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JOE GAVAZZI

Saturday, September 12, 2015

W. Michigan (-4-) at Georgia Southern 6:00 ET
Good news and bad news! W. Michigan came through for us as rivalry home dog against Michigan St. last Friday night. They lost 37-24 as 17 point home pup, despite being outrushed 196-18. With great confidence, we suited up with Georgia Southern, taking the generous 17 points from WVU, a team who was a notoriously poor favorite. We had the nation’s best returning rushing team, who averaged 383/7.2 overland last year. In the last 2 seasons, the Eagles had beaten Florida and played NC State and Georgia Tech to losses of 1 and 4 points. True enough, starting QB Ellison was suspended from the game. But, replacement QB Upshaw had completed 70% of his passes LY and averaged 9.6 YPR. The Eagles did outrush the Mounties, posting 195 RY, but a -5 net TO evening, in which Upshaw completed TWICE AS MANY PASSES (4) TO WVU, AS TO HIS OWN TEAMMATES, RESULTED IN A 44-0 WHITEWASH. Today, the totally embarrassed Georgia Southern program returns home and steps down in class against a visitor, who arguably left it on the field in one of their Super Bowl games of the year. We are aided by great line value because of the Broncos recent 12-3 ATS roll and 6 consecutive covers on the road. But, Statesboro, where Georgia Southern is 24-2 SU L4Y, is a long way from the comfy confines of Kalamazoo. The Georgia Southern victory is not really an upset in the eyes of this bureau, as the Eagles crank up their overland game.

Army at UConn (-7-) Noon ET CBC TV
Hard to back a UConn team, who is on runs of 4-13 and 0-6 ATS as chalk. In last year’s 2-10 SU, 2-9 ATS disaster under 2nd year HC Diaco (top assistant coach in the nation in 2012 with Notre Dame), not only did the Huskies allow 30 PPG for consecutive seasons, but they also averaged just 15/278 on the offensive side of the ball. Included in the nadir of their discontent was a 35-21 loss to Army in which they were outrushed 327-163. So, why should we think things are any different in Storrs? Their Week 1 victory last Thursday against highly-respected Villanova gives the answers. Not only did they hold the Wildcats to 15/303, but they also unveiled the reason for hope on the offensive side of the ball. That comes in the person of new OC Frank Verducci (Iowa, Buffalo Bills), who was brought in to coach up a revamped offense led by NC State transfer, QB Shirreffs. Army looks ripe for the taking considering Week 1 results that saw the Black Knights of the Hudson drop a 37-35 decision (as 14 point home chalk) to little respected Fordham. Though Army outrushed Fordham 256-123, they allowed the Rams to pass for 322 yards. That’s a great sign for Verducci and Shirreffs considering Army’s recent record on the road which is 0-20 SU and 1-19 ATS. MUSH!

Fresno St. at Mississippi (-29) 3:30 ET ESPN2
Fresno travels 2,000 miles east after hosting ABC last Thursday night. A 34-13 win saw the Bulldogs join the 200 CLUB. But, it is a long way to the SEC for this encounter. After a 9-4 SU, 10-2 ATS maiden voyage, 4th year HC DeRuyter saw his Bulldogs dip to 6-8 SU, 6-7 ATS in 2014. That included an offensive decline from 43 to 26 points and a defense that was a 200 CLUB member, allowing 32/456. Fresno has had little success when stepping up in class in recent years, dropping opening week decisions last year by counts of 52-13 to USC, 59-27 to Utah and 55-19 to Nebraska. They culminated the year by losing 30-6 to Rice in their Bowl game. Bad omen against powerful Ole Miss, whose first year JUCO QB Kelly had a dominating performance in the Rebels’ 76-3 win last week (as -42) vs. outmanned Tenn-Martin. Rebels joined the 300 CLUB on offense with 662 total yards. It was a further indication that 4th year HC Freeze takes no prisoners. Witness his 36-16 ATS lifetime mark and the return of a defense that allowed just 16/329 LY. Worried about a look ahead to Alabama next week? No problem! Rebels are 6-0 SU ATS prior to playing the Tide. Lay it!

