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Ole Miss coach quits ahead of firing squad

By Jeff Fogle  ( 

Hugh Freeze was already under the gun for NCAA violations.
© USA Today Sports Images

A Freeze in the sports headlines stateside, just as golfers brace for rainy/windy weather at Royal Birkdale. Your sports betting forecast up next in VSiN City. 

College Football: Hugh Freeze escorted to the unemployment line after resigning from Ole Miss

News broke Thursday evening that Ole Miss college football coach Hugh Freeze had resigned effective immediately. A hastily arranged press conference from university officials discussed “moral turpitude” involving “a pattern of conduct that is not consistent with our expectations.” 

Reports had surfaced earlier in the day that a phone number from Freeze’s call log connected to an escort service. Of course, one possible “mis-dial” does not “a pattern” make. Read more details on this shocking development in this article from Deadspin.

Earlier this summer, Ole Miss had been 100/1 to win the National Championship, though that prop had been taken off the board at the South Point amid swirling rumors. The Regular Season Win total for the Rebels was at 5.5 victories (Over -130, Under plus 110) before the news broke. 

Offensive coordinator Matt Luke was named interim coach. That will provide some stability for an offense-driven team. Ole Miss has a soft opening to their schedule, hosting South Alabama on September 2, then Tennessee-Martin on November 9. The Week One line vs. South Alabama had opened at -22.5, and risen to -26 before Thursday’s developments. 

Note that Ole Miss dropped five of its last seven games last season, failing to cover the spread in six of those seven. Highly regarded sophomore Shea Patterson is the projected starting quarterback, after losing his redshirt with three games left in 2016 due to an injury to Chad Kelly. 

Look for more coverage throughout the day on VSiN programming, beginning with “Follow the Money” with Mitch and Pauly (and Reynolds) at 2 p.m. ET, 11 a.m. here in Las Vegas. 

British Open: Bad weather forecast for Friday, and again Sunday at Royal Birkdale

After great scoring conditions helped forge a three-way tie atop the leaderboard at “The Open Championship” just outside of London, the world’s elite golfers are due for some nasty weather.

As of Thursday night’s forecast

  • Friday: an 80% chance of precipitation with winds from the SE at 25 mph
  • Saturday: a 30% chance of precipitation with winds from the SE at 10 mph
  • Sunday: an 80% chance of precipitation with winds from the NNW at 15 mph

Saturday looks heavenly by comparison. Sunday brings the complication of shifting winds from the opposite direction. If precipitation is light enough to avoid outright postponement, the championship will be determined by whole new golf challenge on Sunday. 

Here’s a link to The Weather Channel’s forecast page so you can get a fresh update right now, and monitor the forecast through the event. 

There’s general handicapping agreement that those conditions will aid European players who are more experienced in such conditions, and will particularly hinder any golfer who hits the ball high. Here’s a look at the Thursday night odds at the Betfair Exchange heading into the second round. (You can click here for on-the-fly updates all weekend.) Remember that the blue column tells you the return for betting on a player to win, while the pink column tells you what you have to risk to bet that the player WON’T win. Subtract one from each number because those totals include the stake.

Betfair exchange prices as of Thursday evening

  • Jordan Spieth: plus 470 to win, minus 480 that he won’t win
  • Brooks Koepka: plus 1000 to win, minus 1050 that he won’t win
  • Paul Casey: plus 1450 to win, minus 1500 that he won’t win
  • Matt Kuchar: plus 1500 to win, minus 1550 that he won’t win
  • Hideki Matsuyama: plus 1900 to win, minus 2000 that he won’t win
  • Charl Schwartzel: plus 2200 to win, minus 2300 that he won’t win
  • Jon Rahm: plus 2800 to win, minus 2900 that he won’t win
  • Justin Thomas: plus 2900 to win, minus 3100 that he won’t win

You likely know that Spieth, Koepka and Kuchar were in that three-way tie after the opening round. All three Americans will now be challenged by the most daunting of links weather. 

Leftovers from the original list of favorites

  • Rory McIlroy: plus 3100 to win, minus 3300 that he won’t win
  • Rickie Fowler: plus 4900 to win, minus 5400 that he won’t win
  • Dustin Johnson: plus 4900 to win, minus 5400 that he won’t win
  • Justin Rose: plus 6900 to win, minus 7400 that he won’t win

Still time to recover, as any of these golfers could go very low while those in front of them take a few steps backward. 

Our Senior Editor Matt Youmans is covering this storied event for us. Click here to read his Round One synopsis and outline of changing odds in Las Vegas

MLB: Huge weekend in baseball could separate pretenders from contenders

The early part of this week was disappointingly devoid of marquee matchups. But this weekend brings several showdowns involving teams who are either in the playoff picture, or desperately trying to get there. Many are hanging by their fingertips at the moment. Some will climb up into better position, others will lose their grip and free fall. (That sound you just heard might have been the Texas Rangers causing a cloud of dust after hitting terra firma like Wile E. Coyote.)

Let’s quickly run through the key matchups, looking at likely starting pitchers (in the order of Friday-Saturday-Sunday for each team) and playoff context. Matchups are presented in the Nevada rotation order of Friday’s games. We’ve included current playoff percentages from fangraphs in each blurb. 

St. Louis (46-49): Martinez, Wainwright, Wacha

Chicago Cubs (49-45): Arrieta, Lester, Quintana

Early Friday Line: Arrieta -150, with total determined once wind conditions are known

We now have a four-team race in the NL Central. Milwaukee’s five-game losing streak has them just one ahead of the Cubs, three ahead of the Pirates, and 4.5 ahead of the Cardinals. Given that current Wildcard favorites Colorado and Arizona are looking settled after the All-Star Break, this division is only going to get one entry. This series could continue Chicago’s launch to first place (dropping the Cards off the cliff), or could see St. Louis surge back to relevancy. The Cubs sure have their preferred pitching lineup. Note that fangraphs has the division race looking this way: Cubs 83% to win, Cards 7%, Pirates 5%, Brewers 5%. (Also, this is the only afternoon game on the full Friday card). 

