Baltimore Orioles (100) MLB Odds – Tue July 22 ’08 7:05p
Shaun Marcum is making his first start in over a month for the Toronto Blue Jays tonight, and the layoff should affect him vs. the Baltimore Orioles. Yes, Marcum had an outstanding 2.65 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in 98.2 innings at the time that he was shelved, but he is a precision pitcher that is not overpowering, so he becomes more hittable when his location becomes slightly off. That may be exactly the case with the long layoff here. Now there is no denying that Garrett Olson has underachieved lately. In fact, he has been downright dreadful while going seven consecutive starts without recording a Quality Start. However, the Toronto offense made Radhames Liz look like Cy Young last night after he had allowed 14 earned runs he previous two starts, and at least Olson has demonstrated he has some ability the last two seasons. The Blue Jays are batting just .245 vs. left-handed pitching this season, and they are averaging only 3.92 runs per game on the road. Look for them to come up short here just as they did in an 8-3 loss last night. MLB Free Pick: Orioles +100
Cincinnati Reds (100) MLB Odds – Tue July 22 ’08 7:10p
Jake Peavy of the San Diego Padres still has some of the best stuff in baseball, but the Pads are a risky play as a road favorite when they visit the Cincinnati Reds tonight. Peavy has a 2.66 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 100 strikeouts in 101.2 innings, but the fact that he is just 7-6 and that the Padres as a team are 7-9 in all of his starts should give you an idea of just how bad the San Diego offense is. The Padres are averaging a pathetic 3.76 runs per game overall with a very mediocre .249 team batting average, and they are just 15-32 on the road, which is reason enough to avoid them as road chalk. Now the Reds may have a virtually identical .248 team batting average, but they are averaging 4.41 runs because unlike San Diego, they have the ability to hit home runs. Their starter Johnny Cueto has pitched better than his 4.92 ERA, and he has been at his best vs. weak offenses. San Diego certainly falls into that category, and the fact that this is his first career start against them should make him extra tough. The Padres won 6-4 here last night, but they have had difficulty piecing together wins, going just 1-7 the last eight times they were coming off of a victory. Look for them to fail to get back-to-back wins yet again. MLB Free Pick: Reds +100
Baltimore Orioles (100) MLB Odds – Tue July 22 ’08 7:05p
Los Angeles Dodgers (110) MLB Odds – Mon July 21 ’08 9:05p
We have never been high on Kip Wells of the Colorado Rockies, so we will gladly fade him as a favorite with the Los Angeles Dodgers in this spot. Wells is being activated off the Disabled List to take his first start since opening day. He had a blood clot in his right hand, and will undoubtedly be n a pitch count tonight. That may be just as well, given that he has allowed a whopping 14 earned runs in 15 innings over his last three starts against the Dodgers, going exactly five innings on each occasion. Meanwhile Eric Stults has been quite serviceable for Los Angeles, allowing three runs or less in four of his five starts since joining the rotation, He also pitched very well in his only career start vs. Colorado last season, allowing two runs on only two hits in seven innings. Should he be in need of relief, the Dodgers are now second in the majors with a 2.98 bullpen ERA, trailing only the Philadelphia Phillies. The Rockies just swept a four-game home series from the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates, but they should have a much more difficult task here vs. a Dodgers team that is 7-2 in the last nine road games, and is riding the momentum of a ninth-inning comeback in Arizona yesterday. MLB Free Pick: Dodgers +110
Cleveland Indians @ Los Angeles Angels u8.5 (-110) MLB Odds – Mon July 21 ’08 10:05p
Ervin Santana of the Los Angeles Angels has been great at home, and although Paul Byrd of the Cleveland Indians has struggled, the weak Angels offense is quite capable of keeping this game Under the total. Santana may be just 3-2 at home, but again, that is primarily due to a lack of run support. He has a nice 3.17 ERA and an excellent 1.01 WHIP in 48.1 home innings, including a nice starts vs. these Indians when he allowed two runs and six hits in six innings. That marked his third consecutive start vs. Cleveland that he allowed three runs or less. Now Byrd is a woeful 3-10, although his 1.35 WHIP is surprisingly decent for someone with such a poor record. He may actually have some success here vs. a lineup that is batting a modest .255 vs. right-handed pitching this season, and that ranks in the bottom 10 in the majors with 4.38 runs per game. It is no coincidence that the Under is 56-35-7 in all Angels games this year, so look for that pattern to continue tonight. MLB Free Pick: Indians, Angels Under 8.5 (-110)
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ACC Conference college football predictions courtesy of The Prez, A professional college football handicapper featured on Touthouse.com. If you are betting on college football this season, be sure to check out The Prez, Expert Football Betting Picks.
