Beerman’s Picks
by Ben Shapiro, 9/27/01

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.  For the most current TV information, click on over to TV Guide

Last Week: Anyone out there actually think that there would be a point in the season where Fresno State would be ranked higher than Florida State? Raise your hand. Now, those of you who are lying put your hand down. That's about what I thought...

This Week: A veritable smorgasbord of top quality matchups this weekend. I mean this is good stuff! Count 'em ... seven intra-top-25 games. Some decent non-top-25 action also. I don't know about you guys, but I'm going to be spending waaaaaaay too much dough at the sports bar this weekend.

Not in Action: They're ALL playing this week.

Thursday 9/27
#1 Miami (FL) (2-0) @ PITTSBURGH (1-1)
Line: Miami (-27)

7:30 PM EST (ESPN)

Am I the only one that thinks Larry Coker looks an awful lot like Uncle Fester? I think it's the ears...
Pick: UPitt
Saturday 9/29
#2 FLORIDA (3-0) vs. #22 Mississippi State (1-1)
Line: Florida (-17)

3:30 PM EST (CBS)

Well my dark horse pick in the SEC was Mississippi State. So much for that...

Rex Grossman has settled nicely into the Gators' starting QB position, and Spurrier's fun-n-gun is on cruise control. I can't think of too many #2 teams that have been getting less press than Florida right now.

I bet Stevie likes it that way.

Pick: MSU
#3 OKLAHOMA (3-0) vs. #9 Kansas State (2-0)
Line: Okie (-4.5) 12:00 PM EST (ABC, ESPN+, GamePlan)
And here's where the Big-12 starts sorting itself out.

Hanging 64 on New Mexico State is not a challenge. Rocky Calamus and Company. THAT'S a challenge.

KSU lost a lot of offense from last year, as evidenced by their dogfight against USC a few weeks ago.

I'm a little iffy here, but I think I smell a Sooner rout.

Pick: Oklahoma
#4 Nebraska (4-0) @ MISSOURI (1-1)
Line: Nebraska (-24) 12:30 PM EST (FoxSportsNet)
The way I figure it, Nebraska has four more games to find someone besides Eric Crouch to contribute. But that's a long way off. For now, EC's plenty.
Pick: Mizzou
#5 TEXAS (3-0) vs. Texas Tech (2-0)
Line: Texas (-17.5) 7:00 PM EST (FoxSportsNet)
So I guess a trash-talking Houston team is what it took to finally get Chris Simms to play up to his potential.  Or maybe it was just facing a team the caliber of Houston.  I guess we'll find out soon enough. Texas Tech is no great shakes, but they're good enough that Texas will have to at least pay attention.
Pick: TT

#6 Oregon (3-0) @ UTAH STATE (0-3)

Line: Oregon (-15.5)

9:05 PM EST (FoxSportsNet)

Well, if Oregon keeps winning them ugly, they're going to get a lot of highlight time on SportsCenter. Maybe that's the plan?

Utah State is not a team you want to see highlights about. This is the sort of game you want to be listed score-only. And that score should be something like 64-10.

And why is Oregon playing USU on the road?

Pick: Ducks
#7 VIRGINIA TECH (3-0) vs. Central Florida (1-2)
Line: VT (-24)

12:00 PM EST (SunShine)

Ladies and gentlemen, our toughest OOC opponent of the season.

Will someone please pass the Kool-aid?

Pick: VT
#8 TENNESSEE (2-0) vs. #14 Louisiana State (2-0)
Line: Tennessee (-10)

7:45 PM EST (ESPN)

For my money, this is the most intriguing game of the weekend.  Is U of T really a top-10 team?  Maybe. LSU won this matchup last year in Death Valley, when Rohan Davey had a rare good game against a quality team. If he can do it again, the Tigs most certainly have a shot.  It's early, and I think most everyone's healthy.  So I'm calling upset.
Pick: LSU
#10 UCLA (3-0) @ #19 OREGON STATE (1-1)
Line: UCLA (-3.5) 3:30 PM EST (ABC, GamePlan)
Today we find out if OSU is for real or not. They've had three weeks to prepare, they'd best be ready.  UCLA looks to finally have learned to pay defense, and that makes them very tough.
Pick: UCLA
#11 GEORGIA TECH (3-0) vs. #25 Clemson (2-1)
Line: GT (-11.5) 3:30 PM EST (ABC, GamePlan)
And just like that, Georgia Tech's road got a whole lot easier.

