Saturday Football 10/3

Saturday Football 10/3

Arizona State at Oregon
VegasInsider.com

The Pac-10 Game of the Year is taking place in Eugene, Oregon this weekend with Autzen Stadium hosting its second-consecutive contest between top-10 teams. The 41-year history of the stadium had never hosted a pair of top-10 teams, and is now featuring its second such game in as many weeks.
   
Sixth-ranked Arizona State faces its toughest test of the season, while fourth-ranked Oregon hopes to remain in the national championship picture with a victory in this spot. The winner has an inside track to at least the Rose Bowl, and a possible slot in the national championship game depending on how things shake out the rest of the month.

An additional side story to this contest involves Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon, who is currently in the mix for this year’s Heisman Trophy. Dixon holds the keys to a Ducks offense that ranks third in the country in scoring, and is fourth in rushing and total offense. His duel-threat capabilities have created havoc all season for opposing defenses.

Caesars Palace installed Oregon as a 7 ½-point home ‘chalk’ over Arizona State, with the total set at 61 ½. ESPN will provide coverage of this contest beginning at 6:45 p.m. ET. The total has remained constant through the week, while the line has been bet up from seven to 7 ½.

Arizona State (8-0 straight up, 6-2 against the spread) upended California last weekend as a three-point home favorite, 31-20, while the combined 51 points failed to topple the 61 ½-point closing total. The ‘under’ has gone 3-1 in the Sun Devils’ previous four games.

Quarterback Rudy Carpenter was 17-of-29 passing for 219 yards with a touchdown, while Keegan Herring paced the ground game with 24 carries for 96 yards. Backfield mate Dimitri Nance had 21 carries for 85 yards and three scores in the victory. Nine different receivers caught a pass against the Golden Bears, led by Chris McGaha’s four receptions for 58 yards.

Arizona State trailed Cal at halftime, 20-14, before dominating the second half. The Sun Devils finished the contest with advantages in first downs (25-18), rushing yards (144-98), turnovers forced (2-1) and time of possession (37:30-22:30). That marked ASU’s first victory over a ranked opponent this season.

Oregon (7-1 SU and ATS) continued its winning ways by toppling Southern Cal last weekend as a three-point home ‘chalk,’ 24-17. There was no total on that contest due to a couple key injuries.

Dixon completed 16-of-25 passes for 157 yards, while running 17 times for 76 yards and a score. Running back Jonathan Stewart had 25 carries for 103 yards and two touchdowns, while Ed Dickson caught five passes for 69 yards in the victory.

The Ducks finished the game with advantages in first downs (22-18), rushing yards (182-101) and turnovers forced (3-2). Oregon secured the victory when defensive back Matthew Harper picked off USC quarterback Mark Sanchez late in the game with the Trojans driving.

The Ducks have won the past two meetings with the Sun Devils SU and ATS, while the ‘under’ has cashed the previous three matchups. Oregon prevailed last season as a two-point road underdog, 48-13, while the combined 61 points slithered ‘under’ the 62 ½-point closing total.

Arizona State quarterback Rudy Carpenter (thumb) is ‘probable’ against the Ducks, while linebacker Morris Wooten (hand) is ‘questionable.’

Oregon wide receiver Derrick Jones (disciplinary) is ‘questionable’ versus the Sun Devils, while linebacker A.J. Tuitele (foot) is ‘out.’

ASU follows this contest with a road game against UCLA before going on its bye week. Oregon has its bye week following this matchup before embarking on a two-game road trip against Arizona and UCLA.

Saturday’s forecast for Eugene, Oregon calls for sunny skies, with a high of 62 degrees and a low of 41. Winds from the north are only projected to be between 5-10 mph.

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Re: Saturday Football 10/3

LSU at Alabama
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This is the equivalent of Rick Pitino coaching against Kentucky in college basketball. Nick Saban, less than three years after leaving LSU for the Miami Dolphins, will face his former school as the head coach of arch-rival Alabama.

Saban led LSU to a national championship in 2003, then bolted for the ‘Fins on Christmas Eve of ’04. He made LSU relevant again, inheriting a program that had eight losing seasons in the 11 previous years, and turning it back into a national power like it was during the days of Billy Cannon.

Following two mediocre seasons in the NFL, Saban decided to return to college. In choosing SEC West adversary Alabama, the LSU faithful felt stabbed in the back.

And now here we are. LSU, coached by Les Miles but with an ultra-talented nucleus mostly comprised of players recruited by Saban, comes to Tuscaloosa with not only its national-title hopes at stake, but also with the SEC West lead on the line.

Most sports books are listing LSU (7-1 straight up, 3-5 against the spread) as a seven-point favorite with a total of 48. Gamblers can back the Crimson Tide to win outright for a plus 220 return (risk $100 to win $220).

Both teams are coming off a bye week after posting big conference wins. LSU bested Auburn by a 30-24 count thanks to a 22-yard touchdown pass from Matt Flynn to Demetrius Byrd with one second remaining on the clock.

However, the Bayou Bengals failed to cover the spread as 10-point home favorites. They have now dropped five in a row versus the number.

Flynn threw for 319 yards and three TDs against Auburn. Senior WR Early Doucet, who missed four games and most of a fifth with a groin injury, returned to full speed and snared seven receptions for 93 yards.

