Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2010 | 2:05 a.m.
If first impressions are truly the most important measure of character, then this blog should already be buried. My first post of bowl picks went a pathetic 0-3.
Worse yet, none of the selections were even close. The first three bowl games of 2010 were over by halftime.
The good news is the thought that these entries would be just for fun and not at all helpful appears wrong. They should be extremely beneficial if you take the other side.
Three favorites covered and I took three underdogs. Let’s bank on the dogs getting back some of their bite, as I’m taking the points in three of this week’s five games.
Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl: St. Petersburg: Louisville (-2.5) vs. Southern Miss
Tuesday 5:00, Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., ESPN
Southern Miss has a fantastic offense that has put up 30 points in all but one game this season. The Golden Eagles problem comes on defense, where they often look helpless and give up 30 points per game.
Louisville is making its first bowl appearance since a 2007 Orange Bowl victory against Wake Forest in one of the least memorable BCS games of the past decade. The Cardinals have won their games with defense, holding five of their last six opponents to 20 points or less. Tough game to handicap, but Southern Miss quarterback Austin Davis is on a current tear and could be the best player on the field.
Pick: Southern Miss +2.5
MAACO Bowl Las Vegas: No. 20 Utah (+17.5) vs. No. 10 Boise State
Wednesday 5:00, Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, ESPN
No doubt Boise State could beat Utah by more than 17 at its best. But the Utes have seemed like the more motivated team all week. I can’t see a team that has won nine straight bowl games allow itself to get bulldozed.
Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore has endured an exhausting three weeks traveling around the country for awards ceremonies and Utah has one of the better defenses he has faced. Yes, the Broncos have great ATS numbers the last few years. But this isn’t the regular season and they aren’t looking to impress pollsters with statement blowouts. If they are up 14 with two minutes to go, Boise State coach Chris Petersen won’t be gunning for the end zone like normal.
Pick: Utah +17.5
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl: Navy (+4) vs. San Diego State
Thursday 5:00, Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, ESPN
The last time the Aztecs were in a bowl game, the Backstreet Boys were a best-selling artist and the Denver Broncos were the class of the NFL. It’s been that long — 12 years.
San Diego State should be pumped to play a postseason game in front of its home crowd and have one of the most underrated receiver tandems in the country. DeMarco Sampson and Vincent Brown are too much for Navy to handle.
Pick: San Diego State -4
Sheraton Hawaii Bowl: Tulsa (+10.5) vs. Hawaii
Friday 5:00, Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, ESPN
Hawaii’s immense home-island advantage usually disappears in bowl games. The Warriors are only 3-2 in the Hawaii Bowl and were crushed by Notre Dame two years ago. It might have something to do with teams spending a whole week in Hawaii and adjusting after the long flight — a luxury they wouldn’t have in the regular season.
Hawaii has put together a terrific 11-1 season, but Tulsa is one of the hottest teams in the country. The Golden Hurricane have won six in a row and eight of their last nine. Look for receiver Damaris Johnson to make a couple big plays to keep it close and maybe take the outright win for Tulsa.
Pick: Tulsa +10.5
Little Caesars Bowl: Toledo (-1.5) vs. Florida International
Sunday 5:30, Ford Field in Detroit, ESPN
Would love to take FIU here, because Mario Cristobal is an up-and-coming coach and the Golden Panthers have a great story. This is only their sixth year in FBS and coming into this season they had only won 25 games in nine years as a program.
But reality has to strike sometime. Toledo is nothing special, either, but it steadily improved throughout the season. The Rockets defense should be able to slow a one-dimensional Golden Panther attack.
Pick: Toledo -1.5
Bowl Season Record: 0-3