LARRY'S PICKS: Florida, Penn State, Texas

We all know there are roughly 75 bowl games at the end of the college football season, but a picks column of that length would be tedious and painful to write… and even worse to read.

While my picks this year have been, in a word, dreadful, at least I've been able to keep them short enough to make it less tedious. With that in mind I offer up these thoughts on the eight games that matter most: the games to be played after the first of the year. The list includes the six games played on January second, the Paleontologist Bowl on the third and the national championship game. Here we go.

Louisville (plus 8-½) over Virginia Tech: I attended the ACC Championship game in Jacksonville and frankly was not all that impressed with the Hokies. They'll probably play better here, but FSU's offense had a lot of success and Louisville has Bobby Petrino calling the plays which is a pretty good upgrade in that category. Louisville 28-26

Auburn (minus 10-½) over Wisconsin: Auburn played excellent football the second half of the season and the Tigers' team defense should be more than enough to throttle the ponderous Badgers. Tommy Tuberville continues what has been quite a roll the past two seasons. Auburn 24-10

Notre Dame (plus 4-½) over Ohio State: There is much debate out there about Notre Dame not "deserving" this bid, but what any team "deserves" is not item one on these games' agendas. We tend to think the BCS is about the eight best teams getting the four best games… NOT! Be honest. If you were John Junker, Executive Director of the Fiesta Bowl, would you turn down Notre Dame for Auburn or Oregon? As for the game, Brady Quinn becomes the pre-season favorite for the Heisman. Notre Dame 28-20

Georgia (minus 7-½) over West Virginia: LSU knows what it's like to earn a Sugar Bowl bid and have your bowl trip about an hour from home. Georgia never thought that would be the case for them but Hurricane Katrina has this game in Atlanta for at least one year. Pretty easy to take the best team in the best power conference over the best team in the worst of the BCS leagues. Georgia 38-17

Texas Tech (minus 3-½) over Alabama: This unquestionably has the potential to be the worst pick in terms of being off by several touchdowns. It's an interesting clash of style and will not be decided by anyone's scheme or anyone's adjustments. This game, to me is all about motivation and enthusiasm. Who is most excited about being there? Who plays at the highest level? The boys from Lubbock have failed on the big stage before, but a fast start could mean a major accomplishment. Texas Tech 24-16

Florida State (plus 9-½) over Penn State: They've given corporate names to Joe Robbie Stadium over the years, but I refuse to call it anything but its original name --- until now. For one day, Joe Robbie Stadium becomes Jurassic Park as septuagenarian coaches Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden go head-to-head. Or perhaps they're going "depends to depends." Who's to say? Paterno enjoyed a remarkable season just as many were ready to have him stuffed and mounted. Bowden got his team to whip Virginia Tech after staggering to the finish line with three straight losses. It's hard to be certain what to expect from the Noles, but it ought to be close. Penn State 27-21

Florida (minus 1-½) over Iowa: I could be dead wrong, but I have a feeling this is the most upbeat, focused and determined Florida team to head into a bowl in several years. Other than Todd McCullough none of these guys have played in a bowl victory and it really bothers them. Florida played horribly against Iowa two years ago, but this is a better Florida team and I don't think Iowa is as good. Coming off a fine all-around performance against FSU, the Gators get a 9-win season. Florida 30-17

Texas (plus 8-½) over Southern Cal: When the season started I made the point that a number of sports "analysts" have gone down in flames over the years picking Mack Brown to come up big, but I was too smart for that --- until this season. From day one I've picked Texas to win it all, so I'm not stopping now. The Longhorns and Trojans have both shown great offensive firepower and the ability to rally from behind, which tells me this one will be worth the price of admission. Southern Cal is the better team and is probably better coached. I just think that Vince Young has another amazing game in him… and I can't wait to see it. Plus Texas may have more playmaking potential on defense than the men of Troy. Texas 31-30

For those of you who have taken my picks seriously and "invested" in them, my sincere apology. For those who correctly view this as mindless fun and banter… I owe you a cold one! Happy New Year!

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