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Reply To: NCAA Week 13 • Previews, Articles, Info. • Saturday 11/28/15

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Ohio St. at Michigan (-1) Noon ET ABC TV

Is it undefeated letdown for the Buckeyes, whose chance for consecutive National Titles may well have gone out the window with their loss to Michigan St. last week in which they gained only 133 total yards in their LHG. Or, do the Buckeyes extend a series history in which they are 9-1 SU, including 3 consecutive victories by current HC Meyer (by 14, 1 and 5 points) who knows this is his most important game of the season? For starters, we get great value because of the somnambulating season that the Buckeyes have endured, resulting in a 4-7 ATS (-35) AFP log, which has now made them a small underdog in a matchup where they would have been favored by double digits at the start of the season. When we consider that HC Meyer is 6-0 ATS as underdog at Ohio St. and that his Buckeyes are a perfect 17-0 SU on the road, there can be little doubt that Meyer will have his team ready for his main rival. Must bark with the Buckeyes, who will be supremely motivated by their arch rival!

Iowa St. at WVU (-14) NOON ET FS1

Never enamored backing HC Holgerson as home chalk, and we could well get bit by an emotional edge for Iowa St. today! That’s because WVU just qualified for their Bowl bid with a (49-0) destruction of Kansas last week, while Iowa St. could give their best effort for soon to be departing HC Rhoades. Then again, there is a distinct possibility that this Iowa St. team, who is now 3-8 SU, has had its guts ripped out in the 2 preceding losses in which Oklahoma St. and Kansas St. came roaring back for respective victories of (35-31 and 38-35). We will opt for the latter in which case this is a true butt-kicking.

Indiana (-6-) at Purdue Noon ET Big 10 TV

Not really the style of Feast Week to back defenseless road chalk in the role of “with need, you bleed.” As good as the Indiana offense is (35/476), the defense is still struggling at 37/510. Yet they have been far more competitive in Big 10 play this season and just had a SOS win (save our season) against Maryland last week. It’s a game in which they proved their mettle, when they fell in an early (21-7) hole before rallying for the (47-28) victory. True to form, they outgained Maryland 555-489. Are they able to duplicate that road win against a Purdue team, who may truly have tossed the towel after their (40-20) loss at undefeated Iowa dropped them to 2-9 SU for the season. The Purdue defense is every bit as bad as that of the visitor, but at 24/358 on the offensive side, they don’t have anywhere near the punch of QB Sudfeld and RB Howard (knee), if he is healthy. Lay it, if you play it!

Vanderbilt at Tennessee (-17-) 4:00 ET SEC TV

The Vanderbilt Commodores travel from Nashville to Knoxville for this annual, season-ending rivalry game. Festivities begin at 4:00 ET as televised by SEC TV. Regardless of the status of these two teams at season end, this has been a hard fought rivalry. In the last 8 seasons, Vandy has not lost this game by more than 15 points and has actually upset the Vols in 2 of the 3 previous seasons. Last year’s loss to Tennessee was (24-17), a game in which the Coms outgained the Vols 272-262. This is a great example of a rivalry underdog, who, as losing team, will be playing THIS game as THEIR Bowl game of the year. It is from situation such as this, that shocking rivalry week upsets are born.

Authoring consecutive winning seasons (after a trio of 5-7 SU campaigns), 3rd year Tennessee HC Jones has lifted his team to eligibility for a Bowl in consecutive seasons. They had a huge win last week at Missouri and have much less to prove than underdog Vandy in this contest. Tennessee is indeed solid on both sides of the ball with an average margin of victory of 13 PPG, while outgaining foes 413-367. But, that hardly makes them a margin team in this situation.

It is obvious to all that this Vandy offense is struggling at just 14 PPG. But, their 18 point defensive allowance as they enter this game qualifies them as one of our Super Ds. In fact, that 18 PPG allowance is little more than today’s impost! Not surprisingly, this big rivalry dog has covered 3 straight in the series and enters with a record of 10-5 ATS as road underdog. That includes ATS wins this season in an 11 point loss at Mississippi and a 2 point loss at Florida in which they were taking a similar number of (+19). Little doubt that this is the Bowl game for Vandy, who will give a 100% effort on both sides of the ball the entire game.

In college football rivalry weekend, where underdogs annually cover the pointspread more than not, this is an outstanding opportunity for a BIG DOG with far greater motivation and the superior defense to come in under this inflated number.

