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PROGNOSIS WEEK 5
N. Carolina at Georgia Tech (-7) 3:30 ET ESPNU
After devouring a pair of creampuffs in the early going (they beat Alcorn St. and Tulane by a combined 134-16), the Yellow Jackets return to reality with losses of 30-22 at Dame and 34-20 last week at Duke. Now, they return home to play a N. Carolina team who beat them 48-43 last year, despite the fact that Tech held a 376-189 overland edge. In last week’s loss to Duke, Tech actually held the yardage edge 316-279. Today, they will host a N. Carolina team who is turning around the fortunes of their 6-7 SU 2014 season. With 17 RS, and a Top 20 experienced team, UNC has gone 3-1 SU and is on a 3-game winning streak. Before you get excited, note that the loss was opening week of the season by a count of 17-13 to a not-so good S. Carolina team, while the 3 victories have come at home to the NCat, Illinois and Delaware. The hiring of DC Chizik was done so with the intention of turning around the Tar Heel defensive fortunes. They allowed 39 PPG, 498 YPG and were an undistinguished member of the 200 CLUB defense last year. One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is a Carolina rush defense which is allowing 229/5.0. Anybody who follows Georgia Tech football knows that Achilles’ heel will be death against the Tech ground game that is averaging 326/6.1. Whether it is QB Williams or Trubisky for the Tar Heels, it will not matter. For, Tech is eager to avenge their loss in the closing seconds to this opponent last year and bounce back big from a pair of road losses. Watch Tech STEAMROLL their way to victory today!
Ohio (-2-) at Akron 2:00 ET
Ohio U Bobcats visits the Akron Zips for the opening game of MAC play for each of these teams. If you have followed my MAC action this season, you know that I have been in love with this conference. MAC teams ended September 30-17 ATS in non-con play. That includes 11-2 ATS vs. Big 10 opponents. Now, these teams will battle it out to find which teams will make it to the post-season come December. In what would seem to be a classic MAC East rivalry, the Bobcats have dominated the Zips with 7 consecutive victories. In reverse order, these wins have been by 3, 40, 6, 17, 28, 12 and 7 points. All of those get us the money at the current ODDS of today’s game. Furthering our case is the Bobcats’ fury over their first loss of the season last week by a count of 27-24 at Big 10 Minnesota. In that game, Ohio U coaches and players were distraught over a disputed last second call that allowed Minnesota to kick the game winning FG. Full focus today for Ohio U!
Akron is an improving entity, under 4th year HC Bowden. He has repeatedly brought in transfer students, many from the state of Florida. Look for a bounce from the 5-7 SU, 2-9 ATS mark of last year. Already the Zips are 2-2 SU. Most importantly for our purposes is their 35-14 upset victory as 8 point dog over LA Lafayette last week. They used a (+3) TO margin and gained 220 or more yards, both running and passing the ball, to cover by 29 points. Bowden may have found something with QB Woodson who rushed 8 times for 93 yards and completed 13 passes for 238 yards. A closer inspection of the situational aspects of that game finds us knowing that it was a DEAD LOOK AHEAD SPOT FOR LA LAFAYETTE WHO HAS REVENGE AGAINST REGIONAL RIVAL LA TECH ON ITS PLATE THIS WEEK! With that in mind, we are well aware that it sets up one of our favorite situational angles in CFB. That is to PLAY AGAINST ANY HOME DOG WHO JUST WON STRAIGHT UP ON THE ROAD AS AN UNDERDOG OF 7 OR MORE POINTS. When specific parameters are applied, this shows a better than 60% ATS long-term winning percentage!
As much as Akron is improving, Ohio may be improving even more in what may be the best team ever in the 11th year of the HC Solich tenure. With 17 RS and a Top 20 experienced team, Ohio has covered all 4 games on the board by a combined 38 points. They are getting the job done on both sides of the ball with a 31/415 offense. But, more impressively, a defense that is allowing 20 PPG and 356 YPG.
Purdue at Michigan St. (-21-) Noon ET BIG 10 TV
Purdue visits Michigan St. for the BIG 10 opener for each team. The Spartans have been playing possum in the month of September, as 9thyear HC Dantonio has played it close to the vest the entire month. Now that BIG 10 action has started and with only a trip to unrespected Rutgers next week (Sparty beat the Knights 45-3 last season), Michigan St. will be my CFB PICK for the Blowout of the Week. Last week in this space, we used GA Southern (-16) as our Blowout of the Week over Idaho. The Eagles responded with a Kibbie Dome blowout victory of 44-20. They “Vandalized” Idaho with a 441-111 overland advantage.
