NCAA : Saturday Football

NCAA : Saturday Football

Mssouri at Kansas
VegasInsider.com 

We all know about rivalry games like Ohio State-Michigan, Army-Navy, Auburn-Alabama and Texas-Oklahoma. However, there is one that receiving more publicity this week than it had ever had before: No. 3 Missouri (10-1 straight up, 7-2-1 against the spread) vs. No. 2 Kansas (11-0 SU and ATS).

“The Border War,” as it is known to fans of both sides is a grudge that dates back to the Civil War, but the modern day version is so evenly matched that the record for the series is 53-53-9 in the 115 meetings. And even that record is hotly contested by both sides.

The winner of this match would get the ultimate bragging rights because it won’t just be over a hated rival, it could possibly propel them into the national championship game. And that feat that would be one of the better stories that this wild season of college football could have ever authored.

This game wouldn’t have the same luster that it does right now if either squad suffered a let down last weekend. Luckily for us, neither side choked in Week 12 of the college football season.

Missouri entered Manhattan as a seven-point road “chalk” last Saturday against the Wildcats and came away with a 49-32 victory. Tigers’ quarterback Chase Daniel put up strong numbers once again, completing 28 of 41 passes for 284 yards and four touchdowns. Also, running back Tony Temple didn’t disappoint either, rushing 16 times for 75 yards with a pair of scores.

As strong as Mizzou’s offense was, its defense seemed to be looking forward instead of handling the task at hand last week. The Tigers gave up 406 total yards to Kansas State’s offense. Perhaps more important is the fact that K-State went nine for 18 on third down conversions in this contest, keeping Missouri’s defense on the field much longer than wanted by head coach Gary Pinkel.

The Jayhawks had no problems in taking down Iowa State as 27-point home favorites last weekend, 45-7. Kansas gunslinger Todd Reesing continues to impress by connecting on 21 of 26 passes for 253 yards and four touchdowns in just three quarters of play. Jake Sharp was effective on the ground, gaining 83 yards on 15 carries.

Kansas’s defense was strong once again, holding the Cyclones to just 234 yards. The Jayhawks allowed Iowa State to convert on six of 18 third downs, making the win that much more convincing.

So you can see how well both sides thoroughly dominated their opponents last week, but the similarities don’t end there. The stats for the Jayhawks and Tigers are surprisingly close.

Offensively, you will be hard pressed to find two higher scoring attacks on the same field this Saturday. Kansas is No. 1 in the nation in scoring offense, averaging 45.8 points per game in 2007. And Missouri isn’t far behind, ranking sixth in the country by scoring 42.5 PPG this season. So finding ways to put points on the board won’t be hard for either offense.

With offensive attacks as potent as both programs posses, the onus will be on the defenses to hold up their side of the bargain.

The Tigers are currently giving up 258.3 YPG through the air this season. They’ll have to stop a Kansas attack that is gaining 289.5 passing YPG in 2007. In particular, Mizzou will have to focus on wide out Marcus Henry. The senior receiver from Hienzville, Georgia is 18th in the nation with 50 catches for 977 yards and eight scores.

Kansas will definitely have its hands full this week, taking on a Missouri passing game that is fifth in the nation, gaining an average of 334.0 yards each Saturday this year. Tigers tight end Martin Rucker must be tops on the list of all the Jayhawks’ defenders. Rucker, a senior from St. Joseph, Missouri, has snared 70 passes for 699 yards and seven touchdowns.

As strong as both schools are offensively, they must be wary of defenses that are very good at taking the ball away.

The Jayhawks are the No. 1 team in the country in terms of giveaway/takeaway margin at plus 21 for the year. Mizzou is no slouch when it comes to taking more than it gives, ranking 13th in the nation at plus 16.

More important than that margin is what both clubs have done with the ball after they take it away from the opposition. And the Jayhawks and Tigers will make you pay if you give the ball up to either of them.

Out of the 32 takeaways that Kansas came up with, 14 of them have been converted into touchdowns and four turned into field goals. Missouri has converted 13 takeaways into touchdowns, while another four became field goals out of the 26 they had thus far in 2007.

I mentioned earlier that the all time series is tied, but let’s look at the here and now, shall we?

Kansas has gone 6-4 SU and ATS in its last 10 meetings with the Tigers. However, last year’s 42-17 loss to Mizzou as a seven-point road underdog came with a team that ended up going 6-6 and didn’t go to a bowl game.

The ‘under’ has gone 6-5 for the Jayhawks this year, while Mizzou has seen the ‘over’ post a 8-3 mark in its favor.

Kansas is listed as a two-point home favorite with the total coming in at 68 ½. Bettors can back the Tigers at almost even money to win outright, with the money line standing still at plus 105 (risk $100 to win $105).

Kick-off for this contest is 8:00 pm EST with ABC broadcasting the game from Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.

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Gary Pinkel enjoying 10-1 Tigers' ride to Big 12 North title game
November 23, 2007

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) -Earlier in his career, an unexpected windfall like third-ranked Missouri's sudden rise to the top of the college football heap would have simply ratcheted up the pressure for Gary Pinkel.

The Tigers' coach is a lot warmer and fuzzier these days, even with the biggest game of his life looming and perhaps more ahead.

Missouri's neutral-site, sold-out matchup against No. 2 Kansas in Kansas City on Saturday night for the Big 12 North title is an event he wants to savor.

``This is fun,'' Pinkel said. ``I told our players at our meeting, 'Does it get any better than this?' Are you kidding me?

``This is a blast, this is what you do this for. It's going to be quite a night.''

Pinkel struggled to get Missouri (10-1) back on its feet in his first several seasons after being hired in 2000. The stress of the challenge showed in his humorless demeanor, especially during the 2004 season.

``I said a few things I regretted saying,'' Pinkel said. ``I should have taken the high road and I didn't. A lot of times when people are taking shots at you, that's the way the business is and you understand that.

``But that's also part of the dynamics when I came here.''

Pinkel was a big success at Toledo, where he was 10-1 the year before replacing Larry Smith at Missouri. He discovered deep-seated roadblocks at Missouri, from alienated high school coaches to turned-off fans.

``There was a lot of negativeness in this whole state about Missouri,'' Pinkel said. ``It was amazing, the things we would hear.

``People were upset about things that happened 20 years ago and I knew that was going to be remarkably difficult to change all that. I didn't really know it was that bad.''

Pinkel dug in his heels on one issue. After going 5-6 in 2004, he refused to use offensive coordinator Dave Christensen as a scapegoat for the school's woes.

Instead, he blames himself for having ``probably my worst year of coaching'' along with strained coach-player relationships that were addressed in team meetings after the season.

And now? Christensen is the architect of one of the nation's most prolific offenses. Missouri is fourth in total offense with 506 yards per game, sixth in scoring at 42 points per game.

``I'm not going to make a coaching change just to make it look like I'm making this big decision just to all of a sudden fix something, when I know the coach is good enough to do it,'' Pinkel said. ``It'll eventually destroy your whole organization, in any business.

``There was no way in the world I was going to take a guy down just to make it like Gary Pinkel is making these big changes and guess what, it's going to get better.''

The death of 19-year-old linebacker Aaron O'Neal during a voluntary workout the following July reminded the coach that it is just a game. He has loosened up markedly in recent years, choking up during Senior Day a few weeks ago.

``Really, what got everybody through that was everybody just leaning on everybody else,'' Pinkel said. ``Crying, hugging, just being with each other.

``Everybody helped everybody through it and in a lot of ways we became a lot closer.''

Earlier in the season, he finally relented to quarterback Chase Daniel's long-standing request to allow players to wear ball caps on the sideline.

``I think with A.O. passing he realized there's more to life than football,'' Daniel said. ``He's really opened up, he's really relaxed a lot from years past.''

Missouri won eight games and went to the Sun Bowl last year, and Pinkel sensed the program was ready to take the next step when he called in his seniors in February to discuss goals for the upcoming season. The big one was sustaining momentum in November, a cruel month throughout his tenure with two losses each season.

This November, there have been no slip-ups. He'll lead a confident team into Arrowhead Stadium.

``This is really fun,'' Pinkel said. ``It's an adrenaline rush. I don't sleep much during the season anyway, but you're just real excited all the time about it.

``Our players, I'm sure they're the same way. Shoot, this is what it's all about.''

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Va. Tech embraces opportunity; Virginia sees it as another game
November 22, 2007

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) -Virginia coach Al Groh was meeting with the media Tuesday, talking about the No. 16 Cavaliers' game against No. 8 Virginia Tech, when two students who looked like they'd been in a rousing Cheetos fight walked in with an envelope.

``Hi, fellas,'' Groh said cheerily, taking the envelope from the orange-painted students and reading an appeal that Cavaliers fans wear orange for the big game.

Groh and his captains also penned a letter to the school newspaper making a similar request. But amid their own efforts and much other hype for the game, the coach and the Cavaliers tried all week to insist they can't afford to consider its magnitude.

``Obviously it's the biggest game of the year,'' tight end Tom Santi said with a wry smile, ``because it's the only one we have this week. We're excited about it.''

The Hokies, meanwhile, take an entirely different approach, even celebrating the fact that an improved Virginia program could give them a stiff test after Virginia Tech has dominated the series in recent years.

``That's the whole point of having an in-state rivalry,'' Hokies linebacker Vince Hall said. ``The whole rivalry thing doesn't really go good if only one team wins the whole time and the other team's not winning.''

The Hokies have won three in a row in the series and seven of the last eight. But the rivals are playing for much more than bragging rights. The winner moves on to face Boston College for the Atlantic Coast Conference championship and a BCS bowl berth.

The Cavaliers still insist that the game has no special meaning.

``We're not even thinking about what's at stake,'' right guard Ian-Yates Cunningham said. ``We're just thinking about winning a game. It's just one extra game. It was on our schedule at the beginning of the season.''

Groh noted that coaches and players aren't the ones who tailgate and cheer.

``We're the ones who play, and ... this is a different event for the participants than the other people. ... Everybody's got a role to play, and ours is to prepare to play and to play well, so if something helps us, then we embrace it,'' he said. ``If it doesn't, then we try to keep it at arm's length.''

Virginia Tech was an overwhelming favorite to win the ACC's Coastal Division and has three straight victories to put it in position to do so after a stunning loss to Boston College. In that game, the Eagles scored two touchdowns in the final 2:11 to win 14-10.

Now the Hokies can force a rematch with Boston College.

``We've been talking about it since (a 27-3 victory against) Georgia Tech,'' Hokies left tackle Duane Brown said. ``Since that game, we've gone out and practiced our tails off, went out and executed and now we're at this point. Our last game of the season, our in-state rival. It doesn't get any better than this, really.''

