Sunday, December 26, 2010

Vindy's 2010-11 Bowl Predictions: Part II

A woman in New York was recently profiled as knowing no fear because of a brain disorder. No fear???!!! Ha! Wait’ll she gets a load of....

THE WEBER KID’S 2010-11 BOWL PREDICTIONS: PART II(As filmed in the format of “The Blair Witch Project”! AP rankings; lines of December 26, over/under totals in parentheses)

DEC. 31
MEINEKE CAR CARE (@ Charlotte, NC):
Clemson over South Florida giving 5 ½ (40 ½):
Bulls went 4-7 against the line and struggled mightily on offense vs. I-A squads (averaging just over 20 ppg [down 3.5 ppg from 2009] and settling for teens or single-digits five times). They did edge Miami and Louisville on the road, but also barely beat Rutgers by 1. Have to consider the offensive production a disappointment, given 9 returning starters on that side of the ball, including entire O-line. Sixth consecutive bowl for USF (3-1 SU/ATS in last four) and Coach Skip Holtz took ECU to four bowls (losing 3, covering 2). Tigers lost in OT at finalist Auburn and wilted to lose 5 games by 26 total points. Both clubs are stout defensively...only the Gamecocks posted more than 16 in Clemson’s final seven tilts, only three South Florida foes tallied more than 21. CU had a number of close losses to better teams than those faced by the Bulls...Tigers 20 USF 12

BRUT SUN (@ El Paso, TX):
Notre Dame over Miami taking 3 (47):
Brian Kelly has the Irish making outright wins and three losses by 4 or less this season. Unfortunately, however, a pair of those defeats came at South Bend. Irish did cover 3of 4 getting points, winning two and losing the other in extra frames. ‘Canes spent much of the year in the Top 25, but lost 3 of last 5 to fall out of the rankings, were just 4-7 ATS overall (6th straight losing spread season) and have dropped bowls in each of the last four seasons (three as chalk). A clemency board in Tallahassee recently, at the behest of Florida governor Charlie Crist [no relation to the ND quarterback [who, BTW, won’t play in this one]) gave Jim Morrison a posthumous pardon for dropping trou and exposing the crowd at a Miami concert over 30 years ago. Vindy may have to wait for 31 years for the Guv to give post-demise forgiveness for picking... Notre Dame 23 Pelicans 16

Georgia over Central Florida giving 6 ½ (55 ½):
Joja’, with three early conference losses before September ended and an early October loss at unheralded Colorado, fell quickly off the radar, but took 5 of final 7 to get here. ‘Dawgs did however give up at least 31 in four of last five. Georgia can boast four straight bowl victories and covers and did fare much better with the return of Ahman Green. Knights posted 10-3 straight-up record with losses by 7 to NC State, 4 at K-State and 10 to Southern Miss. UCF allowed 33 points a game over three-game stretch in November. First choice is the “over”. A former UCF alum held her Playboy photo shoot in the Golden Knights locker room. The Central Florida quarterback initially lined up in the shotgun, but thought better of it and decided to take a few snaps from under centerfold!...UGA 41 Central Florida 31

CHICK-FIL-A (@ Atlanta, GA):
#19 South Carolina over #23 Florida State giving 3 (54 ½):
Poultry looked poised to have a special year and made the SEC conference title game, but lost three of five to ranked opponents, so they’re not quite over the hump (we note, however, that a pair of those defeats came vs. title finalist Auburn). Gamehens attending 5th bowl in 6 years (1-3 SU/ATS). Injuns ran off three straight wins to close out the regular season, but still ended up an 11-point victim of Virginia Tech in ACC title match en route to current 2-5 ATS skid. ‘Noles won nine games this season and lost a pair to BC and NC State by total of 6 points. FSU has covered six consecutive post-season appearances, taking 4 outright, and was the dog in four of ‘em...Fightin’ Fowl 31 FSU 24

JAN. 1
TICKETCITY (@ Dallas, TX):
Texas Tech (GASP!) over Northwestern giving 9 ½ (60 ½):
Tech, now under Tommy Tuberville...who was let go by Auburn, continues good pace vs. non-conference teams (3-1 SU/2-1 ATS this year), though it has beaten the spread just once in past five bowls (3-2 SU). Raiders have won the money in two outta’ tries laying at least 9 ½ in 2010. Northwestern has dropped two straight bowls, both in overtime. ‘Cats grabbed 7 victories this year, including shocker over Iowa, but promising season withered upon loss of QB Dan Persa to injury and NW was dismal 2-8-1 ATS overall. Does it really matter which side we take here???!!! Queue up Elvis...”You look like an angellllllllll .....walk like an angelllllllllll.....block like an angelllllllllll....but Vin got’re Red Raiders in disguiiiise!”...Tech 30 NW 19

CAPITAL ONE (@ Orlando, FL):
#7 Michigan State over #15 Alabama taking 10 (52 ½):
Spartans have lost three straight bowls, covering just one, but this year’s squad lost only a single game (by 31 at Iowa). Tide’s strength has been its defense. Only 4 opponents hit the board for more than 13 points. Sparty scored less than 28 just twice this season. ‘Bama’s offense, rushing and passing, finished in the top five of the SEC. As noted in Part One of our bowl selections, teams laying 10 or more cover less than 50% and lose better than a third of those tilts outright. Hawaii’s already fallen. Will Tide have forgotten about letting Auburn off a major hook in the finale?...”Roll Tide” 27 MSU 24

OUTBACK (@ Tampa, FL):
Florida over Penn State giving 7 ½ (48):
The change at quarterback for the alma mater came way too late and Lions never came through in any of the big games on the schedule. Gators had an off-year as well (just 8th in scoring in the SEC, 10th in offensive yardage and 2nd most penalized in the conference), but defeated five bowlers anyway. State’s been a strong play in last five bowls, winning 4 outright and are getting points for 4th time in past five. Crocs also have won and covered 4 of their last five bowls, but covered just 1 of 3 non-conference games this season after enjoying 20-4 ATS run the previous six seasons. BTW, anagrams of Urban Meyer include “Yer a Number”, “Meaner Ruby”, “Rub Me Yearn” and our personal fave... “A Merry Bun E”. No wonder he’s retiring!...Florida 27 PSU 17

KONICA MINOLTA GATOR (@ Jacksonville, FL):
#21 Mississippi State over Michigan giving 5 (60):
Bulldogs recorded 8 wins and had 2 close home defeats to Auburn and Arkansas (in double OT). Four of their wins came by 8 or less. Wolverines opened 3-0 SU/ATS then finished on the wrong side of the spread eight straight times, including 0-4 SU/ATS skid vs. ranked teams, losing by an average of 19 points per game in those. RichRod is getting Big Blew to the bowls for first time since 2007, but a defeat may signal his departure. UM has gone just 10-24 ATS under Rodriguez and the scoring defense ranks 101st nationally (33.8 ppg), second-worst among bowlers behind just East Carolina ...Mississippi State 41 Michigan 27

