Fantasy Corner

Rolling the dice on the Houston Cougars in the 2016 Las Vegas Bowl

This year, the Las Vegas Bowl is our favorite game to bet of the 2016-17 NCAA College Football Bowl season.  Like 2015, we will start the bowl season with our largest bet of the bowl season.  We placed our biggest bet of the 2015-16 bowl season on the San Diego State Aztecs in the Hawaii Bowl. The Aztecs easily won 42-7 over the Cincinnati Bearcats.  The set up for the Hawaii Bowl was one of the strongest we have seen in years.  Betting against Tuberville in a bowl is always a smart way to go, plus SDSU had key factors in its favor and dominated the game as we forecasted.  On December 17th 2016, the Houston Cougars will be our biggest bet of this year’s bowl season.

In an ironic twist, our bet will be on the Houston Cougars over the San Diego State Aztecs. Both teams were early candidates for the coveted Cotton Bowl spot, which was taken by the undefeated Western Michigan Broncos.  SDSU and UH failed to maintain their high expectations, even though they both started with wins against PAC 12 and BIG 12 schools, respectively.  Houston showed their first chink in the amour against Navy, while San Diego State lost to South Alabama as a 19-point road favorite.

Like most analysts, we look for an edge.  Which team is more motivated to be in this bowl and will play with the urgency to win?  This year that edge rests with the Houston Cougars.  One of the reasons is because of the talented roster of experienced athletes, no doubt that the Cougars can compete with anyone, just ask Bob Stoops.  San Diego State has a talented team too, although the quarterback advantage is solidly in the camp of the Cougars with Greg Ward, Jr. under center.

A key differential is the coaching situation.  Rocky Long has been a beast when it comes to winning games for us.  We have leaned on Rocky during his days in ABQ and Sunny San Diego.  His teams are well coached and fundamentally solid. In the meantime, Houston lost coach Tom Herman to University of Texas. So why would Houston have a coaching edge?  It is because the regents at the University of Houston moved quickly to name Major Applewhite as their new head coach, replacing the departed Herman.

Count us as fans of Major Applewhite.  While not physically imposing, Major was a much better quarterback than Chris Sims and could have lead the Longhorns to more victories.  Longhorn fans will remember how Sims seemed to always choke in the most important games of the year.  Major was always more fundamentally sound than Phil Sims’ son.  Applewhite was a winner as a college quarterback, as an offensive coordinator and he will be as the head coach of the Houston Cougars.  We think this was the best move for the program.  UH shot to the top of our list of bowl teams after it was made official with the announcement of Applewhite as their head coach.  Also, there was good news in hearing that Todd Orlando will stay as the Defensive Coordinator of the Cougars for the Las Vegas Bowl.  His defense is loaded with Upperclassmen and we liked hearing that he wanted to be in Las Vegas for their final collegiate football game.   After the game, he will catch a NetJet to Austin and join Herman to lead the Longhorns back to the glory days.

Our main concern with this bet is Donnel Pumphrey and that is quite a concern.  He should have been in the mix with Jackson and Watson for the Heisman Trophy.  Dude ran for over 2000 yards and got very little national press.  Pumphrey is, by far, the key factor in this game.  He will be playing his final college football game in his home town and down the road from Canyon Springs High School where he was Nevada’s Gatorade High School Football Player of the Year.  If this cat gets going, we could very well lose this bet.

Our analytics isolated a strong edge to the Houston Cougars rushing defense to negate Pumphrey.  This will be the best defense that the San Diego State Aztecs has faced in 2016.  We think the Cougars can make the Aztecs’ offense one dimensional and thereby limiting Pumphrey’s production.  Early points by Houston will be extremely important.  They must put SDSU in catch-up mode.  The Greg Ward, Jr. led offense of the Cougars should be able to move the ball and score on the Aztec defense.  This is another reason why maintaining Applewhite was pivotal to us betting large on Houston.

The blue print on how to defeat the Aztecs was drawn up by Colorado State a few weeks ago.  We think that Applewhite and Orlando will be applying a similar, albeit adjusted game plan, to defeat San Diego State.  Even though the game is closer in proximity to San Diego, we think that Houston fans might equal and possibly outnumber Aztec fans in Sam Boyd Stadium.

Add into the mix, Greg Ward, Jr.  The dynamic signal caller of the Houston Cougars is poised to have another solid game.  He has had time to heal the bumps and bruises of the regular season, plus he will be very motivated in his last college football game.  A stellar performance this Saturday and his draft stock will rise to place him in the 2nd round of next year’s NFL Draft.  Again, this is where maintaining the continuity of Applewhite on the sideline will benefit UH in this game.  Applewhite is the Offensive Coordinator of the Cougars and knows how to utilize the skill set of #1.

We like the fact that Orlando wanted to stay to coach his guys one last time.  He wanted the head coaching gig at Houston, but was 3rd on the list after Kiffin and Applewhite.  Kiffin was passed on for a few reasons, although he was still their top choice until the lawyers got involved.

Like we said, the Houston Cougars bolted to the top of the bowl list because Applewhite was chosen over all the other candidates for the job.  He had 2 days of recruiting distraction to deal with until being freed to prepare and focus on the Aztecs.

