Saturday, January 09, 2016

Vindy's Picks 2015-16 Bowl Recap & National Championship Prediction

CULVER CITY, California (REUTERS)…Seeking a psychological edge, it took little persuasion by Clemson-staffers to engage two of three Jeopardy contestants on Tuesday to conspire against perennial-contender Alabama. Unidentified sources covertly-revealed “clues” forthcoming in the “Colleges By Team Names” category ahead of time to Terry McElhennon and Steve Belding. Early in the opening round, McElhennon selected and buzzed-in first to the $200-clue…”Crimson Tide”. The customer service rep from North Carolina, no fan of rival Clemson, but showing ACC-allegiance, knowingly spouted incorrectly, “What is Auburn?” Belding, who hails from Knoxville, Tennessee, would’ve also happily taken the potshot at the Tide, then called the appropriate response of “Alabama”, but by then, the intended social-media firestorm and deliberate off-field distraction of the championship-favorite had been set in motion!

Vindicator made an appearance later this week on the show and annoyed host Alex Trebek by stating he’d “like to buy a vowel” and that he’d “like to solve the puzzle”, blurting out, not “in the form of a question”…
(More flammable than a hovercraft in the United Kingdom!)
#1 Clemson vs. #2 Alabama (“under 50 ½”) (@Glendale, AZ): Most of the major statistical comparison-differences are negligible and while we not-so-secretly would  love to see da’ Evil Empire fall, we have a tough time envisioning Tide, currently favored by 6 ½, not capturing the crown with yet-another double-digit win, including 38-0 victory over Michigan State (its 12th triumph on the year by 10 or more and 9th in 10 games since loss to Ole Miss), we reckon it’ll be a contest of defenses…not only the ones that can stifle offensive stars, but perhaps more-importantly, the ones that can rise-up following a breakdown on special teams that leads to an excellent scoring-opportunity for the opponent. Neither side gives up squat for yardage, points or 3rd-Down conversions. In addition, if we were coachin’ either side, we’d lean heavily on the run in an effort to limit the number of possessions fer the other guys. Meanwhile, FG-kicking has been an adventure for Alabama, converting  just 22 of 31 attempts (71%), but allowing just 14 of 24 (Then again, ya don’t kick threes much when yer behind a few touchdowns!). We prophesize more Tide punts or going on 4th-Down as a result. Favorites have walked away with the championship hardware in 4 of last 5 years. ‘Dogs have covered last pair (including last year’s outright win by Ohio State). Tigers QB Deshaun Watson will be less of a stationary target than MSU’s Connor Cook, and though Sparty limited Derrick Henry to about half his season rushing-yards-per-game average, the ‘Bama RB did score two TDs inside the red zone...’Bama 26 Clemson 16
2015-16 BOWL RECAP

Following a couple of post-seasons dominated, not just ATS but also SU, by the underdogs, the chalk “came in like a Tekken ball” (if yer not a fan of the martial arts video-game series, Google it!) and  ran amok this year, taking and covering a hefty  25 of the 40 (pushing one) bowls to-date  (.641). Points also came freely as the “over” went 26-14 (.650). Your Sin City Soothsayer was unable to get any real traction throughout the bowl season, managing more than two back-to-back forecast-wins just once, correctly calling the hat-trick with the Sugar, Tax Slayer (BTW, the alma mater made us sweat the 4th Quarter with the over-under in doubt until the final 8 seconds to play!) and Liberty Bowls before the Ducks brought us to the screeching halt. Opening 5-7 in Part I, we spent much of the rest of the way behind da’ chains, but a rare “lock of da’ week” dubya by Navy on December 28 and 2-1 outing on New Year’s Eve pulled us even at 16-16 as the ball dropped in Times Square. We thank the stadium scoreboard operator at da’ Motel 6 Cactus Bowl fer “leaving the lights on”…all of ‘em…as West Virginia and Arizona State swapped sixes and more to go well-“over” the total as we predicted, closing out a 3-1 effort on the 2nd day of 2016, with only Oregon’s gargantuan collapse vs. TCU (since we referenced “Kill Bill Vol. 2” in Part III, we’ll do so again here, quoting Elle Driver AKA California Mountain Snake, who quipped, “’Gargantuan’…I’ve always liked that word, so rarely had the opportunity to use it in a sentence.’”, but we digress) and putting us at the current 21-20 tally, assuring Vindy’s Bowl Predictions of no-worse than a .500 finish heading into the championship game!

