- September 22, 2015 at 3:07 pm #5083
NCAAF Opening Line Report: The Pac-12 shuffle
By Colin Kelly
According to the preseason prognosticators, Oregon and Southern Cal were the two best teams in the Pac-12 Conference. And that may prove to be the case by season’s end.
But both those squads have already been dinged, quickly opening the door for other Pac-12 teams, with a couple of Week 4 matchups that could shuffle the deck or muddle the picture even more.
UCLA and Arizona are both off to 3-0 SU starts and moving up in the rankings, as the Bruins face their first conference game with the trip to Tucson. The Bruins (1-1-1- ATS) rallied to a squeak out a 24-23 victory over Brigham Young on Saturday, falling well short at the books as a 16.5-point home favorite.
The Wildcats (2-1 ATS) will face their sternest test by far, having already played two FCS squads. They struggled in the season opener before putting away Stephen F. Austin 42-32 as a 32.5-point home fave, but drubbed visiting Northern Arizona on Saturday 77-13 laying 34.5 points.
Johnny Avello, executive director of race and sports for Wynn Las Vegas, opened UCLA as a 4-point favorite. The Bruins have won and covered their last three against the Wildcats.
“Yes, UCLA is 3-0, but nothing is going to come easy when conference play starts in the Pac-12. On Saturday, freshman QB Josh Rosen looked more like a freshman, the running game emerged and the Bruins prevailed over a very game BYU team,” Avello said. “Arizona has yet to play a top-50 team, but like last year, scoring is not an issue. Until the Wildcats move up an additional notch, they will continue to be home ‘dogs against the Pac-12’s Big Three – USC, UCLA and Oregon.”
Utah at Oregon
The Ducks (2-1 SU, 1-2 ATS), who reached the national title game last year, can’t be faulted too much for their lone loss this season – 31-28 at Michigan State as a 5-point underdog. Oregon got healthy by taking on overmatched Georgia State on Saturday, rolling to a 61-28 home win, but failing to cash as a massive 42.5-point chalk.
Utah (3-0 SU, 2-1 ATS) will be on the road for the second straight week, after besting Fresno State 45-24 Saturday giving 11.5 points. The Utes opened the season with a quality home win over Michigan, 24-17 laying 5 points.
Utah quarterback Travis Wilson suffered a shoulder injury in a Week 2 win over Boise State, so Avello is waiting to set the number until he knows whether Wilson will play, though he’s looking at a line of around Oregon -14.
“Even the very good defense that Utah has had over the past couple of years hasn’t been able to slow down the Ducks,” Avello said, noting Oregon’s 51-27 road win last year and 44-21 home win in 2013. “Oregon is in great shape at the quarterback position and didn’t miss a beat with Jeff Lockie starting over Vernon Adams Jr. (broken finger) this past week.
“Utah played very well on the road last year, winning at Michigan, UCLA and Stanford, so there will be no fear playing in Eugene, but the Utes better bring offensive firepower.”
Mississippi State at Auburn (-4)
For a team considered an SEC contender, Auburn (2-1 SU, 0-3 ATS) seems entirely out of sync right now. The Tigers needed overtime in Week 2 to beat Jacksonville State 27-20 as an overwhelming 44-point favorite, and then got blasted Saturday at Louisiana State 45-21 catching 6.5 points.
Mississippi State (2-1 SU and ATS) also fell to LSU, but in much more respectable fashion. The Bulldogs lost 21-19 in Week 2, covering as a 3-point home pup. On Saturday, the Bulldogs stuffed Northwestern State 62-13 laying 38.5 points at home.
“With Mississippi State QB Dak Prescott, you get mixed results from week to week. This past week against Northwestern State, you saw the positive ones,” Avello said. “Last year, this matchup took place in Week 6, and the Bulldogs beat Auburn 38-23. I don’t believe this Bulldogs team is anywhere as talented as last year’s squad.
“Auburn is really having major heartburn to start the season, but the Tigers will improve as the season progresses. This may be a good place to start.”
Brigham Young at Michigan (-3.5)
New Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh has picked up two straight blowout wins after the season-opening loss at Utah. On Saturday, Michigan (2-1 SU, 1-2 ATS) won 28-7 laying 34 points at home against UNLV.
BYU (2-1 SU, 3-0 ATS) could easily be unbeaten, despite facing three stout teams. The Cougars let a 20-10 fourth-quarter lead slip away Saturday, losing 24-23 at UCLA but cashing as a hefty 16.5-point ‘dog.
“Wow, who orchestrated this opening schedule for the Cougars?” Avello said, noting BYU won at Nebraska and topped Boise State in Provo. “It would be beneficial to play this type of schedule if it were college basketball, to get battle tested and ready for the NCAA Tournament, but unfortunately, only four teams make it to the college football playoffs.
“With that said, the Cougars almost made it to 3-0. Michigan wasn’t impressive against UNLV, which is not a very good team, and the Wolverines will find out what Nebraska, Boise State and UCLA did – BYU is menacing.”September 22, 2015 at 3:08 pm #5084
South Carolina makes change at QB
The Sports Xchange
For the third time in four games, South Carolina will have a new starting quarterback.
True freshman Lorenzo Nunez will start Saturday’s home game against UCF, coach Steve Spurrier announced Tuesday. Nunez saw action last week in the SEC loss to Georgia.
“We’re going to let him go play,” Spurrier told reporters. “The other quarterbacks will probably play some over the course of the game. It just depends on how the game goes. Lorenzo gives us a little spark in there that we don’t have offensively.”
Redshirt sophomore Connor Mitch, the Gamecocks’ projected starter for 2015, remains sidelined with shoulder and hip injuries.
Perry Orth, who stepped up in place of Mitch, struggled against Georgia last Saturday, completing just 6 of 17 passes for 66 yards with no touchdowns and an interception while splitting time with Nunez.
South Carolina (1-2) is a two-touchdown favorite on Saturday against UCF (0-3) in an nonconference game.September 22, 2015 at 3:09 pm #5085
Purdue goes with new starter at QB
By THE SPORTS XCHANGE
Purdue is making a change at quarterback after a 1-2 start to the 2015 season.
The Boilermakers will start redshirt freshman David Blough on Saturday against Bowling Green in place of Austin Appleby. Blough has seen action in two games this year.
Appleby started the first three games this year and the final seven last season, but he has been turnover-prone in 2015, throwing a Big Ten-leading six interceptions and losing a fumble last week that Virginia Tech returned for a touchdown in a rout at Purdue.
“Austin has created energy for us,” Purdue coach Darrell Hazell said, “but the one thing that we’ve always stressed and continues to stress is the importance of taking care of the football and we need to do that better at that position.”
In his third year at Purdue, Hazell has switched starting quarterbacks often, switching to Danny Etling in 2013 over Rob Henry during the season and then last year replacing Etling with Appleby. Etling later transferred to LSU.September 22, 2015 at 3:09 pm #5086
Auburn turns to freshman at QB
The Sports Xchange
Redshirt freshman Sean White will start at quarterback for Auburn on Saturday against Mississippi State instead of Jeremy Johnson.
Coach Gus Malzahn announced the change Tuesday. It will be the first career start for White.
“Any time you change quarterbacks, it’s not an easy decision,” Malzahn said. “I feel like (White) needs a shot right now.”
Malzahn did not say whether the switch was permanent or just for the next game only.
“I’ll say this from a coach’s standpoint and player’s standpoint, you take it one game at a time and that’s the way we’re doing it,” Malzahn said. “We’re thinking about nothing but Mississippi State.”
Johnson started the Tigers’ first three games and completed 59.7 percent of his passes for 473 yards and five touchdowns, but he has thrown six intereceptions. He struggled last week in Auburn’s 45-21 loss at LSU, losing two fumbles and completing 11 of 19 passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns.September 22, 2015 at 3:10 pm #5087
Boise State to play two QBs at Virginia
By THE SPORTS XCHANGE
BOISE, Id. — Boise State plans to employ a two-quarterback system Friday at Virginia to replace injured starter Ryan Finley.
Finley sustained a broken bone in his right ankle last week against Idaho State. He’ll be out for about eight weeks.
Sophomore Tommy Stuart and true freshman Brett Rypien replaced Finley against Idaho State, leading the team to 45 of its 52 points. Stuart entered first, as previously planned, until coaches were convinced Finley’s injury was significant enough to justify playing Rypien.
Neither had played in a major college football game before. Stuart was 9-for-13 for 69 yards and a touchdown with three sacks and 46 rushing yards. Rypien was 8-for-9 for 126 yards while leading four scoring drives in four tries.
Both will play against Virginia, coach Bryan Harsin said.
“I did like the combination of Tommy and Ryp,” Harsin said. “What type of packages we put together this week and how much each one is going to have an opportunity to go in there and run it, that’s still a work in progress. … I feel good about the quarterback position.”
Offensive coordinator Eliah Drinkwitz will use the quarterbacks in slightly different roles to capitalize on their strengths. Stuart is a speedy runner; Rypien is a prototypical pocket passer.
“The advantages are I know exactly what we’re going to do for each guy and can get those guys those reps and play to their strengths and I don’t know that anybody else does,” Drinkwitz said. “I don’t think the outside world does. We’ll have a little bit of new things for them.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
–RB Jeremy McNichols has scored eight touchdowns in three games, putting him on pace to shatter the school record for a single season. He’s done all that damage with just 204 rushing yards at 3.8 yards per carry.
–WR Thomas Sperbeck is coming off his first big game of the season after a couple of quiet weeks. He has 12 catches for 140 yards, still less production than his monster performance in the Fiesta Bowl.
–LB Tanner Vallejo leads the team with 15 tackles. He also blocked a punt and a field goal last week to earn Mountain West special teams player of the week honors.
