2003 PREDICTION RECORDS
Straight-Up: 76-39 (66%)
Against-The-Spread: 56-58-1 (49%)
NEW ORLEANS BOWL - Tuesday, Dec. 16 at New Orleans, La.
North Texas (+4) 31, Memphis 27 -- North Texas brings
an 8-game winning streak into this matchup, while Memphis
dropped its season finale at home to South Florida. The
only common opponent this season for these two was Arkansas
State, and each won handily. I'll take the streaking team,
with the benefit of some points.
GMAC BOWL - Thursday, Dec. 18 at Mobile, Ala.
Miami, Ohio (-13) 44, Louisville 30 -- The RedHawks own
the nation's longest Division I winning streak - 12 - but
the Redbirds provide a significant challenge in what promises
to be a shootout. Still, Louisville's suspect defense probably
will have Miami scoring at will. A tough pick, because
of so many points, but that 13 1/2 begs to be layed by
the savvy progno who sees a 14-point Miami win.
TANGERINE BOWL - Monday, Dec. 22 at Orlando, Fla.
North Carolina State (-10 1/2) 41, Kansas 20 -- The only
reason KU is in a bowl game was a September upset of Missouri.
The Jayhawks had no other eye-catching wins and were dominated
most times in the Big 12 - they even lost to Texas A&M
(which was beaten by Oklahoma 77-0) and was humbled, 42-6,
by arch-rival Kansas State. NC State had a few decent wins,
but a leaky defense prevented a serious ACC title challenge.
Still, with QB Philip Rivers lighting it up, the Wolfpack
FORT WORTH BOWL - Tuesday, Dec. 23 at Fort Worth, Tx.
TCU (+8 1/2) 38, Boise State 35 -- The Broncos are ultra-impressive,
while TCU might be the least impressive 11-1 team to come
along in a while. And if this game were being held anywhere
else, I'd jump at Boise State. But this is a home game
for the Horned Frogs. I can't envision them being blitzed
in Fort Worth. Even the Frogs don't get the outright upset,
they keep it tight.
LAS VEGAS BOWL - Wednesday, Dec. 24 at Las Vegas, Nv.
Oregon State (-2 1/2) 36, New Mexico 28 -- The Beavers
have dealt with a much stiffer schedule over the course
of the season -- and their running game should be enough
to get past the Lobos.
HAWAI'I BOWL - Thursday, Christmas Day at Honolulu, Hi.
Hawai'i 44, Houston (+10 1/2) 37 -- The Warriors have
the homefield advantage, and Houston has yielded some scary
scores this season, but the Cougars can also hang'em on
the board. Hawai'i is only 3-3-1 ATS at home despite a
6-1 mark straight-up.
MOTOR CITY BOWL - Friday, Dec. 26 at Detroit, Mi.
Bowling Green (-7) 35, Northwestern 17 -- The Falcons
have handled themselves well against the Big-10 this season,
beating Purdue and playing tough against Ohio State at
Columbus... and Northwestern is nowhere near as good as
either of those squads. Plus the Falcons won the last meeting
at Chicago in 2001, 43-42, in a game as exciting as the
final score indicates.
INSIGHT BOWL - Friday, Dec. 26 at Phoenix, Az.
California (+2 1/2) 33, Virginia Tech 27 -- The Hokies
finished the regular season with three losses in their
final four games, the lone victory an ugly 1-point win
over lowly Temple. Virginia Tech is 0-5 ATS on the road.
Cal has played well virtually all season, handing No. 1
USC its only defeat in overtime.
CONTINENTAL TIRE BOWL - Saturday, Dec. 27 at Charlotte,
Pittsburgh (+2 1/2) 28, Virginia 20 -- An even matchup
which is decided because Pitt's WR Larry Fitzgerald, a
Heisman Trophy finalist, extends his streak of consecutive
games with a TD catch.
ALAMO BOWL - Monday, Dec. 29 at San Antonio, Tx.
Michigan State (+3) 23, Nebraska 17 -- The Spartans get
the nod because of a superior offense led by QB Jeff Smoker.
The Cornhuskers' defense is tough, but NU played uninspired
ball down the stretch. MSU wants this one more.
HOUSTON BOWL - Tuesday, Dec. 30 at Houston, Tx.
Texas Tech (-13) 42, Navy 21 -- With all due respect to
the Middies, they just don't sport the firepower to keep
up with the nation's leading passing offense. The game
might be close for a while, but the Red Raiders will ultimately
HOLIDAY BOWL - Tuesday, Dec. 30 at San Diego, Ca.
Texas (-9) 41, Washington State 24 -- The Longhorns have
become a complete team -- not just an offensive juggernaut
-- and they'll be out to prove that they belong in a BCS
bowl by roughing up a team that was in the top 10 for most
of the season.
SILICON VALLEY CLASSIC - Tuesday, Dec. 30 at San Jose,
Fresno State (+3) 27, UCLA 16 -- I like the Bulldogs because
they have some semblance of an offense. Fresno's defense
is nothing special, but it doesn't have to be against the
Bruins, who scored more than 24 points in a game only once
MUSIC CITY BOWL - Wednesday, Dec. 31 at Nashville, Tn.
Auburn (-3) 20, Wisconsin 14 -- The Tigers were forced
to listen to reports of their under-achieving ways all
season, but the fact is they played pretty well after starting
0-2. Better balance on both sides of the ball propels them
past the always-competitive Badgers.
