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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Picking the Winners: Bowl Season (Part 2)

If you missed Part 1 of the bowl picks, you can find it here. But don't worry, you didn't miss much.

On to the next batch of "winners"...


Little Caesars Bowl (Detroit, Mich.): Marshall (6-6) vs. Ohio (9-4)
Spread: Ohio (-2.5)

Dan: Turd bowl alert! Turd bowl alert! Ranking the worst teams to make the bowls this year Marshall slides in at No. 4 on the list behind Wyoming, Idaho and Bowling Green. Virginia Tech faced them this year and destroyed them. And this was when VT was still struggling to score offensively.

This game they face the Bobcats. We have a friend who works for the Charlotte Bobcats. This same friend also used to work for a WNBA team. Let me tell you, when you have a friend who works for a WNBA team the jokes are virtually limitless. And it never gets old. I’d go into them all now but they might be a little crude for this column. Do not worry though . . . it is fun. Unfortunately he no longer works for a WNBA team but we still make fun of him. Actually with the way the Bobcats play they could probably be considered a WNBA team.

As for this game I’ll take the points… Marshall 24, Ohio 20.

Dave: OK, I want some credit from all of you. I went winless in my early bowl predictions. Do you know how hard that is? People who have been fading my picks this season probably enjoyed a very joyous Christmas.

"Honey, where'd all this extra Christmas money come from?"
"Oh, I just bet the opposite of Hale all football season. Do you like your new Lexus?"

Adding insult to injury? My initial foray into the Shreveport casino scene resulted in me dropping $50 in six hands on a $10 blackjack table as the dealer simply mowed down the players like Terrence Cody at a all-night buffet. It was brutal and bloody. Good times.

I even just stopped to watch a few hands of blackjack at another table as I tried to regain some semblance of stability and the dealer hit 21 on four straight deals. The people at the table quickly started giving me dirty looks. I was the cooler, to be sure.

Of course, of all my absurd bets, by far the best was my pick of Nevada giving two touchdowns to SMU. I only lost that one by 49 points. In fact, even better than being 0-6 in my picks… I'm 0-6 outright. Forget the spreads. I'm too stupid to even pick winners.

So with that in mind, I'm warning you all… bet the opposite of my picks the rest of the way, then send me a check for 10 percent of your winnings, and we'll all have a very happy start to 2010.

Oh, and our first loser on the board… Ohio 20, Marshall 10.

And by the way, I really feel like the winner of the Little Caesars Bowl should have to play the winner of the Bowl for pizza supremacy.

(Watch this game! Or what? Or else Pizza is going to send out for you!)

Meineke Car Care Bowl (Charlotte, N.C.): North Carolina (8-4) vs. Pittsburgh (9-3)
Spread: Pittsburgh (-3)

Dan: So let me get this straight: Pittsburgh loses a heart breaking game to Cincy at home to end the season and now gets relegated to a bowl in North Carolina and is giving three points to a team that has a virtual home game? Yeah that makes sense. Last time Pittsburgh traveled to North Carolina they lost to a horrible NC State team. Pittsburgh played every single tough game this season at home. When they did go on the road they lost both (to NC State and West Virginia). I expect more of the same this game. Road wins at Rutgers and at Syracuse don’t exactly get me juiced… North Carolina 24, Pittsburgh 21.

Dave: OK, since we're obviously not taking this too seriously, I feel like this is as good a time as any to address "Jersey Shore."

First off, I've spent a few summers at the Jersey Shore. In fact, I've spent a few of them there with Dan. Ah, the stories I could tell. Like the time Dan woke up at a girl's house and yelled at her that she had to leave before he realized that he wasn't in his own bed. But I digress.

The point is, as absurd as "Jersey Shore" the show might seem, and as over the top as the central characters might be, it really isn't that far off from reality. In fact, it might be the most realistic reality show I've seen in a while. In my summers there, I can assure you that the guys -- some of whom were friends of mine and very reasonable people from September through May -- cared only about a.) getting drunk, b.) meeting girls and c.) getting pizza after last call. And the girls… well, let's just say it takes a lot to hurt New Jersey's reputation, but that's what happened.

