Beermanís Picks
by Ben Shapiro, 12/06/02

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: And there was much rejoicing. Yay! Yay!

This Week: We ain't done yet.  Nope.  One more big bang left this year.  Let's go to work.

Not in Action: Most everyone.

Saturday, December 7
1:00 pm EST ABC
  Virginia Tech (#14) 9-3 (Away: 3-1)
-18 Miami (FL) (#1) 11-0 (Home: 5-0)
It's "go" time ladies and gentlemen.  Time to strap them on and run them down.  I don't care two Hoos for any nonsense about a Big East team winning the national championship.  And the last thing on my mind is what bowl game we end up in.  There are scenarios where Miami can lose and still squeeze into the MNC game at #2.  I'll be more than happy to spend my dinner hour rooting for the Razorbacks.  But the long and the short of it is that I don't care about a Miami title.  Forget it.  We had them last year but couldn't close the deal.  Like the George Halas Chicago teams of old we didn't lose, we just ran out of time.

Bill Curry has come up with the original idea that we can't win unless we block a few kicks.  Kirk Herbstreit thinks we'll keep it close.  Lee Corso is a gnomish little boob of a man.  Beerman Inc. has broken off official diplomatic ties with The Sporting News.  (Side note: Matt Hayes doesn't pick against the spread, he picks winners.  With all the horrendous mismatches that we see in college football, what yahoo can't do better than 65.8% picking straight up winners?)  I think Ivan Maisel is the one who's got it pegged.  If we're to have a chance in this game, Randall's got to come up big.

Make no mistake about it, Miami can be beaten.  The defense is susceptible to the run, and even their potent offense has been known to fall asleep at times.  But there is no margin for error.  None at all.  No turnovers, especially deep in either end of the field.  No missed tackles.  No bonehead penalties.  And if we get a lead and sit on it, I might do my best impression of a member of the Miami of Ohio coaching staff at whatever watering hole I end up at.

I maintain that last year against Miami was the only game I ever walked out of happy in defeat.  I still think that, but today?  Today I'm pissed.  No more talk of an undefeated season, no more losing streaks, no more dealing with pissant mama's boys from Charlottesville.  We're back on track, and there's nothing to play for here except pride.  Bring it Canes, you'd best have come ready to play!

6:00 pm EST CBS
SEC Championship Game @ Atlanta, GA
-8 Georgia (#4) 11-1 (Away: 4-0)
  Arkansas (#22) 9-3 (Home: 6-2)
Hey, If Georgia can be the home team against Florida in Jacksonville, then they can be the road team against Arkansas in Atlanta :o)

Go Hogs!

Pick: Arkansas
4:30 pm EST ABC
-2 Washington State (#7) 9-2 (Away: 3-1)
  UCLA 7-4 (Home: 2-3)
Matt Kegel.  That's the name to remember.  Mr. Kegel is Washington State's 2nd quarterback, and on his shoulders may rest the bowl fate of a dozen teams.

First you have the conspiracy factor.  If UCLA wins, then USC wins the Pac Ten.  This means both Notre Dame and Iowa can be at-large selections and the BCS will have magically "worked" yet again.  Sure Kansas State is lobbying hard, but they have neither the ranking of Iowa, nor the cache of Notre Dame.  Nice try.

Of course if Washington State wins, then everything hits the fan.  With all their lower tier bowls set already, the Big Ten can't afford to let Iowa miss out on a BCS berth.  Hotels have been reserved and flights booked, they cant reshuffle all the also-rans to different bowls.  It's BCS or Motor City for Iowa.  But Notre Dame offers a pretty significant financial and ratings windfall for an economically struggling Orange Bowl.  This could result in the Orange Bowl essentially holding an auction, seeing which team is willing to pay for the most tickets up front.  And if they do that, I see no reason why Kansas State wouldn't be allowed to throw in a bid as well.  The upshot is that Iowa will still likely get the at-large bid, but it could cost them and the Big Ten a pretty penny.

Pick: UCLA
8:00 pm EST ABC
Big XII Championship Game @ Houston, TX
-8 Oklahoma (#9) 10-2 (Away: 3-2)
  Colorado (#12) 9-3 (Home: 5-2)
Well Oklahoma won the first go around, and by a good bit too.  And they bounced back from their first loss with a huge performance the following week.  Sure the rematch favors the initial loser, but the Colorado offensive backfield is hurting, and I don't see the Sooners getting upset two weeks in a row.  Nope.  Okie takes this one, and if they ever trail, it will only be because Colorado wins the toss and scores on their first drive.
Pick: Sooners
2:30 pm EST ESPN2
MAC Championship Game @ Huntington, WV
  Toledo 9-3 (Away: 4-2)
-4 Marshall 9-2 (Home: 6-0)
It's not a top-25 matchup, but today's a slow day so we'll hear something about this one also.  The MAC bowls are already set (Marshall to the GMAC and Toledo to the Motor City) but there is the small matter of this here AAA World Series.

Marshall we all know about.  We've seen them up close, and everyone knew they'd be in this game again.  Leftwich is relatively healthy, and he's on the clock at T-minus two games until the NFL.

But what about Toledo?  Bowling Green is the other MAC school that made inroads into the top-25 this year.  And Northern Illinois is the team that took Wisconsin to the wire back when they were still ranked, and then knocked BG form the ranks of the unbeaten.  Toledo?  Well all they did was beat them both.

Who do I like?  Well, so long as the MAC title game is held in Huntington, I'm always going to like the Herd.

Pick: Marshall

Last Week:
7-7 (YTD: 147-143-4)

TV Game of the Week: All of them baybee!

Upset Special: Virginia Tech over Miami.  Bring it! (YTD: 6-10)


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