The Atlantic Coast Conference was supposed to be the next super-conference when Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College joined the league, but the ACC has taken a beating in the BCS bowls.
The ACC has lost eight straight BCS bowl games since Florida State won the 1999 national title by beating then-Big East member Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl. Since the BCS was formed in 1998, the ACC is 1-9 in BCS bowls, the worst record among the six power conferences.
The ACC expanded in 2004 to improve its football image, and in terms of NFL draft picks that has worked. And Virginia Tech has upheld its part of the bargain, reaching two BCS games in the past four seasons. However, Miami made the BCS four times as a Big East member but only once in the ACC, with the Hurricanes beating conference foe Florida State in the 2004 Orange Bowl.
Will that change this year? That largely depends on the Hurricanes and Seminoles finding the magic that has departed each program.
Bobby Bowden’s ’Noles finished 7-6 last season and only fourth in the Atlantic Division, which has been a trend in Tallahassee. Yet that was still better than their rivals in Coral Gables, who missed a bowl in Randy Shannon’s first year as head coach, finishing 5-7 and second-to-last in the Coastal Division.
But FSU once again landed an excellent recruiting class, and Miami got its top recruiting class in years, ranked No. 1 by some experts. The two schools seem a bit on divergent paths, however, with Shannon injecting enthusiasm into the Hurricanes and the Seminoles seemingly swimming in place under Bowden. In fact, 2008 could be Bowden’s last on the sideline, with coach-in-waiting Jimbo Fisher standing right next to him.
ACC Conference favorites
A Bowden could be in the national title race this season, but it won’t be Bobby. It’s Tommy Bowden’s Clemson Tigers who appear to be the class of the ACC. The Tigers should be a preseason top 10 in the nation with arguably the best pair of running backs in the country in James Davis (who decided not to go pro after all) and C.J. Spiller.
Davis has led the Tigers in rushing for three straight years and needs 837 yards to break Raymond Priester’s career school rushing record of 3,966 yards. He also is tied for the second most touchdowns — 36 rushing and two receiving — in school history and needs 13 this season to break Travis Zachary’s school record of 50. Spiller is no slouch, leading Clemson with 1,723 all-purpose yards and averaging 5.3 yards per carry last year.
If defenses try to load up and stop the run, QB Cullen Harper (2,991 yards passing, 27 TDs last year) and WR Aaron Kelly (88 catches, 11 TDs) can beat them through the air.
This is Bowden’s 10th season at Clemson, and it’s time for this often-underachieving team to put up or shut up.
While Clemson should win the Atlantic Division, Virginia Tech is the favorite to again win the Coastal. Under Frank Beamer, the Hokies have four straight seasons of at least 10 wins, and they have won two of the past four ACC Championships.
The new isn’t all good for the Hokies, as a defense that was the strength of the team last year lost seven starters. And projected starting running back Branden Ore, the fifth-leading rusher in school history, was booted off the team. Oh, and the top four receivers from last year are gone.
The two leading candidates to replace Ore are coming off severe injuries. Jahre Cheeseman, who broke his left fibula in mid-April, and Kenny Lewis Jr., who was No. 1 on the depth chart until he tore the labrum in his left shoulder, will both be back in time for preseason practice, however. Lewis ran for 205 yards on 57 carries last year behind Ore.
The QB situation remains in flux between Tyrod Taylor and Sean Glennon, who both had their moments (good and bad) last year. Beamer originally was contemplating redshirting Taylor, a Michael Vick-type multiple-threat quarterback. Glennon is the pocket passer type and had a 137.6 efficiency rating last year, hitting 143-of-235 passes for 1,796 yards, 12 scores and five interceptions. Taylor was 72-of-134 for 927 yards, five touchdowns and three picks, but he was second on the team with 429 yards rushing.
During the spring it didn’t appear much was resolved, as the duo shared snaps. Taylor was injured and missed several practices, but it appears Beamer will go with the platoon again this year.
