10/10/2001 11:00PM

You want five sure things? Forget it.


In sports betting, there is no such thing as a lock. Anyone who guarantees a win is exhibiting wishful thinking. Even when gamblers tried to fix games involving Northwestern and Arizona State, the fixers were only 1-1 in both cases.

When you handicap everything right, it can still turn out wrong. Three examples from last week's college games:

* UNLV needed only to take a knee against Nevada to secure its first win of the season, but instead scored a touchdown in the final seconds to win, 27-12, covering an 11-point spread. (UNLV coach John Robinson later said that this was the "safest play," even though UNLV returned a fumble for a TD in a similar situation to beat Baylor just two years ago.)

* Washington State, a 13-point favorite over Oregon St., had a punt blocked and a fumble returned for a TD in the closing minutes of a 34-27 non-covering win, in which they had dominated throughout.

* Middle Tennessee State pulled off a rare feat, scoring 70 points yet failing to cover in a 70-58 victory over Idaho. Middle Tennessee State was a 21-point choice.

I guess that's why it's called gambling. That being said, here are this week's locks. Or, "selections that have a better chance of winning than losing."

Purdue (+11) at Michigan

Purdue coach Joe Tiller's pass offense, though not as potent as it was with Drew Brees, continues to give defenses fits. Michigan enters the game allowing the most passing yards per game in the Big Ten. Expect that to continue. This could work out for us no matter how the game turns out. We would love to see Purdue lead gate-to-wire, but in the event Michigan gets a comfortable lead, a back-door cover is a definite possibility.

Play: Purdue for 22 units (to win 20).

Miami-Fla. (-7) at Florida St.

The No. 1-ranked Hurricanes have a lot to prove. Last year, they beat Florida St. but then got bypassed for the BCS title game. Now there's talk that it might happen again because of their soft schedule. Miami will be taking out a lot of frustrations in this game against a Florida St. team that is young and not up to coach Bobby Bowden's usual standards.

Play: Miami-Fla. for 11 units.

Texas (-17 1/2) at Oklahoma St.

I loved picking against Texas last week, facing Oklahoma, and predicting that QB Chris Simms and the Longhorns were stepping up in class and would fail. Well, this week they're back to playing an inferior opponent and the pressure of competing for a national title is off. Simms will get back to padding his stats.

Play: Texas for 11 units.

Fresno St. (-7 1/2) at Colorado St.

With a weak schedule remaining, this might be the Bulldogs' last chance to impress critics and make a bid for a BCS Bowl. Fresno St. has answered every challenge so far this season, and there's no reason to doubt it will continue to do so against an inconsistent Colorado St.

Play: Fresno St. for 11 units

Washington St. (+3 1/2) at Stanford

This is a matchup between two surprisingly undefeated teams. The Cougars have lost running back Dave Minnich, but QB Jason Geeser has excelled and should be able to shoulder the extra burden.

Play: Washington St. for 11 units.

Starting bankroll: 1,000 units.

Bankroll entering last week: 962 units.

Last week: 3-0 for profit of 30 units.

Current bankroll: 992 units.