Offered here purely for their entertainment value, the first college football betting lines of the season are out (at least on one online site).
Getting right to the important stuff: Arizona is a 7-point favorite for its opener at home against BYU on Sept. 2.
The Wildcats are universally regarded as a team on the rise, but, at first glance, the opening spread is a bit too wide.
The Cougars, who squeaked into a bowl game last season, have a dynamic offense, with All-Mountain West candidates at quarterback (John Beck), running back (Curtis Brown) and tight end (Jonny Harline), all of them seniors.
BYU’s defense won’t be as strong, with only four returning starters, but the problem for UA’s staff is that the Cougars will be a mystery.
BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall was a disciple of the 3-3-5 defense that has been the rage in the Mountain West recently.
But the Cougars scrapped that scheme in the offseason, leaving UA coaches a bit in the dark as they prepare a game plan.
It seems as if many UA fans are already putting the BYU game into the win column and pointing toward a potential upset when USC comes to Arizona Stadium on Sept. 23.
Bless the optimism.
The Cats appear to have the goods to be bowl-eligible, but the opener against BYU is the kind of swing game that makes such postseason goodness possible. Seven points right now looks like too much.
Around the Pacific-10 Conference on opening weekend, California is listed as a 2 1/2-point favorite at Tennessee. That’s healthy respect for the Bears, even against a Volunteers team coming off a bowl-less season.
Again, purely for entertainment value (and realizing how the government frowns on online sports gambling), it’s interesting to note Auburn is only an 11-point favorite at home against Washington State.
Hmmm … So how do I sign up for one of those online accounts?
- Anthony Gimino
Kovalcheck has new start with Vanderbilt football
Former Arizona starting quarterback Richard Kovalcheck, aced out last season by true freshman Willie Tuitama, recently talked to Scout.com about his transfer to Vanderbilt.
“I feel like I’m just getting started,” he said. “I went through a bunch of different things at Arizona, both ups and downs, and at some times it was a difficult environment to play in. Here, it is a whole new opportunity.
“I’ve been working my tail off trying to turn myself into the best player I can be. I’m here, and I’m going to work as hard as I can to make the best of it.”
Through a change in NCAA rules, Kovalcheck, a graduate student, is able to be immediately eligible at Vanderbilt, which offered a master’s program that Arizona did not.
Kovalcheck started the first seven games last season before UA’s coaching staff turned to Tuitama. Kovalcheck will be competing for the starting job at Vandy, which lost first-round pick Jay Cutler.
Kovalcheck, who has two years of eligibility remaining, said back surgery in spring 2005 “didn’t really hamper my ability (last season).
“But it felt different – not normal. Whenever you have surgery, it just takes time to loosen up and feel really good.”
“My back feels great. I have no problems,” he said.
- Anthony Gimino
Sorenstam now one of us, except in Solheim Cup
Her blond hair, the accent and the uniform she wears at us-against-them golf tournaments such as the Solheim Cup say that ex-Wildcat Annika Sorenstam is Swedish.
But the three-time U.S. Women’s Open winner is an American citizen now, having been sworn in as a citizen last month in Orlando, Fla.
“I think it’s pretty funny how things happen, and the sequence they come in,” she told The Associated Press. “I don’t know if you can count this as my (national championship), but I’m a U.S. citizen and this is the championship of the USA.”
Sorenstam will have dual citizenship, and she still plans to play for Europe in the Solheim Cup.
“I’m still European at heart,” she said. “I’ve been over here for 16 years and I like it. This is where I spend my time, and the way I look at it, I’ll probably be here the rest of my life. So I thought (getting the dual citizenship) was the appropriate thing to do.”
Which brings up an interesting point.
If you count Sorenstam as a Swede, her win in the U.S. Open makes it eight consecutive majors won by international players, extending the longest U.S. drought in history.
But if you count her as an American, well, that streak is over.
– Dave Petruska