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MY COLLEGE GAMEDAY PICKS COLUMN FOR TOMORROW ... TODAY

Sports Editor Brad Carroll takes a look at the top college football games of the day
LAST WEEK: 4-3 (spread); 5-2 (overall); 0-0 (upset picks)
THIS SEASON: 34-27-2 (spread); 48-15 (overall); 3-3 (upset picks)

No. 1 Texas at No. 6 Texas Tech; 8 p.m.; ABC
The Skinny: Texas, unbelievably, is looking for its fourth straight win over a Top 11 team today, having already beaten Oklahoma, Missouri and Oklahoma State. After Texas Tech, the rest of the schedule is full of unranked teams, so the Horns should be pumped for this one. Texas Tech scored 49 straight points against then-No. 19 Kansas last week to win in a rout. Admittedly, I’m going back and forth, but in the end, it’ll be an upset. The Pick: Texas Tech (+4) wins it 33-30.

No. 5 Florida vs. No. 9 Georgia; 3:30 p.m.; CBS
The Skinny: Alright, GameDay, this is what we’re going to do when we pick up our first win on Saturday – Go Crazy! That’s right, scream, yell, bang some pots and pans, light off some fireworks. It’ll be awesome. We’ll worry about the consequences next year. Sort of like Georgia today in Jacksonville. We all remember the wild celebration from the Bulldogs after scoring the first TD against Florida last year. It’s payback time. The Pick: Florida (-6) wins it 38-21.

Nebraska at No. 4 Oklahoma; 8 p.m.; ESPN
The Skinny: Oklahoma needs a small miracle to work its way into the Big 12 title game. The Sooners not only need to win out the rest of the way, they need Texas to lose twice. That’s not likely to happen, although knowing if Texas lost earlier in the day at Texas Tech could give them hope and spark a rout. Oklahoma just needs to keep up the intensity throughout the game – something it didn’t do last week. If it can do that, it will be an easy win. The Pick: Oklahoma (-22) wins it 52-24.

Northwestern at No. 20 Minnesota; 12 p.m.; ESPN
The Skinny: Minnesota has had the biggest turnaround in college football this season. Last year, the Gophers were 1-11, allowed 37 points per game, and had just 11 sacks. This year, they are 7-1, ranked 17th in the BCS, have allowed 17 points per game, and have 22 sacks. It’s sort of like the new KFC combo meal commercial – deep breath – that’s a lot of stuff. This is second straight week GameDay is going with Minnesota. The Pick: Minnesota (-7) wins it 27-14.

West Virginia at Connecticut; 12 p.m.; MyTV
The Skinny: Working and living in Connecticut now, I get to hear all the time about how good the UConn football and basketball programs are. They tell me that UConn is on par with the rest of the country in both sports. Well, you only hear that here, as UConn isn’t even in the conversation outside of CT. West Virginia beat UConn 66-21 last year in Morgantown. This year the game is at The Rent. Does it matter? Heck no. The Pick: West Virginia (-4) wins it 45-25.

Pittsburgh at Notre Dame; 2:30 p.m.; NBC
The Skinny: Due to popular demand, GameDay breaks down Notre Dame Football once again. So, this is for all you fans out there, because as most of you know, there isn’t any love lost with me and the Irish. Pittsburgh was ranked 17th last week, but suffered a humiliating 54-34 loss to Rutgers to drop out. Notre Dame is looking for its best home start since ’98. The Pick: Notre Dame (-4.5) wins it 30-20.

Wisconsin at No. 22 Michigan State; 12 p.m.; ESPN
The Pick: Michigan State (-4.5) wins it 28-21.
Brad’s brother, Craig Carroll, is back to defend his championship from a year ago. He finished with a 6-1 record last week, and is 28-33-2 for the season. Here are his picks for the week: Texas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Minnesota, West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Wisconsin.

(AP photo, top, Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell (6) and wide receiver Michael Crabtree (5) celebrate after a touchdown.)

AFTERNOON GAMEDAY RETURNS LAUGHING AT MET FANS; LAST CHANCE TO VOTE

The best part about the Phillies winning the World Series last night (AP photos, right and below) was the fact that all of you Met fans out there had to suffer through it. For you non-New York readers, let me give you an inside look at the fans of the team from Flushing.
Met fans believe that they were and are the best team in the National League – still – and that the Phillies took their rightful place in the playoffs, and therefore, the World Series. This is what every single fan believes out there.
There’s only one problem with that. The Phillies are the real deal, while the Mets are a bunch of underachievers. The Phillies hit in the clutch, they have a tremendous bullpen, they have more than one starting pitcher, and did I mention they hit in the clutch? The Mets have none of those things.
We don’t need to go into the fact that for the second straight year these superstar Mets choked down the stretch and missed the playoffs again. I won’t mention that, you know, the fact that they choked again.
The Phillies are the complete opposite, and with a young base of talent, they will be the team to beat in the NL East next year and beyond. So, enjoy this Phillies championship, Met fans, it’s as close as you’ll come to winning it all.
As anyone who reads GameDay knows, I picked the Rays to win the World Series. I thought this would be their one and only shot at a championship, and I still think that’s the case.
With both the Yankees and Red Sox in their division, it’s going to be tough to finish ahead of either of those teams again. The Yankees are going to be an extremely improved team next year (probably, at the least, adding CC Sabathia) and the Red Sox have a great base of young talent (see, I can say something nice about them), so the Rays are going to have their work ahead of them to even finish in second place.
Next year, the American League takes back the championship. And, oh yeah, the Mets will choke for the third straight year! Sorry, couldn’t resist.

COLLEGE GAMEDAY SNEAK PEEK
No. 5 Florida vs. No. 9 Georgia; 3:30 p.m.; CBS
The Skinny: Alright, GameDay, this is what we’re going to do when we pick up our first win Saturday – Go Crazy! That’s right: scream, yell, bang some pots and pans, light off some fireworks. It’ll be awesome. We’ll worry about the consequences next year. Sort of like Georgia today in Jacksonville. We all remember the wild celebration from the Bulldogs after scoring the first TD against Florida last year. It’s payback time this afternoon as Florida coach Urban Myer will run up the score at the end. The Pick: Florida (-6) wins it 38-21.

LAST CHANCE TO VOTE
If you haven’t already, take a moment to vote on the three local football polls to the right of the blog. All three will be open till kickoff, but the deadline for publication in The Bristol Press is earlier, obviously, so vote now. The polls will compliment our preview coverage on Friday (Bristol Eastern) and Saturday (Bristol Central and St. Paul). Also, check back here often on Friday nights and Saturday afternoons for the rest of the season to see results of the games. We’ll get the scores up as soon as possible, and will give details a little later when we get them.

FANTASY FOOTBALL UPDATE
In my big-time CBS league, LaDainian Tomlinson finally came through for me last week, scoring 22 points in a 105-102 victory. My team jumped from third place (considering tie-breakers) all the way into first with a 5-3 record. The second place team is also 5-3, third place is 4-4, and fourth place is 2-6 in the three-division setup. As those of you who have L.T. on your fantasy teams this year know, he’s been a huge bust as the No. 1 overall pick. But this past week he was great and hopefully that will continue for the rest of the season. That would make up for everything, as the playoffs are right around the corner. Also, getting Anquan Boldin back was huge. He scored 21 points in his return – just unbelievable. I have Boldin in all three of my leagues, so the fact that he came back to top-form so quickly was just awesome. I have Marques Colston in this league as well, and he hasn’t returned to form after injury, so Boldin’s stats are even more impressive.

