Friday, December 19, 2008

Vindy's 2008-09 Bowl Picks- Part Deux

DEC. 28
Northern Illinois over Louisiana Tech giving 1 ½ (47): LOCK OF DA’ BOWLS.
Rookie NIU head coach Jerry Kill inherited 20 returning starters and took advantage of that to increase the Huskies points-scored by 6 per game (to average of 25), while lowering points-against by nearly two touchdowns per game (to average of 18). NIU did lose 3 of final 4 SU, but against high-powered offenses of Ball State and Central Michigan. Weeziana Tech can score as well, but big points came at the expense of WAC squads New Mexico State, Idaho and Utah State (38 in an outright loss), while putting up just 7 as one of Army’s trio of straight-up victories. Huskies could throw a shutout, but let’s call it...NIU 23 LT 7

DEC. 29
NC State over Rutgers taking 7 (53):
Best guess for “wish I had it back”. Rutgers was left for dead after an 0-3 SU/ATS start, but covered its final eight games, winning six outright. Lowest rushing yardage totals for University of NJ since 84 ypg in 2004, but Mike Teel has given the Knights a potent air attack. On the other side of the field, Coach O’Brien has ‘Pack returning to the bowls after team went 3-9 just three seasons ago. O’Brien led Boston College to seven straight bowl victories before joining NC State. It’s okay to take a Knight to a gunfight, but we’ll just take the points...Rutgers 24 NCSU 20

#22 Northwestern taking #25 Missouri taking 13 (66):
We like the “over” more than a side here. Wildcats decent defensively, but gave up 45 to Ohio State and 37 to Michigan State. Regular readers know we’ve been lambasting the Tigers “defense” all season. Mizzou crushed Arkansas in a bowl last year following three-TD defeat by Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship en route to third-straight bowl cover (2-1 SU), but we expect NW to light up the scoreboard enough in first bowl under Coach Pat Fitzgerald (and while we’re making another conservative call, the upset would not shock this prognosticator)...Tigers 44 NW 34

DEC. 30
Maryland over Nevada-Reno taking 1 (58):
Curious line, except Terps’ adjustment to a new offensive coordinator this year shows in a 4-ppg decrease in points-scored. Still, we like Maryland’s ACC-caliber D over Reno’s wild-and-wooly WAC offense (which has yielded just a 1-2 SU/ATS result in last three bowls)... Box Turtles 31 UNR 28

Rice over Western Michigan giving 3 (73):
This got lock consideration. Virtually a home game for the Owls, who addition to having a pass-heavy offense, also get it done on the ground. Not good news for WMU team that thrives on just outscoring its opponents. Broncos average turnovers per game. Can’t give the Owls a short field. A french Olympic swimmer and Rice fan (don’t ask) was quoted as saying, “The Mid-Americans? We’re gonna’ smash ‘em. That’s what we came here for.”...Owls 52 WMU 38

#13 Oklahoma State over #15 Oregon giving 3 (76 ½):
Second-highest over/under total of all 34 bowls. At first glance, the total appears justified. But a more in-depth look reveals both teams favoring the rush (though Cowpokes have racked nearly as much passing yardage) and a quickly-moving, lower-scoring game. Ducks beat up on weak Pacifist Ten foes, while State went toe-to-toe with the stellar Big 12 South. Mallards lost at home to Boise. Cowboys lost by 4 in Austin. Cowpokes and the “under” gets the vote...OKSU 38 Decoys 31

DEC. 31
Air Force over Houston taking 2 ½ (64):
Pairing of two squads with completely different philosophies. Cougars live to pass, while the only passing done by the Pilots involves waking past opposing players back to huddle following runs for first-downs! Flyboys won in mid-September 31-28 at Houston. Coogs hung 70 on Tulsa, but are on 0-3 SU/ATS bowl slide...USAF 29 UH-OH 27

#24 Oregon State over #18 Pittsburgh giving 3 (52 ½):
Beavers probably deserving of fave role here since they had been on 8-1 ATS run until losing the RB component of the Rodgers brothers before bad loss to Oregon. Panthers took four of final five outright to get here (though we discount wins over Notre Dame and Louisville, props to Pitt for blowout of Connecticut!) And got points in four of ‘em. How weird it would be if Panthers win, Trojans cover vs. Penn State, who belted the Beavers, who tripped up Southern Cal. Pitt’s ast bowl “appearance” was 35-7 loss to Utah in 2004... Beavers 34 Pitt 20

Boston College over Vanderbilt giving 3 ½ (41):
Another game we ike to go under the total. While failing tio cover the past two, Eagles have won bowls in each of the last 8 seasons. Admirals opened 5-0 straight up, but struggled mightily to get that bowl-eligibility-securing 6th victory (mid-November at Kentucky) and posted 14 just one time in last eight tilts to stumble into first post-season competition since 1982...BC 19 Vandy 7