BTW, the third contestant in the aforementioned Jeopardy episode, female Alex Lautenen Walker of San Diego, was not in on the ruse and took home a third-place finish (including the home-version of Jeopardy), sayin’ “No biggie. I made more on a straight-bet of the Aztecs layin’ the points over Air Force than these two chumps brought home tonight combined!”
Also…it coulda’ been worse. Terry’s reply coulda’ been with an opportunity to cash-in on a “video Daily Double”!!!!

Elsewhere…if ya share any photo of “Vindy’s Picks” on Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg will give-away the 2016 National Championship trophy!
Da’ Drakes sported new unis (and this is different from what?!) for the Alamo after previously-donning a…outfit on Halloween! Guess the late-October outfits woulda’ been more appropriate considering how badly they got lit-up after taking a 31-zip lead, only to lose in triple-OT to TCU, who made the phenomenal rebound with a quarterback making his first collegiate start!

2015 version of A Christmas Carol dialogue featuring Scrooge to any given 5-7 bowler….”There’s more of grade than grave about you.” Ghosts of Christmas Passed, Present and Futures-bets…???!!!
From the “you only had one job” category…The Sports Xchange published a write-up of the Military Bowl that was subtitled, “No. 22 Midshipmen steamroll Chippewas behind star quarterback”.  The Chippies, of course, lost a much-closer 21-14 game vs. the Gilded Gerbils of Minnesota in the Quick Lane Bowl on the day-in-question, while Navy actually blasted the Pitt Panthers.

If ya were scoring at home, you know that thru Week 12, eight of our dozen  Upset Pick of Da’ Week selections won outright (.667), with a 9th team not winning, but still beating the spread (.692). Sadly, from Week 13 through Part III of our bowl predictions, upset picks failed miserably, going just 1-5 (.167). Meanwhile, games we designated as “upset alert” (didn’t formally have the ‘dog winning, but thought the fave was vulnerable) went 2-2 (.500).
Embattled Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel was reportedly spotted in our fair berg recently, sportin’ a blonde wig. Sing it with us, Rocky Horror Picture Show geeks…”I’ve been….makin’ a Man(ziel)…with blonde hairrr and a tan(ziel)…and he’s good fer relieving my…tension…” Or how ‘bout…”Rush-a, rush-a, rush-a, rushhh meeeeee….I jersey dirrrrrtyyyyyyyy….” “Janet! Dr. Scott! Janet! Brad! Johnny!...Janet! Dr. Scott! Brad!...”

“Wish We Had That One Back”: We tagged Southern Cal-Wisconsin “over 50 ½” in da’ Holiday Bowl for this category. Sure enough, the 23-21 “under” win by the Badgers kept us in minus-territory as Part II came to a close.
Locked in a Box: Our choice of Navy (-3) over Pitt was “Third-time-out’s da’ charm” rather than “da’ Charmin’”, completing the “lock” record at 5-10 (.333).

Black Shirt: Already-preferring Oregon at +1 ½ in the Alamo Bowl, when TCU QB Trevone Boykin got himself arrested a few days ahead of the game to rapidly push the spread to Mallards -7, Vindy prematurely locked-in and manufactured the ebony undershirt for the Horny Toads man-behind-center, but the Part III special-edition garment is duly-awarded to Joja’ back-up kicker Collin Barber for missing a 48-yard FG in the 3rd Quarter that woulda’ eventually sent the Bulldogs-Lions game “over” the total, giving us the foreseen “under” instead. Honorable Mention to A&M QB Jake Hubenak for throwing a 4th Down incompletion in the end zone with about a minute-and-a-half to play that allowed Louisville to simply run out the clock and cover in the Cardinals win.
Shoppe Talk: Grill-Master Supreme Award-winner Vindicator helped his own cause with just his 5th correct “lock of da’ week” (as noted above) to finish at 5-10 (.333). Suckin’ Place winner Utah burned us again, falling to 3-7 (.300), as did Ohio State (now 4-7-1, .364). Meanwhile A&M and LSU showed up on the right side, improving to 3-5-1 (.375) and 5-6 (.455), respectively. Ironically, Weber-Friendlies…weren’t! Iowa, Stanford and TCU all landed in the “L” column, while only the Gators of Florida granted us the forecast-victory to finish at 8-2 (.800) on the 2015-16 campaign!

