There is really only one game that I LOVE this weekend from a gambling stand point. Conference play is getting under way and now is the time I start pissing money away.
Nebraska +10 @ Wisconsin
Nebraska @ Wisconsin over/under 56.5
I love the Badgers in this game. Their offense is ROLLING. Montee Ball and Russell Wilson are both legit Heisman candidates and will have no problem carving up Nebraska’s porous black shirts defense. Nebraska can’t stop anybody and will be going into arguably the most hostile environment in the Big Ten for their inaugural conference game. By the time Jump Around comes on Wisconsin should have this game in hand. The Pick: Wisconsin -10 and the OVER
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The most memorable things from the first weekend of college football
1. Hey Erin Andrews…you’ve got company. Samantha Steele explodes on to the hot ESPN sideline reporter scene.
Just blue Steele all over the place. Samantha Steele so hot right now, Samantha Steele.
2. What the hell was going on with those Maryland uniforms? Those are by far the ugliest things I have ever seen. They looked like they should have been playing at Midevil Times in Rosemont.
3. To all of the people who disagreed with me about Dayne Crist…you were right, I was wrong. You’re smart, I am stupid. You’re good looking, I am…not attractive.
Rees needs to be the starter going forward with some Everett Golson sprinkled in.
4. Who knew games could be called for lightning?
I still can’t believe that not finishing games is an option in football. The West Virginia and Michigan games being called cost me money as both games were deemed a push because they didn’t play a full 60 minutes. Notre Dame did it right. Delay the game for as long as needed, then head back out and finish the game. This was something lacrosse or soccer would do…not football.
5. Russell Wilson makes Wisconsin really effing good
Be afraid BigTen, be very afraid. Wilson didn’t even look all that sharp, but he is clearly the best QB the Badgers have ever had. Wisconsin could very well be a National Title Contender if they can get their run defense tightened up.
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Defending Big Ten Champs, Wisconsin are definitely one of the favorites to go back to the Rose Bowl. The Badgers only have 12 returning starters, yet somehow Wisconsin appears to be even stronger heading into 2011. Russell Wilson is arguably the most talented QB in Wisconsin history. How fast Wilson adapts to the new system and his new team will determine whether the Badgers are able to make another run for the Roses. Wisconsin is becoming a national power that reloads rather than rebuilds, so a lack of returning starters doesn’t mean a lack of returning talent.
Best Bar To Watch Wisconsin Badgers in Chicago:
As always, what’s a Chicago college football preview without letting people know the best spot to party? For Badger games in 2011, the place to be is Will’s Northwoods Inn. This place is as Wisconsin as it gets. Badgers and Packers sports bar heaven. Good food, great drink specials, and they even have a Wisconsin girl “beauty pageant”. Its definitely the place to get your jump around on this fall.
RB Montee Ball. Even though Russell Wilson received all the headlines this offseason, its the running game that still makes the Badgers offensive go. If Wisconsin is going to be a dominant force again this year, it’ll be because Montee Ball is one of the nation’s premier running backs. Both Ball and sophomore James White will receive a ton of carries, but Ball is more of the bruising back that Wisconsin historically loves to deploy. Look for Ball to go over 1000 yards for the first time in his career and he should also be a Doak Walker finalist.
LB Mike Taylor. Mike Taylor has started all each of the 19 games he has been in uniform for as a Badger. The Redshirt junior seemed to get better every week in 2010. Taylor’s 2009 season was cut short after suffering a season ending injury in week 7. Taylor should be back to full health and full speed in 2011. Look for Taylor to be the leader of the Badger defense from his Will LB position.
Offensive New Name-To-Know:
OT Rob Havenstein. The easy play here would have been Russell Wilson, but everyone already knows his name. Wisconsin is becoming “Offensive Tackle U”. Joe Thomas graduates…no big deal, the Badgers just replaced him with another NFL First round pick in Gabe Carimi. Havenstein certainly looks the part of the next great Wisconsin tackle. After red-shirting in 2010, the 6’8″ 345-pound freshman is currently number two on the depth chart, but will definitely see time as a part of the tackle rotation. Havenstein is athletic for his size and will soon be paving the way for Ball and White.
Defensive New Name-To-Know:
LB Chris Borland. Chris Borland isn’t necessarily a new name, but is perhaps a forgotten one in many Big Ten circles. Borland was Big Ten freshman of the year in 2009, but has disappeared after a series of shoulder injuries forced him out of action. Borland’s health and play-making ability are two huge keys to the Badger’s defense in 2011. If Borland can stay healthy, his versatility and leadership will go a long way to help Wisconsin morph into more than just an average defense.