Temple at Cincinnati (-7-) 8:00 ET ESN
This one has become a bit scary, as “everybody and his dog” has jumped on the Owls as “experienced, defensive dog with revenge.” This FREE OPINION is as far as it will go with this bureau. Last year, the Bearcats recorded consecutive 9-4 SU seasons under now 3rd year HC Tuberville. Not unnoticed by this bureau was a defense that allowed 27/439. With only 5 RS to that unit, there is cause for concern. Week 1 saw returning QB Kiel lead a 52-10 home victory (as -46) against outmanned Alabama St. The Bearcats joined the 200 CLUB and DOUBLERUSHED Alabama St. with a convincing 636-236 yardage edge. They will have a tough time repeating that dominance against Temple. In last season’s 14-6 late November victory vs. Temple, the Owls actually won the yardage battle 267-255. Fueled by their upset of Penn St. last week – it was for real with a 317-199 yardage edge, the Owls hunger for revenge. Behind QB Walker and a defense that authored 10 sacks, 19 RS are set to continue their improvement under 3rd year HC Rhule, who took the Owls from 2 to 6 wins last year. That included a defensive performance in which his team allowed just 17/347. Makes a lot of sense to take the more experienced, revenging defensive dog. But, that looks very easy. Buyer beware!

LSU (-4) at Mississippi St. 9:15 ET ESPN
LSU did not even suit up (game postponed against McNeese due to weather) and still the line has flipped to their favor, exacerbated by public money that has driven the line from 2 to 4 points. Remember, this is a Miss St. team, who under 7th year HC Mullen, is 18-3 SU on this field of late. It was also less than 1 year ago that these Bulldogs held the No. 1 ranking in the land. But, a 1-3 SU finish dropped the Bulldogs to 10-3 SU. Now with just 8 RS, 4 on each side of the ball, there are some paybacks in order. This one comes from a LSU team who lost 34-29 to Miss. St. on September 20th of last year. It was all part of a decline that has seen the Tigers drop from 13 wins in 2011 to only 8 wins in 2014. Time for the bounce under 11th year HC Miles, who this year features a veteran offense that should return the Tigers to their 30+ PPG standards. With the addition of new DC Steele (Alabama), it looks like the Tigers are ready to growl once again. QB Dak Prescott not enough for the home standing Bulldogs! Nor is a defense that allowed 413 yards to S. Mississippi last week.

Marshall (-3) at Ohio 7:00 ET
These teams have met each of the last 4 seasons with Ohio standing 3-1 SU, but the home team going 4-0 ATS. That includes last year, when a 6-6 SU Ohio team traveled to Huntington and came home with a 44-14 defeat in which they were outgained 705-377. If you are thinking along the lines of humiliating revenge, then you would be on the same page as this bureau. So are the 17 RS for the Bobcats, who have one of the most experienced teams in the nation. The 45-28 opening game win, last Thursday at Idaho saw this veteran Ohio team join the 200 CLUB with 489 yards. That’s a solid offensive effort from a team whose offense had dipped to 20/370 LY. With 9 days’ rest, they now host a Marshall team, who plays with only 6 day’s rest, after their Sunday victory vs. Purdue. In that game, Marshall was outgained 454-397. But, a pair of pick-6 scores, including one for the ATS victory with less than 2 minutes remaining, gave the home standing Herd the victory. Not so fortunate today, as Ohio now the more veteran team with a viable embarrassing revenge motive, gets the victory and gains their revenge.

THE LONE RANGER CONTRARY PLAY OF THE WEEK … Hawaii (+40)

Hawaii at Ohio St. (-40) Noon ET BIG 10 TV
Each week in this space, I isolate the CFB LONE RANGER CONTRARY PLAY OF THE WEEK. It is a blend of statistical, situational and technical analysis that will result in an outstanding opportunity for you to cash a winning ticket.

Our first LONE RANGER PLAY OF THE WEEK came through like a champ when we faded the world with Washington (+) over public darling, Boise St. The Alpo eaters devoured nearly the whole bowl, succumbing late in the 4th quarter. Though I don’t believe Hawaii will make a game of it, there is plenty of room to come inside this number that became inflated following the Ohio St. Monday night result. But before we can talk about that story, let’s revisit Hawaii’s Friday night results.

The truth is the Rainbow Warriors may have gotten a bit fortunate in their 28-20 home victory over a phony favorite, the Colorado Buffalo. You see, the Buffs outrushed Hawaii 215-101, one of only 4 of 15 DOUBLE RUSHERS who did not bring home the ATS bacon in Week 1. On the bright side of the ledger, USC transfer, QB Wittek, led a passing attack that went 19 for 38 for over 2 bucks. Nonetheless, the 303 total yards put up by Hawaii is about 150 less than the Buffs usually allow. That is hardly an endorsement for a team who now must travel some 4,500 miles east for a 9:30 a.m. body time start against the defending champs. As a result, this play is not so much ON Hawaii, whose 3 new coordinators are trying desperately to save the job of HC Chow, who in his 4th season is just 9-29 SU. Rather, this is a contrary stance against the defending champs.

