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Thursday, Jan 5

   by Larry Ness - 01/05/2006

Here's the simple strategy all sports bettors SHOULD have employed over the recently completed 2005-06 bowl season. Rule No. 1 was to take any underdog of six or more points. That would have produced a record of 13-1 ATS, as only Louisville (at plus-9 1/2) failed to cover in that pointspread range in the Gator Bowl (lost 35-24 to Va Tech). That's a winning percentage of 92.9 percent.

Also, one should have played each and every one of those 'dogs' on the moneyline, as EIGHT of the 13 pointspread winners also won their games SU. Lastly, all sports bettors should have blindly played each bowl game 'over' the total, as 19 of the 28 games went over, for a winning percentage of 67.9 percent. See how easy it COULD have been?

BIG conference or SMALL, the money is GREEN either way when you WIN! I have two HUGE Conference Games of the Month on Thursday. One in the Horizon League and the other in the Big-10. Get them BOTH, right now. My free play for Thursday is Hofstra minus-the-points hosting James Madison at 7:00 ET.

The national championship game turned into a "classic", after a very slow start. Looking back, Reggie Bush is lucky the Heisman voters voted prior to this game, as it's difficult to imagine anyone NOT voting for Vince Young off his 467-yard performance last night. After Bush's bone-headed lateral cost USC a chance to go up 14-0 in the early second quarter, he was hardly a factor in the game. Pete Carroll's decision to go for it on 4th-and-one at the Texas 17-yard line (up 7-0), was an early momentum-changer as well.

Opponents of instant-replay have to be hiding their heads this morning, as the system still has many flaws. "They" got it right on the second-quarter interception of Leinart at the goal line but never reviewed (why?) the play in which Young (whose knee was CLEARLY DOWN around the 10!) had pitched back to a trailing Selvin Young for a TD that put the Longhorns up 9-7. Then, in the most egregious error of the night, the "guys in the booth" failed to rule that Texas' Jamaal Charles had caught the ball (plus made a football move) and then fumbled. Rather, they upheld the incomplete ruling on the field! At the time, USC led 31-23 (about 11 minutes left), and would have had the ball around the Texas 40-yard line.

In the end though, USC saw it's 34-game winning streak snapped plus lost its chance at an unprecedented third consecutive national title, when it couldn't convert on a 4th-and-two play from the Texas 45 with just over two minutes remaining. In four previous second-half possessions, USC had TD drives of (7-62), (9-74), (9-80) and (4-81).

In tonight's NBA, TNT features a doubleheader, but it's hardly ready-for-primetime material. The Rockets are in Cleveland where the Cavs are favored by 7 1/2 points and the total is 191 1/2. In the nightcap, the Pacers visit Denver, where the Nuggets are favored by eight with a total of 196.

College basketball's 46-game schedule is highlighted by ESPN2's tripleheader of games, beginning at 7:00 ET. In the opener, it's a Big East clash with 9-0 Villanova visiting 11-1 Louisville ('Cats are a three-point favorite with a total of 143 1/2). Next up is the Big-10, where 12-2 Michigan St visits 14-0 Illinois (Illini are favored by 6 1/2 with a total of 137). At 11:00 ET (if you are still up), 12-1 Air Force hosts 8-3 BYU in a MWC contest. The "Flyboys" are 6 1/2 -point favorites with a total of 121.

An NFL season recap plus wild card coverage will be the major focus of Friday's Saturday's and Sunday's Ness Notes. Ness Notes are available by 1:00 ET Monday through Friday and 7:00 ET on Saturday and Sunday.

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