The Pigskin Profit – A Bettors Guide to Shameless Marginal Wealth (Week 1)


A black-cloud gambler tells his friend, “I’ve given up betting on games – done. I studied pro football 24/7 and still got creamed. I bet college football and it was all losers, week after week. In the winter I tried to win it back with NBA and college basketball. A disaster. I’m telling you, man, I’m finished.”

The friend asks, “Well, what about the NHL?”

“No, can’t do that,” the gambler says. “I don’t know anything about hockey.”

This is a page for investors with an occasional sense of humor. The goal is to win a lot more than we lose. Surgeons and snake-handlers have similar aspirations.

The typical mix will be around 55-45 college-pro, but since the NFL doesn’t get moving until next Thursday, the collegians have this week’s forecast all to themselves. No filler picks here, only the action I feel strongly about. The quality-over-quantity standard. Or, as they say in the old country, No man should plant more garden than his wife can hoe.

 SOUTH CAROLINA (-10.5) over Texas A&M: Aggies bled points a year ago, allowing 40-plus too many times. Then Johnny Football would then come on and chuck it up for grabs and somehow get ‘em back in it. Now it’s Kenny Football at quarterback – sophomore Kenny Hill. Not quite the same ring to it.

Carolina wincing from big losses on D-line, but offense full of experienced people who can keep the scoreboard clicking. ‘Cocks won’t run away here, but they’ll eventually pull away from an A&M team still finding its offensive legs.

Question: Why hasn’t Spurrier ever landed a real hotshot QB prospect, the five-star big gun? And despite all that offensive know-how, he’s never had a passer drafted in the first round, either. All of his quarterbacks look the same, even back to the Florida days. A parade of clones, including this year’s Xerox, Dylan Thompson. Hey, just asking.

Central Florida (-1.5) over Penn State: Burdened Nittanies on their third coach in four years after eons of stability. Roster depth remains a tremendous problem. Still, PSU a very live team behind big Christian Hackenberg, the Big 10’s slickest passer.

“We want to keep it real simple; we just want someone who can execute and move the chains.” Sounds like an old Paterno quote, but it’s UCF head man George O’Leary talking about his unsettled quarterback situation. For now it’s Pete DiNovo, who’s yet to gun his first collegiate pass. Still, if Knights can limit the turnovers and QB jitters, they have enough flair to take down the Lions for second year in a row.

GEORGIA (-7.5) over Clemson: Clemson exhaling after its greatest bowl performance since ’81 national title game. Teams similar in many places…untested senior QBs, spongy veteran defenses, unsettled offensive lines, etc. Okay, ‘Dawgs run it better, but the biggest difference? Georgia quicker at restocking the roster. Off-balance Tigers could get blown out of the building.

Florida State (-17.5) over Oklahoma State: I saw a sour grapes ad in one of those college preview magazines, the Big 12 proudly boasting how it operates with no divisions and no conference title game.

“Ten teams. Nine games. One true champion.” What a laugh. They’d balloon to 14 schools in a heartbeat, if they could find enough respectable warm bodies willing to join.

This year’s Cowboys are athletic but shaky at QB, offensive line. Defense swelling with new faces. Stacked Seminoles have their ’13 rings and are ready for another charge at the national title. They’ll get it rolling in a howler.

Miami of Fla. (+3.5) over LOUISVLLE: The Cards were a run-it-up operation during the first Petrino era. His second term opens with eleven returning starters but an unused soph (Will Gardner) at QB. Receivers deep, but still not quite the run-it-up formula Bobby P’s looking for.

Miami defense an embarrassment over second half of last season, including 36 points allowed to Louisville in a bowl rout. Hurricanes lose their top quarterback to offseason drug findings and the oddsmakers don’t blink. Which means they think Canes-Cards will be settled by people other than the quarterbacks.

Tom Danyluk joins NFL Spin Zone after nine years as a columnist with Pro Football Weekly. He is an award-winning freelance writer and author of “The Super ‘70s,” which you can purchase on Questions or comments? Please contact Tom at