Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Vindy's Picks Week 1-2022


LAS VEGAS, Nevada (MSNBC)…Last year, Tyrann Matthieu shed the “Honey Badger” label for “The Landlord” nickname as leader of Chiefs’ D and controller of defensive backfield acreage on the gridiron. This season, the Vegas Vindicator sent his alias to the pine in lieu of “The Sin City Slumlord” in self-serving recognition of his iron-grip on the dark, seedy corners of the sportsbook in disrepair, including broken seats, leaky ceilings, bare spots in carpet, dysfunctional appliances, loose threads, shattered betting-windows and forcing patrons to pay for otherwise-comp cocktails. A faulty heating system requires customers to bring own portable space-heaters or open cans of Sterno to keep warm and defective wiring results in missing numbers and letters on the digital betting board making the cover of Bettor Homefields & Garnish. 

Following an off-season spent serving beer-on-tap-out at local MMA events, making cameo appearances on “The Sportsbook of Boba Fett”, lowerin’ da’ bar for times in the newly-christened 40-yard-Kardashian event at the NFL Combine, epically-failing the Cadbury Bunny Try-Outs and submitting applications to the IOC to make Rollerball and Pickleball medal-sports, Vindy dons jersey number 9 ¾ (Harry Potter fans know the reference) and breaks the huddle with his preseason-forecasting team of “Mattress Mack”, First Cat Willow, Bing Dwen Dwen, Pete Davidson, Lily from AT&T, that kid who flips the Progressive Insurance sign on the street-corner, the Savannah Bananas baseball team, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Brittney Griner, Will Smith, Arch Manning, Elon Musk, SI swimsuit ish model Sarafina Nance, Mama June, Cassidy Hutchinson, Grambling State University women’s volleyball coach Chelsey Lucas, Senator Josh Hawley, GEICO’s “The Green Hawk” and “Ichiro Girl” Iris Skinner to bring our loyal readers... 


(As scrawled in ketchup thrown against the West Wing walls!)



Penn State (-3 ½) over PURDUE: “Four-score and twenty teams ago...(but enuff about B1G expansion!)”. “Over fitty-four and a half" would be our second-choice here. Breakin’ a regular-season game tradition at Vindy’s Picks, we’re includin’ a contest in which neither side is ranked, but it's a critical conference-opener fer both clubs. Nits (#29, 160 votes) haven’t started the campaign outside the rankings since 2016 (pocketing just 2 victories in the final 8 contests the previous season will do that!) but the Alma Mater hit the win-column 11 times with 2 defeats that year! Nonetheless, SU winner likely still won’t make the Top 25 cut barring upset losses vs. Tennessee (vs. Ball State), Texas (vs. Weeziana-Cornrow) and/or Iowa (vs. FCS #2 South Dakota State...luv ya, Jackrabbits, but....).  While stocked with new talent, Lions lack on defensive experience, leaving the up-til-now ineffective offense. Nits are blasé 7-6 outright away from Happy Valley last three years. Boilers (#34, 17 tallies) have shown no rushing game the last three years. While defenses traditionally lead the way early, Lions, whose 6th-year QB Sean Clifford has asserted the offense will be “better”, need to lean on points-scored and bring the house early and often or drop into coverage until a Choo-Choo RB can change their mind on the ground. Not plunkin’ down a mortgage payment here in light of Boilers’ “Blackout Game” and fielding a ton of upperclassmen on both sides of the ball after taking 6 of 9 conference tilts last season (covering 5), but declarin’...WE ARE 34 Iron Horses 29 


#5 Notre Dame (+17) over #2 OHIO STATE: When it’s said and done, we might we wish we had selected the “under 58 ½” instead. (However, Bucks were leaky on that part of their game last year). Both sides are heavy on expected sophomore starters. Bucks have a slight edge on defense. Irish have won 32 of 38 games the past three years (26-4-1 against the Power Five, 18-1-1 ATS) and tallied an 11-2 record last season with just 3 back on offense. Buckeyes beat 7 opponents in ‘21 by more than two TDs but are unreliable against the number in home-openers, covering just 3 in past 9 Earlier this month, Irish lost 6th year Senior wide-out and team captain Avery Davis to an ACL injury for the second time in as many seasons. Leprechauns have gone 2-1 SU/ATS last three outings vs. the B1G (5-1 SU/4-1-1 since start of 2017). Last meeting was 44-28 OSU romp in the 2015 Fiesta Bowl. SEC analyst Paul Finebaum had nothing kind to say about Notre Dame’s preseason spot in the 5-hole and added fuel to the fire in South Bend, noting ND is “going to get destroyed” in this one and “will be fortunate to go 9-3". Catholics will minus or fielding a hobbled star O-lineman but keep an eye on special teams for “Touchdown Jesus” as Brian Mason (formerly with Cincinnati) will emphasize blocks or least disrupting the opposing kicker...Nut Seeds 29 Our Lady 21 


