09/06/2006 11:00PM

Success dictates more 'under' action


LAS VEGAS - The opening weekend of the college football season was fun to watch and was a great way to "go to school" on all of the teams, as preseason projections culled from spring practice and two-a-days were put to the test and we were able to watch everyone play at full speed.

We should all have a better handle on college football than we had a week ago, but one must still fight the tendency to overreact to opening-week results. Just because a team blew out an opponent doesn't mean it's going to do that every week, especially when facing stiffer competition, and just because a team struggled against a cupcake doesn't mean it can't turn it on when playing more-important games on its schedule. Besides, the oddsmakers saw the same things everyone else saw, and those obviously good or bad performances have been factored into the lines for this week.

As for my opening week, it was pretty much break-even with my personal wagers. I did very well with my under bets, which I should have used more heavily in my bankroll selections here as I went 2-2 overall: 2-0 with totals (under in the Northwestern-Miami and Hawaii-Alabama games) and 0-2 with sides (Northern Illinois +17 1/2 vs. Ohio State and Baylor +7 vs. TCU).

The oddsmakers did a good job overall adjusting the totals with the new rule changes, as they shaded the numbers low enough that overs actually held a 23-20 edge in the opening weekend. However, I was able to focus on profitable under plays and I will go with what worked for me and come back with three unders this week in addition to two point-spread plays.

Colorado St. vs. Colorado (o/u 44 1/2)

Colorado and new coach Dan Hawkins, formerly of Boise State, were shocked by Montana State, 19-10, last week, but although I think the Buffaloes will be out to make amends for that performance, it will be tough against their in-state rivals. Colorado's offense faces a tougher test here, and CSU certainly steps up in class after its 30-6 win over Weber State. Even though Gatrell Johnson filled in admirably with three touchdowns, Colorado State will still miss star running back Kyle Bell, who will miss the season with a knee injury. This series has traditionally been high-scoring, but I see a complete reversal this time around, with both teams struggling to put points on the board.

PLAY: Under 44 1/2 points for 1 unit.

UNLV at Iowa St. (o/u 52 1/2)

Iowa State's 45-43 win last week over Toledo is misleading, inasmuch as it was 23-23 at the end of regulation before going three overtimes. That range in the mid-to-upper 40's is where I expected this total to be set. UNLV romped 54-10 over Division I-AA Idaho State and even though Southern Cal transfer Rocky Hinds has a bright future with the Rebels after passing for 322 yards and rushing for 42 more in the opener, he will have a tougher task on the road vs. a Big 12 foe.

PLAY: Under 52 1/2 points for 1 unit.

Georgia (-3) at South Carolina

South Carolina is certainly heading in the right direction under coach Steve Spurrier and getting more of the athletes he needs to compete, but I still don't think his team is at the level of Georgia. The Gamecocks' 15-0 win last week at Mississippi State wasn't all that impressive, and they won't be able to shut down the Bulldogs like that. If it took a gadget play (a touchdown pass from receiver Syvello Newton) to get into double digits vs. MSU, South Carolina will be hard-pressed to keep up with Georgia's offense.

PLAY: Georgia for 1 unit.

Ohio St. at Texas (o/u 50 1/2)

This is being billed as the game of the day. I won't have a play on the point spread, but I think it will go under the total. Last year, with Vince Young leading Texas, the final was 25-22 in Columbus, and I don't see these two teams putting up that many points in the rematch. Both teams have the running games to keep the clock moving, and this could turn into a field-position battle and more punts than expected, which would lead to the new rule of having the clock start after a change of possession, thereby reducing the total number of plays further and also help the under.

PLAY: Under 50 1/2 points for 1 unit.

Oregon at Fresno St. (+4 1/2)

Oregon blew out Stanford, 48-10, last week in the season- and Pac-10 opener, but this is not a step down in class. Fresno State coach Pat Hill gets his team up for these non-conference tilts and the Bulldogs are 26-12 against the spread and 7-0 with the revenge angle (after losing to a team in their previous meeting), according to handicapper Marc Lawrence's "Playbook" magazine. In most of those battles, Fresno has had to go on the road, including last year's 37-34 loss at Oregon, but now Fresno is home. The Bulldogs are coming off a 28-19 win over Nevada with running back Dwayne Wright racking up 158 yards after missing most of the last two seasons with a knee injury. The Bulldogs should bark as a home dog again as they are 7-1 in the last eight games in that role.

PLAY: Fresno State for 1 unit.

Last week: 2-2 for a net loss of 0.2 units (based on risking 1.1 units to win 1).