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Minnesota (-3) at Purdue 3:30 ET ESPN
Contrary road chalk selection in what is annually one of my favorite situational AFP plays of the year. My theory, which dates to the very early ‘80s, suggests “after 5 games of the season, to PLAY ON any greater than .500 team who has at least 1 ATS victory, is 3 or more games below .500 ATS and is coming off an ATS loss. Their opponent is off an ATS win and is NOT 3 or more games below .500 ATS.” This type of situation always provides value on our winning team and leads to great pointspread success. In this case, it will also be a very contrary selection based on last week’s results. Purdue trailed Michigan St. 21-0 in the first half and appeared to be their usual road kill selves. But, they fought back to eventually lose only 24-21, sending the Spartans to 0-5 ATS. Meanwhile Minnesota, struggling with injuries on their OL, failed to cross the goal line in a 27-0 loss to Northwestern, where they were outrushed and out passed by the Wildcats 312-173. Good news for our play is that the Boilers may be spent from that outing vs. the Spartans and that Purdue is just 2-9 ATS as conference home dog. Good news for Minnie is that the defense is still intact at 20/312 (Purdue is 33/435) and that the Gophers have covered 7 straight when installed as favorite, following a loss of 10 or more.
Oklahoma St. at WVU (-7) 7:00 ET ESPN2
Want no part of the Mountaineers as home chalk or as a team that met their maker in a 44-24 loss at Oklahoma. That, after devouring a trio of creampuffs at home (average line -21) by a combined score of 126-23. Despite the loss that was more the 5 WVU TOs, than the 58 negative yards that resulted in the 44-24 blowout loss. Besides, this simply has not been the role for a Mountie team, who under HC Holgorsen, is just a 2-8 ATS home favorite vs. con. We will need to see more proof of their excellence against a winning team, before backing them in this role. Last year, the Mounties won this game (34-10) in Stillwater. A closer look shows that the game more closely resembled a 448-436 yardage advantage for the Mounties, rather than the 24 point loss. That was because State committed 2 critical TOs in the game. This year, we are eager to back a more veteran (17 RS) team, who has learned how to win games in their 5-0 SU start. That includes narrow victories the last 2 weeks against Texas (30-27) and Kansas St. (36-34). It is a concern that the host Mounties has the superior offensive balance. But, we will take our chances with the more veteran 5-0 SU team, who has found ways to win.
Duke (-12) at Army Noon ET CBC TV
Duke travels to face the Black Knights of the Hudson, when they meet the Army Cadets at Noon on Saturday as televised by CBC TV. This is a tough scheduling spot for Duke, while Army returns from their meeting at Penn St. last week.
The Duke Blue Devils continue their resurgence under 8th year HC Cutcliffe. The last 2 seasons the Blue Devils amassed a record of 19-8 SU, 18-7 ATS. That included narrow Bowl losses to powerful Texas A&M (52-48) in 2013 and (36-31) to Arizona St. last year. This year, with only 12 RS, Duke is off to a solid 4-1 SU, 3-2 ATS start, covering the number by 44 points. The only loss is at home to undefeated Northwestern in a hard fought contest. In the last 2 weeks, they have defeated GA Tech and Boston College at home. It was a physical, hard fought game last week against Boston College with Duke being outrushed 164-33 and outgained 305-28 in the 9-7 home victory. That gives Duke a 2-0 SU start in ACC Play. Now, they must make a trip to the northeast, before returning south to face the remainder of the 6-game ACC slate. It is a clear sandwich spot for Duke. The Blue Devils have an ever-improving defense that allows just 11 PPG on 270 YPG and 3.9 YPR. That includes 123/3.0 overland in what would appear to be ideal in stopping the Army triple option. When Duke faced GA Tech, they allowed the Yellow Jackets 173 RY.
