College Football betting preview – MyClubBetting’s top plays for Week 8

We take a look at some of the big College Football Week 8 match-ups this weekend…

West Virginia

BAYLOR at WEST VIRGINIA (Saturday, 5pm)

If you like offense, then Morgantown is the place to be. Crowds may have dropped off in the last couple of seasons but this Big 12 matchup has provided plenty of fireworks. In 2012, the Mountaineers won 70-63 in the highest-scoring game in Big 12 history. Last season, Baylor took the reverse fixture 73-42 as they racked up 864 yards. The points total is set at 80 and it is 17/20 that the total is eclipsed. Baylor are 7.5-point favourites. They have the top-ranked offense in the country, but given the Bears’ defence… we take West Virginia to keep within the handicap at 17/20.

ArkansasGEORGIA at ARKANSAS (Saturday, 9pm)

Georgia’s offense does not tick as well without running back Todd Gurley and the way Arkansas has been stopping the run in the last few weeks means they should force the ball into the hands of quarterback Huston Mason. He does not have great receivers or a dominate defence to rely upon, made worse by the loss of excellent middle linebacker Brooks Ellis. Georgia are still considered 3.5-point favourites. Maybe the bookies have that the wrong way round. We take Arkansas with the points at 89/100 and the points total to dip below 54.5.

AlabamaTEXAS A&M at ALABAMA (Saturday, 20:30)

Texas A&M have lost their last two – to No. 1-ranked Mississippi State and No. 3-ranked Mississippi – and their pass defence could be in a spot of bother. Bama need to win to have a shot at the SEC title and a College Football playoff berth. Kenny Hill leads the third-best passing offense and sixth-best scoring offense in the nation with 2,511 yards, 23 touchdowns and seven interceptions while adding another 167 yards on the ground. He gives the Aggies a shot at covering the 13.5-point handicap, but the Crimson Tide have a big weapon of their own in junior wide receiver Amari Cooper, who may just be the best at this position right now. Tough spread to bridge for the hosts.

OKLAHOMA STATE at TCU (Saturday, 9pm)

TCU has now allowed 94 points over the last two weeks, against Oklahoma and Baylor. And here is another trend that we will see busted this week: They are 3-6 ATS in their last nine games at home when favoured. The Horned Frogs are 8.5-point favourites and in a game that has shoot-out written all over it, we look to TCU to cover.

Oklahoma

KANSAS STATE at OKLAHOMA (Saturday, 5pm)

Kansas State covered the handicap in their last three games, while the Sooners have failed to cover in the last two. Oklahoma are 8.5-point jollies and the line has moved towards the underdog Kansas State who opened as 11.5-point dogs. They are 4-1 ATS in its last five games at Oklahoma. The Sooners struggled past an ordinary Texas outfit in the Red River Rivalry last week, relying on a couple of big plays, and there is no doubt they will have trouble running the ball this week. Can second-year QB Trevor Knight be accurate with the football? He has been a bit too inconsistent to go in too heavily. That said, the line move means we can take a chance. The hosts can cover.

Boston CollegeCLEMSON at BOSTON COLLEGE (Saturday, 20:30)

The Tigers will be without their starting quarterback and playing a Boston College team that has already beaten USC at home this season. Boston College thoroughly handled North Carolina State in week 7, outgaining the Wolfpack 310-43 on the ground in a 30-14 victory. But one thing that the Tigers do well is stop the run, ranking 11th in the country and conceding an average of just over 100 yards per game. Clemson are 4.5-point favourites but this has the makings of a low-scoring game and we look to under 44.5 total points to cash in at odds of 37/43.

KentuckyKENTUCKY at LSU (Sunday, 00:30)

Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles leads a potent Wildcat offensive attack averaging 36 points and nearly 450 yards. We don’t see Kentucky as 10.5-point underdogs, not to a Tigers’ defence that surrendered an average of 568 yards in their first two SEC games before shoring it up somewhat against an ordinary Florida team last week. We like what Mark Stoops is doing and he will bring the heat on an LSU line that has allowed 15 sacks already. This should stay close.

Will Muschamp

Under pressure: Muschamp

MISSOURI at FLORIDA (Saturday, Midnight)

Quite simply, Florida, the 4.5-point favourites, cannot afford to lose. They have to run the table in order to have a shot at making the playoffs. Missouri are looking for an eighth straight road win but the Tigers gained just 147 yards against Georgia last week. QB Maty Mauk will surely do better and at least Missou do not have a QB controversy looming; Will Muschamp has already stated that both Jeff Driskel and freshman Treon Harris will see action on Saturday. Having lost their 11th game in 18 last week, something is clearly not right at Florida. Despite this, the Gators can cover.

