Monday, December 31, 2007

Back to Bowling: 12 games in 2 days means Happy New Year

With 12 games in the next two days, I might have a chance to turn around my pitiful Bowl season record. But I doubt it.

Even though I didn't get a chance to post this weekend, what with me being all consumed with the Patriots' romp into the record books, I still managed to run my Bowl Season record to a putrid 5-10 over the weekend according to my Big Board, which now resembles my annual NCAA Tourney sheet more than ever.

Of the seven games this weekend, I went 3-4, winning with Penn State, 'Bama and Oregon State, but missing badly on UCONN, UCF, Houston and my beloved BC Eagles (how a team that racked up a school-record 11 wins and boasts a Top 10 NFL quarterback beat a mediocre Michigan State team by a mere 3 points I'll never understand.)

But with a dozen contests spanning the New Years holiday, I have a chance to redeem myself. Either that or I will tank so bad that i will give up this prognosticating bullshit forever. But definitely one of the two.

So without further adieu, I give you my six New Year's Eve picks. Feel free to line the cat box with them.

Bell Helicopter's Armed Forces Bowl
(6-6) vs. Air Force (9-3)
Fort Worth 12:30 ESPN
LINE: Cal - 4 1/2

This one is a real head scratcher, or what the real gamblers call a trap game.

Cal was one of the biggest disappointments of the season, climbing all the way to the dreaded #2 spot in the polls before shitting the bed worse by losing six of its last seven contests.

Air Force, meanwhile, is playing in its first bowl game since 2002 after a terrific season that saw the academy defeat hated rival Notre Dame (I know, who didn't?), Army and the bowl bound Utah Utes. No longer a spread option, pass-first team, the Falcons won six of its last seven games thanks to a potent rushing attack, led by two-way threat Chad Hall (1,418 yds rush, 488 yds rec) that was second in the NCAA.

Throw in the fact that Cal studs RB Justin Forsett and WR/KR DeSean Jackson are banged up, and Jackson will not start due to a rules violation, and include the disappointment factor of the Bears going from a BCS bowl to Forth Worth, and all signs point to an Air Force outright victory.
Plus it's called the friggin' ARMED FORCES BOWL!

MY PICK: Air Force 31, Cal 28

Brut Sun Bowl
(9-3) vs. Oregon (8-4)
El Paso 2:00 CBS
Line: USF -6

This review will be short and sweet, because this one looks like another no-brainer.

Although both teams also held the taboo Number 2 ranking at one point this season, USF, despite losing three in a row in bad fashion, still had a great season and is considered a team on the rise.

The Ducks potential championship season came to a crashing halt when Heisman hopeful QB Dennis Dixon got injured in a loss to Arizona on November 15th, and Oregon hasn't won since.

Look for the staunch Bull defense, led by Big East defensive Player of the Year DE George Selvie, to shut down Ducks leading rusher Jonathan Stewart and put the clamps on Brady 'don't call me Ryan" Leaf and come out of El Paso with USF's second bowl win ever, although I don't believe they will cover the number.

MY PICK: USF 24, Oregon 21

Humanitarian Bowl
Fresno St (8-4) vs. Georgia Tech (7-5)
Boise 2:00 ESPN2
Line: Ga Tech -6

Maybe this is why I'm such a horrible gambler, because I can't figure out the line on this one, either. Georgia Tech is coming off a disappointing season in which it lost to nearly every rival--Virginia, Va Tech, Maryland and intrastate foe Georgia--, the latter loss resulting in the dismissal of head coach Chan Gailey after the season.

That leaves the Jackets in the unenviable position of trying to win a game 1000 miles away from home in the cold for an interim coach who will be ousted in favor of incoming skipper Paul Johnson as soon as this one is over.

Fresno, on the other hand, has played many games on the smurf turf against conference opponent Boise St, and even though they have been throttled by the Broncos here recently, at least they aren't going to be experiencing that "where the hell are we" feeling the Jackets will undergo.

Ironically both teams recently won this bowl, Tech in 2002 against Tulsa and Fresno in 2004 against Virginia. The Bulldogs will have their hands full trying to stop Yellow jacket's running back Tashard Choice, who ran for 1300 yards and 10 TDs, but either way I like Fresno and creative coach Pat Hill to keep the game close and cover the spread.

MY PICK: Tech 27, Fresno 24

I'll have to do the other games later--I am at work and have to do some actual work before we leave for the day.

