Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, September 20, 2013 at 7:00 PM
It’s been tough to get a true read so far this season on the Stanford Cardinal. The polls and the market are giving them a ton of respect based on what they accomplished last season…and the tenure of their current head coach. The problem is, the team is showing signs of fading out of the elite as the Andrew Luck era gets further back in the rearview mirror.
*Florida isn’t what they used to be in the Tim Tebow era. Nowhere near it!
*Texas isn’t what they used to be in the Vince Young and Colt McCoy eras. They may be 10-14 points worse!
*Southern Cal isn’t what they used to be in the Matt Leinart era, or even the Mark Sanchez era.
It’s very hard to maintain Top 5 caliber play once a superstar leaves a program…even if it’s just a “college” superstar who isn’t destined to accomplish much at the pro level. Luck was basically an NFL star at the college level, a loss which may even be tougher to recover from.
Stanford certainly impressed last year in a “we have something to prove” tour of the West Coast…being the only team to beat powerhouse Oregon, and winning the Rose Bowl. This year…no so much. Let’s review what Stanford and tonight’s opponent Arizona State have accomplished two games into the new season, heading into their nationally televised showdown tonight (FOX) that represents one of the “games of the day” in college football.
You probably watched Arizona State survive a frantic finish last week against Wisconsin. It’s easy to mark that down as a loss even though it was technically a win. Enjoying a big home field advantage in the desert against a visitor from the north...featuring a first year starter and new head coach…the Sun Devils were very lucky to get the victory. They were impressive in their season opener against Sacramento State. They were supposed to be! This is certainly a competitive team, no doubt about that. Those who bet them vs. Wiscy at -5 were disappointed at how the game played out.
The Cardinal looked sluggish and disinterested on the road last week at lowly Army. That’s a tough trip across the country with a bad body clock kickoff. Still, it’s ARMY. If you know what you’re doing, you’re not supposed to be struggling to reach 200 rushing yards while turning the ball over. That came on the heels of a non-cover win in the season opener against San Jose State. Either Stanford is saving peak intensity for the start of Pac 12 play, or their fade from what they used to be to what they’re going to be has begun.
And, THAT’S the major storyline for tonight in our view. Stanford is off to an 0-2 start against the market, which may be signaling an overrated team that will be generally overpriced the rest of the way. Let’s see what the market thinks…
Current Vegas Line: Stanford by 6.5, total of 51.5
The market is saying Stanford is about 3-4 points better than Arizona State on a neutral field. What would Oregon be? A LOT MORE! It’s telling indeed that the line hasn’t been driving to the key number of seven by the time we go to press. Sharps aren’t betting the favorite. Our sources are telling us they WOULD be betting underdog ASU at +7 if public money drives the line higher. It wouldn’t be fair to say sharps have soured on Stanford. Perhaps “wary” is the better word at the moment.
JIM HURLEY has studied all the big games (and the not-so-big games) very closely. ASU/Stanford may or may not show up as a major release or in the TV parlay. You can purchase the final word Saturday morning before kickoff right here at the website. Be sure you take care of business before the early games start to make sure you get full value. If you have any questions, call the Vegas-Sports-Masters office Saturday morning and talk to a NETWORK representative. The number is 1-888-777-4155.
Our previews of prime time TV games continue Sunday and Monday with Chicago at Pittsburgh on NBC and Oakland at Denver on ESPN. Nothing’s more fun than watching yourself win on TV. And, nobody’s better at picking the games everyone’s watching than WORLD CHAMPION HANDICAPPER JIM HURLEY!