Jerry Kill ready, excited about transition at Minnesota

Despite being in the MAC, Jerry Kill had some success against the Big Ten in his three-year tenure with Northern Illinois. Kill’s Huskies beat Purdue in 2009, and beat Minnesota in 2010, which was one of the major factors in the firing of Tim Brewster.

Now, Kill has begun to turn around the Minnesota program he beat 10 months ago. But Kill doesn’t think success at NIU will necessarily translate directly to success at Minnesota. [Read more…]

Breakdown of Potential Ohio State Head Football Coaching Candidates

Ohio state-Minnesota

The NCAA is set to determine the fate of the Ohio State football program on August 12 and while no one knows exactly how hard the Committee on Infractions will come down on the Buckeyes, it is safe to say a number of sanctions are well within the realm of possibility.  Couple the upcoming hearing with the fact that Ohio State will be headed into the 2011-2012 season without their head coach of the past decade, their former starting quarterback headed to the NFL (CFL UFL?), and their No. 1 wide receiver, running back and starting offensive tackle gone for the first five games of the season and you have what we in the biz like to call uncertainty.

By: Jeff Beck

[Read more…]

Take It To The Bank, Week 5 CFB

By Paul Schmidt

Welcome back to week five of my fearless prognostications!  Lots of good last week, and let’s face it, I was due.  Even though my Illini let me down (and by let me down, I mean gave me a swirly for roughly 3 and a half hours), I was able to come up with an over .500 week, and a win against my competitor, Peter Christian. 

Granted, I received a luck-of-the-Irish push from the Houston Cougars, but a little luck never hurt anyone. 

So coming off a solid 2-1-1 week, I’ve decided to bring in someone special for this week’s competition, someone who…well, if I don’t win this week, I think that I’ll just let her make the picks the rest of the season.  That’s right, her…this week’s guest is my Mom.

As for her gambling resume, she doesn’t really have one outside of NCAA bracket pools and participating in a weekly NFL confidence pool. In fact, I explained point spreads to her prior to her making her picks — though to her credit she pretty much knew what was going on there.

On to this week’s games!

Penn St.(-7) at Illinois
 (MOM) The pundits, with good reason, have all picked Penn St.  I will go out on a short skinny limb and say Illinois will win or at least fall within their 7 point spread on Sat.  I’m of the opinion Penn St. is overrated and Illinois and their coaching staff will come out of hibernation this weekend.  Plus, I NEVER bet against “My Team”!  ILL!  Pick: Illinois +7
(Paul Schmidt)
Sigh…I-N-I.  Is Penn St. overrated?  I don’t know…Iowa’s defense was just unbelievable last Saturday, so I don’t know that that is an accurate measure.  However, after last week’s debacle, there’s no way I’ll be able to pick them ever again.  Personally, I think an angry, angry Penn State team rolls this week. Pick: PSU -7

Northwestern at Purdue(-7)
(MOM)
I like Northwestern.  I’m not sure why except I think they have the better personnel.  They can win this game easily if they just stop with all the mistakes. That’s the real question, whether they can get it all together. Pick: Northwestern +7
(PS)
Northwestern is quickly moving into Illinois territory with the inconsistency they are playing.  How one of the nations’ best defenses returns almost everyone and then plays as badly as they have this season is mystifying to me.  Make no mistake, this is a must-win for the Wildcats, but Purdue isn’t as bad as people think.  They looked really good against Notre Dame last week, and while that might not be a glowing review, I think it will be enough to cover at home. Pick: Purdue -7

Central Michigan (-8) at Buffalo
(MOM)
DAH!  Central Michigan all the way. A great “D”  that wins games add a prolific quarterback and you’ve got the Central Michigan Chippewas. Pick: Central Michigan -8
(PS)
I love my Chippewas.  I love Dan LeFevour.  And one thing my mom didn’t add, Buffalo is awful.  Temple routed them last week.  ‘Nuff said.  Pick: Central Michigan -8

Toledo(-4.5) at Ball St.
(MOM)
 Ball State will be desperate to win their first game this weekend. But their inexperienced cornerbacks will not be able to contain Toledo’s quarterback. It looks like Toledo will come out on top of this contest as Ball State is no match….what a difference a year makes. Pick: Toledo -4.5
(PS)
That right there might have been the most in depth, and best, analysis of a MAC team ever posted on this website.  Ball St. is really, really bad this season.  And let’s not make Toledo sound like world-beaters, either.  But they’ve got a really good offense that can put up points, and in a worst-case scenario will simply outscore the Cardinals to cover the way-too-small spread here. My thought is they win by 20 at least. Also, with Ball State’s most famous alumnus in hot water this week, you know that’s not a good sign…Pick: Toledo -4.5

Last Week: 2-1-1
For the Season: 7-8-1

Area College Football Teams Need to Step it Up

bsmith1

By Paul M. Banks

If you follow college football, you know by now that Illinois was pretty much the biggest disappointment coming out of the gate in week one. Of course, that’s another story for another post, but they did get some redemption tonight when they throttled Illinois State 45-17. And they did that pretty much entirely without their star combo of Juice Williams and Arrelious Benn.

More concerning for the Big Ten conference could be the unexpectedly impressive showing by “Directional Michigan,” who gave the conference numerous problems on Saturday. 15 point underdog Central Michigan upset Michigan State 29-27. (Usually, MSU screws up mid-to late season, and dominates in September. Guess they got started early this season)

Eastern Michigan, a 20 point dog to our hometown Northwestern Wildcats, took NU down to the final seconds before junior place-kicker Stefan Demos nailed a 49 yard field goal with 6 ticks left. And Western Michigan lost to Indiana by just four. Maybe it’s a good thing Northern Michigan is a D-II school in the GLIAC conference. And yes, I did have to look that up. And I’m not sure Southern Michigan University exists, but if they did, they’d likely be a thorn in the side of the Big Ten as well. Although other local favorites, Ohio State and Michigan, have looked impressive at times in this young season.

