In the second part of my ongoing series "Sean phones it in on the Hair Balls blog during his vacation week," here are six picks I really like for the upcoming week of huge (and not so huge) bowl games.
Have I mentioned that I'm 56-38-1 this year? That's SIXTY percent, bitches! I am so slightly above average, it's not even funny!
Let's do this:
Northwestern +10 over Texas A&M (December 31, Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas So let's tally up the Aggie damage. First, they fired a head coach (Mike Sherman, and deservedly so) that the players really liked. Second, the interim head coach (Tim DeRuyter) took the head coaching job at Fresno State, so he's doing two jobs right now (One guess as to which one is the priority.). Third, you have a senior-laden team who was expecting to be playing in a BCS bowl game before the season started. So why exactly are the Aggies favored by double digits again? The game is in Texas but the atmosphere will hardly be Kyle Field South. Honestly, the fact it's "SMAHT KIDS" (pronounced like Ben Affleck in Good Will Hunting) on the other side has me heavily considering Northwestern outright in this game. Because the SMAHT KIDS always bring the grit.
Vanderbilt -1 1/2 over Cincinnati (December 31, Liberty Bowl) Speaking of SMAHT KIDS, got to love having Vandy as an actual factor in the wagering community this season. Thank you, James Franklin! Vandy's gambling relevance -- perhaps your greatest accomplishment you don't really know about!
UCLA/Illinois OVER 47 (December 31, Fight Hunger Bowl) Thank God that it's not up to either of these teams to actually "fight hunger" or else we would all starve to death. Two teams that underachieved this season, enough to get their head coaches fired. This has all the earmarkings of a "neither team gives a shit" game which usually translates into shoddy tackling, turnovers (short fields!), and lots of points.
Houston -6 1/2 over Penn State (January 2, Ticketcity.com Bowl) I don't know if the hire of Tony Levine as permanent head coach of the Coogs was the right move long-term (it may be, it may not), but in terms of winning this bowl game it was the perfect move. Let's face it, Houston is an experienced team. They know how to run their stuff. The big question was going to be how focused the team would be with the cloud of a new coach hanging overhead. Now the young guys will want to prove themselves, the seniors will want to start the new era with a win. And with as many people as will be watching this game (It'll be easily one of the ten most-watched bowls this season, maybe not entirely for the right reasons.), it's crucial that U of H show well. I think they will. (NOTE: Also, if one team has a quarterback whose teammates hate him so much that they punch him out, you've got to fade that team.)
Oklahoma State -3 1/2 over Stanford (January 2, Fiesta Bowl) Stanford struggled against two teams this year that have Okie State-type athletes -- USC (an improbable cover on overtime) and Oregon (a 23-point blowout). I like Oklahoma State to try to make a statement as to why they should have been in the title game.
Clemson -3 over West Virginia (January 4, Orange Bowl) Clemson should win this game fairly handily, but don't take my word for it. Listen to Clemson Tom!
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Last week: 4-2 Season record: 54-36
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. weekdays, and watch the simulcast on Comcast 129 from 6 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.