In my ESPN league, I finally got an easy matchup, playing the worst team in the league. Still, as is the norm in this league, they scored 77 points, probably the most they’ve scored all season long. I get the best effort from every single team I play, as I’ve scored the most points in the league and have also allowed the most points – by far! Luckily, I’ve survived so far, with a first-place 5-3 record. In that two-division, 12-team league, I’m tied for first with another 5-3 team (but I own all of the tiebreakers). There are three teams at 4-4 and one team (run by Press writer Johnny Burnham) at 3-5 in my division. The big news for this team is that I’m going to make a switch at starting quarterback. I’m going to sit Brett Favre and put Kurt Warner in. It’s a bit risky because Favre can put up six touchdowns in a minute, but Warner has been awesome this year. The commissioner of this league actually offered me Santonio Holmes for Warner. Nice. He has one of the worst teams in the league, but is in first place in the other division, at 6-2. That’s all about luck. I’ve scored 765 points in the league to his 673, and I’ve allowed 785 points to his 564. I counter-offered him trying to get Tomlinson, his only good player, but he said he wouldn’t do it because he needed Warner for just one start and then he would drop him. Huh? He’s starting Joe Flacco this week. Nice.
Another owner could have had Warner last week, because I was looking to trade for a WR to compliment Boldin (right now, I have Steve Breaston in the second slot). He offered Plaxico Burress for Warner (remember, my backup quarterback at the time), but also said he’d throw in Roy Williams as well. I replied back saying I’ll most likely accept the Burress and Williams for Warner trade and to offer it to me. Well, he came back with another offer, wanting Correll Buckhalter added to the deal. Remember, he offered Williams and Burress originally. That wasn’t going to happen. So, early in the week, I told him I’ll take the original offer or I wasn’t interested. I didn’t hear from him for several days until Sunday night, when he offered the original deal. Of course, it was after Warner had thrown for a billion yards and a bunch of touchdowns – again! – and Plax and Williams did just about nothing. Nice try, but that ship sailed when I got no response. Some owners just don’t get it.

In my Yahoo league, where I’ve actually made two trades already, including one with Johnny Burnham, I’m moving up the charts again. I’m 5-3 (sounds familiar) and in third place in the one-division, 12-team league that I run. I’ve scored the most points in the league, so I’ve got the tiebreaker again. The two first-place teams are both 6-2 (one of which is Johnny’s team). I’ll give you that trade because it’s an interesting one. I gave up Deuce McAllister (who was on my bench), John Carlson and Jared Allen for Tony Gonzalez. Tight end was my one weakness, but now that is taken care of. I offered the trade, and people said that I gave up too much, but it worked out perfectly when Deuce tested positive for a banned substance and could be suspended for four games. He’s now on Johnny’s bench. Carlson was a waste and Allen was the top defensive player taken in the draft, but I’m happy replacing him with Julian Peterson, who has had more points this season. I play Johnny this week and he’s starting Dan Orlovsky at quarterback. If I don’t win that game, I should just quit on the spot. Dan Orlovsky? I’m forced to play Matt Cassel, but Dan Orlovsky? Man, that’s too much UConn love right there. I gotta end this, Dan Orlovsky? Wow.

BREAKING DOWN COLLEGE GAMEDAY'S WINNING WEEKEND

I’ve had just about enough of former Raiders coach Lane Kiffin. It took the former offensive coordinator at Southern Cal all of two seconds after Tyrone Willingham (AP photo, right) said he would not be back as head coach at Washington next year to say he would be interested in the job. Can you say desperate? Seriously, can’t you just wait a couple of months and let these athletic directors come to you, Lane? Everyone was on his side after the ugly divorce with Al Davis and the Raiders, but he’s ruined all of that public sentiment already. This is the second story coming out that Kiffin would be interested in taking over a college program (with Syracuse being the other). He’s ruining all of the good will and turning himself into a complete joke. He was handed a job in Oakland that he wasn’t qualified for. Then he went out and talked smack about the entire Raiders organization about personnel moves and drafting and pretty much everything else after taking over. It’s hard to be on Davis’ side, and he should take the blame for hiring the guy in the first place, but I can definitely see where he was coming from and why he fired the coach. Is Kiffin qualified for a head coaching job in college? I’m still not convinced. If the Raiders didn’t hand him the job, he would still be an offensive coordinator right now. He was inexperienced when he took over the Raiders, and with the way he handled the pressure of the job, you have to think he’s still not ready for a head coaching spot. Will Kiffin get a head job in college next year? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Washington, Syracuse or a host of other schools could come calling because signing an NFL coach is big, no matter what the circumstances were. Kiffin needs to do himself a favor and just shut up. If he believes he is really a big-time coach, then he needs to start acting like one. Let the people doing the hiring come to you. Stop being so desperate. On to the College GameDay Breakdown.

My Saturday: 4-3 (spread); 5-2 (overall); 0-0 (upset picks)
My Season: 34-27-2 (spread); 48-15 (overall); 3-3 (upset picks)
My Money: UP $430 (season)
Craig's Saturday: 6-1 (spread)
Craig's Season: 28-33-2 (spread)
Craig's Money: DOWN $830 (season)

No. 8 Texas Tech Pk at No. 19 Kansas
My Pick: Kansas 31, Texas Tech 30
Actual Score: Texas 63, Kansas 21
Not really much to say about this one, as Texas Tech took off in the second quarter and never looked back. This is an instance where I took a team that has been great to me for years, and suffering for it. I thought that Texas Tech was the better team, but just couldn’t pick against Kansas. So, we start with a loss, while Craig gets an early ‘W’.

No. 25 Minnesota -2 at Purdue
My Pick: Minnesota 33, Purdue 28
Actual Score: Minnesota 17, Purdue 6
I thought this was a guaranteed win, despite the tightness of score in my pick. (And keep reading for my thoughts on “locks.”) But I was about 99 percent sure Minnesota would win the game, and they did, covering the low two-spread as well. We move to 1-1 in the noon games, while Craig may be in for a nice day, starting 2-0.

No. 7 Oklahoma State +12.5 at No. 1 Texas
My Pick: Texas 34, Oklahoma State 27
Actual Score: Texas 28, Oklahoma State 24
I was pretty much dead-on in my assessment of this game, as Oklahoma State kept the game close the whole way through. After the Cowboys added a fourth-quarter field goal, the game indeed did come down to the wire. This was a big win, especially considering it ties me up with Craig on the day, as he takes a loss. We’re both 2-1.

No. 9 Georgia +1 at No. 11 LSU
My Pick: LSU 27, Georgia 17
Actual Score: Georgia 52, LSU 38
Well, this game became a shootout, which is shocking considering neither offense is built that way. At least that’s the way it’s been this whole season. This is another game that I was wrong on, as Georgia actually came out and played well in a big game for the first time in a long while. LSU, obviously, is overrated and went home with a big loss. Craig wins again to move to 3-1. I’m 2-2.

No. 2 Alabama -5 at Tennessee
My Pick: Alabama 23, Tennessee 16
Actual Score: Alabama 29, Tennessee 9
Again, I don’t believe in calling games “locks,” because that is the first sign that you don’t know what you’re talking about. If a guy goes around using terms like “five-star lock” or whatever, steer clear. It’s a gimmick. No game is a lock. With that said, privately, in my head, I thought there was no way Alabama wouldn’t cover the five-point spread. They did and we move to 3-2 on the day. Craig continues his surge back into profitability, winning again to move to 4-1. Tennessee, by the way, is a disaster of a program.

No. 3 Penn State -2 at No. 10 Ohio State
My Pick: Penn State 28, Ohio State 24
Actual Score: Penn State 13, Ohio State 6
Penn State scored 10 points in the fourth quarter to survive a trip to the Horseshoe in Ohio. I think everyone thought this would be a low-scoring game, well, expect for me, I guess, as I went with a score in the 20’s. What was I thinking? Either way, it’s a win and a 4-2 record at the end of Saturday. Craig also went with Penn State and is 5-1 on the day. Good day for both of us.