There’s an old football saying claiming, “you improve the most as a team from week one to week two.” If true, it could be a long year for the Big Ten, and maybe a very productive year for the MAC (Mid-American Conference).

“To win a game they way that we did is worrisome across the board. We need to execute better in all aspects. It’s easy when you see the ball run the way it was today, to point the finger at the defensive line. But I’m not prepared to do that yet. I need to watch some video. It is disappointing. We should be better than that,” Northwestern Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald said after the game. To their credit however, they were missing their top DB (CB Sherrick McMannis) and best DT (Adam Hahn). And their best overall player (DE Corey Wootton) may not even be 100% yet.

Another positive to take away is the fact that Northwestern posted its seventh straight victory versus a Mid-American Conference foe, and they avoided their traditional early season slip-up at the hands of a vastly less talented team. Beating EMU by 3 in ’09 is a lot better than losing at home to D-1 laughingstock Duke in ’07 or to D-1AA opponent New Hampshire in ’06. So, the program has shown some growth, at least in the month of September.


You Can Take It to The Bank!

money

By Paul Schmidt

Welcome to the new feature on The Sports Bank, where I tell you how to make money in a completely legitimate and accepted way!

You know, as long as you live in one of the states that approves of gambling on sporting events.

That’s right, each week I’ll be advising you of the four best lines I see on the Big Board every week in college football (and professional, starting next week), and give all of us a chance to line our pockets with a little bit of scratch!

So quick housekeeping notes:

1) If I place a bet against your team, it’s nothing against them, I just want to make money, and I don’t think they will cover/beat the spread.

2) Just because you think a team will win does NOT make them a good bet.

3) Betting on your own team is never a good idea, and I’ve only bet on the Illini one time — which happened to be in 2007 against Ohio State (-13).  I only wish I’d teased it with the under and put a bet on the money line…

4) Betting on the big name teams and games is not always the way to go — the books don’t pay a lot of attention to the smaller conferences (and that will CERTAINLY be reflected in my week 1 picks here), and generally, if you know a little about the teams, you can make some money on the lesser schools (I watch a lot of WAC football late on Saturday nights…trust me on this).

5) If a line looks too good to be true, it probably is — even with point 4 in place, the people who do this job are still very good at what they do.  Be careful out there! 6) For record-keeping purposes, I’m looking at the Harrah’s Casino’s lines, which will be current when I type the pick in. Why Harrah’s?  I generally stay at one of their casinos while in Vegas, and I like most of them.  So there.

And with all that in mind, the best week of the gambling year is here, week one of college football!  The lines are a little goofy, you can play your sleepers without a ton of danger, and some big conference teams are oooooover-rated!!

As a quick bonus pick, generally, books will not take action on a Division 1-A football team taking on a 1-AA team.  I’ve heard a couple rumors of bets being taken on Florida and Charleston Southern.  While I’d never suggest betting the house on them, Charleston Southern is reportedly +62.  That’s a whoooole lot of points for a team that probably won’t have their first team on the field for more than the first half.  Again, I’m not saying bet the house there, but there’s probably value.

Now on to my picks (which, oddly enough, are all underdogs for week 1):

Western Michigan (+13) over Michigan (@ Michigan)
Since all we have to go on is last year’s games, Michigan seems to be getting too many points here. Western Michigan popped Illinois pretty good in Detroit last year, and Illinois routed Michigan in the Big House.  I’m not saying that I used that to make this pick completely…but the Broncos do return Tim Hiller, and he’s probably the second best QB that you’ve never heard of.  Again…not saying Michigan will lose, but I really, really don’t think they win this game by two TDs (the amount needed to win the bet).

Georgia (+5) over Oklahoma State (at OK State)
I like this Georgia team. No one seems to be talking about them and I think they are just as talented as anyone else in the SEC this season. I also think Oklahoma State is one of the nation’s most overrated teams — that’s right Mike Gundy, I said it.  I’M A MAN!!! I’M 31!!!!  The SEC has something of a history of stifling high-powered Big 12 offenses recently (last year’s national title game), and I like Georgia to win this one outright.

Northern Illinois (+16.5) over Wisconsin (at Wisconsin)
I don’t know a ton about Northern, but they seem to return a lot on defense (though they lost their best player to graduation and the NFL in defensive end/linebacker Larry English). This wouldn’t seem to bode very well for a Wisconsin team that should struggle mightily to score points on offense.  I don’t think Wisconsin puts up 17 total in this game, honestly.  That still might be enough to win the game, but not come close to covering.

Central Michigan (+13.5) over Arizona (at Arizona)
Remember when I said, just a little earlier, that Tim Hiller was the best player you’ve never heard of?  The best is playing in this game.  Quick…who has the most yards from scrimmage of any player in college football the last three years?  I’ll even tell you, he’s got an insane 11,702 yards from scrimmage.  Give up?

The answer is Dan LeFevour, an extreme dark-horse Heisman Trophy candidate (at least he should be). He’ll pace a very, VERY good Chippewas offense this season, and could go a long way towards improving his Heisman candidacy with a road win against a Pac Ten team. Look here as well for the Chippewas to win outright (and if you’re of a mind, place a bet on the money line!! I’m seeing +450 or thereabouts, meaning you have to wager 100 dollars to win 450).

Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to comment on how obnoxious I am, how good/bad my picks are, any questions you might have, and, most especially, how wonderful and praise-worthy I am…