The Sports Bookie Blog

NCAA Bowl Games that Matter

December 6th, 2010

The 2010 regular college football season is over, and the final BCS standings mean a national championship game that we’ve seen coming for weeks: No. 1 Auburn versus No. 2 Oregon.

TCU will try to make a non-AQ statement against Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO. Many believe Wisconsin, which won consecutive Rose Bowls after the 1998 and 1999 seasons, is the nation’s best one-loss team. If TCU could knock the Badgers off, it would be a major victory for the non-AQ conferences.

Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO
#5 Wisconsin vs. #3 TCU
at Pasadena, Calif.
Rose Bowl Jan. 1, 5 p.m. ESPN

In the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, Oklahoma will square off with Connecticut, who are unranked in the BCS standings but representing the Big East. The Huskies lost to Michigan by 20 and Louisville shut them out 26-0 but they’re the best that the Big East has got this year.

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
Connecticut vs. #7 Oklahoma
at Glendale, Ariz.
U. of Phoenix Stadium Jan. 1, 8:30 p.m. ESPN/ESPN3D

Stanford is headed to South Florida to play resurgent Virginia Tech in the Discover Orange Bowl. More than a few folks believe the Cardinal are the nation’s best one-loss team. And the Hokies are riding an 11-game winning streak.

Discover Orange Bowl
#4 Stanford vs. #13 Virginia Tech
at Miami
Sun Life Stadium Jan. 3, 8:30 p.m. ESPN

Ohio State will try to reverse its luck versus the SEC in the Allstate Sugar Bowl against Arkansas. The Big Ten would really like to beat the SEC in a BCS bowl game, particularly the Buckeyes, who are winless in nine bowl games versus the SEC.

Allstate Sugar Bowl
#6 Ohio State vs. #8 Arkansas
at New Orleans
Louisiana Superdome Jan. 4, 8:30 p.m. ESPN

Two seemingly unstoppable offenses headlined by leading Heisman Trophy candidates: Auburn quarterback Cam Newton and Oregon running back LaMichael James. Just 37 days to wait for this one …

Tostitos BCS National Championship Game
#2 Oregon vs. #1 Auburn
at Glendale, Ariz.
U. of Phoenix Stadium Jan. 10, 8:30 p.m. ESPN/ESPN3D

Week 7 NCAA Football Preview at Bovada Sportsbook

October 14th, 2010

It’s hard to talk about Week 7 NCAA football without talking about the brand new No. 1 team in the nation, Ohio State. For weeks the Buckeyes plugged away doing everything that was expected of them while the Alabama Crimson Tide sat in the primary position of the AP polls, now after six weeks at No. 2, Ohio State will experience what it’s like to be the best for the first time in 2010.

#1 Ohio State @ #18 Wisconsin
In Week 7 the Buckeyes will take on the No. 18-ranked Wisconsin Badgers, an immediate test of their might. The Buckeyes have only played one Top 25 club so far this season, the University of Miami in Week 2. Will Ohio State prove that they are deserving of such lofty accolades and keep their undefeated record alive? It will be a competitive game, perhaps one of the most exciting Buckeyes match up to date, but Ohio State is favored by 4 points.

Mississippi @ #8 Alabama – Ole Miss in a mis-match?
Prior to their Week 6 loss to South Carolina, all was well in Alabama. The national powerhouse had defeated three Top 25 teams, including two Top 10s in a row, but it doesn’t take much to lose command of a competitive crop of college football teams this season and the Tide tumbled to No. 8. This week they’ll have a chance to redeem themselves against unranked Mississippi. The Tide are obvious favorites with odds now at -21.

Illinois @ #7 Michigan State
Week 7 is a good time to be a Michigan State Spartans fan as the club has soared up the charts, now at a season high ranking of 13. This week the Spartans will host Illinois with the odds now showing Michigan State at -7. After starting the season unranked, Michigan State has continued to impress and their weekly rankings have reflected that.

Are the Ohio State Buckeyes a shaky team to have ranked No. 1 in the nation? Doesn’t it just feel wrong to have Alabama bumped from the spot given their indisputably challenging early season schedule? That’s where you come in.

Weigh in on the Buckeyes, Tide, Spartans and more with Bovada Sportsbook. Be a player. Get in the game.

Check out all the lines at Bovada Sportsbook – safe, secure, sports betting

Bookmaker Bowl Season Best Bets

December 31st, 2009

Happy New Year - welcome to 2010!This blog post is from the team at Bookmaker.com. (US bettors are safe and welcome at this online sportsbook)

By Jeff Frank, Contributing Editor Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network)

This week, Idaho returns to the postseason for the second time in school history in the Humanitarian Bowl against Bowling Green. The Vandals played in this game back in 1998 – a 42-35 victory over Southern Miss as 17-point underdogs.