SERIES HISTORY: First meeting between Boise State and Virginia.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “When I told him at halftime he was going to play, that guy had a look in his eye like, ‘It’s about time.’ So I’m impressed with him.”– Boise State offensive coordinator Eliah Drinkwitz, on QB Brett RypienSeptember 22, 2015 at 3:11 pm #5088
Arizona State eager to open Pac-12 play
By THE SPORTS XCHANGE
TEMPE, Ariz. — Not many coaches would welcome the sight of USC’s offense coming to town, but that’s how Arizona State’s Todd Graham is feeling.
His Sun Devils are coming off two consecutive games against teams that run the triple-option — Cal Poly and New Mexico — and those schemes were problematic at times for ASU, even in victory.
“I didn’t enjoy those two weeks,” Graham said.
“I’ll be honest with you, it’s very difficult to defend that. And I think our guys did well. I feel good about where we are defensively. I think that’s been difficult, obviously, playing against that style. … I don’t like doing that for two weeks because I’d rather be doing what we do.”
It’s back to the Pac-12 this week and doing what ASU normally does on defense.
“It’s a completely different brand,” Graham said of facing USC’s more-conventional and really talented offense, “so we’ve got to really do a good job in our practice preparation, kind of getting back into our regular mode.”
Arizona State (2-1) hasn’t been playing inspiring football, dropping an opener against Texas A&M in Houston, needing a late push to beat lower-division Cal Poly, and coming up with a ho-hum 34-10 win over the Lobos.
But this home game against the 19th-ranked Trojans is a chance to get right and make a statement in the Pac-12 South. USC could be either desperate or depressed after dropping its conference opener in a 41-31 upset to visiting Stanford last week.
This is what we work for all year long, Pac-12 play, and it doesn’t get any bigger than this game,” Graham said. “Our guys know the implications of this game. It’s not hard to get motivated.”
Revenge probably doesn’t come into play, but it should be noted that ASU beat USC in the Coliseum last season on what the Sun Devils call the “Jael Mary” — a 46-yard last-play pass from Mike Bercovici to Jaelen Strong. “That’s one of the most special games and teams, and it will always be up there at the top for me.”
SUN DEVILS PLAYERS TO WATCH
–RB Demario Richard, a sophomore, is going to be a force in a league already filled with stellar running backs. Last week against New Mexico, he accounted for 255 total yards as he became the first FBS player with 100 rushing yards and 150 receiving yards in the same game since North Texas’ Lance Dunbar in 2011. Included in his big day was a 93-yard touchdown reception. “He runs with an attitude and he runs through the tackles,” said coach Todd Graham.
–WR Tim White, a junior college transfer speedster, has been a valuable addition to a suspect Arizona State receiving corps that lost Jaelen Strong to the NFL after last season and Cameron Smith to a knee injury in the spring. White has six catches for 65 yards and two touchdowns, and he also has a 59-yard run.
–S Jordan Simone is tied for the team lead with 29 tackles and he’s often in attack mode in coach Todd Graham’s aggressive defense. Simone has 5.5 tackles for loss through three games, as well as two interceptions.
SERIES HISTORY: USC leads Arizona State 19-12, which includes one victory that was later vacated because of NCAA sanctions. The Sun Devils have won three of the past meetings, including a 38-34 win last year on a Hail Mary.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “I think for anybody, especially Southern California kids that commit to ASU, you know that game is automatically circled on your schedule. It’s exciting. I think we’ve done well against the Trojans in the past, but that doesn’t matter because this is a completely different year.” — QB Mike Bercovici, on playing USC.September 22, 2015 at 3:12 pm #5089
QBs still the question at Ohio State
COLUMBUS, Ohio — With the defense generating offense and the offense playing defensively, there’s some concern at Ohio State this week that the Buckeyes are a bit upside down.
Yes, they’re are 3-0 and still ranked No. 1 in the country. But the defending College Football Playoff national champions haven’t been as dominant as expected and that starts with the offense.
Ohio State heads into its final nonconference game on Saturday (3:30 p.m. on ABC/ESPN) against Western Michigan (1-2) with something to prove to themselves and to the country. After the offense looked sluggish in a tougher-than-anticipated 20-13 victory over Northern Illinois last week, the Buckeyes will be trying to find their groove against another Mid-American Conference opponent.
The offense generated only 298 yards and 13 of the 20 points against Northern Illinois. Starting quarterback Cardale Jones experienced some difficulties against a defense that confounded the Buckeyes, completing only 4 of 9 passes for 36 yards and two interceptions. J.T. Barrett came on in relief and threw a touchdown pass but also an interception, adding to the Buckeyes’ uncharacteristic five turnovers.
Coach Urban Meyer wasn’t saying who would start behind center this week, obviously conscious of starting a quarterback controversy. Jones has been No. 1 for the first three games.
“I haven’t decided yet. We’re going to have conversations,” Meyer said. “Today, not one is beating out the other, and they’re not playing great.”
Meyer insisted that he’s content using one quarterback as long as he plays well. He rejected the notion that Ohio State is going to rotate the two in games.
“Let’s be clear. I did go with one guy,” Meyer said. “The guy didn’t perform well, so we went with the backup. There is no set thing saying that we’re a two-quarterback system. We’re not. The backup’s a very good player, whomever that may be. So we are going with the guy.”
Whoever starts at quarterback will need to stabilize the offense. Part of the issue could be the adjustment to a new offensive coordinator. Co-offensive coordinator Ed Warriner took over the play-calling duties after Tom Herman left after last season for the head coaching job at Houston.
“We’re playing defense on offense right now, and it’s not working,” Meyer said. “So we’re going to take a more aggressive approach to how we go about our business.”
There are no such problems with the defense. The Buckeyes rank fifth nationally in total defense at 225 yards per game and fifth in passing yards allowed at 119 yards per game.
So far, the defense is propping up the offense when it was expected to be the other way around for the Buckeyes this season.
“We go out with the intention that we’re going to stop teams no matter what,” freshman defensive lineman Sam Hubbard said. “When the offense is in a stalemate, we feel we need to go out and get a turnover.”
OHIO STATE PLAYERS TO WATCH
— QB J.T. Barrett could be in line for the start on Saturday against Western Michigan. Coach Urban Meyer wasn’t committing earlier in the week to whether Barrett or Cardale Jones would open the game behind center, but Jones has struggled the past two games. Barrett came on last week against Northern Illinois when Jones threw his second interception of the game but wasn’t a whole lot better. Barrett completed 11 of 19 passes for 97 yards and one touchdown with one interception in the 20-13 win. He added 18 yards rushing. The redshirt sophomore showed last year that he could get the job as a starter and Meyer might go back to him in the final nonconference tuneup before Big Ten play begins.
— RB Ezekiel Elliott was kept out of the end zone last week but rushed for 108 yards on 23 carries against Northern Illinois. Elliott scored three times the previous week against Hawaii and is tied for the Big Ten lead in rushing touchdowns with four after three games. He has rushed for 100 or more yards in eight straight games and is averaging 110.3 yards per game. So far, he is Ohio State’s most consistent player on offense but has yet to have a breakout game this season.
— H-back Braxton Miller has been relatively quiet the past two weeks after an impact performance in the opener against Virginia Tech. The redshirt senior rushed four times for 9 yards and did not catch a pass against Northern Illinois last week. He’s getting some snaps out of the Wildcat and it could be about time for the former All-Big Ten quarterback to throw a pass or two out of that formation. Coach Urban Meyer wants the ball in the hands of a player he calls one of the best athletes in America.
— SS Vonn Bell was a preseason All-American and has played like one so far, anchoring a strong Ohio State secondary. He leads the Big Ten with six passes defensed and has five pass breakups and one interception. Bell, who is on the Thorpe and Nagurski award watch lists, had a team-leading 10 tackles (eight solo) last week in the win over Northern Illinois.
Ohio State and Western Michigan are meeting for the first time. The Buckeyes are playing a Mid-American Conference team for the second week in a row after beating Northern Illinois 20-13 last Saturday. Ohio State is 31-1 all time against MAC schools.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “We’ve got the mindset that if we have to win 3-0, we’ll win 3-0. We can’t rely on anything else, so we need to go out and do our job.” — LB Raekwon McMillan on Ohio State’s defenseSeptember 22, 2015 at 3:54 pm #5090
4th Quarter Covers – Week 3
By Joe Nelson
Glancing at the scoreboard won’t tell you the whole story in most games. Here are some of the games that went down to the wire relative to the spread in the fourth quarter last week in the third weekend of college football. Each week there are several teams that cover despite not necessarily deserving it, as well as other teams that played much better than the final score shows.
Clemson (-5) over Louisville: After a very low scoring, low-output first half, Louisville took the lead early in the third quarter in the big Thursday night ACC Atlantic matchup. Clemson answered and by the start of the fourth quarter the Tigers led by seven, extending that margin to 10 points after a field goal early in the fourth quarter. The ensuing kickoff was returned 100 yards for a touchdown by Louisville to trim the margin to just three points and within the spread. The Cardinals had a great opportunity to tie the game a few minutes later, but the 38-yard field goal was missed and the final possession for Louisville ended with an interception though the Cardinals still held on for the underdog cover.
Florida State (-9½) 14, Boston College 0: Florida State scored a touchdown five minutes into the Friday night TV game, but there was very little production in the middle quarters, though the Seminoles did miss a field goal try. Starting a fourth quarter drive at the one-yard line, Boston College was able to convert three first downs to get some space still down just seven points, but a fumble was returned 36 yards for a touchdown to put the Seminoles up 14 and past the favorite spread. While the final drive for the Eagles entered Florida State territory, no points were added in a game that featured barely 400 yards of combined total offense.
Wake Forest (-7) 17, Army 14: Wake Forest certainly had the edge moving the ball against Army, but the Demon Deacons failed to score in the first half and were tied 7-7 heading into the fourth quarter. Early in the final frame, Wake Forest pulled ahead 14-7 to get past the common spreads that climbed from -3 all the way to -7 by kickoff. Army missed a field goal on its next possession, but got another chance with the third Wake Forest interception of the game and using a short field the Knights tied the game. Wake Forest wound up kicking a game-winning field goal in the final seconds, but it was not enough to get past the number.
