Beerman's Picks
by Ben Shapiro, 8/22/02

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. I don't pick winners (that's too easy), I pick against the spread.  All picks are for entertainment purposes only.

Last Week: No significant injuries in a controlled scrimmage against Arkansas State.  A close shave in corn country.  Texas Tech is done in the B-12 if they don't figure out how to stop the run.

This Week: This time...this time it's for real.

Not in Action: #11 Ohio State

Thursday, August 29
7:00  pm EST  
  Richmond (I-AA) 0-0 (Away: 0-0)
(no line) Temple 0-0 (Home: 0-0)
Blah blah blah Temple.  Blah blah blah good I-AA team.  Blah blah blah can 2005 come fast enough?
Pick: Temple
7:45  pm EST


  Syracuse 0-0 (Away: 0-0)
-3 BYU 0-0 (Home: 0-0)
Oh how the mighty have fallen.  BYU isn't even supposed to be all that good this year, and here the Cuse is underdogs.  Not suprising, I suppose, since while they finally found a quarterback, they lost EVERYONE else.  Well "WOOF!", I say it's time that the Big East asserted itself from the starting gun.
Pick: Syracuse
Friday, August 30
8:00 pm EST


-36.5 Oklahoma (#3) 0-0 (Away: 0-0)
  Tulsa 0-0 (Home: 0-0)
Pick: Oklahoma
Saturday, August 31
7:00 pm EST


(no line) Miami (#1) 0-0 (Away: 0-0)
  Florida A&M (I-AA) 0-0 (Home: 0-0)
You see, it could be worse than opening against Arkansas State.
Pick: Miami
8:00 pm EST


  North Texas 0-0 (Away: 0-0)
-35 Texas (#2) 0-0 (Home: 0-0)
"My alma mater's in more trouble than I am.  And that's the bottom line, cause Stone Cold says so!"
Pick: Texas
5:30 pm EST


  Wyoming 0-0 (Away: 0-0)
-31 Tennessee (#4) 0-0 (Home: 0-0)
My kingdom for a quality matchup!
Pick: Tennessee
3:30 pm EST

ABC, GamePlan

  Wahoo State 0-1 (Away: 0-0)
-26 Florida State (#5) 1-0 (Home: 0-0)
"Marcus attempted the bounce-pass into the end zone at the end of the game," Groh said. "It wasn't so much a fumble as he was trying to fake fumble the ball into the end zone thinking that maybe our team could recover it."

An intentional fumble ... On 3rd down with 21 seconds left and no timeouts remaining, why doesn't Hagans leave the huddle with plays called for 3rd and 4th down? What team can't get off two plays in 21 seconds at the end of a game? An Algroh coached team, that's what team. He can recruit until the cows come home, but if he can't handle game day, they ain't never gonna win nuthin.

Florida State is going to run over this team like a German Panzer column...

Beerman's Picks Contest: I want to run this whole France bit right into the ground.  I mean deep.  So send me your tasteless French jokes, with bonus points awarded if you can tie them directly into UVA football.  So if you've got one, send it to BDShap00(at)hotmail(dot)com  If I use your joke in a column, I'll buy you a drink.  If you sign me up for spam, I'll send Freddyburg over to break your thumbs.  :O)

Pick: The Sunshine Reich
1:00 pm EST


  Colorado State 1-0 (Neutral: 0-0)
-7.5 Colorado (#6) @ Denver, Co. 0-0 (Neutral: 0-0)
OK.  Finally!  Here we've got an actual football game.  Most of us saw Colorado State squeak past France last week.  This is what eight months of withdrawal will cause one to do.  Nonetheless we all know that the Rams posses a solid running game, a gritty quarterback who won't quit ... and a defense that would make Chuck Noll weep.

Lo, and I have seen the Hokies-West, and they are the Buffs.  Two 900-yard rushers return.  That's not even counting all-world prep former prep star RB Marcus Houston, who's finally healthy after essentially wasting his first two years in Boulder.  Unless first game jitters get them, they are literally going to steam roll Colorado State.

Pick: Colorado
6:00 pm EST  
  UAB 0-0 (Away: 0-0)
-33 Florida (#7) 0-0 (Home: 0-0)
Just as with Miami last year, a monkey could coach the kind of talent Florida has to 8 or 9 wins.  Win number one comes today.

To quote ESPN: "[UAB's] defensive line last season was the talk of the 2002 NFL draft, which means their defensive line this season will be awfully new."