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Graham faces former team with championship game berth on the line
November 22, 2007

TULSA, Okla. (AP) -This time last year, Todd Graham was coaching Rice to a 7-6 record and its first bowl game in 45 years.

But after only one season with the Owls, Graham took the head coaching job at Tulsa, where he had previously worked as defensive coordinator.

His quick departure incensed Rice supporters.

Some of those wounds might still be healing on Saturday, when Graham's Golden Hurricane (8-3, 5-2 Conference USA) travels to Rice (3-8, 3-4) to take on his former squad in their final regular-season game. Tulsa is riding a four-game win streak after beating Army last week, 49-39.

``We've got to finish the race, and it's not going to be an easy deal,'' Graham said this week. ``It's going to be a big challenge in probably a pretty adverse setting.''

Graham said he accepts the ridicule that comes with leaving a program after only a year, but described some of what was said and written about his Jan. 12 hiring at Tulsa as ``malicious.''

``I was upset about some of the things that were leaked I think to the media that were outright lies,'' Graham said. ``You know, how much money, that I was making $1.1 million.

``Like I said before, I signed the wrong contract if that's the case,'' he said.

Last season, Graham's Rice team beat Tulsa 41-38 in double overtime with Graham at the helm. Before that, Tulsa won the previous three meetings.

A win for Tulsa clinches the Conference USA West Division title and secures a trip to play in next week's conference championship game against either Central Florida or East Carolina.

If Tulsa loses, Houston (7-4, 6-2) will win the division.

``We have a goal of winning 11 games for the first time in school history; we got a chance to do that hopefully,'' Graham said. ``Heck, this is single elimination, you got to win to go to the next one.''

Tulsa comes into Saturday's game as the nation's leader in total offense averaging more than 544 yards per game, and Graham said his team is playing its best football right now.

``We've talked all year about one week of football and it's not this week, it's next week,'' said senior quarterback Paul Smith, who ranks third in the nation in passer rating (162.6) and total offense (364.5 ypg). ``And if we don't win this week, we don't get to play next week.

``We definitely knew that it might come down to this, but we've said as a team we want to be conference champs since day one,'' Smith said.

Rice will be celebrating its senior day, and there's no bowl game in the future for the Owls this season.

``I think people want to win because we're Rice Owls. I don't think people want to win this one just because we're playing Todd Graham,'' Rice coach David Bailiff said. ``We've gone into every football win expecting to win. So should we expect to win? Sure, that's how you have to do it.

``I think that we've got some very intelligent young men on this team that know what they have to do to perform at their best. I don't think this will be Todd Graham vs. David Bailiff. This will be Rice vs. Tulsa.''

Graham said he's thankful for the experience he had at Rice because it prepared him to be a better coach and that when he left, none of the school's administrators had a negative thing to say to him.

``I gave those kids and that program everything I had,'' he said. ``I think I left it better than I found it.''

But how about any lingering bitterness between the teams?

``Coach Graham isn't playing, and (Rice's) head coach isn't playing, so everybody can say what they say,'' Smith said. ``If our team goes out and executes the way we should, we'll be fine.''

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Iron Bowl QBs have big ups and downs
November 22, 2007

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) -Auburn's Brandon Cox and Alabama's John Parker Wilson have alternately thrilled and exasperated.

The two quarterbacks have led winning drives, gotten up after countless hits and captured big victories. Then there's the flip side: Misfires, interceptions and assorted mistakes that have made both the targets of boos and criticism.

All that makes for one of the most tantalizing mysteries leading up to Saturday's Iron Bowl at No. 25 Auburn's Jordan-Hare Stadium. Which Wilson will show up? Which Cox?

Teammates and coaches have spent the week leading up to the game on the defensive about their quarterbacks.

``We have confidence in John Parker,'' Crimson Tide linebacker Darren Mustin said. ``Everybody has bad games. He's my quarterback. I've got his back.''

Auburn tailback Ben Tate offered a similar sentiment on Cox. He points to dropped balls, missed blocks and other miscues that have affected Cox's production.

``Everybody's always down on the quarterback when things aren't always going right, but it's not always the quarterback's fault,'' Tate said. ``Everybody has seen what he can do. He has won plenty of games with last-minute drives. I always have confidence in him.''

Sometimes it doesn't quite seem warranted.

Cox was intercepted four times for the Tigers (7-4, 4-3 Southeastern Conference) in their last outing at No. 6 Georgia two weeks ago. He's also the guy who has led Auburn on scoring drives to take the lead five times in the final four minutes of games this season, including winning drives at Florida and Arkansas.

``He's had four or five drives at the end of the game this year that were picture perfect,'' Tigers coach Tommy Tuberville said. ``He's got experience. He understands how to prepare for a game like this one. He's played in this one before, and he likes this game.

``I like a quarterback like Brandon going into this game. He doesn't get rattled, doesn't get shook. He can take a lick and get back up and make a big play the next play. I'm looking forward to him playing this game.''

Wilson has been frequently off-target for the Tide (6-5, 4-3) in their last three games, all losses. He has been intercepted five times and had a costly fumble in the final minutes against No. 1 LSU.

He's also the guy who picked Tennessee's secondary apart for 363 yards and three touchdowns and threw the game-winning touchdown pass against Arkansas.

Alabama coach Nick Saban said Wilson prepared like a coach before last week's Louisiana-Monroe game, spending late nights studying film. Saban appreciated the effort, which led to better numbers despite the two interceptions, one of them off a deflected ball.

``I have a lot better feeling about working with guys that really want to be good and are trying to be good and doing the right things than if they don't care about it,'' Saban said.

Wilson said the extra preparation helped. He stayed in the film room as late as 11 p.m. before going home to do more work. He said making smart decisions doesn't mean being overly cautious.

``You have to be conscious of the mistakes you've made, but you can't go out there and not throw a ball because you might get it picked,'' he said. ``You have to understand what you're seeing and understand what the defense is doing and you have to protect the ball. That's the No. 1 goal.''

Cox ranks 79th nationally in pass efficiency rating, throwing for only nine touchdowns against 11 interceptions. Wilson is 12 spots behind him. He has 15 TDs and 10 interceptions but is completing a modest 55 percent of his passes.

Like all Iron Bowl quarterbacks, they shoulder a big load in this game. Tuberville doesn't sugarcoat it.

``If you're from this state, as both quarterbacks are playing in this game, there's a ton of pressure,'' Tuberville said.

For all their mistakes, Cox and Wilson aren't all to blame for the woes.

Both have been operating behind makeshift offensive lines due to injuries and suspensions. The Tigers and Tide have each allowed 22 sacks, making the two quarterbacks' seasons seem even more similar.

Cox and Wilson are climbing their schools' career charts, whatever their faults.

Cox is 25-9 as a starter and can match Heisman Trophy winner Pat Sullivan for third in school history in career wins with a victory in the Iron Bowl or a bowl game. Only Jason Campbell (31) and Stan White (29) have won more.

``When Cox goes, they go,'' said Arkansas coach Houston Nutt, whose team lost to the Tigers. ``When Cox is hitting some passes, they're very good.''

Wilson, meanwhile, is already fourth all-time in passing yards and touchdowns for Alabama, though he's only a junior and a second-year starter.

Mustin said he and his fellow defenders need to do more to help the quarterback out - not just the other way around.

``We have not bailed him out yet this year,'' he said. ``We have not done that. I feel like we've failed him. We've got to bail him out in certain situations. That's how I feel about that.''

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Gators concerned about banged-up DBs
November 22, 2007

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) -Florida's inexperienced secondary has been the team's biggest weakness all season.

It might get exploited against rival Florida State.

The 12th-ranked Gators (8-3) could be without starting cornerbacks Joe Haden (ankle) and Markihe Anderson (knee) against the Seminoles (7-4) on Saturday, leaving the defending national champions with a precarious matchup against wide receivers Greg Carr, De'Cody Fagg and Preston Parker.

``It's as big a concern as we have,'' Florida coach Urban Meyer said. ``We're just thinned out right now back there.''

Haden sprained his right ankle last Saturday against Florida Atlantic and Anderson tweaked a knee injury that has slowed him all season.

Both players missed practice time this week, leaving sophomore Wondy Pierre-Louis and redshirt freshman Jacques Rickerson to step into starting spots. Pierre-Louis has struggled much of the year in place of Anderson, and Rickerson has played sparingly.

Another option could be Moses Jenkins, a freshman who has played mostly on special teams.

Regardless of who's on the field, the matchup could be favorable for the Seminoles, who have lost three in a row in the series.

Carr, Fagg and Parker have combined to catch 130 passes for 1,976 yards and 11 touchdowns. Florida State hasn't been shy about throwing balls up for the 6-foot-6 Carr and the 6-3 Fagg, especially against undersized cornerbacks.

``I really respect their corners,'' FSU quarterback Drew Weatherford said. ``They're very talented guys. They're obviously young, but they have a lot of experience under their belt having played a whole season. They've definitely improved as the season as gone on.''

Maybe so, but the Gators gave up 311 yards in the first half last week against Florida Atlantic.

``That is about as bad as I have seen us play on defense,'' Meyer said.

The defense turned things around in the second half, but how much of that will carry over to Saturday's game?

The Gators, already playing without defensive tackle Javier Estopinan, also could be without defensive tackle Mike Pouncey (knee) and defensive end Lawrence Marsh (toe). And linebacker Brandon Spikes has been bothered by knee tendinitis.

``We are dealing with some significant injuries on defense,'' Meyer said.

But the more significant problem has been in the secondary, where Florida has been burned by big plays and soft coverages.

``They play in the SEC and they play against a lot of great teams that throw the ball extremely well, so they have a lot of experience and have been tested a lot,'' Weatherford said. ``I've see a great improvement in the film that I've watched.''

The Gators hope an effective pass rush will help take pressure off the secondary. Florida State has allowed 19 sacks, including 14 on Weatherford.

``We think we can get to him,'' said Florida defensive end Derrick Harvey, who has 6 1/2 of the team's 23 sacks. ``We definitely need to.''

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Re: NCAA : Saturday Football

Virginia Tech at Virginia
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Rivalry Week is here, and there are few games bigger than the Virginia-Virginia Tech contest. Both teams are tied atop the Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division, with the winner earning a slot in the conference title game December 1 against Boston College.

“Virginia Tech wins behind a tough defense and strong special teams,” said VegasInsider.com handicapper Jorge Gonzalez who went 5-0 last weekend with his selections. “The Hokies have scored 40-plus points in their last two outings, and appear to be hitting their stride at the right time.”

