Friday, January 04, 2008

All hail Mangenius! Jayhawks upset Hokies in Orange Bowl

Yesterday's Bowl result:
Fed Ex Orange Bowl (VT -3)
Kansas 24, Virginia Tech 21
My Pick: Kansas 27-24

My Bowl record: 14-15

Of course I'm referring to myself in the title as well as the coach of the Jayhawks, as not only did Mark Mangino's pesky Kansas squad knock off the mighty Hokies, but I picked the margin within three points of each team.

I know, my arm's starting to hurt again from patting myself on the back. I'm gonna get a sling soon.

But let's just say I needed to pull an upset like that to get me near .500 for this Bowl Season, and all it took was using the age-old philosophy of going against the team everyone was picking, and voila, one upset special, coming right up.

The irony of the game, aside from the fact that everyone outside of the heartland was picking Kansas to get crushed in the game, is that the Jayhawks didn't win by outscoring Va Tech with their high-powered offense, but by burning the Hokies with a taste of their own medicine--with special teams and defense.

Kansas played spectacularly on special teams (aside from allowing an 84-yard kick return for a touchdown), using a blocked field goal, a successful fake punt, and returning a missed field goal to mid-field to stun the Hokies at their own game sprinkled in with booming punts that created poor field position for Tech all night long.

When the special teamers weren't on the field, the unheralded Kansas defense was stifling the two-headed quarterback tandem of Tyrod Taylor and Sean Glennon, holding the two Hokie passers to just 171 yards in the air and forcing three interceptions between the pair. the Jayhawks sacked the Hokies hurlers four times in the first quarter alone, setting the tone for what would be a shaky night on offense for VT.

Not that Kansas was much better. Coming in averaging 44 PPG, the Jayhawk offense produced just 17 points, with the other seven coming on a 60-yard interception return for a touchdown by all-name team member Aqib Talib late in the first quarter.

Although RB Brandon ore led the Hokies downfield for a touchdown just minutes before the first half ended, for some reason Frank Beamer went away from the power running game in the second half and left his QBs to drive the offense, and the plan backfired badly as Taylor and Glennon appeared badly overmatched almost on every play.

So the BCS finally got a competitive game, and for fans of the underdog, something to enjoy other than another whitewashing by a heavy favorite. Actually with West Virginia's mountaineering of the Sooners, the BCS has now had two upsets and two blowouts, with the big game set for Monday night in bayou country.

Until then we've got a couple of turd bowls to pad the schedule with as we sink out teeth into NFL Playoff football this weekend. Whose fucking idea was it to schedule a bowl game in Toronto on the first day of the postseason, anyway? That certainly wasn't a stroke of (man)genius.

What am I complaining about, if I pick those two turds right, I'll be one game over .500 going into the title game, leaving it to the title game to make or break my season.

In that case, bring on the...

International Bowl
(7-5) vs. Ball State (7-5)
Sat, Toronto Noon ESPN2
Line: Rutgers -10 1/2

The game has been hyped more for the two schools most famous alums--RU's James Gandolfini and BSU's David Letterman--than for the two teams involved. But what do you expect with a filler game north of the border on the first Saturday of NFL playoff action?

What you should expect is a lot of yards from Rutger's dynamic tailback Ray Rice(1732 yds, 20TDs), who averages 144 YPG and will be facing a defense that allows 200 yards on the ground per game. Can you say "NFL showcase game" for the sure-to-jump junior?

Ball State likes to pass behind QB Nate Davis (3376 yds, 27TDs), but Rutgers is second in the nation in pass defense, so they might be able to contain Davis and the Cardinals attack.

Still, I find it hard to give the Scarlet Knights a 10+ advantage over anyone after their disappointing season, and I'm not inclined to do so here. I like Letterman's boys to hold it close against Soprano & Schiano's goons and make a game of it up north.

The question is, will anybody friggin' see it?

MY PICK: Rutgers 39, Ball State 31


Thursday, January 03, 2008

So close, yet...ah never mind-thanks, Sooners!

Yesterday's Bowl results:
-Fiesta Bowl (OU -7)
West Virginia 48, Oklahoma 28
MY PICK: Oklahoma 37-21

My Bowl Season Record: 13-15

Don't worry, Bob Stoops, the cards are in the mail.

