Football season is back and we at Doc’s Sports Services couldn’t be more excited as we enter our 41st season in professional handicapping.
We are also very proud to be back in GamingToday after taking a few years off. Each week you can look forward to three selections from us in this space. And most weeks at least two of them will be from the Big Ten Conference. That has been fertile ground for us over the past 40 years.
The Big Ten is our “home” conference. You should always bet what you know best and no one has a better insight into Big Ten football than we do.
This year should be another great season in the Big Ten. It starts with powerhouse Wisconsin and they should continue to take advantage of the power vacuum issues Ohio State, Penn State and (before last year) Michigan have created over the last few years. The Badgers could be a big national player if new quarterback Danny O’Brien can pick up where fellow transfer Russell Wilson left off last year.
Two teams to keep an eye on in the conference are Michigan State and Illinois. They really have two of the best defenses in college football. And like we saw last year with LSU and Alabama – defense still wins championships. I’m expecting a strong start from both of those underrated teams.
And we are ready to put our money where our mouth is! Here are this week’s selections:
Friday, Aug. 31
Boise St. +7 at Michigan St.: This is one of the biggest games of the weekend. These are two great programs and there is uncertainty on both sides because each of them is trying to replace experienced senior starters at quarterback.
Michigan State has eight starters back on a defense that finished No. 5 in the country in yards allowed and No. 10 in scoring last year. That gives Sparty a big advantage, especially in an opening game like this where Boise State is still trying to figure things out. Michigan State really might have the best group of linebackers in the country and they should control this game.
Boise State really is a great program. Chris Peterson has done an amazing job. But the Broncos only have about five starters back from last year’s incredible team. They are filling a lot of holes and they should get off to a slow start here against a team that has better athletes and more experience.
I am also looking hard at the total in this game. I think this one is going to be played under. Michigan State’s defense should be great. And with two quarterbacks making their first starts, I think it will take a while for both teams to get going on offense.
We like: Michigan St. -7/UNDER.
Saturday, Sept. 1
Notre Dame +17 vs. Navy: This game is an early start and will kick off in Dublin, Ireland. I really think it is going to be a great game for the Irish – the ones watching and the ones playing!
Brian Kelly is in his third season at the helm of Notre Dame. That is really the season you start to see a coach and a program come together. These are Kelly’s players now and they are familiar with his schemes and style. This Irish roster is loaded and has playmakers on offense and defense. They will be ready to play and look for a strong year.
Notre Dame lost its opener to South Florida because of turnovers, a big problem all last season. But turnovers are something that usually don’t carry over from year to year and I think Kelly will make sure taking care of the ball is a big priority all season long.
Navy is going to work the option. But Notre Dame has had a lot of time to prepare for it. And the Middies aren’t set up to take advantage of the Irish’s biggest weakness, the secondary. I think the Irish will dominate this one from start to finish.
We like: Notre Dame -17.
Michigan +12½ vs. Alabama: This is the marquee game of the weekend. And this is way too many points! This game is being played in the Dallas suburb of Arlington, a neutral site, and really should be a slugfest.
This Michigan team is better than people think right now. I know they are in the Top 10, but this spread tells me the oddsmakers and general betting public don’t respect them. This Wolverines team went 11-2 last year, bringing back a great defense and one of the most explosive offensive players in the game with quarterback Denard Robinson.
This is a very good Michigan club and I think Brady Hoke is going to have the Wolverines fired up as underdogs in this game.
Alabama is the defending national champion, but are replacing a lot of NFL talent and experienced players. The SEC rules the roost in this sport right now, but the public is ready to get suckered into laying too many points with these conference teams early in the season.
This one should also be a low scoring game. Alabama likes to line up and run the ball at teams.
That’s the type of football Michigan is used to playing in the Big Ten. If this isn’t a high-scoring affair I don’t see Alabama covering this inflated spread. Take the points in this one.
We like Michigan +12½
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