12/23/2001 12:00AM

Ga. Tech has more incentive

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Watching football becomes a full-time job Thursday as we enter eight straight days of action. We start with two bowl games Thursday and continue with bowl games every day (except Sunday, when we have a slate of 14 NFL battles) leading up to the Rose Bowl Jan. 3.

I don't have an opinion on the Alabama-Iowa State matchup in the Independence Bowl, but I like the Seattle Bowl between Georgia Tech and Stanford.

Georgia Tech (+5) vs. Stanford

Both these teams had national title aspirations at different times.

Many experts foresaw Florida State falling from its perch atop the ACC and saw this Georgia Tech team as the heir to the throne. Instead, Maryland won the ACC and is playing in the Orange Bowl.

Stanford, on the other hand, didn't have high hopes but started strong and beat Oregon (the Ducks' only loss) before falling to Washington and Washington State Now, the Cardinal travel to Seattle having already exceeded expectations while Georgia Tech still has something to prove.

Tech is playing without head coach George O'Leary, who left for Notre Dame but later resigned in contrvoersy, and starting tailback Joe Burns, who is academically ineligible.

The point spread on this game rose from 3 1/2 to 5 in the days after Burns was declared out, but I'm more encouraged than discouraged by the line move. Burns is a fine runner (1,165 yards on the season with 14 TDs), but he was also prone to fumble in key situations.

I would much rather see Georgia Tech passing the ball anyway, especially against a Stanford defense that is stingy against the run but vulnerable against the pass. George Godsey completed 65 percent of his passes this year for 3,085 yards and should be able to pick apart the Stanford defense by spreading the ball around to four receivers that had at least 40 catches this season.

This should be a shootout, but the defensive edge goes to Georgia Tech, which allows only 343 yards per game.

Play: Georgia Tech for 11 units.

Starting bankroll: 1,000 units.

Bankroll entering bowl season: 963 units.

Bowl record entering Tuesday's Las Vegas Bowl: 3-0, for a net profit of 30 units.

Current bankroll: 993 units, pending 11-unit play on Utah +3 1/2 in Las Vegas Bowl.