TIGERS ROAR IN TUSCALOOSA

On November 11, 2019, in Sporting News, by Bobby Goodspeed

TIGERS ROAR IN TUSCALOOSA

Alabama had won the last seven football games in a row  against the LSU Tigers, and they were playing at home, in front of one of the most boisterous, even rowdy, fan bases in college football there in Bryant-Denny Stadium on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, perfect football weather.

The Crimson Tide had just been replaced at the top of the AP Poll by their number one rivals, the LSU Tigers, over in Baton Rouge, where Nick Saban used to work.  No doubt that motivated Coach Saban and his football team to go out and give it their best effort, and they did.

It was a great SEC football game. It was back and forth action all afternoon with the outcome in doubt right up until the final moments of the contest. Both teams played their hearts out.  Together they managed to score a total of 87 points, exceeding the predicted over and under of 65.5 by 21.5 points.

LSU came into the game as 5.5 point underdogs but ended up winning the game by 5 with a final score of 46-41 after holding off a 21 point push in the fourth quarter by the Tide.

Both the Tigers and the Tide came into the contest undefeated and on a roll.  Each featured a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate at quarterback and both teams were coached my master motivators, one familiar to all NCAA football fans, the other just emerging out of the bayous as a national figure and a strong candidate for NCAA Coach of the Year honors.

For LSU Head Coach Ed Orgeron, beating Alabama was the consummate victory of his carrier and surely one of the greatest days of his life. He and his wife Kelly could be seen down on the field after the win crying copiously with joy.  Not only did ‘Coach O’ beat Alabama, he probably secured the coaching job in Baton Rouge for the next decade.

Much of the credit for the Tiger victory must go to Ohio transfer and second year LSU quarterback Joe Burrow who rushed for 64 yards and completed 31 of 39 passes for 393 yards scoring three touchdowns, with no interceptions; thus moving him into serious consideration as the front runner for this year’s Heisman Trophy award.  Expect Joe to be there in New York.

LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire from Baton Rouge bulled his way into the end zone three times scoring touchdowns running on the ground then added one more when he caught a pass to score yet again. He was the Tigers work horse against the Tide carrying the ball 20 times for 103 yards and hauling in 9 passes from Joe Burrow for an additional 77 yards.

The other Heisman hopeful, Tua Tagovalloa also had an amazing game throwing for 418 yards and 4 touchdowns and completing 21 of 40 passes in a losing effort to the Tigers of LSU.  Tua did have one pick and a bad fumble, however, it must be said that Tua was not playing at 100% against LSU because of a procedure he had on his ankle just 20 days before the big game.  By the end of the game his was limping visibly.

So the headline on ESPN reads: AP Poll: LSU No. 1 landslide. Folks down in Baton Rouge must love to see that one!  LSU has a proud tradition of elite SEC football which has been less than spectacular in the past few years leading to the firing of popular head coach Les Miles and the hiring of Ed Orgeron as head coach of the Tiger football team.

Tigers fans have been expecting a change and Coach Orgeron has assembled a five star coaching staff that is destined to take the Tigers back to center stage in the SEC as well as a having a real shot at another National Championship, so, here we go.

GEAUX TIGERS!

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CFP’s FIRST DRAFT & THE BIG GAME

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

CFP’s FIRST DRAFT & THE BIG GAME

Just four days before the ‘Game of the Century’ featuring the Alabama Crimson Tide hosting the LSU Tigers in Tuscaloosa on Saturday afternoon, the College Football Playoff, or CFP committee has come out with the first version of their version of how the national rankings should look in Division I NCAA Football this year.  Remember that this early draft is from a committee and it has been widely speculated that ‘a camel is a horse designed by a committee’.

Keeping that in mind, the committee has decided that the Ohio State Buckeyes should be the number one team in the land, even though neither the AP Poll nor the Coaches Poll has the Buckeyes in the lead.  Note that the voters in these two polls are some of the most up to date, sports savvy writers and coaches in the game of football anywhere.

So, Ohio State comes in at number one in the CFP rankings and LSU holds down the number two position while the Alabama drops to number three; and a surprising Penn State team grabbing the final spot in this final four.  Clemson fans must be distraught with indignation while Penn State guys are counting their blessings.