Central Florida +23.5 at No. 22 Tulsa
My Pick: Tulsa 42, Central Florida 28
Actual Score: Tulsa 49, Central Florida 19
This Sunday Night game really killed me as I get the loss and finish 4-3 for the weekend. It’s a profitable weekend, but this is still a rough way to end. Craig, on the other hand, improved to 6-1 as he went with Tulsa. Good week for him, and I hope nobody went with the “reverse” selection strategy this week. Central Florida kept this game in check the whole way through until a shank punt gave Tulsa great field possession and then scored a touchdown with 1:45 left to beat the spread. Central Florida led by five at the half, but Tulsa outscored them 35-0 in the second half. I still don’t know why Tulsa didn’t just run out the clock at that point. Did they really need to score with under two minutes to play to win by 30? Really? They must have known I went with UCF plus 23.5.

MY COLLEGE GAMEDAY PICKS COLUMN FOR TOMORROW ... TODAY

Sports Editor Brad Carroll takes a look at the top college football games of the day
LAST WEEK: 3-4 (spread); 5-2 (overall); 0-2 (upset picks
THIS SEASON: 30-24-2 (spread); 43-13 (overall); 3-3 (upset picks)

No. 7 Oklahoma State at No. 1 Texas; 3:30 p.m., ABC
The Skinny: Texas, the unanimous No. 1 team in the nation, has beaten Oklahoma State 10 straight times and is 20-2 all-time. But Ok State is finally ready for primetime (in the afternoon) and should make this a game. Last year, Texas trailed the Cowboys 35-14 in the fourth quarter before reeling off 24 straight points to take a 38-35 victory. This game goes down to the wire again, with Texas struggling to put OSU away. The Pick: Texas (-12.5) wins it 34-27.

No. 2 Alabama at Tennessee; 7:45 p.m.; ESPN
The Skinny: Talk about a game I would normal steer clear of. Alabama isn’t the second best team in the country and can’t be counted on in any game this season. Tennessee, as everyone who reads GameDay knows, will always put a loss on your ledger, no matter the circumstances. But this is a big time, so we won’t hide from the history. Alabama should be able to survive its trip to Knoxville, pulling out a one-touchdown victory. The Pick: Alabama (-5) wins it 23-16.

No. 3 Penn State at No. 10 Ohio State; 8 p.m.; ABC
The Skinny: Penn State has lost 10 straight on the road to ranked opponents and its history against the top two in the Big 10 has been anything but good. Things, however, might be turning around for the Nittany Lions. Last week, they destroyed Michigan in the second half to break a 9-game losing streak against the Wolverines. Now, it’s Ohio State standing in their way of a national title shot. This is a tough pick, but I’m going with my gut. The Pick: Penn State (-2) wins it 28-24.

No. 8 Texas Tech at No. 19 Kansas; 12 p.m.; ESPN
The Skinny: Texas Tech has rolled to a 7-0 start this year, but it hasn’t beaten a ranked opponent all season long. But that all changes over the next month, as the schedule becomes unbelievably difficult. Tech plays Kansas today, has Texas next week, followed by Oklahoma State and Oklahoma after that. Wow. Looking down that road, this is a must win for the Raiders. Unfortunately for them, Kansas is at home and needs the win as well. The Pick: Kansas (Pk) wins it 31-30.

No. 9 Georgia at No. 11 LSU; 3:30 p.m.; CBS
The Skinny: There are two bottom lines in picking this huge SEC matchup. One is the obvious – home field advantage. Two is just as simple – LSU steps up in big games, while Georgia wilts under the pressure. Combine those two things and you get an LSU victory today. It’s that simple. The latter was proven when Georgia followed their big loss to Alabama with two unimpressive wins over Tennessee and Vanderbilt. It’s LSU all the way. The Pick: LSU (-1) wins it 27-17.

No. 25 Minnesota at Purdue; 12 p.m.; ESPNC
The Skinny: There are a ton of trends this week and that continues in this matchup. Minnesota, playing as a ranked team for the first time in 3 years, hasn’t won at Purdue since 1990. The Boilermakers are having a down season, though, owning a 2-5 record. Minnesota is 6-1 and 2-1 in the Big 10, which is a huge turnaround from last year’s 1-11 finish. The Pick: Minnesota (-2) wins it 33-28.

Central Florida at No. 22 Tulsa; 8 p.m.; ESPN
The Pick: Tulsa (-23.5) wins it 41-28. (Sunday night)
Brad’s brother, Craig Carroll, is back to defend his championship from a year ago. He finished with a 4-3 record last week, and is 22-32-2 for the season. Here are his picks for the week: Texas, Alabama, Penn State, Texas Tech, Georgia, Minnesota, Tulsa.

(AP photo, top, Kansas tailback Jake Sharp (1) runs into the end zone for a touchdown in front of Oklahoma defensive back Lendy Holmes, right, in the third quarter last Saturday.)

BREAKING DOWN OUR COLLEGE GAMEDAY PICKS FROM SATURDAY

It was another losing week for us here at GameDay – the second straight since pulling off the perfect 7-0 mark two weeks ago. I knew that the first week following perfection would be tough, but things were supposed to go back to normal on Saturday. Well, it didn’t. GameDay went 3-4 on Saturday to drop us to 30-24-2 on the season. A couple of games were heartbreakers for us – Alabama and Michigan.

First, the fact that Alabama couldn’t hold its big lead against Ole Miss is an indictment against the BCS hopes of the Tide. They are not as good as I thought they were or could be. They led big at home and should have rolled to victory, but they had to hold on late for the win. They will get knocked off at some point this season; I hope it just doesn’t come in the national championship game. Secondly, Michigan is a complete joke. I counted their game against Penn State as a victory. They were leading by three at the half, and with a 24.5-point cushion, they had to take home the win. But that would be looking past what is one of the worst teams in college football. The hiring of Rich Rodriguez (AP photo, top right) a huge mistake, and I’ll take the hit for endorsing the move. As a Michigan fan, I liked the fact that they would seemingly open up the playbook, throw the ball downfield and just be a more exciting team. Well, as you know, they have been anything but exciting. Michigan is a joke and the way they blew that game in the second half against Penn State was just another addition to a season to forget.

So that was two losses that should have been wins. But it is what it is. Craig, by the way, had a winning week, going 4-3. It just might be the first time this season that he has had a better week than me. Here is the breakdown.

My Saturday: 3-4 (spread); 5-2 (overall); 0-2 (upset picks)
My Season: 30-24-1 (spread); 43-13 (overall); 3-3 (upset picks)
My Money: UP $360 (season)
Craig's Saturday: 4-3 (spread)
Craig's Season: 22-32-1 (spread)
Craig's Money: DOWN $1,320 (season)

No. 16 Kansas +19.5 at No. 4 Oklahoma
My Pick: Oklahoma 35, Kansas 21
Actual Score: Oklahoma 45, Kansas 31
The day is off to a good start as old-reliable Kansas, our favorite team last year, covers the spread against big-favorite Oklahoma. Save for a game or two that I can’t remember, Kansas always comes through for us and this was another notch for them. Craig, of course, opens with a loss as he went with the Sooners.

Ole Miss +12 at No. 2 Alabama
My Pick: Alabama 38, Ole Miss 20
Actual Score: Alabama 24, Ole Miss 20
I thought this pick was a gimmie, even before Alabama broke free with a 24-3 lead at the half. Even when Ole Miss cut the lead at the end of the fourth to 24-10, the bet still looked like a lock. But Ole Miss came back and actually forced Alabama to make a late stand to hold on just for the win. This one hurts as sure victory was grabbed from our hands. Craig, of course, comes up with another loss to fall to 0-2. We are 1-1 on the day.