Alabama (6-2 SU, 2-4-1 ATS) is off its best performance of the year, thumping Tennessee by a 41-17 count as a one-point home underdog. Junior quarterback John Parker Wilson enjoyed a banner day, hooking up on 32-of-46 passes for a career-high 363 yards and three TDs.

D.J. Hall had a school-record 13 catches for 185 yards, while Terry Grant pounded out 106 rushing yards on 26 totes. Grant also had six receptions for 31 yards.

According to several reports, the suspensions of five Alabama players, including All-SEC center Antoine Caldwell, will continue through Saturday and might last four games. All five players missed the win over UT due to a textbook probe.

LSU senior All-American DT Glen Dorsey is expected to play, albeit with a brace and a sprained knee suffered against Auburn. He used the brace this week while practicing on a limited basis.

This is just the second single-digit ‘chalk’ spot for LSU this year. In the first, the Tigers beat Florida 28-24 but failed to cash as seven-point home favorites.

As for ‘Bama, it has been an underdog twice this year, beating the Vols as mentioned earlier and dropping a 21-14 decision against FSU as a two-point ‘dog.

CBS will provide television coverage at 5:00 p.m. Eastern.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

--Florida has won 16 in a row over Vanderbilt. However, the Gators are 0-13-1 ATS in their last 14 SEC games when favored by 13 ½ points or more.

--FSU back-up QB Xavier Lee is suspended for the next two games due to missing too many classes. Drew Weatherford will start for the Seminoles, who are seven-point ‘dogs at Boston College.

--Factoid I was unaware of: Oregon senior QB Dennis Dixon has already graduated and his lone class this semester is billiards. Also, he used to play in the Braves’ minor-league system.

--Arizona St. QB Rudy Carpenter was awful against the Ducks last year, completing just 6-of-19 throws for 33 yards.

--South Carolina owns a 7-2 spread record in nine games as a road underdog during Steve Spurrier’s three-year tenure. Those two ATS setbacks? The first was at Auburn with a third-string QB starting, while the other was last week’s 27-24 loss at Tennessee as a 2 ½-point ‘dog.

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Re: Saturday Football 10/3

Wisconsin at Ohio State
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At the beginning of this year, you expected Wisconsin (7-2 straight up, 3-5 against the spread) to be the team in the hunt for a national championship, with the Buckeyes looking to upset its season. Instead, Ohio State (9-0 SU, 5-3 ATS) sits atop the polls, while the Badgers are essentially playing for pride.

The Bucks took on their first true challenge last week as three-point road favorites against Penn State. And Ohio State was nothing short of impressive, winning 37-17. Todd Boeckman completed 19 of 26 passes for 253 yards and three touchdowns. Chris Wells did his part as well, rushing 25 times for 133 yards.

Wisconsin avoided any “look ahead” issues as a 9 ½-point home “chalk” against the Hoosiers by winning 33-3 in Madison. Lance Smith-Williams had a great game, gaining 79 yards on 15 carries for a pair of touchdowns. P.J. Hill did his fair share as well by carrying the rock 12 times for 57 rushing yards and one score on the ground. Unfortunately for the Badgers, Hill went down with what a lower leg bruise.

Hill’s, who is listed as a “game-time decision” for this Saturday’s game, injury will pose a big problem for Bret Bielema and the Wisky offense. The reason it could be an issue is because Smith-Williams hasn’t been a premiere back for the Badgers. He only has 55 carries for 354 yards and three touchdowns.

VegasInsider.com’s expert handicapper Brian Gabrielle believes that this match will be won or lost depending on how Wisky’s rushing attack performs against the Buckeyes’ defense. “The critical matchup in this game is between Ohio State linebacker LB James Laurinaitis and anybody the Badgers try and run the ball with on Saturday.”

There is no doubt about Ohio State’s defense, ranked No. 1 in scoring and total defense. Plus, the Bucks have been “lights out” against the run at Ohio Stadium this year, giving up 308 combined rushing yards and no touchdowns up to date in five home games.

If Wisconsin can’t make headway on the ground, it’ll be looking for Tyler Donovan to pick up the slack. However, he has nearly as many interceptions (nine) as he does passing scores (12).

Perhaps the sportsbooks are thinking it is a tall order for the Badgers this week, making Ohio State a 15 ½-point home favorite with a total of 44 ½. But it does make for an attractive bet for Wisconsin to win outright at plus 550 (risk $100 to win $550).

Ohio State’s success this week will be dictated by the success of Todd Boeckman under center. The fourth-year junior has almost a 3:1 touchdown to interception ratio (21 TD, 8 INT) for his first year as a starter, while throwing for 1,799 yards.

Wisky’s job will be to take away the deep play that Boeckman has become accustomed to making this season. Of course, it will be easier said than done with a secondary that consists of four sophomores and two freshmen.

The Buckeyes will also try to gain control of the ground with a pair of Wells. Chris “Beanie” Wells has rushed for 996 yards and seven touchdowns, while Maurice Wells has gained 325 yards and a pair of scores of his own. They’ll be facing a Badger defense that is allowing 141.1 YPG on the ground, good enough for eighth in the Big Ten.

Much has been made of Wisconsin going 3-0 SU and ATS in its last three trips to Ohio Stadium recently. However, those teams were much better defensively than the squad that is coming into Columbus this year. Still, the Badgers are 2-16 SU when listed as double-digit ‘dogs, but are 14-4 ATS since 1990. The ‘under’ has gone 8-2 in the past 10 matchups between the Bucks and Badgers.

