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Okay so this is going to come as a surprise to everyone. I love the game tonight. I think its an easy winner. So dont look now. Like a few games this weekend as well. Will get started with a few now. Bought a point and got these in early.
Friday's List of 13: Random thoughts with weekend here.......
13) If you ran a big league baseball team and your career depended on team winning, would you give free agent-to-be Josh Hamilton big bucks? I’m just asking; he puts up huge numbers, but also has very glaring flaws. Will be interesting to track.
12) Congrats to Miguel Cabrera on being the first Triple Crown winner since 1967. All in a year when he changed positions too, and on a playoff team. Well done.
11) Teddy Roosevelt won the President’s Race at Nationals’ Park for the first time in 500+ tries Wednesday. Maybe Stephen Strasburg got bored and was inside the Teddy costume.
10) College hoop practice starts next week; Texas Tech named an interim coach from within, which is probably a good thing, since they’ve got nine new players on the squad. The Big X is a tough, tough league; Tech is going to get whacked around this year. Interesting to see who they hire full-time next spring.
9) Cliff Lee is first pitcher in modern history to strike out 200+ batters and not win seven games.
8) Knicks-Pistons are playing regular season game in London in January. I could envision a European division in the NBA someday, if they can get five cities with NBA-quality arenas. NBA might be more popular in Europe than America.
7) Tampa Bay Rays were 47-27 when Evan Longoria played this season, 43-45 when he didn’t; they need a more durable Longoria moving forward.
6) Houston Rockets drafted Iowa State’s Royce White in first round; he’s a terrific talent, but is scared to fly, and wants to travel to road games via a customized bus. Can’t wait to see how the Rockets deal with this one.
5) San Diego’s Chase Headley led the NL with 115 RBI, first Padre to lead the league since Dave Winfield in 1979. Want to feel old? Winfield turned 61 Wednesday.
4) Speaking of age, Knicks have the oldest roster in NBA history. Seriously. Hard to envision this ending well.
3) Oakland rookie pitchers started 103 of 162 games this season, the most by any big league team since the ’52 Brooklyn Dodgers, who played in the World Series that year.
2) Derek Holland threw 113 stressful pitches for the Rangers Sunday night, in second game of twinbill in Arlington; what was he doing in the game Wednesday afternoon in Oakland, throwing 50 more? Not like the Rangers were dead if they lost, and they had 17 pitchers on their roster. Seemed like they were putting a young talent at risk and they still didn’t win.
1) Bobby Valentine can whine all he wants about his coaches, the media, the players, anything he wants, but he doesn’t seem like a guy who endears much loyalty. What he does seem like is a self-promoting control freak who was way out of his element in Boston. The Red Sox’ winter will be one of the best baseball stories of the offseason.
Georgia Tech won seven of last nine games vs Clemson in series where dog is 11-4 vs spread, but 0-3 in last three played here; Tech is 4-3 in last seven visits to Death Valley- they scored 30+ points in three of last four meetings, but Jackets got stung last week 49-28 by Middle Tennessee of Sun Belt, allowing 264 rushing yards. In last two games, Tech allowed 91 points, 1,119 TY. Clemson allowed 80 points in last two games, road tilts at Florida State/BC, they also gave up 27 to Ball State, but Tigers have firepower, scoring 36 ppg vs Auburn-FSU-BC, running ball for 320 on the Tigers. ACC home favorites are 3-4 against spread. Clemson is 11-8 as home under Swinney; Tech is 7-4-1 as road dog under Johnson.
Penn State won nine of last 11 games vs Northwestern, winning last five, covering last four; Wildcats covered just one of last five visits to Happy Valley, but they come in 5-0 this year, having run ball for 687 yards in last two games vs I-A opponents (BC/Indiana). Penn State won last three games by combined score of 93-27, after an 0-2 start; they’re 6-14 in last 20 games as home favorite, 2-1 this year. Lions have outscored opponents 76-9 in first half of games this season. Northwestern covered 10 of last 13 tries as a road dog; they won only road game this year 42-41 (-1) at Syracuse. Big Dozen home favorites are 2-3 early in season.
