Saturday, December 29, 2012

Vindy's 2012-13 Bowl Predictions (Part III)


With both versions of Miracle on 34th Street playing on multiple televisions throughout the resort between broadcasts of NBA games, NCAA hoops and college bowls, a sports-book ticket-writer at the MGM, like the classic Macy’s-over-Gimbels maneuver in the 1947 and 1999 editions of the film, “put the spirit of Christmas ahead of the almighty dollar”, redirecting gamblers to other casinos who had the games-in-question at better prices or friendlier spreads. Said one anonymous patron…”I never wagered on games here before, but from now on, I’m gonna’ be a regular-bettor at the MGM!”

We’ll spend the final evening of 2012 peekin’ through our fingers at the Tales from the Crypt New Year’s Shockin’ Eve marathon on Fear.Net, but getting a fresh start and a new perspective on things the next morning, with blood-shot eyes wide-open we’ll closely-follow the progress of…

(The ultimate re-gift!)

JAN. 1
TAXSLAYER.COM GATOR (@ Jacksonville, FL)
#21 Northwestern (+1 ½) over Mississippi State (53):
Wildcats won 10 total games this season and covered 10 of 11 vs. I-A teams, losing by 1 to Nebraska and at Ann Arbor in extra frames. Bulldogs were ranked much of the year, but feasted on a cupcake schedule early en route to 7-0 start, but quickly became transparent in significant losses to ‘Bama, A&M, LSU and rival Ole Miss in regular-season finale around a good win over disappointing Arkansas, missing the spread-win four times in those five tilts. N-DUB went 4-0 outright facing non-conference opponents in 2012 and 14-5 across the past four seasons. ‘Cats have been defeated in four consecutive post-season matches, but covered three of ‘em (though getting more than a touchdown in each). We expect the straight-up victory here… Purple Persians 27 MSU 20

Purdue (+17) over Oklahoma State (70):
Seventeen. Widest offered-margin of the bowl season. We’ll favor an “under” here, with at least one, probably both, side(s) prepping without the offensive coordinators that got ‘em to this point. Cowpokes scoring-guru bolted for Southern Miss, and Boilers’ OC will be sidelined while recovering from December surgery. State finished the year at 4th in points-scored (44.7 per game), mostly thru the air behind QB-tandem JW Walsh and Clint Chelf. RB Joseph Randle turned-in a Top 20 rushing effort at 112 ypg. Purdue hit the scoreboard for about 30 per contest with a better-balanced attack. Purdue covered both road-losses admirably, losing at Notre Dame by 3 and in Columbus by 7, and should be motivated to challenge OKSU team that spent time in the Top 25 after facing a pair of ho-hum MAC teams in previous two bowls. Quoting a Pepsi commercial featuring a member of One Direction at wide-receiver and a former Boilermaker quarterback…”Hit me, Drew!”… Cowboys 34 Choo-Choos 27

OUTBACK (@ Tampa, FL)
#11 South Carolina (-6) over #19 Michigan (48):
Wolverines will be minus starters at corner and punter due to violations of team rules and frankly, are lucky to have Denard Robinson for this one after the dual-threat QB was charged recently with operatin’ a vehicle on a suspended-license and failing to (call) signal(s). Big Bluto couldn’t take advantage of a year when rival Buckeyes and Vindy’s alma mater were both ineligible to play beyond November and lost the Rose Bowl bid to non-Top 25 Cheese-Heads. Both sides are without preferred rushing-options due to injury. Wolverines are minus-eight in turnover ratio. Chicken Nuggets are plus-seven in miscues, covered 8 of 11 and lost only at LSU and at Florida. Coach Spurrier will have no reason to launch the head-set…Tenders 24 Red Dawn 13

CAPITAL ONE (@ Orlando, FL)
#6 Georgia (-10) over #23 Nebraska (60 ½):
Which was more-inspirational to fare well here…’Dawgs four-point defeat to ‘Bama that kept ‘em from BCS title game or 39-point loss to Wisconsin that prevented a chance to play in the Rose Bowl? Neither side’s previous post-seasons ended well. Big Dread’s rush defense is one of the nation’s worst, and second-worst among 2012 bowlers. Joja’ plowed through its last five games before that tough one vs. Tide. UGA ground game should be enough to set up play-action by Aaron Murray and carry Georgia to cover of double-digit line…Joja’ 41 Children of da’ Corn 24

Wisconsin (+6 ½) over #8 Stanford (47):
Et tu, Brute?!” OUCH! Just like da’ MAC, all the Big Tenderfoot Conference bowlers were assigned the underdog role. Despite losing three of last five games (2-3 ATS and all three in overtime), Badgers spent November lookin’ a bit more like the squad we all expected to show up in September! This one should feature heavy doses of the run by Wisky’s Montee Ball and Stanford’s Stepfan Taylor against very good rush defenses. Three of Cardinals’ final four games were decided by 4 or less, and a missed 52-yard FG try by UCLA with under a minute to go in the PAC-12 championship bought SU the Rose berth. Getting almost a touchdown here is too good to pass up…Trees 21 Wisconsin 20

#13 Florida State (-13) over #16 Northern Illinois (58 ½):
12-1 Huskies have to be stoked to be in the Orange Bowl. It’s a nice destination as far as the ‘Noles are concerned too. Former NIU coach Dave Doeren has jumped-ship to NC State. Huskies ran the table after 1-point road loss at Iowa to kick-off the year and escaped with track-meet victory over then-ranked Kent State, in double-extras, to claim the MAC Championship. NIU’s only other recent game vs. a Top 25 foe resulted in 49-7 loss to #7 Wisconsin last season. ‘Noles have covered bowls in each of the past eight years, though none with a line quite this big. State allowed just 10 rushing scores all year. ‘Dogs ran into the end zone 44 times in 2012. If Dishonorable-Mention “award”-winning Seminoles (now 3-8 in 11 ‘Picks appearances) secure the pigskin…FSU 34 NIU 17