We like the Houston Cougars to win the game, but we don’t want to touch the -3 or -3.5 pointspread and get beat with the dreaded backdoor cover  We bet the Cougars -165 on the moneyline last Saturday afternoon at Westgate and Station Casinos.  The good news was that Station Casinos bumped the line to -170 right after we placed our bet.  We aren’t the largest gamblers in town, but we impact the betting line many times.  Plus, the staff at Vegas Sports loves seeing the line move right after our bet is placed.  This tends to be a positive indicator that we are on the winning side of the action.

#HTownTakeover has hit the Vegas Strip and our cash is going along for the ride.

Bet the Houston Cougars this Saturday to win over the San Diego State Aztecs in the 25th Las Vegas Bowl.

Golden Nugget Lucky 7, Week 1

Dare we call it the Lucky 7, but it seems to fit.  We are going to start writing about the 7 selections for the 2016 Golden Nugget Friday Football Showdown.  This contest is scheduled to start this weekend and last until week 10 in the NFL.  After Week 10 is completed, the top 8 contestants will advance to the next stage.  Technically, the top 7 contestants and the Wild Card winner will advance to the next stage.  The Wild Card winner is the contestant with the best winning percentage during the final two weeks (Week 9 and 10) of the Showdown. The amount of games to select is increases during the Wild Card weeks up to 9 games.

 

Hopefully we can be competitive during the entire run of the Showdown.  It will be more fun to have worthwhile selections the entire ten weeks of the contest.  There are some top dogs that will be in the mix.  They are seasoned veterans of the sports handicapping contest world.  That is their strength.  Like golf, our main competition is ourselves.  We will be more than glad to land near 55%, but we’ll always aim higher.

 

At Vegas Sports, we prefer to adjust our selections throughout the season.  Bad streaks and some full moons have been known to cramp our style.  This results in times where we have had to walk away for a week or two.  That can’t happen in the Showdown.  On the positive, we like that the selections revolve around NFL and College sides and totals.  The selection of games and options intrigues us while creating an opportunity to identify value.

 

Let the games begin.

 

21. ARMY BLACK KNIGHTS -9

Our first pick and our largest bet of the week (bet placed last Sunday at Wynn at -7.5 and -8).  West Point was our 1st bet of the season too.  Call us biased, but we always favor the academies.  We look for reasons to bet on Army, Navy or Air Force (not against them).  The Black Knights have some great advantages in this game.  First of all, they beat Temple as 14 point underdogs last Friday.  That was a huge win for the program and now those cadets are knocking on the best start to an Army team in quite a while.  Everyone on campus and at plenty of bases across the world are talking Army football.  This game is huge, make no mistake about it.  The next home game at West Point isn’t scheduled until October 15th.  The formula was successful against a talented Temple team on the road.  We expect another terrific game plan from this coaching staff.  Go Army.

 

93. Auburn Tigers -19

Clemson literally escaped Jordan-Hare with a 6 point win.  Arkansas State won’t be as fortunate.

 

97. Air Force Falcons -20

Another team that we have cash on and picking in this contest.  We like this one a lot and have plenty of reasons.  More about this team later.  It’s time to fly.

 

145.  Iowa Hawkeyes -15

We bet this one a little too early at Wynn.  Our ticket has the Hawkeyes -17.  The perils of the early bet considering that we could get them for -15.  The only positive thing is that there is no hook on this bet.  Iowa should roll covering the 17 in this big Midwest recruiting battle between the Big 10 and Big 12.

 

165.  New Mexico Lobos -12.5

This one could be tough giving 12.5 on the road in a rivalry game.  It has the markings of a losing ticket.  There is no bet here, only GN Showdown.

 

190.  Tampa Bay Buccaneers +3

Our only dog on the ticket.  That is a scary thought, but the Bucs make a barking dog in match-up with The ATL.  The Carolina loss in Denver positions this as an early huge game for both teams.  We have a bet on the Bucs’ moneyline +140.  The defense will be more aggressive this season, while the offense has matured a full year under Jaboo.

 

217.  Houston Texans – 6

Part of a 2-team teaser with Arizona Cardinals.  We might bet this one straight up later.  Houston needs to win here to prove that Brock On was worth the big bucks.  Defense is the calling card to this team… expect a dominating performance from the Texan’s D.

 

As always, good luck this week.

Golden Nugget Football Showdown 2016 selections will be released every Friday

We will be releasing all of our selections for the Golden Nugget Friday Football Showdown 2016 after the 2:00pm PST deadline to submit the picks.  The contest consist of seven (7) selections from a set list of college and NFL sides and totals.  The list of games will be provided by the Golden Nugget by  Wednesday afternoon.  Seven selection each week will be difficult, since there are times when we like to fly low with only one or two games in a given week.  It will be fun and we are looking forward to competing with some of the best sports handicapping talent in the world.

 

As with all our our information, there is no charge.   Don’t pay for mediocrity when you can reference our world class skill for free.  Our philosophy is that anyone can be a great sports handicapper, they just need the right tools and unbiased advise.

 

The 7 selections will be released every Friday at 7:11pm PST.