Missouri is having rough first season in SEC, losing first two league games by 21 points each; they had five players involved in minor drug issue this week- they won’t play here, vs Vanderbilt squad that has been off for two weeks since getting bamboozled 48-3 at Georgia. Vandy is 0-3 vs I-A foes, scoring total of only 29 points. Mizzou has beaten Arizona State (24-20), UCF (21-16) but outgained ASU by only 22 yards and was outgained by 49 yards last week in Orlando. Tigers are 6-4 in last ten games as home favorites. Commodores are 2-7 as road underdogs since underrated Bobby Johnson quit Vandy before the ’10 season. SEC home favorites are 5-4 vs spread so far this season.
Virginia Tech won four of last five games vs North Carolina, but only one of five games was decided by more than 7 points, with dogs 4-1 vs spread; Hokies won last two visits here, 26-10 (-3), 21-17 (+3.5). Tar Heels are 6-3 in last nine tries as home favorites, 2-0 this year- they’ve played well in last 10 halves, crushing ECU/Idaho last two weeks, after being down 36-7 at half in Louisville and almost pulling that game out. In its two losses, UNC allowed 640 passing yards. Inexperienced Hokies (lost 8 starters on offense) lost both their road games so far, 35-17 at Pitt, 27-24 to Cincinnati at Redskins’ Stadium in Maryland-- this is first time since ’10 opener that they’re a regular season dog. Tech is 6-4 in last 10 tries as an underdog.
South Carolina beat Georgia last two years (17-6/45-42), after losing nine of previous 12 meetings in this rivalry; Dawgs won five of last seven visits here, with favorites 4-2-1 vs spread and average total, 24.1. Dawgs covered just one of last six games as an underdog, but they’ve been an offensive machine in ’12, scoring 48.2 ppg in 5-0 start, gaining average of 613.3 ypg in last three games. Georgia was tied at half vs Tennessee, down 1 at Mizzou, but outscored those teams 43-24 in second half. Gamecocks won last four games by 21+ points after struggling in opener at Vandy (17-13); they’re 10-6 in last 16 games as home fave (3-0 in ’12). SC plays at LSU/at Florida next two weeks, so brutal schedule for them.
Texas gave up 581 yards in wild 41-36 win in Stillwater last week, a great win for them, but now they host West Virginia squad that gained 808 yards LW against Baylor. QB Smith was 45-51/656 passing- they’ve had 338+ passing yards in all four games this year. Last week might’ve been more of an indictment of Baylor’s joke of a defense, but 45-51 is good on an empty field. I’m now considering New Mexico’s 206 rushing yards vs Texas a red flag for the Longhorns’ defense- they play Oklahoma at Texas State Fair next week; quite a 3-week stretch for them. Over last 10+ years, West Virginia is 13-5 vs spread as a road underdog, Texas is 7-11 in its last 18 games as home favorites. Also needs to be noted that Marshall passed for 413 yards vs WVU and Baylor 582, as Holgorson turns his games into Arena Football-like action.
UCLA is off to 4-1 start under Mora, with wins at Rice (49-24), Colorado (42-14), now they visit Cal’s refurbished stadium where they’ve lost last six visits, with only one of six losses by less than 8 points, but Golden Bears are struggling at 0-4 vs I-A opponents, scoring total of 26 points in last two games. Coach Tedford’s seat is getting hotter (does anyone remember how bad Cal was before he took over?) thanks to home losses vs Nevada/Arizona State; how is someone who coached Aaron Rodgers unable to land better QB recruits? UCLA had 211+ rushing yards in all four wins; Oregon State held them to 72 in their only loss. Over last 4+ years, Bruins are 4-0 as road favorites; since ’05, Cal is 1-6 as a home underdog. Pac-12 home dogs are 4-3 vs spread this season.
Michigan won seven of last nine games vs Purdue, winning three of last five visits here, with four of those five games decided by 6 or less points; favorites are 7-5 vs spread in last 12 series games. 2-2 Wolverines are completing just 54.5% of passes this year; they’ve had two weeks to work since turning ball over six times in 13-6 loss at Notre Dame- they lost other road trip this year, 41-14 to #1 Alabama in Dallas. Purdue scored 54-51 points vs stiffs last two games; they lost 20-17 game at Notre Dame, holding Irish to 52 rushing yards, but losing when better passing QB Rees came off bench late to lead winning drive. Wolverines don’t have anyone who passes like Rees. Since 2007, Michigan is just 2-8-1 vs spread as road favorites. Boilermakers are 5-3-1 as home underdogs under Hope.
