Without revealing too much about my political leanings—(cough, cough) how’s that Obama experiment working out? (cough)—let’s just say I’m not exactly a big fan of government sticking its Pinocchio-size nose into other businesses’, uh, business. But after watching the cartel that is the BCS ruin yet another college football season with arbitrary, money-driven decisions, I’m now on board with a congressional inquiry, so long as it ends with the demise of a system so fraudulent that Bernie Madoff is shaking his head in disgust.
Forget about the joke that is this season’s so-called national championship game—Alabama loses to LSU, at home, and as a result doesn’t even win its division (let alone its conference), and yet the Crimson Tide get a rematch with No. 1 LSU? This is akin to a father promising his daughter a piece of cake if she aces her math test, then after she fails it, he says, “Nice try, honey; here, eat the whole cake!”
Even more of a travesty than LSU-Alabama Part Deux is the matchup in the Sugar Bowl (one of five BCS games that are worth millions of dollars to participating schools and their affiliated conferences). Inexplicably, Sugar Bowl officials opted for Virginia Tech (11-2, ranked No. 11 and coming off a 38-10 loss to Clemson in the ACC championship game) and Michigan (10-2, ranked 13th and with just one win over a Top 25 opponent), bypassing No. 6 Arkansas (10-2, losses to LSU and Alabama), No. 7 Boise State (11-1, one-point loss to now-No. 18 TCU), No. 8 Kansas State (10-2, losses to then-No. 11 Oklahoma and No. 3 Oklahoma State) and No. 9 South Carolina (10-2).
So what did the Sugar Bowl’s decision ultimately come down to? Backsides. Officials knew Virginia Tech and Michigan would put more asses in the Superdome seats than teams from Boise, Idaho, and Manhattan, Kan. Seems fair.
Look, I know there are more pressing matters in today’s society: the economy, health care, homeland security, me producing a winning week before 2011 expires. But how do you allow something to remain broken when it’s so easily repairable (hello eight-team playoff)? Of course, I know the answer: money and corruption. On second thought, maybe this isn’t a job for the folks in D.C.
On to this week’s picks …
$330 (to win $300) on Texans +3 at Bengals: Here’s the Houston Texans’ 2011 medical report: Running back Arian Foster (last year’s NFL rushing king) misses the majority of the first three games with a hamstring injury, then All-Pro wide receiver Andre Johnson misses six games with a hamstring, then their best defensive player (Mario Williams), starting quarterback (Matt Schaub) and backup QB (Matt Leinart) go down with season-ending injuries. Then, last week, Johnson tweaks his other hamstring (he’s questionable), and the team’s punter blows out his knee.
Now here’s Houston’s 2011 record: 9-3, including a current six-game winning streak. In fact, if the season were to end today, the Texans—who have never been to the playoffs—would be the No. 1 seed in the AFC. Conclusion: The Texans have that team-of-destiny look about them, and after trying (unsuccessfully) to ignore it last week, I’m now embracing it. As for the Bengals, they’re 6-0 against crappy competition, 1-5 against teams with a winning record.
$110 (to win $100) on Giants +3½ at Cowboys: Why did I play the Cardinals last week against Dallas? Because the calendar said it was December, which is when Tony Romo and his Cowboys annually go on vacation. Romo is 19-2 in his career in November, but from that point forward (playoffs included), he’s 8-11. Romo has never seemed to master the psychological element of his job, and I think the December thing is in his head (thanks in part to constant reminders from the media).
The Cowboys are 5-14 against the spread in their last 19 December contests, and dating back to a playoff game in Dallas in January 2008, the Giants are 5-2 straight up and ATS in this rivalry.
$110 (to win $100) on Navy -7 vs. Army: Army has lost three straight games overall (by a combined 53 points) and five in a row to Division I-A opponents (giving up 34.4 points per game), while Navy has followed up a six-game losing streak by winning two of its last three. More importantly, the Midshipmen have won nine straight against Army (going 7-2 ATS) by an average score of 36-10. True, the last two meetings were the most competitive over this nine-year stretch … but Navy won both by 14 points.
BEST OF THE REST: Packers -11 vs. Raiders ($66); Titans +4 vs. Saints ($55); Cardinals +4 vs. 49ers ($44); Patriots-Redskins OVER 48 ($44); Texans-Bengals UNDER 37½ ($44).
LAST WEEK’S RESULTS: 7-4 (-$512); Bankroll: $5,768.