SUN BOWL - Wednesday, Dec. 31 at El Paso, TX
Oregon (+3 1/2) 38, Minnesota 33 -- The Ugly Uniform Bowl.
Oregon finished the year with three straight wins primarily
forged by improved defensive play. Although I'm forecasting
a high-scoring game, the Ducks' D will be the difference
in this one.
LIBERTY BOWL - Wednesday, Dec. 31 at Memphis, Tn.
Utah (-2) 24, Southern Mississippi 19 -- A great matchup
between the Conference USA and Mountain West champs. I'm
going with the Utes because they're a little more successfully
tested on the road, but this one really could go either
INDEPENDENCE BOWL - Wednesday, Dec. 31 at Shreveport,
Arkansas (-2 1/2) 37, Missouri 23 -- The line is smaller
than it probably should be because of questions surrounding
the health of Arkansas's ground game. The Razorbacks have
fared better against an arguably tougher schedule, and
are winners on the road while Mizzou has lost four straight
away from home.
SAN FRANCISCO BOWL - Wednesday, Dec. 31 at San Francisco,
Boston College 30, Colorado State 20 -- The Eagles are
the pick because of a superior defense and having played
a more demanding schedule. There was no line on this game
when this pick was made.
OUTBACK BOWL - Thursday, New Year's Day at Tampa, Fl.
Iowa (+3 1/2) 24, Florida 20 -- The Hawkeyes are the better
team defensively, IMO, and that's how I usually determine
my picks on games between two upper-echelon clubs. Both
have played murderous schedules, both are (as the cliche
goes) "battle tested."
GATOR BOWL - Thursday, New Year's Day at Jacksonville,
Maryland (-3 1/2) 45, West Virginia 28 -- This is a regular
season rematch... in fact, these teams play annually --
and Maryland has totally dominated the last three seasons,
including a 34-7 rout in September. Expect this one to
be closer, but for whatever reason, the Mountaineers just
haven't figured the Terps out.
CAPITAL ONE BOWL - Thursday, New Year's Day at Orlando,
Georgia (-3) 26, Purdue 17 -- Like the Music City and
Outback bowls, another fascinating SEC-Big 10 clash. Dixie
gets the nod in this rubber game... because I believe Georgia
can expect to force multiple turnovers.
ROSE BOWL - Thursday, New Year's Day at Pasadena, Ca.
Michigan (+6 1/2) 33, USC 27 -- My big, shocking nobody-else-would-dream-of-going-this-way
pick. Why? Because I think the Wolverines' wonderful balance
of RB Chris Perry and their potent passing game will give
the SC defense problems it simply hasn't had to deal with
this season, and Michigan's defense is opportunistic, blessed
with awesome athletes, and can pressure a passer like few
others. USC will score and move the ball, but not seemingly
at will as Troy is accustomed to doing.
ORANGE BOWL - Thursday, New Year's Day at Miami, Fl.
Miami (+1 1/2) 27, Florida State 23 -- I'm really surprised
at the line, because this is a home game for the 'Canes
and they've already beaten the Seminoles this season as
well as in each of the last four meetings. Miami has QB
issues, but they rarely seem to be costly. Florida State
has been alarmingly unpredictable this season, and being
that they're coming off a solid victory over Florida, I'm
forecasting the dip that often follows a high.
COTTON BOWL - Friday, Jan. 2, 2004 at Dallas, Tx.
Mississippi (-2) 37, Oklahoma State 20 -- As good as QB
Eli Manning is for the Rebels, their defense has been a
major reason for their success. Ole Miss played extremely
well down the stretch in the regular season, while OSU
was just 1-4 ATS in their last five. I'll take Manning,
PEACH BOWL - Friday, Jan. 2, 2004 at Atlanta, Ga.
Tennessee (-5 1/2) 21, Clemson 13 -- Both teams finished
their regular seasons strong, but I like the Vols' defense
in big games.
FIESTA BOWL - Friday, Jan. 2, 2004 at Tempe, Az.
Ohio State (+7) 24, Kansas State 22 -- Another perplexing
spread -- hey, K-State was magnificent in destroying Oklahoma
in the Big 12 Title Game, but that was one game when the
stars were all aligned. OSU's defense is arguably deeper,
and the Buckeyes certainly know how to win big games. The
Wildcats might let down a bit after such a huge win for
the program. Anyway, the line is too hefty to lay.
HUMANITARIAN BOWL - Saturday, Jan. 3, 2004 at Boise, Id.
Georgia Tech 26, Tulsa (+8) 23 -- This bowl is totally
out of place -- it's nowhere near as interesting or prestigious
as the other New Year's extravaganza's, and it's being
played on that gosh-awful blue astroturf where Boise State
plays its home games. And do we really give a rodent's
behind about this game? I sure don't... but I guess I have
to, so take Tulsa and the points because the Hurricanes
finished strong while Tech dropped its last two games and
three of four.
SUGAR BOWL - Sunday, Jan. 4, 2004 at New Orleans, La.
LSU (+6) 31, Oklahoma 24 -- Obviously, the Sooners are
a lot better than they played against Kansas State. But
were all those routs misleading? When they hung 65 points
on Texas, I felt they were good enough to earn an NFL playoff
berth. In LSU, the Sooners will run into a defense that's
even better than K-State's, as well as an offense that's
potentially more explosive. And this is essentially a home
game for the Tigers. I guess I'm prognosticating an LSU
fan's dream scenario -- Tigers beat OU three days after
USC is upset in the Rose Bowl, giving LSU an undisputed