PLAY OF THE WEEK:

How about this for an onside kick? This is High School Football Texas style as Hebron get creative against Allen…

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Net gains – MyClub Betting’s Weekend Premier League Preview

etihad stadium

Attractive: Man City v Spurs at the Etihad

International breaks are dull. While welcomed by some (we are looking at you Raheem Sterling), for punters it is a washout.

Thank goodness that’s over with, then. Now we can look forward to some real soccer action, with a full Premier League programme taking place.

Undoubtedly the most attractive game sees Manchester City take on Tottenham at the Etihad (12:45, Saturday).

City have won six of the last seven meetings and the last six meetings yielded over 2.5 total goals.

City are currently 47/100 to win, with Spurs on offer at 31/5. The draw is 17/5.

Tottenham have won just one of their last five Premier League games but are unbeaten away from home in three starts (their sole victory on the road courtesy of an undeserved injury-time winner at West Ham on opening weekend).

While City have won the last four meetings at home, Spurs lost just one of their previous 11 visits (winning eight).

Current trends indicate that City should win. Spurs were soundly thrashed twice by City last term – 6-0 at the Etihad and 5-1 at White Hart Lane – and avenging those defeats won’t be easy. Still, the Etihad is not a fortress, as Stoke and Chelsea will testify.

City really can’t afford to drop many more points with Chelsea already five points clear, but we are not yet convinced by the Sky Blues and Spurs might be a bit of value, given their history against City.

While it is still early days, West Ham have a great chance of breaking into the top six. They seek a second away win of the season when they travel to Turf Moor to face a Burnley side who are still adjusting to life in the top flight (Saturday, 3pm).

Sean Dyche

Dyche: Hammers test

Burnley have yet to win in seven outings and while they badly miss injured strike partnership Danny Ings and Sam Vokes, whose combined 47 goals last season fired Burnley to promotion, Sean Dyche’s side created plenty of chances against Leicester two weeks ago.

Burnley are 43/25 to pick up their first win, with West Ham 34/21. The draw, which has occurred in three of their last 10 meetings, is available at 9/4.

We are not convinced by West Ham. This is just the sort of game they have a habit of losing. It is worth noting that five of their last six meetings yielded over 2.5 total goals and Burnley to win 2-1 at 42/5 looks a fair correct-score bet.

In contrast, games between Crystal Palace and Chelsea, who face each other at Selhurst Park (Saturday, 3pm), are often dour affairs. One or other failed to score in six of the last nine meetings and, more often than not, it is Palace who have come out on the wrong end.

Chelsea slipped up in the corresponding fixture last season but prior to that they had been unbeaten in their previous 13 clashes.

Palace have never won back-to-back meetings with the Blues and their 36/5 odds do not make much appeal. Whichever way you cut it, Jose Mourinho’s side look terrific value at 21/50.

We also see the goal trends being bucked and reckon there will be three goals or more scored. The odds are 32/41 for that to happen.

Alan Pardew is still in place at Newcastle. Is this surprising, given that he signed an unprecedented eight-year contract? That should be interesting on many levels and not enough people are asking the obvious question: Why?

Pardew

Contract gamble: Pardew

Pardew is a good coach who has played the hand he has been given. He still has a better win percentage as Newcastle manager in the Premier League (36%) than any of the past five Magpies’ managers.

And no-one can argue that the departure of Loic Remy to Chelsea and the sale of Yohan Cabaye to Paris Saint-Germain in January – by far and away their best players – has given the club a dead leg.

Coupled with the club’s parsimonious transfer policy, it is little wonder that Newcastle are languishing and are still looking for their first win of the season.

They may well get it when Leicester are the visitors (Saturday, 3pm). The Foxes have won just two of their last 15 meetings and are 23/10 to gain a third victory of the season.

We reckon Newcastle will get off the mark and the 59/50 odds look tempting (the draw is 49/20).

Everton v Aston Villa evokes memories of the 1977 League Cup final (yes, some of us are old enough to remember Brian Little, Bob Latchford and that brilliant Chris Nicholl left-footer in the second replay at Old Trafford). Villa eventually won it after a second replay.

Draws are almost guaranteed when these two meet. Indeed, seven of last the 11 meetings ended in a draw and it is 3/1 for that to happen at Goodison Park again (Saturday, 3pm).

Villa, who have won just one of the last 12 meetings, are available at 26/5, while Everton, who seek only their second win of the campaign, are 4/7 shots.