No. 12 Ohio State -3 at No. 20 Michigan State
My Pick: Michigan State 20, Ohio State 19
Actual Score: Ohio State 45, Michigan State 7
When did Ohio State get an offense? Of course, they find the ability to score points only when we go against them. Ohio State rolled to victory over an obviously overrated Michigan State club. This is the second game in a row that kills us because it was the only one where I second-guessed my pick and actually switched from OSU to MSU in a upset special. Killer … and it’s a 1-2 start to the day. Craig, in a shocker, wins his first game of the afternoon, improving to 1-2.

Michigan +24.5 at No. 3 Penn State
My Pick: Penn State 44, Michigan 24
Actual Score: Penn State 46, Michigan 17
A third straight killer as I considered this game a lock after Michigan took a 17-14 lead into the third quarter. I didn’t think the Wolverines would be able to hold on for the upset, but they had to cover the 24.5-point spread, right? Wrong. It was another pitiful performance by Michigan in the second half. Penn State outscored Michigan 32-0 in the third and fourth quarters to ruin our pick and drop us to 1-3 on the day. Craig went with the Wolverines as well, and drops to 1-3.

No. 11 Missouri +4 at No. 1 Texas
My Pick: Texas 33, Missouri 27
Actual Score: Texas 56, Missouri 31
Finally, we get back in the win column as Texas rolls to an easy win over Missouri. Texas led 35-3 at the break, so this one was well in hand by halftime. Both Craig and GameDay get the pick right and move to 2-3.

No. 13 LSU -2.5 at South Carolina
My Pick: LSU 26, South Carolina 20
Actual Score: LSU 24, South Carolina 17
South Carolina led 17-10 at the half, but LSU came back with a 14-0 second half to take home the victory. Nice comeback by LSU to move us to 3-3 on the day. Craig also went with LSU and improves to 3-3 with one game still in play.

No. 17 Virginia Tech +2.5 at Boston College
My Pick: Virginia Tech 27, Boston College 24
Actual Score: Boston College 28, Virginia Tech 23
The night ends on a sour note for GameDay as Virginia Tech just couldn’t get the go-ahead score in the second half. A 21-point second quarter by Boston College killed us. Va Tech did outscore BC 6-0 in the second half, but it wasn’t enough to pull off our upset pick. We finish the day with a 3-4 record. Craig, on the other hand, wins with Boston College and clinches a much-needed winning week at 4-3. This is the second bad week in a row for us, so hopefully next Friday we can get back on the winning side.

MY COLLEGE GAMEDAY PICKS COLUMN FOR TOMORROW ... TODAY

Sports Editor Brad Carroll takes a look at the top college football games of the day
LAST WEEK: 2-4-1 (spread); 5-2 (overall); 0-0 (upset picks)
THIS SEASON: 27-20-2 (spread); 38-11 (overall); 3-1 (upset picks)

No. 11 Missouri at No. 1 Texas; 8 p.m., ABC
The Skinny: Even though this game should be one of the best of the season, imagine if Missouri hadn’t put up a brick against Oklahoma State last week? This probably would have been another No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup on national television. Texas and QB Colt McCoy (AP photo, right) grew up a lot in their win over Oklahoma last week and they should continue to roll through the Tigers tonight. No. 8 Oklahoma State and No. 7 Texas Tech are next for the Horns. The Pick: Texas (-4) wins it 33-27.

Mississippi at No. 2 Alabama; 3:30 p.m.; CBS
The Skinny: Alabama players are telling everyone who will listen this week that they will not take a victory over 3-3 Mississippi for granted. After all that’s happened over the past few weeks, I tend believe them. Alabama has dominated the all-time series, and has lost only once in Tuscaloosa, so history is on their side. Ole Miss did get one big victory this season already, however, a 31-30 win at Florida. Lightning won’t strike twice. The Pick: Alabama (-12) wins it 38-20.

Michigan at No. 3 Penn State; 4:30 p.m.; ESPN
The Skinny: Penn State really impressed me last week with the way they absolutely destroyed Wisconsin on the road. The Nittany Lions are for real, but they are going to have to beat a team that has had their number for a long, long time. Michigan has won the last eight matchups between the schools. Still, Michigan has become a joke of a program this season, especially considering its loss to Toledo last week. The Pick: Penn State (-24.5) wins it 44-24.

No. 16 Kansas at No. 4 Oklahoma; 3:30 p.m.; ABC
The Skinny: Oklahoma was outscored 25-7 in the final 20 minutes against Texas last week to drop from the No. 1 slot in the polls. But, at No. 4, the Sooners definitely have a shot at moving back into the national title picture. A win over Kansas would be the first step toward that goal. Kansas, GameDay’s favorite team last year, is back to winning games for us. But Oklahoma has won 21 straight at home – the longest streak in the nation. The Pick: Oklahoma (-19.5) wins it 35-21.

No. 12 Ohio State at No. 20 Michigan State; 3:30 p.m.; ABC
The Skinny: Even though I think ABC will broadcast the Kansas-Oklahoma game, you never know, so I’ll throw in this other matchup of Top 20 teams. Ohio State actually believes it still has a shot at playing for a national title if it wins out this season. They don’t. Unfortunately for them, the pollsters won’t let the Buckeyes get anywhere near the top of the rankings because of their past big-game failures. Michigan State, however, ends the discussion. The Pick: Michigan State (+3) wins it 20-19.

No. 13 LSU at South Carolina; 8 p.m.; ESPN
The Skinny: Isn’t it funny how the offensive genius, Steve Spurrier, can’t get his team to score any points, but his defense is one of the best in the nation? It is definitely weird seeing a Spurrier team flounder on offense, but I’m enjoying the ride as I never was a big fan of his at Florida. South Carolina is getting a lot of respect here, but I think LSU will take the win. The Pick: LSU (-2.5) wins it 26-20.

No. 17 Virginia Tech at Boston College; 8 p.m.; ESPN2
The Pick: Virginia Tech (+2.5) wins it 27-24.
Brad’s brother, Craig Carroll, is back to defend his championship from a year ago. He finished with a 1-5-1 record last week, and is 18-29-2 for the season. Here are his picks for the week: Texas, Alabama, Michigan, Oklahoma, OSU, LSU, Boston College.

BREAKING DOWN AN OFF COLLEGE GAMEDAY WEEKEND, BUT A PERFECT NFL WEEK!

I knew going into this week’s College GameDay picks column that it was going to be a rough week. Last week we were a perfect 7-0 against the spread and 1-0 in our upset picks, so duplicating that feat was going to be near impossible. On top of that, it’s the law of averages that it could very well be the complete opposite at the end of the day. But as Saturday came to close, we had a 2-4-1 record for the day, which is a losing week, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it could have been. The bigger news on the selections front, however, went down the following day. I didn’t know it was happening right away, as I was busy at the Jets game against the Bengals Sunday afternoon and later on the ride home. But as the 4 p.m. games were coming to a close, and I finally settled down in front of a television, I thought for a minute that my NFL picks had to be doing great. Score after score that popped up on the screen, I thought that I was picking almost every one of those games correctly. Well, I did. Perfection. Unbelievable. Now, it wasn’t done yet, as I had the Chargers and Browns on Sunday and Monday night, respectively. But, as you know by now, those both hit as well, making me perfect for the NFL week. Just unbelievable. Of course, when something like that comes into focus, you think of what could have been. If I had put down a $25 bet on those games, I would have walked away with a million bucks. But it’s all good.. I’ll enjoy this one for a while, as I’ve never pulled this trick before. I had one week back in college when I went something like 10-1, but never perfect. So, that makes it two perfect weeks in a row. It’s not exactly the same, but it’s still a “wow” moment for me. We are 49-34-2 with our NFL picks this season, which is just great. Anyway, on to our weekly college football breakdown, a little late in the week, but still here we go.