Caesars Palace installed Virginia Tech as a 3 ½-point road ‘chalk’ over Virginia, with no total yet posted. Las Vegas Sports Consultants lists the total at 40. ESPN2 will provide coverage of this contest beginning Saturday at noon.

Virginia Tech (9-2 straight up, 5-5 against the spread) is riding a three-game SU and ATS winning streak after running roughshod over Miami last weekend as a 16-point home favorite, 44-14.

The Hokies jumped out to a 14-0 first-quarter lead, and put the game away by outscoring the Hurricanes in the second half, 27-7. Virginia Tech finished the contest with advantages in first downs (22-13), rushing yards (182- -2) and turnovers forced (3-0).

Quarterback Sean Glennon completed 13-of-24 passes for 171 yards with a touchdown, while Branden Ore paced the ground game with 15 carries for 81 yards and two scores. Wideout Justin Harper contributed with three catches for 48 yards with a touchdown.

“If the Hokies defense plays their game, then Virginia has no shot of winning,” stated Gonzalez. “That unit is ranked fourth in the country by allowing an average of just 14 points per contest.”

Virginia (9-2 SU, 5-5 ATS) is also coming off a victory over Miami after embarrassing the Hurricanes November 10 as a 3 1/2-point road underdog, 48-0. The 48 points eclipsed the 42 ½-point closing total, helping the ‘over’ improve to 4-2 its last six games assigned a total.

Signal caller Jameel Sewell was 20-of-25 passing for 288 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Running back Mikell Simpson had 22 carries for 93 yards and two scores, while wideout Maurice Covington caught three passes for 50 yards and a touchdown.

The Cavaliers closed out the Orange Bowl by beating Miami in first downs (21-9), rushing yards (130-95), passing yards (288-94) and turnovers forced (5-1). Virginia jumped out to a 31-0 halftime advantage and never looked back.

“Virginia has to play mistake-free football and create turnovers to topple the Hokies,” stated Gonzalez. “The Cavaliers also cannot afford any lapses on special teams if they want to win this division.

“Virginia’s offense must stretch the field with some attempts downfield to open up the running game. The Cavaliers have been playing well and got to heal up with a bye week, but they must throw the ball effectively in this spot to win.”

Virginia Tech has beaten Virginia the last three games SU and ATS after blanking the Cavaliers last season as a 16 ½-point home favorite, 17-0. There was no total on that contest.

Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor is ‘probable’ against Virginia due to a hip injury, while tight end Sam Wheeler (knee) is ‘out.’

Virginia is reporting no players as ‘probable,’ ‘questionable’ or ‘doubtful’ versus the Hokies.

Saturday’s forecast for Charlottesville, Virginia calls for partly cloudy skies with a 10 percent chance of rain, with a high of 50 degrees and a low of 34.

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College four-play: Week 13
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Imagine if one of your buddies told you last spring that the biggest game of the year in college football this season was going to be the Missouri-Kansas Border War.

Imagine he told you that the winner of this game was going to go on to earn at least an at-large BCS bowl bid and that if you bet on both of these teams every game this season, you’d be 18-2 against the spread to this point.

You would have keeled over laughing and pointed at him like he was a circus clown. You would have called all your other buddies to tell them about how ridiculous your pal is. Then you would have emailed said pal on Monday just to remind him how little he knows about college football.

Well, guess what? Your pal’s a genius.

Anyone who had that kind of foresight is walking around with heavier pants these days because the pockets are loaded with cash. Kansas is the most profitable team in the nation at 10-0 ATS this year and Missouri is tied at No. 2 with an 8-2 ATS record.

But almost as good as that, these are two of the most exciting teams in the country to watch. You may not have seen much of either team because they don’t often grace the national airwaves, but they are two teams that can be a treat to the eyeballs.

Mizzou QB Chase Daniel has probably become my favorite player to watch this year. He makes plays just about any way you can dream up and his 3,590 passing yards rank fifth in the country. What impresses me most about him, though, is his completion percentage (69.3 percent). He just doesn’t throw many bad balls and makes playing quarterback look easy. 

Not to be outdone is Kansas QB Todd Reesing, who doesn’t quite have the completion percentage (63.3), but does have just as many touchdowns (30) and fewer interceptions (four compared to nine). Like Daniel, Reesing has a small stature for a college quarterback and he can scramble on his feet to make plays when necessary.

He has a great target in senior Marcus Henry (977 yards) and Brandon McAnderson is the Big 12’s third leading rusher. Jeremy Maclin is Daniel’s do-everything go-to guy and I can’t blame you if you like watching him more than Daniel.

You might not know those guys as well as the Mike Harts or Dennis Dixons of the nation, but I have a feeling that will change for many casual football fans on Saturday.

Missouri vs. Kansas

So who will win?

To say I’m sure I know would be silly. But last week I bet against the Jayhawks thinking 28 points was enough for Iowa State to cover. I don’t think I can bet against them again.

A few teams have commented after playing the Jayhawks this year that they might just be the hardest working team they’ve played this season and as a bettor, you have to like that. A great article about KU coach Mark Mangino in the Kansas City Star this week gives a little insight as to why that might be.

But this Kansas team just seems to do everything well. The Jayhawks are the leading team in the nation in turnover margin. They are the least penalized team in the country, mainly because you really don’t want to get on Mangino’s bad side. They rank third in punt return yardage. And they rank 11th in third-down conversion percentage.

Skeptics will quickly point to the Jayhawks’ schedule. The team filleted a bunch of patsies before Big 12 play began. Even when conference play revved up they managed to dodge both Texas and Oklahoma. But they have also covered five spreads of 19 points or more and put a beating on the Blackshirts that may end up costing Bill Callahan his job.

This is going to be a tight one and I’m thinking Kansas pulls it out in a squeaker, 37-34. Don’t miss it.

Oh yeah – after a tough 1-3 record last week I’m now 29-23 against the number this season.

Pick: Kansas

Southern Methodist at Memphis

The best part of SMU’s season will be when the final seconds tick off the clock Saturday. As usual.

The season was really over when Ponies coach Phil Bennett was mercifully fired Oct. 28 following the loss to Tulsa. Now they’ll go through the formality of playing out one more loss.

Memphis has won and covered in four of its last five games and the Tigers can end the season above .500 at 7-5 with a win this weekend.

Pick: Memphis

Oklahoma State at Oklahoma

DeMarco Murray is out and Sam Bradford is questionable for the Sooners following a concussion he suffered last week against Texas Tech. I think Bradford will end up starting but I don’t think it will be enough to cover this number. 

Oklahoma State is bowl bound and playing its best football of the season despite a pair of tough losses recently to Kansas and Texas. The Pokes also haven’t won Bedlam since 2002 and you can bet they can taste their shot here.

Pick: Oklahoma State

Alabama at Auburn

I don’t know if Nick Saban is the dumbest guy in the world this week or the smartest. Either way, he needs to give up using metaphors for a while.

If you missed his ramblings at his weekly press conference you should dig it up to see what I’m talking about. Sportscenter devoted about two minutes of its show to Saban the day after he made his remarks, airing the whole bizarre speech in its entirety.

In short, he talked about Pearl Harbor and 9/11 in relation to Bama’s loss to Louisiana-Munroe last week. We all know what he was trying to say, but it was the kind of thing that makes you wince just listening to it.

I wondered how anyone could be that obtuse. Then I thought there might be more to this. Maybe Saban did it to put all the heat on himself rather than his team heading into the Iron Bowl. I’m not sure I would have gone about it that way, but most of the attention has now turned from the Tide’s pathetic loss to what Saban said about it.

His team doesn’t need any more reminders of its recent games. Bama has lost and failed to cover in three straight games, thanks largely to a struggling offense that’s turning the ball over too often.

Still, I think the Bama defense will manage to keep this one close. Auburn has played some close games against good defenses this year and I think this one will be the same.

Pick: Alabama

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Where to find the edge in Saturday's games
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A number of Saturday’s games feature big mismatches that can give bettors a major edge. The most noteworthy are listed below:

Kent State running back Eugene Jarvis vs. Buffalo’s rush defense

Golden Flashes running back Eugene Jarvis should tear up the turf against Buffalo’s struggling defense.

The sophomore, who ranks sixth in the country with an average of 135 yards, amassed more than 85 rushing yards Oct. 13 against the Buckeyes’ third-ranked ground defense. Jarvis has rushed for more than 150 yards in five outings, increasing his season total to nearly 1,500 yards.

He should have no trouble against a Bulls team that is allowing more than 170 yards on the ground per outing. Buffalo recently conceded 171 rushing yards with two touchdowns to Toledo’s seventh-ranked running back Jalen Parmele. The Bulls also allowed Bowling Green’s backup quarterback to rack up almost 100 rushing yards and a touchdown in last Saturday’s 31-17 setback.

Fresno State kick returner A.J. Jefferson vs. Kansas State’s special teams

There is nothing more unsettling to a team than losing because of special teams. The Wildcats want to make sure that their tilt with the Bulldogs doesn’t end that way.

Fresno State sophomore A.J. Jefferson, who has two kickoff return touchdowns, is leading college football with an average return of more than 35 yards. He also blocked a kick as a defender this season.

The Wildcats, allowing more than 21 yards per kickoff, have conceded three kickoff return touchdowns this year. That includes a 95-yarder in an embarrassing 73-31 setback to the Cornhuskers.

Tulsa quarterback Paul Smith vs. Rice’s pass defense

Tulsa senior quarterback Paul Smith is having a spectacular campaign. Not many people, though, have taken notice.

Smith ranks second in the country with more than 3,800 passing yards and 34 touchdowns. He is also averaging more than 350 passing yards a game. Smith threw for more than 390 yards with two touchdowns in last Saturday’s triumph over Army. In his last three contests alone, Smith has thrown 10 touchdowns and only one interception.

Meanwhile Rice ranks second-last in college football defending against the pass. The Owls, conceding more than 300 passing yards per contest, allowed Southern Methodist quarterback Justin Willis to register four passing touchdowns last Saturday.

Florida Atlantic cornerback Tavious Polo vs. Florida International quarterback Wayne Younger

This contest won’t be close unless Panthers quarterback Wayne Younger keeps the football away from Owls cornerback Tavious Polo.

Polo, who leads the nation with seven interceptions, is averaging nearly one takeaway per contest. The freshman had a three-interception game against Minnesota on Sept. 15. He followed up that remarkable performance with two picks against North Texas. Polo also has 34 solo tackles and a forced fumble.

Florida International sophomore quarterback Younger, who has nine touchdowns against 17 interceptions, has thrown 10 picks in his last five games. Younger also suffered through a five-interception performance against Arkansas on Oct. 27.

