Sports and Gaming News Part 4

Abbreviated holiday version of S&G; News

Abbreviated holiday version of S&G; News. Happy New Year.

Hypocritical College Sports Note of the Week: The NCAA’s firm stand against gambling took a breather this week with the Oneida Bingo and Casino Classic in Green Bay. Austin Peay beat Wisconsin Green Bay for the title on Thursday night. Drexel and Western Kentucky were the other participants in the college basketball tournament held specifically to promote gambling.

Bowl lowlights: The emphasis on the BCS makes the other bowls a little less necessary with each passing year. Lowlights so far include a half full 40,000 seat stadium on a dank 35-degree night for the Mobile Alabama bowl, empty seats outnumbering spectators by a 5-1 margin at the Aloha Bowl, two Oregon State players being stabbed following the Oahu Bowl, and BYU and Marshall players being forced to spend Christmas in Detroit for the Motor City Bowl.

Strategy suffers: The more coaches who make bonehead decisions, the more the need for a “Game Strategy and Clock Management” Coach on every team’s staff. With the wind the primary factor in the Buffalo-New England game and his defense playing well, Pats Coach Pete Carroll chose to receive the ball instead of playing with the wind at his back after winning the overtime coin toss. Foxboro gusts knocked down a potential game winner for the Pats before helping the Buffalo passing game in their game-winning drive.

We’re 6-2 in the bowls and wrap up a strong NFL campaing this weekend. This week’s report from The Sports Monitor has Strategic Sports Publishing ranked second in the country in combined college and pro basketball and with this week’s action we stand at over 60% with nearly 100 basketball plays on the season so far. We’re also on a nice winning streak for you on our Hotline at 770.618.8700 with an undefeated record in bowl totals. Be sure to call our Hotline for updated selections and sporting information. Call 770.618.8700 any time, as the Hotline is a 24-hour free service.

Outback Bowl: Purdue (-5 1/2) 37 Georgia 23

In a quest to acquire better talent than SEC nemisises Florida and Tennessee, Georgia Coach Jim Donnan hired ace recruiter Kevin Ramsey away from Tennessee by offering him the defensive coordinator position, a role that Ramsey was clearly not ready for. Opponents have turned the scoreboard into a pinball machine and worn down the “chain gang” with startling frequency against the Bulldogs this season. Auburn’s Ben Leard had a career day against Georgia, lighting up the Dawgs D with a 24-32, 416 yard, four TD performance. UGA athletic director Vince Dooley was reportedly so disgusted with the lack of halftime adjustments that he stormed out of the Sanford Stadium press box.

The Auburn game was not an aberration. Georgia Tech’s 51 points and 550 yards against their archrival were both season highs. Both Kentucky and Tennessee had their respective seasons’ 2nd highest passing output against Georgia. LSU QB Booty may have enjoyed his best overall day against Georgia. Even lowly Utah State and Central Florida were among the seven teams on Georgia’s 11 game schedule who notched over 400 yards in offense.

The Georgia defense is depleted by the torn ACL that massive frosh DL Charles Grant suffered running the ball in short yardage against Georgia Tech. Senior CB Jeff Harris and Freshman LB Jessie Miller have both been declared academically ineligible for this game.

The thin Georgia defense that gave up 278 passing yards per game (113th in Division 1A) now moves on to a bowl game against……..Drew Brees and the Purdue passing attack rated 4th in the nation. Purdue survived a brutal stretch of consecutive games at Michigan, at Ohio State, vs.. Michigan State, vs.. Penn State, at Minnesota, and vs.. Wisconsin to emerge 7-4, the same record as Georgia. Both teams have won and covered consecutive bowl games and are playing on the natural grass surface that they are most familiar with.

The Boilermakers scored more points than Georgia, gave up fewer points, notched more offensive yards, and allowed fewer yards defensively. These statistical edges were all earned against a tougher schedule than Georgia’s. While both quarterbacks held press conferences to confirm that they were staying in school next year, NFL personnel types surely had a chuckle at the necessity of Quincy Carter’s announcement. Despite his obvious physical tools, Carter struggles with decision-making at times and is still something of a work in progress. Like Weinke of Florida State and Booty of LSU, Carter’s years of minor league baseball hurt his football timing.

While we clearly favor Purdue here, a couple of things worry us. UGA’s weak effort down the stretch (losing three of four) has them clearly focused for this game, Coach Donnan has made this game less of a reward for his players and more of a chance to work on fundamentals and shore up his defense. Like all “pass first” teams, Purdue’s stats can be phony. It is easier to move the ball down the field in 6 and 10 yard chunks with the defense spread out. Inside the “red zone” is a different story however. As the field shortens up the possession passing offense has less room to maneuver, as shown in the Boilermakers last minute drive against Penn State and recent years’ losses to Wisconsin, where they outyarded the Badgers (by 206 yards this year) yet lose to a more efficient opponent.

We’re not confusing Georgia with those solid defensive clubs, however. Look for Purdue to break lose against the porous Bulldog defense. With it’s defense toughened against a solid schedule, Purdue wins going away.

NFL note: beware the “must win” team in the NFL. There is often substantial motivation on teams that are out of contention as well. Due to the salary cap structure of the NFL, mediocre three and four year veterans are literally playing for their careers this weekend, hoping that someone will be impressed what they see on film. Teams must decide if these guys are making their mark or if they should be replaced by lower-priced rookies. They’re trying hard.

Happy New Year. Good luck and be careful. | December 31st, 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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