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On September 6, 2019, in Sporting News, by Bobby Goodspeed


Two teams from great state of Texas will be at center stage for NCAA Top 12 action this weekend as the number 12 Texas A&M Aggies take on the defending FBS Champion and number one nationally ranked Clemson Tigers on their own turf at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, South Carolina.

Aggie Head Coach Jimbo Fisher and his team most defiantly have their work cut out for them taking on Dabo Swinney and his bunch of returning national champions. The football program at Clemson has emerged as one of the top programs in the country rivaling even Nick Saban and his legendary tenure at Alabama.

Aggie OL Jared Hocker guarantees that ‘there will be an upset’ when his team takes on Clemson.  However, A&M (+16.5) will go into the game as a significant underdog and could draw a respectable percentage of the wagering on the game.  Sixteen and a half points are a lot of points, even for the defending national champions, and against one of the best coaches in the game in Jimbo Fisher who very nearly upended Clemson in a great game just last season.

Swinney and Fisher have a long history with each other going all the way back to working as assistant coaches for Nick Saban at Alabama, so, they know each other very well.  Both have reputations as being excellent play callers and top tier college football strategists.  This should be a great game.

Later on that very same Saturday evening the LSU Tigers will be in Austin to take on the University of Texas Longhorns with second year head coach Tom Herman in a battle featuring the number 6 Bengal Tigers and the number 9 Longhorns in what many are looking forward to as being a showcase preview for the future of these two fine teams in the FBS race this season.

Another mini-drama in the news these days is how LSU was wooing now Texas head coach Tom Herman after firing Les Miles early on in the 2016 season. LSU AD Joe Alleva make no secret the Herman was his first choice as the future head coach in Baton Rouge.  Alleva has since been replaced as Athletic Director at LSU by Baton Rouge native and former AD at Texas A&M, Scott Woodward, just to add to the drama.

But Coach Herman ended up at Austin coaching the Longhorns and LSU assistant coach Ed Orgeron, a true Louisiana native and legitimate Cajun, made such an impression on the powers that be at LSU that they decided to give the gruff voiced Cajun coach a shot at the head coaching job. To most folks eyes that has worked out very well. ‘Coach O’ is now a very popular figure in Louisiana and around the SEC.  LSU fans expect nothing less than a run for the FBS title.

Otherwise there are not really any games this weekend featuring ranked teams against ranked opponents.  Number two Alabama gets to cruise playing New Mexico State at home while number three Georgia will host Murray State and number four Oklahoma will take on South Dakota in Norman.

But the drama this week will take place on Saturday afternoon and evening when the Aggies will try to take down mighty Clemson (-16.5) at 3:30 EST and then LSU (-6.5) and Texas go head to head in Austin at 7:30. Don’t miss out on the action.

Welcome back college football drama!

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On September 3, 2019, in Gambling Headlines, Sporting News, by Bobby Goodspeed


It’s the kickoff to the NFL’s 100th season and what better way to start than with the Packers and the Bears.  Real head-to-head football, right off the bat. That’s the way to do it!  Both Green Bay and Chicago have fans everywhere.

This NFL season has a feel of anticipation about it like we have all felt in the past, but haven’t really felt for awhile.  There is an excitement in the air.

Young bloods like Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs and Baker Mayfield of the resurgent Cleveland Browns are setting new standards in both levels of performance and on field excitement. Like ‘em or not, they do bring a certain pizzazz to the game missing since Jim McMahon retired from the Bears.

Both of these young quarterbacks have their sights set on nothing less than being the Super Bowl LIV MVP. Of course there are a few other guys with those same aspirations.  What’s different this season is that there seems to be quite a few teams out there with the potential to actually get into the playoffs and win it all in a burst of unified team spirit.

The preseason games were ‘interesting’ but did not show what the real team would look like during the regular season.  What the preseason did provide were a few glimpses of the future when rookies, along with some complete unknowns got their chance to shine with a real NFL team.

Some of those players impressed their way right on to the regular season roster, others were sent away to try again some other day.

Former Duke quarterback, and the number six overall pick in last years’ NFL Draft, Daniel Jones, got a job with the New York Giants, Eli’s team, with the idea of backing up Eli Manning until he decides to retire, a great position to be in, learning from a two time Super Bowl Champion quarterback.

