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MY NEW YEAR'S COLLEGE GAMEDAY PICKS COLUMN SPECTACULAR

Sports Editor Brad Carroll takes a look at the top college football games of the week
BOWL SEASON
: 7-2 (spread); 6-3 (overall); 1-2 (upset picks)
THIS SEASON: 62-53-2 (spread); 85-30 (overall); 7-8 (upset picks)

No. 6 Penn State vs. No. 5 Southern Cal; 5 p.m.; ABC
ROSE BOWL – TODAY – The Skinny
: It’s old-school (Joe Paterno) vs. new-school (Pete Carroll) in this classic matchup between two teams with something to prove in the greatest bowl of them all. Both Penn State and USC believe Boldthey should be playing for a national title, and that should add to the intensity here. Both teams have high-powered offenses and also two of the best defenses in the country. One will continue the trend. The Pick: Southern Cal (-9) wins it 44-30.

No. 21 Virginia Tech vs. No. 12 Cincinnati; 8 p.m.; FOX
ORANGE BOWL – TODAY – The Skinny
: FOX is lucky this game will be played on New Year’s Day, because most fans are engrained to watch any bowl games played today. If it was on any other day, the ratings would be a disaster. Still, this game offers a chance for an easy win for GameDay. Virginia Tech is actually getting 2.5 points against the best the Big East has to offer (and that’s not saying much). This might be too easy. The Pick: Virginia Tech (+2.5) wins it 27-21.

South Carolina vs. Iowa; 11 a.m.; ESPN
OUTBACK BOWL – TODAY – The Skinny
: I have no problem with the tons of bowl games played each year, but it just doesn’t seem right that a 7-5 team is playing an 8-4 team on New Year’s Day. Games played today are supposed to be sacred – with only the best matchups taking place. But I’ll get over it. Iowa did come up with a huge victory this season when the Hawkeyes beat Penn State to knock them out of the national championship. The Pick: Iowa (-4) wins it 20-10.

No. 16 Georgia vs. No. 19 Michigan State; 1 p.m.; ABC
CAPITAL ONE BOWL – TODAY – The Skinny
: No team was more disappointing this season than Georgia. The Bulldogs were the preseason No. 1 pick in the polls, but things didn’t go as planned, and Georgia limps into the Capital One Bowl with three losses and a reputation for coming up small in big games. So, it comes down to which Georgia team will show up against 9-3 Michigan State? Looking into my crystal ball I see a close Bulldogs win. The Pick: Georgia (-7.5) wins it 31-28.

Clemson vs. Nebraska; 1 p.m.; CBS
GATOR BOWL – TODAY – The Skinny
: Clemson and Nebraska combined for 9 losses this season, but at least they have been playing well heading into the postseason. Clemson has won 3 in a row and 4 out of 5, while Nebraska has won 3 straight and 5 of its last 6. So this should be a competitive game with teams looking to make a statement for next year. With a game so close, I usually go with the better conference, but not this time. The Pick: Clemson (-2.5) wins it 33-30.

No. 7 Utah vs. No. 4 Alabama; 8 p.m.; FOX
SUGAR BOWL – FRIDAY – The Skinny
: Utah will be playing for all mid-majors Friday night when it takes on big, bad Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Boise State gave mid-majors hope after beating Oklahoma a couple years ago, but now those schools need another statement to possibly get more than one team in the BCS. Can Utah pull it off? Unfortunately, no. The Pick: Alabama (-9.5) wins it 35-24.

No. 20 Ole Miss vs. No. 8 Texas Tech; 2 p.m.; FOX
COTTON BOWL – FRIDAY – The Pick
: Texas Tech (-4.5) wins it 42-28.Brad’s brother,
Craig Carroll, is back to defend his title from a year ago. He has a 6-3 bowl season record, and is 57-58-2 for the regular season. Here are his picks for the week: PSU, Cincy, Iowa, Georgia, Clemson, Utah, Ole Miss.

(AP photo, top, Southern California linebacker Rey Maualuga makes a catch during practice Sunday in Los Angeles. USC will play Penn State in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day.)

BILL COWHER SAYS HE DOESN'T WANT TO COACH THE JETS

The dream of having Bill Cowher yelling on the Jets' sideline next season is already over. Cowher's agent told the Jets tonight that he doesn't want to coach the team. "After reaching out to coach Cowher's representatives, we were informed tonight that he is not a candidate for the position," the Jets said in a statement. Oh well, there goes that thought. With Mike Holmgren already saying no, the list has gotten very, very limited. Unless, of course, you like the name Schottenheimer, as both Marty and offensive coordinator Brian, father and son, are now candidates. Current offensive line coach Bill Callahan will also get a look along with Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, Titans defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazer, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, and Bill Parcells. Mike Shanahan might be worth a shot as well. I can live with any of those coaches except for Brian Schottenheimer and Bill Callahan. But the Cowher news takes a lot of wind out of the Jets' sails. We'll see where they turn from here.

BRONCOS FIRE SHANAHAN ... JETS REACH OUT TO COWHER, SPAGNUOLO

On the way home from the Jets game on Sunday, and after the "Fire Mangini" talk simmered down a bit, Broncos coach Mike Shanahan was brought up as someone who could lose their job if he didn't beat the Chargers that night. Most of us agreed that you'd have to fire him with that big of collapse, but also agreed it probably wouldn't happen. Well, Shanahan lost to San Diego, and just now, lost his job. Denver fired Shanahan after 21 years with the team in a somewhat surprising decision. Shanahan has been in Denver for what seems like forever, but coaches are learning that big-time collapses aren't going to be tolerated anymore. The Broncos had a bigger collapse than the Jets did this season, so I'm sure people in Denver were as upset as us Jets fans in New York and probably aren't crying over the decision.

In other coaching news, the Jets will talk to former Steelers coach Bill Cowher (AP photo, right) and Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, the AP reports. Apparently, nothing has been set for sure with Cowher, but Spagnuolo will interview on Saturday. As for Cowher, ESPN's John Clayton said that Cowher originally said he wasn't interested in the New Yok job because he wanted to bring in his own personnel director and the Jets already have a GM in place. Clayton said that the Jets were willingly to replace current GM Mike Tannenbaum with someone of Cowher's choosing, however. Tannenbaum said he is willing to adjust to accommodate Cowher. If it's true, that is an interesting subplot to this whole situation. I get the sense that the Jets are going to try everything in their power to get Cowher.

Also, the Browns are going to interview former Jets coach Eric Mangini. I guess Cleveland didn't get the memo that the Bill Belichick coaching tree hasn't worked out so well - even though they just fired Romeo Crennel. But, go ahead, Cleveland, hire another Belichick guy. Is it any wonder why Cleveland is a mess of a franchise?

FIRING MANGINI WAS THE RIGHT MOVE, NOW HIRE COWHER OR PARCELLS

With the firing of Eric Mangini this morning, at least Jets fans have something to look forward to in the next few weeks. Forget whether or not Brett Favre will come back or not, finding a new head coach is actually something we’re looking forward to.

First, this is absolutely the right move by the team. Mangini (AP photo, right) presided over the biggest collapse in team history (and that is saying a lot) and got nothing from his players in the final two weeks of the season. The way the team played against the Dolphins was flat-out embarrassing. And, on a side note, can Jets fans get a freaking clue? The crowd yesterday cheered the Jets when they came out of the tunnel to start the game. This team deserved to be booed – loudly. Also, if you polled the fans before the game about the Jets’ playoff possibilities, I’m guessing about 75 percent had no idea. The crowd was going crazy in the first half, even though the Jaguars were getting routed by the Ravens. If you want to cheer, then fine, I have no problem with that, but you gotta know the situation. People were cheering the Jets and Favre like they were Gods, when in actuality they were the biggest choke artists in the history of the Jets organization. It was just a crazy experience at the game as I was angry from the start with the crowd cheering the Jets and booing Chad Pennington. (Why in the world are you idiots booing Chad … what did he do to us?)