Purdue has begun the season at 1-3 SU ATS with a (-24) AFP. Among the defeats was a loss to MAC entry, Bowling Green, last week by a score of 35-28. Note that, in that defeat Bowling Green had 539 yards of offense. In my article on this site last week entitled “The Little Engine that Could,” I noted the excellence of MAC teams in September play. That played to form, as last week, the MAC went 5-0 ATS against their Big 10 brethren, running their record to 10-2 ATS for the season (83%). If Purdue can allow a MAC team to beat them at home, giving up 539 yards, just imagine the potential for one of the best teams in the land. Remember that this is a Purdue team, who the week before, was outgained by VA Tech (who just lost to E. Carolina) 471-265 in a 51-24 loss.
It is clear that Michigan St. was pointing to one game in the month of September. That was their 31-28 home revenge victory against Oregon. Other than that, Dantonio showed very little to the opposition, resulting in a 0-4 ATS mark in which they failed to cover by 26 points. Included in the slate was a lethargic performance against W. Michigan, followed by 2 weeks of letdown following that Oregon win vs. Air Force and C. Michigan. Last week, Michigan St. actually lost the total yardage stats (340-324). More telling is their 181-55 overland edge, as they prepared for the BIG 10 season ahead.
The bottom line here is that due to the 0-4 ATS record of Michigan St., we have a line that is 4 points less than where it would have been in Week 1. Look for Michigan St., playing at home in their first conference game of the season, to turn it loose and easily outdistance a Purdue team headed to the BIG 10 basement by at least 4 TDs.
Minnesota at Northwestern (-4) Noon ET BIG 10 TV
These two have played it close to the vest in September with Minnesota going 3-1 SU and Northwestern 4-0 SU. Major difference is that the Wildcats have gone 3-1 ATS, covering by a net of 50 points, while Minnesota has gone 1-3 ATS, failing to cover by 24 points. This AFP differential has translated into a TD value in the line, as Minnesota would have been the favorite were this game played in Week 1. Each of these teams is excellent on the defensive side of the ball. Northwestern allows just 9/266/4.2, Minnesota allows just 19/313/4.4. With points at a premium, the underdog is the way to look in this game. That is particularly true, considering the fact that Minnesota has covered 5/6 recently in this series and that the Gophers are 6-1 ATS on the conference road of late. Value underdog play with the Gophers which figures to go to the final whistle!
Iowa at Wisconsin (-7) Noon ET ESPN
Wisconsin has devoured a trio of creampuffs, after their opening day loss to Alabama (35-17) when they were STEAMROLLED. There is not really much to gather from the Badgers beating Miami, OH, Troy and Hawaii on this field by a combined 109-3 in the last 3 weeks. Now, they must face a real team once again and I’m not sure they are ready for the task. Lead runner, RB Clements (hernia), will miss 4 to 6 weeks. Without him, the bread and butter Wisconsin ground game will suffer against quality opposition (STEAMROLLED at the point of attack by Alabama 238-40). Still not convinced that 1st year HC Chryst (just 19-20 SU in 3 years at Pitt) is ready to step up as big time coach. He will certainly be at a disadvantage on the sidelines against 17th year Iowa HC Ferentz, who is fielding an outstanding entity this season. In going 4-0 SU, 3-1 ATS, the Hawkeyes have covered by a net 38 points. They are doing it with a balanced offense, which is averaging 38 PPG and most importantly for today’s purposes, a defense allowing just 18 PPG, 295 YPG and 4.5 YP play. That includes 84/2.6 overland to stop what Wisconsin loves to do best. Last year, Iowa lost this contest on their home field 26-24, despite outgaining the Badgers. And we all know how that motivates HC Ferentz, who is 14-3 ATS on the road, playing with home loss revenge.
