Fourth Down and Inches
by Doc - 10/05/2006
Our sports service turned in a nice performance this past week while picking up 18 units. All three of our 5-unit selections won (Kentucky, Cincinnati and Baltimore) despite being involved in close contests. The big disappointment of the weekend had to be Notre Dame (-14) over Purdue. This Irish pushed with their 35-21 victory. What really hurt us in this game was an 80-yard touchdown pass by Purdue with less than two minutes to go in the first half. The push was the second week in a row that we tied with our top play in college.
This week we will be going with our, "Revenge Game of the Year." Right before I sat down to write this column I received a call from a longtime friend who went to a practice for the team we will be going against. He made it real clear that this team is a mess. The offensive line is a major problem and the coach has already turned to playing the youth in hopes of success in the future. This homer will certainly get it done. Not only does our Revenge Game of the Year look promising, but also I really like the looks of the rest of this week's card in college football.
One of the handicapping situations I look for is a team that might have been someone's floor mat for years, has risen a little in the standings, but is still an underdog. The team that fits into this category this week is Buffalo. The Bulls have played very competitively this season and beat Temple to open the year. Their last three games have been on the road and they did not record a victory. However, they put forth a good effort considering their opposition. After a bye week, they return to UB Stadium to take on Ball State for homecoming.
The Cardinals are in the midst of a four-game slide, including an upset loss at the hands of Northern Illinois last week. A week before that, Ball State's defense surrendered 535 yards to I-AA North Dakota. In homecoming, the Bulls are 0-6 of late, but have covered in five of those games. Look for new Coach Turner Gill to have Buffalo ready in this one.
One game I find very interesting this week on the college card is West Virginia traveling to Mississippi State. Big things were expected for Coach Sylvester Croom when he was hired as the first black coach in the SEC. But after two losing seasons and a poor start in 2006, some wonder if the program has gone into the tank. Personally, I do not think so, although they were beaten soundly by South Carolina, Auburn and LSU. The defense played extremely well in those games, holding each team to less than 115 yards rushing.
The Mountaineers have played a light schedule thus far and, in my opinion, they have not seen this type of strong defense. In 2004, the Bulldogs were a 24.5-point underdog at Starkville but upset Florida, 38-31. This is a similar situation, and could it be an upset in the making? I do not think so but these kids will continue to go all out for Croom and this game will be much closer then what the experts think.
What is with this Michigan State team? This team seems to follow its checkered past by dominating a game with Notre Dame for three quarters before collapsing, then coming back with a loss to hapless Illinois at Spartan Stadium. Whether Drew Stanton is healthy or not, it might be a long day for the Spartans going to Ann Arbor. With the unpredictability of Michigan State, I will be staying away from this one.
The showdown for the Big Ten Championship looks to be on schedule. Two traditional powers appear set to decide the title on Nov. 18 when Michigan heads south to Columbus to face Ohio State. The Buckeyes have an easier path to get to this game undefeated, with only a trip to East Lansing looming as a possible stumbling block. That is assuming Michigan State gets things turned around.
Michigan is not as fortunate, with a trip to State College plus home dates with Michigan State and Iowa. Remember, the Hawkeyes beat the Wolverines by 25 points in 2002 in Ann Arbor. This would be great for the conference to have two undefeated teams doing battle to end the season. If that's the case both would certainly receive BCS bids. I picked Michigan to win the Big Ten and see no reason to alter that opinion as of this moment.
What Big Ten team has covered seven of the past 10 meetings in the series as an underdog? See short shot No. 63 in the 2006 Doc's Sports Journal.
We had a nice week in the NFL, going 3-1 and earning a 5-unit victory with the Baltimore Ravens. Defense appears to be the lay of the land in the league as two of the three remaining unbeaten teams pride themselves on playing suffocating D. This week's schedule looks good, especially with a couple of totals.
If you are a gambler, the big news this week is the passage of the Internet Gambling Ban. A big plus for the bettor is that there is no mention of gamblers every being prosecuted for placing a bet or playing poker online. Yes, the bill has passed, but I see a lot of trouble in the government trying to enforce this ban. It's a known fact that Americans want the freedom to gamble and will continue to do so in a variety of ways. Like it or not, we are a nation of gamblers and these risk takers have helped make this country as great as it is. This bill that just passed can be compared to the prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s. That failed and so will this.
My question is this: does our government have the right to tell its individuals what to do and how to spend their money? Our founding fathers fought to make sure freedom existed and now the Republican Party feels that is their right to enforce their religious beliefs. They continue to go against what the core of the party stands for and have been taken over by radicals with their own personal agenda. If you feel you have the right to bet or play poker, do not give up the fight. It's time to stand and tell Washington that we have the right to spend our money (the little we have left after taxes) however we choose. For those government officials that think all gambling is evil, then why do we still allow lotteries, horse racing, Indian casinos and the stock market, which might be the biggest gamble of them all? As a citizen you have the right to stand up and I encourage you to do so.
That's it for this week,