HIDDEN PERK IN AIRPORT SCANNERS BENEFITS SCOUTSLAS VEGAS, Nevada (AP)…Once the stuff of sci-fi books, films and TV, iris scans are now operational in nearly a dozen airports across the nation. But not only do they verify the identity of the traveler, they detect, predict and record information about players’ likelihood to succeed or fail, including Wonderlic scores, graduation possibilities, tendencies toward scoring or turnovers and potential off-the-field issues. College recruiters are already saving a bundle on costs of transportation and hosting of athletes by meeting them at the airport security areas prior to boarding. NFL scouts are planning to implement similar strategies ahead of April’s draft!
THE WEBER KID’S 2014-15 BOWL PREDICTIONS (PART III)(Takin’ more people “for a ride” than Uber!)
JAN. 1COTTON BOWL (@ Arlington, TX)
#4 Baylor-#7 Michigan State “under” 69 ½: A pairing of Bears’ top-ranked scoring offense (48.8 ppg) and Spartans #7 scoring offense (43.1 ppg) makes this an easy “over”, right?! Wrong-o!!! Mark Dantonio knows a track-meet spells doom for his Spartans, so they’ll have to play keep-away from Bears’ Bryce Petty and company to have any shot to win this. Both defenses played reasonably-well much of the year. State faltered badly only in the 4th Quarter at Oregon (yielding a game-long total of 46) and vs. Ohio State (giving up 49), while da’ Bears were touched for 58 by TCU, 41 at West Virginia and 46 against Texas Tech. Baylor’s last three post-season outings have produced three final scores exceeding this total (125, 75 and 94), but Spartans will play their 8th consecutive bowl, with just one surpassing this number (combining with Texas Tech in 2009 for 72 points). The MSU defensive coordinators will study film of Baylor’s contests vs. the Longhorns and Mountaineers, who both held the Bears’ production to mid-20’s, and da’ Bears OC has moved on to Tulsa, leaving Art Briles’ son calling the plays on offense…Baylor 34 Michigan State 24
CAPITAL ONE BOWL (@ Orlando, FL)Minnesota +4 ½ over #16 Missouri: We wrote-off Mizzou back in late August and all the Tigers did was win the SEC East behind inconsistent-but-sufficient sophomore QB Maty Mauk and reeled off six straight victories before bad loss to ‘Bama in conference title match. In each of Coach Jerry Kill’s four years, Golden Gerbils have increased scoring and decreased opponent-scoring (though they regressed 1 ppg this season that area). Gophers won 8 games in the regular season, including 28-24 at Nebraska sandwiched between competitive losses to Ohio State and at Wisconsin. Minny is run-heavy, while Tigers ((12-4 ATS vs. non-conference the past 4 years) show more balance (though still rank 82nd in passing yards). Neither club will show much confidence in the FG units (collectively just 27 of 40, 67.5%), so expect multiple efforts to go for it on 4th Down (combined, the two teams converted 19 of 23, 82.6%). Mizzou, having won their post-season outings in 2011 and 2013, go for the hat-trick, but we anticipate a better effort for Minnesota, trying to stop an 0-6 bowl-game skid dating back to 2005, and we won’t make it an official pick, but think the “under” 48 is also worth considering (Tigers finished this season 3-8-1 “under” the totals). What’s in yer Wahlburger?!…Mizzou 23 Minnesota 20
ROSE BOWL (@ Pasadena, CA)#2 Florida State +8 ½ over #3 Oregon: Inaugural CFP semi-final #1. In all honesty, we won’t be droppin’ dollars on this one or on the Sugar Bowl prediction later in this forecast, but with the significance of both games, we’ll propose our best guess for each one. No question, Oregon possesses the best offense State will have faced this season and FSU went a wallet-wilting 3-9 against the spread while looking very vulnerable much of the year. But as long as Houdini, Penn & Teller, Criss Angel and MacGyver are wearin’ chinstraps on the Seminoles sideline, there’s a chance they’ll walk away with the win. The Chop has put 29 straight games in the victory-column (and 34 of last 35), Fisher just got a nice shiny new contract extension and Winston’s wearin’ a Dungeons & Dragons-worthy cloak of invulnerability vs. legal issues after being cleared in a code-of-conduct hearing, so State, who’s won six straight bowls (covering 5), should be focused if Jameis doesn’t escape his 24-hour guard by climbin’ out a window, shimmyin’ down the lattice-work and commandeerin’ a parade-float for a joy-ride before pre-game warm-ups. Ducks avenged their only loss of year by blowing out Arizona to win the PAC-12 and Marcus Mariota will audition for his already-secured spot on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ roster…FSU 34 Quack Attack 31