Despite so many questions, the Hokies appear to be the class of their division – which either speaks to Beamer’s coaching or the quality of the competition.
Florida State only has to leave the Sunshine State three times all season. And the Seminoles essentially return their entire starting backfield and their top two receivers. Yet senior QB Drew Weatherford has been very uneven in his 33 starts and is still fighting for his job, including against top freshman E.J. Manuel.
The ’Noles do have two good receivers in Greg Carr and all-purpose threat Preston Parker (their best player), who will be suspended for the first two games of the season (both against cupcakes). In fact, FSU will be dealing with several suspensions as fallout from last year’s academic scandal in the first few games, but they are all winnable.
Fifteen starters return, and the defense should be very good. If Weatherford, or whoever is the quarterback, can be just good, this team should improve.
FSU’s rival, Miami, definitely appears on the upswing, but the Hurricanes are very young. Whether they can challenge in the Coastal Division likely will depend on how fast redshirt freshman QB Robert Marve, the expected winner of the QB competition, will grow up.
But the ’Canes have a good two good running backs in Javarris James and Graig Cooper, a very solid offensive line and arguably the best young group of defensive players in the country. Could Miami surprise this season? Yes. But watch out in 2009.
Wake Forest has been the surprise team of the conference in the past few years, so it’s hard to believe the Demon Deacons will do so this year. But they do have QB Riley Skinner, who has been the starter in 18 of the 20 games Wake Forest has won over the last two seasons. He led the country in completion percentage last year.
Wake also has a star running back in the making in ACC Rookie of the Year Josh Adams, who rushed for 953 yards (third best in the ACC) and 11 touchdowns, while catching 34 passes for 123 more yards and another score.
Add in nine returning starters on defense, and it’s easy to see Jim Grobe working another minor miracle in Winston-Salem.
There’s a chance
Boston College overachieved last year, but that was mainly due to Matt Ryan, the most celebrated Eagles’ QB since Doug Flutie. Expect a step back this year as Chris Crane takes over under center. BC still will be competitive, however.
Butch Davis’ recruiting magic should finally start to show dividends at North Carolina. The Heels return 19 starters from a team that had six losses by a touchdown or less in 2007.
ACC Conference predictions (with odds to win ACC title)
1. Clemson (+250): Easily the most talented team in the conference.
2. Florida State (+450): Young, inexperienced offensive line could be FSU’s downfall.
3. Wake Forest (+600): Losing star WR Kenny Moore will hurt. And how much longer before a bigger school lures coach Jim Grobe?
4. Boston College (+2500): Paging Matt Ryan. Paging Matt Ryan. Only 10 starters return.
5. Maryland (+1400): Ralph Friedgen was a magician early on at Maryland, but now there are doubters.
6. North Carolina State (+5000): Maybe Tom O’Brien should have stayed at Boston College.
1. Virginia Tech (+250): This team is young — and will be awesome in 2009. If the Hokies can learn during an early weak schedule, they could loom large in the National Championship picture.
2. Miami (+350): Another team that looks to make a giant leap in 2009. Many freshmen will play this year.
3. North Carolina (+800): T.J. Yates is one of the better QBs in the ACC. Ever heard of him?
4. Georgia Tech (+1200): Paul Johnson has some work to do cleaning up after Chan Gailey.
5. Duke (+10000): Thaddeus Lewis might be the best QB in the whole conference. Ever heard of him?
6. Virginia (+5000): Cavs were a bit of a fluke last season – they were only 19 points from being 3-10, and they lost a lot from that team.