The line in this one has Bowling Green favored by a single point in a matchup of two teams from conferences – the WAC and MAC – that did not have much success last week with Nevada, Ohio and Fresno State all coming up on the losing end in postseason action.

Idaho was the surprise team the first half of the ’09 season compiling a 6-1 record after winning just three games the previous two years. However, the lights dimmed quickly after becoming bowl eligible with just one victory in the final five games.

The Vandals’ most impressive performance came at Northern Illinois, a game in which they prevailed by three points. Nevertheless, the Huskies were coming off a road win over Purdue the week before, so that partially explains how they lost to Idaho. In fact, the Vandals’ other six wins came against teams with a combined record of 19-55. In addition, their average margin of defeat in the three losses to bowl teams was an alarming 23 ppg.

Bowling Green also defeated just one team still in action this postseason (Troy) but the Falcons’ margin of deficit in their five losses to bowl squads was only 14. More importantly, they are currently riding the wave of a four- game winning streak and would love nothing more than to eradicate the memory of a 63-7 loss to Tulsa in their last bowl appearance two years ago.

Idaho is ranked 113th nationally against the pass and only Nevada gave up more touchdowns through the air this season. Everyone witnessed how poorly the Wolf Pack played against SMU, and the same thing will happen to Idaho when Bowling Green takes care of business.

>>Take the Falcons minus the points.

One of the biggest days of the ’09 season is the first day of 2010 with five games and two top plays. The first comes from Tampa, Florida where Northwestern takes on Auburn in the Outback Bowl.

The Tigers are favored by over a touchdown even though they won just seven games this year. They also finished the regular season losing five of their last six FBS contests. Since the line opened Auburn minus 4.5 points, it seems the betting public has put a lot of stock in the Alabama game as that was the last contest the Tigers played and it’s fresh on everyone’s mind.

If that’s why folks are betting Auburn, they are making one heck of a mistake. Northwestern won six of its last eight with huge wins over Iowa and Wisconsin. Furthermore, the ‘Cats passing attack led the Big Ten completing 65% of their tosses and Mike Kafka threw just seven interceptions in over 400 attempts. Meanwhile, Auburn was last in the SEC in scoring defense allowing 27 ppg.

The Tigers can score points in bunches but Northwestern has proven it can stay with high-powered offenses as shown in the Wisconsin game scoring 33 points while gaining over 400 total yards. The Wildcats are the better team and they’ll prove it in Tampa with the outright victory.

>>Take Northwestern plus the points.

LSU and Penn State hook up in the Capital One Bowl. The Tigers defense looked shaky at the end of the season allowing 24 points or more in three of the last four games. Offensively, the club ranked 10th in the SEC in scoring, 11th in rushing and ninth in passing. The running game has suffered due to injuries and the team’s top two rushers (Charles Scott and Keiland Williams) will not be able to play. The offensive line has also had its share of problems allowing 33 sacks, 11 more than last season.

The Nittany Lions gave up just five passing touchdowns this season one of only three teams to accomplish that feat. The other two are squaring off against each other in the BCS Championship Game.

LSU’s defense was stout for the first two-thirds of the year giving up only 97 points in the first eight games (12 ppg). However, the unit fell apart in the final third, allowing 95 over the last four contests (24 ppg) and the likelihood of any improvement against the Nittany Lions is slim and none. Most observers expect a tight finish in this one as Penn State is favored by two points, but don’t be fooled. This one will be over before the fourth quarter.

>>Take Penn State minus the points.

All three games are Two-Star plays as were UCF (vs. Rutgers), Utah (vs. California), SMU (vs. Nevada) and UCLA (vs. Navy). The lone Three-Star selection this bowl season is Texas (vs. Alabama). For those who want selections on other games, go with Tennessee plus the points vs. Virginia Tech in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, Oregon minus the points against Ohio State in the Rose Bowl, Cincinnati plus the points vs. Florida in the Sugar Bowl, and Central Michigan minus the points against Troy in the GMAC Bowl.

Here’s a link to the latest sportsbook review rating Bookmaker.com. Check them out is you’re after a quality off-shore sportsbook for the new betting year.