JAN. 2
ALLSTATE SUGAR (@ Nawlins, Louisiana)
#4 Florida (-14) over #22 Louisville (45 ½):
Cardinals defeated the only defense they saw that was even close to that of Florida, in the form of Rutgers, whom they beat by 3. Gators knocked off the two recognizable defenses they faced, LSU and Florida State, by 8 and 11, respectively. Seven of Louisville’s games saw a final margin of seven or less (and an 8th by 10), but the Sluggers suffered unbelievable back-to-back losses by 19 at Syracuse and by 3 in triple-extras to…UConn? UF has won and covered four consecutive post-season outings, though just one by this many. With Tim Tease-Me requesting a trade and Florida needing a boost on offense, Vindy’s spies heard a clandestine deal is in progress that would give the ex-Gator QB a year of NCAA eligibility in exchange for several first-round draft choices from the Gainesville “farm team” to the Jets!...Crocs 28 Louisville 12

JAN. 3
#7 Kansas State (+9) over #5 Oregon (76): UPSET ALERT.
As always, the Mallards put up gaudy numbers en route to beating and covering against four of five ranked opponents, but all in PAC-12 play. Ducks lone loss came on Da’ Pond by 3 to Stanford. State lost its only game to Baylor with Colin Klein at less than 100% healthy. If KSU can’t stop Ducks’ RB Kenjon Barner, it can at least run with him. Oregon’s passing game will have to contend with Ty Zimmerman and Nigel Malone, who have five interceptions each. Despite scoring early and often, Drakes committed 98 penalties. ‘Cats won’t hurt themselves, showing just 42 flags on the year. Nine of the Wildcats’ games ended below this total. Two more fell right on the number. Half of the Ducks’ matches also came in below the total. A victory gives UO a dozen wins for the third time in as many seasons. K-State has lost its last four bowls, covering none. We think that changes here…Kansas State 34 Oregon 30

JAN. 4
AT&T COTTON (@ Arlington, TX)
#12 Oklahoma (+4) over #10 Texas A&M (72): UPSET PICK OF DA’ WEEK.
Stealing a line from White Christmas, we say, ”Lord, help the sister that comes between me and my Manziel”???!! Wonder if he’s familiarized himself with the Statue of Liberty play? If Dirty Harry visits the Aggies’ locker room prior to the game, will hear him say…A good Manziel always knows his limitations”??!! Alright, in all seriousness…two words…Heisman curse. Can’t challenge the fave status of a team that upset half the national game-pairing, but it’s been a lotta’ time to think for a redshirt-freshman playin’ way over his head. Johnny Football came under scrutiny for an untimely visit to a courtside seat at an NBA game this month. Manziel reportedly bought the extravagant ticket for purposes of pampering himself. In any case, we question the timing of his decision to do so. Boomer-Sooner has won three straight bowls, covering two as double-digit chalk and five of last six on neutral ground. As such, we give the experience edge to senior Landry Jones at quarterback and note Oklahoma’s pass defense has allowed nine aerial scores while grabbing a dozen interceptions. Aggies yield 22.5 ppg, Okie-Dokie gives up just a tad higher than 22…Oklahoma 40 A&M 28

JAN. 5
BBVA COMPASS (@ Birmingham, AL)
Mississippi (-3 ½) over Pittsburgh (53):
Rebels were surprisingly-competitive this year under first-year coach Hugh Freeze, turning last year’s 2-10 SU/3-8 ATS season into bowl-eligibility. SEC losses weren’t bad…by 1 to Vandy, by 3 to A&M and by 6 in Baton Rouge. Pitt recovered from ugly early woes, including loss to AA-Youngstown, and inexplicable defeat by UConn in November to blast Rutgers and South Florida to close the regular-season and get fifth straight bowl berth and a 7-3 ATS record in I-A play. Panthers QB Tino Sunseri has nice 19-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio, but suffered 34 sacks. Both like to throw and combined for an average of 57 points per game on offense. We look for a more-conservative contest though…Mississippi 27 Pitt 19

JAN. 6
#25 Kent State (+4) over Arkansas State (61): LOCK OF DA’ BOWLS.
First bowl since 1976 Tangerine Bowl for the underdog and Kent State coach Hazell, who helped his squad achieve nifty 9-2-1 spread record, has accepted a job elsewhere but will still draw up X’s and O’s in real-time for this one! Golden Flashes, who have a lotta’ senior leadership, took BCS-Buster Northern Illinois to double-overtime before falling for its only defeat since 9/8 loss at Kentucky. To-date, the MAC has gone 1-3 SU/ATS this post-season. The Stun Belt ain’t farin’ much better at 1-2 SU/ATS with Lafayette turning a late INT into a late cover vs. ECU, who had multiple turnovers. Redhawks ran the Fun Belt table after losing conference opener to Western Kentucky, have a high-powered offense and a respectable defense, but we lean toward an “over” given nine of Kent’s games finished over the total, as did six of ASU’s seven conference games. Flashes’ run-heavy attack should grind out the straight-up win over ASU, who got walloped in last season’s Gratuitous Danica Patrick Advertisements Bowl…Kent State 38 Arkie State 28

JAN. 7
#1 Notre Dame (+9 ½) over #2 Alabama (41 ½):
Between the outright upset by Texas A&M and Georgia’s sturdy effort in a close loss in the SEC title match, the Tide is obviously not invincible, and the Leprechauns should have a blue-print to unseating the defending champ. The Heisman win by an aforementioned Big 12 quarterback avoids the bugaboo of said-hardware for Manti Te’O vs. the perceived-prowess of the conference in which its opponent plays. Lindy’s Sports CFB preview mag noted 5 of last 10 national champs had defenses ranking in the top 3. Make it 6 of 11. Top total defense? The Leprechauns (allowing meager 10.3 ppg). Runner-up? Tide (giving up 10.7 on average). The rushing defenses come in at #3 and #2, respectively, behind BYU (though we thank the Coogs’ pass-D for a pair of INT-for-TD in the 4th Quarter of the Poindexter … uh…Laser-Pointer…um…Point-spread…Bowl, giving BYU the win and the cover for Vindy’s Picks!). “’Bama got run over by a reindeer”????!!! “Win one for the Gibberish!”...Catholics 17 Alabama 16


At mediocre 7-7 in the bowls through December 28, Vindy admits to being “just a nice man with a white beard…just like Mother said!”