Kickoff is set for 12:00 pm EDT with the Big Ten Network handling the broadcasting duties.

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Re: Saturday Football 10/3

RB Ian Johnson set to return for Boise St.
November 2, 2007

BOISE, Idaho (AP) -Boise State is getting its best offensive weapon back.

Too bad for San Jose State. Even without Ian Johnson, the Spartans would've had a tough time beating the 21st-ranked Broncos.

Johnson, Boise State's leading rusher, missed the last two games nursing a bruised kidney. His absence was hardly noticed as freshmen Jeremy Avery and D.J. Harper filled in well behind a veteran offensive line.

``They have tremendous experience on the offensive line and tremendous confidence that they are going to win, no matter what happens,'' San Jose State coach Dick Tomey said of the Broncos' front five.

``Their belief in themselves and what they are doing is awfully powerful. So, our belief system has to be stronger than theirs in order for us to be successful.''

The Spartans (3-5, 2-2 WAC) will be looking to snap a two-game slide and get their first victory ever against No. 21 Boise State (7-1, 4-0).

For that to happen, the Spartans must figure out a way to jump-start an offense that hasn't scored since losing in overtime to Hawaii on Oct. 12. The Spartans were held scoreless two weeks ago by Fresno State. Spartans kickers have missed nine consecutive field-goal attempts.

After shuffling kickers in October, Tomey said he has settled on Jared Strubeck, who was second team all-conference a year ago but is 2-for-9 this season.

``Jared has been an outstanding kicker. He's not going to become a bad kicker overnight,'' Tomey said. ``People in that position go through periods where they miss a kick, or they don't feel right. But I think he has worked through that and is ready to go.''

So is Johnson.

Banged up against Nevada last month, Johnson worked this week in practice to get back into game shape. Despite missing victories over Louisiana Tech and Fresno State, he still leads the conference in rushing with 693 yards and nine TDs.

Johnson endured some good-natured ribbing from teammates this week, who joked he'd have to earn his job back after Avery and Harper combined for 409 yards rushing and five touchdowns in the last two games.

Johnson may be the team's top tailback and emotional leader, but the Broncos have looked all season for opportunities to involve Avery and Harper. Coach Chris Petersen says there is no reason to shift from a platoon system that's helped the Broncos churn out an average of 215 yards rushing, second best in the WAC.

``We'll continue to mix it up just because (Johnson) has been out so long,'' Petersen said.

Yet the game's most intriguing matchup is Boise State's receivers against the Spartans' talented cornerback tandem of Dwight Lowery and Chris Owens.

They have picked off 20 passes since the start of the 2006 season, including seven this season. Their skills and ability to shutdown opposing wideouts force teams to find other places to throw the ball and allows the rest of the defense to pressure the quarterback or devote more bodies to stopping the run.

San Jose State ranks fourth in the conference against the pass, allowing an average of 224 yards, and lead the league in turnover margin at plus six.

``They're very athletic, they're fast, they play tight on guys,'' Petersen said of the Spartans' cornerbacks. ``They don't give you a lot of room for error. When you have two of them, that really just changes things. The two corners are as good as anything we've seen.''

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Re: Saturday Football 10/3

COLLEGE FOOTBALL SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 3

Rutgers (5-3, 4-3 ATS) at (16) UConn (7-1, 6-1 ATS)


UConn, which is perched atop the Big East standings with the league’s only unbeaten record, guns for its third straight victory at home when it hosts rival Rutgers.

The Huskies topped then-No. 11 South Florida 22-14 as a 4½-point home underdog last week, winning despite getting outgained 440-353. UConn has cashed in four straight games, and its only loss this season was a 17-16 setback at Virginia as a three-point underdog on Oct. 13. Also, the Huskies’ defense has yet to surrender more than 17 points in any game this year and is third in the nation allowing 13 ppg.

The Scarlet Knights failed to capitalize on their upset victory over South Florida, committing four turnovers in last week’s 31-3 loss to then-No. 6 West Virginia as a 6½-point home underdog, falling to 2-3 SU and ATS in its last five contests.

UConn is 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings against Rutgers, but the Scarlet Knights have won the last two contests straight-up, prevailing 24-13 as a 20-point home favorite last year and 26-24 as a three-point road chalk in 2005.

The Huskies are 6-0 at home (4-1 ATS), and they’ve cashed in 11 of 15 home games since 2005. Meanwhile, this is just the second road game of the season for Rutgers. In the first, the Knights blew out Syracuse 38-14 as a 17½-point road chalk.

The Huskies have stayed under the total in three straight games, and the under is 14-6 in its last 20 at home.

ATS ADVANTAGE: UCONN and UNDER

Cincinnati (6-2, 5-2 ATS) at (20) South Florida (6-2, 4-3 ATS)


Having suffered consecutive losses since climbing to No. 2 in the rankings, South Florida will try to get its season back on track when it hosts Cincinnati in a key Big East matchup for both squads.

The Bulls followed up a 6-0 start with back-to-back league losses on the road at Rutgers (30-27 as a 2½-point favorite) and UConn (22-15 as a 4½-point chalk). On the bright side, USF returns to Tampa, where it is 5-0 this season and 14-2 since the start of 2005. The Bulls have also cashed in seven straight home games, including five in a row against Big East foes.

Like USF, the Bearcats got off to a roaring start, going 6-0 SU and 5-0 ATS before dropping its last two games, falling 28-24 to Louisville as an eight-point home favorite on Oct. 13, then losing 24-17 at Pitt as a 9½-point road chalk. The loss to Pitt snapped a six-game road winning streak (3-3 ATS).