While this would appear to be a home banker, playing the draw at 11/20 in the ‘Home No Bet’ market looks a viable option.

Odds correct at time of writing and are subject to change.

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Future Champions Day Preview – Newmarket – Oct 17, 2014

NewmarketMany have still to be convinced that Champions Day works in practice. Newmarket’s executive will smile and nod approvingly, yet moving Future Champions Day to a Friday is unlikely to provide the platform its status warrants.

We don’t necessarily have a problem with the Middle Park Stakes and the Dewhurst being run on the same afternoon, sandwiched either side of the Fillies’ Mile, which has moved from Ascot. Some do, however, and we understand that argument.

Yet we do have a problem with the fixture being run on a Friday, rather than having a Saturday spotlight.

Champions Day, which takes place at Ascot on Saturday, could well end up looking like the streets after the Lord Mayor’s Show. With the ground likely to be heavy and several big guns bypassing the Ascot meeting, the time has come to pose the (rhetorical) question: should this meeting be brought forward in the calendar? These are mere talking points for another time.

Instead, let’s focus on the positives and take a look at Friday’s card at Newmarket.

FUTURE CHAMPIONS DAY – Newmarket (Friday, October 17)

This is far and away the biggest two-year-old race day in Europe and, with over £1.2 million in prize-money, it is Newmarket Racecourses’ most valuable card.
The four juvenile Pattern Races include an unprecedented three Group 1 contests – the Dewhurst Stakes, the Middle Park Stakes and the Fillies’ Mile.

Middle Park Stakes (6f)

Historically used as a stepping stone to the 2,000 Guineas the following year, since World War II, six winners of the Middle Park Stakes have gone on to glory in the one-mile colts’ Classic: Nearula (1952-53), Our Babu (1954-55), Right Tack (1968-69), Brigadier Gerard (1970-71), Known Fact (1979-80) and Rodrigo De Triano (1991-92).

A market leader has won this in the last nine alternate years and a market leader has been successful in 10 of the last 25 renewals. This is a positive stat for Ivawood, who is one of seven colts entered.

ivawood

Ivawood: Undefeated

The Zebedee colt is unbeaten in three starts, the last two at Group 2 level. He was very impressive in winning by five lengths over this trip at Goodwood last time and there is a strong chance he will improve over further in due course. All three starts have come on good ground or quicker and the only question is whether he will handle the likely soft ground.

The Richard Hannon-trained Ivawood is rated at least 7lb superior than his six rivals, who include Muhaarar, who won the Gimcrack at York, beating Jungle Cat by a nose. For context, Ivawood has beaten useful yardstick Jungle Cat twice (by two-and-three-quarter lengths and five lengths).

Dewhurst Stakes (7f)

The Dewhurst Stakes is often used as a stepping stone for the 2,000 Guineas and the Epsom Derby the following year. Dawn Approach, Frankel and Rock Of Gibraltar managed to win the Dewhurst and 2,000 Guineas a year later. They are among nine horses to do the double since the Second Word War. New Approach, Sir Percy, Dr Devious and Generous are among 10 horses since 1945 to have won the Dewhurst en route to Epsom Derby glory.

Richard Hannon Junior

Big chance: Richard Hannon Jnr

No less than 14 of the last 23 renewals were won by a horse at the top of the betting market and it appears as though the Hannon yard again have the likely market leader in Estidhkaar, who has justified favouritism on his last three starts, latterly when taking Doncaster’s Group 2 Champagne Stakes under a penalty.

He has winning form on soft ground and while he can race keenly, the Dark Angel colt well handle the conditions better than his six rivals.

Maftool, who won a Group 3 over course and distance last time, and Smuggler’s Cove, who was visually impressive when taking a Listed AW race at Dundalk on his last run, appear the biggest dangers.

Fillies’ Mile (1m)

Established in 1973 and originally held at Ascot before being transferred to Newmarket in 2011, the Fillies’ mile has been a good race for punters recently. No fewer than four of the last six market leaders have obliged.

Godolphin landed this three times in the last four years and they hold another strong hand, likely to saddle three of the seven runners. Lucida, who won the Group 2 Rockfel Stakes over 7f at Newmarket last month, heads the trio. While she won cosily last time, she raced a little lazily and this trip should suit her. Jockey Kevin Manning says: “She is a very relaxed filly and she has a good turn of foot. She is definitely improving and will get a mile next year no problem.”

Trainer Jim Bolger thinks she is comparable to Finsceal Beo, whom he trained to win the 1,000 Guineas in 2006. He said: “I thought before (she ran at Newmarket) that this filly had a little more toe that Finsceal Beo but possibly not. I don’t think there is a lot between the two.”

