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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Penn State Football: Four Years and Four Men

On January 2, 2016, the Penn State Nittany Lions football team will face the Georgia Bulldogs in the TaxSlayer Bowl.  In one sense, this will be just a football game.  But, for many Penn State fans it is a bright ray of sunshine after four years of darkness.

Altered logo in the wake of the Sandusky scandal
In the fall of 2011, a harsh spotlight shone down on Happy Valley.  The details of the Jerry Sandusky scandal were well documented over the following weeks and months.  Sandusky was tried and convicted of his heinous crimes and will die in prison.  Joe Paterno was fired via a phone call and died just a few months later.  Then in the summer of 2012, the NCAA levied unprecedented sanctions against Penn State.  The Nittany Lions were banned from bowls for the next four years.  Crippling scholarship restrictions were handed down.  Most astonishingly of all, Penn State's players and recruits were given permission to transfer and immediately play for other schools.

All Nittany Lions' fans feared that Penn State football, like SMU in the 1980's, would never recover from the NCAA's punishments.  After all, that fate was declared as absolute truth by the mainstream sports media.  For some fans, the dismay might have been limited to anger over the NCAA denying them some fun in the fall.  That is certainly how the mob on Twitter treated anyone who dared to speak a kind word about the university in the during the winter and summer of 2012.

Mourners lined the route to Joe Pa's burial
But for many Penn State fans, the developments of 2011-2012 threatened their very self-image.  Although it might have seemed naive and silly to the talking heads on TV and fans of most other schools, Joe Paterno's motto of "success with honor" was something they truly believed in.  It was something they truly loved.  It was something that had been widely recognized since the 1987 Fiesta Bowl victory over Miami.

Even if the football program one day recovered on the field, there was a generalized despair that Saturdays in the fall would never mean the same thing again.  Sure there would be wins and losses, but would there ever be something bigger to believe in?  Would there ever again be something like "success with honor" that would give the program a cause and a unity of purpose?

At various points in the process, four men stepped into the whirlpool of moral ambiguity and restored a higher purpose of Penn State football.  They also preserved Penn State's role as a major college football program on the gridiron.  These men are:  Bill O'Brien.  Christian Hackenberg.  Michael Mauti.  And James Franklin.  This is not an exhaustive list, but each of these men each stepped up when they were needed most and played a special role in the lives of the program and its fans.

Bill O'Brien led with toughness
Bill O'Brien took over the head coach position at Penn State in the winter of 2012.  Although the NCAA had not yet handed down its sanctions, O'Brien was well aware of the tempest he was stepping into.  O'Brien not only kept the Nittany Lions respectable on the field, he also embodied the character and toughness that Penn State fans yearned for in Joe Paterno's replacement.  Although O'Brien left for the NFL after two seasons, he kept the Nittany Lions afloat when most expected them to drown.  For this, the faithful in Happy Valley should be forever grateful.

In 2011, Christian Hackenberg was one of the nation's top recruits at any position.  When the 5-star quarterback from Virginia committed to play in Happy Valley, Penn State was one of the most stable programs in the nation.  All that had changed by the time Hackenberg reported for camp in the summer of 2012.  Although he was but a boy at the time, Hackenberg was a man of his word.  When he kept his commitment to the program, most of his recruiting class followed suit.  Although his play has been the subject of great scrutiny as he contemplates leaving for the NFL, Christian Hackenberg's contribution to the program when he honored his pledge to come to Penn State should never be underestimated.

Mike Mauti's #42 on PSU helmets on senior day 2012
When the NCAA opened up the floodgates for departing players as part of its sanctions, it was Michael Mauti who rallied the troops and gave the remaining Nittany Lions someone to rally around. Mike Mauti's words at Joe Paterno's memorial service and his statement to the public in the wake of the sanctions reassured fans and reminded critics that there were still men of integrity and honor playing football in Happy Valley.  If there was ever a symbol of what Mauti meant to the team, it came on senior day when the players voted to alter the iconic Penn State helmets to honor their injured leader.  Mauti's contributions on the field during his senior season were a big part of the Nittany Lions winning season, but it was his spiritual leadership and moral compass that kept the Nittany Lion family together.

The last of these four men to enter the Penn State picture was James Franklin.  After Bill O'Brien left for the NFL, Penn State was once again left in search of a head coach for the second time in just a few short years.  This was a shocking development for a program who had been led by a single man for over four decades.  When James Franklin was hired away from Vanderbilt, he declared that Penn State was his destination job.  He stated that he was a "Pennsylvania boy with a Penn State heart."  But more than that, Franklin talked about Penn State being a special place.  He talked about family in ways that were more than lip service.  And he enthusiastically hit the recruiting trail with those principles.  His message and his commitment to Penn State's ideals resulted in some of the top recruiting classes in the nation.  Perhaps the greatest testament to Franklin's success is that Penn State fans were once again focused on the on-field results this season and were no longer satisfied with moral victories.
James Franklin has 2 daughters and 95 sons in Happy Valley

When the Nittany Lions take the field on January 2, 2016 for a big time bowl game against a prestigious opponent, it will be about more than just a football game.  It will signal a return to normalcy for a once proud football program.  More importantly, it will signal the end of a four year period of contrition for a once proud fanbase.  As Nittany Lion fans settle in with chips and dip on Saturday to engage in what was once a yearly ritual, let none of them forget the contributions and sacrifices of Bill O'Brien, Christian Hackenberg, Michael Mauti and James Franklin.

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Best Sports Tantrums of 2015

2015 was a memorable year for sports fans.  We witnessed a tremendous Super Bowl, the fight of the century between Maweather and Pacquiao and a Triple Crown winner.  But not all the memorable moments of the sports year were great achievements.  In fact, some of them were downright shameful.  These moments are presented in chronological order, not order of magnitude.  Here are the best sports tantrums of 2015.

1.  Cat Fight.  This incident involves mostly women, but the only reason "cat fight" is an appropriate term for this brawl is because it is between the Texas Southern Tigers and the Southern Jaguars.  Texas Southern had a one game lead in the SWAC standings when they hosted Southern on March 8, 2015.  Southern had a two-point lead midway through the second half when this bench clearing brawl broke out.  The fight involves players, cheerleaders and apparently a fan or two.  It was so violent that officials ended the game.  As a result, the two teams ended up tied for the regular season title.  You can skip through the preliminary nonsense at start the video at the 45 second mark.  My favorite part of this video comes at 1:45 when the Texas Southern mascot does a swagger prance at mid court.