Pitt at VA Tech (-5) Noon ET
The momentum continues downward for VA Tech HC Beamer, now in his 29th year at the helm of the Hokies. The downward slide is now 20-37 ATS L4+Y. Losing his best signal caller opening week to Ohio St. has meant 2nd string QB Motley is taking the reins. There were wins over Furman and Purdue implying improvement. But, when the Hokies traveled to E. Carolina last week, the bottom fell out in a 35-28 loss as 8 point road chalk. That was the type of game Tech never lost prior to 4 years ago. Today, they play with 21-16 revenge for a loss at Pitt last year. But, even that is far from a guarantee this week. Must be more impressed with 1st year Pitt HC Narduzzi (former DC at Michigan St.) who has inserted QB Peterman (Tennessee) at the controls. A 27-24 loss at Iowa 2 weeks ago was certainly no shame. With the Panthers allowing just 293 YPG and only 94/3.4 overland, this team has a solid chance at victory today against a no longer feared opponent.
C. Florida at Tulane (P) Noon ET ESPN
Things have gone from bad to worse for a UCF team who has gone from 9-4 SU LY to 0-4 SU ATS TY, losing to the spread by a combined 56 points. Admittedly, not much was expected from a team who returned just 10 starters and was ranked in the bottom 20% of experienced teams in the 2015 CFB Rankings. But, the offense has been horrendous, averaging just 12/244/3.7. When it rains, it pours! Now, QB Holman (hand) has been downgraded to doubtful for this contest and RB Stanback has been dismissed from the team. Until they show up in the win column, they are a must fade. Especially this week with a Tulane team who has the confidence of a 38-7 victory 2 weeks ago vs. Maine on this field and a week of rest to prepare for this revenge meeting against a UCF team, who could only beat them 20-13 last season (Greenies won the yardage 278-233).
Houston (-5-) at Tulsa Noon ET
These are a pair of teams making huge progress under 1st year HCs. After struggling to combined records of 5-19 SU, 8-16 ATS in the previous 2 years of the Bill Blakenship era, the Golden Hurricane has turned it around under 1st year HC Phil Montgomery. Montgomery, the former WR coach at Baylor, has worked his wonders with an offense that averaged just 23 PPG the previous 2 seasons. This year, Tulsa is averaging 42 PPG on 607 YPG. That includes a game 2 weeks ago, when Tulsa put up 603 yards against Oklahoma in a 52-38 loss. Montgomery still hasn’t figured out the defensive side of the ball, however, as they are allowing 39 PPG and 575 YPG. That’s where the difference is between these 2 teams, who have played relatively equal levels of competition. For, Houston, under 1st year HC Tom Herman (former OC Ohio St.), is allowing just 23/379. Like Montgomery, the offensive-minded Herman has worked his magic with the offense. He had a solid base, considering the Cougars have consistently averaged 30 or more points in recent years. This season, however, Houston has taken it to a new level scoring 48 PPG, while running and passing for at least 288 YPG. Last year, Houston won this game 38-28. A margin at least that great can be expected today with the far better defense. Throw in the fact that Houston is 10-0-1 ATS on the road of late and you have a winner!
Arizona St. at UCLA (-14) 7:30 ET FOX TV
Arizona St. visits UCLA in a key PAC 10 showdown for Southern Division superiority. Last week, Arizona St. lost their conference opener (42-14) to USC. UCLA won their conference opener (56-30) at Arizona. But, looking inside the stats of those games tells a far different story than the final score. UCLA has rookie QB Rosen at the controls. They are off to a 4-0 SU, 3-1 ATS start in which they have covered by 23 points. Not surprising considering 18 RS and a Top 20 experienced team. But a closer look at last week’s numbers, begs for a reversal. UCLA was outrushed by Arizona 353-213 with yardage finishing virtually even. That, despite the fact that, Arizona’s top QB Solomon was missing for much of that game. But the success of UCLA this season and the big rep of their program has zoomed this line into double digit territory.
Things have not been as positive for Arizona St. A 2-2 SU beginning comes with a 0-4 ATS log in which they have failed by 63 points to the number. Last week, in a 42-14 loss to USC, they more than double rushed the Trojans 182-76, finished even in the yardage at 454, but committed 4 costly TOs. In short, the game was far more closely contested than the final score. In addition, Sun Devils will be fueled by 62-27 revenge, a game in which they actually out-yarded UCLA 627-580 but were (-4) net TOs. That sets up a solid play in its own right, considering that AZ St. HC Graham is 22-10 SU ATS with revenge for a conference loss. That was also their only home loss in the last 2 years and the most embarrassing loss ever for Graham.