#11 Oregon (+17) over #3 Georgia (@ Atlanta, GA): LOCK OF DA’ WEEK. Not quite a home-game between Da’ Hedges fer da’ Bulldawgs, but close-enough. This one shapes-up as an audition fer the Mallards to join the about-to-be Big 16 after USC and UCLA defected to da’ Big Ten Vereen. The good news? Auburn transfer QB Bo Nix is familiar with the Joja’ defensive schemes (“Bo knows football???!!!”). The bad news? At least some of da’ defending National Champs (following serious losses in stopper personnel) is familiar with Bo Nix. On the plus side in Eugene, Ducks’ new HC Dan Lanning was co-DC in Athens. Vantage Drakes! Does Nix have the necessary bodies around him on offense?? OR is crapshoot 15-14 ATS outside the Pond the last three seasons. Two of four Mean Green defeats in 2021 were blow-outs at the hands of da’ Utes, but record shows competitive 35-28 loss at Da’ ‘Shoe in 2021 and 27-21 demise to Auburn in 2019. ‘Dawgs are young on both sides of the ball and Phil Steele points out a “meh” fitty-fitty spread-tally vs. the 12-Pack. Individually, Bo Nix has led his prior team to wins in 7 of 18 games away from home, covering 8... Canines 31 Calm on the Surface, Paddlin’ like Hell Underneath 21


#23 Cincinnati @ #19 ARKANSAS (“over 51 ½”): Cincy cruised thru ‘21 slate before being laid bare in playoffs by ‘Bama. Desmond Ridder is now behind center for the Atlanta Falcons and is expected to be replaced by Eastern Michigan QB transfer Ben Bryant, who helped the EMU Iggles post 30 ppg last year. Said aviary also coughed up average of 30 ppg, with seven contests finishing at or over 60. UC, young in the defensive backfield, has captured 8 consecutive true road tilts. Razorbacks came outta’ da’ Twilight Zone to record 9 triumphs last year after going collective 7-27 outright the previous three outings, including 6-1 at home and 5-0 SU facing non-SEC teams. Pigs QB KJ Jefferson is a beast, tossing fer almost 2600 yards with 21-3 TD-INT ratio and adding more than 5 scores on 500+ rushing. Schnitzel also had 7 contests end at or over 55 points last season. Counting on significant losses on D by both sidelines and fresh-off guest-chairing an episode of “Iron Chef Fayetteville”, we call...Not-So-Tenderloin 34 Queen City 27


#24 Houston @ UTSA (“over 61 ½”): Okay, another non-match-up of Top 25 clubs, but perhaps the most intriguing contest of da’ week as the Roadrunners have been tagged to repeat as C-USA champs again entering the ‘21-’22 bowl-season. Semi-short line here (+4) implies Beep Beep is a live-dog. Some “experts” like Houston to unseat the aforementioned Bearkats as Group of Five choice to infiltrate the CFP. Coogs’ schedule is favorable, senior-laden at the skills, lotsa’ upperclassmen on D (but green on the O-line). They dodge Cincy until perhaps the conference title match. Open with back-to-back road tilts, including trip to Lubbock next. Texas Tech won’t be easy but “Guns-Up” may not be what it was a year ago when it bested UH by 17 as a 2 ½-point ‘dog. Houston took 12 of 14 last year, including win over Auburn in the Birmingham Bowl. Tarmac Terns won 12 of 14 on the way to the CUSA title. 0-2 SU but 2-0 ATS vs. ranked opponents the last three seasons, 6-7 vs. non-conference last 3 years, heavy on upperclassmen on offense and have a well-versed back seven. D-line is young. NASA-Town won 6 of 7 in ‘21 away after pedestrian 12-13 the previous five campaigns. San Antonio has won 6 of 10 non-conference tilts last two years and did not lose a home-game in seven opportunities last year. Something has to give...Houston 37 The Alamo 31




BTW, we also considered “Land-Mine Lord” knowing any given selection could blow-up in the bettor’s face!


