Beermanís Picks - Bowl Edition (Part 1 of 2)
by Ben Shapiro, 12/16/02

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: Due to circumstances evidently out of my control, there was no column last week.  Well there was, but it never saw the light of day.  Tis a shame too, as it was a nice column. (Editor's note: Hey, send it before 3 o'clock Friday, and we'll post it! Seriously, here it is, one week late.)

This Week: B-B-B-BOWLING!  It's the undercard ladies and gentlemen.  The lesser bowls that mean so much to so few.  But here at Beerman Inc. we love all of our children equally, even if we wish a few of them would pick better friends and find a way to actually earn money.

Not in Action: No one of any real consequence.

Tuesday, December 17
7:00 pm EST ESPN2

New Orleans Bowl @ New Orleans, LA

-8 Cincinnati 7-6 (CUSA Co-Champ)
  North Texas 7-5 (Sun Belt Champ)
And we're off!

Frankly, I'm just relieved that North Texas is showing up with a winning record this year.  Of course they're only 2 games over .500 playing in a conference where Arkansas State managed to go 6-7.

So really we're talking about how interested Cincinnati will be in actually winning this game.  They've certainly got the firepower, and it might be interesting to see how UNT's 3rd-in-the-nation scoring defense holds up against a real team.

Pick: Cinci
Wednesday, December 18
8:00 pm EST ESPN2
GMAC Bowl @ Mobile, AL
 -2.5 Marshall (#24) 10-2 (MAC Champ)
  Louiseville 7-5 (CUSA #3)
The good folks down in Mobile have added a third digit to the scoreboard in anticipation of this duel.

Here we've got the Leftwich - Ragone match up that I can't believe never happened during the regular season.  Both of these guys will be playing on Sundays next year ... or at least holding clipboards.

As to the game itself, I like Marshall.  U of L is a decent team, but a healthy Leftwich should be more than capable of taking them apart.

Pick: Herd
Monday, December 23
5:30 pm EST ESPN
Mazda Tangerine Bowl @ Orlando, FL
  Clemson 7-5 (ACC #5)
-5.5 Texas Tech 8-5 (Big XII  #5)
I guess visiting Florida just wasn't much of a selling point, so now Mazda is picking up the slack.

Krazy Kewebee Kliff Kingsbury's last hurrah!  I can't think of anyone better suited as an opponent than a middle of the road ACC team.  Clemson has "name" so it will look good when the Red Raiduhs run roughshod all over them.  Kliffie's one of those "system" quarterbacks, so this might be the last time anyone gets to see him play for real.  Check it out as a warmup for the NFL night game.

Pick: Texas Tech
Wednesday, December 25
4:30 pm EST ESPN
Sega Sports Las Vegas Bowl @ Las Vegas, NV
-10.5 UCLA 7-5 (Pac 10 #5)
  New Mexico 7-6 (MWC #2)
This is New Mexico's first bowl game in five years, and UCLA will be playing with the ubiquitous "Interim Head Coach" at the helm.  Now the tricky thing is that UNM coach Rocky Long used to be defensive coordinator for the Bruins.  Can you say "job interview," kids?  I knew you could...
Pick: New Mexico
8:00 pm EST ESPN
ConAgra Foods Hawaii Bowl @ Honolulu, HI
 -12 Hawaii 10-3 (WAC #2)
  Tulane 7-5 (CUSA #5)
Tommy Chang may be one heckuva QB (4300 passing yards?  That's disgusting!) but like every other run and shoot team since the birth of Mouse Davis, Hawaii has trouble turning yards into points against decent teams.

But I'm not convinced that Tulane counts as a decent team.  I was surprised to find out that they're bowling at all.

Pick: U of H
Thursday, December 26
5:00 pm EST ESPN
Motor City Bowl @ Detroit, MI
 -4 Boston College 8-4 (Big East #5)
  Toledo 9-4 (MAC #2)
Trivia factoid #19371: Only one team currently not in a BCS conference has a winning record against BCS teams over the last ten years.  That team is the mighty Toledo Rockets, coming in at 6-5 since 1992.

Corollary to factoid: Only one team currently in a BCS conference has a losing record against non-BCS teams over the last ten years.  That team is the mighty Temple Owls, coming in at 10-16 since 1992.

Makes me proud to be a part of the Big East!