Florida’s third-down offense vs. Florida State’s third-down defense

Gators quarterback Tim Tebow is a favorite to win the coveted Heisman Trophy in his sophomore year thanks to his production both through the air and on the ground.

The Gators are converting 56 percent of their third-downs and were 5-for-9 in third-down situations in Saturday’s blowout win over Florida Atlantic. Tebow’s offense also converted 75 percent of its third-down attempts in its previous outing against South Carolina. The QB, who has more than 2,800 passing yards, also leads the Gators with nearly 750 yards on the ground.

The Seminoles could have trouble containing Tebow. FSU allowed Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor to compile more than 100 passing yards and 51 rushing yards in a 41-21 loss. They also allowed the Hokies to convert more than 35 percent of third-down conversion attempts.

Kansas receiver Marcus Henry vs. Missouri’s secondary

Kansas receiver Marcus Henry, despite a five-game stretch where he didn’t have a single 100-yard receiving performance, has managed to amass more than 1,300 receiving yards.

Henry caught eight passes for almost 200 yards in the Jayhawks’ 43-28 win over Oklahoma State. The senior has scored five of his 11 touchdowns in his last three games and is racking up more than 130 receiving yards per contest this month. Henry is doing it by averaging a remarkable 19 yards per catch.

Henry should be trouble for a Missouri program that is conceding more than 250 receiving yards per game. The Tigers allowed three Kansas State receivers to collect more than 40 receiving yards each on Saturday. That included a 94-yard, one-touchdown day by receiver Jordy Nelson.

Missouri is also giving opposing quarterbacks time to complete more than 62 percent of their passes.

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Outside the Top 25
Covers.com

The end is not far away now. And I don’t like it one bit.

College football fans spend the spring and summer waiting for the season ahead and the 2007 campaign has provided a hell of a payoff. Hopefully readers who place the occasional wager experienced a more financially rewarding payoff this year.

If so, this Thanksgiving weekend is the appropriate time to give thanks for your favorite gambling moments of the year. Personally, Troy’s last-second touchdown at Georgia (a garbage-time score that let the Trojans cover at +14) tops the list. Feel free to add your own in the comments section below.

Last week’s 4-2 record was nice, but not enough. In what is shaping up as a perfect weekend for couch potatoes, let’s shoot for a perfect Saturday with some unranked and unloved teams.

Arkansas State Indians at Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles

In a weekend filled with rivalry games, this isn’t one of them. The Indians and Golden Eagles last met in the 2005 New Orleans Bowl, when Southern Miss won but failed to cover as 14½-point favorites. Saturday’s game features a similar spread and bettors could see a similar result.

Southern Miss became one of Conference USA’s six bowl-eligible teams with last week’s win at UTEP, a handy number considering the conference’s six bowl tie-ins. No other C-USA school has a shot at eligibility, so the Eagles have landed in a bowl – just not the high-caliber one they’d hoped a conference title would bring. Star RB Damion Fletcher will likely play in pain after stubbing his toe during his final carry in El Paso.

Arkansas State has the offensive talent to provide a backdoor cover, with Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award semifinalist Corey Leonard, RB Reggie Arnold and WR Levi Dejohnette. The Indians also have a strong overall special teams unit. I don’t see Southern Miss running away with this one.

Duke Blue Devils at North Carolina Tar Heels

The battle for the Victory Bell has featured a touchdown-plus spread only once in the past five seasons. That was in Duke’s most recent visit to Chapel Hill in 2005 when the Heels were favored by 22½ points. UNC needed a touchdown in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter to cap a come-from-behind win.

Last year was another nail-biter as a blocked extra point kept Duke from tying the Heels at 45-45. The Blue Devils covered the spread again, this time as 7-point home underdogs.

This year’s Dookies have been a betting mystery. They went 4-0 ATS as a double-digit underdog in the first half of the season, but 0-4 ATS in the same role in the second half. The Tar Heels, however, are the weakest double-digit favorite Duke has faced in a long time. The Blue Devils will fight the good fight on Saturday with head coach Ted Roof hoping to keep his job into 2008.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Stanford Cardinal

Bettors could convince themselves that Notre Dame’s lost season will end on a high note. The Irish just posted their first home win of the season, freshman quarterback Jimmy Clausen has a 6-0 TD/INT ratio over the past two games and the team faces a school with that is 1-10 SU and 2-9 ATS at home since moving into its remodeled stadium.

But I expect Stanford to take the Naval Academy approach to this game. The Cardinal’s losing streak to the Irish isn’t nearly as long as the Middies’ 44-year streak of misery, but 2007 is ripe for exacting revenge on God’s team after years of losses. Stanford last toppled Notre Dame in 2001.

The Cardinal’s offensive production has been poor in recent weeks but should be helped by the returns of leading rusher Anthony Kimble and leading receiver Richard Sherman. Stanford also wants a positive lead-in to the Big Game against Cal on Dec. 1.

Nevada Wolf Pack at San Jose State Spartans

San Jose State has been nearly a lock at Spartan Stadium since the start of last season, going 8-1 ATS at home over that span. The Spartans are also 9-2 SU at home compared to 4-9 SU away from San Jose over the past two seasons.

But Nevada has more to play for this weekend, with bowl eligibility up for grabs. Four of Nevada’s five losses could have easily been wins with a favorable bounce or two. With grumblings about his job security in northern Nevada, head coach Chris Ault would love to cap the season with wins over San Jose State, Louisiana Tech and a potential New Mexico Bowl opponent.

The Wolf Pack are 5-0 SU and ATS over their previous five meetings with San Jose State, despite being favored each time. I like their chances to make it a six-pack. Redshirt freshman QB Colin Kaepernick should continue to shine and Nevada should keep an up-and-down SJSU offense quiet on Saturday afternoon.

Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks at Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns

Both Sun Belt schools visited traditional SEC powerhouses in November. ULL lost 59-7 as a 28-point underdog at Tennessee on Nov. 3 while ULM shocked Alabama 21-14 as a 24-point underdog last weekend.

The varying results on Rocky Top at Tuscaloosa suggest a disparity between the Warhawks and the Ragin’ Cajuns. Their shared 3-3 SU record in conference play says otherwise.

It’s a letdown spot for ULM, with no bowl berth waiting in the wings. The Ragin’ Cajuns have an unimpressive season record but have posted back-to-back double-digit wins. Cajun Field should be loud on Saturday and senior Conner Morel proved last week he’s up for the quarterbacking gig if regular starter Michael Desormeaux can’t play.

Washington State Cougars at Washington Huskies

Last weekend’s scores suggest the Huskies being favored by 5½ points is justified. Wazzu was lost in turnover hell against Oregon State on the same day UW trounced the downtrodden Cal Bears at home.

The injury news out of Seattle makes the UW line seem decent as well. Jake Locker returns at quarterback and running back Louis Rankin is fine after leaving the Cal game in the second half. The Huskies aren’t interested in passing the ball much these days and having Locker and Rankin in the backfield makes a repeat of last Saturday’s 334 rushing performance a possibility.

Senior quarterback Alex Brink makes his last start for the Cougars and will have WR Brandon Gibson and TE Jed Collins healthy on Saturday.  I still don’t see it being enough to keep pace in this year’s Apple Cup.

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Re: NCAA : Saturday Football

Vanderbilt faces Wake Forest with shot at bowl eligibility
November 23, 2007

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -It's been a long time since Vanderbilt has had something to play for after Thanksgiving.

When the Commodores (5-6, 2-6 Southeastern Conference) play Wake Forest on Saturday they have the chance to end their regular season without losing record for the first time in 25 years. Vanderbilt would also become bowl eligible, though its chances of getting an invitation are slim.

``It would be the first Vanderbilt team in a long time to be bowl eligible and to have six wins,'' Commodores center Hamilton Holliday said. ``It would still mean a lot, bowl or no bowl. It's still going to be a special season if we win this Saturday.''

Seven SEC teams already have at least seven victories. Another three - South Carolina, Alabama and Mississippi State - have six wins with a chance at seven this weekend.

The SEC has only eight bowl tie-ins, with the possibility of sending a ninth team to the postseason if a second conference team is selected as a Bowl Championship Series at-large representative. Vanderbilt would be the 11th SEC team given an invitation - something that's never happened.

``That'll be a moot point if we don't win,'' Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson said.

Of course, defending Atlantic Coast Conference champion Wake Forest (7-4, 5-3 ACC) doesn't have such worries.

The Demon Deacons, who played in last season's Orange Bowl, have earned back-to-back bowl berths for the first time in school history. That doesn't mean they don't have bigger goals.

The team is trying to become just the fifth in school history to win at least eight games in a season.

Demon Deacons defensive end Matt Robinson said it's important they build on their momentum.

``Everybody wants to talk about bowl games right now, but there's not a lot of talk going on with us,'' Robinson said. ``I went up and turned the film on, and this Vanderbilt team is really, really good. There's no one on our team that's looking ahead to a bowl game. That stuff will take care of itself.''

The Commodores will be celebrating Senior Day, with 17 seniors playing their final game at Vanderbilt Stadium.

Junior receiver Earl Bennett may be playing his last game for the black and gold, too. Already the SEC's career receptions leader, Bennett has been tabbed as a likely first-round pick in the NFL draft should he forgo his senior season.

Bennett's first collegiate catch came three years ago against Wake Forest. His last may also come against the Demon Deacons, although Bennett hasn't decided where he'll be playing next year.

``It's up in the air right now,'' he said. ``It's definitely something I need to do, explore the options and look into it. It's ultimately going to be my decision. I'm just going to check it out and see what I think. I really haven't thought about it yet.''

Demon Deacons receiver Kenneth Moore has 78 catches, and needs 11 more to set an ACC record for receptions in a season. Moore also needs 140 yards receiving to become just the third Wake Forest player to have at least 1,000 yards receiving in a season.

Wake Forest's players know Vanderbilt is playing for a lot more than another win. Robinson said he wouldn't mind being the latest team to spoil the Commodores' bowl hopes.

``We've got our hands full,'' Robinson said. ``It's their Senior Day, and they're sitting right there on bowl eligibility. We're going to get their best shot. We've got to make sure ... we're doing everything on our end to give ourselves a chance of winning.''

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(3) Missouri (10-1, 8-2 ATS) vs. (2) Kansas (11-0, 10-0 ATS), at Kansas City

The game of the week comes from Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, where second-ranked Kansas looks to keep its perfect record intact with a win over No. 3 Missouri in a primetime, nationally televised battle to determine the Big 12 North champion.

