Friday

Bowl Mania

Hello again everybody...

There's a palpable feeling of finality to today isn't there? With Christmas next week and New Year's the week after that, hardly anybody's working full weeks for the rest of 2008, so this sort of feels like the end doesn't it?

Fortunately for you, my dear readers, this isn't the end. Rather it's the beginning of that wonderful experience I like to call Sports Take Bowl Mania! Yes, the college football bowl season kicks off tomorrow morning. So today I kick off my bowl picks.

As an aside, I know I missed the DFTU on Wednesday. I got all excited about Charles Barkley's crusade for Turner Gill and just plain forgot to do it. Perhaps it was a subconscious thing since the Wild have been sucking the bag lately and Wisconsin had the week off for finals. I promise the DFTU will return very soon. But for now, on to the Bowls!

"Talking much about oneself can also be a means to conceal oneself."
- Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), German philosopher and classical philologist


I think this is the second or third time I've had a quote from my man Freddy. Mostly because I like typing "Nietzsche". Can't tell you why. It just flows off the fingers!

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As I said, today begins Sports Take Bowl Mania!

College football bowl season means a lot to many of us. I like to think of it as college football fans' own little Hanukkah. It's 20 days of gifts and you don't even have to pretend that the argyle socks Aunt Tessie gives you every year are the greatest gift ever!

(The preceding sentence was cleared for P.C. purposes by a close, personal Jewish friend. So feel free to chuckle freely!)

So in the spirit of the season, I've decided to pick all 34 bowl games. That's right every single game starting tomorrow and ending with the BCS National Championship game on January 8th will be picked in advance by yours truly.

And after careful consideration, I've decided to set aside the "Flier Pick" for the entire slate of bowl games. I figure if I'm going to "pick them all" then it seems kind of pointless to give myself freebies. Even though I defy anyone to speak intelligently on all 34 match-ups!

I've also decided not to force you to digest all 34 picks at once. Instead, you'll get them in several well-proportioned doses. Just enough to satisfy your ravenous hunger for college football goodness without leaving you feeling too full to function!

And not only are you going to get my quality analysis, but I've also enlisted the services of some other sports gurus. The Hammer you already know from his high-quality NHL and NFL previews. But I'll also be bringing you the picks of the Dean of WCCO Recreational Gaming: Dark Star.

(If you haven't enrolled your kids in Uncle Darky's Gambling Camp, sign them up now! Triple Crown primer classes are filling up quickly. "Hitting the 10-team Parlay 101" is always a big hit! And new this year, "Advanced Collection Techniques" will be taught featuring guest-lecturer, The Beast! That's Uncle Darky's Gambling Camp. The only place to send the future recreational gamer in your life!)

So prepare yourself for 20 days of Picks and Post-Mortems headed your way! Without further ado, here is the first round of Sports Take Bowl Mania!

The Eagle Bank Bowl - RFK Stadium, Washington DC
Saturday, 12/20, 10am CT (ESPN)

Wake Forest -3 vs. Navy


The Demon Deacons are 7-5 (4-4). The Midshipmen are 8-4.

The lid-lifter on the Bowl Season doesn't exactly promise to be a barn-burner. Yes, we got it right when Navy thumped Army, but that was more about Army (who's since fired their head coach) stinking out the joint, than Navy being all that good.

Wake's been up and down all year, and ended up in the middle of the pack in a mediocre ACC.

Both teams are going to try to run the ball. Normally I'd worry about Wake's ability to stop Navy's triple-option threat, but Wake coach Jim Grobe came up as an assistant with Air Force, and is quite familiar with the scheme and it's weaknesses.

So I'm giving the 3 points and going with the Deacs to get us off to a solid start.

ST Pick: Wake Forest -3
Hammer's Pick: Navy +3
Dark Star's Pick: Navy +3

Next...

New Mexico Bowl - University Stadium, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Saturday, 12/20, 1:30pm CT
(ESPN)

Fresno State -3 vs. Colorado State

The Bulldogs are 7-5 (4-4). The Rams are 6-6 (4-4).

