One-Loss Teams Fighting to Stay Alive in College Football

Sooners
Sooners
Bob Stoops and the Sooners face a key test today from Kansas State.

There are just six undefeated teams left in major college football and Marshall is one of those. The Thundering Herd is 6-0 but they are ranked 25th and the chances of them reaching the top four are extremely slim. One-loss teams like Kansas State, Oklahoma and Alabama have much better shots at the playoff than an unbeaten Marshall team.

Will they be able to continue their marches today? Let’s fined out.

Texas A&M (+13) at Alabama (O/U 63.5) –This has been the marquee match-up in the nation the last two seasons as the two teams traded wins at the other’s home stadium. Johnny Football is no longer a part of this equation and the Aggies have dropped two straight but there’s no reason to believe this can’t be another intense and exciting affair.

The difference this time around is that the Tide and Aggies each have tasted defeat and Kevin Sumlin’s team has looked very average. Alabama will need to rely more on T.J. Yeldon now with Kenyan Drake out for the season.

Trends:The total has gone OVER in in five of the Aggies’ last seven games on the road… Alabama is 1-7 against the spread in their last eight games… Texas A&M 12-3 straight up in their last 15 games on the road… The Tide is 12-1 in their last 13 games at home.

The Pick: Take the Tide to win but the Aggies will keep it close and take the OVER.

 

Snyder
Can Bill Snyder's Wildcats pull the upset in Norman today?

Kansas State (+7.5) at Oklahoma (O/U 55) –Lost in all the hoopla about Oklahoma, TCU and Baylor is Kansas State. The Wildcats are a better kicker away from being unbeaten after their tough loss to Auburn.

The Sooners bounced back from their loss to the Horned Frogs by beating rival Texas last week.

Trends:The Wildcats are 2-4 against the spread in their last six games against Oklahoma… The Sooners are 9-1 straight up in their last 10 games at home… The total has gone OVER in five of K-State’s last last six games when playing the Sooners… The total has gone OVER in four Oklahoma’s last five games at home.

The Pick: Take the Wildcats and the points and take the OVER.

Tennessee (+16) at Ole Miss (O/U 46.5) – I have to hand it to Head Coach Hugh Freeze and his Rebels. I thought for sure they were going to have a massive letdown in College Station last weekend following their win over Alabama. They put that to rest early but jumping on the Aggies early and never looked back.

Butch Jones and the Volunteers are 3-3 but have not won on the road yet this season. I think things are better in Knoxville but they aren’t going to threaten much here in Oxford.

Trends: Tennessee is 1-10 straight up on the road in their last 11 games… The total has gone UNDER in eight of Ole Miss’ last nine games… The Vols are 1-4 against the spread in their last five games against Ole Miss… The Rebels are 7-1 straight up in their last eight games at home.

The Pick: Take the Vols and those points but I like the Rebels to win and I like the UNDER.

College Games I like Tomorrow

Beamer
Beamer
Frank Beamer and his Hokies host East Carolina tomorrow in Blacksburg.

East Carolina (+10) at Virginia Tech (O/U 54) – This could be a dangerous spot for the Hokies who come home following a huge upset win over Ohio State in Columbus. The Pirates gave South Carolina fits well into the final quarter before losing in Columbia.

Trends: East Carolina is 7-2 straight up in their last nine games… Virginia Tech is 2-4 against the spread in the last six games when playing East Carolina… The total has gone UNDER in four of ECU’s last six games when playing the Hokies… Virginia Tech is 18-7 straight up in its’ last 25 games at home.

The Pick: I like East Carolina getting the points but I’ll take the Hokies to win and take the under as well.

Gurley
Todd Gurley leads Georgia into South Carolina tomorrow.

Georgia (-7) at South Carolina (O/U 60) – The Gamecocks are 1-1 but were embarrassed at home by Texas A&M and then hung on to beat East Carolina last week. The Bulldogs were impressive in beating Clemson in the opener and now head to Columbia for their first SEC game. Having already lost to the Aggies, South Carolina cannot afford another loss in conference play.

