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The Big E College Football Picks: January 3 Through 9

The New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day games were very kind to me as I ripped off a 7-3 record (including the late Thursday night game) and got myself back to .500 for the bowl season.

Now, we’re heading down the stretch for the last batch of college football games for the 2010 season.

Let’s take a look back at some intriguing games from the past few days.

*I should have gone with the old adage that you rarely beat the same team twice in the same season, let along blow them out like Nebraska did to Washington early in the season.

Washington played tough defensively and Jake Locker made some plays with his feet as the Huskies controlled this game right from the start. This was a pretty embarrassing loss for Nebraska (189 total yards!!) and the season played out exactly as I thought it would for the Corn…10 wins and a feeling like they are more of an 8-win team.

Things will get real interesting at Washington for Steve Sarkisian with Locker leaving.

Bet: Nebraska -14 (Loss)

*South Florida did the Big East proud and upended Clemson.

This was a pretty entertaining early-afternoon game with a wacky finish. Irish fans will now turn their attention to an athletic USF team that will make its first trip to Notre Dame Stadium to kick of the 2011 season next September.

Bet: South Florida +5.5 (Win)

*In a low-scoring defensive battle, Conference-USA champion Central Florida upset Georgia 10-6 with a ten-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.

I need to get a better handle on how Georgia fans are dealing with this. 6-7 on the season, after five losses the year before…are people ready to riot or what?

Ever wonder what things would be like if George O’Leary kept the Notre Dame job?

Bet: Georgia -6.5 (Loss)

*As predicted, Stephen Garcia and South Carolina turned the ball over like crazy and lost to Florida State. There were a lot of injuries in this game, including Marcus Lattimore missing most of the game after taking a huge hit, but the Seminoles simply kept pounding the ball on the ground.

South Carolina finishes 9-5 with a bad taste in their mouth, and Florida State ends up with a solid 10-win season.

Bet: Florida State +3 (Win)

*Starting off a terrible day for the Big Ten, Northwestern fought hard and tried to comeback against Texas Tech but their rally came up short.

Red Raiders quarterback Taylor Potts threw the ball all over the place and led Tech to 552 total yards and the victory.

Despite both team being a combined 6-10 in conference play this year, Tech finished over .500 (8-5) as did Northwestern (7-6).

Bet: Northwestern +9.5 (Win)

*The Florida offense didn’t show up again in Urban Meyer’s finale, and it looked for a while that Penn State was actually going to upset the Gators.

But Nittany Lion quarterback Matt McGloin threw five picks on the afternoon and Florida came storming back in the second half to win by 13.

That’s a 7-6 season for Penn State, with a super-old head coach and a pretty weak recruiting class in place right now. Is that where you want to be?

Meyer is gone from Florida and Will Muschamp and Charlie Weis are in. Umm, it’s just weird.

Bet: Florida -7 (Win)

*Another blow to the Big Ten was Alabama absolutely slaughtering Michigan State 49-7.

The Tide racked up 546 yards to just 171 yards for the Spartans. It was somewhat of a Cinderella season for Michigan State, but their luck ran out in this one.

It’s not surprising that Alabama is still probably one of the top 5 or 6 teams in the country and that Michigan State is good but nowhere near great.

Bet: Alabama -10 (Win)

Michigan scored on a couple touchdown passes from Denard Robinson in the first quarter, but proceeded to get flat out embarrassed the rest of the way in a 52-14 drubbing by Mississippi State.

The Bulldogs cap off a very solid 9-4 season and are improving quickly under Dan Mullen.

What more is there to say about Michigan? I almost feel bad for Michigan fans. Almost.

Bet: Michigan +4.5 (Loss)

*As expected, the Rose Bowl turned into a classic as TCU held off Wisconsin by batting down a two-point conversion with under two minutes to play that would have tied the game.

What a great season for TCU, who gets to join the club of recently undefeated teams that won’t win a national title. We’ll see if their inclusion in the Big East will help matters at all down the road.

This was a nice season for Wisconsin, but this loss does put a small damper on their overall success. They were on fire late in the season, but they didn’t look great in the first half of the season and lost to Michigan State.

Will the Badgers be the Big Ten favorite next year?

Bet: Wisconsin +3 (Win)

The Fiesta Bowl didn’t prove anything that we already didn’t know…that Oklahoma is significantly better than a four-loss Connecticut team.

The Sooners didn’t have the game truly in hand until late, but the held the Huskies without an offensive touchdown and rolled to a 28 point victory.

And no, it wasn’t an exciting game.

Bet: Oklahoma -17 (Win)

Bowl Record: 13-13

Overall Record: 101-103

Discover Orange Bowl

Monday, January 3rd

8:30 PM ET

Miami Gardens, Florida

Sun Life Stadium

Stanford (-3.5) vs. Virginia Tech

Pick: Stanford

After an abysmal matchup last year, the Orange Bowl has a nice little game on tap this evening.

Let’s see if I can break this game down: The talent on both sides is pretty much even. Virginia Tech doesn’t have a dominating defense like they’ve had in the past, while Stanford lacks some speed and athleticism on defense, but makes up for it with toughness.

Essentially, I think the defenses are a wash.

Who has the better offense?

The Hokies might have a slightly better running game, if only because of their potential and talent at running back, but the teams are dead even statistically.