Ball State (-4½) 28, Eastern Michigan 17: Eastern Michigan stormed out to a 17-0 lead in this MAC matchup, but with two touchdown drives in the final five minutes of the first half, Ball State was within three. Neither team scored in the third quarter but Ball State completed a 20-play touchdown drive early in the fourth quarter to take its first lead 21-17, but still sat short of the road favorite spread. After forcing a punt Ball State went down the field again and cashed in to take an 11-point lead and the final three drives for Eastern Michigan ended with a missed field goal and two interceptions.
NC State (-17½) 38, Old Dominion 14: NC State wound up with a dominant yardage edge in this matchup, but it was a two-score game in the fourth quarter and the Wolfpack still sat short of the heavy road favorite spread after kicking a fourth quarter field goal. On a late possession, Old Dominion was pinned back deep and forced to punt, giving NC State good field position in the final minutes. With the outcome certainly decided, the Wolfpack punched in a touchdown with less than two minutes to go in the game to earn the favorite a fortunate cover.
Syracuse (-7½) 30, Central Michigan 27: Despite losing another quarterback to injury, Syracuse led Central Michigan by 14 at the half with the spread hovering in between -5 and -8½ throughout the week. Central Michigan put together a 94-yard drive early in the second half to get within seven and it seemed like that final margin would hold, but the Chippewas connected for a 27-yard touchdown pass with just seven seconds to go in the game to force overtime. Central Michigan had to settle for a field goal and the Orange escaped by punching in the touchdown, but the underdog certainly earned the cover with a massive yardage, first down, and time of possession edge in the game.
Miami, FL (-3) 36, Nebraska 33: Miami was favored by 3 much of the week, but the line did hit -3½ and -4 at a few points. It seemed unlikely to matter as the Hurricanes led by 20 entering the fourth quarter and settling for a short field goal early in the fourth made it a 23-point margin. Nebraska made an incredible comeback with three long scoring drives in the final nine minutes, converting twice on 2-point conversions to force the game into overtime. Seemingly with the momentum, Nebraska had the ball first but wound up with an interception on the first play. Miami only needed the easy three points to get the win and that is all they got to burn Canes backers in what looked like a sure-win most of the way.
Toledo (-7) 30, Iowa State 23: The statistics certainly favored Iowa State, but Toledo took a 10-point lead on a fumble recovery touchdown in the third quarter, getting past the favorite spread that was up to -8 much of the week. Iowa State tied the game in the fourth quarter and the Cyclones looked likely to cover after getting a field goal in the first overtime. Toledo had to match the kick and then put in a touchdown in the second session. Iowa State was stopped on four plays inside the Toledo 10 to end the game as the final margin wound up right at seven.
Memphis (-3½) 44, Bowling Green 41: This non-conference game looked like it would be a fun one to watch between high-scoring teams and it did not disappoint. Bowling Green led early in its home opener but the game was tied 34-34 late in the third quarter and 41-41 early in the fourth quarter as the teams traded touchdowns on pass plays of 94, 60, 62, and 48 yards. Things tightened up in the final 10 minutes with three punts and Memphis managing a field goal. Bowling Green was stopped on its final possession for a three-point loss with the final margin right near the road favorite spread which flipped between -3 and -3½ for Memphis most of the week.
Colorado (-3) 27, Colorado State 24: This rivalry game was one of the better games of the weekend as a hot start for Colorado State came undone and the game was tied 17-17 entering the fourth quarter. Colorado got a game-changing 60-yard interception return touchdown in the fourth quarter, but Colorado State regrouped and answered to tie the game with less than five minutes to go. Colorado missed a field goal as regulation expired and a try for the Rams to start overtime was blocked. Colorado was conservative on its possession and kicked a 32-yard field goal for the overtime win, landing right on the common number most of the week, though early in the week Colorado was -4.
Indiana (-3) 38, Western Kentucky 35: While those on Indiana had plenty of opportunities throughout the week to get a number below -3, this game wound up with a three-point margin. Indiana trailed by 11 at the half, but stormed back in the third quarter with three touchdowns in about a seven-minute span to take a 10-point lead into the fourth quarter. Western Kentucky scored with about six minutes to go to create the final three-point margin. In its final two drives, Indiana failed to add points going for it on 4th-and-4 from the Western Kentucky 13-yard line and then ended the game taking a knee at the Western Kentucky 2-yard line as the Hoosiers certainly had the opportunity for a more convincing result.
California (-5) 45, Texas 44: After falling behind by 10 points early, California scored 31 straight points to take a 45-24 lead into the fourth quarter. Texas made a valiant comeback as they still trailed by 14 until cashing a touchdown on a long run with just three minutes to go. The Longhorns forced a punt and scored again with just a minute to go, but incredibly missed on the extra-point, a boon for those taking the points but a sour ending for Cal backers who had minutes ago been sitting pretty and could have at least still had a shot in overtime.
UTEP (-3) 50, New Mexico State 47: For a program looking for any sort of positive momentum this was an absolutely crushing loss for New Mexico State and a very tough beat for those on the home underdog, though most wound up with a push. The Aggies led 30-16 heading into the fourth quarter and after UTEP scored to trim the margin to seven, an 82-yard touchdown drive with just over four minutes to go put the margin back at 14 points for the Aggies. UTEP answered quickly with a three-play touchdown drive and forced a punt. Starting from the two-yard line the Miners went the distance to force OT in the final minute. The Aggies could only get three going first in overtime and UTEP finished the comeback with a touchdown.
Iowa (-4) 27, Pittsburgh 24: This game was tied 17-17 after Pittsburgh rallied in the third quarter with a touchdown on a blocked punt. Iowa scored with six minutes to go to take a seven-point lead just past the home favorite spread, but Pittsburgh answered to tie the game with less than a minute on the clock. Iowa kicker Marshall Koehn was the hero with an impressive 57-yard boot as time expired to get the Hawkeyes the win, but not the cover.
Michigan State (-24½) 35, Air Force 21: Michigan State did get past the heavy favorite spread in the third quarter with a 35-7 lead, but Air Force scored the final two touchdowns of the game. The game could have been even closer as Air Force lost a second half fumble and had an interception deep in Michigan State territory as well with the underdog Falcons producing a decent yardage edge in the game.September 22, 2015 at 6:36 pm #5119
Saturday College Football – Early Moves
BYU-Michigan: This line opened at the dead number of -5, which is where it sits now – after some very early money took the Cougars. Tough to ascertain a whole lot here from simply the line. I think at this point you (I) have to like the points simply after watching the Wolverines not blow out a UNLV team that appears to be better than expected – and the fact that BYU has just played a better SOS.
Army-Eastern Michigan: Army opened as a -1 favorite and it now flipped to EMU – 2.5/-3. That favorite-flipping is one reason why they typically wait to put out ML’s – sharp bettors would have taken EMU +110 and now Army +140 or whatever. Army is winless, while EMU did win a road game at Wyoming, but that’s not nearly enough for me to simply follow the move. EMU has the LSU Tigers next week and they’ve simply got to be looking forward to playing in Baton Rouge more than a half-empty stadium against Army.
Nevada-Buffalo: Buffalo is -2 and it’s very hard for me not to think that Nevada playing Arizona and A & M doesn’t make them the better team here. The line is table and the game, although on the East Coast, is not a terribly early one so I can’t use that as an excuse. Buffalo has done what they were supposed to but with a Conference game next week this is a tough spot for me not to think they don’t take Nevada seriously. I do like what Brian Polian has done there in a short time.
Kentucky-Missouri: I was a little surprised the Wildcats only opened as -1 favorites and apparently I wasn’t the only one. Very quickly went to -3 and stopped, as you’d expect, but recently there’s been money on the Tigers. I guess my visceral reaction here is that until Missouri DOES I can’t bet that they COULD.
V-Tech-ECU: The Hokies have gone, in a short period if time, from a team nobody wanted much to do with to a trendy team to bet on. In my opinion the truth is as it usually is, somewhere in the middle. ECU has been on the road for two weeks, and after playing Florida tough, Navy’s scheme just got to them. I just am not ready to take the Hokies on the road laying more than a touchdown in a game that means much more to the program at ECU than it does Tech. Yes, the Hokies are the better team, but with home games coming up against Conference opponents, even with the stable line, I can’t see taking the “road chalk risk”.
SDSU-Penn State: I’d have loved to been able to get under 41 at the opener here, but it didn’t last long. To me that’s clearly the best bet here. The Aztecs can’t score and Long ALWAYS has a very solid defense. Of course the Lions are NOT an offensive juggernaut so laying more than two scores isn’t going to happen. However, the value may well lie in the Penn State team total under here.
BGSU-Purdue: This is yet another game that has the flipped-favorite. Purdue opened at -2 and Bowling Green currently sits at -1 or more at most places. Clearly it’s a bet against Purdue as much as on Bowling Green. Purdue COULD have beaten Marshall, but with a game at Michigan State next week that makes it tough to get “up” for BGSU here. I do like the over but it’s a much bigger number due to both teams results, and after opening at 72 and just getting drilled all the way to 79 that pretty much takes that off the table and honestly at some point it’s time to go the other way. Very close to that, and with such a high scoring game, there may be no rush to get a good number since +2 as compared to the total is seemingly not relevant. Seemingly.
Kansas-Rutgers: I would have expected Rutgers to be almost a two-touchdown favorite, but what I would not expect is the total to open at 61.5 (too high IMO) and THEN be bet to 66 at Bookmaker, a sharp book. I’d expect Rutgers to play much better defense than that, and with a bye next week there are no excuses. It’s rare even in “non marquee” games for it to be the favorite covering AND the over – so in truth, I’d actually take the points and the under. Kansas has just had a bye so there’s got to be some improvement this early in the season, and they aren’t willing to push this beyond -13 in places – which is also somewhat telling.