The Dawgs will ride with Todd Gurley who I expect to have another big game.

Trends: Georgia is 1-4-2 against the spread in their last seven games at South Carolina… The Gamecocks are 22-1 straight up in their last 23 home games… The Bulldogs are 4-2 SU in their last six games at South Carolina… The total has gone UNDER in five of USC’s last five games when playing at home against Georgia.

The Pick: I like Georgia to cover and I like the OVER.

Purdue (+27.5) vs Notre Dame (O/U 56.5) – This game is being played in Indianapolis. Let’s be real quick here shall we? Purdue just lost at home to Central Michigan. Notre Dame just shut out Michigan.

Trends: The Boilermakers are 0-5 straight up in their last five games against Notre Dame… The Irish are 4-1 SU in their last five games… The total has gone UNDER in five of Notre Dame’s last six games… Purdue is 1-11 SU in their last 12 games.

The Pick: Take the Irish to cover but take the UNDER.

Tennessee (+20.5) at Oklahoma (O/U 56.5) – This is a big opportunity for Butch Jones and the Vols but I also think they are going into a buzzsaw in Norman. Sooners’ QB Trevor Knight is playing well and OU just doesn’t lose at home under Bob Stoops.

Trends: Tennessee is 2-4 against the spread in their last six road games… The Sooners are 5-0 straight up in their last five games… The Vols are 1-8 straight up in their last nine road games… The total has gone OVER in four of Oklahoma’s last five games at home.

The Pick: Take OU to cover and I love the OVER.

UCLA (-7.5) vs Texas (O/U 50.5) – This game is being played in Arlington. I’m not sure we’ve seen the real UCLA just yet and this would be a horrible week for them to show up if you’re Texas. The Longhorns were throttled at home by BYU last week and I don’t think it will get much better.

Trends: The Bruins are 7-1 straight up in their last eight games… Texas is 2-4 against the spread in their last six games… The total has gone OVER in four of UCLA’s last six games… The total has gone UNDER in five of the Longhorns’ last six games.

The Pick: Take the Bruins to cover and I like the UNDER.

Penn State (-3) at Rutgers (O/U 51.5) – This is Rutgers first-ever game in the Big Ten and they open with the Nittany Lions who are now eligible for a bowl after the NCAA lifted the postseason ban this week. I really like Christian Hackenberg at QB for PSU.

Trends: Penn State is 4-1 straight up in its’ last five games… Rutgers is 1-4 against the spread in in its last five games at home… The total has gone OVER in four of PSU’s last five games on the road… The Scarlet Knights are 16-5 straight up in their last 21 home games.

The Pick: Take Penn State to cover and I like the OVER.

Odds on the 2014 SEC East Division Winner

Spurrier

 

Spurrier
I expect the ole ball coach and his South Carolina Gamecocks to win the SEC East.

With the Big Ten completed, my attention turns to the Southeastern Conference. I expect things to fall back a bit with so many new quarterbacks but it will still be the same old SEC when it’s all over. Today, it’s the East.

Florida 3/1 – Will Muschamp and the Gators lost seven straight games to finish the season in 2013. They return seven starters on both sides of the ball which is cause for optimism and Jeff Driskel returns at QB after a season-ending injury last year. Florida should be 3-0 heading to Tuscaloosa to play Alabama. Other road trips include Vandy, Tennessee and Florida State.

Georgia 8/5 – The Bulldogs will ride Todd Gurley and a defense that returns eight starters. With Florida down and South Carolina the only real threat, there will be tons of pressure on Mark Richt to get back to the SEC Title Game. Georgia has just four away games and the neutral site showdown with the Gators. Possible road bumps include Missouri and South Carolina. They do get Clemson, Auburn and Georgia Tech at home.

Kentucky 50/1 – The Wildcats are hoping a big-time recruiting class can get them to a bowl game in 2014. In Mark Stoops’ first season they were just 2-10. The road slate isn’t very kind to Big Blue. They have trips to Florida, Tennessee, Missouri, LSU and Louisville. They do get home dates with South Carolina and Georgia but I have a hard time seeing six wins here.