Virginia Tech might gain an edge with some receiver play or special teams play, but I think that the Andrew Luck vs. Tyrod Taylor matchup is the difference in this one for Stanford.

Stanford 38

Virginia Tech 31

Watchability: 4

There’s plenty of reasons to watch this game. Virginia Tech ended the season as one of the nation’s hottest teams and the Hokies bring some solid national attention as well. On the other side, you can watch the possible No. 1 NFL pick in Andrew Luck, tune in to see how Harbaugh coaches in possibly his last game for Stanford, and there’s also the chance that the Cardinal could end up 12-1 with their only loss to the national champions. That’s enough for me to tune in.

All State Sugar Bowl

Tuesday, January 4th

8:30 PM ET

New Orleans, Louisiana

Louisiana Superdome

Ohio State (-3.5) vs. Arkansas

Pick: Arkansas

I thought about picking Arkansas here even if they were favored, so this is an easy one for me with the Hogs nearly four point dogs.

Simply put, I don’t trust Terrelle Pryor against a SEC defense. Sure Arkansas isn’t like LSU, but sometimes it doesn’t take much to disrupt Pryor, especially in the passing game.

And with the suspensions hanging over Ohio State and Pryor (maybe they’ll be benched?), I don’t know how anyone could take the Buckeyes here.

I’ve thought all along that Ohio State’s defense isn’t nasty like it was a few years ago, and you can bet Ryan Mallett is going to gauge them for some yards. I also think Arkansas is a sneaky good running team too…that could play a part in the outcome.

Overall, I just like the speed from Arkansas and their type of offense against an Ohio State offense that really isn’t that scary.

Arkansas 30

Ohio State 24

Watchability: 3

I’ve heard some people say this is the second-best bowl game of the postseason…really? I mean, yeah I’m going to tune in, but I think the Orange Bowl is more appealing and certainly the Rose Bowl is way above this Sugar Bowl.

This game is just doesn’t do much for me: a two-loss SEC team versus a constantly overrated Ohio State team. Even though both teams are very good, without a playoff type of implications it’s just a nice little exhibition game and the last time we’ll see Terelle Pryor play for damn near ten months. Bowl

Thursday, January 6th

8:00 PM ET

Mobile, Alabama

Ladd Peebles Stadium

Middle Tennessee State (+1) vs. Miami (OH)

Pick: Middle Tennessee State

I believe Middle Tennessee State has an electric quarterback and Miami’s head coach left the team to take the Pitt job, has been arrested and is now without employment.

I can’t really take the time to do any more research with this game, including finding out who the heck Ladd Peebles is. I’ll take the underdog.

Mid Tennessee State 34

Miami 28

Watchability: 1

You were wrong if you thought all of the terrible bowl games would be in the first week only. Our own Whiskey watches every second of all these games…I feel bad for him with this one.

AT&T Cotton Bowl

Friday, January 7th

8:00 PM ET

Arlington, Texas

Cowboys Stadium

LSU (-1) vs. Texas A&M

Pick: LSU

I think I might have taken LSU in every game this year and I’m not about to go against them with a one-point spread with Texas A&M as the competition.

The only thing that scares me in this game is the Tigers offense turning into an exercise in futility, which has happened a few times this year. Still, LSU’s defense is so tough and fast that I don’t think the Aggies can keep up.

I smell a blowout inside Jerry World.

LSU 38

Texas A&M 17

Watchability: 4

I begrudgingly gave this game a four, although I think it’s closer to a three. Texas A&M found some late season magic by beating Oklahoma and Nebraska, but LSU is a different animal all together. When you combine LSU’s retarded offense and A&M’s lack of drawing power, I don’t think this game is as big as some believe.

BBVA Compass Bowl

Saturday, January 8th

12:00 PM ET

Birmingham, Alabama

Legion Field

Pittsburgh (-3) vs. Kentucky

Pick: Kentucky

What is going through Pitt’s players’ heads right now? First, the school fires the ‘Stache and hires a somewhat suspect coach in Haywood. Now, Haywood is fired due to a domestic battery arrest and the ‘Stache said he’s not coaching in this bowl game.

To be sure, Pitt should win this game but I can’t see them overcoming all of this madness and playing a quality game.

Kentucky isn’t exactly a SEC powerhouse, but they should be able to do enough to slip past the Panthers down in Birmingham. Talk about a tough season for Pitt!

Kentucky 27

Pittsburgh 20

Watchability: 2.5

Pitt is without a coach and they have struggled passing the ball this year with first-year starter Tino Sunseri. Kentucky has some ballers of their own, but it’s just too bad this is a football matchup instead of a basketball one.

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl

Sunday, January 9th

9:00 PM ET

San Francisco, California

AT&T Park

Nevada (-7.5) vs. Boston College

Pick: Nevada

The Wolf Pack are getting a lot of respect here with a fairly large spread against a team in Boston College that is known to play most teams really tough.

Yet, the Eagles are without running back Montel Harris and BC should have a heck of a time stopping Nevada’s electric pistol offense.

Boston College probably had the worst offense Notre Dame saw all season and I can’t picture them keeping up with Nevada in this one.
Nevada 34

Boston College 14

Watchability: 3

This is probably one of the few games that most people think will suck, but I think it’s a fairly decent matchup. It could get a lot worse and at least the venue offers some entertainment value.

Enjoy the last batch of bowl games. I’ll have a preview of the title game coming soon.