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There’s nothing quite like the next couple of Saturdays in college football. It’s rivalry season in college football, a chance to not only ease the sting of a disappointing year, but in some instances to erase it from the memory banks altogether. If Alabama loses to Auburn we may see a coaching change in Tuscaloosa, with the justification being the tawdry extramarital soap opera that took place there. But if Mike Dubose’s troops can win down on The Plains this Saturday Tide fans may nominate him for husband of the year.
Archrival motivation is a powerful emotional factor, and it leads to fierce, hard-hitting games that seem prone to chaotic results. The fact that Oregon State’s fans swarmed the field celebrating an overtime victory last year, were cleared off due to a penalty flag, and swarmed the field again in honor of the actual victory would only happen against Oregon. The Army-Navy game has determined many a coach’s job security. Losing teams would like nothing more than to knock their cross-state rivals down a step on the bowl ladder. I work on football all week, and while I spend the fall making sure I don’t completely waste my weekends away in front of the tube, I won’t be able to get enough of the archrival action. Can’t wait.
Man, don’t criticize the Dolphins. My mention of Miami’s offensive limitations earned me a few choice emails from ‘fin fans, who subsequently were flabbergasted at the 77 yards of net total offense that their heroes posted on Sunday. I’m sure none of these guys actually grew up in Miami, they just liked the teal uniforms and the winning. It really doesn’t matter where they lived, the same guys rooted for the Yankees or Dodgers in baseball, the Celtics or Lakers in the NBA, Notre Dame football, UCLA basketball, and the Soviet Red Army in hockey. Just a twist of fate that they didn’t end up Steeler or Cowboy frontrunn-, err, excuse me, fans.
Remember early in the season when Baylor tried to punch in a TD to cover the spread when all they had to do was take a knee? UNLV forced a fumble and returned it for a game-winning touchdown. Kevin Steele rightly was vilified for blowing the game, a lesson that apparently didn’t stick with Georgia Tech coach George O’Leary. In the identical situation, up three with the need to only take a knee to win the game, Tech handed the ball off to a running back in an effort to cover the 4½-point spread. Trying to get the Heisman for Joe Hamilton isn’t an excuse, as the play was a run that wouldn’ t effect Hamilton’s stats. The play failed, Clemson covered, and the 1% possibility of disaster didn’t jump up and bite Tech with a 96 yard fumble return for a touchdown. O’Leary’s needless risk taking is the classic case of keeping the alumni happy.
Two of the past three Monday nights we’ve seen a coaching staff go back to their old stomping grounds as six point dogs and whip their former teams. First Holmgren back to Green Bay and then Parcells in New England. A coaching staff’s familiarity with an opponent can be a huge edge in game planning and is something to give great weight to on its rare occurrences. Parcells’ Jets have now covered five of six against New England with every cover by 7 or more. The Vinny injury game was the only time New England’s earned the money in the much-hyped Tuna Bowls. Monday night’s Jets winner capped a great 10-3 weekend on our late telephone service. One of our losers was a bad call, however, and it is chronicled on this week’s Sports Betting Continuing Education Series at 770.618.8700.
Nebraska swamped Kansas State as a 12-point favorite. Alabama beat Mississippi State as a six-point favorite. Both games were termed “upsets” by the media, because K-State and Miss. State had benefited from cushy schedules, were undefeated, and ranked higher in the bogus polls. To the credit of the betting public and the computer ratings used by the BCS, neither “upset” was a huge surprise in the real world.
I didn’t consider the fight Saturday night to be the walkover for Lewis that others, like 83 year old judge Billy Graham (83? Only in boxing), saw. Lewis is far from an inspiring fighter and he doesn’t show a lot of passion for mixing it up. With Holyfield off the scene, there will be a clamoring for the next big heavyweight who is capable of generating some buzz.
On the hotline Friday night we called for Houston to dominate the line of scrimmage and pull the outright upset in Baton Rouge. The Cougars won 20-7 and outrushed LSU 172-31. Call our hotline for updated information, selections, and our advanced sports wagering series. Call 770.618.8700 right now. It’s free and you’ll learn from it.
Give Ohio State (+13) a shot on Saturday. Yeah, I know, the Buckeyes should be dining strictly on Milk Bones. But this game sets up perfectly for them, and is virtually the reverse of the typical Ohio State-Michigan matchup.. Michigan is off a nice stretch of wins and were quite impressive against Penn State. This game can salvage a rotten season in Columbus. Remember, OSU beat Purdue and Minnesota. The embarrassing home loss (-3 turnovers) to Illinois is a great set up for this game, both emotionally and for line value. The Buckeyes haven’t been a bigger underdog than this against anyone for exactly ten years, they took 13½ from Michigan in 1989 and lost by ten. My records go back to 1976 and that game in ’89 is the only time the Buckeyes have been getting more points than today. That’s some historical line value. Michigan wins, but Ohio State plays hard and hangs around.
Speaking of pointspreads, at the start of the year you expected St. Louis to open at -7½ at San Francisco, didn’t you? That was also a great call on your part that Denver would open only a pick in their Monday night homer against Oakland. Mississippi State QB Wayne Madkin is a dead ringer for comedian Chris Rock, who threatened Ken Starr’s life on the Today show. Matt and Katie are so cute, aren’t they? Speaking about the MSU Bulldogs, offensive lineman Pork Chop Womack tips the scales at over 350 pounds. Pork Chop’s major? Fitness Management.
Got to love the Browns stirring win over the Steelers, but the Panthers are far superior to the Brownies. Average yardage margins for the two teams before last week: Carolina 341-328 and Cleveland 201-386. We’ll play the former. Remember, Cleveland’s two wins have both come on the last play of the game in games where they were outyarded by a total of 478-694 and that 478 includes the Hail Mary in New Orleans. Panthers the Rams just about even from the line of scrimmage, but gave up two returns for touchdowns. Carolina turns it around this week and rolls behind Steve Beuerlein, who the Niners wish was on their roster right now.
As a sports betting author (I think there are only about six of us), I can’t let the death of Marty Mendelson pass by unmentioned. Mendelson, who was 75, was one of the pioneers of computer analysis for handicapping purposes and wrote a couple of books with sports book legend Sonny Reizner. Though his work was well regarded, I don’t know enough about it to do it justice, so I’ll share a statistical Mendelson handicapping nugget that Peter Ruchman of the Gambler’s Book Shop passed along. “On average,” Mendelson wrote, “a guy with his head in the freezer and his feet in a pot of boiling water feels pretty good.”
Good luck this weekend and be careful.
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thedailyspread.com | November 17th, 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.