During one of the many evolutions of “A Christmas Carol”, yer Nativity-narrator is pretty-sure he heard Scrooge quip…”Go and buy some more coal…before you dot another I-formation, Bob Cratchit!” (Or for Buckeyes fans…”before you dot another “i” in script-Ohio, Bob Cratchit!”)

The Mayans, or at least the folks who believed the ancient civilization forecasted the planet’s demise, were on the wrong side of the over-under for Mankind’s swan-song, and those who merely teased the date, getting almost an extra week to December 27, ended up trashing their tickets as well. Games were played. Teams won…and lost. Zombies didn’t take the field or the court or the gridiron…or even the ice at sub-NHL levels. But just fer grits-and- shins, your frenetic forecaster went to the local airport in tattered clothing and creepy make-up to unsettle passengers by yelling “Plaaaaaaaaaannnnnes.” The folks from TSA were not amused.

Damn-good thing the supposed-doomsday didn’t come to pass. We visited the Vegas Zombie Apocalypse store on the predicted eve-of-destruction. All they had left was a BBQ-fork, a Super-Soaker and a handful of water-balloons!

Capital One meets Braveheart…”What’s in your William Wallace???!!!

We spent Christmas Eve watchin’ a Jimmy Stewart Christmas classic re-made at the home-venue of the Miami Dolphins, called…”It’s a Wonderful Sun-Life Stadium”!

During its broadcast of the preseason Cincinnati-Atlanta game, FOX introduced “Goose-Cam” (ie. video of the game from the perspective of Tony Siragusa). If there had been a game on December 25th, would we have watched plays via the Christmas-Goose Cam?

The Rebels’ athletic director had a conversation with the Big Least about UNLV becoming a football-only member. So the annual rivalry would be what? Vegas-UConn? Sin City-South Florida???!!!

Speaking of local amenities and references, the NCAA set a $550 cap on per-player bowl SWAG. Does it strike anyone else odd that $550 represents a $500 value…plus the standard 10% vigorish common to sports-wagers in Las Vegas, off-shore and… um…elsewhere???!!!

Vindy spent some time watchin’ Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis doink a few holiday field-goal tries off the uprights and draw nuthin’ but iron from the charity-stripe in…”Christmas With Da’ Clanks”!!!”

Black Shirt: We fork-over the ebony tee to Western Kentucky interim coach Lance Guidry for unsuccessfully going for it on 4th-and-2 instead of a tying, chip-shot FG with a minute left, validating our upset pick by Central Michigan! Honorable mention to Cincy’s Nick Temple for his 55-yard pick-six that gave the Bearkats the cover vs. Duke, bringing home one of our “best bets” and to Bobcats’ Ian Wells for blocking a ULM FG, keeping the score “under” 60 (also one of our “best bets”).

Vindy’s Bowl Best Bets Part III: Parts I & II (thru Dec 28): 3-1 Season: 39-33-1 (.542)

Purdue +17 over Oklahoma State, Wisconsin +6 ½ over Stanford, South Carolina-Michigan “under” 48

Tune in one more time a few days after the National Championship for our bowl recap and leftover “hash”! Meanwhile, we’re off to locate some point-spreads on…the Hunger Games!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Vindy's 2012-13 Bowl Predictions (Part II)


BRISTOL, Connecticut(CNN)…Beating the predicted Mayan apocalypse, ESPN still has some work to do to resolve what insiders are referring to as the “Bristol Cliff”. The World Leader is in negotiations with CBS, NBC and FOX Sports to avoid automatic budget cuts and increased spending that would lead to fewer affordable commentators and even the plummeting of the network headquarters, itself, into monetary ruin, in the wake of reduced capacity to provide the same level of sports coverage, should some sort of compromise not be reached by the time the ball drops on Dick Clark’s Rockin’ Eve! In a symbolic move, ESPN negotiators have acquired parachutes and bunji-cords for visual impact!

Hillary Clinton suffered a concussion in early December when she fell and hit her head on…

(“Historically disproportionate!”)

DEC. 28
ADVOCARE V100 INDEPENDENCE (@ Shreveport, Louisiana)
Ohio (+7) over Weeziana-Monroe (60 ½): UPSET PICK OF DA’ WEEK.
First-ever bowl for Monroe. Bobblecats usurped the bowl spot that woulda’ went to high-powered Weeziana Tech had it not failed to beat the Independence-venue clock while awaiting a better offer. Bobcats’ 7-0 start, including fortunate victory in Happy Valley, had some of us whispering “BCS-buster”, but it wasn’t to be as a three-game losing streak in da’ MAC ended the regular-season. Turnovers put Ohio in early 21-0 hole in finale at Kent State, and Bobcats went 2-2 SU but 0-4 ATS away from Athens. Some teammates will remember 48-21 beat-down by another Fun Belt team, Troy, in the 2010 post-season. Warhawks “shocked” Arkansas in Fayetteville then lost by 3 at Auburn to begin the year, but those results don’t look so impressive these days. We’ll credit ULM with 5-point shootout loss at home to Baylor (also in September, following the aforementioned games), but it was clobbered by a couple of the quality squads in conference-play and finished 3-4 ATS after nice 5-0 start…Ohio 24 ULM 21

Rutgers (+2 ½) over Virginia Tech (41 ½):
Nine of RU’s games finished under this total and we quote another article we saw previewing this game…“First one to six points wins”. Knights challenged most of the season for the Big Least championship and fell three points short in de facto conference title game to Louisville. Rutgers dropped three of last five, including that contest vs. the Redbirds, to end up here rather than the Sugar Bowl, in part due to Gary Nova’s 11 INT in that span. Hokies not full of momentum either, but took final pair vs. Boston College and Virginia to get eligible. Tech tipped the ATS scales at 3-8 on the year, getting pounded away from Blacksburg by Pitt, Clemson and Miami. Paladins beat four of five non-conference opponents in 2012, and 18 of last 22. Rutgers was a Big East doormat when VT bolted for the ACC. Hokies won’t like the early-look at the new-and-improved member of its conference… Round Table 19 Virginia Tech 16