ROSE Presented by CITI (@ Pasadena, CA):
#4 Wisconsin over #3 Texas Christian taking 3 (58 ½):
Finally....another chance to see how a BCS-buster really stacks up against one of the best teams in the country. The key match-up will be in the trenches with Wisky’s big, physical offensive line against Toads’ defense. Badgers only defeat was by 10 at Michigan State and Cheeseheads are currently on 6-0 spread run. BCS would love a romp by Wisconsin and the Badgers obviously aren’t shy about running up the score. UW has split its last 8 bowls straight up, covering five. Froggies beat Oregon State by 9 on a neutral field and ripped Baylor 45-10 at home to account for their only previous games this year vs. teams from Big Six conferences. Toads ran for 39 touchdowns. Badgers allowed just seven scores on the ground. TCU’s perfect season comes to an end....Wisconsin 20 TCU 17

TOSTITOS FIESTA (@ Glensdale, AZ):
#9 Oklahoma over #25 Connecticut giving 17 (55):
Huskies are here as Big Least champs but did not face an opponent ranked in the Top 25 at the time...perhaps an indictment of the type of season that their conference had in 2010. By contrast, Sooners knocked off four of the five ranked teams they played. Still, Oklahoma won its three previous neutral site games this season by 2,8 and 3 respectively and have been poor in the post-season, losing five of last seven bowls and 0-4 ATS the past four years. UConn is decent defensively, averaging 19.8 points-against per game while letting 3 teams post more than 27, and did finish second in the conference in scoring offense (26.9 ppg). Sooners QB Landry Jones is the second-leading passer in the country (329.9 yards per game, 35-11 passing touchdown-to-INT ratio) and has been sacked just 11 times. Dogs could be out-manned...OK 38 Huskies 17

JAN. 3
FED-EX ORANGE (@ Miami, FL):
#12 Virginia Tech over #5 Stanford taking 3 (57 ½):
Trees were a good road squad, winning 5 of 6 away from Palo Alto, covering 4. The lone loss? three touchdowns. Cardinal can play D as well, pitching 3 shutouts, two in the last five games vs. conference opponents. With Jim Harbaugh at the helm, Stanford continues to improve the win-loss record. Cards won 9 of 11 by double-digits (by 2 at USC, by at Arizona State). Just the second bowl since 2002 for Stanford. Tech beat three of four ranked opponents by at least 11 points and lost opener to Boise State on neutral ground by just 3. Hokies get points in a bowl for just the third time in eleven appearances. Frank Beamer’s coached in 17 post-season tilts, winning 8. Harbaugh’s been to one....and lost it. Stanford’s strength is passing. VT has allowed 15 aerial scores while picking off 22 throws. Neither team permits much scoring (17.8 by Stanford, 19.1 by Tech). Beamer needs to say just 2 little words to his team pre-game...”James Madison”...VT 24 Trees 20

JAN. 4
ALLSTATE SUGAR (@ N’awlins, Weeziana):
#8 Arkansas over #6 Ohio State taking 3 ½ (58):
OSU hasn’t beaten an SEC team in nine tries. Buckeyes did go 9-2-1 against the line but just 1-2-1 in only four games outside Da’ Shoe. Buckeyes #4 pass defense will have to corral Arkansas’ #4 passing offense. Hogs will have to play more disciplined than they did in drawing 97 penalty flags. Pigs were also money-makers for bettors, going 9-2 ATS and suffered just two defeats all 4 to ‘Bama and by 22 at Auburn. QB Ryan Mallett transferred to Arkansas from Michigan. Wonder if that’ll just stoke the fire even more...OSU 33 Arkansas 30

JAN. 6
GODADDY.COM (@ Mobile, AL):
Miami-Ohio over Middle Tennessee State giving 1 (48 ½):
MTSU was yet-another team to win three straight at the end to reach the post-season. Blue Raiders somehow managed to beat co-Stun Belt champion Florida International during that stretch. Middle Tennessee won by 10 over Southern Miss in a 2009 bowl, but that squad had ten wins. Miami-Ohio didn’t know it at the time, but mere 22-point loss in opener would portend the rest of Florida’s season. Redhawks went 8-5 ATS and toppled Northern Illinois as 17-point dogs. Nice turnaround for Miami-O following 1-11 year in 2009. MTSU gave up 51 points to Arkansas State. Miami did Mizzou. The MAC team improved its points-scored this year by 4 ½ per game, while lowering points-against by 11 and have good depth on the roster. BTW, there’s no bowl swag,, but players from each team do get to take a turn with Danica Patrick...uh ... left a race car! (Oh, the hell with it...who are we kiddin’???!! Schwing!!!!!)...Miami-Ohio 27 MTSU 17

JAN. 7
AT&T COTTON (@ Dallas, TX):
#11 Louisiana State over #18 Texas A&M giving 1 (49):
Bengals have won 4 of 6 games vs. ranked opponents (facing 4 of them away from Baton Rouge), but 28.9 ppg scoring average is deceptive given offensive yardage that came in 92nd in the country, so it’s been the defense that’s kept State competitive. A&M has flourished since switching to Ryan Tannehill at quarterback. Aggies bowl history recently has been horrible, producing no wins or covers in last four post-seasons. TAMU scored 25 passing touchdowns with just 12 interceptions, but gave up 35 sacks. Only 11 teams let their quarterback get dirty more times than that. Despite stout defenses on both sides, 5 of LSU’s games exceeded this total, while 7of A&M’s games did so. Tough call and frankly, we’d like to pass altogether, but with a gun to our head, we think the Tigers find a way to pull it out and we tilt a tad to the “over” ... LSU 27 TAMU 24

JAN. 8
BBVA COMPASS (@Birmingham, AL)
Kentucky over Pittsburgh taking 3 (52):
We can’t think of a single reason to watch this one. Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt has been canned and Kentucky’s first-string quarterback has been suspended. Like Penn State, the Panthers did not find a way to win the important games, as evidenced by OT loss at Utah to start the year. Kentucky staggered late, taking just 2 of last 5 (1-3 ATS and a win over I-AA Charleston Southern) and struggling badly in SEC play (upset of South Carolina notwithstanding). Wildcats have won 3 of last 4 bowls (2-2 ATS). KY went just 6-6 straight-up in Joker Phillips first season. Back-to-back 7-6 SU seasons got former Kentucky coach Rich Brooks kicked to the curb. As an olive branch for recent events, North Korea has offered to send 300 “carefully selected ‘fans’” to cheer politely at this game...Kentucky 16 Pitt 13

