Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Vindy's Picks Week 1-2008


LAS VEGAS, Nevada (like there’s another one?) (CNN)....The Vegas Vindicator missed forecasting minicamp to shoot episodes of Lap-Dancing with the Stars. In fact, Vindy and his partner Iffia Rilliwaahmi garnered a 5th place finish (just missing the Olympic medal round!)! But the extended stint on the reality show cost the Weber Kid his starting role. While Vindy was grabbing his fifteen minutes of broadcast network fame, coaches moved on and gave the majority of the first-team forecasting snaps to Uno, the Westminster Best-In-Show beagle, relegating the not-so-omniscient oracle to the bench for the inaugural week of the 2008 season! Vin was notified of the decision to put the portending pup in the starting line-up upon his return from Hollywood. Responding to news of his demotion, Vindy told media, “Oh sure. Just a few weeks ago, I was showing (Uno) how to go mean...strap on...the pads...and how to get in and outta’ da’ sportsbook through the under-doggie door. This is the thanks I get. ‘Man’s best friend, my !!@*$#@!!!!”

This just in...the prognosticating pooch and the third- and emergency-string quarterbacks suffered torn ACLs in a “freak”, pre-game warm-ups “accident”. Guess who’s back in the saddle??!! The Weber Kid slips into his LZR Racer swimsuit, Obama-fist-bumps his 2008 preseason forecasting strategy team of ESPN broadcaster Dana Jacobson, Brian McNamee, Debbie Clemens, Matt Walsh, Client #9, the 2007-08 winless Fordham women’s and NJ Tech’s men’s hoops teams, Jackie Moon, the all-tel wizard, Kelly Tilghman, Kelvin Sampson, Chikeze, the Minot AFB 5th Bomb Wing, Racer X, Sweeney Todd, Kazuo Uzuki, Heather Mills, Mindy McCready, Kosuke Fukudome, Liz Wallace and Mallory Holtman of the Central Washington University softball team (all of whom, ironically, also made the VP running-mate short-list for Obama and/or McCain) and rings in this year’s spread campaign with a special Olympics edition (as opposed to a Special Olympics edition) of...

(Now in its 15th season...and still offending fewer people than Golfweek magazine!)

#23 Wake Forest over BAYLOR giving 12 1/2:
Freakin’ great! Vin opens the year with a Thursday nighter after going 5-11 on Thursdays last season (and currently on an 0-6 Thursday run including the bowls)! Hey, the Baltimore Orioles went 15 consecutive Sunday games without a victory before putting an end to that nonsense this past July. We’re hopin’ to stop the problem before it starts again this year! Bares have a new coach and a freshman at QB... Deacons 31 Baylor 13

SAT. AUG. 30
Georgia Southern @ #1 GEORGIA:
No line.

Youngstown State @ #2 OHIO STATE: No line.

#3 Southern Cal over VIRGINIA giving 19 ½: Hate to go against Al Groh here, but Cavs haven’t covered last three home openers (and Wyoming, Western Michigan and Duke don’t exactly compare to USC). Trojans are only 20-19 ATS over the previous three years, but with a bye up next before yet another “game of the century (or decade/season/week/morning/whatever) vs. Ohio State, we like...USC 42 Virginia 17

Chattanooga @ #4 OKLAHOMA: No line. (Given the Spooners’ 3-8-1 forecast record for 2007 [just missing post-season ack-olades], we ain’t crushed about the absence of a spread on this one!)

#5 FLORIDA over Hawaii giving 35 1/2: ‘Bows lost their coach and a bunch of starters from last year’s BCS bowl team, though 64 lettermen come back. The line opened around 28 and only real concern here is a young Gators defense (seven sophomores expected to start) if UH gets a deep-passing game going.. Including last year’s blowout loss to Georgia in the previously-noted post-season tilt, Hawaii is 2-7 ATS in last 9 vs. ranked squads...Florida 51 Hawaii 14

#6 Missouri over #20 Illinois giving 8 1/2 (@ St. Louis): We wavered on this one as the line continued to climb in favor of Mizzou, but we’ll go with the initial pick. Illini probably could’ve won this one last year and may look to avenge a cheap shot on QB Juice Williams. Tigers covered three of four neutral site tilts last season. Illini’s last three neutral ground matches have all been against Missouri, resulting in an 0-3 SU and ATS record. The loss of star RB Mendenhall to the Sunday league for Illinois may be the difference...Mizzou 30 Illinois 20

Appalachian State @ #7 LSU: No line. (Though in light of last year’s App State visit to Ann Arbor, maybe there oughta’ be! Bengals and Mountaineers battle to unify the FBS and FCS championship belts! OK, maybe not...but you get da’ point!)

