Getting close to NCAA football bowl crunch time

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First I would like to thank all my readers for the response to last week’s article on “Money” and “The Greek.”

You know, in my early days of gambling both at the cigar stores in Steubenville (one on every corner) and at good old Waterford Park (now Mountaineer) it was like everyone just had a nickname. No one really ever knew their real moniker.

When I got to Vegas permanently back in the 70’s it was the same. There was white Allen and black Allen. Both were bettors but white Allen was a big bettor and people wanted to know who he was playing. Black Allen was a $100 dollar bettor and made his money starting Lefty’s car (not kidding).

Then there was Jerry Shoes who wore out a pair of sneakers every month plodding up and down the Strip looking for numbers. There was Jerry “The Hat” and Jack “The Hat.” My story this week is about the hat, not Jerry. I will deal with him at a later date. I will also pass along a story about “Fast Eddie” and that isn’t The Hustle (fast Eddie Felson) but a different hustler.

Jack “The Hat” came into the Stardust every day that I can remember until they found him crocked in his apartment on Paradise Road with his beloved cat. Jack was a $10 and $20 race and sports bettor, but more importantly our runner.

When we were working, if a hot horse came about, Jack would get the wave and make the bet for us (his usual 10% if it won). Now on this morning “Ruby,” who had some kind of in down at the track in Florida, would come with 2yo first time starters. The question wasn’t if they would win but what price would they pay.

I waved the hat on, gave him a “double saw buck” and told him to play the horse to win only. He hustled to the race counter, coming back to me with a $2 win and place on the nag. I asked where my ticket was and he says it was lost from there to here. 

I gave him $30 this time and he got the ticket. The horse won paying $18 and change. “The Hat” did not get his usual 10% but he didn’t want it, being happy with his $2 win and place.

About two months later “Jack The Hat” comes in and hands me $186. He tells me he put in a claim for the lost ticket, just got the check and how sorry he was. There really was honor among thieves.

As we continue with upset Saturday and Sunday I will take a look at some plays for this week as we start to get into bowl crunch time.

NCAA

Thursday, Oct. 18

Oregon -10½ at Arizona St.: The Ducks come into Sun Devil Stadium sporting a perfect record of 6-0. They beat the Sun Devils in Eugene last year 41-27 as a -14 point favorite, not covering the spread. They will be hard pressed to cover a TD in this huge game for both teams. The Sun Devils have three things going for them – home field, revenge and going 6-0 ATS as a home dog after scoring 35 or more points the previous week. ARIZONA ST.

Saturday, Oct. 20

Mich St. +11 at Michigan: Usually I would not want to lay double digits in a game like this but after watching the Spartans lose to Indiana last week and Michigan in a revenge mode I will lay the -11. MICHIGAN.

Utah +10 at Oregon St.: The Beavers sit at home undefeated coming off an impressive win in Provo. Must stay on them as they are playing with high intensity. OREGON ST.

Kansas St. +3½ at West Virginia: No doubt HC Bill Snyder and his crew will be watching films how the Red Raiders shut down the high powered WVU offense. The Wildcats will have no problem putting points on the board against the soft Mountaineer defense as they look to stay perfect in their BCS run. KANSAS ST.

Auburn +7½ at Vandy: Auburn is one bad team while the Commodores are very competitive losing to South Carolina 17-13, Northwestern 23-13, beating Missouri 19-15 and losing to Florida 31-17 in a closer than the final score decision. VANDERBILT.

NFL

Thursday, Oct. 18

Seahawks +7 at 49ers: There are some positive and negative trends in this game for the 49ers. None positive for the Seahawks, who have gone 0-5 ATS when getting more than 4 on the road when coming off a win. The 49ers have gone 7-0 ATS as a division favorite of 7 or more points at home. The one negative is a 0-6 ATS mark before playing a Monday game and they play on Monday next week. We will side with the positive factors and take the 49ers to rebound. 49ERS.

Sunday, Oct. 21

These are my “say it isn’t so” plays for Sunday.

• Say it isn’t so that the Giants are a TD favorite over the Skins coming off that huge win in San Francisco. REDSKINS +7

• Say it isn’t so that the Steelers are laying points on the road again in Cincinnati. BENGALS +2½

NOTE: The Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita is right around the corner. This is a quick reminder that I will be hosting another huge BC seminar at Palace Station in the race book at 6 p.m. along with Vic Vivio and the all-knowing host of Race Day Las Vegas, Ralph (the genius) Siraco.

The seminar is free with free food and cocktail service. It is a great time so if you are any kind of horse fan be there and participate.

Richard Saber, a former director of race and sports at the famed Stardust book, is GamingToday’s horse racing and sports handicapper. Contact Richard at [email protected].

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