Thursday, September 21, 2017

College Football: Week 4 promises loads of fun.

I'm very excited about this week's slate of games.  So let's get right to them.....

Army @ Tulane (-2.5)  T: 44.5

I'm all over the Golden Knights in this one to pull the upset. I think this is the best Army team we've seen in over a decade and I think they're going to handle the Green Wave in short order. Prediction: Army 37 Tulane 13

Texas A&M @ Arkansas (-2.5) T: 55.5

Call this the "Hot Seat Bowl" because the coach that loses is going to find himself sitting on the college football equivalent of a nuclear bomb.  My feeling is that aTm doesn't have enough offensively to do much against Arkansas who seem to have the Aggies number when playing in the Dallas Area. Prediction: Texas aTm 10  Arkansas 16

Idaho @ South Alabama (-4)  T: 57.5

I'm still pretty high on the Jaguars despite a rough start to the season. Idaho is an FCS team and they're not even playing in the Kibbe Dome this week.  I think -4 is a "good" line for bettors and I would suggest hitting USA hard to cover that and then some. Prediction: Idaho 3 USA 27

Ohio @ Eastern Michigan (-2.0) T: 52.5

Eastern Michigan is a great story, a historically bad program that's experiencing somewhat of a boost of late is cool, but that doesn't mean that they can beat Ohio, one of the strongest teams in the MAC, a favorite to win their division, and my pick to win the conference this year. Prediction: Ohio 24 EMU 21

Wake Forest (-4.5) @ Appalachian State T: 48.5

Wake Forest (3-0) is a trendy pick this season as a dark horse in the ACC. I'm not buying it. Their three wins are over FCS Presbyterian, and FBS Bottom 10 teams Boston College and Utah State. App State did lose against Georgia in Athens and they did struggle at Texas State but this team is much, much more difficult when they get to play in the Mountains.  Prediction: Wake Forest 13 App State 20.

Duke (-2.5) @ North Carolina T: 66.5

Duke's 41-17 win over trendy Northwestern is the most impressive win on the early-season schedule of either school, and North Carolina is struggling to replace many losses from last year's team. Head Coach David Cutcliffe of Duke has found his home. Larry Fedora is a good offensive mind, but he needs to rebuild.  Prediction: Duke 38 North Carolina 24.

Alabama (-18.5) @ Vanderbilt T: 43

Beware games with big spreads and teeny-tiny totals.  Except with 'Bama.  The ONLY elite team in the SEC is getting faded because Vandy has good wins over Middle Tennessee State and Kansas State but Bama demolished Florida State, which is a much better team than the Commodores. Don't fade Saban against the SEC. Just don't. Prediction: Bama 38 Vandy 3.

San Diego State (-3) @ Air Force  T: 47

Games against the service academies are always tough, and I don't think this game is any exception. I do however think the Aztecs are one of the top teams in the Group of 5 and have a legitimate shot at the New Year's Six bowl.  That said, I think Air Force will get yards and points.  Could turn into a pop-gun shoot-out. Prediction: SDSU 45 Air Force 20.

Syracuse @ Louisiana State University (-22.5)  T: 56.5

LSU star running back Darrius Guice will sit out this game, but that's not my biggest concern. My concern is that Tiger Head Coach Ed Orgeron is a good coordinator who is masquerading as a head coach.  Yes, Syracuse is not good, but they did beat a Central Michigan team that's an average Group of 5 side and with LSU's offensive woes I don't see them scoring 23 points. Prediction: Syracuse 3 LSU 17.