Minnesota (+12) over Texas Tech (57):
Normally, we indicate “no faith in this pick”, but we’ll temper it a bit and merely say “not a lotta’ faith”. Minny needed three overtimes to beat three-win UNLV in Sin City. Red Raiders are crapshoot vs. non-conference and only 1-4 ATS in last five post-season games, winning SU by no more than 10 (and 3 of the four victories by 7 or less). First call is “over”, even though spread speaks to Gilded Gerbils scoring more than 17 just one time after mid-September and generally limiting opponents to less than 24 on average. Conversely, TTU scores 38 and gives up 31. Maybe that’s why a 6-1 SU start crumbled in Big 12 play, resulting in a lone win over Kansas…by 7…in Lubbock…over final five games. Tommy Tuberville has left the Red Raiders in somebody else’s hands. QB Seth Doege completes about 70% of his throws. Gophers boast #9 pass D nationally. Raiders’ tendency to be flagged and be on the wrong end of the turnover-ratio costs ‘em a cover here …”Guns Up” 35 Gerbils 31

DEC. 29
Air Force (-1 ½) over Rice (61):
The tendency for both to rush fairly-well (USAF #3 nationally) but defend the run not-so-well lends itself to a quick-paced game and points less than the proposed total. We think the bowl title supports motivation to the Academy to represent, as do outright losses in the only games that truly matter to USAF…Navy and Army. Owls surged in the second half of the year, winning and covering five of final six in C-USA. Points-against average for Rice (31 ppg) is a bit deceptive since only two of last seven opponents posted more than 24 (and four show final tallies in the teens). Return gifts to Wal-Mart or make reservations to watch the antenna-ball drop at Jack-in-da’ Box a few days later. Three yawns and a cloud of dust…Flyboys 24 Owls 20

KRAFT FIGHT HUNGER (@ San Francisco, CA)
Navy (+14 ½) over Arizona State (56):
Army’s would-be winning-drive over the Popeyes was stopped by a fumble at Middies’ 15-yard-line. Devils, who covered only-pair of double-digit spreads on the year (both around 22 points) bombed non-conference opponents early, but suffered a four-game SU losing streak prior to trampling hapless Wazzou at home and edging rival Arizona. ASU has a middlin’ rush D and Devils’ scout-team will have difficulty replicating the triple-option in practices leading up to this. Sailors can and will put it in the air too. The new faces on Navy’s offense have had a whole season to gel. Middies have a safety named Wave Ryder. The junior defensive back is from Hawaii and we can’t help but wonder if his teammates call him “Five-O” or at least…“Point-Break ”!!... Pitchforks 30 Yacht Club 24

West Virginia (-4) over Syracuse (73 ½):
Though the Orange are more defensive-minded, relatively-speaking, yielding about 26 ppg, our first thought is the “over”, because only Weeziana Tech gave up more passing yardage to opponents on average than West Virginia, and Mounties, whose mantra is also “Stop ‘em??!!! Hell no! Just outscore ‘em!!!”, were also near da’ bottom in points-against (38 per game). WVU scores an average of 41.6 ppg and features Geno Smith, one of four QBs in the country with more than 4000 passing yards, and shows a 40-6 passing TD-to-INT ratio. ‘Cuse quarterback Ryan Nassib ain’t too shabby at 3600+ yards and 24-9 tally. SU’s best win, acquired in season-ending 5-1 SU/ATS streak, was a 19-point home victory over then-ranked Louisville. As former conference members of the Big Least, there’s some history, including last season’s 49-23 win by the ‘Eers in New York. University officials told the Morgantown mascot to keep his game-day powder wet after baggin’ a real-life bear with the same weapon he brandishes on the gridiron. Heads-up, Orange fans…the Mounties mascot got himself a musket…and he knows how to use it!...West Virginia 44 Syracuse 37

VALERO ALAMO (@ San Antonio, TX)
#15 Oregon State (-2) over Texas (57):
Sophomore QB Sean Mannion has led the Beavers to a #15 ranking and a similar spot in national passing yardage. State did lose three of its final five, but two road losses at UDUB and Stanford by combined 7 points are acceptable. On the other sideline, there’s nothing about the quarterback situation/controversy, late-season ball-security issues and new offensive coordinator that inspires us to take very few points with eight-win ‘Horns, and Dam-Builders seniors would love to erase painful memory of 44-20 loss in most recent bowl (2009) to BYU. Wouldn’t be a bad “lock” choice...Oregon State 38 Steers 20

Texas Christian (-2) over Michigan State (41):
Spartans opening win over Boise State should’ve signaled the continuation of solid play from the 11-3 campaign in 2011. It didn’t. State’s defense was stout most of the season, but got no help from a new bunch on offense, which scored less than 20 on seven occasions and absorbed tough defeats by Ohio State, Michigan and Northwestern. Six of TCU’s games finished with totals under 41, four in the low thirties, leading us to prefer the “under” here. Sixth consecutive bowl appearance for MSU, which lost four straight post-season outings until beating Joja’ 33-30 in triple-OT last year. Frogs have become a fixture in the bowls, but have lost four straight to the spread, while winning three outright…TCU 20 Sparty 16

DEC. 31
NC State (+7) over Vanderbilt (52):
‘Dores won last six regular-season games, with best win perhaps being 27-26 at rising Ole Miss. Vandy is solid on defense, allowing just 18 ppg. Admirals do have what’s basically home-field edge playing in Nashville and have more experience on both sides of the ball. Wolfpack’s third-straight bowl appearance sent coach Tom O’Brien to the unemployment line, but State boasts the #9 passer in yardage with senior Mike Glennon. Vanderbilt’s pass defense is 8th-best in the country. Almost looks too easy to lay the we won’t. Vandy hasn’t won a post-season match-up by this many since 1955 Gator Bowl…Vandy 24 NC State 20

Georgia Tech (+10) over Southern Cal (64):
At 6-7, Bees had to get a hall-pass from the governing body of college sports just to be here???!!! Coincidentally, the NCAA was last nationwide in defending da’ hall-pass! We know it’s all about conference tie-ins and stuff, but couldn’t we have pushed da’ envelope enough to get 9-3 Louisiana Tech instead???!!! ‘Jackets parlayed the “undeserving” tag into a spread-win and narrow outright loss to Florida State in the ACC title match. We can see them doing likewise here vs. Trojans, including QB Matt Barkley, who didn’t forgo the 2012 NFL Draft to play a December bowl in west-freakin’-Texas! A running game of military-academy proportions should let Tech stay in this one long enough. Gotta’ figure the disgraced, ex-USC grad assistant is now taking a few PSI off the sumo-unis we mentioned in Part I for some NFL squad to give the special-teams an edge!...Troy 34 GT 27