DGB
Dorial Green-Beckham has left Mizzou and that leaves a large hole at wide receiver.

Missouri 10/1 – The defending division champions have several holes to fill as they only have four starters returning on each side of the ball. Now that they’ve been in the SEC two seasons, they are no longer going to sneak up on anyone. The Tigers first road game is at Toledo who gave them all they could handle before pulling away last season. They’ll also have to go to Tennessee, Texas A&M, Florida and South Carolina. With a lot of new faces, the Tigers cold take a step back this season.

South Carolina 7/4 – The Gamecocks lost just twice last season and were the only team to defeat division chap Missouri who they get in Columbia this season. SC gets eight starters back on offense and six on defense. The road schedule could be too daunting down the stretch as the Gamecocks have to play at Auburn, Florida and the finale at Clemson. Steve Spurrier always fields competitive teams and this will be no different. It’s very possible SC could 7-0 before they head to Auburn.

Tennessee 12/1 – Butch Jones has this team on the rise and that was evident last year. They were competitive in several games but still struggled with the big boys like Alabama, Auburn and Oregon. The Vols will have to fill some holes on both sides of the ball but the expectations are still going to be higher this year. There won’t be much room for error but six wins is very possible. Key road trips are at Oklahoma, Georgia and South Carolina while they get Florida and Alabama at Neyland Stadium.

Vanderbilt 50/1 – James Franklin has left for Penn State so Derek Mason takes over. With six starters back on offense and just four on defense, Mason’s job is cut out for him. The Commodores draw Ole Miss and Mississippi State from the West and those could be wins. The also have home dates with Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee. The two tough road games are at Missouri and at Georgia. Don’t be surprised to see this team back in a bowl under Mason.

The Pick: I just don’t have faith in Muschamp despite a lot of talent. Look for the Gamecocks to take the title.

Friday Night’s NCAA Tournament Action

Hoiberg
Hoiberg
Can Coach Fred Hoiberg and the Cyclones advance past UConn tonight?

Here are my thoughts on tonight’s NCAA Sweet Sixteen action.

UConn (+2) vs. Iowa State – If any team has flown under the radar so far in this tournament it has to be the UConn Huskies. They’ve quietly put together a nice run here as a seventh seed and are led by fantastic senior guard Shabazz Napier who has averaged 25 points per game this season.

The Cyclones enter this game doing three things very well; they score (6th in the nation), they assist like crazy (1st in the nation) and they kill the boards (2nd).  The Huskies are very ‘middle of the road’ in most departments but they do block and alter a lot shots. That’ll be a big issue for ISU’s inside game.

The Key here is Napier. If Iowa State makes him work for everything at both ends of the court then I like ISU big, if they don’t I expect a tight game but will still take the Cyclones.

Payne
Payne and the Spartans will be a monster task for the Cavaliers.

Michigan State (-2) vs. Virginia – I’m not sure how often this has happened but we have a number one seed as an underdog in the Sweet Sixteen. Top-seeded Virginia enters as a two-point dog against Michigan State. While the Spartans have been fairly impressive in wins over Harvard and Delaware, I’m not sure that would elicit such an advantage over a top seed.

I would expect this game to be a war. The Cavs are the top ranked defense in the country as they give up just 55 points per game, but MSU is very good with the basketball. They are the sixth best team in college hoops with over 17 assists per game and they rank 31st in field goal percentage.

If Virginia is going to continue this amazing season all the way to the Final Four then I think this is the biggest road block. Will State’s experience and guard play be too much? I think the Cavs move on.

Tennessee (+3) vs. Michigan – The Volunteers not too long ago were one of those teams forced to play in a ‘play-in’ game just to get to the actual tournament. They dismissed Iowa and have since beaten UMass and Cinderella wannabe Mercer in convincing fashion.

On the other side is second-seeded Michigan who has surprised no one by getting to the Sweet Sixteen. The Wolverines have had most of the season to figure out life without injured big man Mitch McGary and they did just fine in winning the outright Big Ten Title.

