You the Man-ning

Sep 7, 2004 6:12 AM

EDITORS NOTE: Our best picks in college and the NFL are available to paying customers on the GamingToday website each week. We will review the rest of the pro slate and some of the attractive college matchups throughout the season in this column.

Hard to believe the NFL actually starts Thursday night. With nothing but college football on the tube last weekend, it’s as if a hurricane the size of Texas engulfed the pros.

I do seem to remember the Mannings and all that commotion they caused at the draft when Eli cried about potentially winding up in San Diego. So with some love from daddy Archie, he sits the bench with the New York Giants. Meanwhile, big brother Peyton opens at Super Bowl champ New England in another attempt to shake his "loser" image.

I need reprogramming after seeing nothing but young college kickers missing extra points. Northwestern and Oregon State should be holding tryouts this week to find anybody on campus that can kick.

And, how about powerhouses like Troy State and Florida Atlantic coming up with victories on the road as double-digit road dogs. You shouldn’t be surprised. Troy State has had enough dress rehearsals at Nebraska and Kansas State to knock off Marshall. As for Florida Atlantic, say no more than Howard Schnellenberger, who put Miami and Louisville on the football map. The 18 points was easy money.

Famed handicapper Jimmy Vaccaro was right on with Rutgers as a live touchdown home dog to overrated Michigan State. Also, Memphis, with all 11 offensive starters back, should have been giving rather than receiving three points against Ole Miss minus Eli.

Three coaches on the immediate hot seat: Ty Willingham at Notre Dame, Paul Pasqualoni after 13 hot and cold years at Syracuse and Karl Dorrell at UCLA. We think only Willingham will survive. FYI: Dorrell is 3-10-1 ATS.

As for the pros, the Carolina Panthers seem to be properly focused on a return to the Super Bowl with, hopefully for them, a different result. They will be the first Monday Night Football show of the season, which is nothing to sneeze at.

Of course, parity is everything in the pros. Tampa Bay and Oakland collapsed last year. Look for both to rebound. Maybe Jacksonville rises from the dust to be this year’s Carolina. And, then there’s Parcells, Deion and no Ricky. We’ve used up our T.O. so let the picks begin!

Friday, Sept. 10

Oregon St (+7)) at Boise St: If the visiting Beavers aren’t still spooked by the LSU debacle, wait until they see that blue turf. The Broncos are a scoring machine and would love to avenge last year’s 26-24 loss at Corvallis. BOISE ST.

Duke (+13) at UConn: The Blue Devils were toasted at Navy. Never a good sign. UConn is a legitimate contender in the Big East with Miami and Virginia Tech gone. The Huskies should be fine here if they aren’t looking to BC next week. UCONN.

So. Miss (+13.5) at Nebraska: The Huskers threw four TD passes last week. Hail, Bill Callahan! USM was idle and will be rusty. NEBRASKA.

Iowa State (+25) at Iowa: Kirk Ferentz has a powerhouse at Iowa. Why else would he turn down all those coaching offers? IOWA.

UNC (+20.5) at Virginia: The Cavaliers are 6-0 ATS vs the Tar Heels since 1998. Charlottesville will be rocking. Let the rout begin. VIRGINIA.

West Virginia (-20) at UCF: The Knights missed George O’Leary last week at Wisconsin, but the coach is back for the home opener. UCF catches West Virginia in a double revenge look-ahead to next week’s grudge match with Maryland. UCF.

Colorado St (+24.5) at USC: Trojans did not look that good against Virginia Tech. Expect a much better effort against CSU, which is still reeling from tough loss to Colorado. USC.

Last week: 3-3

Season: 3-4

Thursday, Sept. 9

Colts (+3) at Patriots: Indianapolis is a horrid 4-13 ATS against the Pats since 1994, including a current string of six straight. Peyton piles up the stats, while Tom Brady wins games. Super way to start the season and we see a surprise. Peyton wins an early biggie. COLTS.

Sunday, Sept. 12

Bucs (+2) at Redskins: At last, the real return of Joe Gibbs. Finally, Arrington, Portis, Brunell and super rookie Sean Taylor will play significant minutes. Bucs have come a version of the old Raiders under Gruden. REDSKINS.

Jaguars +3 at Bills: Jax is a fashionable pick with rising star QB Leftwich, stellar RB Taylor and an improved defense. If anything happens to Drew Bledsoe, Bills are cooked. Not playing Buffalo in December always favors the visiting team. JAGS

Chiefs (+3) at Broncos: We’ll gladly take the points, even though the game is not at Arrowhead. KC has the most electric offense this side of the Rams. We still doubt Jake Plummer. Can’t bet against a Priest. CHIEFS.

Bengals (+3½) at Jets: Two teams that depend so much on getting out of the gate fast. Edge to Gang Green and Chad Pennington over young and coming Carson Palmer. We could hang on that half point, but we’ll gamble. JETS.

Seahawks -1 at Saints: Seattle is a fashionable choice to win the NFC West over the Rams. New Orleans is the epitome of the dysfunctional NFL franchise. SEAHAWKS.