UCLA should be sitting alone at the top of the Pacific 10 Conference standings by Saturday evening, figuring to easily dispatch Stanford in the opener at Palo Alto.
Any bettor who thinks the Bruins will be in that lofty position at the end of the season can get UCLA at +750 on the website Sportbet.com. This means a $100 wager on the Bruins to win the conference title would be worth $750 should they capture the Pac-10 title for the first time since 1998.
Of course, no such value exists on USC. The Trojans, whose season will be considered a failure by most if they do anything other than win the national championship, are -260 to win the Pac-10. In other words, a $260 bet on USC would return $100 if the Trojans do the expected and win the conference. They have won or shared the Pac-10 title five years in a row.
The second choice at +340 is California, which has 17 returning starters from a team that finished 10-3 last year, ending with a rout of Texas A&M in the Holiday Bowl.
As for the rest of the Pac-10, Arizona, Arizona State and Oregon are all +1100, Oregon State, which beat USC last year, is +2800, Washington and Washington State are +3000 and Stanford is +5000.
Boston's Josh Beckett will be trying to achieve a career mark when he pitches in New York tonight in the middle game of a series with the Yankees.
The former Florida pitcher will be looking for a career-high 17th win when he faces Roger Clemens.
Beckett will be hard to handle if he pitches as well tonight as he has in his four other starts this month. Beckett is 3-0 with a 2.25 earned-run average in August.
Although he has won two of three decisions against the Yankees in his career, Beckett hasn't exactly fooled anyone when facing them. His ERA against New York is 7.53.
This will be the first time Clemens, 45, has faced the Red Sox since rejoining the Yankees. A winner of four of his last six decisions, Clemens has been much more effective at Yankee Stadium this year than on the road. His ERA is 2.79 at home and more than three runs higher (5.93) in away starts.
August has been a nightmare for the Phillies' Jamie Moyer, something the left-hander hopes to change in his final start of the month tonight against visiting New York.
Moyer has an ERA of 7.27 in August and was rocked for six runs in a little more than four innings against the Padres last week. He is 0-1 against the Mets this year, losing, 5-3, on April 12.
Another left-hander, Oliver Perez, will start for New York and he comes off an excellent performance, shutting out the Dodgers over seven innings last weekend. Perez was very shaky in his only start against Philadelphia, issuing seven walks in less than three innings of work in a 5-2 loss on April 11.
No matter how Perez and Moyer pitch, expect the Phillies to lose if the game is close. They are a National League worst 9-20 in one-run games.