This promises to be a classic match-up of shooting vs. rebounding. The Wolverines knock threes down at the rate of 40% and their overall field goal percentage is pretty darn good as well. They will need to make those shots because Tennessee does a significantly better job of rebounding the ball than does Michigan.

I expect a Michigan victory but I will actually take the Vols and the three points in what should be a tight game.

Kentucky (+4) vs. Louisville – I can only imagine what life has been like this week in the Bluegrass State as these two longtime rivals meet in the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament. They met earlier in the season and the Wildcats grabbed the home court win 73-66.

Kentucky played much of the second half that game without Julius Randle who was being treated for cramps. The Cardinals only shot 23% from three-point range in the game which is considerably lower than their season average of 37%. Look for that to again be a huge stat in this one.

UK Head Coach John Calipari is 13-12 all-time against Rick Pitino and is 5-1 against him in the last six games. Despite the clear advantage in experience, I think the coaching edge Calipari has right now is too much to ignore. Take the Wildcats and the points.

Back Half of NFL’s Week Four Schedule Has Potential

Manning
Manning
Peyton Manning has been on fire and now the Eagles have to face him in Denver today.

There are many games on the docket today that offer interesting possibilities but I’m looking at the late games on the slate for some wagering action. This also happens to be the first week in which teams have their bye-weeks which if I were a fan or coach would drive me nuts having it this early. Either way, let’s get to the games.

Philadelphia (+11) at Denver -Chip Kelly and the Eagles bring their fast-paced offense to Denver to take on the top team in the National Football League in the Broncos. There was much ado about the Eagles after their fast-paced first half in the opener against the Redskins. Since then, they have been electric at times but have also struggled with turnovers.

Peyton Manning might be playing as well now as at any point in his hall of fame career and if the Eagles are giving the ball away that spells doom for Philly. The Eagles’ defense is 30th in the NFL and now they have to face Manning? While 11 points is a lot to give in the NFL, it isn’t enough today. The Eagles are 1-5 against the spread in their last six. Take the Broncos with confidence.

Dallas (-2) at San Diego – This line to me is nothing more than an over-reaction to the dominance of the Cowboys last week in their win over St. Louis. The Rams basically proved that with their pathetic performance on Thursday night. San Diego meanwhile is very close to being 3-0 on the season with a win over Philly and two last-second losses to Houston and Tennessee.

Tony Romo has looked good in recent weeks and part of that has been due to a better running game. He will look to take advantage of a San Diego defense that is ranked 31st in the NFL. The flip-side is that Philip Rivers also looks pretty good and perhaps as good as any time in his recent career. The Chargers are 1-4 against the spread in their last five games at home which worries me, but I really like the Chargers today.

Smith
Smith has done some good things but must cut down on the turnovers for the Jets to win in Tennessee today.

New York Jets (+3.5) at Tennessee – Each team has key players out today and several who are banged up yet will play. Both team are surprisingly 2-1 on the season and each could argue they should be 3-0. The Jets have ridden an outstanding defense which ranks third in the league while the Titans are pretty good as well ranking eighth.

So what will this game boil down to? Turnovers and special teams in my opinion. Even thought he Jets’ offense is significantly better than the Titans, the Jets are also -6 in the turnover department while the Titans are +5. Tennessee is also 4-1-1 in their last six games against the spread. Give the points and take the Titans.

Washington (-3.5) at Oakland – If you told me one of these teams would be 0-3 when they met in week four I would have without hesitation said Oakland. The Redskins enter with the worst defense in the NFL. They are struggling against both the run and the pass and are getting very little pressure on the quarterback.

Matt Flynn will get the start today for the Raiders due to a concussion to Terrelle Pryor. Flynn was very shaky throughout the preseason which is why they went with Pryor. I look for huge doses of the Raiders’ running game today. Washington enters with the third best offense in the NFL but that is very misleading as they have trailed in their first three games.

RGIII has looked better and better over each successive game, but he still isn’t himself in my opinion. I like this one to go down to the wire but I just can’t see the ‘Skins going 0-4. Take Washington.