SUGAR BOWL (@ New Orleans, LA)#1 Alabama-#5 Ohio State (under 58): Crimson Typhoid has lost exactly one game to a non-SEC opponent in the last six seasons (to Oklahoma in last year’s Sugar Bowl; and had won four consecutive bowls by double-digits until that defeat as well). Despite Buckeyes going 11-2 to the “over” thus far this season, we note State is down to its 3rd-string QB…making his second-ever start. OSU has allowed an average of a little more than 21 ppg, while ‘Bama has given up just over 16 ppg, even accounting for unusual 44 to Auburn. Buckeyes bring 8th-best rushing offense while Tide sports 28th-best. Much like above-mentioned Gophers-Tigers match, neither team here will readily trot out their kickers for FG-attempts with any regularity and will more-likely punt the ball away and play field-position. Given State’s last three bowl defeats by 3, 7 and 5 and factoring the decreased-importance of style-points for ‘Bama, we’ll also take an unofficial gander at the ‘dog with the points. Meanwhile…“Puttin’ on the Ritz” meets Alabama’s Heisman-candidate wide receiver…”…tryin’ hard to look like Amari Coooo-ooper!?” and one need not look any further than…Tide 14-13 over Arkansas, 20-13 over LSU and 25-20 over Mississippi State as precedents for… Alabama 27 Ohio State 20
JAN. 2ALAMO BOWL (@ San Antonio, TX)
#11 Kansas State (-1) over #14 Ucla: Just a major gut-feelin’ here, and one that’s been gnawing at us from the git-go. Purple Persians have posted 8 or more spread-wins in each of the last 4 years and would make it 9 for the first time since 2011 with the win and cover here. State absorbeEve d early 6-point defeat to Auburn off tougher than expected win at Iowa State in September, and late November losses at TCU (by..OUCH!...21) and at Baylor (by 11). Back-to-back home-losses to Utah (by 2) and Oregon (by 12) took the Bruins outta’ CFP discussion in early October. Bruins did win all three non-conference games on the 2014 campaign…edging Virginia on the road, Memphis at home and Texas on a “neutral” field. While not generally among the nation’s leaders in passing yardage, UCLA QB Brett Hundley shows a nice 21-5 TD-to-Pick ratio. The problem? Sacked 35 times! KSU went “over” this total (59) in nine games this season. Bruins surpassed this number six times. We’d lean toward an “over” as well…Kansas State 38 UCLA 33BETWEEN THE HASHMARKS
With some of the New Year’s contests still undecided, we’ll offer more details on our cumulative bowl picks record in our next post, but we’ll note we suffered the baddest beat of the postseason thus far backing Western Kentucky -3 ½ over Central Michigan. If ya haven’t seen it/read about it… the Hilltoppers, up 49-42 late, won 49-48 following a redonkulous Hail Mary/hook-and-ladder hybrid TD by CMU with the last tick left on the game clock at its own 25 in the Popeye’s BOHICA Bowl!Apparently some butter was originally gonna’ be among the pilfered items by Jameis Winston along with the seafood during the April shoplifting incident. But the ‘Noles QB said he decided not to take the butter and put it in a sales bin rather than return it to the dairy cooler. However, he was not outside the tackle box and drew a flag for intentional grounding.
In a late June ish of Gaming Today, Rich Saber noted that SEC teams have defeated Big Tent-Peg opponents outright in 13 of the last 19 contests from 2011-2013. Thus far in 2014 regular-season…Louisiana State edged Wisconsin 28-24 and Indiana beat MISSOURI 31-27 to make it 14 SEC victories in 21 tries, suggesting statistically, one more Big Tinnitus member could manage a straight-up triumph in the remaining four match-ups (Wisconsin-Auburn, Minnesota-Mizzou, Ohio State-‘Bama and Iowa-Tennessee).Auburn’s preparing to face Wisconsin in da’ Outback Bowl…to which we say… “No rules, just wide-right!” BTW, the 50th Anniversary ish of Sports Illustrated earlier in 2014 featured the Barbie doll, but red-blooded American males woulda’ been more-drawn to photos of Outback’s “Shrimp on da’ Barbie”!
Stay tuned! We’ll back before January 12th with our opinions on the national championship game!