Fearless Friday Picks

The Sixteenth Week of the 2002 has arrived and the answers to all remaining questions will now be answered. The Champions of all Conferences not already decided will be crowned, and the participants in the BCS and Bowls finalized come Sunday evening.

What an exciting Season it has been with many twists and turns of fate, many not foreseen by the pundits. And it should be so, for as fans, it is the unpredictable that excites us the most. Let's take a look at the Composite Pre-Season Top 25 from National Champs.net, I think most will find it quite interesting:

1. Miami (2.34)
2. Oklahoma (2.44)
3. Texas (2.61)
4. Florida State (3.50)
5. Tennessee (4.22)
6. Florida (8.33)
7. Colorado (8.61)
8. Georgia (10.17)
9. Washington (10.39)
10. Washington State (11.17)
11. Nebraska (11.22)
12. Ohio State (12.22)
13. Michigan (13.00)
14. Oregon (14.33)
15. Louisiana State (15.22)
16. Virginia Tech (17.67)
17. Louisville (19.39)
18. Marshall (20.28)
19. Michigan State (20.56)
20. Maryland (22.72)
21. Texas A&M (22.78)
22. Southern Cal (23.78)
23. South Carolina (23.78)
24. Penn State (24.50)
25. Auburn (25.67)

From the August thinking as compared to now, five of the favorites in the Top 10 and six of the Top 11-25 didn't cut the mustard, which only proves that playing the games is the only true way to decide matters. But it is fun trying nonetheless since there is little else to occupy our attention once Spring Practice is completed. As they should have been, Miami was the pick as #1 and is still undefeated and at the top, a truly impressive accomplishment that is but one game away from running the table for the second year in a row and meriting a return trip to this year's National Championship game.
Turning our attention back to this week's slate, we have 8 games on tap to review beginning with a game this evening. Last week was a sobering reminder that when you go with your gut, you best be prepared for a belly ache as a 5-6 mark straight up and a 4-7 against the spread spoil my hope of improving on the records: 92-53 SU, 74-71 ATS.
7pm Tonight on ESPN2
Cincinnati (-7.5) @ East Carolina: The Bearcats can not only secure a Bowl bid but share in the CUSA title with a win over the Pirates. Head Coach Steve Logan's team has struggled this year standing 4-7 but with 3 wins at home including their upset of current CUSA leader TCU and with a win could tie for second in the Conference. Cincinnati stands at 6-6 but has fought both West Virginia and Ohio State to the bitter end in tough losses and I think Rick Minter's team will take care of business. UC 31-ECU 21.
Noon Saturday on CBS
Army vs. Navy (-3) at the Meadowlands: The 103rd meeting between the Service Academies and both seek to escape the cellar of shame at the bottom of the Division 1A rankings. Paul Johnson's Midshipmen haven't won since August, but have given a good account of themselves when QB Craig Candeto has been healthy, especially in their near upset of Notre Dame. The Black Knights of Todd Berry got a win over Tulane on November 16th but promptly went out and was drubbed by Memphis the next week. Army leads the all time series and won last year's meeting, but I'm liking Navy this year. Midshipmen 24 Knights 17.
1pm on ABC
Virginia Tech @ Miami (-18): The fans of more than a few teams will tune into this one to see if the Hokies can send the BCS commissioners into shock and perhaps provide Georgia with a shot at the Fiesta. The Hokies looked more like the team that won 8 in a row to start the season as they rebounded to a win over Virginia while the Canes were making Frosted Orangemen at Syracuse. While I truly love to see the upset, there's something about a team playing at home with so much on the line that tells me the Canes will come out with the single mindedness of purpose all great teams exhibit. Canes win but I think the Hokies keep it more respectable than the odds makers have it figured, Miami 38 Va. Tech 28.
2:30pm on ESPN2
Toledo vs. Marshall (-4.5) for the MAC Championship: A rematch between these two as the Rockets seek to defend their title. Though they graduated their star RB Chester Taylor, Toledo has a freshman named Astin Martin step up and wow everyone and  along with Trinity Dawson filling in for the injured William Bratton, the Rocket running game is most formidable. Heisman still hopeful Brian Leftwich is still nursing his shin injury but with him behind center, there is no questioning the Herd's Offensive firepower through the air, even wounded, Leftwich has proven that if he can only stand, he can still put the ball where it needs to be. This will be a war as both have shown the ability to play solid, if unspectacular Defense, and the ability to score. I believe Marshall will win if Leftwich can finish the game, say Marshall 35 Toledo 31.
4:30pm on ABC
Washington State (-2.5) @ UCLA: This game decides the Pac10 Championship as well as the Rose Bowl birth. By the opening kickoff, the game in Miami may already be decided which will determine what post season planning lies in store for several teams, including these two. Late word is that talented QB Jason Gesser will play, which means a porous Bruin Defense will be sorely tested. Combined with the fact that the Bruins have a lot of youth that simply hasn't found any consistency and the recipe for a Cougar blowout seems likely. Wazoo 42 UCLA 17.
8pm on ABC
Colorado vs. Oklahoma (-7) in Houston for the Big 12 Championship: This is now the most interesting matchup of the day as the Sooners back into the contest having been humiliated by the hated Cowboys for the second year in a row and the wounded Buffs come in fresh off a beating of Nebraska on the road. The highly touted Sooners were rolling along undefeated until their visit to College Station where they discovered an inability to stop the deep passing attack of the Aggies, a design utilized by Oklahoma State last week to also defeat them. Colorado shook off their trademark early season sleepwalking and ran roughshod on their B12 foes until their visit to Norman, dropping a 27-11 game. Tomorrow, the Buffs limp into this one without #1 rusher Chris Brown and with #2 rusher Bobby Purify listed doubtful and without this deep passing capability either. For Colorado to retain their Big 12 crown, they must have Oklahoma to help them out, not very likely in my book: Oklahoma 35 Colorado 17.
The Game of the Week
The SEC Championship
Arkansas vs. Georgia (-8.5): It's good to be the writer and its better to be a Dawg in 2002! The end to a great season for Georgia as they finally climb into the Title game against the Razorbacks of Arkansas. Both teams secured their tickets to the Georgia Dome with last second dramatic victories, the Hogs qualifying last Friday with a win over LSU and two weeks ago for the Dawgs over Auburn. Houston Nutt's Arkansas team arrives with the top rushing attack in the SEC and the worst passing attack, the second ranked run defense and the last ranked passing defense. Georgia comes in with all of their wide receiver weapons available for the first time since October and with a healthy Musa Smith, not a good thing if'n you are a Hog as evidenced by the Dawgs blasting their nemesis GT into the record books with a 51-7 beating last week in Terrence Edward's first game back from an injury.
With neither team having played on turf yet this season, that could factor into matters but I don't think it will be of favor to either. As in any big game with a lot riding on the outcome, the jitters could have one or both looking shaky at the onset, but if both teams play up to their maximum capabilities, I still feel that the Dawgs are superior in all three areas of the game. If the Hogs cannot stop the Dawgs passing game, this one could get out of hand suddenly, SECC Dawgs 41 Arkansas 17.
May all enjoy this last week of the regular season in style! Go DAWGS!!!!!!

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