NCAA : Saturday Football

Re: NCAA : Saturday Football

Cowan to start at quarterback

He hasn't played since suffering a collapsed lung at Arizona on Nov. 3, but he led Bruins to a victory over their rival last season. Olson also might play.

UCLA will go with the quarterback who has beaten USC, though whether he is the one who finishes the game against the Trojans is to be seen.

Patrick Cowan, who ran the offense last season in a 13-9 victory over the Trojans, will start Saturday, Coach Karl Dorrell said Thursday. But Dorrell did not rule out using Ben Olson in a game the Bruins probably have to win to save Dorrell's job.

"Ben I think is going to be up and ready to play," Dorrell said. "He's not 100%, but he is much further along than last week. We'll see how the game unfolds."

Olson, who had sat out four games because of a knee injury, played the second half against Oregon last Saturday. Olson said after the Oregon game that he expected to start against USC, but that "the decision is not mine to make."

Cowan, who hasn't played since suffering a collapsed lung against Arizona on Nov. 3, helped give the offense a jolt, allowing the Bruins to score enough points to upset the second-ranked Trojans last season.

He threw for only 114 yards in the game but had 55 yards on four scrambles during the Bruins' 91-yard drive for their only touchdown. Cowan scored on a one-yard run.

"His mobility was the determining factor," Dorrell said.

Dorrell said that Osaar Rasshan would be another option. The Bruins need to beat USC and have Arizona State lose to Arizona to reach the Rose Bowl.

A Rose Bowl berth is believed to be the only way Dorrell can ensure his return next season.

This is the second consecutive year Olson has entered the season as the No. 1 quarterback and his season has been interrupted by injuries.

He played in only five games in 2006 before sustaining a torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee.

"Life is interesting, definitely," Olson said about being injured two consecutive seasons. "You just have to make the most of the situation. I have learned through experience that it doesn't do any good to worry about things you have no control over.

"It has been tough in a lot of ways. We haven't had the type of season that we would have wanted as far as a team. For me, personally, it hasn't gone the way I envisioned it would go. You have to dust yourself off and keep going."

Olson, a former Brigham Young player considered the top recruit in the nation when he came out of Thousand Oaks High in 2002, has one season of eligibility remaining.

Tailback Craig Sheppard's availability will be a game-time decision. He has not practiced this week while recovering from a groin injury.

Sheppard, a walk-on who was the Bruins' No. 2 tailback against Oregon, has the last two touchdowns scored by the Bruins' offense, a two-yard run against Arizona State and a 20-yard run against Oregon.

"He felt better today and did some drill work on the side," Dorrell said. "The trainers wanted him to get another day of rest."

If Sheppard can't play, Chane Moline and Christian Ramirez will backup starter Chris Markey.

Junior tailback Kahlil Bell, who sustained a torn anterior cruciate in his right knee against Washington State on Oct. 27, will have surgery Tuesday. Bell, who remains the Bruins' leading rusher with 795 yards, probably will not be ready for spring practice.

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All you need to know about this weekend's CFB action

Welcome to the final Weekend Primer of the regular season. All these upsets have been fun and entertaining and everything, but look at the havoc they've wrought: at this point we're virtually assured of the least marquee title game since Robbie Bosco and BYU claimed their national championship ... after winning the Holiday Bowl. And to those who believe that the current system is fine and that the regular season is a playoff, since everyone else has lost during said playoff, does that mean you've got Hawaii ranked No. 1?

Game of the Week

Oklahoma vs. Missouri in the Big 12 title game. If you're looking for one single fact that sums up this bizarro season, here it is: The so-called number one team in the nation is an underdog in this game. Which means they'll probably dominate.
The pick: Sooners by 3

Game of the Weak

Cal vs. Stanford. After coming within seconds of the No. 1 ranking, the Golden Bears have disappeared faster than the speed of DeSean Jackson's mouth. Stanford, meanwhile, has been the ultimate enigma under first year head coach Jim Harbaugh: an inconsistent, Trojan-killing, choking-against-Notre Dame, loudmouthed enigma. Still, the best part of this Bay Area rivalry is that we're treated to endless reruns of the greatest play in sports history.
The pick: Cal by 13

Les Miles Juggernaut Schedule Award

As the SEC continues to back up Les Miles' claim that USC has an easier road than if it played in Dixie, LSU backs into an SEC title showdown with spectacularly average Tennessee. In a fitting showcase of the best defensive conference in the country, this game features teams that have given up 34, 41, 43, 45, 50 (twice) and 59 points this season. What is widely considered to be top-to-bottom toughness in the SEC would pass for mediocrity everywhere else.
The pick: LSU by 7

GE/NBC Investment Tracker

Tracking the fortunes of college football's greatest corporation, Notre Dame, we find the stock to be ... holding steady. Our long national nightmare is over: the Irish have no more games to play. Yes, they did end the season on a two-game winning streak, but now is not the time to start lighting couches on fire in South Bend (after all, it's not like Stanford has beaten anybody this year). Charlie Weis supporters say he's stockpiling a horde of blue chip recruits; he must be hiding them in that oversized hoodie. So we can look forward to an Irish team that will be twice as good next year ... which means they'll go from three wins to six, and will become the first 6-5 team to receive an at-large BCS bid.
The pick: ND begins next season in the Top 20.

