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By Kevin O’Neill

Trailing 17-16 Mike Sherman did not have the Packers prepared for their only opportunity to win in the final two minutes of their game with the Bucs. No time outs with 1:58 left, it is a Bucs first down inside the Green Bay 20. Barring a Joe Pisarcik moment, the only way to win the game is to let the other team score. The Bucs give the ball to Cadillac, but despite coming out of the two-minute warning, the Packers aren’t prepared for the opportunity to let him score. Williams went down rather easily, not wanting to fumble, but actually tried to make a bit of headway and if unchallenged, likely would have scored. That would have made the margin 8, giving Brett Favre and the Packers a chance to tie it up, instead of losing by 1, as they did when Brian Griese took a knee on the next two plays.
How did Nick Saban get away with having more assistants than is allowed by NCAA regulations when he was at LSU? There are no limits on strength and conditioning coaches, and no limits to the LSU football budget, so Saban would give guys strength and conditioning titles and then have them work with specific position groups on the field. It will be interesting to see if the NCAA does anything about phony “strength coaches” after Brian Baldinger told that story on the Fox broadcast of the Dolphins/Panthers game last week. Speaking of LSU, that was a nice gig Les Miles had at Oklahoma State. Reasonable expectations and a couple of wins over Oklahoma granted Miles a lot of leeway in Stillwater, but he’s got his feet to the fire after LSU’s colossal choke against Tennessee.
If you haven’t seen my 16-page football annual, there are precious few copies remaining, but a lot of value in them. Visiting will get a copy sent to you for no charge. Weekend calls to the recorded hotline at 770-618-8700 gets you some weekend analysis as well, and the complimentary play on Saturday will be well thought out. Never a bad idea to visit and see some of the fine work that is going on there as well.
Thanks to those who came out for the Stardust Invitational on Friday night. Despite an uninspiring performance, I was fortunate to win my Stardust Invitational matchup against Jay Ginsbach this weekend. Fairway Jay’s a sharp handicapper with a solid documented record but had a rough card this weekend. The Stardust is unfair in that anyone can have a bad weekend at any time, but in this 16-man single elimination showdown there is no way to bounce back after a tough week. Jay’s a nice guy and I hope he gets another shot some year soon and makes a good accounting of himself. I underperformed my actual winning performance for my customers over the weekend by going 3-4 in the contest by staying off of some games that the Stardust didn’t have favorable lines on and using others with good value at the Stardust that I did not end up betting myself and releasing to my customers. That’s the smart way to play but didn’t work in this instance. The reverse of that was true a couple of years ago when I went 7-0 in the Stardust. The three games I cut from the contest that went to my customers went 1-2. Skill wins out in the long run but luck has a lot to do with short-term results.
Let’s talk some more about betting, handicapping, and luck. No whining from this corner about my loss on Purdue, a 3½ -point dog that lost by a TD in double overtime. Why no whining? Because it serves no purpose, creating a negative vibe that cannot possibly positively influence your handicapping and betting. Besides, I also had TCU, which I had all but written down an “L” next to before their big comeback in Provo. Luck evens out in the long run. In this case it evened out in the short run as well.
Nobody ever notices the offensive linemen. Amid all the attention to Rodney Harrison’s injury, the undercovered story of the week is the loss of Matt Light in the midst of the Patriots “upset” win over the Steelers. Light, the Patriots best offensive lineman, protecting Tom Brady’s blind side in 63 consecutive starts at left tackle. But the Pats, as the Pats do, just plugged in another guy, and rookie Nick Kaczur (3rd round draft pick) from Toledo played well after a shaky first series.
Segueing from a MAC rookie in the NFL to a look at a MAC affair this weekend, we’re going to suggest taking the points with Central Michigan against Akron. Both teams off of overtime affairs, but they way things played out in those contests favors visiting Central Michigan. CMU lost in overtime to archrival Eastern Michigan for the second consecutive year by a 23-20 count. CMU’s coach Brian Kelly was pleased with the defensive effort but disappointed that the offense couldn’t do any more than notch 7 points in the second half. Akron was thrilled with their overtime upset of Northern Illinois. Worth mentioning, however, that Akron had the game in hand before giving up three touchdowns in the 4th quarter, which may engender a sense of relief rather than momentum that can be built upon. Points look tempting as we’ll buck the satisfied team and take the points with the better defense.
Kyle Vanden Bosch of the Titans has is the league’s leading sacker, with 5. With two bad knees, the Titans are understandably thrilled with the Arizona Cardinals castoff, who only makes the veteran minimum of $455,000. And if you had to come up with the team that would have set this guy, a virtual freebie, loose, it would have to be the Cardinals, wouldn’t it?
Another historically bad franchise, the Bengals, have turned things around, but only on the field. The Bengals are unleashing collection agencies on fans that paid $150 per pop for seat licenses back in 1996 but are now not purchasing tickets. The contract language says, "failure to purchase your season tickets will forfeit your right to your (seat license)." But the Bengals are doing much more than taking away that right; they are threatening the good credit of their fans while hitting them up for the full value of tickets they have not purchased.
If you didn’t know it was from the Onion, wouldn’t you believe the following story for a little bit?
PHILADELPHIA—Eagles wideout Terrell Owens, who recently returned to his team after a training-camp holdout on the second year of his seven-year, $49 million contract, took time Monday to verbally blast the amount, duration, and bonuses of whatever contract he signs next.
“It's going to be a damn travesty," said the 31-year-old All-Pro, speaking to reporters months or even years before the hypothetical contract is drawn up. "A travesty. I'm one of the best receivers in this league—hell, after the incredible, record-breaking season I'm sure I'll have had when I sign this next contract, I might be the best ever. But I wouldn't go so far as to call this next contract the best ever. It's going to be an insult on the part of whichever team I eventually sign with, and they'll know it. I demand they give me what I really deserve."
"I know I'm a top player in this game," Owens added. "But my next contract simply won't reflect that."
Moving from guy with a bad attitude to a game being played in altitude (awful, I know), consider using the under in the Cards/49ers game being played in Mexico City. The Niners are coming off an abnormally high scoring game in their 34-31 loss to Dallas. Very high scoring games can sometimes leave an offense satisfied and a defense working harder, which leads to an under in the very next game. Very seldom do you see a game being played between two teams that each allow more than 6 yards per play, but it is also rare to see a game between two teams that have running games so putrid that they both average less than 75 yards per game on less than 3.5 yards per carry. Tough to see how these two offensive teams damage their defensively weak opponents, and the Niners pattern suggests this game may go under the total.
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Have a great weekend. Good luck and be careful.

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