It’s Miami win or lose

Dec 3, 2002 5:57 AM

   Expect Miami to be at least a 12 or 13-point favorite over Ohio State when the two teams meet for the national championship at the Fiesta Bowl.

   Forget the fact the top-ranked Hurricanes have one game left at home against Virginia Tech this Saturday.

   According to Bally's/Paris Las Vegas director of race and sports John Avello, the outcome is a moot point.

   “Win or lose, Miami is in the championship game,” Avello said. “At worst they will have one loss, and with all that happened over the weekend, there's no other team the BCS will take.”

   That’s bad news for Iowa, which at No. 3 is on the outside. The Hawkeyes at least have the Rose Bowl as a consolation prize, but their opponent won’t be known until USC and Washington State complete regular season play Saturday.

   A Washington State win at UCLA lands the Cougars in Pasadena. Otherwise, USC goes. That’s a tough position for UCLA, which with a win sees its arch-enemy go to the Rose Bowl. One wonders just how motivated UCLA will be this week.

   Oklahoma and Notre Dame played themselves out of any national championship hope with devastating losses last weekend. The Sooners were dusted at Oklahoma State, while the Irish fell to red-hot Carson Palmer and a devastating Southern Cal offense that out-gained Notre Dame by nearly a 4-1 margin.

   “We had Oklahoma going from a 14 to 15-point favorite and they lose by 10,” Avello said in disbelief.

   “Then later on UNLV wins straight up as a double-digit underdog at Colorado State. Just remember, oddsmakers are looking for balanced action. We’re not picking winners.”

   The other major stunner in college football was Florida State and maligned QB Chris Rix gaining a measure of satisfaction by whipping rival Florida in Tallahassee.

   “We opened FSU at -5 and it dropped to -3,” Avello said. “Florida obviously was not the better club.”

   In the NFL, the most exciting game as far as the lines were concerned was Chicago at Green Bay. The Packers were anywhere from a 9½-to 10-point favorite and heading 30-14 when the Bears passed for a touchdown in the final seconds.

   Chicago correctly went for the two-point conversion, but failed and lost 30-20. Such is the life of a pro bettor.

   “There was a lot of Green Bay action, as well as Miami,” Avello said. “Atlanta with Michael Vick running for a touchdown in overtime was good for the house too.”

   The Dolphins fell in Buffalo as a 2½-point favorite after Buffalo opened as a one-point choice. Atlanta won by six at Minnesota to disappoint Vikings backers, who would have settled for a field goal loss.

   Tampa Bay became the latest flavor of the week to fall from grace, losing at New Orleans. All roads in the NFC now lead through Philadelphia.

   Or does it?

   “Any one of 12 teams can win it,” Avello said. “There's no way to handicap it in either the NFC or AFC. Just expect the unexpected.”