In the preseason games, Jones completed 83% of his passes, scored 2 touchdowns, threw no interceptions and ended with a passer rating of 140.1. It could be time to rethink the Giant’s quarterback situation unless Eli suddenly gets a whole lot better than he has been for the past couple of years.

Bengals rookie quarterback Ryan Finley out of North Carolina State had some outstanding moments during the preseason as well and earned himself a spot on the roster at Cincinnati.

Other NFL preseason rookie standouts were wide receiver Jakobi Meyers, edge rusher Chase Winovich and quarterback Jarrett Stidham, all of the Patriots. Linebacker Devin Bush of the Steelers and edge rusher Josh Allen of the Jaguars both put in solid performances while the Browns Mack Wilson was all over the field defensively eventually resulting in a pick six against Washington’s Dwayne Haskins.

Somewhat surprisingly, the only teams to come out of the preseason without a loss were the Baltimore Ravens, the Buffalo Bills and the New York Giants.  Hardly what we expected, but then some NFL coaches don’t even necessarily play for the win in preseason games.  Better to see what you have, see what will work and see who will be the movers and shakers on the team this year.

So now we have the NFL beginning its 100th season for real and bettors all across the land can finally place their wagers with some kind of an idea of what is going on.  At least be wagering on a team, or a player that they feel they know something about. Oddsmakers can now make much more accurate decisions about how the lines should move now that most of the unknown factors are out of the picture.

Before the first kickoff of the new NFL season, Las Vegas sports books have posted odds to win Super Bowl LIV.  The New England Patriots start the season at 4.5-1, the Kansas City Chiefs at 5-1, the Philadelphia Eagles at 7.5- and the New Orleans Saints at 8-1.  All other teams are in double digits.

It will be interesting to see how these sit after the first 3 or 4 weeks of the new season. Somehow the preseason odds never quite pan out.

So finally, the NFL’s 100th season begins, and it’s for real this time!

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On September 2, 2019, in Sporting News, by Bobby Goodspeed


We’re going into the home stretch in major league baseball for 2019.  The 162 game schedule has gone by all to quickly for avid baseball fans. But here we are. The divisional races are coming down to the wire on some fronts, while others have been decided for weeks now. This is where it starts to get good.

The conference titles are, of course, still up for grabs. The New York Yankees, the Minnesota Twins and the Houston Astros are all comfortably in the lead in their respective divisions in the American League. The Los Angeles Dodgers, with an 18 game lead in the National League West, still have to get by the Atlanta Braves, who seem to be their toughest competition, and whoever comes out on top in the National League Central, plus the wild card selection. Even that huge 18 game lead does not guarantee the Dodgers the National League Pennant.

As it often does, this year’s run for the pennant is going to involve some heroes.  Some will be players who have performed at a consistently high level all season long, and then there are the guys who suddenly get inspired to go out and perform at levels exceeding previous expectations.  Those are the most fun. “I didn’t even know that he could hit a ball that far, or make that spectacular catch”.  Every year one or two of these late blooming heroes emerges to thrill their fans and spur their teams on to another victory.

The guys making the biggest splashes in the headlines today are the motivators for their teammates going into post-season play. Here are some standouts, just to name a few.

Justin Verlander is on top of his game, obviously.  He just threw the third no-hitter of his career against the Toronto Blue Jays over the weekend allowing only one walk in the first inning and then shutting them down completely. Verlander is among the forerunners for this year’s American League Cy Young Award.

What else can be said about young Cody Bellinger of the Dodgers?  A better example of a complete five-tool baseball player seldom comes along.  He hits for average, he plays all over the defensive field….and of course, he hits lots of home runs.  Bellenger is currently tied with Mike Trout of the Angles and Pete Alonzo of the Mets with an MLB leading 43 home runs; and he never seems to be in the same defensive position two games in a row.

Of course there’s Mike Trout himself.  Perennial All-Star, always leading just about every category there is in Major League Baseball.  Trout truly qualifies as a genuine ‘superstar’ garnering praise from baseball writers, his fellow players and his many fans each time he takes the field.  He is another one of that rare breed known in the baseball world as a ‘five-tool player’, which means basically that he can do it all.

Now Mike Trout stands on the brink of becoming the first 300/200 player in modern major league baseball history.  The 300 stands for home runs, and Trout us currently lacking only 17 to get there. The 200 stands for stolen bases and he may well have broken that one by the time you read this.