Army was competitive in their game at Penn St. last week. In the 20-14 loss, as 24 point road dog, Army outrushed Penn St. 261-108 and outgained them 293-264. Army QB Bradshaw missed that contest (ankle), but he should be returning for this contest with Duke. Under 2ndyear HC Monken, the Army program is slowly building. As they enter today’s game, they have logged 4 consecutive covers in losses of 5 to UConn, 3 to Wake, 6 to Penn St. and a 58-36 win vs. E. Michigan. In addition, this has been a good spot for Army, who is 4-1 ATS as a home dog vs. Power 5 teams. Many of those have in situations just as this, where the superior road favorite from the stronger conference is sandwiched between higher profile league games. Army is again prolific overland, averaging 288/5.6 on the ground. They will be able to control the ball, as well as score some points. One of the surprising areas of improvement is an Army defense allowing just 26 points and 391 yards, which compares favorably to the 33/431 defense of last year.
Illinois at Iowa (-11) Noon ET ESPNU
A pair of Defensive Dandies faceoff in Iowa City with each team coming off upsets as a TD or more underdog. Last week, the Illini held on for a 14-13 home victory against Nebraska. It was a well-deserved win which saw Illinois outgain the Huskers 382-292. A coaching change, just prior to the season, which replaced former HC Beckman with current HC Cubit, has resulted in the Illini turnaround to 4-1 SU, 3-2 ATS. Major difference has been on the defensive side of the ball, where they have gone from allowing a combined 35 PPG and 468 YPG, combined in the last 2 seasons (200 CLUB DEFENSIVE DUDS both years) to Defensive Dandy status with a unit that is allowing just 18/303/4.4. That includes the previous 3 games against high-powered offenses, N. Carolina, Mid-Tenn and Nebraska. In a similar way, Iowa has used their own stingy defense 15/300/4.5 to ascend to 5-0 SU, 4-1 ATS and a (+50) PLAY AGAINST net AFP. That has forced this line to rise to double digits. Following their 10-6 victory at Wisconsin last week, as touchdown dog, the role changed as double digit favorite, seems a bit heavy for an Iowa team, who was outgained 320-221 in that Wisconsin game. As a result, we look to fade this overheated double digit favorite against a quickly improving team, who has ascended to Defensive Dandy status.
Maryland at Ohio St. (-33) Noon ET BIG 10 TV
Line continues to rise (by 10 points over where it would have been opening week) on defending champion, Ohio St. This, despite the fact, that although they are 5-0 SU, they are 1-4 ATS with a (-40) net AFP. They have failed to cover their last 4 outings, including a 0-3 ATS record in this price range on this field against Hawaii, N. Illinois and W. Michigan. Last week, they escaped with a 34-27 win against an improving Indiana team, whom they had previously dominated. QB Jones and RB Elliott finally stepped up to make Ohio St. a 200 CLUB offensive member with a 517-402 yardage edge. Yet, it wasn’t enough to cover the lofty 3 TD road chalk impost, when Indiana had a (+3) net TO margin in the game. In short, until Ohio St. faces greater challenges, the last 2 weeks of November against Michigan St. and Michigan, it is clear that HC Meyer has them in cruise control. Certainly, they will not be motivated by the sight of a Maryland team who is 2-3 SU, with losses to MAC opponent Bowling Green by a count of 48-27 in College Park and the last 2 weeks by combined scores of 73-6 to WVU and Michigan. Maryland HC Edsall is seldom embarrassed at this price point. Take the points in a game against the disinterested favorite.