Second, Mangini is simply an X’s and O’s coach, which doesn’t work in a head coaching role. That’s perfect for a coordinator, but not as the man in charge. Mangini had no idea how to manage a game and it couldn’t have been more frustrating. I’ve mentioned in previous columns that it is sickening when I know how to play situations better than the head coach of an NFL team. Mangini made so many mistakes that I couldn’t stand it. It was like Herman Edwards was back on the sidelines. Yes, he was that bad.

Third, he tried to emulate Bill Belichick way too much and it cost him the locker room. Mangini created paranoia among players, a trademark of Belichick, but the biggest difference is that Belichick has actually won in this league, Mangini hasn’t. He also was stoic on the sidelines – like Belichick – but this was to the point where fans thought he didn’t know what was going on. And with the decisions he made, you came to believe that was the truth.

Fourth, Mangini will not get another head coaching job in NFL for the next several years. No way, no how. He might – might – get a chance as a coordinator in the league next year. He could get a head job in college, but even that would be a surprise. That’s not a true reason to fire a guy, but you have to ask yourself if anyone else would want this coach. If the answer is no, then there has to be serious consideration in making a change.

Fifth, and finally, there are two big names out there right now that would make a huge splash for the Jets – Bill Cowher and Bill Parcells. Cowher would be a good choice for the simple fact that you know he cares. I don’t think there is any way that the team loses to Seattle if Cowher was the coach this year. So, he is most likely the top candidate for the Jets. Apparently, today, Cowher said no to the Cleveland job, so that is good news for the Jets as well. The bigger name out there is, of course, Parcells. The Big Tuna, the man who turned the Jets franchise around, could be available in the next few days or weeks. If the Dolphins are sold (which they will be soon) Parcells would get the rest of his $12 million contract paid out in full and he could walk away immediately. He could rejoin the Jets in some kind of role, but with General Manager Mike Tannenbaum still around, it might not happen in a team president position. If Parcells wanted to coach again, which he probably doesn’t, the Jets would be the perfect spot and Tannenbaum and owner Woody Johnson (AP photo, top) would most likely jump at the chance. He’d have to guarantee he would coach for at least three years though, because the last thing the Jets want is to be looking for another coach after next season. There is also Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, but he would be way down on my list. Right now, though, anything is better than having Mangini on the sidelines.

BREAKING NEWS: JETS FIRE ERIC MANGINI

Eric Mangini was fired as head coach of the Jets. Even I was surprised by the timing, but makes me believe that a coach may have already been contacted by the Jets (Bill Cowher?) and expressed interest. I'll have more on this later.

UCONN ASSISTANT TAKES JOB AS HEAD FOOTBALL COACH AT TOWSON

Connecticut offensive coordinator Rob Ambrose was named head football coach at Towson today, signing a five-year contract with his alma-mater. Ambrose was with the Huskies for seven seasons, including the last four as offensive coordinator. UConn had a 48-36 record during his entire tenure with the school.
“Rob was on our list from the very beginning,” Towson athletic director Mike Hermann said. “We had an outstanding field and discussed this opportunity with many well-respected coaches. At the end, it became clear that Rob Ambrose was the best choice to lead our program.”
Ambrose is just the fourth coach in the school’s 40-year history.

MY COLLEGE GAMEDAY PICKS COLUMN FOR TOMORROW ... TODAY

Sports Editor Brad Carroll takes a look at the top college football games of the week
LAST WEEK
: 2-0 (spread); 1-1 (overall); 0-1 (upset picks)
THIS SEASON: 57-51-2 (spread); 81-29 (overall); 6-7 (upset picks)

Miami vs. California; 8 p.m.; ESPN
EMERALD BOWL – TODAY – The Skinny
: Just when you think Miami is about to announce it has returned to national prominence, the Hurricanes go out and either lose a big game or return to their old, thug-like ways. Well, Miami reverted to the latter. A total of five players have been suspended by the school for the final game of the season, including starting QB Robert Marve. But even with those players, Cal would still roll. The Pick: California (-8) wins it 33-17.

West Virginia vs. North Carolina; 1 p.m.; ESPN
MEINEKE BOWL – TODAY – The Skinny
: Both West Virginia and North Carolina could have won their respective conferences, but each fell flat late in the season and have to settle for the consolation prize. But the Meineke Bowl makes out like a bandit, as this is an attractive matchup of two unranked, but exciting teams. West Virginia has not played well in big games this year, and this is a big one, so I’m going with UNC. The Pick: North Carolina (+1.5) wins it 24-20.

Wisconsin vs. Florida State; 4:30 p.m.; ESPN
CHAMPS SPORTS BOWL – TODAY – The Skinny
: It would be easy to pick on Florida State and coach Bobby Bowden in this space, as the Seminoles haven’t won 10 games since 2004, but let’s take a look at Wisconsin. The Badgers were ranked as high as No. 9 this year before losing 4 straight and 5 of 6. In their season finale, Wisconsin needed OT to beat Cal Poly (I-AA) by a point. Not good. FSU will take care of business today. The Pick: Florida State (-6) wins it 28-21.

No. 25 Missouri vs. No. 22 Northwestern; 8 p.m.; ESPN
ALAMO BOWL – MONDAY – The Skinny
: It seems like a long time ago that GameDay was on the Missouri bandwagon to win the national title. After a quick start, Missouri lost 4 of its last 8 games, including a blowout loss to Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship to erase that dream. Northwestern, on the other hand, has come out of nowhere to win 9 games this season and be ranked 22nd in the nation. This should be an exciting game. The Pick: Missouri (-12.5) wins it 30-24.

No. 13 Oklahoma State vs. No. 15 Oregon; 8 p.m.; ESPN
HOLIDAY BOWL – TUESDAY – The Skinny
: This is definitely one of the more attractive bowl games of the season – including the BCS matchups – and should live up to the hype. This could very well end up with both teams scoring in the 40’s, so if you like offense, make sure you tune in to this game. This is a tough one to pick as both teams are very similar and will have the motivation to make a statement. In that case, go with the gut. The Pick: Oregon (+3) wins it 41-38.

No. 24 Oregon State vs. No. 18 Pittsburgh; 2 p.m.; CBS
SUN BOWL – WEDNESDAY – The Skinny
: You gotta love the Sun Bowl. Why? Because it’s usually the only pre-January bowl game that is on free TV. With free-TV games becoming rarer by the day, this is something to celebrate. And CBS has a nice matchup on tap as both Oregon State and Pittsburgh could have found itself in a BCS game this season. The Pick: Oregon State (-2.5) wins it 23-17.

LSU vs. No. 14 Georgia Tech; 8 p.m.; ESPN
CHIK-FIL-A BOWL – WEDNESDAY – The Pick
: Georgia Tech (-4) wins it 19-12.
Brad’s brother, Craig Carroll, is back to defend his championship from a year ago. He finished with a 1-1 record last week, and is 52-56-2 for the season. Here are his picks for the week: Miami, UNC, FSU, Northwestern, Oklahoma State, Oregon State, Georgia Tech.

(AP photo, top, Florida State, quarterback Christian Ponder throws to a receiver during a practice for the Champs Sports Bowl game in Orlando, Fla. Tuesday.)

COLLEGE GAMEDAY REWIND: PERFECT BOWL START AND SOME THOUGHTS ON TEIXEIRA

Here is a quick rundown of the two bowl game picks from Tuesday and Wednesday so we can jump right into College GameDay on Friday. But, before we do that, I've gotten calls and messages from people saying they were surprised that I didn't write anything about Mark Teixeira (AP photo, right) signing with the Yankees Tuesday afternoon. Well, it's a long story - including being stuck in traffic when the news broke - but I just couldn't get on a computer for a while, so I wasn't able to gloat over the many Red Sox readers out there. Days later, though, I will say that this has got to be the most disheartening news of the offseason for Boston fans. Not CC Sabathia's signing. Not A.J. Burnett's signing. This is the one that hurts. And don't act like this doesn't matter - it does. With the Yankees bringing aboard the huge bat at first base, a bat the Red Sox desparetly wanted and needed, the Bronx Bombers have already scored a victory over Boston before the season even starts. I was shocked that the Yankees signed him, so I can only imagine how Red Sox fans felt after hearing the news. I don't want to hear about payroll either, because with me just doing the math in my head, it's still lower than last year. The Yankees are doing everything in their power to get back to the postseason and the Teixeira signing will go a long way in accomplishing not only that goal, but winning a World Series title as well. We already know what the Yanks did with their rotation, so look out for the Bombers next year.