Kansas is 7-0 SU and ATS in conference play, one game ahead than Missouri (6-1, 5-2 ATS) in the Big 12 North standings. The Tigers’ lone conference loss was a 41-31 setback at Oklahoma back on Oct. 13. Since that defeat, Missouri has ripped off five consecutive wins (4-1 ATS), including last week’s 49-32 romp at Kansas State as a seven-point road favorite.

The Jayhawks ascended to the seemingly doomed No. 2 spot in the BCS standing with last week’s 45-7 rout of Iowa State, finishing with a ridiculous 566-234 edge in total offense, the fourth time this season Kansas outgained an opponent by more than 240 yards. The Jayhawks, who are 11-0 for the first time in school history, cashed as a 27-point home favorite last week, leaving them one spread-cover away from a perfect ATS regular season.

Missouri topped the Jayhawks 42-17 as a seven-point home chalk last year, snapping an 0-3 SU and ATS slump against Kansas. The Tigers finished with 493 total yards, while yielding 322.

Both squads have been outstanding bets recently, with Missouri going 10-2 ATS in its last 12 and Kansas posting a 19-7 ATS mark in its last 26, including 10-1 ATS against Big 12 rivals.

This game features two of the most explosive offenses in college football. Kansas averages 45.8 points and 500 yards per game, figures that rank second and seventh in the nation. Meanwhile, Missouri puts up 42.5 points and 506.3 total yards per contest, which rank sixth and fourth, respectively, nationally.

These potent offenses are guided by a couple of Heisman Trophy candidates at quarterback. Kansas’ Todd Reesing is completing 63.2 percent of his throws for 2,905 yards with 30 TDs and just four INTs, while the Tigers’ Chase Daniel clicks on 69.3 percent of his passes for 3,590 yards with a 30-9 TD-to-INT ratio. Both QBs have been helped by strong rushing attacks, as the Jayhawks average 210.6 yards per game on the ground (5.1 per carry) and Missouri grinds out 172.3 rushing ypg (4.6 per carry).

Defensively, the edge goes to Kansas, which holds the opposition to 14.2 points and 300 yards per contest, including 84.3 rushing ypg. Missouri yields averages of 23 points and 380 yards (121 rushing ypg), but the Tigers have faced a more difficult schedule.

The over is 8-2 in lined games for Missouri this year, including 4-0 in the last four overall and 5-0 away from home. The over is also 24-8 in the Tigers’ last 32 games as an underdog, 8-1 in Kansas’ last nine in November and 6-2 in Kansas’ last eight games on grass.

ATS ADVANTAGE: OVER


(20) UConn (9-2, 8-2 ATS) at (4) West Virginia (9-1, 6-3 ATS)

The Big East championship is on the line today in Morgantown, W.Va., where the Mountaineers shoot for their sixth straight victory when they host UConn.

The Huskies throttled Syracuse 30-7 as a 19½-point chalk last week to move to 5-1 in Big East play, and they can claim the league championship if they can pull off the upset today. UConn is 4-1 SU in its last five and 5-1 ATS in its last six.

West Virginia dominated Cincinnati last week, but only prevailed by a 28-23 score, coming up just shy as a 5½-point road favorite. The Mountaineers are 4-1 in the Big East (2-3 ATS), and even though they have one more Big East game against Pitt next week, they can wrap up the conference title with a victory today.

West Virginia is on a 3-0 SU and ATS run against UConn, winning the three games by margins of 12, 32 and 26 points. Last year in Stoors, Conn., the Mountaineers had a 419-210 advantage in total offense, winning 37-11 as a 23-point road favorite.

The Huskies are 2-1 SU and ATS on the road this year, all as an underdog. Prior to 2007, UConn had been in a 1-9 ATS funk as a road ‘dog.

West Virginia is just 2-4 ATS in its last six games, including 0-2 ATS at home.

The under is on runs of 5-1 for UConn (2-0 on the road) and 6-2 for West Virginia (2-1 at home).

ATS ADVANTAGE: UNDER


(21) Clemson (8-3, 6-4 ATS) at South Carolina (6-5, 4-5 ATS)

A week after having its ACC Atlantic Division title hopes dashed in a loss to Boston College, Clemson will attempt to regroup for its annual non-conference battle against instate rival South Carolina.

The Tigers had a berth in the ACC Championship game in their grasp last week, but let it get away in a 20-17 loss to Boston College as a nine-point home favorite. Clemson, which came into the contest on a 4-0 SU and ATS run, held second-half leads of 10-3 and 17-13 but couldn’t hold on, getting outgained 375-273 in the defeat.

South Carolina, which was idle last week, will be trying to halt four-game SU and a five-game ATS losing skids today. Most recently, the Gamecocks fell to Florida 51-31 as a seven-point home underdog on Nov. 10, and they’ve gotten outgained by 161 and 153 yards in their last two outings.

The Gamecocks upset Clemson 31-28 as a five-point road underdog last year, snapping the Tigers’ 5-0 ATS run in this rivalry. In the last two games played at South Carolina, Clemson prevailed 63-17 as a one-point underdog in 2003 and 13-9 as a three-point chalk in 2005.

Clemson is just 5-10 ATS as a road favorite the last five years, but 3-1 ATS in that situation this year.

The Tigers are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games against SEC foes, while South Carolina is just 1-4 ATS in its last five against the ACC.

The Gamecocks started the season 4-0 at home (2-1 ATS), but have since dropped two in a row both SU and ATS. They’re also just 1-5 ATS in their last six as a home ‘dog.

The over is 23-8 in South Carolina’s last 31 road games.

ATS ADVANTAGE: CLEMSON and OVER


(19) Tennessee (8-3, 6-4 ATS) at Kentucky (7-4, 6-4 ATS)


Tennessee heads to Lexington, Ky., needing a win over the Wildcats to wrap up the SEC East championship and a berth in next week’s SEC title game against LSU.

The Vols barely kept their SEC title hopes alive last week, rallying from a 24-9 second-half deficit to defeat Vanderbilt 25-24 as a 12-point home favorite. Vandy missed a game-winning field goal as time expired, giving Tennessee its fourth straight win and its seventh victory in the last eight games.

Kentucky jumped out to a 10-0 lead at Georgia last week but couldn’t do anything after that, falling 24-13 as an eight-point underdog. Since starting the season 5-0 (4-0 ATS), the Wildcats are 2-4 SU and ATS. The straight-up winner has cashed in all 10 of Kentucky’s lined contests this season.

Tennessee has won 22 straight games against Kentucky, with the Wildcats’ last victory coming in 1984. Kentucky got close last year, losing 17-12 in Knoxville, cashing as a 20½-point road underdog. The visitor is on a 4-0 ATS roll in this rivalry.

Kentucky is on ATS runs of 13-7-1 overall and 6-3 at home, though it failed to cover in its last two at Commonwealth Stadium.

Despite last week’s result against Vanderbilt, the Vols are still on a 6-2 ATS run. However, they’ve played just four road games this year, going 1-3 SU and ATS.

The host is 8-2-1 ATS in Tennessee games this year.

The under is on runs of 4-0 for Tennessee overall, 3-0 for Kentucky overall and 4-1 in this rivalry.

ATS ADVANTAGE:  KENTUCKY and UNDER


(9) Oregon (8-2 SU and ATS) at UCLA (5-5, 6-4 ATS)


Oregon returns to action for the first time since a devastating loss to Arizona when it heads down the Pacific coast for a clash with Pac-10 rival UCLA.

Not only did the Ducks’ four-game SU and ATS winning streak and national championship hopes go out the window 10 days ago in a 34-24 loss to Arizona as an 11-point road favorite, but they lost starting QB and Heisman Trophy frontrunner Dennis Dixon to a season-ending knee injury. Despite those setbacks, Oregon still controls its own destiny in the Pac-10 race, needing to beat UCLA today and Oregon State next week to earn a Rose Bowl berth.

The Bruins, who had a bye last week, have dropped three in a row (1-2 ATS), most recently falling to Arizona State 24-20 as a seven-point home underdog. UCLA – which has been ravaged by injuries, especially at the quarterback position – has followed up a 4-1 SU and ATS start to the season by going 1-4 SU and ATS in its last five.

The straight-up winner has covered the spread in all 10 Oregon games and all 10 UCLA games this year.

Oregon is on a 5-1 SU and ATS roll against the Bruins, including going 3-0 SU and ATS in its last three trips to the Rose Bowl. Last year, the Ducks prevailed 30-20 at home, barely covering as a 9½-point favorite. The winner has cashed in each of the last seven meetings in this rivalry.

UCLA is 18-5 ATS in its last 23 games at the Rose Bowl. The Bruins are also on positive ATS runs of 10-2-1 as an underdog (3-0 this year), 5-0 as a home pup since 2003, 9-2 in conference games and 20-7 against teams with a winning record.

The under is on runs of 4-1 for the Bruins and 5-1 for Oregon. Also, four of the last six meetings have stayed under the total.

ATS ADVANTAGE: UNDER


Alabama (6-5, 2-6-2 ATS) at (25) Auburn (7-4, 5-5 ATS)

The annual Iron Bowl matchup between archrivals Alabama and Auburn is set for Jordan Hare Stadium, where the Crimson Tide will be trying to bounce back from one of the biggest upset losses in program history.

A week after losing 17-12 at Mississippi State, Alabama came home and committed four turnovers in an embarrassing 21-14 loss to Louisiana-Monroe as a 24½-point home favorite. Nick Saban’s squad has followed a three-game winning streak with three straight loses.

Auburn has had two weeks to lick its wounds following a 45-20 loss at Georgia as a 1½-point road underdog. Despite that setback, in which they were outgained 416-216, the Tigers are 6-2 in their last eight (5-2 ATS in lined contests).

Auburn carries a five-game Iron Bowl winning streak into this one (3-2 ATS). Last year, the Tigers survived 22-15 on the road as a two-point favorite. The visitor is 9-3 ATS in the last 12 meetings.

Last week’s loss to Louisiana-Monroe dropped Alabama to 1-6-1 ATS in its last eight games, including 0-3 ATS as a visitor.

Auburn is just 3-9 ATS in its last 12 home games.

The under is 6-2 in the last eight Auburn-Alabama showdowns, however both “overs” occurred in the last two clashes at Jordan Hare Stadium.

ATS ADVANTAGE: AUBURN and UNDER


(6) Georgia (9-2, 6-4 ATS) at Georgia Tech (7-4, 4-5-1 ATS)


Bragging rights in the state of Georgia are on the line, as the red-hot Bulldogs head south to Atlanta to battle Georgia Tech in a non-conference contest.

Georgia dug itself a 10-0 hole last week against Kentucky, then woke up and rolled to a 24-13 victory, covering as an 7½-point favorite. The Bulldogs have won five in a row and eight of their last nine, going 3-1 ATS in the last four.