Miami, OH at Ohio (-16-) 2:00 ET
Last week, in an upside-down stat game, we used Arizona St. plus the points in their outright upset of UCLA (38-23) as 14 point pup. The outgained the Bruins 465-342, outrushing them 192-62. With no net TOs in the game, it was clearly a case of an upside down stat win. AZ state was off a misleading loss the week before to USC, in which the outgained the Trojans but lost 42-14. Meanwhile, UCLA was off a phony victory vs. Arizona, a game much closer in the stats, than was the 56-35 final. We use the same line of thinking, translating it to a MAC game in the same price range. For the season, Miami, OH enters on a 4-game losing streak with a (-22) net AFP. A veteran Ohio team is 4-1 SU ATS with a (+37) net AFP. That net AFP differential of (-59) has zoomed this line nearly 10 points from where it would have been opening week. That divergence is enhanced by last week’s results. Last week, the Red Hawks went to Kent St., where they lost 20-14, but covered as a double digit dog. They got the spread win, despite overcoming a (-3) net TO margin because they outgained Kent 416-350. Earlier in the day, Ohio was emerging with a 14-12 road victory at Akron (but failed to cover the 3 point impost). Looking inside the box score, we find that Akron actually outgained Ohio (in a game with a 0 net TO margin) with a yardage edge of 319-227. It all adds up to an inflated line in this game and plenty of value on a Miami, OH team for whom Ohio will have little respect. They beat the Red Hawks (41-16) on this field, two years ago. Regarding series history, last year’s game, a 24-21 Ohio win, was just as close as the final score with an Ohio yardage edge of 353-317. In conclusion, look for the Red Hawks to compete, as Ohio looks forward to their home revenge game next week against a W. Michigan team who beat Ohio (42-21) in Kalamazoo last year.
Arkansas at Alabama (-17) 7:00 ET ESPN
I was right on with my analysis of each of these teams last week! Alabama, still seething from the loss to Ole Miss, STEAMROLLED Georgia 38-10 with a 379-299 yardage edge and the help of a (+2) net TO margin. Now, the love has returned to the betting line for the Crimson Tide, despite their 2-3 ATS record (+12) net AFP, they were a TD more than where they would have been opening week. If last year’s game is any indication, this contest will be far closer than this impost. As 9 point road chalk in Fayetteville, Alabama escaped with a 14-13 win, despite being outgained by the Hogs 334-227. Arkansas QB Allen will enter the game with confidence, knowing he led a passing attack which threw for 245 PY against the Tide last year. Needless to say, despite the 24-20 season saving victory against Tennessee last week, in which the Hogs were members of the 200 CLUB and outgained the Vols 481-365, they will offer plenty of intensity and emotion against a divisional foe who annually vies for National Title consideration. Arkansas is widely considered to have one of the best OLs in the nation. In previous years, HC Bielema has used such huge Hogs to author a ground game which averaged over 200 YPG and over 5.0 YPR. This year, with the addition of OC Enos (former HC C. Michigan) and the excellence of QB Allen, the Hogs have balanced their offense with an aerial attack that averages 272/9.5. That is every bit of offensive balance as Alabama. Though the Hogs do not have quite the defense of the Tide, they do allow just 102/3.7 overland and only 22 PPG. That’s a strong statistical profile for a team in this price range, who will bring plenty of intensity with a 2-3 SU record, a motivation of facing legendary Alabama in a Marquee Saturday Night ESPN matchup. Take the generous points once again with the Hogs who are 6-1 ATS recently as road dog.
East Carolina at BYU (-8) 7:30 EST ESPNU
East Carolina heads to Provo, Utah for this 7:30 Eastern kick as televised by ESPNU. This is the ideal situation to jump on the home standing Cougars for a wire to wire blowout.
Last week, East Carolina traveled to SMU for an AAC Conference game. In a high scoring game, the Pirates outrushed SMU 306-40, and outgained them 555-329 for a 49-23 victory. This came on the heels of a huge 35-28 non-Conference regional rivalry win over Virginia Tech as a 9 point home dog. Despite the loss of QB Carden, their longtime starter, the East Carolina offense is performing admirably at 31 PPG and 426 YPG. Admittedly, it is 100 yards of offense less per game to last season. Major issue for the Pirates is the situation of this game. There has been a full month of high profile games for the Pirates, including a close loss at highly respected Florida in Bowl revenge, then their Conference opener at Navy (a 6% winner for us on the Middies), followed by the aforementioned results in the upset of Virginia Tech, and the wipeout of SMU’s porous defense. After this trip to Provo, East Carolina finishes the season with six consecutive league games. To say this is the lowest priority game on their slate for the balance of this year would be an understatement.