Anyway, let's get to College GameDay Rewind:

This Week: 2-0 (spread); 1-1 (overall); 0-1 (upset picks)
This Season: 57-51-2 (spread); 81-29 (overall); 6-7 (upset picks)
My Money: UP $90 (season)
Craig's Week: 1-1 (spread)
Craig's Season: 52-56-2 (spread)
Craig's Money: DOWN $960 (season)

Poinsettia Bowl
No. 9 Boise State +3.5 vs. No. 11 TCU
My Pick: Boise State 33, TCU 30
Actual Score: TCU 17, Boise State 16
This game looked to be all Boise State in the first half, but a late touchdown to end the second quarter by TCU turned the momentum and the Horned Frogs went on to score a victory Tuesday night. It was a good game and both teams deserve to make a move toward the top of the rankings next year. It would help a lot if a big-time school would schedule one of these teams during the season, otherwise these mid-majors will never get consideration for a national championship appearance. It's a good start to the bowl season, as both of us record victories here.

Hawaii Bowl
Notre Dame -2 at Hawaii

My Pick: Notre Dame 24, Hawaii 21
Actual Score: Notre Dame 49, Hawaii 21
Notre Dame finally ended its losing streak in bowl games (read GameDay below for a breakdown of the futility) by destroying Hawaii on Christmas Eve. The Irish finish the season at 7-6 and end the season on a positive note for the first time in a long time. Next year is make-or-break for Charlie Weis. I'm thinking he'll need to win at least nine games to keep his job. It won't be easy, but it can be done. Weis must find a way. So, I'm off to a 2-0 start, while Craig falls to 1-1 as his Hawaii squad got blitzed on their home turf.

EARLY CHRISTMAS GIFT FROM ME TO YOU ... COLLEGE GAMEDAY ON A TUESDAY

With a big bowl game tonight, and Notre Dame playing on Christmas Eve, I thought we should jump back into College GameDay a little early this week and give out a blog-only, two-game bonus breakdown. I know, I'm thoughtful. The full College GameDay experience will return in Saturday's Bristol Press (Friday afternoon on the blog) with a full slate of games; then we got our New Year's Day special to run in Thursday's paper (Wednesday on the blog); and then, finally, our final installment of the year, Saturday the 3rd, which will break down the national championship game and more. Here is the Carroll Battle breakdown, and the two game breakdowns. Merry Christmas!

Final Week:
6-1 (spread); 6-1 (overall); 1-0 (upset picks)
This Season: 55-51-2 (spread); 80-28 (overall); 6-6 (upset picks)
My Money: DOWN $110 (season)
Craig's Final Week: 4-3 (spread)
Craig's Season: 51-55-2 (spread)
Craig's Money: DOWN $950 (season)

Poinsettia Bowl, Tonight
No. 9 Boise State vs. No. 11 TCU; 8 p.m.; ESPN
The Skinny: This game is the reason for the blog-only bonus, as it is one of, if not the, best matchup outside of the BCS games (not including the Virginia Tech-Cincinnati Orange Bowl, of course). Boise State is the underdog, even though it is going for its second undefeated season in the last three years. TCU is 10-2 and would take a major step toward national prominence as a non-BCS school with a victory. Boise State has played in big games before, and has won huge games in the past few years (including beating Oklahoma in the BCS), so it should be battle-tested enough to pull out the win tonight. The Pick: Boise State (+3.5) wins it 33-30.
Craig is going with Boise State as well tonight.

Hawaii Bowl, Wednesday night
Notre Dame at Hawaii; 8 p.m.; ESPN
The Skinny: There are so many things to say about Notre Dame in this game, and most aren't good, but we'll delve into them anyway. The great Notre Dame, first off, is playing on Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve! This is the Fighting Irish! But here they are playing in one of the worst bowl games of them all. Second, Notre Dame (6-6) hasn't won a bowl game since 1993, which includes nine straight losses. Eighty-nine of 119 schools have won in the postseason in that span. Hawaii (7-6) has won four bowl games in that time. And third, Notre Dame, with a loss, will put together back-to-back losing seasons for just the third time in school history. And one of those times was when the Irish went 0-1 in 1887 and 1-2 in 1888. Hawaii, its opponent, hasn't been much better this season, and lost to Cincinnati a few weeks ago at home. If this was on a neutral field, I'd side with the Irish. But it's a home game for the Warriors. Still, I just have to think that Notre Dame will find a way to win. The Pick: Notre Dame (-2) wins it 24-21.
Craig is picking Hawaii to win the game outright.

(AP photo, top, Poinsettia Bowl officials greet football players as they arrive at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego Friday. Boise State will face TCU tonight.)

JETS DE ELLIS FINED 10 GRAND FOR SNOWBALL FIGHT IN SEATTLE

Jets defensive end Shaun Ellis was fined $10,000 by the league today for defending himself in Seattle on Sunday. Ellis, as the video below shows, threw a block of snow at some jerk Seahawks fans who were already pelting Jet players and staff with snowballs the entire game. I guess that's what you get for retaliating against a bunch of losers. Ellis said he was just having fun ... and I believe that. I also believe if he nailed someone in the face, he wouldn't have minded in the least. The NFL should take back the fine and revoke the tickets of those throwing snowballs. Those idiots are the problem here, not Ellis.

A HOST OF THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS OF A VERY DEPRESSING SUNDAY

There are so many things running through my mind right now that I’m just not going to be able to string together a bunch of coherent sentences to make any kind of story. So, I’m going to put together a bunch of random thoughts from a Sunday that will go down as one of the worst sports days of my life. Here we go.

**I don’t know why I’m a Jets fan – I really don’t. Time and time again, year and year again, they break my heart and leave me wondering what the heck went wrong. But I keep coming back for more. Sunday, the Jets lost to the Seahawks, scoring a total of three points – on the first stinking drive. That was it. Now, they need a bunch of help to get into the playoffs. Thanks, Eric Mangini, for having absolutely no coaching sense. The thing I can’t stand the most about NFL coaches is when I know more about game situations than they do. I’ve had enough of Mangini and the rest of the coaching staff. It’s time to start over – even if they somehow find a way to make the playoffs. I can’t take another year of these guys mismanaging another game. Sunday’s performance by everyone was embarrassing.

**Thanks, New York Jets, for losing to the Seahawks and therefore ruining what would have been an unbelievable experience next week for me. If the Jets won, the Miami-New York game next week would have been moved to Sunday Night on NBC. It would have been primetime with the division title on the line and me in the stands. Thanks.

**Thank you, Laveranues Coles, for dropping yet another pass – this time on fourth-and-2 with the game on the line. For all of your talk about being a great player, you really come up small in big moments. Actually, you come up small in pretty much any moment the ball comes into your hands.

**By the way, there are plenty of other topics burning me up besides the Jets, so keep reading.

**Brett Favre is old and tired. There were at least two plays that should have resulted in touchdown bombs if he hadn’t underthrown the intended receiver. With that said, he still dropped the ball perfectly on a deep pass into the hands of Coles on fourth-and-2 and, well, you know the rest. Does Favre come back next year? Right now, I don’t care.

**Did I mention that Eric Mangini needs to be fired?

**What happened to the Jets defense? Really, I want to know. They were unbeatable for more than half the season and now they can’t stop Seneca Wallace. By the way, I heard Steve Tasker say that Wallace will get a chance to be a starting QB in this league. Yeah, right. I’ve never seen a more inept starting QB in my years watching football. And, remember, I’m a Jets fan.