2.  Dirty Girl.  I'm pretty old school.  I believe there is a place for physical intimidation even in girl's high school sports.  But, this catcher in the Texas 4A softball state championship game definitely crossed the line.  Not once but twice.  The thing I don't understand about this video is why the opposing team didn't take any action to retaliate.  Rest assured that if this happened in a game in the coal region of Pennsylvania, punches would be thrown.

3.  Going Postal.  This video makes the list because it is so unusual.  Not only does it involve the typically non-violent world of cycling, but it involves someone who isn't even in the race.  I understand that delivering the mail is serious business, but it's not like the Tour de France route should have come as a surprise to anyone.  This video is worth watching with the sound on.  French swearing is always funny.

4.  Manager Meltdown.  Alaska is not widely known for its heated baseball rivalries, but in mid July of 2015, the Peninsula Oilers and the Anchorage Bucs dropped the gloves and went at it.  Baseball fights usually have a lot of milling around and "hold me back" moments, but not this fight.  This fight has a few haymakers.  The reason this is so unique, though, is because the haymakers are thrown by the managers.

5. Shadow Boxing.  Much like mostly everything involving the University of Texas, this brawl against the Baylor Bears was overhyped.  But, thanks to Vine gurus, this gem from the incident was dug up and highlighted in the Twitterverse.  The comedic value of this Texas player putting up his dukes must be celebrated.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Temper Temper: Sports Tantrums of Fall

Fall has changed to winter.  On the east coast, it still feels a lot like summer.  Perhaps those hot temperatures are reflecting the hot tempers we have seen on the fields of play over the past couple months.  The NBA season is underway and the NHL is in full swing.  Yet somehow, this is a college football centered tantrums post.  Here are the best sports tantrums of fall.

1. Shadow Boxing.  During the Cold War, Ronald Reagan preached "peace through strength."  The idea was that if you were ready for war then your enemies would not start a war.  Evidently, that is what this Texas player believed during this bench clearing staring match between Texas and Baylor.

2. Swagger.  The U.  Those words alone make opponents bristle and make fans get ready for a scrap. When Miami played Georgia Tech, emotions boiled over after the final whistle.  There are a few skirmishes between the players in this game, but the best part of this scene is when Sebastian struts through the turmoil as if he contributed.

3.  Midwestern Manners.  The fans in the midwest have a reputation for being loyal to their teams without crossing any lines.  In November, Wisconsin fans were a bit dismayed at the officials in their game against Nebraska.  They expressed that dismay in a very cold way.  They threw snow balls.

4.  Keep It In the Family.  Football is an emotional game.  When players lose their tempers, it is incumbent upon the coaches to keep them in line.  When coaches lose their tempers, that burden fall upon the blogosphere.  In October, Notre Dame's Brian Kelly rightly drew the ire of many when he completely lost his cool with an assistant.

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Friday, December 18, 2015

Tuffy Teaser: Bowl Game Edition

Tuffy plans to sip the bubbly after these picks.
Nothing gets Tuffy more excited than the college bowl season.  Unlike the regular season, there is plenty of time to consider all the choices and make wise wagering decisions.  Therefore, Tuffy fully expects to bounce back from his late-season struggles and ring in the new year with a little extra coin jingling in his pockets.

For the uninitiated, the Tuffy Teaser is a three-team teaser bet.  It is based on a $5 wager with a 6-point tease.  The lines come from  What makes this teaser special is that all the teams must have cat mascots.  Overall, the Tuffy Teaser is 6-4 with a net gain of $28 on the year.

Fourteen teams with cat mascots got invited to bowls this year.  Two of those teams are playing each other, so that means that Tuffy had 13 games to pick from for this column.

Without further ado, here are the picks.

Hawaii Bowl.  Thursday, December 24, 2015 at 8:00 p.m. EST.

Cincinnati Bearcats                           + 4.5
San Diego State University Aztecs     + 7.5

When both teams are getting points in a tease, the game becomes basically a pick-em.  Cincinnati is the proper pick.  Giving up 65 points to South Florida is an ugly mark on their record, but besides that, the Bearcats have given good teams a tough struggle and have beaten the bad teams on their schedule.  They have also beaten Miami in a non-conference matchup.  SDSU is the champion of the Mountain West Conference.  But, this is not a banner year for the league, and SDSU has a home loss to South Alabama on their record.  If any of you are doubting if Bearcats should qualify for this column, relax.  The word "cat" is in their name.  That's good enough for Tuffy.  It should be good enough for you.

Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl.  Thursday, Dec. 31, 2015 at 12:00 p.m. EST.

Houston Cougars             +13
Florida State Seminoles     - 1

The Houston Cougars have put together one of the most impressive seasons in all of college football. They have wins over Louisville, Memphis, Navy and Temple.  The only blemish on their record came in a game where their quarterback was injured.  Coming out of the AAC, Houston will be inspired to play in a New Years Six bowl game.  For FSU, there is a significant risk of apathy and disinterest.  A noon kick on New Years Eve is not what the Seminoles had in mind at the start of the season.  I expect Houston to win this game outright.  I certainly expect the Cougars to be able to stay within two touchdowns.

Outback Bowl.  Friday, January 1, 2016 at 12:00 p.m. EST.

Tennessee Volunteers           - 2
Northwestern Wildcats     + 14

Northwestern comes into this game with a very solid 10-2 record that includes a convincing victory over Stanford.  Tennessee is a program heading in the right direction, but they have four losses and no signature wins this season.  The line on this game is a perfect example of how point spreads are not predictions.  They are designed to make the betting balanced.  The public perception of the SEC in the eyes of casual gamblers is the only explanation for making Northwestern an underdog in this game.  Take the points and enjoy.

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Monday, December 14, 2015

Banshee's Bowl Season Preview

Over the next three weeks, college football will take over the sports landscape with forty-one bowl games.  That's right.  Forty-one.  For all but the most dedicated fans, that dazzling array may seem overwhelming.  In order to help you all through the viewing process, I will pick one game from each set of bowl games as must-see game of the group.

The Holy War
The Pre-Christmas Games:  Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl.  BYU vs. #22 Utah.  December 19, 2015 at 3:30 EST on ABC.