Of course all of this will change weekly with the results of the games coming up in the next five weeks of NCAA Football action. Oddly enough, the winner of the LSU-Alabama game won’t move up much, and the looser won’t move down very much.  There is still a lot of football after this weekend to decide first the SEC championship, and eventually the national CFP title.

Ohio State will host the University of Maryland as 43.5 point favorites, so, the Buckeyes are likely to remain undefeated after this Saturday’s action.  In the other battle of the undefeated, the #4 ranked Nittany Lions of Penn State will visit the #17 Minnesota Gophers in a contest which will take place in TCF Bank Stadium up in Minneapolis as 7 point favorites.

The #5 ranked Clemson Tigers visit North Carolina State as 32 point favorites and the #6 Georgia Bulldogs will host 5-3 Missouri as 16.5 point favorites.  But the big one will be down in Tuscaloosa where dignitaries, hall of famers, famous alumni and maybe even the President of the United States will be there to watch as the #3 ranked Crimson Tide takes on the #2 ranked Tigers.

Major questions concern the availability of Alabama quarterback, and Heisman Trophy contender, Tua Tagovailoa, who suffered a high ankle sprain during the recent Tennessee game.  Head Coach Nick Saban has declared Tua a game time decision and says that his team will be OK one way or the other.

The Tigers, on the other hand, have just lost the services of star starting linebacker Michael Divinity, ‘for personal reasons’, at least for the Alabama game. LSU Head Coach Ed Oregon is hopeful that his Tigers can defeat the Tide for the first time since 2011. If nothing else, this game will go a long ways towards deciding the SEC West this year.

Before the CFP rankings came out, this game was between the #1 team and the #2 team in the country according to the AP Poll.  Some might think that the Buckeyes being awarded the number one ranking by the CFP committee could take a little of the glamour off the LSU-Alabama game, but don’t try to sell that to anyone in the SEC.

So, Roll Tide & Geaux Tigers!  Oh what a game this shall be.

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THE BATTLE OF LOS ANGELES

On November 5, 2019, in Sporting News, by Bobby Goodspeed

nba teamsTHE BATTLE OF LOS ANGELES

The newly formed professional basketball rivalry in the City of Los Angeles between the long established Lakers and the upstart Clippers is off to a hot start already this NBA season. In the Western Conference the Los Angeles NBA teams are holding down first and third place with the Lakers at 5-1 and the Clippers at 5-2.

For the time being, Los Angeles Clippers and the Los Angeles Lakers share the facilities at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. The Clippers are anxiously awaiting the finishing of a brand new basketball facility, which is currently under construction in nearby Inglewood, not far from where the LA Chargers and the LA Rams will be playing NFL football at the innovative SoFi Stadium, being built on the site of the famous old Hollywood Park Horse Track, sometime in 2020.

Both teams have undergone some significant changes during the off season and the ‘City of Angles’ is ripe with anticipation for homegrown NBA action.

The Lakers traded away some valuable future pieces to get big man Anthony Davis away from the New Orleans Pelicans to team up with LeBron James in hopes that the Lakers will at last achieve the necessary chemistry with the obvious talent they have on the roster to return the team, and the franchise, to its glory days of old.

The Clippers, on the other hand, went out and recruited NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard from the Toronto Raptors as well as All Star journeyman forward Paul George to make up another dynamic duo to take on the mighty Lakers with James and Davis waiting at center court.

The Lakers lost the first game of the regular season to the Clippers 112-102, but then won their next 5 games in a row to lead the NBA West.  After defeating the Lakers in game one, the Clippers went on to beat the Golden State Warriors 141-122 in game two.  Their only losses so far were to the Utah Jazz and the Phoenix Suns.

But the Lakers have not lost since opening night and look to be among the strongest teams in the NBA with LeBron James starting to look like LeBron James again and Anthony Davis living up to expectations, and then some.  Davis put up 40 points with 20 rebounds against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Kawhi Leonard of the Clippers waited until the fourth quarter to extract revenge on the Utah Jazz, which had beaten the Clippers just two weeks before the November 3rd meeting.  Leonard put up 18 of his 30 points in the 4th quarter to cap off a 105-94 victory over the Jazz.  No discussion of NBA’s MVP candidates for this year is complete without Kawhi Leonard.

