Now for my picks for this weekend’s bowl “games.” I’m not saying these games are lame, but they make Jimmy from South Park look like Darren McFadden. But you can’t get to the good game(s) without making it through the crap ones in college football these days. Man, that’s two melancholy notes in a row this week. On to the picks….
Papajohns.com Bowl (Birmingham, AL)
Southern Mississippi (7-5) at (22) Cincinnati (9-3) (-11)
This is the worst dilemma ever. Southern Miss has a lame-duck coach who no one is happy to see leaving, but he’s coaching the game so his guys might want to send him out in style. I’d actually believe the latter if this were baseball, but football is this weird thing where the guys really need to see a future in order to play hard. Also, Cincinnati is happy to be in a bowl and the future is all bright and happy. Everything’s a positive story for them. Kinda makes me sick.
One of the bowl-gambling maxims that I just invented is to always bet against the lame-duck and interim coaches. It’s a big spread for Cincy, but Southern Miss was down this year and has very little reason to play well in this crap bowl.
Update: Cincinnati 31 Southern Miss 21. Yes, it’s much more frustrating when the crap games just miss covering than when the big games miss. Thanks for nothing, Cincy. 1-2.
New Mexico Bowl (Albuquerque, NM)
Nevada (6-6) at New Mexico (8-4) (-2.5)
Was there ever any doubt that New Mexico would be playing in this bowl game? It’s a freaking home game for them every season, as long as they win six games. It’s not exactly crazy to say that this game may have been invented specifically for them, like the two bowls in Hawai’i.
It’s nice to see Nevada still plugging away and running the pistol offense. They were doing that when I was 13 and Marshal Faulk was still at San Diego State. Same coach too, though he quit for a while and came back.
I don’t even know how to pick this game. Neither team is a factor in its respective non-BCS conference and this game is yet another argument for limiting the number of bowls each December and January. This game is absolutely meaningless whenever it gets played and if it weren’t a home game for New Mexico, no one would watch.
Pick: New Mexico
Update: New Mexico 23 Nevada 0. Nice home win for New Mexico. They must protect this house! 2-2.
Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl (Las Vegas, NV)
(17) BYU (10-2) at UCLA (6-6) (+6)
Once again, the newly invented Bowl-Betting Maxims come into play in this game. UCLA stinks anyway, but they’re playing for an interim coach and it’s hard to believe that the players will give much of a crap. Meanwhile, BYU is chugging along and regaining Juggernaut Status with each win. I have two cousins at UCLA and Booter, our legal counsel, is an alumnus too. And all I have to say to them is, well, at least it’s basketball season. Enjoy Rick Neuheisel.
Pick: BYU. Dum dum dum dum dum
Update: BYU 17 UCLA 16. At least Booter can say his football team acquitted themselves nicely, all things considered. I bet he loved McLeod Bethel-Thompson driving the team down the field for glory. 2-3. I’m back at .500. Crap. Boise better come through for me.
Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl (Honolulu, HI)
(24) Boise State (10-2) at East Carolina (7-5) (+10.5)
You know what sucks about spending a week in Hawai’i getting free stuff, hanging out, and playing football at the end? Nothing. Year in and year out, I’m always a little surprised that bigger teams don’t commit to at least one of the Hawai’i bowls if they don’t make the BCS. Boise State probably could have played a home game at whatever bowl is played in Boise, but they chose Honolulu instead. This is why they’re a good team: they have smart people running the program. If it came down to it, would you rather have your alma mater or favorite team play in the bowl in Idaho in January or not play in one at all? It’s a toughie.
Pick: Boise State