I'm back, but only due to the loyalty of
readers. There will be one weekly column, which will contain my observations and selections for both college and NFL games. The column will be posted on
site on Fridays.
wrote something in the
Columnist Conversation on Thursday that demonstrates the similarities between the discipline necessary to trade stocks and the discipline necessary to be a successful sports bettor:
"The most common error in trading is to press your luck to make back your losses in one trade. That's usually a recipe for disaster. Slow, disciplined steps is the way to go, cookie, slow and disciplined steps."
In sports betting, the season is a marathon and not a sprint. The confidence you have in your handicapping ability will be rewarded at the end of the season if you maintain your discipline and never get carried away with your confidence in a pick. Unless I have significant inside information on a game -- like, say, that
, the Virginia Tech quarterback, was injured and couldn't play -- I never bet more than three times the amount I would bet on a regular game.
Do you wager on football games?
Yes, I wager with my "local guy."
Yes, I wager with an offshore book.
Yes, I fly to Las Vegas on a regular basis.
No, I read this column for the intellectual content.
This Week's Picks
Penn State Nittany Lions (plus 14) over Purdue Boilermakers
This pick is the equivalent of buying stocks as they are hitting new lows. In the last five years, Penn State has beaten Purdue every time they have played. Perhaps more important, Penn State's defense has held Boilermaker quarterback
in check, limiting the team to 17, 13 and 25 points, respectively, in the last three years.
While this year's Penn State team is not very good, the scheme developed in prior years to stop Purdue's high-octane passing attack should slow Brees down. Penn State is having a tough week emotionally because one of its players suffered an injury last week that may lead to permanent paralysis, so the team can either be distracted by such a development or play an intensely emotional game to honor their fallen teammate.
I believe we will see an inspired effort from the Nittany Lions, who are playing at home.
Oklahoma (minus 23 1/2) over Kansas
Kansas is a lousy road team. It is 1-15 against the point spread in its last 16 games as a visitor. Oklahoma has a high-powered passing attack led by quarterback
and has scored 40 or more points in seven of its last eight home games. These teams have not played in the last two years, so Kansas head coach
has not seen the passing offense installed by Sooners' head coach
, a former offensive coordinator at the
University of Florida
In my opinion, one of the reasons that this point spread is not higher is the fact that Kansas has beaten Oklahoma straight up (without even considering the point spread) in their last three meetings. Because those losses occurred before Stoops became head coach, I am discounting that trend. Kansas lost to a poor
team in its season opener and that cannot inspire confidence for its second road game of the season. Oklahoma is 3-0 and Stoops realizes that the only way you move up in the polls is to pulverize opponents.
I think the Sooners will do just that. The only caveat is that Oklahoma is playing a big traditional-rivalry game next week against the
University of Texas Longhorns
and may focus some of its attention on that contest.
Texas (minus 19 1/2) over Oklahoma State
Last week, I lost betting on Oklahoma State, even though it was getting 6 1/2 points at home against
. The inside word was that the Cowboys had kept their offense under wraps in early victories against
Southwest Texas State
Unfortunately for me, the new and improved offense never showed up and Oklahoma State was soundly thrashed, 28-6. The Cowboys returned only four starters on defense and five on offense and their pass defenders are very young. Their quarterback,
, is a promising talent, but is dinged up this week.
Texas is coming off a 48-0 victory over
last week and has two very talented quarterbacks,
, leading the offense. Texas has put up big points in every game this season and we expect it to score at least 40 this week. I don't think a demoralized 2-1 Oklahoma State team will be able to go on the road and put up big offensive numbers against a team that is trying to move up in the polls after an 27-24 loss two weeks ago at Stanford.
Stanford (minus 2) over Arizona
There is a huge coaching advantage in this game as Stanford's
and his staff are far more creative than Arizona's
Because of an injury to starting quarterback
, redshirt freshman
will get his first college start. Lewis was the top high school quarterback in California, setting a high-school record with 107 career touchdown passes. Lewis is big and mobile and will be All-America in three years. The question is whether he can perform at a high level this week against a solid Arizona defense.
I believe Coach Willingham will design a simplified game plan to play to Lewis' strengths. The
San Jose State
three weeks ago, after beating
to open the season, and will be ready for this game. At this price, I am simply asking Stanford to win straight up.
Southern California (minus 5 1/2) over Oregon State
There is a huge talent disparity in this game. Last year, Southern Cal beat Oregon State, 37-29, in Los Angeles. The score was misleading because the Trojans were leading 37-7 in the third quarter and let up. That experience will keep USC focused this week for the entire game.
The Trojans' quarterback,
, is the second-rated passer in the
, while his counterpart at Oregon State,
, is last. Southern Cal will stack the line of scrimmage to stop Oregon State's outstanding running back
and force Smith to beat them. I don't think Smith is up to the task and, despite playing before what promises to be a rabid crowd in Oregon, I expect the Trojans to win by a comfortable margin.
Green Bay Packers (minus 5 1/2) over Chicago Bears
Reports are coming out of Chicago that there is great dissension over
Coach Dick Jauron's
decision to continue to use
as the starting quarterback. Teammates apparently dislike McNown, and I observed it for myself last week near the end of the game when none of the Chicago receivers came back toward the ball to give McNown a chance to make a big fourth-down play in the team's loss at home to the
. McNown ended up running out of bounds without passing the ball.
Green Bay regained confidence last week against
, and it looks like
is finally getting over the tendinitis that has plagued him this season. Running back
makes a big difference in this offense, and I expect the Packers to win handily in a game in which the Bears probably will end up switching quarterbacks to
at the end of the game.
Washington Redskins (minus 1 1/2) over Tampa Bay Buccaneers
It is tough to play on the road in the NFL, and I don't think Buccaneer quarterback
is ready to step up in this role. In addition, the Redskins are attempting to avenge a playoff loss to the Bucs last season and have the talent to do so.
showed the Redskins how to shut down big-mouthed received
, and Washington has better pass defenders than the Jets. Until last weekend, I had serious concerns about the health of Redskin quarterback
arm. Against the Giants, both Johnson and the Redskin receivers played a great game. The long pass does not work against the Buccaneers' two-deep defense, so the Redskins will have to be more patient this week. This will be a low-scoring, tight defensive struggle, and I think the home-field advantage will enable Washington to emerge victorious.
Barry Lieberman was a litigator with the U.S. Department of Justice for nine years and is currently the general counsel for a company that operates four hotel/casinos in Las Vegas. He has been an amateur gambler for more than 20 years and successfully concluded last football season by winning on 55% of his college and pro selections posted on TheStreet.com. He welcomes your feedback at