If you’re scoring at home, we correctly called the “under 52” (barely, as the total culminated at 51 after a wild 4th Quarter) for the ‘Bama-Joja’ National Championship game back in January, to bring last season’s record to 37-45-2 (.451...Uggggh!).


Speaking of the Pachyderms, as the final seconds ticked away during Utah State’s opening 31-20 victory again UConn last week, a fervent USU supporter was seen displaying a sign reading “We Want ‘Bama”, bringing two two things to mind for us...1) we remember our first beer and 2) the sign didn’t specify what was being asked of said-opponent, so realistically the fan-in-question may have simply been imploring that the team bus carrying Alabama break down en route to this Saturday's venue, leaving Tide players no other option but to hoof it a few miles to Bryant-Denney Stadium. Given the tendency for UA to go pedal-to-medal through the first half then get reps for the other five strings in the remaining 30 minutes of game-time, the Aggies (being spotted a nearly six-TD handicap) could manage a backdoor cover. 

As we note this time each year, from 1993-2008, at least two teams unranked in the AP preseason poll finished Top 10 in the final AP poll that same season. In 2009, only Cincinnati did so, and in 2010, only Stanford pulled that off. 2011 saw no qualifiers! But 2012 saw a return-to-form, with Notre Dame (#26 preseason) and Texas A&M (no votes in the preseason poll) finishing 4th and 6th, respectively, after opening the season without a hashtag by their names. 2013 had four (count ‘em, four!) make da’ cut...title-game loser #2 Auburn, #3 Michigan State (which was #26 in the preseason poll), #5 Mizzou and #10 Central Florida. TCU ended the 2014-15 season at #3, while Joja’ Tech came in at #8. Da’ Coogs of Houston and da’ Iowa Hawkeyes, who grabbed no votes whatsoever in da’ 2015 initial poll, finished at #8 and #9, respectively. In 2016, the Wisky Badgers were unranked in the #28-hole (21 tallies), but closed at #9, while da’ Alma Mater warranted zero “Ayes”, yet went home to #7. In 2017, neither Central Florida nor TCU (opened at #26 with 98 votes) got any August-love, but closed-out at #6 (second time in five years fer da’ Golden Knights!) and #9, respectively. In 2018, initially-sportin' da’ Romulan cloaking-device, Florida and Wazzou  stood-in at #7 (again!) and #10 respectively in the final AP rankings! 2019 saw the Gilded Gerbils of Minnesota, starting the year more than a Baker’s Dozen from the rankings, but made the cut at #10 in the final rankings! Not surprisingly, in the unprecedented year-of-da-pandemic, no one rose from the preseason-ashes to make the penultimate Top Ten! Honorable mention to the Coastal Carolina Chants fer ending-up in the #12-hole after absorbing their only-loss in a bowl-game defeat to Liberty, keepin’ it outside da’ Top Ten. Last year, the Wolverines began at #32, obtaining 12 votes, but finished at #3 behind the two title contestants, ‘Joja’ and ‘Bama.  Oklahoma State just missed starting the ‘21 outing in the Top 25, coming in at #26 (107 votes). Meanwhile Baylor was nowhere on the radar. Da’ Bears ended up in the six-hole and State concluded the year one notch lower at #7. (The aforementioned Nifty Lions could garner that distinction this year, starting at #29 with 160 votes outside the AP Top 25 for first time since 2016). 

We take a few creative liberties with a tune by the late, great Olivia Newton-John...may she rest in peace) and sing a song about the Top 25 rankings...”Hopelesslyyyyyy, out-voteddddd by yoouuuuuu.” 

And upon further review...goin’ back to 2002, a minimum of one team in the AP Preseason Top Ten each season has finished outside da’ rankings in the final AP Poll fer that year. Then-#8 Miami AP Preseason Top 10 finished with nary-an-*aye* in 2019 Final AP Poll! Then-#9 Auburn finished at #32 garnering 15 tallies, while then-#4 Wisconsin got all of two ballots. In the year whose name must never be uttered, even at a whisper, ever-again, August-love squads #6 LSU and #7 Alma Mater (Oh, the shame!) [both vote-less] and #9 Oregon (21 tallies) met the criteria! 2021 saw Iowa State put its first ball on the tee at #7 and North Carolina at #10 in August. Neither club was accorded any show of hands in the closing poll. Yer mission...should ya’ choose to accept it, is to figure-out who da’ 2022 posers are among ‘Bama, Ohio State, Joja’, Clemson, Notre Dame, Texas A&M, Utah, Michigan, Oklahoma and Baylor. 