For BYU, who plays as an Independent, there are no letdown games. The Cougars faced arguably the most demanding September slate of any CFB team. They traveled to Nebraska, hosted Boise State, and then traveled to UCLA and Michigan. They were at home last week vs UConn, a slowdown team who took the air out of the ball in a 30-13 BYU win. But it can’t be ignored that the Cougars put up 539 total yards against a solid UConn defense. It was thought that BYU might be roadkill after they lost first their best RB Williams prior to the season, then QB Taysom Hill early in the season to a Lisfranc injury. But QB Mangum has stepped in admirably, as witnessed in the offense results last week. Key to this selection is the altitude of Provo, a major advantage for the Cougars when facing Eastern teams who play at sea level. It is also important to note that at 3-2 SU ATS, the Cougars have no off weeks as Independent, needing every win possible for the best Bowl bid. Look for them to leave nothing in the bag as they roll up an impressive victory against an opponent who is in one of the worst situations of the week.
Washington St. at Oregon (-17) 6:00 ET PAC 12 TV
In a time change to 6:00 ET as televised by the PAC 12 Network, Washington St. will visit Oregon. Last year, Oregon could prevail just (38-31) on the Palouse. It was an aerial circus which saw the Cougars out pass the Ducks 436-329. That was not an uncommon result in this series which has seen Washington St. cover 5 straight against Oregon. What has changed in this game is the betting line. In the last 6 years, Oregon has been favored in this contest (going backward) by 22, 40, 31, 38, 37 and 35 points. THAT IS AN AVERAGE OF 34 PPG. Despite the fact that Oregon has a pair of losses and may be down a notch, this is still a huge line adjustment, giving us great value in this line.
Under 4th year HC Mike Leach, these Cougars are not about to change their spots. There is no doubt that this is a passing team with the worst run pass balance in CFB. In 3 years under Leach, the Cougars have allowed an average of 35 PPG. This season, Washington St. is 2-2 SU ATS. Victories have come by 37-34 at Rutgers and 31-14 vs. Wyoming. But, they were also bad enough to lose vs. Portland St. (24-17). In last week’s game vs. Cal, they were a BIG DOG BITEDOWN winner for us, losing 24-38 as 19 point dog in an aerial shootout. But, their issues remain the same with the ground game that averages just 23/69/3.0, while putting the ball in the air 51 times per game. That is simply not the statistical profile of a winner.
As mentioned, Oregon has a pair of losses, something that has not happened this early in the season for the Ducks in over a decade. With National Title hopes dimmed, the Ducks have reset their sights. The buy sign came with a 2nd half explosion at Colorado last week, when they erupted for a 41-24 victory. In so doing, they return to a ground game which saw them hold an overland edge 361-77 on the Buffs. Today, they return home with great motivation. For, the last time they played on this field, September 26th, they lost 62-20 to Utah. That is a tough PHL (previous home loss) to swallow. Remember, this is a home team, who under the tenure of former HC Kelly and current 3rd year HC Helfrich, had gone 39-3 SU on this field the previous 5 years. Regardless of who plays QB for Oregon, the Ducks never seem to miss a beat on offense. This year, they are averaging 42 PPG on 528 YPG with a running game that is averaging 300/5.9. Look for them to use that ground game, to play keep away from the Cougars and with the motivation of their previous performance on this field, CRUSH them into submission.
At this value price, the projected 4 TD victory will result in an easy ATS victory.
Navy at Notre Dame (-14-) 3:30 ET NBC TV
Navy travels to Notre Dame to meet the Fighting Irish for this 3:30 ET game as televised on NBC TV. Last year, Notre Dame won this contest (49-39), despite being outrushed 336-218 by the Middies. Yet, Notre Dame failed to cover as a
-14 point favorite. Pointspread outcomes have generally favored Navy in this series, including covering 4 of the last 6 meetings and each of the last 2.
Last week’s selection on Washington St. was an easy winner, when the Cats, as Dogs, lost (34-28) to Cal as 19 point pup. The week before, we won with Ball St. (+19) at Northwestern as the Cardinals cruised in under the number, losing just 24-19. Expect this contest to be equally as close, as the Middies field their best team in recent seasons.