NCAA Football Betting – Humanitarian Bowl Preview

December 24th, 2009

Location: Boise, Idaho
Date/Time: Dec. 30, 4:30 p.m.
TV: ESPN 
 

The Humanitarian Bowl is not exactly Alabama-Texas, but don’t tell these kids that bowl games don’t matter. Idaho will be thrilled to be in this game while Bowling Green should also be focused on winning. This should be an interesting game for internet gambling fans.

Idaho Season Recap :

After Dennis Erickson came for a brief stint, then Nick Holt decided against head coaching Idaho, Robb Akey happily took over the Idaho program.

Yes, it has been a glum decade for the Vandals but they finally have had a winning season (7-5) and they are in a bowl game, which for them is huge. This was the Vandals first winning season since 1999 and this will be their second bowl game in school history.

Sure, the start was much better than the finish – Idaho won six of its first seven games – but regardless, the team is thrilled to be hear after a good year and will be ready for this game.

Bowling Green Season Recap :

Bowling Green didn’t compete for a MAC Championship as they were hoping but they still had a pretty good year and they are once again an offensive power. The Falcons had an opposite season to the Vandals as they started the year with losses in four of their first five games but then managed to finish the season 6-1 to get to this point.

But overall, when you look at Bowling Green’s season, all five of their losses came to teams that will be playing in bowl games. At the same time, their only win against a bowl-bound team was a win over Troy.

Sports wagering cappers should know that Bowling Green has a very good offense and they don’t bother with playing defense, which is what makes their games very entertaining.

The Matchup :

Both teams have lethal passing games, which should make this game an air show. The Vandals have the 11th-ranked passing offense while sports handicapping sharps know that Bowling Green is also ranked high in that category, ranking eighth.

Idaho will be fired up to be in their second bowl game in school history but Bowling Green will be a challenge for them. Bowling Green was throttled in their last bowl game as they lost 63-7 to Tulsa and they will be looking to play much better.

Pick: Take Bowling Green -2

 

Army vs Navy Picks – Interservice rivals meet for 110th time

December 10th, 2009

Sportsbook players should stand attention for these Army vs Navy picks, as Army attempts to not only end a seven-year losing streak to their interservice rivals, but they’re also looking to sneak into a bowl game for the first time since 1996.

Army vs Navy Picks – Saturday, December 12, 2:30 PM ET

The Black Knights (5-6) can go to the EagleBank Bowl with a win over Navy, kicking UCLA out of the bowl picture. They’re coming off a tough 17-13 victory at North Texas in a game they had no business winning, as they allowed 447 yards while gaining only 287. But the Army defense forced five turnovers to keep them in the game, and then the 14th ranked rushing attack in the country got the Black Knights a win. Trent Steelman, who has had some bumps as a freshman, ran for 132 yards and a touchdown, and this was his second straight road game in which he ran for 100 yards or more.

Navy (8-4) lost 24-17 in Hawaii, and they had no answer for the high-flying aerial attack of the Warriors, allowing 366 yards through the air. Ricky Dobbs rushed for 127 yards and a score, while adding 88 yards through the air, but the defense couldn’t stop Hawaii, especially late in the third and fourth quarters, when they allowed touchdowns in the last 40 seconds of the quarter.

The sports betting odds in your sportsbook for this contest has Navy as a 14-point favorite, and they’ve decimated their rivals over the last two years of a seven-year winning streak, beating Army 72-3. Last year’s 34-0 win was the first shutout in this long series, and Army would love to show that they’re improved.

The Black Knights have gotten better, but their inability to stop the run will be their downfall as Navy’s triple option has been known to shred a defense or two. Army should be able to get on the board at least, but Navy’s defense will want to redeem themselves after their performance against Hawaii, and they’re playing a team that barely throws the ball.

Make Navy your NCAA football betting pick.

Army vs Navy Picks : Navy -14 

What is the Gooners Guide to Football Gambling ?

November 28th, 2009

GoonersGuide.com provides independant gambling reviews, sports betting tips, previews, and bookmaker odds for club and international games played in Europe.

There are sections for English Premier League, Italian Serie A, UEFA Champions League, Spanish La Liga, German Bundesliga.

US sports are covered with NFL Football and College Football picks online as well.

NFL & NCAAF Weekend Game Preview And Analysis

September 25th, 2009

Betting on the NFLHere’s a second take on the Week Three NFL Betting action, this time from the team at Bodog Sportsbook.

It looks so easy watching it on television – just advance the ball 10 yards, and you get four downs to do it. But football teams in the pros and in college have to design increasingly complex offensive strategies to move the ball downfield against defenders that get bigger, faster, and stronger every year. It can take a game or two to work the bugs out. Not coincidentally, the over was the winning football bet in both the NFL (9-7) and FBS (34-30) last week.

