NCAA Football Week 1 Recap
by Richard Gardner | Bookmaker, Bodog Sportsbook - 9/9/2009
The first weekend of college football is in the books, and what did we learn? Well, good luck finding a better game in all of 2009 than the Miami-Florida State thriller on Labor Day night. Or good luck in finding a more disappointing effort all year than the performance of Oregon, and especially running back LeGarrette Blount, last Thursday on the blue turf in Boise. The Ducks had some decent sleeper action as a BCS championship team, but that's obviously a pipe dream now.
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From our perspective here at Bodog, we saw big action on LSU against Washington, but the Huskies looked like a new team under first-year coach Steve Sarkisian and they easily covered. Don't expect UW to get that many points again other than perhaps against Southern Cal.
Speaking of the Trojans, they certainly appeared in better early-season shape than their counterparts this week, Ohio State. Matt Barkley looked polished at QB for USC, while the Buckeyes were on the cusp of a possible upset to Navy despite having all summer to prepare for that option offense. Maybe OSU was looking ahead to this week's big game with Southern Cal, one that probably knocks the loser out of the national championship race.
We saw a lot of action on Illinois against Missouri, but the Illini and QB Juice Williams looked completely unprepared in a 37-9 loss. Sure, the Illini lost star receiver Arrelious Benn after the third play from scrimmage because of an injury, but the team really didn't put up much effort, which even coach Ron Zook admitted.
"The thing that got me most upset -- we didn't go fight," said Zook to reporters afterward.
Illinois wasn't the only team Big Ten team that didn't look good this weekend. Iowa was extremely fortunate to escape a loss to I-AA Northern Iowa. Minnesota, a bowl team last year, should have lost at Syracuse. Bettors were not convinced that former Duke basketball player Greg Paulus was going to make a smooth transition at QB for the Orange, but they covered. Paulus' mistake in OT cost them a potential victory, however.
Meanwhile, we expect huge action this weekend on Michigan-Notre Dame because of how good those two perennial powers looked. The Wolverines probably had the best showing of any Big Ten team, clobbering a good Western Michigan team. Rich Rodriguez turned West Virginia around in his second year there, and it appears he might be doing the same in Ann Arbor now that he has the kind of quarterbacks he wants in freshmen Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson. The bettors were believers last week.
As for the Irish, their 35-0 win over Nevada might have been the most impressive performance of the weekend. We saw very steady action on the Wolf Pack getting 14½, but neither Saturday's game nor the spread was really ever in doubt.
I expect Notre Dame-Michigan to perhaps even outdraw USC-Ohio State in total handle this weekend.
Finally, I can't recap Week 1 without mentioning Oklahoma. We saw plenty of action on BYU to cover the 22 points against OU, and that was assured when Sam Bradford went down with a shoulder injury that could keep him out for a month. If he's out in early October against Miami, that line will look a lot different than it would have even last week - the Hurricanes may now be favored. The Sooners, meanwhile, are pretty much done in the national championship chase, while BYU has become the chic "outsider" team.
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