Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Monday, September 5, 2011 at 9:18 AM
Oh, where to begin in analyzing the opening week of college football. For me it has been a decent one, with my Best Bets Club thus far standing 4-1, with my Chairman's Club 2-1 and my Personal Best Club 1-1. All services are showing major profits.
The weekend presented its own drama with several games being delayed-some several times by rain, lightning and wind. The Western Michigan at Michigan game was called with just over a minute to play in the third period with the Wolverines ahead 34-14. It goes down as a win for Michigan but all bets were off because a football game must go 55 minutes before becoming official for betting purposes.
The lightning and rain were so violent in South Bend, where South Florida was giving Notre Dame an old fashioned butt-whipping, the 80,795 seated in Notre Dame Stadium were evacuated heading to half-time, which lasted two hours and 10 minutes before play was resumed. The game also was put on hold with 4:21 to play because of the elements.
As one who had released Notre Dame (-10 ½) as my 50-unit College Game of the Week, I could tell early on the Irish were not on the razor's edge and had little chance to cover the number, let alone win the game. In the end South Florida won 23-20 and continued its tradition of beating nationally ranked opponents on the road.
In 2007, South Florida won at Auburn, 26-23, as a 7-point underdog. In 2009, the Bulls went to Florida State and as 14-point underdogs and beat the Seminoles, 17-7. Last year it was on to Miami where South Florida, an 11 ½-point underdog, knocked off the Hurricanes, 23-20.
O.K., I hear you, and I promise I have already circled September 29 of 2012 when South Florida meets what is certain to be a nationally ranked Florida State team in Tampa.
Handicapping In The Present
If I had a $100 bill for every time I reminded readers that one must bet football in the here and now and not as it was still last season. College teams can change dramatically from one season to the next, and here are just two reminders of that.
- Auburn went 14-0 and won the national championship last year. This season the closed at 100-1 to repeat and in the Tigers opening game of the season they had to score two touchdowns in the last 2:07 to play to stop upset-minded Utah State, everybody's whipping boy early in each season and a 24-point underdog, 42-38.
- TCU, traditionally one of the best defensive teams in the country, went 13-0 last season and whipped Wisconsin 21-19 in the Rose Bowl. This year the Horned Frogs went into Baylor as a 4 ½-point favorite and lost a shoot-out, 50-48. TCU led the nation in scoring defense, pass defense and total defense in 2010, giving up an average of 12.0 points and 228.5 yards per game. In the air, opponents were limited to 128.8 yards per game. Against Baylor the Frogs gave up the 50 points, 564 yards of total offense of which 414 came from passing and produced six touchdowns.
And that was just the beginning
Here are the games I released Saturday, with the comments that accompanied them, with the results.
Best Bets Club
Boise State (0-0) -3 over GEORGIA (0-0)
Prediction: Boise State by 9-10
Game played at Georgia Dome, Atlanta
Boise State 35, Georgia 2 (W)
Comments: Boise State no longer flies under the radar, nor can it be ignored by those who just could not believe a Top 10 football team could come from Idaho. This is an elite program, manned by outstanding coaches, outstanding recruiters and outstanding players. There is a reason the Bronco opened the season in Washington, D.C. with a 33-30 win over Virginia Tech. There is a reason they opened the 2009 at home with a 19-8 win over Oregon. This is one outstanding football team that has gone 61-5 in the past five seasons and 118-11 over the past 10. Boise has the best quarterback in the country in senior Kellen Moore (3,845 yards with 35 touchdowns and with just 6 interceptions last season). He is flanked by running back Doug Martin (1,260 yards, 12 touchdowns last year) and operates behind one of the meanest offensive lines in the game. This offense was the second best in the country last season, averaging 521.3 yards and 45.1 points per game. And that was just the beginning. The Boise defense was just as good as the offense, ranked second in the country against the score (12.8 points per game) and second in total offense allowed (giving up just 254.7 yards per game). The history is there and the talent is there and this is why I have to go with Boise State in this game. Georgia, ranked 19th in the country, certainly has talent and is much better than last year's 6-7 squad, but the Bulldogs do not have the skill players to get it done in this spot. It will be a grind for Boise State but they should prevail. It also has to be a factor Georgia opens its SEC season next Saturday against South Carolina-and that is a game it must win. These teams have met once before-in 2005-and Georgia prevailed 48-13. That was then, and this is now.