Minnesota over Kansas taking 10 (57 ½):
gO-Fers offense went seriously-dormant in conference play, but the much-improved defense kept Minny in most of its games (55-0 loss to Iowa in season-ender the obvious exception!). As Todd Reesing’s passing goes, so goes Kansas. Fightin’ Mangones drew horrible conference slate this year, facing Oklahoma in Norman, Texas Tech and Texas. Jayhawks recorded seven wins, but vs... Florida International, Weeziana Tech, I-AA Sam Houston State, at Iowa State (barely) and Colorado. Only option here is to grab the grab the ten-spot...Birds 34 Gilded Gerbils 27

#14 Georgia Tech over Louisiana State giving 4 (50):
If they didn’t do so before, the Bees players (and their foes) now believe in Coach Johnson’s triple-option! Bengals pretty good stopping the run (106 ypg allowed), but went 2-9 against the number, are on 3-15-2 spread death-spiral and almost lost to Troy as 20-point chalk. State seniors have little to play for. ‘Jackets defeated SEC opponents at both ends of the spectrum... Mississippi State and Georgia... Ramblin’ Wreck 20 Paper Tigers 12

JAN. 1 (“Hey look, Mr. Bill....these are all Thursday games!” “Oh, noooooooooooooooooo.....!”)
Iowa over South Carolina giving 3 ½ (43):
Smallish line shows some respect for Gamehens squad that lost three of its last five and turns the ball over almost three times a game! By contrast, Hawkeyes won five of its last six to get here. Steve Spurrier better become the “Ol’ Ball-Protection Coach” or his folks are in trouble vs. Iowa club that’s covered three of last four post-season trips (against the likes of Texas, LSU and Florida ...twice!)...Hawkeyes 27 Chicken Nuggets 9

#16 Georgia over #19 Michigan State giving 7 ½ (54):
What will be the mind-set of the Bulldogs after squandering huge lead in loss to Joja’ Tech? Georgia has been backer-friendly in the bowls, going 7-3 ATS the last 10 years. After hearing how good Hawaii was for a couple weeks last season, Joja’ trashed the ‘Bows. No such hype surrounding State this time, but we like UGA anyway...’Dawgs 38 MSU 19

Nebraska over Clemson taking 2 ½ (55 ½):
Tigers were one of season’s biggest busts (as noted in an earlier forecast, we had a futures wager on Clemson to win it all), but won and covered 3 of last 4. And though Tigers allowed 34 points to ‘Bama and 41 to FSU, no other opponent scored more than 21. Tigers have given points in each of the last three years’ bowls, but won just one and covered none of ‘em! Bo Pelini has returned the Huskers to an eight-win season and coached Big Dread to an OT loss at Texas Tech, but the defense still has issues...Nebraska 31 Clemson 30

#5 Southern Cal over #6 Penn State giving 10 (45):
Oh, the shame! But the pick is more head than heart. Lions just one bad 4th Quarter defensive series away from a title shot in Miami, yet also just a lone Buckeyes turnover from two losses and being completely outta’ the championship conversation. Just two State foes put up more than teens on the scoreboard (24 each by Illinois and Iowa). SoCal is even better, allowing just two opponents more than 10 (23 to Stanford and 27 in only outright loss at Oregon State) and while it lost four of last 6 ATS, none of those saw a spread this low. Trojans won’t likely get anything going vs. State’s run stoppers, but the Lions’ pass defense, especially on 3rd-and-long, is an exploitable weakness. Big Tent-Peg Conference is on 0-4 SU Rose Bowl skid. Trojans have won and covered 5 of last 6 post-season games, and three of last four tries in Pasadena (convincingly!). While we’ll accept a SoCal spread win or an outright victory by the Lions, a State defeat covering the line is of no consolation to this proud, but skeptical alum...USC 29 PSU 14

#12 Cincinnati over #21 Virginia Tech giving 1 ½ (42):
As always, defense is the strength of the Hokies (last five opponents scored in the teens or less and Tech is plus-11 in take-aways). Bearkats need to do better protecting the passer (yielded 30 sacks this season) and the ball itself (minus-5 turnovers). Tech is only 2-5 vs. the number in last 7 bowls (winning two outright), while Cincy has covered just 1 of last 6 post-season tilts. ‘Kats did close the year with five SU victories, have won three straight bowls (though only over Southern Miss, Western Michigan and Marshall) and have revenge factor for 29-13 loss at Virginia Tech in 2006...UC 27 VT 23

JAN. 2
#20 Mississippi over #8 Texas Tech taking 5 ½ (70 1/2):
Yeah, Vindicator has a snowball’s chance of pickin’ the correct side here. The Tarot deck likes Tech, the coin backed Ole Miss 6 outta’ 10. The Magic 8-Ball responded, “You gotta’ be kiddin’ me!” and Auntie Entity’s wheel favored “dismemberment” (but bowl committee members typically look down upon that [though Dick Cheney has recently come out in favor of water-boarding !]). Go! Run! Save yourselves!...Rebels 31 Red Raiders 29

