Fourth Down and Inches
by Doc - 09/03/2008
One again it's that time of year, as this is the kickoff issue for our annual Fourth Down and Inches. Our selection service started the season on a great note, as we finished 5-2, +12 units. What was most gratifying was that our top selection, Temple, completely destroyed Army, 35-7. I spotted that game early in the summer and, believe me, it would have been a rough Saturday had that game gone down Friday night.
This is a much-improved Owls team, as they return 22 starters (entire offense and defense) from 2007. This team has long been a doormat for opponents to get healthy on but those days are over, as Coach Al Golden has changed the culture. Granted, his record in just over two years is 6-19, but one must remember how down this program was when he took over in 2006. Unfortunately for the Owls, if they continue to improve, Coach Golden will likely not be around very long. Temple cannot pay what a BCS conference school can and I would suspect Golden will have plenty of offers once the season concludes in December. The Owls will face a much better team in Connecticut this week, but playing in Philadelphia should allow them to remain competitive.
One of our other selections this week was East Carolina +9 ½ over Virginia Tech. The Pirates won the game straight up and what impressed me the most was the play of their quarterback, Patrick Pinkney. He looked confident and played without any fear against a traditionally strong Tech defense. The Pirates will host West Virginia this weekend and will have revenge on their mind as they were pounded in 2007, 48-7. If the Pirates can win this game, they have a chance to run the table and possibly earn Coach Skip Holtz a berth in a BCS Bowl. He seems to be following his father's footsteps of being a great motivator and he may be in line for a better job down the road.
Virginia Tech appears to be in for a long season and Coach Beamer was not impressed whatsoever by the play of his quarterback, Sean Glennon. He threw for just 139 yards and two interceptions and because of this performance Coach Beamer has decided to pull the redshirt off of sophomore Tyrod Taylor. It's hard to blame the coach, as teams need to win now but what does that say about the confidence he has in Glennon? Both will see action this week but it will be hard to tell how impressive each will be since they are playing Furman, a 1-AA team. This team is not a traditional Hokie unit and look for us to go against them in the future.
There were no real surprises in the Big Ten with only one favorite going down. We called that game, as Utah, +3 ½, dominated Michigan despite the score not displaying that. I did have a real interest in this game, as the Wolverines defense looked better then I expected. They should be able to keep them in most games, especially those taking place at the Big House. The offense lacks a quarterback that can fit into Coach Rodriguez's system and, until they find one, it will be a long haul. QB Pat White flourished under this system and those kind of players are hard to find. White is still playing at West Virginia, but if he would happen to get injured, expect the Mountaineers to go right down the drain, especially with the loss of RB Slaton. West Virginia should record more wins then Michigan this season but I do not see them matching last year's win total of 11. Their defense has some real concerns, but they do play in the Big East, the worst of the major conferences.
For a second-straight year, the Illinois Fighting Illini could not stay with the Missouri Tigers in St. Louis. Hard to move Illinois down the charts since Missouri is a real good club led by Heisman hopefully Chase Daniels. Coach Zook once again has a solid club and Illinois will win a lot of games in 2008. They now play two cupcakes and this will give them a chance to work things out before they travel to State College to open up the Big Ten season. QB Juice Williams is an explosive player and can beat you with his arm or his legs. They have six home games this season and I feel they will win at least five of those games and I already have one of them circled as a possible big play.
What a big loss it would be for the Buckeyes if RB Beanie Wells is not able to perform to his standards after suffering a leg injury on Saturday. He's the franchise for Ohio State and they cannot afford to lose him for any extended period of time. They don't have to worry about this week, as they will host Ohio at the Horseshoe. The line is around five touchdowns, but I question how explosive Coach Tressel will want to be on offense in his quest to run it up. No question this is the best team in a weak Big Ten conference. With USC on the horizon, I like the Bobcats to cover this week before the Game of the Year takes place on Sept. 13 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Before the start of the season, I was confident I would be taking the Buckeyes in Los Angeles, but after watching USC dominate Virginia, I am not so sure. USC will enter as the favorite and this contest will feature two of the best coaches in the country.
Moving out of conference, I was really impressed with the Gamecocks on Thursday. The defense looks strong, but Coach Spurrier once against has a quarterback controversy, as back-up Chris Smelley outplayed starter Tommy Beecher. Smelley will probably get the start this Thursday at Vanderbilt and I expect the offense to improve as the season goes on. South Carolina enters this game as a 10-point favorite, which is a lot considering this game takes place in Nashville. Vandy handed us one of our losses last week, as they won on the road in Oxford and you can expect us to have a pick on this game come Thursday.
The final score did not indicate how well NC State played, but it appears to be another long season, especially with their QB being knocked out of the game. The Wolf Pack have a brutal schedule in 2008, but I feel they will remain competitive in many of them and look to play a lot of unders with them.
The play-for-pay league opens up this week and I could not be happier. It seems NFL Preseason gets longer each year but 2008 was a killer. Numerous marquee players were held out of the entire preseason and it will be interesting to see how they respond to getting hit for the first time. Every year one team in the NFL does well that nobody expects. My choice for that team this year will be the Houston Texans. They should be much improved even though their record may not demonstrate that since they play in a brutal conference with three teams that made the playoffs in 2007.
I think that the Minnesota Vikings may be the team to beat in the NFC this year, especially if they can get any production out of the quarterback position. It should be another exciting year in NFL and I really like the card this week in both college and the pros. Remember to use money management and to stick with the recommended units based on your bankroll. Limit the amount you wager on parlays, as we always recommend to play each of our picks straight up against the spread.
Once again our top play this week will be an underdog coming from college football. I feel this team has the ability to win this game straight up and getting points is just icing on the cake. For those of you that enjoy reading this column weekly, my goal this year is too have it posted weekly by Wednesday night through the entire college football regular season. Please do not call or email us until this time has come, as we like to get the most up-to-date information before writing this column. If you ever want to talk football feel free to give us a call at 800-356-9182. If you have any information about one of our local teams feel free to share, as we are all in this together.
That is it for this week,