11/12/2009 12:37 PM ET
Bowl positioning begins this week
Few games that could impact national title
By Dante Carnevale / SNY.tv
Backup quarterback Zach Collaros has kept Cincinnati clicking. But, will it all change Friday? (AP )

•This week's rumor that the Red Sox were going to offer Hideki Matsui a multi-year contract was met with acidic scorn from my fellow Nation members.

"What a TERRIBLE idea!", they exclaimed.

Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing him in Boston, but with a few conditions. One, David Ortiz would have to be traded, since there's no reason to have two left-handed DHs on the same roster. Two, if by "multi-year deal" you mean two years at nothing more than $7 million per, then fine. Anything other than that, and it doesn't make sense to me. But it would be nice to see a star player, even if he is 35, go north up Interstate 95 instead of the other way, for once.

•As mentioned in last week's EP, I went to the Izod Center last Saturday to see my Celtics play the Nets. The C's were sluggish throughout but at least played well in the fourth quarter to seal the win. It was good to see my team in person. But on another note, now I know why no one goes to Nets games.

Coming from Manhattan, we had to take a crowded NJ Transit train and then a 20 minute shuttle bus to get to the arena. And when we get there, there are no signs for Will Call. A very nice, but slightly misinformed, security guard told us that Will Call was next to Gate A, which was on the complete opposite side of where the bus dropped us off. So we walked over to Gate A and waited in line, only to be told Will Call was located in an alcove where we had just come from. Long story short, when we finally settled into our seats, half the first quarter was over. Ah well, live and learn. We still had a good time, even if I was a bit crabby at that point.

•This isn't quite the year Bob Stoops expected for his Sooners is it? Four losses before Thanksgiving. Ouch.

•We're heading up to UMass this weekend for an unofficial alumni weekend. I haven't been in Amherst in a few years, so I'm really looking forward to it. As anyone who's spent any time in Amherst knows, there's nothing like the food up there. I plan on eating at Bueno y Sano, Pasta e Basta, and, of course, the world famous Antonio's Pizza.

As a warmup to the weekend, on Friday night, I'll be in Holyoke to attend a political fundraiser, featuring keynote speaker and Massachusetts congressman Barney Frank.

I asked my friend Jay, who is a player in the Western Massachusetts political scene, what he thinks Frank will speak about. Jay, a Democrat, replied, "Probably about how he (messed) up the housing market." The public's vitriol toward politicians knows no party bounds, it seems.

Also in attendance will be part-owner of the Celtics Steve Pagliuca, who is running for Ted Kennedy's senate seat. Our plan is to meet Mr. Pagliuca and ask him if the Celtics plan on making a run at Chris Bosh this summer. Should be fun.

A baker's dozen of college picks, plus a bonus game, for y'all this week...

West Virginia at Cincinnati -9: Do we really think Cincinnati is going to run the table? I really like the Bearcats, but I have my doubts, and this is the kind of game that would scare me if I was a Cincy fan. The Mountaineers have been under the radar all season, but they'll be back in the spotlight on Friday night. And this is a program full of kids who've been in the spotlight before. Scary game all together for Cincy. UC 31-28

Tennessee at Mississippi -4.5: The Vols have won consecutive games for the first time in the Lane Kiffin era. Let's make it three in a row. UT 27-17

Missouri at Kansas State (pick): My how the fortunes of these two teams have flip-flopped in conference season. Once thought to be a cellar-dweller in 2009, Kansas State leads the Big 12 North with a 4-1 record, while former contender Missouri is in last place at 1-4. I'll go with the Wildcats, who must be doing something right. K-State 24-20

Iowa at Ohio State -17: The unfortunate injury to Iowa QB Rick Stanzi has really changed the complexion of this game. Two weeks ago, people had this circled as Iowa's last real challenge on the way to a potential perfect regular season. Now, Iowa comes in off a home loss to Northwestern, Stanzi is out until the bowl season and Ohio State is a swaggering 17-point favorite coming off a beatdown of Penn State. Still, 17 points seems like an awful lot, doesn't it? OSU 27-14

Nebraska -4 at Kansas: What a win for Nebraska last week vs. the Sooners. Man, if the Huskers held on at Virgina Tech and hadn't lost at home to Iowa State, 9-7, this would be a one-loss team with a firm grasp on the Big 12 North race. As it is, this Huskers team has been a little up and down and has struggled to score points. You've got to think the Kansas offense is due for a bit of a breakout and I'm not sure Nebraska can score with them. KU 28-21

Stanford at USC -11: One of my favorite teams all year has been Stanford, and it's nice to see Toby Gerhart and the Cardinals start to get some national recognition after their big win over Oregon. USC's offense has been struggling, but it should do enough to earn a close win. USC 23-17

Florida -15.5 at South Carolina: this one has a chance to be close for a while, if South Carolina can avoid turnovers. Remember, Gamecocks, sometimes a punt is a win. Flip that field position and play defense! UF 27-14

Miami -3 at North Carolina: This a rematch of last year's scintillating game in which UNC won on the final play. We'll take the better-than-you-think Heels at home. UNC 27-21

Alabama -12 at Mississippi State: Last week's comeback win was huge for Alabama in that Greg McElroy made plays in the fourth quarter to lead his team to the win. I was starting to doubt the lad. The Tide need to get the ball in the hands of Julio Jones more often. Bama 30-13

Auburn at Georgia -4.5: This is a big game for bowl jockeying. Georgia's at home, but I've been more impressed with Auburn this year. Aub 28-21

Utah at TCU -19.5: I know TCU is awesome. But Utah's really good too. Give me the Utes and the almost three touchdowns (!). TCU 27-24

Notre Dame at Pittsburgh -7: Boy, oh boy, does Notre Dame need a win here. Unfortunately for Irish fans, I don't see them slowing down the Bill Stull-Dion Lewis combo. Pitt wins, kinda big. Pitt 35-17

Texas Tech at Oklahoma State -4: The Cowboys entered the season with national title hopes, but those were quickly dashed by the loss to Houston and the season-long suspension of star receiver Dez Bryant. Still, what on the surface seems to have been a disappointing season for OK St, has actually been a testament to Coach Gundy and his staff. The Cowboys are 7-2 overall and 4-1 in conference. Not bad at all. OK St. 33-27

Cranston East at Mt. Hope -3: The Thunderbolts travel to wind-swept Bristol, R.I., this weekend to take on the Mt. Hope Huskies in the first round of the RIIL Division II playoffs. The Bolts entered the season as the co-favorite in DII, along with two-time defending champion South Kingstown, but after a strong start they stumbled down the stretch and enter the tournament as a disappointing 3 seed.

Meanwhile, Mt. Hope is enjoying its best season in years and the Huskies' fans will be fired up for the school's first home playoff game since. ...1998 when the Dante Carnevale-led (well, maybe not led, but buoyed) Cranston East Bolts came to town. After leading the top-seeded and undefeated Huskies, 14-6 at the half, that East team eventually succumbed to the eventual state champion Huskies, 27-14, in a game that was much closer than the final score indicates.

As for this year? The Bolts have been one of the dominant regular season teams in Rhode Island over the past six years, but since their magical state championship run in 2005, have only gone 2-3 in the playoffs. But, I say the Bolts are due for a deep playoff run. East rallies late to beat the Huskies and set up a semifinal showdown with South Kingstown. CE 27-21

Dante Carnevale is a contributor to SNY.tv.
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