Tulsa (PK) over Iowa State (51 ½):
Sequel to season-opening 38-23 home-win over the Golden Hurricane by Iowa State. Tulsa lost only two more games after that, going 6-2 SU/ATS down the stretch, beating Central Florida twice in three weeks for the CUSA title and the Liberty berth. Dust Devils floundered late, beating only Kansas between losses to Oklahoma, Texas and West Virginia. Lead-rusher Shontrelle Johnson will sit for Iowa State, though he accounted for just two rushing scores. Hurricane has better offensive balance, but was second in rushing yardage in the conference. Starts too early to watch the Big Apple ring-in 2013 in Times Square, but maybe there’s some quality college hoops on other channels or zombie-themed marathon on Syfy…Tulsa 27 Cyclones 24

CHICK-FIL-A (@ Atlanta, GA)
#9 Louisiana State (-3 ½) over #14 Clemson (58 ½):
A fine match-up to close-out the calendar year. Unfortunately, neither squad expected to be playing the post-season on the wrong side of New Year’s Day! The good news? LSU’s presence here means we ain’t gonna’ watch two clubs from the same division of the same conference vie for national title honors in January. The bad news? Clemson’s appearance here means our futures bet on those Tigers is officially toast! CU has gone 0-fer-last two bowls and gave up (GASP!) 70 to West Virginia last year. Only two of Bengals’ victories came by less than 4 points and only one of their I-A contests finished above this total. What’s scary for 2013 season is State has only 10 seniors on this this season’s version, with only a couple actually starting. Both teams have just two SU losses. LSU’s came barely at the Swamp and at home vs. ‘Bama. Clemson was beaten by FSU and South Carolina, by 12 and 10, respectively. At Liberty University’s May 2012 commencement ceremony, Mitt Romney said his “campaign comes to a sudden stop when we spot a Chick-fil-A”. Ironically, SWAG at this season’s bowl of the title sponsor includes dogs fer strappin’ to car roofs and a pair of barber shears!…LSU 24 Clemson 14


BTW, we originally thought “Bristol Cliff” was some reference to men falling off Sarah Palin’s daughter! (The former vice-presidential candidate also said she could “see her dropping off my front porch”).

Weeziana Tech’s bowl options were apparently (mis-) handled by the same folks that caused the Minnesota Vikings to forfeit a first-round selection in the 2003 NFL Draft!

For all the derision we heaped upon the West Virginia defense above, we note the Mounties allowed a total of just 34 points over its final two regular-season games vs. Iowa State and Kansas. We’re guessin’ a couple of bored ‘Bama redshirt-freshmen went lookin’ fer some live-fire action and slipped into the ‘Eers locker room unnoticed in back-to-back weeks! (And BTW, we thought we recognized mascot Jonathan Kimble in a remake of “Full-Metal Jacket”, chanting “This is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one is mine. Without me, my rifle is useless. Without my rifle, I am useless…”. Come to think of it…anybody seen the Baylor mascot lately???!!!

Bears WR Brandon Marshall says Viagra is being used by NFL players for on-field purposes. (Readers know what’s comin’, right?!). That’s one way to get up fer a game! Statistical categories now include, pass D, run D and…ED?! That poke in the eye a player just got was not necessarily the result of a finger thru the facemask!? If also used by college athletes, would there be a Big Ten-inch Conference record???!! “In the event of deflections lasting longer than four hours…(You know how the rest of that goes!)” Gives a whole new meaning to “stiff-arm”!!! And if da’ “chain gang” suddenly needs to replace a broken yard-marker, well…

Thee UNLV hoops team recently hosted Division III La Verne. The Shirley thing has been done, so given that the Rebels won by about fitty, we’ll just ask…were Lenny and Squiggy in the backcourt for the Leopards?

For a while there, Vindy thought the arc marking the “restricted zone” for college hoops teams was actually the one-point line! Or maybe the crease for floor-hockey games!

Vindy’s Bowl Best Bets Part II: UL-Monroe-Ohio “under” 60, Navy +14 ½ over Arizona State, Air Force-Rice “under” 61, Oregon State -2 over Texas

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Vindy's 2012-13 Bowl Picks Part I


Despite ongoing concerns about violent collisions causing severe injury to players, even after limitations on the allowable number of players in the “wedge” and movement of the kickoff an additional five yards to create more touchbacks, the NFL rejected a recent suggestion to do away with kickoffs altogether in lieu of having teams either punt 10 yards from its own red zone or make a 4th-and-very long, at the risk of gift-wrapping excellent field position for opponents, should the try fail. Instead, officials are planning to mandate special-teams players to wear inflatable sumo-wrestler outfits. Opponents say the change would add more actual time to the game and create an almost-slow-motion feel for each kick-return. They do, however, acknowledge the entertainment value of watching athletes waddle downfield and bounce off each other in the process. Provisions will be made to keep extra suits available on each sideline, given the likelihood of incidental and “accidental” puncturing by cleats!

Army coulda’ won it outright and didn’t, but we’ll gladly take the 1-0 tally and make it 120-123 (.494) to-date. BTW, your Grinch-like gridiron-guru believes in safety too and we’re fresh outta’ bubble-wrap and Styrofoam peanuts, so inside that holiday package, protected by Cool Whip, Noxema shaving cream, Quaker Oats and stale Apple Jacks, you’ll find…

(Causin’ more morning-sickness than Princess Kate’s pregnancy!)