We’ll see if the nation’s offenses continue to mature this week. All times are Eastern; for the latest football betting lines, visit Bodog Sports.

Saturday: No. 9 Miami-Florida at No. 11 Virginia Tech (3:30 p.m., ABC)

The Hurricanes (2-0 SU and ATS) are 3-point road favorites and getting plenty of attention in their return to the national spotlight. The offense is rolling with QB Jacory Harris (five touchdowns and five picks in two games) earning some early Heisman buzz as a sophomore. And QB Tyrod Taylor finagled a win for Virginia Tech (2-1 SU, 1-2 ATS) last week against Nebraska. But the Cornhuskers run defense was good enough to cash in as a 5-point puppy, and Miami is also stout against the run. Taylor picked up negative yardage in each of Tech’s two ATS losses. The ‘Canes are 1-7 ATS in their last eight yearly visits to Lane Stadium, with the under at 5-2.

Saturday: Iowa at No. 5 Penn State (8:00 p.m., ABC)

Last year’s 11-win season (7-4-1 ATS) and trip to the Rose Bowl put at least a temporary end to the questions surrounding the abilities of Penn State’s octogenarian coach, Joe Paterno. The Lions are off to another strong start at 3-0, but only 0-3 ATS, failing to cover spreads of nearly 30 points in each game. They’re laying only 10 points (–105) this week, and it’s to the only team that beat them in the regular season last year, the Hawkeyes (3-0 SU, 2-0 ATS). Iowa will blitz Penn State QB Darryl Clark (eight TDs, three INTs) and take advantage of the holes in his offensive line. That should keep the game fairly close as Iowa attempts to mask its own deficiencies in protecting QB Ricky Stanzi (five TDs, three INTs). The underdog is 7-2 against the football odds in their last nine matchups.

Sunday: Tennessee at N.Y. Jets (1:00 p.m., CBS)

The Jets are one of this year’s early and pleasant surprises at 2-0 SU and ATS under first-year head coach Rex Ryan and first-year QB Mark Sanchez (91.3 passer rating). The Titans, on the other hand, are 0-2 (1-1 ATS) after losing to Pittsburgh and Houston by a field goal. The spread for this matchup is also Jets –3 (+105) with a low, low total of 37. Without the gigantic and versatile Albert Haynesworth on the defensive line, Tennessee’s pass rush has taken a step back this year, while Sanchez is getting excellent protection from left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson.

Sunday: New Orleans at Buffalo (4:05 p.m., FOX)

The Bills have been even more surprising than the Jets, nearly upsetting the Patriots (-13) in the season opener and beating the Buccaneers (+4) quite handily. QB Trent Edwards (104.9 passer rating) has responded nicely to the simplified playbook of new offensive co-ordinator Alex Van Pelt, although he has been sacked six times already. The Saints’ offense exploded in a pair of easy wins over the Lions (+14) and the injured Eagles (+2.5). That gives us a massive total of 52 points for Sunday’s matchup with the Bills getting six points (-105) on their own field. Buffalo is 7-3 ATS in its last 10 home games as an underdog.

Sunday: Indianapolis at Arizona (8:20 p.m., NBC)

Although Peyton Manning (110.3 passer rating) has a pair of 300-yard passing games and a pair of victories under his belt, the Colts (1-1 ATS) are gaining very little on the ground and were fortunate to win both times. The Cardinals (1-1 SU and ATS) rebounded from a poor opener to beat Jacksonville (–3) in one of QB Kurt Warner’s finest games ever: 24-for-26, 243 yards, two TDs. The Cards are also getting positive results from first-round pick Beanie Wells (5.2 yards per carry). They’re 2.5-point home faves on Sunday night with a total of 48.

Football season is in full swing – and the Bodog Sportsbook has all the Football lines to keep you going!

Best Betting Action This Week

December 30th, 2008

Great American Sports Bets for the weekYou have now entered Sports Betting Shangri-La. This week is going to be absolutely stellar for handicappers; the Rose Bowl and the Orange Bowl are on tap, along with the NHL Winter Classic. But wait, there’s more: We now have the four NFL Wild-Card matchups all set. Let’s add the best of those games and put some other fresh produce on the shelf for this week’s Top 5 list (all times Eastern; for current lines, visit the Bodog online sportsbook).

