Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Home Dome

Some curious signs from Vegas this week- as the the line for Memphis-Tulane opened with the Tigers -1 over the Wave. But that line has since moved pretty firmly away from Memphis- and now our own Green Wave is a narrow -1.5 over the Tigers. Apparently someone at the Golden Nugget woke up to the fact that, since the second half of the SE Louisiana game, the Wave has moved a minute but tangible step up in class- clear from the bottom 15 programs in college football to whatever the next tier is. That new level means this game with Memphis is now a toss up- and the Wave deserves a slight nod for being at home.

Nevertheless, I started this week confident taking points and Memphis was the correct path. Okay, Saturday, the Wave offense “woke up”- or at least was able to turn Forte’s offense into the actual point total needed to win in this League. But as I alluded to yesterday, the usual formula to get to five scores is throw it for 300 plus/rush it for another 100 plus. Tulane did it “the other way around”- which I suppose works too- but is hard to duplicate regularly. To wit, you get a career rushing game from your tailback- and still needed OT to beat a wretched SMU outfit.

So I’m pretty sure- since the Tulane quarterback situation is still not even mediocre, and the Wave objectively can’t expect another 300 yard rushing day- the offense comes back 10-14 points this week. Add last week’s concerns- particularly the recent grueling schedule: on the road, no off weeks, the emotional LSU tilt, back-to-back OT, Forte’s workload- have not gone away.

Then as the week progressed, I started to grow optimistic. For one thing, the defense figures to move up. SMU’s quarterback Willis is a true C-USA player- an offensive machine designed to torture. Memphis doesn’t bring a player of that caliber in here this week.

QB Martin Hawkins and RB Joe Doss exploded last week- but this is C-USA. You have to discount occasional cartoon numbers. More likely, these two Tigers have been banged up and ineffective for long stretches- so figure they come back some as the Wave defense has contained offenses a step down in class from SMU.

Sounds like a C-USA game- a shoot out- but one where both offenses look to get into the 20s to win, rather than the 30s. So again, toss up- but one where you pay a negligible price to get the “home Dome”. Frankly, for a month now Tulane has definitely been moving forward; Memphis maybe only for a game? I’m pretty sure you’ll get an “A” or “B” effort from Tulane. Memphis- who knows? They got questions at RB, QB, rush defense- and one solid effort is simply not a trend.

If you are a taker of my three-win season prediction, this is one game you probably have in the “probable win” bucket- from season inception until today. I see no real reason to deviate from that. I like the Wave here- and will cheerily give the 1.5 points.