New HC Mario Cristobal (Miami not Penn State) dispensed with the whole “turnover chain” thing from his days in Coral Gables. More thoughts on this later. So what does former ‘Canes’ HC Manny Diaz, now PSU DC bring to Happy Valley given that the Nits already have the Lawn Boys (push-mower) chain fer a post rushing-TD? PEP Boys (fer gatherin’ team bus parts at away-tilts) Bowery Boys? Po’ Boys (best Cajun sammich)?! BTW, the latest version of Miami’s chain featured the local area code of 305. State College digits are 814! 

Failing in his preseason bid to make it onto a team’s defense at strong-side or weak-side, Vindy held private work-outs for Pizza Hut, Dominoe’s and Papa John’s at curbside linebacker! (And excelled at run-stuffed pizza!) 

We’re pondering the concept of Senior Day/Night and think NCAA schools should adopt the marketing strategy of Vegas casinos, which cater to regulars over fitty on a particular day each week and offer the fourth (or fifth)-year players discounted movie tickets, 2-fer-1 buffets at the training table and a free bingo card with a dauber!


We learned last January that the Tennessee Vols recruited Pete Rose to play football in Knoxville. However, Rocky Top rescinded the offer after Charlie Hustle, with plenty of room to run, constantly dove head-long into the 1st-Down marker! 

In January, Pope Francis was on his daily constitutional and made an impromptu appearance at a local record shop, where he was captured on video by a reporter who was fortunate enuff to be onsite covering the grand-opening of the brick-and-mortar establishment. The 85-year-old Catholic leader played it off, suggesting he thought he had entered a place in which he could find win-loss tallies for sports teams. Deciding not to make it a wasted trip, the Pontiff was seen leaving the store with several albums (yeah, yeah...save the hate-mail for somebody who cares), including “Goodbye Yellow Brick Rome” (Elton John), “Bat Out of Hell” (Meatloaf), “The White Smoke Album” (the Beatles), “Rosary Never Sleeps” (Neil Young), “A Shrine at the Opera” (Queen) and “Straight Outta’ Compton” (NWA...Neophytes with Acolytes). More vinyl-disc purchases by His Holiness next week!


Havin’ watched some of the ‘22 Winter Games coverage, we say let's make the biathlon competition more interesting by swapping out the rifles for crossbows or Super-Soakers! Do I hear those old-time water-pistols used to fill up and explode balloons on any given boardwalk arcade game in the 70’s???!!! 

Hooray fer Da’ Little Guy: As usual this time of year, about three dozen I-AA teams will hit the road against FBS squads. Last season, nine FCS teams bested their higher-level opponents and another twelve or so finished within one score or less. In this week’s battle of FCS vs. I-A opponents, our best guess for which lower-level squad wins outright is Southeast Louisiana over LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE. Perennial Fun-Belt champs ULL Rajun Cajuns are near the bottom of Marc Lawrence’s Returning Production Rankings and are under a new head coach. Lions made the playoffs in ‘21, going 9-4 and winning 5 of 8 on the road. They also lost by 3 at Weeziana Tech and defeated then #25 Nicholls. Meanwhile, looking at ranked FCS squads, we think #24 Richmond has a good chance to topple Virginia, which is also near the worst teams in RPR....UR clobbered Delaware (currently #19) last year and squeaked by William & Mary (66 preseason votes) and beat then #9 Villanova (currently #6) and lost by 11 at Virginia Tech (staying within 4 until late 3rd Quarter). Cavs won 42-13 in most recent meeting in 2018. Nobody left from that Spiders club to remember but might be worth some bulletin board material anyway.  

“Lock of Da’ Week”: Last Season: 8-8 (.500)


Ye Olde Taxidermy Shoppe Talk: Last Season:  Da’ Bayluh Bears hosed us 5 times in as many tries (.000). Elsewhere, the (Red Dawn) “Wolvereeeeenes!” granted us just a dubya and a tie in six appearances (1-4-1, .200). Also under da’ microscope...North Carolina and Ole Mist (0-3, .000 each) as well as Auburn and Wake Forest at 1-3 (.250) each! 

Vindy’s Week 1 Best Bets: Last Season: 34-32-1 (.515) This Week: Texas Christian –10 ½ over COLORADO, Army @ COASTAL CAROLINA “under 55”, Boise State +2 ½ over OREGON STATE, Arizona @ SAN DIEGO STATE “under 48”.

Next week...more off-season silliness and our thoughts on...the NFL!