Jim Harbaugh Prediction Watch

USC's quest to fulfill Jim Harbaugh's Nostradamus-like prophecy as the greatest team ever (to not bother showing up for 80% of the season), continues in Los Angeles, where the Trojans take on crosstown rival UCLA. Yes, Los Angelenos are known for showing up fashionably late, but seriously, Pete Carroll, your team finally gracing us with its presence eleven games into the season is a little too fashionable.
The pick: USC by 17

Cops: Collegetown

This week's law enforcement roundup takes us to Iowa City, where former Iowa football player Lee Gray was arrested last week for allegedly selling cocaine to an undercover police officer. In a related story, Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz has been selling an underachieving program to Hawkeyes fans for several years now.

Stiff-Armed

In a muddled, chaotic season, we will have a fitting Heisman winner: the best player from either the fifth-best team in the SEC (Florida's Tim Tebow) or the sixth-best team in the SEC (Arkansas' Darren McFadden). In a related note, it looks like that 'Glenn Dorsey for Heisman' campaign probably ran out of gas somewhere around the sixth Razorback touchdown. Oh, and sorry, Chase Daniel, your team's record is too good for you to have any real chance at the trophy.

1. Tim Tebow
2. Darren McFadden
3. Chase Daniel
4. Dennis Dixon
5. Not Brady Leaf

Rivalry Month

Back in the sport's old days (you know, the era when the Chick-fil-A Bowl was known as the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl), all the best rivalry games were played on the same day: The Game. The Big Game. The Civil War. Bedlam. The Iron Bowl. The Backyard Brawl. The Apple Cup. But television and wacky scheduling have stretched these classic matchups out over three weeks. Picking through the ruins of yet another great tradition, here's a quick rundown of the best remaining rivalry games:

Oregon State vs. Oregon: Come on, Dennis Dixon on crutches has to be better than the other stiffs the Ducks trotted out last week
Pick: UO by 3

Pitt vs. West Virginia: The Mountaineers' title hopes would be on shakier ground if they weren't matching up against Dave Wann-stache
Pick: WVU by 28

Arizona vs. Arizona State: The winner can change its reputation from sun-tanned party school to sun-tanned party school with the better football team; this one's for bragging rights all over Lake Havasu.
Pick: ASU by 7

Army vs. Navy: See above (just kidding).
Pick: Navy by 14

And the Granddaddy of Them All...

North Texas vs. Florida International: Sure, they're a combined 2-20, but in a showdown like this, you can throw the records out the window. In fact, you really should.
Pick: UNT by 3

Weekend Primer Classifieds

Seeking experienced coach to resurrect moribund once-dominant program. Experience with spread offense and familiarity with blue chip high school recruits preferred. Heavy travel (once a week, not including recruiting visits). Long-term contract negotiable but not likely to be honored. Positions open in Ann Arbor, Lincoln, Fayetteville, Atlanta, and possibly Los Angeles and Baton Rouge.
Odds and Ends

One of the enduring quirks of this season is that the SEC and Pac-10 have completely switched personalities: the SEC is home to 50-point thrillers and shootouts, while the Pac-10 boasts low-scoring, defensive slugfests ... Seriously, I was just kidding about the Army-Navy game ... Nothing says college football tradition like crowning your champion January 8th on Fox ... Auburn cornerback Jerraud Powers was bitten by a police canine during Saturday's Iron Bowl, marking the third time a Dog has bitten the Tigers this season ... Speaking of the Iron Bowl, the season of college coaches switching jobs just doesn't feel right without Nick Saban's name attached to every single opening, does it?
And finally, in honor of the coaching carousel cranking up to full speed, Weekend Primer will leave you with...

"After you retire, there's only one big event left ... and I ain't ready for that."
-- Bobby Bowden, Florida State coach

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LSU vs. Tennessee
VegasInsider.com

The SEC Championship Game will not have an impact on who plays for the national title this year, so it isn’t necessarily a stretch to imply that this game has lost some of its luster. Nevertheless, every SEC football program covets a conference title and one will be at stake Saturday at the Georgia Dome.

Most sports books are listing LSU (10-2 straight up, 4-7-1 against the spread) as a 7½-point favorite with the total in the 60-61 range. Bettors can back Tennessee to win outright for a plus 240 return (risk $100 to win $240).

LSU clinched the SEC West by virtue of Georgia’s win over Auburn way back on Nov. 10. However, the Tigers were eliminated from national-title contention when they lost a 50-48 decision to Arkansas in triple overtime last Friday.

Les Miles’ team lost outright to the Razorbacks as a 13-point ‘chalk.’ For the second time this year, top-ranked LSU lost in three OT’s as a double-digit favorite. The Tigers lost 43-37 at Kentucky as 10-point favorites back on Oct. 13.

Tennessee (9-3 SU, 8-4 ATS) didn’t punch its ticket to Atlanta until last week when the Volunteers edged Kentucky 52-50 in four overtimes. They took the cash as 2 ½-point underdogs.

Senior quarterback Erik Ainge threw for 397 yards and seven touchdowns to lead UT to its 23rd straight win over UK. Arian Foster ran for 118 yards and also had nine receptions for 98 yards.

When Antonio Reynolds stuffed Andre Woodson on a two-point conversion attempt, UT completed its run from a left-for-dead 1-2 squad to SEC East champion. The Vols finished 6-2 in SEC play, winning the tiebreaker over Georgia thanks to a 35-14 home win over the Dawgs.

Gamblers have to consider a number of factors before placing a wager on this contest. For starters, where is LSU’s psyche after being dismissed from the national-title picture? Furthermore, how much is the Miles-to-Michigan distraction impacting this team? Are the players tuning out their head coach at this point?