JAN. 9
KRAFT FIGHT HUNGER (@ San Francisco, CA):
Boston College over #13 Nevada taking 8 (55):
No swag for participants in this one either, just pictures and profiles of impoverished kids in third-world countries! If ya had told Reno coach Chris Ault that his Wolfpack would lose just one game, not to Boise State, and end up in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, would he have believed you???!!! How badly do ya think UNR would like to have the Hawaii game back right about now???!!! The signature win that ruined Boise’s BCS berth was, of course, lucky....but credit UNR for staying close enough to be in a position to win it in OT. Nevada hasn’t been a good play in the post-season, losing 4of 5. It did win all of its games, other than Fresno and Boise, by at least two touchdowns. Golden Beagles were virtually non-existent the first half of the year, but came on strong to win four of last five (and beat the line in 5 of final 7), allowing a total only 59 total points. BC has split bowls SU the past 4 years and was favored in 3 of ‘em (covering none). It’ll be up to Eagles scoring defense (19th nationally at 19 ½ ppg) to rein in potent Reno offense (42.6 ppg and 535 yards per game). An upset by BC wouldn’t shock us, but we’ll make the conservative pick...’Pack 33 BC 27

JAN. 10
#2 Oregon over #1 Auburn taking 3 (74 ½):
Admittedly, the choice is prejudiced just a little by Vindy’s preseason futures bet on the Mallards (18-1), but the selection is not without merit. Tigers did have some near-misses (OT vs. Clemson, at Mississippi State, at Kentucky and the miracle at Tuscaloosa). Ducks, beak and shoulders above the rest of the PAC-10 at 49.3 ppg, will be the most prolific offense that Auburn has met and was challenged just once (by Cal and its General Hospital act). War Eagle covered three of four road opportunities. Mallards covered 3 of 6, winning all of ‘em by at least 11 points. Neither side will likely run well against the opposing D. Drakes have taken 8 of last 9 vs. Top 25. Ducks allow 18.9 ppg, Tigers slightly more at 24.5 ppg. Alabama’s Mark Ingram broke the Heisman curse last year after four straight post-season games were lost by the award-winner’s team (Texas QB Colt McCoy was lost early to injury though). Vindy’s spies say Auburn plans to use a pair of defensive tackles named Pierce and Honeycutt to slow any rhythm gained by Oregon (and if we were Gene Chizik, we’d send the team captains out for the coin-toss dressed in scrubs and lab coats!)...Mighty Ducks 34 Auburn 30

BETWEEN THE HASHMARKSExperiencing paranoia following the recent FBI raid, your felonious forecaster was arrested after a toy store rampage spent gouging out the eyes of Barbie dolls...until learning the camera of the Barbie Video Girl was hidden inside the necklace! (Vin, did however, originally consider just drawing little smiley faces on the pupils with an ultra fine-tip Sharpie, but has simply watched too many episodes of Criminal Minds!)

A line of Missouri -2 ½ over Iowa (and a total of 47) has been posted on the Insight Bowl (off the board when Vindy published his pre-New Year’s Eve picks). So be it. We’ll stick with the original call and take the Hawkeyes with the points.

Hogs Sports Radio reporter Renee Gork got fired by her employer in August after sporting a Gators hat to a post-game conference and inadvertently annoying Arkansas Razorbacks coach Bobby Petrino. Likewise, a Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist received a pink slip for producing a microphone from inside a Phil Steele tote bag during a post-forecast Q&A with the Vindicator. Ironically, the prestigious prognosticator was wearing a pair of boxers autographed by his nationally-known forecasting rival at the time!

Thirty-five (count ‘em...35!!!!) post-season match-ups this season and not one damn Vuvuzela Bowl sponsored by BP! What’s up with ‘dat???!!!

Will the halftime speeches of the Kraft Hunger Bowl include: “Get back out there! If you don’t wanna’ play in this bowl, there are plenty of starving kids in Africa who’d love to be in the post-season!”

“Every idiot with ‘Vindy’s Picks’ on his lips should be boiled in his own pudding.”...Ebenezer Scrooge

Five Ohio State players, including Terrell Pryor, have been busted for getting tattoos at a discount because of the player status. Hmmm...whaddaya’ suppose a heart surrounding the name of your coach (or your agent) goes for these days, anyway???!!

MTSU QB Dwight Dasher was suspended early in the year after charges of duping an elderly man outta’ money the athlete eventually bet in a poker game. We just wanna’ know one thing....did he go “all in”???!!!!

JoePa had laser vision surgery last January and no longer needs his glasses. One pair of his trademark Coke-bottles was auctioned-off for charity. A second pair went to the Smithsonian and a third set will be kept on-hand at Palo Alto in case the Hubble Telescope needs emergency lens-replacement! Who knows...there might be a new star discovered and tagged “Alpha-Paterno!” Meanwhile, Penn State is now hawking photo-shopped pics of Coach sporting Geordi glasses, Cyclops’ shades or John Lennon specs!

TCU is building a new stadium that will be half-to-three-quarters completed when next season starts. The Toads will be able to play in it before completion. At what? Arena League dimensions???!!!

Twenty-six Tennessee football players were allowed into a bar free gratis while others had to pay a cover charge. Here in Sin City, we simply call that Ladies Night!

If the military wanted to keep quiet who among themselves played football, would the policy be called “Don’t Mask, Don’t Tell”???!!!!

Ralph “The Fridge”Friedgen has been given his walking papers, effective the end of the Military Bowl. If he’s replaced by Vern Troyer, will they nickname the new Maryland coach... “The Mini-Bar”???!!!!

NY Jets coach Rex Ryan did not openly pooh-pooh allegations that his missus has appeared in foot-fetish videos. Gives a whole new connotation to film “footage”, don’t it???!! Higher-ups in the Jets organization have pledged their “full-support” to Ryan. Sounds more like the harbinger of an endorsement deal with Dr. Scholl’s or Pay-for-Less shoes! Would a thorough review of Coach’s video library reveal a preponderance of kickers booting field-goals minus their socks and cleats???!!!

Star light, star bright
First spread I see tonite
Wish I may, wish I might
Win this pick I make tonite!

BTW, TBS ran 24 hours of “A Christmas Story” over the weekend. We only caught 23 hours of it and still need to watch the final 60 minutes that we taped to find out how it ends. No spoilers, please! (BTW, there’s no “I” in “team” because Ralphie shot it out with his Red Ryder [which sounds dangerously close to “Red Raider”! GASP!!!!]).

Vindy’s Best Bowl Bets Part II: Georgia-Central Florida “over” 55 ½, Mississippi State -5 over Michigan, Miami-Ohio -1 over Middle Tennessee State, Kentucky-Pittsburgh “under” 52

Vindicator hopes all his faithful readers had a very Mary Carey Christmas! Pass on Earth, Goodwill Toward Linemen. On top of ‘dat, we extend...Crimson Tidings of Southern Comfort and joy! May all the wide-receivers of your choice drop their balls as we ring in the New Year! 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 16, 2010

Vindy's 2010-11 Bowl Predictions: Part I


SAN FRANCISCO, California (MSNBC)...Local FBI Analysis of evidence taken during a recent national sweep related to the early-summer uncovering of the deep-cover mission established by Russian spies coincidentally revealed an undercover plot of another kind. A doll recovered from the home of the Vegas Vindicator was determined to be a limited-series Barbie Video Girl, previously-thought to be available only to law-enforcement agencies. It turns out that the doll was actually being used by Las Vegas sportsbooks to monitor and pre-empt the fab forecaster’s prediction processes and to get insider information before his picks were even published each week. The devious subversion would help explain Vindicator’s wagering struggles this season. The Weber Kid told authorities that while he thought the doll, received as a “comp” from an undisclosed casino, was odd, given that other gamblers often received free meals, hotel room stays and 2-for-1buffets; he was “grateful for having something tangible” to show for his efforts!