University of Texas - San Antonio (-12.5) @ Texas State T: 45

Last week UTSA demolished Southern 51-17. I'm not entirely convinced that Texas State could beat Southern. This is a 'good' line that should be taken advantage of IMO. Prediction: UTSA 48 Texas State 10

Oregon (-14.5) @ Arizona State University  T: 75.5

The Oregon "Stomp out cancer" gear was so solid last week my wife bought a hoodie despite not being a fan of the Ducks. I'm certainly not a fan of their defense, but I'm not much of a fan anything ASU has to offer, even their coach, who I've gone on record as saying gets fired after this season. No defense in this game, take the over.  Prediction: Oregon 56 ASU 35

Notre Dame (-4) @ Michigan State  T: 54

Irish head coach Brian Kelly is one of the true all-time college football jerks. He practices "the buck stops somewhere over there" style of leadership always blaming others for his poor planning, sub-par recruiting and disappointing on-field results.  I wouldn't bet this game but I hope he loses. (and yes, that's difficult for me to say because I dislike Michigan State more than tofu) Prediction: Notre Dame 17 Michigan State 18.

Eastern Carolina University @ UConn (-4.5)  T: 66

I'm only including this game because it's being played at 11 o'clock, on SUNDAY.  That means that you will have something to watch instead of the morass that has become the NFL.  Despite the fact that ECU might be the worst FBS program this year and UConn is desperately missing Bob Diaco. This is one of those games that could be known for its punting, may they be sexy. I think the Huskies eek out their first win over an FBS program this year. Prediction: ECU 10 UConn 12.

And now, for the teams in which I have a rooting interest.

Texas Tech @ Houston (-6)  T: 71.5

Take the over. Because I don't think either team is going to be able to stop one another, but I do think Houston DL Ed Oliver will make at least one big play to swing this game toward the Cougars.

Prediction:  TTU 52  UH 63

University of Nevada - Las Vegas @ Ohio State (-40.5)  T: 64.5

The Desert RugRats looked pretty good last week, albeit against Idaho, and Ohio State has been struggling on offense.  40 points is a ridiculous line for Ohio State given their offensive issues, but the DRR's defense could be historically bad. the DRR's do have a mobile QB which tends to give Ohio State fits......OK, I'm reaching.  Drink heavy RugRats fans, this one's gonna hurt.

Prediction: RugRats 6 Ohio State 52

And FINALLY......

Michigan (-10) @ Purdue  T: 52

Purdue is not as bad as we all expected them to be prior to the season, and Michigan's defense is better than many thought it would be as well.  Unfortunately, for both, Michigan's offense is yet to leave the starting gate and Purdue's hang-tough loss to Louisville lost a lot of luster via a domination by Clemson over the fighting Petrinos. Harbaugh's Wolverines have been workmanlike in all of their wins, I'm hoping this trend continues and they're not looking ahead to Sparty coming to the Big House.

Prediction:  Michigan 26  Purdue 9

Postscript:  Temple is playing South Florida tonight in a game that promises to be much more watchable than the NFL's force-feeding to you of San Francisco vs. LA.  Will probably be more people in the stands for the college game to boot.

Can we all just give up and admit that the NFL flirtation with Thursday Night Football has been an unmitigated disaster?  Just stop NFL and give the night back to College Football.  It would be better for all involved.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

College Football: The Week Four FIVE

To be honest, last week I was more interested in getting away to Lake Charles for a weekend than I was actually picking the games.  As a result, the results were below what I've come to expect from this little adventure in trying to finish above 55% for the year. (In case you're wondering, that's the amount you have to exceed to beat the Vig and turn a profit.)

I called Week 3 "sneaky" good but I'm just flat out declaring that Week 4 in college football is going to be Goooooo--ood.  Especially in the Pac 12 and SEC, which feature in four of the FIVE this week.  I think you're also going to see another trend in here that I'll discuss at length in the Bet the Rent newsletter.

So let's get on with it:  As a reminder, all lines are correct as of the time of publication as published by the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas.  THEY WILL MOVE by kick off, which is something I try to note.