Villanova @ #8 WEST VIRGINIA: No line.

#9 Clemson over #24 Alabama giving 5 (@Atlanta): This is a generous ranking for the Tide from the media in Vindy’s humble opinion. ‘Bama lost six games by a TD or less last season, but four of those were at home. Saban’s bowl hopes might rest on finale vs. Auburn team that hasn’t lost in six straight to the Crimson Tide. Clemson is one of the teams getting your host’s vote to play for the BCS title!..Clemson 20 Alabama 10

Louisiana-Monroe over #10 AUBURN taking 27: Best guess for season’s first “wish I had that one back” selection. Tigers’ new OC helped craft a bowl win over Wisconsin and could see his charges light the Warhawks up, but Auburn (the other half of the aforementioned BCS title game pairing) is just 5-9 ATS as home chalk the last two years, including a spread loss in 27-0 victory over Sun Belt club Arkansas State as a 32-point fave. ULM sporting nice 12-5 ATS record in last 17 as a road dog. Run-first offense keeps Weeziana close enough...Tigers 27 ULM 6

#11 TEXAS over Florida Atlantic giving 23 ½: FAU has covered just 3 of its previous 11 opportunities as a road dog and has been clobbered in its last three against ranked teams, failing to cover spreads of 24.5, 31 and 34.5. We’ll be all over da’ Owls, who return 18 starters from last year’s Sun Belt champion squad, for probably the rest of the season, but not here...Steers 37 Birds 9

Eastern Washington @ #12 TEXAS TECH: No line.

#13 WISCONSIN over Akron giving 26 ½: Four of Akron’s last five ranked opponents were Big Ten. Zips covered three of those four games and the lone spread loss was by a half-point. Nonetheless, Zips only return five defensive starters from ‘07 team that gave up 90 more total ypg and six more points-per-game than the ‘06 club. They were also 2-4-1 ATS as a road dog and will hit the bricks 7 times in 2008. Badgers are Vindy’s choice to win the Big Ten...Wisky 38 Akron 5

#14 KANSAS over Florida International giving 36: Panthers made nice gains over the course of last season, offensively and defensively. Jayhawks only 1-2 against the number playing Sun Belt squads the last three years, but crushed FIU by 52 last year. We don’t think Panthers improved quite enough..Birds 54 Cats 14

Northern Arizona @ #15 ARIZONA STATE: No line.

Northern Iowa @ #16 BYU: No line.

East Carolina over #17 Virginia Tech taking 10 (@Charlotte, NC): Hokies entered this game in 2007 off the April on-campus shooting tragedy in Blacksburg. Maybe a different emotional state this time. Tech is one of only two ranked squads opening on the road this week. Star RB Brandon Ore got dismissed earlier in the preseason. Fifteen starters and a truckload of lettermen come back for ECU squad that upset Boise State as double-digit dogs in last year’s post-season.. Pirates on 13-3 ATS run away from Greenville...Hokies 24 Bucs 17

Tennessee-Martin @ #19 SOUTH FLORIDA: No line.

#21 OREGON over Washington giving 13 1/2: LOCK OF DA’ WEEK. Put up or pack up time for the lamest “duck” on the field...Ty Willingham, who is probably in his final season at the UDUB helm. Huskies are 0-4 SU and ATS in last quad against Oregon. Despite four young, new starters at the skill positions for the Mallards ... Decoys 45 Sled Dogs 17

Coastal Carolina @ #22 PENN STATE: No line. (Hopefully, it doesn’t end up being “no Lion”!)