Kentucky over East Carolina taking 2 (42):
This one got “lock” votes. We were seriously hopin’ see the Pirates getting about a touchdown because they’ve won their last five games outright when taking 8 ½ or more points (including last season’s bowl win over Boise State getting double-digits). ECU fizzled a bit after opening upsets over Virginia Tech and West Virginia, following that success with a four-point squeaker over Tulane and three straight losses. Pirates didn’t get the booty as chalk this season, going just 2-6-1. Wildcats had some poor moments, but lost at ‘Bama by a FG...Kentucky 24 East Carolina 17

#7 Utah over #4 Alabama taking 10 ½ (45):
If both defenses dominate they way they can, this will be a close, low-scoring game. Between LSU and his first year at ‘Bama, Nick Saban has gone 4-2 SU/ATS in his last six bowl opportunities, but didn’t lay double-digits in any of ‘em. Key match-up here might be Tide’s rushing game (196.5 ypg) vs. Utes run defense (107.2 ypg allowed). Given that TCU had Utah on the ropes before losing and conspiracy theory noted earlier regarding the BYU game, Utes’ best win of the season mighta’ been 31-28 victory over Oregon State. Senior QB Brian Johnson is a good signal-caller, but Tim Tebow he ain’t. Still, we take Utah as the only BCS bowl doggie we’‘ll back...Tide 23 Utes 17

JAN. 3
Buffalo over Connecticut taking 4 (51 1/2):
Both teams relatively new to I-A post-season play as UConn enters only its third bowl, while Bulls make their bowl debut. Run-heavy Huskies spanked eventual Big Least champ Cincinnati, but crawl into January having dropped 3 of last 4 games outright (beating only Syracuse). Buffalo prefers the air game and its best shot at a victory might be drawing the Dogs into a shootout. Bulls coach Turner Gill interviewed at Syracuse and Auburn, but just signed one year extension for more moola at Buffalo. That should work in Buffalo’s favor. Bulls fans can save plane fare and just skate across Lake Ontario to the Great White North.... UConn 27 Buffalo 24

JAN. 5
#3 Texas over #10 Ohio State giving 9 ½ (53 ½):
There’s more pressure on Texas here to prove the BCS folks made the wrong choice sending Oklahoma to the Big 12 championship game. We think Mack Brown will be more than happy to oblige and will run it up given the opportunity. Buckeyes like playing in Glendale, having won the Fiesta Bowls in ‘02, ‘03 and ‘05, but none of those teams compared to this year’s ‘Horns (except maybe Miami’s then-undefeated 2002 squad) and State is pedestrian 4-5 ATS in last 9 post-season trips. UT no bargain either at 4-6 ATS in last ten bowls. Steers covered two of last three, but did not cover a minus-9 vs. Iowa in 2006...Texas 34 Ohio State 23

JAN. 6
Tulsa over #23 Ball State taking 2 ½ (77):
Well, one sure-fire way to get detractors off your back for criticizing your decision to decline an offer to play another undefeated team in a bowl game is to get trounced in your conference title by your 15-point underdog opponent and prove yourself not worthy to begin with! Not sure what the Cardinals have left to gain with a victory...the perfect season? Gone? MAC title? Gone. Coach Hoke? Gone... to coach San Diego State???!!!. Golden Hurricane forfeited the C-USA crown via seven (count ‘em, seven!) turnovers vs. ECU. First underdog game for Tulsa since 2007 MAC championship match...Tulsa 38 BSU 34

JAN. 8
#1 Florida over #2 Oklahoma giving 3 (72):
Gators beat previously-undefeated Crimson Tide without Percy Harvin and minus a couple of defensive players as well. Sooners faced only one other team with a great defense ... TCU...and blew it out, but Toads didn’t have the weapons on offense that Florida does. Also detracting from Boomer Schooner’s title hopes is that piece of hardware called the Heisman Trophy...won recently by OK QB Sam Bradford. The last three owners of that award failed to lead their teams to a straight-up bowl win. We refer you to...’05 weiner Reggie Bush (USC lost to Texas in the Rose Bowl [Anybody remember some guy named...Vince Young???!!]), ‘06 weiner Troy Smith (Buckeyes lost the BCS National Title to Florida) and (GASP!)...’07 weiner...some kid named Tebow... (Gators lost to Michigan in the Capital One Bowl!). We also lean toward the “over” here. This just in...Sooners star RB (and Las Vegas product) DeMarco Murray will miss the game. Not necessarily a show-stopper, but it definitely hurts Oklahoma...Florida 44 Sooners 33

Oh, the beer in my hand’s delightful,
And Vindy’s Picks sooooooooo insightful.
Even if they’re not in the poll,
Let ‘em bowl! Let ‘em bowl! Let ‘em bowl!