The home team has come out on top in each of the four meetings between these teams from 2003-06, but the Bearcats have gotten the cash in the last three, including winning 23-6 as a one-point home favorite last season.

Despite getting upset the last two weeks, Cincinnati is still on a 12-4-1 ATS roll. The Bearcats are also 10-2 ATS in their last 12 games played on grass.

For South Florida, the under is on runs of 17-7 overall and 7-1 at home. Also, the under is 3-1 in the last four series meetings.

ATS ADVANTAGE: UNDER

(23) South Carolina (6-3, 4-3-1 ATS) at Arkansas (5-3, 3-3-1 ATS)


South Carolina will attempt to rebound from consecutive SEC losses when it heads west to Fayetteville to battle Arkansas under the lights.

A week after a stunning 17-6 loss to Vanderbilt at home, the Gamecocks traveled to Tennessee last Saturday night and spotted the Vols a 21-0 lead before battling back to take a 24-21 lead late in the fourth quarter. However, South Carolina gave up a field goal on the final play of regulation and another one in overtime to fall 27-24 as a 3-point underdog. The ‘Cocks outgained the Vols 501-317, but committed four turnovers.

Arkansas stepped out of conference last week and destroyed Florida International 58-10 as a 41-point home favorite. The Razorbacks are 4-1 in their last five games, but they’re just 1-3 in SEC play (1-2-1 ATS).

Arkansas is 4-2 SU and 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings in this rivalry. However, the road team has gotten it done the last two years, with South Carolina prevailing 14-10 as a 5½-point underdog in 2005 and the Razorbacks scoring a 26-20 win as a two-point chalk last year.

With last week’s ATS push at Tennessee, the Gamecocks are now 10-2-1 against the number on the road since 2005 and 6-0-1 ATS in their last seven as an underdog.

The under is 5-2 in the last seven meetings in this series (3-0 in Arkansas). The under is also 3-0 in South Carolina’s last three contests overall and 4-0 in its four road games this year.

ATS ADVANTAGE: SOUTH CAROLINA and UNDER

Nebraska (4-5, 2-7 ATS) at (8) Kansas (8-0, 7-0 ATS)


Two squads headed in opposite directions meet up in Lawrence, Kan., where Nebraska looks to snap a four-game losing skid against undefeated Kansas.

The Jayhawks stayed perfect with last week’s 19-11 victory at Texas A&M as a three-point road favorite. Kansas, which had a 19-0 lead in the fourth quarter, ran for 227 yards and held one of the nation’s best rushing teams to just 74 yards on the ground.

Nebraska had a 17-9 lead over Texas going into the fourth quarter a week ago, but the Huskers gave up touchdown runs of 25, 86 and 40 yards to lose for the fourth straight week. On the bright side, they covered easily as a 20½-point road underdog, snapping an 0-7 ATS slide.

While Nebraska is mired in a 1-7 ATS slump, Kansas is 10-1 ATS in its last 11 dating to last year.

The home team is 3-0 in the last three meetings, but Kansas has gotten the cash in all three contests, falling 39-32 in overtime as a 22½-point road underdog last season. However, the last time the Jayhawks welcomed Nebraska to Lawrence in 2005, the Jayhawks cruised to a 40-15 win in a pick-em contest, ending a 36-game SU losing skid to the Huskers.

The Jayhawks are 40-15 SU in their last 55 home games.

Kansas has allowed just one team to score more than 14 points this year, and for the season, the defense is yielding just 10.2 points and 264 total yards per game, totals that rank second and fifth in the nation, respectively. The Jayhawks also allow just 77.5 rushing ypg (2.7 per carry).

On the flip side, Nebraska’s defense has been a disaster this year, surrendering 31.4 points and 467 total yards per game, including 242.6 rushing ypg (5.4 per carry). Over the last three games – all against Big 12 foes – the Huskers are yielding 346.7 rushing ypg. As if that weren’t bad enough, the offense will be without injured starting QB Sam Keller, who has been ruled out of this contest.

The under is 5-0 in Nebraska’s last five and 4-2 in Kansas’ last six.

ATS ADVANTAGE: KANSAS and UNDER

(3) LSU (7-1, 3-5 ATS) at (17) Alabama (6-2, 2-4-1 ATS)

The biggest game on the SEC docket this week takes place in Tuscaloosa, where Alabama and LSU square off in a battle of teams tied for first in the SEC West.

The Tigers enjoyed a much-needed bye last week following a pair of grueling SEC contests, as they suffered a 43-37 overtime loss at Kentucky on Oct. 13 followed by a last-second 30-24 season-saving home victory over Auburn on Oct. 20. However, LSU failed to cover the spread in both games, its fifth consecutive ATS setback.

Alabama carries a four-game winning streak into this contest. Like LSU, the Crimson Tide had last week off following a 41-17 rout of Tennessee as a one-point home underdog on Oct. 20. Nick Saban’s squad snapped an 0-5 ATS slide with that spread-cover.

Both teams are 4-1 in SEC play, a half-game up on second-place Auburn.

The Tigers own a four-game SU winning streak against Alabama (2-1-1 ATS). Last year in Baton Rouge, LSU won 28-14, but the Crimson Tide got the cash as an 18-point road underdog. Going back several years, the visitor is on a 12-2-1 ATS roll in this rivalry.