Anyway, I watched back-to-back episodes of "Jersey Shore" Christmas night before heading out for dinner and a stroll around the casinos in Shreveport, and a strange issue suddenly dawned on me. It's a natural instinct that, when you're in an environment for a while, you become conditioned to it. I don't want it to seem like I spend much time in gentlemen's clubs (which, by the way, is an hilarious moniker for those establishments when you think about it) but I've attended my share of bachelor parties over the years. And after you spend a few hours in a place like that, then you go to a normal bar, there's part of you that keeps expecting everyone you talk to to take off their tops at some point. You just lose some perspective.

That's sort of how I felt after watching an hour straight of "Jersey Shore" then going out to a bar. I couldn't watch a group of people do shots without assuming a girl was about to get punched. And then I got to thinking… if there was ever a television show that was the intellectual and moral equivalent of going to a strip club, I think it's "Jersey Shore." That's what makes it both so intriguing and so utterly repugnant at the same time.

And yes, I wish I was famous enough that the previous sentence could be used in a commercial as an official review of the show… North Carolina 23, Pittsburgh 20.

Emerald Bowl (San Francisco, Calif.): Boston College (8-4) vs. Southern California (8-4)
Spread: USC (-9)

Dan: I look at Southern Cal’s performance this year, and I hope that this is what happens to all teams when they lose a ton of talent, specifically at the QB spot. This gives me hope that Florida and Texas will have down years next year. USC was just not the same team this year. Their offense was just not that good, and their defense was constantly exposed. I am hoping for more of the same next year when the Gators and Horns lose their top QBs.

In this game, I really do not know what to do. I think BC is a huge fraud at 8-4 this year. Looking at their record they really did not beat anyone and lost to all the good teams they faced (Clemson, VT, UNC and Notre Dame). The Central Michigan win I guess is good. Other than that, they beat FSU. As for USC they haven’t had a nice win in months. I will reluctantly take the points here… Southern Cal 24, Boston College 17.

Dave: Yes, Georgia Tech only played in this game once, but it will forever remind me of the Yellow Jackets during the Chan Gailey era. Team flies cross country, plays a mediocre lower-tier opponent and gets thumped because, quite frankly, they just don't care any more. If Reggie Ball's career could be summed up in a bowl game, I think this would be it.

Anyway, seems to me that USC is in a similar situation this year. Over-rated quarterback, unmet expectations, dismal finish to the year, disappointment about their bowl destination, opponent that has no business beating them… it just has all the makings of a Chan Gailey special.

Of course, unlike Tech, USC actually has a good coach and rather than flying cross country, they can all pile into Joe McKnight's Land Rover for the short trip up The 5 to San Fran. So while I think the Men of Troy can still pull out the victory, there's no chance they get the cover… USC 17, Boston College 13.


Music City Bowl (Nashville, Tenn.): Kentucky (7-5) vs. Clemson (8-5)
Spread: Clemson (-7)

Dan: Job well done Dabo! You guided your team to the Music City Bowl this year and had five losses. That is a great, great job! This is why you gave him all that money, right Clemson fans? Well what happens next year when CJ Spiller is not around to bail you out in those games? I will tell you. You will lose to Miami and you will lose to FSU. You will be lucky to be a .500 team. Have fun with that. As for this game I do not see how Clemson gets up for it. They might win but they are not covering… Clemson 24, Kentucky 18.

Dave: This feels like it's a game I should care about, but I just don't. Sure, Clemson played in the ACC championship game, but that's like saying you hit on the drunkest girl in the bar. For one, you still didn't bring her home. And two, even if you did, is that really something you should be proud of? Anyway, way to lose five games in the JV conference, Clemson. With C.J. Spiller no less.

Then we have Kentucky, which in terms of wins and losses, probably played over its head by a wide margin. And when you factor in all the injuries, Rich Brooks did a nice job. But are they really a seven-win team? They beat Miami (Ohio) which finished 1-11 this year. They beat Louisville, which fired its head coach. They beat Auburn by seven points in a game in which neither team threw for 100 yards. They beat Louisiana-Monroe, a team that played just three BCS-conference opponents this year, losing all three games by a combined score of 133-47. They beat Eastern Kentucky, a school that once employed me as an instructor. They beat Vanderbilt, which went winless in the SEC and 2-10 on the year. And… well, you know the last one. And Georgia gift wrapped that game.

So you have an underachieving good team against an overachieving bad team. I'll go with the talent… Clemson 30, Kentucky 21.


