Monday, August 31, 2009

Vindy's Picks Week 1-2009


WASHINGTON, District of Columbia (MSNBC)....
Throughout his first hundred days, in fact, more than seven months in, the new president’s actions on such things as the economy, healthcare, the war and foreign policy have gotten all the ink, but the early achievements of Obama’s presidency will not be lost on sports fans across the globe. Obama made his desires known for a playoff over the current BCS system, correctly picked North Carolina to win the 2009 NCAA dance (correctly picking 14 of the Sweet 16 and 5 of the Elite 8 of this year’s NCAA Tournament along the way) and later named Memphis star Tyreke Evans among the recommended picks for the Sacramento Kings (owned by local Las Vegas Palms hotel owner George Maloof, who made the former Tiger the 4th overall pick of the 2009 NBA Draft). The accuracy of his foresight has fans, bettors and touts alike clamoring for more predictions and already submitting formal requests to the White House to acquire the Commander-in-Chief’s choices for the 2010 BCS national title holder, Super Bowl winner and World Series champion. Shortly after taking occupancy of the White House in February, Obama passed on the chance to create a “car czar”, but did name Vindy as his “Wager Major” (which is better than Duke Duke, Screen Queen, Pass Brass or....Puck Schmuck [which woulda’ been his appointed position had Sarah Palin made the West Wing roster last November!]). Perhaps among the president’s more significant achievements since unloading the Ryder truck at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue was the revision of the inscription on Statue of Liberty to read “Give me your poor, your tired, your huddles and your passes” and the renaming of the presidential plane (to which the former hoopster referred as his “spiffy ride”) to “Air Force ...and One!” (Editor’s note: That’s for you, Brendan!), which got a few more votes from Congress for “having a better ring to it” than Republican Senator John McCain’s suggestion of “Air Force One-and-Done”!

Following an off-season spent achieving the high-score on Guitar Hero: Vienna Boys Choir Tour while following the weekly drama on “Real Housewives of Ann Arbor”, Vindicator takes the field with his 2009 Preseason Forecasting Strategy Team of... Bernie Madoff, Paul Blart-Mall Cop, A-Rod’s cousin, Obama’s aunt, Susan Boyle, Capt. Richard Phillips, “me..Minnesota Senator Al Franken”, “Sully” Sullenberger, Carrie Prejean, Capital One’s “Spaghetti Jimmy”, “me...Al Franken”, Mr. Irrelevant 2009...kicker Ryan Succop, Smilin’ Bob from Enzyte.Com, Spirit the live hawk mascot of Atlanta’s NBA squad , Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, Kate Gosselin, Lady Gaga and “me...Al Franken” throwdown, Bobby Flay-style, against the college pigskin lines-making pantheon with....

(AKA “Vindy Doin’ Work”...a Spike Lee joint!)

#16 Oregon over #14 BOISE STATE taking 5:
Ducks count their starting backfield among the 10 total returnees from last season’s squad. The offense shouldn’t suffer much with former Mallards OC Chip Kelly taking over the head coaching spot. Boise has three spread wins in last five tries vs. ranked teams, including last year’s straight-up victory in Eugene over then-#17 Oregon...Decoys 33 BSU 30

Utah State over #19 UTAH taking 20 1/2: Uh-oh! Not one, but TWO Thursday-nighters to open the year on the coattails of last season’s 4-9 Thursday night forecast record (before Vindy turned in a near-miraculous 5-1 post-season record for that day of the week!). Aggies enter the season on a 4-0-1 ATS run and return 17 starters from last year. Utes are rebuilding the offense and have no QBs who’ve taken a live-fire snap, but bring back a truck-load of experience and have covered 5 of last 7 versus their in-state brethren. State’s gone 14-8-2 against the line the past two seasons and despite a new coach, we think it’s now or never to post another spread win in last shot before these two hook-up again in the 2013 season....Utes 34 State 17

Charleston Southern @ #1 FLORIDA:
No line.

#2 TEXAS over Louisiana-Monroe giving 40 ½: The return of QB Colt McCoy, 50 lettermen coming back, a road schedule whose only challenge appears to be Halloween’s trek to Oklahoma State and last season’s diss over the Big 12 Championship game will likely put the Steers on a National Championship mission. Unless Troy is ranked the same week of the aforementioned game in Stillwater (or UL-Monroe shows up in the Best Bets column), this will be the only appearance in the forecast this season for the Warhawks, who are 5-5 ATS in last ten-spot vs. BCS conference clubs...Texas 52 Weeziana-Monroe 6

#20 Brigham Young over #3 Oklahoma (@ Arlington, TX) taking 21 ½: While the spread wins have fallen each of the last 3 seasons for BYU, who also hasn’t fared well getting more than a TD against non-MWC clubs and who only returns four to the offense, the Sooners only bring back five to the O (though some local Vegas kid named Murray should be back from injury...and then there’s that guy named Bradford at QB!). Coogs just 1-4-1 vs. other ranked squads under Coach Mendenhall, but we like the three touchdowns...Okie-Dokie 34 Not a BCS Buster (This Week) 24