After bolting to a 14-0 1st quarter lead, Ohio St. began to read their press clippings. The committed a pair of 2nd quarter TOs which allowed the Hokies to go to the locker room with a 17-14 lead. So much for only home loss revenge! At the half, ESPN cameras flashed to VA Tech QB, Brewer, who after getting sandwiched by a pair of Ohio St. defenders late in the first half was asked by his teammates “are you OK?” It was the certain KOD (kiss of death) when Brewer arrogantly replied, “it will take a lot more than that to knock me out of this game!” And, that is exactly what happened, when early in the 3rd quarter, Brewer was slammed to the ground by the Ohio St. pass rush, separating his left (non-throwing) shoulder in the process. From there on, it was all Buckeyes who scored 28 unanswered before the Hokies fired a meaningless backdoor shot. But, the combination of Ohio St. triplets, Jones, Miller and Elliott (they barely used projected starter, JT Bartlett), were all the viewers needed to see to make their mind up about this contest. One look at the stats which saw Ohio St. a member of the 200 CLUB and DOUBLE RUSHERS, confirmed their belief. Ergo, this 40-point impost, a full TD higher than it would have been last week (despite Hawaii covering by 16 points).

This one’s tough to bet (remember how much trouble you had pulling the trigger on Washington last week?), but it’s the right SIDE considering the value in the line and that HC Meyer is just 10-10 ATS as Columbus chalk of late. Join the Lone Ranger and me for this Week 2 contrary play.

Appalachian St. at Clemson (-18) 12:30 ET
Download this APP immediately onto your betting sheet this Saturday. For starters, this is a fully qualified RS play with the Mountaineers having an 18-9 edge in returning talent. And, although Clemson does return 6 starters to the offensive side of the ball, there will clearly be an adjustment phase with previous OC Morris departing for SMU. QB Watson did lead the Tigers to a 45-10 win and cover over Wofford last Saturday, as home standing Clemson joined the 200 CLUB, outgaining the visitor 533-213. But, the return of only 3 defensive starters means that it is unlikely that the 17/261 defense of last year will be replicated. Under 3rd year HC Satterfield, the Mounties started their season with a 49-0 whitewash of outmanned Howard. Even to a greater degree than Clemson, App St. joined the 300 CLUB with a 663-172 yardage edge. It is that underrated but veteran defense, who allowed just 20 PPG the last 6 games of the season that may well lead this potential upset. Ideal spot for App St. to catch the Tigers who are surely looking forward to their Thursday night appearance at Louisville just 5 days hence. There’s plenty of room for the backdoor to swing wide open, making App. St. a high-percentage play.

Oregon St. at Michigan (-16) Noon ET ABC TV
The technicals are all wrong for this play, but the situation is ideal. After Wisconsin was whitewashed 59-0 in last year’s Big 10 Playoff game, then HC Gary Andersen decided he had enough of the Midwest. With the PAC 12 coaching opening at Oregon St., Andersen returned to his west coast roots and the tiny, low-pressure town of Corvallis. Andersen brings with him a plethora of money-making roles. Consider he is 20-6 ATS in non-con games, including 9-0 ATS when taking double digits. In addition, Andersen proved to be a righteous road dog in his time at Utah St. He brings a 19-6 ATS dog log to this contest. Those numbers may have to wait, considering the rebuilding effort he faces with an Oregon St. team, who in the last 4 seasons is a combined 24-26 SU and just 20-26 ATS. In Week 1, the Beavers could win just 26-7, as 28 point home chalk vs. Weber St. They did, however, outgain the Wildcats 391-178. Today, however, they travel 3 time zones east for a 9:00 a.m. body time start, as Andersen visits this Big 10 venue (his Badger team did not face the Wolves in his 2-year tenure in the Big 10). Today, Andersen and his Beavers are in the wrong place at the wrong time. Under 1st year HC Harbaugh, Michigan put up a valiant effort at Utah on opening night, last Thursday. They actually outgained the Utes 355-337 with chances to win the game were it not for 3 key INTs. Situations and emotions play a huge part in CFB handicapping. Today, those intangibles are all on the SIDE of home standing Michigan and Harbaugh’s return to the Big House.

CFB CRUSHER OF THE WEEK … Georgia Tech (-28-)

Tulane at Georgia Tech (-28-) 3:30 ET
Each week in this space, I will isolate the CFB CRUSHER OF THE WEEK. It will be a blend of statistical, situational and technical analysis that will result in an outstanding opportunity for you to cash a winning ticket. Look for this dominating favorite to either DOUBLE RUSH their opponent (a 75% chance of pointspread success) or run and pass for 200+ yards (200 CLUB, A 74% pointspread winner). Here is this week’s winner.

