SuperBook Seminar Notes
Published on Saturday, 8/23/14, at 6:33 p.m. Eastern.
By Brian Edwards
LAS VEGAS — I’m doing work and enjoying the A/C while most of the handicappers from the seminar are on the golf course in this August heat. Believe it or not, it isn’t nearly as hot as it usually is in Nevada this time of year. Low 90s and a little breeze. I don’t think I’ve ever been here in August when the temperatures weren’t in the triple digits during the day.
Anyway, I enjoyed catching up with a bunch of media/industry friends like Adam Hill and Matt Youmans of the Las Vegas Review-Journal last night. It’s always good to see Fezzik (Pregame.com, 2-time SuperContest winner), Erin Rynnning (Sports Memo) and the one-and-only Teddy Covers (Sports Memo). I also finally met face-to-face several people I’ve communicated with and been on radio shows with through the years like Adam Kramer (Bleacher Report), Joe Fortenbaugh (National Football Post), Alex B. Smith, Ian Cameron (Sports Memo) and Kelly Stewart (of Hottie Threesome Fame & KellyinVegas.com). I had not seen Marc Lawrence in several years and it was good to talk shop with him and Andy Iskoe at lunch yesterday. And of course, Uncle Lou (GambLou on twitter) was in the house and I’ll be watching UFC fights with him in a few hours. I also enjoyed meeting a friend of Lou’s, Jonathon Rice, who is a sharp college ‘capper who made some great early bets this summer on Games of the Year at numbers that have already moved away from his bet by 4-5 points in some cases (Miss St. -1 vs. Texas A&M being the prime example, getting Florida +9 vs. Georgia is another, albeit less extreme with most books now listing UGA at -6.5 vs. UF).
I was on the college panel with Smokin’ Dave Cokin, who had the Mountain West, Bruce Marshall (Big Ten) and Kenny White (Pac-12). Mitch Moss moderated the panel and I previewed the SEC.
In my intro, I noted how the SEC is difficult to call in August this year because of all the turnover at the quarterback position. Only 3 teams (Auburn- Nick Marshall, Ole Miss – Bo Wallace & Arkansas – Brandon Allen) have a QB who started eight games or more last year. Because of the uncertainty most teams have about the type of production they’ll get out of the QB position, it’s hard to have a high degree of confidence to invest money in futures or season win totals with these teams.
On that note, I recommended that gamblers wait to form strong opinions on SEC teams until we see the likes of Jacob Coker (Alabama – zero career starts), Hutson Mason (Georgia – 2 career starts), Kenny Hill (Texas A&M – zero career starts), Anthony Jennings or Brandon Harris (LSU – 1 career start combined) and Dylan Thompson (South Carolina – 3 career starts) in action in September.
With that said, I did throw out a few opinions. My only win total for SEC teams is Mississippi St. to go ‘over’ 7.5. I wrote a column on this a few weeks ago. I also called for Mississippi St. to beat Auburn in Starkville in my SEC Upset of the Year.
The situation sets up perfectly for the Bulldogs, who I believe will win their first three games and then drop a closer-than-expected game at LSU to fall to 3-1. Dan Mullen’s team then gets an open date and two weeks to prepare for Texas A&M. Dak Prescott abused the Aggies’ defense last year and helped MSU score 41 points in College Station. It wasn’t enough, however, as Johnny Pigskin proved to be too much.
But I think Mississippi St. avenges that loss and improves to 4-1 with a confidence-building victory over the Aggies. Meanwhile, in the week before its trip to Starkville, Auburn will prevail at home over LSU in a 60-minute war. Gus Malzahn’s team will really be gunning for LSU after suffering its only regular-season loss in Baton Rouge last year.
I think the tough game against LSU creates a vintage letdown scenario for Auburn. And remember, MSU nearly won on The Plains last year. The Bulldogs had a three-point lead and buried AU inside its own 20 with about 75-80 seconds remaining. Nick Marshall threw a TD pass with about 12-15 ticks left to help AU to its first of many come-from-behind wins in 2013.
On that night, Mississippi St. held Auburn to 120 rushing yards on 36 carries. That’s a 3.3 yards-per-carry average. Auburn’s lowest other rushing output of the season was 213 rushing yards (4.1 YPC) in a loss at LSU. Therefore, thanks to the stellar play of one of the nation’s best MLBs in Benardrick Mckinney, the Bulldogs held the Tigers to nearly 100 less rushing yards than the other 13 foes they faced in 2013.
At the LVH SuperBook and at Sportsbook.ag, you can bet Mississippi St. at +8.5 vs. Auburn, and I recommend you do so.
Kenny White was bullish on Oregon and he really likes Washington, too, crediting Steve Sarkisian for his recruiting efforts at UW. White thinks the Ducks might have the best defense in the country. White also says the Pac-12 is stronger than the SEC this season.
I was a little surprised by a couple of other strong takes from White, who had Arkansas in the Top 25 of his Power Rankings. “Arkansas is going to be very improved with a strong offensive line and two of the best RBs in the SEC. With a healthy shoulder, QB Brandon Allen is going to play much better.”
The other surprise from White was his lack of faith in Oklahoma. “OU might finish fourth in the Big 12.”
White’s favorite win total is Arizona St. to go ‘under’ 7.5. “They have NO SHOT to win eight games!”
Bruce Marshall thinks half of the coaches in the Big Ten are on the hot seat. He remains very high on the job being done by Sparty’s Mark Dantonio.
Cokin thinks “believe it or not, Boise St. is flying under the radar.” White added that “Boise RB Jay Ajayi is one of the best in the country.”
Cokin thinks this is a crucial year for Troy Calhoun at Air Force. When Tennessee eventually hired Derek Dooley, Calhoun turned down a job offer from UT’s Dave Hart, the former AD in Knoxville.
–Kentucky WR Jeff Badet will miss the team’s first two games after his eye was injured by an errant tennis ball. The Wildcats hope he’ll be ready to play for a Week 3 game at Florida. Badet made 22 catches for 285 yards and one touchdown as a true freshman last season.
–Former Northwestern RB and special-teams star Venric Mark has transferred to West Texas A&M. (And that’s a damn shame!)
–San Jose St. RB Jarrod Lawson has been suspended for the first two games vs. North Dakota and at Auburn. Lawson rushed for a team-high 788 yards and four TDs last year while averaging 4.8 YPC. He also had 20 catches for 223 yards and one TD.
–Missouri transfer WR Dorial Green-Beckham’s petition to play this year at Oklahoma was denied by the NCAA yesterday. Frank Shannon, the Sooners’ leading tackler last year, is suspended for the upcoming season by the school. He’s appealing the decision and still practicing with the team on a limited basis, but his chances of playing don’t look good.
–Nevertheless, I still like Oklahoma to win the Big 12. White thinks Baylor wins the league.
–Since I’m not doing a story on the UFC fights last night that I didn’t get to watch, I’ll note here that Michael Bisping picked up a big win over Cung Le by fourth-round KO as a favorite in the -280 range. Also, in the co-main event, Tyron Woodley remained in the welterweight mix of contenders thanks to a 61-second KO of The Stun Gun, who saw his four-fight winning streak snapped. Woodley was a -215ish ‘chalk.’
–I’ll be appearing live in-studio on Wednesday for the Paul Howard Show. Might even jump in for a segment with Mitch Moss, the co-host of Gridlock at the same station that hosts Paul’s show.
–Special thanks to the main man at the SuperBook, Jay Kornegay, for again inviting me to participate and putting me up at the LVH for the weekend. You’re the man!