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Split Decision

Jan 6, 2004 7:48 AM

So, college football has a split personality. Like we didn’t know.

Congrats to Louisiana State, the BCS champion, for its 21-14 victory over Oklahoma and Bob Stoops, who has taken a hit the past two games in an otherwise pristine career.

The Sooners played nothing like the 6½-point favorite the books posted, getting dominated in the statistics. If not for special teams and a key interception, the Tigers could have breezed. Of course, having over 80,000 highly partisans fans at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans doesn’t hurt the cause.

The debate will continue for months as to whether LSU or Southern California deserved to be the No. 1 ranked college football team for the 2003-04 season. The Associated Press poll of writers and broadcasters voted for the Trojans off their impressive 28-14 victory over Michigan in the Rose Bowl.

Southern Cal was a 7-point favorite, and it could be argued that for the past two seasons has been the top college team in the country. Matt Weinert stepped right in at QB for Carson Palmer and the offense didn’t skip a beat. In all, favorites were an even 13-13-1 in the bowl series.

The way to bet was definitely "under" early. At one point, "unders" owned a 13-4 edge. The "over" rallied a bit as the elite matchups took place over New Years, but the Sugar Bowl finale closed the gap only to 19-8.

The matchup that really bothered me was the Humanitarian Bowl in Boise that featured Tulsa and Georgia Tech. How those teams managed to make a bowl game and not Connecticut or Northern Illinois is a joke. Now that would have been a far more intriguing and enticing contest to watch than a 52-10 Tech blowout.

The NFL first round matchups were fairly predictable with the favorites and home teams victorious in three of the four contests. Anything that produces 75 percent efficiency works in my world.

If there was one surprise it was the horrible effort of the Denver Broncos putting up such little resistance as a 3-point underdog at Indianapolis. It was only several weeks before that Denver won at Indy without Clinton Portis and made the Colts look bad. Obviously, Indy came up with a much better scheme and revenge was very sweet to backers of the horseshoe.

Speaking of horseshoes, the Green Bay Packers continue to carry one thanks to the interception TD from Al Harris in overtime to beat Seattle. Of course a lot of us were thankful that no extra point was needed in the OT, thus protecting our Seattle pick as a 6½-point dog in a 33-27 loss.

Tennessee-Baltimore was the best game of the four, with ageless Gary Andersen booting the game-winning FG in overtime. Somehow you knew Steve McNair would find a way to get the job done and bring home the bacon as a 1-point favorite.

The Carolina Panthers turned in a great home performance in eliminating the overrated Dallas Cowboys, who only made the playoffs on the strength of Bill Parcells coaching talent. The game started and stayed at 3 for Carolina and it was easy money.

No doubt, you will be hearing all week how the bye week will help top two seeds in each conference and that home favorites dominate. But, don’t be surprised it that 80-plus winning percentage over the past dozen years doesn’t take a hit this weekend.

For those looking forward to baseball and stock cars, Rob Terch at MonteLago has an early gift. There is a Red Sox vs Yankees prop up as to which team will win the regular season series. The Yanks are favored at -115. If you like Boston, it’s —105.

As for the February running of the Daytona 500, there are three prop matchups available for wagering. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is —125 over Michael Waltrip (+105), Jeff Gordon is even against Kevin Harvick (—120) and Ryan Newman is even vs. Tony Stewart (—120).