The points show no signs of stoppin’,
Despite all those pads a’poppin’,
The fans really love them so,
Let ‘em bowl! Let ‘em bowl! Let ‘em bowl!

When the last bowl game ends for the night,
How depressed I will be ‘til the Fall.
But if all of Vin’s picks are right,
I can say I at least had a ball.

Painted logos are quickly dryin’,
And the sponsors all hope we’re buyin’.
The scoreboard shows first-and-goal,
Let ‘em bowl! Let ‘em bowl! Let ‘em bowl!

Iiiii’ll be in a bowwwwl....for Chrisssstmassss...if onnnnnly.... innnnn.... myyyyyyy.....dreeeeams!

Just a thought on Brigham Young’s selection to the Las Vegas Bowl over Texas Christian...cue-up the Pink Floyd...”Money, it’s a hit. Don’t give me that T-C-U bullsh*t”. It’s no secret the Cougars are traveling yet-again to our national gambling mecca because they put butts in the stadium seats, but ‘bout a little variety???!!! And the beer vendors have to throw elbows as they try to make an alcoholic buck packed into whichever end zone the BYU opponents’ fans occupy!

OJ Simpson formally became a “guest” at a Southern Nevada correctional facility earlier this month (news flash...the Trojan/Buffalo rushing star is now in more-Northern Nevada grey-bar hotel). Maybe they’ll eventually retire his prisoner number (No. 1027820)! Wonder what his rookie prison year card will fetch! Anybody else out there see the irony in OJ’s role as a cop in the Naked Gun movie series???!!!!

Penn State’s Nittany Lion mascot, James Sheep, is suspended for the Rose Bowl after sustaining a DUI charge not long before PSU blew out Michigan State. Not to worry, he was offered a temp contract to don the Stanford tree costume until he’s reinstated in 2009...and a scholarship by Florida State! BTW, the police report quotes the wayward Sheep as calling out, “Joe Paaaaaaaaahhhhhhh” as he was hauled away in handcuffs by Happy Valley’s finest!

During a farewell appearance earlier this month in Baghdad, President Bush was the target of a pair of shoes, launched by an Iraqi journalist. Dubya tried to make the grab, but couldn’t reel in the footwear. In his defense, however, the shoes were thrown a little behind him and the outbound Commander-in-Chief trotted out of the conference room as the Secret Service sent in the punting unit. Anybody else out there foresee a NIKE commercial/satire to be aired during the upcoming Super Bowl???!! The original play called for Birkenstocks, but the Iraqi checked off at the line of scrimmage to Pradas after looking over the defense. The journalist later apologized for his actions, noting his mistook the president for a member of the Fightin’ Irish football team!

Following up on Vindy’s last discussion of the Army’s “coffee with a soldier” light of the Hudson River Rats 34-0 neutral site loss to Navy, are there latte-lappin’ linemen? Did the motto change to one of the following: “Bean all you can bean”, “I am a cappuccino of one!” or “You make ‘em strong. We make ‘em espresso strong!”

Condi Rice was quoted this week as saying, “Only an idiot would trust Vindy’s pick on the Texas Tech game!” CollegeFootballNews.Com’s Clucko the Chicken selected Ole Miss over Texas Tech with a confidence-point ranking of 28 (1 being lowest confidence, 34 being the highest). BTW, Vindy and Clucko are practically related. The family tree-house suggests third cousins-four times removed (and those are just the incidents that actually made the official police blotter!).

“Wish I Had It Back”: Yeah, we’d like to revisit the Cincinnati -7 ½ over HAWAII pick after questioning the Bearkats’ motivation given the already-accepted berth in the Orange Bowl!

“Locked in a Box”: The Oklahoma Sooners left little doubt about covering the Big 12 Championship game and raised the lock record to 13-2 (.867)!

Vindy’s 2008 Bowl Season Best Bets: Championship Week: 1-0 (One pick?! That wuss!) Season: 38-25-1 (.603)
Rice -3 over Western Michigan, Boston College/Vanderbilt “under” 41, Joja’ Tech/LSU “under” 50, Kentucky +2 over East Carolina

Vindicator offers his annual holiday greetings to all his faithful readers...Pass on Earth, Goodwill Toward Linemen. On top of ‘dat, we extend...Crimson Tidings of Southern Comfort and joy! Be sure to visit us one more time a few days after completion of the BCS Championship game to check Vindy’s bowl recap and publication of his leftover “hash”!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Vindy's 2008-09 Bowl Predictions- Early Games