1. NFL: Indianapolis at San Diego (Saturday, 8:00 p.m.)

Both these teams looked pretty shaky to start the season, but the Colts (12-4 SU, 8-7-1 ATS) won their last nine in a row at 5-3-1 ATS, while the Chargers (8-8 SU, 7-8-1 ATS) rattled off four straight at 3-1 ATS to steal the AFC West title from Denver. Indianapolis was able to rest its starters for most of the team’s 23-0 blanking of the equally uncaring Titans (-3). The Chargers didn’t have the same luxury; that might cost them this week, as RB LaDanian Tomlinson told NBC after beating the Broncos that he suffered a strained abdominal muscle.

2. NCAAF: Utah vs. Alabama (Friday, 1:00 p.m.)

The Sugar Bowl features the lone surviving undefeated team in the FBS, the 12-0 Utes (7-3-1 ATS). They meet a Crimson Tide club (12-1 SU, 9-4 ATS) that was undefeated until the season finale against Florida. The Utes are getting 10 points at the Superdome in front of what should be a partisan crowd of Tide supporters. However, this is a very good Utah squad with a stud QB in Brian Johnson (24 TDs, nine INTs) and exquisite special teams. The Utes padded their resume this year with victories over Oregon State, BYU and TCU.

3. NFL: Philadelphia at Minnesota (Sunday, 4:30 p.m.)

The Vikings (10-6 SU, 6-10 ATS) don’t do anything the easy way. They grounded out a 20-19 victory over the Giants (+7) to claim the NFC North title on the final day. Now they have to deal with the Eagles (9-6-1 SU, 10-6 ATS), who steamrolled over Dallas 44-6 to earn a Wild Card and cash in as 2-point home faves. The Philadelphia defense returned two fumble recoveries for touchdowns, picked off Tony Romo once and messed up his ribs for good measure. Minnesota has the fourth-worst pass protection in the league with 43 sacks allowed – one fewer than the Eagles.

4. NBA: Boston at N.Y. Knicks (Sunday, 6:00 p.m.)

Boston’s 19-game winning streak came crashing to a thud on the West Coast with losses to the Lakers (-2) and the Warriors (+11). But the Celtics let out their frustrations in a 108-63 revolt against the Kings (+12.5). The C’s remain the top team in the NBA at 28-4 (18-14 ATS), while the Knicks have fallen into their familiar position in the Atlantic basement at 11-18 (15-14 ATS). Blame for their current six-game losing streak is falling on New York’s long-term vision to clear salary cap room for a potential LeBron James signing in 2010. The Knicks are 4-12 SU (but 9-7 ATS) since dealing Zach Randolph to the Clippers.

5. NCAAB: No. 11 Michigan State at No. 23 Minnesota (Wednesday, 12:00 p.m.)

The Spartans are 9-2 SU and 4-4 ATS to start the season strong on the AP poll, but Ken Pomeroy’s advanced stats tell a different tale. The leading stathead in college hoops has Michigan State ranked No. 42 in Division I, with the No. 76-ranked defense. Pomeroy has the undefeated Golden Gophers (11-0 SU, 4-2-1 ATS) even lower at No. 48 overall, dragged down by the No. 79 defense in the nation. The Spartans have played the tougher schedule up to this point, with the two losses coming to Maryland (+7.5) and North Carolina (-10).

Honorable Mentions

NFL: Baltimore at Miami (Sunday, 1:00 p.m.)
NCAAF: Oregon State vs. Pittsburgh (Wednesday, 2:00 p.m.)
NBA: Miami at Orlando (Friday, 7:00 p.m.)
NCAAB: No. 18 Villanova at Marquette (Thursday, 2:30 p.m.)
NHL: Boston at Pittsburgh (Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.)
MMA: Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic vs. Hong Man Choi, K-1 Premium Dynamite!! (Wednesday, PPV at 2:00 a.m. from Japan)

Visit Bodog for a look around!For all the latest betting lines check out Bodog Sports. For more on this popular American sports betting site, read the latest Review of Bodog Sports at BookieLabRat.com or suss out what the team at GoonersGuide.com thinks of Bodog Online Sportsbook.

>>Compare the top 3 online sportsbooks for Amercian sports betting 

2008 – 2009 College Bowl Preview

December 20th, 2008

Jim Tressel and the Fiesta BowlWho says we need a college football playoff system? Thanks to millions of dollars in corporate sponsorship, we have two new bowl games to bet on this year, bringing the total to 34. That’s more than double what any namby-pamby eight-team elimination format would provide.

This football feast comes at just the right time. The softest lines come at the start of the season and at bowl time, when teams from different conferences clash. The lines are even softer in the five major bowl games as the betting public floods the market with cash. We’ll get to those five games in a moment. First, let’s consider the merits of some of these lesser bowl matchups.