Pick: Florida
7:00 pm EST


  Troy State 0-0 (Away: 0-0)
-34 Nebraska (#8) 1-0 (Home: 1-0)
Fifth down.  The refs gave Arizona State a fifth down!  Like that was going to help...
Pick: Nebraska
12:00 pm EST

ABC, GamePlan

  Washington (#10) 0-0 (Away: 0-0)
-5.5 Michigan (#9) 0-0 (Home: 0-0)
Whoa Nellie!  It's an early season Keith Jackson special!

Both teams return a solid group of starters from 8-win 2001 teams.  But I like Michigan here.  They look to have the better defense, and Washington has questions about their running game.  UDub's Reggie Williams is a baaaaaaaaaaad man, but I don't think he can beat the Wolverines by himself.

Pick: Michigan
7:45 pm EST


  Clemson 0-0 (Away: 0-0)
-9 Georgia (#12) 0-0 (Home: 0-0)
The fact that The Sporting News has selected this as their game of the week means they truly HAVE sold their souls to the SEC.
Pick: Georgia
3:00 pm EST  
  Nevada 0-0 (Away: 0-0)
-27 Washington State (#13) 0-0 (Home: 0-0)
I'm struggling to understand why Wazzou is so highly rated going in to this season.  They've got a good passing game, but no returning running game, and I'm not sold on their defense.  I guess the pundits look at the complete lack of quality in the rest of the Pac-10, and figure by being as among best of a bad bunch, Washington State deserves a top-15 ranking.
Pick: Nevada
6:00 pm EST

Fox Sports Net

  Mississippi State 0-0 (Away: 0-0)
-9 Oregon (#15) 0-0 (Home: 0-0)
Jackie Sherrill's win totals at Mississippi State over the past five years:

7, 8, 10, 8, 3

That, my friends, is the SEC definition of a coach on the hot seat.

Pick: Oregon
3:30 pm EST

ESPN+, GamePlan

  Eastern Michigan 0-0 (Away: 0-0)
-37 Michigan State (#17) 0-0 (Home: 0-0)
Michigan State is a popular sleeper pick for a Big Ten title.  They went 7-5 a year ago, and return a potent passing attack.  T.J. Duckett is gone to the NFL however, and MSU will need to work past a tendency for injury and inconsistent play.

Eastern Michigan is model of consistency...but not the right kind.

Pick: Michigan State
8:00 pm EST


  Notre Dame 0-0 (Neutral: 0-0)
-2 Maryland (#20) @ East Rutherford, NY. 0-0 (Neutral: 0-0)
Overheard at my fantasy football draft.  "Clean up your beer spill.  That Maryland education has got to be good for something besides rioting."

But when you think about it, aren't these really complementary talents?

Pick: Notre Dame (outright)
7:00 pm EST  
  New Mexico State 0-0 (Away: 0-0)
-23 South Carolina (#21) 0-0 (Home: 0-0)
Year three of the Lou Holtz regime will feature a majority of players he's actually recruited.  And you know what?  They're going to be good this year.  You can tell because Holtz is already complaining.
Pick: South Carolina
7:00 pm EST


  Appalachian State (I-AA) 0-0 (Away: 0-0)
(no line) Marshall (#22) 0-0 (Home: 0-0)
With a cannon for an arm, the build of a linebacker, and the speed of a wide receiver, Byron Leftwich is a man amongst boys in the MAC.  He tears up inferior competition from week to week, making highlight real plays a common occurrence.

In short, he's Steve McNair.  Take that for what it's worth.

Pick: Marshall
12:10 pm EST


  UCF 0-0 (Away: 0-0)
-12.5 Penn State (#23) 0-0 (Home: 0-0)
And here we've got Penn State lurking around the nether regions of the top-25.  This should last all the way until a week two match-up with Nebraska.


UCF's Ryan Schneider is making many in Golden Knight country forget about Daunte Culpepper.  This game has potential...

Pick: UCF
7:00 pm EST  
  East Tennessee State (I-AA) 0-0 (Away: 0-0)
(no line) N.C. State (#24) 0-0 (Home: 0-0)
Playing a I-AA opponent after your season opener?  Come on ... that's not even sporting!
Pick: N.C. State
8:45 pm EST


-4.5 Wisconsin (#25) 1-0 (Away: 0-0)
  UNLV 0-0 (Home: 0-0)
Speaking of UNLV, I saw Bruce Springstein at UNLV's Thomas & Mack Center a week and a half ago.  It didn't sell out.  This kind of blows my mind.
Pick: Wisconsin
12:00 pm EST

ESPN+, GamPlan

  Connecticut 0-0 (Away: 0-0)
-33 Boston College 0-0 (Home: 0-0)
It's a battle royale for New England bragging rights!

