(Yeah, I just dropped a not! on you. The whole blogosphere got PUNK'D, y'all!)
Can you tell I don't have a ton of content today? Regardless, let's push ahead with some bullets:
*Texas wins again, taking down Michigan State and remaining undefeated. I guess this somewhat cements their claim as a top 3 team, though I'd really, really love Duke to get a crack at these guys. Famous last words? Possibly. But I think our #7 rank is too low, and I think we can compete with anyone in the country right now except possibly Kansas. Speaking of the Jayhawks, they decimated Cal in the second half to stay undefeated, and Purdue and Syracuse also won to keep a fat zero in the loss column. There are going to be some very interesting match-ups when conference play starts in a couple weeks, and this is shaping up to be a fun season.
*This whole 'Bowl Prediction Extravaganza' episode is destroying whatever shreds of credibility I had left. I'm now 1-3 straight up and 1-3 against the spread. Last night, Oregon State looked like they'd never touched a football before, much less practiced how to make legal formations or understand why the dudes in the striped shirts kept blowing whistles. BYU won 44-20, and OSU showed no resemblance to the competent squad that came inches from the Rose Bowl three weeks ago. I don't know what the hell happened, but I've come up with a good rule that will help me avoid this exact mistake in the future:
Rule: Be very fucking careful betting against Mormons or the Service Academies.
(Warning: this might get offensive or really ignorant)
These are not flighty people. With Mormons, direction is ingrained. Almost every athlete on BYU will, at some point, take two years off to fulfill a mission somewhere in the world. A lot of them are already married, and some even have kids. These are not your average young men, prone to fleeting pleasures and emotional let-downs. With the service academies, they have crazy routines that instill a rigorous sense of discipline. They wake up early, they only get to party like every month or so, and when they have sex someone with the rank of corporal or higher has to be watching in the same room (possibly a rumor). They also know they might be in a war one day, and a lot of their training goes toward making sure they don't fuck up in a way that costs them their lives. Focus is basically their credo.
I once saw a game where an opposing team called a timeout to try to freeze a kicker from Air Force. The announcer casually mentioned that the player in question was training to be a fighter pilot, and would graduate in the spring. So here's this dude, qualified to operate a lethal flying machine at ridiculous speeds, entrusted with bombs, and he's supposed to be worried about kicking a field goal? Come on. He spent the timeout laughing and then kicked the ball through with his opposite foot. Not really, but he made it.
Obviously, these schools do not have the best athletes. When they go up against a well-disciplined top-tier football team who manages not to get down on themselves or make too many mental mistakes, they don't really have a shot in hell. But against a team like Oregon State, with questionable defense and unknown character? Why bet against the Mormons? Why bet against solidity? The only guarantee with last night's game is that one team would not come out flat, and that team was BYU (it's also why they beat Oklahoma early in the year). Their ranks were similar, records were similar, and ditto for their styles. So why the fuck didn't I just take BYU and run with it?
Anyway, lesson learned. Also, one last caveat: this rule doesn't apply to Army. Until they stop running that stupid wishbone option offense and start playing 20th century footbal (notice I'm not even asking for the current century), you should always bet against Army. There's a difference between adhering to tradition and being stubborn in the dumbest way possible.
Which takes us once again to:
THE BOWL GAMES PREDICTION EXTRAVAGANZA
Increasingly unlikely goals:
25-9 Straight Up
20-14 Against the Spread
1-3 both ways
Tonight's game: California (-2.5) vs. ##23 Utah, 8pm
Hmm, a mid-level Pac-10 team that gives up a lot of points against a quality Mountain West team ranked higher but still not favored...sound familiar? Not that I need much more, but Utah lost to BYU in overtime in the last week of the season, while Cal fell to UW 42-10. Last night's result does not bode well for the Pac-10 this bowl season, and I'm gonna do a 180 on yesterday's hunch that they'd be the hot conference. Time to get wise and ride the underdog.
I Like: Utah straight up and against the spread.
I'll be posting some kind of holiday spectacular tomorrow, but nothing on Christmas. Take it easy.