1. Utah (-3.5) @ Arizona  T: 58.5

I've a lot to say about the Wildcats and none of it is any good.  They've basically beaten two FCS teams (UTEP is awful, look it up) and lost, at home, to a Houston team that was playing it's first game and still struggling with Harvey issues back home. The Utes pounded two bad teams (one FCS, the other might as well be this year) and won, on the road, in the Holy War.  Two things I like about this game but I'm only using one in my pick.  The other, the over, is due to the fact that Arizona can move the ball, they just can't stop anyone.  Pick: Utah to cover -3.5 (wait a bit however, I think you might get this at less than three if you're patient. If it starts moving the other way, grab it before it gets to 5)

2. Toledo @ Miami (-13.5)  T 57.5

Toledo is, probably, the class of the MAC this year and a win at Miami would put them in the early-season discussion to be the Group of Five representative in the New Year's 6 Bowl Game.  While I think that's going to be a tall order against the 'Canes I DO think it's a possibility.  However, I think two better possibilities are the over and the pick.   Pick: Toledo to cover +13.5. (This line is plunging toward Toledo. I would jump on it in a hurry as the offshore books are already showing -12.5)

3. Mississippi State @ Georgia (-5) T: 48.5

Yet another game where I'm betting the road dog starts barking. I'm a little bit more confident in this one however.  This line has moved Georgia's way and the total has gone down. Last week's 37-7 thrashing of LSU by MSU was the 2nd most impressive win I've seen all year behind OU over Ohio State. I think people are still underestimating the Bulldogs. Pick: MSU to win on the M/L. (If you don't like that, take them to cover anywhere down to +3)

4. Florida (-2.5) @ Kentucky T: 44.

The most impressive win between these two teams is Kentucky's road win over South Carolina. Florida's offense is still struggling and I think it's too early to suggest they found a quarterback because Feliepe's Hail Mary was answered.  If ever there was a year the Wildcats could break through, this is it.  What's life (and gaming) without some chance right? Pick: Kentucky to win on the M/L. (If you can't get that in Vegas try to see if the line moves to +3 and take them to cover at home)

5. UCLA @ Stanford (-7.5) T: 57

Pac 12 After Dark is one of the greatest things about College Football.  And while I don't think this game has true "AD" potential, I DO think it's got the makings of a giant upset.  True, Stanford has lost to a couple of good teams in USC and SDSU but UCLA's loss to Memphis is nothing to hang your head about. They also have that miraculous come-from-behind win over the fighting Sumlin's. I like the Bruins here a LOT. Pick: UCLA to cover +7.5 (I would also probably make a small bet on the M/L if I could find it, because I think the upset potential here is very real).

As you can see, I'm heavy on the underdogs this week.  It will be the same for my Bet the Rent Picks but, if you're a subscriber, you won't see those until Friday.  As a reminder I am 4-0 on picks for BtR and I'm hoping to make it 6-0 this week.

Monday, September 18, 2017

College Football: Week 3 Wrap-Up

The FIVE was awful this week, I hope you faded.  I went 1-3-1 which brings my season record to 3-5-2 so far. Not good.  On a brighter note I went 2-0 for the newsletter which brings me to 4-0 this season on that front.

The problem that I'm having is that I'm using my best picks for the newsletter and not the FIVE.  And I'm getting killed on the "replacement" games.  Still, the last few seasons I went 0-5, 1-4 and 0-5 to start the year so it's not all bad.


1. Clemson is the best team in the country (right now). Their defense is scary good and it appears that they haven't lost all that much on offense. They've got two big wins under their belt already (Auburn and Louisville) with Virginia Tech upcoming after what should be a snoozer versus a bad Boston College team. (Beware! Sandwich week).

2. Oklahoma is the 2nd best team in the country (right now). They have the "best" win, on the road against Ohio State and they demolished Tulane last week.  The problem for the Sooners is that they really don't play anyone until Bedlam on November 4th.

3. Alabama is still pretty good. They handled an average Colorado State team as you would expect them to and now they enter conference play in what appears, early, to be a down year for the SEC. It's possible, just, that Mississippi State could be the toughest opponent remaining on the Tide's schedule.

4. Top 25 rankings at this point in the season are worthless. So ignore them. Also, ignore pretty much everything that the 'media' is spouting and calling "analysis".  The big media outlets all have an interest in pimping up their conference affiliations.  So CBS will tell you that the SEC (the only property they have) is the best, while Fox will pimp the Pac-12, Big XII and (now) the B1G, while ESPN apes the SEC and ACC the best they can.