DEC. 15
GILDAN NEW MEXICO (@ Albuquerque, NM) (over/under in parentheses)

Nevada-Reno (+9 ½) over Arizona (75): Potential for semi-high-scoring track-meet here. ‘Cats allowed about 34 ppg, Reno yielded 32.5. Two of the country’s top four rushers take the field and neither side is especially adept at stopping the run. Reno covered just 3 of 11 FBS games, while AZ went mere 5-6. Wolfpack staggered into this on 1-4 SU/ATS skid. ‘Zona won 7 games (4-2 outright down the stretch) and shows quality losses to Oregon State and Stanford, by 3 and 6, respectively and did win 5 of 7 by double-digits. Vindy’s spies say former Wildcats QB Nick Foles would rather forfeit his Thursday-night NFL start for the Beagles vs. Cincinnati to be under center here!... Arizona 34 Nevada 29

Toledo (+10) over #18 Utah State (58 ½):
Second straight ‘Tater Bowl for USU, who lost here, 24-23, to Ohio last year. Too many points to give in game matching clubs that are very close in most statistical categories. The exception is points-allowed. Two-loss Aggies (by 2 at Wisconsin, by 3 to BYU) are #8 in total defense, yielding about 16 points per game. Rockets gave up 27 per contest. Nonetheless, USU racked up its numbers (including 8 wins by double-digits) vs. the mighty WAC. Each of Toledo’s three losses came by a touchdown and bowl dogs that cover often win outright to-boot, but we’ll just call…State 34 USS Enterprise 28

DEC. 20
Brigham Young (-2 ½) over San Diego State (49):
Have to wonder if either team is more excited about this pairing of former Mountain Jest conference-mates than we are. Aztecs were the better bettor squad, covering 8 of 11 Division I-A games and finishing regular-season on 7-0 SU run following back-to-back defeats by San Josie and Fresno in late September. Only four teams gave up fewer points than BYU…and two of ‘em will play for the national championship. And BTW, Mormons lost 17-14 in South Bend…Cougars 23 SDSU 16

DEC. 21
Ball State (+7) over Central Florida (61 ½):
Best guess for this bowl forecast’s “wish I had it back” pick (and it’s all we can do to not reverse our initial call as we type this!). Though this isn’t a true road-game for Ball State, Cardinals are 21-7 ATS getting points away from Muncie the past six years (7-2 last two seasons, including 3-0 this year, with upset wins at Indiana and Toledo). Gilded Knights last played in OT loss at Tulsa for C-USA crown. Both offenses were runners-up in their respective conferences in scoring (both at approximately 35 ppg). UCF led C-USA in scoring-prevention at 22.5 ppg. Birds…um…well…allowed 31 ppg. Central Florida limited MAC’s top-scoring team, Marshall, to 17 points…at Marshall. Cards in first post-season game since 2008. Knights, who can’t get that up to travel across the bridge for this one, missed 2011 bowls after 10-6 snoozer over Joja’ in 2010 and are 1-10 ATS last two years when final margin is a touchdown or less…UCF 31 Ball State 26

DEC. 22
East Carolina (+5 ½) over Louisiana-Lafayette (64 ½):
Ugggggh! Stand in line at the Post Office, consume mass-quantities of eggnog and fruit-cake, go shoppin’ at Toys-R-Us without pepper-spray, anything…just find something else to do…or watch some cheery, seasonal fare, such as…Santa Claws or …Silent Night, Bloody Night…on Syfy. or Reindeer Games on AMC. Pirates came alive in the second-half of the season to get here. Ragin’ Cajuns put Florida on-notice with close-loss in the Swamp. Neither stops the pass and the Buckos get the advantage stopping the run and employing the run. “Over” looks like the choice, but regarding a side, the coin, best two outta’ three, likes…UL-Lafayette 38 ECU 34

Washington (+5) over #20 Boise State (46):
Broncos are sayin’ all the politically-correct things, but a third-straight trip to Las Vegas for the post-season? Okay, mayhap we’re a little bias since we live here. UDUB had a tough early schedule, facing five ranked teams in their first eight games, but reeled off four consecutive victories before falling at rival Wazzou in overtime. Sled Dogs went on nice 6-3 spread-run after 0-2 start and did beat Rose Bowl-bound Stanford. They’ve fared well in low-scoring games, improving on last-season’s points-against average by more than a dozen per game, and we expects points to come hard here too. Can’t wait for the first Huskies player to get flagged for “roach-clipping on the return”…Boise State 20 Washington 17

DEC. 24
Fresno State (-11) over Southern Methodist (59 ½):
Researching the match-up, we rediscovered a handwritten note we made in the margin of FSU’s page in Phil Steele’s College Football 2012 Preview mag that reads…”Gotta’ protect ball”. After at least 7 seasons finishing with a minus-turnover ratio and minus-double-digit ratio the last four years, the Bulldogs have done exactly that…showing a plus-17 entering this one. That tiny stat has contributed to the 12th-ranked passing offense and an average 40-22 victory in any given week. Ponies, unfortunately, are stout vs. the run. That could make Fresno one-dimensional. No shame in Bulldogs’ one-point loss at C-USA champ Tulsa nor in losses at Oregon and Boise, all adding-up to 10-1 spread-record. Ponies play closer to the vest, outscoring foes by average of about 2.5 points per game. SMU was 10th in pass D in its own conference…Fresno State 44 SMU 24

DEC. 26
Central Michigan (+5) over Western Kentucky (58 ½): UPSET PICK OF DA’ WEEK #1.
Interestingly, the Sun Belt’s getting’ a lot of early love from the lines-makers as the Hilltoppers, like the Ragin’ Cajuns above, get installed as chalk. Western Kentucky, playing in first-ever I-A post-season, was beaten in four of its last six (going 1-4-1 against the spread). It did win at Kentucky (Who didn’t?! Fine…we’ll give the Wildcats the credit for beating Kent State)in September and smacked a Southern Miss team on a down year a week later. Chippewas took care of business late, winning and covering four of final five and posted a September road- victory over Iowa and have gone 2-2 SU/2-1-1 ATS in its previous four bowls, but haven’t played in December since ‘09. Much respect to third-year coach Willie Taggart, who led the ‘Toppers to a decent year, blemished-badly only by 35-0 rout at the hands of national title contender ‘Bama, and is now off to greener pasture$. But breaking news has WKU inking Bobby Petrino. His new charges won’t be hard to spot. No unis, just Harley Davidson jackets and matchin’ leather pants! …CMU 38 Sons of Anarchy 31