Having cleansed our residence of all possible unwanted surveillance instruments named Babushka Barbie, Comrade Ken and Stalingrad Skip, we feel comfortable in releasing....

(AP rankings; lines of December 16, over/under totals in parentheses)

NEW MEXICO (@ Albuquerque, N.M.):
Brigham Young over Texas-El Paso giving 11 ½ (50):
Mormons finished with five conference wins, which woulda’ been six had Utah not blocked the game-winning FG. Cougars have gone 3-2 SU/ATS in past five bowls, but faced PAC-10 teams in all of those. BYU’s 1-3 ATS non-conference record is reflective of early-season issues that have been corrected and BYU has to be happy playing the post-season somewhere other than Sin City for the first time in 6 years (hmmm...maybe that was the plan all along!). UTEP is in its first bowl since 2005 and did beat C-USA champ SMU in early November, but lost at home to bottom-feeder Tulane and were 1-4 away from home. Miners do have a lot of seniors on offense and despite a rebuilt defense, yielded a reasonable 25.4 points per game ...BYU 31 UTEP 13

Northern Illinois over Fresno State giving 1 ½ (59):
Huskies are off disappointing loss in MAC title game after bull-dozing its way through conference play. Dogs are also under an interim coach after Jerry Kill bolted for Minnesota. NIU defense is solid, allowing only 19 points per game and 3 of 4 opponents who scored at least 26 left the building with victories. Fresno went 8-4 SU this season, but most of their big wins came at home and they lost badly in three of four defeats. FSU will play its 10th post-season tilt in last 11 seasons, have more experience, more depth, a more-experienced coach and lost by just 1at Reno. Marc Lawrence’s Playbook.Com notes the team getting points in Fresno’s last nine post-season matches has won the bowl outright. Fresno just suspended its second-leading tackler. That will benefit NIU’s powerful offense. We’ll buck the trend...NIU35 Fresno 21

R&L CARRIERS NEW ORLEANS (@ N’awlins, Weeziana):
Ohio over Troy taking 2 ½ (57):
Trojans got a piece of the Fun Belt championship but are definitely not as stout as they had been, going just 4-8 against the line, breaking a four-year string of winning spread records. Troy beat Bowling Green in non-conference play early and did lose by just a FG at Oklahoma State, but were later crushed at South Carolina. Bobblecats won 8 games, went 7-4 ATS and blew a chance to play for the MAC title when they got surprisingly smoked at Kent State. Including loss at Ohio State, OU lost just 2 of 6 games away from Athens. Trojans playing 5th bowl in seven years and lost by 3 last year to Central Michigan with a better squad. ‘Cats should run fairly well vs. Troy, who’s in the bottom-third nationally in run defense. Trojans will air it out..Ohio 31 Troy 24

DEC. 21
BEEF O’ BRADY’S (@ St. Petersburg, FL):
Southern Miss over Louisville taking 3 (57):
Cardinals returning to the bowl season for first time since 2006 and went 3-1 ATS this year as chalk. Best victory came at home over Big Least title-holder Connecticut, but Louisville staggered to losses in three of five following that game to close out the regular season. Once a strength for Southern Miss, Golden Eagles scoring D gave up 41 or more to three of last five foes, but scored less than 31 just twice en route to 8-4 SU overall record. USM could actually be 10-2 but lost two of three games decided by a single point. Louisville is good on defense, limiting all but 4 opponents to less than three touchdowns and beat SoMiss 25-23 in 2009. Cards converted just over 39% on third-down, in part due to being the most-penalized team in the conference (94 flags). Eagles drew nearly as many hankies (92), but converted better than half of their third-downs...Eagles 34 Redbirds 27

DEC. 22
MAACO LAS VEGAS (@ Vegas, Baby!):
#20 Utah over #10 Boise State taking 17 (61):
The roof of the Metrodome fell in this past weekend. It probably only felt that way for Boise after the loss to Nevada that derailed a major BCS bowl opportunity. Will Broncos try to re-set the tone for a new start or just play out the string here? Boise’s non-conference wins are obviously well-known (by 3 over Virginia Tech on a neutral site and by 13 at home vs. Oregon State). State hit the scoreboard for 50+ five times in 2010, while the Utes floundered down the stretch. Collectively, these clubs beat 7 of 9 nine opponents going to bowls this year. Utah has been money-making 6-1 ATS in past 7 bowls (now playing in 8th straight post-season). Based on spreads at the time Vindy published his last three years of bowl predictions, double-digit chalk has gone just 6-7 ATS and five of those spread-losers also lost outright. Utes would put PAC-10 on notice with an upset or at least a close loss...’Taters 31 Utes 19

DEC. 23
Navy over SAN DIEGO STATE taking 3 ½ (60): LOCK OF DA’ BOWLS.
“Home” game for the Aztecs, who took five of six in San Diego this season, but with a naval base nearby, the Middies will have plenty of support in the stands. Ensigns continued the blazing ATS pace by the chalk over the past few weeks, despite letting Army hang around almost long enough to get the cover earlier this month. SDSU boasts an 8-win season and lost by only 3 at Mizzou and again at BYU, as well as recording a 5-point loss at Utah. Second-year coach Brady Hoke has SDSU moving in the right direction, reaching their first post-season since 1998, and took Ball State to bowls in two of his final three years there (Cardinals lost both rather badly however). Middies finished the year on 5-2 ATS run, have won 2 of 3 neutral site games to-date (2-1 ATS) and could register back-to-back ten-win seasons with the victory. Aztecs have seen the 2-point loss to Air Force...but Navy QB Ricky Dobbs can throw it with precision as needed...Navy 27 SDSU 23

DEC. 24
Tulsa over #24 HAWAII taking 10 ½ (73):
Golden Hurricane just missed a C-USA title game berth courtesy of earlier 3-point loss to SMU in Dallas, but get a trip to paradise for their troubles. The “over” looks like the play here, with Tulsa scoring 41 or more six times and Hawaii doing likewise seven times. The defensive edge goes to the Warriors, who held four teams to 10 or less (though we note those four were lower-tier WAC clubs and I-AA Charleston Southern). Tulsa has typical unimpressive C-USA stop-squad. UH beat the spread 10 of 12 tries, missing covers only in losses to Colorado and Boise. Tulsa stumbled early, dropping of three of first six games SU. Two of three came by total of 5 points, but lost at Oklahoma State by 37. ‘Cane returns to the bowls for 5th time in six years (missing last season) and went 3-1 ATS in the previous four. ‘Bows covered all four chances this year laying double-digits and led the country in passing with more than 5000 yards (only team to put up that many)...Hawaii 44 Tulsa 37