Best Bets: Last Week: 1-1 Bowl Season: 3-1 (.750) Season: 44-35-1 (a profitable .557!)
LEFTOVER HASH (Yes, we know it’s redundant. Vindicator now conducts the annual “emptying of the clip” and expends all the stuff he had in the arsenal throughout the season that didn’t previously find its way into the forecast…until now.)

Down to their 4th-string quarterback (a wide-receiver with an arm), Baylor coaches spent much of the break between regular-season finale and bowl game toiling endlessly at the “Build-A-Bear” workshop! It worked! BU beat North Carolina!
Big 12 Conference officials announced schools would incur fines whose fans charged the field and it would levy potential penalties vs. teams that excessively show controversial replays (including bad beats for Vindy’s Picks!)

Mitt Romney “sparred” with Evander Holyfield for a couple rounds of a charity boxing match before the Republican ex-presidential also-ran declared, “No mas”. Witnesses pooh-poohed claims that Mitt tried to bite Holyfield’s ear.
Dartmouth developed a robot tackling-dummy. Can’t wait for the first one to go all “Robocop” and utter, “Take a knee, Citizen…or there will be…trouble.” “Danger, danger, Will Robinson!” C3PO…”I recommend a new strategy, R2…let the Darkside win.”

12-year-old Sam Holtz tied for 1st in ESPN’s 2015 NCAA Tournament Bracket Challenge, but because of age rules, was ineligible for the $20K gift card top prize and trip to this season’s Maui Invitational. The Chicago suburb sixth-grader did, however, get something for his efforts…a commemorative championship-game program, various autographed game-worn jerseys from Duke and Wisconsin and…a spot on Vindy’s 2016 Preseason Forecasting Strategy Team!  
Following conclusion of the 2016 installment of March Madness (located, per Charles Barkley,…”In… the Annapolis”), “One Shining Moment” will be replaced by a rousing version of “Big Safety Dance”, performed by Men Without Hats!
In a late March 2015 piece in the Washington Post, writer John Feinstein noted that, among the things that are “broken” about March Madness, is the time it takes to play a game, specifically referencing the available number of time-outs. Major League Baseball is also taking measures to pick up da’ pace. Can ya imagine if MLB had mandatory stoppages of play for the under-eight-innings time-out and under four-innings time-out in addition to automatic breaks between innings???!!!

The opening Thursday of the 2015 Big Dance saw teams from the Longhorn State go 0-fer-five! In related news, earlier that month, Vladimir Putin returned to the public eye following a mysterious 11-day absence. Vindy’s spies says the Russian leader simply bought himself some time to do some research for filling out his NCAA brackets!
On da’ Big Screen… Kordell Stewart plays football vs. the Gods of Olympus in…”Slash of Da’ Titans”??!!!

Cavs’ PG and savior Matthew Dellavedova absorbed fractures in both legs, both arms and his neck after Game Three of the 2015 NBA Finals. He planned to play in Game Four. Hope somebody cued-up the theme-song from “Six-Million Dollar Man” when he hit the court for that one! (Say it with us…”Ruuuudy! Ruuuudy! Ruuuudy! Ruuuudy!)
We caught the following headline in a late-May edition of the local paper…”Noah set to take over ‘Daily Show’ September 28” and wondered why the Chicago Bulls would let Joakim moonlight as a late-night TV host!

Da’ New York Giants recently lost their head coach. Are they “Straight Outta’ Coughlin”???!!! 
Taylor Swift got the okie-dokie for the halftime gig at Super Bowl Fitty. If Dallas makes the contest-in-question, will we hear the pop-artist croon…”I can make da’ Cowboys good fer a weekend!”???? Swift is expected to be accompanied by Brittney Spears. If da’ former-Mouseketeer-turned-performer conducted the coin-toss twice, would we hear her sing, “Oops…Iiiiii flipped it again…!”

Pats tight end Rob Gronkowski spiked a football-shaped cake at the Hard Rock Hotel in Sin City, drawing a 15-yard-unbaker’s-man-like penalty!
BTW, readers near Foxborough, Massachusetts can call us…Vegas Vindeflator!

The NFL took away a 5th Round draft choice from the Atlanta Falcons for piping artificial crowd-noise into their stadium for the past two seasons. In a like move, bookies have vacated some of Vindy’s winning wagers for similar infractions!
If Marshawn Lynch sits on the john, is it considered “Beast Commode”?!

