Beermanís Picks
By Ben Shapiro, 11/20/02

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.  Television information comes from here.  All picks are for entertainment purposes only.

Last Week: ...was barely there. No Hokie game, and I barely watched any football at all. It was kind of weird. I didn't even know Texas lost until Sunday!

This Week: Hey now, back in action! Wednesday is a funny night for football, but it's just that much sooner that I get to watch my Hokies. Meanwhile, things are winding down in the Big Ten, and a whole lot will be decided out West.

Not in Action: #4 Iowa, #6 Georgia, #11 Texas, #13 Florida, #17 Colorado


Wednesday, November 20
7:00 pm EST ESPN
  West Virginia 7-3 (Away: 3-1)
-7.5 Virginia Tech (#12) 8-2 (Home: 5-1)

Wednesday.  Hmm ... tastes like Chicken.

So now we can't stop the Mountaineers? Is that what I'm supposed to believe? Hardly. Look, I'm happy that West Virginia is playing better than most expected. It's great. Good for them, and good for the Big East. But I'm not prepared to mail in the rest of the season because of a handful of bad quarters of football. Hell no! There's only one team left on our schedule that could be better on paper, and that's Miami. West Virginia doesn't have it, and France is flat out dreaming.

We've got KJ back, and Vegas also. It'd be nice to have Hall, but I don't think WVU really has the passing game to exploit that. Nope, it comes down to our rush defense, and what we can do to stop Cobourne. It's really that simple. Suggs is going to have a field day because all of a sudden the Eers have to start paying attention to our vertical passing game. Man, I loved writing that!

For the record I like night games. I do. Even Thursday nights, though I do prefer Saturdays for obvious reasons. I don't know about Wednesday night football though. We'll see. Wish I could make it...

Rock on proud Hokies, we've got three more to go.

Thursday, November 21
7:30 pm EST ESPN
  Pittsburgh (#23) 8-2 (Away: 3-1)
-20.5 Miami (#1) 9-0 (Home: 4-0)

It's a Big East Extravaganza!

You know with Pitt, Syracuse, and we Hokies still to go, the Big East title is hardly a foregone conclusion for Miami. Florida State and Tennessee are both flawed this year. Pittsburgh is just as good, or better, than anyone the Canes have faced so far.

Of course this is a national stage, and Miami's fighting for some media respect. I expect them to turn on the jets. Pitt will stay close for a while, but in the end I don't think anything is going to stand between Miami and Tempe.

Pick: UPitt
Saturday, November 23
12:00 pm EST ABC
  Michigan (#9) 9-2 (Away: 3-1)
-4 Ohio State (#2) 12-0 (Home: 7-0)

If this game were in Michigan I'd call it Wolverines all the way. No question. But it isn't, now is it? But boy the Bucks have been living some kind of a charmed life this season. Yeah I know, an ugly win is still a win. Yeah, I know Alabama did it the same way in 1992 ... against Miami to boot. Still, I just don't get that champion vibe from Ohio State. They're cutting it too close and I think it bites them today.

I like Michigan here, home or not. It's going to totally screw up the BCS, and that's A-OK with this Hokie. Hail to the Victors!

Pick: Michigan
6:30 pm EST Fox Sports Net
  Washington 6-5 (Away: 1-3)
-8 Washington State (#3) 9-1 (Home: 6-0)
The Apple Cup. Now what's the statistic? Washington State has lost something like 7 of the past 8 in this series. Of course this year Wazzou is by far the better team. And they're at home. And they've still got MNC dreams.
Pick: Wassou
7:00 pm EST TBS
  Texas Tech (#23) 8-4 (Away: 3-3)
-13 Oklahoma (#5) 9-1 (Home: 6-0)
Interesting.  Do we have a late season contender to the throne?  If Texas Tech pulls this one off, they will win the Big Twelve South.  But like fellow also-ran Iowa State, Texas Tech finds themselves victims of the scheduling computer.  Road games against five (then) top-25 ranked opponents is just brutal.

Still, a shot at a conference title is some serious motivation.  And Red Raider QB Kliff Kingsbury stands to make a lot of money if he can carve up Okie's defense like he did to Texas last week.

Not to discount Oklahoma.  They're still one of the nation's top teams, and are within shouting distance of a MNC chance.  They need help, but are not out of it, not by a long shot.  When all is said and done, I think Oklahoma takes this one, but they're going to get a fight.

Pick: TT
3:30 pm EST ABC
-5.5 Southern California (#7) 8-2 (Away: 3-2)
  UCLA (#24) 7-3 (Home: 2-2)

And holding pace right behind Washington State is USC. They're good. Very good. In fact, they're going to win today, and beat Notre Dame next week. Shortly thereafter they're going to get the shaft for a BCS at-large bid at Notre Dame's expense. So what if they play in one of the biggest media markets in the entire country?