Pittsburgh (48-48): T. Williams, Kuhl, Nova

Colorado (56-41): Hoffman, Marquez, Freeland

Early Friday Line: Hoffman -145 over Williams, total of 11.5

Pittsburgh has won five in a row to get to the .500 mark. Can they continue that surge into this vital road series against a likely Wildcard team? The market is skeptical. Fangraphs has Pittsburgh at 10% to win a Wildcard, compared to Colorado’s 69%. 

Washington (57-37): Scherzer, Roark, Strasburg

Arizona (55-40): Godley, Undecided, Ray

Early Friday Line: Not available at press time

Arizona was originally going to throw Godley on Saturday. Rumblings of a move to Friday hadn’t yet hit the market as we reached our deadline. You can assume that Scherzer will continue to get respect. Roark, though, could be in real trouble in this great hitter’s park Saturday. Great matchup to close things out when it’s Strasburg vs. Ray in the finale. Fangraphs has Washington at 100% to win its division, 22% to win the National League, and 10% to win the World Series. Arizona is 85% to win a Wildcard, but only 7% and 3% to win the league and World Series. Washington is in great shape to host its first playoff round, but probably needs a Dodgers collapse to earn home field in a postseason meeting with LAD. 

Houston (63-32): Fiers, McHugh, McCullers

Baltimore (46-49): Jimenez, Tillman, Bundy

Early Friday Line: Fiers -135, total of 11 Under -120

Look out world. We have one of the greatest road offenses in the history of baseball (to this point in the season anyway), facing one of the most vulnerable pitching staffs we’ve seen in years. Houston from a few weeks ago might average 10 a game here. This week’s injury developments could slow them down some. Baltimore just swept a four-game series from Texas. The O’s can’t afford to give three right back. Fangraphs has Houston at 100% to win its division, 29% to win the American League, and 15% to win the World Series. Baltimore is 7% to earn a Wildcard, which will drop quickly if they get swept while one or two other WC contenders have good weekends. 

Texas (45-50): Darvish, Cashner, Ross

Tampa Bay (51-45): Cobb, Archer, Odorizzo

Early Friday Line: Darvish -110, total of 7.5 Over -115

That’s a very low Over/Under for an AL matchup in a juiced ball season. You can tell this the opener is a battle of aces. The hopes for Texas are hanging by a thread…and NOT scoring a bunch of runs against Baltimore’s pitching is about the most humiliating thing that can happen to a team this season. Tampa Bay’s good recent form has them up to 33% to earn a Wildcard. Texas has fallen back to 13%, and it feels worse than that this week. Maybe a bit over-dramatic….but you get the sense that the season is on Darvish’s shoulders Friday. 

Boston (54-43): Sale, Price, Porcello

Los Angeles Angels (47-50): Nolasco, Ramirez, Bridwell

Early Friday Line: Sale -200, total of 7.5

Can you believe it? This many important matchups and we’re just now getting to games involving Boston and the NY Yankees! Boston’s lead in the AL East is only 2.5 games over Tampa Bay because the Red Sox just treaded water through back-to-back four-game home series vs. the Yankees and Blue Jays. Sale is a huge favorite in the opener, and the way that rotation is stacked should help Boston win the series. If they don’t…the AL East becomes wide open. The Halos are 2-3 since the All-Star Break. Hard to imagine a better rested team, given its days off Monday and Thursday during a homestand after the ASB! Fangraphs has Boston at 80% to win the division, and 95% to reach the playoffs. The Angels are at 13% to earn a Wildcard. 

NY Yankees (48-45): Sabathia, Tanaka, Cessa

Seattle (48-48): Moore, Miranda, Gaviglio

Early Friday Line: Sabathia -120, total of 9

This series began Thursday night. We’ll learn a lot over these next few days about whether these two have the starting rotations it would take to play in October. Fangraphs has the Yankees at 11% to win their division, 49% to make the playoffs as a division champ or Wildcard, and 5% to win the American League. Seattle is up to 26% to earn a Wildcard after taking two of three in Houston…and could directly pull down a team ahead of them with a big weekend. 

Horse Racing: Opening Day at Saratoga Friday, big bi-coastal weekend ahead

We’ll pop in periodically throughout the huge summer meets from Del Mar and Saratoga with notes from professional bettors. We hope you caught the great preview segment with Gabby Gaudet of NYRA Thursday afternoon on “My Guys in the Desert” with Ron Flatter and Amal Shah (with important contributions from Vinny Magliulo as well). If you missed that, click here and advance to the fourth segment of the first hour

And don’t forget that super-horse Arrogate will run Saturday at Del Mar in the Grade 3 San Diego Handicap. (Thursday evening, friend of VSiN Roxy Roxborough tweeted “Arrogate returns to racing action Saturday at #DelMar. Expect to see one of the largest show betting minus pools in recent memory.”)

Thanks to all of you who continue to provide important feedback and ask great questions. If you’re reading this on our website home page, remember that subscribing for free email delivery gets you an automatic entry into a drawing for a spot in the Westgate SuperContest (a $1,500 value). That drawing will be held August 19 (less than a month away!), which gives you out-of-towners plenty of time to set up a proxy before the start of the NFL season. 

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Back Monday to recap a great sports weekend…from continent to continent across the pond, and from coast to coast in North America (including the CFL)…we’ll cover all the action from a sports betting perspective here in VSiN City!

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