Arkansas State-Toledo: The Red Wolves are getting some early betting love. It opened at +9 and is +7 already in places, and although we were all over ASU at Missouri, the key to this game is finding out just how good the Tigers are or are not. ASU played far better than the score indicated as USC. Toledo beat Arkansas, so we also need to know just how good or bad the Hogs are, but, because all the games of relevance here are at night, that’s not happening in time. The total has gone up significantly from it’s opener. Perhaps the Toledo team total over, because I do expect them to be able to score – it’s going to be whether ASU can keep up and/or not make mistakes when they DO have chances. I think they can.September 23, 2015 at 11:52 am #5173
NCAAF Line Watch: Grab the Red Raiders now
By Steve Merril
Each week during the college football season, Steve Merril looks at the NCAAF odds and tells you which spread to bet now, which one to bet later and which total to watch as the week plays out.
Spread to bet now: Texas Tech +7.5 (vs. TCU)
TCU had an incredible 2014 season as the Horned Frogs went 12-1 SU and 10-2 ATS. Expectations were extremely high for TCU this season, and even though they are 3-0, their on-field play hasn’t been too impressive aside from their 70-7 thrashing of an overmatched FCS opponent. The lesser performances include a 23-17 win over Minnesota and a 56-37 win over SMU.
Texas Tech is also 3-0 on the season, including last week’s impressive 35-24 win at Arkansas as 9.5-point underdogs. The Red Raiders now return home, and they are getting more than a touchdown in a legitimate revenge spot after getting embarrassed by 55 points (82-27) at TCU last season.
Grab the +7.5 now before the line goes down any further.
Spread to wait on: Massachusetts +28.5 (at Notre Dame)
Notre Dame lost starting quarterback Malik Zaire for the season to an ankle injury in their game at Virginia two weeks ago. DeShone Kizer replaced Zaire last week, and he was fantastic against Georgia Tech. Kizer completed 21 of his 30 passes for 242 yards and a touchdown. Off that game, some regression from Kizer in expected in this game.
Massachusetts is an experienced team that returned 18 starters this season. The Minutemen catch Notre Dame at the perfect time as the Irish played Georgia Tech last week and they are at Clemson next week.
Notre Dame will overlook Massachusetts in this game, and so will the novice bettors. Wait it out and take the Minutemen plus as many points as possible.
Total to watch: Georgia Tech at Duke – O/U 59
Georgia Tech’s offense was terrible last week as they only scored 22 points on 337 yards of total offense. The Yellow Jackets only scored 7 points thru the first three quarters, so the final tally is not as good as it appears. But Notre Dame has one of the best defenses in the country, and fortunately for Georgia Tech, they are taking a big step down in class this week.
Duke’s defense has only given up a total of 26 points in three games so far this season. But don’t be fooled. The Blue Devils have played three weak offensive teams, so the unit will be in for a reality check in this game.
Last year, Duke had the luxury of an extra week of rest before playing Georgia Tech’s triple-option; they held them to 25 points. That’s not the case this season, so Duke’s defense will be in for a long afternoon. Play Over 59 before the total goes higher.September 24, 2015 at 12:20 pm #5303
CFB WEEK 4 – POINTSPREAD PROGNOSIS
C. Michigan at Michigan St. (-26-) Noon ET BIG 10 TV
For many teams, the final week of September is their last “preseason game” prior to the start of conference season. It presents a true handicapper’s conundrum. Many of the games feature Power 5 teams, who are dominant favorites over inferior opponents. The conundrum lies in whether the HC of the dominant team chooses to build confidence for the upcoming league season or whether he plays it close to the vest in an effort to ensure that key players are not injured. Each of these games must be analyzed separately, doing the best I can to draw a conclusion on the mental, emotional makeup of the coaching staff and the team. There are no fewer than 5 games on this Week 4 card that find Big 10 teams hosting a “little brother” from the MAC. To date, upper echelon MAC teams have had solid success against “big brother.” Such may be the case today in this regional matchup. Clearly, Michigan St. is a Top 10 team. After an 11-2 SU season of last, they have reeled off 3 consecutive victories to open the season. But, their 0-3 ATS mark (-19) AFP indicates they are either overrated or they are holding something back for the start of the conference season. Following the revenge win on this field two weeks ago against Oregon, it was understandable that they came a bit flat against Air Force. We profited handsomely with a 4% Air Force LTS winner, part of a 9-1-1 ATS record on CFB LTS SIDES last week. Yet, it was a bit disturbing that Sparty was outrushed 279-77 by the Fly Boys. Another such lethargic performance could see the Chips slip inside this number. Remember, it was Week 1 that home dog C. Michigan reared its head in bowing only 24-13 as (+22) vs. Oklahoma St. Last week, they lost 30-27 in OT at Syracuse, but a closer inspection saw that the Chips outgained the Cuse 520-328. With no letdown expected against this high-profile opponent, it appears that 1st year HC Bonamego, who is motivating his team with his fight against cancer, will again have his Chips ready to play against this very high-profile opponent. A big dog must take!
S. Mississippi at Nebraska (-22) Noon ET ESN
Nebraska 1st year HC Riley inherited 15 RS from a Nebraska team, who had 9 or more victories in each the previous 7 years under former HC Pelini. Pelini had turned Nebraska into a 200 CLUB offensive machine. So, why would Riley try to fix that? But, his pass-oriented offense has the attack unit a bit unbalanced for the Huskers this season (179 run/310 pass). That should not deter them from getting the SU victory today. But, it could well bite them in the butt down the Big 10 road. Last week, the Huskers trailed Miami (33-10) before rallying to tie the game before eventually losing in OT, that’s a downer for any 3 TD favorite who is now sandwiched between that high-profile OT loss in S. Florida and their Big 10 slate of 8 games beginning next week. S. Mississippi whose program is being resurrected under 3rd year HC Monken seems prime for the opportunity. We used them in Week 1 for their home dog cover vs. Mississippi St. Last week in a high-scoring game at Texas St., S. Mississippi put up 613 yards in a 56-50 win. Their 41 PPG of offense is characterized by them being a 200 CLUB member after averaging a combined fewer than 20 PPG and an average of only 334 YPG each of the 3 previous seasons combined. Emerging QB Mullens and RBs Richards and Smith are enough to keep this team competitive as HC Riley coached teams are just 5-10 ATS as chalk and in a terrible sandwich situation.
Virginia Tech (-8-) at E. Carolina 3:30 ET
Behind replacement QB Motley (starter Brewer lost in Game 1 vs. Ohio St.), the Hokies are beginning to show some offensive spunk. Last week at Purdue, they were a 200 CLUB member with a 471-265 yardage edge and a 51-24 win, and cover, as 6 point road chalk. That win increases HC Beamer’s recent record to only 20-36 ATS. Yet, the legend that is VA Tech keeps this line pumped up. Referring to our AFP theory, know that 2-1 ATS (+22) AFP VA Tech, teams with 1-2 ATS (-28) AFP E. Carolina for a (-50) net AFP favoring the Pirates in this one. The thinking has worked because there is an additional 7 points in the betting line from Week 1. Last week, the situational edge worked against E. Carolina who had a trip to Navy, sandwiched between a revenge game at Florida and this regional rivalry battle against VA Tech. Along with the fundamental edge that Navy possessed, it resulted in a 6% winner with the Middies running the record on those very special games to 50-9 ATS. THIS is the week to be on E. Carolina! On a strong home field, where in the last 3 years under 6th year HC McNeill, they are 16-3 SU with only losses to UCF by 2, VA Tech by 5 (last time here in 2013) and Navy (you know that story) by 28. With extra value in the line, look for the Pirates to bounce back in a game they can take to the wire as QB Kemp has admirably replaced 4 year starter Carden in putting up 300 PYPG.
Kansas at Rutgers (-13) Noon ET Big 10 TV
Yes, Rutgers has plenty of off field issues and it is not expected that HC Flood will be roaming the sidelines again this week. Not to mention the $50,000 fine! Last week, Penn St. controlled proceedings overland with a 340-43 yardage edge. Along with a (+2) net TO margin, the Lions beat the Knights 28-3. But, the problems in the Rutgers’ program do not compare with what’s going on in Manhattan for 1st year HC Beatty. Consider the Kansas’ defense, who in 2 games against S. Dakota St. and Memphis (both at home), has allowed an average of 48 PPG, 557 YPG and 7.4 YP play. How are they going to do when they play their first road game? Not well!
Georgia Tech (-9) at Duke Noon ESPN2
These are a pair of formerly hot teams who had their winning streaks snapped in the role of favorite last week. Look for the Yellow Jackets fueled by 31-25 revenge to be the ones who bounce. Despite last week’s 19-10 home loss to Northwestern, the Blue Devils are still on a 22-8 ATS run under HC Cutcliffe. The defense is solid, including allowing just 93/2.7 overland. But the first 2 of those contests barely count against Tulane and NC Central. When they played GA Tech last year, a 31-25 Duke win in Atlanta, GA Tech ran for 282 yards, passed for 201 more and had a 483-373 total yardage edge. The Jackets’ run game was in fine form prior to traveling to Notre Dame last week. There, in 47 attempts, they could run for just 216 yards. Nonetheless, behind QB Thomas for the season, they are averaging 377/7.3. Now, playing with revenge for their only home loss of last season, look for the superior Yellow Jacket offense to have its way! Much like our STEAMROLLER OF THE WEEK, I love Game 4 road teams off their first loss of the season.
