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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing

BEST UPSET CHANCES THIS WEEKEND; ONE PRO, ONE SEMI-PRO–AKA COLLEGE FOOTBALL

By Marc Lawrence, PlaybookSports.com — Barking dogs for the weekend for September 11-12.

COLLEGE: RICE over Houston by 3

Houston, we have a problem… his name is Dana Holgorsen. The Cougars are now 7-14 since Holgorsen arrived from West Virginia, and he is now just 7-10 SU and 5-12 ATS in games following a SU favorite loss – which his team proceeded to do in its 38-21 season opening failure as a -2.5-point home favorite against nothing special Texas Tech last week.

Last season ended on a sour note with a loss to Hawaii in the New Mexico Bowl when the Cougars fell behind 21-0 in the first half. The goal for this season was not to let that happen again, and Houston led the Red Raiders, 21-7, at halftime in the opener on Saturday. However, they folded up once again like a cheap card table in the second stanza, allowing 31 unanswered points to lose 38-21.

QB Clayton Tune was a big part of the problem, throwing 4 interceptions, which has been an ongoing bugaboo for him (Tune has now been picked off 25 times in just 21 games). Meanwhile, we believe the Owls figure to flourish in 2021 as we alluded to last week, thanks to the best class of recruits and out-of-state transfers in school history.

We realize this team has won a total of just 11 games in the past five seasons and got pummeled by Arkansas last weekend when they turned a 17-17 game into a beating by allowing 21 points to the Razorbacks in the 4th quarter. However, the Owls seem to have taken on a different demeanor under HC Mike Bloomgren, who has improved his team’s defense each year since coming aboard.

Also, Bloomgren is 15-10-1 ATS as a dog with the Owls, including 11-4-1 ATS with revenge. With the Cougars suffering from a bad case of our SMART BOX Game Two “Bowler Blues”, we hand it off to THE CLINCHER: Our well-oiled machine notes that Game Two dogs returning 17 starters and coming off a SUATS loss of 15 or more points, are 18-2 ATS when facing a foe coming off a loss.

NFL: NEW ORLEANS over Green Bay by 6

After 16 years in the saddle, the Saints have named Jameis Winston as Drew Brees’ first-time successor. With it, they face an awkward risk/reward dilemma. The good news is Winston led the NFL in passing yards with 5,109 and was ranked 2nd in passes thrown 20 yards or more in his final season with Tampa Bay.

The bad news is he became the first QB to throw at least 30 TD passes and 30 INTs in the same season. In the end Winston, who never saw a pass he didn’t like, threw 88 INTs and lost 23 fumbles in 70 games with the Bucs. He now enhances the value of every Tampa Bay pass-catcher, including RB Alvin Kamara, who figures to benefit the most.

For what it’s worth, Winston is 28-42 SU and 30-36-4 ATS as a starter in the NFL, including 12-21-3 ATS at home and 7-14-1 ATS as a favorite. However, he is 15-9-1 ATS as a dog of more than 3 points. With that, the Saints are 43-23-3 ATS as dogs under Sean Payton, including 9-2-1 ATS at home as well as 25-9-3 when seeking revenge (New Orleans lost 37-30 as a 3.5-point favorite to Green Bay in September last year).

Interestingly, since the Packers drafted Aaron Rodgers in 2008, the only skill position player drafted in the first round by Green Bay has been his heir apparent, Jordan Love. Included were 11 players on defense and two offensive linemen. If it all sounds like grounds for divorce, it is.

The rift widened throughout the offseason as Rodgers sat out; hence, it’s no surprise to learn that Green Bay scored the fewest points of all teams this preseason (21). With Rodgers seemingly more interested in trying to nail down the announcer job with Jeopardy, than getting ready for the season, we’ll take advantage of a rusty situation surrounding the Packers as we hand it off to THE CLINCHER: The Saints are 6-0-1 ATS as home dogs of 6 or fewer points.

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