Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Vindy's Picks Week 1-2012


A preseason guarantee of a Super Bowl victory or a National Championship is one thing. Claiming you can defeat a world-class sprinter in the 40-yard dash is something else entirely. Nonetheless, boisterous Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson recently did just that. In response, Olympian speedster Usain Bolt, in conjunction with Alabama, has received permission from the NCAA to represent the Crimson Tide for one play during the season-opener for both teams. The officiating crew will forgo the traditional coin-toss and will instead invoke a modified version of a rule from the XFL, in which Robinson and Bolt will line-up 40 yards deep on either side of the ball and race to midfield. The individual getting there first and securing the pigskin will have the choice to receive or defer until the second half. Always happy to mug for the camera, even his own, the Jamaican native and multi-time gold-medalist channeled a decades-old tourism ad for his island nation, quipping, “Make it Alahbahma, make it ‘cher home!” then struck the Heisman Trophy pose!

After an offseason spent throwing badminton matches to manipulate pairings in an effort to set-up an all-Madagascar women’s gold-medal final, Vindicator breaks da’ huddle with his 2012 Pre-Season Forecasting Strategy Team of… 2012 Miss America Laura Kaeppeler, “Jake… from State Farm” (BTW…she’s “hideous”), M.I.A., sports arbitrator Shyam Das; We Go, the Bud Light rescue-dog; Sandra Fluke, Saints assistant coach Gregg Williams, former space scientist Stewart Nozette, former JetBlue pilot Clayton Osbon, Razorbacks’ mistress Jessica Dorrell, the Secret Service-Columbia Detail, the Stub-Hub Ticket-Oak, papal butler Paolo Gabriele, “Magic Mike”, G4S chief Nick Buckles, bullied NY bus monitor Karen Klein, and “Flying Squirrel” Gabby Douglas to reveal…  

(Still better than having “a grandson with a dog-collar”)  

THURS. AUG. 30 VANDERBILT(+7) over #9 South Carolina: Gamecocks return offensive-stalwarts Connor Shaw at QB and RB Marcus Lattimore, who went down to injury last season, but the Commodores made nice strides on both sides of the ball and got to the postseason under now-second-year head coach James Franklin. Vandy boasts Packers’ Aaron Rodgers’ younger sib, Jordan, under center, four straight season-opening covers (though not vs. the caliber of Carolina) and a straight-up record showing five of last seven outright defeats by 7 or less. Could be an upset, but we’ll conservatively say the Ol’ Ball Coach finds a way to grab a close win on the road…Poultry 17 Admirals 13

FRI. AUG. 31 #24 Boise State (+7) over #13 MICHIGAN STATE: Broncos ain’t been doggies since September 2008, when they toppled Oregon…getting double-digits…on da’ Pond!! First true road game to open a season for Boise since 2005. It also occurs under the “Blue moon”, which happens to be the frequency with which Boise hangs a game in the loss column! Key components on offense, Kellen Moore and Doug Martin, have left the building. Nonetheless, we have to assume program-success has enabled Chris Petersen to recruit quality players. Spartans, off an 11-win (SU) campaign, get new faces on offense, but return most of the starting D and have a boatload of lettermen. MSU has been a crapshoot vs. non-Big Tenuous squads and fields a new triggerman following Kirk Cousins departure. Best guess here might be the “under”…Sparta 19 Boise 17

#21 STANFORD (-25 ½) over San Jose State: LOCK OF DA’ WEEK. Spartans showed promise last season, going 5-7 SU on heels of 3-22 tally over the previous two years, but San Josie had 18 starters back for that journey and have just 11 this time around. Cardinal enters the Luck-less era, but still boasts monster ground game. Look for the Spartans to improve in conference play, but Stanford waxed ‘em 57-3 in 2011 and they’re still simply out-gunned here…Trees 42 SJSU 7

SAT. SEPT. 1 #1 USC (-39 ½) over Hawaii: ‘Bows, under new coach Norm Chow, get a tough start at the Coliseum against a Trojans squad that has shed the probation shackles. Troy hasn’t been a great September team though, barely squeaking past Minnesota 19-17 last year and letting these same Warriors hang around in a shootout two seasons ago, both spread-losses. The starting line-up looks good, but USC could be a few injuries away from “uh-oh!”. UH enters the campaign with a new QB and very few returnees on defense…USC 54 UH 14