**Speaking of Tasker, could this guy be any dumber? And I’m not being mean here … I got the proof (and I’m paraphrasing his quotes). He said of one guy sitting in the snow – “at least he can keep his drink hot that way.” This was his reaction to the Seahawks first fumble of the game – “Mike Holmgren has got to throw the flag and challenge this play; this wasn’t a fumble.” After watching the replay, which showed a clear fumble (one that anyone could have seen on the original play) – “That’s definitely not a fumble.” Here’s Tasker on the Jets decision to go for it on fourth-and-2 late in the game – “Mangini has to punt the ball here. There is no other choice.” After CBS posted the AFC playoff picture on-screen – “Well, that’s reason right there to go for it. They have to win this game; they have to go for it.” After the Jets didn’t get the first down – “I have no idea why Mangini didn’t punt the ball. You have to punt the ball in that situation.” Tasker and Gus Johnson are the worst broadcasting team in the NFL – there is no going back on that statement.

**By the way, that’s just some of the statements made by Tasker. I can’t remember them all right now.

**If the Jets blitz another defensive back, and he doesn’t go straight for the quarterback, instead of stopping, stalling, and then charging the quarterback, I’m going to go down to Jersey and teach these guys the right way to blitz the passer. It’s not hard. Anybody can do it.

**I can’t say anything bad about Thomas Jones or Leon Washington. Thanks for a great season, guys.

**Another reason Mangini needs to be fired: the fact that he passed up a 50-yard field goal attempt by Jay Feely after he just made a 45-yarder that was nullified by a delay of game penalty. Feely nailed the 45-yarder with at least another 10 yards to spare. But go ahead and punt the ball, Mangini. That makes sense.

**On top of the Jets losing, I’m going to lose both of my fantasy football championship games. Of the three leagues I was in, I made it to the title game in two, and was favored to win both of them. One, a big-money league with a big-time payout, I was favored to win by 30. Well, I’m losing 109-67 with just Matt Forte left to play for my team. My opponent got 29 points from Tyler Thigpen, 17 from Tashard Choice, and 19 from the Patriots defense. Nice. I got 7 points from Donovan McNabb and 11 from LaDainian Tomlinson – the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. I remember a time back in the summer when I was happy as hell that I got that pick. Now I wish I didn’t. But it’s not over as all I need is Forte to get 43 points. That’s 190 rushing yards and four touchdowns. He can do it, right? In my Yahoo league, I took a 21.5-point lead into the Sunday Night game with my opponent having DeAngelo Williams and Will Blackmon (Monday night, defensive player) left to play. Williams scored four touchdowns and blew me out of the water by halftime. It’s just the icing on the cake of depression.

**Thank you to Drew Brees, Kevin Smith, Maurice Jones-Drew and Tony Gonzalez for playing great for my Yahoo team this week. Thank you to Marques Colston on my CBS team for having a great day.

**By the way, how did the Panthers just lose to the Giants? Big Blue had 301 rushing yards and won the game in overtime. It was the perfect end to a perfect night for me.

**I am not “Feeling Kinda Sunday” if you couldn’t tell by now.

**The Cardinals do not deserve to be going to the playoffs. That performance against the Patriots was a disgrace. I don’t know who was worse – the Cards or the Jets. Kurt Warner looked completely lost and played like he didn’t want to be on the field. Pathetic. And the weather is no excuse as Matt Cassel threw the ball all over the place. The Cardinals should decline the invite.

**Matt Cassel was great again as the Patriots quarterback. He just might do the same thing next year … as quarterback of the New York Jets. Just wait … it could happen.

**Here are the AFC East playoff possibilities: If Miami beats the Jets, the Dolphins win the division. If the Patriots win and the Jets beat the Dolphins, then the Patriots are the division champions. If the Patriots lose and the Jets beat the Dolphins, then the Jets are the division champs. For the Jets to make the playoffs, they need to beat Miami and hope either the Patriots or Ravens lose. The Patriots are at Buffalo and the Ravens are home to Jacksonville.

**If I’m in the stadium next week and the breaks go against the Jets, I want the crowd to root for Chad Pennington and the Dolphins. It probably won’t happen, but it should. The Jets brass tossed Pennington to the side and most Jets fans were ok with it. But we all knew it would come back to bite us. Now, if the Pats and Ravens both win, we should root for Chad. It would be fitting to show the coaches and management exactly what we think of them by rooting for the guy they dumped.

**I think I went 2-11 in my NFL picks. Just when I thought I couldn’t drop any lower.

**I haven’t had a Big Mac in a long, long time. I had one tonight … it was great. At least one thing went right.

**I just turned on Estate of Panic on SciFi and this show could have been so much better. But I see they are using tarantulas in this segment, so that’s good. That’s probably the one thing that would completely freak the hell out of me. If I ever saw one close-up I’d head for the hills. That’s lower-case hills, not The Hills, which I admittedly watch. That Spencer kid is starting to earn my respect – how in the world does he get away with everything he does? That must be the life.

**I’m starting to ramble, so I’ll wrap this up. I hate the Jets, and the feeling has to be mutual - why else would they treat me this way? But I am a big Bills and Jaguars fan this week. Eric Mangini and the entire coaching staff needs to be fired. Suddenly, I don't care whether or not Brett Favre comes back next year. Steve Tasker may have taken one too many shots to the head while playing in Buffalo. Matt Cassel as a Jet is getting more and more interesting by the second. Plus, any chance to burn Bill Belichick, is one you have to take. There will be no Sunday Night Football for me. There will be no fantasy championship for me. And there probably won't be any playoffs for me and the Jets. No nothing for me. But, hey, there was that Big Mac.

(AP photos, of Kurt Warner, Laveraneus Coles, Matt Cassel, Brett Favre and Drew Brees.)

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF ST. PAUL'S DECISION TO JOIN THE NVL?

Check out the new polls to the right of the page, dealing with St. Paul's decision to go to the NVL and the boys basketball season, and make sure to vote. We'll publish the results next week in The Bristol Press.

YANKEES NEED ONE MORE BIG PLAYER; THEY NEED - BIG GULP - MANNY RAMIREZ

Even though the Yankees have accomplished their two main goals this offseason by signing ace pitchers CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett to big-time contracts, there is still one move the team absolutely has to make in the coming weeks. The Yankees must sign Manny Ramirez. And there is a strong emphasis on must.
I know the mere thought of adding the character that is “Manny Being Manny” to the proud history and tradition of the Yankees is unfathomable to many fans of the Bronx Bombers, but if this is about winning (and with the Yankees, it’s always about winning), then this is a must. The team upgraded the pitching staff immensely, now its time to address the offensive needs – which are huge. Manny Ramirez (AP photo, right) alone fills the void.
If you ever wondered what kind of player Ramirez is, and what kind of influence he has on a lineup, just look at the production of David Ortiz after Ramirez was traded to the Dodgers last season. Ortiz suddenly became human – and I don’t want to hear that he was injured. In the playoffs, Ortiz batted .235 with a double and one RBI in four games against the Angels in the ALDS. He then followed that up by batting .154 with a double, triple, home run and four RBI in seven games against the Rays in the ALCS. Not exactly your typical Ortiz numbers. But, then again, what kind of player was Ortiz before he was paired up with Ramirez? Good luck next year.
Imagine the combination of Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez in the Yankees’ lineup. If A-Rod’s numbers were great without Manny, what would they be with him? And vice versa. Admittedly, it would be a huge surprise if they did add Ramirez. But you gotta ask yourself why hasn’t the proposed trade of Melky Cabrera and Kei Igawa to the Brewers for Mike Cameron happened yet. The Yankees brass has got to be discussing the possibility of adding Ramirez.
The only thing that could be holding up a deal with Ramirez is the years, because his talent is obvious and his attitude – believe it or not – would be under control in New York for at least a year. I’m sure the Yankees would get Ramirez tomorrow if they offered him a three-year contract, but a two-year deal would be ideal. That is why a possible deal will be weeks away. The Yankees are going to wait until the last possible minute and hope there are no other teams willingly to give Ramirez three years. If no one does, he could be in pinstripes.
I can see it now – Ramirez terrorizing the Red Sox all season long and leading the Yankees back to the World Series. The Yankees got the pitching. Now they need the offense. The Yankees need Ramirez.

