Fourth Down and Inches
by Doc - 11/15/2006
Our "College Game of the Year", Arkansas -5 ½ over Tennessee, won as expected, with the Razorbacks crushing the Vols, 31-14. The Hogs rushing attack was outstanding, having no problems against the Volunteers suspect defense. These are the type of games that I love to release, no doubt, and you can light up a cigar because the game was over by halftime.
As for the weekend itself, it was profitable, picking up six units. I was a little disappointed in a couple of key games. I thought the 'under' in the Wisconsin/Iowa game was solid. However, a couple of big pass plays did us in. Also in the Big Ten, I felt Illinois was ready to record their second victory of the season in conference play, but they were possibly drained and came out flat. Our top selection in the NFL suffered a big blow when it was announced that Ray Lewis would not be playing for Baltimore. These three games were disappointing, but as the saying goes, "A man who shows a profit, will never go broke."
This week features the finale for many teams and many will be playing their in-state rival. Although it is not a state rivalry, the big game this week will be No. 2 Michigan traveling to Columbus to take on No. 1 Ohio State. One can only hope this game will live up to the hype. At the start of the season I predicted that the Wolverines would win the Big Ten in their final regular season game and I see no reason to change that now, although some of my staff predicted the title would go to the scarlet and gray.
As I look at this game, one has to give the nod to Ohio State for having the better offense. However, Michigan has a big edge in defense. There front seven may be the best the program has ever seen, with only one team rushing for more than 100 yards against them (Minnesota, 108 yards). Two of their opponents (Penn State and Northwestern) were held to negative rushing yards. Even Notre Dame, a Top Ten team, found it slow going on the ground as they managed only four yards. Granted, they were trailing early and had to throw the ball a ton, but that's still an obscenely low number. Michigan's defense is exceptional but how will they fare against one of the most prolific offenses in the nation?
I have had a few phone calls this week pointing to the under 41, but what concerns me about this play is that both teams have quick-strike capabilities on offense. I am sure both teams have been holding back a few tricks and will go all out in this game to produce the victory. Brace yourself for an enjoyable afternoon and expect a dandy. We will have a choice and the pick may surprise you.
A couple of other teams in the Big Ten have also grabbed my attention. Wisconsin finishes their regular season with a non-conference game against Buffalo. Why Buffalo, you might be asking? Teams needed to add a 12th game to their schedule and Wisconsin can make big bucks hosting another home game. The Bulls will be along for the cash grab. What a season the Badgers have and much of the success can be contributed to the coaching staff. All is well in Madison, but I question if they are good enough to be laying 38 points. Looks to me that this is an overlay, as I expect the Badgers to come out flat, coming off an emotional win against Iowa. Can Buffalo pull the upset? Absolutely not, but the points might be worth looking at.
The other game interests me is the Iowa/Minnesota match-up taking place at the Dome. The Gophers play much better at home and they may need this win to save Coach Mason's job. I have to believe the Hawkeyes may have called it a year and need some time off before they prepare for their bowl game.
This week I will hopefully take the next step forward in the "Money Talks" Handicapping Contest sponsored by Leroy's Sportsbook. Sixteen individuals were selected at the start of the season and two each week face-off against one another. The winners advance for a chance at the $80,000 first place prize. I won my opening match against Wayne Peters, a professional gambler from the Las Vegas. Now I will face Krackman, an East Coast pro. I like the slate of games this week and it should translate into success for both the contest and my rated selections.
A lot of rumors will be circling the next few weeks about coaching changes in college football. It will be interesting to find out whom Michigan State will be hiring. Some big names have surfaced, but the hottest candidate may be Greg Schiano of Rutgers. He is the Urban Meyer of two seasons ago and should have his choice of a couple of marquee programs. I was sad to see Dan McCarney be let go by the Cyclones after taking them to five bowl games in six years. This program was in shambles before he got there and he turned it around. I expect him to land on his feet because of the class guy that he is.
This will be our last full card on the season in college football, it has been a successful year thus far and we certainly have the confidence that it will continue. This week we will be going with our "Senior Day Game of the Year" as this home team will finish out in style with a blowout victory.
That's it for this week,