As in the thank you cards from June Jones & Colt Brennan, Ron Zook & Juiceless Williams, and Jim Leavitt & Matt Grothe, showing their appreciation for taking their teams' dismal bowl performances out of the spotlight and helping bestow the honor of the biggest bowl gag job to Stoops' under performing Sooner squad.

How bad was West Virginia's whipping of the previously potent Oklahoma club? WVU interim coach Bill Stewart not only became the first of seven fill-in skippers to win a bowl game this season, but he was also awarded the permanent job directly after the game based on his team's professed love of their humble leader, a fact that was evident in the way they played for the longtime assistant to exiled Rich Rodriguez.

The Sooners, who many experts believed could have staked a claim to best team in the country with a win, laid a gigantic egg against the speedier, hungrier Mountaineers, as WVU rolled up 525 yards of offense, including a staggering 349 on the ground against one of the nation's stingiest run defending teams, and consequently Stoops lost his fourth consecutive BCS bowl game.

Why the fuck didn't I see that one coming?

But I don't feel too bad, as just about everyone had the Mountaineers getting crushed, especially after they blew a shot at the national title by losing to Pitt in their season finale, then watching as their beloved coach Rodriguez bolted for Michigan shortly thereafter.

So instead of leveling my record at 14-14, I stand 2 games below .500 with four more games to go. That's what I get for trusting a pimply-faced freshman QB, who got sacked when a midget cornerback brushed by him and knocked him over early in the first quarter.

Nice performance, Sam Bradford. Pick up some Clearasil and some balls and maybe they'll let you come back next year.

Now it's up to the Orange Bowl to salvage some BCS dignity and give us one competitive game before the championship game Monday. But with the upstart Kansas Jayhawks taking on a veteran and tough-as-nails Virginia Tech team, it looks like BCS blowout #4 could be on the way tonight.

-Fed Ex Orange Bowl
(11-1) vs. Virginia Tech (11-2)
Miami 815PM FOX
Line: Va Tech -3

Most people believe the newbie Jayhawks, who are playing in their first post-New Years Day bowl game since the Summer of Love, are going to get rolled by the defensively stout Hokies, who allow just 15 PPG and have played in big bowls for the better part of the last decade.

Throw in the fact tha Va Tech is playing with extra determination in the memory of the 32 students & faculty members who were killed in the massacre on campus last April, and this one is shaping up to be a one-sided affair.

But that's what everyone thought about the OU/WVU game, too, where another defensive team was supposed to shut out a high-powered offensive club, and look what happened there.

The key to the Hokies is their perennially solid D and outstanding special teams play, while Kansas' miraculous rise from the dregs of the NCAA was built upon a flashy offense and smart decision making, i.e few turnovers and penalties. Most believe the experienced Hokies will trash the flash-in-the-pan 'Hawks, but the more I think about it, the more I'm saying hold on a minute there.

On the heels of that Fiesta Bowl shocker, I've decided I'm gonna go against the grain here and choose the Jayhawks to pull the upset. Sure they got dissected by Mizzou in the last big game they played, on November 24th in a battle of top 5 teams. And maybe they haven't been to the big dance as many times as Va Tech, and they don't have a coach as well-respected as Frank Beamer.

But what they do have is a potent offense, which averaged 44 PPG, led by QB Todd Reesing (3259 yards, 32 TDs, 6 INTs), and a decent defense as well (16PPG allowed, albeit against inferior competition.) But they do have the Man-genius, coach Mark Mangino, plus they have that "we're not supposed to be here, so what do we have to lose?" attitude that a team needs to overcome the adversity they will face from the fearless Hokies.

But the main reason for my pick is I just want to go against the grain and hope I can look like a mangenius if the upset does come in. It's easy to back the favorite, right?

After all, what do I have to lose?

MY PICK: Kansas 27, Va Tech 24


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Happy New Year indeed!

