NCAA semifinals kick off New Year

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Let me cover the first-ever college football national title playoff games before mentioning the NFL.

Thursday

January 1, 2015

ROSE BOWL

Florida St. +9 vs. Oregon (72): Playing in Pasadena is a huge advantage for the Ducks. Hate laying the points against Jameis Winston, but we have been betting against the overrated Seminoles all season. FSU has covered just three times – against Wake Forest, Louisville and Miami Fla. OREGON.

SUGAR BOWL

Ohio St. +9 vs. Alabama (58): Two Hall of fame teams and coaches head to New Orleans. Our good friend Syl Friedman told us there has been a steady flow of Buckeye fans motoring into the Big Easy. There has been money for the Buckeyes as the Tide opened 9.5 point favorite. I’m waiting to take the 10 but it hasn’t happened yet. Giving Urban Meyer 9 points is more than we can ask for the New Year. OHIO ST.

Okay, now for what’s most on my mind. One of the craziest NFL regular seasons has now ended and we move on to the playoffs. They could continue the craziness.

Could the “Curse of Bobby Layne” possibly end? Layne was very upset with the Detroit Lions and put a curse on them after they traded him to the Pittsburgh Steelers. He had led the Lions to three NFL Championships but broke his leg in 1957 and that following season they platooned him with Tobin Rote who finished out winning the championship.

Layne was not a happy guy and after the trade to Pittsburgh, who originally drafted him, he cursed the Lions, saying they would not win another championship for 50 years. Well, it has been 50 years and there are some startling similarities between Layne and current Lions QB Matthew Stafford.

Both grew up in Texas on the same street and went to the same high school. Could the curse be over? The Lions will need to get by the Cowboys this week in Dallas as a 7 point dog. The curse continues.

I loved Layne when he played in Pittsburgh. He was a two fisted beer drinker. One reporter asked him how he could play with his big beer belly? Without blinking Bobby said, “I don’t use my belly to pass the ball.”

We will try and get on track after getting crushed.

Tues., Dec. 30

MUSIC CITY BOWL

Notre Dame +7.5 vs. LSU (52.5): The Irish lost their last four, including a bad one to Northwestern. They never beat a team of any substance except for Stanford, 17-14, early in the season. LSU owns wins over Florida, Texas A&M and Ole Miss – all bowl teams, and almost beat Alabama. The defense will shut down the Irish. Plus ND is 1-4 vs. the SEC in bowls. LSU.

BELK BOWL

Louisville +7 vs. Georgia (56.5): The Cardinals have been a great dog play over the years and had Florida State on the ropes. Look for them to come up big in this game where the Bulldogs just didn’t want to be. LOUISVILLE.

FOSTER FARMS BOWL

Maryland +14 vs. Stanford (48): The Terrapins are excited to be here. Stanford was hoping for much better. It is very hard to lay double digits with a Cardinal offense that sometimes just doesn’t show up. MARYLAND.

Wed., Dec. 31

 

CHICK-FIL-A BOWL

Mississippi +3.5 vs. TCU: The Frogs are very upset and may want to prove a point, that they got hosed out of the playoffs being the best 11-1 team in college football. They won 7 of 8 against teams in bowls, but teams from the Big 12 have gone 1-9 SU and ATS. Ole Miss is 13-1 ATS under HC Freeze when playing out of the SEC. OLE MISS.

FIESTA BOWL

Boise St. +7 vs. Arizona St. (62): Huge feather in the Broncos’ cap if they pull this win off, and they just could. Boise can hang with most any team. BOISE ST.

ORANGE BOWL

Ga. Tech +7 vs. Miss St. (62): The Yellow Jackets/Rambling Wreck had an incredible season with wins over Pitt, Virginia, NC State, Clemson and Georgia to end the regular season. They came within an inch of beating Florida State in the ACC title game and under HC Paul Johnson have gone 14-1 ATS as a dog of 3 or more points vs. a team off a SU loss. Miss State was crushed in their last game of the season, 31-17. GA TECH.

Thurs., Jan. 1

OUTBACK BOWL

Wisconsin +6.5 vs. Auburn (63): The Badgers beat Western Illinois, Bowling Green, South Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Rutgers, Purdue, Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota. They lost their last game of the season, 59-0, vs. Ohio State. Auburn lost their last game in a barn burner to Alabama. They beat Arkansas, Kansas State, LSU (41-7), South Carolina, Ole Miss. Enough said. AUBURN.

COTTON BOWL

Michigan St. +2.5 vs. Baylor (70): The Bears’ loss at WVU cost them a shot at the national title. Baylor is a scoring machine and put the only loss on TCU, 61-58. The Spartans lost twice to the only real quality teams they played, Oregon and Ohio State. BAYLOR.

CAPITAL ONE BOWL

Minnesota +6 vs. Missouri (48): The Golden Gophers dropped 3 of their last 5 games with the only quality win coming against Nebraska. Missouri got to the SEC Final but could not stay with the Tide. Mizzou did win the last six in regular season, including victories over South Carolina, Florida, Texas A&M, Tennessee and Arkansas. MISSOURI.

Fri., Jan. 2

ARMED FORCES BOWL

Pittsburgh -3 vs. Houston (53): This game is in Fort Worth so a big advantage goes to the Cougars as far as a fan base. Pitt had to win its last two games to get here, but played the better schedule with wins over Boston College, Virginia Tech and Miami. PITTSBURGH.

TAXSLAYER BOWL

Iowa +3.5 vs. Tennessee (52): The weather should be great in Jacksonville. The Vols won 3 of their last 4 with their only loss a narrow 29-21 defeat by Missouri. They played Alabama very tough. The Hawkeyes lost 3 of their last 4 and have no quality wins. TENNESSEE.

ALAMO BOWL

UCLA -1 vs. Kansas St. (59): They may not be saying remember the Alamo Bowl, but if the real Bruins team shows up they win. Kansas State opened the favorite in this game and we will go against the money. KANSAS ST.

CACTUS BOWL

Oklahoma St. +6 vs. Washington (56): The Cowboys lost five straight games before winning their last game of the season, 38-35, against Oklahoma as a 20-point dog. They did play Florida State real tough, losing late, 37-31, in a game they should have won. The Huskies won their last two games and their last two bowl appearances. WASHINGTON.

Sat., Jan. 3

BIRMINGHAM BOWL

ECU +7 vs. Florida (58.5): The Gators played some of the best in the land with seven of their opponents going to bowls. The Pirates from Greenville have losses vs. teams like Temple and Cincy, and lost their last game against Central Florida. FLORIDA.

Sun., Jan. 4

GO DADDY.COM BOWL

Toledo -3.5 vs. Arkansas St. (66): They will be rocking in Mobile, right? The Rockets have been in three bowls the past four years and lost all of them. All were high scoring. The Red Wolves from Jonesboro can put some big points on the board and are seeking their third straight Go Daddy win. ARKANSAS ST.

Hope you all have a safe and happy New Year, and don’t forget make a bet every day. You just may be walking around lucky and not even know it.

Last week: 3-8

Season: 64-55-1.

NFL

We’re watching the playoffs like you are.

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

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