The minor bowl games are extra-special betting occasions because they feature teams from the mid-major and low major conferences. The GMAC Bowl between Ball State (12-1 SU, 9-3 ATS) of the MAC and Tulsa (10-3 SU, 7-5 ATS) is chock-full of betting angles and should be a hoot to watch, as well. These are two of the most prolific offenses in the nation, operating in relative obscurity and ripe for the plucking.

Handicapping gets even better when a mid-major is paired up against a team from the BCS conferences. Underdogs have historically done well in bowl games, although there was a market correction last year at 8-24 SU and 14-17-1 ATS. The most compelling matchups from a betting standpoint involve mid-major underdogs with something to prove against major-conference clubs who were looking for a higher-profile bowl game and are too disappointed to be angry about it.

The Las Vegas Bowl is a typical example. This game usually pits the top team in the Mountain West against the No. 4 seed from the Pac-10; over the past seven years, the Mountain West team is 6-1 SU and ATS. This year’s BYU-Arizona matchup is different – BYU is actually the No. 3 seed in the MWC, and Arizona is going bowling for the first time in a decade. The usual motivations are essentially reversed.

The Hawaii Bowl is supposed to match the WAC with the Pac-10 as of 2006, but this year we get Hawaii vs. Notre Dame – still a case of small program vs. big program. However, the juiciest trend coming out of this bowl is the 6-1 mark the over has produced during the past seven seasons. Playing at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu almost guarantees ideal conditions for a high score, and the Warriors (still pass-happy under first-year coach Greg McMackin) can also point at the 10-4-1 ATS record home teams have put up in bowl games at their actual homes.

Popular online sportsbook Bodog will have lines on all 34 bowls, with live betting already scheduled for 31 of those contests – including all five of the BCS bowls. The money spends the same no matter which game you bet on, but these are the five most important games of the season, so let’s dive right in and have a look (all times Eastern; for current lines, visit sports.bodoglife.com).

Rose Bowl: No. 6 Penn State vs. No. 5 USC

Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.
Jan. 1, 4:30 p.m., ABC
Penn State: 11-1 SU, 7-3-1 ATS, Over 7-4
USC: 11-1 SU, 6-6 ATS, Under 8-3-1

If this is the Rose Bowl, it must be the USC Trojans. They’ve played at the Grandaddy of Them All four of the last five years, going 3-1 SU and ATS. The lone setback was against Vince Young and the Texas Longhorns three years ago for the national championship.

Pete Carroll’s Trojans have won seven straight Pac-10 titles and two national titles since he took over as coach in 2001. This year’s team is ranked No. 5 by the BCS and the AP; quarterback Mark Sanchez (30 TDs, 10 INTs) is already an improvement over John David Booty and posted a higher passer rating (159.1) than 2004 Heisman winner Matt Leinart (156.5).

Joe Paterno’s Nittany Lions made an even bigger upgrade at QB, replacing Anthony Morelli (19 TDs, 10 INTs last year) with Daryll Clark (17 TDs, four INTs). The Lions arguably have the better offense in this matchup, but like USC were shut out of consideration for the national title game – the BCS has Penn State all the way down at No. 8. This is an undervalued football club.

Orange Bowl: No. 12 Cincinnati vs. No. 21 Virginia Tech

Dolphin Stadium, Miami
Jan. 1, 8:30 p.m., FOX
Cincinnati: 11-2 SU, 6-6 ATS, Over 7-5
Virginia Tech: 9-4 SU, 5-7 ATS, Under 7-5

These are the two stepsisters invited to the ball. The Hokies got an automatic berth as ACC champions, and although the conference failed to produce a national title contender, Virginia Tech had to run the gauntlet against some very good clubs to get here. The Hokies had the No. 5-ranked strength of schedule in the nation this year; the Big East champion Bearcats clock in at No. 32.

Both these teams bring strong defenses and pedestrian offenses to Miami, although Cincinnati is fueled by the passing attack of QB Tony Pike (18 TDs, seven INTs), while Virginia Tech feeds off the rushing of Darren Evans (4.3 yards per carry) and the scrambling of QB Tyrod Taylor (5.2 yards). The Hokies also like to use QB Sean Glennon as a pocket-passing option, which gives them the kind of flexibility the last two champions from Florida and LSU enjoyed. The Bearcats have a decided edge in special teams that should come to the foreground in a defense-dominated game.

College bowl betting in the Bodog Sportsbook.