San Diego Padres (135) MLB Odds – Sat July 19 ’08 3:55p
Randy Wolf of the San Diego Padres and Todd Wellemeyer of the St. Louis Cardinals have been equally bad as of late, but that automatically gives value to the underdog Padres at this generous price. After all, Wellemeyer has a 7.16 ERA and a brutal 1.71 WHIP in his last three starts, which does not exactly inspire confidence in a rather big favorite like this. In fact, Wellemeyer has now gone five consecutive starts without recording a Quality Start, so it appears he is revering to his normal level after he has an abnormally hot start to this season. Now granted, Wolf has not been much better as of late, but at this price, it may be worth the risk that Wolf could turn in one of his occasional sparkling efforts. After all, he has allowed two earned runs or less in eight of his last 11 starts, but that gets lost in the fact that he has allowed six earned runs or more in two of his last three outings. The good Wolf would be good enough to pull the upset here. Finally, the Cardinals are batting a modest .256 at home vs. left-handed pitching this season as opposed to .281 vs. right-handers, which should also give the southpaw Wolf a leg up. MLB Free Pick: Padres +135
Chicago Cubs @ Houston Astros u8.5 MLB Odds (-120) – Sat July 19 ’08 7:05p
Carlos Zambrano certainly earned his All-Star berth for the Chicago Cubs this season, while Wandy Rodriguez is a completely different pitcher at home for the Houston Astros, so runs should be hard to come by in Houston tonight. Zambrano is 10-3 with a 2.84 ERA in 120.1 innings, and he has maintained his raging form, allowing two runs or less in three of his last four starts. He has also allowed one run or less in three of his last four starts in Houston, including two scoreless outings. Now the reason why Rodriquez is so much better at home than on the road is a great mystery, as he has now had the most severe home/away splits in baseball for two years. The fact remains though that he has a 2.72 ERA and an excellent 1.07 WHIP in this ballpark this season, and the last time he faced the Cubs here, he allowed just one run on four hits in eight innings of a 2-1 Astros victory. Finally, the Under is 57-36-3 in all Houston games this year, and we expect nothing different tonight with this pitching matchup. MLB Free Pick: Cubs, Astros Under 8.5 (-120)
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Toronto Blue Jays @ Tampa Bay Rays u8.0 (-115) MLB Odds – Fri July 18 ’08 7:10p
A.J. Burnett of the Toronto Blue Jays is pitching on normal rest after allowing just one run and six hits in 8.1 innings vs. the New York Yankees on Sunday, while James Shields has been at his best this year with extra rest like he has here. Thus, runs should be hard to come by tonight. Sure, Burnett has been frustratingly erratic throughout his career, as he has some of the best stuff in the majors when he is on yet he cannot seem to be able to get out of his own way. However, he is very capable of going through some unhittable streaks, and that start on Sunday is certainly a step in the right direction. Remember also that Burnett tossed a gem the last time he pitched in Tampa Bay, allowing one run and three hits with eight strikeouts in eight innings. As improved as the Rays are this season, they still have many young free-swingers in their lineup that Burnett can again take advantage of. Now Shields has had a full week of rest since getting bombed for five earned runs and 10 hits in six innings by the Cleveland Indians last Friday. However, Shields has posted Quality Starts each of the last three times he has had at least five days of rest, posing a 2.66 ERA and a remarkable 0.89 WHIP over those starts with 22 strikeouts in 20.1 innings. Finally, the Under is 16-5 in the last 21 head-to-head meetings between these clubs including 8-1 in the last nine meetings in Tampa, and we look for those streaks to get extended tonight. MLB Free Pick: Blue Jays, Rays Under 8 (-115)
Washington Nationals @ Atlanta Braves u8.5 (-110) Baseball Odds – Fri July 18 ’08 7:35p
Tim Hudson has been his usual self for the Atlanta Braves while Tim Redding could be considered the ace of the Washington Nationals staff right now, and with both offenses erratic as of late, the Under should be the way to go here. Hudson may be just 9-7, but he has pitched better than that with a 3.13 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in 129.1 innings, and he has been at his best pitching at home. Hudson is 7-1 with a 2.13 ERA in nine home starts, and he has been an absolute beast against the Nationals, allowing two earned runs or less in each of his last 10 starts against them, including allowing three earned runs in three starts covering 21.2 innings vs. Washington this year. Redding has incredibly managed to go 7-3 while pitching for a team that is 24 games under .500 (36-60), and the Nationals as a team are an amazing 15-5 in all games that he has started. He has a decent 3.85 ERA for the season and an excellent 2.65 ERA in his last three starts, and he has allowed three runs or less in each of his last three starts vs. Atlanta. The Braves have played the most Unders in baseball this year at 61-31-3, and that should continue here. MLB Free Pick: Nationals, Braves Under 8.5 (-110)
San Diego Padres @ St. Louis Cardinals u8.5 Baseball Picks – Fri July 18 ’08 8:15p
This is a repeat of last nights successful under selection. Two different pitchers and a different day, but Im predicting we get the same positive results. The light hitting San Diego Padres visit the St.Louis Cardinals in pitcher friendly Busch Stadium this Friday night in game two of this series. Last night both teams took part in a low scoring 4-3 tilt. The San Diego Padres will send capable veteran Greg Maddux (3-8, 3.90 ERA) to the hill . The 42 year former Cy Young award winner, and other than a few blips on his chart, has consistently pitched well this year, and has allowed 2 ERs or less in 8 of his L/12 starts. His team, however, has given the hurler very little support in most of his starts, as is evident by backing him with an average of just 3.23 RPG this season, which is the fourth-worst mark in major league baseball. Meanwhile , his pitching opponent Braden Looper (9-7, 4.25) has also seen his fair of hard luck , despite of pitching well this season. In his last two starts before the all star break, the right hander, allowed just six runs in 13 innings, but was backed with just one total run during that frustrating span. With two capable pitchers on the hill, and two less than explosive offenses facing them tonight, another slow scoring contest looks to be on the agenda. Final notes & Key Trends: Under is 11-1-1 in Padres last 13 games vs. a right-handed starter. Under is 10-2 in Padres last 11 games with the total set at 7-8.5 . Under is 11-4-1 in the last 15 meetings in this series, including four straight here in St.Louis. Under is 6-0 in Padres last 6 road games.
