Tuesday, November 3, 2009

College Football Notebook: Oregon Ducks Might Be Best Team in The Nation

by Micah Roberts
Gaming Today Las Vegas

USC is latest victim; is it Bama’s turn?

Sound the sirens, we have a possible upset alert in Tuscaloosa this week. No. 3 ranked Alabama welcomes No. 9 LSU this Saturday in what could be the Crimson Tide’s last major hurdle in an attempt to make the SEC Championship game undefeated to play Florida.

Every week, a top-10 team has fallen. Last week we said good-bye to USC. Could Alabama be that team this week? Of all the top-10 teams playing this week, Alabama would be the most logical choice.

LSU’s only loss of the season was against Florida and their offense has been much more impressive in their two wins since that loss. Two weeks ago they beat Auburn 31-10, a team who came back a week later and beat a ranked Ole Miss squad. Last week they had a tune-up against Tulane and won 42-0.

Alabama should be afraid. Not only is its hopes of a national title on the line, but if they lose to LSU, they won’t even get to play Florida for the SEC Title should LSU win out.

Alabama has four games remaining in the regular season, but has been struggling down the stretch. Their near loss to Tennessee two weeks ago was another unimpressive win that contributed to them dropping from No. 2 to third this week without even playing.

Should Alabama get by LSU, the rejuvenated Auburn Tigers may have something for them in the Iron Bowl played Thanksgiving weekend.

Taps for USC

USC no longer has to complain about playing in the Rose Bowl as they have in years past because their reign as Pac-10 Champs is over following Oregon’s 47-20 blasting of the Trojans Saturday night. It was USC’s worst defeat since 1997 and their first loss by more than seven since 2001, Pete Carroll’s first year as head coach.

What’s really surprising is that the public jumped off the wagon before it fell off the cliff. Las Vegas is usually a very pro-Trojan crowd that has generally bet them in big games during Carroll’s remarkable run. USC just doesn’t lose too many big games, but couldn’t find many takers Saturday, who all seemed to be correct.

"We couldn’t get any action on USC," said Lucky’s Sports Book Director Jimmy Vaccaro. "Oregon was one of our bigger losers on Saturday."

Vaccaro said they even dropped the USC money line all the way to -125 because of little action on USC and most of the Oregon money coming in on the plus money straight-up side. Usually a 3-point favorite is anywhere from -150 to -160 on the conversion chart.

Holy Masoli

Oregon QB Jeremiah Masoli threw for 222 yards and a touchdown and ran for 164 more and a TD in Ducks Fright Night trick-or-treat special over USC.

"I don’t know if we made a statement, this is just what we planned on doing," Masoli said. "If it makes a statement it makes a statement. That’s just Oregon football and how we roll."

It may be a little too late in the BCS rankings for No. 8 ranked Oregon to have a chance at the Title game, but since losing to Boise State in their first game of the season, not many have looked better than Oregon. Whoever wins the Big-10 can expect to be double-digit underdogs in the Rose Bowl to Oregon.

Books do well on Saturday

The monthly fall trend of casinos being able to rely on the Sports Book’s College Football win contributing to the overall scheme continued in week 9. The mix of action and indecisiveness of the small money players on the marquee games has kept them guessing all year. Teams like Florida, Texas and Alabama, who are on TV every week, are all undefeated and popular weekly plays, but have been the most unpredictable of all against the spread.

Middle of the Week

Many folks are skeptical about believing in No. 4 Iowa and it showed right away at the betting window last week when Iowa opened up an 18.5-point home favorite to Indiana. Why shouldn’t everyone question that many points? The Hawkeyes have only one convincing win all season which was in week 2 against Iowa State where they won by 32.

Every one of their seven other games this season had been won by 11 points or less. In their last four games they had barely hung on needing fantastic finishes to win, so it wasn’t surprising to see the first few large bets come in on Indiana taking the points.

The line settled at 17.5-points for all the weekend plays which is when most of the smaller money comes in, and in most cases, they like to play the favorites.

Indiana looked like they were not only going to cover, but get the straight-up win; they took a 21-7 half-time lead.

The Hoosiers still had the lead going into the fourth quarter at 24-14, and then the tidal wave came. Iowa made big play after big play for a 28-0 run to close out the game giving Iowa a 42-24 win with a margin of 18 points, right in the middle of where the move went, meaning the books got beat on both sides of the spectrum. Sharp money won with the early wagers and the small money won with their weekend wagers.

Moves of the Week

Mississippi opened a 3-point road favorite at Auburn and by kickoff the game had moved to 6-points. Auburn ended up winning the game outright 33-20.

No surprise to find a MAC game getting early movement, which it did Monday when the Toledo/Western Michigan matchup came out at Pick and because of who bet it, was quickly bumped to -2 and then -2.5 where it closed. Toledo cruised to an easy 26-14 win over Western Michigan.

Penn State was one of the moves that happened later in the week. They opened a 14.5-point favorite and was bet small early and finally closed at 17. Northwestern gave them a battle for the three quarters but couldn’t hang on, giving up the possible win and cover, losing 34-13.

Watch every Tuesday for a brand new College Notebook article.

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