Notre Dame Texas Preview and Texas A&M vs Arizona State
Tony Salinas: Volatile Scenarios in Play when Texas visits Notre Dame
Over my long career as a sports bettor and poker player, I've probably talked more about, and written more articles about the Texas Longhorns and Notre Dame Fighting Irish than any other football teams. I was raised in West Texas...and was part of the influx of gamblers who turned Las Vegas into an extension of West Texas back in the day. Naturally, I follow the Longhorns closely as "the national team of Texas." And, Notre Dame was "America's Team" in college football long before the Cowboys started making that claim in the NFL.
This Saturday, those two storied programs open the 2015 season against each other in a game you can watch on NBC at 7:30 p.m. ET (4:30 p.m. out here in Las Vegas).
Notre Dame has been shuttling between prices of -9.5 and -10 all week. Irish backers lay the -9.5, while Texas money jumps in at the 10. This should be a very heavily bet game. Vegas sportsbooks are praying the final margin doesn't land exactly on 10 because then Irish money would win and Longhorn money would push.
I'm particularly interested in the quarterback position for both teams. Projected Texas starter Tyrone Swoopes was in way over his head last season. He just wasn't ready. The team basically gave up on him at the end of the season. That's why they lost at home to TCU 48-10 and in their bowl game vs. Arkansas 31-7 to close out their season. He held his own when he didn't have to do much vs. lesser opponents. But...when it really mattered, he was a disaster that didn't wait to happen.
Local media is suggesting that he's matured a lot in the offseason, and turned into a real team leader. We'll find out if that's true very quickly. This isn't a home opener in Austin against some pushover like North Texas or Louisiana Lafayette. In South Bend, you'd better be ready to play!
Notre Dame has settled on Malik Zaire as their starting quarterback. He had a very nice bowl game vs. LSU, who was completely unprepared for his skill set...and barely motivated for the Music City Bowl anyway. He may be destined for stardom. But, I can assure you that Charlie Strong's Longhorn defense will be much better prepared than LSU was. They had months to study game film of Zaire. And, it's not like head coach Brian Kelly's general offensive approach is a big secret.
I said in the headline that we have "volatile" scenarios in play. Really, either quarterback could fall flat on his face in this high pressure situation. And, that could ignite another season of disappointment. You know Longhorns alumni aren't going to be satisfied with another 6-7 type season. Notre Dame was talking National Championship in mid-October last year before losing five of their next six games.
I'm not going to post an official pick here in my web article. I may be playing the game for my clients on Saturday. I can tell you that I'm thinking about the Under given the lack of big game evidence that either quarterback will step up. Though, Texas has switched to the spread offense this year. Last year's 4-9 performance to the Under on totals may not repeat with the faster pace. Still some time for me to make a final decision before the picks go up. On the team side, you longtime followers know I prefer underdogs to favorites in big games. If the public bets hard enough to keep Notre Dame at a solid -10, I may have to pull the trigger on the Longhorns.
You can always purchase my game day selections in all sports right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call the Vegas-Sports-Masters office at 1-888-777-4155 and ask about TONY SALINAS. There are a whole lot of Johnny-Come-Latelies who are trying to get your attention right now on TV, radio or in social media. I was making a living as a sports bettor before most of them were born!
I'll see you again next week to talk about what's shaping up as a very interesting game between the Oklahoma Sooners and the Tennessee Volunteers. Look for me at least once a week on the Vegas-Sports-Masters Blog for reports on either college or pro football through the season. I won't win every game...but over the long haul, my clients always GET THE BEST OF IT WITH TONY SALINAS!
Wayne Root: All Eyes on the A&M Defense Versus Arizona State
I'll be writing a lot about the Pac 12 this season. The South Division in particular is loaded with FOUR teams ranked in the Top 25 to start off the 2015 campaign (and a fifth team in Utah just missed!). Here's a look at those rankings and who the Pac 12 South standouts play this week...
#8 USC (-27 vs. Arkansas State)
#13 UCLA (-19.5 vs. Virginia)
#15 Arizona State (+3 or +3.5 vs. Texas A&M in Houston)
#22 Arizona (played UTSA Thursday)
Up in the North Division, two more ranked teams reside with #7 Oregon and #21 Stanford. Oregon has a huge road game at #5 Michigan State a week from Saturday.
Now, without tipping my hand too much...I do think some of those rankings are off. My personal Power Ratings don't quite see it that way. I'm not going to be too specific here because I need to protect potential September releases involving Pac 12 teams. I will definitely be watching Arizona State's game with Texas A&M Saturday night because that's the most compelling matchup involving a Pac 12 team this weekend.
Though...I have to admit that the single most important storyline in that ASU/A&M game involves the SEC entry. Everyone wants to know if John Chavis can fix the Aggies defense!
You casual fans may not be aware, or may have forgotten, that A&M hired Chavis away from LSU after last season to be their defensive coordinator. He had some really GREAT defenses with the Tigers, and will likely have an immediate impact on the Aggies.
Texas A&M was absolutely horrible on defense last season...and it's just not hard to improve from "horrible" with more aggressiveness and a better schematic. It would be shocked if A&M didn't get better on that side of the ball. Will Chavis be able to make them a contender in the loaded SEC West right away? Probably not. He will need some time to recruit better athletes. But, that high octane offense mixed with just a "decent" defense will make the Aggies a handful for any opponent.
Testing the Aggies Saturday night will be ASU's potent offense led by talented but overlooked quarterback Mike Bercovici. He's had to stay in the shadows to wait his turn. He did step in well for awhile last season when an injury lifted him to starter. He finished 2014 with 12 TD passes and only four interceptions...on 7.77 yards per attempt. If he maintains THAT pace, ASU can definitely compete for the South title. The pollsters are assuming he will, which is why the Sun Devils start out in the Top 15. He was one of the best backup QBs in the country last season, and is ready for prime time.
Important to note here that LAS VEGAS doesn't see these teams the same way as the pollsters. Even though Texas A&M would be a respectable #27 if the poll went down that far based on the voting, the Aggies are solid 3 to 3.5-point favorites over #15. And, that game isn't in College Station. It's in Houston where the Texans play their NFL games! You can't call it a pure neutral field given the proximity to Aggieland. But...if you give the Aggies 1-2 points for home field, that means the market sees them as the superior team in a purely neutral locale. The market says A&M is stronger in the Power Ratings even if they're ranked a dozen spots lower in the poll. Professional wagerers are betting the Aggies at -3 in Houston!
WAYNE ALLYN ROOT made his name by going against the grain...and by outsmarting the market. That's why I'm the only man in the sports betting industry with a star on the "Walk of Fame" here in Las Vegas! I could well be on the Pac 12 entry plus the points Saturday night. I think I have the quarterback edge with Bercovici over Kyle Allen. If Chavis is going to take a month or so to shore up the Aggies, then the A&M defense could be in serious trouble Saturday night. You'll have to sign up for service to find out for sure what I'm thinking about the Saturday card.
My game day selections can be purchased right here at the website with your credit card all through the college and pro football season. If you have any questions about which of my long term programs best suits your individual needs, please talk to my representative in the office at 1-877-ROOT-WINS during normal business hours Friday or Saturday before the early games tip off.
I'll be writing for you THREE times per week through the football season. My next report in a couple of days will talk about the NFL...as we gear up for the start of the season next week. Look for a mix of pro and college all the way through what's promising to be one of my biggest seasons ever.
FOOTBALL IS BACK...and the first big Saturday of 2015 has arrived. That's why it's time for you to go to W.A.R. alongside WAYNE ALLYN ROOT!
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