This Week in Betting, A to Z
by Trevor Whenham - 10/22/2007
A - Awful. How did it get so bad for Louisville? Their loss to UConn this weekend puts them at 4-4 and officially confirms that Steve Kragthorpe has made one of the roughest transitions into a new job in coaching history. The sad part is that this is a team that many people, including me, saw as the top of their conference before the season, but now I'm more surprised when they win than when they lose.
B - Brady, Tom. I don't think I probably need to spend a lot of time making the point that the Patriots are pretty darned good. I can't get over two things though. First, Brady was 16-of-19 for 291 and five touchdowns today. In the first half. Also, the Pats, probably the heaviest public team in the league, are 7-0 ATS. You know a team is good when the public can't manage to bet the value out of them in two months.
C - Comeback. It didn't look like it was going to happen in the preseason, but the next act in the Priest Holmes drama got underway on Sunday. Holmes came back from a two-year absence to join the Chiefs' backfield. He was hardly a superstar, but he didn't embarrass himself in limited action, either. The Chiefs are clearly serious about this experiment, as they cleared room by trading Michael Bennett to Tampa Bay.
D - Denver. The Rockies had to practice inside on Sunday because snow was falling in buckets. That could make for an interesting World Series. It will be interesting, anyway, with the Rockies in it. They refuse to lose, but who knows what impact being off for so long will be, or if the upstarts are good enough to measure up to the best team in the American League.
E - Evan Sharpley. How bad are things for Notre Dame? Being at the helm for a 38-0 debacle against USC and doing very little of note was apparently enough for Sharpley to keep the quarterbacking job given to him because Jimmy Clausen was getting nothing done. Sharpley passed for just 116 yards in 33 tries. Ouch.
F - Federer, Roger. The best tennis player in the world actually lost a match on hard court this week. That wouldn't be worth mentioning if it weren't for the fact that that hadn't happened for two full years. The odds are always very low when Federer plays, but no matter how bad the price is you can make a pile of money if you win every bet for over 100 weeks.
G - Green, Trent. Stop the presses, because you couldn't possibly have seen this one coming. Trent Green has been placed on the IR and therefore will miss the rest of the year due to a concussion. You would have had to have been psychic to see something like this happening.
H - Huskers. The first step towards getting help is admitting that you have a problem. Nebraska at least got that far when they fired AD Steve Pedersen this week. In doing so, though, they put state superhero Tom Osborne in an impossible position. This team is very troubled, and even he won't be able to do anything about it in a hurry. Not that I expected otherwise, but the first week of the Osborne era looked pretty familiar - they got creamed at home by Texas A&M.
I - Interesting. Do you think it is a coincidence that the revelation of Paul Byrd's HGH use came on the same day that his team played in game seven of the ALCS? I think it's more than a little suspicious. Whoever released the news is clearly a Boston fan. I don't think it mattered, though - Boston was clearly the better team over the long haul, and it wasn't even close. I just wish that watching the Red Sox didn't make me sick.
J - Jeff Garcia. The Buccaneers lost, and they are only barely good enough to be competitive, but what Jeff Garcia is accomplishing really deserves some credit. He hasn't thrown a single interception all year. It's not that he isn't passing, either. This week he was 37-of-45 for 316 yards and two touchdowns. That's an 82 percent completion percentage. And the guy's married to a Playboy Playmate. Life is good for Garcia.
K - Kobe. Please, please, please - just shut up and play basketball.
L - Lopsided. There were seven games out of 14 in the NFL this week that had available lines of at least seven points. That's the second time that's happened this year. So much for parity, I guess. Quality was definitely the way to go with your selections this week - the heavy favorites covered in five of the seven games.
M - Missouri. I'm pretty impressed by what the Tigers are doing. Through bad luck they have faced three straight teams - Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas Tech - that have explosive offenses that can pile up the points. They struggled against Oklahoma (though they still covered in a loss), but they completely shut down both Nebraska and Texas Tech. They are 6-0 ATS, Chase Daniel is fantastic, and the team is poised to carry the Big 12 North if Kansas falters.
N - No. 2. With South Florida's loss on Thursday, the No. 2-ranked team in the country has now lost three weeks in a row. If I was Boston College I think that I'd be asking for a recount of the poll votes right now. It wasn't a good thing to be ranked in general. Fourteen ranked teams played unranked teams, and only four of the favorites covered. In the games between ranked teams, the lower ranked squad won two of three. That's 5-12 ATS for the higher ranked teams this weekend.