I Like Some Underdogs in Week Three

Rivers
Rivers
Rivers and his Chargers have had great success against the Titans recently.

Last Week 2-2

This week offers four games that have really interesting trends and stories behind them. I love a couple of road dogs this week and a home one as well. Check them out and see if you agree.

San Diego (+3) at Tennessee – Since 2007, the Chargers have defeated the Titans in seven straight games. Many of those were games that weren’t really that close either. San Diego is also 5-0 straight up against the Titans in the last five meetings and Tennessee is 0-5 against the spread in the last five meetings with the Bolts as well.

Both teams could make arguments that they should each be 2-0 on the young season with disappointing, late-game losses to go with their wins. The Chargers came east last week and beat the Philadelphia Eagles in a 1pm start and they’ll face a similar situation today. Therefore, don’t expect any excuses. I love the Chargers getting three here.

Indianapolis at San Francisco (-10) – The 49ers are 8-0 under Jim Harbaugh following a loss or tie and that’s exactly what they face in this spot. The common theme in those rebounds has been great defense and wins that have average margins of 17 points. San Francisco has had to deal with the arrest of Aldon Smith on drunk driving and marijuana possession charges, but Harbaugh has said he will play and let the league handle the discipline.

The Colts were of course in the news last week acquiring Trent Richardson from the Browns for a first-round pick next spring. While Indy possess plenty of weapons, this is the perfect situation for a bounce-back victory for the Niners following their butt-whipping in Seattle. I really do like the 49ers here.

Smith
Can Smith lead the Jets to a win at home over the Bills?

Buffalo (+3) at NY Jets – These two AFC East foes enter at 1-1 and both have reason to believe they could easily be 2-0. Both of those losses came to division rival New England and both the Jets and Bills had opportunities to knock off the Pats. This will be rookie E.J. Manuel’s first game on the road so I expect a little anxiety at the beginning.

The Jets are Geno Smith’s team now with Mark Sanchez on the injured reserve list. While he hasn’t been brilliant, he has done plenty of good things too. New York is 2-5 against the spread in their last seven meetings with the Bills at home. While the Jets’ defense will pose problems, I can see the pass rush of Buffalo doing the same to the Jets offense. I expect a close game and like the Bills getting the three.

Chicago at Pittsburgh (+3) – It’s hard to call the third game of the season a ‘must-win’ game but it really is a ‘must-win’ for the Pittsburgh Steelers. At 0-2, the Steelers have scored a grand total of 19 points in two games and have not forced a turnover on defense. Chicago enters at 2-0 with two wins by a combined margin of four points. Jay Cutler said this week he knows his team could just as easily be 0-2 like the Steelers.

I have to believe the Steelers will find a way to muster up some points despite the aggressive Bears’ defense. The Steelers have been an impressive 15-5 straight up in their last 20 games at home. On the flip side, they are just 2-4 against the spread in their last six games against Chicago. With that said, I’ll be shocked if the Steelers don’t give a great effort. Take the points and go with Pittsburgh.

Four Games in College Football That Caught My Eye

Manziel
Manziel
I like Manziel and the Aggies to bounce back in a big way against the Mustangs.

Season Record 4-9, Last Week 2-2

I say a little improvement last week and had all four winners correct but a flat performance by Notre Dame and an iffy one by Northern Illinois cost me a perfect record against the spread. Let’s hope this week works out better.

SMU (+28) at Texas A&M – Everyone is expecting the Aggies to have a let down following their tough loss to Alabama last week. I’m not buying it. The Aggies discovered they could play with the Tide once again and will be fueled by the fact that a BCS Title game re-match could happen if they win out.

SMU comes in with a fantastic passing game but a poor running attack. Not the combination you want against an Aggies’ defense that gives up a lot of yards on the ground. The Mustangs are 3-7 ATS in their last ten road games and that number could be a signal to look for the Aggies to win back and I think they will behind Johnny Manziel who looks better than he did last year.

Michigan (-19.5) at UConn – Last week, Michigan avoided one of the worst upsets since…. well, since they were beaten at home by Appalachian State and then Toledo. Akron had three shots at the end zone from with the five yard line but couldn’t complete the deal and the Wolverines survived.