Upside down stat games like this always provide great betting value in the line. Though our team is off a blowout loss, the yardage indications were that the game should have been much closer than the final score. In a similar way, today’s opponent is off a blowout victory. But, a closer look at the stats reveals that the opponent was far more competitive than the final score. Standing alone, these situations create a solid basis for a play. But, when they come together as they have in this game, the profit potential is amazing. Throw in the revenge factor and the specifics around that defeat as outlined above and you have the outstanding basis for a PAC 12 Big Dog play.
Alabama at Georgia (-2-) 3:30 ET CBS
This may be the squarest underdog play on the board, but we are making it nonetheless! Alabama has not been a regular season underdog in 7 years. Final: Alabama (+6) 41, Georgia 30. The most recent time these two met was in the 2012 SEC Championship game. Final: Alabama 32, Georgia 28. Two weeks ago, Alabama lost to Ole Miss (43-37 … on their home field no less). Each of these teams put it in cruise control last week, failing to cover extra game numbers. Alabama won 34-0 as -38 vs. Monroe and Georgia won 48-6 as -50 vs. Southern. Full focus will be exhibited by both. Credit is given to Georgia, who is 21-2 SU recently on this field, has a200 CLUB offense and is a DEFENSIVE DANDY. The same can be said of the Crimson Tide. There is little doubt that the SEC West is stronger than the East. Maybe that is a reason why the Tide is recently 17-1 SU vs. their non-division conference brethren. Let’s back the hungrier Alabama team as defensive dog to get the outright victory and maintain the high level of respect this program deserves.
N. Illinois (-2-) at C. Michigan 3:00 ET
Each of these teams enters off 2-game losing streaks, but are 3-1 ATS for the year. NIU has a net (+17) AFP, while C. Michigan has a (+14) AFP. So why is this line 7-10 points less than where it would have been opening week? Credit goes to C. Michigan for succeeding against Power 5 teams in the month of September. They covered underdog numbers against Oklahoma St., Syracuse and Michigan St. That includes last week’s game, a LTS winner for this bureau, when the Chips out-yarded the Spartans 340-324. As 27 point dog, they covered in the 30-10 loss, despite being outrushed 181-55. The Chips have shown offensive prowess through the air, passing for 327/7.8. Yet, they are poorly balanced on offense, rushing for just 74/2.3. That’s a bad omen when trying to matchup against the more balanced offense of NIU. It also must be considered when they are throwing against an NIU pass defense that is allowing just 56% completions. That is impressive, considering the competition has included Ohio St. In the last 2 weeks, NIU has faced the staunch defenses of Ohio St. and Boston College. They have averaged just 13.5 PPG, while covering both games. The question is: do they have enough after facing a pair of Power 5 teams to succeed in a 3rd consecutive road game? Considering it is their conference opener and the facts that follow below, the answer is yes! Last year, NIU suffered their lone conference loss to this very C. Michigan team. They lost as 8 point home chalk (34-17). The game actually may not have been that close as the Chips won the yardage battle 552-341. In any event, that defeat snapped NIU’s 28 home-game winning streak. Adding fuel to that fire is that NIU is 38-2 SU in the regular season vs. all MAC foes since 2010. Both of those losses have come to this C. Michigan team. As they enter today’s action, NIU looks to defend 5 consecutive division titles in MAC play. In addition, they are one of the nation’s best CFB road teams standing 21-3 SU, 19-5 ATS. That includes 16 straight regular season victories vs. the MAC. Let history and revenge, be thy guide!
Texas Tech vs. Baylor (-17) 3:30 ET ESPN, Arlington, TX
Texas Tech and Baylor face off in Arlington in this Big 12 showdown. Last year, Baylor held on for a 48-46 victory in this matchup, after leading the game by a score of 45-20. In fact, TTRR had an opportunity to tie the contest with a 2 point conversion with a minute to go. As a result, Baylor will not take this team lightly, if they needed more proof they need only watch game films of last week’s game between TCU and TTRR. It took a Hail Mary type of TCU 4th down completion for the Horned Ones to outlast the Red Raiders (55-52) last week. That defeat was a bit draining to say the least and was TTRR’s first loss of the season.
Comparative scores are a dangerous way to handicap. But, you can be sure that the pollsters, when putting the human element in their ratings, will be doing just that! With that in mind, let’s consider the common opponents between Baylor and TCU. Baylor beat SMU by 35; TCU beat SMU by 19. Surely, the Bears will be looking to make a statement against a team that TCU just squeezed by last week.