Boston College is this year's designated Big East also ran.  They should beat up on most of this conference, but I don't think they have the horses to place higher than 3rd.

Pick: Boston College
6:00 pm EST  
  U.T.-Chattanooga (I-AA) 0-0 (Away: 0-0)
(no line) West Virginia 0-0 (Home: 0-0)
Tennessee fans may have gone crying to ESPN to get that GameDay promo taken off the air, but West Virginia fans were all thinking "#16 on a hospital gown?  What a GREAT idea!"
Pick: West Virginia
7:00 pm EST


  Villanova (I-AA) 0-0 (Away: 0-0)
(no line) Rutgers 0-0 (Home: 0-0)
Winner gets a catered party at the Bada-Bing.

Loser picks up trash on the side of the Garden State Thruway.

Pick: Rutgers
7:00 pm EST  
  Ohio University 0-0 (Away: 0-0)
-21 Pittsburgh 0-0 (Home: 0-0)
And if Boston College can't do, then this might be Pittsburgh's year to step up.  Wow.  I feel like I've been saying that for the last three years.  But this time I mean it!  Right?

The best thing I can say about Ohio U. is that...well...they're no South Florida!

Pick: Pittsburgh
Sunday, September 1
2:30 pm EST


  LSU (#14) 0-0 (Away: 0-0)
-7 Virginia Tech (#16) 1-0 (Home: 1-0)


That's what I expect, and what I require from the legions of Hokie fandom.  Low grade simmering just below the surface insanity.  God I love the smell of [bourbon] in the morning!

  • I want you to warm up your vocal cords by yelling at traffic.
  • I want to feel the electricity in the parking lot before noon.
  • I want to hear the pre-game show blaring from each and every tailgate I walk past.
  • If there is one single Gobble Shaker remaining in any Tech bookstore, heads will roll!
  • I want to see a grim determination in the eyes of every Hokie fan I see.
  • I want the stands to shake like an old school Redskins-Cowboys game at RFK.
  • I want this game to register on seismographs across the New River Valley.
  • I want to feel the wave of sound crashing through my body from the very first time the alumni stands cheer "LETS GO".
  • I never once want to hear the words "down in front".
  • I want 65,000 orange and maroon lunatics screaming until they're hoarse.
  • I want to have my headset volume turned up all the way and still be unable to hear Bill and Mike.
  • I want to smell the fear emanating from the LSU bench.
  • I want stadium security to be too worried about a riot to actually watch the game.
  • I want at least one noise-induced LSU timeout per quarter

    ... and I want to be able to hear a pin drop when Grant Noel is under center.
  • I want Matt Mauck's eyes to be so wide I can see them from the stands.
  • I want snot bubbles.
  • I want blood.
  • I want LSU receivers limping off the field after every crushing hit.
  • I want every other SEC school to be terrified at the thought of coming to play in Blacksburg.
  • I want to see Nick Saban throw his headset to the ground ... twice.
  • I want to hear the collective sudden intake of breath coming from Huntington, WV.
  • I want Miami to be anxious.
  • I want to see LSU fans filing silently out of Lane Stadium with the thousand-yard stare associated with the victims of a natural disaster.
  • I want every future Nick Saban coaching interview to include the question "Just what happened against Virginia Tech?"
  • I want Lee Corso's car to get hit by lightning again.
  • I want to party like a porn star downtown when the clock hits 00:00.
  • I want to hear the raucous cheers in the bar as our highlights are replayed all through the night on SportsCenter.
Pick: Hokies!
6:00 pm EST


  Kentucky 0-0 (Away: 0-0)
-13.5 Louiseville (#18) 0-0 (Home: 0-0)
The best thing about this game is that between the post-game tailgate and dinner, it should be pretty much over by the time I get anywhere near a television.
Pick: Louiseville
Monday, September 2
8:00 pm EST


  Auburn 0-0 (Away: 0-0)
-7 Southern California (#19) 0-0 (Home: 0-0)
Unless they're planning on suiting up Bo Jackson and O.J., I can't imagine why I should be expected to watch this bore.
Pick: Auburn

Last Week:

TV Game of the Week: Michigan @ Washington

Upset Special: Notre Dame over Maryland (1-1)


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