DEC. 26
Toledo over Florida International giving 1 ½ (56):
Invoking a Little Caesar’s slogan from years ago, we say...”Pick ‘em, pick ‘em!” Rockets....looked stranded on the moon early with 41-2 loss to Arizona to open the year and a subsequent 5-point home loss to Wyoming, but would win 5 of final 6 (4-2 ATS) to make first post-season appearance in five years. We tip our helmet to ex-Miami assistant Mario Cristobal for getting his Golden Panthers to their first bowl in school history in just his fourth year as head coach. FIU did not take any of its four non-conference matches, but split them ATS. Rematch of 2009's win by Toledo (41-31). We lean a bit toward the “over” given lotsa’ new faces on defense for International...Spaceships 34 Panthers 24

DEC. 27
Air Force over Georgia Tech giving 2 ½ (56):
Both teams run some version of the option and points could be at a premium. Pilots got derailed when their starting full-back went down, suffering a three-game skid in mid-season, but USAF finished with three convincing victories over Army, New Mexico and UNLV (3-0 ATS). Bees were disappointing this season, posting lowest number of victories since 2004, and squeaked into the bowls at 6-6 with no signature wins. ‘Jackets not strong play in the bowls, going just 1-4 ATS while losing all five outright since 2005 with better clubs. In its defense, Tech did have an ugly road schedule, losing 4 of 6 and were defeated badly by NC State and Miami at home. Bees allowed just one more point per game, but scored a touchdown less per game. First time as bowl chalk this decade for Air Force, who’ve gone just 1-2 ATS in previous three...Flight Platoon 24 Bugs 20

DEC. 28
CHAMPS SPORTS (@ Orlando, FL):
NC State over #22 West Virginia taking 2 ½ (48 ½):
Mounties went 7-3-1 against the number en route to toppling half of the six 2010 season bowl contestants they faced (4-2 ATS). Wolfpack went 8-3 ATS and knocked five of nine going to the post-season this year. State scored a minimum of 27 points in all but one game and plays in 4th straight bowl (winning 3 of ‘em outright). ‘Eers have split the two post-season trips under Coach Stewart, dropping both to the line...NC State 28 WVU 24

INSIGHT (@ Tempe, AZ):
#14 Missouri vs. Iowa
(OFF): Prior to being taken off the board due the drug-related arrest of Iowa’s top pass-catcher, the total was 47 and we would have first looked to play the “under”, with the Hawkeyes and the Tigers each keeping six of their opponents, respectively, at 13 or less and 8 of Iowa’s games totaling less than this number, while six of Missouri tallied under 47as well. Mizzou ended the year winning three consecutive games. Birds, on the hand, dropped 4 of their last 6 and nearly went 0-fer-November. Tigers got buried by Navy in 2009 bowl. They did belt Texas A&M 30-9 earlier. Could be a nice QB duel of Blaine Gabbert vs. Ricky Stanzi. Will Iowa show up? We think they will....Iowa 23 Mizzou 17

DEC. 29
MILITARY Presented By NORTHROP GRUMMANN (@ Washington, DC):
Maryland over East Carolina giving 7 (68 ½):
Terps compiled 8 outright wins, including finale over then-ranked NC State, but have been all over the board offensively...scoring as few as 7 and as many as 62 (twice!). Maryland won 3 of 6 games outside College Park and got points in five of ‘em. We’ll give a nod to the “over” due to ECU’s porous defense (allowing 42 or more nine...count ‘em nine...times!) and potent offense. Pirates playing sixth straight bowl, but are under first year coach (though he was an assistant at East Carolina before this). The Fridge celebrates an excellent rebound from 2009's 2-10 campaign...Box Turtles 45 ECU 31

TEXAS (@ Houston, TX):
Illinois over Baylor taking 1 ½ (62 ½):
Robert Griffin put up the 17th highest passing yardage total (with nice 21-8 TD-to-INT ratio) and Bears got bowl-eligible for first time since 1994, then dropped their final three. While scoring at least 30 in all but 3 games (twice in two of the last three), keeping foes outta’ the end zone was the problem (allowed 42 or better in half a dozen). Illini head coach Ron Zook has been to the post-season four times...and hasn’t pocketed any of ‘em. This is just the second winning season for Zook at Champaign and frankly, he may be gone even if he breaks the bowl skid and wins here. Illini went 7-4 ATS and got the offense running in the second half of the year. Defensively, they allowed 20 ppg (67 in crazy loss to the Wolverines notwithstanding). Baylor toppled just one bowler (K-State in forties shoot-out), but went 4-1 laying considerably more points than this. “Over” might be the way to go...Illini 29 Bears 27

VALERO ALAMO (@ San Antonio, TX):
#16 Oklahoma State over Arizona giving 6 (66):
Wildcats did well with a minimal number of returnees on defense this year, holding 4 of first 6 opponents to single-digits. ‘Cats also won all three non-conference games, including victory over Iowa, but injury to Nick Foles put a major crimp in their season and Arizona’s last win came before prior to Halloween. Cowboys boast one of the best offenses in the country and AZ was smoked by the better scoring teams on their schedule (losing by 25 to Stanford, 19 to Oregon). State knocked off six bowlers, all except Texas A&M by this many (8-3-1 ATS overall), and dropped a tough one to Oklahoma. Unless Foles comes back strong... OKSU 38 AZ 24

DEC. 30
Southern Methodist over Army giving 7 ½ (52):
As noted higher, the Black Knights weren’t blown out by Navy only because of the Ensigns miscues. Army passes were thrown outta’ bounds or dropped and the kicking game was deserving of friendly fire. Fourth neutral site tilt on the year for Army (0-3 SU/1-2 ATS). SMU needs to keep the Cadets at or below 18 (West Pointers rung up 20 or more each game, except final two, which totaled 20 point output). Second bowl for the Ponies in three years under June Jones (blasting a pretty good Reno squad 45-10 last season) and SMU could record back-to-back eight-win years with the victory. Mustangs stop the run fairly well at 141 ypg and have seen Navy’s similar offense...SMU 27 Not Quite in Cadence 17

Kansas State over Syracuse (PK)(47 ½):
We like the “under” in this Yankee Stadium skirmish and “Era” could in fact be an acronym for “earned run average”-like points. Syracuse, in the first half of 2010, looked like they might have a special season, winning five of seven to open, including road victories at Akron, South Florida and West Virginia. But two of those wins were over FCS teams and a mid-November win came against ready-to-quit Rutgers. K-State stumbled into the post-season, falling in four of final six. One of the wins came via 49-41 trackmeet at Fun Belt’s North Texas. ‘Cuse ended up 2nd in most defensive categories in the Big Least, but 6th or 7th in nearly all offensive stats. KSU gets the edge in strength-of-schedule and bowl-coaching experience. Orange are young at the skills and Doug Marrone has not led a team in the post-season...Kansas State 27 Orange 13