Texas Tech has been one of the surprise teams of the season. Maybe it should not be so surprising, considering they have 16 RS and a team ranked in the top 20 in overall experience! Blowout wins to start the season over Sam Houston and UTEP were not a surprise. The upset of Arkansas garnered the nation’s attention, as did last week’s loss to TCU. The Air Raid offense is in fine form, averaging 54 PPG on 595 YPG. As expected, Tech has averaged 398/9.1 through the air. What is surprising is the offensive balance with a rushing attack that has averaged 197/6.2. In the game vs. the Frogs last week, Tech ran for 215 yards. Impressive!
Baylor current stands No. 4 in the country (one spot behind TCU) in the coaches’ poll. That means Baylor will be loaded for Bear in this ESPN contest at the home of the Dallas Cowboys. Baylor leads the nation in offense with 64 PPG on an amazing 767 YPG. Most impressive is that they are BOTH RUNNING AND PASSING for 380 or more yards. Where these two teams part ways is on the defensive side of the ball! For, the Bears are allowing just 23 PPG on only 318 YPG and 4.4 YP play.
A total of 90 points in this game tells you all you need to know about where this game is going. But with Texas Tech QB Mahomes questionable for this game with an injured knee suffered last week and the Baylor defense a far superb entity, only one team may do their share in putting up offensive numbers. Bears’ defense shuts the back door this year!
Hawaii at Boise St. (-24-) 3:30 ET
Hawaii visits Boise St. in this Mountain West Conference opener for each team. Following last week’s divergent results, it will be most difficult for anyone to back the Rainbow Warriors. Certainly, Boise St. will not be scared. The most recent time these two teams met, Boise cruised to a 49-14 victory in the Islands in November 2012. With a low level of interest for Boise St. and a difficult travel schedule for Hawaii, it puts this game low on the list of priorities for big dog backers.
Fourth year Hawaii HC, Chow, completely revamped his coaching staff in effort to turn around the fortunes of a Rainbow Warrior team that has gone 8-29 SU in his first 3 years at the helm. There is hope, considering that Hawaii has beaten Colorado and Cal-Davis in their 2 home contests. But, the road slate has been brutal. Consider the frequent flyer miles being built up by the Rainbow Warriors. On September 12th, Hawaii traveled 4,500 miles and 6 time zones east to get crushed by Ohio St. (38-0). After returning to the Islands for their victory over Cal-Davis, Hawaii boarded a plane last week to again travel over 4,000 miles and 5 time zones for a 28-0 loss to Wisconsin. In that contest, Hawaii was out-yarded 512-255, including a 326-15 overland yardage edge by the Badgers. After returning to Hawaii, the team must again fly to the mainland where they will face Boise St. this Saturday as 24 point underdog. That is over 20,000 miles in the air in the last 3 weeks by the time this game kicks off! At the least, Hawaii players will certainly not be threatened by this level of competition. Considering the level of opposition, the fact that Hawaii has allowed just 28 PPG and 414 YPG is a solid accomplishment. Here, they will catch an over-confident Boise team in a prime sandwich spot.
Two weeks ago, Boise destroyed Idaho St. (54-0) in rebounding from their loss to BYU. Last week, Boise traveled to Virginia, where they again were dominant in a Friday night win by a count of 56-14. Admittedly, they outgained UVA 447-273. But, it was a (+5) net TO margin that sealed the deal for the Broncos in that one. In other words, the win came much more easily than the stats reflected. Today, they return for a low priority game against a Hawaii team for whom they will have little respect. Next week, it is back on the highway again for a visit to Colorado St., one of their prime competitors for MWC superiority. Second year Boise HC Harsin is highly respected by this bureau. After success at Arkansas St., Harsin led the Broncos to a 38-30 Bowl win vs. Arizona. But, this is clearly a downer spot for his Broncos from whom Harsin figures to ask little. Must note that it may also be true of 1st year QB Rypien who, after big performances in a fill-in role vs. Idaho St. and UVA, may be in for a breather himself!
