Fourth and Inches
The Big Ten Conference has always been known for 'smash-mouth' football - a strong defense with a powerful running game to back it up. But what about this year? Not so fast! Other than Minnesota and Purdue, the Big Ten offense in general may be the worst in several years. Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio State -- powers in the conference in the past -- are all having trouble scoring. All four of these teams lack a great talented QB and it's beginning to really show. Fortunately for all four of these clubs, their defenses are strong and will continue to be a large part of their successes or failures.
Ohio State could be a team that rises to the top of the conference if its offense can make some improvements in certain areas. Last Saturday against NC State, the Buckeyes had just 137 yards on offense, with only 64 yards coming via the rushing attack. Four of the scoring drives covered ten yards or less. In the Woody Hayes days, that kind of performance may have meant three practices a day, one of which might have been at midnight.
Wisconsin certainly is another team in the Big Ten that is having scoring problems. Obviously one reason may be the loss of their two top running backs. One has to take that into consideration. However the quarterback's performance has been fair at best, and the offensive line and receiving core hasn't performed up to expectations. The Badgers are rated in the Top Twenty in the country. Unless this offense wakes up, it's one of the most overrated teams in the land. The defense can't continue to win games for them!
A bright spot in all these factors, as a handicapper, it certainly makes our job easier. We will pick this conference apart this year.
Last week one of our winning selections was San Diego State over Michigan. Obviously one of our reasons for the choice was the lack of the Wolverine offense. However the main reason for the choice was the "sandwich" factor. Michigan had just come off a Notre Dame encounter and will be facing Iowa in the Big Ten opener next week. These situations become a big factor in the performance of a team far more often than not. The "sandwich" game is taken lightly. One game that falls into this category this week is Tennessee. The Vols played Florida last week and have Auburn on tap next week. One has to wonder if Tennessee will really be up for Louisiana Tech this week as a 24½ point favorite. The Bulldogs knocked off Michigan State last year on the road. Could they pull the upset here? Probably not, but as a huge dog, it's worth a look.
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This is a big week for us here at Doc's, as we will be going with our College Game of the Year. Is it too early in the season to pull the trigger? When really doesn't matter to me. What does matter is winning it! This 'Homer' is a beauty and this baby will end up in the Win Column! Need details? Call our sports office. We were 6-1 last week in college and we have just begun!
I will be leaving for Las Vegas immediately after writing this column. It's always nice to visit the big city! Of course it's especially rewarding for me, as my son Wade now lives in Las Vegas. Wade runs our Internet site and has done an outstanding job. As a youngster, I'm sure he never understood my mood swings, coinciding with the outcome of our selections. Walking the floor was part of my life and as it now has become part of his life; it's amazing how much more he understands. I have some very interesting meetings set up for Tuesday and Wednesday, and I will be back late Thursday night. Friday is always a busy day for us and of course, I want to be back for our College Game of the Year which will be played on Saturday.
This is the time of the year when we know whether we have extra Sports Journals or not. We published 250,000 and they have gone at an unbelievable pace. However we do have some left and if you have a Sports Bar in your area that would like some copies, we would be happy to send some free of charge. Call our sports office with the address.
One game that will create a lot of interest in the country this week is a Father and Son coached rivalry, that game being Florida State and Clemson. The oddsmakers have made Florida State a 19-point favorite. WOW! That's a lot of wood to lay, but I think the odd 'man' gets the call here.
I've waited all summer for the Iowa-Michigan match-up. Wolverines, in revenge, lost two years in-a- row, etc. Then the oddsmakers make the Wolverines a 13-point favorite. Huge number with very little offense. Hmmm! The game just doesn't look as good as I thought it would. I want to put my foot to the pedal and take Michigan. Hmmm! Laying 13? With a team that has a problem scoring? Waited all summer for this and now I'm probably going to have to pass.
I always like to look ahead to next week. The Big Twelve has two outstanding match-ups, that being Kansas State at Texas A&M and Colorado at Missouri. We certainly will be looking at both of these selections and one of them could be triggered as a 6-unit play.
Running out of space here. If you are a poker player, make sure you check out Bodog's poker operation. It is truly the best. One can play as little as $.25 ante.
College Game of the Year goes this week!