Last Saturday, in the Marquee Matchup of the evening, Notre Dame lost to Clemson (24-22). The game was played in inclement weather. Despite that fact, Notre Dame rallied for (19) 4th quarter points to pull within 2 of Clemson late in the game. Only a missed 2 point conversion prevented the game from going into OT. The Fighting Irish actually deserved a better fate, as they outgained the Tigers 434-296, but fell victim to 4 TOs. The (-3) in the net TO column virtually sealed their fate. Following that huge nationally televised affair, Notre Dame comes home to face Navy, a team who they have defeated 4 consecutive times under 6th year HC Kelly. But, the Irish are also caught in a bit of a sandwich spot, as they look ahead to a home revenge game against the USC team, who beat them (49-14) last year. It is a well-known fact that the Fighting Irish are normally overpriced in this role, as in the last 10+ years, they are 20-31-3 ATS as home chalk. That does, however, include 2-0 ATS this year in wins over Texas and UMass. This, however, is a far greater challenge for the Fighting Irish!
This is the best Navy team in recent memory for 8th year HC Niumatalolo. Last week, Navy defeated Air Force (33-11). That avenged last year’s defeat at Air Force and put them in control of their fate for the Commander in Chief Trophy. A 33-11 final of that game did not totally reflect how competitive the contest was. True enough, Navy got the best of the Fly Boys in the yardage stats with a 387-277 edge. But, it was 4 key TOs by Air Force, including 3 lost fumbles that were the real keys to the game. Again this season, the Navy option attack is in high gear. They run an average of 59 times per game for 340 YPG for 5.8 YPR. They are averaging 39 PPG. That’s really not a surprise, as they are led by 4th year senior QB Reynolds and his FB Swain. Last week, Reynolds toted the ball 24 times for 183 yards. But, Navy has also shown solid improvement on the defensive side of the ball, allowing just 15 PPG, 333 YPG and 4.8 YP play. Regardless of the fact this game is sandwiched between Air Force and a conference contest with Tulane, there can be little doubt that the Middies have this game circled on their calendar. Supporting the selection of Navy in this contest is their record of 24-9 ATS as road dog in the last decade.
Most surprising in this game is the betting line. Despite the fact that Navy is off to a 4-0 ATS start, in which they have covered by 48 points, they are still getting a TD more than where this line would have been opening week. That, despite the fact, that Notre Dame has played the season with numerous injuries at key positions.
Colorado at Arizona St. (-14-) 10:00 ET PAC 12 TV
Last week, Colorado made a fight of it through the first half against Oregon. Then, the Ducks woke up, flashing a buy sign on their season. It dropped Colorado to 3-2 SU, 1-4 ATS with a (-5) net AFP. In that contest, the Ducks used a (+2) net TO margin, along with a 361-77 overland edge for a game that was not as close as the 41-24 final score. That type of dominance by an opponent spells death in the desert against an Arizona St. team who is the 2nd of our PAC 12 entries, who returns home with a tough PHL (previous home loss) to swallow. Much like Oregon, Arizona St. rebounded last week with a convincing 38-23 win over UCLA as 14 point road dog in our upside-down stat game of the week. No surprise that State got the victory, as in a 0 net TO margin game, the Sun Devils outrushed the Bruins 192-62. Now, they return home to take out previous home loss frustrations against a team they have recently dominated. At a fair price, because Arizona St. is 1-4 SU (-34) net AFP, we look for a bounce back blowout in a series the Sun Devils have dominated the last 3 seasons with an average win margin of 30 PPG. Just like the Buffs took the worse of it from Oregon last week, expect death in the desert tonight as State erases the bad memory of that home loss. Arizona St. HC Graham has a history of using upsets as momentum in his following game. If you are playing, check the status of Colorado QB Liufau whose injured shoulder may prevent him from being at full strength this week.
