The University of Louisville's (Vegas) line fluctuations, the University of Kentucky's signs of life against Georgia and Alex Rodriguez's future are on the agenda for today's weekly Monday Morning Meeting for Rick Bozich and Eric Crawford . . .
1. Louisville opened as a six-point favorite over Cincinnati -- and the number dropped to four by Sunday night. Seems a bit strange since the Cards are at home and Cincinnati just lost at Toledo. Do you see another dogfight for the Cards?
RICK: I must confess: I'm puzzled by the line. You get three points for playing at home. That means Louisville is only considered better by a point. Then I checked the Sagarin ratings. Guess what? His predictor numbers have Cincinnati 1 1/2 points better.
The sub-par play of Kentucky, FIU, Missouri State and Southern Miss (combined 4-27) has done wonders for the Cards' power numbers.
The Cards were in a fight to defeat a dog on Saturday. I wouldn't be surprised if they had problems overpowering a more complete team like Cincinnati.
ERIC: I think maybe it's time to consider this reality. Charlie Strong has won now 14 games since the beginning of the 2011 season. Nine of those have been by 10 points or less, including each of the past five, all against, as you demonstrated via Sagarin, lesser competition.
This is not a team, by and large, that appears as if it is going to put the hammer down on people.
But beyond that, here's some simple Vegas math. Oddsmakers made U of L a modest 6-point favorite at home against a struggling South Florida team. The Cards didn't cover. So why make them a favorite by anything close to that against a Cincinnati team that is much better than USF? U of L has failed to beat the spread in three of its past four, with the lone exception being when it was a measly 2 1/2 point favorite at Pittsburgh.
It's going to take a low number to get people to bet on U of L to cover, until it starts beating people by more than it has.
2. Kentucky backs up its worst game of the season (Arkansas) with one of its best (Georgia). The Wildcats final four games are against an FCS opponent and three SEC teams with a combined league record of 2-11. Can they make a closing run?
RICK: Yes. Missouri is a 15 1/2-point favorite. That's a mind-bender, considering the Tigers haven't beaten an FBS team by more than five points this season.
The effort against Georgia suggests Kentucky has not quit.That's important at this time of year because some teams have. The Wildcats are due a break or two -- and they should be able to split the final four games.
ERIC: Sure they can split the final two. But that still wouldn't help Joker Phillips' situation. Now if they won all four, then there would be something to talk about. Even if they win three -- and are competitive in the lone loss -- Joker might still hang on. It's not out of the realm of possibility.
If the team had been as competitive all season as it was against Georgia, I think the mindset of its fan base would be different. As it is, young players are starting to play better and you can't argue that the injury situation has been devastating.
But young guys are maturing and the team, as you say, hasn't cashed in yet. Their response to adversity has been impressive.
3. You own the New York Yankees for a day. What do you do with Alex Rodriguez?
RICK: See if Cameron Diaz will take him back? Ask the Seattle Mariners if they're interested in a Turn Back the Clock trade? Hope he retires? Cry?
I don't think A-Rod is finished as a player, but he's likely finished in New York because of his terrible October performance in the batter's box and as a teammate. He doesn't have much star power left. But maybe the Miami Marlins will take him -- with a 90 percent markdown.
ERIC: It's time to make money back on your investment any way you can. Sign a network deal to start some kind of A-Rod Bachelor celebrity edition and sit back and count the money.
Anything but put him back on the field. That tank went from 1/4 to E pretty fast. I just don't see what the Yankees can do. There's nowhere to unload him. I guess I'd do what these owners will do -- take a look at him in the spring and hope what we all just witnessed was a bad dream.