The bowl games become more significant the closer you get to New Years Day, but the opportunities for successful betting remain.
Dec. 30, Saturday
Nebraska (-14 Â½) vs. Northwestern (Alamo Bowl at San Antonio) The Cornhuskers turned out to be one of the more overrated and disappointing teams of the season. The Wildcats have been one of the seasons surprises. Northwestern can put big points on the board. The spread here appears way too large. Take the points and go with Northwestern.
Dec. 31, Sunday
Fresno State (-1) vs. Air Force (Silicon Valley Classic at San Jose, Calif.) Talk about hyperbole. This is the first year for this game and its promoters have already titled it a "classic." The Falcons Fisher DeBerry is one of the best coaches in the business. His teams are always well prepared and play smart football. Air Force will win this game.
Texas A&M (-1) vs. Mississippi State (Independence Bowl at Shreveport, La.) The Aggies have played a season of tough ones: Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Kansas State, Texas. The Bulldogs lost their last two games, to Arkansas and Ole Miss. The choice here is Texas A&M.
Jan. 1, Monday
Ohio State (-5 Â½) vs. South Carolina (Outback Bowl at Tempa) Lou Holtz did a remarkable job in turning the Gamecock program from 0-11 to 7-4 and a bowl bid. An amateur magician in his spare time, Holtz will have to perform some legerdemain to win this game as the Buckeyes have better players. Lay the points and take Ohio State.
Kansas State (-4) vs. Tennessee (Cotton Bowl at Dallas) Superior offense dictates Kansas State to get the money.
Virginia Tech (-6) vs. Clemson (Gator Bowl at Jacksonville, Fla.) This will be a showcase for Tech quarterback Michael Vick. Hes 100 percent healthy, so look for the Hokies to win and cover the spread.
Michigan (-8) vs. Auburn (Citrus Bowl at Orlando, Fla.) Auburn simply doesnt have enough offense to keep up the Drew Henson-led Wolverines. Lay the points and go with Michigan.
Purdue (Pk) vs. Washington (Rose Bowl at Pasadena, Calif.) Two outstanding quarterbacks in this game: the Boilermakers Drew Brees and the Huskies Marques Tuiasosopo. Bet the over in what figures to be a real shootout. The edge goes to Purdue.
Oregon State (-3) vs. Notre Dame (Fiesta Bowl at Tempe, Ariz.) The Beavers, co-champions of the Pac-10, have one of the nations best running backs in Ken Simonton. The Irish are a team without stars but theyre a resourceful bunch, winning games on blocked kicks, pass interceptions and kick returns. Take Notre Dame and the points.
Jan. 2, Tuesday
Miami, Fla. (-5) vs. Florida (Sugar Bowl at New Orleans) These teams used to play each other regularly, but the Gators ended the series 13 years ago much to the chagrin of the Hurricanes. Miami is ranked No. 2 in both the coaches poll and the Associated Press writers poll. If the Hurricanes win this game while Florida State beats Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl, theyll likely be voted AP national champions. So this game is a chance for them to prove theyre a championship team. Florida hasnt played any team as good as Miami. The bet here is Miami to win and cover.
Jan. 3, Wednesday
Florida State (-1 Â½) vs. Oklahoma (Orange Bowl at Miami) This is the centerpiece of the Bowl Championship Series. The winner will be declared national champions by the BCS promoters. An FSU victory would provoke an argument if Miami wins in the Sugar Bowl. But if Oklahoma wins, the Sooners will have their first national championship since 1985. Its a star-spangled game. Seminole quaterback Chris Weinke won the Heisman Trophy. Sooner quarterback Josh Heupel was runner-up. The Sooners Bob Stoops is national Coach of the Year. The point spread is huge for a game of this magnitude. The oddsmakers may be selling the Sooners short. Were taking Oklahoma and the points.
Coming up next time well make our annual predictions as to what will and what wont happen in 2001. In the meantime, heres wishing one and all a very Happy New Year with more winners and fewer losers.