Beerman’s Picks

by Ben Shapiro, 8/23

Each week this season, I will be posting a column previewing the upcoming weekend's Big East and Top-25 match-ups. All rankings are from the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. I don't pick winners (that's too easy), I pick against the spread.  All picks are for entertainment purposes only.

This Week: Welcome back kids! Maybe it’s because I watched a lot of baseball, maybe it’s because I caught up on a lot of sleep (coincidence?) but this off-season really seemed to fly by. This is good though, because as one esteemed messageboard poster said a couple of weeks ago:



Thursday 8/23
LOUISEVILLE (-20) vs. New Mexico State
Line: Louiseville (-20)

7:00 EST

They had to play this one first, because otherwise no one would watch it.

Then again I couldn't find a TV listing, so maybe no one's watching it anyway!

Pick: Papa Johns at halftime. Mmm…pizza
Saturday 8/25
Hispanic College Fund Classic: #3 OKLAHOMA vs. North Carolina
Line: Oklahoma (-23)

7:45 EST, ESPN

No surprises this year. Oklahoma has a title to defend now, and everyone out there is gunning for them. They’ve lost Huepel and replaced him with Hybl…it’s easier for the coaches that way, they don’t really have to remember a new name…but that’s about all they lose on offense. Fully half of the players on their 2-deep roster last year were freshman or sophomores. If the Sooners fail to pull off a repeat this year, it won’t be for a lack of talent.

North Carolina is just another mediocre team in another mediocre conference. They’ll be lucky to go 6-6 this year. I’m serious. They return a fair number of starters, but they weren’t all that good last year. With a non-conference slate that includes Texas and ECU in addition to Oklahoma, it could be an ugly year in Chapel Hill.

Pick: UNC
Pigskin Classic: #3 NEBRASKA vs. Texas Christian
Line: Nebraska (-28.5)

1:00 EST, ABC

Death, taxes, and Nebraska ruling the midwest. It’s about as automatic as that.

But this year maybe not. Nebraska has LOTS of holes to fill on offense. Pretty much everyone except for QB Eric Crouch will be a new starter. The defense returns eight starters, but ranked only #6 in the Big-12 in 2000. They don’t play Texas though, and they get Oklahoma at home. The Huskers are one of those teams that always seem to have 2 or 3 underclassmen to make up for every senior lost. #4 looks to me a bit on the high side, but they’ll win way more than they lose, and probably hang around the top-10 all year.

TCU’s story is not who’s back, but rather who isn’t. And that’s a long list. Gone is RB LaDanian Thomlinson. Gone are four of his offensive linemen. Gone is Head Coach Dennis Franchione. Gone is half of what was a very, very good defense last year. TCU is playing their first season in CUSA this year, and it’s a little hard to get a read on how well they’ll do.

Except for today. Today they’ll not do well at all.

Pick: Nebraska
#23 WISCONSIN vs. Wahoo State
Line: Wisconsin (-7.5) 2:00 EST, Comcast
After studying the field intently, Algroh open the game with a bold Knight to Queen’s Bishop 3 maneuver. His foe Barry Alvarez (often referred to as the Bobby Fischer of the checkers circuit) responds with a crushing strong side tailback sweep, going for 20 yards through an overmatched Wahoo defense. "Castle dammit! Castle!!!!!", Algroh screams in from the sideline, as confused players mill about the defensive front, facing the Badgers new spread offense for the first time. Back and forth, gambit and counter-gambit, these two masters of their craft go at it in a match-up for the ages. Asked about his defeat in the post-game press conference, Algroh answers with a gruff "He sank my battleship!"
Pick: Virginia
BCA Classic: BYU vs. Tulane
Line: BYU (-9.5) 4:30 EST, ESPN2
Year one A.L. starts off nice and soft for the Cougars. Without Shaun King, and (more importantly) without Tommy Bowden, Tulane is simply not a player on the I-A college football scene. Of course, then again, neither is BYU.
Pick: BYU
Sunday 8/26

Kickoff Classic: #13 Georgia Tech @ SYRACUSE

Line: Georgia Tech (-9.5)

2:00 EST, ABC

Georgia Tech is a trendy pick as a possible top-10 team this year. They’ve got the tools, and they’ve got the talent. Some folks even go so far as to pick them to win the ACC outright. That’s just wishful thinking, however, or just people getting tired of picking Florida State every year. Ralph Friedgen’s gone tho, and the Jackets had best hope their performance in last year’s Peach Bowl was not an indication of things to come.

Syrcause is slowly slipping off the national radar. No longer is the question "Will the Orangemen compete for the Big East title?" and this could be a make-or-break year for them. They don’t have a proven winner at quarterback, and the crows have been circling Coach Pasqualoni ever since Donovan McNabb left. Still, the defense is very solid, and six games in the Jiffy-Pop dome should help offset a difficult non-conference schedule.

It’s my first upset pick of the year. I’m thinking big things for the Big East this year, and this one starts us off in the right direction.

Pick: Syracuse
Jim Thorpe Classic: COLORADO vs. Fresno State
Line: Colorado (-10) 8:00 EST, ESPN2
It may not look that way, but this could actually be a pretty good game.  Fresno State's QB is money.  The guy can play, plain and simple.  They've got a ton of players returning from last years 7-5 squad, and if they can pull off an upset or two against Colorado, Oregon State, or Wisconsin they're going to get noticed in a hurry.

Colorado went 3-8 last year.  Lousy, but with the caveat that their schedule may have been one of the toughest in the country.  They lost only 3 starters to graduation however.  NFL teams don't have that kind of off-season roster stability!

It's one of those classic small conference up-and-comer vs. big conference also-ran matchups.  Honestly, I don't really know why Colorado is favored by ten points.   I guess no one outside of Fresno takes the Bulldogs seriously.

Pick: FSU-West


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