Fourth Down and Inches
by Doc - 09/09/2008
For the second-straight week our top selection of the weekend was the Temple Owls. The Owls played their hearts out and suffered an overtime loss, 12-9, but easily covered as a 6-½ point underdog. I had made up my mind before the season had started that this unit would be vastly improved and the oddsmakers would undervalue them based of their past history. The oddsmakers felt the public would not jump on the Temple bandwagon but lucky for us we were all over them for two 5-unit winners. Temple is on the road this week against Buffalo and will be a two field goal underdog. It is always hard to let go of a team that has done well for us but after a couple of big pointspread wins, the emotional toll of losing to Connecticut straight-up may have an effect on them this week. That being said, I am looking forward to watching this contest, as it features two up-and-coming coaches in Al Golden and Turner Gill. I expect both of these men to move onto better jobs in the near future and look for them to lead BCS teams.
Another team we jumped on twice this young season already is the East Carolina Pirates. They have the two most impressive victories on the season thus far, beating Virginia Tech and West Virginia. I believe the Pirates have one of the best quarterbacks in the country in Patrick Pinkney. This week they travel to New Orleans to play Tulane in their first Conference USA game of 2008. They are installed as a 13-point favorite, but I would be careful with this one since the Pirates are coming off two emotional victories. It's hard to get up for a team that is predicted to finish last in the conference and I would not be surprised if they came into New Orleans flat. I am looking at NC State in two weeks as a possible pick against ECU, but will pass on this game this week.
Speaking of BCS teams, two traditional powers in the Midwest may be in for long seasons. Michigan has had trouble scoring points against lesser opponents and Notre Dame does not look like it got any better from their embarrassing 2007 season. These two programs will face off this week in a pick'em game in South Bend. I will not release a play on this game, as both teams have major question marks. I thought the Irish looked terrible against San Diego State, a team that lost the week before to Cal Poly. Notre Dame used to be able to gather recruits based on their history and exposure but that is no longer the case. One has to wonder how long the faithful will be able to support Coach Weis as he was given a 10-year contract a couple of years ago. This program has the money to buy him out and I wonder if he can coach at all or if Tom Brady and Brady Quinn did all of his heavy lifting.
As for Michigan, I fully expect Coach Rodriguez to build a powerful team once he gets his own type of players into the program. It's very hard to pick a winner in this game but I like the Wolverines in a low scoring affair. Notre Dame will be lucky to win one of their next three games.
The biggest game this week takes place in Los Angeles, when the Ohio State Buckeyes travel west to take on USC. This game has lost a little sizzle with the injury to Beanie Wells and how poorly Ohio State played last week against Ohio. That result did not surprise me as we released Ohio as a pick and they easily covered the 34-point spread. No question that the Buckeyes were looking ahead but one has to wonder if they have the bullets to stay with the Trojans. My source told me that RB Wells has yet to practice and because of that the line is inflated with the Trojans entering as double-digit favorites. I believe that may not be enough, as the Trojans defense is one of the best in the country and they will have two weeks to gameplan for the struggling Buckeyes. In closing one has to wonder about the emotional state of the Buckeyes, as they have been embarrassed the last two years in the BSC Title Game and the nation is really turned off by them figuring they have no chance to win this game. The home team would be the only side I would consider.
The more experienced handicappers always search for games that are not on the radar and not the game of the year like Ohio State and USC. I can usually find games that present great value and one game that has gotten my attention this week is Navy at Duke. The line is Duke -2 ½ and I feel the homer is the play. The Blue Devils will have revenge as they lost this game last season, 46-43. I think this is a much better Duke team under new Coach David Cutcliffe and they put up a good fight last week against Northwestern. In last week's loss, Duke outgained them 472-328 with only 77 of the Wildcats yards coming on the ground. This should bode well when playing Navy, a triple option team. With Duke playing their third-straight home game they may be worth a look here.
We really took it on the chin this week in the NFL. Unlike college, I always felt that the pros are tough to handicap during the first month of the season. We will keep our units low for a few weeks until things start to take shape and certain trends develop. It seems that in most NFL weeks there is no carryover from the previous week. They are all professionals and usually can keep their emotions in check. I would not be surprised in Detroit, Houston, or Cleveland covered this week after looking terrible over the kickoff weekend.
Just got the call last week, but we will once again be in the Leroy's Money Talks Handicapping Contest. Last year 32 top handicappers around the country were invited but they have cut the field in half for 2008. I have come in second the last two years; however, does one remember who lost the Super Bowl? I guess you get my drift but I will first be in action on Oct. 24 and if you are in Las Vegas stop by and say hi.
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It looks like this week will feature two 5-unit picks in college football. As it stands now our College Game of the Year (7-unit pick) will go on Sept 20. This is a game I have had circled for quite some time and so far everything has gone as planned. As always I welcome your comments and information about any local game you may have in college or pro. Feel free to give me a call at (800) 356-9182 during the morning and I would be happy to shoot the breeze with you.
Best of Luck this week