Clemson Breathing Easier While USC Is Already Feeling Impact Of NCAA Sanctions For Breaking Rules

Clemson Breathing Easier While USC Is Already Feeling Impact Of NCAA Sanctions For Breaking Rules 

Defending Champion Alabama Solid 5-1 Favorite To Do it Again While Colts 3-1 Choice To Win Super Bowl 

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By Kelso Sturgeon

It's no time for football handicappers to take a vacation. The work load is enormous as one tries to keep up with everything happening in the National Football League pre-season world and with the 120 college teams that kick off their regular season in just two weeks.

For the record nothing has happened in the three weeks that have gone by since I announced to the world I am down at 20-1 on the Minnesota Vikings to win the Super Bowl and at 20-1 on Virginia Tech to win the BCS championship.

There was never any doubt in my mind Minnesota quarterback Brett Favre would return. All he was waiting for was for his $16 million contract to be guaranteed, which it was not two weeks ago. The contract he will sign today guarantees him $18 million for the season, plus another $2 million in incentives.

As for Virginia Tech being my choice, it was an easier call than one might think. Tech has all the ingredients for a national championship, including a ball-control offense that will (1) dictate the pace of every single game the Hokies play, (2) an offense that is unstoppable because it is loaded with blue-chip skill players and (3) its usual lockdown defense.

For the record the Vikings are now 12-1 to win the Super Bowl, while the Indianapolis Colts, last year's runner-up, are the 3-1 favorites, followed by defending champion New Orleans and the Dallas Cowboys at 8-1. A word of caution for Dallas fans-the cowboys had better solve all the problems they have in their offensive line or their dead going in, 8-1 or not.

These betting lines come from the Las Vegas Hilton sports book, as do the following college numbers.

At this writing, Virginia Tech has moved out to 25-1 (oh, ye, of little faith) with defending national championship Alabama the 5-1 favorite to again win it all. Ohio State is the second choice at 9-2, followed by Oklahoma at 6-1, Florida and 7-1 and Boise State at 10-1.

While the focus of these columns for the past two weeks has primarily been the NFL pre-season, the college football world has not been ignored. Impact changes are occurring day by day with the 120 NCAA I-A teams on which we will be betting this season and here are some updates bettors might find helpful.

Clemson Breathing Easier With Return Of QB

Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney hid it well but he has been on pins and needles for weeks while waiting to see what starting quarterback Kyle Parker was going to do. Parker, an outstanding signal-caller and an even better baseball player was drafted by the Colorado Rockies and speculation was that he would take the money and run. He did the first but not the latter. Parker signed a $1.5 million contract with the Rockies and that contract permitted him to return and call the shots for the Tigers this season. This means Clemson will have at its quarterback this season a sophomore who threw for 2,526 yards and 20 touchdowns in a run-oriented offense last season. For the record, he was an All-American in baseball and in 2010 became the only NCAA athlete to every throw 20 touchdown passes and hit 20 home runs in the same season. The Tigers open their season at home Saturday, Sept. 4, as a 24-point favorite over North Texas.

Trojans Deny It But They Are Already Paying The Price

Southern California is already paying the price for NCAA penalties for rules violations and has had to limit its contact in practices to about half the contact drills of the past. The Trojans, who will lose 30 scholarships over a three-year period, are already down to 70 scholarship players (each team is permitted 85) because of transfers from the program and there is no help on the horizon. The long-term effect of the scholarship sanctions and will a terrible impact on this team-far more than head coach Lane Kiffen seems willing to admit. USC opens at Hawaii Thursday night, Sept. 2 and is a 20-point favorite in that game.

Middle Tennessee, Northern Illinois Most Under-Rated

The entire world knows the outstanding football teams in the country reside in such cities and towns as Austin, Gainesville, Norman, Los Angeles and Columbus etc but oft hidden from public view and off the handicapping radar screen are other teams that have all the ingredients to produce big profits for bettors who are paying attention. Here is my season-opening list for teams I know are held in low esteem by linemakers and who will at least for the first month of the season give bettors an edge.

1.       Northern Illinois-Opens at Iowa State Thursday, Sept. 2, as 3.5-point underdog.
2.       Middle Tennessee-Opens at home against Minnesota Thursday, Sept. 2 and is 4.5-point favorite.
3.       San Diego State-Opens at home Saturday, Sept. 4, against I-AA Nichols State.
4.       Wyoming-Opens at home Saturday, Sept. 4, against I-AA Southern Utah.
5.       Nevada-Opens at home Thursday, Sept. 2, against I-AA Eastern Washington
6.       SMU-Opens at Texas Tech Sunday, Sept. 5, as a 13.5-point underdog.
7.       Army-Opens at Eastern Michigan Saturday, Sept. 4, as 9-point favorite.
8.       Washington-Opens at BYU Saturday, Sept. 4, as 3-point underdog.
9.       Kansas State-Opens at home against UCLA Saturday, Sept. 2, as 2-point underdog.
10.     Maryland-Opens against Navy in Baltimore Monday, Sept. 6, as 6.5-point underdog.

This does not mean all these teams are automatic plays in every game but is to point out the numerical ratings linemakers have on them are off from 2-4 points and that alone is at least a beginning edge in games in which they are involved.

Opening Thursday Night College Schedule

The college football season kicks off on Thursday night with seven games of which five are on national television. Here they are, with the home team in CAPS, and with betting lines and TV network.

Thursday, Sept. 2

SOUTH CAROLINA (-14) over Southern Miss (ESPN)
OHIO STATE (-29) over Marshall (Big 10 Network)
IOWA STATE -4.5 over Northern Illinois
UTAH (-3.5) over Pittsburgh (VERSUS)
Southern California (-20) over HAWAII (ESPN)
MIDDLE TENNESSEE (-4.5) over Minnesota (ESPU)
UAB (-13) over Florida Atlantic

Friday, Sept. 3

Arizona (-15) over TOLEDO

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