On May 14 of this year, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, which prohibited sports gambling across this beautiful country, except for the state of Nevada which was granted the exception to legalize gambling of all kinds in the spring of 1931 in order to combat the great depression and also to be able to fund the Hoover Dam.
For a degenerate gambler like myself, the 14th of May was like Christmas morning.
Now states are allowed to decide for themselves whether they want to legalize gambling, and Arizona is one of the states that is looking to take advantage of the financial boom that sports betting can create, with Arizona governor Doug Ducey even coming out on his personal Twitter account and making a statement saying that he intends to do just that in the near future.
“This is positive news. We have been working on a modernized gaming compact. This ruling gives Arizona options that could benefit our citizens and our general fund,” said Ducey.
In light of the new laws that have been established in this country, I am going to be writing and putting out a weekly gambling column in part celebration of May 14, but also because I simply couldn’t waste a column title like “Skinner’s Winners” — I would have regretted it for the rest of my life and for a guy that carries his past mistakes with him like it’s his job, I couldn’t risk it.
But in semi-seriousness, there are few things in this world that I love more than college football, and with it teasingly around the corner, I couldn’t think of a better reason to kick off my column with fall camps all across the nation underway.
RELATED: Arizona football fall camp preview
The layout for my column will include some sort of intro that you will probably end up just scrolling past, then I will lay out my five picks of the week, which will include college football, NFL, and college basketball and NBA in a few months. I'll have five new picks every week this fall, usually posted on Wednesday or Thursday before the weekend slate of games kick off.
Vegas released their over/under total wins for all 129 college football teams in June, and I will be basing my picks this week off of what they initially released. I'm picking whether I think these five teams will exceed or fall under the number given by Vegas, which is called an over/under bet. Just a reminder that these lines could change with injuries or coaching changes (looking at you Urban) in the next couple weeks. My five this week:
1. Clemson: 11 wins (Over – Even, Under – 120)
All Dabo Sweeney seems to do these days is recruit the southeast part of our country as well as Nick Saban, and meet Nick Saban in the CFB Playoff every year. Sweeney has put to rest every notion that this Clemson program is some sort of flash in the pan who won due to their transcendent quarterback in DeShaun Watson. Sweeney has reloaded year after year, bringing in top-five recruiting classes the last four years. They aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. On top of the loaded squad, conference rivals Florida State (O/U 7.5 wins) are going through a coaching change, and with Mark Richt’s crippling inability to win any sort of big game ever, Clemson is sitting pretty. I just don’t see a scenario where they don’t reach the 12-win mark again this year. Hammer the over.
2. Iowa: 7.5 wins (Over – Even, Under – 120)
In the years upon years of watching early morning Big 10 games, I have learned exactly one thing: never underestimate the Iowa Hawkeyes. Kirk Ferentz has made himself a fortune by winning 8-9 games every year when nobody expected him to, relying on the fortress that is Kinnick Stadium to knock off bigger and more talented teams, with last year’s drubbing of Ohio State a great example. The Hawkeyes are never at the top end of recruiting rankings, usually filling their roster with home-state kids and eager and passionate walk-ons who grew up dreaming of wearing the black and gold. Seven-and-a-half games just seems really low to me, and don’t tell me that they don’t have a quarterback, or elite skill position guys, they always find a way to win tough games, and that is instilled in that program. They take pride in grinding it out, and I think they will do exactly that and win 8 or 9 games, just like how Kirk Ferentz likes it. Over all day long.
3. Georgia: 10.5 wins (Over – 115, Under – 105)
Similar to Dabo who resides just 72 miles to the northeast, Kirby Smart has in a few short years turned a Georgia team that lost almost two entire recruiting classes (2012 and 2013) to transfers, team dismissals, and chronic underperformance (like Under All-American Quarterback Bryce Ramsey who ended up switching positions entirely during his career in Athens, becoming the first team punter. Yes, punter.) into a program that is bringing in the No. 1 overall recruiting class, that includes seven, I repeat, seven five-star recruits. Which will be a nice addition to a team that was a blown coverage away from their first national title since 1980. The Dawgs are also bringing back starting quarterback back Jake Fromm, while freshman Justin Fields backs him up. Fields stepped on campus early this past January after being ranked the number 2 overall prospect in his class according to multiple recruiting outlets. What I am trying to say is that ever since Kirby Smart moved back to Athens, he has turned a roster that was bordering on bankruptcy, into one that is bordering on being an embarrassment of riches. And with Kirby’ first couple recruiting classes turning into upper classmen, this team has a chance to not only match last year's Rose Bowl winning team, but be even better, possibly raising that awkward gold pylon that the NCAA calls a National Championship trophy on the second week of January. Put your mortgage on the over, Kirby isn’t letting you down.
4. Miami: 10 wins (Over – Even, Under – 120)
We all had a fun couple weeks last season with Miami. The turnover chain, “The U” being “back”, then the Notre Dame game. Where Mark Richt’s squad looked like shades of the Butch Davis Hurricane teams of the early 2000’s which oozed swagger, talked incredible amounts of trash, and then back it up relentlessly. We all got a tad ahead of ourselves, as Miami fell apart, and like I mentioned in my Clemson pick above, Mark Richt’s ability to lose in the most heartbreaking and mind-bending ways isn’t going to all of a sudden evaporate into the humid Miami air, with Miami falling away late in the season. You can always count on at least two losses of these kind with Richt. One heartbreaking loss to a mid-level conference foe, then the soul crushing upset late in the season that officially puts your team in the Gator Bowl. Smart money is on the under, don’t let Richt break your heart and your bank account.
5. Arizona 7.5 wins (Over – 120, Under – Even)
With the return of potential Heisman trophy winner Khalil Tate taking over the reins of Kevin Sumlin’s offense, Arizona’s already high octane offense has the potential to put up video game type numbers on Pac-12 foes this year. With the home slate favoring the Wildcats, with USC, Oregon, and ASU all being played in Tucson, the ‘Cats could seriously improve on the 7-win season that took place last year. An extremely young and undersized defense struggled mightily last year, giving up almost 35 points a game to opponents, leaving a huge burden on Tate to keep it a slug fest. That shouldn’t be the case this year, as the more experienced defense returns with the same defensive coordinator as last year, Marcel Yates. Who was campaigned by Arizona players in the off-season to be kept by Sumlin. He was brought back, and he’s eager to show his new boss that it was the right decision. I just can’t see any situation where Arizona regresses, or doesn’t improve on last year's team. With Tate having an entire off-season named as the starter, I think he is primed for a season of the ages and I think nine or ten wins isn’t out of the picture. If I could put my entire financial aid refund on the over, I’d do it.
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