Twelve bowl games will take place before St. Nick finishes his rounds for 2015.  The Las Vegas Bowl stands out from the rest of that crowd.  First of all, the irony of the Holy War between BYU and Utah being renewed in Sin City is just too rich.  After taking a year off in 2014, we will get the 96th battle between these longtime in-state rivals.  All things considered, with a 9-3 record, BYU has to be pleased with this bowl game.  Utah comes into the game with an identical 9-3 record, but with wins over Michigan, Oregon and Cal to their credit, Utah fans have to be a little miffed about a pre-Christmas bowl.  I'm thankful this is not a gambling post because I do not want to make a prediction except to say that this will be entertaining.

Runner up:  Marmot Boca Raton Bowl.  Toledo vs. #24 Temple.  December 22, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. EST on ESPN.

The Tweener Games:  Russell Athletic Bowl.  #10 North Carolina vs. #17 Baylor.  December 29, 2015 at 5:30 p.m. EST on ESPN.

The bowl committee overlooked the fact that neither of these teams wear Russell Athletic uniforms and put together a terrific matchup.  The #10 North Carolina Tarheels and the #17 Baylor Bears square off in one of the best games of the bowl season.  It is a traveshamockery that this game is buried in an afternoon time slot on a Tuesday.  One of the most intriguing aspects of this game is the quarterback situation at Baylor.  Due to injuries, Baylor finished the season with a wide receiver taking snaps in their season finale against Texas.  With a month to prepare and heal, it is safe to assume that Baylor will have a competent offense in the bowl game.  North Carolina is more of a known factor.  Clemson fans know that North Carolina gave them all they could handle in the ACC Championship.  This may not turn out to be the offensive explosion that some expect, but it should be an interesting and competitive matchup right to the end.

Runner up:  Birmingham Bowl.  Auburn vs. Memphis.  December 30, 2015 at 12:00 p.m. EST on ESPN.

Iconic Sooner Schooner
New Year's Eve Games:  Capital One Orange Bowl.  #4 Oklahoma vs. #1 Clemson.  December 31, 2015 at 4:00 p.m. EST on ESPN.

There are only three bowl games on New Year's Eve.  They are staggered throughout the day, so there is no legitimate reason to miss any of these games.  But, if you have to pick just one game, I recommend the Capital One Orange Bowl between the Oklahoma Sooners and the Clemson Tigers.  The main reason is that there is more novelty in semi-final playoff game than in the other.  The Big 12 did not have a team in last year's playoffs, so Oklahoma is a fresh face.  Clemson is also a team that is not part of the national championship discussion every year.  Both teams have explosive offenses led by electrifying quarterbacks, so this game will remain up for grabs until the final gun.

Runner up:  Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic.  #3 Michigan State vs. #2 Alabama.  December 31, 2015 at 8:30 p.m. EST on ESPN.

The Rose Bowl at sunset
New Year's Day Games:  The Rose Bowl Game.  #6 Stanford vs. #5 Iowa.  January 1, 2016 at 5:00 EST on ESPN.

New Year's Day is no longer the jam packed bowl bonanza that it was in the days of my youth, but there are still plenty of good games to choose from.  The Rose Bowl between Stanford and Iowa is the best of the bunch.  Based on pure aesthetics, the Grandaddy of Them All is a joy to watch.   The colors of the split stadium are dazzling as the California sun sets over the San Gabriel Mountains.  Then there is the history of the game.  This bowl has been played continuously since 1916.  It is also one of the only bowl games that still has true conference ties.  With rare exception, this game is played between the Pac 12 and the Big Ten.  Then there is the 2016 game itself.  Stanford is led by Heisman Trophy finalist Christian McCaffery.  Iowa is perhaps the least publicized top five team in decades, but the Hawkeyes lone loss came against Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship.  This game is the perfect combination of history, pageantry and skill that should not be missed.

Runner up:  BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl.  #8 Notre Dame vs. #7 Ohio State.  January 1, 2016 at 1:00 p.m. EST on ESPN.

Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, TX
The Remaining Games:  Valero Alamo Bowl.  #15 Oregon vs. #11 TCU.  January 2, 2016 at 6:45 p.m. EST on ESPN.

Over the years, the Alamo Bowl has put on many entertaining shows.  Usually the game was played before New Year's.  This year, the Alamo Bowl is in a time slot worthy of this matchup.  This bowl could easily be named the Mayo Clinic What If Bowl.  Oregon and TCU both came into this season with realistic national championship hopes, but key injuries derailed those hopes and left these teams facing each other in the Alamo Bowl.  Despite the fact that both of these programs have been in the national championship discussion over the past few years, because of their time zones and conference affiliations, east coast fans don't regularly watch their games.  This is a perfect time to change that.

Runner up:  TaxSlayer Bowl.  Penn State vs. Georgia.  January 2, 2016 at 12:00 p.m. EST on ESPN.

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Friday, November 27, 2015

Tuffy Teaser: Week 13

Tuffy is depressed about his late season swoon.
After a red hot start to the season, Tuffy began to think that college football teaser bets were simply a matter of claiming free money.  Then came Week 10.  High stakes cousin Roger came up empty betting on the biggest games of the weekend.  In Week 11, Tuffy took back control of the column, but he couldn't right the ship.  Tuffy took off Week 12 to regroup from the losing streak.

Now it is Week 13 ... the final week of the college football regular season.  Tuffy studied long and hard during his hiatus and is ready to get back on the winning track.

Before we get to the picks, let's review the concept of the Tuffy Teaser.  All the picks in the Tuffy Teaser involve college teams with cat mascots.  The point spreads for this column come from  The bet is $5 and involves three teams with a six point tease.  Even after the recent struggles, the Tuffy Teaser is 6-3 on the season with a net gain of $33 for the year.

Now for the picks.

Saturday, November 28, 2015 at 12:00 p.m. EST

Clemson Tigers          - 12.5
South Carolina Gamecocks     + 24.5

Normally, the season finale between these in-state rivals is highly anticipated by both fanbases.  This year, Gamecocks fans are simply anticipating the end of a disappointing season.  South Carolina faces the anxiety of a search to replace Steve Spurrier, and they are coming off a loss to the Citadel.  Yes, the Citadel.  Meanwhile, the Clemson Tigers are the #1 team in every poll, and if the season ended today, they would be the #1 seed in the college football playoffs.  Since the Tigers know that stubbing their toe in the regular season finale would ruin a dream season, there is little chance that they will be looking ahead to the ACC Championship Game.  Clemson will absolutely blow the doors off the Gamecocks.

