Beerman's Picks
By Beerman, 9/14/00

Each week this season, I will be posting a column previewing the upcoming weekend's Big East and Top-25 match-ups. All rankings are from the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. Picks are against the spread (that means I'm not picking winners, just the line), and are for entertainment purposes only.

Last Week: The Big East is looking stronger this year. Evidently Miami isn't really "back" yet, but Pittsburgh, Temple, and Rutgers are showing well in their non-conference games, and personally I think that's more important anyway. It's not that the top of the conference has been all that bad, it's that the bottom has been abysmal!

This Week: 3 top-25 matchups, and another quality game in Alabama-USM. The non-conference tune-ups are pretty much over (*poke* Kansas State), and the dominoes are starting to fall. Goodbye Alabama, goodbye Gawgia, goodbye Miami … we hardly knew ye!

Not In Action This Week: #1 Nebraska, #11 Southern Cal, #14 Miami (FL), #18 Oklahoma, #22 Georgia

Top-25 Games:

Saturday (9/16)

#2 FLORIDA STATE (-24) vs. North Carolina

I wouldn't read too much into FSU's squeaker last week. It seems like every year they've got one ACC game that plays out awfully close. That was the 2000 version. UNC is an average team, playing on the road…and the Seminoles have some voters to woo back.

Pick: Florida State

#3 Michigan (-5) @ #17 UCLA

Now we get to find out what Michigan is really made of. UCLA barely held off Fresno State last week, but I have a suspicion that FSU-West might turn out to be a pretty fair team this year. And look at UCLA. They play in historically tough conference, and their first three non-conference games are against top-5 Alabama, top-5 Michigan, and upper-WAC (for what that's worth) Fresno State. If they emerge from all this unscathed they are going to be a force to be reckoned with.

Pick: Michigan

#4 Florida (3) @ #9 TENNESSEE

This may not even play out as the early SEC Title game this year. My money says the SEC champ comes out of the West. Neither team has looked all that impressive this year, and I almost feel sorry for CBS, trying desperately to find something on which to hype this game.

I've got to give the edge to the Vols. They're at home, and they've already had one gut check (Southern Miss). Florida's "gut check" was Ball State, and that's just comical.

Pick: Tennessee

#5 WISCONSIN (-14) vs. Cincinnati

OK, that was Cinci's upset for the year. Back to mediocrity now.

Wisconsin squeezed out another one, and is about halfway through the suspensions. Some are quick to say "overrated!" because of two close victories, but you can't overstate the effect of losing that many players. Sure, it's not all at once, but even so there isn't a single unit of the team playing with a full compliment of starters.

Pick: Badgers

#6 Texas (-13) @ STANFORD

Stanford has now lost three straight to San Jose State. That's the same SJSU team that gave up more than 500 rushing yards to Nebraska in their opener.

Meanwhile, Texas just putters along on their merry way to a berth in the B-12 title game. Sure, there's a QB controversy, but that really won't matter much for a couple of months yet.

Pick: Texas

#7 KANSAS STATE (-45) vs. Ball State

There is no line big enough to contain the whupping KSU can unleash here. If they don't cover, it's by choice.

Pick: Kansas State

#8 VIRGINIA TECH (-34.5) vs. Rutgers

By scoring 59 points last week, Rutgers has pretty much used up their offensive allotment for the season. It's got to feel good, though, to be 2-0 for the first time in seven seasons. Congrats to the Scarlet Knights!

They're not for real. The beat Villanova (I-AA) and Buffalo (should be I-AA!). I fully expect a game very much like last years'.

Pick: Hokies!

#10 Washington (+3.5) @ COLORADO

"They were yelping a bit in the tunnel. They found out who the real dogs were." -- Washington TE Jeramy Stevens

I'd say so!

For anyone keeping track, the Buffs now rank as the #3 team in the great state of Colorado. Why they're favored in this one is beyond me. I'd say it was a typo, but I checked other betting lines. It's legit. Go figure! Yes, at #10 Washington is probably a bit overrated, but that's what happens when you beat a top-5 team. Miami at #5 was also overrated, but that's pretty much a truism of college football. Even so, if the Huskies don't spend too much time basking in the glow of last week's victory, they shouldn't have too much trouble here.

Pick: Washington

#12 Purdue (-6) @ #23 NOTRE DAME

I'll give credit where credit is due. I absolutely do not like Notre Dame, but that was a helluva game on Saturday. They hung tight with Big Red the whole way … but it might have cost them dearly. QB Arnez Battle injured his wrist and is out for the rest of the season. Also, I think playing for OT was a mistook. Nebraska was on the ropes, and giving them the fair-ups of overtime allowed them to regroup. Perhaps Bob Davie and Butch Davis learned game day coaching from the same correspondence school?

I think Purdue wins this one in a walk, and here's why: Despite last week's showing, I think Notre Dame's defense is not really all that good. Notre Dame does have an advantage when playing Nebraska that many other teams do not. The Irish play Army, Navy, and Air Force each and every year. That's 3 games against option teams. That means the Domers are more qualified than most to handle the Huskers' offensive attack.

