GREG GAMBLE’S 2008 PIGSKIN PICKS - 20-14 ATS...59%
NCAA: 9-2 - NFL: 5-8 - Teasers: 6-4 - Hotties: 113-0
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As a lifelong Southside fan, I don’t feel the slightest bit of guilt for not jumping on Ozzie’s bandwagon this year. As a realist more than dreamiest, with Carlos Quentin entering the season w/ 14 career HRs & a .230 average, rookie Alexei Ramirez looking more in need of calories than a starting job, and two young hurlers (2007: Gavin Floyd 1-5, 5.27 & John Danks 6-13, 5.50 that unexpectedly become staff aces, who in their right mind would have picked the Sox to win the Central.
And last night, what an atmosphere at US Cellular as the Black-Out theme was a touch of genius. While some think the Sox will be heading to Tropicana on fumes, the combination of playing with house-money and having plenty of veterans that were around during their World Series run makes this a dangerous team. In my opinion, if Javier can beat the Rays tonight, the Sox will beat the young kids from Tampa.
Just like being a fan of both the ba-donka-donk and “Wear-it-as-a-Hat”-azz, I’m one of the rare breeds that will be rooting for the Cubs unless they play Dewayne Wise & Co. That being said, I honestly believe the Northsiders have a much tougher opening round. To start, no matter what Sweet & Salty Lou says, the Cubs have a 100 years of pressure hanging over their head and vivid memories of last year’s playoff disaster. Throw-in a Dodgers line-up that might be the toughest 1 thru 4 order in the National league even if Rafael Furcal (.439 OB%) doesn’t start (Matt Kemp .290, 18 HR, 35 SB - Russell Martin .385 OB%, 13 HRs, - Manny MFin Rameriz – Andre Ethier .305, 20 HRs), veteran sluggers like Nomar & Kent waiting in the wings, and former Chicago speedsters Juan Pierre & Pablo Ozuna looking to reek havoc, tonight’s opener is a must win for Cubdom.
While Dempster has been lights-out in Wrigley this year, this is a whole new ballgame for the redhead and he’ll be toeing the rubber against a playoff tested vet in Derek Lowe…who btw, had his best season since 2002 (14-11, 3.24) and looked like Cy Young against the Cubs in two starts (14 innings & 3 ER while holding the Cubs to a .204 average). In my humble but correct opinion, the Cubs roll tonight if Ryan rolls through the 1st inning unscathed…if he doesn’t, expect to see the first round of tears from hotties and drunk fratboys in Wrigleyville.
With that, time to give you a few more lovely ladies and...
OHIIO STATE BUCKEYES (-1.5) @ WISCONSIN BADGERS
Since I’ve been a Buckeye hater for years, the fact that I love Ohio St. this weekend more than amateur night at the local “tuck-a-buck” is the reason I call this my “69-Star” lock of the year. With Beanie Wells back and looking fresher than ever & freshman phenom QB Terrelle Pryor (6-6, 235) already looking like a better version of Vince Young since taking over full-time (63 comp%, 5 TD, & 1 INT while rushing for 292 yards & 3 TDs), the Buckeyes will have the best two skill position players on the field Saturday Night. After choking like a blindfolded newbie at her first glory-hole experience against the Trojans, Tressel’s squad has looked dominate defensively against an underrated Golden Gopher squad (268 total yards) and made the important plays versus a strong Troy St. team (W 28-10). Throw-in the experience of already playing a huge game at USC and plenty of other important games under the lights the last few years, and the Buckeyes should be riled-up for some redemption for this ABC Nightcap.
As for the Badgers, after the demoralizing 2nd half against the Wolverines, tough to see how they have the moxy/confidence to impose their will on deep with just as much muscle up-front. In addition, with the bright-lights of a national televised Big Ten battle, my guess is Wisconsin struggles waiting all day for this contest. For all the talk of their huge accomplishment traveling to Fresno earlier in the year and pulling out the nighttime affair, they scored a measly 13 points as their one-dimensional attack stalled when they needed more the 5 yards on 3rd down. While Jr. RB P.J. Hill is a horse, teams have loaded the box of late and he’s struggled to find much room. Against an average defense in Minnesota last week P.J. only managed 70 yards on 22 carries (3.2 avg), while Sr. handoff specialist Allan Evridge (58 comp%, 4 TD, 3 INT) plays with mindset of simply not making the big mistake.
While the Badgers defense looked stout against the freshman-laden Wolverines, preparing for duel-talent of Terrelle Pryor is something nobody in the Big Ten is ready for….especially since he’s only really played one full game with Beanie. I expect Wisconsin to stack the line early to prevent the big gashes from Beanie, but as a result, look for the subtle trackstar speed from Terrelle to find plenty of LB/S thinking they have an angle before her turns the corner for at least three 30+ big runs. And as Bret Bielema makes adjustments at halftime to shadow the phenom, Beanie Wells explodes for a backbreaking 3rd quarter TD scamper to ruin the party in Madison.
Final Score: BUCKEYES 31 BADGERS 20