A 5-1 record on the first day of 2008 brings me one step closer to .500 for the Bowl season

Yesterday's Bowl results:

-Outback Bowl (UT -1 1/2)
Tennessee 21, Wisconsin 17 MY PICK: Tennessee 31, Wisconsin 24
The Vols hung on at RayJay after questionable late-game decision-making by the Badgers coaches cost them a shot at the win

-Cotton Bowl (MIZZ - 3 1/2)
Missouri 38, Arkansas 7 MY PICK: Mizzou 45, Hogs 38
The Tigers, behind 281 rush yds and 4 TDs from Tony Temple, proved they should have been in a BCS bowl with a thorough dismantling of Darren McFadden and the hapless Hogs

-Gator Bowl (TTU - 6)
Texas Tech 31, Virginia 28 MY PICK: Tech 27, UVA 24
The Cavs somehow blew a 28-14 4th quarter lead when they allowed 17 points in the final 3:30; Tech's Graham Harrell threw for 407 yards on 69 attempts

-Capitol One Bowl (UF -10)
Michigan 41, Florida 35 MY PICK: Florida 34, Michigan 31
Lloyd Carr went out with a bang as the departing Michigan coach out-tricked his Florida counterpart, and the Wolverines held Heisman winner Tim Tebow to a mere 211 toal yards

-Rose Bowl (USC -14)
USC 49, Illinois 17 MY PICK: USC 35, Illinois 20
A close game in the middle of the second quarter turned into a rout when an Illini fumble at the goal line in a 21-10 game led to 28 unanswered points for the Trojans, highlighted by John David Booty's 3 TDs and freshman Joe McKnight's 170 all-purpose yards

-Sugar Bowl (UGA -8)
Georgia 41, Hawaii 17 MY PICK: Georgia 36, Hawaii 34
The Dawgs, like USC before them, laid thier claim to the "best team in the land" title as they absolutely gashed the previously undefeated but obviously untested Rainbow Warriors. The swarming Georgia D sacked Heisman finalist Colt Brennan 8 times and made him look like another system QB on his way to being an footnote in the record books

My Record for the day: 5-1


Now I don't like to brag, and far be it for me to pat myself on the back, but... 'bout some love for my near-perfect day of picking that brought me back from
prognosticating purgatory and put me squarely on the brink of respectability, with a chance to even my record tonight and potentially...wait for it...FINISH THE BOWL SEASON WITH A RECORD ABOVE .500!!!

Ow, my friggin' arm hurts now!

Forgive me for getting a bit carried away, but for anyone who has followed my selections over the past two seasons (and for the select few, for my entire life) know that last season I was so bad that the records have since been destroyed, but this year started out even worse.

As in 1-5, 2-6, 8-13 bad.

Suddenly, just as odd occurrences such as a Dick Clark robotronic puppet with the voice of a chain smoker appearing on New years Rockin Eve and a hockey game being televised on national television on New Years Day were happening, I went and did the unthinkable:

I went 8-4 over the two-day, 12 bowl extravaganza that spanned the holiday, including a spectacular 5-1 showing yesterday, with only the hapless Hawaii Rainbow "Warriors" running what could have been a perfect start to the new year for me.

Mele Kalikimaka my ass, muthafuckers!

What's that you say? A monkey grinding Ron Zook's organ could have gone 5-1 with the games that went on yesterday? I say maybe so, but I don't give a flying fig what the other experts do, as long as I can hold my head high knowing that my meaningless picks on this obscure blog that haven't cost me a cent could have helped some schlub looking for gambling advice almost break even after 11 days and 27 games.

Redemption song, indeed.

So now it's put up or shut up time. Five bowl games left, and I need to go 3-2 to break even. Can it be done? Sure. What will it get me? A years worth of self satisfaction. And you can't put a price tag on that.

Bowl on.

Tonight's Game:

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
(11-2) vs. West Virginia (10-2)
Glendale 8:00 FOX
Line: Oklahoma - 7 1/2

A few weeks ago this one looked like a terrific matchup. Both West Virginia and Oklahoma were on the cusp of being title contenders, needing victories in their final games to lock up a potential Championship Game bid.

Then the world came crashing down on the Mountaineers. First they gagged against lowly Pittsburgh, losing 13-9 at home to the 4-7 Panthers, and then lost coach Rich Rodriguez to Michigan just days later.

Oklahoma didn't seem to have it as bad as they routed then-Number 1 Missouri 38-17 in the Big 12 Championship game on December 1st, a victory that many thought would have vaulted them into the BCS title game against the Buckeyes on Jan 7.

Too bad the BCS powers that be didn't believe it, as not only did the Sooners get snubbed in favor of fellow 2-loss team LSU, but adding insult to insult, are now forced to travel back to the Fiesta in Glendale, the scene of last January's embarrassing but historic loss to upstart Boise State, 43-42.

Talk about getting the shaft.