Mark Lazarus, NBC Sports chair, made his desire known to put the kibosh on the traditional playoff beards sported by hockey players until their teams are dismissed or ultimately walk-off with Lord Stanley’s Cup, believing the clean-shaven players are more-recognizable as role models and enhance their chances for endorsement deals. Lazarus also noted he favored less-hirsute versions of Santa, Da’ Most Interesting Man in Da’ World, Travelocity’s Roamin’ Gnome, Walt Whitman and Sigmund Freud for similar reasons!
Also this time last year, Miss Universe Canada scored with a wacky hockey costume, featuring the Stanley Cup crown, an array of hockey sticks and an operational scoreboard on the back. That would certainly garner our vote for ugliest Christmas sweater!
Four new events got added last summer to the program for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyongpang, including a team event in downhill skiing. Synchronized skiing?! How ‘bout mixed-doubles snowball fighting??!!!

A poll by Women on 20s in May saw Andrew Jackson gettin’ the boot in favor of Harriet Tubman on the twenty-dollar bill. We’ll leave da’ who-goes-on-what-currency details up to da’ Treasury Department, but here’s our suggestions fer puttin’ ladies on lyra, broads on bread, divas on dollahs, babes on Benjamins, femmes on fitties…Ronda Rousey, Hope Solo, Danica Patrick, FloJo, Lindsey Vonn, Brittney Griner, Mary Lou Retton, Kerri Scruggs, Picabo Street, Mia Hamm, Nancy Kerrigan and Peggy Fleming!
June 2015 marked the 25th anniversary of the alma mater becoming a member of da’ Big Tent-Peg Conference! A month earlier, PSU DT Anthony Zettel showed off his strength as he tackled a…tree, leading us to ponder… “Treeeee?! I’m no treeeee. I am an Ent.”. Did it make a sound? Did we hear Bruce Lee quip…”Trees…don’t hit back.”? From Lord of Da’ Rings…”They came with fire. They came with axes. They came with defensive tackles???!!!

Business Insider published a list of the top fitty schools in which students are both smart and athletic. The alma mater came in at…42nd, ahead of TCU, Villanova, Wheaton College (Illinois), Davidson College, South Carolina, Richmond (our grad school alma mater), Indiana and Kenyon College (Gambier, Ohio). Fortunately, WE ARE… still ahead of Hogwarts School of Wizardry and their quidditch dynasty (barely)!
Among the Top 10 on a list of 18,000 new species discovered last year was a Moroccan spider that does cartwheels to evade predators. The maneuver allows the arachnid to double its speed from that it attains while running. Coaches at Richmond have already incorporated the move into Spring drills.

Dr. Saturday reported the UT-Austin president voted “Oh, hell yeah!” to beer sales at Longhorns football games. Texas has already been selling alcohol at basketball, baseball and (GASP!) track (???!) events since the 2014 season! Anybody else out there preparin’ for wayward hammers, javelins and discuses???!!!! (Disci?!)
An October edition of The Las Vegas Review-Journal ran an article pointing out that local street names reflect magicians, musicians and mobsters. We’re kinda’ hopin’ that Sin City officials might eventually honor us with…Vindy’s Picks Promenade or maybe Vindy’s Picks Parkway!

On the big screen this week…Vindy’s PIXELS (with PAC-Man and Donkey Kong as guest-forecasters)
And if yer reading Vindy’s musings from somewhere in the Seven Kingdoms

Four words… Road Game of Thrones?!
Will Alabama fans in Casterly Rock yell Roll Tywin…Lannister!?”

Vindy watched da’ “Wizard of Oz” with Charles Barkley over the holidays and had to explain that the Scarecrow wasn’t stuffed full of Crows (or strawberries for that matter!).
This week on the stage at The Smith Center in Vegas…the Broadway hit…The Sportsbook of Mormon! (Or for GoT fans…The Sportsbook of…Mormont!”)

Arya: “I want to learn how to gamble on sports.” Faceless Man: “A man would teach a girl to bet, but first a girl must become no one.”
“Stick ‘em with the pointy tight-end.”

Game of Thrones meets Baltimore’s NFL team…If coaches want to communicate with the quarterback, do they “send a Raven”???!!!
The House Baratheon motto meets a Pittsburgh Penguins goalie…”Ours is the Marc-Anthony Fleury”!

And with that, Sportsfans…as we eagerly-await announcement of our winning numbers fer tonight’s Powder Ball…er…um…Power-Six Ball…Chris Fowler Ball…uh…Bill Cowher Ball….we leave you, until August, with our traditional Irish blessing…”May the road ‘dog rise up to beat you.” (Somethin’ like that!)
Air Forecast One has gone “wheels up”!