Miami-Ohio (0-0) +20 ½) over MISSOURI (0-0)
Prediction: Missouri by 13-14
Missouri 16, Miami 6 (W)
Comments: I certainly do not expect Miami to beat a Missouri team that is talented, has won nine straight season-openers and which crushed the Redhawks 51-13 last year. Miami closed out the 2010 season by winning six straight games and won the MAC championship with a 26-21 win over Northern Illinois, which was a 19-point favorite. This is a Miami team that has grown up, returns eight offensive and nine defensive starters among 51 lettermen and the figures say the Redhawks should give Missouri fits. You can take it to the bank Missouri coach Gary Pinkel has had a difficult time getting his team to focus on this game (they can't get the 51-13 win last year out of their minds and think it is going to be easy) with a trip next Saturday to Tempe to take on a powerful Arizona State team. Considering all the factors and the figures, the 'dog has to be the side for me in this game.
Rice (0-0) +24 ½ over TEXAS (0-0)
Prediction: Texas by 14-1
Texas 34, Rice 9 (L)
Comments: Texas is coming off a terrible5-7 season and most believe the Longhorns will bounce back big-time this time around. They may but my figures say Rice has the talent to keep this one close. The Owls return 15 starters, including all five starting offensive linemen, from the team that book Texas to the money, even leading in the second half, before losing 34-17 as a 31 ½-point underdog last season. This is a Rice team that is talented, experienced and fires 100% in every game. To me the Longhorns remain suspect and it may take more than a season to get over the stigma of 2010. It also is of great significance to me that the disaster that was 5-7 revealed to the world the Texas Longhorns could be had. The aura in Austin is gone and that means the sharks smell blood on the water. All things considered, they number in this one is far too high.
Colorado (0-0) +6 ½) over HAWAII (0-0)
Prediction: Colorado by 7-10
Hawaii 34, Colorado 17 (L)
Comments: There are few tougher places on the planet where it is more difficult to win than at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu. It is a simple fact that when a team goes to Hawaii they are going to get homered in a manner that is nothing short of embarrassing. They quickly learn, as all calls go against them, they have to beat the Warriors and the officials. That is an undeniable fact. My figures say a very hungry Colorado team-a Buffaloes squad that beat Hawaii 31-13 in Boulder last season-is primed for a break-out season under new head coach Jon Embree, former tight ends coach of the Washington Redskins. Practices for this game have been outstanding and with 16 starters and 50 lettermen returning Colorado has positioned itself to overcome it all and win on the Big Island.
Saturday Night Special
FLORIDA (0-0) -35 over Florida Atlantic (0-0)
Prediction: Florida by 42-45
Florida 41, Florida Atlantic 3 (W)
Comments: This is a simple call. For openers the talent differential between these two teams is dramatic, and then some. Florida is loaded with prime-time, game-breaking skill players. Florida Atlantic has not one player who fits into this category. Florida has an outstanding offense and an outstanding defense. FAU has neither. FAU has been successful against the weaker teams on its schedule but gets destroyed by the good ones. For instance the Owls opened last season with a 32-31 win over UAB. The season before they opened with a 49-3 loss at Nebraska and in 2009 opened with a 52-10 loss at Texas. Florida. Do the math and you will understand what I am saying.
Personal Best Club
College Football Game of Week
NOTRE DAME (0-0) -10 ½ -10 ½ over South Florida (0-0)
Prediction: Notre Dame by 21-24
South Florida 23, Notre Dame 20 (L)
Starting Time: 3:35
Comments: I have great respect for South Florida and its past accomplishments but the Bulls are in the wrong town at the wrong time for this one. They are rebuilding on offense and quarterback B.J. Daniels, as good as he is, will not be able to carry them against an opponent as rich in talent, experience and depth as is Notre Dame. The Irish are back with 16 starters from last year's 8-5 team that beat Miami, 33-17, in the Sun Bowl and they are three deep at every single position. The Irish now also have a coach in Brian Kelly who is a master at building a football team. Last season was Kelly's first in South Bend and be season's end he had put this program back together. The Irish have the talent to win the national championship and I do believe they will show it from the get-go. The bottom line is simply: Notre Dame has every single edge against South Florida and that should make the cover far easier than it looks.
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