Georgia Tech squeaked past North Carolina 27-25 last week, failing to cover as a 10½-point home favorite. The Yellow Jackets have won two in a row and four of their last five. However, they’re just 3-5-1 ATS in their last nine, including 1-3-1 ATS at home.

Georgia has owned this series of late, going 4-1-1 ATS in the last six meetings overall, including a 15-12 win as a three-point home favorite in 2006. The Bulldogs are also 4-0 ATS in their last four visits to Bobby Dodd Stadium, including three outright wins in the last thee trips. In fact, the visitor is 7-1-1 ATS in the last nine series meetings.

The Dawgs are on a 12-7 ATS streak on the highway.

The under is on runs of 3-0 in this rivalry, 8-3 for Georgia on the road and 24-10-1 for Georgia Tech on grass.

ATS ADVANTAGE: GEORGIA and UNDER


Florida State (7-4, 4-5-1 ATS) at (12) Florida (8-3, 7-3 ATS)


Florida guns for its fourth straight victory overall and its fourth straight victory over Florida State when it welcomes the hated Seminoles to the Swamp in a yearly instate clash.

The Gators thumped Florida International 59-20 last week, cashing as a 34-point home favorite. Urban Meyer’s squad has outscored its last three opponents – Florida International, South Carolina and Vanderbilt – by a combined 159-73 and outgained them by a total of 503 yards. Also, Florida is on a 5-1 ATS run, cashing in all three games during its current winning streak.

Florida State improved to 3-1 SU and ATS in its last four games with last week’s 24-16 victory over Maryland as a 7½-point home favorite. The Seminoles are just 2-3 SU and ATS on the road this year.

Florida topped the ‘Noles 21-14 last year, coming up just short as a 7½-point road favorite despite finishing with a 388-235 edge in total offense. The Gators are 3-0 SU in the last three series battles after going 1-5 SU in the previous six.

The favorite is 7-2 ATS in the last nine Florida-Florida State clashes, and the host is 10-3 ATS in the last 13.

The straight-up winner is 5-0 ATS in both teams’ last five games. Also, the winner has cashed in nine of the last 10 meetings in this rivalry, the only exception coming last year.

Florida State is 7-2 ATS in its last nine games as an underdog.

Florida is 4-1 ATS as a home favorite this year.

The under is 6-1 in the last seven meetings, with the last three in a row staying low. However, Florida has soared over the total in six straight games overall (three straight at home), and the over is 3-0 in Florida State’s last three on the road.

ATS ADVANTAGE:  FLORIDA


(10) Oklahoma (9-2, 5-6 ATS) at Oklahoma State (6-5, 5-5 ATS)


With its national championship hopes now a distant memory following last week’s upset loss at Texas Tech, Oklahoma will try to regroup and focus on capturing the Big 12 South title, which the Sooners can claim with a win over Oklahoma State.

Sooners star QB Sam Bradford got knocked out with a concussion early last week at Texas Tech, and Oklahoma never recovered, falling behind 27-10 at the half and losing 34-27 as a 7½-point road favorite, snapping a five-game SU winning streak. The Sooners have followed a 16-4-1 ATS run by going 1-6 ATS in their last seven.

Okalahoma State bounced back from a pair of tough home losses to Kansas and Texas by going on the road and crushing Baylor 45-14 as a 14½-point favorite. The Cowboys had 343 rushing yards and 202 passing yards, finishing with an overall yardage edge of 545-309.

The Cowboys will be looking to halt a four-game losing skid to Oklahoma. The Sooners are 3-1 ATS during this run, including consecutive spread-covers the last two years, when they prevailed 42-14 as a 17½-point home favorite in 2005 and 27-21 as a five-point road chalk in 2006.

Oklahoma State is 3-0 ATS in its last three road games. In fact, the road team is 5-0 ATS in OSU’s last five games.

The Sooners are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 home games, but only 1-2 ATS in the last three.

The over is 4-1 in the last five series meetings and 30-13 in Oklahoma State’s last 43 games in conference.

ATS ADVANTAGE: OKLAHOMA and OVER


Miami, Fla. (5-6, 3-8 ATS) at (15) Boston College (9-2, 6-4 ATS)

Boston College preps for next week’s ACC championship game when it hosts struggling Miami (Fla.) in a game between teams playing only for pride.

The Eagles halted a two-game losing skid and clinched the ACC’s Atlantic Division title with last week’s come-from-behind 20-17 upset win at Clemson as a nine-point road underdog. Boston College’s defense stole the show, holding Clemson to just 277 total yards.

Miami’s woeful season continued with last week’s ugly 44-14 loss at Virginia Tech as a 16½-point road underdog. The Hurricanes have dropped three in a row and five out of six, and they’re just 1-6 ATS in their last seven. Miami’s once-vaunted defense has given up 92 points the last two weeks.

Boston College is heavily favored today despite having lost 15 straight games to Miami, with its last victory coming in 1984. Last year, with a berth in the ACC title game at stake, the Eagles fell 17-14 in Miami as a three-point favorite. The ‘Canes have cashed in each of the last three meetings, but the home team is 7-1 ATS in the last eight.

Miami is mired in ATS slumps of 11-24 overall (1-6 ATS in the last seven) and 4-10 on the road (1-3 ATS this year on the highway).

Boston College is 11-5-1 ATS in its last 17 in Chestnut Hill. However, the Eagles are 1-4 ATS in their last five as a favorite, including three consecutive non-covers when laying points.

For Miami, the under is on runs of 39-18 overall, 12-5 in ACC play and 19-7 in November. Also, the last three meetings in this rivalry that featured a posted total stayed low.

ATS ADVANTAGE: UNDER


(8) Virginia Tech (9-2, 5-4-1 ATS) at (16) Virginia (9-2, 5-5 ATS)

Two instate rivals duke it out for the ACC Coastal Division championship in Charlottesville, Va., where the Cavaliers host Virginia Tech.

Both teams come into this game tied atop the Coastal Division standings with identical 6-1 conference records. Thus the winner of this one will advance to next week’s ACC Championship game against Boston College.

Virginia Tech has won three in a row and eight of its last nine following last week’s 44-14 rout of Miami (Fla.) as a 16½-point home favorite. The Hokies have outgained their last three opponents by yard margins of 145, 129 and 210, and they covered the spread in all three. In fact, Frank Beamer’s squad is on a 5-1 ATS run overall.

Virginia hasn’t taken the field since No. 10, when it closed out Miami’s tenure in the Orange Bowl with a resounding 48-0 win as a four-point road underdog. The Cavaliers forced five turnovers and finished with a 418-188 yardage advantage, the sixth time in the last eight games that Al Groh’s team outgained an opponent.

The Hokies have won and covered the last three meetings against Virginia, including last year’s 17-0 shutout win as a 16-point home favorite. Dating to 1999, Va-Tech has won seven of the last eight meetings in this rivalry (6-2 ATS), going 3-1 in Charlottesville (2-2 ATS).

This figures to be a defensive struggle, as the Hokies are giving up just 14.9 points and 289.4 total yards per game (85.2 rushing ypg) and the Cavaliers are surrendering 17.5 points and 315.5 yards per outing (113.2 rushing ypg). Virginia Tech has held four of its last five opponents to 14 points or less, while Virginia has limited four of its last five to 17 points or fewer.

Virginia Tech is 14-3 ATS in its last 17 road games, including three consecutive wins and covers in the last three.

Virginia is 4-0 ATS as an underdog this season and 5-0 SU at home (2-3 ATS).

The under is on runs of 11-4-1 for Virginia overall, 13-4 for Virginia at home, 16-6-3 for Virginia in ACC games and 6-2 for Virginia Tech when playing in November. Finally, the under is 5-2 in the last seven head-to-head battles that featured a posted total.

ATS ADVANTAGE:  VIRGINIA TECH and UNDER

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Tennessee at Kentucky
VegasInsider.com

The SEC East is at stake Saturday when Kentucky plays host to Tennessee at Commonwealth Stadium.

Most sports books are listing Kentucky (7-4 straight up, 6-4 against the spread) as a 2 ½-point favorite with the total in the 63-64 range. Gamblers can back the Volunteers to win outright for a plus 125 (risk $100 to win $125) payout.

Tennessee (8-3 SU, 7-4 ATS) has won 22 consecutive games against Kentucky and can wrap up the East with a victory in this spot. If UK wins, Georgia will face LSU in next week’s SEC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome.

Tennessee stayed alive by rallying from a 24-9 deficit in the fourth quarter to capture a 25-24 non-covering win as a 12 ½-point ‘chalk.’ Erik Ainge sparked the comeback with a pair of touchdown passes, but UT still trailed 24-22 when a two-point conversion attempt failed.

With 2:46 remaining, Daniel Lincoln kicked the game winner from 31 yards out. However, Vandy advanced into field-goal range and had a chance to win, but Bryant Hahnfeld barely missed a 49-yard field goal that grazed the upright.

Since jumping out to a 5-0 start and a top-10 ranking in the national polls, Kentucky has lost four of its last six games, including last week’s 24-13 defeat at Georgia as an eight-point underdog.

Nevertheless, it has been an outstanding season for this senior-laded UK squad. Andre Woodson has been sensational, throwing for 2,921 yards with a 30/8 touchdown-interception ratio.

The Wildcats have been plagued by injuries in the backfield. Senior RB Rafael Little, one of the nation’s most underrated backs, missed three straight games, including a pair of losses to Florida and Mississippi State. Little has been back in the lineup the last two games. For the year, he has run for 784 yards and three TDs, averaging 5.7 YPC.

Woodson has a quartet of outstanding options when he drops back to pass. Keenan Burton, another player that’s missed significant playing time with an injury but is back to 100 percent, has a team-high 51 catches for 602 yards and seven touchdowns. Steve Johnson has 48 receptions for a team-high 842 yards and nine TDs. Johnson had game-winning catches at crunch time in wins over Louisville and LSU.

Dicky Lyons Jr. has 47 catches for 535 yards and six TDs, while TE Jacob Tamme has 44 receptions for 480 yards and four TDs. Little is also a threat catching the ball out of the backfield. He has 23 grabs for 189 yards.

Ainge has completed 64.5 percent of his passes for 2,511 yards with a 20/5 touchdown-interception ratio. Lucas Taylor is Ainge’s favorite target, producing 65 receptions for 872 yards and four touchdowns.

With LaMarcus Coker dismissed from the team, Arian Foster has shouldered the bulk of the rushing load. Foster has thrived in his increased role, rushing for 989 yards and 12 touchdowns. He averages 5.5 yards per carry.