My Saturday: 2-4-1 (spread); 5-2 (overall); 0-0 (upset picks)
My Season: 27-20-1 (spread); 38-11 (overall); 3-1 (upset picks)
My Money: UP $500 (season)
Craig's Saturday: 1-5-1 (spread)
Craig's Season: 18-29-1 (spread)
Craig's Money: DOWN $1,390 (season)

No. 1 Oklahoma -7 at No. 5 Texas
My Pick: Oklahoma 27, Texas 17
Actual Score: Texas 45, Oklahoma 35
Right before kickoff, I got a call from Craig wanting to change his pick from Oklahoma to Texas. So, right off the bat, I knew that I would win this game. Nobody has had worse “luck” picking games this year than Craig. And it looked good early and into the third quarter, as Oklahoma twice led by 11 in the first half and by eight in the third, but that all came undone real quick. It was so quick in fact, that I missed Texas taking their 10-point lead. I had to call Craig and ask what happened. “Texas took control,” he said. Simple but true and we both start out the day at 0-1.

Colorado +14 at No. 16 Kansas
My Pick: Kansas 38, Colorado 14
Actual Score: Kansas 30, Colorado 14
Kansas evens out the day for us on the early games, covering the spread with a safety. Craig is 0-2, if you even had to ask.

Tennessee +12 at No. 10 Georgia
My Pick: Georgia 31, Tennessee 10
Actual Score: Georgia 26, Tennessee 14
Nothing is worse than a game ending in a tie, unless of course, you come back to tie the game. But here Tennessee kept the game just close enough, while Georgia couldn’t put the final hammer down. These are two teams that historically never come through when you need them. So, I’m 1-1-1 and Craig is 0-2-1.

Notre Dame +7.5 at No. 22 North Carolina
My Pick: North Carolina 33, Notre Dame 23
Actual Score: North Carolina 29, Notre Dame 24
Notre Dame isn’t as bad as I thought they were. They stayed in the game until the very end, which is more than I can say for UConn the previous week against North Carolina. But that was all good, because I picked UNC to pull off the rout. This week, I expected it to be closer, but I still end up on the losing end. I’m 1-2-1 and Craig is 0-3-1. At this rate, I may wrap up the championship next week.

No. 6 Penn State -6 at Wisconsin
My Pick: Penn State 23, Wisconsin 20
Actual Score: Penn State 48, Wisconsin 7
Penn State put the beat down on Wisconsin, which made Craig happy because he gets his customary one victory for the week. Craig and I are both 1-3-1 with two more games that are soon to end.

No. 17 Oklahoma State +14 at No. 3 Missouri
My Pick: Missouri 44, Oklahoma State 27
Actual Score: Oklahoma 28, Missouri 23
Missouri really disappointed me here as I bought into the hype so much that I picked them to cover a huge spread. Well, they ended up losing the game, and I have officially filed for divorce from Missouri as GameDay’s favorite team. We’ll pick a new one next week. Who? I have no idea. We both lose this game as well and we’re both a horrible 1-4-1 for the week.

No. 4 LSU +6 at No. 11 Florida
My Pick: Florida 35, LSU 24
Actual Score: Florida 51, LSU 31
Florida came through for me and gave me a little more respectable 2-4-1 record for the week. Not good, but I’m not going to go crazy about it. I knew it was going to be a rough week with the spreads being so crazy and the fact that we were undefeated a week earlier. Craig ends at 1-5-1 for the week and his first “upset” pick goes down by 20. Hopefully next week we’ll turn things around. Afternoon GameDay RETURNS NEXT WEEK.

(Florida offensive lineman Mike Pouncey (55) celebrates with teammate Percy Harvin (1) after Harvin scored a touchdown on a 70-yard pass play against LSU during the first half in Gainesville, Fla. Saturday.)

MY COLLEGE GAMEDAY PICKS COLUMN FOR TOMORROW ... TODAY

Sports Editor Brad Carroll takes a look at the top college football games of the day
LAST WEEK: 7-0 (spread); 7-0 (overall); 1-0 (upset picks)
THIS SEASON: 25-16-1 (spread); 33-9 (overall); 3-1 (upset picks)

No. 1 Oklahoma at No. 5 Texas; 12 p.m.; ABC
The Skinny: It’s going to be real hard to duplicate what GameDay did last week – going a perfect 7-0 against the spread, including the upset pick of Vanderbilt – but we’re going to give it a shot. But it won’t be easy, as there is a ton of great matchups with spreads that are relatively gigantic, starting with this huge matchup. This one (played in the Cotton Bowl) goes to the team with the better QB – Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford. The Pick: Oklahoma (-7) wins it 27-17.

No. 17 Oklahoma State at No. 3 Missouri; 8 p.m.; ESPN2
The Skinny: Missouri is my darkhorse to win the national championship this year and have been officially adopted as GameDay’s favorite team. QB Chase Daniel is simply awesome and should win the Heisman Trophy this season. But first, the team will have to get by a very good Oklahoma State squad. This game should be a shootout, as Missouri and Oklahoma State both boast two of the best offenses in the country. I hate these spreads. The Pick: Missouri (-14) wins it 44-27.

No. 4 LSU at No. 11 Florida; 8 p.m.; CBS
The Skinny: LSU DT Ricky Jean-Francois said this week that he was going to knock Florida QB Tim Tebow out in today’s game in The Swamp. Nice. He did clarify his statement later, but the damage is done. Why in the world would you give the Gators any extra motivation heading into this game? The Tigers are going to pay for it. I thought Florida would pull this game out anyway, but I think they may want to run up the score a bit now. The Pick: Florida (-6) wins it 35-24.

No. 6 Penn State at Wisconsin; 8 p.m.; ESPN
The Skinny: This could have been another top 10 matchup on this tremendous Saturday, but Wisconsin went on to lose to Michigan and Ohio State to fall out of the rankings altogether. Penn State has been great so far, but I can definitely see it struggling to score points in this hostile environment. The Nittany Lions will win the game, but the Badgers are going to keep it close and force the visitors to kick a game-winning field goal late. The Pick: Penn State (-6) wins it 23-20.

Tennessee at No. 10 Georgia; 3:30 p.m.; CBS
The Skinny: We all know by now my thoughts on Tennessee – always, always, go against the Vols, no matter the opponent or the amount of points getting or giving up. That trend continues today. Georgia coach Mark Richt says that former Heisman candidate Knowshon Moreno will start at running back today, which is good news for the desperate Bulldogs – who lost their last game to Alabama. Georgia gets a big conference victory. The Pick: Georgia (-12) wins it 31-10.

Colorado at No. 16 Kansas; 12:30 p.m.; ESPN2
The Skinny: Kansas had to come back from a 20-point deficit to beat Iowa State last week in its Big 12 opener, so you would think they won’t take a victory over Colorado for granted. But with Oklahoma on the horizon next week, Kansas just might do that. The Jayhawks, however, should have learned their lesson and should take home an easy home win. The Pick: Kansas (-14) wins it 38-21.

Notre Dame at No. 22 North Carolina; 3:30 p.m.; ABC
The Pick: North Carolina (-7.5) wins it 33-23.
Brad’s brother, Craig Carroll, is back to defend his championship from a year ago. He finished with a 5-2 record last week, and is 17-24-1 for the season. Here are his picks for the week: Oklahoma, Missouri, LSU (upset special), Penn State, Georgia, Colorado, UNC.

THE NFL HAS SOME COMPETITION - FROM THE LINGERIE FOOTBALL LEAGUE

The National Football League finally may have some competition when it comes to professional football. Well, not really, but there is a brand new gridiron league that will cause a stir with football fans all over the world. The Lingerie Football League, yes, the Lingerie Football League, will debut next fall and will feature 10 teams that will be broken up into two conferences.

For all of you fans in Connecticut, yes, New England will have a franchise - the New England Euphoria. Also in the Eastern Conference will be the Atlanta Steam, Chicago Bliss, Miami Caliente, Tampa Breeze and the Euphoria. Surprisingly, there is no New York team in play. The Western Conference will feature the Dallas Desire, Los Angeles Temptation (top photo), Phoenix Scorch, San Diego Seduction and Seattle Mist.
The teams will play full-contact football with helmets, sports bras and panties.