Schedule and Predictions:
Oregon St– W
N. Illinois– W
S. Dakota– W
@ Mich St– W
@ Ohio St– L
@ Minnesota– W
@ Illinois– W
Penn State– W
Total: 11-1. I think the Badgers will end up having one of their best offensive seasons in school history. Russell Wilson and Nick Toon will prevent opposing defenses from stacking the box with 8 or 9 guys. The powerful Wisconsin running game combined with a dynamic Quarterback should give the Badgers the most explosive offense in the B1G. Wisconsin’s month of October is brutal though. They will play the three most talented teams in the conference including back to back road games against Michigan State and Ohio State. I don’t think Wisconsin’s defense is good enough to make it through that month unblemished. However, a trip to the Big Ten Championship and a BCS game still seem likely.
Bowl Prediction: Rose Bowl.
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I am calling it now, the National Champ in 2011 will come from a school outside of the SEC. I watched some of the SEC Media Day coverage on ESPNU and I am so tired of everyone kissing the SEC’s ass. Yeah, yeah, yeah you guys won the last five national championships…whatever. That streak ends now. They are still the best conference, but there isn’t a dominant team among them. Auburn lost 99.6 percent of their offense when Newton bolted for the NFL. LSU can’t go undefeated with Jordan Jefferson at QB, and Les Miles easily could have had some of those crazy plays go against him and he would be out of a job. Alabama has QB issues too. Florida is in transition with Will Muschamp and Charlie Weis taking over in Gainseville. South Carolina is good, but Stephen Garcia is basically a functioning derelict at quarterback. Those teams will all beat each other up, paving the way for a new Conference to take home that Glass football(side note: I am a little clumsy and would be scared to death to touch that thing. Good thing I never won a national title…or got a scholarship). Mark my words, the National Championship will be won by one of the following schools”
Wisconsin Badgers: +2500
The Badgers have a tricky game early against Oregon State and then open up their Big10 slate with newcomer, Nebraska. The Badgers also face back-to-back tough road night games in October when they meet Michigan State and Ohio State respectively. Schedule makers didn’t do the defending Big10 Champs any favors, but Russell Wilson gives the Badgers talent at QB like they have never had. If he can acclimate himself to the system quickly, and Wisconsin makes it through October undefeated they will be in great shape to go to the BCS Title Game.
Oklahoma Sooners: +350
The Sooners are the favorite according to most odds makers at +350 to win the National Championship and with good reason. Oklahoma returns both Landry Jones and his favorite target, Ryan Broyles. The Sooners’ biggest challenge will come in week 2 against Florida State. If Oklahoma survives their trip to Tallahassee they won’t have too many more challenges the rest of the way. Oklahoma will battle Texas in Dallas, but the Longhorns are in the midst of rebuilding phase and the Sooners should take care of business. Oklahoma also gets Big12 challenger, Texas A&M at home. If the Sooners are undefeated after week 2, you can pretty much punch their BCS ticket.
Oregon Ducks: +1000
Full disclosure I wouldn’t make this bet in a million years. The Pac-12 is just goofy. I never know quite what is going on over there on the West Coast. The only sure-fire bet in the conference is that if everyone is saying Cal is good, it means they really suck. Oregon’s schedule is sneaky tough. Starting the year off against LSU. Then they end it with @Stanford, USC, and rival Oregon State. Then would have to win the Pac-12 title game. Having said all of that…the Ducks could very well make it back to the title game. Kicking off the year in SEC territory against LSU will be their most difficult challenge. A win against the Tigers and all of our retinas could be burned by those highlighter yellow unis the Ducks rock in the National Title game again.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish: +3000
Ok, hear me out on this one. Notre Dame has tremendous momentum from the end of last season as they head into year 2 of Brian Kelly’s system. Notre Dame has two of their most difficult games at home(Michigan State and USC) and should be favored in every other game with the exception of Stanford in the season finale. The Irish could very well be undefeated when they head to Palo Alto on November 26th. The Irish have depth and experience coming back on both sides of the ball and have a few blue chip recruits who will bolster the pass rush. Floyd will be catching bombs and Te’o will be crushing skulls and breaking wills. Wake up the echoes and watch out for the Irish.
Dark horse Pick…West Virginia+2500…you heard it here first.
PS: On second thought…Alabama is totally winning the National Championship.
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