Tomorrow we’ll do our weekly look ahead at the weekend football action. Thursday we’ll look at three of the more interesting races on the BC card, and on Friday we’ll take a look at the Classic. Today, though, I’ll look at eight different things that are catching my attention as the Breeders’ Cup draws near:
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We’ll start our look at the Breeders’ Cup by looking at the races that the public is likely to have a clear opinion on. The Classic will fit into this category thans to Curlin, but we’ll leave that one until later. These are the races that you’ll either want to single in your exotics or look for a way to beat the favorite. As it turns out, the two likely no-brainers both fall on the Friday card. You could argue that there are a lot of gender-based reasons for that, but I think that it is just a coincidence.
Another week of football. That means another week of lessons learned. I’m on vacation in California leading up to the Breeders’ Cup, so the biggest lesson I learned today is that Joshua Tree is a really, really cool place. Crossroads Cafe – best bacon cheeseburger in the state. I haven’t tasted them all (though I would love to), but I am still confident of the claim. Despite the trekking through the desert and the eating of burgers, I did manage to fit some football time in, too. Here’s what sticks out:
Texas Tech (-21) at Texas A&M – This one should be a one-sided mess. What I want to see, though, is how the Red Raiders bounce back from barely scraping by Nebraska. I like this team, and I want to believe in them, but they run the gauntlet in their next four – Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma State, then Oklahoma – so they need to prove that they are up for that challenge. A dominating performance here would help. I especially want to watch their defense – they should be able to shut down the Aggies completely, but only if they tighten up on what they have done for the last few weeks.
Vanderbilt (+16.5) at Georgia – I don’t really believe in Georgia, so this one is a chance for them to prove me wrong. Vandy was a fun story early on, but they are coming off a game n which they had 107 total yards. How is that even possible? They need to bounce back in a big way, or the progress they have made this year will be discounted.
Colorado State (+21) at Utah – After BYU forgot to catch their flight to TCU on Thursday, Utah stands as the lone team in the MWC with a shot at busting the BCS. This game is no challenge for them, but I will be looking closely to see how they react to that extra pressure now and in the next few weeks.
The Breeders’ Cup advance entries were released on Thursday. That means that we have a first sense of whichhorses are heading for which races. We’ll look at the races in more depth next week, but for now let’s look at a few horses that first caught my eye because they land in interesting spots:
There is a classic match-up on Thursday night in college football. That’s nothing new – the Thursday nights have been very good to us all year. This one, though, is a chance for a lot of people to see first-hand what the Mountain West has to offer (a lot, by the way). BYU travels to TCU in a game that will either significantly strengthen BYU’s claim to being a BCS Buster, or redeem TCU for a rough game against Oklahoma. The game started out with BYU favored by two, but has snce mved so that the home team s favored by as many as two. I’ve had this game crcled on my calendar for a long while now. I’ll leave the pick up to you, but here’s a look at three reasons you could justify betting on either eam:
Another week, another set of simulations from the PS2. It’s not the best way to pick games, but then it has probably at least as much merit as the methods used by most of the betting public. That’s why sportsbooks make lots of money.
Ohio State at Michigan State – I am surprised by what happened here, but in a very pleasant way. I really, really hate Ohio State, so any time they lose it is a good thing. That makes this a great thing. Michigan State jumped out to a quick lead when Javon Ringer broke a long TD run, and they never really looked back. The final score was reasonably close – 35-31 – but Michigan State never gave up their early lead, and Ohio State made it respectable only by scoring the last ten points. Terrelle Pryor was just okay, not putting up any of the eye-popping numbers that we are going to have to get used to in coming years unfortunately.
Missouri at Texas – I think my machine has a man-crush on Chase Daniel. That’s the only way I can explain what happened here. Daniel threw for seven touchdowns. Yes, seven. Colt McCoy had a pretty gaudy day himself, but it was nothing next to the Mizzou super-stud and, if the game has anything to say about it, future Heisman winner. Needless to say, Missouri was able to pull out the win behind that showing, coming out 59-35. The PS2 doesn’t have much respect for either of these defenses. My favorite stat to come out of ths one was that Daniel was bombing so much that he was making his defense work – the Longhorns won the time of possession battle by quite a bit.
Worst NFL Game Of The Week – No contest here. There are a few games that aren’t particularly interesting, but only one that is virtually assured to truly and epically suck. Detroit is terrible. The Texans have some bright points, but they aren’t ready for prime time yet. It’s a clear sign of just how bad this game could be that Houston is favored by nine. A 1-4 team should not be favored by more than a touchdown against anyone.
Best NFL Game Of The Week – Given the sudden resurgence of the Browns and the fall from grace of the Redskins maybe it is their game because we have no way of knowing what is coming. It could have been New Orleans and Carolina, but it lost some of its’ charm with the blowout loss by Carolina this weekend. That leaves us with San Diego at Buffalo. If the Chargers can look half as good as they did against New England ths weekend then this will be a very good way to get a sense of whether the Bills are contenders.
As I write this I am watching Monday Night Football. It is early in the third quarter, and the Browns are up 20-14. This is why I love sports betting so much. On paper there is absolutely no way that Cleveland should be competitive in this one. They have been inept all year, their hottest offensive threat is in the hospital, their QB has been terrible, and they are facing the hottest team in the league. If you hadn’t been following the season, though, and you sat down to watch this game you would guess that the Browns are the juggernauts and the Giants are the ones who are struggling. The Cleveland offense is crisp and creative. Their defense is forcing Eli Manning to make bad mistakes and get out of rhythm. I still think the Giants will likely pull out the win, though probably not the cover. Still, this is the kind of game that keeps things so interesting – you would have had to have been psychic to have seen this one coming.
1. Convinced that the Big 12 is the best conference this year yet? The conference is so loaded and tough that they absolutely cannibalized each other this weekend. Oklahoma State was the lesser Missouri before this weekend, but for now at least that has been reversed. Texas spent a lot of their game looking like they were determined to lose, but finished on a vengeance and, strangely, claimed the top spot in the poll. For now the power structure of the conference is clear, but you get the real feeling that that could all change several times over this year, starting next week when Texas and Missouri meet.