MUSIC CITY (@ Nashville, TN):
Tennessee over North Carolina taking 2 (50 ½):
Vols started by often finishing in the teens on the scoreboard en route to early 1-4-1 spread record, but closed out the schedule with four consecutive victories (3 vs. SEC clubs) and five ATS wins in a row, posting a half-century or more in two of last three. Tarheels were under siege by the NCAA much of the year and were inconsistent. Rocky Top won 3 of 5 away from home (covering 4, either as a DD dog or laying big points), but are in 4th bowl in five seasons under third coach. Which Carolina team shows up? The one that beat Florida State in Tallahassee or the one that edged I-AA William & Mary and Duke by 4 and 5, respectively? We expect the latter...Tennessee 19 UNC 17

#17 Nebraska over Washington giving 13 ½ (53):
Rare redux of a regular season melee. No dis to UDUB coach Steve Sarkisian, but Bo Pelini has better talent to put on the field and has done a better job getting something out of them. Huskies do have some momentum, ending the schedule with a hat-trick after a three-game pounding by Arizona, Stanford and the the average tune of 46-10. Big Dread wilted down the stretch, but still fell just three-points short of a BCS berth. Corn Cobs have won the money in three of prior four years (with 3 decided by 5or fewer), including 33-0 whitewash of Arizona in this same venue in 2009. Extra time to heal will be good for Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez. Can’t see Washington closing the gap that quickly from September’s 56-21 loss to NU...Children of the Corn 42 Seattle’s Best 20

BTW, your violated Vindicator has since circled the wagons and now uses the services of his GI Joe, Cabbage Patch Kid, Buzz Lightyear, Action Jackson (raise yer hand if yer old enuff to remember Action Jackson!) and a sock monkey to form an impenetrable wall around himself and his in-progress picks to obstruct the bookie’s view!

Speaking of walls, Vindy went to the sportsbook-in-question and took a page from possibly-ex-Jets-assisant-coach Sal Alosi, asking several other sports gamblers to stand in a certain spot, forcing a bookie to run around them while Weber stuck out his knee to trip him!!

The Military Bowl this year does not feature any of the usual academies and all three are enjoying post-season outings. But hey...pirates are evil, para-military navy-like groups, right???!!! Close enough.

In June, Nebraska’s top wide-out Niles Paul was charged with possession by a minor and publicly takin’ a leak. The alcohol issue was unknown until a flash of light exposed the bottle in his hand as he urinated on an electric cattle-fence!

Before the ball drops on Times Square, we note that 2010 is the 50th anniversary of The Flintstones. To that end, we simply quip, “Yabba-dabba-Duke!” (BTW, Dino was a Tarheels fan!). Hmmm...Fred & Wilma & Barney & Betty....wasn’t that a movie in the 60's? Oh wait...that was Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice!)

Miley Cyrus was caught hittin’ the bong recently. Apparently, Hannah Montana is not only a pop star...she’s a candidate for the women’s Olympic swim team!

Vindy’s 2010 Bowl Season Best Bets (thru 12/30): Season: 28-32-1 (.467)
HAWAII-Tulsa over 73, Illinois +1 ½ over Baylor, Tennessee-North Carolina under 50 ½

Come on back in about a week as we offer picks on the rest of the bowls, more best bets and better “hash” (we promise!).

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Vindy's Picks Army-Navy 2010

Navy over Army giving 7: Nice to know that both the Middies and the Cadets are off to bowls following this one this year. First post-season game for Army since ‘96. Have to figure a plus-11 turnover ratio had something to do with it. Soldiers were plus-five last season and in the red in 2008. West-Pointers have six straight-up victories, including victories over I-AA VMI, as well as against Tulane and Eastern Michigan, both on the road, but the best win perhaps came by two touchdowns at Duke, who beat Navy. Black Knights also lost by three at the base camp to now-ranked Hawaii. Middies have certainly been the money play in this series, covering 10 of the past 13 years, battering the Soldiers in most seasons, but won just 17-3 in 2009 as 16-point chalk. Army’s last outright triumph over the Sailors came in 2001. Army losses in 2010 campaign have been by double-digits, including 20 to Air Force and 24 to Notre Dame squad on a neutral site trying to make a bowl. Navy 1-1 SU/ATS in neutral site tilts on the year, belting the aforementioned Leprechauns 35-17 at the Meadowlands and losing 17-14 to open 2010 after being stopped on 4th-and-goal in a game we saw vs. Maryland with about a minute left to play. Ensigns have 9 SU wins, but are 6 points away from 11. Oddly, the Middies seem a bit off from last year and maybe aren’t quite as good as their record? Rush defense comparison is pretty-much a wash, but Army gets the advantage stopping the pass (allowed 18 passing scores and less than 142 ypg, with 12 INT) over the Midshipmen (18 pass TDs and 228 ypg allowed, with 8 picks) and as one might expect from a pair of highly-disciplined squads, Navy and Army are the second- and third-least penalized teams in the country (39 and 47 [one fewer than the Nitwit Lions]) total flags, respectively [behind Wisconsin’s 35]). Neither club could get past Air Force, with Army losing by 20 at home and Navy losing by 8 in Colorado, but Middies have dropped just one game since that defeat (the aforementioned 3-point loss at Duke). Annapolis, disregarding 76-point Wisconsin-like outing at East Carolina, is averaging just over 25 ppg...down 3 ppg from 2009. Win-loss records of Army’s victims total 20-51. Records for the Middies losing opponents...44-48, including 3 with winning records and three bowlers. We salute the Cadets for their progress, but we don’t think they’ve caught-up quite this much. If Sarah Palin gave a pre-game pep talk to the troops, would it include the phrase, “Drill Sergeant, Baby! Drill Sergeant!”????...Rear Fleet 23 Ground-Pounders 12

BETWEEN THE HASHMARKSDisgusted early in the second-half with South Carolina’s poor tackling, especially on 3rd-and-long and with the Poultry’s Stephen Garcia just missing wide-open receivers, we tuned into ABC Family to watch Harry Potter and the Chambermaid of Victoria’s Secrets!

A high school running back was flagged last week for unsportsmanlike conduct when he dropped to one knee and pointed skyward following his touchdown scamper. Funny...the official who tossed that hankie has been mysteriously triggering extra pat-downs by airport security, Wal-Mart loss-prevention personnel and baggers as he comes and goes through local grocery stores scanners! Coincidence? You decide!

Depending on whether ya had certain games as wins or ties for the chalk, a 7-3 finish for the favorites (again, potentially 5-3-2) led to a 5-5 Championship Week for your pooped prognosticator (119-124-3, .489; well off last year’s 140–118-2, .542).

