Fourth Down and Inches
by Doc - 10/02/2007
What a week it was in college football, as five of the top teams in the land lost straight-up. This was a bookmaker's dream in both college and pro football, as the underdog prevailed in most games. It always amazes me just how the rankings are done in college football. As most of you know, there are two polls, one by the coaches and one by the Associated Press of sports writers. I certainly have the utmost respect for the coaches. However, the press I certainly question. One only needs to look at the Baseball Hall of Fame to realize how biased the press in when covering a sport. In today's world, just who do I think would make the best rankings for college football? No question, it would be the bookmakers and the general public who bet the games. This group of people truly knows the ins and outs of each team.
This week LSU took over the top spot, passing Southern Cal in both polls. This occurred because the Trojans struggled to a victory over the Washington Huskies in Seattle. With the Tigers struggling as well against Tulane, I question this move. Suppose this week LSU and USC would meet on a neutral field, which would the bookmakers mark as the favorite? There's no question it would be the Trojans who would be favored, so it makes no sense that they would drop in the polls.
Lets analyze another hypothetical situation, using Wisconsin and Oklahoma playing on a neutral field. The Badgers are currently No. 5 in the country with a 5-0 record. For those of you that have read my columns before, you know how much I believe this Wisconsin team is one of the most overrated teams in the land. With Oklahoma being ranked No. 10 in the country, wouldn't the Badgers be favored? Probably not, as I think the Sooner's would be at least a touchdown favorite. If you don't believe me, check out the line this week with the Badgers. They are underdogs traveling to 4-1 Illinois (unranked).
In reality, it really does not make a difference who the No. 1 team is, but it certainly makes for good water cooler talk. We all have our opinions and until this sport settles it on the field with a true playoff system, the polls are all that we have to go by. Who do I think is No. 1? It will always be USC until someone hands them a loss.
Last week we used four side selections in the Big Ten: Indiana +10, Illinois +3, Michigan State +7 ½, and Michigan -17. We cashed in with three of these plays including a 6-unit winner with the Spartans. All four dogs covered and two of them won straight-up, with Michigan State having opportunities to make it three of four. A roughing the punter call late in the fourth quarter really hurt their chances and allowed the Badgers to scrap by yet again. No question one has to give this team credit. However, this is not the No. 5 team in the country and we will continue to expose them down the road.
Outside of the Midwest, we did not fare as well, losing with Mississippi State and Central Florida by a couple of points. The Bulldogs looked good early and led, 21-17, only to lose their quarterback and they failed to score another point. In the UCF game, we were ahead by 24 points going into the fourth quarter, but the Knights remained stuck on 37 points and gave up a garbage touchdown to ULL for the backdoor cover. We hate to lose a game this way; however, it is part of the betting landscape.
Under the revenge theory, I would have to take a serious look this week at Wyoming. The Cowboys have a much improved football team, evident by the fact they went into Virginia and won on opening week. Wyoming had last week off and will be ready to snap a two-game losing streak to TCU this Saturday. The Cowboys have a very solid defense that currently rates in the top 10 in the country. Their LBs, led by Dobbs, should give the Frogs fits all day and the homer should be the only call as they are laying less then a field goal.
Every week there are always a few key conference match-ups that will shake up the standings at the top. One game that fits into that category in the Big Ten is Ohio State traveling to West Lafayette to play Purdue. Although I have no interest in this game for a selection, I am looking forward to the game itself. The Buckeyes reloaded this year and are better than I anticipated. The Boilers have a super offense but, like in past years, I still have to question their defense. That being said, Purdue seems to play much better when expectations are low and nobody predicted them to be a factor in the conference. If I were forced to take a side, my choice would be the Buckeyes in a high scoring affair.
Another game that fits the bill in the Big 12 North is Nebraska at Missouri. Both teams are undefeated in conference play and the winner of this game should have a clear path to the championship game for the Big 12. While the Tigers are 5-0, neither team has a very good defense. We all remember the gaping holes that Nebraska gave the USC rushing attack a couple of weeks ago. That being said, I would have to take a serious look at the over. As for the game itself, I would lay the points with the Tigers. Whomever wins this game, should be a punching bag for the Big XII South come December, and that representative will likely be decided in the Red River Rivalry between Oklahoma and Texas taking place in Dallas this week as well.
The marquee game of the week lost a little of its luster when Florida suffered a shocking home loss to Auburn last week and they now enter Baton Rouge at 4-1, instead of both teams being 5-0. With that loss, the Tigers enter this game at over a touchdown favorite. They would not have been that big of a favorite if Florida had beaten Auburn. One thing the Tigers have going for them is that it will be a night game and hardly anyone beats them during the evening. But a drawback for LSU is their coach, Les Miles, whom has yet to prove to this writer that he can win big games. I would rate Urban Meyer way above him as a coach and I fully believe Coach Miles got out-coached in last year's meeting despite having better talent. That being said, talent wins most games.
When we decided to expand our site and allow other handicappers to post their picks at Doc's Sports starting with football in 2006, many assumed that we were in direct competition with one another. That is certainly not the case and this writer roots for every other handicapper, except of course when we are on opposite sides of the same game. One heartbreaking game that I would like to mention is Robert Ferringo's Game of the Month last week, which pitted SMU -2 over UTEP. The game appeared to be an easy cash for the young handicapper, as the Mustangs were in complete control of the game leading 28-7 late in the second quarter. But 3 ½ hours later, the Miners gradually fought back and scored with under 10 seconds remaining to send it into overtime, and they eventually won by three points. This is a true indication of how no lead is safe in college football, especially with the current timing regulations. For everybody's sake, I wish they would adopt some current NFL timing rules that keep the clock running on first down and start it back up if a player goes out of bounds. This would keep the time of each game around three hours instead of over 3 ½ hours. Then maybe some teams would be able to hold onto leads and all the handicappers hard work would become evident.
We have done exceptionally well this season on our top plays of the week, as we have hit six of seven dating back to the NFLX season. This week we will be going with our "College Game of the Year," a 7-unit selection. I have patiently waited to pull the trigger on this selection and everything has fallen into place this Saturday. Revenge, a homer, and a tangible I cannot mention will allow this game to fall into the win column. If you have any questions about this game or our past record, please give me a call direct @ (800) 356-9182 or visit or website.
If you are looking for a place to bet this winner, check out our front page for an offshore, as we only endorse the best.
That's it for this week and best of luck,