Independence Bowl (Shreveport, La.): Texas A&M (6-6) vs. Georgia (7-5)
Spread: Georgia (-7.5)

Dan: Have fun in Shreveport Dave! Lol! Did you know that the Hokies have been to a bowl every year since the 1993-’94 year? And that streak started with a trip to the Independence Bowl way back when? Funny thing about that is my brother attended that game, and they were actually excited to go to the Independence Bowl. Back in 1993 the No. 21-ranked Hokies beat up on the No. 22-ranked Indiana Hoosiers 45-20 in the Independence Bowl. I can’t believe Indiana was ever ranked. But that was exciting!

I can’t imagine too many Georgia or Texas A&M fans would be too excited about this bowl. What does Shreveport really have to offer? Well I did a quick check and I was shocked to see some really cool casinos on a riverfront. Any city that has a casino gets a good grade in my book. That seems to be about all they have to offer… but at least you can gamble. In the game, I don’t think Georgia should be giving more than a TD to anyone. They’ll win, but not by much… Georgia 31, Texas A&M 27.

Dave: My Christmas gift to Georgia fans… Texas A&M 31, Georgia 30.


Eagle Bank Bowl (Washington D.C.): UCLA (6-6) vs. Temple (9-3)
Spread: UCLA (-4)

Dan: How many people will attend this game? Ten thousand? Five thousand? Five? Are there any Temple fans that care? Does anyone from UCLA care? Does anyone from UCLA even know that their team won six games this year? The only thing that UCLA is known for this year is their idiot coach calling a timeout against USC as the Trojans were trying to run out the clock and USC then throwing a 50-yard bomb for the cover at the end of the game. Thank, Coach. Us USC backers thank you. In any case, neither team is good, and when that happens, you take the points… Temple 17, UCLA 14.

Dave: I loved the fact that UCLA had to wait an extra week before knowing if they'd even be in this game, as Army would have gotten the bid had it beaten Navy. It was like college basketball's play-in game. I feel like UCLA is now the bowl season version of McNeese State. That's never a good sign.

On the other side, you have Temple, which gets my vote as the best story of the 2009 season. As a Philly connoisseur I can tell you -- winning nine games is nothing short of a miracle for this team. How they recruit anyone to come there is beyond me. They play in the Eagles' stadium in front of about eight fans per game. The campus is in a rough part of Philly. And the most memorable sporting event in the school's history involved John Chaney trying to punch Calipari after a basketball game.

Actually, that was pretty great...

Ah, that really ranks right up there with Iverson's "Talking About Practice" press conference and Bake McBride's afro as my all-time favorite things about Philly sports.

Anyway, more than any of the nine wins Temple got on the field this year, it got an even bigger one after the season in that coach Al Golden wasn't hired elsewhere, which puts the Owls in the unique position of being an up-and-coming team that isn't playing with an interim coach right now. Combine that with the mojo of their first bowl appearance since five years before "The Cosby Show" premiered and you've got a recipe for victory… Temple 24, UCLA 17.

Champs Sports Bowl (Orlando, Fla.): Miami (9-3) vs. Wisconsin (9-3)
Spread: Miami (-3)

Dan: This is one of the more intriguing matchups of the bowl season as we see Bucky the Badger traveling to Orlando to face the Canes. The Badgers impressed me this year with their offense as they were able to score a lot of points. Canes as well. Neither team, however, seemed to be able to stop other teams offenses in the second part of the year, and the Badgers struggled big time away from Camp Randall (lost to Ohio State, lost to Northwestern, barely beat Indiana). So now they are getting only three in a virtual home game for the Canes? Makes no sense to me.

As for Miami I must say that is a great city to travel to. The trouble one can get into… a few years back Dave, myself, a guy we refer to as Detective Donut and our little French friend took a trip down there and it definitely took a few years off our lives. Insanity. And trouble, of course. This is what happens when you leave cold weather in December and travel to warm weather. Well what is going to happen to Wisconsin? Insanity… and then they’ll lose… Miami 31, Wisconsin 24.

Dave: Technically, I am barred from even acknowledging the existence of this bowl. Allow me to explain…

Back in the day, I used to have a job in the mall. This led to numerous lifelong bits of animosity aimed at arbitrary foes, but tops among them is Champs Sports. On one fateful day, my buddy Mac and I were stuck working in the morning, but had plans for an afternoon bar-b-q and keg party. Of course, any good keg party also requires Wiffle ball to be played. So we went to the Champs Sports in the mall to purchase some new Wiffle ball equipment. After finding little available, we asked the clerk where they stocked their bats and balls. He proceeded to tell us that it was Champs' store philosophy that Wiffle ball was not a sport.