Not only are there rampant rumors about the pending departure of Miles, but defensive coordinator Bo Pelini is also being considered for job openings at Nebraska and Georgia Tech. Plus, offensive coordinator Gary Crowton has been mentioned as a possible candidate at G-Tech and So. Miss.

As if those aren’t enough factors to possibly distract LSU, there’s also an injury to starting QB Matt Flynn’s throwing shoulder that has kept him out of practice most of the week. As of early Friday, Flynn’s status was a question mark.

According to yours truly, there’s not much of a fall-off (if any) from Flynn to back-up Ryan Perrilloux. Certainly, they are different players with Flynn more of a pocket passer (think former LSU QBs Tommy Hodson and Jeff Wickersham), while Perrilloux is more of the scrambling type like Herb Tyler.

The third-year sophomore, who has had some off-field problems while waiting for his turn behind JaMarcus Russell and now Flynn, has been used like Tim Tebow was behind Chris Leak last year. Perrilloux provides a dynamic running dimension, often replacing Flynn in short-yardage situations.

Perrilloux has completed 68.9 percent of his passes (31-for-45) for 451 yards, with a 7/1 touchdown-interception ratio. He averages 4.5 yards per carry and has run for a pair of touchdowns. Flynn has completed 55.1 percent of his throws for 2,233 yards, with a 17/10 TD-INT ratio.

Although I feel like LSU can function -- and possibly thrive -- if Flynn can’t go, my opinion might be in the minority.

“I think Flynn makes a big difference and I prefer the experience factor you get with him over Perilloux, especially in a big game like this,” VI handicapper Christian Alexander said. “Some athletes just get good vibes at certain venues and remember, Flynn had his coming-out party at the Georgia Dome.”

Alexander is making reference to the Peach Bowl two years ago when Flynn made his first career start, sparking LSU to a 40-3 blowout win over Miami as a seven-point underdog.

Regardless of who is under center, the Tigers can run the football effectively. Jacob Hester carries the bulk of the rushing load, scoring 11 TDs and averaging 5.0 YPC. Keiland Williams (6.7 YPC), Charles Scott (7.4 YPC) and Trindon Holliday (6.7 YPC) are also more than capable on the ground, combining for 13 rushing TDs.

Tennessee doesn’t have any issues at the QB position. Ainge has connected on 64.2 percent of his passes for 2,908 yards, with a 27/8 TD-INT ratio.

With LaMarcus Coker getting kicked off the team midway through the season, Foster has become the featured back. He has responded with 1,107 rushing yards and 12 TDs, averaging 5.3 YPC.

This is a rematch of the 2001 SEC Championship Game when LSU denied UT a trip to the Rose Bowl to face Miami in the BCS title game. That’s because Matt Mauk replaced an injured Rohan Davey and led the Tigers to a 31-20 win as 6½-point underdogs.

The Vols have a 3-2 spread record as underdogs this year, but they have won outright in three consecutive ‘dog spots.

The ‘over’ has hit in seven consecutive LSU games and is 8-1 overall. Meanwhile, the Vols have seen the ‘over’ go 6-4.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

--Tennessee has been to four SEC Championship Games under Phillip Fulmer. The Vols beat Auburn and Mississippi State in 1997 and ’98, respectively, but they failed to cover the number both times. They are 1-3 ATS in SEC title games with the lone cover coming in a 2004 loss to Auburn (38-28 as 14½-point ‘dogs).

--LSU won a pair of SEC’s under Nick Saban in ’01 and ’03. The Tigers made it to the Ga. Dome under Miles in ’05, but they dropped a 34-14 decision to Georgia as 1½-point favorites.

--LSU went 1-6-1 ATS in eight SEC games this year.

--LSU has only been a single-digit ‘chalk’ twice this season, posting an 0-1-1 ATS mark. The Bayou Bengals rallied to beat Florida 28-24 as 7½-point favorites, and they knocked off Alabama 41-34 as seven-point road ‘chalk.’

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Old school versus new school' matchup for the BCS title, with Missouri, West Virginia and Ohio State as the favorite teams

Favored by at least 28 points Saturday against Pittsburgh, second-ranked West Virginia has the easiest path to a berth in the Bowl Championship Series title game Jan. 7 in New Orleans.

If the Mountaineers get by Pitt - you'd have to risk nearly $60 to win $1 that West Virginia will win outright, if you can find a money line on the game - they would most likely meet Missouri or Ohio State for the BCS title, the closest thing we have to a college football national championship.

Missouri is No. 1 in the BCS standings but enters Saturday's game against Oklahoma as a 3-point underdog. Ohio State, No. ¯3 in the BCS standings, has the week off and would probably move up if either West Virginia or Missouri lost.

A title game between Ohio State and West Virginia would be the most competitive from a betting angle, with a projected point spread of "pick 'em," according to Las Vegas sports betting analyst R.J. Bell.

If Missouri advanced to the title game, the Tigers would be a 3-point underdog to either Ohio State or West Virginia, Bell said.

"If Missouri was playing the game today, I think it would be 3 1/2," Bell said. "But the assumption is that if they make it to the title game, they will have beaten Oklahoma, which would be enough to knock it down to 3."

The Buckeyes against Missouri or West Virginia, neither a traditional college football name brand, would be an intriguing "old school versus new school" matchup, said Bell, an Ohio State graduate.

"I think the story is the use of the spread offense and how it evens out the recruiting advantages that traditional programs like Ohio State have," Bell (online at pregame.com) said.

A good example of the power of the spread offense against an old-style game plan came in September when Oregon beat Michigan 39-7 as an 8-point underdog, Bell said. Another came in last year's BCS title game, when Florida beat Ohio State 41-14 as a 7-point underdog.

