Bayou Bengal Love

It may not be love in bloom, but when it comes to picking America's top college football team, LSU is the unanimous choice.
The Tigers sealed that position with their narrow trumph over defending national champion Florida last week.

"I don't really love LSU, but their defense is tough!" said Professional Handicappers League member Bill Fishman.

"I had Florida, which was a winner.

"I also had them straight up and on the money line, so it was a tough loss with 1:08 left."

While there's no disagreement on No. 1, No. 2 is hardly unanimous, outside the country's two major polls.

Fishman goes along with voters in the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches' Polls and picks 5-0 Cal for the runnerup spot, while fellow PHL member Jerry Johnson tabs once-beaten Oklahoma (5-1) and Las Vegas oddsmaker Ken White lists USC (4-1), a narrow upset loser to Stanford last weekend.

The USA Today Coaches' Poll ranks the Trojans seventh, while the AP drops them all the way down to 10th this week.

Las Vegas Sports Consultants, however, has them right behind the Tigers.

"Oh yeah, they're too good a team (to drop down)," White said.

"I think they're better than LSU, but of course you can't rank them ahead of the Tigers with one loss.

"I know LSU beat Florida, but I still think USC is the better team."

The gambling specific BGS Power Ratings have LSU on top with Ohio State 2nd, Oklahoma 3rd and Cal 4th.

Fishman is high on Boston College (6-0), which meets Notre Dame this weekend.

He ranks the Golden Eagles, who are laying two touchdowns, third.

"I just love their quarterback (Matt) Ryan," he said.

Johnson is so high on the Sooners that he hopes they play LSU for the BCS National Championship at the New Orleans Superdome on Jan. 8, 2008.

Fishman would like to see a pair of matchups, one on each side of the ball.

"LSU versus Ohio State would be a grueling game on the defensive side and Boston College and Cal on the offensive side," he said.

LSU plays No. 17 Kentucky this weekend and that's a game both Fishman and Johnson are anticipating.

Bodog Sportsbook had the Tigers laying 10 points on Friday morning, though it was minus 9 1/2 most places.

Oklahoma (minus 12) versus No. 11 Missouri, an impressive winner over Nebraska last week, and #15 Cincinnati (minus 10) at Louisville are another pair of matchups drawing their attention.

"If we'd made a line before the season started, Louisville would have been favored by about 6," said Las Vegas oddsmaker White, who lists Cincy as one of the clubs that has surprised him most.

Another game Fishman likes is Illinois-Iowa.

The Illini are giving up 3 1/2 points in a week in which many favorites are laying double digits.

Trap?" Fishman asked.

PHL member Jimmy Boyd also is turning to the Big 10 in selecting the game to which he looks forward most.

"I'm interested in the Purdue/Michigan matchup this week," Boyd said.

"After starting 0-2, the Wolverines are sitting at 2-0 in the Big Ten.

"Both of Michigan's losses this season have come at home.

"Purdue is 1-1 in the Big Ten, but has a better overallt record than Michigan.

"They were silenced at home by Ohio State last week and will be trying to bounce back here.

"The Boilers are 2-0 on the road this season.

"Michigan is going to have to get through this one if they want any shot at a Big Ten title this season.

The books opened with the line at 5 1/2 in favor of the Wolverines.

"It should be a good matchup."

by: Staci Richards - - Email Us

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