Dave’s Free Play, Saturday 10/25/14
Here are the quick takes from the Friday quartet of college games:
Cincinnati did pretty much whatever it wanted in a romp over South Florida. The Bearcats lost starting QB Gunner Kiel to injured ribs in the first half, but they didn’t miss a beat with Munchie Legaux under center in the second half. The stats were totally lopsided with Cincinnati dominating every aspect of the game. The 34-17 final was a little misleading.
South Alabama was in control throughout in a 27-13 win over Troy. The Jaguars are now 5-2 overall, including 4-1 in conference play. Had they just stuck with the ground game in the second half, this probably would have been more one sided on the scoreboard. Troy got the back door cover for later in the week bettors with a junk TD in garbage time.
Boise State overwhelmed BYU 55-30, and the Broncos were really humming on offense. The Cougars did not respond well to the verbal beating administered by head coach Bronco Mendenhall following last week’s collapse against Nevada. The BYU offense managed to eventually show some life, but the defense was beyond abysmal throughout. BYU misses Taysom Hill, but he didn’t play defense, so there’s no excusing this effort by the Cougars.
Oregon and California staged a big time shootout with the Ducks winning 59-41. Oregon has really gotten it going offensively since the OL got a little healthier. The spread decision came down to a failed two-point Cal conversion attempt on the last score of the game. Bettors on either side should have pushed at worst here if they were smart shoppers.
2-1-1 here on Friday. The push was on South Alabama, as I sent that out earlier in the week when the number was -14, although there was still also a bit of -13.5 available at that time. But as -14 was the consensus at the time, it grades as a push. BYU was bad call, the Lightning cashed in on the ice and I won a CFL play on Ottawa by the hook. October continues to be exceptional with a net gain of +16.9 (all one unit plays), and the idea is to add to that bottom line today. This will be my thinnest college Saturday of the season as it’s a tough slate for me and I have only four games as of now. I’ve got a few ideas on the ice where it’s going extraordinarily well right now, and the free play below is one I’m on for sure.
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I’ve got a pair of free college plays in action today, although the USC opinion is not going to make my final card. Tonight’s comp is on the ice and has already been sent out as an official play to all subscribers.
10/25 4:05 PM NHL (53) BOSTON BRUINS at (54) TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
Take: (53) BOSTON BRUINS -115
There’s no doubt about it, the Bruins are going to miss the daunting blue line presence of Zdeno Chara for the next 6-8 weeks. The huge defenseman suffered a knee injury in what seemed like an innocuous collision with Islanders star John Tavares on Thursday night. Chara isn’t quite at the level he was a couple years ago, but he’s still a very strong performer and Boston won’t be the same team without him.
But I’ve found over all these years of handicapping sports that betting on a team immediately following a critical injury to one of its best players is actually a good idea more often than not. At the professional level, there’s less panic and stress than when this happens in college sports. In fact, it seems as though, at least for a brief window, the team with the injury gets more determined in an effort to prove to themselves they can still get the job done while shorthanded. I’m counting on that being the case tonight as the Bruins head north to duel the Maple Leafs in Toronto.
The Bruins have some other variables on their side tonight as well. Even though they lost the game to the Islanders a couple nights ago, Boston was utterly dominant in the third period and were very unlucky not to at least have forced overtime. I’m banking on them building on that late surge here. Tuukka Rask will be very well rested here, and he has done extremely well playing goal against the team that traded him away a few years back. Ask has some spectacular stats against the Maple Leafs, and I’ve got to rate him superior to either Jonathan Bernier or James Reimer.
There figures to be a great deal of emotion in the building tonight, with a pre-game ceremony scheduled in light of the terrible incident that took place in Ottawa earlier this week. Perhaps that extracts a super effort from the Maple Leafs tonight. But this is a team that for whatever reason just isn’t very good at home, and I believe the Leafs are hosting the Bruins at the wrong time. Boston should arrive with a chip on its shoulder off the aggravating loss on Thursday. This has also been a very lopsided series in recent years and I can foresee the visitors retaining their mastery over Toronto tonight. I’ll spot the short number on the road with the Bruins.