"That certainly encourages the thought process that teams like Michigan or Ohio State can have a lot of trouble with faster, more spread-out offenses," Bell said.

Missouri was the biggest long shot of the three remaining leading contenders for the BCS title, having opened at odds of 100-1 to win the championship at most Las Vegas sports books, including Planet Hollywood and the Stratosphere.

West Virginia was the second choice on the board behind preseason favorite USC at many sports books at odds of 7-1 to win the title. Ohio State opened at 30-1.

Oddly enough, if LSU sneaks into the BCS title game - an outside possibility if West Virginia and Missouri lose Saturday - it would be favored against any other team, thanks largely to a home-field advantage at the Superdome, according to Bell's analysis.

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Betting the ACC and Big 12 title game rematches
Covers.com

College football programs number in the hundreds while the regular season schedule generally allows a team only 12 games.

So there’s no reason for a college program to tangle with another more than once a season. No reason, that is, except to decide a winner in football’s divided conferences.

Three of Saturday’s East-West title games are rematches from earlier this year. I’ll look at the ACC and Big 12 title games, the pair being played at neutral-site stadiums.

Bettors likely saw the earlier games between the teams involved. They noted which strengths trumped which weaknesses and which matchups were dead-heats. Unfortunately, so did oddsmakers.

“To me it still comes back to value,” Covers Expert Scott Rickenbach says of playing the conference title rematches.

He suggests examining the line to see if too much weight has been given to the earlier meeting or the teams’ last handful of clashes. Sometimes, Rickenbach notes, bettors can lose sight of a team’s current level of play if they attach too much credit to the earlier game.

Strengths and weaknesses can change as a season progresses. If you use the teams’ earlier game as a guide, make sure to account for personnel and schematic changes that have taken place in recent weeks.

Also make sure to factor in the non-partisan setting.

(A neutral-site venue) could be an advantage if a coach has performed better in such instances or if a team has upperclassmen who have performed well in big games at neutral sites,” says Rickenbach.

In the ACC, both the Hokies and Eagles are laden with seniors at key positions on both sides of the ball. BC has won seven straight bowl games, however, the longest streak in the country.

The neutral-site venue might be a wash in the Big 12 game. The Tigers beat Illinois and Kansas in neutral stadiums to bookend its season so far, while Oklahoma racked up big neutral-site wins over Texas this season and in the conference title game a year ago.

Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Boston College Eagles
1 p.m. ET at Jacksonville, Fla.

Earlier result: Matt Ryan threw a pair of late touchdowns for a 14-10 Eagles win on Oct. 25. Boston College covered the spread as 3-point underdogs at Lane Stadium.

Heavy rain in the first half and an aggressive Hokies defense kept BC off the scoreboard for the first 57:49. Ryan’s completion percentage – under 50 percent for the game – was notably higher in the dry fourth quarter.

What’s happened since: Virginia Tech has been the better team, plain and simple.

The Hokies’ dual-quarterback experiment is working wonders for the offense. VT is 4-0 straight up (SU) and against the spread (ATS) since the home loss to the Eagles. It helps that freshman QB Tyrod Taylor and LB Vince Hall have returned to health.

Boston College has since gone 1-3 ATS, losing two games SU as a favorite. The Eagles, however, won their sole game in the underdog role since the upset at Blacksburg.

What to expect on Saturday: Better weather than the teams experienced in Blacksburg. Saturday’s forecast in Jacksonville calls for 72 degrees, with neither wind nor rain. That’s good news for the passing game. Note that lately the Hokies have put up numbers through the air to rival those of the Eagles.

BC head coach Jeff Jagodzinski admits that the Sean Glennon / Taylor rotation at quarterback could keep the Eagles on their toes. Defending the pass becomes an even bigger issue due to the potential absence of DeJuan Tribble. The shutdown cornerback wants to play but BC’s medical staff isn’t sure it will happen.

The Hokies don’t have a reputation as a passing team, but they’ve managed 244.5 passing yards per game with only two interceptions in their last four games, all against strong defenses.

Virginia Tech won’t alter its defensive game plan much from last time it met the Eagles. The Hokies shut down BC’s running game and consistently pressured Ryan in the pocket. They left it up to the Heisman Trophy candidate to beat them and he did just that.

The Hokies will attack with the same vigor on Saturday and hope for better execution in the fourth quarter.

What to read into Saturday’s line: BC won the earlier meeting at Lane Stadium but is an underdog at a neutral site. Are oddsmakers counting on the revenge factor that much?

“I believe this line is being impacted mostly by how these teams have changed as the season has gone on,” Rickenbach suggests. “BC was hot early while V-Tech lost the respect of a lot of bettors when they got rolled by LSU.

“I feel V-Tech's offense has improved a lot since early this season. I’m not saying (the Hokies are) the play here but their improved play plus revenge at least makes them a little more palatable as a fave.”

Oklahoma Sooners vs. Missouri Tigers
8 p.m. ET at San Antonio, Tex.

Earlier result: Oklahoma won 41-31 at home, but Chase Daniel’s touchdown toss to Martin Rucker with 12 seconds left gave Tigers backers a backdoor cover as 13½-point road underdogs.

Missouri took the lead late in the third quarter, but the Sooners started moving the ball on the ground and returned a botched Mizzou snap for a touchdown in an anticlimactic fourth quarter in Norman.