#4 USC over San Jose State giving 34: No faith in this pick. Southern Cal has big game at Ohio State next week and Spartans covered last year at Nebraska as 27-point doggie. Trojans good, but not great 4-2 ATS in last half-dozen openers. They did, however crush Virginia last year right before the Buckeyes game and have missed just a lone cover in last eleven non-conference match-ups. We’re not usually in favor of the Trojans (and not a big fan of the SoCal football team either) and the Romans will start an opener with a true frosh at triggerman for the first time since Germany and Japan lost to the upstart American squad in the early 1940's. We did more waffles on this than IHOP and left it up to the hard currency. And da’ coin likes...USC 38 SJSU 0

#5 Alabama over #7 Virginia Tech (@ Atlanta) giving 6 1/2 : Probable early National Title elimination game, more for Tech than for Tide. A ton of trends support the Hokies here, but we figure ‘Bama is anxious to erase the sting of back-to-back losses (SU and ATS) in the SEC title game and the bowl vs. Utah. If this one was a Thursday-nighter, we’d side with Tech , but we like the fact Tide increased its points-scored by 3 ppg and decreased points-against by (GASP!) 8 ppg in Saban’s second year. Best call might be “under” the total (39). It’s defense and special teams winning the day for...Alabammy 19 Va. Tech 11

Navy over #6 OHIO STATE taking 22 ½: LOCK OF DA’ WEEK. Sailors have lost by more than 22 only four times in the last five years. Electric sophomore Buckeyes quarterback Terrelle Pryor is getting a lotta’ love, but doesn’t have a lot of returning offensive starters around him. As noted previously in USC-SJSU breakdown, State may look ahead to hosting the Troy Boys next week and may not wanna’ tip too much of the gameplan. Expect well-disciplined Middies to grind it out with nationally-ranked rushing game and to avoid costly turnovers that would give the Buckeyes extra tries to blow it open...OSU 27 Ensigns 12

Akron over #9 (tie) PENN STATE taking 27 ½: While Akron might be a better pick a couple weeks from now when hosting Indiana (3-2 ATS last 5 vs. the Big Tent Peg Conference), and Zips are 0-3 SU/ATS against the Nifty Lions, they just missed the cover by a half-point in their last last opportunity (2006). Lions have just nine starters back, including none in the ongoing sore point. Zips have experience at QB and WR. They also covered at Wisconsin last year getting 27 and in ‘07 at Ohio State getting 28. We’ll accept a nice three-TD victory from the alma mater...Lions 31 Akron 10

#9 (tie) OKLAHOMA STATE over #13 Georgia giving 6: State is just 3-7-1 ATS over the last two years vs. ranked teams, but a straight-up victory over Joja’ might just send the message we’ve been hopin’ for...that the Cowboys are ready to challenge in the Big 12. Phil Steele noted State hasn’t lost a home opener since (GASP!) 1995 and the Cowpokes would love to avenge a 38-14 drubbing “between the hedges” in 2007. ‘Dawgs lost their starting backfield to the NFL in April. “Under” the total (62) wouldn’t be a bad option...OKSU 38 Joja’ 24

#11 Louisiana State over WASHINGTON giving 17: This one got serious “lock” consideration. Huskies have beaten the number just once in six season debuts. The good news for the Sled Dogs? Quarterback Jake Locker returns from last season’s injury, sustained just four games into last season. The bad news? UDUB only covered one of those first four tilts, en route to a 2008 FBS-worst spread record of 1-11. That will change this year, but not against LSU squad that demolished a mighty-fine-otherwise Joja’ Teck team in the bowl. Bengals spend this Saturday doin’ laundry...LSU 38 Wash, Dry and....Fold 13

#12 CAL over Maryland giving 21 1/2: We looked at this for lock too. Ralph Friedgen reportedly dropped 105 pounds during the off-season. Did da’ Fridge revoke the Terps’ fourth-string punter’s scholarship or what????!!! (In all seriousness, we tip our helmet to Coach Friedgen for his Herculean effort and wish him a continued, healthy life!). Bears get a little payback after giving up five sacks en route to last season’s 35-27 loss in College Park. Terps haven’t covered an opener since 2001. Despite an offensive yardage production that’s gone up each of the past two years, we expect that spread trend to carry on...Berkeley 42 Box Turtles 9

Jacksonville State @ #15 GEORGIA TECH: No line.

#17 TCU: IDLE (next @ Virginia 9/12)

Citadel @ #21 NORTH CAROLINA: No line.

Northern Iowa @ #22 IOWA: No line.