Okay, I'm home now and ready to predict the next three "locks of the day". Get your leftover Christmas spending cash ready...

Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl
Florida State (7-5) vs. Kentucky (7-5)
Nashville 4:00PM ESPN
Line: Kentucky -7 1/2

Can someone please tell me how a team that has 36 players suspended and/or ineligible for this game can even be allowed to compete in a bowl game? I mean aren't these things supposed to represent something other than shameful money grabs by institutions of higher learning and venue hosts?

Oh yeah, you're right, what the fuck was I thinking.

FSU makes the trip to the Music City minus about a third of its team thanks to a major academic scandal that found a number of players cheating on --wait for the ironic twist-- an online music class exam, among other various and sundry transgressions, and as a result of a school-instituted investigation, the Noles will play Bobby Bowden's penultimate bowl game at a major disadvantage, personnel-wise.

Not that Rich Brooks and the Wildcats are shedding any tears for the formerly formidable Noles. The Cats have their own problems to worry about, like salvaging what was once a promising season by winning its second consecutive game in Nashville after jumping out to a 5-0 record and a #14 ranking before dropping 5 of its last 7 games.

The key for the Cats is senior stud QB Andre Woodson, who despite his own late-season maladies (10 INTs in the last 8 games) will be a probable top 10 pick in the next NFL draft. ifd Woodson can control the ball and prevent FSU's depleted D from making big plays, the Cats should win easily.

Hell, just by showing up with a +36 man advantage should mean the Cats should win easily.

Even though I'm a Noles fan, I;m a realist, and reality says that a mediocre team before the loss of so many players shouldn't have a snowball's chance in Tally of winning this game.

MY PICK: Kentucky 45, FSU 24 Bowl
Indiana (7-5) vs. Oklahoma St (6-6)
Tempe 6:00PM NFL Net
Line: OSU - 4 1/2

Fitting that the first real game that no one cares about is being carried on the network that nobody watches.

Indiana has been a feel-good story, making its first trip to a bowl in 14 years just a season removed from the sudden death of former coach Terry Hoeppner from brain cancer last June. The overachieving Hoosiers havne't gone bowling since 1993, and a win for Coach Hepp would be a sweet way to honor a man known as a player's coach who fought a long battle with the disease, coming back to coach twice following surgery, until the end.

OSU had a disappointing season, with the highlight being coach Mike Gundy's now infamous post-game tirade regarding a reporter's story that his kids were too soft for D1 football. "I'm a man...I'm 40" became the stuff of YouTube legend, and as a result, the coach got more pub than his underachieving club.

But the Cowboys have played quite a few tough, tight games this season, including losses to Kansas State and Texas by a combined 5 points, as well as a few blowouts (49-17 loss to Bedlam rival Oklahoma, 45-14 loss to lowly Nebraska), but all those tough Big 12 contests should make this battle-tested club no match for the Hoosiers, which padded its win total thanks to a patsy schedule.

MY PICK: OSU 37, Indiana 21

Chic-fil-a Bowl
(8-4) vs. Clemson (9-3)
Atlanta 8:00 ESPN
Line: Clemson -2

Another one of those offensive/defensive matchups as the gritty Auburn Tigers take on the flashy Clemson Tigers in a battle to see which big cat has the bigger bite.

Auburn is always known for its grind-it-out style and ferocious defense (thus producingmany a 10-7 game over the years), but this time they might have met their matches. The Clemson cats are also sound defensively, allowing just 18 PPG, but where they have the advantage is on the offensive side of the ball.

Led by junior QB Kellen Harper (2887 yds, 27 TDs) and the twin tandem RBs of James Davis (992 yds, 9TDs) and CJ Spiller (656 yds, 2TDs), combined with receiver Aaron Kelley (1045 yds, 11 TDs), Clemson was 25th in the nation in scoring offense at 36 PPG, while offensive-challenged Auburn was a mere 85th in scoring (24PPG) and 104th in total yards/game.

So the question is, which side of the ball will have the advantage?

My money (if I was stupid enough to wager any on these things) says the Tigers team with the solid defense AND explosive offense wins out over the anemic offense/ stellar defense of those other Tigers in a fairly low-scoring, close affair.

But what do I know.

MY PICK: Clemson 17, Auburn 14

Just so you know, if I go 0-6 today, I will NOT be waking up early tomorrow to post on the first games of the day.

Happy New Year's everybody!See you in 2008!

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