What’s happened since: The Sooners went 4-1 SU and 2-3 ATS, with their loss at Texas Tech removing them from the national title game equation. Quarterback Sam Bradford sat out the bulk of the loss with a concussion, but proved last week against Oklahoma State that he’s just fine.

Missouri has gone 6-0 SU and 4-2 ATS. The Tigers beat five lesser Big 12 opponents by double-digit margins, favored in each game, before handling Kansas in last week’s Border War as a slight underdog.

What to expect on Saturday: Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops suggested this week that both the Sooners and Tigers would tinker with their respective game plans from Oct. 13.

Oklahoma’s running game didn’t do much in the earlier meeting until the game’s late stretches. The Sooners will be without DeMarco Ryan on Saturday, but Allen Patrick and Chris Brown excelled at running the ball against the Cowboys last weekend.

Stoops’ ideal game would feature the Sooners’ O-line carrying its weight in the trenches early, leaving Malcolm Kelly, Juaquin Iglesias and Jermaine Gresham in man-on-man situations later in the game.

Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel also wants to assert more of a ground presence than in October. Tailback Tony Temple will suit up on Saturday after missing the earlier contest in Norman.

The run wasn’t a big part of the plan, however, when Texas Tech upset Oklahoma a few weeks ago. The Sooners miss defensive end Auston English and their pass rush has diminished in recent weeks. Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel has as many targets as Red Raiders Graham Harrell does. Daniel has the accuracy to lead an upset like Harrell did as well.

What to read into Saturday’s line: Missouri is No. 1 or 2 in every national poll, yet the Tigers are neutral-site underdogs. The line screams out that Oklahoma is a public favorite, doesn’t it?

“I think Oklahoma has raised some eyebrows with some powerful late-season performances and I feel that has had the biggest impact on the line,” Rickenback notes.

“While public money will be significant in this game, it's the wise guys that the oddsmakers are most concerned with when setting these numbers. They aren't too worried about the polls.”

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College football Top 25 betting cheat sheet
Covers.com

Virginia Tech vs. Boston College

Why Hokies cover: Virginia Tech has won and covered in four straight games and six of its last seven. The Hokies allow the second-fewest points per game in the nation (15.4) and the fourth-fewest yards (285.3).

Why Eagles cover: Boston College is averaging over 100 yards more per game than the Hokies. Earlier this season, the Eagles recorded a 14-10 come-from-behind win at Virginia Tech. They are 7-1 ATS in their last eight against the Hokies.

Total (46½): The over is 4-1 in the Hokies’ last five games as a favorite.

Tennessee vs. Louisiana State

Why Volunteers cover: Tennessee has covered in four of its last five games. Quarterback Erik Ainge threw for a career-high 397 yards and a school-record seven TDs in last week’s 52-50 win over Kentucky.

Why Tigers cover: LSU covered in two of its last three meetings with Tennessee. The Tigers rank third in the nation in total defense (280.1 yards per game), while their offense is scoring 40.2 points per contest behind QB Matt Flynn.

Total (60½): The over is 7-0 in the Tigers’ last seven games overall.

Oregon State at Oregon

Why Beavers cover: Oregon will be without star quarterback Dennis Dixon, who suffered a season-ending injury in the loss to Arizona. Backup Brady Leaf is injured too and the Ducks will likely have to go with a fourth or fifth-string quarterback. The Beavers have covered in five of their last six games.

Why Ducks cover: Oregon is 8-3 ATS in its last 11 games overall. Has covered the spread in three of its last four against Oregon State. The home team is 8-2 ATS in the last 10 meetings between these teams.

Total (44): The over is 5-0 in the last five games between Oregon and Oregon State.

UCLA at Southern California

Why Bruins cover: UCLA has covered the spread in two of its last three games against USC and in two straight games overall. Quarterback Ben Olsen, who has 1,040 yards and seven TDs this season, returned from injury in last week’s win over Oregon.

Why Trojans cover: USC is sixth in the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 16.7 points per game. The Bruins, meanwhile, are second-last in the Pac-10 in scoring (24.4) and scored just one touchdown last week.

Total (46½): The under is 8-1 in the Trojans’ last nine games overall.

Brigham Young at San Diego State

Why Cougars cover: Brigham Young has won 16 straight conference games, including five of its last six against San Diego State. It also covered the spread in five of those six games.

Why Aztecs cover: San Diego State has covered in four of its last five. The last time the Cougars traveled to San Diego (2005), the Aztecs recorded an impressive 31-10 home win to cover a 3-point spread.

Total (55½): The over is 4-0 in the Aztecs last five conference games and last five overall.

Pittsburgh at West Virginia

Why Panthers cover: Freshman running back LeSean McCoy ran for three TDs last week and is one short of the single-season record for a freshman. The Panthers have covered the spread in their last two road games.

Why Mountaineers cover: Quarterback Pat White had one of the best games of his career against the Panthers last season, running for 220 yards and two touchdowns and passing for 204 yards and another two scores. The Mountaineers are 4-1 ATS in their last five against Pittsburgh.

Total (58½): The over is 4-1 in the last five meetings between these teams in Virginia.

Oklahoma vs. Missouri

Why Sooners cover: Oklahoma recorded a 41-31 win over Missouri on Oct. 13, the Tigers’ only loss of the season. Sooners quarterback Sam Bradford has thrown for an NCAA freshman-record 32 touchdowns this season.

Why Tigers cover: Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel, a serious contender for the Heisman Trophy, has thrown for a career-best 3,951 yards and 33 touchdowns. The Tigers are 11-2 ATS in their last 13 games overall.

