Thursday, September 27, 2012

Vegas Rundown - Week 5

At first glance the slate of games this weekend looks less than exciting. Maybe you are thinking that this would be a good weekend to do a project around the house or plan a weekend getaway. In the immortal words of the Sunshine Scooter “not so fast my friend.” There are several story lines worth following this weekend and also an opportunity or two to make a little cash if you are watching the betting lines.

Has an SEC team ever been an underdog against Central Florida or did you ever expect Iowa State to be playing in a game of unbeatens in week 5? See I already have your attention, take my advice and leave all of the home maintenance stuff until December and invest the money you would spend on a trip. The sports books are just waiting to hand money out to someone, why not us, at the end of the day all they want is a 50/50 split on the wagering for each game, so someone has to win, right?

As I mentioned last week I believe Texas is a team to watch this season and now I think you have to add the Florida Gators to that list. As much as it pains me to say, they have a solid squad in Gainesville and could be a dark horse to represent the East in the SEC Championship game. Another observation from last week is that we are going to have fun watching the competition between the Noles and Ducks to see which one can get through conference play unscathed and get a crack at taking the MNC away from its seemingly permanent home in the SEC. If both of these teams falter, then Texas may get a chance to step into the batter’s box. Also, it is going to be nice to have a season without having to talk about a BCS buster from a small conference, all of the contenders have already lost or are so far off the radar that it is not even a consideration, Ohio that means you. Anyway, here are my picks this week and as always take them or leave them, I still don’t care what you think.

Penn State Nittany Lions v. Illinois Fighting Illini, 9:00 am PST, ESPN (PK, O/U 43.5) 

I know there is still a stigma associated with Penn State and that could still be the cause of some of the curious line movements we are seeing. The Nittany Lions opened as a 4 point favorite on Sunday and that has been bet to either a pick’em or in some shops the Illini being favored by 1. There are no real injury issues to report other than the Illini QB Scheelhasse having a bum ankle, but is expected to play. So I am not sure who is moving this line so dramatically, it is either the public’s disdain for Penn State or the sharps know something we don’t. Penn State has not let me down for the past two weeks when they have outperformed expectations and I think they do the same this week. Hey, if ESPN can make money off of the train wreck that is Penn State by putting them on national television every week, there is no reason we should not make a little profit as well.

The Pick: Penn State – PK or +1 depending on where you lay your bet.

Clemson Tigers v. Boston College Eagles, 12:30 pm PST, ESPN 2 (Clemson -9.5, O/U 60.5) 
So, Clemson is one week removed from being a Top 10 team in the country and they are only favored by 9 ½ over a team that only has one victory and that was against freaking Maine. I think this one is a little bit of an overreaction to last weekend. The line opened at 11 and has since moved toward the Eagles. College football is a funny game sometimes, you are dealing with 18 – 22 year olds that up until last week had a chance to be among the elite. How will Clemson react? I think this team is good enough on talent alone to cover this spread and if their coaches can convince them the season is not lost, this one could be easy money.

The Pick: Clemson -9.5

Wisconsin Badgers v. Nebraska Cornhuskers, 8:00 pm PST, ABC (Huskers -11.5, O/U 51.5)
This game should have mattered. However, Nebraska got more than they expected from the resurgent UCLA program a few weeks ago and what can really be said about Wisconsin. I think Colin Cowherd uses the best descriptor for teams when they are having a season like Wisconsin’s and that is “dumpster fire.” Sad to say, but that is the best way to describe narrow escapes against small conference foes such as Utah State and UTEP, not to mention the embarrassing offense output displayed in the 3 point loss to Oregon State. So what is the angle to this game? Do you think that one coach, one player or one Cornhusker fan has forgotten the beat down administered to them last year in Madison? Absolutely not, this is revenge at its best. I believe that home field advantage and vastly superior quarterback play are all the Huskers are going to need to easily cover 11 ½ and put last year’s loss in the rearview mirror.

The Pick: Nebraska -11.5

UL-Monroe Warhawks v. Tulane Green Wave, 12:30 pm PST, Nobody is going to put this on TV! (UL -18, O/U 56) 
UL-Monroe has been playing big boy football for the past three weeks and Tulane lost by 35 to Tulsa a few weeks ago. The Warhawks are 3-0 against the spread this season and only lost to Baylor and Auburn by a combined 7 points. This game is in New Orleans, but how many people really show up to rock the Superdome for a Tulane game? The big question here will be motivation for the Warhawks, but with having former Army head coach Todd Berry at the helm this should not be a problem. Berry led his Army cadets throughout the season following September 11th when many of them were thinking about a war they were going to have to fight. So when you talk about keeping a team focused, I think Todd Berry has it covered. ULM is the superior team and should win this game by 3 touchdowns.

The Pick: ULM -18

Oregon State Beavers v. Arizona Wildcats, 7:00 pm PST, not sure on TV (AZ -2.5, O/U 56.5) 
I should really start answering my e-mail during the week when the GOTW is being chosen. Arizona was humiliated on national television last week and Oregon State has only played 2 games the entire season. The Beavers are not Oregon by a long shot, but being the dog to Arizona may be a bit of a stretch. Oregon State won a tough test on the road last week against UCLA and they have beaten the Wildcats the past two seasons. The Beavers are coming into Saturday’s game believing they can win, while the Wildcats are probably second guessing how good they are after getting shut out last weekend. I like Oregon State to keep rolling this weekend in a close win, something along the lines of 34 – 31.

The Pick: Oregon State -2.5

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