5. LSU is in trouble. They looked gormless against Miss State and were out coached on every level. Ed Orgeron's team looked like Orgeron's Ole Miss teams. That's not a compliment. Still, they get a little softer over the next two weeks before starting their mid-season conference run.  Maybe the Tigers can turn it around, but I have my doubts.

6. San Diego State is REALLY good. And while I still think Stanford is a program in decline the win by the Aztecs was impressive.  My early season pick for the Group of Five New Year's Six representative was USF. I still think the Bulls will be there but  the race with SDSU should make for some interesting week-to-week poll watching.

7. Kevin Sumlin will not survive the year. The Aggies are not a good football team. And they're poorly coached to boot.  aTm is going to have to find some money and pay-off Kevin Sumlin. The question is, who next? I would argue for UTSA coach Frank Wilson but that pick would likely face resistance from alumni who would be leery of getting another small-school coach from a Texas college.

8. Kentucky and Purdue on the rise? Both teams are 3-0, and while both have been in relatively soft (South Carolina is OK thought) both have handled their business. The Boilermakers get Michigan at home on Saturday while Kentucky welcomes Florida.  Good acid tests for both teams IMO.

9. Abandon Hope, all who enter here. Kansas, ECU, New Mexico State, Nevada, Boston College, Charlotte and Missouri can all start looking forward to basketball season. Baylor is in for a long season, as is UConn. The line between the haves, and the have-nots in College football is getting glaring.

And finally.....

10. Texas is not "back". Yes, they played hard against USC, just losing in 2 OT's but that Longhorn's offense is going to get them murdered in Big XII play.  There's also ample evidence that Tom Herman's "jerk" routine is growing stale in Austin.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

College Football: Week 3 - Sneaky Good

I've stated before that last Saturday was an epic one in College Football history. There were many good games and a couple of below-the-radar great games (Boise St/Washington State anyone?) and, as is usual, several dogs.

On paper this week the match-ups don't seem as compelling, but (think back to week two of last year, we've been fooled before. One thing we do know, it's becoming increasingly more difficult for a bad FBS team to guarantee themselves a win by paying an FCS school hundreds of thousands (or Millions) to come into their house and meekly take a whuppin.

While some of the games we thought might be marquee games probably won't be (Hi Texas) there's still the main-event of Clemson and Louisville on the board that should be quite the spectacle.

Let's dig into the rest of the games, the ones that I didn't include in my FIVE or on the BTR newsletter.  Yet, I still have an interest. (Reminder: All lines are as accurate as I can make them at the time of writing.  They could change by Saturday of course.)

Oklahoma State (-12.5 or 13.5) @ Pitt  T: 65 - Oklahoma State has looked spectacular in their opening games, while Pitt has looked like a team that's still trying to find themselves.  IF Oklahoma State is a championship contender they cover here.  If they don't?

Iowa State (-10) @ Akron  T: 61 - After playing their guts out in El Assico, the Cyclones travel up to Fear the Roo! land try their luck against a pretty good Akron side. I would take Akron plus the points in this game and might even take a peek at the ML if  I could find it in Vegas.

Tulsa @ Toledo (-8.5 or -9.5) T: 73 - In what promises to be a high-scoring affair we're going to get a pretty good look at what these teams are. Many (Including me) think Toledo can win the MAC this year.  Take the over, both teams can score tons.

Clemson (-3) @ Louisville T: 58.5  - Clemson has one of the best defenses in the land and Louisville has Lamar Jackson. There's your match-up. I have no real lean on this game. I expect it to be a good one however.

Arizona State @ Texas Tech (-7.5) T: 76  - The last time these two teams played was an all-timer match-up for offense. It was something to forget for defense. I expect this year to be more of the same. I lean ASU here but not enough to strongly endorse them. I do LOVE over 76 however. Two coaches on the hot-seat in this game that I fully expect to not be coaching their respective teams next year.

