MIAMI FLA over Florida by 6
The latest installment in a true Floridian hate-fest kicks off the first Saturday in September and it looks to be a strength-versus-strength matchup: the relentless Miami ground attack locking horns with the rock-solid Florida rush defense. The last meeting between these two schools came in 2008 when the Urban Meyer-led Gators chomped Randy Shannon’s Canes, 26-3. We don’t expect to see a similar coaching mismatch today as Miami’s Al Golden is doing a masterful job keeping the franchise afl oat amid lurking NCAA bloodsuckers. The Hurricanes’ returning experience is also well-chronicled with 20 starters back from last year’s 7-5 squad that suffered through a second consecutive self-imposed bowl ban. In the orange-and-blue corner, UF head coach Will Muschamp heads south with only 9 returning starters and a jittery offense that can best be described as ‘playing well enough not to lose.’ Willie Vanilli has also failed to distinguish himself as a road warrior since arriving in Gainesville, posting a mediocre 6-6 ATS log. His Gators may own a 9-0-1 ATS record in Game Two of the season and a 8-0 ATS mark before tackling Tennessee but UF has seen its hide made into handbags recently by the ACC, going a miserable 4-9 ATS in its last 13 tries. Add the fact that Miami currently owns a serious series edge with a 6-1 SU and 5-1-1 ATS effort and we won’t be surprised if ‘Champ get chomped by a wired-out bunch of Hurricanes. Fear the Ibis! The Clincher: Golden is an incredible 17-2 ATS home as a dog or favorite of 3 or less points in his college career.
AIR FORCE over Utah State by 3
The Aggies head out on the road for the second straight week to make their Mountain West debut in Colorado Springs, following a tough 30-26 loss against arch-rival Utah in the opener. After Gary Andersen departed for Madison during the off-season following a stellar 11-2 campaign, Utah State went to the well to promote OC Matt Wells to the top spot, and the former Aggie QB will try to add to a 7-1 ATS record for Utah State in games after playing Utah. One big problem: USU has failed to cash a ticket in seven straight tries as road chalk off a non-conference game. The visitors are also a lame 3-6 SU and 2-7 ATS in conference openers and, even worse, our SMART BOX signals for a ‘blue’ debut in the Aggies’ first game as a member of the Mountain West. Falcons coach Todd Calhoun, coming off his fi rst losing season since replacing the legendary Fisher DeBerry in 2007, should have his Air Force Cadets fully focused in the wake of an easy opening win against Colgate. The Falcons lost QB Kale Pearson to a 2nd-quarter knee injury (his return this week questionable), but it didn’t seem to matter as the reliable Air Force rushing attack rolled up 409 yards, with Jon Lee and Broam Hart each gaining over 100 yards. Air Force is 15-3 SU and 14-4 ATS in conference openers, and getting this big a number at home should send the Falcon backers swarming to the cashier’s window. We’ll already be there. The Clincher: Game Two home dogs off a win that were bowl teams last year are 24-10 ATS if they scored 30-plus points in their season-opening victory since 1990.
Notre Dame over MICHIGAN by 3
One of the most cherished dog series in all of college football – would you believe 21-4 ATS the last 25 tilts – plays out again tonight at the Big Housein Ann Arbor. Both teams opened with wins last week. The Irish pretty much underachieved as expected but still took care of Temple by 22 points. The Wolverines, however, played like someone from the Central Michigan sidelines had poisoned Brady Hoke’s dog just a few hours before game time, failing to ease up until the start of the 4th quarter (led 56-6). Michigan dropped a heartbreaker at South Bend last year, losing 13-6 after committing six costly turnovers… so the worldwide interweb will be abuzz this week with talk of ‘Michigan revenge.’ One thing you probably won’t read, though, is that the Wolverines seldom make it out of the den when looking for revenge on their home field, recording a 1-8 ATS failure. The tale of the coaching tape tells us that Michigan’s Hoke chokes against undefeated opposition, winning outright in just 5 of 16 such games. Much better numbers for Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly: he’s 23-11-2 ATS as a dog, including 12-6 SU and 13-4-1 ATS when taking 6.5 or less points. We don’t believe in leprechauns but those are some pot-of-gold numbers there! Do we hear a 22-4? Going once, going twice…
CAROLINA over Seattle by 10
OMG. We can hear the sighs now and it’s not even Sunday. Stepping right in front of America’s new team – the Dally Cowboys…fuggetaboudit – the Seahawks appear to have picked up where they left off last year, going 4-0 SUATS in the preseason. The problem is super-surprise rookie QB Russell Wilson is now a sophomore, meaning the league has fi lm that has been studied throughout the off-season (that’s why it’s called ‘sophomore blues’). Carolina’s Cam Newton suffered through the same thing last year before coming alive down the stretch of the campaign, winning fi ve of six games while averaging 397 YPG to conclude the season, keying a 4-0 SUATS finish. Newton found himself in an identical role last season when he opened his 2nd year with the Panthers as a 3-point road favorite, only to lose the whole game, 16-10, at Tampa Bay. At least Carolina didn’t have to overcome a West Coast / East Coast bias which is exactly what Wilson and company will be staring at today. With arguably a bigger game on deck (San Francisco), look for fans in Seattle to remain sleepless this Sunday. The Clincher: Seattle head coach
Pete Carroll is 5-9 SU and 2-11-1 ATS as an NFL road favorite versus an opponent that won 8 or fewer games last season.
CINCINNATI OVER Chicago by 8
Like a bad case of the fl u, a dreaded case of Sophomore Blues attacked Bengals QB Andy Dalton early on last season. To his credit, he shook it off in time to lead his charges back to the postseason for a 2nd straight year when Cincinnati turned a 3-5 start into a 7-1 finish in 2012. And now the addition of Pro Bowl LB James Harrison is like the icing on the cake for this team. The thought of making back-to-back playoff appearances for the fi rst time since 1982 – and first back-to-back winning seasons in a non-strike year since 1976 – has these Cats licking their paws. First off, they take to Soldier Field like peanut butter to chocolate, going 3-1 SU and 4-0 ATS. On top of that, Dalton loves performing on the highway where he stands 9-3 SU and 9-2-1 ATS in non-division frays in this NFL career. Meanwhile, HC Marc Trestman makes his Windy City debut bringing a new playbook and added protection for QB Jay Cutler. But until Cutler learns to do a better job laying points at home in non-division scrapes (6-18 ATS, including 12 SU losses), we’ll side with the big redhead over the big dead-head. The Clincher: The Bears are 2-9 SU and 1-9-1 ATS in games before facing the Vikings.
Green Bay over SAN FRANCISCO by 3
Like the Broncos/Ravens game Thursday, this is another postseason revenge rematch from last year’s playoffs with the visiting Packers out to avenge a 45-31 defeat suffered during the Divisional Round in this park. When it comes to backing live dogs, Rule Number One is to use a winning team with a good quarterback. Check. Rule Two: make sure the team has a motive to play. Check. And Rule Three: make sure the dog is valued. Check. Hence, this becomes a three-check call on Aaron Rodgers and company when they face Colin Kaepernick and the Ninersat Candlestick Park. Granted, going up against Jim Harbaugh these days is like getting a root canal, but with enough medication, we can endure almost anything. The meds come compliments of Dr. Rodgers who is 4-1 SUATS in season openers and 4-1 ATS as a dog of more than 3 points in his NFL career. Frisco’s 4-14 SU and 4-12-2 ATS mark in this series is the salve that closes the wound. Check, check and re-check.