This isn't the first time a Lingerie football games has been played. In 2004, during halftime of the Super Bowl, Team Dream defeated Team Euphoria 6-0. The league schedule will be announced in April in 2009.

Games will be broadcast on Cable TV. You can also watch highlights on their website: LFLUS.com.

AFTERNOON GAMEDAY SAYS IT WILL BE A PHILS-RAYS SERIES

As much as I hate to say it, I think the most interesting World Series matchup in a long, long, long, long (how many long’s can I put here?) time would be Red Sox and Dodgers. Just imagine the Red Sox looking across the field at Manny Ramirez, Joe Torre and Don Mattingly? How many storylines could be talked about? You got Manny versus the Sox. You got Torre and Mattingly going against Boston in Dodger blue. You got Jason Bay being compared to Ramirez. It would be unbelievable. And this is coming from a Yankee fan.

But will it happen? I’m going to say no. I think the Red Sox have the edge against the Rays in the ALCS, but I don’t see the Dodgers winning against the Phillies. Beating the Cubs, who were tight all series long, is one thing, but the Phillies will not succumb to the pressure of October. The Red Sox have to have the edge over the Rays, so I’m going to say they should win the series. But I actually don’t think they will. There is a lot of magic surrounding the Rays right now, and, for some reason, I just feel like this is their one and only shot at a World Series championship. And they will complete the feat. Tampa will beat the Red Sox and they will go on to beat the Phillies in the World Series. As much as I would like to see Torre and Mattingly beat the Red Sox in the World Series, it won’t happen. It’s the Rays year.

NO REGRETS FOR PLAXICO
Anyone think the Giants are regretting giving Plaxico Burress that big contract this summer? He admitted yesterday that the reason he skipped out on the team was because he had to drive his kid to school. Unless he’s driving a couple of hours away, that shouldn’t be reason alone for skipping out. But Plax really seems to want to rally against Tom Coughlin and the Giants. Which brings us to the question: Why did he sign the contract in the first place? If Plax wants out, then why did he stay? I guess money is money.

DEAD POSTSEASON
October baseball without New York just isn’t the same. Say what you will, but it’s completely true. Baseball needs the Yankees or, to a lesser extent, the Mets. Now we have the Dodgers, Phillies, Red Sox and Rays left. That is a pretty boring foursome (unless the Dodgers and Red Sox play each other). We’ll also find out how many true Red Sox fans are out there this postseason when they don’t have the Yankees to play off of. Red Sox Nation, which, by the way, is a complete rip-off of Raider Nation, is more made up of Yankee haters than actual Red Sox fans. I’m not talking about those Boston fans in New England. Nobody is going to care about the Red Sox when they’re playing the Rays in the ALCS. My guess is that the Rays will be the people’s choice.

FANTASY FOOTBALL
Very bad week for my fantasy teams as I ended up losing all three games. In the CBS league, it was a blowout as LaDainian Tomlinson did absolutely nothing. It’s looking more and more like a No. 1 overall bust. But Adrian Peterson did nothing as well on Monday night. Still, Peterson is the likely No. 1 pick next year. Brian Westbrook will probably be No. 2 and then L.T. would be No. 3, which would make whoever gets the third pick the happiest owner in the world. Still, Tomlinson looks nothing like the running back from last year. And the running back retirement age of 30 hasn’t even hit yet. Luckily I’m still in first place with a 3-2 record in their three-division set up.

In ESPN, it was a horrible loss, a 99-98 defeat to drop me to 3-2 overall and into second place in the two-division league. This league hurts me deeply because I’ve scored the second most points in the league (was first before this week), but have allowed the most points. My opponents have totaled 524 points this year, while the next nearest points allowed mark is 441. Are you kidding me?

In the Yahoo league, where I was unbeatable for three straight weeks, I’ve now lost two games in a row. I gotta say that Jared Allen, the No. 1 pick for defensive players, has been a disaster. He’s terrible and the Vikings have to be kicking themselves for giving up a high draft pick for him. He’s done nothing. I just might bench him this week because I’m sick of getting 1 point every week. Brian Westbrook needs to play, because when he’s not healthy, my team just isn’t the same.

NFL SELECTIONS
We went 8-4-1 in the NFL Week 5 picks, including 5-0 against the spread in the late Sunday games. Not bad. We couldn’t pull through with a Monday night winner, as the Saints and Vikings played one of the weirdest games ever. The Saints should have won that game by 20, but the Vikings pulled off the upset. The craziest cover of the day had to be the Colts, who came back to shock the Texans early Sunday. Not only did they win the game, but Indy covered the three-point spread as well. With this second strong week in a row, we are over .500 for the season, coming in with a 36-34-2 record.

(AP photos, top, Joe Torre with the Dodgers and Evan Longoria with the Rays)

BREAKING DOWN GAMEDAY'S PERFECT SATURDAY

I’ll just come out and say it right now – College GameDay was perfect on Saturday. Perfect! We were 7-0 against the spread. We were 7-0 straight up. And we were 1-0 in upset picks. That’s right; we even threw in an upset pick as well. Unbelievable. Craig bounced back with a strong week as well, going 5-2 on the day. In my four years doing this column (in two different papers) this is a first. Perfection is hard to come by, so this is indeed is reason to celebrate. Uh, yeah, that’s enough celebrating. In a couple of days, we gotta do it all over again.

I actually was following the late games on the computer because I wanted to check out the MMA fight between Kimbo Slice and Ken Shamrock on CBS Saturday night. I should say that I’m not an MMA fan in the least. I actually watched the first ever UFC pay per view event way back when, but after that I hadn’t watched a fight until Brock Lesnar lost in his debut. That was more to see Lesnar than anything else. So, this was my first trip back to the “sport” in a long time. Guess what? It was a huge disappointment. First Ken Shamrock pulled out of the fight with a cut above his eye. Then Kimbo Slice fights some skinny kid instead, and gets his butt whopped in 13 seconds. Nice. I’ve read some stories about MMA saying that Slice was exposed as a farce. If that’s true, then the whole “sport” was exposed as a farce. If you’re going to tear this guy down, you’re tearing down the “sport.” Like it or not, this guy has become a star, so if your star is a farce, then the “sport” is a farce. There is no other way around it. I don’t think I’ll be checking out another MMA fight anytime soon. Afternoon GameDay is tomorrow. Here is a breakdown of our perfect Saturday:

My Saturday: 7-0 (spread); 7-0 (overall); 1-0 (upset picks)
My Season: 25-16-1 (spread); 33-9 (overall); 3-1 (upset picks)
My Money: UP $740 (season)
Craig's Saturday: 5-2 (spread)
Craig's Season: 17-24-1 (spread)
Craig's Money: DOWN $940 (season)

No. 6 Penn State -13.5 at Purdue
My Pick: Penn State 28, Purdue 10
Actual Score: Penn State 20, Purdue 6
The day begins in the opposite way of how it usually does – with a half-point win! Those half-point games usually come out on the other side, but we start out the day with an early victory. The score is also pretty darn close … could this be a sign of things to come?

Kentucky +16 at No. 2 Alabama
My Pick: Alabama 33, Kentucky 20
Actual Score: Alabama 17, Kentucky 14
Kentucky put up a real fight and if the ball bounces differently on an onside kick they might have pulled off the upset. We start out 2-0 on the day, while Craig loses with Alabama to go 1-1 early.

