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06/04/2013 04:53 PM
http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=9298007
Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
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06/11/2013 05:23 PM
Golden Nugget's NCAAF 'Games of the Year' odds on the move

The pool wasn’t the only place sharks were swimming at the Golden Nugget this past weekend.

Las Vegas sharps and Nevada wiseguys, along with average football fanatics, poured into the sportsbook to bet on the college football “Games of the Year”, which were released Friday. A weekend’s worth of wagering has forced the oddsmakers to make some adjustments to their opening numbers.

Some of the biggest moves include:

Thursday August 29: UNLV at Minnesota (-13 to -15)
Saturday September 14: Wisconsin at Arizona State (Pick to -3)
Saturday September 14: Ohio State at California (+21 to +19.5)
Saturday September 21: Tennessee at Florida (-12 to -14)
Saturday September 21: Auburn at LSU (-18 to -16.5)
Saturday September 21: Arkansas at Rutgers (Pick to +2.5)
Saturday September 28: Texas A&M at Arkansas (+17 to +15)
Saturday September 28: Wisconsin at Ohio State (-11, 45 to -10, 47)
Saturday October 5: Minnesota at Michigan (-15 to -17)
Saturday October 5: TCU at Oklahoma (-9 to -7.5)
Saturday October 12: South Carolina at Arkansas (+13 to +11)
Saturday October 12: Missouri at Georgia (-18 to -16.5)
Saturday October 12: Boston College at Clemson (-22 to -20.5)
Saturday October 19: Auburn at Texas A&M (-24 to -22.5)
Friday October 25: Boise State at BYU (-1 to -3)
Saturday October 26: Notre Dame at Air Force (+18 to +16.5)
Saturday October 26: Northwestern at Iowa (+12 to +8.5)
Saturday November 2: Navy at Notre Dame (-18 to -21)
Saturday November 8: Penn State at Minnesota (+8 to +6.5)
Saturday November 8:: Texas at West Virginia (+12 to +10)
Friday November 15: Washington at UCLA (-2 to -4)
Saturday November 16: Washington State at Arizona (-19 to -17)

Here are all the "Games of the Year" odds that moved since opening:

Thursday August 29, 2013

UNLV at Minnesota (-13 to -15)
Mississippi at Vanderbilt (+4 to +2)

Saturday August 31, 2013

Washington State at Auburn (-11.5 to -12)
Northwestern at California (+10.5 to +9)
Nevada at UCLA (-15 to -16)
Colorado vs. Colorado State (-3.5 to -2.5)
Mississippi State vs. Oklahoma State (-14 to -12.5)
Boise State at Washington (-2 to -3)
Alabama vs. Virginia Tech (+17, 48.4 to 47.5)
Georgia at Clemson (+3.5 to +2.5)
LSU vs. TCU (+4 to +3)

Monday September 2, 2013

Florida State at Pittsburgh (+13 to +12)

Saturday September 7, 2013

South Florida at Michigan State (-16 to -15.5)
Notre Dame at Michigan (Pick to -1)
West Virginia at Oklahoma (-16 to -15)
Texas at BYU (+7.5 to +6.5)
Oregon at Virginia (+21 to +22.5)

Saturday September 14, 2013

Wisconsin at Arizona State (Pick to -3)
Ohio State at California (+21 to +19.5)
Nevada at Florida State (-26 to -27.5)
Iowa at Iowa State (-4 to -2)
UCLA at Nebraska (-6 to -6.5)
Washington vs. Illinois (+11 to +12)
Tennessee at Oregon (-25 to -23.5)
Notre Dame at Purdue (+14 to +13)
Vanderbilt at South Carolina (-11 to -12)

Saturday September 21, 2013

Arizona State at Stanford (-10 to -9)
Tennessee at Florida (-12 to -14)
North Carolina at Georgia Tech (-4.5 to -3.5)
Auburn at LSU (-18 to -16.5)
Arkansas at Rutgers (Pick to +2.5)

Saturday September 28, 2013

Texas A&M at Arkansas (+17 to +15)
USC at Arizona State (Pick to -1)
LSU at Georgia (-6, 52 to -7)
Oklahoma at Notre Dame (-2 to -3)
Florida State at Boston College (+17 to +16)
Wisconsin at Ohio State (-11, 45 to -10, 47)
Arizona at Washington (-5 to -5.5)

Saturday October 5, 2013

Washington at Stanford (-10 to -11.5)
Oregon at Colorado (+37 to +35.5)
Ohio State at Northwestern (+8 to +7)
Arizona State vs. Notre Dame (-4 to -3.5)
Minnesota at Michigan (-15 to -17)
TCU at Oklahoma (-9 to -7.5)
West Virginia at Baylor (-7 to -8)
LSU at Mississippi State (+9 to +8)
Michigan State at Iowa (+9 to +8)
Georgia Tech at Miami (-7 to -6)
Georgia at Tennessee (+11 to +12)

Thursday October 10, 2013

Arizona at USC (-7 to -8)

Saturday October 12, 2013

South Carolina at Arkansas (+13 to +11)
Missouri at Georgia (-18 to -16.5)
Florida at LSU (-4, 41.5 to -3)
Boston College at Clemson (-22 to -20.5)
Oklahoma vs. Texas (Pick to -1.5)
Oregon at Washington (+14 to +13)
Northwestern at Wisconsin (-6 to -7)

Thursday October 17, 2013

Miami at North Carolina (Pick to -1)

Saturday October 19, 2013

Minnesota at Northwestern (-15 to -14)
Florida at Missouri (+6 to +7)
LSU at Mississippi (-2 to -1.5)
TCU at Oklahoma State (-10 to -9)
Florida State at Clemson (-2 to -2.5)
Auburn at Texas A&M (-24 to -22.5)

Friday October 25, 2013

Boise State at BYU (-1 to -3)

Saturday October 26, 2013S

Utah at USC (-18 to -19.5)
Arizona at Colorado (+20 to +18.5)
Notre Dame at Air Force (+18 to +16.5)
Northwestern at Iowa (+12 to +8.5)
Arizona State at Washington State (+15 to +14)

Saturday November 2, 2013

Arizona at California (+11 to +10)
Miami at Florida State (-8 to -7)
Georgia vs. Florida (+4, 44.5 to 45.5)
Navy at Notre Dame (-18 to -21)
Michigan at Michigan State (-3 to -2)
Clemson at Virginia (+13.5 to +12.5)
West Virginia at TCU (-10 to -11)

Thursday November 7, 2013

Oregon at Stanford (+4 to +3)

Saturday November 9, 2013

UCLA at Arizona (-4 to -3)
TCU at Iowa State (+9.5 to +10.5)
Penn State at Minnesota (+8 to +6.5)
Texas at West Virginia (+12 to +10)
Virginia Tech at Miami (-3.5 to -4)
Auburn at Tennessee (-8 to -7)

Friday November 15, 2013

Washington at UCLA (-2 to -4)