Stanford won four of last five games vs Arizona, winning 37-10/42-17 last two years, when Luck was on their side; Luck is in Indy now and Cardinal has struggled on offense, scoring 20-21-13 points in three of their four games (also hammered Duke 50-13)- they’ve completed exactly 50% of passes (51-102) over last three games, which ain’t good. Arizona gave up 38-49-38 points in last three games vs I-A opponents, losing tough 38-35 home games with Oregon State last week; Wildcats are scoring 39 ppg at home, but got waxed 49-0 in their only road game, at Oregon, when they had ball in Ducks’ red zone times but never scored. Since ’08, Stanford is 15-8 as home favorites; since ’09, Arizona is 4-7-1 as road underdogs. Favorites covered last three series games overall, and four of last six played here.
Home side won last five Wake Forest-Maryland games; Deacons lost five of last six visits here, losing 62-14/26-0 in last two tries. Wake was once an automatic play as a road dog, but they’re 5-13 vs spread last 18 times they got points on road, losing 52-0 (+27) at Florida State in only road game this year. Deacons gave up 37-34 points in last two games, to Army/Duke, so their defense isn’t good- they had 362 passing yards in UNC upset, but have total of 534 in three games since. Hard to tell about Maryland yet; holding West Va to 31 points looks good, but they almost lost to Wm & Mary (7-6) and lost 24-21 at home to UConn, Edsall’s old team. Since 2004, Terrapins are 8-17 vs spread as home favorites (2-3 under Edsall). Underdogs are 4-3 vs spread in last seven series games.
Notre Dame is 5-0 and NBC is excited; Irish allowed 26 points in winning last three games vs Big Dozen teams, but this will be stiffer test, on neutral (Chicago, so cooler weather will be foreign to some Miami kids) field vs an explosive offense. Miami can score, but they have an awful defense, allowing 39.3 ppg vs I-A foes-- they’re 4-1, somehow winning at Georgia Tech, in game they led 19-0 before allowing 36 unanswered points to team that struggles throwing the ball. Hurricanes are 5-2 as road dogs under Golden (he’s a very good coach, he won at Temple!!!) but their run defense is putrid, allowing 258 rushing yards/game over last four games—even I-AA Bethune-Cookman had 233. Notre Dame is 8-7-2 vs spread as a favorite under Kelly. With Notre Dame joining in the ACC, guess this replaces Michigan as a big rivalry game for the Irish. Notre Dame (+2.5) beat Miami 33-17 in a bowl game two years ago, in last series meeting.
Counting its bowl game LY, Nebraska has allowed 111 points in losing its last three road games, including 36-30 (-5) at UCLA last month, when Bruins had 344 rushing yards despite starting five freshmen on offense; over last decade, Cornhuskers are 6-13 vs spread when getting points on foreign soil. Ohio State outrushed Nebraska 243-232 in Lincoln LY, but left 34-27 losers, mainly because they completed only 6-18 passes; Buckeyes are 5-0 in first year under Meyer, but underdog covered their last four games. OSU is 3-7 as home favorites since they made Tressel hang up his sweater vest. OSU allowed 532 yards to Cal, then 403 to UAB, but went to East Lansing and won tense 17-16 game, holding Spartans to 303TY. Big Dozen home favorites are 3-2 vs spread early in this season.
LSU is 5-0, but they can’t be happy with last two games, a 12-10 (-20) win at a desperate Auburn squad, then sluggish 36-22 win over I-AA Towson State (was 17-9 at half); this is huge game for transfer QB Mettenberger to establish himself- he’s completed 65.8% of passes, but was just 15-27/169 at Auburn. Until he does better, foes will stack defense against LSU running game, which averaged 4.7 ypa in first three games, but was down to 4.1/4.5 last two weeks. Tigers beat Florida last two years, 33-29/41-11, making them 5-3 in last eight series games; Bayou Bengals outgained Florida 453-213 LY. LSU covered five of last six tries as a road favorite. Over last decade, Florida is 0-3 as an underdog in the Swamp. Gators have had very strong second halves in their two toughest games, wins at Texas A&M/Tennessee.
