Last week's record against the spread was 10-4. Midway through the season, it is 61-41 (with 3 pushes). But that was when Vegas was virtually giving away money with ridiculous point spreads week after ever-loving week on three particular teams.
The games of Week 8:
1. KU +3.5 at Baylor The return to the scene of the crime. This is where, four years ago, I first questioned Mangino's game management skills. First, he twice attempted two point conversions at a time in the game when there was no point to it. Both attempts failed. As a result, KU entered the final two minutes of the game leading by 8 points (32-24) rather than 10. When Baylor scored at the 1:14 mark and converted their own two pointer, they turned what should have been a 34-31 game into a tie at 32.
The Hawks took the ensuing kickoff and started their "drive" near midfield. Instead of running the clock until only they could score on the last meaningful possession of the game, KU ran a play and called time out. They called a pass play, but, when no one was open, threw the ball away, stopping the clock again. After KU went nowhere on third down, Baylor stopped the clock. Following the punt, Baylor had, thanks to KU's abysmal clock management, a full minute in which to move the ball, and two and to time outs in their pocket. What happened then was predictable. They kicked a field goal with: 02 on the clock to win 35-32 in regulation.
Four years later, Mangino still doesn't have a clue how to manage the clock, as shown in the A&M game, where he allowed the Aggies to run so much time off the clock while taking its first lead of the game that the Jayhawks had only 34 seconds in which to retaliate. The game ended with two time outs still sitting on KU's side of the scoreboard-time outs that could have been used to give the Hawks a full minute to try to move into field goal range.
The question this week is whether time management will even be a factor, or whether Baylor will be so far ahead in the fourth quarter that time will be of no essence. After last week's second half, many would say the latter. Still, when things look bleakest is when Mangino is at his best. Of course, he has plenty of practice at it-sorta like the duffer whose best shot is punching the ball down the course from the woods.
KU could easily cover this spread or-dare I say it-even win this game.
But that's not the way to bet.
2. Texas -6.5 at Nebraska NU again gets way too much respect from the oddsmakers. The Huskers have about as much chance in this game as Arizona had Monday night against the Chicago Bears.
Of course, in retrospect, the Cardinals covered and, by all rights, should have won outright. NU could do either or both.
But that's not the way to bet.
3. Texas Tech -2.5 at Iowa St This is one of those games that could be a decent contest to watch-if you don't mind watching two losers on the field at the same time. But, then, there are a lot of those games in the Big 12 this year, what with these two teams, KU, k-state, and Colorado, as well as Okie St and Baylor on the precipice of falling into that unselect group. Tech does have a road win-at A&M-albeit on a miracle pass. When two teams heading south play each other, take the one that's at home.
4. Texas A&M +2.5 at Okie St Two teams that appear to be heading north-both at KU's expense. Can A&M run 40+ minutes off the clock like they did against Mizzou? Can Okie St take its momentum and new-found confidence with it from Lawrence to Stillwater against a team that was 1 yard from being out away by KU?
I'll take speed at home over brawn on the road. OKIE ST
5. k-state +16 at Mizzou I might go for this line in Manhattan. In Columbia, it is the despicable, but pretty good, Tiger-cats over the despicable and moribund wild-cats.
6. Colorado +13 at Oklahoma Colorado fresh off a 24 point victory at home over Tech. OU fresh off its second gigantenormous offensive loss of the season. First no Bomar. Now no Peterson. The Sooners could circle their wagon, dedicate themselves to stepping their game up a notch, and somehow find a way to cover this spread. But that's just hoping. CU was competitive even before actually reeling in its first victory of the season.
COLORADO 7. Rutgers +6.5 at Pitt RU is 6-0 and ranked 16th in the BCS. Rarified air, indeed, for the Scarlet Knights. Pitt is 6-1 and not ranked. But they are at home and have been looking good, with the exception of a loss to Michigan St back when Michigan St WAS Michigan St (i.e., pre-Notre Dame). PITT
8. Michigan St -6.5 at Northwestern Just what the doctor ordered to return Michigan St to its status of being Michigan St. Question: Why would Northwestern get only 6.5 points against any BCS conference team? Except for maybe Stanford. But more about the Big Walking Tree later.
9. Iowa +13 at Michigan Iowa has lost its smoke. This week it loses its mirrors to what might be the best team in the country that doesn't have to play in Gainesville, Knoxville, Tuscaloosa, Baton Rouge, Fayetteville, or Auburn.
10. Ole Miss +17 at Arkansas The Razorbacks are looking good-including a recent 17 point romp over Auburn on the road. This line is only 17 points vs. Ole Miss at home. But Ole Miss is nothing if not stubborn. They might lose, but their opponents know they have been in a game.
11. Alabama +11.5 at Tennessee
A possible upset in the making. Of course, what game in the SEC isn't?
ALABAMA 12. UCLA +13.5 at Notre Dame The Fighting Irish get down to BCS business. And with a week off to prepare for the mediocrity that is UCLA. . .
13. Miami -17.5 at Duke This is the time to pull out your amateur psychology degree. How will the distractions and suspensions affect the U. My guess? A rare football pick:
14. Washington +22.5 at Cal
Hey, wait a minute. Vegas is starting to wise up. Taking Cal to cover and Northwestern and Stanford to tank has been easy money this season. Suddenly, Cal is a risky bet? Too risky for my blood. Ty Willingham doesn't like losing by 22.5.
15. Stanford +22.5 at Arizona St I will stick with Stanford to lose until they cover or the point spread is beyond the bounds of reason. They will find a way to not stay within the same 22.5 spread the University of Willingham covers.
Baylor and/or Bust!