San Diego Padres @ St. Louis Cardinals u7.5 – Thursday July 17 ’08 8:15p – Click Here for MLB Odds
The light hitting San Diego Padres visit the St.Louis Cardinals in pitcher friendly Busch Stadium this Thursday night. Kyle Lohse(11-2,3.39 ERA) the Cards starting hurler is in red hot form , and in his L/5 starts ,has garnered a 3-0 record along with a tight 2.32 ERA, 1.35 WHIP . He has been particularly tough on opposing offenses this season at home , where in 11 starts he is 5-1, along with a stingy 2.75 ERA, 1.01 WHIP. Meanwhile the visiting San Diego Padres , will send the ace of their staff Jake Peavy ( 7-5,2.47 ERA) to the hill in response. In his L6 starts he has allowed a total of 7 ER’s , and Im expecting another stingy performance in this spot against a Cards team that has only averaged 4.1 RPG at home this season. Final notes & Key Trends: Under is 10-1-1 in Padres last 12 games vs. a right-handed starter. Under is 9-2 in Padres last 11 games with the total set at 7.0-8.5 . Under is 10-4-1 in the last 15 meetings in this series. Play under
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The Brett Favre saga continues, with the latest media reports saying the pseudo-retired quarterback has formally asked the Packers for his unconditional release, via letter from his agent, after feeling rebuffed in his attempts to return with Green Bay.
Would the Packers really waive or possibly trade their franchise icon, the NFL record-holder in most major career passing categories and the league’s only-three time MVP? That seems unfathomable, but Packers officials pretty clearly want to move past the Favre era and let Aaron Rodgers finally have his chance as an NFL starting quarterback.
On Saturday, GM Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy said as much, telling The Associated Press that Favre was welcome to rejoin the team but would have to be a backup, and that the club has no plans to honor his request to be released.
While you may not be a Packers fan or have a rooting interest in Favre’s ultimate destination, you can win money on predicting how this will all end up. Sportsbooks have jumped on the bandwagon, with odds on the future Hall of Fame quarterback and his return… or not:
Stay retired – 10/13
Rejoins Packers before start of season – 21/20
Rejoins Packers after the start of the season – 4/1
Plays for another NFL team from Game 1 – 6/1
Plays for another NFL team after start of season – 14/1
While the “stay retired” bet seems like a wasted one, considering Favre’s obvious inclination to play again – he has been working out with players from a Mississippi high school team for a month – it’s the “plays for another NFL team from Game 1” odds that might be the best play. The question is, will Green Bay trade him?
Favre reportedly may want to play for the Minnesota Vikings, who have a Super Bowl ready defense, a star running back in Adrian Peterson and an offensive coordinator in Darrell Revell with whom Favre is familiar – Revell was the quarterbacks coach in Green Bay from 2003-05. One would think the other two NFC North teams, the Bears and Lions, also would be first in line trying to get Favre’s services.
But there is no way the Packers would allow Favre to go to a division opponent, leaving Tampa Bay and Baltimore as the most likely destinations. They are both playoff-caliber teams with some quarterback questions: Jeff Garcia is unlikely to stay healthy a full season in Tampa, and Favre would be a massive upgrade over either Troy Smith or Kyle Boller as the starter in Baltimore.
