Long live the props! Some may be reaching a bit, but on balance the creativity from Las Vegas sports books is an art to be admired.
Caesars Palace came out with a prop on possible World Series matchups that especially piqued my interest. Now I know that a Cubs-Red Sox dream encounter can be purchased at 20-1 odds. Or perhaps, you yearn for a classic Dodgers-Yanks clash at 10-1.
Chuck Esposito’s gang created a number of plays that I highly recommend customers should check out.
Station Casinos had one prop that focused on Peyton Manning and the number of passing yards he accumulates during the regular season. Manning is a passing machine and should be good for more than 4,000. I think the 4201-4500 category is about right, and apparently so does Caesars. They made that grouping the 8-5 favorite. If the Indy QB goes berserk and exceeds 5,701 yards, the payoff is 40-1. Not likely, but worth $2.
The one I really like is total rushing yards and my favorite is the No. 9 choice, Jacksonville TB Fred Taylor. The only thing holding Taylor back from 2,000 yards is injuries. Four times in six years, Taylor has exceeded 1,200, including a career-high 1,572 last year.
Taylor has a streak of 32 straight regular season starts since 2001, when he knocked out that year after just two games. Green Bay’s Ahman Green is the favorite at 5-2 in a dynamite group of rushers, but we like Freddie and the young Jags as a good longshot.
As for picks, college football did not start out so well with USC taking a bit too long before putting away Virginia Tech. The 14-point victory made our "spread" loss easier to swallow, but the 17Â½ spot was never challenged.
Hopefully this week goes a bit better in this college-only weekend. Next week both the NCAA and NFL are in full swing, but this is a nice snack before the big meal.
Thursday, Sept. 2
Texas A&M (+9Â½) at Utah: A Utah win against a competent Big 12 foe opens the door to a possible 12-0 season. A&M won’t be easy, but Urban Meyer is a hot coach. Utes will show defense can exist in the mountains. UTAH.
Friday, Sept. 3
Wash St (-1Â½) vs N.Mexico: Utah’s win will inspire the underdog Lobos to pull off the upset against a Cougars squad that takes a step back this year. N.MEXICO
Saturday, Sept. 4
UL-Monroe (+38) at Auburn: Nice seat cushion for Auburn in this blowout opener. It could be 40, 50, 100. No way we can take Monroe or any other ex-President. AUBURN
MTSU (+28) at Florida: Ditto. Middle Tennessee drowns in The Swamp as John Zook tries to delay that pink slip. Easy game for Gators stud QB Chris Leak. FLORIDA
Cincy (+17) at Ohio St: A lot of points, but Buckeyes remember the scare at Cincy and won’t take the Bearcats lightly this time. OHIO ST.
S. Carolina (-5Â½) at Vandy: Unusually early SEC clash. Gamecocks should start strong this year, led by a stellar defense. We’re comfortable laying less than a TD against the perennial league dormat. S. CAROLINA
Sunday, Sept. 5
UNLV (+20) at Tennessee: Rebs have shown in the past at Ole Miss and Wisconsin that they can play with some of the big boys. Tennessee is a lot to chew on, but this is a veteran team and DB Brimmer won the Wisconsin game by himself last year. UNLV.
Monday, Sept. 6
Florida St (+2Â½) at Miami: Noles QB Chris Rix has sure had his ups and downs in this always entertaining, never dull series. Simply put, better to receive than to give. FSU.
Pitt (+1) at South Florida: the Bulls won 35-26 at Pittsburgh back in 2001 as a 23-point underdog. Larry Fitzgerald was there then, but Pitt must now replace their superstar receiver. USF ended last year with a nice 21-16 win at improving Memphis. USF.
Last week: 0-1, Season: 0-1.