Take it to the Bank: Too Good to Be True

When a Vegas line seems too good to be true, it usually is. Normally, this is because the guys who set lines for a living know something, and jumping on what looks like a big mistake is, itself, a big mistake.

On the other hand, sometimes the lines are out of whack because they are based not on reality, but on how the public views the teams. If the public views the better team as the lesser team, the better team is given points to equalize the money bet on both sides. In such a case, you can get the better team AND points-or the lesser team with more points than they should be receiving. Either way, it's like stealing.

My record against the spread last week was 7-8. Thanks a lot, LSU, for blowing a 21 point halftime lead against Tennessee. Reminds me of the 28 point lead your coach blew last year vs. a diferent UT when he was coaching Oklahoma St.

My overall record vs. the spread is now 16-14.

This week's picks#, including IQ's (i.e., Interest Quotient: *=change the channel, that Martha Stewart movie is on again;*****=If you haven't invested in HDTV yet, get it for this game.)

1. KU +17 @ Texas Tech****

This is one game that looks like a steal. This line is based on the popular perception of Tech as an unstoppable offensive juggernaut and of KU as the Baylor of the North.

Yes, Tech is legitimately giving points at home, but 17? Yes, the Red Raiders can score at will against the likes of Florida International, Indiana State, and Sam Houston State, but they play a Division I defense this weekend. A Big 12 Defense. Their untested QB will have to make quicker decisions than he is used to. And the Tech D? Untested, too.

It is certainly possible that KU could lose by more than 17 if its offense falters and gives Tech numerous short drives. However, if the offense refuses to give points away, and the Hawk defense from last year makes an appearance, KU will cover. If the offensive line opens some holes for Green and Cornish and lets the Hawks play keep away, this is a winnable game-one that could put the Fighting Manginos in the driver's seat in the Big 12 North.


2. Colorado -4 @ Okie St***1/2

The Men from Boulder laid a big egg last weekend in Miami. Of course, Okie St isn't Miami. Still, the Cowboys should be able to keep this game within a field goal in Stillwater.


3. Iowa St +3.5 @ Nebraska****

Does Nebraska suck or what? Not that Iowa St was convincing, itself, last week in squeezing by Army with the help of an untimely fourth down facemask penalty by the Cadets in the fourth quarter.

The Cyclones at least looked as if were somewhat organized.


4. Baylor +23.5 @ A&M**1/2(They put this one on TV over KU/Tech why?)

This is the second questionable Big 12 line of the week. Even Baylor is not the Baylor of the South anymore. They are 3-0. They handled Army on the road more easily than Iowa St. They took out A&M last year.

The revenge factor gives A&M incentive to cover. But they simply have not looked impressive enough to give 3+ TD's to any Division I team not named North Texas.


5. Texas -14.5 @ Mizzou****1/2

Out of whack Big 12 Line No. 3. The perception is that Texas is a powerful team. The reality is they are a resourceful team. When was the last time they beat a decent team by more than a TD? When was the last time they had a game in hand with more than 2 minutes remaining? Heck, MU had them beat last year in Austin but for a couple of brain dead Pinkel Plays. I would give Mizzou a chance of winning outright were they coached by someone other than the Quin Snyder of college football.

Not to mention that he's going up against Mack Brown-the man who has raised whining to an art form. If the game comes down to one call, you can bet the Big 12 refs will give the benefit of the doubt-even if there isn't any doubt-to UT. Still doesn't mean they'll cover.


6. k-state +6.5 @ Oklahoma***1/2

I don't get this line either. It isn't outlandish, but what has OU done to be favored by a TD vs. anyone, anywhere? They have lost to TCU, almost lost to Tulsa, and got rolled by UCLA. Although TCU is decent, and Tulsa is looking good, neither is better than even the mediocrity that is k-state. AND-OU has the distraction named Texas on the horizon.


7. Michigan +4.5 @ Michigan St****1/2

Michigan St was wiping the floor with their in-state rivals last year when their QB went down, allowing Michigan, along with Texas, to fluke its way to the Rose Bowl.


8. Minnesota -3 @ Penn St****

Is it time for Minnesota to take a dive into their Golden Gopher Hole?

Nah. It's only October 1.


9. Notre Dame +2.5 @ Purdue****

I had a discussion over a beer and nachos with Golden Domer Supreme Digger Phelps in February after Game Night in Lawrence. He jumped all over me for saying Notre Dame could not win a national championship with its made for TV schedule, virtually devoid of off weeks. He said they could. If you're reading this, Digger, I love ya-but you're still wrong. Until there is a playoff, the Fighting Irish play too many at-risk games. This is one of them.


10. Florida -4 @ Alabama****

Exactly how good is Florida in the early stages of its Urban Renewal program? Exactly how fast is Bama making its way back to the ranks of the elite? I like Chris Leak. He is coming of age. He will be the difference.


11. South Carolina +13.5 @ Auburn**

Steve Spurrier will succeed again in the college game-but not this year.


12. USC -17 @ Arizona St****1/2

Arizona St is a fine team. USC is a special one. I don't know how many points the Trojans will have to give before it is worthwhile taking their opponent, but 17 isn't it-not even when the opponent is as good as ASU.


13. Arizona +16 @ Cal***1/2

Could be the upset of the week. Mike Stoops might already have a better team than his brother. Upset or not, Arizona's D will keep this within 16.

14. South Florida +20.5 @ Miami***1/2

This is a lot of points to give a team that just laid a 45-14 pounding on Louisville. Here's guessing Miami doesn't turn the ball over like UL--and, with its team speed, doesn't give up one big play after another.


15. Houston +3 @ Tulsa*

Did I mention that Tulsa was looking good? At any rate, Houston isn't likely to escape a second encounter with a Hurricane in a week. BTW-why is a team in northern Oklahoma called the Golden Hurricane? Shouldn't they be the Tornadoes, the Cyclones, the Dust Bowls, or the Plague of Locusts?


Hey, wreck Texas Tech.

--Mark __________________________________________________________________ #Remember: 1. These picks are for entertainment purposes only. 2. You get what you pay for. 3. There are no refunds.