-- TCU QB Paschall (off-field issues) is out for this week.
-- Navy is 7-1-1 vs spread in its last nine games with Air Force.
-- Michigan State covered 10 of its last 13 games as a road favorite.
-- Northern Illinois covered nine of its last eleven games.
-- Army covered five of its last six home games.
-- Cincinnati covered five of its last six rivalry games with Miami, O.
-- Eastern Michigan covered only five of its last 22 home games.
-- Rutgers covered just once in its last six away games.
-- Western Michigan covered eight of its last 11 as a home favorite.
-- Kansas State covered 12 of its last 17 games overall.
-- Nevada is 25-12 in its last 37 games as a home favorite; Wyoming covered 15 of last 19 as a road underdog.
-- NC State is 9-3-1 in last 13 games as a home underdog.
-- Oregon covered its last eight games against Washington.
-- Oklahoma is 19-8 vs spread in game following a loss.
-- Wisconsin covered nine of last 10 as Big Dozen home favorite.
-- Michigan State covered 10 of its last 13 games against Indiana.
Saturday's List of 13: Doing some thinking out loud........
13) I’ve been complaining for awhile about Saturday afternoon baseball games getting blacked out during the 3-hour FOX window, even if you have the Extra Innings package; well, starting in 2014, no more blackouts, so one for the good guys. For the money we pay, should get to see every game and now we will.
12) A’s first playoff game in Detroit is Saturday at 6; Game 2 is Sunday at noon, which of course is 9am local time for fans out in Oakland. Must be a rule that the Bronx Bombers have to play every playoff game at night. Fuck the Yankees!
11) Speaking of which, Bronx game Monday night is at 8:07; Jets play Houston at 8:30 on ESPN, so if you root for both those teams, its head to a sports bar or line up two TVs in your living room.
10) San Jose State’s football team is off to a 4-1 start under coach Mike McIntyre, whose dad George was also a very good coach, having brought Vanderbilt to a bowl in 1982, their last bowl until four years ago. If you bring Vandy to a bowl game, you can coach.
9) Solid road win for USC Thursday, winning 38-28 at Utah, in game they trailed 14-0 less than 6:00 in. Conference road games always have the potential to get dicey, so this wound up as a solid effort by Trojans (-14), who didn’t sit on the ball in the last minute, after recovering an onside kick. They actually tried two running plays; trying to cover the spread for the alumni?
8) Northwestern is 5-0 as it heads to Penn State Saturday; they’ve run the ball like crazy in wins over BC/Indiana and have also covered 10 of last 13 tries as a road underdog. Penn State outscored its opponents 76-9 in first half of games this season, but still lost two of the five games.
7) Arizona Cardinal QB Kevin Kolb has been sacked 17 times in last two games; kind of hard to utilize your best weapon (WR Fitzgerald) when the passer is being treated like a piñata.
6) Rams/Titans are only two NFL teams without a rushing TD this year, which is odd, considering Rams have Steven Jackson, Titans have Chris Johnson. Cool thing about the 3-2 Rams is they already have more wins this year than they’ve had in two of last three seasons. However…….
5) ……..Rams need to find WR Givens a new number; #13 needs to be retired and put in the rafters in the Jones Dome. Not sure if they’re waiting until Kurt Warner gets put in the Pro Football Hall of Fame (2014), but it really needs to happen soon. Its just weird seeing someone who can run really fast wear #13 for the Rams.
4) Popeye Jones was a very good basketball player at Murray State and had a decent NBA career as a role player; he’s now an assistant coach with the Nets. His son is going to be one of the top two picks in the 2013 NHL Draft, yes NHL, not NBA. Kid lives in Dallas, too.
3) Hubie Brown’s son Brendan is replacing John Andareise as radio analyst on Knick games; Andareise has been working Knick games almost as long as I can remember. Hope it was his choice to leave.
2) There’s a 1993 San Antonio Spurs’ championship ring on EBay for $3,200. Apparently front office people don’t value these rings as much as players, they use them as a way to get a cash bonus and they sell ‘em.