No. 13 Auburn -4.5 at No. 19 Vanderbilt
My Pick: Vanderbilt 16, Auburn 13
Actual Score: Vanderbilt 14, Auburn 13
This game didn’t look good when Auburn scored two quick touchdowns in the first quarter and went up 13-0 (after a missed extra point). But Vanderbilt came back big – well, they scored two touchdowns – and took home a one-point victory. The difference? Vandy actually made their extra point attempts. Auburn is a disgrace. Scoring only 13 points in a spread offense is an embarrassment. Predicted score is just about dead-on again. I’m 3-0 in the early games, including the upset pick here. Craig loses with Auburn and drops to 1-2.

No. 24 Connecticut +7 at North Carolina
My Pick: North Carolina 35, Connecticut 7
Actual Score: North Carolina 38, Connecticut 12
The lights went out on both Connecticut and North Carolina in this one and it wiped out the UConn page that was supposed to be in The Herald Press on Sunday. With the, we’ll call it technical difficulties, the game ended too late for press time. Sorry about that. Still, we were dead-on again with the pick. The Huskies get exposed playing a tough ACC team, quarterback or no quarterback. We’re 4-0 on the day, while Craig evens his record at 2-2.

No. 14 Ohio State -1 at No. 18 Wisconsin
My Pick: Ohio State 22, Wisconsin 17
Actual Score: Ohio State 20, Wisconsin 17
This was the only game where I took several minutes trying to pick a winner. I’m not sold on either of these teams, and it was tough picking a winner. On one side was the home-field advantage for Wisconsin. On the other was the fact that Ohio State had the better team. In the end, I went with OSU, and it worked out perfectly when the Buckeyes scored a touchdown with 1:08 left to take the win. This was the hump game, as it put us over the top and sent us on our way to an undefeated day. We’re 5-0 on the day, with two to play, while Craig moves to 3-2.

No. 23 Oregon +16.5 at Southern Cal
My Pick: Southern Cal 45, Oregon 21
Actual Score: Southern Cal 44, Oregon 10
Oregon led at the end of the first quarter, but USC took control from there and had a blowout victory. There were a lot of points on the board here (16.5), but the Trojans did the job and took home the win. I have to say that the predicted scores have been pretty darn close in every pick so far, with the lone exception in the Alabama-Kentucky matchup, which I thought would be higher-scoring. We’re 6-0 with one game left on the board. Craig is 4-2, finally bouncing back with a strong week.

No. 4 Missouri -10.5 at Nebraska
My Pick: Missouri 31, Nebraska 17
Actual Score: Missouri 52, Nebraska 17
Missouri was even more impressive than I thought, and they could very well make a run toward the national championship game. I hope so, because they are an exciting offense with a great quarterback in Chase Daniel. I finish 7-0, while Craig checks in with a 5-2 mark. So, there you have it, an undefeated record. A perfect day. Not bad. We’ll see what happens next week.

(AP photo, top, Terrell Pryor after leading Ohio State to victory Saturday night.)

MY COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICKS COLUMN LEAKED EARLY

Sports Editor Brad Carroll takes a look at the top college football games of the day
LAST WEEK: 4-3 (spread); 5-2 (overall); 0-0 (upset picks)
THIS SEASON: 18-16-1 (spread); 26-9 (overall); 2-1 (upset picks)

Kentucky at No. 2 Alabama; 3:30 p.m.; CBS
The Skinny: It’s like old times having the Crimson Tide ranked No. 2 in the nation – it’s highest plateau since they spent the first eight weeks of the 1993 season at that spot – and after they absolutely destroyed Georgia, it’s hard to imagine them letting up anytime soon. Against Kentucky, who is 4-0 and allows just 5.5 points per game this season, Alabama is virtually unbeatable. They are 33-2-1 overall and 8-0 in Tuscaloosa. The Pick: Alabama (-16) wins it 33-20.

No. 4 Missouri at Nebraska; 9 p.m.; ESPN
The Skinny: History isn’t on Missouri’s side in this game, as they haven’t won at Nebraska in 30 years. But the Missouri teams of then and now are completely different. QB Chase Daniel is having a Heisman-type season, throwing for 1,412 yards with 12 TD’s and just 1 interception. The Missouri offense is averaging 53.8 points per game and 595.5 yards. Nebraska is much improved, but they did get lit up by Daniel last year in a 41-6 loss. The Pick: Missouri (-10.5) wins it 31-17.

No. 6 Penn State at Purdue; 12 p.m.; ESPN
The Skinny: With all of the legal problems facing Penn State, it brings me to the current state of UConn sports. I understand why Penn State would let troublemakers into the program – after all, they were horrible for several years and didn’t get back into the national title picture until they dropped their acceptance standards and allowed in a bunch of thugs. But UConn basketball is supposed to be different, right? … The Pick: Penn State (-13.5) wins it 28-10.

No. 23 Oregon at No. 9 Southern Cal; 8 p.m.; ABC
The Skinny: UConn basketball, as everyone tells me here in this state, is on par with the Dukes and North Carolinas and Kentuckys and so on. Yet, year after year for several years now, at least one UConn basketball player has gotten into trouble with the law. So, my question to UConn fans is this: If you are one of the top programs in the country, why are you still allowing these thugs onto your team? The answer is simple. … The Pick: Southern Cal (-16.5) wins it 45-21.

No. 13 Auburn at No. 19 Vanderbilt; 6 p.m.; ESPN
The Skinny: UConn basketball is not considered one of the top programs in the country. Connecticut fans are kidding themselves if they think the Huskies are on par with the Dukes and North Carolinas and so on. If they were, then you wouldn’t be reading about yet another kid getting into trouble. And this isn’t underage drinking or parking tickets, these are big-time offenses. Outside of Connecticut, nobody cares about UConn. … The Pick: Vanderbilt (+4.5) wins it 16-13.

No. 14 Ohio State at No. 18 Wisconsin; 8 p.m.; ABC
The Skinny: If it wasn’t true, then UConn would be clean, and it’s nowhere near that. UConn should change its recruitment policies. If they are good enough to compete with the big boys, then recruit like them. I’m not saying every big-time program is clean, but have you heard of anything out there comparable to UConn’s problems over the past several years? Didn’t think so. The Pick: Ohio State (-1) wins it 22-17.

No. 24 Connecticut at North Carolina; 7 p.m.; ESPN2
The Pick: North Carolina (-7) wins it 35-7.
Brad’s brother, Craig Carroll, is back to defend his championship from a year ago. He finished with a 3-4 record last week, and is 11-16-1 for the season. Here are his picks for the week: Alabama, Missouri, Penn State, USC, Auburn, OSU, UNC.

(AP photo, top, of UConn coach Jim Calhoun)

AFTERNOON GAMEDAY LOOKS INTO THE MIND OF A MET FAN

We’re a day late with Afternoon GameDay, but we’re ready to go after a group of people that irritates the heck out of me. This group of people has no sense of reality, no sense of what winning is truly about, and absolutely no sense of how to root for their team. This group of people is New York Met fans. And before I get hate mail from you Metropolitan fans out there, look where I’m coming from. The best way to compare Met fans is to look at the plight this year of the Yankees and their fans.

When the Yankees and their fans knew several weeks ago that they weren’t going to make the postseason, everyone was up in arms and change was the key word. It didn’t matter that the Yankees had been in the postseason for a billion years in a row, no playoffs meant change was needed. Yankee fans were out for blood against a group of players that simply couldn’t get it done. There was no grace period.

Over in Queens, the Mets suffered their second straight (and if you count the playoff loss against the Cardinals, three straight) collapse to end the season and miss the playoffs. And this year was even worse than last year. Why? Because to close the season, all the Mets had to do was beat the horrible Nationals, the nothing-to-play-for Cubs, and the Marlins – all at Shea Stadium. Did they do it? No. Again. The big-time players were horrible down the stretch, and that means David Wright and Jose Reyes. If it wasn’t for Johan Santana pitching his heart out, who knows where this team would be.