N. Carolina (-5-) at NC State 3:30 ET ESPN2

It is less than an hour from Chapel Hill to Raleigh, but the intensity of this rivalry is as fierce as if they were next door neighbors. The game is scheduled for a 3:30 ET kick as televised on ESPN2. Last year, NC State visited Chapel Hill and came away with a (35-7) victory, outgaining the Tar Heels 454-207. That was in the middle of a 3-0 SU ATS season-ending run for the Wolfpack and a 0-2 SU ATS season ending slide for a N. Carolina team, who gave up a program high, 39 PPG and 498 yards last season. This year, they again meet in the season finale. But, the situation is oh so different!

N. Carolina is the team with the momentum based on the 10-game winning streak that has resulted in an 8-3 ATS log in which they have covered by 115 points. Though NC State is 7-4 SU for the year, they do not hold the same type of momentum edge that was apparent between these teams last season.

My cause for concern in this game is the Tar Heels’ look ahead to their ACC Championship game next week against No. 1 Clemson. My hope is that the motivation of revenge from last year’s loss and the intensity of this rivalry works in their favor. For, the fundamentals are surely in place.

As an example of the NC State favorite/underdog dichotomy, I point to our 6% CFB GOY on November 7th, when the Wolfpack, as -4 favorite, went to Chestnut Hill and totally dominated Boston College in a (24-8) win. That was consistent with their performance in the favorite role all year against sub.500 teams vs. whom they were favored, they have won by 28 vs. Troy, 35 vs. E. Kentucky, 24 at ODU, 50 at S. Alabama, 18 at Wake, 16 at BC and 13 vs. Syracuse last week. All but last week’s win vs. the Orange (a look ahead to this matchup) were covers. Now, consider their performances against quality teams: a 7 point loss on this field to Louisville, a 15 point loss at VA Tech, a 15 point loss to Clemson and a 17 point loss at Florida St. As will be discussed, there is still a weakness in the NC rushing defense as the Tar Heels allow 199/4.5 overland. BUT, NC STATE IS OPERATING WITHOUT THEIR 2 BEST RBS, DAYES AND THORNTON, WHO ARE OFY. Superstar QB Brissett will have a tough time doing it with his arm against a top-flight N. Carolina defensive secondary. As witnessed above, the NC State solid defensive numbers have been built against weak link competition.

That moniker will clearly not apply to this Tar Heel attack. Under the guidance of 4th year HC Fedora, who as OC at Oklahoma St. and HC at S. Mississippi was renowned for building balanced explosive offenses, the Tar Heels this year are a proud member of the 200 CLUB. It has resulted in an average of 41 PPG, 491 YPG and 7.5 YP play. Following an opening night victory against S. Carolina (QB Williams threw 2 INTs in the Gamecock end zone), the Heels have ripped off 10 straight victories with all but the 30-27 win at VA Tech last week (Hokies in LHG for Beamer, NC in look ahead to this game) were by 7 or more points. That includes a road win of (26-19) at a viable Pitt team.

Remembering the (35-7) loss of last year, do not expect HC Fedora or QB Williams to take their foot off the gas pedal, as they CRUSH NC State and enter next week’s ACC Title game with Clemson with momentum building confidence.

Florida St. (-2-) at Florida 7:30 ET ESPN

Maybe it is no tougher than this. Florida St. 6th year HC Fisher is a dead .500 spread coach at 37-37 ATS in his career at Florida St. That includes several negative subsets in varying roles today. Meanwhile, quickly ascending Florida HC McElwain, the former OC at Alabama, who resurrected Colorado St., is now 29-11 ATS in his coaching career and has not lost when coaching a home team for 14 consecutive games. That includes 6 times this year with the Florida Gators, not the least of which was a (38-10) drubbing of highly respected Ole Miss as 6 point home dog earlier this season. All the goals are still out there for Florida, including the SEC Title and a spot in the Final Four. For Florida St., who has appeared in consecutive national championship games, those goals evaporated long ago with a loss to Clemson on November 7th. Florida has the motivation of double revenge in this rivalry and a Super D that allows just 15/282, superior to that of the Sems by over 50 yards. I can only believe the wrong team is favored and must take the points with this Super D, the more highly motivated team.

Alabama (-14-) at Auburn 3:30 ET CBS

The Alabama Crimson Tide play the annual Iron Bowl against the arch-rival Auburn Tigers in this 3:30 ET kick as televised on CBS. As you will see from the analysis below, this is arguably the most contrary play on the board this week. For, Alabama is playing better than any other team in the nation, while rival Auburn enters today on a downer for consecutive seasons.