1) Going to be very odd seeing the Nationals play in playoffs this weekend, knowing their best pitcher is healthy but not active. How will TV handle it? Will they keep a camera on him? Will he be in the dugout or the bullpen or the clubhouse? One thing I’d love to know is what Davey Johnson thinks of all this. He can’t be real happy.
Been a really tough kick in the ass with USC getting backdoored due to so many mistakes. So lets get back on the horse and throw out a few more. Have a few big plays rolling already that were posted early this week.
NORTH CAROLINA STATE/FLORIDA STATE OVER 54 POINTS
MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE +4
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
Already have Oakland A's at monster odds to win pennant and world series
How sweet it would be cashing a 100-1 shot
Sunday's List of 13: Wrapping up a college football Saturday........
13) Three of top five teams got beat Saturday, with LSU/Florida State getting blanked in the second half on the road, first time since 2008 that three of the top five teams lost on the same day.
12) Florida State led 16-0 at halftime in Raleigh, but Seminole QB Manuel took an awful sack in Wolfpack territory when Seminoles were up 16-10, costing his team a shot a field goal that would've been very helpful about an hour later. NC State was missing three starters on offensive line.
11) If you like to invest in games, you can spend hours looking at stats, like some of us do, or you can just read the papers, and go against the teams who appear on that week's police blotter........
-- TCU's QB was suspended after a DUI: Frogs (-7) lost on the up.
-- Missouri had five guys suspended; Tigers (-7) lost on the up.
-- Wake Forest had five guys suspended; Deacons (+7) lost 19-14, but at least they covered the spread.
Winning two of three by that method ain't bad.
10) Miami had a WR drop a wide-open TD on the first play of the game, and it was all downhill from there, as they got bamboozled 41-3 in Chicago by Notre Dame. They'll be payback down the road for this one.
Quick lookalike: Miami coach Al Golden and the late George Allen, who coached the Rams and Redskins. He has some of Allen's mannerisms.
9) Wheels have completely fallen off at Auburn, which lost 24-7 at home to a dysfunctional Arkansas team. Is it possible for a coach to be on the hot seat less than two years after he won a national title? Nothing has gone well for coach Chizik since Cam Newton left town.
8) LSU was supposed to have improved QB play this year, but they've scored 18 points in their last two road games, they converted only 1-13 on 3rd down Saturday with only 8 first downs in an ugly 14-6 loss at Florida. The offensive coordinator at LSU makes $750,000 a year; could be a long week for him.
7) Duke is 5-1, its best start since 1994; Blue Devils beat Virginia 42-17, after trailing 17-14 at the half. Duke is coached by David Cutcliffe, who had a decent stint at Ole Miss but got run out of town after Eli Manning went on to the NFL, despite having only one losing season in Oxford.
6) ESPN might want to think twice about airing BYU games on weeknights; they've already had a 7-6 loss to Boise State, a 6-3 win over Utah State on the nation's airwaves, a couple of snoozefests. Conference games are more fun to watch, that is almost always true.
5) North Carolina outrushed Virginia Tech 339-40, thumped Hokies in Chapel Hill, 48-34. UNC survived 15 penalties for 126 yards. This is as bad as the Hokies have played in years.
4) If you bet on Central Michigan (+11.5) Saturday, someone upstairs has it out for you; Chippewas were down 5 in the last minute, and Toledo kicked a FG to go up 43-35 with 0:54 left, something like that. You know it is a bad day when Toledo runs pick-6 back with 0:38 left to cover, 50-35. Rockets also had a punt return for TD and another pick-6 earlier.
3) There were 23 unbeatens coming into this week; now there are 16.
2) Penn State outscored Northwestern 22-0 in 4th quarter to hand the Wildcats their first loss of the year, 39-28. ESPN's Brian Griese went out of his way to praise the coaching QB McGloin has been getting this year, a not so subtle dig at the old QB coach, Jay Paterno.
1) Ohio State 63, Nebraska 38. Cornhuskers' coach Bo Pelini played at Ohio State; you get the feeling these two teams are going to be great rivals, both on the field and on the recruiting trail.
Buckeyes scored a TD on a 16-yard run with 0:48 left; hmmm.....