YOU'LL NEVER GUESS WHO HAS THE MOST PRO BOWLERS ... THE COMPLETE LIST HERE

I'll throw a quick question out there to all of you knowledgeable sports fans: Which team had the most NFL Pro Bowl selections from the just announced list of players? Colts? ... Nope. Giants? ... No. Patriots? ... Nah. Steelers? ... Please. Cowboys? ... Think again. How about I just stop the madness and tell you that the team with the most Pro Bowlers is none other than the New York Jets. That's right - the New York Jets. An NFL-high seven players were selected today. Quarterback Brett Favre, running back Thomas Jones, center Nick Mangold, guard Alan Faneca, kick returner Leon Washington, nose tackle Kris Jenkins and cornerback Darrelle Revis all make the squad. Jones, Faneca and Jenkins will start for the AFC.
The Giants also made a big splash, putting six players on the NFC team. Quarterback Eli Manning, guard Chris Snee, center Shaun O'Hara, defensive end Justin Tuck, kicker John Carney and punter Jeff Feagles all made the team. Snee and Tucker will start for the NFC.
For the Patriots, receiver Wes Welker and kicker Stephen Gostkowski made the AFC team.
Also, on a college football note, Penn State coach Joe Paterno has agreed to a three-year contract extension.

Now, on to the complete Pro Bowl list:

AFC ROSTER
Offense
QB:
Peyton Manning, Indianapolis (s); Brett Favre, Jets; Jay Cutler, Denver
RB: Thomas Jones, Jets (s); Chris Johnson, Tennessee; Ronnie Brown, Miami
FB: Le'Ron McClain, Baltimore (s)
WR: Andre Johnson, Houston (s); Brandon Marshall, Denver (s); Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis; Wes Welker, Patriots
TE: Tony Gonzalez, Kansas City (s); Antonio Gates, San Diego
OT: Joe Thomas, Cleveland (s); Jason Peters, Buffalo (s); Michael Roos, Tennessee
G: Alan Faneca, Jets (s); Kris Dielman, San Diego (s); Brian Waters, Kansas City
C: Kevin Mawae, Tennessee (s); Nick Mangold, Jets
Defense
DE: Mario Williams, Houston (s); Dwight Freeney, Indianapolis (s); Robert Mathis, Indianapolis
DT: Albert Haynesworth, Tennessee (s); Kris Jenkins, Jets (s); Shaun Rogers, Cleveland
OLB: James Harrison, Pittsburgh (s); Joey Porter, Miami (s); Terrell Suggs, Baltimore
ILB: Ray Lewis, Baltimore (s); James Farrior, Pittsburgh
CB: Nnamdi Asomugha, Oakland (s); Cortland Finnegan, Tennessee (s); Darrelle Revis, Jets
FS: Ed Reed, Baltimore (s)
SS: Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh (s); Chris Hope, Tennessee
Special Teams
P: Shane Lechler, Oakland
K: Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots
KR: Leon Washington, Jets
ST: Brendon Ayanbadejo, Baltimore

NFC
ROSTER
Offense
QB:
Kurt Warner, Arizona (s); Drew Brees, New Orleans, Eli Manning, Giants
RB: Adrian Peterson, Minnesota (s); Michael Turner, Atlanta, Clinton Portis, Washington
FB: Mike Sellers, Washington (s)
WR: Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona (s); Anquan Boldin, Arizona (s); Steve Smith, Carolina, Roddy White, Atlanta
TE: Jason Witten, Dallas (s); Chris Cooley, Washington
OT: Jordan Gross, Carolina (s); Walter Jones, Seattle (s); Chris Samules, Washington
G: Steve Hutchinson, Minnesota (s); Chris Snee (s), Giants; Leonard Davis, Dallas
C: Andre Gurode, Dallas (s); Shaun O'Hara, Giants
Defense
DE: Julius Peppers, Carolina (s); Justin Tuck, Giants (s); Jared Allen, Minnesota
DT: Kevin Williams, Minnesota (s); Jay Ratliff (s); Pat Williams, Minnesota
OLB: DeMarcus Ware, Dallas (s); Lance Briggs, Chicago (s); Derrick Brooks, Tampa Bay
ILB: Patrick Willis, San Francisco (s); Jon Beason, Carolina
CB: Charles Woodson, Green Bay (s); Antoine Winfield, Minnesota (s); Asante Samuel, Philadelphia
FS: Nick Collins, Green Bay (s); Brian Dawkins, Philadelphia
SS: Adrian Wilson, Arizona (s)
Special Teams
P: Jeff Feagles, Giants
K: John Carney, Giants
KR: Clifton Smith, Tampa Bay
ST: Sean Morey, Arizona

(AP photos, top and right, of Leon Washington and Brett Favre.)

I WIN THE HEISMAN? OH, WAIT, IT'S OKLAHOMA'S SAM BRADFORD WHO WINS

Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford (AP photo, right) won the Heisman Trophy moments ago, finishing ahead of Texas QB Colt McCoy (second place) and Florida QB Tim Tebow (third place). Graham Harrell, QB of Texas Tech, was fourth and Michael Crabtree, WR from Texas Tech, was fifth.
“I was definitely surprised and I think it’s everything I imagined,” Bradford said. “I think it will take a couple weeks to set in.”
Bradford totaled 1,726 points. McCoy was second with 1,604 and Tebow was third with 1,575 points. Tebow actually got the most first-place votes.
Bradford got 300 first-place votes, McCoy 266 and Tebow 309.
“This is an individual award but I feel like I’m receiving it on behalf of my teammates,” Bradford said. “I feel like our whole offense bails me out every game. They make me look good.”

THE VOTING
1. Sam Bradford, Oklahoma
(300-315-196. Total: 1726)
2. Colt McCoy, Texas
(266-288-320. Total: 1604)
3. Tim Tebow, Florida
(309-207-234. Total: 1575)

WHO WILL WIN TONIGHT'S HEISMAN TROPHY? WE'LL TELL YOU RIGHT NOW

I told a bit of a lie in College GameDay Rewind this week, so hopefully you'll forgive me. I said College GameDay in The Bristol Press (and here) would be taking a couple weeks off until the bowl season heated up ... well, I went against that, and, if you've read today's paper, you'll see that College GameDay is right where it always is. If you didn't pick up a copy of the paper, get it now, because I break down the Heisman Trophy race between Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford, Texas QB Colt McCoy and Florida QB Tim Tebow. But for those who can't get the paper, here are my picks for tonight's announcement, and I'll throw in Craig's selections as well. Here they are:

Brad's Top 3 Picks
1. Sam Bradford, Oklahoma (1-to-3 odds)
2. Colt McCoy, Texas (3-to-1)
3. Tim Tebow, Florida (2-to-1)

Craig's Top 3 Picks
1. Colt McCoy, Texas
2. Sam Bradford, Oklahoma
3. Tim Tebow, Florida

Who Brad Thinks Will Win
Sam Bradford

Who Craig Thinks Will Win
Tim Tebow

(AP photo, top, Heisman finalists Sam Bradford, left, of Oklahoma, Colt McCoy, center, of Texas, and Tim Tebow, of Florida, pose for a photo after The Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards ceremony in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Thursday.)

YANKEES SIGN BURNETT TO 5-YEAR CONTRACT WORTH OVER $80 MILLION

The Yankees have made another splash in free agency, signing former Blue Jays pitcher A.J. Burnett to a five-year contract minutes ago. Multiple sources have reported that Burnett’s deal is worth $82.5 million. Burnett’s agent, Darek Braunecker, confirmed the deal. Burnett is another huge addition to the Yankees pitching rotation, which now includes Burnett (AP photo, above), CC Sabathia, Chien-Ming Wang, Joba Chamberlain and either Andy Pettitte or Phil Hughes. Burnett was 18-10 with a 4.07 ERA last year for Toronto. He set career highs in wins, strikeouts (231) and innings (221 1-3). The 31-year-old pitched great against the Yankees, going 3-1 with a 1.64 ERA in five starts. Burnett is an injury risk, but one that the Yankees are obviously going to take a chance on. The Yankees may still go after pitcher Ben Sheets, so stay tuned.

