Beerman’s Picks

by Ben Shapiro, 8/30/01

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.  Note that ABC and CBS offer regional coverage, and not all games are available in all areas.

This Week: With the "preseason" out of the way, we can now get down to brass tacks.  That means real football.  That means HOKIE FOOTBALL.  Vaya con dios, ladies and gentlemen, and let the games begin!

Not in Action: #11 Kansas State, #13 Washington, #16 Notre Dame, #20 Northwestern, #21 Ohio State


Thursday 8/30
Navy (0-0) @ TEMPLE (0-0)
Line: Temple (-16.5)

7:00 pm ET

Much like Cal Ripken fading into the sunset, the Temple Owls begin what could be their farewell tour of I-A football.  Temple could be decent this year though.  They were mentioned not once, but TWICE on the ESPN kickoff show, and not immediately following the words "...a soft schedule that includes ..."

This is heady stuff in Philly, and both Owl fans can hardly contain themselves.  I joke because I love, but if the "hype" has any substance to it at all, I'd expect Navy to go down without too much of a fight.

This line has moved from 14 to 16.5 points.  I had no idea that many people gambled on Temple!

Pick: Navy
Rutgers (0-0) @ BUFFALO (0-0)
Line: Rutgers (-14.5) ... I'm speechless ...

7:30 pm ET (MSG, Empire)

In a clash of two great titans such as this, we small folk can only hope and pray to escape with our lives.
Pick: Buffalo
Saturday 9/1
#1 FLORIDA (0-0) vs. Marshall (0-0)
Line: Florida (-29.5)

7:15 pm ET (ESPN2)

Now this is interesting.  I mean Florida should be leaps and bounds ahead of Marshall.  But Marshall is no UConn.  If the Herd comes in with a good game plan, catches the Gators flat, and can get a few breaks ...
Pick: Marshall
#2 Miami (FL) (0-0) vs. PENN STATE (0-0)
Line:  Miami (-12.5)

8:00 pm ET (ABC)

Test #1 for Captain Coker and the Crazy Canes from Coral Gables.  Was PSU just "down" last year?  Or is this the beginning of the end for JoePa?

Even in Happy Valley, if Miami loses this one it will speak volumes about Larry Coker's new promotion.  It may be close.  In fact, I think PSU will cover, but no way no how do the Nits have the talent to beat the Canes straight up.

Pick: PSU
#3 Oklahoma (1-0) @ AIR FORCE (0-0)
Line: OU (-19) 3:30 pm ET (ABC)
Ooohhh sorry Falcons, but thanks for playing!   Air Force has one of the most ... stubborn ... ground games in all of major college football.  They run the triple option like nobody's business.  The big guys don't like playing AFA, because there are only a few schools left that run the option as the basic focus of their offense.  One of those few is Nebraska, however, and that means the Sooners know how to defeat it.  Pay attention though, because if Air Force can get something going against this defense, it could be an indication of things to come when Oklahoma travels to Lincoln later this year.

Granted, Oklahoma didn't look like champions against UNC last weekend, but they've got that all important first game under their belts now, while the Falcons are breaking in 17 new starters.  'Tis a pity ...

Pick: Air Force
#4 NEBRASKA (1-0) vs. Troy State (AL) (0-0)
Line: UNL (-50.5) 12:30 pm ET (FSW2)
Troy State likes to call themselves the UConn of the Deep South.  No wait a second...I like to call Troy State the UConn of the Deep South.  The Trojans probably would consider that an insult, because unlike UConn, Troy State was actually a very successful I-AA program.  They'll bring an experienced starting QB and a wide open spread offense, and should score some points.   They're going to get mauled on "D", however, especially against a team the caliber of the Huskers.  That having been said, there's no way I'm picking anyone to cover a 50 point spread!
Pick: Troy State

#5 Florida State (0-0) @ DOOK (0-0)

Line: FSU (-30)

6:00 pm ET

National Champion caliber basketball.  Miserable football.  A student body made up largely of residents of the Northeast corridor.  A close inspection of the official letterhead reveals in the fine print "University of Connecticut at Durham".  No coincidences here folks!
Pick: Florida State
#6 TEXAS (0-0) vs. New Mexico State (0-1)
Line: Texas (-35) 7:00 pm ET (FoxSportsNet)
"Texas is like sportswriter heroin ..."  See, now that's good stuff!

New Mexico State is the UConn of the Southwest.  Except they actually have a quarterback.  Well sort of.  Suffice it to say, someone is lining up to receive the snap from center.  It says a lot about your team, when you can rush for 407 yards in a single game, and still lose by 21 points

Pick: UT
#7 TENNESSEE (0-0) vs. Syracuse (0-1)
Line: Tennessee (-14.5) 4:00 pm ET (ESPN2)
See, now there's that solid Syracuse defense that I was talking about.  I think they're capable of keeping the game close.  Close enough that a real difference-maker on offense just might be able to rise up and topple the mighty Vols.  Troy Nunes is not that difference maker...not in a place like Neyland Stadium.
Pick: Syracuse
#8 OREGON (0-0) vs. #23 Wisconsin (1-0)
Line: Oregon (-9.5) 8:00 pm ET (ABC)
There's nothing quite so special as watching Monday Night Football, and hearing Dan Fouts respond to Dennis Miller's highbrow banter with such witty rejoinders as "I'm Dan Fouts!", "I used to play quarterback!", and the occasional "Go Ducks!"
Pick: Oregon
#9 VIRGINIA TECH (0-0) vs. UConn (0-0)
Line: VT (-46.5) 12:00 pm ET (Comcast, MSG)
Let's get ready to rummmmmmmmmmmmmble!

