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As I See It, by Jimmy Vaccaro

12 August 2002

Like the rest of you, I am sure that you are ingesting much of the same info that I have in the last few weeks. Whether it is by watching, reading or listening, you draw some early conclusions and retain something that might be useful.

One of the things that I have been doing for a long time is to develop an overview on the entire season, both pro and college, and write my thoughts on the date I have them during the season. Then I follow up in my weekly analysis.

Now before we get too involved these are basically like your college "Cliff notes" of years gone by. Things change quickly in the betting world, and none of what I jot down in August is an automatic play, as by now you surely know that until you lay 11/10 on anything, you have a right to either change your mind or pass.

I have eight spots that if things go normal for the course of the year, I believe I should win at least five or possibly more of these, as they have shown a winning percent the past few years. I will share two with you.

1. It is no secret that I believe Nebraska will have a sub-par year according to Big Red standards, and Penn State will start off the year as they ended the last part of the 2001 season, winning 5 out of their last 7 outright. Alright, here is my slant. First, this will be Nebraska's fourth game and the first three are in Lincoln. By all indications they should be 3-0 when they travel to Penn State on September 14th. Those home games are on artificial turf where they enjoy a huge home field advantage. Nebraska always fills in the holes nicely with top recruits at QB, but Jammal Lord will not be the equal of Crouch, at least not until the latter part of the year if at all. I am drifting a little so let us get back on track. OK, so this will be the first game of the year for Nebraska on grass coming off three weeks at home. It should come in as a small to medium favorite. I think not only is Penn State one of the ascending teams in the country, but they easily could be last year's Maryland. They open up against the UCF GOLDEN KNIGHTS, who will give them just enough of a test, and then have a bye week immediately after on September 7th. Now having one game under their belt and Joe having an extra week preparing his team, this is definitely one I have circled as a very possible play.

2. I like playing against a college team that has to travel for three consecutive weeks. It is not automatic, but I look at these spots extra close. I have found one even though it might put me against a team which I have also earmarked to have an exceptional season. The team is Texas Tech, but they have a stretch that could lead to a great letdown. They play at NEW MEXICO on Friday night, September 27th, then at TEXAS A&M on October 5th, and finally in Ames, Iowa, to take on IOWA STATE, October 12th. Not exactly Murderers' Row, but what will make me keep close tabs on these three games is the way it sets up. The first one is very winnable, but then they play A&M which should be an all-out effort by the AGGIES as last year they were shut out by Texas Tech 12-0. This should be a very intense game. Win or lose, Tech should exert a great amount of energy and then go up against a team which - although it is middle of the pack - has a great playmaker in Seneca Wallace. Tech could be walking into a hornets' nest. I would like it even better if Tech beats A&M since this would lead to even more of a letdown spot for Texas Tech. Also Tech is 7-16 SU after A&M.

These are just two games that I might play on using a look-ahead strategy.

So anything that you feel is relevant that might have some value down the road, just take a minute of your time and write it down someplace and check back week to week to see if something you saved is applicable. It does not take long for your effort to be worthwhile, to result in maybe one or two more winners in the course of the year. It is very easy to get lazy in this racket, but very fulfilling for those willing to put in the time and effort.

I will give you a few quick hits and in a few days come back with some pro spots, but these things show much better in the college game as opposed to the NFL.

QUICK HITS

Remember that with all the hype given Chris Simms and his leading Texas to be national champions, store this little nugget: he has started against four Top 10 ranked teams in his career and has lost all four. Twice to Oklahoma, and once to Oregon and Colorado. Now those are pretty good teams, but he has never kept the Longhorns in any of those games. Check out the stats for all four games: 61 out of 115 in passing but for only 161 yards a game. He has not thrown a TD in any of the four games, but has thrown 12 INTs.

The BCS is now in its fifth year and it still does not have it right, as they have once again changed some of the parameters. Talk about trial and error.

OHIO STATE will challenge for lots of titles this year but their offense is the side of the ball that has JIM TRESSEL concerned. But they might have the best college running back the Buckeyes have seen in quite some time. Remember this kid's name: MAURICE CLARRETT. Only a freshman, but he could solve a lot of their problems.

Toughest schedule in the country and there is not even a close second. USC first three games: AUBURN, COLORADO, KANSAS STATE … even before they get into conference play.

So, we will pick up the tempo as everyone is starting to come out of the woodwork for the best part of the year.

Stay smart, Jimmy V.

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