Now, in the days following that final game at Shea Stadium on Sunday, has the Met fan come out firing against their team and demand change? No. Have they said they want the manager out? No. Have they said the team needs a shakeup? No. All I’ve heard is that the Mets are a great team and that their young “stars” are the best players in baseball. The bullpen is what did them in this year – that’s it. Simple. Get a relief pitcher or two and we’re in the playoffs.

You see, this is what I talk about when I say Met fans have no sense of reality.

The reason the Mets lost wasn’t because of the bullpen, it was because Wright and Reyes shrink under pressure. And it happened last year too. Did the bullpen stink? Absolutely. But in the final game ever from Shea Stadium, playing Florida, the final score was Marlins 4, Mets 2. If the pitching staff holds a team to four runs, a “great” team should win that game. Especially with everything that was on the line. The place was packed for the final game ever at Shea and the Marlins had zero to play for. Still, the Mets come out and score just two runs in the game. They couldn’t even put up a fight in the ninth inning. Wright and Reyes, your stars, were a combined 1-for-8.

Meanwhile, over in Milwaukee, the Brewers young star Ryan Braun hits the game-winning home run at the same time as the Mets stars are shrinking. That is a true star.

Still, do you Met fans rip into Wright and Reyes for failing in the clutch – again? It’s actually the complete opposite, and it is maddening. The fan’s mantra is the same – we’re a great team; we just got unlucky. Even the players believe that. Everyone here is lost. The Mets are not a great team. Say what you want, but for the second year in a row, you’re not in the playoffs. This “great” team choked – no other way to say it – for the second straight year.

Met fans should be out for blood right now. They should be ripping their team apart. They should be calling out Wright and Reyes. But it’s all good in Met Land.

As my group was leaving the Meadowlands after the Jets-Cardinals game on Sunday, we were having a little fun with Met fans in the parking lot. With the team down 4-2, we were letting them know their team was losing – and that they stink. We came across a group of 15-year-olds and told them the Mets lost. And they said, “whatever, at least we did better than the Yankees.” My brother, Glenn, responded simply, “actually, it’s the same.”

That is the other thing about Met fans that kills me. The Mets can miss the playoffs in dramatic and unbelievable fashion, but the first response when told of it isn’t “they freaking stink” it’s “well, the Yankees stink.” Why in the world are you even thinking of the Yankees at that time? Root for your team. That will never change, though. The Mets and their fans feel like second-class citizens in New York – even when they have the city in their hands. Nobody cared about the Yankees down the stretch. If the Mets win, they own the city this October. But they couldn’t do it.

The Mets need change and they need to fire manager Jerry Manuel first. But they won’t do that as he is going to be back next year. The Mets need to make a major change with the core of their team – and that means trading Wright, Reyes or Carlos Beltran. But you can bet they won’t do that either. The team’s core will be the same next year as it was this year, and the year before. I guess Met fans are willingly to wait and see if their “stars” will choke for the third year in a row.

Who will be blamed then? I already know the answer: The Yankees.

MEET THE NEW MET
The Mets need to get a closer this offseason and they will put everything into getting Angels stopper Francisco Rodriguez. He won’t come cheap – at about $16 million per for four years – but it’s a move they have to make. If K-Rod spurns their offer, than the Mets must add Brian Fuentes, the Rockies closer. If they get neither, it’ll be a long season. Remember, Billy Wagner will miss next season with an injury.

MORE METS
Funny story about the parking lot adventures in New Jersey. Like I said earlier, every time we saw someone with a Mets hat or shirt, my brother Craig would shout out something like “Hey, Martinez, Mets suck.” All in good fun. Well, he did it a bunch of times to guys walking in the parking lot at the Meadowlands and later did it to guys wearing Mets caps on the streets of New York City. Good times. Then, I’m driving back to Long Island on the LIE when we get to Queens and traffic gets heavier as the Mets game is letting out. After a while, a car full of cute girls, all wearing Met jerseys, pulls up along side us and starts talking to my brother. She was talking about the Mets and my brother responds something to the effect of “oh, well, things will be all right.” Nice. Harassing a bunch of guys with Met gear on is cool, but the hot girls get a pass. Gotta love it.

BY THE WAY
How could the Mets have the Shea Stadium celebration after the game? How do you expect your fans to cheer and remember for a ceremony when their team just suffered a crushing loss? This was a time to mourn, not celebrate. Saw one television clip of the ceremony where something was happening at home plate, but that didn’t catch my attention, as it was the orange background – empty seats – that caught my eye. What a horrible decision. And it did bother me – and I’m not a Met fan, obviously – when the old-timer’s where joking around and laughing on the field. Maybe it didn’t bother most, but it was just way too weird that these guys were having a grand old time when the game ended so badly just a few minutes earlier.

ONE MORE THING
When the Marlins were celebrating after beating the Mets on Sunday, the Shea crowd started chanting “off our field.” Sorry, but that field belonged to the Marlins. Again, this goes back to the beginning of the story: this was about the Mets choking and had nothing to do with the Marlins. They had every right to celebrate on that field for as long as they wanted.

SUNDAY AFTERNOON FAVRE
Sunday’s Jets-Cardinals game was simply awesome and I still haven’t gotten my voice back – 56 points will do that to you. We had seats in the end zone in row 8; amazingly close to the field. The best part of it was that all 56 points the Jets scored was in our end. Some observations:
1. Watching a game from the end zone is a completely different experience. You can see the holes in the line open up and see exactly where players are going.
2. The players are huge.
3. The Jets’ old-school Titans uniforms look horrible on television, but actually really good in person. Don’t know why that is.
4. With about 20 seconds left in the first quarter, and the Jets at about the 2-yard-line, some guy in front of us was yelling something about not running a play. After a second I realized that he wanted them to take the clock down so they would have to switch sides and score in our end zone. Nice. When they decided to take the clock down, our section went nuts.
5. Cardinals defensive end Antonio Smith is a huge jerk (I have a couple of other names that fit better than “jerk," but we’ll keep it clean here). For some reason, Smith came back to the field with the Jets going in for another score in the red zone and had his helmet off and was yelling like a madman at our section. Needless to say, he got it back 10-fold. It ended with “a-hole” chants.
6. The Anquan Boldin hit happened on the other side of the field, but I thought it was horrific from where I was. I’m glad he’s alright. But it was scary. The thing about his injury was that everyone was concerned in the stands and they applauded when he was taken away. Two weeks prior, two Patriots players were injured and the crowd chanted “a-hole” the whole time. Obviously, the difference is the Patriots cheat and fake injury.

NFL SELECTIONS
I went 8-5 in my NFL picks this week. That brings my season record to 28-30-2. Not good overall, but a strong comeback this past week.

FANTASY FOOTBALL
In my CBS league, I had to sweat out a Sunday night game that featured Donovan McNabb and Matt Forte. My team ended up winning by a few points, when both of those players put up small numbers. Luckily, I didn’t need much from them as LaDainian Tomlinson came through with a late 40-yard TD run against the Raiders in a Sunday afternoon game for an extra 10 points. Take that run away and I lose the game. But I’m 3-1 overall and all alone in first place.

In my ESPN league, the choice to start Brett Favre over Kurt Warner proved to be a good one. Going into the game, I was having thoughts of benching Favre in favor of Warner, but decided to stick with my starter. Obviously, six touchdowns later, it was a great choice and another victory. I’m 3-1 in this league as well and tied for first place in my division.

In my Yahoo league, I suffered my first loss in horrible fashion. I ended up losing by two points because my opponent’s RB, Chris Perry, ended up getting a fumble recovery – which is three points. (We use defensive stats and players in this league). That is a tough way to lose. I’m 3-1 and tied for first place in this league too (12 teams, one division) and have scored the most points overall. Still, that loss hurts bad.

(AP photos, top, David Wright after Sunday's loss; middle, Oliver Perez during the Mets game Sunday; bottom, Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry on the Shea field for the final time.)