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Easy Game - Why Am I Getting Killed?...By Nelson Lardner

"Some of these bowl numbers look strange -- but, hell, I've seen almost half of these teams SOMETIME this year . . . so 'capping these games won't be THAT tough. It's just like 'capping the regular season, right?

'Whadda 'ya talkin' about - RUNNING teams? The defenses CAN'T be as sharp as they were in mid-November, can they? Like those flashy, quick-strike teams - especially the ones EVERYBODY thinks will win. Favorites are favorites because they're SUPPOSED to win, right?

"'Course, I get a lot of ideas from those guys on the TV selection shows. They can afford all that advertising time and all that production talent - and nobody would pay 'em if customers weren't winning, correct? And that Ohio State guy on ESPN's okay, but he's too soft-spoken and reasonable. All those guys who yell and scream . . . they're FEELING the games! I like that kind of gut passion . . . straight out of 'Two For The Money.' Who'd he pick? A MILLION-star lock? Woooooow. That's gotta be superstrong.

"Jeez, these teams in these first bowl games aren't that good, are they? They're just not quite as fast as some of those big-name teams we'll see on New Year's. But . . . hey . . . this game is on TV! And how can this underdog be getting all these points? That little running back's a stud! He got all that ink, and all that TV time . . . they've just gotta be competitive, taking double-digits, right?

" . . . but I really like this game. They're only laying four . . . what? What about the opener? The OPENER? What does that have to do with . . . oh, that favorite opened two and a half? What the hey . . . I didn't really start thinking about this game until late last night. And, hey, what's the difference between laying two and a half, and four? Now, really. If they're good enough, they'll cover four, easily - won't they? As I've read some slot-machine genius write, somewhere: If you're on the right side, the spread doesn't matter . . . Yes-sirree . . . Eazzzzzzzy-moneeeeeee . . .

"Jeez . . . this side looks like the stone-cold nuts. All-in, right? Heh, heh . . . what? Even if you LOVE a game, you probably shouldn't risk more than 5% of bankroll? . . . bankroll? Have what's in my pocket, and I'm willing to go for it. Bad idea, huh? Yeah, guess that would be a little crazy. Okay . . . I'll be conservative . . . I'll only risk HALF.

"Look at this item, in the Bowl News Briefs . . . four of the Wingnuts were seen out at 3 AM at their bowl city's premier lapdance emporium . . . Better jump on the other side . . . Wait, you say that none of 'em were starters? . . . So? . . . This affects team DEPTH, buddy . . . And don't tell ME that doesn't mean anything . . .

"Hey, ya see this . . . in the schedule? Tonight's ESPN game is this guy's Bowl Lock Of Modern Civilization! He must like it more than a little, huh? Jeez, only $250! A bargain, for sure! And if it DOES lose, this guy'll give you his 21st Century Bowl Bonanza at no additional cost! Whatta deal! What? . . . This schedule was printed HOW many weeks ago? That right? And the spread's moved 2 1/2 points against us, since the open? . . . Well, damn the torpedoes . . . Just shows this guy has the courage of his convictions . . . He keeps showing up on the TV, doesn't he? . . . It says here, in black and white, that he owns this bowl, and has won it the past nine years . . . Oh, the bowl's only three years old? Must be a typo . . . those damn printers, you know . . .

"Boy, it sure took a while . . . but these bowl dogs are REALLY starting to fly in, now . . . that should last through New Year's weekend, for sure, right? Look at all these big numbers . . . gosh, Georgia Tech and Wake should get there easily, don't you think? And NOTRE DAME? NOTRE DAME, a double-digit DOG? The public's gotta be nuts! Jerry Faust isn't coaching the Irish any more, it's Charlie Friggin' Weis! Big Charlie's the MAN! Would he ever do us wrong? Such athletes, on that team . . . amazing. And Quinn'll be the top draft choice, for sure - he'll find a way! The Domers as a big dog - GOLDEN!

"It's sure swell of them to provide us a little something to tide us over before the BCS final . . . Cincy/Western Michigan, and Southern Miss/Ohio - that's quality stuff! Have to look to run it up a bit, on those two, before going for the wad on the over in the championship game. Guess I'll make a fat parlay, and then lay it in on those red hot Buckeye and Gator offenses. Get the scoreboard oiled, baby . . .

"What - the credit card companies are on the phone? I'm over my limit on a coupla cards? Tell 'em to hold their water . . . as soon as I put over this three-team NHL dog parlay tonight, they'll get their loot . . . Hello? Hello?"

Nelson Lardner

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