If you’re an action junkie like me, Nevada is the only place to be this weekend.
In a span of about 10 hours, you can bet on an important stretch in MLB, the first weekend of college football, the 3-year-old horse racing event of the year, the most important week of the NFL preseason and then the most heavily bet boxing event in history.
Is this a great state or what?
You have to get up early and eat one of those buffet breakfasts to get energized for a long and enjoyable Saturday that will be bookended by the fighters. That’s right, bookended. With the taste of their Motor City brawl still fresh in their mouths, the New York Yankees and their newest arm, Sonny Gray, are in the Bronx at 10 a.m. to host Seattle. Don’t go to sleep on the Mariners. They are one of as many as nine teams still in the hunt for an American League wild card, with the Yankees leading the pack.
Then at 11:30 a.m., Oregon State travels to Fort Collins, Colorado, to raise the curtain on the new college football season — and Colorado State’s new $240 million stadium. The Rams are favored by 3½ points, but take a long look at the Beavers. Gary Andersen is an under-the-radar coach who has been putting together a decent team in Corvallis. Fourteen starters return from a group that closed last season with wins over Arizona and archrival Oregon.
Then it’s off to the races at 2:44 p.m. and the summertime derby at Saratoga. This the first time since 1982 that the Travers features three winners from Triple Crown races — the Kentucky Derby’s Always Dreaming (post 7), the Preakness’ Cloud Computing (1) and the Belmont’s Tapwrit (4). This race will either produce the 3-year-old champion of 2017 or, if one of the other nine horses wins, keep the confusion going until the Breeders’ Cup.
If you live in this region, it’s only appropriate to look at the No. 3 horse, West Coast. He is a lightly raced colt with three consecutive wins for trainer Bob Baffert. You might remember the last time Baffert brought a late bloomer to the Travers. That worked out rather well last year for Arrogate — with 13 lengths to spare.
After the race, there’s the Oakland Raiders playing at Dallas at 5 p.m., with the Cowboys laying 3 points.
Running back Ezekiel Elliott is expected to play for Dallas, and it might be the last time we see him until October. He has an appeal hearing scheduled for next week for his domestic violence punishment, and I do not expect the entire six-game suspension to be overturned.
At 6 p.m., Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers visit Denver, where the Broncos are favored by 3 as they try to ride into the season on the shaky arm of quarterback Trevor Siemian.
The starters usually play at least the first half in the third week of the preseason, so bettors might be able to spot a few trends this weekend.
Now, the nightcap — the boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor at T-Mobile Arena. It amazes me that this is going to have more money riding on it than any other in boxing, because in most ways this is an exhibition. It has to be when you consider McGregor is stepping out of his MMA comfort zone to box Mayweather. We hear the handle might hit $80 million, far eclipsing the record $50 million for the fight two years ago between Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao.
Las Vegan Kevin Lee, who will fight Tony Ferguson for the UFC interim lightweight title Oct. 7 at T-Mobile Arena, has been working in Mayweather’s camp. He told me Thursday on VSiN’s “My Guys in the Desert” that McGregor will present something that Mayweather has never seen.
“He can switch between those taekwondo stances and those side-on stances,” Lee said. “The arrangement can be a little bit different, because Conor understands the kicking range vs. the punching range. It might take Floyd a couple rounds to figure out his timing and his distance. People think McGregor is going to bully him. I honestly see McGregor keeping the distance and Floyd taking a little bit of time. But once Floyd figures out that style and that distance, he’s going to kill him.”
My two favorite stats on the fight are these:
— Mayweather has answered the bell for 387 three-minute rounds in his 49-0 career. McGregor has had 37 five-minute UFC rounds in his 21-3 career.
— And 99.95 x 4.5 million. That is the number of dollars multiplied by the estimated number of pay-per-view buys. The bounty of almost $450 million will be divided between the parties directly involved in the fight.
Brent Musburger’s betting column appears Saturday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Tune in to him on “My Guys in the Desert” from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday on SiriusXM 204 or VSiN.com.