QUOTES FROM PHILIPPON LOOKING BACK ON HIS TIME AS EASTERN COACH

Quotes from Bristol Eastern football tonight:

“I’m most proud of the fact that the kids and the coaching staff all put our egos aside and did what we all believe was the best thing for the team,” now former Bristol Eastern coach Paul Philippon told beat writer Mike Letendre Thursday night. “We all clearly decided that we were going to outwork and out-prepare our opponents to the best of our ability. For the most part, we prepared our kids and the kids worked as hard or harder than most of the people we had to face.”

“He’s a stand-up individual,” former assistant coach Tim Barrette said. “He is one of the few coaches I ever met that whatever he believes in, if it’s his players, his coaching staff, he’s always there 100-percent to back them up and support them. He’s a man that knows the game more than anyone I have ever been around. I can’t tell you how much the years under him helped me learn how to become a head coach.”

“I’ve had the luxury of a great staff,” Philippon said. “I know sometimes there’s a lot of debate amongst staffs on who should be doing what and who should be in charge of what and I’ve never had that with any of the coaches I’ve worked with at Eastern."

“The kids really were willing to put the time in, commit to it in terms of lifting (weights) and running and being in the passing leagues in the summer and just doing all the right things,” Philippon said. “We were fortunate. We had a lot of great players show up at our doorstep.”

“Philippon really turned the program around,” Barrette said. “After taking (the program) over basically coming off of four or five losing seasons in a row, within two years he made them a state title contender.”

“I will always feel indebted to Dr. Lyons, Chris Cassin and John Novakowski,” Philippon said. “They are the three people I interviewed with and clearly, they decided to give someone a chance who had no prior experience as a head coach.”

(Mike Orazzi photo, top, of Paul Philippon.)

Bristol Eastern Football Coach Paul Philippon Quits, Shocking Team

Bristol Eastern head football coach Paul Philippon told his players that he will not be returning next year to lead the team, GameDay has learned. It is unclear what his current plans are, but it looks like the Lancers will be looking for another coach to lead the program in 2009 and beyond. It also looks like that man won't be D.J. Digiacomo, who also stepped down from his assistant spot. It is unclear as of now what will happen with assistant coaches Mike Archangelo, John Hannon, Eric Carbone, Rich Klett, Jay Bouvier, Christian Echeveria and A.J. Julius. The news came as such a shock to the team that when Philippon and Digiacomo told players they were quitting, the team thought it was a joke. It wasn't until Philippon and Digiacomo started tearing up that they realized it was for real. Philippon just recently led his charges to a victory over Bristol Central in the Battle for the Bell game on Thanksgiving. Philippon did lead Eastern to a resurgence over the past several years, including a return to the state playoffs in 2007. Check back for the latest news on this surprising turn of events at Bristol Eastern.

(George Arasimowicz photo, top, of Paul Philippon)

YANKEES UPSTAGE METS, SIGN CC SABATHIA TO 7-YEAR, $160 MILLION DEAL

It didn't take long for the Yankees to ruin the Mets' party, did it? After relishing in their big signing of Francisco Rodriguez yesterday, the closer they targeted from the beginning of the free agency period, the Mets watched the Yankees go out and upstage them again by signing ace CC Sabathia today to head the rotation. Take that, Mets! The deal is reportedly for 7 years and $161 million but does include an out-clause after three years. The out-clause means Sabathia (AP photo, right) can walk away from the deal after three years, and either sign with another team or renegotiate the orginal deal. So, if the situation with the Yankees goes bad, he can get out - probably making both parties happy. But if he pitches light's out, then he'll be looking at another huge payday, which could hurt the Yankees in the long run. Either way, the Yankees will have the big lefty in a rotation next year that include Chien-Ming Wang and Joba Chamberlain. Who will be next? The Yankees have already met with former Brewers pitcher Ben Sheets and former Blue Jays hurler A.J. Burnett. Former Dodger Derek Lowe is also a possibility. Look for the Yankees to at least sign one of those three, with Burnett being the favorite. For now, the Bronx Bombers have upstaged their Queens neighbors once again.

WHO WILL HEADLINE AT THIS YEAR'S WRESTLEFEST? ONE HINT: WOOOOOO!

Topping last year's WrestleFest show at Bristol Central High School wasn't going to be easy. And the promoters knew that getting a star to even come close to the one cast by last year's headliner, Rowdy Roddy Piper, would be darn near impossible. Sure, NEW has had Kurt Angle, Christian Cage, Jerry Lawler, Samoa Joe and more appear in the Mum City, but how would they be able to top Roddy Piper? Well, GameDay has learned that Northeast Wrestling has indeed pulled some magic out of its hat and has just signed one of the biggest stars and greatest wrestlers in sports entertainment history for the next WrestleFest event. Coming this fall to Bristol will be none other than Ric Flair. That's right - "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair. Obviously anyone who has followed wrestling knows the exploits of Flair, who many would say is the sport's greatest ever - better than Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart, Steve Austin and all the rest. Flair is a 16-time world champion and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this year. And he will be in Bristol this March. I'll have ticket information as soon as I get it, but apparently tickets could go on sale as early as this week. Stayed tuned to GameDay and The Bristol Press for the lastest. Also, in his contract, Flair has agreed to do just one newspaper interview, and that interview will be done by yours truly. So, it's GameDay and The Nature Boy head-to-head in the coming weeks. So, look for that interview and story coming soon as well. I gotta say I'm excited about the interview and WrestleFest coming up. It should be one hell of a show. Woooooooo!

COLLEGE GAMEDAY REWIND: GREAT SATURDAY, SO-SO SUNDAY, AND THE JETS STINK UP THE JOINT AGAIN

I couldn’t ask for a better ending to the regular season here at GameDay than what took place on Saturday. GameDay finished the final week before the bowls with a 6-1 record, which puts my season record to four games over. 500. That’s huge considering I only dipped under that mark once all season long, and that was last week. So, it feels good to get back on track. I’m still down in the money, but hopefully everything gets back to the green with the bowls starting in a few weeks. After taking advantage of my downturn for the past few weeks, Craig stumbled a bit, finishing with a 4-3 mark. He’s still within striking distance of the overall crown, sitting just four games back. Sunday was a big crash, however, as the Jets are officially back to earth after another horrible loss. They are now tied with the Patriots and Dolphins in the AFC East. The Jets still control their own destiny, so that’s a good thing. But with the way they’ve played the past two weeks, they might not win another game. On top of that, my ESPN fantasy team was eliminated from the playoffs with a horrible showing as well. That hurts because I had the best team in the league. I know a lot of people say that when they get eliminated, and I hate it, but I truly believe it in this case. Like I’ve said before, I was the league’s leading scorer – by far – but also had the most points scored against me – by far – and that cost me the division title and forced me to play a wild card game this week. I lost big as no one showed up. My highest point-getter was Steve Slaton with 13. On a positive note, my Yahoo team holds a 167.5-110.5 lead over Johnny Burnham’s charges heading into tonight’s game. In case you’re wondering, 167.5 points is a HUGE number. Still, Johnny has Warrick Dunn and Jon Beason to play tonight, so it’s not official. But I’m completely happy with the way this team came through when it counted. This is another team where I had the most points scored overall during the season, but two losses in the final two weeks of the season dropped me to third place and into the wild card round. But it looks like I may have a date in the Final Four, so I’m not complaining. Finally, in my big-time CBS league I clinched the wild card spot two weeks and will play in the Final Four against the best team in the league this upcoming week. The team I will be playing won my division and defeated me this week in the regular season. We’ve split the two meetings this year, so this will truly be the rubber match. Needless to say, starting Thursday, I’ll be in full fantasy mode. Oh, and the Jets better win too.

