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Gamble-Tron 2020 is here!

Maybe we should call in Gamble-Tron Lite

Super Bowl LI Proposition Bets At The Westgate Las Vegas Race & Sports SuperBook Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Good morning, and a hearty “Welcome Back!” to college football. In case you’ve been living under a rock, you are definitely aware that our favorite sport made its 2020 debut on Saturday evening, with Central Arkansas taking on Austin Peay. Unimportant note: I’ve been to the Austin Peay campus and even got a t-shirt from the bookstore. Anyway, the lid-lifter on 2020 provided some late-game excitement.

If that weren’t enough, the Gamble-Tron is already on the board with its first win!

Woooooooo!

We should just hang it up now and quit while we’re unbeaten. But what fun would that be? So let’s cast an optimistic eye toward September and make a few season total predictions for teams who are still hoping to play. Sure it ain’t the Washington State Cougars, or even other Pac-12 teams for that matter, but it’s something, and at this point, “something” will do just fine.

There are lots of variables this season that weren’t present in every other year, particularly the largely conference-only schedules. Additionally, there’s always the chance that we’ll find out shortly before kick that the entire offensive line for some team will miss the next two weeks due to virus exposure. Makes things a bit more tricky! Whatevs, let’s go.

First up, the Mississippi State Bulldogs, who have a familiar face calling plays. Luckily we jumped on this one early, for reasons I’ll discuss later.

This has come down to four, so acting quickly should pay off. Lots of juice on the Under (-200!) but we are undeterred. If you believe the Bulldogs will win five or more, you can get +160.

We are painfully aware that Mike Leach’s system takes an enormous amount of repetitions (and a couple years worth of games and practices) to sink in. Now Leach is trying to get everything installed with no spring practice and an SEC-only schedule. One thing I totally forgot was that, in a classic “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” situation, K.J. Costello transferred to Starkville. Even so, the Bulldogs’ schedule includes at least five sure losses in the LSU Tigers (to open the season!), Texas A&M Aggies, Alabama Crimson Tide, Auburn Tigers and Georgia Bulldogs. At best, at best, the other five games could be considered tossups, and ain’t no way Leach is winning them all.

Verdict: Take it away, Cosmo Kramer!

Arkansas Razorbacks: 1.5 (Over +130/Under -160)

In case you haven’t been paying attention, the Razorbacks have been turrible lately. They tried to hire lots of people and ended up with Sam Pittman. While he could end up being a success in Fayetteville, it isn’t happening this year.

Verdict: Under

Texas A&M Aggies: 7 (Over/Under -115)

As much as I can’t stand A&M, I think they’ll be pretty solid this season, but only if Kellen Mond can find some semblance of consistency. Jimbo Fisher will need a couple more years to steer the Aggies in the wrong direction like he did at Florida State, so the Aggies should win at least seven.

Verdict: Over

Clemson Tigers: 10.5 (Over -125/Under -105)

Who beats Clemson? Maybe the Notre Dame Fighting Irish? Maybe the Virginia Tech Hokies? Clemson’s biggest threat this season is a Trevor Lawrence quarantine.

Verdict: Over

Notre Dame Fighting Irish: 8.5 (Over -150/Under +120)

Like Clemson, the Irish are supposed to play 11 games, including a non-conference game. I don’t know if Ian Book is any good, but I do know that the ACC is steaming garbage for the most part, and Notre Dame should be able to eke out nine wins.

Verdict: Over

Louisville Cardinals: 7 (Over -105/Under -125)

Man, the folks at the casinos are some true Scott Satterfield believers, and rightfully so. Satterfield took the ash heap left by Bobby Petrino and turned it into a bowl team. Add to that the ACC’s continued tire fire status, and the Cards should get to seven.

Verdict: Over (Man, lots of overs in the ACC! What could go wrong?!)

North Carolina Tar Heels: 7.5 (Over -140/Under +110)

I looked at the UNC schedule before I looked at the total, and saw at least eight likely wins. We’re already over the total at that point! If they win one of the tossups, we might be collecting long before the season ends.

Verdict: Over

Baylor Bears: 6 (Over +110/Under -140)

And thus endeth our Overs streak. Baylor is gonna win seven of nine? With a new coach? After winning five one-score games in 2019? Nope

Verdict: Under

Oklahoma Sooners: 8.5 (Over/Under -115)

The Sooners are, far and away, the most talented team in that conference. They might lose one game (possibly to the Texas Longhorns or Iowa State) but they ain’t losing any more. Then again, maybe Spencer Rattler stinks, and the Sooner Schooner collapses. The biggest threat to the Over? That would be Alex Grinch and his #SpeedD.

