A few random observations before we get to an expanded edition of this week’s football picks:
- The Bears Are Horrible… and the NFC is Even Worse – There was no logical reason for the Bears to have beaten the Packers this past Monday night. They played as if though they were ready to pack it in for the season as opposed to fighting to keep alive in the playoff race. Only the Bears have the ability to make me feel like I just drank some paint even while winning football games. The only saving grace is that the NFC is so horrific (trading the Big 12 South straight up for the NFC West would have made for a much more competitive year) that this mediocre team could still actually host a playoff game if the right things fall into place.
- The Illini Basketball Team Actually Has Some Life… and So Does the Rest of the Big Ten – Hope is a dangerous drug. As I’ve stated in some prior posts, I was more than willing to scrap this current Illinois basketball season as a complete rebuilding project with an aim toward giving Alex Legion ample playing time. After absolutely crushing Missouri in the Braggin’ Rights Game on Tuesday night, though, the Illini seem to be looking to get back to the NCAA Tournament a year ahead of schedule. One of these years, Illinois will beat Mizzou in football and then Mizzou will beat Illinois in basketball, upon which I will cardon myself in the basement with a plethora of perishable goods to prepare for the impending destruction of the world.
- Bulls Are the Ultimate .500 Team – Has there been a team in recent memory that have hung around the .500 mark with such consistency as this year’s Bulls? I’m pretty sure they’ve attempted to get to .500 every single time that I’ve watched one of their games this season. They’re like a baksetball version of an Escher painting.
- For the Love of God, Stop Fellating the Celtics – On the complete opposite side of mediocrity, I know that the ESPN criticism in the blogosophere can often be over the top at times, but how many fucking years in a row do they need to put up a fucking daily game-by-game comparison of a hot NBA team’s record versus the 1996 Bulls (and said hot NBA team flames out by the middle of January at the very latest)? Well, the tizzy around the Celtics’ recent 19-game winning streak has been almost as ridiculous as the inclusion of the 2005 USC Trojans in the infamous “greatest college football team ever” bracket prior to that season’s national championship game (who subsequently lost to Texas). When an NBA team only has 5 losses at the All-Star Break, then we can start talking about whether a team might beat the Bulls’ single-season record. If it’s only a month-and-a-half into the season, though, just simmer down and shut the fuck up. I cannot tell you how much I hate these premature crownings of teams. Let me move on before I throw my laptop across the room…
On that happy holiday note, let’s get to a super-sized edition of the football picks (home teams in CAPS where applicable):
NFL FOOTBALL PARLAY
- PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (-1) over Dallas Cowboys – In relatively quiet fashion, the Iggles have been as consistent as anyone in the NFC since Donovan McNabb learned about ties in the NFL.
- Miami Dolphins (+3) over NEW YORK JETS – I’ll admit that all I want to see if Chad Pennington to come in and stuff the team that turned on him so that they could whore themselves for Brett Favre.
- Chicago Bears (+3) over HOUSTON TEXANS – The bookmakers know that the Bears are horrible, which is how a listless Texans team could be favorites over a club that is still fighting for a legit shot at the playoffs. Yet, I still think that the Bears will pull this out for a restless Chicago fan base. Let’s hope that the Giants play their starters long enough (if at all) to do some damage to the Vikings at the same time.
Frank the Tank’s NFL Football Parlay Record
Last Week: 1-2
Bears Games for the Season: 3-9–1
Overall Season: 19-20-3
NEW YEAR’S DAY NON-BCS BOWL PARLAY
- Outback Bowl: South Carolina Gamecocks (+3.5) over Iowa Hawkeyes – Can I really trust an Iowa team that lost to the Illini to actually cover against a Steve Spurrier-led team in Tampa? NFW.
- Gator Bowl: Nebraska Cornhuskers (+3) over Clemson Tigers – The only team that I trust less than Iowa is Clemson.
- Capital One Bowl: Michigan State Spartans (+7.5) over Georgia Bulldogs – I truly don’t understand this Georgia team, which was bandied around as one of a handful of national championship contenders at the beginning of the year. On paper, UGA should be crushing State, but the Big Ten has a pretty good track record against supposedly superior SEC teams in Orlando. I’ll take the points for Sparty here.