Saturday, November 28, 2015 at 3:30 p.m. EST

Northwestern Wildcats     + 2.5
Illinois Fighting Illini       + 9.5

Northwestern is a bit of an enigma.  The Wildcats beat Stanford early in the year, but then they lost to Michigan and Nebraska by a combined score of 78-10.  This week, Northwestern is not facing a top level foe.  They are facing Illinois.  Illinois has not beaten any top tier opponents the entire season.  There is no reason to believe that the Illini will buck that trend this week.  Northwestern may not win by a wide margin, but they will win and cover this teased spread.

Saturday, November 28, 2015 at 3:30 p.m. EST

BYU Cougars         + 3
Utah State Aggies     + 9

The idea of BYU getting points against the likes of the Utah State Aggies is just too tempting for Tuffy to avoid.  The only real blemish on BYU's record is a home loss to Missouri.  The Cougars losing to Utah State is almost inconceivable.  Vegas installed BYU as a favorite for a reason.  Taking BYU in a teaser getting points is a solid winner.

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Saturday, November 14, 2015

Tuffy Teaser: Week 11

Tuffy will not let his law career interfere
with his obligations to this column.
Last week's experiment was a dismal failure.  It turns out that Roger's love of high stakes, high profile wagers did not translate into football gambling success.  The season record for the Tuffy Teaser now stands at 6-2 with a net profit of $38.  Tuffy is taking back the reigns for the column as we head for Week 11, and the focus is returning to accuracy rather than flash.

Saturday, November 14, 2015 at 12:00 p.m. EST

Pittsburgh Panthers     + 9
Duke Blue Devils           + 3

Pitt and Duke have both lost their games in back-to-back weeks.  Both teams need a win today to stay in the hunt for a shot at winning the ACC's Coastal division.  This game is being played in Durham, so Vegas has installed the Blue Devils as the favorite.  Even if Duke wins this game, the key to this teaser is Pitt's defense.  After Duke's home loss to Miami and total embarrassment against North Carolina, it is hard to see the Blue Devils stretching out a double-digit victory over the Panthers.  Pitt is a solid pick getting nine points.

Saturday, November 14, 2015 at 7:15 p.m. EST

Arkansas Razorbacks     + 13
LSU Tigers                    - 1

The Bayou Bengals got their noses bloodied last weekend at Alabama.  But lots of people get their noses bloodied at Alabama.  LSU is still an excellent team.  Arkansas is still the team that lost consecutive games to Toledo, Texas Tech and Texas A&M this season.  Leonard Fournette will run wild over the Razorbacks, and the Tigers will win this game easily.

Saturday, November 14, 2015 at 10:45 p.m. EST

Washington State Cougars     + 16
UCLA                                        - 4

Some folks on the east coast forget that football actually happens out west.  But, there are some interesting things happening out west.  One of the most interesting is what that mad scientist Mike Leach is doing with his Washington State Cougars.  WSU has lost its three games this season by a total of fifteen points.  That includes a narrow two-point loss to Stanford.  It seems unlikely that they will lose by sixteen to UCLA.  The Cougars are a good pick in this late-night matchup.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

NFL Predictions Midterm Report Card

The NFL has completed nine weeks of action.  Every team has now played at least eight games.  That means it is time for teams to take a midseason inventory.  It also means it is time for Banshee Sports to issue a midterm report card on its predictions.  Before the season started, I offered my preseason  prognostications.  At the end of the first report card period, I had barely mustered a B-.  Things haven't gotten any better.

AFC East:  I knew the Patriots would be very good, but so did every other moron who considers themselves an expert just because they purchased a domain name.  I also predicted the Bills would make the playoffs as a wildcard.  At 4-4, the Bills are by no means a lock to make the playoffs, but they are right in the hunt.  I have no doubt that the Patriots will easily win this division.  The second half of the Bills' season will have a lot to do with my final grade in this, but for now, I continue to give myself a good mark.  First Quarter Grade: A     Midterm Grade: A

Sad times in Baltimore
AFC North:  In the preseason, I boldly declared that the Baltimore Ravens were going to be an excellent team.  At 2-6, it turns out the Ravens are truly terrible.  Instead, it is the Bengals who have are a juggernaut.  The Steelers, on the other hand, are currently clinging to the final wildcard spot in the AFC.  That keeps this from being a failing grade, and since we have made it to the halfway point in the season, I get a slight bump for that prediction.  The Bengals are great.  First Quarter Grade: D     Midterm Grade: D+

AFC South:  There is nothing pretty about this division.  The Colts are in the lead with a record of 4-5.  But, football is not a beauty contest and neither is the prediction business.  Despite the chatter from the media's talking heads, at the start of the season, I did not predict the Colts to be among the leagues elites.  I merely predicted them to be the winner of this dismal division.  So far so good.  First Quarter Grade: A     Midterm Grade: A

AFC West:  There is no other way to say it besides, "Banshee, you blew it."  Despite Manning showing clear signs of age, the Broncos are a wrecking machine.  Beating the Packers in Week 8 was no fluke.  This division is all wrapped up.  The Chiefs, the team I predicted to take the title is nothing short of terrible.  I failed.  First Quarter Grade: F     Midterm Grade: F

NFC East:  At the halfway point in the season, the standings in this division have been determined as much at the doctor's office as they have been on the field.  I was correct about everything I said about this division, but I could not predict the injuries that have decimated the Dallas Cowboys.  Just as I predicted, the Giants are totally mediocre, but with a record of 5-4 mediocre is good enough to put he Giants on top of the division.  I can't be too hard on myself, because I am a football fan and not a doctor, but I have to acknowledge that at the halfway point in the season, it is unlikely that the Cowboys will be able to recover quickly enough to get to the top of the standings.  First Quarter Grade: B     Midterm Grade: C

NFC North:  At the halfway point, the Packers and the Vikings are locked in a duel for the top spot in the division.  They both have a record of 6-2.  The Packers have looked a little worse than many expected.  The Vikings have looked a little better than many expected.  Either way, as I predicted, they are both in a solid position to make the playoffs.  Unfortunately, I also predicted that the Lions would make the playoffs, and they are still horrible.  But, two out of three ain't bad.  First Quarter Grade: B     Midterm Grade: B+

Cam Newton is playing like Super Man
NFC South:  Every single week, I keep expecting this to be the week that the Carolina Panthers come back to earth.  Now that we've reached the halfway point in the season, it is probably time for me to accept that the Panthers really are the class of this division.  I predicted that Atlanta would win this division.  The Falcons have played well, but at this point, it looks like they need to lower their expectations and set their sights on the wild card.  First Quarter Grade: B+     Midterm Grade C+

NFC West:  In the preseason, I declared that the Seahawks were the easiest pick to win any division.  Halfway through the season, the Seahawks have their work cut out for them.  The Cardinals are 6-2 and two games clear of the field.  The Seahawks are heading in the right direction, though, and they get to play the Cardinals at home in their next game.  Based, on the Seahawks' improved play, my grade improved, too, but there is still a lot of work to be done.  First Quarter Grade: C+     Midterm Grade: B-

Overall Grade:  Despite the fact that I've been studying harder, my grades have continued to slip.  After doing the math, my GPA is a 2.45.  I can't in good conscious round that up to any sort of a B.  First Quarter Grade: B-      Midterm Grade: C+

Think I was too lenient?  Want to make some predictions of your own?  Then, by all means, leave a comment and let me know.

