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Bowl Picks, Part II: Streak source of optimism as schedule heats up

by | CBSSports.com College Football Insider
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Cierre Wood guides Notre Dame against Florida State in the final Champs Sports Bowl. (Getty Images)  
Cierre Wood guides Notre Dame against Florida State in the final Champs Sports Bowl. (Getty Images)  

On Wednesday, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith voiced his extreme displeasure.

"I was stunned, really surprised," Smith said. "I went from stunned and disappointed to angry and all the emotions you can imagine."

But enough about Smith's thoughts on Craig James' bid to become a U.S. senator; Smith's outrage was over the NCAA penalties handed down to the Buckeyes.

Among Ohio State's penalties was a one-year bowl ban in 2012.

While new coach Urban Meyer deals with the Buckeyes' bowl ban -- he told the New York Times the penalties felt like "a sucker punch that hit me right in the stomach" (so I guess USC's penalties felt like getting kicked in the groin?) -- there are no such worries about being banned from a bowl around here.

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After a slow start to picking all 35 bowls, I've reeled off three consecutive winners to finish Week 1 at 3-2. That puts the college picks column at 35 games over .500 for the season.

This marks Week 2 of four weeks of the bowl picks. Installments three and four will be posted on the next two Thursdays. Yes, it truly is the gift that keeps giving. But until then, have a very Merry Christmas.

And a friendly reminder: Each pick, for entertainment purposes only, is for 50 Brett Bucks, except for the best bets, worth 100 Brett Bucks. Point spreads from Thursday's USA Today.

Missouri vs. North Carolina, Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Monday: Despite Missouri fifth-place finish in its final season in the Big 12, the Tigers were bypassed by all seven of the Big 12's bowls and shipped to Shreveport, La. "It's different than what we expected," Missouri safety Kenji Jackson said. "But it's not a knock on us or anything. Shreveport's a good place. It's not the beach. It's not the big-time city like New York either." Jackson wants a big-time city? Wait until the Tigers make some SEC road trips to some of the SEC's big-time cities, like Starkville. North Carolina +5

N.C. State vs. Louisville, Belk Bowl in Charlotte, Tuesday: As part of the Belk Bowl festivities, the teams will participate in a ride-along at the Charlotte Motor Speedway with a driver from the Richard Petty Driving Experience. They'll go around in circles and end up in the same place they started. Or basically perform like their offenses did most of the season. N.C. State -2½

Toledo vs. Air Force, Military Bowl in Washington, D.C., Wednesday: The underrated Rockets have been very impressive. In fact, they've managed to do something a majority of Under Armour's programs (Boston College, Hawaii, Maryland, North Texas, South Florida and Texas Tech) couldn't this season -- finish with a winning record. Toledo -3

Texas vs. Cal, Holiday Bowl in San Diego, Wednesday: This will mark the third game in 10 days played in what was formerly known as Qualcomm Stadium. To generate publicity, the stadium's name was temporarily changed to Snapdragon Stadium. So they're committing to something, but only briefly, just to get a lot of media attention? When did Kim Kardashian become a bowl director? Texas -3

Florida State vs. Notre Dame, Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando, Thursday:Since 1990, this bowl has gone by the following names: Blockbuster, Carquest, MicronPC, MicronPC.com, Visit Florida Tangerine, Mazda Tangerine and Champs Sports. And Champs is ending its naming rights deal in 2012, so the bowl will be seeking its eighth name change in 22 years. Even Heidi Montag thinks all of the changes are excessive. Notre Dame +3

Baylor vs. Washington, Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, Thursday: Caution, actual research ahead: Baylor's Robert Griffin III -- make that Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III -- tries to continue a recent run of success by Heisman winners in bowl games. The last two Heisman winners -- Cam Newton and Mark Ingram -- have won their bowl games, but since 2000, Heisman winners are only 4-7. Washington +9½

"Cover Me:" "Cover Me" likes Western Michigan +2½ vs. Purdue, Little Caesars Bowl in Detroit, Tuesday is his best bet.

Lock of the Week: American Lock, Disc Cam Lock, Nickel, 5 pin, 1 3/8 long

Last week:
McMurphy's picks: 3-1
"Cover Me": 0-2

Season totals:
Bankroll: Up 1,600 for season; 6,600 balance
McMurphy: 147-121; +1150; (6-9 best bets)
"Cover Me":26-18; +400 (8-7 best bets)

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