Eddie Lynam

Stamina: Eddie Lynam trains Agnes Stewart

The Eddie Lynam-trained Agnes Stewart, who took the 1m May Hill Stakes at Doncaster last time, is viewed as more of an Oaks prospect rather than a Guineas filly. It did not look a particularly strong renewal and Marsh Hawk, trained by Richard Hannon, may be the biggest danger.

Like Agnes Stewart, Marsh Hawk has been supplemented for this race at a cost of £20,000. The Invincible Spirit filly has won two of her three starts with cut in the ground and Hannon says: “She has been very well since she won at Newbury and will love the soft ground.

“She only canters at home and does not take a lot of work so it is difficult to compare her to our other top fillies. I was a bit surprised when she won by so far [seven lengths] at Newmarket on her debut but she is obviously a very good filly.”

Selections:

1:50 Fruity; 2:25 Strath Burn; 2:55 Ivawood; 3:25 Agnes Stewart; 4:00 Estidhkaar; 4:35 Brazos; 5:10 Code Of Honour

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International rescue (Part 2) – MyClubBetting wekend Euro 2016 Qualifiers Betting Preview

Gordon Strachan

Points to make: Gordon Strachan

After a successful football betting start to International week, we dive in again with the best bets for Saturday and Sunday.

Given that Scotland went down 2-1 to World Champions Germany in their opening Euro 2016 Qualifier, they look a big price at 8/11 to beat a Georgia side who have won just three of their last 30 competitive matches.

The pair have met twice before, in 2007, with Scotland winning 2-1 at home and losing 2-0 in Tbilisi.

Georgia, ranked 110 in the world, lost 2-1 at home to the Republic of Ireland last month and they should not prove too much of a test for Gordon Strachan’s side, who really need to secure the points before facing an altogether harder task in Poland.

With the Republic of Ireland expected to have something of a walkover against Gibraltar, Northern Ireland face the Faroe Islands at Windsor Park and should be able to make it two wins out of two.

Michael O’Neill’s men opened their European qualifying campaign with a dramatic 2-1 victory over Hungary in Budapest and, although still early days, a top three place would guarantee them at least a play-off spot with Romania, Greece and Finland proving the stiffest opposition.

Northern Ireland are unbeaten in their four previous internationals against Faroe Islands (W2 D2) and the visitors have lost 16 of their last 18 internationals, their sole win coming over Gibraltar. We fancy a correct-score bet with 3-0 (at 32/5) or 3-1 (21/2) offering reasonable risk/reward odds.

We reckon there will be three goals or more scored in total, so the 21/25 odds for that to happen are tempting.

Poland take on Germany on Saturday night, with the visitors hoping to take their unbeaten run against the hosts to 19 games. The pair played out draws in the last two meetings, and Poland have never managed to avoid defeat on three consecutive occasions, so trend followers will see Germany as fantastic value at 25/49. We would not wish to put anyone off.

Only two of the last 10 meetings have produced more than 2.5 total goals but we like hedging our bets by taking the 11/10 that 2 or 3 total goals are scored.

Roy Hodgson

Wary: Hodgson’s side face a test

England, fresh from their comprehensive yet unspectacular 5-0 win over San Marino on Thursday, travel to Estonia on Sunday. They have met twice before, with England coming out on top by 3-0 scorelines in 2007 (home and away).

Estonia were beaten 1-0 by Lithuania in Vilnius on Thursday night, but make no mistake, if Roy Hodgson’s side think this will be an easy three points, they had better think again. Defensively, Estonia are pretty solid and they can score goals from midfield. Keep an eye on Blackpool’s Sergei Zenjov, who has netted seven goals in 36 appearances for his country.

We expect England to win, possibly by a two-goal margin. Click here for the latest odds on all the weekend’s football.

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NFL Exclusive – Welker: I miss Tom Brady

welker face

By Simon Milham, Lindys Sports

Some men come so close to the ideal of perfection in sports that their lack of human fallibility, and the excitement it generates, makes them dull for historians.

Thankfully, for every Steve Largent there is a Wes Welker.

Their respective NFL tracks have a certain corollary. They are the little engines that could.

When he retired from football, Largent held six major receiving records. Not bad for a receiver the Houston Oilers, who selected him as an afterthought in the fourth round of the 1976 draft, felt was too small and too slow to make the grade. He caught only two passes before being cut following the Oilers’ fourth preseason game.

steve largent

Steve Largent: Cast aside

The expansion Seahawks gave the Oilers an eighth-round pick for the cast-off receiver. It proved to be the catch of the century and after retirement in 1990, Largent went on to become the fifth former NFL player to serve in the United States Congress. He entered Football’s Hall of Fame in 1995.