Nevada-Reno over #23 NOTRE DAME taking 14: This Spring, Catholic faithful protested Obama’s invite to speak at Notre Dame’s commencement in light of his views on abortion and stem-cell research. We think they’re just upset because the Commander-in-Chief called for another 7-6 year for the Frightenin Irish football team! Meanwhile, former ND skipper Lou Holtz has predicted a title game berth for the Leprechauns. Hmmm...this would make one helluva’ upset, don’tcha think??? And if the game was being played closer to the Moonlight Bunny Ranch than to Touchdown Jesus, we’d call UNR straight-up, but it’s not, so we’ll just go with ...Wake Up the Geckos 34 Reno 27

#24 NEBRASKA over Florida Atlantic giving 21 ½: Just lay the lumber with the Big 12 North contender because the math ain’t pretty for da’ cover in a dozen tries getting double-digits in non-conference tilts, just three back on defense, 1-4 ATS in the last 5 vs. ranked teams, 4-11-1 ATS slide as a road dog and 0-5 SU/ATS against the Big 12 the last 4 seasons...losing by better than 36 ppg....Children of the Corn 37 Hooters 7

Northern Colorado @ #25 KANSAS: No line.

MEMPHIS over #8 Mississippi taking 17:
We appreciate what Ole Miss accomplished last season, especially that outright upset of Vin’s arch-nemesis Texas Tech in the bowl game, but the Rebels were probably fortunate in a few of their 2008 victories and we think a Top Ten spot might be a tad generous. Nonetheless, we’d take much joy in seeing a Magnolia State rep continue to prosper. Elsewhere, the last time the Tigers had this few starting returnees (11 in 2005), they went 7-5 SU and 6-5 against the line. Until last year’s 17-point defeat (one of only two losses by a TD or more), Memphis had beaten Mississippi SU or lost by no more than 4 in the previous five meetings since the start of the 2003 campaign....Ole Miss 34 Memphis 20

#18 FLORIDA STATE over Miami giving 5 ½:
While Vindicator would obviously love to see Joe Paterno edge Injuns’ head coach Bobby Bowden for most all-time victories, vacation of 14 Semimoles’ wins in the wake of academic scandal (involving a music history test) ain’t the way we wanted to see it go down. Gotta’ wonder if that hit will fire-up State to beat the ‘Canes by more than 3 for the first time since 1999. Miami lost a 41-39 shootout last year. New coordinators on each side of the ball keeps us from taking the Pelicans and da’ points. No change in the FSU deficit this week as PSU and FSU post SU wins...Da’ Chop 20 Tropical Depressions 13

BTW, longest-shot-in-the-field Mine That Bird’s original moniker was Mime That Bird, but jockey Calvin Borel was embarrassed to wear the beret, face paint and striped shirt, and never did quite get da’ hang of pretending to spur his steed with the imaginary riding crop!

On the big screen this summer...The Nittany Lions head coach recovers from injury and returns to patrol the Penn State sideline, sporting camouflage and Kevlar body armor while armed to the teeth with more high-tech military weapons than you can shake a stick”G.I. JoePa: Rise of Da’ Coordinator”!!!

Sampling the aforementioned FSU music history exam, we find the following questions: #12 Disco Duck and Convoy were popular in which decade? a) 1860's b) 1920's c) 1970's d) 2050's? #54 Eight-Mile was a biography about what rapper? a) Eminem b) M Night Shyamalan, c) S&M d) Auntie Em. #101 The movie “The Jazz Singer” featured what 1920's entertainer? a) Weird Al Yankovic, b) Albert Pujols, c) Al Jolson, d) Alvin & the Chipmunks, e) Fat Albert. #139 Fill in the blank....“1985" was a song by Bowling for Soup based on what year? #160 Fill in the blank...”Who let the _______ out?!” a) hem b) air c) snakes d) dogs.

As we noted this time last season, in all but one season from 1993 to 2008, at least two teams unranked in the Associated Press preseason Top 25 poll eventually finished in the AP Top 10 that same season Utah and fellow Mountain Best squad TCU [which was nowhere on the AP preseason radar] managed that feat last year. Your mission...should you choose to accept to figure out who the 2009 season interlopers will be. Our guess?...Two of three from Pitt, Rutgers or NC State (watch da’ Wolfpack at least on a ATS basis!).

Obama admitted to sporting “frumpy” jeans while throwing out the ceremonial first pitch of July’s All-Star game. Looked more like he was ready for an NBA shoot-around session! At least his Michael Jordan Hanes weren’t showing! The Commander-in-Chief launched a sweeping, lolly-pop curve ball right down the middle. Democrats worried it showed him as “too moderate”, but Republicans saw it as “too far to the left”!

Jon and Kate Plus Eight???!!! Damn!....Vindicator only got them with 7 1/2!!!!!!

Shoppe Talk: Will Texas Tech, who showed up only twice on the predicted side of the spread in eleven forecast opportunities (the second win coming in this past January’s Cotton Bowl!), continue to be the bane of the Weber Kid’s existence or will another contender rise up to torment our hero???!!!

Vindy’s Week 1 Best Bets: Last Year: 42-25-1 (.627) Last Week: 0-0 Season: 0-0 (.000)
NC STATE -4 over South Carolina, Rice +5 1/2 over ALABAMA-BIRMINGHAM, Middle Tennessee State +19 1/2 over CLEMSON, Connecticut -4 over OHIO

Vindicator came out conservative in this forecast, but don’t touch that dial! Next week...thoughts on Michael Phelps, the NFL, more of the off-season silliness and a new football-themed facility for consumption of “mass quantities” yer not gonna’ wanna’ miss!!