Saturday November 16, 2013

Georgia at Auburn (+15 to +14)
Washington State at Arizona (-19 to -17)
Syracuse at Florida State (-16 to -17)
Michigan at Northwestern (-3 to -2.5)
Houston at Louisville (-17 to -17.5)

Saturday November 23, 2013

Arizona State at UCLA (-3 to -2)
Texas A&M at LSU (-1, 47.5 to -2)
Washington at Oregon State (-5 to -6)
Michigan at Iowa (+10.5 to +9.5)
Virginia at Miami (-15 to -14.5)

Friday November 29, 2013

Washington State at Washington (-14 to -13)

Saturday November 30, 2013

Florida State at Florida (-2, 44 to -2.5)
Ohio State at Michigan (+6, 50.5 to +5)
Texas A&M at Missouri (+13 to +12)
Penn State at Wisconsin (-9 to -10)
Baylor at TCU (-5 to -6)

Thursday December 5, 2013

Louisville at Cincinnati (+3 to +3.5)

Saturday December 7, 2013

Texas at Baylor (+8 to +7)
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Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
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06/12/2013 10:19 PM
Lost of good stuff. Phil Steele is really good. I get his mag every year. Can't wait for kickoff.
"I've had smarter people around me all my life, but I haven't run into one yet that can outwork me. And if they can't outwork you, then smarts aren't going to do them much good. That's just way it is. And if you believe that and live by it, you'd be surprised at how much fun you can have."

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06/17/2013 01:11 AM
2013 Big Ten Preview

June 16, 2013

At first glance it appears the muscle on display by the Big Ten Conference went steroid-free and softened up in 2012. A closer look tells a different story.

The conference flexed its power in 2011 when three Big Ten teams finished the season with 11 wins for the second-straight season. In addition, an NCAA record 10 teams went bowling in 2011. Along the way the league picked up its 3rd BCS bowl win in as many years.

That all changed in 2012 when the BCS bowl string was snapped and only seven teams from the conference hit the alleys. In addition only one team, Ohio State, managed to win more than 10 games.

It should be noted, however, that two teams were bowl ineligible (Penn State and the Buckeyes) while the league also suffered an onslaught of close-call losses last season.

That’s confirmed by the fact the Big Ten was 85-68 overall in 2012, with nearly 30 percent of the losses (20) by a field goal or less. Leading the charge were three teams – Iowa, Michigan State and Wisconsin – with four defeats by three or less points.

The good news is 30 all-conference players are back in 2013, the most since 2005.

The coaching turnstile continues with two new coaches this season, making nine of the current 12 coaches at the helm two years or less.

That number will grow by at least two next season when Maryland and Rutgers move into the conference.

In this crazy world of conference expansion, it’s been said that Big 10 commissioner Jim Delaney is secretly a plant in quest of more soil.

We couldn’t agree more.

Note: Numbers following team name represent the amount of returning starters on offense and defense, with an asterisk (*) designating a returning quarterback. Potential designated ‘Play On’ and ‘Play Against’ Best Bets follow each team’s preview.

Leaders Division

ILLINOIS (*9/4)
Team Theme: BABY POWDER

A promising 2-1 start for new head coach Tim Beckman went down the drain faster than toot in a frat bust when the Illini went 0-9 to conclude a disappointing season last year. Beckman, who has coached under the likes of Urban Meyer, Jim Tressel, Mike Gundy and Pat Dye, immediately brought in five new assistant coaches, including Bill Cubit as his new OC and QB coach. The former Western Michigan head coach will look to fix the Illini offensive woes, a monumental task on paper considering Illinois finished second-to-last in the FBS in total offense and scoring last year. They will employ a high tempo no-huddle spread offense engineered by Nathan Scheelhaase or Reilly O’Toole. Look for the 18 freshmen that debuted last season to find plenty of playing time in 2013.

Stat You Will Like: QB Nathan Scheelhaase, a 3-year starter with 36 starts, ranks 5th all-rime in total offense (7,091 yards) at Illinois.

PLAY ON: vs. Indiana (11/9)

INDIANA (*10/9)
Team Theme: BLOOMING GARDEN

Kevin Wilson’s 3rd year at the helm in Bloomington was a relative success when his young Hoosiers showed dramatic improvement. Fielding the youngest team in the country (24 of 35 starters were underclassmen), Wilson parlayed playing time granted to 16 true freshmen and 16 redshirt freshmen in 2011 into 16 more newbie’s getting game time last year. As a result the new kids on the block led the Big Ten in passing offense in 2012 while setting school records in passing yards and total offense. They were so excited they ran one play every 20.3 seconds, with 23 TDs coming in under 90 seconds. Behind a bevy of returning starters, including 10 on offense, look for Wilson to take these pimply-faces places they’ve never been before.

Stat You Will Like: Despite trailing in time of possession by nearly 7 minutes per game last season, the Hoosiers led the opposition in plays per game (78.3-75.8).

PLAY ON: vs. Wisconsin (11/16)

OHIO STATE (*9/4)
Team Theme: FOUR ON THE FLOOR

With two national championships and two undefeated seasons now under his belt, Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer will look to improve on an auspicious debut in Columbus last year – if that’s possible. With 47 of 82 scholarship players either freshmen or sophomores, and not having the benefit of extra practice time afforded to bowl teams before bowling last season, we’re selling rather than buying. Sure, the offense is loaded with nine starters including star QB Braxton Miller and four senior starters on the o-line, but the defense is shaky at best. Not only did it decline 37 YPG last season, the front seven returns only ONE starter, with the entire front four gone. Yes, Meyer has been a winner at every level, but you may be floored at this year’s slippage.

Stat You Will Like: The Buckeyes list only four seniors on defense this season.

PLAY AGAINST: vs. Wisconsin (9/28)

PENN STATE (8/6)
Team Theme: SUPER GLUE

Through the eyes of many, Bill O’Brien was arguably College Football’s Coach of the Year last season. No, the Lions did not go bowling – they were not allowed - their win total actually slipped from the previous year, and the defense allowed 31 more YPG. What O’Brien did was bond a once proud program back together in spectacular fashion following the Joe Paterno scandal. The task becomes more difficult this season given the fact that emotional inspiration does not figure to reach last year’s levels. JUCO transfer QB Tyler Ferguson figures to be under center until mega-recruit Christian Hackenberg is ready. Meanwhile, WR Allen Robinson, the Big Ten’s active receiving yards leader (1,013) from last season, becomes the team’s go-to player.

Stat You Will Like: Three of the Lions’ four non-conference games are against foes that were in bowl games last season.

PLAY ON: as a dog vs. Nebraska (11/23)

PURDUE (5/9)
Team Theme: HAMMER AND RAILS

There are distinct differences, but in more ways than one, this squad is similar to Boilermaker teams from the past. However, Darrell Hazell - former Ohio State assistant and Kent State head coach - is the new sheriff in town and he’s looking to make changes this season. Quarterbacks Robert Marve and Caleb TerBush have moved on from the ‘Cradle of QBs’, as did leading wide receiver Antavian Edison and leading rusher Akeem Shavers. Considering Hazell’s Flashes dialed up 584 run plays compared to 358 designed passes last season, TB Akeem Hunt is likely to step into the spotlight this season. With fans railing for improvements both at Ross-Ade Stadium and on the field, look for Hazell’s tenure to start from the ground up with the Boilers this season.

