Tuesday, September 15, 2009

College Football Notes: Florida is Ready For Volunteers

College Notebook by Micah Roberts
Gaming Today

Kiffin comments could come back to bite him

"I’m really looking forward to embracing some of the great traditions at the University of Tennessee, for instance the Vol Walk, running through the T and singing Rocky Top all night long after we beat Florida next year. It will be a blast."

Those were the comments made by Lane Kiffin during the press conference to announce that he was the new head coach of the Tennessee Volunteers.

When Florida quarterback Tim Tebow read the comments, he blew it up poster-sized and placed it all over the team’s spring practice facility. When Kiffin found out what Tebow did, he was pretty tickled.

"Beautiful … awesome … wonderful – they even put our logo on it," Kiffin said. "Free advertising and we didn’t have to pay for it."

That was all playful fun at the time, but then Kiffin went "all-in" and made suggestions publicly to a crowd that Florida Gators Head Coach Urban Meyer "had to cheat and still didn’t get him," in reference to a player they both were recruiting.

Kiffin was subsequently reprimanded by the SEC and had to make a public apology to Florida for the comments.

Now, the time for talk has ended, as Florida will meet Tennessee this week in Gainesville.

Kiffin may have wanted to install pride and motivation into his fans and players, but he also put a big bulls-eye on his chest. A little swagger and brashness is nice, but not when you aggravate the national champions and coach Urban Meyer, probably motivating them to new heights of their own.

Following Florida’s 56-6 win over Troy last week, Urban said, "The season starts now," and that Tuesday’s practice "would be the hardest practice we’ll ever have."

The largest margin of victory the Gators have ever had against the Vols was 39 in 2007, and the most points they have ever scored against them was 62 in 1995. Look for both of those records to fall this weekend.

Big-10 Still Okay?

Despite a tough loss by the Buckeyes to USC, and the improbable loss by Michigan State to Central Michigan, the conference still has seven teams with 2-0 records. Michigan looks like they may be a player in the conference this year after the impressive win over Notre Dame, and Penn State is currently its highest ranked team. Even though they haven’t covered either of their games this season, PSU has shut out their opponents in the first half of both contests.

PAC-10 flexes its muscles in Eastern Time zone!

The PAC-10 sent three teams East and two came out victorious last week, an unusual feat for Western teams because of the time difference. Playing a noon (ET) game when losing three hours via travel has always been tough, even for the pros. USC and UCLA played in two of the most hostile environments and came away victorious, while Stanford came out firing early but lost late to Wake Forest.

UCLA was not a favorable decision for the bettors. The line opened Tennessee favored by 7 at the Las Vegas Hilton SuperBook and closed at -11. The USC game saw steady action on both sides, but the line stayed solid all week at -7 and fell to what is a bookmaker’s dream in big games, in which the favorite doesn’t cover and the dog doesn’t win straight up.

Another Good College Day for the Books

The boss for Lucky’s Sports Books across the state, Jimmy Vaccaro, was very happy with how Saturday went. "It was a good day for the house, and we’re especially pleased with the overall handle. Last week was a great build-up for the books and players, and it just continued into the second week," Vaccaro said. "We had several key decisions on the day, but the key was the Ohio State-USC game, which ended well for the house because so many parlays were linked to USC laying -7."

How Many Did Georgia Score?

For the last eight seasons, the total has gone "under" in the South Carolina/Georgia rivalry. In the last two seasons, the dynamic duo of Matt Stafford and Knowshon Moreno could only muster 26 points for the Bulldog offense. In their openers two weeks ago, each team was able to score only seven points, with the Gamecocks winning and Georgia losing. The total surprisingly opened high at 38 for Saturday’s game and was bet up to 39.5? So of course, the game flies over easily with Georgia getting the game total themselves in a 41-37 win.

Hawkins Must Go!

It’s hard to hear who’s shouting the loudest for Colorado’s Head Coach Dan Hawkins’ job – the Boulder faithful, or the bettors in Nevada Sports Books. The Buffaloes have sunk beneath the depths from which they were brought back to life in the late 1980’s by Bill McCartney.

After being backed by the bettors for the last two games – the reasoning was that the Buffs were playing inferior opponents – bettors believed the trend would begin to go the other way. Up next for the Buffs, the Wyoming Cowboys – another Mountain West team they could lose to.

Big-12 Ratings Dropping?

For the second consecutive week, a Top-5 ranked Big-12 team fell to a non-conference opponent. Two weeks ago it was Oklahoma falling to BYU of the Mountain West, and then last Saturday it was Oklahoma State dropping to Houston from Conf-USA.

So the question is, why should these teams risk losing this early when their conference schedule is already considered strong enough play for the computers that sort out strength schedule. If a team does well in their conference, they’ll go to a nice bowl and if they win the conference, they should have a good shot at playing for the National Championship.

Texas has played a couple of cupcakes early on and is sitting nice for their home game against Texas Tech this week with a top ranking.

The biggest beneficiary of the Big-12’s drop this year is the Mountain West with wins against Oklahoma and Colorado. Conferences looking to feed off the Big-12 this week will be the Mountain West again, Conf-USA, Big East, WAC and the MAC.

Hopefully, when the polls kick in closer to BCS time, teams like BYU or Utah will be given a fair shake because of a strength of schedule boost against the power conferences. BYU can take down an ACC team this week and help the Mountain West cause with a win against Florida State. Bowden’s kids are going to love Provo!

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