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Oregon will have a hard time keeping up
And now for the risky prospect of picking the winner of a college bowl game. Super Bowls are much easier. World Series? A piece of cake. Get them right most of the time. Even your average regular-season college football game is pretty easy stuff.
But a bowl game? Very tough. My old pal Lefty, who used to make a living taking bets on all sorts of sporting events (and even the Oscars), always shied away from the bowls. 'Too many questions,' he said in that Brooklyn accent that bookies, even the ones who have never been east of the Mississippi, always seem to feature. 'You can't never tell.'
Really, you can't. And the variables in bowl games are many:
How will the long layoffs affect the teams? How much does relative strength of a conference really matter? How well will teams deal with the disappointment of not being in the bowl they wanted to be in? Or the pressure of being in one with so much riding on it?
As Lefty used to say, 'You can't never tell.'
I would love to tell you that I think Oregon's Ducks are going to beat Colorado today. For some reason, Duck fans seem to love it when you pick their team. When you don't, they brand you as some kind of traitor.
Obviously, the Pacific-10 Conference has not set the football world afire in the bowls so far. Does that matter? Probably not. I'm not even of the belief that the Ducks can profit from the success of their conference brethren in bowl appearances. In fact, as long as Oregon wins Tuesday, it doesn't matter how all of the other teams do. It's probably better for the Ducks if the rest of the Pac-10 teams lose or Ñ better yet Ñ get blown out. It helps separate them from the rest of the pack.
Oh, I know, some computer somewhere is going to downgrade them on strength of schedule and conference, but the overriding factor is that the Ducks are going head-to-head with all those other Pac-10 teams for recruits right now. An Oregon Fiesta Bowl win, while the other teams are losing in lesser bowl games, is a very tangible recruiting benefit for the Ducks.
And if you're worried about long-term BCS positioning, don't sweat it. The Pac-10 champ, even one with a loss, is always going to get a BCS berth.
But I don't see Oregon beating Colorado. I'm afraid the Buffaloes will use their power running game to knock the smaller Ducks off the line of scrimmage and make it a very long day. Oregon is going to have to score a lot of points to win, something it is capable of doing. But it won't score enough. In fact, it's going to take a very big effort just to stay close.
I make it Colorado, 42-28.