DEC. 27
Bowling Green (+7) over #24 San Jose State (47): UPSET PICK OF DA’ WEEK #2.
We have to cry “foul!” here. All seven (count ‘em, seven!) teams from the Mid-American Conference are getting points in their respective bowl games, while multiple teams from the WHACK…er…um…WAC…and Stun Belt…are favored (as we lamented earlier). Bee Gees ended year with six wins (and covers) in seven tries, losing only to Kent State. All four defeats came against other 2012 bowlers. Love what now-ex-coach Mike MacIntyre has done the last two years for the Spartans, who went 6-2 ATS as chalk this year, leaning on a passing game that registers 327+ yards per contest, and make just second bowl since 1990. We wish him well in his new role as head man at Colorado. Falcons, however, come in at #7, #9 and #13 in total D, scoring D (15.8 ppg) and pass D (106 ypg), respectively. No small feat for a MAC squad! If they can limit SJSU’s fave connection of Fales-to-Grigsby, Birds can win outright…BGU 28 San Jose State 24

BELK (@ Charlotte, NC)
Cincinnati (-7) over Duke (58 ½):
UC allowed an average of 14 ppg over its last five, with Rutgers being the lone loss in that span. Duke qualified early, then dropped five of its last six, getting walloped in four of the five defeats (losing by just 7 to end the regular-season vs. Miami team that probably already knew it was gonna’ sit-out the bowls). Cincy will be under new management for this one as Tennessee settled on former Bearkats coach Butch Jones, Rocky Top’s reported third-choice to replace Derek Dooley. We think UT shoulda’ offered a couple of future coaching picks to move up in the draft and grab Jon Gruden! Maybe it did and just didn’t tell Jones…Cincinnati 41 Duke 17

#17 Ucla (PK) over Baylor (79 ½):
Despite some success running the ball (7 ypc) in the rematch vs. Stanford, Bruins should enjoy near-unfettered freedom on offense facing the Bears after being somewhat-thwarted by Cardinal’s defense in back-to-back weeks. The bowl-season in general, and the nature of the match-up itself, suggest the best play is on the “over” as the punt teams should get most of the day off. A ground-effort similar to the one shown vs. Stanford should set-up play-action nicely for UCLA, and we figure the lay-off will be more of a detriment to Baylor’s late-season flurry than to the Bruins, who will take the time to re-group following the two losses. Jim Mora won’t want to squander a very good first-year campaign as coach by ending it with three consecutive defeats. UCLA will have to be more disciplined though, with 123 flags on the season, making Florida look more like a military academy. Unless ‘yer related to- or datin’ a defensive coordinator, this should be a fun, free-wheelin’ one to watch…UCLA 51 Baylor 44


BTW, we think the solution to the injury-problem is to have the tallest wide-receiver or tight-end from each team meet at da’ fitty-yard line and have the referee toss the ball into the air, a la pro and college hoops. The team winning the tip-off gets the ball somewhere between mid-field and its own 40-yard line! No concussion, no major medical maladies. At worst, an elbow in da’ chops! Problem solved!

In related safety news, hunters, including folks like Ted Nugent, are now allowed to be armed only with a bow and a quiver full of…possession-arrows!

We missed the opportunity to note this in the Army-Navy write-up, so we’ll put it here…required reading at West Point?…”Fitty Shades of da’ Long Grey Line”!!!! Oh myne-field!

New WKU coach Petrino wasted little time adding a new pass-route to the Hilltoppers’ playbook…called the “crossing-pattern of misleading behavior”!

The GOP said last week that Obama won the election, especially in Washington and Colorado, because he’s providing all the gifts to players on the bowl teams!
(“Duuuuuude….maybe he’s got Twinkies???!!!”). Ironically, the read-option is being resurrected by NFL teams on offense. Meanwhile, Wazzou, UDUB, Colorado, CSU and Air Force are implementing the…weed-option!

We quote Kris Kringle in Miracle on 34th Street…”Oh, Bowl Season’s not just a couple days, it’s a frame of mind.”

Bowl-less this season (don’t get us started!), the alma mater’s Sam Fickens plans to improve his field-goal success by hangin’ out with the Nifty Lions hoops team so he can practice by kickin’ the extra-point-guard on a regular basis!

Lookin’ to thrill that hard-to-buy-fer sports-gambler in your life this Christmas?...How ‘bout a beloved Sesame Street character and popular seasonal toy that dons the pads and a helmet, and implores consumers to…”Bet On Me Elmo!”

Vikes punter Chris Kluwe, in a not-so-sublime plug for a fellow kicker, slapped a Post-It note over the 50th-Anniversary Hall-of-Fame patch on his Minnesota uni Sunday, imploring readers to “Vote Ray Guy”. Not to be outdone, we donned a sticky-note of our own, proclaiming “Vote Cable Guy!”

On December 5th, Kobe Bryant scored his 30,000th point (Then he put down the Asteroids Game Boy…and broke an NBA record too!)

The club-formerly-known-as da’ Nawlins’ Hornets are changin’ the nickname to the New Orleans Pelicans! Staying with the coastal-fowl theme, we’re switchin’ da’ moniker to da’ Vegas Vin-tern-ator! (Vinty’s Picks???!!!)

Black Shirt: Goes to Army punter Chris Boldt , who, holding on a FG-try to end the first-half, salvaged a bad snap leading to the successful FG-try by Army that would give the Keydets the spread-dubya over Navy!

Vindy’s Bowl Best Bets Part I: Last Week: 0-0 Season: 36-32-1 (.529)
Cincinnati -8 over Duke, Central Michigan +6 over Western Kentucky, Boise State-Washington “under” 46

It’s da’ mossssssst wonderbowl tiiiiiime of…da’ yearrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!!! To all our loyal readers, we extend the annual holiday greeting…”Pass on Earth. Goodwill toward linemen.” And “have yerself a Vindy little Christmas …!”

Now if you’ll excuse us, we’re gonna’ try to determine which of the gift-wrapped presents under our tree contain the highly-coveted Lord of the Rings Legos set: Smiegel vs. Rudy Edition, Skylanders Giants men’s skivvies, a gender-neutral Queasy-Bake Oven…and the ever-popular Black-Ops Barbie doll!