LSU is averaging nearly 37 points per game and has scored at least 28 or more in every contest this year. Meanwhile, Alabama is putting up 31.5 ppg overall, including 37.4 ppg in the last three. Both teams net more than 410 yards of total offense per contest.

The under is 4-1 in the last five series meetings, with the lone “over” occurring last year.

ATS ADVANTAGE: LSU

(6) Arizona State (8-0, 6-2 ATS) at (4) Oregon (7-1 SU and ATS)

The game of the week in college football comes from Eugene, Ore., where the red-hot Ducks host undefeated Arizona State in a showdown that has both Pac-10 Conference and BCS title implications.

Arizona State rallied from a 20-14 halftime deficit against Cal last week, scoring the final 17 points en route to a 31-20 victory as a three-point home chalk. The Sun Devils have trailed at halftime in three straight games and four for their last five, yet they’re 4-1 ATS during this stretch.

Oregon scored a huge 24-17 victory over Southern Cal as a three-point home chalk last week. Since a 31-24 loss to Cal in late September, the Ducks are 3-0 SU and ATS. The straight-up winner has covered the spread in each of Oregon’s games this year.

The road team is 3-0 SU and ATS in this rivalry the last three years, with Oregon scoring double-digit wins the last two years in the desert, prevailing 31-17 as a 10-point underdog in 2005 and 48-13 as a 2½-point pup last year. With those two results, the underdog is on a 5-0 ATS run when these schools meet.

Both teams field explosive offenses, with the Sun Devils putting up 37 points and 428 total yards per outing, compared with Oregon’s 44 points and 524 total yards per game. The Ducks have the more productive rushing offense, averaging 280.4 ypg on the ground, which ranks fourth in the nation. However, Arizona State sports the better defense, giving up 15.6 points and 311.1 yards per game, compared with 22 points and 394 ypg for Oregon.

ASU has played just two road games all year, crushing Stanford 41-3 as a 15-point favorite and rallying to beat Washington State 23-20 as a nine-point chalk in back-to-back weeks.

The Ducks are 4-1 SU and ATS at home, outscoring their foes by an average of 19 points per game (40-21). Also, over the last three years, they’re 11-3 ATS as a home chalk.

The under is 9-2 in ASU’s last 11 games (4-0 on the road) and 3-0 in Oregon’s last three home contests.

ATS ADVANTAGE: OREGON

(15) Michigan (7-2, 5-3 ATS) at Michigan State (5-4 SU and ATS)

Michigan puts its perfect Big Ten record on the line this afternoon when it visits East Lansing, Mich., for an annual battle with the Spartans.

Since opening the season with two stunning home losses to Appalachian State and Oregon, the Wolverines have ripped off seven straight wins (5-2 ATS). Last week, they trounced Minnesota 34-10, cashing as a 23-point home favorite, their third consecutive ATS win. Lloyd Carr’s team is 5-0 in Big Ten play (4-1 ATS).

Michigan State blew a 17-3 halftime lead at Iowa last week, eventually losing 34-27 in overtime as a three-point road chalk. Since starting the season 4-0 (2-2 ATS), Michigan State is 1-4 SU, but 3-2 ATS.

Michigan has owned this rivalry of late, winning the last five in a row (4-1 ATS), including a 31-13 rout as a 15-point home favorite in 2006. The Wolverines won the previous two meetings in overtime.

The Wolverines are 9-1 ATS in their last 10 road games. Meanwhile, Michigan State is mired in ATS slumps of 9-19 overall, 2-8 at home and 7-19 on grass. However, the Spartans are 2-0 ATS as an underdog this year, with both covers coming in Big Ten action.

The under is 11-2 in Michigan’s last 13 league games and 6-2 in its last eight overall. However, the over is 5-1 in Michigan State’s last six and 5-2-1 in the last eight series meetings that have featured a posted total.

ATS ADVANTAGE: MICHIGAN

Texas A&M (6-3, 3-5 ATS) at (5) Oklahoma (7-1, 4-4 ATS)

Oklahoma returns to work after a week off when it welcomes Texas A&M to Norman for a clash between Big 12 South rivals.

The Sooners have followed up their upset loss at Colorado with three straight hard-fought wins over Texas (28-21), Missouri (41-31) and Iowa State (17-7). They failed to cover the spread in all three games, though, and they’re 0-4 ATS in their last four (all league games) after going 13-3 ATS in their previous 16.

Texas A&M has alternated wins and losses in its last four games, falling 19-11 to Kansas as a three-point home underdog last week. The Aggies are 3-2 in the Big 12 (2-3 ATS).

Oklahoma has a four-game winning streak against Texas A&M, but the Aggies have covered the number in each of the last three meetings and seven of the last 10. Last year, the Sooners eked out a 17-16 win, but came up short as a 2½-point road chalk. Since Oklahoma’s 77-0 rout of the Aggies in 2003, the last three meetings were decided by margins of 7, 6 and 1 point.

Oklahoma is 7-2 ATS in its last nine home games (3-1 ATS this year).

Texas A&M is mired in a 13-28-1 ATS slump on the highway, but the Aggies are 5-1 SU and ATS in Big 12 road games since the start of last season.

The Aggies have stayed under the total in five straight games, and the under is 3-1 in Oklahoma’s four Big 12 contests this year. However, the over is 6-2 in the last eight series meetings (3-1 in Oklahoma).