#8 Michigan (+12 ½) over #2 Alabama (@ Jerry’s World, TX): Only LSU, in its first iteration vs. ‘Bama, stayed closer than 16 points to the Tide at the final gun last year and ‘Bama will just re-load on defense after significant losses to the NFL. Wolverines have been good bet as a non-conference dog, but the last SEC opponent they faced, Mississippi State in 2010, blasted Big Blue to the tune of 52-14. UM may be playing with a handicap in the backfield as starting RB Fitzgerald Toussaint could sit out following an offseason drunk-driving incident. Tide has a new OC and not much time for the new D to gel, maybe giving Denard Robinson an opportunity to dent the scoreboard enough…Elephants 20 Big Blue 13

#3 LSU (-43) over North Texas: With five outright victories last year under new coach Dan McCarney, Mean Green had one fewer total wins than it had in the previous four seasons combined. North Texas has covered four straight vs. BCS opponents, including the 41-0 loss at ‘Bama in 2011. Tigers should flex some muscle to open the year after the offense was a no-show in the national title game, but they’ll do so without Tyrann Mathieu, who was asked to take his skills elsewhere after reportedly showing up hot on a drug test. Honey Badger don’t play, but we’ll call it…LSU 51 North Texas 3

#4 Oklahoma (-31) over TEXAS-EL PASO: Sooners 42 UTEP 6

Arkansas State (+35 ½) over #5 OREGON: Mallards 51 ASU 20

#6 GEORGIA (-37 ½) over Buffalo: Joja’ 45 Buffalo 0

Murray State @ #7 FLORIDA STATE: No line.

Jacksonville State @ #10 ARKANSAS: No line.

Marshall (+24 ½) over #11 WEST VIRGINIA: Mountaineers 34 Herd 17

Northern Iowa @ #12 WISCONSIN: No line.

#14 Clemson (-3) over Auburn (@ Atlanta, GA): The ACC’s top air game in 2011 will be minus top-receiver Sammy Watkins for two games in wake of yet-another offseason drug arrest. Clemson carries 1-5 ATS skid into this year and has not been good when the final margin is under 7, nor facing non-ACC teams. Aubie not good in non-conference games or when games are close either, but does benefit from having 16 starters back after having just six last year. Auburn is, however, young on the O-line and will be without its suspended starting center. Clemson would like to get the taste out of its mouth of the 70-33 loss it suffered in the bowl vs. West Virginia. CU is one of two semi-longshot teams that got some of Vindy’s pesos to win the 2013 BCS Title game…Clemson 27 War Eagle 20 Wyoming (+29) over #15 TEXAS: Steers 34 Cowboys 10

#17 NEBRASKA (-20) over Southern Miss: Corn Cobs 40 Eagles 19 (Best guess for “Wish I Had it Back” pick)

#18 OHIO STATE (-22 ½) over Miami-Ohio: The problems in State College, PA make the “jerseys for jalopies” scandal in Columbus look like playground shenanigans. However, the Buckeyes will sit-out the upcoming post-season as the result of subsequent minor rules violations. Redhawks have upped their scoring by 12 ppg from three years ago and covered four of last nine tilts facing BCS clubs, including 17-6 loss to Missouri this time last season, but were throttled by same bunch of Tigers in 2010 and have been belted by the likes of Big Least’s Cincinnati since 2009. State coming off its first ATS losing season since 2003, as the scoring D regressed a full TD per game and the offense slipping 15 ppg. New coach Urban Meyer won’t tolerate that….OSU 39 Miami-Oh, My 13

Savannah State @ #19 OKLAHOMA STATE: No line. #20 TCU: IDLE (next vs. Grambling State)

Missouri State @ #22 KANSAS STATE: No line.

Bowling Green (+29) over #23 FLORIDA: Gators 34 Bee Gees 10

SUN. SEPT. 2 #25 LOUISVILLE (-14) over Kentucky: ‘Cats are in third year under Joker Phillips but took major losses to the D, which lowered points-against last year by 3 ppg. The KY offense has nowhere to go but up after dropping production by 15 points a contest, despite a mere 24-17 loss to Da’ Ville. Cards are the fave to grab the Big Least crown, have covered 10 of last 14 lined games and haven’t been ranked since early 2007. Louisville must, however, do a better job of keeping the QB clean, yielding 41 sacks last season, and is still young on that side of the ball… Louisville 29 KY 10

MON. SEPT. 3 Georgia Tech (+7) over #16 VIRGINIA TECH: Another very early conference pairing. Bees have been lousy 4-10-2 ATS in ACC play the past two seasons, but are getting some early voter love, standing just a few spots outside the rankings themselves, and return a veteran offensive line, as well as senior QB Washington. ‘Jackets had covered three straight years vs. the Hokies until 2011’s 36-27 defeat. While the passing game gets little more than a moment of prayer by Joja’ Tech, 5 of the 13 sacks allowed last year came against VT. Hokies didn’t cover well in conference last season either and bring back just 3 on offense, while fielding 9 of last year’s defensive regulars. As always, Ramblin’ Wreck will use one of the country’s best ground games to chew-up the clock, so “under” the total might be best wager, but we think the Hive can stay close too as both offenses struggle early…VT 19 GT 16

BTW, in order to give Robinson a puncher’s chance, he will run in nothing more than shorts and a T-shirt, while Bolt will don pads and helmet, a deployed drag-chute and a harness attached a tire!