Sugar Bowl: No. 7 Utah vs. No. 4 Alabama

Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans
Jan. 2, 8:00 p.m., FOX
Utah: 12-0 SU, 7-3-1 ATS, Over 9-2
Alabama: 12-1 SU, 9-4 ATS, Under 9-4

Last year’s Sugar Bowl didn’t fit the usual underdog motif – Hawaii was a one-trick offensive pony, and Georgia played angry after not getting a spot in the BCS championship. This year’s BCS buster from Utah is a much more dangerous team. The Utes beat Oregon State and Michigan as well as TCU and BYU, but with the No. 110-ranked strength of schedule, it remains to be seen whether Utah can hang with the big boys.

Alabama also had a surprisingly easy time in the SEC, beating up on the crestfallen West Division before running into the champions of the East, the Florida Gators. That’s where the party ended for the Crimson Tide; that one game vaulted their strength of schedule from No. 68 in the nation to No. 23. Utah will be one of the toughest teams Alabama has faced this season. Covering a double-digit spread will be difficult in what should be another defensive matchup, with the Utes holding an even bigger advantage in special teams than Cincinnati has in the Orange Bowl.

Fiesta Bowl: No. 10 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Texas

University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.
Jan. 5, 8:00 p.m., FOX
Ohio State: 10-2 SU, 5-6 ATS, Under 6-5
Texas: 11-1 SU, 9-3 ATS, Over 6-6

The college football nation is suffering from Buckeye fatigue. They were embarrassed two years in a row at the national championship game, and losses to USC and Penn State were supposed to keep Ohio State out of the BCS bowl picture. But they got in anyway ahead of higher-ranked teams from Texas Tech and Boise State. Texas, meanwhile, could do nothing but watch while the Oklahoma Sooners cruised to the title game despite losing the Red River Shootout to the Longhorns.

The trap here would be to dismiss Ohio State as overvalued. Losing 35-3 at USC was bad, but that was with Todd Boeckman at QB. He was promptly replaced by freshman Terrelle Pryor (12 TDs, four INTs); his 152.1 passer rating was superior to Boeckman’ 148.9 campaign in 2007. OSU also didn’t have top rusher Chris “Beanie” Wells (5.7 yards per carry) against the Trojans. With Pryor and Wells together, Ohio State was 7-1 SU and 5-3 ATS. That still might not be enough to beat mighty Texas, but all OSU supporters need is the cover.

BCS National Championship Game: No. 1 Florida vs. No. 2 Oklahoma

Dolphin Stadium, Miami
Jan. 8, 8:00 p.m., FOX
Florida: 12-1 SU, 10-2 ATS, Over 8-4
Oklahoma: 12-1 SU, 10-2 ATS, Over 11-1

The Sooners actually came out No. 1 in the BCS rankings, but they’re the underdogs in this matchup. Florida is 9-0 SU and 8-0 ATS since losing 31-30 to Ole Miss as 23-point home faves. The Rebs turned out to be a whole lot better than advertised – they’re going to the Cotton Bowl to face Texas Tech. Florida beat each of its next nine opponents (and its first three) by double digits, including the previously unbeaten Crimson Tide in the SEC title game.

Oklahoma has had some lousy major bowl games in recent memory:

2008 Fiesta Bowl: West Virginia 48, OU (-8) 28
2007 Fiesta Bowl: Boise State 43, OU (-7) 42 in OT
2005 Orange Bowl: USC 55, OU (+1) 10
2004 Sugar Bowl: LSU 21, OU (-6.5) 14

You have to go back to the 2003 Rose Bowl win over Washington State – the first Rose Bowl win in team history – before you find some good news for the Sooners. The missing season from that list ended with a Holiday Bowl win over Oregon that was later wiped out due to NCAA violations, then reinstated.

What can OU do for an encore? The Sooners might have the best offense in the nation – yes, even better than Florida’s – with Heisman hopeful Sam Bradford (48 TDs, six INTs) at the helm. The Gators respond with better defense and special teams, although casual fans only identify Florida with reigning Heisman winner and continuing candidate Tim Tebow (28 TDs passing, 12 TDs rushing, two INTs). Points should be harder to come by for both these men than they’re used to.

>>Compare the top three online sportsbooks for US sports betting here at BookieLabRat.com.

The Weeks Best Betting Action?

December 17th, 2008

Here’s the best betting action this week according to the crew at popular online sportsbook Bodog. For more on Bodog check out the latest Bodog Sportsbook reviews at BookieLabRat.com and GoonersGuide.com.