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Vindy's Picks 2012 Army-Navy


SAN DIEGO, California (AP)…
Robot-technology is leading to the eventual replacement of the Navy’s mine-sniffing dolphins. But former-members of the USN’s marine-mammal national defense program are not obsolete. They’re just being assigned elsewhere. The dolphins, formerly-employed to pinpoint enemy divers and floating explosives, in places such as Bahrain and Iraq, will now patrol the perimeters of Sin City sportsbooks and casino resort pools, identifying and marking bogus wagers based on the Vindicator’s weekly picks, which, though detected by natural sonar abilities of the sea creatures, also emit an odor so foul, they can be noticed underwater just by the smell!

We put a nifty 7-3 Championship Week (119-123, .492) in da’ ledger, but even the Middies’ goat refuses to chow-down on…

(Being tattooed on Colin Kaepernick’s body as we speak!)

Army (+7) over Navy (56 ½) (@ Philadelphia, PA): The West-Pointers, at 2-9 SU (including a 23-3 home loss to FCS Stony Brook), have no post-season opportunity, but have more inspiration to play harder this year than last with the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy on the line in this match-up (which hasn’t happened since 2005), with both clubs already having beaten Air Force earlier (Army at home by 20, Navy in Colorado Springs by 7). Navy’s locked into the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl vs. Arizona State, regardless of the outcome. History since 2003 obscenely-favors the Middies, both outright and against the spread, but a look at the last 2+ seasons shows Army going 1-4 SU vs. the other academies but covering 3 of ‘em,, while Navy has won and covered three of the five. Cadets lost to the Love Boat by 14 each in 2009 and 2010, but by just 6 in 2011’s covering loss. Neither has been good to betting-backers, each recording a 3-7 ATS tally to-date. First official appearance in the ‘Picks for Navy this year, though we’ve cashed three Best Bet tickets in four tries, betting vs. the Sailors in those three wins (Army yielded one Best Bet win in two attempts and a forecast loss a few weeks ago in cover at Rutgers). Army senior QB Trent Steelman leads the team in rushing, averaging over the century-mark in yards per game and contributes to his team’s overall #1 running attack. Conversely, the Argonauts feature freshman quarterback Keenan Reynolds, who’s just 3rd in rushing for his squad. Army has four covers in last 30 tries with time off. Neither unit has played since November 17. The game-clock will get little rest, stopping only on change-of-possession and TV time-outs, with both sides preferring the run-first, second- and third- approach and collectively drawing less than 8 flags per contest. Both clubs score about 25 points per game. Middies give up under 24 points a game (not bad considering 50-10 season-opening blowout loss, which, little did we know at the time, portended much-bigger things for then-unranked Notre Dame). Game total, starting with ’09, has been 20, 48 and 48 the last three years. Army is minus-six in turnovers and allows about 37 points per game, including 62-32 defeat at Temple prior to the off-weeks. We look for more touchdowns than field goals as Middies average one three-point boot per game and Army’s freshman kicker connected on only 10 of 16 tries all season. If it comes down to a pressure kick, Ensigns will also put a freshman on the field, but he’s hit 9 of 13. We’ve seen more than our share of upsets in a season dominated by the underdogs, but the Middies have won SU the last 10 years and we’re content to just take da’ points…Armada 28 Infantry 23


Regarding the reluctance to actually the throw da’ ball, we could easily see Gandalf the Grey as offensive coordinator on either sideline, telling his charges….”Youuuuuu…shall not…paasssssssssss!”

The Queen Mum and James Bond-actor Daniel Craig (or at least their respective stunt-stand-ins) parachuted into Olympic Stadium to open the Summer Games in London. Vindy’ spies say the actual 86-year-old British matriarch and Sean Connery will jump out of a perfectly-good airplane to do likewise to deliver the metal currency to be used for the opening coin-toss of this one!

In related news, in the wake of his earlier visit to Vegas, Prince Harry will also be asked to emulate, kind of, her Majesty’s role at this year’s Summer Games, exiting an aircraft of similar-condition over the Olympic Stadium at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. The difference? He’ll be au natural…and sans the parachute…and da’ stunt-double!!!!

The Pentagon plans to cut da’ number of combat brigades from 45, to as low as 32, to save money. In a like move, West Point will conserve funds by reducing scholarships and fielding only seven players on each side of the ball!

USN officials said their new radio system may be keeping some people in southeastern Connecticut from opening and closing their garage doors. UConn did not appear on Navy’s 2012 schedule, but the Middies are considering use of the relevant gadgetry to impact doors on the Army lockers to get inside the Cadets’ heads prior to the game…and at halftime!

The Navy has returned to using old ships for target practice after a two-year moratorium due to environmental and cost concerns. First-up…the HMS Vindicator!

We haven’t spent much time this season heaping praise upon the zebras…at any level…but we must give kudos to the officiating crew at the MAC Championship between Kent State and Northern Illinois (at least in regulation, ‘cuz we switched channels when said game went to extras) for being spot-on with their calls. Many were reviewed… and all found to be accurate. For us or against us, all we ask is…get it right.

The Denver Broncos’ opening drive this past Sunday vs. Tampa Bay resulted in a TD-pass to a nose-tackle-eligible???!!! We’d expect that to work against the Iggles, not the Buccaneers!

Black Shirt: We issue multiple ebony undergarments again this week…to Tulsa’s DE Cory Dorris and LB Trent Martin, though ultimately to Central Florida DB AJ Bouye, for a combination of blocked extra-points and an OT FG eventually leading to the Hurricane’s winning cover (as opposed to a 1-point SU win and spread-push in regulation or…GASP!...a 1-point SU loss), giving Vindy a 7th forecast dubya rather than stalling the ‘Picks at 6-3-1 or 6-4.

“Locked in a Box?”: Tulsa’s ATS win also raises the lock record to 4-10 (.286)
Shoppe Talk: One of our Championship Week detractors was, of course, Florida State (3-8, .272). Joja’ gets an engraved holiday invitation , biting us for the fifth straight time!

Vindy’s Army-Navy Best Bets: none Last Week: 1-2 Season: 36-32-1 (.529)

(Officer) On-deck…somewhere around December 13 or 14, the first 2012 installation of the Weber Kid’s infamous bowl picks!