Early games offer solid action

Aug 23, 2005 5:17 AM

College football kicks off next week, and for avid fans and sports bettors the start of the season couldn’t come too soon.

Among the changes this season are a re-vamped Bowl College Series (BCS) system for ranking teams, the elimination of several "pre-season" bowl games, and the NCAA’s bewildering edict to ban post season play for teams that use "derogatory" Native American mascots.

Thankfully, the NCAA is re-evaluating its mascot decree, but in any case, most of the changes are simply fodder for talk-show hosts.

Here, we’re interested in the action on the field — as well as the sports books!

So, without further ado, here is a quick look at some of next week’s match-ups along with a few angles worth examining.

Colorado State vs. Colorado -7½: The underdog in this series has covered the spread eight times in the last 10 games. Even though Colorado has won seven of nine previous home openers, the Buffs have covered the spread only once.

Ohio at Northwestern -14½: The Wildcats have covered five of the last six in this series. But they’re a dismal 3-7 against the spread (ATS) in their last 10 home openers.

UCLA -8 at San Diego State: The Bruins have covered the number 10 times in 12 contests, and are 19-0-1 straight up (SU) lifetime against the Aztecs. The Bruins are also 12-6 ATS when playing non-conference games on the road.

Notre Dame at Pittsburgh -4: The Irish have been able to cover the spread in eight of the last 10 match-ups. However, the boys from South Bend are also2-8 ATS in their last 10 road openers.

Baylor -4 at SMU: The favorite in this game has prevailed in six straight attempts. Also, the Baylor Bears are 9-2 SU and 10-1 ATS versus SMU since 1984.

West Virginia at Syracuse -2½: In this Big East match-up, the favorite has won and covered in 11 of the past 12 meetings. The Mountaineers have covered each of the last four meetings while winning three of them.

Louisville -21½ at Kentucky: The Cardinals have become dominant in this in-state rivalry, having covered five of the last six point spreads. During that stretch, Louisville has outscored the Wildcats by an average of 36-20 a game.

Tulane at Southern Miss —11: Once again the favorite is the play as it has covered eight of the last 10 match-ups. Under coach Jeff Bower, Southern Miss is 32-19 as a home favorite (63 percent).

Miami —3 at Florida State: The Hurricanes have blown away the number in five of the last six meetings. Moreover, the visitor in this series is 5-2 ATS the last seven years.

Florida Atlantic at Kansas —20: Could be a mismatch here as Kansas is 7-1 ATS the last four years versus non-BCS teams. Florida Atlantic recently moved up to Div. 1A, and never had a football team before 2001!

Buffalo at Connecticut -18: The Huskies have had their way in this series; they’ve won 11 of 15 games and covered the spread three straight years where the average margin of victory was 27 points.

Washington at Air Force +2½: For some reason, the Falcons are listed as the home team, although the game is being played in Seattle. In PAC 10 match-ups, Air Force is only 5-8 SU, but have covered the points in 8 of 13.

Texas A&M -1 at Clemson: Even though the Aggies are vastly improved under coach Dennis Franchione, the are a dismal 2-12 ATS in road openers since 1991.

Boise State at Georgia -7: The linesmaker is showing tremednous respect for the Broncos, which are a solid 7-2-1 ATS as a road dog. And although Georgia is 9-4 SU in home openers, it is only 3-8 ATS.