Stat You Will Like: One of a handful of FBS schools without permanent lighting at Ross-Ade Stadium, the Boilermakers will have no primetime games on the Big Ten Network this season.

PLAY ON: as a dog vs. Ohio State (11/2)

WISCONSIN (*8/7)
Team Theme: PASA-THREE-NA
Big 10 champions three years running – albeit largely by default last season - the Badgers became only the third team in history to drop three consecutive Rose Bowls in as many years last season when they fell to Stanford, 20-14. An expected letdown was clearly in order when after a 39-point trouncing of Nebraska in the Big Ten title game, it was announced head coach Brett Bielema was departing for Arkansas. Through it all Gary Andersen arrives from Utah State where he managed to turn 13 straight losing seasons into a school-best 11-win campaign for the Aggies last year. With the Big Ten brawnier than ever, and Urban Meyer’s Ohio State squad both conference and bowl-eligible in 2013, FTD will not likely be delivering a fourth bouquet of roses to Bucky this season.

Stat You Will Like: Andersen's Utah State squad was No. 1 in red-zone scoring defense last season. Wisconsin was No. 120 (dead-last) in red-zone scoring defense last season.

PASS

Legends Division

IOWA (6/8)
Team Theme: BEAM ME UP

The result of facing too much stiff competition brought sober results to a Hawkeyes program that couldn’t find its way to the winner’s circle in close call games last season. When the smoke settled, half of their eight losses in 2012 were by a field goal or less, leading to a disastrous 0-6 finish. A closer look reveals nine of Iowa’s twelve opponents played in a bowl game, with another (Penn State) winning 8 games. Offensively, Kirk Ferentz replaces QB James Vandenberg with Jake Ruddock (led his Florida high school squad to 29-1 record and state title) and welcomes back last year’s top two running backs as well as four of the top five wide receivers. With the top three tacklers back on defense, expect Captain Kirk to right the ship… pronto.

Stat You Will Like: The Hawkeyes were the only team in the nation to have six regular season games decided by 3 or less points last season.

PLAY ON: vs. Iowa State (9/14)

MICHIGAN (*5/6)
Team Theme: TIGHTEN UP
Lost in the mix of another 5-loss season last year (3rd time in last four years) was the fact that the defeats came at the hands of teams that combined to go 58-8 on the season. In fact, four of the Wolverines’ five losses occurred away from the “Big House” against the AP’s top 10 teams: No. 1 Alabama, No. 3 Ohio State, No. 4 Notre Dame and No. 8 South Carolina. Whew, talk about tight. Meanwhile, QB Devin Gardner stepped in for an injured Denard Robinson and ignited the offense by tallying at least two touchdowns in every game (5) he played at quarterback. By the time the dust settled Gardner finished with 18 TDs, including 11 by air and 7 by land. Revenge looms large in Ann Arbor.

Stat You Will Like: Brady Hoke became the first Michigan head coach to go undefeated at home in his first two seasons at UM since Fielding Yost in 1901-02.

PLAY ON: as a dog vs. Ohio State (11/30)

MICHIGAN STATE (*9/7)
Team Theme: LOCKED AND LOADED

Selected by most pundits as the team to beat in the Big Ten last season, the Spartans fell woefully short of expectations in 2012. The defense held up their end of the bargain. It was the offense that suffered major attrition, slipping 11 points and 31 yards per game. The upside was a stirring 13-point comeback in a 17-16 win over TCU in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, giving them back-to-back bowl wins for the first time since 1990. With a stellar defense that ranked in the nation’s top 5 overall the last two years, many of those same experts will be right back on the Spartans in 2013. After all, eleven players on offense and twelve on defense own starting experience, including six OL with at least ten starts apiece.

Stat You Will Like: Michigan State has won more Big Ten games (27) than any other team in conference play the last four years.

PLAY ON: vs. Northwestern (11/23)

MINNESOTA (*10/7)
Team Theme: KILLING ME SOFTLY
In between seizures, Jerry Kill’s game plan is beginning to play out. After joining the Gophers two years ago, Kill’s clan is showing signs of the Glen Mason era in Minneapolis when anything less than a bowl bid was unacceptable. His troops found their way to the Meineke Car Care Bowl last year, losing in a shootout to Texas Tech. They return 17 starters from a team that improved its numbers on both sides of the ball from the previous year. With star athlete Marquies Gray having gone from QB to WR to the NFL (free agent with the 49ers), the ball is now in the hands of Phillip Nelson. He’ll need to improve on a sub 50% completion rate last year for the plan to progress.

Stat You Will Like: In his 3rd year at Northern Illinois, Kill went 11-3 SU and 10-2-1 ATS.

PLAY ON: vs. Northwestern (10/19)

NEBRASKA (*7/5)
Team Theme: LEGENDS IN THEIR OWN MINDS

Why is it a team that has had five straight nine-win seasons in as many years under its head coach, while also capturing the Legends division the Big 10 last season, can’t seem to command the respect of its peers? Maybe it’s the four losses they incurred each of the last five years. Or perhaps it’s the fact that they led the nation in scoring defense in 2009 (10.4 PPG), but have grown progressively worse (28 PPG last season) each year since. The bottom line is this program is certainly a ghost of the one that dominated college football in the 80s and 90s. QB Taylor Martinez leads an offense that improved 6 points and 81 yards per game last season. But their legendary status will remain a memory until the defense comes around.

Stat You Will Like: All 10 college football programs Bo Pelini has been a part of have won nine or more games each season.

PLAY ON: vs. UCLA (9/14)

NORTHWESTERN (*8/7)
Team Theme: PURPLE REIGN

Last year on these pages Wildcats head coach Pat Fitzgerald was quoted as saying, “We’re not that far away… it’s all about chemistry. Are we eating and drinking and sleeping and just consumed with being a champion? We’re darn close, and that’s the goal.” His words proved prophetic as Northwestern proceeded to win 10 games for only the second-time in school history. As a result Fitzgerald enjoyed his best-ever recruiting class this year, paving the way for continuity to be in place for years to come. Adding to the good news is the return of 15 starters from last year’s record-setting class, including QB Kain Colter on offense and Tyler Scott on defense, the nation’s active sack leader last season. The saga continues.

Stat You Will Like: The last time Northwestern won back-to-back bowl games was 1949.

PLAY ON: vs. Michigan (11/16)
Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
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06/17/2013 03:08 PM
NCAAF Games of the Year: Line could shrink for ASU-Stanford

Odds are out for the biggest games of the college football season. Covers Expert Jesse Schule gives you his insight into some of the marquee matchups and predicts where the odds could move before kickoff.