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Saturday, November 7, 2015

Tuffy Teaser: Week 10 ... The Roger Edition

Roger enjoys fine cigars
The Tuffy Teaser hit for a sixth consecutive week last week.  That brings the season record to 6-1 and the bank account to $43 in the black.  That is pretty impressive, but the stakes on the field are getting much higher heading into Week 10.  With so many high profile games on the schedule, Tuffy decided to bring in the help of his cousin Roger.

Roger is an experienced cat of the world.  Roger doesn't get involved in any small endeavors, and when he gambles, he expects intense action.  The Week 10 college football schedule presents that perfect Roger combination.  As usual, the picks are limited to teams with cat mascots.  Roger picked all the marquis match ups and turned the Tuffy Teaser into a Tiger Teaser this weekend.

Saturday, November 7, 2015 at 3:30 p.m. EST

Florida State Seminoles     + 16
Clemson Tigers                  - 4

The first standings of the year for the College Football Playoffs were unveiled this week.  The Clemson Tigers were installed as the #1 team in the country.  This weekend, Clemson hosts the Florida State Seminoles, their chief rival in the ACC.  The Tigers were pushed to the brink at home in Week 4 by Notre Dame, but since then their offense has exploded.  Florida State will be fired up for this game, but Roger believes Clemson will pull away late on their home turf.

Saturday, November 7, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. EST

Navy Midshipmen     + 13.5
Memphis Tigers         - 1.5

The Memphis Tigers are undefeated and have a convincing win over Ole Miss on their resume.  Despite that, the Tigers were only ranked #13 in the opening College Football Playoff rankings.  Five teams with a loss were ranked ahead of them.  That means the Tigers will come into this game with something to prove.  Navy is never a pushover.  After all, Navy's roster is made up of the future leaders of the Marine Corps.  But, this game is not going to involve any amphibious landings, so Roger is confident that the Memphis Tigers will cover the teased spread in their home stadium.

Saturday, November 7, 2015 at 8:00 p.m. EST

LSU Tigers                      + 13.5
Alabama Crimson Tide     - 1.5

This game features a matchup of two teams that are ranked in the top four spots in the College Football Playoff rankings.  Despite an early season loss to Ole Miss, Alabama is still considered by many to be the best team in the country.  The LSU Tigers are undefeated heading into tonight's showdown.  Roger doesn't necessarily think that the Tigers will pull off the upset in Tuscaloosa, but he does believe this will be a nip and tuck battle right to the end.  The winner of this game will win by at most a touchdown.

Roger at the WSOP
Bonus Pick:  Roger is a serious, high stakes gambler.  But he's also generous and would like to spread the wealth.  There is a big boxing card on HBO tonight.  On the undercard, Roger predicts Lomachenko by knockout.  In the main event, Roger predicts Bradley by decision in what could could make a run at fight of the year.

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Saturday, October 31, 2015

Tuffy Teaser: Week 9

Tuffy is ready for Week 9 action
After a fifth consecutive win, Tuffy decided to spend a little time resting on his laurels last week.  Being a cat, Tuffy is a bit lazy, but Tuffy also knows that it takes restraint to stay ahead of the sharps in Nevada.  Since the Tuffy Teaser is restricted to teams with cat mascots, there will be some weeks where the cat gut just tells you to stay away.  Week 8 was one of those weeks.

But National Cat Day was this week, so Tuffy perked up his ears, squinted his green eyes and got back into action.  Heading into this week, the teaser is now 5-1 and $35 to the good.  So, here are the Tuffy Teaser picks for Week 9.

Staturday, October 31, 2015 at 12:00 p.m. EST

Illinois Fighting Illini          +11
Penn State                          +2

Tuffy and I are big Penn State fans.  That means that it is not fun to put money on their games because there is already enough angst and stomach bile involved.  As a Penn State expert, I can tell you that no one should ever bet on Penn State when they are giving more than a field goal.  Their offense is just to anemic.  On the other hand, this Penn State team has beaten the teams they should have beaten this year.  Penn State will not lose to Illinois at home.

Saturday, October 31, 2015 at 3:30 p.m. EST

Clemson Tigers          -4
NC State Wolfpack     +16

Clemson is not just a good team.  They are a very good team.  Maybe even the best team in college football this year.  It is a mystery to me and to Tuffy as to why Vegas seems to think Clemson will be dragged into a competitive game every week.  NC State is not a good team.  The Wolfpack will not challenge Clemson.  The Clemson Tigers will win by more than a touchdown in Raleigh.

Saturday, October 31, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. EST

Vanderbilt Commodores     +18
Houston Cougars               -6

Of all the games this week, kitties or no, this is the game that feels the most like stealing money.  The seers in the dessert do not have agendas like the sports media does.  But, the SEC bias still affects the point spreads because the spreads are designed to balance the wagering.  In other words, if the public perceives the SEC to be a dominant conference then the point spread needs to take that into account.  This game is a prime example.  Houston will win this game at home by a wide margin.

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Friday, October 16, 2015

Tuffy Teaser: Week 7

Tuffy bought a new wardrobe with his winnings
The Tuffy Teaser is on fire.  The teaser has hit four times in a row.  That brings the record to 4-1 and the total bankroll to $27 to the good.

For those of you who are new to the party, the Tuffy Teaser involves a 3-team, 6-point college football teaser.  The only teams eligible for the teaser are those with a cat mascot (for more details, see the first post of the season).

Here are the picks for Week 7.

Friday, October 16, 2015.  8:00 p.m. EST

Cincinnati Bearcats     +12
BYU Cougars             Pick 'Em

The Cincinnati Bearcats are coming off a solid win over Miami last week, but this game involves a long trip on a short week.  The BYU Cougars are tough to beat anywhere (except for maybe in Ann Arbor), but they are particularly tough in the high altitude of Provo, Utah.  This will be a close game, but with the tease, BYU only needs to win the game.  The Cougars will do that.

