Fourth Down and Inches
by Doc - 10/30/2007
Our Big Ten Game of the Year was a major disappointment, to say the least. What disappointed me the most was the play of the Penn State defense. This unit on paper looked to make it very difficult for the Buckeye's offense, but that did not develop and I thought QB Todd Boeckman played outstanding. He moved the chains and made big plays with his arm and there was no question about it, the Buckeyes deserved to win this game. This is a very young Ohio State team and I expect them to dominate the conference for the next couple of years. The Buckeyes are at home the next two weeks against Wisconsin and Illinois. They shouldn't have any trouble with these opponents before they head north for their annual meeting with Michigan to end the season.
As for Michigan, their schedule is a lot more difficult with two road games before hosting Ohio State. This week they play their in-state battle with Michigan State and this Spartans team has been hard to figure out, but always seems ready when playing the Wolverines. Then Michigan must travel to Wisconsin, a team that has never beaten them two times in a row in Madison. The big key for Michigan will be whether QB Chad Henne and RB Mike Hart get off the injured list, because their replacements are not up to par.
Although we did lose the big game, we did quite well with the remaining six, going 4-2 with two sizeable underdogs pulling straight-up victories. Georgia took down Florida in the World's Largest Cocktail Party and that result did not surprise me whatsoever. The Gators are really starting to leak oil, but that hasn't been the fault of QB Tim Tebow. Instead the blame falls on the remaining cast, as they are not as strong as last year's championship squad. Once again, because of Coach Meyer and the name Florida, the Gators have been installed as a hefty favorite over Vanderbilt. If you like the Gators, be careful, as Vandy Coach Bobby Johnson really has this team playing well. For points, 16 seems real steep since they only won 25-19 last year despite being a 17-point favorite. The dog would be the only choice to consider.
Another team I thought last week would be emotionally drained was Kentucky. We released Mississippi State as a 14-point underdog and collected with ease. The Cats were due for a letdown after coming off three emotional games against South Carolina, LSU, and Florida. Kentucky has now lost three games this season and fallen out of the polls and they obviously could not handle prosperity. One of the teams that I think will be emotionally drained this week will be South Carolina, who is coming off an overtime loss to Tennessee, a game that they trailed 21-0 at one point before mounting a comeback. I have total respect for Coach Spurrier, but playing 10 straight weeks with no bye will catch up with then. They now must travel to Fayetteville to play a Razorback team that can run the football behind McFadden. Not having a solid quarterback will eventually catch up to South Carolina.
One team I am seriously looking at this week is a double-digit underdog that will be playing a team that could be coming in flat. Although not from the state they are playing in, this team has a roster full of players from that state. Can you guess the team I am talking about? A clue is that they share a nickname with one of the most famous California teams.
Speaking of California, they both USC and Cal already have multiple losses this season and, thus, their match-up on Nov. 10 and lost much of its luster. But with them falling two other teams have risen in Arizona State and Oregon. They will meet this week in Eugene with the Ducks coming in as a six-point favorite. With some help if either one of these teams can run the table, they have a good shot to be in the BCS Championship Game. Oregon would need BC or Ohio State to lose, but I think ASU could jump BC just by running the table. If the Sun Devils can beat Oregon, California, USC, and UCLA they belong in the BCS Title Game regardless of what Boston College does playing in a much weaker ACC. That being said, ASU will have their hands full this week playing in Eugene and entering as a touchdown underdog.
Moving on to the play-for-pay league, the Packers continue to get the job done despite not having a solid running game. They are now 6-1 and most of that is due to the play of QB Brett Favre, who continues to play like he is 25 years old. The Packers are back on the road in the AFC West playing Kansas City. The Chiefs are coming off a bye and this allowed some of their players to get healthy. Arrowhead Stadium has always been a tough place for the visitor and expect this to be a real test for the green and gold.
What an exciting play for the Packers to take down the Broncos, 19-13, in overtime last night. Favre showed that he has not lost a step on his deep ball hitting Greg Jennings in stride for a game winning 82-yard touchdown pass. Speaking of the Broncos, it looks like Coach Mike Shanahan may have cut ties with Jake Plummer too early, as Jay Cutler continues to lose games at home. The Broncos were well on their way to the playoffs last year when Shanahan made an inexplicit change at quarterback. He said he felt Jake Plummer could not lead them to the Super Bowl, despite reaching the championship game in the 2005 season. Memo to Mike Shanahan: When you have a chance to make the playoffs, you take that invitation.
You many have noticed that our college basketball packages for 2007-2008 are already posted. With the conclusion of the MLB season, much of the attention in the main office now shifts over to college hoops and we expect another remarkable season following our No. 1 title in 2007-2008. We will be starting in the middle of November and I would encourage you to try us out, as our full time handicapper in back and he follows the sport six days a week.
Expect a bounce back week in football, as we will come strong in the Big Ten looking for a profitable week.
Best of Luck,