Sports and Gaming News 12

Sunday night line moves, on Jimmy Johnson’s trust and more.

Interesting to see who Dolphins Head Coach Jimmy Johnson trusts. He won’t give a second thought to bringing in Lawrence Phillips, Cecil Collins, or Tony Martin if he thinks it will help the team, but instructed his players and assistants not to discuss anything serious of a football nature with their preseason TV analyst. The color man is former Dolphins great Bob Griese, whose son Brian will be quarterbacking the Broncos against Miami in the season opener. The younger Griese is a great story. He almost didn’t go back for his fifth year at Michigan, yet ended up leading the national championship drive with heady, mistake-free football. Now certified genius Mike Shanahan is in love with the QB and Griese finds himself starting for the two-time defending champs. New Miami WR Martin is embodies the reality that “not guilty” and “innocent” are not necessarily the same thing. His drug dealer buddy was found guilty and Martin’s jury engaged in a lengthy deliberation before acquitting him on money laundering charges.

I get a lot of questions about line moves, especially Sunday night moves shortly after the numbers are posted. A seven-point move on Nebraska can simply be the public steaming a popular club, as a lot more people have the opportunity to play early in the week in the offshore era. I generally give more credence to a move if it involves a team that is generally off the public’s radar screen. Two such moves occurred this week, as Akron has been bet from a 14-point favorite up to 19½ over Buffalo (just up from 1-AA) and New Mexico State opened a ten-point dog against intrastate rival New Mexico which puppy players have taken down to 6½. Incidentally, New Mexico State is off a win over New Mexico Highlands. I mention this simply to expand reader’s horizons, just in case they, like me, were unaware that there is an institution of higher learning known as New Mexico Highlands.

When the Phoenix Suns signed Penny Hardaway, Jason Kidd declared that he and Hardaway now make up the best backcourt in NBA history. Sounds like someone needs a history lesson. ESPN always seems to have their pulse on the finger on the sporting public, but their “watching SportsCenter from the limo” campaign indicates that they’re out of step with the mainstream fan’s declining interest in NBA and it’s culture of ego and greed.

The Sports & Gaming Hotline will have the first Hilton contest contrarian play this week. Call 770.618.8700 Sunday morning for a play that clicked at better than 70% on the Hotline last year. If you’re at all interested in my new book, which continues to get rave reviews, call the hotline right now for a special offer. Let’s look at a NFL game for Sunday.

New York Jets (-7½) over New England: The differing fortunes of these teams over the two short seasons since Bill Parcells made the move from Foxboro to East Rutherford proves the value of a top notch coach. Still strongly disliked by many of his former players, Parcells pulls twice-annual psyche jobs on former Jets mentor Pete Carroll. New England has blown solid draft position (Sedrick Shaw, Chris Canty) and suffered terrible luck (Robert Edwards) while the Jets get better and better. Pats simply can’t compete when confronted with Parcells on the opposing sideline as shown by Jets covers by 7, 8½, 16 ½, and 14½ in ‘97-’98. Divisional home faves tend to take care of business in week one. Look for Carroll to have his patented “deer in the headlights” look and see Parcells unveil a rare grin as Jets roll.

It can be frustrating to isolate a team as being overrated or underrated yet not have the opportunity to put that opinion into play. NC State’s lack of offense was covered in this space last week, and it continued with an anemic 96-yard performance against South Carolina. State’s lone touchdown occurred on a punt block (sound familiar?) as the Gamecocks had the ball inside the Wolf Pack 35-yard line eight times, yet posted the donut. While the weather was horrible, a decent team should break the hundred yard mark when playing a team who is on the way to their eleventh straight loss. Unfortunately, we won’t have a chance to fade the overrated Wolf Pack this week, as they host non-board William & Mary. Next week NC State makes the trip to Tallahassee to take on Florida State in what bettors from coast to coast have been calling “the mother of all revenge games”, which will undoubtedly inflate the pointspread.

The NC State- South Carolina game was on ESPN, but there were a few performances you may have missed on Saturday. San Jose State, who I had isolated as being among the nation’s worst teams, rushed for a staggering 241 yards in Baton Rouge and shockingly outgained the perennially overrated LSU Bengal Tigers 429-376. Georgia and Florida each allowed over 400 yards against Utah State and Western Michigan, respectively. Despite being on the short end of a 38-7 count, Utah State beat up Georgia pretty good, with Bulldog coach Jim Donnan declaring “This game was a disaster for us from an injury standpoint.”

We had that Western Michigan- Florida game nailed on the Sports & Gaming Hotline last week, predicting that Western would score enough to cover the big number. That game also sets up some good opportunities for us in coming weeks. Another fully analyzed selection will be posted this Friday night and we’ll endeavor to make it another winner. Call 770.618. after 9PM Eastern on Friday.

We also gave you a winner in this space last week, as Nebraska rolled over a helpless Iowa eleven. Let’s see if we can do it again with the Pitt Panthers (+34½) over Penn State. Coach Walt Harris has upgraded the talent level at Pittsburgh considerably through some solid recruiting and picking up some transfers that his old boss, John Cooper, runs off from Ohio State. True freshman receiver Antonio Bryant made the best catch you didn’t see last Saturday, a spectacular TD grab off the back of a Bowling Green defender in Pitt’s 30-10 victory. In the two years since the renewal of this rivalry Pitt has lost by 7 (18-point cover) and 17 (15-point cover). While the Panthers will be sky-high for his one, Penn State can’t help but have an eye toward Miami where they take on the Hurricanes in what promises to be the nation’s most anticipated September game. You can’t be up every week, and I don’t see terrific focus this week in Nittany Land.

What worries us about his game? Pitt was outyarded by Bowling Green last week 335-220, though much of that came on a twelve-minute TD drive in the fourth quarter by BG after matters had been decided. Also, Penn State may be inclined to run up the score to impress pollsters, but Paterno had third stringers and walk-ons in for the two fourth quarter scores against Akron last week. Harris’ Panthers can keep a game close, and five TD’s is too big of a lay by the potentially disinterested host.

Remember, call the S&G; Hotline on Friday night and Sunday morning for winners at 770.61. The Sports & Gaming Hotline is a free 24-hour service. Good luck this weekend and be careful. | September 15th, 1999

– – – – – – – – – – – –About the writer
Kevin is the author of two best selling books on football betting. His weekly column covers the world of sports betting, the media and football handicapping.

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