As for UCLA. I don't know a thing about them. They've been cruising along and evidently had a pretty decent season. Hey, good for them. But with USC this week and Washington State still to come, it's Silicon Valley Bowl all the way.

Pick: USC
1:00 pm EST NBC
  Rutgers 1-9 (Away: 0-4)
-28.5 Notre Dame (#8) 9-1 (Home: 4-1)
Now this will be a true test of Tyrone Willingham's good sportsmanship.  I'm not sure that it is possible to maintain respect from the pollsters without blowing out Rutgers.  That's right, I think the Scarlet Knights cover against a top-10 team this week.
Pick: Rutgers
3:30 pm EST ABC
-15 Kansas State (#10) 9-2 (Away: 2-1)
  Missouri 5-6 (Home: 3-2)
I must be missing something.  Kansas State doesn't beat mediocre teams by only two touchdowns.  Heck, they RUTSed Nebraska for 21 fourth quarter points!

Money in the bank.

Pick: KSU
3:30 pm EST ABC
-5.5 Florida State (#14) 9-3 (Away: 5-2)
  N.C. State 9-3 (Home: 5-1)
Florida State will win the ACC outright if they can knock off the sliding Wolfpack this Saturday.  In fact, unless the ACC has some weird tiebreaker that I'm not aware of, they've got it already. I suppose it's possible that a loss here and next week to Florida could knock them out of technical BCS consideration, but I don't think so.

Not bad for a down year.

Pick: FSU
x:xx pm EST tv
  New Mexico 6-5 (Away:2-4)
-16 Colorado State (#15) 9-2 (Home: 3-0)

So here's the deal. Colorado State is the runaway dominant team in the Mountain West, right? Well not so much. New Mexico is 4-1 in conference, and if they win here the Lobos will likely take the MWC crown.

Yeah, but Colorado State is the runaway dominant team in the MWC. All they'll do today is prove it.

Pick: CSU
3:30 pm EST ABC
  Michigan State 4-7 (Away: 0-0)
-21 Penn State (#16) 8-3 (Home: 6-1)
If Disney makes films about inspirational seasons, then surely the horror that has been Michigan State's 2002 campaign has been licensed to Troma Studios (note: link is for 18 and older).
Pick: Penn State
5:30 pm EST ESPN2
-9.5 Maryland (#18) 9-2 (Away: 4-0)
  France 7-4 (Home: 5-1)

Maryland is a team on a mission. They're about to lay the wood to the Frenchies, and it ain't gonna be pretty.

You've got to hand it to them though. Picked seventh in the preseason, France has managed no worse than a tie for third in the ACC, second if they should *lol* win here. I see that more as a negative reflection on the ACC however, as 7-6 should never place as high as third.

Pick: Maryland
8:30 pm EST ESPN2
  Mississippi 5-5 (Away: 0-4)
-10 LSU (#20) 7-3 (Home: 5-1)

The best thing about this game is that one of these teams gets to halt their slide. Mississippi has lost four straight since making a brief appearance in the top-25, and LSU has stumbled three straight weeks (Hail Marys notwithstanding) since being decimated by injuries and defections.

So at least someone will win.

Pick: Ole Miss
3:00 pm EST KBCI
-19 Boise State (#21) 10-1 (Away: 4-1)
  Nevada 5-6 (Home: 4-1)
You can not stop The Broncos.  You can only hope to contain them!
Pick: Nevada
x:xx pm EST tv
-8 TCU (#22) 8-1 (Away: 3-1)
  East Carolina 3-6 (Home: 2-1)
Yeah, TCU by as much or as little as they want. Frankly, I have no idea what has happened to East Carolina, but it sure isn't pretty.
Pick: TCU
11:00 pm EST tv
  Cincinnati 5-5 (Away: 2-2)
-4.5 Hawaii (#25) 8-2 (Home: 5-0)
Two WAC teams in the top-25?  I'm as shocked as you are.

Now Hawaii's a peculiar case.  Being bowl eligible, they have already accepted a berth in the inspiringly named Hawaii Bowl where they will get to face a CUSA also ran.  So it's bowl money, which is nice, but there's no nifty holiday trip.  Also there's no groovy national opponent.  On the other hand, Alabama comes calling next week with what passes as their bowl game.  So that's something too.

As owners of perhaps the most underrated home field advantage in major college football (jet lag and hula dancers, how do you concentrate through that?) Hawaii should take this without too much trouble.

Pick: Hawaii
12:00 pm EST  
-9.5 Boston College 6-4 (Away: 1-3)
  Temple 4-7 (Home: 2-4)

Hey, well BC finally won a Big East game last week. Pulls them out of that last place tie with Rutgers, and only one game back of Temple!


Pick: BC

Last Week:
14-7 (YTD: 134-125-4)

TV Game of the Week: Michigan @ Ohio State

Upset Special: Michigan over Ohio State (YTD: 6-8)


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