LAS VEGAS, Nevada (ITAR-Tass)...Way back in April, construction workers dug up a Red Sox jersey from a new Yankee Stadium service corridor. Buried there as a curse by a Red Sox fan, the David Ortiz uniform top “worked” ...the Bronx Bombers did not even make the 2008 MLB playoffs. Fast-forward several months to December 2008, when the Vegas Vindicator, conducting his annual change of flooring from Italian marble tile to Astroturf in honor of bowl season, uncovered a player jersey from USC, the 2007 Grill-Master Award winner, reportedly hidden in his livingroom by bookies hoping to put a hex on Vindy’s season. But the ploy was a complete bust as Vin’s lock picks hit nearly 87%, “best bets” cashed tickets at a more-than-60% success rate and the Sin City Soothsayer finished a regular season over .500 for first time since Joe Paterno discovered fire! Showing his rapier wit, Vindy responded to the attempted sabotage by quipping “Stuff that in your stocking and smoke it!”, “Yo...Bite me!” and “Curse this!” In fact, given the unprecedented positive results, the Weber Kid hinted at plans to have a Texas Tech jersey entombed under his driveway next season. The famous forecaster allegedly offered the job (and a significant stipend) to a local bookmaker, who declined, but allegedly said he could refer him to an “associate who’s very good with cement”!

A ho-ho-ho....hum...4-5 championship week (125-120-4, 510), prompting an Iraqi sports journalist to hurl platform sneakers, has your sardonic seer diving for cover behind...

(AP rankings; lines of December 18, over/under totals in parentheses)

DEC. 20
Navy over Wake Forest taking 3 (43):
The original moniker for this game was the Congressional Bowl, but that didn’t even last the duration of the first season! Middies have beaten the line 4 straight post-seasons and gone 2-2 SU, missing outright victories by a whisker over Boston College in 2006 and Utah last year. Rematch of late September game in Winston-Salem, won 24-17 by the Boat People. Nothing’s changed to suggest Navy can’t repeat that and the Sailors are on nice 21-11ATS run getting points away from the home harbor. Middies also did not give up a single point in its final two regular season games, neither of which were played in Annapolis. Vindy’s note-to-self in his post-bowl recap last season was akin to “Do not bet vs. the Middies in a bowl!”...Ensigns 20 Deacs 17

Colorado State over Fresno State taking 2 ½ (60 1/2):
Bettors nightmare. This pair combined to go 3-10 ATS away from their respective homefields. Rams did almost beat BYU and how the Bulldogs opened the season beating Rutgers at Exit 9B of the Jersey Turnpike is still a mystery. Fresno’s only cover other than win over the Knights was at San Jose State. Bulldogs bowl resume ain’t bad though...4-1 SU/ATS with victories over Virginia, UCLA and Georgia Tech (twice!)...Fresno 30 Colorado State 28

South Florida over Memphis giving 12 1/2 (52):
A 5-0 SU start for the Bulls quickly unraveled as USF dropped five of its last 7. Have to think junior QB Matt Grothe can pick apart a Tigers defense that played in C-USA conference that did not value defense nearly as much as it valued offensive shootouts. Bulls just 1-2 SU/ATS in short bowl history. They’ll make this one count...South Florida 45 Memphis 19

#17 Brigham Young over Arizona taking 3 (61 1/2):
The Cougar seniors make a 4th straight December trek to Sin City (woo-hoo). The Mormon faithful have made the Vegas Silver Bowl nearly a home atmosphere, but the Cougs have covered only two of their last six bowls. Not sure how well the Wildcats fans will travel given ‘Zonas’s first post-season showing since 1998. BYUsed Me may have lost legitimately to Utah, but the blowout loss leads this forecaster to consider a conspiracy meant to ensure a conference-wide profitable BCS berth for a Mountain West squad...Missionaries 28 Wildcats 25

DEC. 21
Troy over Southern Miss giving 4 (54 1/2):
Trojans went 8-3 against the line this season, including covers at Columbus and at Baton Rouge, in piling up 8 SU victories (and the 9th should’ve come at LSU). Troy allowed a grand total of 19 points over its last three regular games and will show no fear playing a mere C-USA opponent. Eagles also finished strong, winning and covering their last four tilts to get here, but beat only one team that finished with a winning record for the 2008 campaign...Troy 34 USM 20

DEC. 23
#11 Texas Christian over #9 Boise State giving 2 ½ (46):
Two great defenses square off here and both teams can put up points. Both entered the season with thoughts of much bigger things than December visit to San Diego. Boise did its part, going undefeated, including a win in Eugene. Rematch of 2003 bowl, in which Toads covered but lost SU to the Broncos. TCU has covered 5 of 6 bowls under Coach Patterson. Boise is 2-3 ATS in its last 5 bowl games. Best call here might be the “under”...TCU 20 BSU 16

DEC. 24
HAWAII over Notre Dame giving 1 1/2 (48 1/2):
Frightenin’ Irish have been defeated by nine consecutive bowl opponents. Middle-Eastern pilgrims held a symbolic stoning of the devil earlier this month in Saudi Arabia. Funny, fans in South Bend conducted a similar action involving a Charlie Weis effigy (and Vindy’s spies report unhappy alumni in Ann Arbor planning a little soiree for a Rich Rodriguez dummy too!). Warriors had Cincinnati all but beaten, but yielded a 19-point 4th Quarter that cost ‘em an 8th straight-up win. No snowballs in the tropics, but there should be lotsa’ pineapples, coconuts and lava rocks for Catholic “fans” wanting to show off their arms...’Bows 38 Hunchbacks 31

