Syracuse and by 3 in triple-extras to…UConn? UF has won and covered four consecutive post-season outings, though just one by this many. With Tim Tease-Me requesting a trade and Florida needing a boost on offense, Vindy’s spies heard a clandestine deal is in progress that would give the ex-Gator QB a year of NCAA eligibility in exchange for several first-round draft choices from the Gainesville “farm team” to the Jets!...Crocs 28 Louisville 12

JAN. 3
#7 Kansas State (+9) over #5 Oregon (76): UPSET ALERT.
As always, the Mallards put up gaudy numbers en route to beating and covering against four of five ranked opponents, but all in PAC-12 play. Ducks lone loss came on Da’ Pond by 3 to Stanford. State lost its only game to Baylor with Colin Klein at less than 100% healthy. If KSU can’t stop Ducks’ RB Kenjon Barner, it can at least run with him. Oregon’s passing game will have to contend with Ty Zimmerman and Nigel Malone, who have five interceptions each. Despite scoring early and often, Drakes committed 98 penalties. ‘Cats won’t hurt themselves, showing just 42 flags on the year. Nine of the Wildcats’ games ended below this total. Two more fell right on the number. Half of the Ducks’ matches also came in below the total. A victory gives UO a dozen wins for the third time in as many seasons. K-State has lost its last four bowls, covering none. We think that changes here…Kansas State 34 Oregon 30

JAN. 4
AT&T COTTON (@ Arlington, TX)
#12 Oklahoma (+4) over #10 Texas A&M (72): UPSET PICK OF DA’ WEEK.
Stealing a line from White Christmas, we say, ”Lord, help the sister that comes between me and my Manziel”???!! Wonder if he’s familiarized himself with the Statue of Liberty play? If Dirty Harry visits the Aggies’ locker room prior to the game, will hear him say…A good Manziel always knows his limitations”??!! Alright, in all seriousness…two words…Heisman curse. Can’t challenge the fave status of a team that upset half the national game-pairing, but it’s been a lotta’ time to think for a redshirt-freshman playin’ way over his head. Johnny Football came under scrutiny for an untimely visit to a courtside seat at an NBA game this month. Manziel reportedly bought the extravagant ticket for purposes of pampering himself. In any case, we question the timing of his decision to do so. Boomer-Sooner has won three straight bowls, covering two as double-digit chalk and five of last six on neutral ground. As such, we give the experience edge to senior Landry Jones at quarterback and note Oklahoma’s pass defense has allowed nine aerial scores while grabbing a dozen interceptions. Aggies yield 22.5 ppg, Okie-Dokie gives up just a tad higher than 22…Oklahoma 40 A&M 28

JAN. 5
BBVA COMPASS (@ Birmingham, AL)
Mississippi (-3 ½) over Pittsburgh (53):
Rebels were surprisingly-competitive this year under first-year coach Hugh Freeze, turning last year’s 2-10 SU/3-8 ATS season into bowl-eligibility. SEC losses weren’t bad…by 1 to Vandy, by 3 to A&M and by 6 in Baton Rouge. Pitt recovered from ugly early woes, including loss to AA-Youngstown, and inexplicable defeat by UConn in November to blast Rutgers and South Florida to close the regular-season and get fifth straight bowl berth and a 7-3 ATS record in I-A play. Panthers QB Tino Sunseri has nice 19-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio, but suffered 34 sacks. Both like to throw and combined for an average of 57 points per game on offense. We look for a more-conservative contest though…Mississippi 27 Pitt 19

JAN. 6
#25 Kent State (+4) over Arkansas State (61): LOCK OF DA’ BOWLS.
First bowl since 1976 Tangerine Bowl for the underdog and Kent State coach Hazell, who helped his squad achieve nifty 9-2-1 spread record, has accepted a job elsewhere but will still draw up X’s and O’s in real-time for this one! Golden Flashes, who have a lotta’ senior leadership, took BCS-Buster Northern Illinois to double-overtime before falling for its only defeat since 9/8 loss at Kentucky. To-date, the MAC has gone 1-3 SU/ATS this post-season. The Stun Belt ain’t farin’ much better at 1-2 SU/ATS with Lafayette turning a late INT into a late cover vs. ECU, who had multiple turnovers. Redhawks ran the Fun Belt table after losing conference opener to Western Kentucky, have a high-powered offense and a respectable defense, but we lean toward an “over” given nine of Kent’s games finished over the total, as did six of ASU’s seven conference games. Flashes’ run-heavy attack should grind out the straight-up win over ASU, who got walloped in last season’s Gratuitous Danica Patrick Advertisements Bowl…Kent State 38 Arkie State 28

