Fourth Down and Inches
by Doc - 10/09/2007
Our College Game of the Year went into the books as expected when Illinois cashed as a slight favorite over Wisconsin. What was most gratifying about our choice was that the oddsmakers made the Badgers the underdog despite being ranked No. 5 in the country. Throughout the land, bettors were screaming "how can this be?" A team that is ranked fifth an underdog to an unranked opponent? I certainly respect the oddsmakers desire to make Illinois the favorite, as it only made my opinion stronger because the line was not adjusted enough.
I said it when the Badgers played Las Vegas, Iowa and Michigan State, that this team is terribly overrated and we cashed in with all three of those selections. This week Wisconsin is on the road at Penn State, installed as a six-point underdog. Is the line adjusted enough? We will be all over this game, as I have uncovered an angle that may surprise you.
At the start of the season, I felt Michigan was the best team in the country. But that is no longer the case, as another Big Ten team continues to rise in the standings. The Ohio State Buckeyes are for real and I am kicking myself for not using them as a selection last week in West Lafayette. We had already written up the game, as I felt they had the defense to stop Purdue in its tracks. However, I decided to pull it on Thursday. It looks like it's the same old story with Purdue: potent offense, but very little defense. The Boilers are at Michigan this week, installed as a five-point underdog. I would like to ride the Wolverines in this contest; however, I just cannot trust them. Last week's tight game with Eastern Michigan only strengths my belief. Michigan still has three tough games on the road and then must play the Buckeyes in Ann Arbor to close out the regular season. There is a good chance Michigan may lose at least two games of their remaining schedule and one has to wonder if Coach Carr will be able to save his job.
A good match-up in the Big Ten this week that most will overlook will be Illinois at Iowa. The Illini are riding high coming off three straight wins to open Big Ten play (Indiana, Penn State, Wisconsin), but this will be their first road game in a tough environment. I would love to take the Hawks, as they have the defense to stop the powerful Illini running attack; however, their offense is non-existent. That makes this game hard to handicap for a side selection; however, the total make be the point of attack.
As we all know, last week's No. 5 team in the land took it on the chin and it may be a similar case this week for the current No. 5 team in the land, the South Florida Bulls. The Bulls host Central Florida this week and are installed as an 11 ½-point favorite. USF has a solid football team but, like the Badgers, they are not the fifth team in the land. This is an in-state rivalry and the talent between the programs in very similar. Coach O'Leary has done a great job and I would not be surprised to see this team pull the upset, since the USF offense is very suspect. Could they pull the upset? I like the Knights chances if they do not let the Bulls score on defense.
How about USC going down to Stanford, despite being a 40-point favorite? Some are calling that the biggest upset of the season, but that is certainly not the case, as Appalachian State still owns that title with their surprising victory in Ann Arbor to open the season. Stanford is a conference game and plays USC every year and, in fact, was the last team to win at the Coliseum back in 2001. Stanford is USC's oldest rivalry dating back to 1905 and if you don't think Stanford could ever beat USC, then you must feel Stanford does not belong in the PAC-10. Kudos to Jim Harbaugh for shooting his mouth off during the spring and now backing it up. Pete Carroll does not know what hit him and this team does not have the offense like in past years. John David Booty is no Matt Leinart or Carson Palmer.
The week I will be heading to Las Vegas for the Leroy's Money Talks Handicapping Contest. This is a bracket style format where each week you face off against another contestant with the winners advancing. It can also be heard live on the radio with hosts John Kelly and Arnie Lang. These two guys make the show very fun and interesting. This year they have really opened up the contest, with 32 entries instead of the usual 16. It costs $5000 to enter this contest and the winner takes all, with the champion walking away with $160,000. In any contest you need some luck, but I did end up in second place in 2006. You are all invited out to watch me in action this Friday night at the Riviera Casino.
One of the individuals I always enjoy talking to in Las Vegas is Jimmy Vaccaro, the former head bookmaker at the Mirage. He really knows his stuff and is just a delightfully fun guy to be around. He has some great stories and I always enjoy spending an evening with him.
As most of you know, most of my success lies in the college ranks. No question, the lines are not as accurate as the pros and if one spends the time doing the necessary research, the success over the long tern will be there. The same cannot be said for the NFL, as this is generally not the case and generally speaking the underdog is the side to take.
That being said, one game has caught my eye in pro football this week: Philadelphia -3 over the New York Jets. The Jets are in deep trouble and last week's loss to the rival Giants does not help. The Eagles are coming off their bye week and this should help get RB Westbrook, TE Smith, and S Dawkins back onto the field. The Jets are not getting much out of the quarterback position and look for the Eagles to blitz and McNabb to put up big numbers like he did against Detroit. As we all know, anything can happen in the process, evident by the Monday night game last week, but I truly feel that Philadelphia may be worth a look.
This week we will be going with our Big 12 Game of the Year. I have found a matchup that has all the ingredients for a rout and this will be our strongest selection from this conference in 2007. We have hit seven of our eight top plays this year dating back to the preseason and would like to have you aboard for another top play winner. I feel I am really in a zone with our College Football plays and expect to continue upon that success.
Best of Luck