01/03/2007 1:00AM

Point spread too wide in GMAC Bowl


Winning is never easy. No matter what game you play - the horses, table games, slots, sports, etc. - the odds are against you. Not only do you have to battle the fickle finger of fate but also the house edge/vig/takeout.

Additionally, most people don't have the discipline to play just one game. It's commonplace to hear stories about people who win lots of money at poker and then blow it at the craps table, or in the race and sports book, or vice versa. You hear about someone tearing it up in either college or pro football, but when you inquire about how they're doing in the other, it's usually the opposite. Same thing with basketball.

It happens to me all the time. Just this season, I started out great in college football - especially by betting a lot of unders early after the new clock rules took effect and before the oddsmakers/teams were able to adjust - but then I'd give it all back on Sunday. When my college football hot streak cooled down, I started winning in the NFL. During my hottest run in the NFL in late December, the bowl games started and I went 1-5 out of the gate. Over the New Year's weekend, I went 3-2 in the NFL (which felt like a slump after going 17-3 the previous four weeks) but then ran off five straight bowl winners. For the bowl season, my record is 6-5 for a net profit of 0.5 units. For the whole college football season, my bankroll plays are 45-42-1, including 2-1 on 2-unit best bets, for a net loss of 0.3 units.

Ohio (+6) vs. Southern Miss (o/u 42),

Jan. 7, GMAC Bowl

After the New Year's Day bowls and the Orange and Sugar bowls, the GMAC Bowl is anti-climactic, but I think Ohio is a live underdog (or, just as importantly, Southern Mississippi is a vulnerable favorite), so I'll make these my final college football plays of the season, especially since I've wavered back and forth between Ohio St. or Florida in Monday's BCS title game and can't recommend a play on the under as it's been bet down from 48 to 46. I just don't see how Southern Miss can be favored by 6 when it went 1-5 against the spread this year vs. bowl teams and its only win was a narrow 31-27 over Houston. Ohio beat Northern Illinois and Western Michigan in going 2-2-1 vs. bowl teams and should bounce back from the conference title game vs. an underrated Central Michigan team. Both teams have strong defenses and rely on the ground games on offense, so the clock will be running a lot and the score should be low.

PLAY: Ohio for 1 unit and Under 42 points for 1 unit.

UFC rocks the house

Last Saturday's Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight title bout between Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz - in fact the entire UFC 66 card at the MGM Grand Garden Arena - was a sight to behold. It really showed how mixed martial arts fighting is gaining on boxing, especially with the younger generation.

The arena was sold out at 14,607, and unlike a big boxing match where a lot of the VIP's and other fans tend to show up fashionably late, the stands were packed for the UFC undercard, mainly because many of the fighters have built fan bases from appearances on the Ultimate Fighter TV show and other UFC events. Boxing has lost a lot of that buildup for younger fighters.

In the main event, Liddell, a -235 favorite at the host property, took control early in the scheduled five-round match, opening a gash above Ortiz's left eyebrow and pummeling him on the mat near the end of the first round. However, Ortiz was able to escape and came back to win the second round on two of three judge's scorecards. But in the third round, Liddell kept up the attack and Ortiz was unable to withstand his punches before the referee stopped the bout at the 3:59 mark of the third round.

Make travel plans now

In other fight news, in case you missed it over the holidays, the super welterweight title fight between Oscar De La Hoya and undefeated Floyd Mayweather Jr. will be coming to the MGM Grand on May 5. It is expected to break all records for live gate and pay-per-view buys, at least for a non-heavyweight fight.

If the May 5 date rings a bell, that's the day of the 2007 Kentucky Derby and is also Cinco de Mayo for De La Hoya's rabid fan base. If you're thinking about coming to town that weekend, you'd be well-advised to reserve your room as soon as possible.