Tennessee has been the favorite in this game for at least the last 10 seasons. In fact, the Vols have been double-digit ‘chalk’ in eight of those 10 games, but they are the underdogs this time around.

UK has only been a single-digit favorite once this season, winning 27-20 at Vandy as a 3 ½-point ‘chalk.’ The Wildcats are 3-1 ATS in four games as favorites. As a home favorite during Rich Brooks’ five-year tenure, UK has posted a 7-4-1 spread record.

Since 2005, the Vols are an abysmal 2-5 ATS as road underdogs. They have struggled mightily on the road this year, dropping three of four games both SU and ATS.

The ‘under’ has cashed in three consecutive games for both teams. UT has seen the ‘over’ go 4-0 in its road games, while UK has watched the ‘over’ hit at a 3-2 clip in its five home outings.

When these teams met in Knoxville last year, the Vols collected a 17-12 victory, but the ‘Cats took the cash as 20-point underdogs.

CBS will provide television coverage at 1:30 p.m. Eastern.

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Re: NCAA : Saturday Football

College football Top 25 betting cheat sheet
Covers.com

Miami at Boston College (-14½, 47)

Why Hurricanes cover: Miami has won 15 straight games against Boston College, covering the spread in four of the last five. The Hurricanes haven’t lost in Chestnut Hill since 1975.

Why Eagles cover: BC quarterback Matt Ryan is sixth in the nation in passing yards (3,585) and 18th in touchdown passes (25). The Eagles are 5-2 against ACC opponents this season. The home team is 7-1 ATS in the last eight meetings between these teams.

Total (47): The over is 7-1 in the Eagles’ last eight games as a favorite.

Virginia Tech at Virginia (+ 3½, 39)

Why Hokies cover: Virginia Tech has won and covered in three straight games against its in-state rival. The Hokies have also covered in three straight games overall, and boast the fifth-ranked defense (289.4 yards per game).

Why Cavaliers cover: Virginia is the only unbeaten home team in the ACC. Running back Mikell Simpson has 319 yards rushing and six touchdowns in his last four games. The Cavaliers rank 10th in the nation in points allowed per game this season (17.5).

Total (39): The under is 5-2 in the last seven meetings between the Hokies and the Cavaliers.

Tennessee at Kentucky (-3, 63½)

Why Volunteers cover: Tennessee has won 23 straight games against Kentucky. In last season’s win, Volunteers quarterback Eric Ainge was 19-of-33 for 240 yards and a touchdown. The Vols have covered in three of their last four games.

Why Wildcats cover: Quarterback Andre Woodson is first in the conference in yards (2,921) and touchdowns (30), and threw for 268 yards and one TD last week. The Wildcats have covered in three of their last four against Tennessee.

Total (63½): The under is 4-1 in the last five meetings between these teams.

Utah at Brigham Young (-4½, 45½)

Why Utes cover: Utah has outscored its opponents 105-13 in its last three contests, winning (and covering) all of them. Have covered the spread in six straight games overall, and three straight against Brigham Young.

Why Cougars cover: Brigham Young is averaging 452.9 yards and 30.9 points per game behind sophomore QB Max Hall this season. He has thrown seven touchdowns and one interception in his last three contests, all wins for the Cougars.

Total (45): The under is 4-1 in the last five games between these teams at Brigham Young.

Oregon at UCLA (+1½, 50½)

Why Ducks cover: Oregon has won, and covered the spread, in five of its last six meetings with UCLA. The Ducks are 8-2 ATS this season, and are fifth in the nation in total offense (505.8 yards per game).

Why Bruins cover: Oregon will be without star quarterback Dennis Dixon, who picked up a season-ending injury in the shock defeat to Arizona last week. UCLA is 9-2 ATS in its last 11 conference games.

Total (50 ½): The under is 5-1 in the Ducks’ last six games overall.

Georgia at Georgia Tech (+ 3½, 46)

Why Bulldogs cover: Freshman tailback Knowshon Moreno has totaled 766 yards and nine touchdowns in Georgia’s last five games. The Bulldogs have won five straight contests, covering in three of their last four.

Why Yellow Jackets cover: Running back Tashard Choice, who leads the ACC with 1,176 yards rushing, ran for a combined 312 yards in the recent victories over Duke and North Carolina. He also ran for 146 yards and a touchdown in GT’s 15-12 loss to Georgia last year.

Total (46): The under is 5-2 in the last seven meetings between Georgia and Georgia Tech.

Oklahoma State at Oklahoma (-11½, 67½)

Why Cowboys cover: Oklahoma could be without its starting QB and top rusher this week. RB Demarco Murray picked up a knee injury last week and is definitely out, while quarterback Sam Bradford suffered a concussion and is doubtful. The Cowboys are 4-0 ATS in their last four road games against a team with a winning record.

Why Sooners cover: Oklahoma has won, and covered the spread, in three of its last four against Oklahoma State. Tailbacks Allen Patrick and Chris Brown ran for a combined 237 yards and three TDs against the Cowboys last season.

Total (67 ½): The under is 12-3-1 in Oklahoma’s last 16 conference games.

Connecticut at West Virginia (-17, 51)

Why Huskies cover: UConn is 6-1 ATS in its last seven games overall. The Huskies are allowing just 14.3 points per game, the third-best record in the nation.

Why Mountaineers cover: West Virginia has won all four of its home games this season and 25 of its last 28 at home. They have won, and covered, in three straight games against the Huskies.

Total (50½): The under is 5-1 in the Huskies’ last six games overall.

Florida State at Florida (-14, 58)

Why Seminoles cover: Florida State ranks 15th in the nation in rush defense, allowing just 99.5 yards per game. The Seminoles have won, and covered the spread, in three of their last four games.

Why Gators cover: Quarterback Tim Tebow is the first player in NCAA history to have 20 touchdowns in the air and on the ground in the same season. The Gators have scored 159 points in their three November wins, compiling 1,536 total yards in those games.

Total (57½): The under is 6-1 in the last seven meetings between these teams.

Clemson at South Carolina (+2½, 52½)

Why Tigers cover: Clemson is 5-1 ATS in its last six games against South Carolina and 4-1 ATS in its last five overall. The Tigers rank fifth in the nation in total defense (293.1 yards per game) and are holding opponents just 18.1 points per contest.

Why Gamecocks cover: Quarterback Blake Mitchell has thrown for at least 290 yards in each of South Carolina’s last three games. That includes 316 passing yards (and a touchdown) in the Nov. 10 loss to Florida.

Total (52): The over is 4-1 in the Gamecocks’ last five games against a team with a winning record.

Alabama at Auburn (-6, 45)

Why Crimson Tide cover: Alabama will get starting offensive linemen Antoine Caldwell and Marlon Davis back from suspension for this game. The Crimson Tide are 5-1 ATS in their last six games at Auburn.

Why Tigers cover: The Tigers lead the SEC in points allowed (17.3) and rank second in total defense (305.0). They have covered the spread in two consecutive meetings with the Crimson Tide.

Total (45): The under is 6-2 in the last eight meetings between these teams.

Missouri at Kansas (-2½, 68½)

Why Tigers cover: Missouri is 10-2 ATS in its last 12 games overall. The Tigers rank fourth in the nation in total defense (506.3 yards per game). Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback Chase Daniel has thrown for 3,590 yards and 30 TDs this season.

Why Jayhawks cover: Kansas is the only team in the country with a perfect ATS record (10-0), and has also covered the spread in three of its last four against Missouri. Kansas is averaging 45.8 points per game behind quarterback Todd Reesing. The sophomore has 2,905 yards and 30 TDs for the season.

Total (68½): The over is 6-0 in Missouri’s last six road games.

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Re: NCAA : Saturday Football

Volunteers, Cats too close to call

Plenty of reasons either team should be favored

The betting line says Kentucky. Logic suggests Tennessee.

That's what makes today's matchup between the Wildcats and Volunteers so intriguing and hard to get a read on.

This is perhaps the best Kentucky team to face UT since the last time UK won the matchup, in 1984. But this has also turned out to be the biggest game of the season for the Vols: a win will get them to Atlanta next week to face Louisiana State in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game with a chance to earn their first BCS bowl bid since 1999.

One thing Kentucky can't count on is the law of averages. UK senior tight end Jacob Tamme said that just because it would seem on paper like the Cats are due for some good fortune in the rivalry, that doesn't translate to a win.

"I don't know if I believe in law of averages," Tamme said. "I believe that the better team will win, and I think we'll have a chance to be the better team."

Here's a more in-depth look at reasons why Tennessee will win and reasons why Kentucky will win.

First, Tennessee:

• Tennessee always beats Kentucky.

Think back to 2005. The worst Tennessee team of the Phil Fulmer era limped into Commonwealth Stadium with a 4-6 record and nothing to play for: no SEC title, no bowls, nothing. And UT was coming off an embarrassing home loss to Vanderbilt the week before.

Kentucky was in the midst of a bad year as well. It was 3-7 in the third year of the Rich Brooks era. But the Wildcats had nearly pulled off an upset of the Vols in Knoxville the previous season.

Many UK fans thought it was the year, but a bad Tennessee team marched into Lexington and smacked the Cats around to the tune of 27-8.

• The Vols have plenty to play for.

Even though UT has won 22 in a row over Kentucky, there have been times when the Vols appeared ho-hum and took the Cats lightly. That won't be the case today. Fulmer hasn't won an SEC title in eight years, and a victory will go a long way toward simmering down his critics in Rocky Top land.

• The Kentucky of October and November hasn't been as good as the Kentucky of September, while the Tennessee of October and November has been better than the Tennessee of September.

The Vols haven't been exactly dominant of late, needing a last-second missed field goal to narrowly escape Vanderbilt. But they are playing much better ball than they were the first three weeks of the season when they were hammered by California and Florida.

UK, on the other hand, has dropped four of its past six games after a 5-0 start.

Now, reasons why Kentucky will win:

• Kentucky believes it can beat Tennessee.

In past years, you got the sense that the Wildcats were just hoping to beat the Vols. But UK outplayed Tennessee in Knoxville last year only to lose 17-12, and the gap between the two teams appears even smaller this year.

That has the Kentucky players seemingly more confident than ever.

"When we show up, give everything we've got and end up victorious, there won't be any reason for people to doubt what kind of football team we are," said UK sophomore defensive end Jeremy Jarmon.

• Tennessee has been terrible on the road.

The Vols have produced some of the SEC's most eye-popping scores this fall: 21-point wins over Georgia and Arkansas show just how dangerous they can be at Neyland Stadium. Blowout losses at Florida and Alabama show just how pedestrian they can be away from Neyland.