The Boilermakers don't run anything remotely resembling an option, and I don't think that UNBC has the personnel to keep up. I think this one could get ugly.

Pick: Purdue

#13 ALABAMA (-5.5) vs. Southern Mississippi

Lose at UCLA, beat Vandy … barely…home cooked officiating might have had something to do with that one. What happened to the Tide? So impressive on paper, so mediocre on the field. I'll call it "Washington Redskins Syndrome".

Southern Miss gets to try again. The played Tennessee tough, but just couldn't get the offense going. They've had two weeks to iron out the kinks, and if the gods of college football smile on CUSA at all, they'll play better here.

Pick: USM

#15 OHIO STATE (-23) vs. Miami (OH)

OK, so OSU went on the road and held of Arizona. That's good. Arizona is expected to be lousy this year. That's bad. Miami (OH) is 2-0 this year. That's bad. They've won both of their games on the road, no less. That's worse. One of those two was at Vanderbilt. Sure, Vandy is lousy, but even a bad SEC team is tougher than a lot of teams in the nation. That's not good. MAC teams have already won 3 games against Big Ten opponents this year. That's…well…do you see where I'm going with this? I don't have the cajones to call the upset, but I'm sure as hell calling "cover".

Pick: Miami (OH)

#16 CLEMSON (-31) vs. Wake Forest

Clemson has looked awfully good this year. I mean Mizzou wasn't expected to challenge for the B-12 title or anything, but a lower-tier bowl is a real possibility. The Tigs (South) made the Tigs (Midwest) look positively foolish. Oddly enough, Appalachian State (I-AA) made Weak Forest (I-A ?) look positively foolish just two short weeks ago.

This is what we in the business call a "lock"

Pick: Tigers

#19 ILLINOIS (-14) vs. California

Can you say "darkhorse"? I knew you could…

Pick: Illinois

#20 Michigan State (-11) @ MISSOURI

Boy, did Mizzou get spanked last week! I mean YIKES!

T.J. Duckett pounded out 219 yards on the ground against a pretty good Marshall team last week, and I'd expect more of the same against not as good Missouri. Other than that, I really don't care too much about this game.

Pick: Michigan State

#21 TEXAS CHRISTIAN (-12.5) vs. Northwestern

Mr. Thomlinson fell short of the 250 yards that I'd predicted. Then again, he only played three quarters against an overmatched Nevada team (15 sacks? That's ungodly!).

Northwestern is likely one of the three toughest teams the Horned Frogs face this year. If anyone can find a game on TCU's upcoming schedule that they might actually lose, please let me know.

Pick: TCU

#24 AUBURN (-7) vs. Louisiana State

So now Auburn's got a running game? Interesting. I used to think that Terry Bowden could coach, but couldn't recruit. Now, I think maybe he just had a couple of lucky years. Mississippi's solid, and had an axe to grind with Tommy Tubberville … but still lost at home. War Eagle indeed!

The SEC West could be a very interesting race to watch.

Pick: Auburn

#25 Colorado State (no line) @ ARIZONA STATE

Good. CSU is finally ranked, as well they should be.

Great things are not expected of ASU. Lots of injuries, and their starting QB was booted from the team after a DWI. That being said, they own CSU like no other. The Rams have dropped 19 of 20 in the series, and haven't won since 1977. That's ugly!

Pick: ASU

Other Big East Games:

Saturday (9/16)

WEST VIRGINIA (-9.5) vs. Maryland

Maryland struggled mightily with Temple, and now must face a seemingly resurgent Mountaineer squad. The WVU defense looked particularly impressive in their opener against BC, and I think a one-dimensional Terps team just won't be able to hang with them for long. Once again, these are the games upon which conference strengths are built.

Pick: West Virginia

PITTSBURGH (+6.5) vs. Penn State

Well well well. I guess someone was a little peeved about an 0-2 start! Hanging 67 on LaTech is no great feat. Never has been, probably never will be.

Lately, UPitt's best games have been against their cross-state rival. They look to be decent this year, and I won't be the least bit surprised if they pull this one out this year. Good luck Panthers!

Pick: UPitt

TEMPLE (-9.5) vs. Bowling Green

Temple, favored twice in just one season … and they've not even played Rutgers yet! The sky doesn't appear to be falling, and it's way too warm outside for even Blacksburg to freeze over. What gives? They did play Maryland tight … props to the Owls for that. By golly, they might actually be getting better!

Another scary thought: This line has been rising. That means people are actually betting real money on Temple. For these people, the Philly chapter of Gamblers Anonymous can be reached at (215) 468-1991.

Pick: Temple 

Game of the Week to Watch: Lots of them. If you're a traditionalist, you've got Michigan-UCLA. If you're an SEC fan there's UF-UT. If you're a fan of the underdog, go check out Bama-USM. If you're a Domer, then there's no hope for you, but Purdue should put on a nice show.

Upset Special: Washington over Colorado

Last Week: 12-13

Season to Date: 28-24

Upset Special: 1-2


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