Vanderbilt at Ole Miss (-25) 7:00 ET ESPNU
Never easy to fade Hugh Freeze, who is on a 38-18 ATS run, including 11-3 ATS laying double digits! His 1st year QB Kelly (nephew of Jim) is tossing it for 352 PYPG with a 12/1 ratio. But, this is a very special week for the Rebels who, for consecutive seasons, have pulled an upset of Alabama. Though, the Rebs continue their momentum after last year’s upset of Alabama, with wins and covers vs. A&M and Tennessee. In the next 2 weeks, this situation may be a bit different. For, the 43-37 upset win of the Tide as (+8) was a bit phony. The Tide was a member of the 200 CLUB in rolling up 503 yards. That included a 215-92 overland edge. The (+5) net TO margin was the real killer. This week, they host a Vandy team whom Freeze defeated 41-3 last year. It seems like there is little incentive knowing that next week, they go to Florida to play a much improved Gator team. Vandy is not much on offense, but a 17/271 defense which includes games against high-powered offenses, W. Kentucky and Georgia, is a valuable ally when catching more than 3 TDs against a host who is in a huge letdown spot.
Florida Int’l at LA Tech (-14-) 2:30 ET
Not easy to buck a LA Tech team who had 9 wins last year and is on a 14-3 ATS run for 3rd year HC Holtz. But, this is a bad spot for the Bulldogs, who have just come off gut-wrenching losses to W. Kentucky (41-38) and Kansas St. (39-33) in OT. Last week’s loss was particularly draining because in a roller-coaster affair, the Bulldogs tied the game on the final play. It takes 3 OTs before the 39-33 loss is sealed. Now, the Bulldogs return home as a notable favorite against the Florida Int’l team, who is under the radar with 3rd year HC Ron Turner. Turner has improved the Panther fortunes from 1 win to 4 wins and a 2-1 SU record this season. That includes an upset of UCF as 14 point dog and a competitive affair at Indiana off that upset. Defense is the calling card for a team that allows just 21 PPG and 314 YPG. Against a LA Tech team who could well have their sights set on rival LA Lafayette next week, it is exactly the type of scheduling spot from which upsets are born.
LONE RANGER CONTRARY PLAY OF THE WEEK … Arkansas (+7)
Texas A&M (-7) vs. Arkansas 7:00 ET ESPN, Arlington, TX
For those of you following our CFB and NFL CRUSHER OF THE WEEK, LONE RANGER CONTRARY PLAY OF THE WEEK and our BIG DOG OF THE WEEK, they have gone 11-1 ATS the last 2 weeks. These will continue to be available as FREE plays on this site the entire year.
This annual SEC matchup again takes place at the home of the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas. Last year, as an 8 point favorite, Texas A&M won this contest (35-28), but in so doing, they were double rushed by Arkansas 285-137. Last week, the Aggies warmed up for their SEC slate with a 44-27 win, no cover, against Nevada. But, they failed to cover the 34 point impost, despite being a 200 CLUB member and outgaining Nevada 535-359.
The results for Arkansas were not as positive. In consecutive weeks, after their 35-24 home loss to Texas Tech, Arkansas has lost consecutive games as double digit home chalk. I can guarantee you that no one except you, me and the LONE RANGER is going to come on board for an Arkansas team who is coming off consecutive double digit home favorite losses and has a (-48) AFP for the season.
The Aggies are a team on the rise with new DC Chavis on board to improve the stop unit. Albeit against an inferior opposition, the Aggies are allowing just 22 PPG, 337 YPG and 4.6 YPR. With HC Sumlin at the controls, the offense is always in good stead. This year, they are putting up 200 CLUB numbers, while averaging 46 PPG and 488 YPG.
So why even look at the down-trodden Hog, who in last week’s loss to Texas Tech allowed 486 total yards, including 315 through the air? They have lost RB Williams for the season, along with a trio of WRs, leaving them an offensive shell of what they expected. More importantly, with new OC Enos (former HC C. Michigan), the Hogs have gotten away from what they do best. That is run the football. In fact, they are throwing the ball 31 times per game for 305 PYPG, as opposed to running it only 36 times for 171 RYPG. That is far from the M.O. that made HC Bielema so successful at Wisconsin and had him building this Arkansas program in that same mold. Arkansas does, however, have one of the largest OLs in the country. I would be very surprised if Bielema does not return to his ground game today in an effort to control the clock and the flow of the game.
As always, the final deciding factor in this game is line value. With the Hogs off two horrendous performances, we are now getting 2 TDs more from where this line would have been opening week. It makes Arkansas the ODDs on favorite to get this ATS victory when we combine the revenge motive and the back-to-back losses with A&M’s look ahead to a trio of SEC revenge games that are staring them in the face. Once again this week, it’s only you, me and the LONE RANGER who bring down this money with a very contrary PICK.
Tennessee at Florida (-2) 3:30 ET CBS
Last week, we used Florida (-3) as our History Book play against a Kentucky team whom they had beaten 21 consecutive times. In a low scoring contest, Florida squeezed out a defensive victory and cover by a score of 14-9. These Gators might be improved, but the offense is a long way from where new HC McElwain expected it to be. Remember, he was the OC at Alabama before rebuilding a Colorado St. team that went from 4 to 8 to 10 wins in his tenure, averaging 35 PPG and 476 YPG in his last 2 seasons. Though Florida will be improved from its 11-13 SU record of the last 2 seasons, it is the Vols who are by far the more experienced team. Consider the dominant 18-10 RS edge, which 3rdyear Tennessee HC Jones has over McElwain in his inaugural season. That makes the 10-0 SU series run by Florida, mostly in the role of favorite, a thing of the past. Last year’s 10-9 Gator victory was a hotly contested defensive-oriented game. Let’s take the better team with the greater experience to reverse history!
Ohio at Minnesota (-10-) 3:30 ET Big 10 TV
Line is creeping downward because the Bobcats enter with a 3-0 SU ATS record with combined coverage by 30 points. This is a veteran team with 17 RS who could well continue their early-season roll. But, this Big 10 opponent will clearly be their greatest challenge. Expect them to step up and pass the test with a defense that is allowing just 17 PPG and 318 yards. This is one of 6 MAC vs. Big 10 matchups on the weekend card. As outlined in the C. Michigan vs. Michigan St. game, it becomes a handicapper’s conundrum as to whether Minnesota will take this 3-0 SU ATS MAC team seriously or get caught looking ahead to their Big 10 slate which includes a game at Northwestern next week. But chances for a resounding Minnesota victory are slim, considering the Gophers average just 17 PPG on 347 YPG with an offense that HC Kill has referred to as “a mess.” There are multiple injuries along the OL, as well as to the TEs who are an integral part of their offense. No surprise if “little brother” is once again competitive! With the lone rejoinder being a history that finds Ohio U just 2-10 ATS as road dog, while the Gophers are 9-3 ATS as home chalk, all with the current coaching regime.
CFB BIG DOG OF THE WEEK … UMass (+29)
UMass at Notre Dame (-29) 3:30 ET NBC
For those of you following our CFB and NFL CRUSHER OF THE WEEK, LONE RANGER CONTRARY PLAY OF THE WEEK and our BIG DOG OF THE WEEK, you have gone 11-1 ATS the last 2 weeks. These will continue to be available as FREE plays on this site the entire year.
UMass visits Notre Dame for this 3:30 ET NBC kickoff on Saturday afternoon. This is arguably the most important game in the history of the UMass program. For Notre Dame, it is the least important game on their schedule. Huge situational advantage to the Minutemen! As a result, a Minuteman team, who is quite possibly the most experienced team in the country, is my PICK as the BIG DOG OF THE WEEK.
The injury situation at Notre Dame has been well-documented. Last week, with starting QB Zaire injured, the Fighting Irish rallied behind 1sttime starter Kizer, who along with a swarming defense, pulled a home dog upset (30-22) against formerly undefeated Georgia Tech. In so doing, they were a 200 CLUB offensive member, outgaining the high-powered Tech offense by combined numbers of 461-337. Now, they must face a team who had just 3 victories last season and is winless in a pair of starts this year. Surely, the trip to Clemson next week holds far more significance than this outing. Notre Dame has been overpriced as home chalk in its long and storied history. Today, they come in to the matchup with a recent 5-12 ATS mark as chalk and 5-13 ATS as double digit favorite.
Last week, UMass gave Temple all they could handle, as our CONTRARY PLAY OF THE WEEK. The eventual 25-23 loss as (+13) will actually serve to inspire confidence for the Minutemen that they can be competitive with a quality opponent. Even if they get blown out in the early going, UMass has huge potential to come through the backdoor, behind QB Frohnapfel, who passed for 393 yards last week against Temple and is leading a UMass passing game that averages 321 PYPG through the air.
Put the ODDS in your favor in this contest with our BIG DOG OF THE WEEK PLAY on UMass, a team with huge offensive potential against the Fighting Irish team who gets sandwiched between their Georgia Tech upset and their game vs. high-profiled Clemson next week.
CFB CRUSHER OF THE WEEK … NC State (-17)
NC State (-17) at S. Alabama 8:00 ET ESN
For those of you following our CFB and NFL CRUSHER OF THE WEEK, LONE RANGER CONTRARY PLAY OF THE WEEK and our BIG DOG OF THE WEEK, they have gone 11-1 ATS the last 2 weeks. These will continue to be available as FREE plays on this site the entire year.
NC State visits S. Alabama for this 8 pm ET kick Saturday night as televised by ESN. Last week, S. Alabama played an emotionally draining game at San Diego St. It was arguably the biggest win in the program’s history. The Jags kicked a lengthy field goal on the last play of the game to force OT, and then held on for a 34-27 victory as 16 point underdog. Cannot doubt the quality of the win, as they were 200 CLUB members on offense with a combined 511-305 yardage edge!
Earlier in the day, NC State as 16 point road favorite, was STEAMROLLING Old Dominion (38-14) with a 256 to (-3) yardage edge. The defense held the Monarchs to a 148 total yards.
S. Alabama is a hybrid team that is an amalgam of the recently disbanded UAB team and the existing Jaguar program. That includes starting QB Clements, a UAB transfer. With just 5 RS, HC Jones has done a solid job putting the team together. Yet, it was just 2 weeks ago when stepping up in class against another Power 5 team, that they lost 48-9 at Nebraska.
