Early college football opinions and predictions

Stephen Nover - Experience, knowledge and contacts spell long term profit

Can we take a small break from NBA playoffs, baseball and American Idol to talk a little college football?

Yeah, I know it’s only May. But there are gamblers who specialize year-round on college football. Arne Lang is one such bettor. He’s been intensely analyzing each conference and board team the past several months.

Lang, a gaming author and former Sunday night host of the Stardust Line, was kind enough to share some of his early opinions on this coming college season.

Here are some quick thoughts and predictions:

Look for South Carolina and its new coach, Steve Spurrier, to be a money-burner for bettors early in the season. It wouldn’t be surprising if the linesmaker shades the Gamecocks upward early knowing how much the betting public likes to wager on Spurrier’s team making them overvalued.

“I don’t like Spurrier’s talent at all,” Lang said about South Carolina. “It seems he has a bunch of bad eggs and square pegs for round holes. He has a strategy well suited to the college game, but he still needs the horses to pull his plow. I don’t think he has many.”

There will be tremendous parity in the Big Ten Conference

“The obvious choices are Michigan and Ohio State because of their pedigrees,” Lang said. “But I could easily build a case for Purdue. I think Penn State could go to an important bowl game if the quarterbacks don’t screw up.”

Lange believes Joe Paterno, in his 40th season as head man at Penn State, would be better off starting freshman Anthony Morelli instead of the more experienced Michael Robinson at quarterback.

“He looked good in the spring,” Lang said of Robinson. “But he always chokes come the fall.”

Nebraska will come back from a 5-6 season, its first losing mark in 43 years.

JUCO quarterback Zac Taylor looked awesome in the Cornhuskers’ spring game completing 20-of-27 for 357 yards before halftime, and some believe, including Lang, Nebraska had the No. 1 recruiting class.

“The thing that blew me away about Nebraska is that 63,000 turned out for the spring game on a day where it rained in the morning,” Lang said. “That was 3,000 more than last year. I’d like to think that for many people in Nebraska the romance is over with football, but the evidence is completely to the contrary.”

Florida and LSU will be the class of the Southeastern Conference.

“I like Florida a lot and Les Miles (who replaced Saban) is a good coach,” Lang said. “He’s a lot like (Nick) Saban. He hires good people and puts them in charge. He’s more of an overseer.”

Louisville comes into the Big East this season and easily will capture the conference

“There’s probably no team in the country that’s a lock to winning their league than Louisville,” Lang said. “The rest of the conference looks down with the exception of Pittsburgh.”

Notre Dame will be bad again this season despite hiring respected Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis as its new head coach

“Weis won’t turn it around,” Lang said. “He doesn’t have anything. The only way it can happen is if Notre Dame compromises its academic standards. That’s the only way.”

The Trojans of Southern Cal are the Patriots of the NFL, having had four assistant coaches move on to new jobs. One of these is highly-respected offensive coordinator Norm Chow, now with the Tennessee Titans.

“The big question about USC isn’t about personnel, but the turnover in the coaching staff,” Lang said.

Utah quarterback Alex Smith is the riskiest overall No. 1 draft pick since Aundray Bruce went first in the 1988 draft

Smith has great intangibles, but operated a spread option offense. No NFL team runs this type of offense.

“There’s nothing like it in the NFL,” Lang said. “I like the guy, but what a risk. Nobody has really pointed out how risky taking this guy so high is.”

Texas finally will beat Oklahoma in the Red River Shootout.

The Sooners have beaten the Longhorns every year since 2000, including 12-0 last season. That was the first time Texas has been held scoreless since 1980. Bob Stoops’ Sooners have defeated Mack Brown’s Longhorns by an average score of 37-10 the past five years.

“When Mack Brown matches up against Stoops it’s like me shooting pool against Willie Mosconi,” Lange said. “But Texas finally will knock off Oklahoma.”

Stephen Nover is a professional handicapper with Covers Experts.

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