Though Alabama took advantage of their rival for a (55-44) victory last year in Tuscaloosa, it will forever live in the minds and hearts of all who bleed Crimson that it was 2 years ago this weekend that Alabama suffered the pain of the “kick 6,” as relived numerous times on national TV replays. That occurred when Auburn, on the final play of the game, returned a missed FG the length of the field for a (34-28) victory which launched them into the SEC Championship game and a date with Florida St. for the Championship.

The Tigers used that momentum for a 6-1 SU start to last season, but a (41-38) loss on this field to A&M, as 24 point home favorite, spun the Tigers’ season into a 1-4 SU, 0-5 ATS finish from which they have never recovered this season. Though they qualified for Bowl eligibility last week with a (56-34) win vs. Idaho, they remain just 7-10 SU since that Texas A&M loss LY on a 2-14 ATS slide. There has been slippage on both sides of the ball, as Auburn allows 181/4.5 overland (death against the Alabama ground game), a total of 27 PPG and a total of 418 YPG. Of a greater concern is an Auburn offense that has performed well below the expectations under offensive guru HC Malzahn. After averaging 37 PPG and nearly 500 YPG with Malzahn at the helm in the first 2 seasons, Auburn is averaging just 28/377 this year.

As noted above, Alabama is playing as well as any team in the nation right now. On September 19th, as 7 point home favorite, the Tide lost (43-37) to Ole Miss. Since that time, they have reeled off 8 consecutive victories, including defining wins of 13 or more points vs. Georgia, Arkansas, Texas A&M, LSU and Mississippi St. Since Clemson remains No. 1 in the polls, however, there is ample motivation for Saban and his minions to post a season-defining victory.

With those facts well-known to all, it is a short leap for the public to back what they figure to be a minor impost to the fortunes of the Crimson Tide. That, in turn, leaves the betting window wide open for you, me and the Lone Ranger in the week’s biggest contrary play on the CFB card.

S. Mississippi at LA Tech (-6) Noon ET

On Saturday, the S. Mississippi Golden Eagles travel to Ruston, LA, where they will face the LA Tech Bulldogs at Joe Aillet Stadium. The game is scheduled for a Noon ET kickoff. This contest will decide the CUSA West divisional winner, who will play in the Championship Game next weekend. Last year when these teams met, LA Tech recorded a (31-20) victory as 7 point road favorite. But, it was a hard fought game with S. Mississippi actually winning the yardage battle 379-348. That game came in the turnaround year for LA Tech. This year, it has been S. Mississippi who has emerged as the pointspread darling of the nation. We have been there on many weekends to back this emerging team, including last Saturday, when they used a 2nd half rally to cover for us against ODU (56-31) for our 6% CFB CRUSHER OF THE YEAR. This lifted the 4-year record for 6% Plays to 56-11 ATS.

This is the 3rd year of the Skip Holtz regime in Ruston. He took over for Sonny Dykes (left for California) at the end of the 2012 season. That 2012 team of Bulldogs averaged an amazing 51/578 on offense. But, they allowed a disastrous 38/526 on defense. Holtz has improved the defensive fortunes of the Bulldogs each season. But, the offense took a mighty hit with just 3 RS in 2013. That unit dropped from 51 to 19 PPG and was the main reason why LA Tech went 4-8 SU, 4-7 ATS in the 2013 campaign. Last year was the Bulldogs’ turnaround season. In the 2nd year under Holtz, the offense rebounded, the defense again improved and they went 9-5 SU, including a money-making 11-2 ATS. This season, the Bulldogs enter on a 4-game winning streak for an 8-3 SU record. Admittedly, those have been against the weak links of the league as, in the last 3 weeks, they beaten lowly Rice, N. Texas and UTEP. More importantly, the line has caught up to them, as they are just 6-5 ATS for the season. Today, they face a S. Mississippi team, who is the LA Tech Bulldogs of 2015.