So now the Favre saga gets really interesting. Does Thompson hold his ground and anger a vocal fan base by trading a legend? Would Favre call his bluff on being a backup? Or does the GM bring No. 4 back as a starter for one last Super Bowl run?
The Open Championship returns to Royal Birkdale Golf Club in Southport, England for the eighth time with the last champion being American Mark O’Meara in 1998. Without Tiger Woods in the field, I can’t recall the American representation ever being weaker in terms of top betting odds at the top. Only two American golfers are listed at odds to win below 35-1, Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk, while Stewart Cink is 35 or 40-1. No need to waste your money on Anthony Kim (45-1). The young American star is having a terrific year that includes two victories, but he’ll undoubtedly find his first rounds of links golf at an Open Championship a bit ‘rough’. Cink has been playing at a very high level this season and has a ‘shot’ this week. He managed a career best Open finish of t-sixth last year at Carnoustie. Don’t care for the match-ups he’s facing against Furyk and Robert Karlsson, who is playing the best golf of his career despite sub-par driving accuracy overall. Ranking No. 1 in scrambling on the European Tour has clearly helped him succeed while his putts per Greens-in-Regulation (GIR) is among the best. Still, don’t consider him ‘top class’ and his putting weakness on the short putts is a legitimate concern. Jim Furyk has finished fourth on three separate occasions at the Open Championship, including on this course in 1998. He has the accuracy, putting, patience and experience needed to contend this week at Royal Birkdale, and the last two winners at Royal Birkdale both hit it straight and were top putters at the time. However his success will depend on how he too handles the wind and weather conditions. That will be key for everyone, and have to rule out Mickelson in that regard as Phil has just one top-10 finish at the Open in 15 tries, three missed cuts and seven finishes outside the top-40; hardly what you would expect from the No. 2 player in the world.
Sergio Garcia is the betting favorite this week despite no major wins. His record at the Open is impressive despite no victories, and he loves links conditions. Had he made the 10-foot putt on the 72nd hole last year at Carnoustie, we might still be talking about Padraig Harrington’s ‘fade’ over the closing holes that included a double bogey on the 72nd hole. No betting on Harrington this week, as he’s suffering from a strained wrist he injured over the weekend and will be far from his best. With the exception of a missed cut in 2004, Garcia has finished in the top-10 every year since 2001. Royal Birkdale requires solid iron play and ball striking with the ability to control trajectory and distance. Garcia excels with those, and along better driving from the tee and improved putting that has him ranked fifth on the PGA Tour in scoring, he looks like a very legit contender.
The player in the field with the best Open Championship record is Ernie Els, who won in 2002 and lost in a playoff in 2004. He has a total of nine top-10 finishes at the Open, and while he may not be at the peak of his game or overall golfing confidence, there have been more recent signs that he’s on the improve and could excel yet again at the Open. Els finished t-14th at the U.S. Open and 9th at last week’s Scottish Open. A pair of English stars have to be considered at Birkdale, as Lee Westwood lives just an hour away and has the game to succeed. He’ll have tremendous fan support, and he’s generally considered a fine driver of the golf ball while also ranking no. 1 on the Euro Tour in GIR. His putting is fairly good overall, but his short putting is suspect and he generally lacks consistency on the greens over four days. His record at the Open does not reflect the quality of player he is, and his overall form this season has been excellent. He finished just one shot out of the playoff at the U.S. Open and 19th last week at the Scottish Open. An interesting note on Westwood in the majors is that he has never shot under par in a final round of any major championship. Still, he’s playing some of his best golf in years. Justin Rose is the other Englishman that will be getting plenty of support this week, and you might recall that he finished 4th at Royal Birkdale as an amateur in 1998. Expectations continue to grow for Rose, who led the European Tour Order of Merit in 2007 and is currently ranked top-10 in the world. Recent form has been mixed, and he’s been plagued with back injuries. Not getting my support, but no surprise if he makes a little noise.