The NBA has planned a very special Christmas gift for Lakers and Clippers fans as the next time the two teams meet will be on December 25, Christmas Day at 6 pm EST.  In fact the NBA will be presenting 5 games on Christmas day beginning with the Boston Celtics hosting the Toronto Raptors at 10 am, then the Philadelphia 76ers visit the Milwaukee Bucks at 12:30pm.

That game will be followed by the Houston Rockets hosting the Golden State Warriors at 3 pm, then the aforementioned Lakers-Clippers clash at 6 and then finishing off down in New Orleans at 8:30 pm when the Denver Nuggets come to the ‘Big Easy’ to take on the Pelicans, who will hopefully have Zion Williamson back on the court by that time.  That should be enough basketball to satisfy even the most diehard NBA fan for one day.

Currently Las Vegas oddsmakers are listing the two Los Angeles NBA teams as the two favorites to win the 2019-2020 NBA Championship with the Lakers leading at +150 and the Clippers right on their heels at +200.  It will be interesting to see how this season plays out for both these talented teams.

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HALF WAY THROUGH FOOTBALL SEASON

On November 4, 2019, in Bookie Advice, PPH Reviews, Sporting News, by Bobby Goodspeed

fb moneyHALF WAY THROUGH FOOTBALL SEASON

Most of us were surprised to hear the NFL Red Zone commentator announce that we had just passed the half way point in the 2019-2020 NFL pro football season.  Especially where the climate is still warm in places like Florida and California, it surely doesn’t seem like we should be half way through with the NFL already; it’s not even cold yet!

As more people than ever are wagering on sporting events one way or the other, good old American football, both college and pro, remains as the bookies ‘high season’, year after year. Now with the pending legalization of wagering on sports in various states nearing passage, availability to wagering options abound at casinos and racetracks across the country.

But, lots of bettors do not want to go out to a casino and stand in line to place a wager and then stand in line to collect their winnings then stop by and have a chat with the guy from the IRS at a nearby desk.

So, savvy bettors are doing what they have always done, place their wagers with a dependable local guy and enjoy the games at home or at their neighborhood sports bar. No sending money offshore. No reports to fill out.

Several things about the NFL season were predictable. Tom Brady and New England would come out as consummate professionals and once again dominate the competition.  The Patriots went 8-0 until running into the Ravens at Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium as 3 point favorites.  The Baltimore squad took over in the second half putting up 20 of their 37 points and holding the mighty Pats to just 20 points all game.

The Kansas City Chiefs, with second year QB sensation Patrick Mahomes, were given favored status for much of the off season and have pretty much lived up to the hype. However, after Mahomes went down with a knee injury and Matt Moore had to come in and pick up the slack, the Chiefs went from favorites to dogs last week and were listed as +5.5 underdogs for their match-up with the Minnesota Vikings at home at Arrowhead Stadium.

But stand-in QB Matt Moore proved to be more than adequate for the task and finished the game with 275 yards with one touchdown and zero picks!   The Viking’s Kirk Cousins threw for three touchdowns in the losing effort.

In yet another NFL ‘fantastic finish’, the game was finally decided on a last second 44 yard field goal by kicker Harrison Butker, which broke the tie and won the contest for the Chiefs, even without Patrick Mahomes at the helm.

Back-up quarterbacks were much in evidence last Sunday as Gardner Minshew started for the Jaguars in London against the Texans and the venerable Ryan Fitzpatrick led the hapless Miami Dolphins to their first victory of the season.

The Colts and Steelers game featured two back-up quarterbacks as well as Brian Hoyer started for Indianapolis and Mason Rudolph was under center for Pittsburgh replacing the injured Ben Roethlisberger.  Once again the game came down to a last minute field goal attempt but this time the kick went wide left by veteran Adam Vinatieri for the Colts, leaving the final score of 26-24, Steelers win.

In a barn burner out on the west coast, it took Russell Wilson throwing 5 touchdown passes and an all out effort by the Seattle Seahawks to defeat the stubborn Tampa Bay Buccaneers in overtime and putting up a total of 74 points in all; exceeding the over and under prediction by 23 points.

But the big surprise of the day was the 3-5 Los Angeles Chargers holding Aaron Rodgers and the 7-1 Green Bay Packers scoreless in the first half and eventually winning the game, for which they were tagged as 4 point dogs, by 15 points and defeating the Packers 26-11 in Carson, California.

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