The Tulane Green Wave travels to Georgia Tech for a game 2 for each team. These teams posted divergent results in the first week of play. Before this line slips away from us (it has already been moved a TD from last week), we must lay the lumber in what is most assuredly the CRUSHER OF THE WEEK.

With 9 starters returning to the offensive side of the ball (16 RS in all), a rebound season was expected from a Tulane team that dropped from 7-6 SU, 8-4 ATS in 2013 to 3-9 SU, 3-8 ATS last year. In opening week, they hosted Duke, a team who had smacked them (47-13) last season. But, revenge was never in the offing! The Blue Devils recorded a 200 Club night and double rushed the Greenies 206-25 in rolling up a 530-271 yardage advantage in a 37-7 victory. Now, this Tulane team, who averaged just 16 PPG last year must travel east in what will surely be your CRUSHER OF THE WEEK.

Last year, Georgia Tech won this matchup (38-21), covering the 9 point road impost at Tulane. In so doing, they outrushed the Green Wave 344-81, easily DOUBLERUSHING them for the cover. Expect more of the same today, despite the fact that Tech may not show their entire hand with a game vs. Notre Dame next week. Nonetheless, a veteran Tech offense STEAMROLLED to a 69-6 cover as (-41) in their opening week win vs. Alcorn. In so doing, they DOUBLERUSHED Alcorn 476-166. The game was over early, when the Jackets put up 34 points in the 1st quarter. QB Thomas and the rest of the offense, including RB Marshall, took off the last half of the afternoon. There is precedence for our selection, noting that Tech HC Johnson is on a bit of a pointspread roll. The Jackets have covered 11 of 15 most recently and are an identical 11-4 ATS laying double digits of late.

You have got a scoop, if Tech does not DOUBLERUSH this opponent and easily cover the 4TD impost!

Notre Dame (-12-) at Virginia 3:30 ET ABC TV
Fighting Irish lived up to their press clippings with an opening week (38-3) home field win vs. Texas. In that game, they DOUBLERUSHED the Longhorns 214-60 and had 200 CLUB numbers in outgaining Texas 527-163. As a result, combined with the first week results by Virginia, this line has been inflated with the help of the public by more than a full TD. The “chosen Rosen” caused Virginia multiple headaches in their 34-16 loss at UCLA. Rosen went 28 for 37, good for 351 yards. A late score allowed Virginia to slip in the back door of the early Saturday morning number. This is also a bit of a road sandwich game for the Fighting Irish, as they return home to face a higher-profile Georgia Tech team next week. The technicals are clearly in our favor, as Notre Dame is just 2-8 ATS as double digit favorite of late and 3-7 ATS as road chalk. Virginia, who is once again playing to keep HC London off the hot seat, has sparkled in this role going 6-2 ATS recently on this field, while covering their last 4 roles as home dog. Expect a Super Bowl type effort from Virginia, while Notre Dame is caught in a downer!

Iowa (-3-) at Iowa St. 4:45 ET FOX TV
Opening week results and rivalry revenge has us siding with Iowa and the better defense in this game. Last week, the Hawkeyes were only 10 point favorites against Illinois St. That’s because the Red Birds are decent in the Top 5 of FBS schools. Iowa was impressive with 200 CLUB numbers, outgaining a potent Red Bird attack 431-231. Also last Saturday, Iowa St. struggled with N. Iowa. In a misleading 31-7 win and cover, as -14, the Panthers actually won the overland yardage 126-77 and were outgained by Iowa St. only 310-302. Now, an Iowa St. team, who is just 5-19 SU the last 2 years and was outscored 39-23 and outgained 529-372, returns to this field as rivalry home dog. Forget about it! Not only did Iowa play the far more impressive game last week, but they are also the more motivated team. Last year, on September 13th as a 13 point home favorite, Iowa lost 20-17 to this in-state rival. These have been outstanding roles for 17th year Iowa HC Ferentz, as he is 14-4 ATS with previous season home loss revenge and a solid 4-1 SU ATS as road chalk L2Y with wins of 16 at Illinois, 14 at Purdue, 22 (again at Purdue) and 16 at Minnesota, as well as 6 in a pick-em situation when the Hawkeyes traveled to Iowa St. 2 years ago. A nice under the radar, Hidden Gem!