Vijay Singh has been nearly forgotten in this year’s discussion, and his form and results are pretty good (five top 10s) despite not being up to past year’s success. Eight top-15 finishes at the Open is a record worth consideration. Adam Scott may make more noise by season’s end, but don’t expect top results at this years Open. A broken finger prior to the U.S. Open has hampered him, and his one top-10 finish in eight tries at the Open is hardly encouraging given his health and current form. Fellow Aussie Geoff Ogilvy is up to No. 3 in the world rankings, but three missed cuts in five Open starts is a bit of a concern. Still, he’s a contender that is often less considered and discussed. His current form and iron game is sharp, and he did finish fifth in 2005 and his last three PGA Tour finishes including the U.S. Open were all top-10. His tee ball and accuracy must ‘straighten out’ to be there on Sunday.
Some notes on other players, longshots and those pros less discussed. Andres Romero has only played in two Open Championships, but finished top-10 each of the last two years. The young Argentine is an exceptional putter and made an amazing 10 birdies over a 14-hole stretch during last years final round at Carnoustie before finishing a shot out of the playoff. Australian Robert Allenby is an excellent ball striker but a very sub-par putter. He’s quietly having a renaissance season with six top-10s and is No. 1 in ball striking and No. 2 in GIR on the PGA Tour. Legit sleeper. Fellow Aussie Stuart Appleby seems to ‘fade’ at crunch time, and did so again after leading the U.S. Open through 36 holes. He finished second at the 2002 Open Championship for his lone top-10 in 11 starts. Graham McDowell won the Scottish Open at Loch Lamond last week and has played generally well this season. Must search out for match-up wagering and listed in the ‘field’ to win. Australian Richard Green finished fourth at Carnoustie last year following a final round 64, and is playing well again while also placing third last week at Loch Lamond. Retief Goosen is one of 13 South African’s in the field and does have six top-10s in 13 starts at the Open. He’s proven capable in the past, but just one top-10 on the PGA Tour this season and modest current form does not offer much confidence. Rory McIllroy was brought up on Irish links courses and was the top amateur at Carnoustie last year as an 18-year old. He finished top-15 at the European Open and while a longshot this week, he’s one to watch and a future star.
On to the golf course. There is not much trickery at Royal Birkdale, a pure links course where you can generally see all the way to the greens from the tee box; a rarity on the Open rota. The fairways are fairly flat as they wind around the rolling dunes rather than meandering over them. Plenty of doglegs and bunkering in the fairway’s, so precision over length is preferred. There will be more premium on accuracy with some of the course changes, and players will need to hit more imaginary recovery shots around the putting surfaces. The greens will not be as problematic with less speed this week. Weather will be a definite factor this week, as it looks like plenty of wind and tougher weather conditions. The luck of the draw with inclement weather the opening two rounds can have a direct impact on player performance and scoring.
I’ve done plenty of research and review for this year’s Open, while also having conversations and correspondence with some of the top European golf writers and handicappers. Some specific writings and details are not available on the net, although there is plenty of other ‘opinions’ and information on the golf course and Royal Birkdale readily available.
When analyzing the players and field at the British Open, know that for a majority of the European, Australian, South African and other foreign players, the British Open was the first major championship they saw televised. It is widely considered the most special major for those players. The European and foreign players are also more accustomed to links style golf, tighter fairways, heavier rough and uneven weather patterns
The bottom line is that scoring will depend on the wind and weather conditions, and players that have consistent and solid ball striking will challenge for the Claret Jug. Second shots and positional play will be additional keys this week along with battling the weather, and experience is very telling at the Open, as players with proven success at past British Open’s have demonstrated an affinity for the unique challenges of links golf.
2008 British Open betting odds are currently available from betus.com, which accepts golf wagers online. Historically the British Open is the most wagered on sporting even in the United Kingdom. Sergio Garcia is the current favorite to win the tournament due to the lack of Golf phenom Tiger Woods sitting out the rest of the 2008 season due to injury. Currently Garcia would pay out $900 for every $100 bet if he should win the tournament. Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson and Lee Westwood round out the next shortest odds in the field with Padraig Harrington (last year’s winner) paying out a whopping $1400 for every $100 bet to win.
