by Doc - 09/14/2005
Our top game in both college and the NFL went into the books as big wins. Both of our selections were underdogs as Iowa State +9 and Dallas +4 ½ both earned us straight-up wins.
The Cyclones of Iowa State were definitely ready to play both mentally and physically. Cyclones Head Coach Dan McCarney certainly has a knack for getting his team fired up. This game seems to mean more to the Cyclones then it does for the Hawkeyes. I knew Coach McCarney when he was the defensive coordinator at Wisconsin. A straight shooter and a terrific guy, he is truly someone you would definitely want your son to play for. The Cyclones should have a good season with an excellent chance to win the Big 12 North, as they do not have to play Texas or Oklahoma.
Our Pro Game of the Year was also a real nice win. The Cowboys entered the game as a 4 ½ point favorite and hung tough all day and eventually pulled the upset. I have to let the cat out of the bag and tell you Dallas was my second choice. I decided to go with the Game of the Year back in late August and was all set to release Detroit as the big play. Some questioned the release being pulled during the first week of the season. No question we probably would have had a bigger sign-up if the game had been chosen in the middle of the season. However, what matters the most is the win, and that is what we accomplished. The two big wins were totally gratifying, however, the overall performance was not, as we did end up -11 units for the weekend.
The Big Ten was predicted to be a much stronger conference this year then it was the last couple of years. It certainly did not look that way this past weekend as the top three teams all fell. I was not surprised by the outcome of the Iowa and Ohio State; however, Michigan losing in the Big House was truly shocking. The straight truth about the Wolvernines, they simply got out coached. Coach Carr always seems to stumble in this type of non-conference game. This loss may be an omen for the Wolverines, as the pressure is off and the Big Ten Title is definitely still in sight.
The Buckeyes of Ohio State played their hearts out against a very good Texas team. In fact, the Longhorns may be the best team in the land. The Bucks are at home this week against an improved San Diego State team. Normally, Ohio State at home would be a cakewalk blowout. Not sure that's the case here as the Buckeyes enter as a 26-point favorite. The favorite could be flat here after suffering a bitter defeat. Could this be a go through the motions game for the Buckeyes with Iowa on deck? The Aztecs have nothing to lose, as they are expected to be blown out. Don't forget that Coach Tom Craft's squad played the Bucks at the Shoe two years ago and came with a tough 16-13 defeat and last season they stayed with Michigan losing that game by just a field goal in the Big House. Can they make it three solid performances in a row?
The Big Ten will be tested this week as five teams (Illinois, Michigan State, Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin) all have road games against teams from power conferences. Of the five the one you might want to keep an eye out for is Michigan State, which travels to South Bend. The line has been adjusted on the Irish as they enter this game as a seven-point favorite. Are the Irish for real? No question, Charlie Weis will turn this program into a national power; however, I do not think this will be this year. A tough schedule still awaits them and games against Purdue, USC and Tennessee will probably do them in.
Back to this game, with QB Drew Stanton healthy for Michigan State -- this is a very good team offensively. Their defense was suspect last season and has not improved much in 2005. Who do I like? I would have to pass, but the straight-up winner has covered 11 of the past 12 meetings in this series.
The big question around the land, "What's with Oklahoma?" The Sooners make the trip to Pasadena as a seven-point underdog. What? At the start of the season they would have been near a touchdown favorite. I do have a strong opinion on this game and it will be high on my selection list.
A real treat is in store this Monday night, as we will have two NFL games to watch. Normally, I do not rate the pros as high as college; however, we will have two 5-unit games this week, with one of those being on Monday - our Monday Night Game of the Year.
I mentioned last week that Green Bay will have an off year and after game one that prediction may have been generous. The loss of WR Javon Walker will not help. If the Packers go on a real slide, a lot of blame will be on QB Favre. To me, there are other positions in more trouble than the QB position. I am sure the line will be adjusted; however, go against the Packers early this season seems like your best bet.
One of the big factors in handicapping is finding a team that just might be looking ahead. One college team that really pops up in my mind this week is the Oregon Ducks. The Ducks will be playing against a solid Fresno State team. The line is only 2 ½ so most people would think Oregon would be the choice. Not so fast, as Oregon welcomes in USC next week and they have had that date circled for months. Do not get trapped as Fresno State is used to playing games like this under Coach Pat Hill. In the past three years, the Bulldogs have played the likes of Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oregon State, Tennessee, Washington and Wisconsin. This team may be one of the surprises in the land and has a possibility to end up in the top ten this season.
I will be out of town this weekend, as I will be traveling to Las Vegas to take part in a handicapping contest at the Rivera. The contest takes place Friday night and has been put together by Jimmy Vaccaro, one of Las Vegas' most respected gamblers. Sixteen people have been invited for this bracket style tournament. Each contestant must pick seven games each week and rank them from strongest down. I am looking forward to this challenge and knowing Vaccaro, it will be a class act.
The Big Ten will be starting conference play next weekend. Some real outstanding match-ups take place in week one. We choose to go with our Pro Game of the Year in week one because we thought it was in our best interest for the win. Well, this may be the case next week in the Big Ten. Our famous, "Big Ten Game of the Year" may be released!
I really like the schedule this week in both college and pro. Should be an outstanding week. That is it for this week. If you have any questions about pick packages please call us anytime toll-free at (866) 238-6696 or (800) 356-9182.