NC State continues their assent under HC Doeren. They have bolted from the gate with a 3-0 SU ATS start in beating Troy, E. Kentucky and ODU, teams of the same ilk as this Jaguar. With 15 RS, they are clearly a qualified returning starter play.
I love playing against home dogs, which have just pulled an upset as a road dog of 7 or more points. It provides a natural letdown situation for the home dog and puts the road favorite on alert. Now, that QB Brissett has been joined by RB Thornton (suspended the first 2 games), the Wolfpack has continued their late-season run from last year. They are now 8-1 ATS on the trot. Lone detractor, as is the case with many Power 5 teams this week, is the look ahead to their conference opener against Louisville next week. Nonetheless, the situation and fundamentals are in place for the Wolfpack run to continue against an outmanned rebuilding opponent. For these reasons, join me in my PICK of NC State as the CFB CRUSHER OF THE WEEK, as we put the ODDS clearly in our favor in what figures to be a 4 TD blowout!
Georgia Southern (-16) at Idaho 9:00 PM EST
Georgia Southern visits Idaho for the Sun Belt opener for both teams. And I’m still trying to figure out how Idaho gained admittance to the Sun Belt Conference. Last year, these teams met in Statesboro and the Host Eagles steamrolled Idaho by a score of 47-24. In so doing, they rushed and passed for 200 yards (a 200 Club winner) and outrushed Idaho 349-94, an easy double rusher. Now, the venue switches to Moscow, Idaho where one might believe the Vandals would have a climate advantage. Such is not the case, however, as Idaho plays their home games on an indoor surface, the Kibbie Dome. It really isn’t much of an advantage, considering that Idaho is 45-18 SU on this field L4+Y, and a long term 11-19 ATS as home underdog on this field. For that reason, as well as the ones described below, Georgia Southern is my PICK as the “CFB Blowout of the Week.”
Under third year HC Petrino, the Vandals continue to rebuild. Petrino tried to go the JUCO route last year, but it resulted in a 1-10 SU season. That means the Vandals, entering this season, were on a four year slide of 5-42 SU, 14-30 ATS. Mysteriously, Petrino went out and recruited yet another JUCO laden class in 2015. They are hanging their fortunes on the right arm of QB Linehan. To the surprise of few, the season has not started well for the Vandals. Linehan is putting up some passing yardage at 286 PYPG, but the ground game is virtually nonexistent, and the defense is a sieve allowing 47 PPG, and an incredible 8.7 YP play. Teams are running AND passing for at least 270 YPG against this defense. That may have been excusable against USC, but in the role of home dog in week 1, they failed miserably vs Ohio, losing 45-28. Last week was a true aberration. Idaho won a football game! They beat Wofford 41-38, with Linehan passing for 334 yards. But they also allowed the Terriers to run 44 times for 326 yards. Therein lies the problem for this game.
In week 1, I used Georgia Southern and their top rated running game from last season (383 YPG) against WVU. Reserved QB Upshaw was at the helm, as veteran signal caller Ellison was serving a two game suspension to begin the year. Upshaw was dreadful, completing twice as many passes to the Mountaineers as to his own teammates. Last Saturday, Ellison was back at the controls as they hosted The Citadel. In fine form, Ellison not only led the Eagles to 383 yards overland, but balanced the attack by completing 10 of 17 passes.
It doesn’t take much to extrapolate this outcome. The ODDS are clearly in our favor. Georgia Southern controls the ball on the ground the entire evening, keeps the ball out of Idaho QB Linehan’s hands, and steamrolls the Vandals in a 4 TD victory.
TCU (-7) at Texas Tech 4:45 ET FOX TV
The linemaker and public are all over a TTRR team, whose 3-0 SU, 2-1 ATS record has resulted in a (+50) AFP. Last year, TTRR took 23 points on the road from TCU in an 82-27 loss. Now, the line has been reduced to a meager 7 points because of the TTRR success, leaving great value for undefeated Top 5 TCU. Love is accorded to the Red Raiders because of their most recent win as 10 point dog at Arkansas. But, that is the same Arkansas team who just lost the week before as 22 point home favorite to Toledo. Other than that, the Red Raiders Air Raid offense has run up the score against defenseless Sam Houston and UTEP. Not impressed by a team who is allowing 30 PPG, 503 YPG and 6.3 YP play, as well as 234 YPR, both running and passing. Far prefer a TCU team, who is better balanced on offense and has the far superior defense at 20/339/4.8. Love to fade home dogs off double digit, straight up road dog victories! As always, it will make TCU on high alert, yet playing with the confidence of last year’s victory. Cheap lay for a Top 5 team!
Appalachian St. (-7) at ODU 3:30 ET
I can only believe this line is a result of the 41-10 App St. loss to Clemson, 2 weeks ago. But, this September qualified returning starter play has the Mountaineers with a huge experience edge at 18 RS to 12 RS. Despite the 0-3 ATS ODU record with (-21) AFP, this line has not changed since opening week. Consider it to be a gift! When stepping up in class against NC State last week, Old Dom got dismantled with a 256 to (-3) edge at the line of scrimmage. Though App St. is not in that class, they did field a 36 PPG offense last season and was a valid member of the offensive 200 CLUB. Knowing that ODU is just 1-8 ATS as home dog and 3-11 ATS MRT, I can only see this result going one way, favoring a rested App St. team, who is eager to get back on the field and prove their dominance.
Oklahoma St. (-3) at Texas 3:30 ET ESPN
With just 8 RS to their 2014 team, it took a while for the Cowboys to kick it into gear. Among those struggles was a 28-7 loss to these Longhorns on November 15th in which they were out-yarded 430-192. But under now 11th year HC Gundy, the light bulb went off for the Cowboys, as they closed out the season with a 38-35 win over Oklahoma as 20 point road dog and a 30-22 Bowl win over Washington as 7 point pup. Now, they have 17 RS led by QB Rudolph. They have gotten better each week of this season and now enter today’s game on a 5-game winning streak, including a confidence-building destruction of UTSA last week. That was a 69-14 win for the Cowboys, fueled by a (+6) net TO margin and a balanced 529 yards of offense. Today finds them with a huge situational edge, not only because they will be playing with revenge from last year and on a 5-game winning streak, but also because the Texas Longhorns are in a terrible situation. The Horns battled back from 21 points down in the 4th quarter last week vs. the Cal Bears. But, they missed the tying extra point with a minute left in the game, resulting in a heartbreaking 1 point loss. The young offense led by QB Heard performed admirably, racking up 650 balanced yards (it was the Cal defense). But, it’s the Longhorns’ own stop unit, purportedly a strength, under 2nd year HC Strong (a defensive specialist) that has underperformed. Consider an allowance of 37 PPG and at least 241 YPG both running and passing for 6.2 YP play. Want no part of that against a veteran Cowboy offense who has the motivation of revenge against the Texas team who may not bring their A game this week.
Ball State at Northwestern (-19-) 8:00 PM EST BIG10TV
Ball State, of the MAC West, visits Northwestern, of the Big 10, in what many will view to be a huge advantage for the home standing Wildcats. But these September games are a big deal for the MAC teams when visiting Big Brother. You don’t have to go much further than last week, when the MAC’s best team, Northern Illinois, visited the Big 10’s best team, Ohio State who just happens to be the #1 team in the country, final: Ohio St (-33) 20-13. Or how about week 1 when Western Michigan hosted Michigan State, yet another Big 10 power house, and gave the Spartans all they could handle in a 37-24 loss BUT COVER as 19 point home pup. Need another example? How about Bowling Green winning outright at Maryland, 48-27, as 9 point dog? Yes, there is precedence this year for quality teams in the MAC to be a solid point spread winner against even the best teams from the Big 10.
Northwestern enters this contest as one of the Big 10’s most overachieving teams. Last week, against a very good undefeated Duke team, Northwestern won the game 19-10 as 3 point underdog. It might be interesting to note that Duke actually won the yardage battle, 327-271. Nonetheless, it boosted the Wildcats’ record to 3-0 SU ATS despite the fact they are averaging only 25 PPG, 366 YPG, and 4.6 YP play. That has resulted in a 3-0 SU ATS record (remember they also beat Stanford on this field), who just beat USC 16-6 as 12 point home dog. But the Wildcats play a very conservative type of offense game that is not conducive for covering big numbers against quality teams. And with Minnesota, Michigan, Iowa, and Nebraska dead ahead in the next month of Big 10 play, it is doubtful they bring full intensity following the upset in Durham. There is further precedence that the Wildcats could struggle, as they lost to MAC team Northern Illinois, 23-15, on this field last year.
Ball State, under fifth year HC Lembo, has been a solid play on the road. That is especially true in the role of underdog, where Lembo stands 13-6 ATS. It was just last season as 18 point dog that they took another Big 10 team, Iowa, to the limit in a 17-13 loss. With 17 returning starters, this is a veteran Cardinal team who will give Northwestern all they can handle.
59-20-1 (75%) Joe’s FREE Plays this SeasonSeptember 25, 2015 at 12:00 pm #5489
College Cram Session: Betting the letdown may be the best hangover cure
By Joe Fortenbaugh
The phrase “letdown game” is popular verbiage in the gambling lexicon because it refers to a situation in which a given team may perform to a level below what is normally expected due, in large part to a “hangover” sustained from an upset win or marquee victory over a highly-regarded opponent the week before.
A perfect example of a letdown game took place in 2013 when the 7-1 Stanford Cardinal upset second-ranked Oregon 26-20 despite entering the matchup as 10-point underdogs.
After stunning the undefeated Ducks and grabbing the national spotlight, Stanford took nine days of rest down to Southern California and promptly lost 20-17 against an unranked USC team that entered the Pac-12 showdown having already lost three games on the season.
Sure, USC wasn’t a complete slouch that season. But if Stanford was good enough to rock the Ducks, they were good enough to defeat the Trojans just like Washington State, Arizona State and Notre Dame had done earlier that season.
