NCAA Games of Interest:
Last week we had five 'Ponderosa Spreads' and the favorite covered two of them. That brings the season total for the 'Ponderosa Spread' games to
23-22 for the favorite covering. At this point, I would have been a loser giving the points or taking the points as a 'system bet' on these 45 games.
That is why people with 'system bets' are always welcome at the sports books in Las Vegas. This week we have eight 'Ponderosa Spreads':
Temple at Virginia - 35
Stanford at USC - 34.5
Illinois at Ohio State - 34
NM State at Boise State - 34
San Jose State at Fresno State - 33
Duke at Clemson - 31
Texas - 28 at Baylor
Buffalo at Miami (Ohio) - 27
Tennessee started the year ranked in the Top 5; they are now staring at the possibility that they will not be bowl eligible. They lost at home to
South Carolina last week; that is the first time that a South Carolina football team has come to Tennessee and won a football game; the first time
ever! The Vols have lost three games in a row and the last time they did that was in 1992. Right after that third straight loss, coach Johnny Majors
announced that he was gonzo at the end of the season and he was replaced by Phat Phil Fulmer at the end of the year. Here's the irony, the third loss
in that sequence was to South Carolina in South Carolina. Fulmer won a national title at Tennessee about 10 years ago, but he has to be feeling some
heat about now and they get the honor of going to South Bend this weekend to play Notre Dame.
Speaking of programs that are waning, Fisher DeBerry's Air Force team will have its second losing season in a row this year. DeBerry has been at the
Academy since Charles Lindbergh was an instructor there and this is the first time he has had two losing seasons in a row. One problem is on defense;
last week Air Force scored 41 points against BYU and lost comfortably.
I thought that Missouri - coming off a win over Nebraska - was going to make a run at the Big 12 North title and that they would crush Kansas last
week. Not only didn't they crush Kansas, they lost the game to Kansas and that is just plain gutless.
USC trounced Washington State last weekend rolling up 40 first downs and 745 yards of offense. The final score was reported as 55-13 but it might
have been 105 -13 given the statistical difference in the two teams. Pete Carroll called the USC offense 'ridiculously effective' last week. That's
one way to put it.
When I wrote that the president of Tulane was a bit too much of a cheerleader for the football program after he announced loudly and proudly that the
team would carry on after Hurricane Katrina, I got several comments about how narrow minded I was. Whatever. I wonder if I'll hear from those same
folks now that it seems as if Tulane will lose $200M on football this year - money that won't be available to rebuild any libraries or laboratories,
which serve the real purpose of the university! - and there is talk that the school might have to abandon football. There is also a rumor going
around that there is an active cottage industry providing copies of Tulane game tapes to coaches at other Division 1-A schools who might want to 'go
shopping' on the Tulane roster if the school does drop football.
The game of the week this weekend has to be Miami visiting Va Tech. The only way that the Hokies can get into the championship game is to beat Miami
- and the rest of its opponents convincingly. That does not necessarily mean running up the score because Va Tech can win a game convincingly by
shutting down the opposition with its defense and special teams. This game will be one to watch; I'll choose not to wager on it.
One game to keep an eye on is the Auburn/Kentucky game. No, I don't think Kentucky has a chance here; they are 22-point underdogs at home and deserve
every bit of that disrespect. But Auburn coach, Tommy Tuberville, ran his mouth last week about the influence of ESPN and the bowl voters and the BCS
and that means his team had better play very well to minimize how foolish he looks. This is a game the team can easily sleep on. It is Coach
Tuberville's job to make sure they don't.
Another game to watch this weekend is Alabama at Mississippi State. Alabama is the only undefeated SEC team and Mississippi State is 0-5 in SEC play.
But Sylvester Croom wanted the Alabama job when Mike Shula was hired and he is an Alabama alum so he should have his team up and ready to play. I
don't expect Mississippi State to win here, but looking at the line, there could be a wagering opportunity...
Alabama - 17 at Mississippi State (38.5):
I'll take Mississippi State here. This is a lot of points to get in what should be a low scoring
Minnesota - 13 at Indiana (59.5):
I don't like either defense here so I'll take this game OVER 59.5.
Iowa - 2 at Northwestern (61):
Just a hunch here, but Iowa had the week off to prepare for this game and they need it to get to a nice bowl
game. I'll take the Hawkeyes and lay the points.
Tennessee at Notre Dame - 8 (49.5):
I think that Tennessee's offensive drought will continue here so I'll take the Fighting Irish to win and
Wisconsin at Penn State - 10.5 (55):
I like Penn State to win at home, but this line is fat so I'll take Wisconsin with the points here.
Auburn - 22 at Kentucky (44.5):
After Coach Tuberville ran his mouth about polls and voters, he needs to win convincingly or risk a boot in
the ballot box from the voters he 'insulted'. Kentucky is just the punching bag he needs… I'll take Auburn to win and cover here.
UCLA - 9.5 at Arizona (54):
Neither team has a particularly good defense here so I'll take the game OVER 54. The line is all over the place
so if you lean to the UNDER, shop around and you'll find the line as high as 56 in a couple of places.
Army at Air Force - 10 (55):
Air Force isn't very good this year but Army is worse. I'll take Air Force to win and cover at home.
[Edited on 5/11/05 by TRD]