Utah over #24 MICHIGAN taking 3 1/2: Folks in Ann Arbor are simply happy to begin the ‘08 campaign facing a Division I-A team rather than Double-A squad Appalachian State! Are the Wolverines players loyal to new coach Rich Rodriguez or to Lloyd Carr? Utes defense needs to buck up against the run a bit. If it does...Utah 20 Michigan 16

Bowling Green over #25 PITT taking 12 ½: Panthers haven’t responded all that well to coach Dave Wannstedt, now in his fourth season. They did cover four of last six last year, but all four of those were as road dogs (while also going 1-3 ATS as home chalk). A potent Falcons offense actually has a shot at the upset here, but we’ll call...Pitt 28 BG 24

#18 Tennessee over UCLA giving 7:
Vols have posted back-to-back seasons of eight spread wins. The Uclans have four straight years of 7 or more ATS victories. A new coach and nine starters back might hamper that trend. Due to multiple injuries to several strings of UCLA quarterbacks, the Bruins’ man-under-center this week was promoted up yesterday from the scout team...of San Jose State!...Rocky Top 20 Bruins 7

BTW, prior to his television appearances, Vindicator grudgingly completed his summer internship with AT&T upon learning the position had more to do with cell-phone reception than sampling alcohol across the country after he answered a want-ad hawking “more bars in more places!”

We can’t remember where we read this one, and we’ll certainly credit the original source if we find it again during the season, all but one season from 1993 to 2007, at least two teams unranked in the Associated Press preseason Top 25 poll eventually finished in the AP Top 10 that same season. Your mission...should you choose to accept to figure out who the 2008 season interlopers will be. Our guess?...Two of three from Michigan State, Utah and Nebraska.

Players for both Appalachian State and LSU will be watching game tape of App State’s upset of Michigan in last year’s opener, but with two different views. Coaches for the Mountaineers will stress “This is what can happen if you believe enough.” Bengals coaches will note “This is what can happen if you believe too much.” In fact, our spies have revealed a plan for the LSU FG kicker to be assigned a personal protector!

A few more injuries to the Gators and the starting Florida defense woulda’ included those five Chinese Olympic mascots!

Extending the spirit of the Beijing Games just a little while longer, several NCAA teams have elected to put the best-looking athletes under center to lip-synch while the more-talented, but not-so-pretty quarterbacks bark signals over the PA systems from undisclosed off-field locations!

A reporter recently asked John McCain how many Big Houses are there in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He responded, “I’ll have my staff get back to you.”

Several thousand Chinese “volunteers” will be flown to West Point this week to fill in empty seats and politely cheer for both sides in the Temple-Army game!

Three little words to make the Beijing games more exciting...”Rubik’s Water Cube!” Picture hundreds of Chinese citizens manipulating giant mechanical hands twisting and turning the edges of the Olympic swimming competition venue until all nine panels on each side show the same color! Extra points awarded if no water is spilled from the pools!

Or how ‘bout....teams of guys wielding hedge shears, lawn mowers and weed whackers, simultaneously working in highly-choreographed movements to manicure landscapes and create world-class topiaries. We’re calling it... synchronized trimming!

In April, Mike Tyson was planning a tour of exhibition fights in Europe. In fact, sources close to the infamous pugilist said Iron Mike was also learning to say “I want to eat your children” in several languages. We also heard the first bout’s scheduled for Bitburg, Germany!

Shoppe Talk: Last season’s Grill-Master Supreme award-winning Trojans don’t open until Week Two, but USC henchmen Boston College and Hawaii (collectively tallying four forecast wins in seventeen tries for Vindy’s ‘07 regular season picks) get the chance to torment your haggard host right from the git-go!

Vindy’s Week 1 Best Bets: Vindicator hopes to get a jump on righting the ship after last season’s dismal 36.3% “best bet” success rate with...Michigan State +6 over CAL, NORTHWESTERN -12 over Syracuse, Utah-Michigan UNDER 41, Arkansas State +19 ½ over TEXAS A&M Season: 0-0 (.000)

Next week...more thoughts on the Olympics, silliness in the off-season and...the NFL! Now then, if you’ll excuse Vindy, he needs to go check the waiver wire for his fantasy bass-fishing league!