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50-9 ATS … 6% PLAY RECORD L3Y
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Washington St. at California (-19) 7:00 ET
Washington St. visits California for this 7:00 ET kick which is the first PAC 12 game of the season for Washington St. For the 4-0 SU Cal Bears, it is their home opener in league play, after they used a (+3) net TO margin and a 481-259 yardage edge to squeeze by Washington (30-24) last week in their PAC 12 road opener. Now, Cal returns home to face a Washington St. team vs. whom they played one of the most entertaining games of last season. It resulted in a 60-59 Cal victory on the Palouse. It was a game in which the teams totaled over 1,400 yards with Washington St. passing for a mind-boggling 734 yards. This year, QB Goff has returned to lead Cal (5-7 SU last year) to a 4-0 SU, 3-1 ATS start. Though Washington St. is 2-1 SU, they are 1-2 ATS failing to cover the number by a net 42 points. This, combined with a (+36) AFP for Cal, gives us a (-78) net AFP advantage favoring Washington St. As a result, we get huge value with a Cougar team in what is truly a viable revenge motive. To give you an idea of that value, consider the fact that at the beginning of 2014, Washington St. would have been a TD favorite in this game! That clearly puts the ODDS in our favor with Washington St.
Not only is Cal a bit overheated with their AFP number, but they are also on an emotional downer. For the week prior to their PAC 12 road opening victory at Washington, they escaped the Texas Longhorns’ comeback with a 45-44 victory when the Longhorns missed a game tying extra point. Dead ahead is a high-profile game against Utah, a team who just beat Oregon (62-20). This is clearly a downer for California despite their 17 RS, veteran QB Goff and an offense that gains 46 PPG on 543 YPG.
Washington St. began the year with an embarrassing (24-17) loss to Portland St. in a driving rainstorm. Since that time, they have rebounded with victories at Rutgers and vs. Wyoming. With a week of rest and extra preparation time, be sure that HC Leach will have his Cougars fully prepared for this PAC 12 opener. After leading the nation in passing yardage last year, look for the Cougars to open it up in another anticipated shootout reminiscent of their game with the Cal Bears last year.
LA Lafayette at LA Tech (-18) 7:00 ET
LA Lafayette and LA Tech meet in this Bayou matchup. Last year, Tech won this matchup 48-20 on September 6th of last season. They did so as a 15 point underdog, outgaining the Cajuns 533-415, profiting from a (+3) net TO margin. Check out the line today folks … and you will see a 33 point line swing between these 2 teams. That is a lot of value for a rivalry revenge Big Dog. And, one we simply cannot ignore.
Under 3rd year HC Holtz, the Bulldog program has returned to its winning ways. Last year, Tech was 9-5 SU, 11-2 ATS collecting the money like clockwork for their backers. Keep in mind, however, those 2 ATS losses each came in the role of double digit favorite, when they won only 27-20 as 12 point home chalk vs. UTSA and lost 30-27 as 13 point road chalk at ODU. That is a microcosm of the fact that in his coaching stints at 3 different programs, E. Carolina, S. Florida and LA Tech, that Skip Holtz has built a dichotomous record in his mark as favorite and underdog. This year, LA Tech is a mediocre 2-2 SU with wins over Southern (as -40) and again failing to cover as a double digit home favorite vs. Florida Int’l last week (by the way, Holtz covered in his only dog role losing 39-33 in OT at Kansas St. as +10). Last week’s win, no cover, was common for Holtz, as he played conservatively with the lead, despite 200 CLUB offensive numbers and a 246-45 overland edge. Expected to contend for CUSA superiority, the Bulldogs are outscoring opponents 40-28 and outgaining them 522-388. Those numbers mean little when taking into account the coaching profile of Holtz.
The LA Lafayette revival has been apparent under 5th year HC Mark Hudspeth, who has recorded 4 consecutive 9-4 SU seasons, including a 4-0 SU record in Bowl games (implying he gets his teams prepared for important games). Those conference games will follow. But, today there is one very important revenge outing that must take place. Our LTS followers cashed with a 4% play AGAINST the Cajuns last week. Part of the reasoning, beside the FIU great defense, was the ULL look ahead to this contest. It resulted in a 35-14 home loss to Akron, in which the Cajuns were outgained 458-285 and had a (-3) net TO margin. Now, it’s time for BIG DOG payback off a loss.