O - Out. Majestic Warrior, one of the potential favorites in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, is out after a minor injury. His connections, which include George Steinbrenner, are saying that it is a foot problem, but I think it's more likely that, after his terrible performance in the Champagne, they realized he isn't good enough right now, and used this approach to save face and avoid another hit to his stud potential.
P - Pre-entries. The endless wait is almost over for horse racing fans and general action junkies. Pre-entries for all 11 Breeders' Cup races came out this week, and the hard work of handicapping next weekend's races is now in full flight. There were a few surprises in the entries - the inclusion of three-year-old star Nobiz Like Shobiz, the lack of Classic entries, and a general trend towards deep, competitive fields instead of the heavy favorites we have seen in recent years. It's going to be quite the weekend.
Q - Quit. Trades don't happen often in the NFL, and they rarely happen in the middle of the season involving good players, so the news that Miami had traded Chris Chambers, a legitimate one or two receiver on most teams, to San Diego was a shock. Apparently Miami's players were caught just as off-guard. It's a pretty good sign that Miami has given up on the season. So was the total lack of a pass rush in the first half of that ridiculous embarrassment against New England.
R - Relentless. Les Miles is my new hero. Time and again this year he has made incredibly daring calls that no one else would make, and they have almost all paid off. This week he went for the 22-yard touchdown as the clock ticked down instead of going for a field goal. LSU keeps finding ways to pull out wins (except for the Kentucky game, of course), and Miles' boldness is the reason. It would be nice, though, if the team could cover more regularly - they're 7-1 but just 3-5 ATS.
S - Stanford. The Cardinal deserve some serious respect. For a terrible team they sure are playing well recently. They followed up their epic USC conquest with a near win against TCU and a win over Arizona. In the last three weeks they have won outright as 41- and 12-point underdogs. Tavita Pritchard is making rookie mistakes but he's clearly a heck of a quarterback, and he's only a sophomore with three career starts. It looks like the Pac-10 will be needing a new doormat.
T - The Chase. It looked like Jeff Gordon was going to run away with the NASCAR title, but Jimmie Johnson let the world know that he wasn't ready to roll over just yet. Johnson won a crazy race at Martinsville marred by a record 21 flags to decrease Gordon's lead in the standings from 68 points to 53 with four races remaining. Gordon was third in the race.
U - USC. The Trojans had a plane ride to South Bend that they won't soon be looking to repeat. Mired in a thunderstorm, the pilot had to abort the first landing after the chartered jet plunged downwards. People were thrown from their seats, and more than one player has said that they were sure they were done for. Of course, the team went out and won 38-0 after the scare, so maybe Notre Dame should try the near death experience. Nothing else is working.
V - Vexed. The Falcons just can't catch a break, and Bobby Petrino must be just about ready to shoot someone. Byron Leftwich was playing very well and there was a glimpse of hope in the endless quarterback nightmare in Atlanta. And then he rolled his ankle and had to leave the game. The Joey Harrington era, which looked like it had come to an end, suddenly got new life, and the team lost. Again.
W - Weir, Mike. As a Canadian, it is my joyful duty and obligation to report every time our Canadian golf mascot wins a tournament. Unfortunately, that hasn't been very common recently. The slump is over, though. Weir took advantage of the absence of most of the big guns (though Phil Mickelson was there - he missed the cut) to win the Fry's Electronics Open this week. And yes, to answer the question of most of you, the PGA is still playing.
X - eXtreme reversal. I don't know if you remember, but I said some nice things about the Pac-10 in earlier versions of this column, suggesting that it was one of the top two conferences in the country. I take it all back. This is a troubled, flawed group. All you need to know is that UCLA is tied for the conference lead, and they lost to Notre Dame. Almost every signature win the teams have had have since been devalued in one way or another. Oregon holds the best hopes for glory now.
Y - Yikes. Houston and Tennessee played one of the craziest games we have seen in the NFL since, well, Dallas and Buffalo two weeks ago. Matt Schaub got rocked early on and had no idea what his name was, so Sage Rosenfels took over. The Titans got ahead 32-7, Rosenfels played out of his mind to get ahead 36-35 with 40 seconds left, and then Rob Bironas kicked his record breaking eighth field goal as time expired to give Tennessee the win. Crazy.
Z - Zook, Ron. What a truly terrible coach. I am thrilled that my beloved Michigan won, and played solid defense for the last 40 minutes of the game, but Illinois threw that game away. Zook's team has absolutely no discipline. They took moronic penalties that took great defensive play and turned it into renewed opportunities and trips to the endzone. Young players can make mistakes, but the same players were doing it again and again. The details aren't handled, and he completely messed with his quarterback's minds. Illinois needs to take the lead from Florida and fire this moron.