Saturday, October 17, 2015.  12:30 p.m. EST

Pittsburgh Panthers                 +9.5
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets     +2.5

The point spread on this game is baffling to me.  Georgia Tech has been on a tough four-game slide, so it is a mystery to me why they are favored to win this game.  Pitt getting 9.5 points in this teaser feels almost like stealing.  The Panthers are 4-1 on the year.  Their only loss was by three points at Iowa.  I expect Pitt to win this game outright.  I would be shocked if Pitt lost by more than a touchdown.

Saturday, October 17, 2015.  7:00 p.m. EST

Florida Gators     +13
LSU Tigers         -1

Florida is a program that is clearly headed in the right direction ... until last week, that is.  The Gators' starting quarterback is now suspended for using banned substances.  That is not the type of distraction that any team needs when they are headed into Death Valley to play LSU.  The Tigers are always strong at home, and they are especially strong in night games.  I fully expect LSU to win this game by a couple of scores.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

NFL Prediction Report Card

As always, before season started, Banshee Sports posted an official set of NFL predictions for each division.  As always, I hold myself accountable for those picks.  Every team in the NFL has now played at least four games.  That means it is first quarter report card time.

AFC East:  In my predictions column, I didn't waste much time on discussing the division winner.  Heading into the season, the Patriots were obviously the best team in the division, and after one quarter of the games, the Patriots are still the best with no signs of slowing down.  The bold prediction in this division was that the Bills would make the playoffs as a wildcard.  At 3-2, the Bills are right in the thick of the playoff hunt.  The Bills should continue to improve as Tyrod Taylor gets more experience and the players get more familiar with the new coaching philosophies.  Prediction Grade: A

Rough start for the Ravens
AFC North:  As solid as my AFC East predictions are, my AFC North predictions are the complete opposite.  I jumped off the Cincinnati Bengals bandwagon and put my faith in the Baltimore Ravens. I should have flipped those picks.  The Bengals are in first place at 5-0 with a dramatic victory over the Seahawks this week.  I'm not shocked that the Bengals are better than I thought they'd be, but I am stunned at how terrible the Ravens have been.  The Ravens are a dismal 1-4 after taking a home loss against the Browns this week.  The only thing keeping me from a failing grade is that the Steelers are still in the hunt for a wildcard, as I predicted.  Prediction Grade: D

AFC South:  I predicted that the Colts would win the AFC South again this year.  Once again, the Colts are a very flawed team, but once again they are far less flawed than the rest of this terrible division.  It feels a little like cheating to get such an easy question right, but it's not my fault that Professor Goodell didn't make the exam harder.  Prediction Grade: A

AFC West:  I got myself a little excited when I wrote the AFC West predictions.  Conventional wisdom said that the Broncos were the class of this division.  The reason why some wisdom is "conventional" is because it is reliable.  Instead of following the crowd, I picked the Chiefs to win the division and the Broncos to miss the playoffs altogether.  The Chiefs are a putrid 1-4 through five games, and Jamaal Charles has a torn ACL.  Peyton Manning is clearly showing his age this season, but the Broncos defense has been a force of nature to start the year.  The Broncos look to have the West just about locked up even at this early stage.  Prediction Grade: F

Cowboys are banged up
NFC East:  It is hard to grade my predictions in this division.  The Giants are currently in sole possession of first place, but at 3-2 they are every bit as mediocre as I said they'd be.  The Redskins are lousy and the Eagles are a mystery.  What is not a mystery is that injuries have put a serious damper on the start of the Cowboy's season.  And yet, Dallas is still in the thick of the race for the division crown.  Since no one can predict injuries and the outcome is still very much in doubt, I am going to be lenient with my grade in this division.  Prediction Grade: B

NFC North:  Picking the Packers to win this division seemed like an obvious decision, and after a quarter of the season, it still looks that way.  What is less clear is what the rest of the division is doing.  Because the struggles of so many other NFC teams, the Minnesota Vikings are still in the hunt for a playoff berth despite a mediocre record.  The Lions, on the other hand, do not look anything like the playoff team I predicted in the preseason.  But, anytime I predict the correct division winner, I feel that I am entitled a decent grade.  Prediction Grade: B

NFC South:  In the preseason, I had good feelings about the new coaching staff in Atlanta and predicted that the Falcons would win the NFC South.  The Falcons have rewarded my faith by getting off to a 5-0 start.  Meanwhile, the Carolina Panthers have also gotten off to an undefeated 4-0 start.  I am proud of my Falcons prognostication, but I have to admit that I did not see this division as having two strong contenders.  Since I had overall unflattering things to say about the division, I can't give myself an "A" for having the right team on top early on.  Prediction Grade: B+

Hats off to the Arizona Cardinals
NFC West:  Before the season started, I predicted that Seattle would win the division and that they would be the only team to make the playoffs from this division.  The Seahawks have not gotten off to the start that I expected.  Instead, it is the Cardinals that have been the class of the division.  But, it's early yet, and I did say that the Cardinals would be a good team.  So, I'm gonna give myself a little grace on this grade.  Prediction Grade: C+

Overall Grade:  I did a little math, and it looks like my GPA would be a 2.6.  I'm gonna call that a B-.  I'm also going to apologize to anyone who used my column to place an futures wagers.  Overall Grade:  B-

Think I was too lenient?  Want to make some predictions of your own?  Then, by all means, leave a comment and let me know.

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Friday, October 9, 2015

Tuffy Teaser: Week 6

Tuffy enjoyed a bit of the bubbly after Week 5
The Tuffy Teaser is on quite a roll with wins each of the last three weeks where picks were entered.  That brings the season record to 3-1.  Based on $5 wagers, the Tuffy Teaser bankroll is now $19 in the black for the year.  If anyone is still wondering what exactly is involved in the Tuffy Teaser, please refer to a previous post.

Without further delay, here are the Week 6 Tuffy Teaser picks.

Saturday, October 10, 2015.  12:00 p.m. EST

Indiana Hoosiers                    + 13
Penn State Nittany Lions     -1

The only loss on the Tuffy Teaser ledger came courtesy of the Nittany Lions when they lost outright to the Temple Owls on the first week of the season.  It's no secret that Wild Banshee is a die hard Penn State fan, but this really is a head pick, not a heart pick.  The Hoosiers started off undefeated through four games, and they held their own against Ohio State last weekend.  But, Indiana lost more than just the game last week.  The Hoosiers will be limping into Happy Valley with injuries to their quarterback and running back.  Meanwhile, the Nittany Lions should be getting freshman sensation Saquon Barkley back in the lineup for this homecoming matchup.  This game will likely be decided by a defensive touchdown by Penn State, but that will be enough to cover a one-point, teased spread.