Now this is just my opinion of course, but I think it would be to the benefit of both teams if we'd start Grant Noel, and loan Bryan Randall to the Huskies.  Not for good, just for this game.

Pick: Hoakies!
#10 MICHIGAN (0-0) vs. Miami (OH) (0-0)
Line: Michigan (-24.5) 3:30 pm ET
Michigan oh Michigan, wherefore are thou mighty Michigan?

The Big Ten is a big mess this year.  No team really looks to stand out on paper, and I guess tradition and an established coaching staff give Michigan the edge in the polls.

Pick: Michigan
#14 GEORGIA TECH (1-0) vs. The Citadel (0-0)
Line: no line (I-AA) 6:00 pm ET
Known familiarly as the UConn of the Southeast, the Citadel breeds a fine military man, but a lousy football player. Evidently the Jackets have a few kinks yet to work out in their offensive scheme. Sounds like just the sort of thing this scrimmage should solve!
Pick: Jackets
#15 UCLA (0-0) @ #25 ALABAMA (0-0)
Line: Bama (-3) 7:45 pm ET (ESPN)
If Franchione can pull this one off, it would go a loooooong way towards calming the nerves of Bama fans across the country.  Dennis is only the second head coach the Tide has ever had without ties to Papa Bear, and the old guard isnt real keen on that.

Here's my upset special. 

Pick: Bama outright
#17 LSU (0-0) vs. Tulane (0-1)
Line: LSU (-21.5) 8:00 pm ET
Often referred to as the UConn of the Bayou, Tulane comes into this game fresh off the heels of giving up 70 points in their opener.  If they have any chance at all here, it's that there's no way that the LSU players could be taking this game very seriously.  Either that, or they're gonna have to go sign up Bobby Boucher.
Pick: LSU
#18 CLEMSON (0-0) vs. Central Florida (0-0)
Line: Tigs (-19) 1:00 pm ET
Could be a good score to track.  For the first time as a I-A head coach, Tommy Bowden doesn't have Rich Rodriguez to call upon to run his offense. Woody Dantzler is back, but his #1 target has gone on to greener pastures. The defense in particular was savaged by graduation, and it should be interesting to see if UCF can exploit this to their advantage.  The Golden Knights bring back only 4 starters from an offense that averaged more than 30 points per game in 2000, and this season will show just how well they've been able to recruit against the other Big-3 state schools.
Pick: UCF
#22 SOUTH CAROLINA (0-0) vs. Boise State (0-0)
Line: USC (-19.5) 7:00 pm ET
Goodbye Bart Hendricks, hello obscurity.  Boise State won 10 games last year, their last in the Big West. That's kinda like winning the AA World Series.  They'd like to carry over some of their success into the WAC, and I think they will, but success in the WAC is a far cry from success against the SEC.

South Carolina returns 18 starters from last year's Cinderella team, but competing in the SEC East means improving on 7 wins will be a mighty tall order.

Pick: Boise State
#24 Colorado State (0-0) vs. Colorado (0-1) @ Denver
Line: Colorado (-4.5) 3:30 pm ET (ABC)
Well I guess having 90% of your 2-deep roster returning isn't enough for some people.  Sheesh!  What more could you want?

Colorado State is the preseason pick in the MWC basically by default.  Huge turnover at Air Force, and a new coach at BYU.   The Rams lost a lot of bodies too, but that hasn't hurt them much in the past.   Nor, methinks, will it today.

Pick: Colorado State
West Virginia (0-0) @ BOSTON COLLEGE (0-0)
Line: BC (-3.5) 12:00 pm ET (ABC)
And the battle for Big East #3 is joined.  Hee-yah!

Rich Rodriguez and his high-octane offense vs. Tom O'Brien and his thick-ankle defense.  I really think WVU takes this one, and takes it easily.

Pick: WVU
PITTSBURGH (0-0) vs. Eastern Tennessee (0-0)
Line: no line (I-AA) 6:00 pm ET
Yeesh!  ETSU? I'd call them the the UConn of the Volunteer State, except I that have too much respect for UConn.  Barring major seismic activity, this one's a walkover.
Pick: UPitt
Sunday 9/2
#12 Oregon State (0-0) @ FRESNO STATE (1-0)
Line: OSU (-3.5) 10:00 pm ET (ESPN2)
Oregon State might have bitten off somewhat more than they can chew.  They are trying to establish themselves as real contenders, not just a flash in the pan.  Sports Illustrated picked them to finish #1 in the nation (!) despite the loss of their entire receiving corps and half of their defensive line.  The Beavers are getting a whole lot of credit based almost entirely on the names Simonton and Erickson.

Fresno State didn't just hang close to Colorado.  They beat em, and they made the Buffs look bad while they were at it.  The offense wasn't ever really in question, but the Bulldog defense came up big in Boulder.  If that's a sign of games to come, then FSU-West might make some big noise before this season is over.

For OSU, this game spells T-R-O-U-B-L-E!

Pick: FSU-West
Monday 9/3
#19 MISSISSIPPI STATE (0-0) vs. Memphis (0-0)
Line: MSU (-16) 7:00 pm ET (ESPN2)
Monday night is for the pros.  Period.

Mississippi State is my darkhorse pick in the SEC race.  Buh-bye Memphis!

Pick: MSU

Game of the Week to Watch: The night game.  Be it UM-PSU or OU-UW.  Good stuff all around!

Last Week: 5-2

Season To Date: 5-2

Upset Special: Alabama over UCLA (0-1)


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