Like Largent, Welker was an NFL draft footnote. There were 32 receivers drafted over seven rounds in 2004. The Texas Tech receiver was not among them, yet he has arguably proved to be better than all of them.

After his career as a Red Raider ended, Welker was snubbed and left without an invite to the NFL combine. Draft day passed, and San Diego called with a free-agent offer. That got him through Week 1 of the 2004 season, after which he was cut.

Fortunately, Miami called and the Dolphins wanted Welker on their 53-man roster. Yet even they did not see his true potential. Their loss was New England’s gain and now, in the autumn of his career with Denver, he is setting milestones he could only dream about.

With 18 seconds remaining in the first half against Arizona last Sunday, Welker, generously listed at 5-9 and 185 pounds, caught a five-yard Peyton Manning pass and continued his assault on the record books.

Welker v New England

Record-breaker: Welker

Welker’s third of seven grabs on the day gave him 850 catches for his career, setting the record for the most receptions by an undrafted player in the history of the NFL, eclipsing former Bronco Rod Smith, who caught 849 passes before he retired.

“It’s kind of a ha-ha moment for scouting for not drafting him,” said Manning. “So whoever was a general manager during (2004), those guys ought to send him an apology letter.”

Like Largent, Welker is an undersized possession receiver with now average speed, who quickly became known for his precise routes, sure hands, concentration and determination. His quick mind and coordination allows his body to talk, lie, cheat and steal on the best defensive backs in football. Running routes has long since become a science to Welker.

He admits: “A lot of it is quickness and understanding route concepts, and understating how the defender is trying to play me and what they are trying to do to me. From there, it is about attacking them and getting them on their heels, knowing what they are trying to do against me, and using that against them.

“I think it is not only the training, making sure you are on top of everything physically, but it is about being mentally prepared and knowing what to do out there.”

Yet these little engines differ. While Largent was so efficiently good and calmly controlled that he was unexciting as a personality, Welker is a refreshingly outspoken and certainly more interesting. One cold steel, the other coal fired.

welker Hoody

Hurt: Belichick blamed Welker

He does his best to be subtle, yet you are left with the feeling it isn’t easy, especially when the Bill Belichick buttons are pushed.

Now in his final year of a two-year $12million contract with the Broncos after being allowed to walk from New England’s talent-shorn receiving corps, you have to read between the lines when he says the switch between AFC powerhouses was “just business”.

The divorce was ugly. Welker was never the typical Belichick player. There is a school of thought that Patriots head coach thinks he “made” Welker after they got him from Miami ahead of the 2007 season.

It can similarly be argued, perhaps more so, that Brady and Welker made Belichick.

Welker became a star in New England, catching everything, going over the middle and withstanding vicious hits. He caught a Super Bowl-record-tying 11 passes in Super Bowl XLII.

But the cracks in a fractious relationship were already beginning to show. After Welker made fun of Jets’ head coach Rex Ryan’s supposed foot fetish (why wouldn’t you?), Belichick benched him at the start of the 2010 playoff game, which New England lost.

A year later, in Super Bowl XLVI, Welker dropped a Tom Brady pass that could arguably have clinched Super Bowl XLVI against the Giants. Next spring, the Patriots franchised Welker and Belichick froze him out of the out of the gameplan at the start of the 2012 season.

Welker Brady

Missing you: Brady fumed when Welker left

The blame for the loss, laid squarely at his door by Belichick, hurt Welker – much more than he cares to let on – and it was no surprise when he jumped to AFC rivals Denver before immediately helping them to a Super Bowl appearance.

According to ProFootballTalk, someone close to Brady reportedly said the quarterback was “enraged” by the decision to allow Welker to leave and the ramifications continue to be felt in New England.

“There are tough decisions in business and different things like that. That’s the way it goes sometimes. I don’t hold anything against them. I understand it,” says Welker.

welker Bob Kraft

Kraft work: Bob loves Wes

Yet as he utters the well-rehearsed lines, you know every sinew of his mind is seemingly strained by diplomacy that is grindingly at odds with what he truly feels.

There will come a time when Welker is rightly honoured by the Patriots franchise for his record-breaking career – likely well after the era of the Hoody – and franchise owner Robert Kraft insists: “I love Wes Welker like a son.” He means it, too.

Welker’s respect for Kraft is similarly reciprocated. “Bob’s my guy,” he insists. “We’re very close.”