Saturday September 21 - Arizona State Sun Devils at Stanford Cardinal (-10)

Past History: Arizona State is 3-2 SU, 3-1-1 ATS since 2006.

Early look at Arizona State: The Sun Devils appear to be a team on the rise in the Pac-12 and expectations are high in Todd Graham's second season as coach. Quarterback Taylor Kelly has all the skills, but it's not certain if he will have enough talent around him at the wide receiver position.

Early look at Stanford: The Cardinal have eight starters returning on a defense that was one of the toughest in the country last year and we can expect them to be solid on the defensive side of the ball again in 2013. Kevin Hogan will take over the reigns from Josh Nunes, who started under center at the beginning of last year. It was Hogan, though, that led them to a victory over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl.

Where this line will move: The Sun Devils play Wisconsin in Arizona in Week 2 and if they can defeat the Badgers, money should come in on Arizona State dropping the line down to single digits.
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06/18/2013 11:43 AM
NCAAF Games of the Year: Tough start for Texas could sway Red River odds

Odds are out for the biggest games of the college football season. Covers Expert Jesse Schule gives you his insight into some of the marquee matchups and predicts where the odds could move before kickoff.

Saturday October 12 - Oklahoma Sooners vs. Texas Longhorns (Pick)

Past History: Oklahoma is 3-2 SU, 3-1-1 ATS since 2008.

Early look at Oklahoma: Blake Bell takes over an offense that returns seven starters including tailback Damien Williams and wideout Jalen Saunders. Things aren't quite as settled on the defensive side of the ball with an entirely new front seven.

Early look at Texas: The Longhorns will have the most experienced offensive line in the country in 2013, but a lack of experience on the defensive side of the ball could be their downfall this season. They allowed a total of 10 rushing touchdowns in their final three games last year, so they have a long way to go.

Where this line will move: There is potential for a disastrous start to the season for Texas, with a tough schedule and a lot of questions surrounding the defense. Oklahoma seems to have a favorable schedule heading into this game and they might be a favorite by game day.
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06/21/2013 12:32 AM
2013 Outlook - AAC

June 20, 2013


Skinny: 5Dimes has Louisville installed as the -140 favorite to repeat as conference champs in this newly-formed league that has six of the same schools from the old Big East. The Cardinals closed last season with a blowout win over Florida at the Sugar Bowl. The game wasn’t as close as the 33-23 final score indicated.

The victory over the Gators was preceded by head coach Charlie Strong turning down several overtures from other schools, including a lucrative offer from Tennessee. Really, things can’t get a whole lot better for U of L unless…well, it can win a national title in football this season. Rick Pitino just brought the Cardinals their first basketball national title since 1986 and the baseball team made it to the World Series in Omaha.

How realistic is it for U of L to be in the national-title mix late in November? According to 5Dimes, the Cardinals have the eighth-shortest odds to win the BCS Championship (26/1). They have one of the best quarterbacks in America in true junior Teddy Bridgewater, who completed 68.5 percent of his passes for 3,718 yards with a 27/8 touchdown-to-interception ratio in 2012.

Louisville returns 10 starters on defense and six on offense. Most important, the schedule is a complete joke. In fact, The Golden Nugget in Las Vegas has U of L as a double-digit favorite in every one of its lined games with just once exception, as it is a 3.5-point road ‘chalk’ in its regular-season finale at Cincinnati.

Louisville gets the rest of its toughest American Athletic Conference games at home, including Rutgers and UCF in back-to-back weeks. An Oct. 26 trip to Tampa to meet South Florida could be a dangerous spot.

If Strong’s bunch can stay undefeated, it will need help to get to Pasadena. In other words, U of L’s schedule isn’t strong enough to get a No. 2 BCS ranking ahead of a one-loss SEC team or a one-loss Oregon and/or Ohio State.

But if the Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 have league champs with two defeats, there will be a very real opportunity for Bridgewater to get his team to Pasadena to face an SEC squad.

Rutgers and Cincinnati share the second-shortest odds to win the first AAC title (+490, risk $100 to win $490). RU is entering its second season under Kyle Flood, who led the Scarlet Knights to a 9-1 start in his first year after replacing Greg Schiano, who should have a statue of his bust erected for the masterful job he did in Piscataway before taking the Buccaneers job.

RU lost its last three games, including a 20-17 defeat vs. Louisville and a 13-10 overtime decision to Va. Tech at the Russell Athletic Bowl. But the Scarlet Knights return 80 percent of their offensive line, QB Gary Nova and All-American candidate Brandon Coleman at wide receiver.

Leading rusher Jawan Jamison bolted for the NFL after eclipsing the 1,000-yard rushing mark as a sophomore. However, junior Savon Huggins demonstrated his ability by rushing for 179 yards in a 10-3 win at Cincinnati when Jamison was injured.

Rutgers had a stout defense last year, finishing fourth in the nation in scoring defense by allowing only 14.2 points per game. But this unit has only four starters back.

Cincinnati made the most stunning off-season hire when it was able to get Tommy Tuberville to leave Texas Tech after Butch Jones took the Tennessee job. The Bearcats hired a veteran head coach that’s a winner in The Riverboat Gambler.

Cincy went 10-3 last season, finishing the year with a miraculous cover thanks to a defensive touchdown on the game’s final play for a 48-34 win over Duke. The Bearcats’ three losses came by 16 combined points at Toledo, at Louisville and vs. Rutgers.

Cincy has seven starters back on offense and six on defense. The entire offensive line is back along with WR Anthony McClung, who had 34 catches for 539 yards last season.

Senior QB Brendon Kay replaced Munchie Legaux late last season and played extremely well down the stretch. Kay connected on 63.0 percent of his throws with a 10/2 TD-INT ratio. He also rushed for 6.4 yards per carry and a pair of scores.

Cincy faces a pair of Big Ten schools in non-conference play, hosting Purdue in the season opener before playing at Illinois in Week 2. The Bearcats play at Rutgers on Nov. 16.

Central Florida, Houston, Memphis and SMU have joined the league from out of Conference USA. UCF is the most highly regarded program by oddsmakers, evidenced by its 10/1 odds to win the AAC.

The Knights won 10 games last year but will be facing tougher competition in the AAC. Junior QB Blake Bortles connected on 69.2 percent of his passes for 3,059 yards with a 25/9 TD-INT ratio. Bortles finished the year by throwing 174 straight passes without an interception.

George O’Leary’s squad has six starters back on offense and four on defense. There are two non-conference games in which UCF will be in underdog situations, at Penn St. and vs. South Carolina.

South Florida is starting anew following a disappointing three-year run under Skip Holtz, whose exit was triggered by 14 losses in his last 16 Big East games. The Bulls were one of the nation’s biggest flops with their abysmal 3-9 record in 2012.

Optimism is high in Tampa, however, thanks to the arrival of new head coach Willie Taggart, who did a stellar job in three years at Western Kentucky (18-7 against the spread in his last two seasons). Taggart, whose mantra for the program is “Do Something,” inherits a club returning six starters on offense and seven on defense.