DJ LeMahieu of the New York Yankees and Anthony Rendon of the Washington Nationals are running neck and neck in the RBI race with .335 & .337 respectively.  Houston’s Michael Brantley is barking at their heels with a 3.23 in the AL while Bryan Reynolds of Pittsburg and Christian Yelich of the Brewers are still very much in the race with .335 & .328.

Down in Houston, former LSU standout third baseman Alex Bregman is also having an exceptional season this year and stands ready to excel in the postseason with a Astros team that looks more and more dangerous with each series they play.  Bregman’s on base percentage is up to .412 and ranks fifth in the majors.

But the real heroes to emerge in the 2019 post season are probably not even listed here.  Somewhere out there is some player on some team that starts feeling just right, just at the right time, and then just watch out MLB!

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On August 30, 2019, in Sporting News, by Bobby Goodspeed


Basketball, like Soccer, is now played in every corner of the planet, largely because of the simplicity of the requirements to play the game. International competitions get tougher and tougher each year for the previously dominant Team USA. It used to be easy for all those NBA guys, but not anymore.

For one thing, there are a lot of NBA players on rosters today from outside the USA.  Fortunately they are scattered around so as not to represent a single threat to Team USA.  Still, the boys from the American team will feel the loss.

FIBA stands for ‘Fédération Internationale de Basketball (Amateur)’, or, The International Basketball Federation. World Cup competition begins in China next week with teams from 32 countries participating in 2019.

The ‘Amateur’ was dropped in 1989 but the Federation remains the governing body which specifies and defines the rules of international basketball today as well as overseeing that standard equipment and facilities are used worldwide.  These folks also supervise the international transfer of basketball players and are responsible for the appointment and control of international referees.

The FIBA Basketball World Cup, like the Olympics, only takes place every four years when teams compete for the Naismith Trophy, which is named after Canadian James Naismith who created basketball as we know it today. Team USA has not lost the Naismith Trophy since 2006 and has high aspirations to win it all again when the two week competition is all said and done.

Legendary Coach Mike Krzyzewksi of the Duke Blue Devils ran Team USA for a decade and brought home Gold Medals from the last three Olympic Games and two World Championships. Last year he handed over the reins to Greg Popovich of the San Antonio spurs whom many consider to be the best coach in the NBA.

Popovich will have a stellar lineup of assistant coaches on Team USA featuring Steve Kerr of the Warriors, Lloyd Pierce from Atlanta, and Villanova head coach Jay Wright. So then, no problem in the coaching department. There has however been some attrition from the rank and file of Team USA players.

Unlike USA Teams in the past, the 2019 edition will not be filled with super-stars.  LeBron James will be off filming Space Jam, however, he has expressed interest in playing on the 2020 USA Olympic Basketball Team.

The Warriors’ Stephen Curry announced that he was taking the summer off after winning five straight trips to the NBA Finals, he needs his rest.  Golden State teammates Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson are still nursing injuries and Kawhi Leonard is still trying to get his left leg working right again.

Paul George, who broke his leg in a Team USA scrimmage five years ago, declined the invitation to join Team USA as did Anthony Davis of the Lakers, James Harden of Houston, Russell Westbrook and Kyrie Irving.

Even the number one overall pick in last years’ NBA Draft, Zion Williamson, told the press he was going to focus on winning an NBA Championship this season with his new team, the New Orleans Pelicans.  It seemed for awhile there like all the big names were dropping out of Team USA competition.

Fortunately, the USA is full of over the top basketball talent and there were still quite a few elite players willing and eager to represent the USA in the FIBA World Cup Tournament this year. After four warm up games in which Coach Popovich used a different roster for each game, Team USA is finally down to a 12 man roster.

Kemba Walker of the Boston Celtics and Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz will likely be the starting ball handlers for Popovich with Khris Meddleton of the Milwaukee Bucks and Harrison Barnes of the Sacramento Kings holding down the wing positions.  Mason Plumlee of the Denver Nuggets will probably be starting at center as he is the only big man on the roster with any international experience at all.

Filling out the team are Marcus Smart of the Celtics and Derrick White of the Spurs along with Jayson Tatum of the Celtics, Joe Harris of the Nets and Jaylen Brown of the Celtics.  Back up big men are Miles Turner of the Pacers and Brook Lopez of the Bucks. Four of the 12 man roster are Boston Celtics.

Even after the withdrawal of so many USA super-stars from Team USA, Las Vegas Sportsbooks are still listing Popovich and crew as favorites to win the FIBA once again in 2019.

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