Both heartfelt. Both credible.

He also candidly admits to missing ‘one-two’ Brady: “Of course I miss Tom. He’s a very good friend of mine – one of my best friends. Does Tom miss me? If they (New England) lose to us, yeah, I want him to miss me… as long as they lose to us!”

But he also sees benefits from the breakdown at Foxboro, aside from playing with the other best-ever quarterback to play the game.

In particular, Welker likes the coaching ethos under Broncos’ young offensive co-ordinator Adam Gase, something he clearly did not always enjoy under Belichick’s regime.

adam gase

Gase and favour: Adam Gase

Welker says: “Adam is a smart guy and, not only smart, he only understands the game and understands people. He does a great job of communicating with the players. If you have an idea or something, I feel a lot of coaches shut it down pretty quick – ‘Listen, I’m the coach, you’re the player’.

“His (philosophy) is like a team deal. He will say, “Hey, what do you see? What do you like out there?” different things like that – and it’s good to have somebody that will not only listen to you, but actually put the plays in.

“It’s nice to have that and I kind of like that old ‘listen to you’ and take those chances, and go with it.”

While Gase is a lock to become a future NFL head coach – Cleveland Browns are one of a couple of teams who have already shown interest – Welker’s future is less certain.

The R-word had surfaced before he suffered a concussion against Houston in August, his third such injury in less than a year.

He says it is not something he ponders on too much. “Not right now, anyway,” he says. “I’m not worrying about it. That’s the warrior mentality and the kind of mentality you have to have. It’s just one of those deals, you have to kind of keep it going.

He adds: “When you get a concussion, (healing) is mainly a time thing. Also there are a lot of exercises you can do, as far as on the computer and different things like that, just exercises on the brain and different things.

“But I haven’t suffered any memory loss. Some argue that there is often some (memory loss), but I don’t think so.”

Wes welker Frankie Dettori

Horse collar: Frankie Dettori rode Welker’s Undrafted at Newmarket in July

The Broncos – and Welker – will have a major decision to make at the end of the season.

That decision, whether to offer a new contract, may have been made tougher after Welker tested positive for amphetamines from a sample taken shortly after he attended the Kentucky Derby in May. Though he lost the appeal that would have seen him banned for four games, he missed just two after the NFL made “improvements” to the policy on performance-enhancing drugs, which Welker vehemently denied he used in the first place.

Now all that’s behind him, a return to the Super Bowl is the focus and the Broncos are clearly the team to beat in the AFC.

On Sunday, the Broncos will be 8.5-point favourites for their trip to New York to face Rex Ryan and the Jets. Expect Welker to tow the party line (no mention of toes) and the Broncos to cover the spread in the stadium where they were trounced in the Super Bowl by the Seattle Seahawks.

The Jets will be sorely tested by the best offense in football. We all know exactly what a “made by Peyton” tight end’s stats look like. And as for the receivers, the arrival of Emmanual Sanders from Pittsburgh, the drafting of Cody Latimer, an established star in Demaryius Thomas, a reliable target in Andre Caldwell and Welker’s continued dominance in the slot means the Broncos have plenty of offensive weapons.

Welker Manning

Good times: Welker and Manning

And that could just prolong Welker’s career, should he wish to continue.

He says: “The more guys can do different things, the better off we’re all going to be. I want to be out there on that field and, at the end of the day, it is up to me how long I keep on playing, based on how I feel and how play.

“So I have to stay on top of what I do and take care of business and, from there, hope everything will take care of itself.”

How does he want to be remembered when he does hang up the cleats for the final time?

He thinks for a moment, as though no-one had dared asked the question before, fixes you with those piercing blue eyes, then shrugs and smiles. “Just as a hard-working, give-it-your-all type of guy,” he says modestly.

When the book closes on the career of Wesley Carter Welker, we will remember him as a sure-fire future Hall of Fame receiver, an over-achiever full of heart, but one that gave us a lot more colour than so many of his peers. Largent included.

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NCAA College Football – Week 7 preview

We take a look at some of the big College Football week 7 match-ups this weekend…

AuburnAUBURN at MISSISSIPPI STATE (+3) (Sat, 8.30pm)

A win over Auburn on Saturday would be Mississippi State’s third this season over a team that was ranked in the Top 10.

Both appear evenly matched. Both comfortably defeated LSU. Both won at home against another SEC West opponent (Texas A&M and Arkansas). Auburn’s win at ranked Kansas State is the only significant schedule difference.