Eli Manning - NFLOkay, college football fans. Recess is over; time to get back to work. The 2008-09 bowl season starts this Saturday with four games, and while this foursome may feature some of the lightweights on the bowl scene (will there be a second St. Petersburg Bowl?), we’ve got at least two games that promise to be both entertaining and potentially lucrative. The first bowl down the runway kicks off this week’s Top 5 list (all times Eastern; for current lines, visit Bodog Sportsbook).

1. NCAAF: Navy vs. Wake Forest (Saturday, 11:00 a.m.)

The inaugural EagleBank Bowl is compelling for two reasons. It’s the first game on the schedule, which makes it the New Hampshire of the bowl season. And it’s a very interesting matchup between the Midshipmen running attack and the Demon Deacons defense. They’ll be playing at RFK Memorial in Washington, D.C., where the weather forecast calls for temperatures in the low 40s with a 25-percent chance of rain. The under is 7-4 for each team. Wake Forest is a 3-point chalk (even money) despite losing 24-17 to Navy in Week 5 as a 17-point home favorite. 

2. NFL: Pittsburgh at Tennessee (Sunday, 1:00 p.m.)

This is not a recording. Pittsburgh (11-3 SU, 8-6 ATS) was at it again last week, mounting a late comeback to upset the Ravens 13-9 as 3-point road dogs. The Steelers are now in a position to steal the top seed in the AFC from the Titans (12-2 SU, 11-3 ATS). Tennessee is coming off a 13-12 loss at Houston (+3) and will be without the services of both Albert Haynesworth (sprained MCL) and Kyle Vanden Bosch (groin) from the defensive line. The Titans were 0-3 SU and ATS last year when Haynesworth was injured.

NFL betting in the Bodog Sportsbook.

3. NCAAF: No. 17 Brigham Young vs. Arizona (Saturday, 8:00 p.m.)

The Mountain West has two teams who deserve more attention than they’re getting. BYU is not one of them. The Cougars are in the AP rankings at 10-2, but they’ve covered only once in their last eight games, and they were spanked on the road by both Utah (-6.5) and TCU (-1.5). The College Football News ranks BYU’s season performance No. 30 in the FBS with Arizona at No. 51; that presumably leaves the ‘Cats (7-5 SU and ATS) as a value pick for their first bowl game in 10 years. They’re 3-point puppies at –105 juice.

4. NBA: San Antonio at New Orleans (Wednesday, 9:30 p.m.)

These are two of the hottest teams in the NBA. The Spurs (15-8 SU, 12-11 ATS) have won six in a row and 10 of their last 12 (at 8-4 ATS) after a very slow start, while the Hornets (13-7 SU, 9-10-1 ATS) are 8-2 in their last 10 games at 7-3 ATS. An emphasis on 3-point shooting has helped both teams; New Orleans is No. 1 in the league at 40.6 percent from long range, while San Antonio is second at 39.7 percent. Both teams are in the middle of the pack in perimeter defense. On the injury front, Tyson Chandler (stiff neck) has missed two games and is listed as day-to-day.

NBA odds in the Bodog Sportsbook.

5. NCAAB: No. 2 Connecticut vs. No. 8 Gonzaga (Saturday, 4:00 p.m.)

Gonzaga (7-1 SU, 5-2 ATS) has dropped the cash twice in a row after losing 69-64 at Arizona (+6). Saturday’s big date with UConn (8-0 SU, 2-2 ATS) should be an even tougher test for the ‘Zags. The Huskies beat Miami-Florida (+4) and Wisconsin (+5.5) by double digits to take the Paradise Jam preseason tournament. But the rest of UConn’s schedule has been pretty light up to this point, while the Bulldogs (winners of the Hall of Fame Showcase tourney) have loaded up on major programs to strengthen their March Madness resume. Ken Pomeroy’s advanced rankings have Gonzaga at No. 3 and UConn at No. 10 out of the 344 Division I clubs.
 
Honorable Mentions

NFL: Carolina at N.Y. Giants (Sunday, 8:30 p.m.)
NCAAF: Memphis vs. South Florida (Saturday, 4:30 p.m.)
NBA: Phoenix at Portland (Thursday, 10:30 p.m.)
NCAAB: No. 7 Xavier vs. No. 6 Duke (Saturday, 2:00 p.m.)
NHL: Philadelphia at Montreal (Thursday, 7:00 p.m.)
Boxing: Nikolai Valuev vs. Evander Holyfield, WBA heavyweight title (Saturday, 3:00 p.m.)

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