Paul Pasqualoni is on the hot seat after posting 5-7 records in both of his first two seasons at Connecticut. The Huskies had an outstanding defense in 2012, finishing seventh in the nation in rushing defense, ninth in total defense and 19th in scoring defense (19.8 points per game).

But when your starting QB (Chandler Whitmer) has a 9/16 TD-INT ratio and your offense averages only 17.8 PPG, a quality defense can only do so much. Whitmer will have to battle redshirt freshman Casey Cochran for the starting job.

UConn returns eight starters on offense and five on defense.

Houston didn’t fare well in its first season without former HC Kevin Sumlin and the school’s all-time leading passer Case Keenum. The Cougars limped to a 5-7 record in its last year in C-USA, giving up a whopping 36.0 PPG.

Tony Levine’s second team should have a prolific offense, returning 10 starters from a unit that averaged 32.4 PPG. The defense returns just five starters, but that might be a good thing. Look for a bunch of high totals in Houston games.

SMU brings momentum into the 2013 campaign after trouncing Fresno St. by a 43-10 count as a 13-point underdog at last year’s Hawaii Bowl. The Mustangs bring back six starters on offense and five on defense.

QB Garrett Gilbert struggled early in the season, but June Jones has to be pleased with the fact that Garrett didn’t throw any interceptions in the last five games.

Temple lost its head coach Steve Addazio to Boston College after struggling to a 4-7 record last season. The Owls have eight returning starters on offense and six on defense. They open the year in South Bend against Notre Dame.

The good news for Memphis is that it won three consecutive games to close Justin Fuente’s inaugural campaign as HC. The bad news is those victories came against Tulane, UAB and a winless So. Miss squad.

The Tigers, who have eight starters back on both sides of the ball, are going to struggle to compete in the AAC.

Games to Watch

1-Rutgers at Louisville (Oct. 10) – This is a Thursday night game with both teams playing on a short week of preparation. But Rutgers, which plays in Dallas against SMU five days before, will be at a disadvantage due to the travel. U of L is also on the road on Oct. 5 at Temple, but it only has to travel from Philadelphia back to Louisville. RU will go from Dallas to Piscataway and then down to the ‘Ville. The Golden Nugget opened the Cardinals as 10-point favorites.

2-Louisville at Cincinnati (Dec. 5) – This is another Thursday game but both schools have open dates beforehand. The Bearcats will be looking to avenge a 34-31 OT loss from 2012. Strong and Tuberville have faced each other many times dating back to their days in the SEC.

3-Rutgers at UCF (Nov. 21) – RU will be coming off a 60-minute war at home vs. Cincy, while UCF will probably have an easier time in its prior game at Temple. In yet another Thursday game, the Scarlet Knights will have to travel down to the Sunshine State on a short week off of a tough game.

4-UCF vs. South Carolina (Sept. 28) – Both teams have open dates prior to meeting in Orlando and also have easy games on deck (at Memphis and vs. Kentucky). Those factors are a wash, but we mention this tilt because the Knights will have a chance to make a national splash if they pull the upset.

5-Louisville at South Florida (Oct. 26) – The Golden Nugget opened U of L as a 13-point road ‘chalk.’ The Bulls have an open date to prepare for the Cardinals, who play at UCF eight days before.

6-SMU at Texas A&M (Sept. 21) – No, we aren’t thinking upset here – not even close! However, the situation is worth noting because the Aggies host Alabama the previous week and therefore fall into a vintage letdown spot. Also, SMU has an open date to give June Jones two weeks to prepare for A&M’s defense. If the Mustangs are catching 35-plus points, they might be worth a look if their offense shows life in the first two games.

Fearless Predictions
(No Championship Game)
2013 Win-Loss Projections
School Record Bowl Projection
Louisville 11-1 Orange Bowl vs. ACC champ
Cincinnati 9-3 Russell Athletic Bowl vs. ACC #3
Rutgers 8-4 Belk Bowl vs. ACC #5
Central Florida 7-5 Pinstripe vs. Big 12 #7
South Florida 7-5 BBVA Compass vs. SEC #8 or 9
Houston 7-5 Beef ‘O’ Brady’s vs. At Large or C-USA #2-5
SMU 5-7 -
Connecticut 5-7 -
Temple 5-7 -
Memphis 3-9 -

Week 1 Best Bet(s)

-- Play Notre Dame -24 vs. Temple: Even though the Irish lost starting QB Everett Golson, this team has eight starters returning from a defense that ranked second nationally in scoring defense (12.8 PPG). With an unsettled QB situation, I don’t see the Owls generating much offense. I like the Irish to win a 38-6 type of game. I found this line at 5Dimes on June 20.

-- Play Texas Tech -2.5 at SMU: Michael Brewer takes over for Seth Doege at QB and I expect it to be a seamless transition to the true sophomore, who completed 34-of-48 passes for four TDs without an interception in limited playing time as a true freshman. Brewer was a highly-touted recruit coming out of high school. I have the Red Raiders as 6.5-point favorites in this spot.

Players to Watch

1-Teddy Bridgewater (QB, Louisville) – According to the numbers at Sportsbook.ag, Bridgewater is the No. 10 candidate to win the Heisman Trophy with 15/1 odds (risk $100 to win $1,500). Some NFL scouts think even more of him and he’s certainly in the conversation to be the No. 1 pick in next spring’s draft. With the Cardinals’ soft schedule, Bridgewater will have a chance to put up monster numbers. I typically don’t bet on Heisman props but I’m not against taking a flyer on Bridgewater for the generous 15/1 return. Assuming he stays healthy, U of L should be in the Top 10 for the entire season. I’ll be surprised if he’s not a finalist in New York City in mid-December.

2-Brandon Coleman (WR, Rutgers) – Coleman, a 6’6” junior, is a big target who can go up in the air and make plays in traffic. His numbers from last year’s sophomore season don’t jump off the page (43 catches, 718 yards and 10 TDs), but Rutgers had a ground-and-pound offensive approach with an emphasis on running the ball and playing stout defense. If Nova improves at QB, Coleman should have big numbers and could be in the mix for the Fred Biletnikoff Award given to the nation’s top wideout.

3-Yawin Smallwood (LB, UConn) – Smallwood is a leading candidate for the Butkus Award as a junior. In his sophomore year, Smallwood produced a team-high 120 tackles with 11 tackles for loss and four sacks to earn first-team All Big East honors. He was the main reason why UConn allowed only 19.8 PPG. In 2011, he was a second-team Freshman All-American after making 94 tackles. This will be his last year in Storrs before playing on Sundays.

4-Charles Sims (RB, Houston) – The senior RB is a two-time All C-USA selection who keeps Houston’s high-octane offense balanced. With 2,370 career rushing yards, Sims needs just 878 yards this season to become Houston’s second all-time leading rusher. If he can gain 1,267 yards on the ground, he’ll go down as the school’s all-time best back.