There is no way that Brady Hoke’s Wolverines didn’t get the message this week in practice about their poor performance against the Zips and I believe that will propel them in their first road game of the 2013 season. UConn has lost games to Maryland and Towson State. Yes, I said “Towson State.” The Huskies boast a 1-4 record at home ATS in their five and have one of the worst running attacks in college football. I don’t see how this spread isn’t higher. Take the Wolverines and run.

Jones
Can Butch Jones and the Vols bounce back against rival Florida?

Tennessee (+16) at Florida – The Gators enter the classic match-up with Tennessee off a bye week in which they had plenty of time to sulk over a tough loss to Miami in South Florida. Tennessee spent last week getting taken to the woodshed by Oregon early and often. The Vols bring a record of 1-3-2 into the Swamp against the spread in their last six games against the Gators.

Tennessee runs the ball very well at a clip of over 240 yards per game, but now they face their stiffest test with the Florida defense. The Gators will force Tennessee to throw the ball much more than they want to and with a passing attack ranked 114th in the country who could blame them? I think the Gators cover at home in Gainesville.

Arizona State (+6.5) at Stanford – Both teams enter this pivotal Pac-12 showdown at 2-0 but something will have to give. The Sun Devils are in the top ten in the nation in passing while Stanford is among the top 25 in defense. The biggest question for ASU is are they ready to win a big game? Yes, they defeated Wisconsin last week in Tempe, but are they ready to go on the road and win?

The Cardinal have been very matter of fact in wins over San Jose State and Army. They scored 34 points in both games and had very good balance offensively. Two numbers stick out in this contest however. ASU is 4-7-1 ATS in their last 12 games against the Cardinal and the Sun Devils are 1-5 ATS in their last six trips to Palo Alto. I’m going with Stanford to win by at least a touchdown.

SEC East Win Totals

Clowney
Clowney
Can Clowney lead the Gamecocks to the SEC East title?

Earlier this week in this spot I broke down the SEC West win totals. Today I venture across the South to look into the win totals for the SEC East. There is no question that in terms of overall strength, the West is the dominant force in the SEC.

Alabama is seeking a fourth national title in five years while LSU and Auburn have also recently won national championships. With that said, the East will not go quietly. Georgia and South Carolina are my favorites for the East Division, but Florida cannot be ruled out as a contender.

How much better will Tennessee be under a new coach? Can Vanderbilt repeat their success from last year? Will the strong recruiting class at Kentucky reap benefits right away? Will newcomer Missouri continue to be a threat to teams when they travel to Columbia?

This and more as I break down the East.

Florida 8.5 (-160 over/+130 under) – The Gators enter 2013 motivated by a humiliating Sugar Bowl loss to Louisville. QB Jeff Driskel is back but there are newcomers in the secondary and in the backfield. Florida has road games at LSU, Miami, Kentucky and Missouri and of course the neutral field game with Georgia. I’m going with the under here.

Murray
Murray is a top pro prospect and could lead the Bulldogs to an SEC title.

Georgia 9.5 (-150 over/+120 under) – If the Dawgs survive the first two games (at Clemson, home with South Carolina) then this could be a special year in Athens. QB Aaron Murray and a great backfield returns but the defense has holes to fill. They have favorable road games at Vandy, Auburn and Tennessee. I like the over for Georgia.

Kentucky 4.5 (+135 over/-160 under) – UK opens with two winnable non-conference games before running a four-game gauntlet in five weeks. The Wildcats play Louisville, Florida, South Carolina and Alabama. The good news? Only South Carolina is a road trip. The other non-conference games include Alcorn State, Miami, OH and Western Kentucky. I think this will be an improved Wildcats’ team and I like the over.

Missouri 6 (-135 over/+105 under) – The Tigers have a great chance to be 4-0 with a very weak non-conference slate but then it gets tough. Much tougher. In October they have three straight games against Georgia, Florida and South Carolina with the latter two at home. They also have Texas A&M at home in November. Assuming they go 4-0 to start, I’ll take the over.