So which slighted team will be more motivated to pull this one off? The team that ended this season with a humiliating defeat and then saw its coach high-tail it for another school, or the one that thought it should be playing for all the chips, but is instead left holding another stale bag of Tostitos?

Of course the key to stopping the Mountaineers is containing electric runners Pat White and Steve Slaton, a feat that has been accomplished by lesser defenses than OU's (namely USF's, twice.) With White, the run-first QB, being banged up more than an 86 Hyundai lately, and Slaton seemingly having one foot into his NFL career already, the bulk of the WVU offense might be on speedy freshman Noel devine, and don't expect him to carry the load against the swarming Sooners.

That would mean that Oklahoma, led by solid QB Sam Bradford (2800+ yards, 34 TDs), will need to score enough points not only to overcome whatever West Virginia puts up, but at least a touchdown more in order to cover the number. Hmmmm. But for a team in the top 10 in the nation in scoring and defense, that shouldn't be a problem.

My guess is that the Sooners take a page from Mizzou, USC and Georgia and use a lesser bowl game (yes, I'm talking to you, Rose Bowl Committee) to prove that they, not any of the other contenders, are the best team in the land. That means the flashy yet underachieving Mountaineers will have to add yet another disappointment to their season.

Cheer up, Morgantowners. Maybe Rodriguez will pull a Billy Donovan.

MY PICK: Oklahoma 37, WVU 21


Tuesday, January 01, 2008

A .500 day keeps me in the hunt for respectability

I split the six New years Eve games to keep my record out of the realm of embarrassment

Yesterday's Results:
-Bell Helicopters Armed Services Bowl
Cal 42, Air Force 26
-Roady's Humanitarian Bowl
Fresno State 40, Georgia Tech 28
-Brut Sun Bowl
Oregon 56, USF 21
-Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl
Kentucky 35, Florida State 28
-Insight Bowl
Oklahoma State 49, Indiana 33
-Chic-fil-a Bowl
Auburn 23, Clemson 20 (OT)

My Record For the Day: 3-3


A decent day, especially for me, got my record back near .500, and if it weren't for USF taking a Najeh Davenport-sized dump in the Sun Bowl, FSU deciding to play its best game of the year sans half the team, and Clemson missing field goals and then choking down the stretch of the Chic-Fil-a Bowl, it could have been a great day.

Still, when you blow as many predictions as I do on a regular basis, going .500 over six games in one day is like hitting the jackpot.

And with another six games on tap for today, I can almost see the light at the end of tunnel, with a mere 5-1 record getting me back to the coveted break even mark.

So with champagne still clinging to my intestines and the memories of horrid New Years Rockin' Eve performances lingering in my ears, I will quickly rattle off my picks for the six pack of games on tap for the first day of 2008.

-Outback Bowl
(9-4) vs. Wisconsin (9-3)
Tampa 11:00AM ESPN
Line: Tennessee -1 1/2

I could have gone to this game again, as my son and I did last year, but then I realized it was Tennessee, which seems to be here every year, and Wisconsin, which makes it to Tampa about every other (time to mix up the conference affiliations, Outback.)

Tennessee is just too strong offensively for the ground it & pound it Badgers, and with stud Wisconsin RB PJ Hill nursing a leg injury, look for NFL-bound Vols QB Erik Ainge (3157 yds, 29 TDs) and co. to pile up the points against the boring Badgers.

MY PICK: Tennessee 31, Wisconsin 24

-Cotton Bowl
(8-4) vs. Missouri (11-2)
Dallas 11:30 AM FOX
Line: Mizzou - 3 1/2

What should be one of the best bowl games of the season pits two dynamic offensive teams against each other, with each club finishing in the Top 10 in points per game and each one boasting a Heisman Trophy finalist.

Arkansas is led by two-time Heisman runner-up RB Darren McFadden, who found himself in hot water with the NCAA last week for driving around in a pimped out Escalade that was reportedly bought for him by agent Mike Conley, Sr. Although he was cleared to play in this game, expect him to make like Reggie Bush and bolt campus for the NFL before the real story comes out, and the fallout could affect the team in this game.

Mizzou, meanwhile, had a terrific season, catapulting from unranked to start the season all the way to Number 1 before getting croaked by Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship game, squashing its National Championship dreams.

Still, anchored by QB Chase Daniel (4170 yds, 33 TDs), who finished 4th in the Heisman voting, and a group of speedy & talented offensive weapons, Mizzou should prove too powerful for the Hogs, who despite knocking off then-Number 1 LSU in the last game of the season, can become too reliant on the play of McFadden to bail them out of trouble.