Saturday, October 10, 2015.  12:00 p.m. EST

Virginia Cavaliers            + 16
Pittsburgh Panthers        - 4

As a Penn State fan, it feels weird to recommend putting money on Pitt.  The game will be played in Pennsylvania, but a half-empty Heinz Field is not much of an advantage.  All that being said, I live in Virginia, so I know that the Cavaliers are truly awful.  Under the leadership of Pat Narduzzi, Pitt is playing fearsome defense.  The Panthers will win this game by more than a touchdown and certainly more than four points.

Saturday, October 10, 2015.  3:30 p.m. EST

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets     + 13
Clemson Tigers                         - 1

Last week, the Clemson Tigers beat Notre Dame at home by two points.  Georgia Tech lost to Notre Dame by eight points in mid September.  The Yellow Jackets followed up that loss by losing at Duke and losing to North Carolina at home.  There is no reason to believe that Georgia Tech will perform better in Death Valley,  The Clemson Tigers will easily cover this teased spread.

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Saturday, October 3, 2015

Tuffy Teaser: Week 5

After taking a week off, the Tuffy Teaser is back for Week 5 of the college football season.  Heading into this week, the Tuffy Teaser is 2-1 with a positive balance of $11 on the bank ledger.

Tuffy is back in action for Week 5
This week there are a lot of high profile match ups on the college football schedule, but, as always, the Tuffy Teaser is restricted to picking teams with cat mascots.  The picks are a three-team, six-point teaser based on the lines posted at

Saturday, October 3, 2015.  12:00 p.m. EST

Houston Cougars              -  3.5
Tulsa Golden Hurricane     + 15.5

With weather forecasters fixated this week on Hurricane Joaquin, it seems like this would be a good week to pick Tulsa, but weather is not actually going to be a factor in this game.  The Houston Cougars come into this game at 3-0.  Two of those three wins were against weak opponents, but the Cougars did get a 3-point victory at Louisville.  Louisville is a better team than Tulsa, so I expect Houston to cover the teased spread.

Saturday, October 3, 2015.  4:00 p.m. EST

San Jose State Spartans     + 26
Auburn Tigers                     - 14

The Auburn Tigers are staggering into this game after dropping two straight games and barely squeaking by Jacksonville State.   However, San Jose State has lost both of its road games this year by at least two touchdowns.  This week the Spartans have to make a long trip across multiple time zones to play a Tiger team with its back against a wall.  Auburn will come to life today and win by more than two touchdowns.

Saturday, October 3, 2015.  8:00 p.m. EST

Notre Dame Fighting Irish       + 8.5
Clemson Tigers                      + 3.5

The southeastern part of the United States has been soaked in rain over the last week, and that rain is expected to continue tonight for this primetime showdown in Clemson, SC.  Typically, cats do not like water.  But tigers are actually good swimmers, and these Clemson Tigers are particularly good at playing in Memorial Stadium.  The Tigers have an 11-game winning streak at home in Death Valley.  The Fighting Irish have been inspirational in overcoming early season injuries, but their luck will run out this week.  Clemson will win this game outright at home.

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Sunday, September 27, 2015

Temper Temper: Sports Tantrums of Summer

Summer has come to an end.  But, before we pack up the lawn chairs and dig the sweaters out of the attic, let's take a look back at some of hottest meltdowns in sports this summer.

1.  Going Postal.  Delivering the mail is serious business, and this mail carrier in France did not take kindly to interference with his appointed rounds.  The Tour de France spans almost all of July, but by July 5, 2015, this mailman had already had all he could stand.

2.  Manager Meltdown.  Alaska is not widely known for its heated baseball rivalries, but in mid July, the Peninsula Oilers and the Anchorage Bucs dropped the gloves and went at it.  Baseball fights usually have a lot of milling around and "hold me back" moments, but not this fight.  This fight has a few haymakers.  The reason this is so unique, though, is because the haymakers are thrown by the managers.

3.  No One But Myself to Blame.  I appreciate it when highly paid athletes hold themselves to high standards.  But, I'm not sure that destroying equipment after lining out in a baseball game in July actually helps your club.  Nonetheless, that's how Andre Ethier expressed his frustrations in a game against Oakland on July 28.  The Dodgers did go on to win the NL West, so, in hindsight, maybe this was a bit overboard.

4.  Splish Splash.  As Mark Twain once quipped, "Golf is a good walk spoiled."  On August 14, 2015, John Daly would surely have agree.  After putting three straight shots into the drink during the second round of the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, Daly decided that his club should join the balls in Lake Michigan.  In my opinion, he should have ditched the pants before he ditched the club.

5.  Dirty Mormons.  When most people think of BYU sports, they think of players missing seasons to do mission work or players risking suspension from for having a few beers.  Aside from maybe Jim McMahon, the BYU Cougars athletics programs have maintained a squeaky clean image.  The BYU football team might still be behaving themselves off the field, but, over the last couple seasons, they are starting to raise a few eye brows on the field.  Last season ended with a brawl in the Miami Beach Bowl.  Then in a September game against Boise State, this happened.  No further commentary is needed.

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Saturday, September 26, 2015

Tuffy Teaser: Week 4

Discretion or cowardice?
The Tuffy Teaser hit again in Week 3.  That brings the season record to 2-1.  Based on a $5 per week wager, that brings the bankroll to + $11 for the year.

But, as Shakespeare taught us, "Discretion is the better part of valor."  Although he did not attend school, Tuffy learned that lesson well.  Tuffy also reads the "responsible gaming" warnings at the bottom of gambling websites.  The secret to gambling success is to resist the urge to place a wager when you don't have conviction behind your bet.

The rules for the Tuffy Teaser are that the only teams that can be picked are teams with cat mascots.  I toyed with taking Memphis -4 at home against Cincinnati on Thursday night, Arizona +10 at home against UCLA on Saturday night and Missouri +9 on the road at Kentucky on Saturday night.  But, I didn't have a strong conviction on any of those games.

As a result, there will be no Tuffy Teaser for Week 4.