DEC. 26
Florida Atlantic over Central Michigan taking 6 ½ (63):
Owls got hot in the second half of the season vs. not-real potent Sun Belt schedule after dropping 4 of first 5 SU (in their defense, six of first eight were road games) to win five of last six. Chippies bowling for 3rd consecutive season (1-1 SU/2-0 ATS). Only three of CMU’s opponents scored less than 25. Owls allowed 52 at shame in that....but also 50 to Florida International. Chippies gave up 56 to (gasp!) Eastern Michigan...CMU 38 FAU 33

DEC. 27
North Carolina over West Virginia (PK) (44 ½):
Not sure which Carolina team will take the field here, but since Butch Davis took the helm, points-scored are up nearly 10 ppg, while points-against are down 10 ppg. Can’t argue with a 20-point shift on average. First year coach Bill Stewart led Mounties to bowl win over Oklahoma last season after RichRod jumped to Ann Arbor. WVU not scoring as much this year, but have covered three straight bowl appearances, winning two. Butch Davis is no stranger to bowl victories either, having been with solid Miami teams in the late Nineties...UNC 23 WVU 19

Wisconsin over Florida State taking 4 ½ (52 1/2):
No known Injun’ suspensions at this point, but there’s still time before kickoff (that pesky academic requirement thingy could still intervene if the criminals on the team go into Gatorade-bucket defilade!). Seminoles have trumped the bowl spread four straight times (but haven’t been minus points since 2004 season). Badgers imploded during conference play, but had three defeats by combined 6 points...Da’ Chop 23 Varmints 20

California over Miami giving 7 (50):
Bears rush D has declined for third straight season, but Miami will throw more often than run anyway. Cal’s offense became more balanced this year and ‘Canes dropped last pair of regular season games, giving up 89 total points. Bears have yielded a lot of points to the better teams it faced, but Miami isn’t in that caliber. Bears at least playing close to home. Miami’s last bowl resulted in uninspired 21-20 win over Reno. Cal’s won 4 of last 5 bowls (3-2 ATS), though just two by 7 or more... Bears 31 Miami 14

Stop by again in a day or two, when we answering the following burning questions... who gets honors as "lock of da' bowls"? Which teams/totals made the "best bets", Gators or Sooners as national champions? Red Raiders...are they real or are they Memorex?! Boxers or briefs?! (Oh sorry...wrong blog!)

Ya'll come back now, hear???!!!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Vindy's 2008 Championship Week Picks


BOULDER, Colorado (Reuters)...”Those who can, play. Those who can’t, coach. Those who can’t coach, predict.” So goes the old adage. And for less than $150, parents can find out where their child falls in the spectrum. That’s the premise of a new DNA test that analyzes blood for the presence of ACTN3, a gene linked to top-flight athletes. The results purportedly determine if a child, between the ages of 8 and 12, will ultimately succeed as a defensive end, outfielder, goalie, offensive coordinator or even a sports-gambling tout. The test can also separate out doer from picker by detecting high levels of another enzyme, called Phosphoric Iodized Potassium Nitrate, or PIKN for short, often found in high concentrations among top-flight prognosticators. The Gaming Control Board immediately issued a statement pooh-poohing the study, noting consistent accurate prediction of sporting events against the spread involves multiple factors and years of studying trends, injuries and weather effects as well as schedule situations and individual, unit or coaching match-ups. Secretly, however, casino operators fear creation of an army of super-forecasters, which could bring the legal sportsbooks to their financial knees in the span of a single season or two.

And to think...the Vindicator gave up his childhood dream of being a member of the Egyptian Olympic cross-country ski team to instead produce things like Week 14's record of 7-6-1 (121-115-4, 513). While Vindy shakes the desert sand (and a little pyramid dust) out of his Rossignols, take a gander at...


MAC Championship @ Detroit, Michigan
#12 Ball State over Buffalo giving 14 1/2:
Kudos to Bulls coach Turner Gill for turning a moribund football program into a seven-win, bowl-bound squad in just three seasons, but last week’s home loss to the Golden Flushes of Kent State, who had only two wins over I-A teams until that point, shows Buffalo is not ready yet to be the MAC champ. It was competitive in back-to-back losses to Central Michigan and Western Michigan, both of whom Ball State defeated (by 7 and 22, respectively). Bulls lost to the Cardinals at home by 30 in 2006 and 35 at Muncie last year... Ball State 42 Buffalo 20