ATS ADVANTAGE: NONE

Wisconsin (7-2, 3-5 ATS) at (1) Ohio State (9-0, 5-3 ATS)

Ohio State takes the field as the No. 1 team in the nation for the third straight week when it entertains Wisconsin at the Horseshoe in a Big Ten showdown.

The Buckeyes traveled to Happy Valley on upset alert last week, but ended up making a big statement in posing a 37-17 win over Penn State as a 3 ½-point road chalk. Ohio State piled up 453 yards of total offense, while the defense surrendered just 263 while forcing two turnovers.

After losing back-to-back Big Ten road games to Illinois (31-26) and Penn State (38-7), the Badgers came home and bounced back with authority, crushing Northern Illinois and Indiana by the combined tally of 77-6. In last week’s 33-3 rout of the Hoosiers, Wisconsin finished with a 423-258 edge in total offense and forced five turnovers.

These teams haven’t met since 2004, when Wisconsin scored a 24-13 home win as a 3½-point underdog. The Badgers are 6-1 ATS in the last seven meetings, including four consecutive spread-covers from 2001-04. In fact, the underdog is 7-0 ATS in the last seven clashes between these schools and the visitor is 6-2 ATS in the last eight.

The Badgers are 0-3 ATS in their three road games in 2007. Also, they’re 0-2 ATS as an underdog after going 20-6-1 ATS as a pup.

The Buckeyes are 26-13-1 ATS at home since 2002 (2-2 ATS this year).

Ohio State leads the nation in fewest points allowed (8.9 per game), holding all nine opponents to 17 points or less. Meanwhile, Wisconsin has followed up a three-game stretch in which it gave up 34, 31 and 38 points by holding its last two opponents to just a field goal each.

Both teams have balanced offenses that average more than 200 yards rushing and passing per contest.

The under is 7-2 in the last nine series meetings that featured a posted total.

ATS ADVANTAGE: WISCONSIN and UNDER

(14) Texas (7-2, 4-5 ATS) at Oklahoma State (5-3, 4-3 ATS)


Oklahoma State looks to keep pace with Oklahoma for first place in the Big 12 South standings when it hosts a Texas team that’s searching for its fourth consecutive win.

Since suffering a heartbreaking 24-23 loss at Texas A&M in the first weekend of October, the Cowboys have bounced back with consecutive wins over Nebraska (45-14) and Kansas State (41-39). OSU, which had a bye last week, is on a 4-1 run (3-1 ATS).

The Longhorns gutted out a 28-25 win over Nebraska last week, rallying from a 19-7 fourth-quarter deficit to give coach Mack Brown his 100th career win. However, they never threatened to cover as a 20½-point home chalk, dropping to 5-10 ATS in their last 15 games.

Texas has defeated the Cowboys eight straight times (6-2 ATS), winning the last four meetings by margins of 26, 19, 21 and 39 points. Last year in Austin, the Horns cruised to a 36-10 win as an 18½-point chalk, finishing with a whopping 510-203 edge in total offense.

Texas, which is playing away from home for the fourth time in five weeks, is mired in a 1-6 ATS slump on the road (1-2 ATS this year). However, the Longhorns are 18-8-1 ATS in their last 27 contests in November.

The Cowboys are 4-0 at home this year (2-1 ATS), winning by an average of 20 points per game (43-23). Oklahoma State is also on ATS runs of 9-4-1 as a home underdog and 11-2-1 in November home games.

The over is 3-1 in the last four meetings.

ATS ADVANTAGE: OVER

(9) Missouri (7-1, 6-1 ATS) at Colorado (5-4 SU and ATS)

Missouri hits the road for just the second time since mid-September when it visits Boulder in a key Big 12 North contest against the dangerous Buffaloes.

The Tigers’ offense continued to hum in last week’s 42-28 victory over Iowa State, the fifth time this season they’ve scored at least 40 points. However, Missouri actually got outgained 389-366 and failed to cash as a 28½-point favorite, snapping an 8-0 ATS roll.

Colorado continued its schizophrenic season last week, posting a 31-26 upset win at Texas Tech as a 13½-point road underdog, finishing with a massive 227-74 edge in rushing yardage. That win came on the heels of back-to-back Big 12 losses to Kansas (19-14 at home) and Kansas State (47-20 on the road).

The straight-up winner is 17-0 ATS in Colorado’s last 17.

The home team has won the last four meetings, with Missouri winning 28-13 and barely cashing as a 14½-point chalk in 2006. Prior to last year, though, the Buffs had been on a 5-0-1 ATS against the Tigers.

Despite last week’s win, Colorado is still just 5-11 ATS in its last 16 league contests.

Missouri has scored at least 31 points in every game this season and is averaging 40.4 points, along with 499 total yards, per contest. However, the Tigers’ defense is surrendering 33 points and 459 total yards per game on the road, while Colorado is giving up just 14.8 points and 230.8 yards per contest at home.

The under is 6-2 in Colorado’s last eight games, but the over is 8-2 in Missouri’s last 10, with the total alternating in the Tigers’ last five. Also, the over is 4-2 in the last six meetings.

ATS ADVANTAGE: MISSOURI

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(21) Wake Forest (6-2, 5-3 ATS) at Virginia (7-2, 4-5 ATS)

Back in the Top 25 for the first time since the end of last season, Wake Forest takes a six-game winning streak to Virginia for an important ACC battle with the Cavaliers.