Georgia Tech at Clemson (-7) 3:30 ET ABC
Yes, Georgia Tech, much like Arkansas last week, enters today’s play with 3 consecutive losses. After devouring early season creampuffs at home by a count of 134-16 vs. Alcorn St. and Tulane, the Yellow Jackets have been stung badly in 3 consecutive games. ALL 3 OF THOSE HAVE COME IN THE ROLE OF FAVORITE in losses to Notre Dame, Duke and N. Carolina. As a result of those defeats, we get great value, as Tech now returns to a more comfortable underdog role in a great situation. Under 8th year HC Johnson, the Jackets will stay true to their identity. They run the ball from the triple option, averaging more than 300 YPG at well over 5.0 YPC in recent seasons. This year, they are at 312/5.7, true to their identity! The reality of this game is that the ground game has been good enough to dominate Clemson overland. In the last 4 series meetings against the vaunted Clemson defense, Tech has averaged 305/5.9. The most recent of those came last year, when Tech notched a (28-6) victory double rushing Clemson (a 75% chance at ATS success) by a count of 251-125. That was in a season in which Clemson had one of the best defenses in the nation, allowing 104/3.0 overland.
This year, the Tigers are rebuilding a bit on the defensive side with just 3 RS. Predictably, they have fallen a bit, allowing 115/3.1 overland and 305 YPG. But, the real reason we are fading the 4-0 SU, 3-1 ATS Clemson Tigers is that this game follows a hold-your-breath win over Notre Dame last week with ESPN Game Day present in the Marquee Matchup of Saturday night. Much emotion was spent and much emotional celebration followed, when Notre Dame scored 19 4th quarter points, but failed on their 2 point conversion to tie the game. The eventual (24-22) Clemson win may have been a bit phony in that they were outgained by the Irish 437-296. It makes a lot of sense that CFB teams have a LETDOWN after beating the Fighting Irish, one of the premier names in all of CFB.
The situation is “all systems go” in this contest. Tech has the embarrassment of 3 losses, while Clemson may still be celebrating a Notre Dame win. With the fundamentals in place for the Tech ground game to succeed, I invite you to join me in this underdog winner at a value price, knowing that we may be the only ones who suit up with the Georgia Tech players for this game.
California at Utah (-7-) 10:00 ET ESPN
This is the late night (east coast) PAC 12 duel between a pair of surprise contenders for PAC 12 supremacy. The Cal Bears, undefeated at 5-0 SU, visit the Utah Utes, also undefeated at 4-0 SU, for this 10:00 ET kick. In this battle of “unbeatens,” we will side with the undefeated underdog with their vastly improved defense, a recent winning road log and the better QB. It is also an ideal situation, based on Utah’s performance the last time they took the field.
It has been 2 weeks since Utah went into Oregon as 14 point underdog and returned to Salt Lake City with a (62-20) victory. In that game, the Utes were a member of the 200 CLUB, running and passing for at least 257 yards, while profiting from a (+3) net TO margin. Those types of statistics will win you a lot of CFB bets. But, the 62-20 scoreboard victory far belied how the game was played on the field. Nonetheless, it zoomed the Utes to the No. 7 position in the Coaches’ Poll. Talk about the challenge that 11th year Utah HC Whittingham must have faced in keeping his team focused for this meeting with a California team, whom they beat (49-27) in their most recent meeting in 2012. The Utes have stayed true to their profile. Year after year, they outrush the opposition, get out passed by their foes and continue to record consistent winning records. Despite what is often a season in which they get outgained in net yards by the opposition. It is a formula that has worked well for Whittingham and the Utes and one in which I do not expect him to change, as he has one of the best running backs in CFB this season in RB Booker. What has changed is the complexion of the Cal Bears.