JAN. 7
#1 Notre Dame (+9 ½) over #2 Alabama (41 ½):
Between the outright upset by Texas A&M and Georgia’s sturdy effort in a close loss in the SEC title match, the Tide is obviously not invincible, and the Leprechauns should have a blue-print to unseating the defending champ. The Heisman win by an aforementioned Big 12 quarterback avoids the bugaboo of said-hardware for Manti Te’O vs. the perceived-prowess of the conference in which its opponent plays. Lindy’s Sports CFB preview mag noted 5 of last 10 national champs had defenses ranking in the top 3. Make it 6 of 11. Top total defense? The Leprechauns (allowing meager 10.3 ppg). Runner-up? Tide (giving up 10.7 on average). The rushing defenses come in at #3 and #2, respectively, behind BYU (though we thank the Coogs’ pass-D for a pair of INT-for-TD in the 4th Quarter of the Poindexter … uh…Laser-Pointer…um…Point-spread…Bowl, giving BYU the win and the cover for Vindy’s Picks!). “’Bama got run over by a reindeer”????!!! “Win one for the Gibberish!”...Catholics 17 Alabama 16


At mediocre 7-7 in the bowls through December 28, Vindy admits to being “just a nice man with a white beard…just like Mother said!”

During one of the many evolutions of “A Christmas Carol”, yer Nativity-narrator is pretty-sure he heard Scrooge quip…”Go and buy some more coal…before you dot another I-formation, Bob Cratchit!” (Or for Buckeyes fans…”before you dot another “i” in script-Ohio, Bob Cratchit!”)

The Mayans, or at least the folks who believed the ancient civilization forecasted the planet’s demise, were on the wrong side of the over-under for Mankind’s swan-song, and those who merely teased the date, getting almost an extra week to December 27, ended up trashing their tickets as well. Games were played. Teams won…and lost. Zombies didn’t take the field or the court or the gridiron…or even the ice at sub-NHL levels. But just fer grits-and- shins, your frenetic forecaster went to the local airport in tattered clothing and creepy make-up to unsettle passengers by yelling “Plaaaaaaaaaannnnnes.” The folks from TSA were not amused.

Damn-good thing the supposed-doomsday didn’t come to pass. We visited the Vegas Zombie Apocalypse store on the predicted eve-of-destruction. All they had left was a BBQ-fork, a Super-Soaker and a handful of water-balloons!

Capital One meets Braveheart…”What’s in your William Wallace???!!!

We spent Christmas Eve watchin’ a Jimmy Stewart Christmas classic re-made at the home-venue of the Miami Dolphins, called…”It’s a Wonderful Sun-Life Stadium”!

During its broadcast of the preseason Cincinnati-Atlanta game, FOX introduced “Goose-Cam” (ie. video of the game from the perspective of Tony Siragusa). If there had been a game on December 25th, would we have watched plays via the Christmas-Goose Cam?

The Rebels’ athletic director had a conversation with the Big Least about UNLV becoming a football-only member. So the annual rivalry would be what? Vegas-UConn? Sin City-South Florida???!!!

Speaking of local amenities and references, the NCAA set a $550 cap on per-player bowl SWAG. Does it strike anyone else odd that $550 represents a $500 value…plus the standard 10% vigorish common to sports-wagers in Las Vegas, off-shore and… um…elsewhere???!!!

Vindy spent some time watchin’ Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis doink a few holiday field-goal tries off the uprights and draw nuthin’ but iron from the charity-stripe in…”Christmas With Da’ Clanks”!!!”

Black Shirt: We fork-over the ebony tee to Western Kentucky interim coach Lance Guidry for unsuccessfully going for it on 4th-and-2 instead of a tying, chip-shot FG with a minute left, validating our upset pick by Central Michigan! Honorable mention to Cincy’s Nick Temple for his 55-yard pick-six that gave the Bearkats the cover vs. Duke, bringing home one of our “best bets” and to Bobcats’ Ian Wells for blocking a ULM FG, keeping the score “under” 60 (also one of our “best bets”).

Vindy’s Bowl Best Bets Part III: Parts I & II (thru Dec 28): 3-1 Season: 39-33-1 (.542)

Purdue +17 over Oklahoma State, Wisconsin +6 ½ over Stanford, South Carolina-Michigan “under” 48

Tune in one more time a few days after the National Championship for our bowl recap and leftover “hash”! Meanwhile, we’re off to locate some point-spreads on…the Hunger Games!

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