Bet the PAC: It’s back!

August 28, 2001 6:40 AM
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The wait is finally over, and it’s time to get ready for some real football.

The colleges do the honors with a full slate of games this weekend, and there are some juicy matchups that should have bettors licking their chops. Among the interesting games are some involving the Pac 10, which should be among the better conferences this season. Pop the rubber band because if you bet the Pac, you’ll be cashing tickets.

In any event, college football opens the throttle this weekend and although the schedule is dotted with the usual early-season slaughters of the indigents (e.g., Troy State at Nebraska), there are some meaningful contests and interesting betting propositions.

Saturday, Sept. 1

Miami (Fla.) at PENN STATE: Joe Paterno needs one more win to equal Bear Bryant’s record of 323 major-college coaching victories. But he won’t get it here. The Nittany Lions, 5-7 a year ago, are in a downward cycle. The Hurricanes, on the other hand, have legitimate ambitions for the national championship. Happy Valley will not be a happy place this Saturday. Miami (—12½) is the recommended plan.

West Virginia at BOSTON COLLEGE: Former Clemson assistant Rich Rodriguez takes over from Don Nehlen at West Virginia and he’ll be off to a slow start as only four starters return from last year’s team. Boston College returns experienced players at all of the skill positions and 10 starters return on offense. In the season’s opener for both teams, Boston College (—4½) gets the money.

North Carolina at MARYLAND: This is Maryland’s first game under new coach Ralph Friedgen, former Georgia Tech offensive coordinator. The Tar Heels opened last Saturday at Oklahoma and fumbled the ball away four times in going down, 41-27. It’s reasonable to expect improvement this Saturday against more moderate opposition. North Carolina (—2½) is the choice.

Illinois at CALIFORNIA: The season’s opener for both teams. The Golden Bears were 3-8 a year ago and had better show improvement or coach Tom Holmoe could be fired. Best part of the Cal team is its defense, which will be tested by Illini quarterback Kurt Kittner, the most prolific passer in school history. The opening line listed California as a 1-point favorite. Illlinois will win this game straight up.

UCLA at ALABAMA: Not only is this the season’s opener for both teams, it is the first game for the Crimson Tide under new coach Dennis Franchione. Last year the Bruins, playing at home, upset Alabama, propelling the Tide to a 3-8 season. Both teams have talent but the UCLA quarterbacking situation appears more stable than Alabama’s. The bet here is UCLA (+3).

Wisconsin at OREGON: The Ducks have lofty ambitions that include a national championship and a Heisman Trophy winner. Some Oregon boosters spent a reported $250,000 to erect a billboard of quarterback Joey Harrington in Times Square, boosting him for the Heisman. There’s no doubt the Ducks have plenty of offense, too much for the Badgers who didn’t look particularly impressive in downing Virginia last Saturday, 26-17. Lay the 8½ points and go with Oregon.

Tulane at LOUISIANA STATE: Tulane gave up 70 points last Saturday in being flogged by Brigham Young. LSU figures to be one of the better teams in the Southeastern Conference. No way this game can be close. Louisiana State (—21½) will win and cover.