At that moment, Champs Sports was officially dead to me. I've never so much as set foot inside a Champs Sports since then, and I take the opportunity to badmouth the company at any chance. All I know is, Mike Scott didn't take the time to invent the perfect Wiffle curve ball so some schmuck in the mall could tell me it's not a sport.

So, given my strict moral code against the organization, I'll offer no analysis of this game (not that it matters)… Miami 24, Wisconsin 20.


Humanitarian Bowl (Boise, Idaho): Idaho (7-5) vs. Bowling Green (7-5)
Spread: Pick 'em!

Dan: I take back what I said about Marshall. These teams REALLY stink. Who the heck wants to tune in to watch this game other than to see the blue field? Well actually, I take that back. The blue field is really cool. I wish that VT would install turf on their field and have it be bright orange. Now that would be very cool. Anyway this seems like a virtual home game for Idaho so I’ll take the Vandals here… Idaho 31, Bowling Green 17.

Dave: The fact that there is a bowl game played in Idaho ranks right up there with some of the all-time most sublimely absurd things in sports. My rough list of those things includes: A bowl game in Idaho, Andy Reid's clock management, Chuck Amato's boobs, Cleveland Browns fans, anything Tim McCarver has ever said on air, Baby Mangino, Ed Wade's continued employment, the fact that anyone is surprised that Brett Favre is a jerk, Skip Bayless, the NFL's commercial-kickoff-commercial TV coverage, the football scenes from "Friday Night Lights," any Mike Tyson press conference (NSFW!!!), Mike Patrick talking about Britney Spears, "The Magic Hour," Jonathan Crompton's mustache and Mark Madsen dancing . There's lots more to the list, I'm sure, but that's a rough account off the top of my head.

(Side note: Until last week, I would have included Chad Johnson changing his last name to "Ochocinco" in that list, but after hearing TV anchors use sentences like, "The news of Chris Henry's death hit Ochocinco particularly hard..." the whole name change thing just seemed kind of silly. It just can't be used in any serious context. Of course, I do look forward to one day hearing, "The floor recognizes Congressman Ochocinco from the great state of Ohio...")

Anyway, like you Dan, I'll be watching for the smurf turf alone. If you drink enough gin earlier in the day, you can actually start hallucinating from watching the turf after a while… Bowling Green 45, Idaho 44.

Holiday Bowl (San Diego, Calif.): Nebraska (9-4) vs. Arizona (8-4)
Spread: Arizona (-1.5)

Dan: Poor Nebraska. If they had ANY offense this year they would have won the Big 12 and most likely would have been 12-1 on the season (only loss to Texas Tech). Unfortunately for them they do not have offense. Watching the Big 12 title game was one of the most painful things I have ever had to do. If given the option of doing shots of 151 over and over again or watching the Big 12 title game I think I’d take the 151. As painful as the shots are at least I know what I am getting there… you know the drill, 151 shots = passed out in yard with no recollection of previous night's events. I will take blacking out over having to remember the black shirts offense any day. As for this one I think Arizona has too much offense… Arizona 24, Nebraska 19.

Dave: This is annually one of my favorite bowl games. First off, I love San Diego. I've downed many a warm beer in the parking lot of Qualcomm Stadium over the years, and if I were a player, this would easily rate as one of my top five desired bowl destinations. Secondly, in six of the nine games this decade, at least 60 total points have been scored -- including 159 total in the past two seasons. It's always a shootout.

Now we have Ndamukong Suh showcasing his skills for a Nebraska team that can't seem to score, which might indicate a low-scoring affair is in store. On the other hand, Arizona has a pesky offense and has allowed just 11 sacks all season. It'll be another intriguing matchup, even if it's not a barnburner… Arizona 24, Nebraska 20.

Alright, that gets you through to New Year's Eve. Stay tuned for Part III…

Early bowls: Dan 3-3, Dave 0-6.
Regular season: Dan 59-70-3, Dave 57-72-3.
Overall records: Dan 62-73-3 (.460), Dave 57-78-3 (.424)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How the HECK have you gone 0-6 in bowls so far? That's outstanding.