2008 BRITISH OPEN BETTING ODDS
Estimated Payout on a $100 Bet – Odds Subject to Change
Click Here to Open an Account and Bet on the British Open
Sergio Garcia +900
Ernie Els +1200
Phil Mickelson +1400
Lee Westwood +1400
Padraig Harrington +1400
Jim Furyk +2200
Justin Rose +2000
Vijay Singh +2500
Adam Scott +2500
Geoff Ogilvy +3000
Robert Karlsson +3000
Retief Goosen +2500
Andres Romero +3000
Stewart Cink +3300
Anthony Kim +4000
Robert Allenby +4500
Trevor Immelman +3500
Luke Donald +4000
Miguel Angel Jimenez +5000
Henrik Stenson +4000
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Article Courtesy of Alex Smart, A Professional Football Handicapper featured on Touthouse.com, If you are betting on college football this season, don’t miss Alex’s Expert 2008 College Football Predictions
2008 Boise State Broncos Predictions
In terms of what the Broncos have achieved in the last nine years, seven ten-win seasons and 96 wins over those nine years, a 10-3 record last year with two of those three losses to close the season marred what was yet another strong season. A Bowl loss to East Carolina and the WAC title game against Hawaii will no doubt have left a sour taste in the mouths of some.
There are some concerns on both sides of the ball heading in to 2008 and the early games will see some rebuilding take place, but there is more than enough good pieces in place to reclaim the WAC championship. The Broncos schedule has been kind, and on paper, an 11-1 season is realistic, but teams don’t play on paper, although Bosie certainly have an advantage on the blue carpet in Glendale. The one almost-certain loss is probably at Oregon. Everything else is winnable and there’s a nice build up to the trip to Autzen with relative layups against Idaho State and Bowling Green along with a week off. The road trip to Southern Miss will be a battle and WAC away dates against San Jose State and Nevada will be challenging, but overall this isn’t that bad. The big key is getting Fresno State at home in the regular-season finale. If they can beat the Bulldogs on the blue turf, the WAC title should be theirs. Since joining the WAC, the Broncos are 26-3 in November with all three losses coming on the road. They haven’t lost at home in November since dropping a 36-35 heart breaker to Idaho in 1998.
2008 Boise State Broncos Schedule
Aug. 30 Idaho State (Broncos have won 11 straight FCS Games by an average of 26 PPG)
Sept. 6 OPEN DATE
Sept. 13 Bowling Green ( (Boise State has won 15 straight regular season non conference games)
Sept. 20 at Oregon(Broncos have lost 12 straight BCS road games straight up)
Sept. 27 OPEN DATE
Oct. 1 Louisiana Tech( The Broncs have dominated the Bulldogs in the recent past winning 6 straight in this series by an average 24 PPG)
Oct. 11 at Southern Miss (BSU is 14-2 SU vs CUSA teams)
Oct. 17 Hawaii(Boise has won 6 of the L/7 meetings SU)
Oct. 24 at San Jose State( Boise State has won 8 straight meetings by an average of 4 TDs a game )
Nov. 1 at New Mexico State( Broncos won last years meeting 58-0)
Nov. 8 Utah State( Broncs have pounded Aggies of late winning 8 straight by an average 27 PPG)
Nov. 15 at Idaho( Vandals have been crushed by Boise State 9 straight times)
Nov. 22 at Nevada(BSU has pummeled the Wolfpack winning 8 straight meetings by an average of 34 PPG)
Nov. 28 Fresno State( In the Broncos last 48 conference games they have lost just twice, one of which was against FSU)
Challenging Boise State this year will be Hawaii, Nevada and maybe even New Mexico State, however,the biggest challenge should come from Fresno State. The WAC still belongs to Boise State and until the other teams can step up to the mark, it will continue to be so.
The season will be a success if Boise State wins the WAC title. The schedule works out well with the toughest league games coming late in the year. By that time the holes should be plugged and the lines should be jelled. Last year could just be a hiccup as the Broncos get back on their title train again.
Due to the success of the Broncos over recent seasons, it’s quite a surprise to find many positive trends and so few negative ones. Clearly, Boise State must still be flying under the public radar , or could it be the fact that the WAC is just being ignored.
Final notes & Key Betting Trends:
Boise State are 96-18 SU and 68-38 ATS since 1999.
Boise State are 47-24 ATS vs. conference opponents since 1997.
Boise State are 37-13 ATS at home on the ‘Blue Rug’ since 1991.
Boise State is 25-9 ATS vs. winning teams.
Boise State is 18-4 ATS vs. teams that average 425 or more yards a game.
The Broncos are 18-3 ATS when the Total is 63 or higher.
Boise State is 15-6 ATS as an underdog.
Boise State are 7-16 ATS playing on foreign soil.