SEC Championship @ Atlanta, Georgia
#2 Florida over #1 Alabama giving 9 ½:
But there are a couple reasons to like Alabama in its first conference crown game since 1999. Tide has allowed 9 points or less in four of last five games (but did have to go to the bonus round to drop LSU in Baton Rouge) and did something Florida didn’t...beat Ole Miss. First underdog opportunity for ‘Bama since season-opening blowout over Clemson (also on a neutral field). Florida could add to its league-leading five interceptions returned for touchdown (tied with two other teams) by pressuring John Parker-Wilson (even without a couple of injured defenders) and we can’t forget UF smashed Georgia on a neutral site. Straight-up winner has covered 8 of last 10 SEC title matches...Crocs 34 Alabama 20

Big 12 Championship @ San Antonio, Texas
#4 Oklahoma over #19 Missouri giving 17: LOCK OF DA’ WEEK.
Right or wrong, the Sooners got the BCS nod to be here. The South representative has dominated the conference championship of late, winning and covering 5 of last 6, all as chalk. In fact, the straight-up winner has covered at least the past eleven title games and if Missouri pulls the upset, we’re launching a Congressional investigation, spearheaded by Kansas senator Sam Brownback! The Sooners smacked the Tigers here 38-17 last season and look even stronger this year, while Mizzou has been touched for 42, 56 and 40 against Illinois, Texas and Kansas...with two of those games on neutral sites. Have to think Okies could hit the 60's for the fifth consecutive game. Only knock on Oklahoma is allowing a 90-yard kickoff return for touchdown early in the 4th Quarter at Oklahoma State. Maybe the Tigers can figure out a way to have the Sooners kick the ball to them each down instead of taking snaps...Oklahoma 58 Mizzou 24

#5 Southern Cal over UCLA giving 32 1/2: Despite unconfirmed reports suggesting otherwise, we think Trojans likely locked in Charlie Weis’ plane ticket outta’ South Bend last week (and final margin woulda’ been worse had USC not suffered three interceptions). Men of Troy have a very remote shot at the big prize, but will probably face Penn State in Pasadena. We figure they’ll go out swingin’ for the fences and aren’t hesitant about scoring obscene amounts of points. Bruins beat USC 13-9 in 2006 and lost by only 14 last season, but having mustered just 6 in home loss to the Beavers and 9 last week at Arizona State, UCLA could be on the wrong end of a second shutout in 2008 ...USC 41 UCLA 0

#13 Cincinnati over HAWAII giving 7 1/2: Guess there was no reason for the Bearkats to lay the lumber to the ‘Cuse Saturday since Friday’s Pitt win over the Mounties gave UC the Big Fleeced title. Two turnovers and ten penalties didn’t help. Motivation could be an issue for Bearkats team already locked into the Orange Bowl and just enjoying a little Island sunshine. In the shadows of Boise State, Hawaii has quietly compiled nice seven-win season, including victories in six of last eight after slow 1-3 start. ‘Bows 3-2 ATS at home this year and have won four of five outright west of the Mainland. Not bad for a team that brought back just four starters on each side of the ball and introduced a new head coach. ‘Cats have covered 7 of last 9 giving points to non-conference teams...Cincy 31 UH 20

ACC Championship @ Tampa, Florida
#18 Boston College over Virginia Tech giving 1:
Rematch of earlier season game in Chestnut Hill, won 28-23 by the Eagles. Hokies just 2-5 ATS in their past 7 games this year and defeat by BC lowered Tech’s spread record against the Eagles to 2-7. Neither team scoring many points, with VT breaking outta’ the 20's just once (in 35-30 win at Nebraska) and Boston College doing so just three times (once vs. I-AA Rhode Island). Tech having un-Hokie-like year defensively, holding just one FBS opponent (Duke) to single digits. Eagles limited Central Florida to a lone touchdown and pitched shutouts in three other games to-date. BC riding four-game SU win streak. We’ll go with the hotter squad, who also have revenge factor after losing ACC championship 30-16 to these Hokies last year...BC 24 Virginia Tech 20

#23 Pittsburgh over CONNECTICUT taking 2 ½: Panthers would like to return the favor after losing at home by 20 to UConn last season. Pitt just 1-3 SU/ATS last 4 vs. the Dogs, but its only road loss came at Cincinnati (by a TD). Connecticut smoked the Bearkats, but squeaked by Temple and lost to South Florida before last week’s bye. Huskies went one-and-done in only ranked appearance back in Week Six and haven’t impressed the AP voters enough to return since then. They won’t get it done this week either...Panthers 24 UConn 19

C-USA Championship @ Orlando, Florida
East Carolina over Tulsa taking 13 ½:
Third appearance for Tulsa in the very short, now four-year history of the game. The previous two weren’t pleasant as Central Florida won (and covered) both (in ‘05 and ‘07). All three C-USA championships were covered by the favorite, but we think that stops this year. After nice 7-0 SU/6-1 ATS start, Golden Hurricane has slipped to 2-2/1-3 recently, including unsettling 3-point win last week at Marshall. The magic that carried the Pirates to upsets of Virginia Tech and West Virginia in its first pair of tilts of 2008 faded quickly with three consecutive outright losses in mid-October (so did the spread record, which now stands at 4-7-1). ECU is, however, on 14-4 run getting points away from home...Tulsa 35 Arrrrrgh 27

