‘Users’ (gulp!) guide to bowls

Dec 18, 2007 6:20 AM

My history with this job has been fairly easy up to this point, as I usually sit down with blank paper and start writing a column, until I get about four or five pages and send it to Dave with little or no research involved.

However, this bowl season I’ve decided to try to utilize performance enhancing drugs to help elevate my subject matters’ quality and peak interest in my bowl opinions, if anybody cares. With a full pot of caffeine and a fresh pack of nicotine, here we go.

Navy vs. Utah -8½ O/U 66: Utah, the favorite, has been fairly inconsistent this season, but they face a Navy team that may be undermanned but awfully dangerous as they never quit and may be rooted on by thousands stationed in San Diego. In this spot I’ll take the points and go under the total. Score: Utah 31, Navy 27.

Florida Atlantic -2½ O/U 67 vs. Memphis: Both teams just skipped over the required six wins to become bowl eligible. Somehow Florida Atlantic beat Big Ten opponent Minnesota, along with five other non-descript victories to become the favorite here. Memphis started the season poorly but came on strong down the stretch with three closing victories. I’ll take the points here in a mild upset. Score: Memphis 31 Florida Atlantic 20.

Southern Miss vs. Cincinnati -11½ O/U 55½: Every time Miss played a good team this season they got beat. Cincy is a good team that’s held its own with a tough Big East schedule with victories over Oregon State, Rutgers, South Florida and Connecticut. Hopefully they are not disappointed about playing in a minor bowl and let down as they totally outclass Southern Miss here. I’ll take the chance and lay the lumber here. Score: Cincinnati 38 Southern Miss 20.

Nevada vs. New Mexico -3 O/U 60. Although Nevada has an outstanding freshman quarterback, the team figures to come up a little short here as these teams are pretty much equal, but the home field advantage has to play a big part for the New Mexico club. If the weather is good 60 total points is way too low for these two teams. Score: New Mexico 38, Nevada 31.

UCLA vs. BYU -6 O/U 47: UCLA has a coaching change, which can be detrimental to a group of kids that don’t care too much about this bowl game. BYU will have desire and 80 percent of the fans rooting for them to knock off a Pac 10 team and gain revenge for an early 10 point loss as visitors in Pasadena in September. Score: BYU 31 UCLA 18.

East Carolina vs. Boise State -11½ O/U 70: Boise State wasn’t very good this season, but is playing a team that figures to be on a rewarded vacation when they arrive in Honolulu. Boise’s players have been there, done that, and should be ready to win a bowl game. There should be plenty of scoring here, but I wouldn’t go over 70 if you held a gun to my head. Score: Boise State 45 East Carolina 21.

Before I get into the NFL for this week, I must make a grave confession. As you may or may not remember, I gave out two teams at 25-1 to go all the way this season. One team was Seattle, which will make the playoffs but will probably get knocked out in the first round. The second team was the Ravens, who after 14 games are not only 4 and 10, but one of their 10 losses came at the hands of the Dolphins, who somehow got their first victory last week. How embarrassed do you think I am?

Beware of teams that can’t improve their positions for the playoffs this week, as they may rest their stars on offense as well as defense. This list may include the following division leaders, such as Seattle, Green Bay, Dallas, New England, Colts and Chargers. Some of the above may do it this week and some may wait to the following week. In any case we must all pay attention during the week.

Thursday night the Steelers go to St. Louis. They definitely need a victory and will surely get it in a high-scoring game. On Saturday Dallas needs to keep pace with the Packers for home field and will beat up on the poor Carolina club, who are just trying to get the season over. This game, weather permitting, should be a blowout, especially if Testaverde gets back in the lineup.

Have a great week!