We have Friday games this week, so get your hypothetical bets in early-preferably before the Thanksgiving Day turkey-induced stupor renders your analytical faculties as useless as your will-power against pumpkin, sweet potato, or pecan pie a la mode late Thursday afternoon.. This week's action, including IQ (i.e., Interest Quotient: *=another turkey sandwich Sunday afternoon *****=Reggie Bush vs. Fresno St).
1. Texas -27 @ A&M***
Vince Young calls A&M's fans "drunks." Fortunately for Vince, that's what A&M's players and coaches have performed like this season. Especially at home.
2. Nebraska +13.5 @ Colorado**1/2
Colorado needs a win to secure a spot in the Big 12 Championship game. Second prize is two weeks in Philadelphia. Still, that's what they want, for some reason. At home, against a Nebraska team that is fortunate to be going bowling at all. . .
3. Arkansas +17 @ LSU**
LSU is still kicking itself for blowing a 21 point lead to Tennessee-a team that won't be going bowling-in its first home game of the season. Otherwise, they would have a strong argument for a spot in the National Championship game. Look for them to take hold of this game early and not look back.
4. Arizona +9 @ Arizona St**1/2
Two teams trying to salvage their season. ASU, at 5-5, needs a victory to become bowl eligible. Arizona, at 3-7, needs it to-well, to beat Arizona St. The Sun Devils will survive and advance-but it won't be easy against AU's kamikaze defense.
5. Iowa St-2.5 @ KU***
This game will be affected greatly by two factors outside the two teams' control: the result of the Colorado/Nebraska game and the number of KU fans still interested in football. If NU somehow prevails in Boulder, ISU's motivation factor increases exponentially, as they will suddenly have a shot at being the North's sacrificial lamb in the Big 12 "championship" game. Personally, I'd take the two weeks in Philadelphia. However, it would give ISU their first football "championship" (if that's what you want to call winning the Big 12 North) of any sort since somewhere around the time of the first Thanksgiving.
Not that ISU's motivation factor will mean anything if KU's fans show up in large numbers. KU, while shockingly bad outside Lawrence (even a mere 50 miles away in Arrowhead Stadium), resembles a great team at home with the fans stoking their energy level for 60 minutes.
My guess is that ISU's incentive drops a notch about 7:00p.m. Friday as Colorado walks out of Folsom Prison-errr Field-with the Big 12 North Booby Prize-errr-championship, and KU draws just enough loud, enthusiastic, diehard fans who are not quite ready to declare it basketball season to send its seniors out in a blaze of glory. Not to mention their second bowl game in three years.
6. Okie St +19 @ Oklahoma***
The Bedlam series. Aptly named this year, as the fans of both schools have been losing their sanity following two teams whose performance has ranged from mediocre to atrocious. Both teams seem to be gradually getting better, so you can expect a game ranging from slightly better than mediocre to slightly better than atrocious.
Okie St showed me two things last week. First, that they can fall 35 points behind Baylor. Second, they can score points when the game is no longer in doubt. Since they defeated Tech two weeks ago, and OU lost (kind of-with some help from your friendly Big 12 Texas officials) last week to the same team, 19 points looks like about five too many.
7. Maryland +2.5 @ N.C. ST*
This would make a nice basketball game. Strictly a home field advantage pick.
8. UNC +23 @ Virginia Tech*1/2
UNC would cover this spread at home. Being on the road, against a Va Tech team still hoping for a BCS bid. . .
9. Virginia +18.5 @ Miami**
Miami is out for redemption after failing to make an appearance in last week's game vs. a vastly inferior team of Ramblin' Wrecks. They won't make that mistake again.
10. Tennessee -9.5 @ Kentucky*
Tennessee is 4-6 after losing at home to Vanderbilt. Not that Vandy is a bad team. It's just that they are-well-Vanderbilt. Think Baylor a few hundred miles to the east. A team UK defeated in Nashville. And UK is more used to these playing out the string games.
11. Georgia -3.5 @ Georgia Tech***1/2
We find out how much of GT's win last week was GT and how much of it was Miami sleepwalking. Probably a little of both.
12. UTEP -6.5 @ SMU*
The Bill Snyder Replacement Bowl? At least one of the coaches in the rumor mill for that job will win this game. Roll Tide. (If you don't get this reference, check out Sports Illustrated's archives. The suddenly poorer Sports Illustrated.)
13. Florida St +5 @ Florida****
FSU looked like the real deal early in the season. Turns out they weren't. Regardless, they will reportedly get to finish their season with a win in the Tangerine-errrr, Champs Sports-Bowl vs. Nebraska. At least it's not the San Diego County, State of California, in the United States of America, all financial institutions of any sort Poinsettia Bowl.
14. Fresno St -16 @ Nevada*1/2
Yes, Fresno St should cover this spread handily based on their showing last Saturday night in the Coliseum, where they outplayed Southern Cal in every respect with the exception of Reggie Bush. 500+ yards from a non-QB. Are you kidding me?
The question is: what does Fresno have left? How can they have any emotional intensity after that game? If Pat Hill can get his troops up again, after that game, k-state needs to turn heaven and earth (the latter, something they know a lot about) to entice him to Manhattan. Of course, if he's that good, he's too smart to move to Manhattan. Fresno might not be the garden spot of the U.S.A., but compared to Purpletown. . .
15. Notre Dame -17.5 @ Stanford***
Notre Dame stakes its claim to the Fiesta Bowl. Or is it the Orange Bowl? Or the Sugar/Peach Bowl?
Fort Worth or Bust!
--Mark ____________________________________________________________________ Remember, as always:
1. These picks are for entertainment purposes only. 2. You get what you pay for. 3. There are no refunds.