Verdict: Over

Oklahoma State Cowboys: 7 (Over -125/Under -105)

The preseason #1 in the OANN Top 25 should be pretty good, and hopefully Davontavean Martin is the breakout star.

Verdict: Over

Kansas Jayhawks: 2.5 (Over +115/Under -145)

I’m far too lazy to look it up, but I’m willing to bet that Kansas hasn’t had a preseason win total this high in at least five years. Now, with fewer games on the slate, and only one non-conference softie, Les Miles is supposed to get three wins? Not on my watch.

Verdict: Under

All that said - or written in this case - I will happily go 0-for the slate if it means we get a full college football season. Only a couple more weeks to go!

Football

Canzano: Pac-12 layoffs and furloughs pass over commissioner Larry Scott ... somehow - oregonlive.com
Commissioner needs massive pay reduction.

The Pac-12 canceled the 2020 football season before it had to.
The conference made the call when it did because of the training camp schedule. But that schedule left it little room to monitor coronavirus throughout the region.

Second Rose Bowl an intriguing option for a championship if college football played in spring 2021 - CBSSports.com
If the Big Ten and Pac-12 play this spring, a second Rose Bowl would make a ton of sense.

This Week in Parenting

The boys wanted to watch a little YouTube before bed the other night, so I dialed up some AC-130 footage. After a few minutes, the eight year-old said, “This is boring. Can we watch some A-10 footage?” Well then.

We had a birthdate (NOT BIRTHDAY, BIRTHDATE AND YES I WILL DIE ON THIS HILL) in the Kendall house this week, as the oldest boy turned 12. In sports terms, he made his debut one day before Paul Wulff’s 2008 Cougars made theirs. Not exactly like being born into a ‘Bama family back then. We were doing a video call with my folks, and he told them that he’s 63.5 inches tall and 100 pounds. My mom somehow dug up my stats from when I was 12, and I beat him by an inch, coming in at 645. However, I also had him by (gulp) 25 pounds. Moving right along.

After a trip to the Lego Store, it was time to open presents. He was quite excited to get a Monopoly version of what is probably his favorite date in history. This likely signals the end of fights over Holland Library and Martin Stadium when the boys play Wazzuopoly, and will instead introduce fights over Utah Beach and Pointe du Hoc.

He also got something he’s been pining for since we got here, his very own metal detector.

12 going on 72.

We had some friends over for cake, and Mrs. Kendall seized the opportunity to have some actual adult time, mostly since her husband tends to act like a teenager. Everyone left around midnight, and we were trying to get the kids to bed. After one admonition to pick up the pace, the eight year-old shouted, “We’re taking our clothes off for God’s sake!” Mrs. Kendall had to roll in on that one, because I was too busy laughing.

Book Club

Finally finished The Great Influenza this week, and man, it will stick with me. I highly encourage you to read the book. If you can’t find the time, swing by a Barnes and Noble or a Borders (do those still exist?) and take 30 minutes to read Chapter 29 and the Afterword. The book closes with the following passage, which rang true in 1918 and still does today.

So the final lesson of 1918, a simple one yet one most difficult to execute, is that those who occupy positions of authority must lessen the panic that can alienate all within a society. Society cannot function if it is every man for himself. By definition, civilization cannot survive that.

Those in authority must retain the public’s trust. The way to do that is to distort nothing, to put the best face on nothing, to try to manipulate no one. Lincoln said that first, and best.

A leader must make whatever horror exists concrete. Only then will people be able to break it apart.

Next up: A biography of Roman General Scipio Africanus

Unsolicited Podcast Recommendation(s)

I stumbled across a podcast called Deep Cover a couple weeks ago, a story about an FBI agent in Detroit who pulls the string on one of the country’s biggest drug rings. It is quite compelling, if a bit apocryphal. If you listened to the Wind of Change podcast, there is a direct link that surfaces in Episode 5. Small world.

Also, at the recommendation of one of my bosses, I listened to Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast episode called The Limits of Power. It’s an excerpt from one of his books, and it is strikingly analogous to both the relationship between black Americans and the police, and the U.S. military’s counterinsurgency efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Beer

Best beer I had this week: Celebrated my kiddo’s entry into his final preteen year with The Bruery’s Black Tuesday. It was a long process to kill this one (750ml and 19% ABV), but every sip was sublime.

BrewDog Is Officially The First Carbon Negative Beer Business
The Scottish multinational brewery and pub chain announced yesterday it became carbon negative, which makes it the world’s first international beer business to reach this status.

Non-Sports

The Pandemic Ruined Back-to-School Traditions - The Atlantic
Missing out on fall traditions—even the stressful ones—can make uncertain times harder to bear for kids and grown-ups alike.