BCS BOWL PICKS
- Rose Bowl: Penn State Nittany Lions (+9) over USC Trojans – Chicago has alternately seen temperatures close to zero degrees, traffic debiliating snowfall once the temperature rises into the teens, and then zero-visibility fog as the temperature creeps above freezing over the past THREE days. This type of setting has made the dark hole of no Pasadena trip to look forward to for the Illini (and me) even more depressing. I always have an extremely hard time watching a major sports event the year after my favorite team has played in it (i.e. 2006 NCAA Final Four, 2006 World Series, last year’s Super Bowl) and this Rose Bowl will be no exception, particularly with the Illini failing to make any type of bowl at all. The only thing that warms my heart here is that the Big Ten has its best shot to knock off those USC bastards yet. Unlike Ohio State earlier this year, the Illini last season, and Michigan two years ago, JoePa’s current squad is anything but a stereotypical plodding Big Ten team – Penn State has as much speed as anyone in the country. The spread is way too large here with the Nitanny Lions at full strength.
- Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech (+2.5) over Cincinnati Bearcats – I’d stay the hell away from this game in the sportsbook in real life. In theory, Cincy should be much more motivated to be here, particularly since Virginia Tech was just in the Orange Bowl last season. I’ll go with the established power here, though, only because the Hokies still have an abundance of talent to the point that I’m fairly surprised that they are more than a 1-point underdog.
- Sugar Bowl: Alabama Crimson Tide (-10) over Utah Utes – As much as I’d love to see Utah draw blood against the team that was #1 for most of the season, ‘Bama is way beyond the draws that the ’04 Utes and ’06 Boise State respectively received with Pitt and Oklahoma in their Fiesta Bowl non-BCS conference upsets.
- Fiesta Bowl: Ohio State Buckeyes (+8.5) over Texas Longhorns – Much like the Rose Bowl spread, there are way too many points to pass up taking here. Plus, am I the only one in America that didn’t find a single thing wrong with how the Big 12 determined its tie-breaker at the division level? Oklahoma, Texas, and Texas Tech were all tied for first place in the Big 12 South division with 1 win and 1 loss in head-to-head competition against each other. It seems to me that having the BCS standings is the next logical tie-breaker (with “logical” being an extremely convulated term in the world of college football) since any conference would want to elevate a team that would have the best chance of getting to the national championship game. While Texas beat Oklahoma head-to-head, the Longhorns didn’t have any more claim to get a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game than Texas Tech, who beat Texas head-to-head. I have no clue why there was such a national uproar over a tie-breaking procedure that seemed to actually make a lot of sense considering how the national championship match-up is determined today. Anyway, the point is that Texas seems to be acting like the ’06 Michigan Wolverines that complained mightily that they didn’t get a re-match with their fiercest rival in Ohio State in the national championship game and then got crushed by a very talented USC team in the Rose Bowl. I have a strong feeling that Texas is going to put up a massive dud here, too, since Ohio State is anything but a pushover when Beanie Wells is on the field.
- BCS National Championship Game: Florida Gators (-3) over Oklahoma Sooners – No one should forget that Florida is going to be playing a virtual home game in Miami in the same manner that LSU had the home field advantage in last year’s national championship game in New Orleans. At the same time, for all of the national bashing of Ohio State for its high profile stumbles over the past two seasons, they have made it to BCS bowls 6 out of the last 7 seasons (including this year) with 3 victories that includes a national championship (the only two losses coming in the last 2 national championship games). There isn’t another program other than USC that would trade places with the Buckeyes with that type of record. Meanwhile, in the last four BCS bowls for Oklahoma, the Sooners were crushed by West Virginia (who was reeling after having just lost its head coach to Michigan) by 20 points in last year’s Fiesta Bowl, was on the wrong end of the classic upset by Boise State in the 2006 Fiesta Bowl, got blown out by USC by 36 points in the 2004 Orange Bowl for the national championship (one of the most horrific performances that I’ve ever seen considering the stakes), and was beaten by LSU in the 2003 Sugar Bowl for the national championship. Jim Tressel looks like Mozart to Bob Stoops’ Salieri when it comes to BCS bowl performances.
Frank the Tank’s College Football Parlay Record
Last Week: 1-2
Illini Games for the Season: 5-6
Overall Season: 19-22-1
Enjoy the games and Happy New Year!
(Image from Washington Post)