You won't find more hostile environments than "The Swamp," or a stadium full of Volunteer-hating Alabama fans, but facing a starving Kentucky team and its fans on Senior Day might be the most emotion-filled scenario the Vols have seen this year.

• The UK offense is due for a breakout.

While the law of averages alone won't produce a Kentucky win, you have to think the law of averages is with the Wildcats breaking out of their offensive slump. Their struggles came against three good defenses: Georgia, Vanderbilt and Mississippi State rank third, fourth and fifth in the SEC in total defense.

Tennessee, on the other hand, is 11th in total defense.When: 1:30 p.m. today | Records: Tennessee 8-3, 5-2 SEC; Kentucky 7-4, 3-4 | Forecast: 41 degrees, mostly cloudy Last meeting: Tennessee won 17-12 in Knoxville last year | Series: Tennessee leads 70-23-9

www.kentucky.com

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Re: NCAA : Saturday Football

Saturdays BCS Implications
Covers.com

In this crazy season of upsets, the BCS Championship matchup is far from set! In fact, with so many teams left in the race it is important to look at where teams sit in the chase and compare where they are positioned as we near the end of the regular season.

West Virginia and Florida go into Saturday’s matchups as huge home favorites but with slightly different circumstances.

The Mountaineers will face a tough Connecticut squad out to prove they have arrived but West Virginia has not only been playing great football lately, it knows it sits in a great position for a title game appearance if it wins and a team ahead falters. The Huskies have been good but we don’t see them being able to stay with the Mountaineers for the full 60 minutes as West Virginia has way too much at stake to not keep the pedal to the metal. Certainly, the Mountaineers could be worth a look for the cover.

The Gators know they have slim hopes of playing for the title but being in the Swamp against in-state rival Florida State is all the hype they will need! That said, Florida might roll to a big win as well considering the Seminoles have been unable to put any consistent play together this year.

Georgia might be the hottest team in the country over the last four weeks and although its chances are not great of battling for the BCS title, dominating wins this week over Georgia Tech and in the SEC Championship might be enough to get the Bulldogs in the game if the cards fall correctly for them. The Georgia Tech rivalry has a history of being a very low-scoring contest but the Dawgs are barking on both offense and defense and Tech just does not seem to have the personnel on either side of the ball to stay with the Bulldogs. Indeed, Georgia may be worth a look to easily cover the small points.

Two teams that less than a week ago looked like they had the table set to get to the title game are now in a world of hurt, both figuratively and literally. Oklahoma and Oregon were not only upset last week but both lost their starting quarterbacks. We see both clubs in trouble as they will not only have to fight through the let-down of a BCS hangover, but also try to get by with backup quarterbacks.

These teams are also in real bad situations based on their opponents. The Sooners face their in-state rival Cowboys who have shown flashes of being a very dangerous team this year and won’t feel sorry in the slightest for the Sooners as they will certainly smell a wounded dog. The Ducks will be on the road for the second straight week and will face a UCLA team looking to get over .500 on the year. Also, the Bruins could very well be playing for the coaches' jobs. This one does not have the in-state rivalry like some of the games we have already looked at but the emotional let-down for the Ducks will be huge and probably too much to overcome.

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Re: NCAA : Saturday Football

College Football Weather Forecast
Saturday, November 24th

South Florida at Pittsburgh, 12:00 p.m.
Partly Cloudy Partly cloudy. Winds blowing from the Southwest at 5-10 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 40.

Connecticut at West Virginia, 3:30 p.m.
Partly Cloudy Partly cloudy. Winds blowing from the South at 5-10 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 45.

Texas El-Paso at U-C-F, 2:00 p.m.
Partly Cloudy Partly cloudy. Winds blowing from the Northeast at 5-15 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 75.

Missouri at Kansas, 8:00 p.m.
Partly Cloudy Partly cloudy. Winds blowing from the Southwest at 5-10 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 30.

Duke at North Carolina, 3:30 p.m.
Partly Cloudy Partly cloudy. Winds blowing from the Northeast at 5-10 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 50.

Wake Forest at Vanderbilt, 2:00 p.m.
Mostly Cloudy Mostly cloudy. Winds blowing from the Southeast at 5-10 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 45.

Maryland at NC State, 12:00 p.m.
Mostly Sunny Mostly sunny. Winds blowing from the Northeast at 5-10 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 45.

Clemson at South Carolina, 7:00 p.m.
Mostly Cloudy Mostly cloudy. Winds blowing from the Northeast at 5-15 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 50.

Buffalo at Kent State, 1:00 p.m.
Mostly Cloudy Mostly cloudy. Winds blowing from the Southwest at 5-15 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 40.

Tulane at East Carolina, 1:00 p.m.
Mostly Sunny Mostly sunny. Winds blowing from the Northeast at 5-10 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 50.

Tennessee at Kentucky, 1:30 p.m.
Mostly Cloudy Mostly cloudy. Winds blowing from the South at 5-10 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 45.

Miami-Ohio at Ohio, 2:00 p.m.
Mostly Cloudy Mostly cloudy. Winds blowing from the Southwest at 5-10 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 45.

Utah at B-Y-U, 2:00 p.m.
Sunny Sunny. Winds blowing from the Southwest at 5-10 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 35.

S-M-U at Memphis, 2:00 p.m.
Mostly Cloudy Mostly cloudy. Winds blowing from the Northeast at 5-10 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 50.

Tulsa at Rice, 3:00 p.m.
Mostly Cloudy Mostly cloudy with a 80-percent chance of rain. Winds blowing from the Northeast at 10-15 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 55.

Oregon at U-C-L-A, 3:30 p.m.
Sunny Sunny. Winds blowing from the Northeast at 15-25 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 70.

Alabama at Auburn, 8:00 p.m.
Mostly Cloudy Mostly cloudy. Winds blowing from the East at 5-15 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 45.

Georgia at Georgia Tech, 3:30 p.m.
Mostly Sunny Mostly sunny. Winds blowing from the East at 5-15 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 50.

Florida State at Florida, 5:00 p.m.
Mostly Cloudy Mostly cloudy. Winds blowing from the Northeast at 10-15 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 65.

Oklahoma State at Oklahoma, 3:30 p.m.
Partly Cloudy Partly cloudy. Winds blowing from the East at 5-10 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 45.

Nevada at San Jose State, 4:00 p.m.
Mostly Sunny Mostly sunny. Winds blowing from the Southwest at 5-10 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 65.

Ball State at Northern Illinois, 4:00 p.m.
Mostly Cloudy Mostly cloudy with a 30-percent chance of snow. Winds blowing from the Southwest at 15-25 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 40.

U-A-B at Marshall, 4:30 p.m.
Mostly Cloudy Mostly cloudy. Winds blowing from the Southeast at 5-10 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 45.

Kansas State at Fresno State, 5:00 p.m.
Partly Cloudy Partly cloudy. Winds blowing from the South at 5-10 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 60.

U-N-L-V at New Mexico, 5:30 p.m.
Mostly Cloudy Mostly cloudy with a 30-percent chance of rain. Winds blowing from the East at 10-20 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 35.

Washington State at Washington, 7:00 p.m.
Mostly Cloudy Mostly cloudy with a 60-percent chance of rain. Winds blowing from the East at 5-10 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 45.

Temple at Western Michigan, 7:00 p.m.
Mostly Cloudy Mostly cloudy with a 30-percent chance of snow. Winds blowing from the Southwest at 10-15 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 30.

Miami-Florida at Boston College, 12:00 p.m.
Sunny Sunny. Winds blowing from the West at 5-10 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 35.

Virginia Tech at Virginia, 12:00 p.m.
Mostly Sunny Mostly sunny. Winds blowing from the Southeast at 5-10 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 40.

Notre Dame at Stanford, 3:30 p.m.
Mostly Sunny Mostly sunny. Winds blowing from the North at 5-10 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 65.

T-C-U at San Diego State, 8:00 p.m.
Mostly Clear Mostly clear. Winds blowing from the Northeast at 10-20 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 60.

Arkansas State at Southern Mississippi, 3:00 p.m.
Mostly Cloudy Mostly cloudy with a 50-percent chance of rain. Winds blowing from the Northeast at 5-10 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 55.

UL-Monroe at UL-Lafayette, 7:00 p.m.
Mostly Cloudy Mostly cloudy with a 80-percent chance of rain. Winds blowing from the Northeast at 10-15 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 55.

Florida Atlantic at Florida International, 7:00 p.m.
Mostly Cloudy Mostly cloudy. Winds blowing from the East at 10-15 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 75.

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Re: NCAA : Saturday Football

College football weather report: Thunderstorms in the Gulf
COVERS.com   

Thunderstorms likely

Houston

A pair of games in Houston this afternoon have a 100 percent chance of being played in the rain. Tulsa at Rice kicks off at 3:30 p.m. ET, the same time as Texas Southern at Houston.

The city’s Saturday afternoon forecast calls for isolated thunderstorms as well as consistent light showers. Both games will feature a northeasterly wind measuring between 12-15 mph.

Potentially miserable conditions

Kansas City


The game of the year between Missouri and Kansas won’t be played in ideal conditions for the passing game. The temperature at Arrowhead Stadium should dip below freezing by the 8 p.m. ET kickoff and there is even a chance of a light snow falling.

Norman

The 3:30 p.m. ET game between Oklahoma State and Oklahoma will feature higher temperatures than the Big 12 showdown in K.C. tonight, but an equal chance of light rain or light snow falling through the game. The wind, however, will be negligible and temperatures should stay in the low 40s.

DeKalb

The MAC showdown between Ball State and Northern Illinois won’t be played in rain or snow, but the temperature will remain below 40 degrees throughout the afternoon and the southwesterly wind will consistently top 10 mph.

Albuquerque

UNLV and New Mexico kick off at 5:30 p.m. ET. The temperature throughout the game will stay above freezing, but just barely. A 10 mph wind will blow during the early stretches of the contest, but is forecast to slow as the game progresses. There is also a 20 percent chance of light rain throughout the game.

Decent chances of rain

Auburn


Tonight’s Iron Bowl should be dry for the 8 p.m. ET kickoff but there is a 90 percent chance Alabama and Auburn will be playing in the rain in the second half. The wind will also pick up as the game continues, projected to reach double digits later in the evening.

Hattiesburg

Arkansas State at Southern Mississippi kicks off at 3 p.m. ET and there is a 40 percent of rain throughout the afternoon. An easterly wind will reach and exceed 10 mph throughout the game as well.

Seattle

The Apple Cup between Washington State and Washington has a 40 percent chance of being played in light rain. But really, this is Seattle, so no one should be overly shocked. Wind won’t be a factor and the temperature will be in the 40s. The game kicks off at 7 p.m. ET.

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