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It’s all alphabet soup to us

Dec 2, 2003 8:12 AM

Bowls, BCS ”” it’s all a scramble.

All this wheeling and dealing for the best match ups has become more complicated and flawed than negotiating with cal dealerships.

Early in the week, many of the postseason contests were not finalized. Hopefully, that will not be the case following the final week of games. Heck, even the ultimate national championship game at the Sugar Bowl leaves some mystery as to whether No. 2 rated USC can hold off LSU for the right to face Oklahoma.

The unbeaten Sooners are a 13½-point favorite over Kansas State in the Big XII championship game in Kansas City. With the way OU blitzed Texas and the fact K-State had a tough fight with the Longhorns, we figure this should be another easy day for Stoops & Company.

Southern Cal is an even larger 20½-point favorite over Oregon State in Los Angeles. The Trojans are on a mission, feeling jilted over a national championship snub last year. Oregon State can be dangerous, but USC is enormous on both the offensive and defensive lines. The Trojans should overwhelm the speedy Beavers by halftime.

The interesting encounter should be in the SEC title game where LSU has to defeat Georgia second time in order to garner enough support to possibly overtake Southern Cal for the runner-up slot in the BCS rankings and a shot at Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 4.

The Tigers responded well to adversity when falling behind Arkansas last week. LSU seems the best of the SEC, but the Bulldogs are well coached and deep in talent. Louisiana State is only a 2½-point favorite and the Dogs are a team that manages to find ways of winning. We’ll side with LSU, but a Georgia upset would not surprise us.

The MAC championship is decided Thursday night when Miami of Ohio faces Bowling Green. The 11-1 Redhawks, behind standout QB Ben Roethlisberger, is a 7-point favorite. As good as Bowling Green is, Miami is better and should cover.

The other contests are Saturday, highlighted by the annual Army-Navy affair that has turned solidly in favor of the Midshipmen. The Navy is a whopping 22-point favorite and looking forward to a projected spot in the Houston Bowl. Considering Navy is a stellar 8-1 ATS this year, we’re definitely putting some green on the Middies.

Also, Boise State is a 9-point favorite over Hawaii and Notre Dame travels to Syracuse as a 2½-point point favorite. Boise is a scoring machine and should handle Hawaii, no matter who plays at QB.

The Irish come off a 51-0 romp over Stanford, which probably explains the point swing away from Syracuse. The Orange is finishing another disappointing year that probably ends the coaching era of Paul Pasqualoni. If Syracuse decides to win one last one for Paul, they have a shot. Notre Dame is just 4-7 ATS. We’ll stay away from this one.

The prospective bowl match ups are listed below, but here are some numbers that could help your handicapping.

ATS STARS: USC, 9-2, including seven straight covers. Tennessee is 5-1 in the last six games. New Mexico is 6-1 in the last 7. Iowa and Michigan are each 9-3 on the year. Surprises Cal and Northwestern are 8-4-1 and 8-4 respectively.

ATS BUMS: Virginia Tech is 0-4 in its last four and clearly not the same after losing to Pittsburgh. Ohio State, last year’s national champ and Big Ten runner-up, is just 4-8. Not a shock, since the Buckeyes only know how to play close games. Air Force, Hawaii, and NC State are each 4-7 ATS.

SHAFTED: Northern Illinois and Connecticut definitely belong in bowl games, but the lack of notoriety hurts each school. The bowl prejudice in favoring big conferences is ridiculous. No way six or seven teams from a conference should go to a bowl. Imagine a bowl like the Las Vegas Bowl settling for the fifth best team in the Pac 10 when Northern Illinois and U Conn are available.

We rest our case.