Total (67): The under is 13-3-1 in Oklahoma’s last 17 conference games.

Arizona at Arizona State

Why Wildcats cover: Arizona has won three in a row and covered the spread each time. QB Willie Tuitama threw for 1,117 yards and 10 TDs during this streak.

Why Sun Devils cover: Arizona State is second in the conference with 33.3 points per game. QB Rudy Carpenter is third in the Pac-10 in yards (2,768) and touchdowns (21). The Sun Devils are 12-4 ATS in their last 16 games against teams with a losing record.

Total (57½): The under is 5-1 in the last six meetings between these teams.

Washington at Hawaii

Why Huskies cover: Starting quarterback Jake Locker returned from injury to throw 224 yards and a touchdown last week. Locker has thrown for 1,920 yards and 14 touchdowns this season.

Why Warriors cover: Hawaii is the only unbeaten team left in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The Warriors rank third in the nation in total offense (528.5 yards per game) and are outscoring opponents by an average of 23.4 points.

Total (74): The under is 5-1 in Hawaii’s last six home games.

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MAC Championship Preview
VegasInsider.com 

Do you like to bet on offense or defense?

Points or Punts?

Can a good defense slow down a great offense?

Does a horrendous defense make an inconsistent attack look good?

Gamblers will need to ask themselves those questions come Saturday morning when Central Michigan (7-5 SU, 6-4 ATS) meets Miami, Oh (6-6 SU, 6-5 ATS) in the Mid-American Conference Championship from Ford Field in Detroit, MI.

On paper, this game is a classic battle of a high-octane offense versus a stout defense. The Chippewas closed the MAC regular season with a 6-1 ledger, averaging a conference-best 43 points per game amongst the 13 schools. Meanwhile, the RedHawks have surrendered a league-low 24.8 PPG.

This championship marks the second trip in a row to Ford Field for Central Michigan after watching the school blast Ohio 31-10 last year as a three-point favorite.

Oddsmakers are leaning towards a repeat for CMU, listing the team as a 3 ½-point favorite in the title game. The total stands at 63 ½, which makes you believe that points will be scored on the indoor track.

VegasInsider.com expert handicapper Alf Musketa believes that CMU is the class of the MAC and they haven’t even played a complete game yet.

Musketa said, “One of these days Central Michigan is going to outscore its opponent by 30 points if the defense shows up. Everybody thinks Miami’s defense is great but they tend to fade late as we all saw again last week in a 38-29 loss to Ohio.”

CMU does own four of its seven wins by double-digits but none have ever been close to the 30-point plateau that Alf mentioned. Actually, the Chips last three games have all been decided by exactly three points. Last week, CMU rallied past Akron 35-32 as a 2 ½-point road favorite which clinched the West Division and an automatic postseason bowl for the school as well.

Most of the credit for last week’s win and perhaps the other six goes to quarterback Dan LeFevour. Only a sophomore, LeFevour led the team in passing (3,175 yards, 22 TDs) and rushing (838 yards, 15 TDs) en route to the MAC Offensive Player of the Year.

LeFevour has been helped on the outside with a pair of dangerous receivers in Bryan Anderson (969 yards, 78 catches) and Antonio Brown (92 receptions, 5 TDs).

The MAC’s best defense will counter with linebacker Clayton Mullins and a sound defensive unit. CMU is known to use the pass to set up the run with LeFevour out of the spread-attack offense, but don’t be surprised to see a large dose of runs first. Especially since the RedHawks have given up 160 YPG on the ground, which is definitely their weak point on this side of the ball.

While the Chips have averaged 30-plus points this year, the RedHawks have only eclipsed that barrier just three times while averaging a mediocre 20 PPG on the season. All that could very well change on Saturday against a CMU defense that hasn’t been able to stop anybody, giving up 38 PPG and 462 YPG.

CMU has only held one opponent under 20 points this year and after giving up 48 to Eastern Michigan and 32 to Akron, you can definitely see why Miami’s confidence could be brewing. The RedHawks counter with a sophomore quarterback as well, but Daniel Raudabaugh (2,177 yards, 11 TDs, 10 Ints) shouldn’t be mentioned in the same sentence with LeFevour.

To Raudabaugh’s defense, he’s been dealt with a ground game that has been decimated with injuries all year. The rushing attack is averaging 3.9 yards per carry and is playing with its third-string back.

Musketa added, “Miami needs the game to have a shot at bowling this year. That pressure plus the MAC Title at stake, plus playing in front of a Michigan crowd that favors their opponent, equals a good spot for Central Michigan.”

Neither team has been a serious cash machine for gamblers outside of its confines, but CMU (4-3 SU, 3-3 ATS) has performed better on the road than Miami (2-5 SU, 4-3 ATS). In their last meeting, Central Michigan shocked Miami 38-37 as a 23 ½-point road underdog in 2005.

A couple weeks back, I wrote a column featuring the large dose of ‘over’ winners in the MAC this year. The piece focused largely on how bad defenses make average offenses look good. Only three of the 13 schools watched the ‘under’ prevail more than the ‘over’, with Miami being one of them. The ‘under’ went 7-5 for the RedHawks, while the ‘over’ prevailed to a 9-2 record.

Last year, the MAC Championship registered 41 points on the scoreboard which was a far drop off from recent history. The five previous MAC title games saw combined scores of 77, 94, 76, 62 and 61 points lit up.

The RedHawks are 1-1 both SU and ATS in MAC title games, but were favored in both those contests. That could be a good thing, considering underdogs have notched a 6-4 (60%) ledger against the spread in the MAC Championship History.

