This Week in Betting, A to Z
by Trevor Whenham - 12/03/2007
A - ACC. The ACC crushed the Big Ten in the challenge between the two leagues. Again. The ACC won eight of the 11 games - only Indiana, Penn State, and Michigan State were victorious from the Big Ten. Some of the results were surprisingly emphatic - Duke beat Wisconsin badly, and North Carolina had little trouble with Ohio State despite playing without Ty Lawson. The ACC has never lost in the nine-year history of the Challenge.
B - Bobby Bowden. Florida State fans will probably be happy that their 78-year-old coach has a new one-year contract with the team. Outsiders, on the other hand, may wonder how long the Seminoles will stick with him. He's had a great career, and he isn't a bad coach right now, but it's been a while since this team has been anything more than barely acceptable. Their 7-5 record, and 5-7 ATS mark, wasn't particularly inspiring, and the future is only slightly brighter.
C - Capital One Bowl. Great. Just great. And yes, I am being bitterly sarcastic. My beloved Michigan Wolverines earned a trip to Orlando to play Florida. We couldn't stop any quarterback who could run all year, so it seems fitting that the crowning embarrassment of the Lloyd Carr era comes in the form of a game against the most terrifyingly mobile quarterback in the country. That should make it a truly happy New Year's Day. So long, Lloyd - I can't wait to see you go.
D - DaMarcus Beasley - U.S. soccer fans must be panicking just a little bit. Beasley is a very key player for the U.S. national side, and he is now out of action for the rest of the Glasgow Rangers' season with ligament damage. The concern isn't that the midfielder will miss any matches in the coming months - the qualifying route should be straightforward. The long-term concern is that the midfielder doesn't bounce back as strong as he has been thanks to the knee problems. At only 25 years old, Beasley has a long future with the national team.
E - Eased in. Given that the Raiders have nothing left to play for this year, it's somewhat surprising how patient they are being with JaMarcus Russell. It took until the first weekend of December for him to see any action at all, and it was only for two series against Denver. He looked pretty solid, going 4-of-7 for 56 yards. That should be enough to get him more playing time, though Josh McCown may have complicated things a bit with a very strong game as he led Oakland to the easy win.
F - Finally! For the first time in six weeks, and only the third time all year, LaDainian Tomlinson went over 100 yards. He did it in style - 177 yards and two touchdowns in the Chargers' win over Kansas City. It goes to show just how good this guy is when he has been virtually invisible for much of the year, yet he surpassed 1,000 yards rushing in the 12th game of the year.
G - Green Bay. The game was very exciting, but it was disappointing that Brett Favre's uncharacteristically bad performance and subsequent injury colored the game as much as it did. I was really hoping for a showdown between two generations of quarterbacks at the top of their game. What was interesting, though, was to see Aaron Rodgers step up and perform reasonably well. Maybe he does have a bright future. Not now, though - Favre should be back in action next week.
H - Home court advantage. Need proof of the power of the home court in college basketball? Not only were the unranked Arizona Wildcats favored by three at home against the ninth-ranked and undefeated Aggies of Texas A&M, but they came back from a 12 point deficit at the half to win by 11. Lute Olson is back on the scene at Arizona, though he isn't coaching yet, and this should be the last time in quite a while that we can say that Arizona is unranked.
I - Injuries. A couple of high profile injuries have struck the NBA this week. LeBron James has missed two games so far with a sprained finger, and the team has obviously struggled without him. Now, on Sunday, Tim Duncan fell to the court clutching his knee and will have an MRI on Monday to assess how severe the problems are.
J - Jets, New York. How do you make the terrible Jets look good? The same way as you do every other team in the league except the Giants - have them play the Dolphins. Miami was so inconsistent and flawed that they made the Jets offense look like the Patriots. Fins QB John Beck was terrible, but I don't blame him for any of this mess. I can't imagine how Cam Cameron will keep his job because I can't believe that a coach can be this incredibly bad.
K - Knicks, New York. One score describes everything you need to know about the Knicks - 104-59. The Celtics are good, but the Knicks made them look like the first Dream Team. I'm not saying that the Knicks are uniformly awful. It would be easier on their fans if they were. They are just so frustratingly inconsistent and unpredictable. Case in point - they came out the very next night and beat the Bucks with a very strong fourth quarter effort.
L - LSU. If you wrote about the weekend the Tigers had as a movie script, people would say it was too unrealistic. Their head coach reportedly left for Michigan, but then suddenly he was back at LSU with a huge new contract. The starting quarterback was injured, and the backup played well until his finger starting bleeding and wouldn't stop. They came into the SEC Championship ranked seventh and out of the national title picture, but a win and two big losses ahead of them jumped them over several teams and into a game against Ohio State in which they should be favored.
