May 31, 2006

Irish, Sooners among early favorites for BCS title

The song says: "What though the odds be great or small, Old Notre Dame will win over all."

Well, Las Vegas says the odds are pretty good the Irish will win it all in 2007.

Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Ohio State have been named early favorites with 6-to-1 odds to win the championship. Southern Cal is 8-to-1. Defending national champion Texas is 11-to-1.

Like it or not – and it's been well chronicled that the NCAA doesn't like it – betting on college football is a billion-dollar business. That's why a fan imploring his team to cover is not necessarily referring to pass defense.

Yeah, celebrating championships is wonderful. Cashing in on them is even better.

Now, we at do not encourage gambling or speeding or double parking or nail-biting, so we pass along the Las Vegas odds only for entertainment purposes.

Frankly, I've been entertained by them a few times over the years.

It was way back in 1981 during a discussion about football when J.B., a one-eyed co-worker, mentioned he had an acquaintance with a tremendous interest in football.

His name, I asked? J.B. shook his head. That wasn't important. But if I was interested in placing a bet J.B. could hook me up.

Although I was a sheltered 19-year-old at the time, I knew his acquaintance was a bookie and placing bets was illegal. After all, this was Longview, Texas, not Las Vegas, so my reaction was quick and predictable.

Hook me up.

And wouldn't you know my first wager was a winning $25 bet on a three-team parlay that paid off $150, which was about a week's pay back then.

About a week or two later, J.B.'s acquaintance got that $150 back plus a little more, but I was single and the disposable income had to go somewhere, right?

The Favorites
The favorites to win the BCS title game in January, 2007, according to
Team Odds
Notre Dame 6-to-1
Oklahoma 6-to-1
Ohio State 6-to-1
Southern Cal 8-to-1
West Virginia 9-to-1
Florida 10-to-1
LSU 11-to-1
Texas 11-to-1
Florida State 14-to-1
Miami (Fla.) 16-to-1
Over the years I continued to make a few wagers here and there until I got married. Soon, that disposable income was spent on disposable diapers. You don't – or shouldn't – risk money when a mortgage payment is due each month.

That's especially true this year. Take a closer look at the Vegas odds-makers' favorites.

Notre Dame should be scary on offense with quarterback Brady Quinn, running back Darius Walker and receiver Jeff Samardzija, but the Irish have all kinds of defensive issues.

Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson is a tremendous running back and quarterback Rhett Bomar figures to be vastly improved, but they're behind an uncertain offensive line.

Troy Smith, Ted Ginn and Antonio Pittman give Ohio State a high-octane offense, but its defense – which lost nine starters, including several to the NFL draft – might be running on fumes.

USC doesn't have a proven quarterback or running back and its defense wasn't overwhelming last year when it had Frostee Rucker and Darnell Bing. They're gone now.

Texas doesn't have Vince Young.

Risking hard-earned money on teams with unsettled issues like these just doesn't make sense. Next season appears so wide open that teams like 70-to-1 Clemson or 80-to-1 Boston College are as good a bet as any.

Hmm… yes they are.

I wonder where J.B. is now? Or more importantly, I wonder where his acquaintance is.

Kovalcheck to Vanderbilt?
Quarterback Richard Kovalcheck, who left Arizona following the 2005 season after losing the starting job to freshman Willie Tuitama, is transferring to Vanderbilt, according to a published report.

The City Paper in Nashville reported that Kovalcheck, who has two years eligibility remaining, will enroll as a graduate student studying health care administration.

Kovalcheck started 11 games in two seasons at Arizona, but last season threw 11 interceptions in the first seven games which led to his demotion.

He is immediately eligible at Vanderbilt because he graduated from Arizona in three years and Arizona did not have his post-graduate program.

Sanchez case clearing up?
The case of USC quarterback Mark Sanchez, who last month was accused but not charged with sexual assault, may be coming to an end this week.

The Los Angeles Daily News reported that three students other than Sanchez and his accuser were in his apartment the night of the incident and are expected to support Sanchez's version of events.

Sanchez, who is competing with John David Booty to be the Trojans' starting quarterback, is attending summer school at USC. He cannot work out with the football team under terms of his interim suspension by student affairs.

Night time not the right time?
Ohio State's national appeal is causing some concern for Buckeyes fans.

The Buckeyes have lost their last four night games, but because they're such a huge draw ESPN and ABC want to televise their games in prime time.

Last year's game against Texas at Ohio Stadium reached more than 7 million homes. Ohio State's game at Penn State reached 4.4 million.

"Those are stratospheric numbers," ESPN executive Dave Brown told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "That's like running a 9.77 100 (meter dash). It's a huge number."

Ohio State prefers to play home games in the afternoon but has evening kickoffs for road games against Texas on Sept. 9 and Iowa on Sept. 30.

Olin Buchanan is the senior national college football writer for, and he files his national notebook every Wednesday. To send him a question or comment for his Friday Mailbag, email him at [email protected].

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