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

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