M - Mizzou. I can't say that I am that surprised that the upstart Tigers lost to a more seasoned and experienced Oklahoma team in the Big 12 Championship, but I am disappointed that it wasn't closer. Just as Texas Tech looked vastly superior when they played Oklahoma a couple of weeks ago, the Sooners looked like the game was much easier for them than it was for Missouri.
N - Nebraska. I have just one hope - please let Bo Pelini be as easy to mock as his predecessor. I fear that he is competent, effective, and the right choice to return the once-proud Nebraska franchise to something approximating it's former glory. That would be tragic. I have enjoyed few things as much over the past few years as kicking on the ridiculous mess that has been the Bill Callahan era.
O - Ouch. Life just isn't getting any easier for Reggie Bush. Bush messed up a trick play against Tampa Bay. His miscue allowed Tampa Bay to drive for a winning touchdown that all but sealed the division for them - they are up by three games with four to play. Before the mistake, Bush had a typically bland game as part of a season that would be disappointing if it weren't sadly expected based on what we have seen from the former Trojan star as a pro.
P - Peterson, Adrian. The Vikings may not have played like they missed Peterson too much while he was out with a minor injury, but they sure seemed happy to have him back. Peterson had 116 yards and two touchdowns, including a truly remarkable touchdown run. Peterson's impressiveness combined with a much-improved Tarvaris Jackson at QB has the Vikes looking like a team that could make a once-seemingly unlikely but now very real and intriguing playoff run.
Q - Quit. In retrospect, Oregon probably should have packed it in as soon as Dennis Dixon went down with his knee injury. The final straw came this Saturday when the team lost in overtime to bitter rival Oregon State. That's three straight losses, and excellent motivation for Oregon fans to consider never watching football again. The road to the national championship is littered with beaten No. 2 seeds this year, but none deserved a better fate more than the Ducks.
R - Rookie. I know that Kevin Durant is just a rookie, but he sure doesn't look like one often. He has struggled with his shooting accuracy at times, but on Friday he shot the lights out en route to a career high 35 points. That was enough to get Seattle just its third win. He's still not as consistent as he could be, though - he came back in his next game on Sunday and scored just six points, and couldn't sink a basket if his life depended on it.
S - Smith, Alex. It's too early to make a judgment one way or another, but the former first overall draft pick could be on his way to becoming a bust. He's had a very forgettable year, he's now hurt and will likely be out for the rest of the season, and his team is playing better since he left. Next year will be a crucial year for him, and he may have to face it with a whole new coaching staff.
T - Taylor, Sean. Seeing the Redskins line up for the first defensive play of the game with only 10 players to honor their fallen teammate was one of the most touching things I have seen in a long time. It's just a shame that the Skins couldn't hold on to win the game against a Buffalo team that impresses me more every time I see them.
U - Ugly. The story in Seattle in the Seattle papers on Monday will be that the Seahawks are in control of their division thanks to a win over Philadelphia keyed by three picks by Lofa Tatupu. I'm not sure that things are that rosy. The fact is that they only won by four against a Philadelphia team that was crippled by a backup QB that crashed back to earth in his second start in three years and threw four picks. Seattle does not look like a team that will scare anyone in the playoffs.
V - Vasquez, Sam. It's sad but probably inevitable. Vasquez became the first fighter to die of injuries sustained in a mixed martial arts fight when he passed away on Friday. This happened six weeks after he took a hard punch to the chin. Though this was in a lower level promotion, it will be interesting to see how the UFC responds officially and with their actions to the death of the 35-year-old.
W - West Virginia. What the heck was that? I could understand how the No. 2 team in the country, with a spot in the national championship game virtually sewn up, could be a bit tight and play below their ability. What I don't get, though, is how a four-touchdown favorite cannot even bother to show up against a wildly inferior team, or how team superstar QB Pat White could account for just 91 yards of total offense. What a ridiculous waste of an opportunity.
X - Xavier. It was a huge week for the mascots of this column. They entered the rankings, and then put up two very easy wins, scoring more than 90 points each time. They have a very big game on Wednesday against the undefeated Creighton Bluejays that will be a good test of just how good the Musketeers are. A win their will carry them on a high into a tough December.
Y - Young, Vince. I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but I do believe that Young is out to get me. Every time I believe in him and back him he puts up a disappointing performance and I lose. On days like today I don't back him because he's been inconsistent and I think he is vulnerable, and he rewards my lack of faith by putting up a perfectly acceptable, solid effort in a win over Houston.
Z - Zzzzzz. What should have been an interesting week for one of the more interesting teams in the Big Ten turned into a real sleeper as Ohio State failed to show up for two big basketball games. They were beaten by 11 by North Carolina on Wednesday, and then forgot to show up at Butler on Saturday, limping to a 19-point loss. Freshman Kosta Koufos has been a pleasant surprise so far, but his teammates aren't doing their part as of yet.