S. Carolina at Missouri (-2) Noon ET SEC TV
Do not let the S. Carolina 31-14 win over UCF fool you! This UCF team is the worst offensive team in the country. Throw out that defensive game in which the inept Golden Knights could only run for 26 yards and you have a Gamecock defense, who despite focusing on an improved defense, are still allowing 200 RYPG, just as they did in 2014. That failure to control the point of attack dropped the Gamecock defense to 30 PPG last year and was largely responsible for their 7-6 SU record. But, that is far dichotomous to the 3 previous years when they went 11-2 SU in each, while allowing a combined 19 PPG. Missouri is clearly the better defensive team here, allowing just 12/255/3.8. And, while the Tigers continue to have issues on the offensive side of the ball, they will be motivated in this spot. For, they lost 21-13 to Kentucky last week, setting up a situation that finds 15th year Missouri HC Pinkel to be on a recent run of 12-2 SU ATS/loss. Missouri is the 2 time SEC East defending champion. S. Carolina has an aging coach who could well be in his final season.
Arkansas at Tennessee (-6-) 7:00 ET ESPN 2
Arkansas and Tennessee face off at 7:00 ET Saturday night as televised by ESPN 2. It will be a battle of the QBs Allen, when these teams take the field. The public will give much respect to Tennessee after outings in 2 of the previous 3 weeks, when they led both Oklahoma and Florida in the late going, before succumbing to each. Meanwhile, there is no love from the public after Arkansas has fallen to 0-3 SU, 0-2-1 ATS in the last 3 weeks with losses to Toledo, Texas Tech and Texas A&M.
Tennessee endured a gut-wrenching loss to Florida for the 2nd time in 3 weeks. The Gators had won 10 consecutive games against the Vols, yet Tennessee was leading 27-14. Florida came all the way back, taking the lead with a 60-yard TD pass with a minute to play. Yet, the Vols still had a chance to win the game, until a 50-yard FG was narrowly wide on the last play of the game! It was just 2 weeks previous to that loss that the Vols lost in double OT on this field to Oklahoma (31-24), blowing a 17-0 lead. Despite a whopping 18 RS, remember that this is a relatively young Tennessee team that is gradually being rebuilt under 3rd year HC Jones. Those 2 losses were painful steps in the rebuilding process, but will eventually pay dividends in the future. Till then, it is buyer beware when the Vols are favored in competitively priced games. Despite their travails, Tennessee is 3-1 ATS, covering by a net 12 points.
That is far from the 1-3 SU ATS record of Arkansas who has a (-49) net AFP. Thus, the reason why the Vols are a TD favorite here, as opposed to the underdog price, that would have prevailed at the start of the season. It is also the reason why the public has little love for the Hogs. A brief review of their 3-game losing streak finds that they outgained both, Toledo and Texas Tech, in losses as double digit home favorite. Last week vs. A&M, they survived an Aggies’ game-winning FG attempt late in the game, only to lose by 7 points (pointspread win/tie/loss) in OT. A view of their stats shows positive numbers for Arkansas. Under new OC Enos (former HC C. Michigan), the Hogs are starting to balance their offense, passing for 285/9.6 YPG. That showed in their loss to the Aggies last week, when they outrushed A&M 232-65 and put up a balanced 225 passing yards. The mammoth OL will continue to make that happen. Equally impressive is a defensive front that allows just 94/3.6. It is that unit that will slow the Vols’ run game (248/4.7) and turn this into a most competitive contest.
Notre Dame (-1) at Clemson 8:00 ET ABC
The Notre Dame 2nd string led by QB Kizer (68%) and RB Prosise (8.1 YPR) is doing one heck of a job. They now stand 4-0 SU, 3-1 ATS, covering the number by a net 35 points. In retrospect, however, how impressive are the wins vs. Texas (1-3 SU), Virginia (1-3 SU), GA Tech (2-2 SU) and UMass (0-3 SU)? We will find out today, when they travel off the beat down of UMass to face a real team named Clemson. The problem for Clemson is their humble, mild mannered HC Dabo Swinney provides little fanfare in the media for his Tiger program. Yet, Clemson just keeps ascending under Swinney’s watch. Consider their 3-year record of 35-7 SU. That includes Bowl victories the last 3 years (in reverse, 40-6 vs. Oklahoma, 40-35 vs. Ohio St. and 25-24 against LSU). From last year’s top ranked defensive team, Swinney returns only 3 starters. But, he has filled the gaps with defensive dog numbers of 12/261/3.9. Can he get the job done on a Saturday night, at home, in Death Valley against the Fighting Irish? Believe that his 28-2 SU home record and dynamic QB Watson absolutely do!
NFL-NCAAF -78-33-3 (70%) ATS Joe’s FREE Plays this Season.