We focus our attention on letdown games this week because two very big situations exist Saturday that warrant letdown game analysis: the California Golden Bears and future first-round draft pick Jared Goff notched a marquee victory for third-year head coach Sonny Dykes last Saturday night with a 45-44 win at Texas against the Longhorns, while at approximately the same time the Mississippi Rebels trashed the Alabama Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa to the tune of a 43-37 upset that rocked the foundation of the always-proud Southeastern Conference.
Both teams enjoyed the spoils of success, both schools partied the night away and now both programs look to avoid a letdown situation Saturday.
For Cal, the challenge lies in a tricky road trip to Washington to face a Huskies team that limited the Bears to a season-low seven points in a 31-7 home defeat last October. Not only is this a tough environment coming off a marquee win, but it’s the second half of a back-to-back scheduling spot that could prove to be too much for a Bears defense that has been absolutely abysmal since Dykes’ arrival in 2013. At the moment, Cal is currently posted as a 3-point favorite.
As for Ole Miss, the Rebels have been in this spot before. Maybe Mississippi fails to cover the 24-point spread against Vanderbilt Saturday, but the Rebels found a way to trash Texas A&M in College Station 35-20 last season following their upset win over Alabama the week before. If Ole Miss could handle the situation last year, chances are they’ll handle it again this season against an inferior opponent.
Or, as some situational handicappers are no doubt betting, both teams experience a letdown following such grand successes enjoyed last Saturday night.
SHARP VS. PUBLIC: BEHIND THE COUNTER
Each and every week this column will converse with a Las Vegas insider in an effort to provide you, our loyal and dedicated readers, with enough inside information possible to make more educated and informed wagers. This week we speak with Chris Andrews, a good friend of mine with more than 30 years in the bookmaking business.
*Point spreads current as of Thursday evening.
Sharp sides: Kent State (+7, vs. Marshall) and Texas Tech (+7, vs. TCU)
The Kent State line hasn’t experienced a lot of movement, but that’s because Andrews says it’s flying under the radar at the moment. Texas Tech, on the other hand, has already been bet down from +7 to as low as +6 for Saturday afternoon’s marquee encounter with third-ranked TCU, as the home team is 5-1 ATS over the last six meetings between these two schools.
After Kliff Kingsbury’s Red Raiders smashed Arkansas to the tune of a 35-24 beat down in Fayetteville last Saturday as 9.5-point underdogs, many in the industry immediately began circling this revenge spot for Texas Tech.
Public sides: LSU (-24, at Syracuse) and Texas A&M (-7 at Arkansas)
No surprises here as LSU absolutely throttled Auburn on national television last Saturday in the form of a 45-21 ass-kicking that vaulted Tigers running back/antelope Leonard Fournette to the front of the pack in the early race for the Heisman Trophy. And coupled with Syracuse barely squeaking by Central Michigan 30-27 in overtime last weekend, the perfect recipe now exists for the public to jump all over Les Miles and his LSU Tigers.
A similar situation is in play for Arkansas-Texas A&M, as the Razorbacks fell to a disappointing 1-2 last Saturday after losing 35-24 vs. Texas Tech while Texas A&M advanced to 3-0 with a 44-27 victory over Nevada.
Sharp totals: FIU Golden Panthers at Louisiana Tech Bulldogs UNDER 53
The biggest line move of the week, Florida International at Louisiana Tech opened with a total of 62 before being steamed nine points south to where it currently sits at 53.
Rather than provide you with any trends as to why this adjustment took place, we’ll leave you with this: the value that once existed for this total is now long gone, so anybody looking to jump on the train would be getting the absolute worst of the number.
Public totals: UCLA Bruins at Arizona Wildcats OVER 66 and USC Trojans at Arizona State Sun Devils OVER 61.5
This is Andrews’ best guess as to which totals the public will be heavily backing this weekend, as public money on Overs and Unders doesn’t tend to show itself until Saturday.
Games experiencing the most action: TCU Horned Frogs (-6.5) at Texas Tech Red Raiders, BYU Cougars at Michigan Wolverines (-6.5), UCLA Bruins (-3) at Arizona Wildcats and USC Trojans (-5.5) at Arizona State Sun Devils
BONER OF THE WEEK AWARD
The first thing you need to do is watch this Vine from last Saturday’s California-Texas showdown in Austin:
Notice how Texas defensive end Charles Omenihu’s sideline dance appears to be cut short by something that took place out on the field? Well, take a look at this next Vine for context as to why Omenihu stopped his celebration dead in its tracks:
As the recently departed Yogi Berra once memorably said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.”
MIND-BLOWING TREND OF THE WEEK
The Boston College Eagles are 11-1 ATS over their last 12 games following an against the spread loss. The Eagles fell 14-0 vs. Florida State last Friday night as 9.5-point underdogs and are currently posted as five-point favorites for Saturday’s home date with the Northern Illinois Huskies.
Fun fact: Our two previous “Mind-blowing trends of the week” sided with teams who both failed to advance the trend in question (Army covered two weeks ago, Syracuse failed to cover last week), so you may want to consider fading the Eagles in this spot thanks to my mush powers. Just a thought.
BIGGEST LINE MOVES OF THE WEEK
Bowling Green Falcons (from +2 to -5) at Purdue Boilermakers: Bowling Green may own a lackluster 1-2 record three weeks into the 2015 campaign, but quarterback Matt Johnson and the Falcons are averaging 39.6 points and an astounding 609.3 total yards of offense per game this season.
But the key reason for the significant line move that has taken place in this matchup comes courtesy of the Purdue quarterback situation, as the Boilermakers are benching junior signal-caller Austin Appleby for this Saturday’s game in favor of redshirt freshman David Blough, who boasts a grand total of just eight career collegiate passing attempts. Be advised that Purdue is 1-5-1 ATS over its last seven contests overall.
Tennessee Volunteers (from +2 to -1) at Florida Gators: The Jim McElwain era in Gainesville started off promising enough with a 61-13 railroad job against New Mexico State, but the Gators followed up that performance with back-to-back scares against East Carolina (31-24) and Kentucky (14-9) in matchups that saw Florida commit a highly undisciplined total of 22 penalties.
McElwain made it official on Wednesday that cornerback Jalen Tabor and quarterback Treon Harris have been suspended for Saturday’s rivalry game with Tennessee, which is part of the reason why this line has moved three points toward the Volunteers. Additionally, be advised that the road team is 6-0-1 ATS in the last seven meetings between these two schools.
Eastern Michigan Eagles (from +1 to -2) vs. Army Black Knights: Not only is the home team 4-1 ATS over the last five meetings between these two programs, but the key ingredient in this equation is the fact that Army is an unbelievably poor 5-21 ATS over its last 26 road games.
The Black Knights are already 0-3 this season with losses against Fordham, Connecticut and Wake Forest while Eastern Michigan is just 1-2 but averaging a healthy 33 points per contest.
Ohio State Buckeyes (from -28.5 to -31.5) vs. Western Michigan Broncos: This is the final tune-up for the top-ranked Buckeyes before conference play commences at Indiana next week, which many would argue is nothing more than yet another tune-up on a Big Ten schedule that strikes fear in the heart of absolutely no human being whatsoever.
Early action came in on Ohio State because many believe last week’s sloppy 20-13 victory over Northern Illinois served as a wakeup call for one of the most talented rosters in the nation. Western Michigan beware.
Florida International Golden Panthers at Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (from 62 to 53): See “Sharp totals” above.
DAILY FANTASY VALUE PLAY OF THE WEEK
Michael Gordon, RB, Arkansas State Red Wolves ($6,600 at FanDuel): The 5-foot-9, 187-pound senior with 36 collegiate appearances under his belt has already notched 226 rushing yards with two touchdowns on just 38 carries this season (5.94 YPC).
He should see a heavy workload once again this weekend against a 2-0 Toledo Rockets defense that has surrendered an average of 155 rushing yards per game through its first two outings of the season.
As an added bonus, note that Arkansas State is averaging an ultra-healthy 47 rushing attempts per game so far in 2015. Be advised that Gordon is available only in “Late Game” FanDuel college football contests.September 25, 2015 at 9:56 pm #5583
Saturday’s College Football Top 25 Betting Cheat Sheet: Week 4
We break down all the need-to-know facts and figures for Saturday’s Top 25 NCAAF contests.
(20) Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Duke Blue Devils (+7.5, 56)
* The Yellow Jackets totaled 915 yards rushing in the first two games but were limited to 216 in the loss to the Fighting Irish and only a pair of touchdown passes in the final minute made the score respectable. “You put it behind you and move forward and get ready for the next game,” head coach Paul Johnson told reporters. “It is what you do.”
* Duke has limited 13 of its last 16 opponents to 25 points or fewer, including a 31-25 win at Georgia Tech last year. The Under is 10-2 in those 13 games (no line for Week 1 versus Elon in 2014).
Southern Jaguars at (6) Georgia Bulldogs (Off, Off)
* The Jaguars have won back-to-back games – scoring 50 points in each victory – and feature senior playmaker Willie Quinn, who has two touchdowns on special teams through three games.
* Georgia quarterback Greyson Lambert completed 24-of-25 passes as the Bulldogs crushed South Carolina 52-20 last week, Lambert setting a NCAA record for highest completion percentage while finishing with 330 yards and three touchdowns.
(9) LSU Tigers at Syracuse Orange (+24, 47)
* LSU, which has yet to trail this season and also has yet to commit a turnover, has won 49 consecutive regular-season non-conference games heading into this matchup. The Tigers are 28-17 ATS in those games (four games with no line).
* The Orange lost starting quarterback Terrel Hunt to an Achilles tear in the season opener and now must take the field without backup Eric Dungey (upper-body injury), who left last week’s victory over Central Michigan after taking a vicious hit in the second quarter.