Now, on to College GameDay Rewind:

My Saturday: 6-1 (spread); 6-1 (overall); 1-0 (upset picks)
My Season: 55-51-2 (spread); 80-28 (overall); 6-6 (upset picks)
My Money: DOWN $110 (season)
Craig's Saturday: 4-3 (spread)
Craig's Season: 51-55-2 (spread)
Craig's Money: DOWN $950 (season)

Army +11 vs. Navy
My Pick: Navy 34, Army 0
Actual Score: Navy 35, Army 21
Was I the only one who didn’t like the new uniforms Army was wearing on Saturday? The camouflage helmets and pants may have been a good idea behind the scenes – it sounds like a good idea to me – but the colors were just too light to work on the field. I can talk about football fashion here because Navy took care of business on the field with an easy win and a 1-0 start for both me and Craig. This has the feeling of a great day. But I’ve had that feeling before.

No. 23 Pittsburgh +2.5 at Connecticut
My Pick: Pittsburgh 23, Connecticut 20
Actual Score: Pittsburgh 34, Connecticut 10
Pittsburgh finally woke up in the third quarter and outscored my favorite college football team in all the land (I’m joking of course) by a 24-7 score and cruised to a 24-point win. Can’t really believe UConn was favored in this game, but it just means my upset picks for the year even out at 6-6. Craig and I are both off to 2-0 starts … but Boston College isn’t looking very good over on ABC.

No. 18 Boston College -1 vs. Virginia Tech
My Pick: Boston College 21, Virginia Tech 17
Actual Score: Virginia Tech 30, Boston College 12
This was a tough call, but I went with Boston College to pull out a close win. What a mistake that was. Virginia Tech surprised me with how well it played in absolutely destroying the Eagles. The ACC, however, is a joke of a conference – I said it a couple days ago, and I’ll say it again here. Just pathetic. It’s fitting that Virginia Tech and Big East champ Cincinnati will be playing each other in the Orange Bowl … or is it the No One Will Watch Bowl (I tried to keep it clean). Craig and I both lose on this game, so we’re 2-1 on the day.

No. 5 Southern Cal -33 at UCLA
My Pick: Southern Cal 42, UCLA 14
Actual Score: Southern Cal 28, UCLA 7
I think everyone knew that Southern Cal would roll to the win, but with a spread so high, I just had to go with UCLA. Of course, that was my thinking a week ago when USC played Notre Dame, and that didn’t exactly work out for me. But in this game, UCLA kept things close enough and ended up losing up just 21. So, it’s a win for me and a loss for Craig. Finally, there’s some separation between our picks. I’m 3-1, while Craig falls to 2-2.

No. 1 Alabama +10 vs. No. 2 Florida
My Pick: Florida 37, Alabama 24
Actual Score: Florida 31, Alabama 20
With Florida trailing 20-17 entering the fourth quarter, I knew two touchdowns would mean a victory over the 10-point spread, so I wasn’t panicking with the Tide seemingly in control of the game. With 9:21 to go in the fourth, Florida scored a touchdown to take a 24-20 lead. The Gators then got the ball back and drove down to the one-inch line – pretty much guaranteeing a touchdown and a victory for GameDay. Of course, it’s never that easy, and Florida was called for a penalty that brought about a third-and-goal play from the five. But Tim Tebow hit Riley Cooper on a slant to give Florida the TD and a spot in the national championship game. More importantly, it improved my record to 4-1 on the day. Craig also went with Florida, and he moves to 3-2.

No. 4 Oklahoma -17 vs. No. 19 Missouri
My Pick: Oklahoma 51, Missouri 30
Actual Score: Oklahoma 62, Missouri 21
I was a little worried about the 17 points Oklahoma was giving, but with the Sooners needing to win the game BIG, I thought they wouldn’t be denied – and they weren’t. Oklahoma put up 62 points on Missouri and played its way into the national championship game with an outstanding three weeks of football. On paper, Oklahoma-Florida should be an awesome title game. Right now, I’m leaning toward Oklahoma, but there’s a long way to go before that one kicks off. We both went with Oklahoma, so I’m 5-1 and Craig is 4-2.

No. 13 Cincinnati -7.5 at Hawaii
My Pick: Cincinnati 33, Hawaii 30
Actual Score: Cincinnati 29, Hawaii 24
Admittedly, I went to bed at 2:19 a.m. exactly thinking Hawaii would hold on to win the game or, at the least, cover the spread. The Warriors ended up covering, but Cincinnati apparently had an amazing comeback to win the game. Good for the Bearcats and good for the Big East, which is in horrible shape and needed the victory for some legitimacy. Too bad very few people stayed up to watch it. The cover means that I finally bounced back in a big way after several down weeks to sport a 6-1 record. Finally! Craig went with Cincinnati to cover, so he finishes at 4-3 for the day. I’m up by four games in the season series with the bowl games on tap in a few weeks. GameDay is off for a couple of weeks before returning with the bowl game breakdowns. See you then.

(AP photo, top, Oklahoma celebrates its Big 12 Championship on Saturday night. AP photo, right, Florida coach Urban Meyer and quarterback Tim Tebow celebrate the Gators win in the SEC Championship Saturday.)

BCS ANNOUNCES SLATE OF GAMES - IT'S OKLAHOMA VS. FLORIDA FOR THE TITLE

The just-announced Bowl Championship Series games:

BCS National Championship: Oklahoma vs. Florida on Jan. 8
Rose Bowl: Southern Cal vs. Penn State
Fiesta Bowl: Ohio State vs. Texas
Sugar Bowl: Utah vs. Alabama
Orange Bowl: Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech

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:
5-5 (spread); 7-3 (overall); 1-0 (upset picks)
THIS SEASON: 49-50-2 (spread); 74-27 (overall); 5-6 (upset picks)

No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 2 Florida; 4 p.m.; CBS
The Skinny: I try not to talk about point spreads this early, but I gotta mention the 10 points Alabama is getting in the SEC championship game today in Atlanta. I wouldn’t have thought the spread would be so high, especially on a neutral field. Florida is definitely the better team, but the spread forced me to rethink my pick. Alabama has passed every single test put in front of them so far, but I just don’t think anyone can stop Florida right now. The Pick: Florida (-10) wins it 37-24.

No. 4 Oklahoma vs. No. 19 Missouri; 8 p.m.; ABC
The Skinny: It was a minor surprise that Oklahoma got the nod to play in tonight’s Big 12 Championship. I would have thought the Sooners loss to Texas earlier in the year would have given the Longhorns the edge in the BCS standings. But with the way Oklahoma has played recently (routing Texas Tech two weeks ago and handling Oklahoma State last week) nobody can complain. Still, the Sooners need another big win tonight. The Pick: Oklahoma (-17) wins it 51-30.

No. 5 Southern Cal at UCLA; 4:30 p.m.; ABC
The Skinny: Pete Carroll says that Southern Cal will wear its home uniforms today on the road, something that will cost his team two timeouts in the game. But Carroll says he doesn’t care, as he wants to rekindle a tradition that last took place in 1982. UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel also believes it’s a good idea, which kind of ruins the hype. But at least they’re trying something. Southern Cal claims the Pac 10 championship with a win. The Pick: Southern Cal (-33) wins it 42-14.

No. 13 Cincinnati at Hawaii; 11:30 p.m.; ESPN2
The Skinny: Cincinnati, the Big East champion, needs a win in the worst way to prove that it and the conference belongs on a stage such as the Orange Bowl, where the Bearcats are likely to end up. Realistically, no BCS is looking forward to putting Cincinnati in its game, but the more victories it lines up the better. Hawaii is preparing for tonight’s game as if it was a BCS game, but the Bearcats know they have to pull out the victory. The Pick: Cincinnati (-7.5) wins it 33-30.

No. 18 Boston College vs. Virginia Tech; 1 p.m.; ABC
The Skinny: It’s amazing that two major conferences are hurting this much. The Big East is a disaster and the ACC isn’t far behind. Just look at the latter conference’s title game today – 18th-ranked B.C. against unranked Virginia Tech. Luckily for ABC, it’s not the primetime matchup because I think it would have drawn about three viewers. But it is kind of funny that the winner here will likely play Cincinnati in the Orange Bowl. The Pick: Boston College (-1) wins it 21-17.

