McMurphy's Picks: One Last Gift Before the Holiday Season
According to the handbook, there are 10 jobs that are undergoing, well, shrinkage and have a dim future. They are: judge, fashion designer, insurance underwriter, travel agent, newspaper reporter, broadcast announcer, plant manager, chemist, economist and CEO.
Just missing the top 10 list of least secure professions: Western Athletic Conference employee, tour manager for Tim Brewster's motivational speaking seminar: "Winning the Brew Way" and the DVD distributor for "Greg Davis, offensive genius."
Enough doom and gloom, especially with the holiday season upon us. I'm in a giving mood with the last regular season installment of my college football predictions. But don't worry, I'll return for the bowl season.
To recap: "Cover Me" and I, who are 7-1 in our last eight best bet selections, began the season with an imaginary $5,000 bankroll. We're now 20 games over .500; good for a $1,250 profit – for entertainment purposes only, of course. Each pick is for $50, except for the $100 best bets. Point spreads from Wednesday's USA Today.
This week's picks:
Northern Illinois vs. Miami, Ohio, Best Bet. To help boost attendance for Friday's MAC Championship in Detroit, Northern Illinois students can take a bus to the game for $20. The package includes one game ticket and transportation to and from Ford Field. With the likelihood of a blowout, for an extra $5, NIU's students also will be allowed to suit up and play in the second half. Northern Illinois -17.
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati. At this summer's Big East media days, Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt said he didn't like being picked as the league favorite. Now we know why. The disappointing Panthers' five losses (Utah, Notre Dame, Miami, UConn and West Virginia) were all to bowl teams. The good news is that the Bearcats aren't a bowl team. Pittsburgh +2.
Rutgers at West Virginia. Last week, a West Virginia fan website incorrectly reported that coach Bill Stewart would retire after the season. Stewart actually retired on Nov. 1 and the Mountaineers have responded by winning three straight. West Virginia -20.
Utah State at Boise State. To show his support of kicker Kyle Brotzman, whose 26-yard miss cost Boise State in last week's loss at Nevada, Broncos coach Chris Petersen will allow Brotzman to kick a field goal anytime Boise State gets in scoring position against Utah State. The result? Brotzman kicks an NCAA record 17 field goals in the Broncos' 51-0 blowout. Boise State -39.
USC at UCLA, Best Bet. While all the other Pac-10 rivalry games are described with catchy names such as the "Civil War" (Oregon-Oregon State) or the "Big Game" (Cal-Stanford), USC-UCLA doesn't have one. Every good rivalry needs a name. So in honor of coaches Rick Neuheisel and Lane Kiffin, let's call this rivalry "Dumb and Dumber." UCLA +7
Washington at Washington State, Best Bet. Washington State placed a league-high seven players on the Pac-10's first-team all-academic team. By comparison, Washington only had one. That means the Cougars should be smart enough to realize if they lose this game, it could cost Coach Paul Wulff his job. Washington State +6½.
UNLV at Hawaii. UNLV coach Bobby Hauck told the Las Vegas Sun he couldn't come up with one positive about playing at Hawaii. "I can't," Hauck said. "We've got to come back right after the game, it's finals week, our guys aren't going to be prepared for finals, we've got to get into recruiting. There's just not a lot of positives to playing them on Dec. 4." Here's one more reason not to like the trip: the Rebs will get waxed. Hawaii -34.
Middle Tennessee at Florida International, Best Bet. Who could have predicted that Florida International would surpass Miami as south Florida's most stable college football program this season? Middle Tennessee +5.
Nebraska vs. Oklahoma in Arlington, Texas. This is the Cornhuskers' final game in the Big 12 before moving to the Big Ten next season. If you thought Nebraska got screwed at the end of last year's Big 12 championship against Texas, you ain't seen nothing yet. Oklahoma -4½.
SMU at UCF. What a week for UCF. On Wednesday, the Knights' basketball team upset No. 18 Florida. On Saturday, they play for the C-USA football title. Then on Monday, they're sending Walt Disney season passes, cases of champagne and crates of caviar to each of the 16 Big East presidents. You know, just in case. UCF -8½.
"Cover Me's" Trifecta of Terror: "Cover Me" likes Oregon State +16 vs. Oregon, UConn +1½ at South Florida and his best bet is Louisiana Tech +9½ vs. Nevada
Lock of the week: Master Lock Triple Chrome Plated Shrouded Shackle High Security Padlock
McMurphy's picks: 9-6 (2-1 best bets)
"Cover Me's" picks: 3-1 (1-0 best bets)
Bankroll: Up 1,250 for season; 6,250 balance
McMurphy: 93-76; +850 (12-12 best bets)
"Cover Me": 23-19; +400 (6-2 best bets)
Brett McMurphy is a national college football writer for FanHouse. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or please follow at Twitter.com/BrettmcmurphY