UCF(-9 over SMU) didn’t impress, but did bring home Vindicator’s lock pick in a 17-7victory, evening the record at 7-7 (.500...a notch or two better than 2009's 5-9, 357).

Similarly, UConn (+1 ½) won outright by 3 over USF in Weber’s only “best bet” call of the championship weekend, lifting that tally to 28-32-1 (.467...close to last season’s 27-31, 465).

Vindy will return in a little over a week with the first installment of this season’s bowl predictions, but not before taking a breather to visit his fave holiday toy store...Build-A-Beer! Stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Vindy's Picks Championship Week 2010


WASHINGTON, District of Columbia (ITAR-Tass)...Long a thorn in the sides of various world agencies, WikiLeaks released sensitive, previously-classified diplomatic cables this week. Those cables were part of a “huge encrypted ‘insurance’ file” on the company’s website following last summer’s demands that thousands of secret documents be returned to the U.S. government. But even as American officials tried to prepare other nations in advance of the release, Vindy’s Picks were about to cast serious shadows on international relations across the globe. The cables show U.S. diplomats lambasting other leaders for wagering with the infamous forecasts and Saudi Arabia encouraging Washington to “cut the head off the snake” other words, the Saudis wanted the disbanding of the BCS. Some documents even reveal the use of team names from the picks to indicate success (“Gamehens”) or failure (“Buckeyes” and “Red Raiders”) of military operations! The documents also implicate U.S. diplomats in low-level spying, such as garnering credit card information about other dignitaries or videotaping a 49ers practice session in London.

The favorites continued their torrid ATS charge (now 24-11-1) as Vindy floundered to 9-11 (114-119-3, 489) for the last full week of the regular season.

The South Koreans have blamed North Korea for the sinking of Vindy’s Week 13 picks and have elected to conduct joint-betting exercises with the United States. As a result, China is now jittery over the off-shore presence of...

(Featuring more high-wire acts than the new Spidey musical!)

MAC Championship @ Detroit, MI
#24 Northern Illinois over Miami-Ohio giving 17:
Redhawks are here because the Bobblecats of Ohio shockingly lost by 22 to Kent State. After dropping a match to Iowa State to open the year, Huskies lost just one other tilt in a respectable 6-point defeat at Illinois, then manhandled everybody else (except Western Michigan, whom it beat by 6), including Minnesota. Hats off to NIU coach Jerry Kill for leading his squad to 10 wins (which could well be an even dozen by the end of bowl season) after going just 13-13 in his first two years at the helm. We applaud Miami-O as well on its current 8-4 record after putting a lone game in the “W” column in 2009. Birds have gone 5-1 SU/4-2 ATS recently. Dogs have scored an average of 65 points per game over their last three games. Miami lost 27-22 to last season’s 7-6 Northern Illinois team...NIU 44 Miami-Ohio 24

OREGON STATE over #1 Oregon taking 16 ½:
We hope the Beavers 38-Zippo fall to Stanford had more to do with lousy ball security (5 turnovers) than with concession of the season. State can still bowl with a victory here. OSU has been a Virginia-like enigma....beating Cal and USC, yet losing to UCLA and Wazzou. Beavers have won four of five home games (3-2 ATS), while the Drakes are perfect 5-0 (2-3 ATS) off the Pond. State does own two outright victories as dogs and cashed tickets in 8 of last 11 vs. the Mallards in Corvallis. For the Quack Attack, it’s just win and play for the national crown. Can Beavers guard against Ducks’ usual second-half explosion? If it’s close late, would State cede in order to allow a PAC-10 rival to play for the biggest bucks to draw its conference share of those dollars? Naaaaaahhhhh!...Ducks 33 Beavers 20

SEC Championship @ Atlanta, GA
#18 South Carolina over #2 Auburn taking 4 ½:
Rematch of late September game, won 35-27 by the Tigers. Tigers have had some close calls...last week’s all-but-death-knell vs. ‘Bama included! We thank Auburn for that miracle comeback from an early 24-point hole, which kept Vindicator from an O-fer-Friday! With RB Lattimore being neutralized by Clemson, Chargin’ Chickens proved Stephen Garcia can use his arm to make it happen. Garcia’s hurt, but expected to suit-up. Last four conference titles have alternated between East and West, with the fave winning 3, covering two and pushing one of ‘em. The smallest margin in Auburn’s recent five-game ATS win streak has been 7... KFC 27 Auburn 24

Utah State over #9 BOISE STATE taking 39 ½ : Faster than you can say, “wide right” (twice!), BSU went from BCS-buster to lower-tier bowl in its own stadium or nearby. Closest Boise has come to this situation, losing a perfect season and possible title shot, this late in the year was 12-point defeat to close out 2007 regular season. Broncos then lost by 3 in a bowl game to ECU. Aggies return to the forecast for first time since scarin’ da’ bejeezus outta’ the Sooners in Norman in Week One. Broncos have covered this one the past five years, but have won by this many only in 2007's 52-0 romp, taking the other four by about 32 ppg. Senior-laden USU was off last weekend, following 22-point home loss to Idaho that followed wins over NMSU and San Josie after a 14-point loss at Reno...BSU 51 USU 13

Big 12 Championship @ Arlington, TX
#13 Nebraska over #10 Oklahoma taking 3 ½:
Huskers mopped up Colorado behind the second-string QB. Despite winning a close one over Oklahoma State, Sooners’ O sputtered three times in the red zone in the 4th Quarter, leading to a trey of chip-shot FGs that allowed State to hang around. Back-to-back appearances in the Big 12 title game now for Big Red, who’s looking for its first title victory in that time (losing 13-12 to Texas in ‘09). Sooners 1-1 on neutral turf this season and lost to Nebraska 10-3 last year in Lincoln. Sooners on 3-0 spread run (2-0 on the road). Children of the Corn and Oklahoma have common losses to Texas A&M, but Nebraska defeated Mizzou and Okie State...the two teams to whom Oklahoma lost...NU 24 Oklahoma 20

ACC Championship @ Charlotte, NC
#12 Virginia Tech over #20 Florida State giving 4:
We underestimated the mission Tech was on last week. We won’t do that again. Hokies in midst of 7th straight season of double-digit SU wins. Injuns could notch their first since 2002 with the victory. State holds a 2-1 SU/ATS edge in past three games vs. the Hokies, winning 30-20 in 2008, and are here because NC State collapsed vs. Maryland. Gators ran for almost 5 yards per carry vs. FSU, but still got blasted... VT 29 FSU 21

LOUISIANA TECH over #14 Nevada taking 10: Best guess for “wish I had it back”. Drop in the line toward the Bulldogs speaks to expected letdown for Wolfpack in wake of emotional roller-coaster 4th quarter and OT that unseated Boise. Tech’s four home games have resulted in 3 losses by 14, 1 and 6 around a 13-point win. Bulldogs did score 20 on Boise and has a lot of seniors, who’ve seen LT cover the past three in this series...UNR 34 LT 27