MY PICK: Mizzou 45, Arkansas 38

-Gator Bowl
Texas Tech
(8-4) vs. Virginia (9-3)
Jacksonville 1:00PM CBS
Line: Tech -6

Another one of those offensive/defensive battles, as the Red Raiders high-powered offense (6th in PPG, 1st in YPG) will try and outscore the stingy Cavs defense, led by potential Number 1 NFL draft pick, DE Chris "son of Howie" Long.

Not much interest in this game, so I'm gonna go out on a limb and say the Red raiders will probably find a way to win this one, but not by as many points as the bookies think. Son of Howie will find a way to help his D keep it close.

MY PICK: Texas Tech 27, Virginia 24

-Gator Bowl
(8-4) vs. Florida (9-3)
Orlando 1:00PM ABC
Line: Florida -11

Two prestigious clubs coming off down years meet in a game that should be a lot more exciting than the oddsmakers think.

The Wolverines will be playing their last game under crotchety coach Llloyd Carr, and the seniors, led by QB Chad Henne and RB Mike Hart, will try and end his & their regime with a big win in a big game, something they have been unable to do (either vs. Ohio State or in a bowl game) over the last four years.

Florida, coming off its National Championship, couldn't put it together this season despite being led by Heisman-winning QB Tim Tebow, who became the first player to ever rush and pass for at least 20 touchdowns in a season.

Still, Tebow's outstanding numbers (3970 combined YDS, 51 combined TDs) and the electrifying play of WR/RB/KR Percy Harvin weren't enough to prevent the Gators from losing three games this year, and even though Michigan suffered those two embarrassing losses to open the season to App St. and Oregon, they actually played about as well as the underachieving Gators did the rest of the way.

Tebow and Co should find a way to win this game, but I don't believe it will be the blowout everyone, including all my Gator-loving buddies, are predicting. In fact, with Carr looking to go out with a win, I wouldn't be surprised if the Wolverines found a way to pull this one out for the departing "legend".

MY PICK: Florida 34, Michigan 31

-Rose Bowl
Illinois (9-3) vs. USC (10-2)
Pasadena 4:30 ABC
Line: USC -14

This game looks to be the biggest mismatch of the season, with the "just happy to be here" Illini playing the high-octane, hometown hero Trojans. The question is, can Illinois coach Ron Zook get his club as fired up to beat the Trojans in their backyard as he did to get his club to beat the #1 Buckeyes in theirs on November 10th?

USC is another team feeling the sting of disappointment, when a potential Championship season went up in flames after a humiliating loss to 22-point underdog Stanford back on October 6th. Then, after climbing back up the charts and playing terrific football, the Trojans gagged against the Ducks in Eugene in late October to douse their title hopes.

The question is, will USC, behind erratic QB John David Booty (2106 yds, 20TDs) and without a proven offensive star like in years past, be able to recover from those losses and play with enough pride to win a game that used to be the crown jewel of any Pac-10 team's season? Or will the fired-up Illini pull off another longshot upset in its first trip to the Grandaddy of 'em All since 1984?

The bigger question is not who'll win, but will USC cover.

MY PICK: USC 35, Illinois 20

-Sugar Bowl
(10-2) vs. Hawaii (12-0)
New Orleans 8:00PM FOX
Line: UGA -8

Just rename this one the Snub Bowl, because both teams feel as if they should be playing for all the marbles here next Monday in the Championship Game instead of spending New Years in New Orleans.

Georgia was considered by many to be playing the best ball in the country when they ended the season, winning its last 6 games after a loss to Tennessee in early October, only to get leapfrogged at the end of the year by LSU for a chance to play Ohio State in the title game.

Hawaii was the only undefeated team in D1, yet they barely squeaked into a BCS game when the voters finally (and reluctantly) placed them in the Top 12 rankings in the final poll of the regular season.

Both teams have a lot to prove, with a solid win proving that the club should have been in the title game, but can the Rainbow Warriors do to the the rugged, SEC-tested Dawgs what they have done to lesser competition from the WAC, namely ring up the most impressive offensive numbers in all the (main)land?

Should be an intriguing game, and possibly the best bowl game this side of the one being played in the same building next Monday.

MY PICK: Georgia 36, Hawaii 34


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!