12/21/2002 1:00AM

Oddsmakers in FSU fog


The biggest college sports betting news in Las Vegas this past week was when the Jan. 1 Sugar Bowl between Georgia and Florida State was taken off the betting boards.

Georgia was a 3 1/2-point favorite as of 11 a.m. on Tuesday when it was learned that Florida State quarterback Chris Rix failed to take a final exam and would be benched. Bookmakers took the game down and still hadn't put it back up as of Friday at noon, as they were trying to figure out how much to adjust the line with third-stringer Fabian Walker, who is only 5 for 8 for 74 yards this season, at quarterback for the Seminoles.

Rix had regained the starting job after his replacement, Adrian McPherson, was kicked off the team on Nov. 25 because of his alleged involvement in a forged check cashing scam.

Also this past week, it was reported that McPherson is being investigated by police in relation to gambling allegations. News outlets repeatedly mentioned that the Seminoles were 3-1 with McPherson as a starter, though it should be pointed out that FSU was 1-3 against the spread in those games.

The full tale of the FSU situation will take a while to unfold, so let's look at this week's bowl action through Wednesday's holiday.

Monday: Tangerine Bowl

Texas Tech (-5 1/2) vs. Clemson

This comes down to Texas Tech's offense (ranked second in the nation in passing yards and averaging 37.1 points per game) vs. the Clemson defense (ranked 17th vs. the pass). I'll side with Texas Tech and first-team All-Big 12 quarterback Kliff Kingsbury. They'll keep coming at a Clemson team that hasn't faced a passing attack this advanced.

PLAY: Texas Tech for 1 unit.

Wednesday: Las Vegas Bowl

New Mexico (+10 1/2) vs. UCLA

My initial reaction was to look at the over in the game, but it has been bet up from 51 1/2 to 55, greatly minimizing the value. UCLA comes into this game off back-to-back blowout losses to USC and Washington St., as well as the firing of coach Bob Toledo. I can't see how they'll be motivated to play in the Las Vegas Bowl, which goes to the fifth-ranked team in the Pac-10. New Mexico, on the other hand, is thrilled to be in this game. Last year, Utah beat USC 10-6 in this bowl, so the Mountain West representative has a lot of incentive to do well against a big-time opponent.

PLAY: New Mexico for 1 unit.

Wednesday: Hawaii Bowl

Hawaii (-12 1/2) vs. Tulane

This should be another high-scoring Christmas Day game, as both teams rely almost solely on the pass, but I have to pass with the total at 63 1/2. Hawaii's offense is much more consistent than Tulane's, and they excel in these sandlot shootouts. Tulane hasn't faced this kind of aerial assault and won't be able to stay within two touchdowns through 60 minutes.

PLAY: Hawaii for 1 unit.

Bowl record: 1-0 for profit of 2 units. Overall season record: 29-30 for a net loss of 3.2 units (based on laying 1.1 units to win 1).