South Carolina 9.5 (-110 over/-120 under) – The Gamecocks return the best defender in college football in Jadeveon Clowney and have Connor Shaw back at QB. Other than a trip to Georgia in week two, the schedule is kind to Steve Spurrier and company. They get North Carolina, Florida, Mississippi State and Clemson at home. The week two contest will determine the East race and either way I like the over.

Tennessee 6 (-105 over/-125 under) – Butch Jones takes over the Vols with a good track record behind him at Central Michigan and Cincinnati. Both of those programs were in great shape however compared to what he has in Knoxville. Tennessee has road games at Oregon, Florida and Alabama and home dates with Georgia and South Carolina. The other three non-conference games are winnable but I think Jones struggles in year one. Take the under.

Vanderbilt 7 (-125 over/-105 under) – The Commodores enter the 2013 season with high expectations. They come off a bowl win over NC State and a 9-4 record. They won’t sneak up on anyone this year and that could be the problem. Vandy has road games at Florida, at South Carolina and at Texas A&M. They have home dates with Georgia and open the season at home against Ole Miss in conference play. I like Vandy to get back to a bowl but it will be with six wins.

 

Paying College Athletes Could Change the Way You Wager

Jadeveon Clowney
Jadeveon Clowney
South Carolina would benefit greatly from a guy like Clowney getting paid, or would they?

The discussion over whether or not to play college athletes has gone on for a decade or more now, but only in the last year has the seriousness of such a thing really become a hot button issue. The idea of the student-athlete really doesn’t apply the way it did 50 years ago in my opinion especially in the big money sports of college football and college basketball.

Those two departments account for nearly all of an athletic department’s budget with some exceptions. If you have ever wondered why FBS schools keep scheduling seven and even eight home games, your answer is money. Take for example Michigan and Tennessee. Both schools have football stadiums that hold well over 100,000 people on any given Saturday in the fall.

Both have also seen their share of ups and downs over the last 10 years. The fact that both schools have good football traditions is notwithstanding, because the issue is about success now, not then. If either of those schools fail to fill their stadiums then that is a significant loss not just for the university, but for the other athletic departments as well.

Back to the topic at hand… 50 years ago, student-athletes were paid for playing in the form of full scholarships which paid their tuition, room and board, books and anything else academically related. In their infinite wisdom, the NCAA decided to impose some of the most archaic and ridiculous rules known to collegiate existence. For example, your teammate’s parents come to town for a game and invite you out to dinner with them. Uh-oh! The NCAA says it would be a violation for you to have your dinner paid for by them. And since you aren’t allowed to have a job, you have little spending money.

Denard Robinson
How much money would these have generated for 'Shoelace' Robinson?

Of course the bigger issue is the money these athletes bring in on their own name, errrrrrr, number I should say. In 2011, the President of the NCAA put the hammer down on any thought of players making money on their own jersey selling. Can you imagine if Michigan’s Denard Robinson was getting even a percentage of those sales? Or Robert Griffin III for example? The issue is of course equality. A left guard at Eastern Washington probably isn’t going to sell too many jerseys but why can’t that money from one or two players be divided up amongst the whole team?

If players do ever end ujp getting paid or a ‘stipend’ as many like to call it, it will no doubt make you wager differently on Saturdays. You will need to pay closer attention to the injury reports because there is not doubt in my mind that any form of payment would be tied to games played or games dressed for if you follow NCAA logic.

I think it would also behoove you to pay close attention to top players around the country especially those on offense. Knowing that football players cannot leave until after three years removed from high school, will getting paid have an impact on their performance both early in their careers and late?

There was a lot of discussion about South Carolina’s Jadevon Clowney skipping his junior (and most likely final) season in order to avoid injury. He’s expected to be the top pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. If you think he is the only one thinking that then you’re crazy. While I fully expect Clowney to play this fall, will he be totally focused on the task at hand? Or will he throttle himself down in an effort not to get hurt?

Whether we like it or not, college football is changing and it will continue. You have to keep pace by monitoring these changes and how they could potentially affect your wagering decisions.