11/29/2001 1:00AM

Miami closes in on roses


This has been the longest college football season in years. It has been a little more than three months since the Kickoff Classic and the other games that started the season, but it seems like an eternity.

This weekend's college football schedule has 23 games, including a lot that were moved from Sept. 15 after the terrorist attacks.

Miami-Fla. (-13 1/2) at Virginia Tech

This is one game most football fans will be following Saturday, as Miami tries to secure a Rose Bowl berth. I got steamrollered with my pick on Washington last Saturday, as the Hurricanes rolled to a 65-7 victory, and learned my lesson. These teams have played five common opponents, and Miami has outperformed Va. Tech in four of the five, with Boston College the only team that Hokies fared better against than Miami did. Since Miami's scare versus BC (an 18-7 win in which BC trailed Miami 11-7 and was inside the Miami 20 in the final minute), the 'Canes have outscored opponents 124-7. They're on a mission, and Virginia Tech doesn't have the guns to slow them down.

Play: Miami-Fla. for 11 units.

Texas (-8 1/2) vs. Colorado

Colorado was impressive in upsetting Nebraska Nov. 23, but the Buffaloes won't catch Texas by surprise. Besides, these teams have already played each other, back on Oct. 20, when Texas whipped Colorado 41-7 behind 234 yards passing by Chris Simms and 100 yards rushing by Cedric Benson. Granted, Colorado hasn't lost since, but the Buffaloes won't run up the middle on Texas like they did on Nebraska. Simms is also a much bigger passing threat than Eric Crouch was for Nebraska, and Colorado has lost to the only other top passing QB it faced, David Carr of Fresno State. Texas has taken its BCS bid by the horns since its early-season loss to Oklahoma, and the Longhorns should finish the task with a double-digit victory.

Play: Texas for 11 units.

Oregon St. (+10 1/2) at Oregon

The way this season has gone, you know there's going to be an upset on Saturday, and this has the makings of one. Oregon has already wrapped up the Pac-10 title and a BCS berth, which could result in a letdown, especially if Miami-Fla. wins in its game earlier. Oregon State, a national title contender in the preseason began, has been a disappointment. A win over arch-rival Oregon would make its season. The Beavers already ruined Washington's season with a 49-24 upset, and then rolled over Northern Arizona 45-10. Oregon hasn't played in three weeks, and that also could lead to vulnerability. Joey "Captain Comeback" Harrington might lead another rally, but it shouldn't be enough to cover.

Play: Oregon St. for 11 units.

Starting bankroll: 1,000 units.

Bankroll entering last week: 1,000 units.

Last week: 2-4; loss of 24 units.

Current bankroll: 976 units.