UMGoBlog.com was gracious enough to give me $500 this holiday season to put my sports knowledge to the test. The premise: Beat Vegas at all costs.
Okay, so enough though the guys at UMGoBlog are generally awesome people, I might be exaggerating a bit about my new holiday wallet-stuffer.
I have, however, given myself a fictitious $500 bankroll in the hopes of providing you some useful and entertaining knowledge for some upcoming bowl games. I even somehow managed to include a future or current member of the Big 10 in each one of my picks. That being said, here’s my best crack at beating Vegas.
Pick 1: (-14) vs. — $150
This is a rematch of a September 18th showdown in Seattle in which the Cornhuskers came into the always-hostile Husky Stadium and smacked around the hometown boys 56-21. In the matchup of top-tier quarterbacks, it was the younger Taylor Martinez who got the job done. On the other side of the ball, the Nebraska Black Shirts made preseason No. 1 NFL Draft Pick Jake Locker essentially disappear. Locker went 4-for-20 on the day and Martinez and his solid running mate Roy Helu exposed the Huskies defense in an downright onslaught. Despite the injuries to Martinez, I expect him to be healthy for the December 30th rematch, and that means a whole lot more of the same. Huskers win this one — big.
Pick 2: vs. OVER 58 — $200
All year I’ve been hearing about how great the TCU defense is. Don’t get me wrong, while it’s solid, so too is the Wisconsin offense. Badgers’ head coach Brett Bielema has gotten a lot of heat for running up the score this season, but even when he calls 20+ running plays in a row, teams have struggled to tackle the trio of John Clay, James White, and Montee Ball. TCU’s offense is no slouch either, though. Quarterback Andy Dalton and running back Ed Welsey lead one of the nation’s most prolific attacks. Wisconsin has scored 20 or more points in every game this year, including 31 and 30 against Ohio State and Iowa, respectively. And even though TCU has allowed less than 10 points in a majority of their games, against offensive-minded squads, they’ve given up their fair share of points. Oregon State, SMU, and San Diego State all scored more than 20 points against the Horned Frogs defense. I’m not trying to hate on any of those three programs, but Wisconsin’s offense is far superior. This game will be a shootout.
Pick 3: vs. OVER 60 — $150
You knew I had to throw in a prediction about the Wolverines’ bowl game. Although I’m not willing to open my wallet for a Michigan cover, I’ll take my chances on the Over/Under. We all know how talented Michigan’s offense is, and how inept their defense can be at times. The much-maligned Michigan defense has allowed almost 448 yards of total offense per game, and with Denard Robinson at quarterback, the Rich Rodriguez-led spread offense has flourished to the tune of 500 total yards per contest. Mississippi State is no slouch, either. They put up 24 points or more against four different SEC teams, and lost by just three to No. 1 Auburn. Quarterback Chris Reif can hold his own both through the air and on the ground, and running back Vick Ballard has scored 16 touchdowns this year. The Bulldog receiving corps are pretty weak, but against the Wolverine defense, anything is possible. In any case, I predict this to be a very entertaining game with a lot of points thrown up on the scoreboard.