Pick: Toledo
8:30 pm EST ESPN
Insight Bowl @ Phoenix, AZ
  Pittsburgh (#23) 8-4 (Big East #3)
-2.5 Oregon State 8-4 (Pac 10 #4)
It's an all-Big East Christmas this year!

After all your presents have been opened, and after a nice hearty holiday feast, settle down on the coach with belt loosed and get cozy for a nice old fashioned defensive slugfest.  The pundits talk this up as a potential offensive shootout, but I disagree.  OSU has opened it up on a few lesser teams this year, but when they play come up against a solid defense, their offense goes turtle.  Pittsburgh tends to have the same meager output no matter who they're playing.  Nope, I think that defense will rule the day today.  And I like Pittsburgh's bunch.

Pick: UPitt
Friday, December 27
1:00 pm EST ESPN
Houston Bowl @ Houston, TX
  Southern Miss 7-5 (CUSA #4)
-7 Oklahoma State 7-5 (Big XII #6)
The Houston Bowl.  Yes, very original.  This is the fourth largest city in the United States and they couldn't find one single major corporate sponsor?  Pfffttt.  It's the Tanman Bowl in my book!
Pick: Southern Miss
4:30 pm EST ESPN
MainStay Independence Bowl @ Shreveport, LA
 -4.5 Nebraska 7-6 (Big XII #8)
  Mississippi 6-6 (SEC #8)
Ole Miss plays in this bowl game so often, they ought to get their mail forwarded there.

This game is important, because I didn't think it was even theoretically possible that Nebraska could finish a season only at .500.  It boggles the mind.

Pick: Huskers
8:00 pm EST ESPN
Pacific Life Holiday Bowl @ San Diego, CA
-18 Kansas State (#6) 10-2 (Big XII #4)
  Arizona State 8-5 (Pac 10 #3)
This could be the highest scoring bowl game of the season.  Kansas State we all know about, but Arizona State is a bit of a wildcard.  The Sun Devils have a high powered passing attack, but the ground game is suspect and the defense is adequate only by Pac 10 standards.  KSU will run, run, and then run some more.  Yards and points.  Lots of them.  Without a doubt, this will be the most entertaining thing Friday night television has had to offer in a long time.
Pick: KSU
Saturday, December 28
11:00 am EST ESPN2
Continental Tire Bowl @ Charlotte, NC
-5 West Virginia (#13) 9-3 (Big East #2)
  France 8-5 (ACC #2)
Well the good folks in Charlotte got what they wanted.  The Tire Bowl is officially sold out.  Some folks are going to cheer on West Virginia, some to cheer on the Hoos.  Rumor has it that the UVA Pep Band is going to reprise their infamous halftime show from the 1985 WVU-UVA game.  That promises to be a real treat :o)

But what about the GAME you ask?  Well WVU beat us, and we beat France, so by the transitive property of football the Wahoos are doomed.  I'm actually surprised that the line is only five points.  I really think that West Virginia is going to roll all over France.

Pick: WVU
8:00 pm EST ESPN
2002 Alamo Bowl Presented by MasterCard @ San Antonio, TX
 -7.5 Colorado (#14) 9-4 (Big XII #2)
  Wisconsin 7-6 (Big Ten #8)
Yikes, this could be the worst mismatch of the entire bowl season.  Colorado got better as the year went on, while the Port Chester Whooping Cranes fell right off the map.
Pick: Colorado
Monday, December 30
2:00 pm EST ESPN
Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl @ Nashville, TN
 -8.5 Arkansas 9-4 (SEC #4)
  Minnesota 7-5 (Big Ten #7)
Gaylord Hotels?  Heh, I bet you all thought I was going to make some joke here.  Ha!  I need some sort of challenge ...
Pick: Razorbacks
5:30 pm EST ESPN
Seattle Bowl @ Seattle, WA
-7 Oregon 7-5 (Pac 10 #8)
  Wake Forest 6-6 (ACC #7)
I'm in favor of the twelve game season.  There's no such thing as too much football.  the downside is, of course, that we've got 6-6 mediocrities like Weak Forest going bowling.

The plus side of two lousy bowls both on the same day, is that those of you making the trip west likely wont even be able to watch these if you wanted to.

Pick: Ducks

Last Week:
2-2-1 (YTD: 149-145-5)

TV Game of the Week: All of them baybee!

Upset Special: Pittsburgh over Oregon State (YTD: 6-11)


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