Monday, September 20, 2010

College Football Notes From Las Vegas: Week 3

By Micah Roberts

The third week of College Football was another week of win some and lose some for the Las Vegas sports books which in a way is a good thing for everyone involved. The books don’t get to fat with large wins while the players are able to wet their beaks a little which keeps the money churning through the windows.

While the overall win is low for just about everyone around Las Vegas, the volume has been reported as either flat or above 2009 at the same juncture making the action in sports books on Saturday one of the only places in the casino with year over year increases.

Because of the gains in handle, sports book Directors are getting passed on the wrath of their bosses. During weekly executive meetings with the hotel and casino department Directors, the General Manager is always asking for ways to increase handle and drop for each of the areas. Knowing that the economic climate is what it is, it still doesn’t stop the bosses from trying to get the most out of everyone and keep their marketing minds working.

The meeting goes something like this with the GM using a voice similar to Seinfeld‘s Steinbrenner , “Joe, in table games, what are doing to create business and why are your numbers so low, Fix it! Mary from slots, your last two promotions tanked. Our drop is the worst ever. The slot Director from the Movie Casino could do better. Fix it, or you’ll have the same fate as him. Bill from sports, keep it up, Jerry from Poker….”

Early College Lines  
The Wynn Las Vegas has been posting their college football lines by 3 pm on Sunday’s, the earliest lines available around the world, yes, the entire world. Wynn sports book Director Johnny Avello and his staff have to do some serious number crunching to get things right by sticking their neck out early. I know first hand that they have one of the sharpest college football minds in town with supervisor Doug Casteneda who was Joe Lupo and Bob Scucci’s right hand man when the old Stardust was the first to put lines up. His knowledge and past line making experience should make the venture a success.

College Football Notes
The Pac-10 took some early lumps last week with Cal getting crushed by Nevada and Washington getting thumped at home by Nebraska, but made up for the soured opinions of the conference later with impressive efforts, even in a loss. Arizona State lost by one at No. 11 Wisconsin and then the late night action saw three separate conferences get smoked by the Pac-10. The Big-10’s No. 18 Iowa got beat at Arizona 34-27. Conference USA‘s top team, Houston, lost 31-13 at UCLA and one of the ACC’s three remaining undefeated team’s, Wake Forest, let Stanford score 68 points. In this weeks poll the Pac-10 has five teams ranked including USC and Oregon State.

No. 5 Oregon has piled up 189 points in their three games thus far and lead the way for the conference’s quest for national respect, but their October 2 game with Stanford is going to be a major stumbling block. Stanford has started the season 3-0 for the first time since 2001 and has put up 155 points in their three games. Should Stanford get by Notre Dame, as they should, the clash in Eugene will be one heck of a game. I’ll take Stanford right now plus the points. I think they are one of the best teams in college football right now capable of beating anyone.      

The Houston Cougars paid a steep price in their 31-13 loss to UCLA Saturday night. Not only did the loss to an 0-2 team knock them out of them top-25, but their top two quarterbacks were knocked out leaving them with a third stringer for their game against Tulane this week. Case Keenum injured his knee while chasing one of his interceptions and his back-up, Cotton Turner, injured his shoulder while filling in.

We finally found a team at UNLV that we should be able to beat in the New Mexico Lobos. To show just how bad New Mexico is, the 0-3 UNLV Rebels were posted as an 11 ½-point home favorite on the early Wynn (the casino, not the Indians pitcher from the 50’s) line on Sunday. The Rebels may be short on talent, but they do play with heart. The Rebels should play with some anger and a thirst to finally do some pounding on someone. Look for the Rebels to win by 20.

Player of the Week
Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden threw for 409 yards and 6 TD’s in a 65-28 win over Tulsa giving him 11 for the season in three games. The Cowboys have this week off before getting Texas A&M for a Thursday night game in Stillwater.

Game of the Week
No. 1 Alabama with their Heisman All-American Mark Ingram back 100% travel to No. 10 Arkansas for a tough SEC matchup. On paper, this is the best matchup of the year we’ve had so far as we finally get into some meaningful parts of the schedule for the top ranked teams. Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallet has a big arm and has thrown for over 300 yards and 3 TD’s in all three Arkansas wins. Alabama comes in as a strong 7-point favorite and while they won’t disrespect the Razorbacks, they could be looking ahead to two tough back to back games on their schedule immediately following this game. On October 2 they play No. 9 Florida and then a week later they have to play No. 12 South Carolina in Columbia. It’s a tough game to handicap and will be more fun to watch than sweat a bet, but I would probably lean towards the Alabama side just because their defense should force Mallet into doing things he doesn’t want to. PICK: Alabama 34 Arkansas 21  

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