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Army (3-8, 4-5-1 ATS) vs. Navy (7-4, 3-7 ATS)

at Baltimore

Navy tries for its sixth consecutive victory over Army as the latest chapter in this storied patriotic rivalry is written at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.

Navy has recorded five-straight double-digit victories over the Cadets, with last year’s meeting being the most competitive during this stretch, as the Midshipmen prevailed 26-14. However, Army covered as a 19-point underdog, snapping an 0-4 ATS drought in this rivalry. Still, the favorite has cashed in seven of the last 10 clashes.

The Midshipmen come into this contest having won three in a row (1-2 ATS), most recently topping Northern Illinois 35-24 on Nov. 17, but failing to cover as a 16½-point home favorite. Paul Johnson’s team is 1-5 ATS as a favorite this year, including 0-4 ATS as a double-digit chalk.

The Black Knights have hardly been competitive in dropping five straight games, with the losses coming by margins of 21, 24, 20, 35 and 10 points. The latter was a 49-39 home setback to Tulsa on Nov. 17, but Army did cash as a 15½-point home underdog, halting an 0-4-1 ATS slide.

Navy has a sizeable edge on offense, producing 40 points and 440 total yards per game, including an NCAA-best 339 rushing yards per game. Army nets just 18.2 points and 281 total yards, including 86.3 rushing ypg.

Neither team plays much defense. Navy gives up 39.5 points and 458.3 yards per game (179.3 rushing ypg), while the Black Knights surrender 29.6 points and 435.3 yards per contest (228.6 rushing ypg).

The over is 4-1 in Navy’s last five lined games. The Middies and their opponents have combined for at least 51 points in 10 straight games, with four of the last six featuring at least 90 combined points.

ATS ADVANTAGE: NAVY and OVER


UCLA (6-5, 7-4 ATS) at (8) USC (9-2, 6-5 ATS)


The annual battle for Southern California bragging rights is set for the L.A. Coliseum, where USC is looking to wrap up the Pac-10 title and avenge last year’s devastating and stunning loss to hated UCLA.

The Trojans played one of their best games of the season on Thanksgiving Night in the desert, crushing then-No. 7 Arizona State 44-24 as a three-point road favorite. USC finished with a 508-259 edge in total offense, with the defense recording six sacks and holding the Sun Devils to 16 net rushing yards.

UCLA last week snapped a three-game SU losing skid and dealt ninth-ranked Oregon its first shutout loss since 1985, prevailing 16-0 as a two-point home underdog. The Bruins prodcued just 216 total yards of offense, including 64 passing yards, but the defense shined, limiting the Ducks to 146 total yards, including 41 on the ground.

Needing a win to secure a berth in the BCS title game, USC last year went to Pasadena and lost 13-9 to the Bruins as a 10½-point road favorite. With the upset, UCLA snapped a seven-game losing streak (1-6 ATS) to the Trojans.

USC will win the Pac-10 and a berth in the Rose Bowl with a victory today, while UCLA can still claim the conference crown if it upsets the Trojans and Arizona State loses to Arizona today.

The Trojans have won 37 of their last 38 home games, with the only blemish being this year’s historic 24-23 loss to Stanford as a 41-point favorite. Against the number, USC is on a 26-11 run at the Coliseum.

UCLA is 1-3 SU and ATS on the road this year, with the winner covering the spread in all four contests. On the flip side, the Bruins are on positive ATS runs of 11-5 overall, 21-7 against winning teams, and 10-2 in conference.

USC had an eight-game “under” streak halted when last week’s game at Arizona State easily hurdled the total. Still, the under is 19-7 in the Trojans’ last 26 Pac-10 games and 14-3 in their last 17 on grass. Also, the under is 5-1 in UCLA’s last six.

ATS ADVANTAGE: USC and UNDER


Oregon State (7-4, 6-4 ATS) at (18) Oregon (8-3 SU and ATS)

Two archrivals headed in opposite directions clash in Eugene, Ore., where the slumping and ailing Ducks host surging Oregon State in the 111th edition of the Civil War.

Oregon was on the precipice of the national championship game two weeks ago, but then went on the road and suffered a 34-24 setback at Arizona as an 11-point road favorite, losing star quarterback Dennis Dixon to a season-ending knee injury in the process. The Ducks followed that defeat in Arizona with last week’s 16-0 loss to UCLA, the program’s first shutout loss in 22 years.

The Beavers improved to 5-1 SU and ATS in their last six games with a 52-17 rout of Washington State as a three-point road underdog back on Nov. 17. During this six-game stretch, Oregon State has averaged 33.2 points per game in its five wins.

The home team has won the Civil War each of the last 10 years, going 8-2 ATS. Last year, Oregon State got a field goal with just over a minute to play, then blocked Oregon’s game-winning attempt to secure a 30-28 win, though the Ducks covered as a 3½-point road underdog.

Prior to last week’s shutout loss at UCLA, Oregon had scored at least 24 points in every game, including topping 50 points four times.

The over is 5-0 in the last five meetings. However, Oregon has stayed under the total in six of its last seven games, including the past four in a row. The under is also 8-3 in the Beavers’ last 11 road games.

ATS ADVANTAGE: NONE


Pitt at (2) West Virginia

There’s a lot on the line in the 100th edition of the Backyard Brawl, as West Virginia can clinch a spot in the BCS Championship Game if it can knock off Pitt for the fifth time in the last six seasons.