Dantzler isn't half as bad as he's looked to this point in the season.  What you have to understand is that the running game was merely average in the first place, and I think everyone on the roster with a number in the 80's on their jersey is injured.  I think I saw a couple of backup OLs running fly patterns against UVA last week.

Be that as it may, Tech's gonna roll.

Pick: GT
#12 Washington (2-0) @ CALIFORNIA (0-3)
Line: UDub (-15) 5:00 PM EST
Berkeley peaceniks protest Cal football team. Cite "bad foreign policy".
Pick: Washington
#13 FRESNO STATE (4-0) vs. Louisiana Tech (1-1)
Line: FSU (-22)

10:00 PM EST (KFRE-Fresno)

And so begins Fresno State's descent into SOS hell...
Pick: LaTech
#15 FLORIDA STATE (2-1) vs. Wake Forest (2-1)
Line: FSU (-26.5) 7:00 PM EST (SunShine)
Angry Seminole says "Demon Deacon fall down, go BOOM!"
Pick: FSU
#16 SOUTH CAROLINA (3-0) vs. Alabama (2-1)
Line: USC-South (-6)

12:00 PM EST (JP Sports, GamePlan)

USC has won on the road twice against teams ranked (then) in the top-25.

Bama, conversely has struggled against Vandy, and at home to UCLA. Frankly, I'm a bit surprised the line isn't bigger.

Pick: Cocks
#17 MICHIGAN (2-1) vs. #23 Illinois (3-0)
Line: Michigan (-6.5)

3:30 PM EST (ABC, GamePlan)

I think I'm aboard the Illini bandwagon. I don't really know why. Probably, I'm just sick of the same big-name Big-10ers winning every year.
Pick: Illinois
#18 NORTHWESTERN (2-0) vs. #24 Michigan State (2-0)
Line: Northwestern (-6.5) 12:00 PM EST (ABC, GamePlan)
Take these Wildcats for example. I mean didn't they just share the B-10 title last year? Come on, can't we get any variety in here? Nurse! Where's my pills?
Pick: MSU
#20 Brigham Young (3-0) @ UNLV (0-3)
Line: BYU (-7) 7:00 PM EST (ABC, GamePlan)
BYU is the polar opposite of the Washington Redskins. Try as they might, they just keeping winding up in that darn end zone!
Pick: BYU
#21 Purdue (2-0) @ MINNESOTA (1-1)
Line: Purdue (-4)

12:00 PM EST (ESPN2)

Another Big Ten matchup that I, frankly, have zero interest in.
Pick: Purdue
SYRACUSE (2-2) vs. East Carolina (2-1)
Line: Syracuse (-6)

1:30 PM EST (GamePlan)

Well I'll be! Check out that smackdown the Orange administered on those poor SEC boys last weekend!

ECU is 2-1, but they've lost to Wake and struggled against I-AA William & Mary. It looks like life in C-USA is limiting the Pirates' growth.

Normally, I would see this as another opportunity for Syracuse to disappoint, but I'm feeling really good about their defense, and I think the "O" might be starting to turn a corner.

Big East Uber Alles!

Pick: Cuse
BOSTON COLLEGE (2-1) vs. Army (0-2)
Line: BC (-24.5)

12:00 PM EST (ESPN+, GamePlan)

The Big East #3 team? As this season starts to come into focus, it's looking more and more like Boston College. The offense is pretty good behind a dynamic running game, and the defense is ... adequate. 10/27 vs. Notre Dame and 11/24 @ Syracuse loom large.
Pick: Army
West Virginia (2-1) @ MARYLAND (3-0)
Line: UMud (-9)

12:00 PM EST

The big story in this game is Maryland. 3-0 already, and the Terps are probably going bowling. WVU this week, and the Hoos the next. Dook and Troy State also are coming up, and anything less than 6-5 would have to be a serious disappointment now.
Pick: Maryland
Line: Rutgers (-18)

7:00 PM EST (ESPN+)

Yeesh! It don't get much worse than this.
Pick: Rutgers
Game of the Week to Watch: All of them. This is a sports bar weekend like no other. But my top picks are:
  • 12:00 - KSU/OU
  • 3:30 - UM/Illinois
  • 7:45 - LSU/UT

Last Week: 12-8

Season To Date: 35-37-1

Upset Special: LSU over Tennessee (1-3)


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