The Demon Deacons began the season with losses to Boston College (38-28 on the road) and Nebraska (20-17 at home). Since then, they’ve ripped off six straight wins (4-2 ATS), the most impressive being last week’s 37-10 rout of North Carolina as a 5½-point home chalk. Wake Forest had just 269 yards of total offense, but it forced three turnovers (returning one for a touchdown) and also had a kickoff return for a TD.

Virginia’s seven-game winning streak came to a halt in last week’s 29-24 loss at N.C. State as a 3½-point road chalk. The Cavaliers are just 1-3 ATS in their last four games, which have been decided by a total of nine points.

These teams haven’t met since 2003, when Virginia won 27-24 but failed to cover as a seven-point home chalk. The Cavaliers are 19-1 SU versus the Deacons, while the visitor is 10-1 ATS in the last 11 meetings.

The Demon Deacons are on a 9-4-1 ATS tear on the highway (1-2 ATS this year), while Virginia is 27-11 ATS in its last 38 home contests (2-2 ATS this year).

For Virginia, the under is on runs of 10-3-1 overall, 7-2-1 in conference and 12-4 at home. However, the over is 17-7-1 in Wake’s last 25 road games and 4-1 in its last five overall.

ATS ADVANTAGE: NONE

Florida State (5-3, 3-5 ATS) at (2) Boston College (8-0, 5-2 ATS)

Ten days after rallying for a miracle victory at Virginia Tech, Boston College returns home with its perfect record intact as it hosts Florida State in an ACC Coastal Division battle.

Boston College trailed Virginia Tech 10-0 with 2:11 to play last Thursday night before Matt Ryan tossed two TD passes, sandwiched around an onside-kick recovery, to steal a 14-10 victory as a three-point road underdog. The Eagles, who had won their first seven games by double digits, have finished with a yardage advantage in six consecutive contests.

The Seminoles snapped a two-game SU and a three-game ATS slide with last week’s 25-6 win over Duke as a 17½-point home favorite. Florida State rolled up 528 yards of total offense (195 rushing), held the Blue Devils to 221 total yards (9 net rushing yards) and finished with a 30-9 edge in first downs and 2-to-1 advantage in time of possession.

Florida State topped B.C. 28-17 as a one-point favorite in its last visit to Chestnut Hill in 2005, but the Eagles got revenge last year with a 24-19 upset win as a seven-point road underdog.

Florida State is 6-1 ATS in its last seven games as an underdog, including 3-0 ATS in that role since last year. In fact, the underdog is 29-13 in Florida State’s last 42 games.

Boston College is on a 9-3 ATS run at home (3-1 ATS this year).

Since giving up 28 points to Wake Forest in their season opener, Boston College has held six of seven foes to 17 points or less.

The under is 16-5 in Florida State’s last 21 November games, 7-3 in its last 10 as an underdog and 4-2 in its last six overall. However, the over is 4-0 in B.C.’s four home games this year.

ATS ADVANTAGE: NONE

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Betting services certainly aren't hurting

It's not difficult to get injury updates on college players.

Need an update on Arizona State quarterback Rudy Carpenter's injured thumb to help figure out who to pick for the Sun Devils' big game at Oregon?

No problem. Covers.com had that information all week.

Interested on the health status of Maryland quarterback Jordan Steffy before placing a bet on the Terrapins' game against North Carolina?

A piece of cake. Profantasysports.com is always a source for a quick answer.

Although the NCAA doesn't like to talk about it, detailed updates on injuries in college football are an open book, just like in the NFL.

Of course, betting trends are affected by injury updates. That was the case with today's Arizona State at Oregon matchup.

The Ducks opened as 7 1/2 -point favorites with the status of Carpenter uncertain because of an injury suffered in Arizona State's victory over California last week.

With the line remaining steady all week, Oregon has dominated action in money-line bets and wagers made against the spread. TheSpread.com has the Ducks picking up 70% of the bets against the spread, while Wagerline.com has Oregon at 63.8%.

But according to various betting trend boards, support for the Sun Devils to win straight up grew late in the week after Carpenter's injury was updated. Arizona State's money line? +250.

AccuScore.com, which simulates every game 10,000 times, produced a couple of interesting forecasts for Pacific 10 Conference games today.

Even with a healthy Carpenter, Arizona State falls short against Oregon, 34-27; while USC -- a 15-point favorite over Oregon State -- gets a boost with the return of quarterback John David Booty, who sat out the last three games because of a broken finger.

The Trojans are picked to defeat the Beavers, 34-16, with Booty, who provides USC with a +4% advantage in winning percentage than when Mark Sanchez starts.

UCLA, a one-point favorite over Arizona, may be in trouble without injured running back Khalil Bell. The Bruins win by a field goal with Bell; with him sidelined they are picked to win, 26-25.

www.latimes.com

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Re: Saturday Football 10/3

Today's college football weather report
COVERS.com

Blustery, wet weather could have impact on college games today.

Hurricane Watch

Chestnut Hill


Fans attending Florida State at Boston College may want to consider staying indoors with remnants of Hurricane Noel expected to wreak-havoc on Massachusetts.

There is a 100 percent chance of rain in Chestnut Hill with winds gusting from the northeast at 27 mph. The conditions could adversely affect the Eagles’ aerial attack, which averages more than 300 passing yards per game this season. With wet conditions in the forecast, the total has dropped from 44 ½ to 41 since Friday.

