Doc's Sports Fourth Down and Inches
by Max Powers - 11/26/2013
Rivalry Week in college football is upon us, with many of the top teams in the nation squaring off against a familiar, and often hated, foe this weekend. The showdown at the top of this list is the annual Iron Bowl between Alabama and Auburn. This year’s game takes on some special meaning with a trip to SEC Championship Game on the line for both teams. The Crimson Tide come in ranked No. 1 in the BCS standings at 11-0, and the Tigers have vaulted to No. 4 behind a record of 10-1.
This matchup was not on too many bettors’ radar screen early in the season after Auburn’s disappearance from the national picture, but the Tigers have continually found ways to win, including a few outright miracles along the way. They are still a very one-dimensional team, and to have any chance of beating Alabama this Saturday they will have to make some plays through the air. The oddsmakers are not too bullish on the Tigers’ chances and have opened the Tide as double-digit favorites on the road. I personally will be staying away from this game, but if I was forced to make a selection I would lean toward Alabama.
We have had good success in close games this season, but that came to a screeching halt this past week when it came to our selections. Recapping the six selections we did release; one was an easy winner, one was just a bad play, and the remaining four picks went down to the wire and could have gone either way. Unfortunately, we came out of the wrong end of all four of those games, but that is the way the ball bounces sometimes. That is why I go out of my way to point out when we win a game that we should have lost, because over the course of the season these things have a way of evening themselves out.
Our top selection last week was Wyoming (-6) over Hawaii. I knew going into this contest that both teams had their issues, with the Cowboys mired in a four-game losing streak and the Warriors still searching for their first win of the year. I wrote in my analysis of the selection that I felt Wyoming would pick apart this Hawaii defense, and that certainly was the case with 59 points and 793 total yards of offense. I also stated that the Warriors would not be able to keep up on the scoreboard, but I was wrong on that assessment with Hawaii racking up 56 points and 624 yards of total offense. Wyoming should have still covered this spread, but we were done in by three turnovers that added up to 21 points. If not for that, the Cowboys would have won this game going away.
In one of the other three close calls that did not go our way, UCLA was a 2.5-point underdog, but it missed two short field goals to lose by five. Tennessee’s offense was ready to come onto the field take a knee to win and cover against Vanderbilt before the replay officials gave new life to the Commodores with a favorable spot on a fourth-down play. Boise State and San Diego State combined for only 56 points against a total line of 58, but we did not cash in on the “under” since the game ended as a tie in regulation.
There were a couple of silver linings in last week’s selections. First, we lowered the units on the smaller plays from four to three to keep a few more dollars in our pocket. I was not as strong on these picks as I have been for most of the year with the exception of our top play.
Lines tend to get sharper toward the end of the season, and I did not feel that these selections warranted a 4-Unit play. Doc’s places a high value on managing your bankroll and always strives to give you the best chance for success.
The other saving grace was a 3-1 record in our four selections for the NFL. We almost won them all, but the New York Giants were unable to hold off Dallas. We had to sweat out the first half of the Denver vs. New England game, but the Patriots’ amazing second half rally pulled out the win.
The final tally of last week’s performance was an overall record of 4-6 that was down10 units, or $1,200 when you figure in the juice. Despite this setback, we are still up 76 units for the season, which equates to a profit of $5,340 for our $100 bettors. We are also very proud of the fact that we have been in the black with our football selections all season long. This means you have been playing with the sportsbook’s money since Week 1 and have been able to maintain a profitable bankroll ever since.
Over the final two weeks of the college football season, the plan is to keep the units lower in light of the sharper lines. Some of the teams that caught my eye on this week’s schedule (BYU, Michigan State and Baylor) are all laying big numbers, so I have already scratched them off the list. There is one game in the Big Ten this week that is setting up as our top play.
The matchups for many of the conference championships have already been set, including the Big Ten and Pac-12 title games. Regardless of the outcome of this week’s games, Michigan State is penciled in to play Ohio State, and Stanford will square off against Arizona State. The Sun Devils still have a chance to host that game if things fall their way.
Most people just assumed that the Pac-12 North Division winner would host this game since it contains both Oregon and Stanford, but the criterion is that the team with the best conference record hosts the game (NOT the highest-ranked team). ASU is 7-1 in conference play with the one loss coming to the Cardinal. A win this week against Arizona in the Territorial Cup will give them an 8-1 record as opposed to Stanford’s 7-2 mark in conference play.
This makes a world of difference at it is definitely not a given that the Cardinal will win the second meeting this season on the road. Keep in mind that the Sun Devils have already beaten the two teams (Utah and USC) that were responsible for the blemishes on Stanford’s conference record, and there is a good chance that Arizona State would be favored at home in the title game. The Sun Devils have an explosive offense and a couple of playmakers on defense, so it would not surprise me at all if they go on to face the Buckeyes in the Rose Bowl.
The other big rivalry game that has caught my attention is Florida vs. Florida State. The line on this game remains off the board due to the playing status of both teams’ quarterback. The Seminoles may have the Heisman trophy winner in Jameis Winston, but we still do not know if he will be taken out of commission by the legal process in the state of Florida.
The state of affairs in Gainesville could actually be worse after last Saturday’s humiliating loss to Georgia Southern, which is a FCS school. What makes this loss the most puzzling is that the Eagles did not complete a pass in that game, and Florida had played well against the run all season long. Head coach Will Muschamp did get a vote of confidence from FSU’s president and athletic director, but it would be hard to survive a blowout to Florida State this weekend. Florida’s alumni and fan base make take the decision out of the AD’s hands given how important fundraising is to the overall program.
The Gators have suffered their fair share of injuries this season, but they appear to be a team without an identity. My guess is that Muschamp does survive, but he will have to make some major coaching changes on offense.
This week will be the final game of the regular season for most teams, so we plan on turning the tide with one last big performance before turning our full attention to an extended postseason of games. The remainder of our season football package is now just $299, so please give me a call at 800-356-9182 to sign up. This includes every selection in both college and NFL that we release now through the Super Bowl in early February of 2014.
Best of Luck this weekend
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