by Doc - 11/10/2005
This is it! The week we have been waiting for as our, "Big Ten Game of the Year" goes this Saturday. For the 35th straight year, this is the week to pull the trigger. During the past 34 years, we have won this game 25 times and lost it on only eight occasions. The storylines behind some of these games are remarkable and I will share a few of them with you.
As the owner and founder of Doc's Enterprises, what I remember most are the losses. This gut-wrenching feeling when you know the defeat is obvious. One of the losses I remember most is the 1994 game that featured Iowa as a 6 ½ point favorite over Indiana. The Hawkeyes lost the game by a score of 27-20, but what I remember most was losing our starting QB in the first quarter. He went out with a broken collarbone. As much as that hurt, it was not the worst loss in that game, as the second quarter saw both of our starting linebackers go down with knee injuries. That was the final straw as RB Smith took advantage of this favorable situation and led the Hoosiers to a victory. As I look over the past years, there are obviously some games I should have lost but ended up winning, but this was one game I deserved to win. What was more painful about this loss was that it snapped our 19-year winning streak.
The 2000 loss of Michigan -16 ½ over Michigan State was also painful. We completely dominated the game and held the Spartans scoreless. The Wolverine offense struggled inside the red zone and missed three field goals, one of which hit the cross bar. Michigan won easily by a score of 14-0, but that fell just short of the expected number.
In closing one of the most painful losses had to be last year when Penn State could only muster a couple of safeties against Iowa. It is amazing to see how far the offense for the Lions has come in just one year. So many gratifying wins would erase a couple of these losses, but for some reason I cannot get these games out of my mind.
As I look at this week's slate in the Big Ten, it is certainly one I love to work with. Of the five games that are played inside the conference, four have the credentials to qualify. The final choice is difficult, but I am very confident the selection will enter the books as a win. I know my money will be heavy on this game and I hope you will join us for the victory.
One of the most interesting games in the Big Ten is Iowa coming into Madison. This game means more to Iowa on paper; as they are still one win away from becoming bowl eligible. Iowa has won the last three meetings between the two programs and has the edge at quarterback with the veteran Drew Tate. But Wisconsin will have the edge emotionally, as this will be Coach Alvarez's final home game at Camp Randall. This reminds of the 1999 meeting when Ron Dayne set the NCAA rushing record, as Wisconsin cruised to a 41-3 victory. That game, which featured towel-waving fans giving a farewell to Dayne, is considered one of the best games ever played at Camp Randall. Will a performance like this be repeated? I doubt that and one must remember that was a different Iowa team, as Coach Ferentz was in his first year and the team finished 1-10.
When looking outside the conference, a couple of games really jump out, as being great selections. One of those games is Bowden Bowl, as the Seminoles travel to Death Valley. Tommy Bowden has given his father real problems over the years in South Carolina and may need this win to save his job. He won big two years ago despite being a 16 ½ point dog. As expected, the Noles enter this game as a favorite, but it is under a field goal. I question why they are favored with all the experience Clemson has on the defensive side of the football. FSU has had problems moving the ball on the ground and I look for the Tigers to give QB Drew Weatherford all he can handle. Playing in this hostile environment could doom in the elder Bowden.
Another interesting match-up finds the Naval Academy visiting South Bend for their annual meeting with the Irish. I certainly cannot see the Irish losing here, but the 23 ½ points seem a little tall. The Midshipmen have lost 41 straight games to the Irish (longest streak in NCAA history) but have came close in recent years to pulling off the shocker. In fact, Navy has covered 11 times over the past 15 years. Saturday will mark win number 12 for the Academy!
I will be heading for Las Vegas this Thursday for round two of the Riviera Invitational handicapping contest. The contest starts out with 16 entries but now is down to the elite eight. Two contestants face one another giving their seven best bets for the week. Each choice is given a number between 1 and 7 using a different value for each of the seven games. If a game wins, you earn that many points and the person with the most points at the end of the weekend advances. My opponent this week Nick Bogdanovich, a well know bookmakers and a very nice guy from Las Vegas. This is a tough draw and if you are in town stop down Friday night at the Rivera.
Speaking of Las Vegas, how many of you have been to the new Wynn Hotel. If you went the very first week that it opened you would be surprised at how many changes have already been made. No question, Wynn's latest is filled with a lot of entertainment and great restaurants. Before you enter, make sure your wallet is filled because there is a good chance it will be empted out quickly, as nothing there is free. For those of you that are young and looking for a job, I read the other day that the people who work the floors of Winn's Hotel are making about $350 a day in tips. Who said one has to go to college to make a good living?
You have probably heard this story before but it is worth noting. A man bets football for the season and looses. The he tries his luck at betting basketball, but finds similar results. Finally he spends the summer betting baseball and once again finds himself in the poorhouse. He talks with a buddy and he encourages the man to try his luck at hockey. The man says, "I do not know anything about hockey." His buddy says, "Exactly!" That is certainly not the case here as our hockey expert, Max, is off to a fantastic start to the season. This is the first year we are handicapping hockey and he already has our season members up 36 units. I would encourage you to try him out and do not forget that his Game of the Month goes this Friday.
This is my favorite week of the year, as the Big Ten Game of the Year will be released Saturday morning. I am confident in victory and feel this team will win by double digits. This will be the turning point in our season, as bright lights are ahead.
That's it for this week,
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