N. Texas at SMU (-4-) 7:00 ET
First game of the season for N. Texas, first win of the season for SMU! The Mean Green took a week off last week, as they honed their skills, hoping to rebound from a 4-8 SU, 3-8 ATS season. Dropping from 9-4 SU, 10-3 ATS the year before, their defense declined from 18 to 30 points. A lack of experience was clearly an issue. With 6 RS to that side of the ball in 2015, not sure there will be much improvement for the Mean Green. On the road, it was a disaster for the Mean Green. In 6 road contests, including 4 vs. a weak CUSA slate, they went 0-6 SU ATS, losing by 31 at Texas, 25 at Indiana, 35 at UAB, 20 at Rice, 18 at UTEP and 7 at UTSA. None of those get the money today. Far prefer to back a SMU team who may turn out to be one of the most improved teams in the nation, under highly-regarded 1st year HC Morris, the former OC at Clemson. In the Week 1 opener against the powerful Baylor Bears, SMU gave their Top 5 rival all they can handle, scoring 21 points in the first half. Though the Ponies eventually wore down, allowing 56 points and 723 yards to Baylor, they had made their case for a vastly improved team over the one who was outscored by an average of 41-11, in going 1-11 SU in 2014. With 43-6 revenge as a motivator for a loss this very week last season, it’s time to buy in before the prices get out of control.

Oregon at Michigan St. (-4) 8:00 ET ABC TV
Michigan St. led this game 27-18 in the 3rd quarter last year, before Oregon scored the last 28 points at Autzen for a 46-27 final. Now, the Spartans get the Ducks traveling 3 time zones east for the 8:00 p.m. ET Marquee Matchup of the Night on ABC. New Oregon QB, Vernon Adams (E. Washington transfer), led the Ducks to a 61-42 opening day win against Adams’ alma mater. In typical Oregon fashion, they rolled up 731 offensive yards. But, they failed to cover the 35 point number because they allowed 42 points and 549 yards. Again this year, in the 3rd year under HC Helfrich, Oregon will feature their go-go offensive system of a veteran team and a high-scoring offense. But with Adams (in place of Mariota) making his first road start in a high-profile arena, it is improbable that the Ducks put their best foot forward. Spartans are on an 18-9 ATS run, including 14-7 ATS as chalk. With the advantage of a home field, where they are 13-1 SU the previous 2 seasons and the motivation of revenge, we’ll take the better defense and lay the small number. Before you take off the rubber band, however, note that the jury is still out on DC Snyder as a replacement for long-time DC Narduzzi, who has matriculated to Pitt.

CFB BIG DOG OF THE WEEK … Central Florida (+19)

Central Florida at Stanford (-19) 10:30 ET FS1
Each week in this space, I will isolate the CFB BIG DOG OF THE WEEK. It will be a selection in which our team is an underdog of 6 or more points. It will be a blend of statistical, situational and technical analysis that will result in an outstanding opportunity for you to cash a winning ticket.

UCF travels the 3,000 miles coast to coast for this 10:30 ET body time start (not even these guys play football at 10:30 at night) against the Stanford Cardinal. Each of these teams comes off a loss as a double digit favorite last week in their opening game, putting up miserable offensive performances. Yet, the linemaker’s adjustment clearly makes this an overlay on Stanford, who would have been less than a 2 TD favorite, if this game were played at any time in the previous 12 months.

Stanford looked disoriented in their 9:00 a.m. ET body start as 12 point road chalk at Northwestern last week. An improved Northwestern team led wire-to-wire in a dominating (16-6) victory, an easy ATS winner, one of 14 of the 20 games in which I had written analysis last week. The Wildcats outrushed a rebuilding Cardinal defense 225-85. Highly thought of Stanford QB Hogan looked disoriented in leading a Stanford passing attack to just 155 yards. The conservative play calling of HC Shaw, with Stanford trailing by double digits in the 4th, was mystifying. Following a 3-0 SU ATS finish to last season, much more was expected from a veteran QB and a perennially tough defense that has not allowed more than 20 PPG in each of the previous 3 seasons. I am well aware that the Cardinal is 7-1 ATS/loss, but there is no precedent for a Game 2 bounce back by last year’s Bowlers following a Game 1 defeat.

The 15-14 loss by UCF to in-state rival, Florida Int’l, as 17 point favorite was not as mystifying to this bureau. FIU is a team on the rise under HC Turner. In outgaining UCF 391-295, the Panthers outrushed the Knights 131-46. Much like Stanford, this UCF team, under 12th year HC O’Leary, is built from the ground up on defense. Over the last 4 years, they have allowed a cumulative 20 PPG, including just 19 PPG LY, only 298 total yards and only 104/3.2 overland. In a defensive battle with offenses that have not gotten on track, 19 points is a mountain, considering the success of UCF in this role under O’Leary. Long-term, that record is 20-10 ATS as road dog with the Knights standing 6-1 ATS as underdog the last 2 seasons.

Big Dog take in a game that figures to be decided by single digits!