Mississippi State has given up almost 130 more passing yards per game. Converting third down chances, the Tigers rank third, while the Bulldogs rank 68th. In total defence, Auburn is 14th; State is 84th. Auburn ranks fourth in punt returns compared to State at 70th. And, the Tigers lead the nation, scoring 100 percent of the time from the red zone.

The odds favour Auburn, who are 3-point favourites at current odds of 24/25. The Under/Over is 63 points. At 17/20.

Homefield advantage might count for a lot. The last time Auburn played at MSU they lost by 18 points. On the flip side, they have won 17 of their last 19, including eight over ranked teams.

MSU could be this year’s team of destiny. They beat LSU 34-29 in Baton Rouge and followed that up with a 48-31 demolition of Texas A&M to jump to No3 in the AP polls. Then again, the second-ranked Tigers know all about starts aligning and their defence can step up when it matters most. Take the Tigers to cover the spread.

TCUTCU at BAYLOR (-8) (Sat, 8.30pm)

Baylor (5-0) and TCU (4-0) represent the Big 12′s two best bets to make the College Football Playoff, but one will fall off their undefeated perch this weekend.

The Bears and Horned Frogs pulled off an unlikely feat as Baylor went to Texas and defeated the Longhorns, while TCU won a home game against Oklahoma last week. While the wins are not so unlikely, it makes it a better matchup than the annual Texas vs. Oklahoma Red River Rivalry this week.

TCU are considered 8-point underdogs which seems fair, especially when factoring that Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty should rebound from a 7-for-22, 111-yard performance against Texas.

But while the Horned Frogs have covered the handicap on six of their last seven meetings, the home team is 4-1 against the spread in the last five meetings and we take Baylor to continue that trend.

Florida StateFLORIDA STATE at SYRACUSE (+23.5) (Sat, 5pm)

When there is a sudden shift in the handicap, as a rule you should swerve the game.

When the MyClubBetting lines opened for this clash, No1-ranked, unbeaten Florida State were considered 20-point favourites, despite injury to starting centre Austin Barron, who was lost midway through their 43-3 win over Wake Forest, star receiver Rashad Greene (concussion) and running back Karlos Williams (ankle). All will be missing this weekend.

But the shift to 23.5-point favourites is due to a sudden change at the offensive co-ordinator position at Syracuse; on Monday head coach Scott Shafer demoted offensive coordinator George McDonald and promoted Tim Lester.

The Seminoles’ defence may feel they will have it easy, as the Orange, mired in a three-game losing streak, lost starting quarterback Terel Hunt, who suffered a fracture leg in last weekend’s 28-16 loss to Louisville.

If the Seminoles’ defence does not take Syracuse too lightly, they should extend their streak to NCAA-leading 22nd victory in a row dating back to 2012 and cover the spread – but don’t bank on it.

Notre DameNORTH CAROLINA at NOTRE DAME (-16.5) (Sat, 8.30) – Under is 7-1 in Fighting Irish last 8 games in October. Take that trend to end, as this has all the makings of being a points-fest. Go over 64.5 points at 17/20.

TEXAS at OKLAHOMA (-14.5) (Sat, 5pm) – Texas won this last year 36-20 and while the Sooners are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games in October, normal service should be resumed, with Oklahoma taking their fourth win in five meetings and covering the spread to give them a 4-1-1 ATS record in the last six meetings.

DUKE at GEORGIA TECH (+3) (Sat, 5.30) – Duke have lost their last 10 meetings and have won 1 in the last 19 but the tide could be about to turn. The Blue Devils are 6-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record and the favourite is 8-2 ATS in the last 10 meetings. Trends are made to be broken, but this is the best Duke offensive unit for a long while and they can outgun the Yellow Jackets.

Oregon DucksOREGON at UCLA (+2.5) (Sat, 8.30) Points. Points. Points. Blink and you will miss them. The line is set at 70 – and that could be eclipsed by the end of the third quarter. The Ducks are 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings in Los Angeles and expect QB Marcus Mariota, who could easily have been the No.1 Draft pick had he chosen to go to the NFL, to produce big numbers.

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Racing Preview – Newmarket – Cesarewitch Day 2014

Newmarket

Autumn Double: Newmarket centre stage

After the drama of the Prix de l‘Arc de Triomphe and a second success for wonder mare Treve, we return to Newmarket this weekend for the race dubbed the ‘Grand National of the Flat’ season – The Cesarewitch (3.50).

It is a race where National Hunt trainers take on their Flat counterparts but not since 2008 has a jumps trainer been successful, when Nicky Henderson won with 11-year-old Caracciola.