Under 3rd year HC Sonny Dykes, the Bears have gone 1-11 SU, 2-9 ATS in 2013, being outscored 46-23, to a 5-7 SU, 6-5 ATS team in 2014, then continuing to ramp up (with 17 RS and veteran line play) to a 5-0 SU mark this season. This will be their biggest challenge, but one they are ready to meet. Cal has always been great on the offensive side of the ball under Dykes. That continues this year with senior signal caller, QB Goff, who is leading the Bears to 43 PPG and 528 YPG. But, the real changes have come on the defensive side of the ball, where the Bears have forced 18 TOs, gotten to the QB 18 times, and reduced their defensive allowance from 40/512 last year to 23/387 this year. Not that we are nominating Cal as a Defensive Dandy, but there is clearly meaningful improvement. In addition, this has been a solid role for HC Dykes, who has a recent record of 13-6 ATS as road dog, including covering all 5 chances in that role last season.
Florida (-5) at Missouri 7:30 ET SEC TV
As rumors of the flu bug flooded the internet last week for Florida Gator players, the line barely moved staying a solid 7 points from midweek on. Apparently, said malady did not impact the Gators, who responded with a 38-10 home dog, upset victory against the highly-touted No. 2 rated Rebels. Of course, a (+4) net TO margin had something to do with that, as Florida only won the battle of the yardage 355-328. Now, the public will be looking to back this Gator team, who plays with double revenge for losses to Missouri by a count of 36-17 in 2013 and 42-13 LY. Each was in games where Florida was favored and each helped propel the Missouri Tigers to consecutive SEC divisional titles. But, last year’s game was much closer than the final score as Florida actually held the yardage edge 283-119, but committed 6 costly TOs. Though that stat line begs for a reversal, the fact that Florida has gone from a SU home dog winner to conference road chalk makes them a tough sell. That is particularly true with the realization that the (+35) net AFP for a 5-0 SU, 3-2 ATS Florida team has teamed with a 4-1 SU, 1-4 ATS (-29) net AFP record for Missouri to swing this line 10 full points from where it would have been opening week. The suspension of former Missouri QB Mauk may be addition by subtraction. Bad boy, Mauk, has been supplanted by frosh QB Lock, who emerged into the starting lineup by going 21/28 vs. S. Carolina in the Tigers’ 24-10 home victory over the Gamecocks last week. The stats were virtually even in that game, making a (+3) net TO margin the reason for the Missouri success. Though the offense remains shaky for the home dog Tigers, just 21/322, it is tough to ignore the defensive dog numbers which has them allowing just 12/264/4.0, including 109/2.8 on the road. Defensive home dog supreme with a situational advantage against the Florida team laying an inflated number as road chalk, following a SU home dog upset!
TCU (-9-) at Kansas St. 7:30 ET FOX TV
Overheated and top ranked TCU travels to Manhattan, where they face a Kansas St. team for whom, as usual, there is little public love. Experienced TCU offense, behind QB Boykin, is at it again this season with an offense that has scored 50 or more points 4 consecutive weeks. The TCU offense is now a 200 CLUB offensive member with an offensive stat line of 51/630. A closer look inside the numbers finds their recent 4 victims to be named SFA, SMU, TTRR and Texas, hardly defensive juggernauts. In last week’s 50-7 victory against Texas, they outgained the out of their class Longhorns, 604-313. With the over confidence of the last 4 weeks, they now travel to face Kansas St. who is, once again, under the radar. Over confidence may be an issue for the Frogs, who beat Kansas St. 41-20 last year as 6 point home chalk, despite only outgaining them 553-410. That puts revenge on the minds for the home standing Wildcats, who have the confidence of beating this Frog team (33-31) and (23-10) in the previous 2 years. As usual, under legendary HC Snyder, the Wildcats are a handful again this year. Their 3-1 SU mark is marred only by last week’s loss at Oklahoma St. (36-34) courtesy of a last second Cowboys’ FG. In that contest, however, Kanas St. won the overland battle 144-49. Now, they return to Manhattan as underdog, off a loss and with revenge against a bloated 5-0 SU Horned Frog who has done so against the limited slate of competition. Must not ignore the recent record of HC Snyder, who is 35-15 ATS L4+Y! We take the better defense 18/359 to 24/387 in the role of avenging home dog, backed by the coach who is the biggest money winner in all of CFB.
