After going 9-1 two weeks ago, I had a hard landing with a 1-4 record last week. We only have four games on the college schedule this week, but three are for league championships. Although I am normally more selective, I will provide my analysis and a selection for each of those games. In the NFL, there are a couple of games that I believe present good value for wagering purposes.
This Week's College Games
Army (minus 2 1/2) over Navy
Let's hope that our national defense is in better shape than the football teams of these academies. The Midshipmen are 0-10, while the Cadets are 1-9. Both have also been poor against the point spread, with Army going 4-6 and Navy 3-7 thus far.
Normally, when two lousy teams play, the smart bet is to take the points. But I am going to go against that rule because Army has the best player on the field in running back
. He has gained 998 yards, despite missing one game and not being at full strength for a number of others. Army's best two quarterbacks,
, are now healthy and present a semblance of a passing attack. Navy's defense, meanwhile, is terrible. It permitted
to gain 577 yards and has allowed opposing teams to score an average of more than 40 points in the last five games.
On offense, Navy is averaging only 3.4 yards a rush and cannot pass well. Army is 10-4 straight up in the last 14 meetings and has revenge on its side, because it was defeated by the Midshipmen last year. Look for Wallace to help Army control the ball and get the victory.
Marshall (plus 7) over Western Michigan
Earlier this season, Western Michigan beat Marshall on the Thundering Herd's home field, breaking its 32-game home winning streak. And it is clear that Western Michigan is the superior team. The Broncos are 10-1 straight up and 9-1 against the spread, while Marshall is 6-5 straight up and 2-8 against the spread.
Although Western Michigan had a better record, this game is being played on Marshall's home field, where the Thundering Herd is 80-5 in its last 85 games. Marshall has been inconsistent, but still has substantial talent and placed nine players on the first and second all-conference teams.
has been up and down, but has played better at home than on the road. Getting a touchdown with a talented home underdog seeking revenge is a profitable percentage play and, even though I believe the Broncos are a better team, I will take Marshall in this matchup for a spot in the
Motor City Bowl
Auburn (plus 10) over Florida
The biggest factor for me is that Florida had its bubble burst when
thrashed the Gators two weeks ago. Florida enters every year with the expectation that it will be in the national title picture and it is demoralizing when the team realizes that its dream has been shattered.
Auburn, on the other hand, can move forward in its successful rebuilding program under
with a victory in this game. Florida trounced the Tigers earlier this season in Gainesville, 38-7. Auburn has three key offensive players: quarterback
, running back
and wide receiver
. Florida has two excellent quarterbacks in
, and an outstanding freshman receiver in
I continue to believe that revenge is a powerful motivator and believe Auburn has the talent to hang with the Gators. Both teams are 9-2 straight up, while Florida is 8-3 against the spread, and Auburn is 6-5. I think the 10 points will be enough to get me a victory against the point spread.
Kansas State (plus 3) over Oklahoma
Do you see a pattern developing? Four games, four picks where my selection takes into consideration the revenge factor. Oklahoma defeated Kansas State 41-31 earlier this year in one of the most humiliating defeats the Wildcats have suffered in the last few years.
In recent weeks, however, Oklahoma has not been the dynamo it was when it defeated Kansas State on Oct. 14. The Sooners looked like anything but a No. 1-ranked team last week, when they barely beat
, 12-7. And the previous week, they were unimpressive in a 27-13 victory over a
team that had been manhandled by
I suspect that quarterback
is suffering from an injury that is more severe than the Sooners would like to admit. Kansas State is a good team, and Oklahoma is overrated. But either would be at least a 10 point underdog to Florida State in a bowl game, and if Oklahoma wins, I will immediately be betting on Florida State if the point spread opens at less than 10.
Kansas State has excellent special teams and more breakaway players than the Sooners. I am looking for the Wildcats to get the straight-up victory over a declining Oklahoma team. I also predict a big play, like a blocked punt or a punt return, will provide the margin of victory.
In next week's column, I will to provide my power ratings for the bowl games and give you my projected point spreads on each game.
Until then, why don't you mull over who you believe the best teams are, and who you would like to see in the
Which teams would you like to see in college football's national championship game?
Philadelphia Eagles (plus 3) over Tennessee Titans
The Eagles' defense is solid, which almost compels me to take the points in this game. Eagle quarterback
has been one of the best in the league over the last few weeks, and I believe he will have success scrambling against a stingy Titan defense.
The Eagles are hindered by a lack of quality at the wide receiver and running back positions. That limitation always keeps me off the Eagles when they are a favorite. But when they are underdogs, it is a different story. The Titans are not playing well right now and their kicker,
Al Del Greco
, is in the worst slump of his career.
In a game that is sure to be a defensive struggle, I will take the field goal. The Eagles are playing with supreme confidence, and should be able to limit
to less than 100 yards rushing.
Chicago Bears-Green Bay Packers (over 39)
On Monday night, the Panthers exposed the Packers as a poor defensive team, particularly against the rush. The weather in Chicago on Sunday night will be OK for December, with fair skies and temperatures in the 20s.
After Monday's loss, I expect the Packers to come flying out of the gate, with
trying to put points on the board to deter the Bears from rushing the ball against a Green Bay defense that is suspect. I think this total will move up by game time, so bet it as early as possible.
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