5-Blake Bortles (QB, UCF) – Bortles has 4,017 passing yards with a 31/10 TD-INT ratio in his first two seasons at UCF. Although I have the Knights going 7-5, it could easily turn in their favor to 9-3 if Bortles continues to improve. If UCF becomes the league’s surprise team, it will be because Bortles makes it happen.
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06/23/2013 02:16 AM
2013 Big 12 Preview

June 22, 2013

These days it's all about the money, honey.

And with it, at its 2013 spring meeting, the Big 12 Conference announced that is will distribute a record amount of revenue - $198 million - to each of its ten members. In what amounts to a $22 million payday for eight Big 12 member institutions, and $11 million dollars apiece for newcomers TCU and West Virginia, it was learned the bulk of the revenues was generated by its television contracts along with member participation in bowl games and the NCAA men's basketball championship.

FYI: the SEC, which has four more members, was able to distribute $289.4 million.

The one glaring similarity: each conference's television agreements are largely responsible for the uptick in revenue, with 49.5% of the Big 12 monies and 59.8% of the SEC's primarily the driving forces. Think about that the next time you pay your monthly cable bill.

So the next time you hear the Big 12 talking about the need to add two more teams in order to bring the 10-team league back to 12, you will better understand the real reason behind the double-speak.

And speaking of money, a look back shows the Big 12 has participated in at least eight bowl games (nine last campaign) four straight seasons, and ten times the last 17 years. In addition, the Big 12 completed the 2012 season owning the nation's best two-year non-conference regular season-win percentage at .883 (53-7).

The league has also tallied its best non-conference records in the month of September, going 52-5 SU and 28-14 ATS, including 13-1 ATS when not favored by more than seven points, the last two seasons.

Through it all, Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops insists the Big 12 is better balanced - from top to bottom - than the SEC. Bowl records over the last decade say different with the SEC standing 53-30, while the Big 12 counters at 40-39.

Maybe he was referring to offensive production, where six Big 12 squads landed in the nation's Top 20 in total offense last season, doubling-up the amount of SEC teams. Then again, the SEC found six schools in the Top 20 in scoring defense last season as opposed to ZERO teams from the Big 12.

And therein tells the tale of that story…and the checkbook disparity of the two conferences.

Note: Numbers following team name represent the amount of returning starters on offense and defense, with an asterisk (*) designating a returning quarterback. Potential designated 'Play On' and 'Play Against' Best Bets follow each team's preview.

BAYLOR (6/7)
Team Theme: FINDING THEIR SEA LEGS

If there was a hotter team at the conclusion of the 2012 season than the Bears, let them step forward. Art Briles' squad finished with the No. 2 offense in the nation, one year after RG3 ran off with the Heisman and headed to the nation's capitol. And speaking of the coveted trophy, this just in… "I'm going to win the Heisman. I'm going to win it in 2013," RB Lache Seastrunk said. "If I don't, I'm going to get very close." Seastrunk got regular carries in just the final six games of the season (in which the Bears went 6-0 ATS), and in that span, he flashed his 4.34 speed in the 40 and ran for 831 yards (8.1 average) and six touchdowns. It may be a small body of work but: beware.

Stat You Will Like: The Baylor defense has regressed in total yards allowed each of the last four years.

PLAY AGAINST: vs. Kansas State (10/12)

IOWA STATE (7/6)
Team Theme: RHOADS TO SUCCESS

At first look one might think that three consecutive 7-loss seasons would start to warm up a coach's seat. Not in Ames where the last two campaigns culminated in bowl games. Hometown hero Paul Rhoads has attendance at an all-time high while last year marked the first time in school history the Cyclones beat a ranked team in three straight seasons. The main task at hand in 2013 is replacing super-star LBs A. J. Klein and Jake Knott, both three-year starters who will be playing on Sundays this season. QB Sam Richardson started the final three games of the season last year and assumes the starting duties. With nine games against bowlers, including each of their six road games, another 7-loss season would be another small step on the long road to success.

Stat You Will Like: Head coach Paul Rhoads was born and raised 10 minutes from Jack Trice Stadium.

PLAY ON: vs. Tulsa (9/21)

KANSAS (*5/4)
Team Theme: DOWN FOR THE COUNT

Going downhill faster than an Olympic slalom racer, Kansas has watched its annual win total fall from 12, to 8, to 5, to 3, to 2, to 1 over the last six years. The good news for 2d year head coach Charlie Weis is that since 1990 there have been a total of 108 Division-1 teams who won exactly one game the previous season, and 89 of those teams went on to improve on that total the following season, while only 3 teams regressed to zero wins. Better news is the Jayhawks return 96% of the rushing yards from a unit that owned the 3rd best running attack in the Big 12 last season. Squaring off against 10 bowlers and snapping a 21-game conference-losing skein is another matter.

Stat You Will Like: Kansas is 1-27 SU from Game Six out the last four years.

PASS

KANSAS STATE (8/2)
Team Theme: GREAT GRAND DAD

As we alluded to last year, not many great grandfathers can lay claim to winning National Coach of the Year honors. You can count on one finger how many of them have done it back-to-back seasons. That gold finger belongs to Bill Snyder who captured the honor once again last year after winning the same award in 2011. This accomplishment justly earned by a legendary coach who inherited a team in the midst of a 0-21-1 run over two decades ago. Last year's Big 12 title was the first for the Wildcats since 2003 and the 3rd in school history. The challenge is on for 2013, though, with QB Collin Klein and nine senior starters from last year's defense now with diplomas in hand.

Stat You Will Like: Three fumbles lost last season tied with Iowa for top honors in the FBS.

PLAY AGAINST: vs. Oklahoma State (10/5)

OKLAHOMA (7/4)
Team Theme: A TOUGH STATE OF MIND

With no less than 11 bowlers from last season dotting the itinerary, the Sooners will be put to the test in 2013. And for the first time since 2007 they will take the field with a new quarterback behind center. That's because 4-year starter Landry Jones, who went 39-11 in his career at OU, is gone. Fortunately a strong upper class (45 seniors and juniors) returns for Bob Stoops, the fastest coach to reach 100 wins in modern history. Stoops also returns as the only coach to reach all four BCS bowl games and the National Championship Game. With 44 players residing on the roster from the state of Texas and 28 from Oklahoma, look for Big Game Bob to improve on his shimmering 69-18 SU all-time mark against teams from either state.

Stat You Will Like: The Sooners are 20-0 SU in games off a regular season loss since 2003.

PLAY ON: vs. Kansas State (11/30)

OKLAHOMA STATE (*7/8)
Team Theme: STRAIGHT SHOOTERS

On the heels of a school record 7-straight bowl games, the Cowboys shoot for 8 in a row behind a revamped coaching staff and ton of talent. Mike Yurcich becomes the third offensive coordinator in four seasons at OSU. His Shippensburg team ranked first nationally among Division II schools in total offense while passing for a nation-best 387.7 YPG last season. With Wes Lunt transferring out, he'll have two quarterbacks at his disposal who shared starting duties for the Cowboys last season in Clint Chief and J. W. Walsh - both of whom combined with Lunt to throw for over 4,000 yards en route to averaging 547 YPG of offense, setting a school record in the process. A brackish schedule finds opponents, other than Kansas, with an 82-47 record last season.

