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Did Las Vegas lose its mind?

And the BCS won’t just get broken, it will be annihilated

October 7, 2008

Maybe someone in Las Vegas knows something that I don't, but can anyone tell me why the Browns are getting just 7 1/2 points in their Monday night contest against the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants?

This game will define how the rest of Cleveland's season will go.

They don't have to win, but if they can at least look respectable and compete, it would mean the world to a team whose only win came thanks to a Carson Palmer-less Bengals squad.

While the Giants (4-1) have mauled opponents the likes of Seattle and St. Louis, they just got by Cincinnati and fell to a much-improved Washington squad.

Still, Eli Manning has to be salivating when he thinks of coming to Cleveland, and it has nothing to do with a brat smothered in Stadium Mustard.

Cleveland is a squad on the verge of disarray.

The Browns defense is ranked 15th, but that's largely in part to performances against the anemic offenses of Baltimore and Cincinnati.

Derek Anderson barely holds the starting quarterback slot and likely won't after he faces the No. 3 defense in the league, and head coach Romeo Crennel has no answers, no remedies, not even the slightest clue how to manage what once was a promising team.

The 7 1/2 point line has to be an effort to convince the gambling public that something's up, and to go against the obvious choice, the Giants to maul the Browns and easily cover the spread.

I'm not buying it. This Monday is the day that everything starts over in Cleveland. It's going to take a total embarrassment set the wheels in motion, and Eli Manning is ready to pad his stats against another terrible team.

I'm a believer

Pittsburgh rallied its way past Jacksonville Sunday night - impressively I might add. Ben Roethlisberger played through the pain, Mewelde Moore filled in nicely in the running back slot, and the Steelers head into their bye week 4-1 ready to recooperate.

Pittsburgh seems to play to the level of its opponent, and when they do return on Oct. 19 at Cincinnati, I wouldn't be surprised to see yet another single digit win. But style points don't matter in the NFL, and the AFC is up for grabs.

The Steelers defense will keep them in every game, and if Roethlisberger stays healthy, it's very probable the Steel City will be gearing up for another run at the Super Bowl.

Singing the Bucks' praises

As painful as it is for me to admit, the Ohio State Buckeyes are going to be a serious threat in the future with Terrelle Pryor. Pryor showed no signs of freshman jitters on the road leading his team to a 20-17 win over Wisconsin. He looked just the opposite in fact, that of a seasoned veteran. The comparisons to Vince Young are certainly founded, and with really only Penn State in their way, the Buckeyes could be gearing up for a Big Ten title and a Rose Bowl rematch with Southern California.

I don't like Ohio State. I don't like the Big Ten, period. But Pryor is something special, and Jim Tressel did exactly the right thing by moving him into the starting slot. By doing so he's taken the Buckeyes from what could've been a lame duck situation with Todd Boeckman and turned it all into a positive spark for his team.

Undefeateds galore

The BCS may have a serious problem at the end of the regular season. Forget one BCS buster, there's a whole gang of them.

Assuming these squads don't have a massive meltdown, Boise State, Ball State, Tulsa and BYU or Utah could all go unbeaten in the regular campaign.

Boise is as close to a lock as there is with only a home contest with Fresno State Nov. 22 looming like a possible threat. The Broncos have owned the Bulldogs, who rally to play bigger non-conference opponents but never seem to be able to handle the WAC.

Ball State plays only MAC opponents the rest of the slate; same with Utah in the Mountain West.

Only Tulsa plays a larger school in Arkansas on Nov. 1, but the Razorbacks have looked paltry at best with a 2-3 record with wins over Western Illinois and Louisiana-Monroe by a combined five points.

Boise and Utah have the fast track based on busting the BCS in the past, but the added Conference USA and MAC championship games would give Tulsa and Ball State an extra week to sway the polls, and the Utes or BYU could get a push depending on who wins their November contest.

Regardless, it could shape up to be a controversial winter for teams on the outside looking in.

E-mail B.J. Lisko at



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