I have to admit, I don't know much about either of these teams. The only time I saw either of them play this year was when Wisconsin squeaked out a win at Fresno early in the season.

Neither of them have terribly impressive records - I suppose that's why they're in the New Mexico Bowl.

But I've always been one to believe in momentum when it comes to bowl performances. Colorado State won their last two including a 20-6 thumping of New Mexico who is not appearing in the New Mexico Bowl for the first time in its 3-year existence.

Fresno on the other hand, closed the season by having their lunch handed to them, 61-10, by Boise State.

So I'm taking the points and hoping Colorado State keeps it close.

ST Pick: Colorado State +3
Hammer's Pick: Fresno State -3
Dark Star's Pick: Colorado State +3

Onward...

magicJack St. Petersburg Bowl - Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida
Saturday 12/20, 3:30pm (ESPN2)

Memphis vs. South Florida -12


The Tigers are 6-6 (4-4). The Bulls are 7-5 (2-5).

This game qualifies as "The Most Ridiculous Bowl Name - 2008". Seriously, have you seen the commercial for magicJack?! Infomercials are annoying enough, but creating a commercial to look like an infomercial? That's the last functioning brain cell that comes up with that idea!

But on to the game.

The Bulls were expected to contend for the Big East crown. In fact, I think I picked them to win the conference in my pre-season preview. It's a long way from a BCS berth to the magicJack St. Petersburg Bowl. Combined with South Florida losing 4 of their last 5, I expect the Bulls to come in on something of a down note.

Memphis on the other hand won 3 of their last 5 and put up some serious points along the way, including thumping a game Tulane squad 45-6 in their regular season ender.

I don't really think that Memphis will win. But I do think that they'll keep it closer than the odds makers believe. So I'll take the 12 points and root for the Tigers!

ST Pick: Memphis +12
Hammer's Pick: South Florida -12
Dark Star's Pick: Memphis +12

Penultimately...

Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl - Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, Nevada
Saturday, 12/20, 7pm CT (ESPN)

BYU vs. Arizona -3


The Cougars are 10-2 (6-2). The Wildcats are 7-5 (5-4).

The Mormons are coming to Vegas! The end is nigh!

Okay, probably not. BYU's fan base travels well, so even though the game is in Sin City, I expect a solid Cougar contingent at this game. But not necessarily in the craps pit. I do have a humorous scene in my mind of a Mormon couple trying to explain to their kids what Clarissa, the nurse in fishnets, does for a living!

Can anyone tell me why Arizona's favored in this game? I can think of 3 times this year where I looked at a game and had the wrong team favored in my head outright. And I think I ended up being right all 3 times.

So I'm taking BYU and the points here, and gladly so.

ST Pick: BYU +3
Hammer's Pick: BYU +3
Dark Star's Pick: Arizona -3

Finally...

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl - Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
Sunday, 12/21, 7:15pm CT (ESPN)

Troy -4.5 vs. Southern Mississippi


The Trojans are 8-4 (6-1). The Golden Eagles are 6-6 (4-4).

This one came in second for the "most ridiculous name" title. But because it's in New Orleans, I give it a pass.

Again, we're dealing with two teams I know virtually nothing about.

The only time Troy appeared in the Picks this year, it was when they gave LSU an enormous scare. Oh yeah, and I was picking LSU -18 in that game. Nice. So I'm a little sore at the Trojans, needless to say.

Southern Mississippi won their last 4 straight, while surrendering an average of 8.75 points per game.

Those numbers are enough for me. I'm taking the points and screaming "Brett Favre Rules" for very little reason.

ST Pick: Southern Mississippi +4.5
Hammer's Pick: Troy -4.5
Dark Star's Pick: Troy -4.5

So there you have it. The opening round of Bowl Mania here at The Sports Take. If you'd like to join the fray and add your picks, feel free to do so. I may add your record to the three of ours. Just be sure you're committed to pick all 34 games!

I'll be back on Monday with the Post-Mortem on the first five bowls, and more Picks for your perusal. It's Bowl Mania! Catch the fever! Until Monday, thanks for reading!

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