Stat You Will Like: Mike Gundy was 12-15 in his first 27 games with the Cowboys. He's 55-20 since.

PLAY ON: vs. Texas (11/16)

TCU (*6/9)
Team Theme: THE SMOKE HAS CLEARED

Frog fever is back in the air in Fort Worth now that QB Casey Pachall has been cleared to resume duties following his arrest and subsequent suspension for a wacky-tobaccco violation. Pachall returns as the active FBS career passing efficiency leader (163.1). Also back is his replacement last year, sophomore Trevone Boykin, along with leading WR Waymon James and top rusher B. J. Catalon. The fact of the matter is youth served TCU well last year as 20 players made their first career starts, while a total of 28 true and redshirt freshmen played. With the Frogs having been bowlers 11 of 12 years under Gary Patterson, it is no wonder TCU owns the best record in the state of Texas (84-19) since 2005.

Stat You Will Like: TCU has won 47 straight games when it has outrushed its opponent.

PLAY ON: vs. Texas Tech (9/14)

TEXAS (*10/9)
Team Theme: STEERING THE STAMPEDE

The only team in the nation to finish in the final BCS poll in 13 of the last 14 seasons, the Longhorns will mix experience (19 returning starters) with youth (34 of 48 freshmen have played the last two seasons) to form a potentially lethal combination in 2013. This year's squad is loaded offensively with 10 starters back, including the two-headed QB combo of David Ash and Case McCoy who combined to rank 10th in the land in passing efficiency last season. It's the defense that finds them shaking in their boots, one that slipped nearly 100 YPG last season. Here's hoping 9 starters back from a unit that ranked 6th in the FBS in tackles for a loss last year holds up its end of the deal.

Stat You Will Like: Mack Brown has led his teams to winning campaigns in 22 of the last 23 years, including 14 of the last 15 seasons at Texas.

PLAY ON: vs. Kansas State (9/21)

TEXAS TECH (6/9)
Team Theme: PULL BACK FROM THE KLIFF

Following a spat at the conclusion of the 2009 season, Mike Leach left the Red Raiders and took his powerful offensive system with him. The air-miles registered by the Texas Tech offense began to drop like passes to a wide receiver wearing boxing gloves, causing the victory totals to diminish as well, with the Techsters averaging seven wins per season since. However, the hire of former TTRR quarterback Kliff Kingsbury has sparked new life into a dying program and as a result, more fans put off suicide and attended the spring game than ever before, anxious to see WR Eric Ward and a new high-flying offense at work. With 2011 three-star recruit QB Michael Brewer looking to lead an offense back to the Promised Land, Kingsbury's popularity is winning fans over in droves. Let's hope the football team does, too.

Stat You Will Like: The Red Raiders will face nine teams that were in bowl games last season, including seven in their final seven games of the season.

PLAY ON: vs. Baylor (11/16)

WEST VIRGINIA (4/7)
Team Theme: LIGHTS OUT

Like an insomniac, third-year coach Dana Holgorsen has not been sleeping well - at least not since the departure of his entire passing skill offense. QB Geno Smith and his top three wide receivers are off to the NFL, forcing Holgorsen to plug many missing holes from last year's over-the-top 500-yard offense. RB Andrew Buie is the only experienced playmaker returning on offense. Thus the transfer of former Florida State QB Clint Trickett (ruled eligible this season with graduation degree in hand) provides a ray of hope and a chance for slumber. The nightmare persists, however, with a Swiss-cheese defense that surrendered the most points in the Big 12. All this on the heels of a team that had its heart ripped out following a 5-0 start last season. Pass the Ambien, please.

Stat You Will Like: The Mountaineers lose 3,752 passing yards and 42 touchdowns from last year's offense.

PLAY AGAINST: vs. Baylor (10/5)
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06/27/2013 11:24 AM
NCAAF Games of the Year: K-State out for revenge vs. Baylor

Odds are out for the biggest games of the college football season. Covers Expert Bruce Marshall gives you his insight into some of the marquee matchups and predicts where the odds could move before kickoff.

NCAAF Week 7: Saturday, October 12: Baylor (+5) at Kansas State

Past history: Baylor is 2-1 SU but 1-2 ATS in three meetings since 2010, with the home team winning SU in each and the underdog covering in each. All three games have gone “over” as well. The Bears knocked K-State out of a shot at the BCS title game with a 52-24 upset win last November 17 at Waco.

Early look at Baylor: The Bears barely skipped a beat post-RG III in 2012 behind QB Nick Florence, who had filled in for an injured Griffin previously. Now it’s up to junior QB Bryce Perry, who has passed the ball only 14 times in limited previous work. A completely rebuilt OL must gel quickly, but by now it is apparent that HC Art Briles knows what to do with his offenses, and homerun RB Lache Seastrunk is getting peripheral Heisman mention. The stop unit leaked badly last season when ranking 119th nationally, but several playmakers return (especially at the LB spots) for defensive coordinator Phil Bennett, whose platoon did manage to rise to the occasion in late-season wins over K-State, Oklahoma State, and then UCLA in the Holiday Bowl.

Early look at Kansas State: Underestimate veteran HC Bill Snyder at your risk. Replacing do-everything QB Collin Klein would seem to be a tall order, but Snyder and offensive coordinators Del Miller & Dana Dimel think they have two viable candidates in soph Daniel Sams and former juco star Jake Waters. The entire starting OL returns in tact as do most of the skill-position weapons, including RB John Hubert & WR Tyler Lockett. More concerns rest with a “D” that must replace nine starters, but Snyder’s stop units have always been functional, and SS Ty Zimmerman is an established playmaker.

Where the line will move: Both have offered plenty of spread value lately (Baylor 13-4 vs. line last 17 since late 2011, Snyder’s K-State 18-8 the past two seasons), so those trends that might impact movement vs. other foes and likely nullify one another in this game. While the Wildcat “revenge” factor could influence the price, a more telling factor will be how quickly the new QBs on each side are able to get comfy, which are more likely to be reflected in any price adjustments for this mid-October game.
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07/03/2013 09:51 AM
Wide open in the Pac-12 South

July 1, 2013

Pac-12 North Preview

2013 PAC-12 South - Schedule Outlook

The college football season is less than two months away, the schedule is set and there are some great disparities within each conference that will impact the conference races. The Pac-12 South was a tight race last season as the heavy favorite USC stumbled and it should be an interesting race again this season. Take a look at the schedules ahead in the Pac-12 South in 2013.
Arizona Wildcats

Rich Rodriguez led an upstart season for the Wildcats last season, finishing 8-5 with a bowl win after a tough 4-8 2011 season. The schedule played a huge role in the disparities between those records and this season Arizona again draws a relatively favorable path. Five of nine Pac-12 games will be on the road but missing Stanford on the schedule is certainly a break and several of the biggest games will be at home. Arizona has a very light non-conference schedule that should ensure a strong start and bye weeks before big road games at Washington and at USC could help the cause for a possible upset. Arizona will need to replace some key players on offense but another solid season could be ahead.

