Vandy coach Bobby Johnson is off to his fi rst 2-0 season start since 2005 but not without some help. If you watched last week’s 24-17 win over South Carolina, you know the Gamecocks were victimized by some extremely biased officiating, especially in the crucial second half. Even so, few could have predicted that this Week Three matchup between two traditionally downtrodden programs would emerge as a battle of 2008 unbeatens. Rice blasted SMU 56-27 on opening day then rode a strong 29-point fourth quarter to surge past Memphis 42-35 (69-yard interception return for a TD with just 11 seconds remaining stunned the Tigers). Our powerful database tells us today’s game – regardless of Zebra interference – should go the way of the Owls: Game Three teams off BB SU victories taking on a non-conference foe on the road stand a respectable 19-8 ATS. The Commies’ litany of past pointspread failures only reinforces our thinking. Teams equaling Vandy’s back-to-back SU dog wins are a weak 3-7 ATS playing a non-league foe in Game Three. Even worse, VU has struggled to a 3-13 SU and 4-11 ATS record off previous consecutive wins (0-4 SUATS last four) and the Commodores
have laid a big fat egg recently as home chalk of 17 or fewer points, burying their backers with an 0-10 mark. When the gun sounds here, we think Vandy will be singing the blues in Music City.
A tip of the hat goes to coach Troy Calhoun and his Flyboys. After losing4-year starting QB Shaun Carney and star RB Chad Hall, we were convincedthat Air Force would suffer a sophomore slump in Calhoun’s second season atthe controls. Instead, the Force followed an expected 41-7 thrashing of lowlySouthern Utah by going to Laramie last Saturday and totally shutting down Wyoming’s offense in a 23-3 shocker. With the Falcon defense exceeding expectations, we don’t mind taking 6 points on the road today against the Cougars. New Houston coach Kevin Sumlin must do a rapid about-face to
prepare for an offense that stands in direct contrast to the wide-open Oklahoma State attack he saw last week (Cougs ripped for 56 points). Game Three stats favor the airmen: they’re 7-1 SUATS in that role this decade while new coaches at home like Sumlin are just 10-23-1 ATS when facing down a foe off a SUATS win. The bottom line is Air Force can slow this game to a crawl and frustrate the Cougars into their second loss of the season.
Maryland Plus Points
Looking at last week’s results, you may fi nd this pick harder to swallow than a big dose of castor oil. That’s okay with us because we hope the public drives this inflated number even higher. No doubt the Golden Bears are off to a great start but this West Coast / East Coast traveler is not so desirable off last week’s conference opening rout at Washington State (Cal’s previous excursion east of Ole Man River resulted in a 17-point loss at Tennessee as 2.5 point favorites), especially with a 12 Noon ET / 9 AM PT body clock time kickoff slated. And as we’ve seen several times already in this week’s write-ups, the ‘Game Three Bower’ angle also goes against California here. Maryland’s unexpected defeat by Middle Tennessee State was a huge embarrassment for Ralph Friedgen’s program but the Rotund One owns a sweet 8-3 ATS record at home if the Terps are .500 or less, including 5-1 when playing off a loss. Even better is this database special that tells us underdogs off a SU loss as double-digit RF’s are a sterling 17-4 ATS when playing a foe off consecutive SUATS wins. THIS JUST IN: ACC dogs have clawed their way to a 13-3-2 spread mark against PAC 10 foes, a number that tightens to
7-1 if the game takes place in the regular season. Fear the turtle!
New Mexico Plus Points
Alright, pipe down… enough of the “not New Mexico again” complaints. The fact is the Lobos have nothing but themselves to blame for their 0-2 start–they outgained Texas A&M 370-236 in a 28-22 home loss last week but a 7-2 turnover bug has seemingly buried them early. Arizona is playing with a bit more purpose in ’08 but this is essentially the same team that lost outright to New Mexico 29-27 as a 9.5-point home favorite last year. Wildcats’ head coach Stoops doesn’t own many shiny pointspread credentials. He’s just 3-6 SU and 2-7 ATS when favored by fewer than 14 points, including 0-7 ATS when NOT off an ATS loss. Our database chips in with this final gem: bowlers who start the season 0-2 SU and ATS at home in Game Three are a brain-melting 26-3 SU! With Zona laying doubles in its first trip out of Tucson, we’ll hunker down with these Lobos one more time.
Memphis Plus Points
Both teams saw double-digit leads evaporate into losses but we don’t know how the Blundering Herd can overcome the trauma of giving up 51 unanswered points in their loss to Wisconsin. Memphis may be 0-2 SU and ATS but the Tigers have won both stat battles to start the season. Memphis fits this nifty number concerning bowl teams playing with next-season revenge: Game Three Bowl dogs of less than 20 points off consecutive pointspread losses and a SU loss have cashed in 13 of their last 16 tries. Tiger coach West badly needs a win to lower the heat under his own seat and just so happens to own a 10-2 ATS record off a SU favorite loss when tackling a > .333 opponent. Marshall has stumbled to a pathetic 2-7-1 ATS record in its last 10 conference openers and won’t be able to stop a Memphis team still steaming over their last second loss to Rice. Tigers restore the roar in Huntington.
Running Totals through Week 2: 1-3