Beerman’s Picks
by Ben Shapiro, 9/06/01

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.

Last Week: And the first MNC contender has already been shuffled out.  I didn't pick so well, but I don't have the benefit of fall practice or preseason games.  I just gotta jump right in!

This Week: Fresno State looks to continue their reign of terror.  The Hokies try to prove that neither a proven quarterback or proven running back is necessary in today's modern college game.  Notre Dame travels to Lincoln in what may very be the worst idea for a season opener ever.

Not in Action: #18 Mississippi State, #25 Purdue


Friday 9/07
#20 Northwestern (0-0) @ UNLV (0-1)
Line: Northwestern (-3)

8:00 PM (ESPN)

OK, let's see if Northwestern can keep this upsurge going for more than just a year or two, shall we?

UNLV played about the worst game of football I've ever seen.  Second maybe to Arkansas on the other side of the field.  UGLY!  But, they've got one under their belts, and I would imagine a couple of good locker room thrashings as well.   There are worse teams out there ...

Pick: Northwestern
Saturday 9/1
#1 FLORIDA (1-0) vs. UL-Monroe (0-1)
Line: Florida (-56.5)
Fifty Seven?!

That's crazy talk.  Well maybe.  We've all seen Spurrier RUTS before, and U of L at M is ... to be blunt ... a festering sore on the face of major college football.  They opened the season with a 20-9 loss to I-AA Sam Houston State, and it's all downhill from there.

And yet, I am still unable to pick someone to cover a 50 point spread.

Pick: NE Louisiana
#2 MIAMI (FL) (1-0) vs. Rutgers (1-0)
Line: Miami (-44)
Here's one for the archives:  This Saturday, Rutgers will give Miami more of a game than did Penn State last weekend.
Pick: Rutgers
#3 OKLAHOMA (2-0) vs. North Texas (0-1)
Line: Oklahoma (-40)
The Sooner defense is very much for real.   They haven't skipped a beat since last year.  Two games in, however, and the offense is still looking to find itself.  But this is a body bag game, so it really doesn't matter.

Often referred to as the UConn of the Lone Star State ... aww forget it ...

Pick: Okie
#4 NEBRASKA (2-0) vs. #17 Notre Dame (0-0)
Line: Nebraska (-13.5) 8:00 PM (ABC)
Eric Crouch and his ten blockers have the distinct advantage here of having played two games already.  They're gonna need it.   Notre Dame may be lots of things (slow and over hyped), but they are most certainly not Troy State.
Pick: Notre Dame

#5 FLORIDA STATE (1-0) vs. Alabama-Birmingham (1-0)

Line: Florida State (-29)

5:30 PM (ESPN2)

If Florida State thinks they can just suit up 80-or-so warm bodies and roll over UAB like they did to Dook last week ... well ... they're probably right!
Pick: FSU
#6 TEXAS (1-0) vs. North Carolina (0-2)
Line: Texas (-22.5)

12:00 PM (ABC)

Oh the storylines to be had here!  Mack Brown, fresh off his national title run hosts the other program he raised to such lofty heights.  Heisman contenders Ron Curry and Major Applewhite facing off in an old-fashioned gunslingers' shootout.

Oops, sorry.  Reality time.  Texas rolls, UNC sinks to 0-3, and the beat goes on ...

Pick: Texas
#7 Tennessee (1-0) @ ARKANSAS (1-0)
Line: Tennessee (-13)

9:00 PM (ESPN2)

Against UNLV, Arkansas didn't manage a first down until 50 minutes into the game (game minutes, not real minutes).  Do that here, and they'll be down by about 50 points.
Pick: Vols
#8 OREGON (1-0) vs. Utah (1-0)
Line: Oregon (-16.5)
OK, well that was a pretty nifty warm-up game eh?  Now comes the fluff portion of the Oregon schedule.  Utah has been occasionally decent in recent years, and will likely post a 6-5ish record, but that ain't gonna cut it here.

Quack quack waddle waddle quack quack waddle waddle

Pick: Oregon
#9 VIRGINIA TECH (1-0) vs. Western Michigan (1-0)
Line: Virginia Tech (-15.5) 12:00 PM ET (ESPN2)
This one smells an awful lot like ECU last year.  But like ECU last year, I think we're going to go out and show that we are simply no longer in that 2nd or 3rd echelon of programs.  We are not a decent program with occasional good years.  That's Western Michigan.  Lee Suggs does not play defense, or run the offense, or push opposing DLs back on their heels.  Suggs runs through holes and sheds tackles.  It's important, but it isn't everything.

And in case you didn't see the spring game, or weren't paying attention last Saturday ... Keith Burnell 2001 is not the same as Keith Burnell 2000.

And, of course, this is Western Michigan ... too many subplots there to even begin to go into.

It all adds up to one thing though: COVER!

Pick: VT
#10 Michigan (1-0) @ #15 WASHINGTON (0-0)
Line: Washington (-3)

3:30 PM (ABC)

Game of the week kids!

The top of the Big Ten against the (near) top of the Pac Ten.   This might be about as close to a "real" Rose Bowl as we're gonna get this year.   Michigan didn't exactly "wow" anyone last week against Miami (OH), but they did win and they did get that all important first-game-experience.  That's why I like them as my upset of the week.

Pick: Michigan outright
#11 KANSAS STATE (0-0) vs. Southern Cal (1-0)
Line: Kansas State (-3.5)

6:30 PM (Most of FoxSportNet)

Kansas State on the road against a traditional power?  I'm as shocked as you are...