Michigan St. (-14) at Rutgers 8:00 ET BIG 10 TV
Much like Ohio St., there is low motivation for these early season games. At least until they face hated rival, Michigan, in a dead look ahead in Ann Arbor next week. Leading Purdue 21-0 last week, HC Dantonio pulled in the reigns, resulting in a 24-21 victory and a 5-0 SU, but 0-5 ATS record. While some blame the coaching of Dantonio and a 31/379 offense (not very Top 10 like), it is a declining defense at 21/377 which may be responsible for the Spartans’ lack of coverage. Look no further than the University of Pittsburgh, where Michigan St. long-time DC, Narduzzi, is now leading a Pitt Panther team who is allowing just 245/4.1 overall and 73/2.5 overland. Sound like the Michigan St. teams of recent years? Rutgers isn’t much at 2-2 SU ATS with wins over only Norfolk and Kansas and the loss to Penn St. by 25. But, it would appear that they could slide in under this number against a disinterested favorite at this bloated price, who has a dead look ahead to its arch rival next week.
New Mexico at Nevada (-5) 7:00 ET
If the Lobos had a bit better defense, we would seriously consider this as our STEAMROLLER PLAY OF THE WEEK. Under 3rd year HC Polian, the Wolfpack is making little progress. This year, they are 2-3 SU ATS, including last week’s loss to UNLV (23-17) on this field. Key to this handicap is the Wolfpack allowance of 188/5.0 overland. In a battle of pistol attack formations, that plays right into the hands of the Lobos, who for the 4th consecutive year, are threatening to rush for over 300 YPG and over 5.0 YPR. Current stats show the Lobos at 294/5.8. That includes last week’s win, no cover, against New Mex St., when they rolled up 401 running yards on only 61 carries. We take the better defense and running game as an underdog in the Lobos’ preferred role under HC Davies, who is recently 8-1 ATS as traveler.
San Jose St. (-2-) at UNLV 9:00 ET
This is one of my favorite role change plays in terms of situational handicapping. We look to fade any home dog (the inferior team for consecutive weeks) after they have won outright as a road dog of 7 or more the previous week. This time, it came against in-state rival, Nevada, setting up a situation that finds the Rebels 1-8 ATS following the battle for the Freemont Canon. A closer look at the stats finds that although UNLV won, they were outgained by the Wolfpack 343-301. I like the work being done by 1st year HC Sanchez (the former HC at Bishop Gorman HS in Las Vegas), where he led his team to 6 Class 4A state titles and saw much of his talent matriculate to big-name schools. Improvement seemed obvious from a Rebel team who won only 2 games in 3 of the previous 4 years. But, the Rebels enter this game at 2-3 SU, 3-2 ATS with coverage of 69 net points, keeping this pointspread in line. Today, however, they face a San Jose St. team who is one of the most improved in the nation and who beat them 33-10 last year. That game was every bit as lopsided as the final score with the Spartans offering 200 CLUB numbers for a total yardage edge of 542-221. It’s that Spartans’ improved defense, which has caught our eye. Last year, they improved from 35/459 to 29/357. With 7 starters returning to that side of the ball, the Spartan improvement continues allowing just 333 YPG on 5.2 YP play. Last week, in a 35-21 loss, but cover, vs. SEC power Auburn, the Spartans actually outgained the Tigers 406-342. Were it not for a (-4) net TO margin in that game, they may have actually beaten Auburn. In State’s only game against similar competition, they beat Fresno 2 weeks ago (49-23) with a 200 CLUB offense that outgained Fresno 543-247. With UNLV being in a negative role change situation and the San Jose St. team offering clear improvement, look for one of the nation’s leading rushers, RB Ervin, to control matters at the point of attack against a UNLV defensive front allowing 4.9 YPR. Check back later in the week for the status of Rebel QB Decker, who is scheduled to give way to replacement QB Palandech, due to a bum shoulder by Decker. That would make Spartans’ QB Gray, with 69% completions, the superior signal caller on the field.
100-45-3 ATS (69%) ATS Joe’s FREE Plays this Season.