Kentucky @ South Carolina (-6.5) T: 52. -  What to make of the Gamecocks?  Seemingly improved they are threatening to make some noise in the down (very down) SEC East.  Kentucky is having a good season because their students are not yet looking totally forward to basketball season. I think SC is real.  But I'm not sure enough on that to say they can win by almost a TD. I also have no faith in Kentucky so this game is a pass for me.

Ole Miss (-3.5 or 4) @ Cal. T: 71.5 - Normally I'd take Ole Miss here every day and twice on Saturday.  But this is a Rebels team that's reeling from off-field issues. I don't think Cal is very good, but I suspect they might be good enough here.

Texas @ USC (-15.5 or 16) T: 67.5 - Is USC the title contender I think they are?  Has Tom Herman started righting the good ship BEVO?  We'll see, but I'm still not sure exactly where either program is right now so I'm passing.  If I had to lean it would be toward USC.

LSU (-7 to 8.5) @ Mississippi State  T: 51.5 - I think the Tigers should handle the Bulldogs in easy fashion. I can't see MSU generating much, if any, meaningful offense against LSU. But LSU is one of those teams in which I have no faith to do what they need to do so this game is a pass.

Purdue @ Missouri (-7) T: 78.5 -  Lord help me I like Purdue here. To pull the upset even.

Kansas State (-4) @ Vanderbilt. T: 51 - Every inch of me wanted to pick Vandy to pull the upset at home. So much so that this game was "Game Six" the game that could have been in my five except....I'm just not that convinced the Commodores are all that good.

The Desert Rugrats are off this week.

And Finally.....

Air Force @ Michigan (-24) T: 47.5 - Michigan lines have been silly so far this year, and this one is no exception.  I think Michigan wins but I think 24 points is venturing into silly land, especially when you consider the total.  Go Blue!!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

NFL: L'Affair au Kaepernick.

Interesting read today on Yahoo! Sports regarding why Kaepernick is currently sitting at home....

Two logical spots for Kaepernick and even THOSE don't make sense. Jay Hart, Yahoo! Sports

The author pretty much rules out a team wanting to bring Mr. Kaepernick in as a back-up (wise), he's too much distraction for almost zero impact. This is not about racism, it's about running a business.

He then analyzes every team, in brief, to determine if Kaepernick would be an upgrade for them at QB.  He narrows it down to two teams, the Colts and the Jets. I disagree with the author on the Colts however IF they believe Luck is coming back soon.  Because if that's the case then you would basically be signing Kaepernick as a backup who is going to play short-term. Not worth it. Even IF they don't think Luck is coming back they just gave up something to get Jacoby Brissett. They would at least want to see how that investment pays off.

The problem with the entire situation surrounding Mssr. Kaep is that the crux of the issue has been flooded under by our lesser demons.  Kaep's being on a roster or not has nothing to do with his playing ability, clearly he can still play, but everything to do with both fan-reaction and his personal actions.  And I'm not speaking about the anthem protests.

The author of the piece mentions this, but it's largely glossed over that Kaepernick, or his partner, have spent a lot of time on Twitter insulting either prospective employers, the police, or a majority of American society.  At some point there becomes a difference between being an activist, and just shouting a lot to generate re-tweets, snarky responses or to increase your partner's listener count on their radio show.

At some point you have to realize that it's unwise to publicly call prospective employers racists if you want to be gainfully employed by them.  And while I'm sympathetic to Mr. Kaepernick's protests, and the reasons behind it, I'm not much of a fan of trying to Twitter shame everyone who disagrees with me.  Kaepernick seems to be more interested in doing this than in actually getting paid to play tackle football.

This doesn't mean that he's not physically trying, by all accounts he's working out every day, staying in shape, but mentally I feel as if even he's thrown in the towel and has decided that there's more attention to be gained continuing to cast stones at the league than actually being a part of it.

One thing that DID bug me even worse was the 49ers fan account trying to shame all of the other fan-bases because they didn't sign Kaepernick when their team was unwilling to do so and was the team that released him and created this mess in the first place. No one likes the person who spills their drink and then chastises everyone else for not cleaning it up Niners Nation. Nobody.