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Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Chase is On

The Chase is on for the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship.  Sixteen teams start the Chase with a chance to win the title.  After ten races, a NASCAR Sprint Cup champion will be crowned.

Rules and Regulations.  Before we get to predictions, let's go over the nuts and bolts.  Sixteen drivers qualified for NASCAR's version of the playoffs.  Drivers who won a race automatically qualified for the Chase.  This year, eleven different drivers won a race.  The remaining five spots in the field of sixteen were determined by points.

For those sixteen drivers, the points standings were compressed.  The teams that won the most races start tied at the top of the standings.  With each decreasing win, there is a three-point deficit.  The total spread between the leaders and the teams in 16th place is twelve points.  That is equivalent to twelve places on the race track in any given race.

The Chase consists of four rounds.  The first three rounds consist of three races each.  At the end of each round four teams are eliminated.  That leaves four drivers eligible to win the championship at the final race of the year in Homestead, FL.  Whoever has the best finish in that race is the Sprint Cup Champion.

Gordon's Last Ride.  The last meaningful race in Jeff Gordon's illustrious career will be at Dover on October 4.  Jeff Gordon belongs on the Mt. Rushmore of NASCAR, but his final season will have an anti-climactic ending.  Gordon did not win a race all season and starts the Chase in the 13th position. There is no reason to expect a change in performance in the next three races.  Gordon will be eliminated from the Chase when the first cuts are made at the Monster Mile.

Surprise Run.  Clint Bowyer barely qualified for the Chase, but he basically gets to start over now.  With the standings are compressed, I predict that Bowyer will make it all the way to the round of eight.  With demise of Michael Waltrip Racing, Bowyer has the extra motivation of racing for a new job.  Bowyer also has a strong history at Talladega, the last race before the field is trimmed to eight.

Final Four.  The regular season in NASCAR is long enough and varied enough to truly allow the cream to rise to the top.  Therefore, my prediction for the final four does not contain too many surprises.  It does contain some variety, though.  I am picking four different race teams that consist of two Chevys, a Ford and a Toyota.  My picks are:  Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick.

(Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel)
And the Winner Is ... Kyle Busch.  Busch began the season with a brutal accident in the XFinity race at Daytona.  The broken leg that Busch suffered in that wreck caused him to miss the first eleven races of the Sprint Cup season.  When Busch returned to the track in late May, he put together a stunning string of races.  In just fifteen starts, Kyle Busch notched nine top ten finishes, six top five finishes and four wins.  Let that sink in for a moment.  Busch starts the Chase tied for the lead despite starting eleven fewer races than the competition.  Busch, a new dad as of this summer, has demonstrated a new level of patience and maturity during this season.  Despite the scary start, Kyle Busch will finish off this season by winning his first championship.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Tuffy Teaser: Week 3

The second week of the college football season turned out to be unexpectedly scintillating.  I particularly enjoyed it because the Tuffy Teaser was a winner in Week 2.  That brings the record to 1-1 and the running bank roll for the Tuffy Teaser to + $3 on the season.

Tuffy was sleeping better after his teaser came through in Week 2.
Before we get to the picks, here is a reminder about the parameters for the Tuffy Teaser.  These are college football picks.  The point spreads for this column come from  The bet is $5 and involves three teams.  The point spreads are teased by six points, and, in honor of my Tuffy cat, the only teams eligible for the teaser are teams with cat mascots.

Now, on to the picks.

Thursday, September 17.  7:30 p.m. EST

Clemson Tigers            - .5
Louisville Cardinals     + 12.5

In the season opener, Louisville played Auburn at a neutral site and lost by a touchdown.  Last week, Jacksonville State pushed Auburn to overtime at Auburn.  Meanwhile, Louisville lost to Houston in their home opener.  All that tells me that Louisville is not very good.  With the six-point tease, this becomes a virtual pick 'em game for Clemson.  I'll take the Tigers.

Saturday, September 19.  12:30 p.m. EST

Northwestern Wildcats     + 9.5
Duke Blue Devils                + 2.5

The Duke Blue Devils have put a lot of points on the board in the first two weeks of the season.  But, those points were scored against the likes of Tulane and North Carolina Central.  No offense to those teams, but Northwestern is a different caliber.  The Wildcat defense held the highly hyped Stanford offense to just six points in the season opener.  The Blue Devils very well might win this game, but they will not win by ten points.

Saturday, September 19.  3:30 p.m. EST

Auburn Tigers     + 13
LSU Tigers          - 1

This game is the best teaser pick of the weekend.  And that is not limited to teasers involving only teams with cat mascots.  After the six-point tease, LSU is darn close to a pick 'em at home.  As we just discussed, this is an Auburn team that needed a comeback and overtime to get past Jacksonville State last week.  And that was on their home turf.  That does not exactly instill a lot of confidence in Auburn's ability to hang with LSU in Baton Rouge.  LSU will easily cover the one-point spread.

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Saturday, September 12, 2015

Tuffy Teaser: Week 2

The lesson to be learned from Week One is that gambling is hard ... and confusing.  When Penn State was teased to -.5, that seemed to be a mortal lock.  Not so.  The Temple Owls beat down the Nittany Lions and derailed the Tuffy Teaser.  So, if you are keeping track at home, the running total has Wild Banshee down $5.  But even in a cat based column, there is no use crying over spilled milk.  So, it's on to the Tuffy Teaser: Week 2.

Tuffy is adjusting his strategy for Week 2
Saturday, September 12.  12:00 p.m. EST

Kansas State Wildcats                 - 8.5
UT San Antonio Road Runners     + 20.5

This game really is being played at UTSA.  Nonetheless, a Power 5 team with a history like Kansas State ought to be able to stretch this out to a 10-point margin by game's end.

Saturday, September 12.  12:30 p.m. EST

Appalachian State Mountaineers     + 24
Clemson Tigers                               - 12

After Appy State put together one of the most surprising upsets in the history of college football when they defeated Michigan in 2007, the Mountaineers don't get to sneak up on the big boys anymore.  This game isn't high profile enough for the famed Clemsoning to set in, so I expect the Tigers to take care of business and win by a large margin.

Saturday, September 12.  7:00 p.m. EST

Missouri Tigers                       - 4.5
Arkansas State Red Wolves     + 16.5

Arkansas State is sort of a fun story, and Missouri didn't really test itself in Week 1 by trouncing the Southeast Missouri Redhawks.  Ultimately, this pick comes down to reputation and conference prestige.  Even on the road, a consistently competitive SEC program ought to be able win by a touchdown ... or at least 5 points.

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