But when you look behind the name and see how very mediocre USC's been lately, things start to make more sense.

Pick: KSU
#12 Oregon State (0-1) @ NEW MEXICO STATE (0-2)
Line: OSU-NW (-16.5)
I was pretty sure that Oregon State was in for a tough time opening at Fresno.  I was right.  I'm even more sure that New Mexico State is about to pay for it.
Pick: Beavers
#13 Georgia Tech (2-0) @ NAVY (0-1)
Line: Georgia Tech (-25)

12:00 PM (FSS)

I'm getting tired of these laughers.  they're impossible to pick.  Can Georgia Tech win by 25?  Yes.   Will they?  Well that all depends on how good their second and third string is.  I hate making calls based on backup players.
Pick: Georgia Tech
#14 UCLA (1-0) @ KANSAS (1-0)
Line: UCLA (-13)

8:30 PM (FSW 2)

UCLA pulled it out in Bama, but there's really no way of telling just how good Bama really is.  Which, by extension, means there's no telling how good UCLA really is either.  All I know is that 13 points is a big line for a road team to cover.
Pick: Kansas
#16 LOUISIANA STATE (1-0) vs. Utah State (0-1)
Line: LSU (-23)

This one could be close in a Godzilla vs. Japan kind of way.  Utah State is floundering around now that the Big West has disbanded, and are about to learn the perils of I-A independence.

Pick: LSU
#19 CLEMSON (1-0) vs. Wofford (0-0)
Line: no line (I-AA)
I don't know exactly what a Wofford is, but I'm pretty sure it's the sound a quarterback makes when a 300 lb. defensive lineman lands on top of him.
Pick: Clemson
#21 South Carolina (1-0) @ #24 GEORGIA (1-0)
Line: USC-South (-1.5)

7:45 PM (ESPN)

And here we've got an early SEC elimination game.  I was pretty impressed with how easily USC handled Boise State last week (stop laughing!), and I'm not entirely sure why Georgia is even ranked at this point.

On the other hand, the game is in Athens, and UGA hasn't dropped two in a row to SC in a decade.  They've got a hotshot new coach, but the operative word there is "new".  Because it also applies to their rs-Fr quarterback.

Not that I'm busting on new starting QBs :o)

Pick: USC
#22 OHIO STATE (0-0) vs. Akron (1-0)
Line: Ohio State (-24)
This much-anticipated battle for Ohio Valley supremacy has been the focus of these two programs all summer.  Akron barely squeaked by the Ohio University last week, but everyone knows it's because their focus was really on this game.


It's a long standing tradition at OSU to serve cupcakes when a new coach comes aboard. 

Pick: OSU
#23 WISCONSIN (1-1) vs. Fresno State (2-0)
Line: Wisconsin (-4)

12:00 PM (ESPN)

Cinderella's a big red dog this year.  And I mean that in the best way possible!
Pick: FSU-West
PITTSBURGH (1-0) vs. South Florida (0-1)
Line: UPitt (-22)
No Antonio Bryant?  No problem.  UPitt's on the up and up, and USF is ... not.  I'm not even sure if South Florida is a I-A team or not.  I think they are, but it might in one of those "transitional I-A" kinda ways.  Either way, UPitt rolls...
Pick: Pittsburgh
Boston College (1-0) @ STANFORD (0-0)
Line: Stanford (-5.5)

10:00 PM (Most of FoxSportsNet)

Well well well.  Perhaps Boston College is a bit farther along in their plan than I'd thought.  That Green kid sure looks like he can scoot around a bit eh?

Stanford's one of those up and down teams.  They just can't seem to keep it going steady.   Well they were down (5-6) last year, but return about 75% of their starting team.   That bodes well.  This should be a good barometer for just how good each of these teams is.

I want to pick BC, but road underdogs just don't have a good track record.

Pick: Stanford
TEMPLE (1-0) vs. Toledo (1-0)
Line: Toledo (-7.5)
Favored by two touchdowns last week.  This line moved from 10 to 7.5 in one day.  Man, Vegas is paying an awful lot of attention to Temple lately.

It's all about the bowl game. Temple probably has to win this one if they're going to manage a 6-5 record. Toledo absolutely took apart Minnesota last week ... but Temple is likely better this year than Minnesota.

If the Owls can get past this weekend, they've got two bye weeks (UConn and Bowling Green) before they begin Big East play.  4-0 out of conference and things could get veeeeeeeeeeery interesting...

Pick: Temple
SYRACUSE (0-2) vs. Central Florida (0-1)
Line: Syracuse (-9) 12:00 PM (Sunshine)
So, y'all see UCF hang with Clemson?  Them Golden Knights ain't so bad as some may have you believe.

Syracuse hung tough themselves for about 50 minutes, then all heck broke loose.  If only they had anything even approaching an offense...

Paul Pasqualoni, Syracuse, and the Big East NEED this game.

Pick: UCF
WEST VIRGINIA (0-1) vs. Ohio (0-1)
Line: WVU (-5.5)
Oh boy.  Not a good showing by the Mountaineers.  40 rushing attempts for 76 yards?  That's not a wide open offense, that's a total lack of a running game.

This is one of those feel good games, that good teams win by 30 points.  West Virginia has a ways to go before I can call them a good team.  I'm calling 10.

Pick: WVU

Game of the Week to Watch: Michigan at Washington.  Auburn/Ole Miss should be pretty good also, if you're in the broadcast area.

Last Week: 7-13-1

Season To Date: 12-15-1

Upset Special: Michigan over UDub (0-2)



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