Wiz of Odds: College coaches who will run up the score

Sep 22, 2010 |
Jay Christensen covered college football, among other sports, for the Los Angeles Times and produces the popular college football blog TheWizofOdds.com.

College football has never been a gentleman's game. Coaches with an opportunity to have their quarterback take a knee in the final minute to close out a victory often prefer to put a knee on the throat of the opponent in an attempt to run up the score.

Who could forget that fateful October day in 1916, when Cumberland College came rolling into Grant Field in Atlanta to play the Georgia Tech Engineers, coached by none other than the legendary John Heisman.

Cumberland's baseball team had inflicted an embarrassing 22-0 loss on Georgia Tech that spring, and now it was time for revenge. The Engineers scored early and often, rolling to a 63-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. When they blew the final whistle, Georgia Tech had won, 222-0.

That's right, if you took Cumberland and 221 points, you lost.

Despite the margin, the Engineers were far from perfect. They missed two extra points and coaches being coaches, Heisman probably complained afterward about the play of his special teams.

Coaches have been running up the score since before you and I were born. So if you're aghast over what has transpired the first three weeks of this season, get used to it. There are plenty of reasons coaches are issuing mission statements, beginning with the BCS.

The people who run big-time college football say the margin of victory has been stripped as a component of the BCS, but that's a big, fat lie. Two-thirds of the BCS standings come from the human element - voters in the coaches and Harris polls. Those voters take note when a team buries an opponent and covers the spread.

Today we're going to take a look at four coaches who not only will run it up when given the opportunity in 2010, but have the horses to pull it off. I'll give you the reason for doing so and why you, the bettor need not fear when you go to the window, lay the points and take the favored team.

Chip Kelly, Oregon

Oregon coach Chip Kelly. (Getty)
The Ducks have scored 189 points in 180 minutes in racing to a 3-0 start. Against once-mighty Tennessee in Knoxville, the Ducks scored 45 unanswered points.

Clearly, Kelly wanted voters in the Southeastern Conference to be made aware of the powerhouse team he has in Eugene. It worked because Florida, one of the team's jockeying for poll position with Oregon, scored only 31 last Saturday against Tennessee.

If Kelly's team keeps winning, look for the coach to pour it on against UCLA on Oct. 21. It's a Thursday night game and the Ducks will be playing before a national TV audience.

Chris Petersen, Boise State

Boise State coach Chris Petersen. (Getty)
The Broncos scored an impressive victory over Virginia Tech in the opener, then the Hokies lost to James Madison. Outside of Saturday's game against Oregon State and a Nov. 26 matchup against Nevada, Boise State won't have many opportunities to impress voters.

The sure way would be to pound outclassed Western Athletic Conference opponents. Petersen can basically name the score in several upcoming games and look for the Broncos to roll up some huge victories.

Gary Patterson, Texas

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