Rutgers over #23 WEST VIRGINIA taking 20: Mounties steam-rolled Pitt to put themselves in position to win the Big Least, but still need a loss by UConn at South Florida (and a win here) to secure it. We cashed a ticket in Week 13 courtesy of the Knights rolling over against Louisville. Rutgers is listless 2-7-1 ATS on the year, but actually beat UConn outright earlier. Knights loss their early games by 3-4 points each, but have lost 3 of past 5 by 20 or more. Nothing but pride on the line for RU, who had won bowls in each of the previous four seasons. We’re hoping to see the first-half Knights, not the ones from recent Saturdays...WVU 17 Rutgers 3

#25 HAWAII over Nevada-Las Vegas giving 34 ½: Oddly, this game could feasibly (though unlikely to) have some impact on Wisconsin’s post-season destination as Badgers hope to hold their current ranking edge over Ohio State and Michigan State. ‘Bows, on the Island, won by 7 over UNR, who at worst coulda’ lost by 3 to then-national title-contending Broncos. Hawaii’s taken its last four victories by average of 35 points and is 9-2 against the line overall. Rubbles, who need something to build on for 2011, have staggered to 0-6 SU/ATS outside Sam Boyd (and 2-12 back to October 2008). UNLV practiced, during summer camp, on same brand of synthetic field turf used by Super Bowl champion New Orleans. Now if they can just hire Sean Payton, Drew Brees and Reggie Bush!...Haka Dance 49 Sin City 10

Conference USA Championship @ Orlando, FL
Central Florida over Southern Methodist giving 9: LOCK OF DA’ WEEK.
UCF Knights return to the conference title match after a 2-year hiatus and for 3rd time in six seasons. Ponies had to take ECU in OT, combined with a Tulsa loss, to be here. Mustangs did beat Wazzou by two touchdowns, but best win really was 21-18 over Tulsa. SMU finished on a 2-5-1 ATS slide, but was a dog just once in that set and lost by 8 at Texas Tech and 17 to TCU, but by 14 at UTEP and 25 (GASP!) to Houston squad being led by QB well-down the depth chart. Knights are 8-3 ATS overall, though just 1-2 the past three games. UCF lost by 7 to NC State, at KSU by 4 and to Southern Miss by 10. Knights improving steadily in points-allowed the past several years and have held 8 of 12 opponents at or below 17. More experience on both sides of the ball for...Central Florida 34 SMU 17

BETWEEN THE HASHMARKSA new study suggests a statistical flaw relied upon by the NCAA means graduation rates for major college football and men’s basketball players lag behind those of other students, not the other way around (not sure exactly what that means, but we’re sure the BCS will find a way to add it to the formula it uses to determine who plays for the National Title!)

Rutgers is selling the naming rights for its football stadium and basketball arena, currently known as Rutgers Stadium and Rutgers Athletic Center, respectively. Maybe a little tie-in to The Sopranos or Bruce Springsteen is in order? Bada Bing Arena? Born to Run (Away) Field, (No) Glory Days Stadium, Jungle Land or Badlands (since The Meadowlands is already there), I Surrender Stadium or maybe....Pink Cadillac Pavilion!

The UNLV Rebels have included Southern Utah and Western Illinois in their 2011 schedule. We heard the Dallas Cowboys have an open-date next season as well! Just a thought!

As we noted in last week’s forecast, TCU coach Gary Patterson said he wouldn’t lay 72on an opponent “at the expense of teaching my young people a life lesson.”. But droppin’ 66 on New Mexico is okay???!!! Yo, Coach! Liar, liar....pants on fire!!!!!!

After his Hogs beat LSU, Coach Bobby Petrino was quoted as saying, “We didn’t come to paint”. We watched that game...and we beg to differ. Given the good starting field position the Bengals got following Arkansas punts and kick-offs, we’re pretty sure we saw the Razorbacks coverage units holding brushes and palettes while peering over easels as the Tigers special teams moved the ball downfield! The only things missin’ were smocks and berets!

2010 celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Pony Express (the mail-delivery, not the once-vaunted SMU running game named for it!). It lasted just 19 months, but fans of Vindy’s Picks back then were a lot happier to get them sooner!!

Best Weekly Effort:
No question....Week Twelve’s 12-3-1. Clutch!!!

Worst Weekly “Effort”: Weber’s annual stinker came via Week Two’s 5-13. Uggggggghhh!

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 Fightin’ Fowl of South Carolina (8-2, .800). Splitting Second Place...Oklahoma State and Michigan State (both at 6-2, .750). Reeling in “Honorable Mention” were the Bengals of LSU (8-3, .727), who only last season were in the Dishonorable Mention category! Our sincere appreciation to Auburn for a 7-4 (.636) effort that landed no hardware, but followed up last season’s 10-1, giving the War Eagle 17 forecast wins in the last 22 appearances!

FLAME-THROWERS (Worst percentage on the predicted side of ‘da spread): This year’s “Grill-Master Supreme Award” winner is Reno (1-6, .143), who snuck up on Vindicator while he was busy not paying attention to “Suckin’ Place” winners Arizona (3-6, .333) and surprise entry Virginia Tech (2-4-1, .333). Garnering attention all season was “Dishonorable Mention” winner Ohio State (4-7-1, .364), who shares the distinction with TCU (4-7, .364) and the large...wooden...Badgers...of Wisconsin (4-7, .364).

Didn’t make the cut, but we’ll be watchin’: The Gilded Gerbils of Minnesota finished 1-4 (.200).

Thanks for playing: The Clemson Tigers provided 4 wins in 4 tries.

“Wish I Had That One Back”: We’d like to revisit our choice of Kansas +24 ½ over Missouri after noting the Jayhawks “had reason to play hard (in previous close losses vs. the Tigers)...and has nowhere to go except home after this.”

“Locked in a Box?”: Oh the shame! But we tip our helmet to the Spartans for edging the alma mater in Beaver Stadium for the first time since the Nixon Administration and lifting the lock record to 6-7 (.461), which is one better than where we were this time last season!

Shoppe Talk: Buckeyes finally show up on the predicted side of the number (4-7-1) but simply reduce their standing for post-season ackkkkkolades! Reno hosed us again with the upset of the Broncos (1-6) and were duly “rewarded” as noted above!

Vindy’s Championship Week Best Bets: Last Week: 3-2 Season: 27-32-1 (.458...BTW, we hear ya can write these off for tax purposes!). Slim pickin’s this week, folks. We’ll call UConn +1 ½ over SOUTH FLORIDA and nothing more.

Vin comes up for air, and heads off to feed and water his collection of NCAA garden gnomes (little !@%#!@!! drank all of Vindicator’s beer the last time they were left unsupervised for too long!). Not to worry....we’ll return circa December 16 with our infamous bowl predictions (and we might even provide some bonus coverage this time next week with our thoughts on the Army-Navy game!)