Hartford

Noel could also have an impact on the Rutgers-Connecticut matchup. There is a 100 percent chance of rain in East Hartford with winds gusting to 24 mph, which favors Rutgers’ stout ground attack.

Scarlet Knights star running back Ray Rice averages more than 140 rushing yards per game this season with 13 touchdowns. Bettors are taking notice of the wet conditions, causing the line to move from Huskies -3 to -1 and the total dropped from 46 ½ points to 43 points since Thursday.

High Winds

UCLA at Arizona


Winds are expected to gust to 14 mph in Tucson this afternoon that could hamper the Wildcats’ seventh-ranked aerial assault. The line has moved from Wildcats +2 ½ to +1 and the total has dropped from 50 points to 49 ½ points since Wednesday.

Oregon State at USC

Winds could gust to 16 mph and the temperature could drop below 60 degrees this afternoon in Los Angeles. Trojans quarterback John David Booty is already playing with a broken finger on his throwing hand, which might leave USC to go head-to-head with the Beavers’ top-ranked rush defense. Despite the high winds the line has remained steady with USC at -15 with the total holding at 47 points.

Army at Air Force

Winds are expected to gust to 18 mph with the temperature falling to 36 degrees at the USAF Academy in Colorado. That favors the Falcons who have the sixth-best ground attack in the country, averaging more than 250 rushing yards per game. The opening 16 ½-point line in favor of the Flacons remains unchanged and the total has remained at 45 points since Tuesday.

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Where the action is: College football line moves
COVERS.com

North Carolina State Wolfpack at Miami Hurricanes – spread edging towards key number

The Hurricanes opened as 12-point favorites across the board, but the spread dipped to only 10 ½ points on Friday. The line could dip into single digits if the action continues to roll in on NC State before the noon ET kickoff.

The Wolfpack have gathered backers, maybe for the first time this season, due to back-to-back upsets. NC State has delivered three straight paydays after starting the season 0-4 against the spread (ATS).

Miami is coming off a bye week and playing at home with a chance to claim bowl eligibility. The Canes’ QB spot today remains up for grabs, though. Head coach Randy Shannon admitted Kirby Freeman would start if this were a Thursday game, but optimistic Canes fans are counting on a banged up Kyle Wright to play this afternoon.

Vanderbilt Commodores at Florida Gators – spread flirts with two-touchdown mark

Another Florida-based favorite has steadily lost support through the week. The Gators opened as 16-point favorites but dropped to -15 as early as Wednesday. Florida backers could have found the Gators at an even -14 at most sportsbooks on Friday, but the spread has since bumped up to 14 ½ and 15 points.

Double-digit spreads are rarely covered by the favorites in the SEC and Florida should know about that: the Gators have barely squeaked by the Dores as a double-digit fave two years running.

Both Vanderbilt QBs, however, have battled injuries all week. It’s not yet clear whether Mackenzi Adams or Chris Nickson will start this afternoon, though both are expected to suit up.

Michigan Wolverines at Michigan State Spartans – total has dropped two points

The battle for college football pride in the state of Michigan features a pair of offensive stars who aren’t in full health. That could explain why the total dropped as low as 50 ½ points this morning after opening at 52 ½.

Wolverines seniors Chad Henne and Mike Hart will both dress for the 3:30 p.m. ET kickoff. UM faithful pray the pair will play the full game but both are suffering injuries that could severely hamper their abilities on Saturday: QB Henne is bothered by a sore shoulder while RB Hart has a bad ankle.

If true freshman Ryan Mallett lines up under center for the Wolverines, expect a lot more running plays than you’d see with Henne at the helm. Hart’s understudies, Carlos Brown and Brandon Minor, have played well and inspire more confidence on the ground than Mallett does through the air.

LSU Tigers at Alabama Crimson Tide – spread reaches key number

Would-be Louisiana State backers had their patience rewarded when the spread in this SEC West battle dropped from 7 ½ to 7 points on Friday. It’s a 5 p.m. ET kickoff from Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, later than the usual SEC showcase game on CBS.

As much as LSU backers would love to the line budge to -6 ½, they’d rather see All-World defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey clogging the middle of the field all game. But coach Les Miles said Dorsey would only play on Saturday if he’s 100 percent. His status is still up in the air.

Dorsey isn’t the only injury on the Bayou Bengals’ D-line, but Alabama made things easier on the decimated unit this week with the suspensions of two starting offensive linemen.

South Carolina Gamecocks at Arkansas Razorbacks – late-week money towards the favorites

The Gamecocks are road underdogs for the second week in a row, but are experiencing a late line move in opposite direction from last week.

South Carolina jumped from +4 to +5 ½ between Thursday morning and Friday night. The 8 p.m. kickoff from Fayetteville allows for even more movement towards the Razorbacks.

The Gamecocks were +3 most of last week for their visit to Rocky Top. Late support pushed the spread off a field goal and put South Carolina at +2 ½. That line move made all the difference for late bettors, as Tennessee was a 3-point overtime winner in Week 9.

Florida State Seminoles at Boston College Eagles – storm causes total to plummet

Communities up and down the Atlantic Coast are bracing for a huge storm and early bettors responded by pounding the under to as low as 40 ½ points. The total was as high as 45 points as of Wednesday.

The Noles and Eagles have an 8 p.m. ET kickoff tonight, but the late start won’t help the teams avoid the messy conditions. The Boston forecast calls for heavy rain tonight with a northerly wind blowing at a constant 30 mph and gusting to 60 mph.

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