I truly hope that Colin Kaepernick can find a job playing for the NFL at some time in the future, and I hope that he continues his activism. I hope that he can find a balance between the two.

Given recent events however I'm starting to doubt he ever does.  Which is a little disappointing because not only was he fun to watch, but I think that some of his points have real merit and society could benefit from having them in a public forum.

The background noise on this has become deafening.  I'm not sure that's reversible.

College Football: The FIVE (Week 3)

After the Week 2 push (2-2 total with 1 NC) we're looking to create some momentum going into conference play (for the most part) next week. [Reminder: Week 1 was cancelled for the FIVE on account of that bastard Harvey]

While not as compelling a slate of games I do think there is some opportunity here so let's get to it.

1. Illinois @ S. Florida (-18 or 17.5) T: 55.5. The South Florida shine has worn off for me as the Bulls continue to struggle adapting to head coach Charlie Strong's system. Add to the fact that that bitch Irma strafed their campus last week and you have a distracted team that's outside of their comfort zone. To be sure, Illinois has not set the world on fire, but they did beat a fairly decent Group of Five team in WKU 20-7 last week while USF sat idle. I'm not a believer in Illini head coach Lovie Smith but I do think their defense might give the Bulls fits. Pick: Illinois to cover -18. (As with last week, the line at the time of publication is split in Vegas between -18 and 17.5, go to a book that offers the former)

2. U La La @ Texas aTm (-24 or 23.5) T: 59.5. I'm not sure why anyone thinks that this aTm team is going to be any team on their schedule by 24 points.  After the horrific loss to UCLA this is a team in crisis that has clearly lost its way and faith in the coaching staff. Rumors are that aTm is going to start Jake Hubenek at QB, I don't think this will help a program that's irrevocably broken.  Still, U La La's defense is a sieve, so despite all the warning signs people are still running toward the disaster that is the Aggies.  I say run away from the disaster. We're betters not first responders. Pick: U La La to cover -23.5. (Again, pick a book that has the best line)

3. Virginia Tach (-21 to 23.5) @ ECU. Every year, on the Internets, there are a host of touts selling you on their ability to find "bad lines".  This is bunk, of course, because they almost always get it backward.  "Bad Lines" to them are "good lines" to us. A true "bad line" is one that's fair and makes sense.  From that perspective I consider Va Tech to be a "good line".  ECU has gone from a tough Group of 5 beat to possibly the worst FBS Program in two years. Head Coach Scottie Montgomery should be on a seat hotter than Kevin Sumlin's. Last week ECU lost by 36 to West Virginia, who was beaten by Va Tech. I would bet this line at -23.5 at the Westgate, I LOVE this line at -21 at William Hill.  Pick: Virginia Tech to cover -21.

4. Tennessee @ Florida (-4.5 to -5.5) T: 49. If any team needed a "get back" game after a bad loss it was the Gators. Unfortunately, that bitch Irma did them no favors.  Tennessee fulfilled the great SEC tradition of opening the season with a yawner of a win over an FCS opponent. Florida is out of sync, they have no offense to speak of, and is going to struggle here.  Place this bet at the Westgate Superbook which is offering a full point advantage. Pick: Tennessee to cover +4.5 (Note: avoid this if the line moves to -6 for Florida)

5. UCLA (-3) @ Memphis. When I first saw this line I wanted to hop a plane, fly to Vegas and put a lot of money on it immediately. Then, I calmed down and realized it would make an oustanding "big bet" in the 5-hole for the FIVE. Memphis would be a good play here if this was last year's team that was one of the top teams in the Group of 5 and had an outside chance of making a NY6 bowl.  But this is THIS year's team that barely beat UL Monroe, which is the worst team in the SunBelt. Were I betting this would be my largest exposure of the day. Pick: UCLA to cover -3.

I've also got two games coming for the newsletter that will be dropping Friday.  You do get that don't you?  If not, why not.  It's free. (No seriously, free. I was a subscriber before I was writing for them.)

Sports Section