Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sports columnist Aaron McFarling: A good bet to entertain yourself

We don’t endorse gambling here at The Roanoke Times.

Really, we don’t.

Unless you count that online show we used to have where Randy King and I picked the week’s biggest college and NFL games against the spread. When Randy â€" ever the subtle sort â€" shouted, “Your bookie will be backing up a Brink’s truck full of money to your house after you hit all these winners!” he really meant, “Some entertainment value will be gained by you by making these imaginary wagers in your head.”

Perhaps the prudes would object to the bowl guide we run every year that forecasts every result against the Vegas line.

Or those columns I write every March telling you whom to select in your NCAA tournament pool.

And yeah, maybe we even added the daily odds for baseball games to our paper this year (love that move, by the way).

But no, this is not an endorsement. All of it is for entertainment purposes only. So entertain yourself this fall by cashing in on the following over-under wagers for the college season. All are against the actual Vegas over-under for regular season wins, meaning conference championships or bowl games do not count.

VIRGINIA TECH (OVER 10): I’m not comfortable predicting, as many have, that the Hokies will go 12-0 in the regular season. But I just don’t see two loses on this schedule, let alone the three that would be required to make your over bet anything worse than a push. One caveat: If either David Wilson or Logan Thomas gets hurt for an extended period of time, rip up your ticket. It’s a loser.

CLEMSON (OVER 7): I see three games the Tigers will have a very hard time winning: Florida State at home, Virginia Tech on the road and at South Carolina. Wouldn’t surprise me if they stole one of those. Even if they drop all three, they’d still need three more to make your ticket a loser, and I don’t see them. Clemson has a very good offensive line this year, and that unit is usually the biggest problem when it underachieves.

GEORGIA TECH (UNDER 6): Even if the Jackets start 3-0, which they should, they would need to win four ACC games to spoil your bet here. Where are those coming from? At Virginia and Duke, OK, they could get those. Beyond that, it’s a mystery. These Jackets haven’t proven they can pass the ball since electrifying receiver Demaryius Thomas left in 2009, and they’re going to miss bruising back Anthony Allen,too.

WEST VIRGINIA (OVER 9): The No. 24 Mountaineers are the only ranked Big East team in the preseason AP poll, and that’s largely a nod to their offense, which should be explosive under new coach Dana Holgorsen.The class of a bad league always has a shot at 10 or more wins. Ask the Hokies.

FLORIDA (UNDER 7.5): This seems like a risky one considering the Gators will almost certainly start 4-0 if they beat Tennessee at home Sept. 17, and they’d still have Vanderbilt and Furman remaining on their schedule. But even assuming those six wins, Florida would need two more to ruin your under ticket. And those two would have to come from a brutal lineup of Alabama, LSU, Auburn, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida State. Florida could be the Texas of last year, enduring that one down season where a lot of frustrated opponents get their revenge. Which brings us to:

TEXAS (OVER 8.5): Expect a nice bounce-back campaign from the Longhorns, who went a stunning 5-7 last year. Their defense is strong enough that they should win nine with only slightly improved play from the quarterback position. That shouldn’t be hard, considering Garrett Gilbert bottomed out under center last year.

PENN STATE (UNDER 8): The Nittany Lions are vulnerable up front on both sides of the ball. That’s not a good recipe for victories in the Big Ten. Expect the calls for JoePa to hang it up to reach high decibels.

IOWA (UNDER 8): Not nearly enough offensive firepower here for a nine-win season.

So sit back and enjoy the college football season, everyone! May the Brink’s truck bring plenty of entertainment to your door.

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