The S. Mississippi program has a strong history of excellence. This millennium, the Golden Eagles extended their number of consecutive winning seasons to over 20, under the leadership of Jeff Bauer and Larry Fedora. But, when Fedora departed Hattiesburg for Chapel Hill, he left the program in the hands of Ellis Johnson, a respected DC with no HC experience. The Eagles fell off the map, going from 12-2 SU in 2011 to 0-12 SU in 2012. Now, in the 3rd year under HC Todd Monken, the resurgence has been complete. The previous 3-year run saw S. Mississippi go 4-32 SU. This year, however, was the breakout season. Entering today, the Eagles have soared to a mark of 8-3 SU, 9-1 ATS, covering by 131 points. This includes 5 consecutive victories, including last week’s (56-31) destruction of ODU, when they both ran and passed for over 300 yards. Led by QB Mullens, this Eagles’ team is now on the cusp of attaining 200 CLUB status. They have an attack that averages 40 PPG, 533 YPG and 7.1 YP play. Most impressive is a vastly improved defense, which is likewise on the verge of Super D status, allowing just 22 PPG, 346 YPG and 5.0 YP play. Must continue to ride this red-hot team, particularly in the role of underdog, where their incredible momentum could easily carry them to this division title.

Oklahoma (-6) at Oklahoma St. 8:00 ET ABC

A pair of 10-1 SU teams faces off here in the Bedlam series. But, the situation, momentum and the fundamentals for each are oh so different! Oklahoma St. lost last week (45-35) to Baylor, as they allowed the Bears to put up 700 yards. Now, they must face an angry, avenging rival after the Cowboys just had their undefeated bubble burst. That happened to Oklahoma long ago, when they mysteriously lost to Texas in the Red River Rivalry. Since that time, however, Oklahoma has responded with 6 consecutive victories, including their (30-29) “hold on for dear life” win against TCU last week, when they outgained the Frogs 536-390. After avenging Baylor (44-34) the previous week, the Sooners now go for the revenge trifecta of the 3 best teams (other than themselves) in the Big 12. No letdown in store for the Sooners with all that revenge motivation and momentum. Fundamentally speaking, the Sooners have outgained conference foes by over 200 YPG, while the Cowboys have only a 20-yard edge against their conference competition. Oklahoma has clearly the better running game (by nearly 100 yards), the more balanced explosive offense and the better defense by 6 points and 80 yards. Combined with the emotional edges above, it is enough to get this victory by a double digit margin.

Arkansas St. (-17) at New Mexico St. 4:00 ET

Arkansas St. visits Las Cruces this Saturday for their matchup against New Mexico St. in Sun Belt play. Last week in this very space, we “went against the world” with our BLIND HOG selection on Colorado St. AGAINST NEW MEXICO, a team who had just pulled huge consecutive upsets. Final: Colorado St. (-1) 28, New Mexico 21…WINNER! That was part of a 9-4 ATS week on SBR videos that lifted the 2 week record to 21-5 ATS on this site. For Saturday, we are back at it again fading a team in the role of home dog, who has NOW WON 3 CONSECUTIVE GAMES OUTRIGHT AS AN UNDERDOG. That would be New Mexico St., a 3-7 SU team, whose only 3 victories of the season have come in their last 3 games. Today, they face the league leader, Arkansas St., who is undefeated in the conference and beat the Aggies by a score of 68-35 last season.

Obviously, this New Mexico St. team is making progress for 3rd year HC Doug Martin. The previous 3 years, New Mexico St. was a combined 5-31 SU, 8-23 ATS. In those seasons, they averaged just 22 PPG, while allowing 41 PPG. This year, those numbers have improved on the offensive side of the ball with the Aggies averaging 28/431. But, they continue to be among the nation’s worst defensive teams, allowing 44/530 YPG. This includes at least 268 YPG both running and passing.

Arkansas St. has had 2 weeks to prepare for this contest, after a (59-21) victory as 14 point favorite against LA Monroe. That lifted their record to 2-0 SU ATS as road favorite, as they previously defeated S. Alabama in the role of road favorite (49-31). Combined with their 40-27 upset of App St. as 11 point underdog, it puts the Red Wolves in position, at 6-0 SU, for the conference title and makes them 3-0 SU ATS away vs. the league with coverage of 60 points combined in their 3 road games. Led by a now healthy QB Knighten, the Wolves have won every league game by 10 or more points. Key is an explosive offense averaging 39 PPG. They will score at will against the outmanned New Mexico St. defense.

Last week, I explained the great profit potential in fading home dogs who are off a large upset win the previous week. It creates a letdown for the inferior home dog and provides extra motivation for the road favorite. Now, we get to use that theory against a team who is on a 5-38 SU run, prior to winning and covering 3 consecutive times in the role of underdog. The party in Las Cruces ends very early today! Red Wolves big!