There has been only one dual winner: Aaim To Prosper, trained by Brain Meehan, who took this is 2010 and 2012. In the modern era, the best-known winner was Vintage Crop, who took this for trainer Dermot Weld in 1992 before going on to win the Group 1 Irish St Leger twice (1993, 1994) and the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (1993).

Since 1977, horses aged three and four have fared best, with a four-year-old winning 10 times and a three-year-old successful on nine occasions.

Favourites have a poor record, with just two market leaders successful since 1989 and four of the last six winners were priced 25/1 or bigger, including the last two renewals when 66/1 shots scored.

Hughie Morrison has hopefully calmed down since last Saturday when fuming over the ground at Ascot. Hughie often wears is heart on his sleeve – he makes great copy for the hacks – but his exasperation over the watering policy was a perfectly reasonable reaction to unexpectedly soft ground.

Fortunately, Newmarket’s clerk of the course, Michael Prosser, is expecting to provide fantastic ground for the two-day meeting (Friday and Saturday) and for Future Champions day next Friday (Oct 17).

On Thursday morning he said: “We had 3mm of rain yesterday and got off lightly as it was on the low end of what was forecast.

“We had 4mm of rain on Saturday and on Monday, with Sunday and Tuesday being dry days and very blowy. There is a chance of showers, but the track walks fantastically well at present and I don’t think we will be far away from Good ground on Saturday.”

Morrison saddled Nearly Caught and has booked Ryan Moore to ride. The four-year-old was beaten six-and-a-half lengths in the Ebor at York in August but showed plenty of promise when upped to two miles when touched off by Noble Silk in a well-contested handicap at Haydock on his penultimate start. He is unexposed and if getting this trip, must enter calculations.

Likewise, Chester Cup winner and 2m Northumberland Plate runner-up Suegioo, just a place behind Nearly Caught in the Ebor, should benefit from a step up in trip. Marco Botti’s string is not in stunning form, but he has had three winners in the past fortnight and eight others placed.

A more proven stayer is the Dermot Weld-trained Hidden Universe, who took a 2m handicap at Galway last time and races off a mark 6lb lower than when taking the competitive Leopardstown November Handicap in 2011. All his seven wins have come over 2m and any further ease in the ground will help.

Philip Hobbs

Philip Hobbs: Seeks second Cesarewitch win

Another with a fair squeak is Big Easy, trained by Philip Hobbs, who is eyeing his second Cesarewitch, following Detrot City’s 2006 victory.

Big Easy was a little unlucky when second in the Cesarewitch Trial at Newmarket last month when the pace was not solid and he got caught a little flat-footed. He had a poor draw (36) last year and has been targeted at this race for some time.

While the Cesarewitch might be a race for the pin-stickers, the Group 3 Autumn Stakes (2.05), which kicks off the card, has been a better race for punters, with 11 of the last 24 renewals going to te market leader.

Future Classic winners have come out of this race which makes it all the more interesting. Nashwan won the Autumn Stakes in 1988 and duly beat Exbourne in the 2,000 Guineas the following May, before becoming the first horse since Nijinsky in 1970 to win the Guineas and the Derby. The 2012 renewal was won by subsequent Irish Derby hero Trading Leather and last year’s renewal went to Derby runner-up and subsequent 2014 St Leger winner Kingston Hill.

And Nayef, a winner of this race in 2000, went on to take four Group 1 races: the Champion Stakes, the Dubai Sheema Classic, the International Stakes and the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, while 1998 hero Daliapour took a couple of races at the highest level: the Coronation Cup and the Hong Kong Vase.

Aidan O'Brien

Aidan O’Brien: Autumn Stakes sortie

This looks no more than a fair renewal of the 1m contest, although some big yards are represented.

Order Of St George is the one to start with. Aidan O’Brien’s Galileo colt has had three starts and improved with each, latterly winning a soft-ground Leopardstown maiden without turning a hair, despite getting warm beforehand. He is clearly capable of picking up a Stakes race, such as this, given expected further improvement.

We also like Bartholomew Fair, trained by Luca Cumani, who looked above average when taking a 1m Yarmouth maiden, the second of his two starts, in eye-catching style.

Luca Cumani, trainer of Bartholomew Fair, said: “He has always looked promising. He won his maiden very easily and deserves this step up in class.

“I never make firm plans for my horses but I hope that he might be a Classic horse for next year. We always hope, but hoping is cheap!”

Newmarket Saturday selections:

2.05 Order Of St George; 2.40 Wahgah; 3.10 Battersea; 3.50 Nearly Caught; 4.25 Malice; 5.05 White Vin Jan; 5.40 Missed Call.

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