Army vs. Navy; 12 p.m.; CBS
The Skinny: It says a lot about the draw of this matchup when you plan on watching a game that usually features two unranked teams with pedestrian records. But that is what happens every year with Army-Navy. For a while, I thought Michigan-Ohio State was the best college football rivalry game, but I’ve come to my senses. This is the game. The Pick: Navy (-11) wins it 35-21.

No. 23 Pittsburgh at Connecticut; 12 p.m.; ESPN
The Pick: Pittsburgh (+2.5) wins it 23-20.
Brad’s brother, Craig Carroll, is back to defend his championship from a year ago. He finished with a 6-4 record last week, and is 47-52-2 for the season. Here are his picks for the week: Florida, Oklahoma, USC, Cincinnati, Boston College, Navy, Pittsburgh.

(AP photo, top, Florida quarterback Tim Tebow (15) leads the Gators against Alabama today at 4 p.m. on CBS.)

COLLEGE GAMEDAY REWIND: FINALLY, BRAD HAS RECOVERED FROM THE JERSEY DISASTER

I have to start off College GameDay Rewind with an apology, as I’ve been missing in action for several days now, so I’m sorry for that. It’s actually a good feeling knowing that people miss my posts here … that I’m doing something that people enjoy. So thank you very much. Anyway, I was at the Jets-Broncos game on Sunday and I’m finally recovering from the disastrous conditions. I’ve been really, really sick since sitting in the soaking rain and freezing cold that Sunday night and it’s taken a few days to recover – I guess that means I’m getting old. But I will say that those conditions are the worst that I’ve ever sat through. I thought the home opener against the Patriots was bad – when it was like 100 degrees and I got horrible sunburn – but that was nothing compared to this. It didn’t help either that the Jets got beat all over the field by an inferior Broncos squad. (Which, by the way, are still faking injuries right now … get some class!) It was probably one of the worst football days of my life, as the Jets lost, and all three of my fantasy teams did as well. Not good. It meant that in my Yahoo and ESPN leagues I have to now play in the opening round of the playoffs this week. I’m playing Johnny Burnham in Yahoo by the way. This is also the last week in the regular season for my big-money CBS league and a loss last week pretty much knocked me out of contention for the division title. The good news is that I already clinched the wild card, so I’m in the final four there. We’ll see what happens.

Now, on to College GameDay Rewind:

My Saturday: 5-5 (spread); 7-3 (overall); 1-0 (upset picks)
My Season: 49-50-2 (spread); 74-27 (overall); 5-6 (upset picks)
My Money: DOWN $600 (season)
Craig's Saturday: 6-4 (spread)
Craig's Season: 47-52-2 (spread)
Craig's Money: DOWN $1,020 (season)

West Virginia -3.5 at Pittsburgh
My Pick: West Virginia 33, Pittsburgh 24
Actual Score: Pittsburgh 19, West Virginia 15
Pittsburgh scored with just 52 seconds left in the game to take the win and beat us in the opening game. West Virginia actually led 19-7 in the fourth quarter, so everything was looking good. But Pitt scored two touchdowns in the final period – missing both 2-point conversions – to take the win. West Virginia is simply pathetic, scoring a whopping 15 points. Craig also went with the Mountaineers.

Colorado +18 at NebraskaMy Pick: Nebraska 38, Colorado 21
Actual Score: Nebraska 40, Colorado 31
The Skinny: This was actually a really exciting game and I’m glad I decided to include it in GameDay because I’m not sure I would have stuck around to watch it otherwise. And the best part of the game was when Alex Henery kicked a game-winning field goal from 57 yards. Fifty-seven yards! For a college kicker! Unbelievable. It was the best of both worlds as I got the straight-up win with Nebraska, and the cover with Colorado. Craig and I both went with Colorado, so we’re both 1-1.

LSU -4.5 at Arkansas
My Pick: LSU 27, Arkansas 17
Actual Score: Arkansas 31, LSU 30
LSU did it to us again! The Tigers have quickly jumped to the top of my most-hated list, especially after this horrible performance. LSU is a shockingly bad 7-5 on the season. The game had a horrible ending as well, with Arkansas scoring in the final minute on a fourth-down pass to win it. We both went with LSU, so we’re both 1-2.

Fresno State +21 at No. 9 Boise StateMy Pick: Boise State 45, Fresno State 17
Actual Score: Boise State 61, Fresno State 10
Boise State exploded in the second half to turn a three-point halftime lead into a 51-point blowout victory. My thinking on this one was dead on, and I can’t say that a lot so forgive me for patting myself on the back. I said Boise would be out to make a statement – and 61 points against a good team did exactly that. This was a great bonus game, as I even up my record at 2-2 for the Friday games. Craig went with Fresno, so he falls to 1-3 headed to Saturday.

No. 18 Georgia Tech +7.5 at No. 13 GeorgiaMy Pick: Georgia Tech 23, Georgia 21
Actual Score: Georgia Tech 45, Georgia 42
My big upset pick – and 7.5 points is a big underdog – came through and Georgia Tech has a new fan in GameDay. This was a great, back-and-forth college football game and was even more exciting as we were pulling for the Georgia Tech to pull off a win few gave it a chance to do. Way to go, Yellow Jackets! We both win on this game, and I’m 3-2 early, while Craig is 2-3.

Auburn -14.5 at No. 1 Alabama
My Pick: Alabama 38, Auburn 14
Actual Score: Alabama 36, Auburn 0
This was actually a pleasant surprise, as Alabama rolled from start to finish. Craig (why?) went with Auburn, so he drops to 2-4. I’m 4-2 now and looking good … well, sort of …

No. 2 Florida -16.5 at No. 23 Florida StateMy Pick: Florida 38, Florida State 24
Actual Score: Florida 45, Florida State 15
… Because Florida ended my win streak cold a few minutes later. My whole thinking in this game was that in a huge rivalry matchup, the underdog would play its butt off and keep the game relatively close. It didn’t happen and I think I learned a big lesson here – never go against Florida. That could play into this weekend’s matchup against Alabama. I’m thinking Gators right now. I’m 4-3, while Craig picks up a win and moves to 3-4.

No. 19 Oregon at No. 17 Oregon State
My Pick: Oregon State 24, Oregon 20
Actual Score: Oregon 65, Oregon State 35
This was a game I was dead wrong on and I was reminded of it seemingly every second as Oregon kept scoring and scoring and scoring and scoring. It was a complete wipeout and one that I’ll give props to Craig for, because he said this would happen. He jumps to 4-4, while I fall to 4-4. How quickly things change, huh?

No. 3 Oklahoma -7 at No. 11 Oklahoma StateMy Pick: Oklahoma 44, Oklahoma State 28
Actual Score: Oklahoma 61, Oklahoma State 41
It probably didn’t matter who Oklahoma was playing this night, because I was going with the Sooners to cover no matter what. After the way the Sooners destroyed Texas Tech, how could I not think that way? And Oklahoma paid that back with a big victory that actually was a little closer than the final tally would indicate. Still, it’s a victory for me and Craig, and we’re both 5-4 going into the USC-Notre Dame ending.

Notre Dame +32 at No. 5 Southern CalMy Pick: Southern Cal 50, Notre Dame 20
Actual Score: Southern Cal 38, Notre Dame 3
The only thing I was hoping for from Notre Dame as the game was drawing closer to an end was a touchdown – a touchdown! But it didn’t happen and the Irish pick plus 32 points went down the tubes. Not much else to say other than Notre Dame was horrible as a whole and the offense was a disaster on a whole new level. Charlie Weis will be back next year, so I guess that’s something to look forward to. Ha! I end Super-Sized GameDay with an even 5-5 record, while Craig gains another game on me with his USC pick. He is 6-4 on the weekend.

(AP photo, top, Oklahoma tight end Jermaine Gresham (18) carries the ball in for a touchdown in front of Oklahoma State defenders Jacob Lacey, left, and Orie Lemon, right, in the third quarter in Stillwater, Okla. Saturday.)