With our place in Hell for the afterlife already secured long-before this offseason, we’ll comment here on the recently-revealed scandal that has shaken the foundations of the alma mater then move on…we are saddened for the victims and their families, as well as for the innocent parties at the school and in the community who will pay a high-price for something in which they were not involved after, apparently, at least one individual in then-Happy Valley put a little too much stock in the federal education program known as…No Child’s Behind Left.

And now back to our regularly-scheduled programming… A couple seasons ago, we noted that from 1993-2008, at least two teams unranked in the AP preseason poll finished in the Top 10 of the final AP that year. In 2009, only Cincinnati did so and in 2010, only Stanford did so. 2011 saw no qualifiers (honorable mention, however, to Michigan, which made the jump from #38 preseason to #12 in the final poll. (Kudos to Northern Illinois for jumping 13 spots from #41 to #28). We’re still not convinced that AP voters got smarter, so…your mission…should ya choose to accept it…is to figure out which squad(s) will surprise in a big way!

The folks at Wunderdog Sports Picks noted that teams winning 8 or more games the previous year and opening the subsequent season layin’ points on the road cover the line at about 59% or a little shy of 6 outta’ 10 (99-69). Four squads fit the criteria this week…South Carolina (won 11 SU in 2011, -7 at Vandy), Oklahoma (won 10, -31 at UTEP), Rutgers (won 9, -20 at Tulane) and Tulsa (won 8, -1 ½ at Iowa State). You have our choices on three of da’ four (see “best bets” below).

Aforementioned Commodores head coach James Franklin was kidding (?) when he quipped that he doesn’t hire assistants without first sneaking a peek at their wives to determine if they look like “D1 recruits”! We’re guessin’ potential scholarship-players’ girlfriends get the once-over as well!

Vindy read his fortune-cookie today, which revealed his “lucky numbers” as: 6, 17, 29, 40, 38 and 48. Ironically, these correspond to the Boise State Broncos’ expected margins-of-victory through their first six games of the Mountain West conference season!

This Spring, The Ohio State University copped to nearly fitty minor violations across 21 sports in the 12 months after Jim Tressel waved good-bye to the school. Among the noted boo-boos…gridiron assistant coach Mike Vrabel usin’ chaw on the sidelines and the women’s hockey squad layin’ out….GASP!...four more Washingtons than allowed to buy five framed jerseys! The horror…the horror!

Local Sin City officials are contemplating a name-change for McCarran Airport. We think “Vindicator International Plane-Lot and Sportsbook” has a nice ring to it, don’t you????!!!!

When you watch cable, you listen to talking-heads on ESPN make game-day predictions. When you listen to talking-heads on ESPN make game-day predictions, you make bets on those choices with your bookie. When you make bets on those choices with your bookie, you get your clock cleaned. When you get your clock cleaned, you decide to randomly-select your own wagers. When you decide randomly-select your own wagers, you throw darts in the sportsbook while blind-folded. When you throw darts in the sportsbook while blind-folded, you miss the betting board. When you miss the betting board, you accidentally puncture the cocktail-server’s breast-implants. Don’t accidentally puncture the cocktail-server’s breast-implants. Get rid of cable. Upgrade to Vindy’s Picks.

Shoppe Talk: We’ll devote our attention to better results from 2011 season “flame-throwers”: Virginia Tech (2-11 in 2011 [including post-season], Michigan State (2-8) and West Virginia (3-8). And the following “watch” teams are on notice: Oklahoma State (3-10), Clemson (3-8), Texas A&M (3-8 [who was somehow missed by our statistician last year]), Ohio State (2-7), Joja Teck (2-7) and Wisconsin (4-9)!

Vindy’s Week 1 Best Bets: Last Week: 0-0 Last Season: 36-34-1 (.514, including da’ bowls)

Unlv +8 ½ over MINNESOTA, Navy +16 ½ over #Notre Dame (@ Dublin), OHIO +6 over Penn State, Rutgers -20 over TULANE, Northern Illinois +10 over Iowa (@ Chicago)

On-deck…more Olympics, additional off-season silliness and a few thoughts as we welcome… the NFL!!!