Army over Navy taking 11 (@ Philadelphia, PA): Two of country’s perennial Top Ten rushing attacks square off here. Both also rank in the Top 28 in rush defense, which should be conducive to quick, relatively low-scoring affair. While the Middies have scored 12 more rushing touchdowns than Army, it has faced only one of other option team...Air Force, whom it defeated 33-27 earlier. Keydets have only three straight-up victories, but played hard enough to cover in 16-7 loss to the Falcons and 21-17 loss at Texas A&M (who boasts its own Corps of Cadets). Army owns solid 7-3 ATS record on the season and lost by 3 to Buffalo and 7 to Rice. Middies have won 7 games (including victories over Rutgers, at Wake Forest and shutout at Northern Illinois), but are just 5-4 against the line (1-1 as chalk)...Sailors 20 Ground Pounders 13

It’s a little-known fact that back in the late Sixties, the Sin City Soothsayer participated in highly-classified government experiments, using the aforementioned DNA tests. Vindy’s enzyme profile pegged his only chance at a successful sports career as being one of two specific positions...waterboy for a women’s rhythmic gymnastics team or retail associate at a bobblehead doll concession stand!

Las Vegas is one of five cities where the Army is trying “coffee with a soldier”... recruiting America’s future military leaders at local coffee shops. Now we know where the Keydets get their players. If you look closely, you can see the Starbucks logo on the Black Knights’ Gatorade buckets. Talk about getting “up” for the game! Opening jitters have nothin’ to do with’s the iced coffee in those buckets! (Observant fans and viewers at home will also note little plastic sippy-tops on the cups!). As the signals get sent in from the sideline, the QB checks them against a tiny order-menu chalkboard strapped to his wrist! In fact, upon hearing an unsuspecting civilian rattle off his desire for a “caramel latte venti Ristretto...wet!”, a cadet receiver moonlighting recently as a barista off-campus, went in motion behind the pastry case, took advantage of a nice block by a co-worker and picked up a six-yard gain....without spilling a drop!

Joining the league of ESPN college hoops broadcasters this season is former coach Bobby Knight. Showing he’s still passionate about the game and fresh outta’ chairs, The General launched a folding microphone onto the hardwood following a bad call against Texas Tech last week!

Best Weekly Effort:
Week Seven’s nifty 13-5!

Worst Weekly “Effort”: Week Three’s 5-12-1.

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 Joja’ Bulldogs at 9-1-1 (.900). Second place to the Florida State Seminoles (6-1, .857; who ironically were on “watch” status following an 0-6 forecast record in 2007) and we have a tie for Honorable Mention between the Florida Gators and the Trojans of Southern Cal, both at 9-2 (.818).

FLAME-THROWERS (Worst percentage on the predicted side of ‘da spread): The bookies loved the smell of napalm in the morning... afternoon ...and night...courtesy of this year’s “Grill-Master Supreme Award” winner Texas Tech (1-9, .100...was there ever a doubt??!!). “Suckin’ Place” goes to the Large, Wooden...Badgers of Wisconsin (1-6, .142) and “Dishonorable Mention” to BYUsed Me (2-8, .250).

Below the official radar, but we’ll be watchin’: Utah (4-7, .363) and...Thursday Night (4-9, .303)!

Shoppe Talk: The Red Raiders close out the regular Shoppe season, joined by their Lone Star brethren, the Texas Longhorns, who currently own a 1-4 forecast slide!

Black Shirt: Gets pressed, starched and hung neatly in the locker of Jayhawks QB Todd Reesing, who tossed a pair of 4th Quarter touchdowns to make good on Vindy’s almost-upset pick of Kansas over Mizzou!

“Wish I Had That One Back”: Vindicator called the Texas Tech-Baylor pick mostly likely for this category!

“Locked in a Box?”: OK, there were a few more points scored than predicted (52 more, to be exact!) In the Joja’-Joja’ Tech game, but Bees made good on Vindy’s upset special and boost the lock record to 12-2 (.851)!

Vindy’s Week 9 Best Bets: Last Week: 2-2-1 Season: 37-25-1 (.597)
(Hey...Vindy was a measly 20-35-1, .363 this time last year!) Slim pickin’s this week...TROY -11 over Arkansas State (and that’s all we’d consider among the unranked match-ups!)

Vindicator now gets a well-earned blow (and not a single rolled-up Benjamin to be found!), but worry not, loyal readers. The Omniscient One will return (with his PIKN genes intact) circa December 18 with this season’s version of his infamous bowl predictions! In the immortal words of game-show host Chuck Woolery...”we’ll be back in two and two!”