Central Michigan Chippewas at (3) Michigan State Spartans (-26.5, 54)
* Central Michigan is 6-22 all time against Big Ten opponents, including a 38-17 victory over Purdue last season and a 32-31 triumph against Iowa in 2012.
* Spartans LB Riley Bullough, who leads the team with 39 tackles and three sacks, is suspended for the first half due to his ejection for targeting in last week’s game.
Rice Owls at (4) Baylor Bears (-34.5, 74.5)
* The Owls are facing their second Big 12 opponent on the road after losing at Texas 42-28 in Week 2 and feel they are better prepared this week. “We learned some lessons from the Texas game,” head coach David Bailiff told reporters. “You also learn how to work in a loud environment. Procedurally, you didn’t see a lot of problems. I think that helps us moving forward.”
* Baylor’s 17-game home winning streak is the longest current mark in the FBS. The Bears are 14-2 ATS in those home games (one game with no line).
(22) Oklahoma State Cowboys at Texas Longhorns (+3, 58.5)
* The Cowboys are tied for eighth nationally in scoring defense (11.7 points) and forced eight turnovers but their nonconference schedule featured three non-Power 5 squads with a combined 1-7 record. Emmanuel Ogbah and Jimmy Bean lead the defensive front with a combined 6.5 sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss.
* Opponents have converted on 56.3 percent of third-down plays against Texas, ranking the Longhorns second-to-last nationally.
Western Michigan Broncos at (1) Ohio State Buckeyes (-31.5, 61)
* The Broncos throw the ball a lot and junior receiver Daniel Braverman leads the nation with 40 receptions while totaling 398 yards and three touchdowns. Braverman isn’t the only top target junior quarterback Zach Terrell (947 yards, eight touchdowns, five interceptions) has at his disposal as junior receiver Corey Davis ranks fifth in school history with 2,648 receiving yards.
* Ohio State has never previously faced Western Michigan but improved to 31-1 all-time against Mid-American Conference foes when it defeated Northern Illinois 20-13 last Saturday.
UMass Minutemen at (8) Notre Dame Fighting Irish (-28.5, 59)
* UMass is 0-10 against Power 5 teams since moving to the FBS level in 2012. The Minutemen are 4-6 ATS in those 10 games, including 0-1 ATS this season (Week 1 at Colorado).
* Predictions for Notre Dame’s season were being reevaluated after Malik Zaire was injured in a tight win over Virginia in Week 2, but DeShone Kinzer proved to be a capable replacement and the defense stepped up to lead the way in a 30-22 win over Georgia Tech last weekend.
UL Monroe Warhawks at (12) Alabama Crimson Tide (-38, 55)
* ULM returns 17 starters from last season, including senior wideout Rashon Ceaser, who caught 10 passes for 97 yards last week, giving him 31 catches for 388 yards in his last three outings. Garrett Smith has thrown for 576 yards and five touchdowns in the first two games and also has the team’s longest run of the campaign (28 yards).
* Alabama coach Nick Saban expects Jake Coker to get the start at quarterback, although he hopes the offense can revert to the form it showed in a Week 1 win against Wisconsin. “I thought we had some identity in the first game and were moving in the right direction and then in the last two games, we’ve been scattered,” Saban said this week. “We need to have some certainty in what we’re going to do. Jake came into the (Ole Miss) game and played with some passion and showed great leadership and energy when he played.”
(2) TCU Horned Frogs at Texas Tech Red Raiders (+6.5, 82.5)
* The Horned Frogs have won 11 consecutive games, the nation’s second-longest winning streak behind defending national champion Ohio State (16). The Horned Frogs are 7-4 ATS during that streak (1-2 ATS this season).
* Sophomore quarterback Patrick Mahomes II is playing well and has passed for 1,029 yards and nine touchdowns while being intercepted three times and has Texas Tech is averaging 54.3 points through three games and seeking its fourth 4-0 start in a five-season span.
Vanderbilt Commodores at (5) Ole Miss Rebels (-24, 53.5)
* Vanderbilt has not forced a turnover in its first three games and is minus-7 in turnover margin – last in the SEC and 124th in the nation.
* The Rebels lead the nation in scoring (64 points per game) and rank among the top 10 in total offense (567.3) and passing (352.3), and they have not trailed yet this season. After averaging 74.5 points in their first two games, they proved the explosiveness was no fluke in a 43-37 road win over the Crimson Tide a week ago to vault into the top five.
(15) Texas A&M Aggies vs. Arkansas Razorbacks (+7, 58)
* The Aggies have been sharp on offense to start the season, averaging 46 points per game thanks in part to quarterback Kyle Allen’s nine touchdown passes – four coming last week.
* The Razorbacks ranked 10th nationally in total defense last season, but gave up 486 yards last week and did not force Texas Tech to punt.
Mississippi State Bulldogs at (25) Auburn Tigers (-3, 59)
* The Bulldogs dropped a 21-19 decision at home to LSU in Week 2 and took out their frustrations against Northwestern State with a 62-13 drubbing that allowed Prescott to take most of the afternoon off. “Our effort today was better,” head coach Dan Mullen told reporters after watching his offense set a school record with 647 total yards. “I think we’re getting better as a football team.”
* A list of the most disappointing college football teams of the first month has to have Auburn at or near the top, and Jeremy Johnson is paying the price. The Tigers will hand the quarterback job over to Sean White when they host Mississippi State on Saturday.
(23) Missouri Tigers at Kentucky Wildcats (-2.5, 45.5)
* The Tigers are looking to extend two impressive streaks – they’ve won 11 straight road games and six consecutive SEC games – and shake off a sluggish performance a week ago. They are 10-1 ATS during their road streak and 5-1 ATS in the run versus SEC foes.
* The Wildcats are 2-14 under Mark Stoops when their opponent scores first and 1-18 when trailing at halftime.
(11) UCLA Bruins at (16) Arizona Wildcats (+3, 65.5)
* The Bruins are expected to get a key defender and special-teams players back in Ishmael Adams, who was reinstated to the team Tuesday after it was announced he would not face felony charges for an incident involving an Uber driver last month.
* Anu Solomon has been nearly flawless at quarterback for the Wildcats, recording 10 touchdown passes with no interceptions while completing 68.3 percent of his throws this season. He’ll be eager to make up for his 18-of-48 performance against UCLA last year.
Hawaii Rainbow Warriors at (21) Wisconsin Badgers (-24.5, 50.5)
* Senior quarterback Max Wittek bounced back from a rough performance versus Ohio State (7-for-24, 67 yards, two interceptions) by throwing a pair of touchdown passes in last week’s 47-27 victory over UC Davis.
* Wisconsin senior quarterback Joel Stave has completed 67.4 percent of his passes with six touchdowns and two interceptions – a big improvement from 2014 when he hit on 53.4 percent with nine TDs and 10 picks – while leading an offense which has clicked without injured running back Corey Clement.
(17) Utah Utes at (13) Oregon Ducks (-12.5, 64.5)
* Utah coach Kyle Whittingham indicated quarterback Travis Wilson’s status would remain in limbo until late in the week while senior Kendal Thompson was being prepared to make his second straight start.
* The same chorus line was being preached by Oregon coach Mark Helfrich per the status of Adams as junior Jeff Lockie could make his second consecutive start. “He looks very similar to last week, so how’s that?” Helfrich said of Adams during a press conference. “It’s going to be similar to last week in it will be right up until the end of the week before we make that call.”
Ball State Cardinals at (19) Northwestern Wildcats (-19.5, 50.5)
* Ball State leads the MAC in rushing (249 yards per game) and has piled up at least 199 in six straight contests dating to last season.
* Northwestern is 19-2 SU in the month of September since the beginning of the 2010 campaign. The Wildcats are 13-8 ATS in those games.
(18) USC Trojans at Arizona State Sun Devils (+5.5, 62)
* USC quarterback Cody Kessler, who has gone 101 passes without throwing an interception, will be tested by an Arizona State squad that leads the Pac-12 in pass defense and tackles for loss. The Trojans’ quick-strike offense is engineered by Kessler but also features a trio of top running backs in Tre Madden, Justin Davis and Ronald Jones II along with wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, who is fifth in the nation with 144.7 receiving yards per game.
* Arizona State is 18-4 at Sun Devil Stadium under head coach Todd Graham, but are just 12-10 ATS in those games.September 25, 2015 at 10:16 pm #5591
NEWSLETTER College Football Prediction From Alan Harris
Take ‘Over’ 63.0 USC vs. Arizona State (10:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 26)
Two teams that have been trending to the over will meet in one of the late games on Saturday night when the USC Trojans travel to take on the Arizona St. Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe. The Sun Devils have posted a 15-7 record to the over in their last 22 games following a win of 20 points or more, and they have an excellent 21-10 record to the over in their last 31 games where they faced a team with a winning record. The Trojans have been an over team as well in the spot they are in here on Saturday as they have gone 4-1 to the over in their last five games overall dating back to the 2014 season. Throw in the fact that these two teams have posted a 6-2 record to the over in their last eight meetings in Tempe, in addition to a 4-1 record to the over in their last five overall, and that’s where we’ll have our Free play on Saturday in a game that we expect to be an old fashioned Pac 12 shootout.September 25, 2015 at 10:18 pm #5592
NEWSLETTER College Football Prediction From Robert Ferringo
Take #365 Massachusetts (+27.5) over Notre Dame (3:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 26)
I think that this is too many points for the Irish to lay out in a game that they absolutely do not care about. Yes, Notre Dame has laid out Texas and Georgia Tech in South Bend this year. But those were big, important games for the Irish. This is not. In fact, just the opposite. This game is like the Super Bowl for UMass, a team that’s only been in FBS for about 15 minutes. Notre Dame has a major game at Clemson next week, and that makes this one a bit of a look-ahead situation for the Irish. I think they’ll be sloppy, and this one should be a grinder. I can see it somewhere in the neighborhood of 33-13, giving the home team a win and giving us the cash.
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