Conference Misses: Oregon State and Stanford

Toughest Back-to-Back: The Wildcats will have a tough finish to the season hosting Oregon in late November and then closing the season at Arizona State. A lot could be on the line for the Wildcats who could have a record that has them in contention in this division, especially if they find a way to win at USC early in the season. Arizona will play back-to-back road games in the middle of the year but this late season set should provide the biggest tests of the year.

Biggest Non-Conference Game: Arizona will play one of the weaker non-conference slates in the conference with home games with Northern Arizona and Texas-San Antonio, leaving a road trip to UNLV as the biggest non-conference test in week 2, even though Arizona should be a solid road favorite in that game.

Arizona State Sun Devils

The Sun Devils started the Pac-12 season 3-0 last year but four consecutive losses dropped them out of the picture. Arizona State has an experienced team back in action and while the overall schedule is tougher this season with two huge non-conference games, the Pac-12 slate lines up nicely featuring the notable omission of Oregon. Arizona State will need to be ready to go early in the year as after an opener against FCS Sacramento State there will be four straight very tough games. It is truly a gauntlet for the Sun Devils playing Wisconsin, Stanford, USC, and Notre Dame in consecutive weeks in late September and early October. It could be smooth sailing after that however and Arizona State will play five of nine Pac-12 games at home.

Conference Misses: California and Oregon

Toughest Back-to-Back: The aforementioned four-game stretch early in the season could be sliced in a number of ways to find the toughest two-game set but the two conference games will be the most critical, playing at Stanford for the first road game of the season and then following that game up with a huge home contest against USC. The Trojans beat Arizona State soundly last season and the Sun Devils have not played Stanford since they nearly upset then #7 Stanford in 2010.

Biggest Non-Conference Game: A big early season game with Wisconsin will be a huge game in Tempe but the chance to play Notre Dame at Cowboys Stadium will certainly be a game the team is looking forward to all season even though it comes at the end of a stretch of very tough games.

Colorado Buffaloes

After a 1-11 season there is nowhere to go but up for Colorado and Mike MacIntyre takes over the program after engineering a successful turnaround at San Jose State. Colorado does miss Stanford on the schedule but they also do not get to play Washington State this year and the Cougars provided Colorado's only win last season. Five of nine games will be on the road for Colorado and the non-conference schedule has two challenging games as well. It is a very tough slate of home games for Colorado featuring Oregon, Arizona, and USC visiting Boulder so the opportunity for a quick turnaround is likely limited.

Conference Misses: Stanford and Washington State

Toughest Back-to-Back: Following up the homecoming game with Arizona, a game that will have a bye week preceding it, Colorado will play back-to-back road games at UCLA and at Washington. While there may be tougher games on the schedule that will be a difficult set of road games with long travel that could take a greater toll late in the season.

Biggest Non-Conference Game: The opener in Denver against Colorado State will be critical. MacIntyre could gain instant credibility if he can win that game and move back to the top of the ladder in the Rocky Mountain State college football landscape. Colorado State won in the rivalry last season and has some promising pieces in place this year but a win would be a great way to provide a spark for the program.

UCLA Bruins

Despite producing mediocre records both years it has been UCLA representing the Pac-12 South in the first two years of the Pac-12 championship game. The Bruins did not win either of those games but they played reasonably well, covering as heavy underdogs in both chances. There is a lot to like about what UCLA is bringing back in Jim Mora's second season in Los Angeles but a very difficult schedule is waiting and will make another championship run a tough task. UCLA plays five road games and two of those games will be against the top two from the North, Stanford and Oregon. The game with USC is also on the road and the non-conference schedule won't offer any easy outs.

Conference Misses: Oregon State and Washington State

Toughest Back-to-Back: It could not get any tougher in this conference as the Bruins have to play Stanford and Oregon in consecutive weeks in October with both of those games coming on the road. UCLA will play all nine Pac-12 games in consecutive weeks without a bye week so the late season games will also be challenging but it is certainly hard to imagine the Bruins sweeping this brutal October set and it will be very hard to avoid a 0-2 hit in the conference race.

Biggest Non-Conference Game: An opener against Nevada will be an important challenge but a week 3 game at Nebraska will be a huge national game and a showcase opportunity for the conference. UCLA won 36-30 at home in a minor upset last season so the challenge could be greater this year in Lincoln but a win would propel the Bruins to forefront of this division.

USC Trojans

Despite being a very popular national title pick USC slogged through an ugly 7-6 campaign last season, going just 5-4 in conference play. Injuries played a role but so far the Lane Kiffin era has offered quite a bit of disappointment. Things could line up nicely for USC this season however as they do not have to play Oregon and they draw Stanford at home. USC gets five of nine conference games at home and the non-conference slate is manageable. Playing at Hawaii to open the season will give USC an extra game this season and there are six road games on the schedule but overall this is favorable slate in this division.

Conference Misses: Oregon and Washington

Toughest Back-to-Back: The toughest set of games may come late in the season with back-to-back road games at Oregon State and then at California. While USC may be favored in both games neither will be an easy draw at that point in the season and a huge home game with Stanford could create a look-ahead situation for the second game in Berkeley. While this schedule lines up well for USC, there are definitely no breaks or weak FCS foes like many of the other prominent national programs will have included in their schedules.

Biggest Non-Conference Game: As usual the biggest game will be with Notre Dame. Last season that match came at the end of the year with the world on the line for the Irish while USC was stumbling through an ugly season and playing without its starting quarterback. It will be a much bigger game for USC this season being played in the middle of the year and on the road.

Utah Utes

Utah has enjoyed one of the best schedules in the Pac-12 in its first two years in the conference but the Utes failed to take advantage, going just 8-5 in 2011 and really struggling last season with an ugly 5-7 finish to snap a long bowl streak. Utah will have a schedule featuring three four-game blocks separated with bye weeks and it will be a challenging slate with difficult road games. Five of nine conference games will be at home but the North draw is tough with Oregon and Stanford both on the map. Non-conference games with Utah State and BYU keeps this schedule relatively tough overall and it may be difficult for the Utes to make a big jump in improvement.

Conference Misses: California and Washington

Toughest Back-to-Back: The toughest month of the season will be in October as the Utes host UCLA and Stanford in back-to-back weeks including a primetime Thursday night game and then the homecoming game. Yes, the homecoming game will be against Stanford, a program that has gone 35-5 the last three years finishing high in the national rankings. Following up that game will be a back-to-back road game set and that will be at Arizona and then at USC, two very tough games in what could be a problematic stretch in the schedule.

Biggest Non-Conference Game: While they are no longer conference rivals, Utah and BYU will face off in Provo in late September. Last season Utah held on for a narrow win, the third in a row in the series but it could be a tougher game this year and it will follow-up the conference opener for the Utes which could be less than ideal.
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