Fourth Down and Inches
by Doc - 09/30/2008
Our selection service returned to the Winner's Circle this past weekend, anchored once again by our college choices. It was a good weekend, but what a tremendous week it would have been if Ohio State would have covered. The Buckeyes gave up a meaningless 22-yard touchdown pass on what was the last Gophers snap of the game. This allowed the final tally to be 34-21 and, thus, the Buckeyes did not cover the 18-point spread. For those of you who witnessed the misery, as painful as it was, it's all part of winning and losing. As I look at this week's card, I feel real confident that we are going to roll and make some big money.
The big game in the Big Ten this week is Ohio State heading to Madison to take on the Badgers in a night game. The Badgers should be entering this game undefeated, as they were leading Michigan 19-0 at halftime in Ann Arbor. But Bucky came out flat in the second half and let Michigan come back to win, 27-25. This was an emotional loss for the Badgers and one has to believe that this will carry into this Saturday's game. The big halftime lead was somewhat misleading, as Michigan had five turnovers in the first half. But it's still hard to believe as bad as Michigan was doing that they could overcome this in the second half and earn their first conference victory in 2008.
The key to this game on Saturday will be whether Ohio State can shut down the powerful Badgers running attack. Wisconsin had just 12 yards rushing in the 2007 meeting and the Badgers weakness is when they get forced into throwing situations. If this game was in Columbus I would be trying to borrow some of the $700 billion that the government is trying to use to bail out companies to bet on the Buckeyes. But it's not and going against the Badgers at home can be suicide. Coach Bielema has yet to lose a game at Camp Randall Stadium in his three-year career. I will likely gather all the information before I make by decision later in the week on this game.
Just how important is revenge in handicapping a college football game? I firmly believe it is much more import in college compared to the NFL. I often talk about this aspect of the sport but it's probably overrated in college as well. A certain team cannot play well and win just because they lost to a team the previous year. In most cases there has to be a great deal of emotion involved.
One game I feel which does fall into this category is Hawaii at Fresno State. The past two years the Warriors have owned the Bulldogs and one has to believe Coach Pat Hill and his seniors will remember the 2006 game when Hawaii won, 68-37. Most of the talent from the Warriors glory run the last couple of years is gone. Fresno is returning to Bulldog Stadium for the first time since Sept. 13. I believe Coach June Jones left Hawaii when he realized the cupboard was empty and if the Bulldogs are not celebrating too much from beating UCLA last week, I would look for a complete rout. Circle the wagons in this one.
I never seem to find the time to spend on totals in college football. If you are one that likes to play totals, I would look at the over in Indiana at Minnesota. The past seven years these two teams have combined for 69 points per game and I see this game being no different.
I have already mentioned this in previous columns, but each week I look for a team that could be ripe for an emotional letdown. The team that falls into this category this week is the Alabama Crimson Tide. We had the Tide last week in an easy cover against Georgia, but as much as the coaching staff preaches it to their players, it's hard to motivate a team coming off such a big win. This week they will host Kentucky and enter as a 16 ½-point favorite. Coach Brooks have done a great job in turning around this Kentucky program and they return eight starters on defense. I expect Bama to only score in the 20s and getting this many points it may be worth a look at the visitor.
Sometimes I don't even follow my own advice. I started out in my Big Ten Preview stating that Iowa was the worst team in the Big Ten. I went against this notion and jumped on them last week at home against Northwestern, laying eight points. Iowa lost this game straight up. Even though Iowa and the Buckeyes were my only two losses on Saturday, I'm still kicking myself for the Iowa choice. For those of you that back the Hawkeyes, it appears to be another long season and Kirk Ferentz may be fighting for his job. Losing to Northwestern last week now makes it hard to find two conference victories for them in 2008. They do play Indiana and Minnesota, but both of those games come away from Kinnick Stadium, although Iowa does seem to play better on the road. Win or lose, it is obvious that the Hawks are not as scary in conference as they were in past years.
The NFL featured another wild weekend and it's now anybodies guess who will win the Super Bowl come February. One of the most surprising games was Kansas City beating Denver. The state of Missouri had looked terrible thus far in 2008 and many believed that the Chiefs and Rams would struggle to win a game this season. Both were big underdogs and jumped out to early leads in their games. Kansas City was able to take advantage of a weak Denver defense and St. Louis seemed to have a spark with Trent Green under center. The Chiefs cruised to a victory, but unfortunately for us, the Rams could not hold a 14-6 lead (getting eight points) and we lost our selection as Buffalo won, 31-14. The next day the Rams fired Coach Scott Linehan and it will be interested to see if the new coach can turn this team around. I still question why the Rams benched Marc Bulger in favor of Trent Green. It's acceptable to make a change when the season goes south, but do you really believe you have a future with Trent Green, a 38-year-old quarterback? This is a lost season for the Rams and they need to play their young talent, not some old banged up veteran and hopefully new Coach Jim Haslett can grasp this concept.
For those of you that follow my columns over the years, you know that fall is my favorite time of the season. Of course, the main reason is because of football but not far behind would be my passion for duck hunting. Duck season opens this week and although it cannot take my away from the TV on Saturday, there is nothing more enjoyable then hunting ducks or pheasants on a cool, crisp Wisconsin morning. Even thought it's always difficult to forget a tough loss, a walk in the fall atmosphere always helps. I truly believe September and October go by way too fast.
We will have our first 6-Unit selection this week and it comes from the Big Ten. We really would like to have you aboard, but as always we will not make any outrageous promises or guarantees only that know company will work harder to bring you success. Any question or if you just want to talk football give me a call at (800) 356-9182.
Best of Luck this week,