The Mountaineers are back in the national title hunt thanks to a six-game winning streak and a slew of upset losses suffered by other top-tier teams. Last week, West Virginia rolled up 624 yards of total offense and the defense forced three turnovers in a 66-21 rout of then-No. 21 UConn, wrapping up the Big East championship. Rich Rodriguez’s team easily covered as a 20½-point home favorite, snapping a 2-4 ATS slump (0-2 ATS slump at home).

Pitt comes into this showdown having dropped seven of its last nine games, including last Saturday’s 48-37 setback to South Florida as a nine-point home underdog. Prior to the 11-point loss to the Bulls, the Panthers had played five straight games decided by seven points or less.

West Virginia has scored 45 points against Pitt the last two years, winning 45-27 as a 10-point road chalk last year and 45-13 as a 15-point favorite in Morgantown back in 2005. The Mountaineers are on a 4-1 SU and ATS run in the Backyard Brawl, and the straight-up winner has covered the spread in each of the past 10 meetings.

The Mountaineers are 5-0 at home (3-2 ATS), winning by an average of 31 points per game (50-19). They’ve scored at least 38 points in all five contests.

Pitt is 0-4 on the road, but 3-1 ATS. Three of the four losses were by four points or fewer. Dave Wannstedt’s squad is 4-2 ATS as an underdog this year, including 3-0 ATS as a double-digit pup.

The Panthers are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 Big East games.

West Virginia, which has outgained every opponent this year, is 5-3 ATS as a double-digit favorite in 2007.

The under is 6-3 in West Virginia’s last nine games and 4-1 in Pitt’s last five. However, the last two Backyard Brawls have eclipsed the posted total, and the over is 19-7 in West Virginia’s last 26 home games.

ATS ADVANTAGE: WEST VIRGINIA


Arizona (5-6, 5-5 ATS) at (13) Arizona State (9-2, 6-5 ATS)


Arizona State needs a victory to keep its faint Pac-10 title hopes alive when it battles archrival Arizona in the 108th meeting for the Territorial Cup.

The Sun Devils got demolished on Thanksgiving Night at home, falling 44-24 to USC as a three-point home underdog. Since starting the season 7-0, Dennis Erickson’s team has lost two of its last three (0-3 ATS), with the only win being a 24-20 victory at UCLA as a seven-point chalk. Still, ASU can steal the Pac-10 title with a win today and a USC loss to UCLA.

Arizona has been idle since its stunning 34-24 victory over Oregon as an 11-point underdog back on Nov. 15. The Wildcats, who beat the Ducks despite getting outgained 463-322, have won three in a row, going 3-0 ATS.

Arizona State has taken four of the last five meetings in this rivalry (3-2 ATS). Last year, the Sun Devils scored 21 first-quarter points en route to a 28-14 win over the Wildcats, cashing as a three-point road underdog. ASU finished with 429 total yards (215 rushing), while allowing just 168 (33 on the ground).

The underdog is on an 8-2 ATS run in this series and the visitor is 12-3 ATS in the last 15 clashes (9-6 SU).

The Wildcats are 6-2 ATS in their last eight games against teams with a winning record, but the Sun Devils are 12-4 ATS in their last 16 versus losing teams.

Despite last week’s ugly effort against USC, Arizona State is still 5-2 ATS at home in 2007.

The under is 5-1 in the last six series meetings that featured a posted total. The under is also 4-2 in Arizona’s last six games (2-1 “under” on the road) and 11-3 in Arizona State’s last 14 contests (8-3 “under” this year).

ATS ADVANTAGE: ARIZONA and UNDER


Washington (4-8, 5-7 ATS) at (11) Hawaii (11-0, 4-5 ATS)


Hawaii looks to cap a perfect season and secure a BCS Bowl berth when it hosts slumping Washington at Aloha Stadium.

Facing its toughest opponent of the season, the Warriors passed with flying colors on Friday, dominating Boise State 39-27 as a three-point home favorite, clinching the Western Athletic Conference championship. QB Colt Brennan went 40-for-53 for 495 yards with five TDs and two INTs, and Hawaii finished with 574 total yards and limited Boise to a season-low 332 in improving to 20-1 SU in its last 21 games.

While Hawaii is rolling, the Huskies are floundering, as they’ve followed up a 2-0 start to the season by dropping eight of their last 10. On Saturday, Washington lost a back-and-forth 42-35 decision to archrival Washington State in the battle for the Apple Cup.

Hawaii is 15-1 in its last 16 at Aloha Stadium (8-5 ATS in lined games). However, the one loss came in last year’s regular-season finale against a Pac-10 opponent, a 35-32 setback to Oregon State as an 8½-point chalk. Starting with that contest, Hawaii has alternated ATS wins and losses in its last six lined home games.

Since crushing Syracuse in the season opener, the Huskies have gone 1-3 SU and ATS on the road. The winner has cashed in all five of Washington’s road contests.

The Warriors are just 2-6 ATS in their last eight against Pac-10 foes, but they’re 16-5-1 ATS in their last 22 against losing teams and 10-4 ATS in their last 14 non-conference contests.

The over is 9-3 in Washington’s 12 games this year, with the last three in a row soaring over the total. However, Hawaii has stayed under the posted price in four straight games, three of which were at home.

ATS ADVANTAGE: HAWAII


Central Michigan (7-5, 5-4-2 ATS) vs. Miami, Ohio (6-6 SU and ATS),


at Detroit

Central Michigan shoots for its second consecutive Mid-American Conference championship when it battles Miami (Ohio) at Ford Field in Detroit.

The Chippewas closed the regular season on a 6-2 run (4-2-2 ATS), including a 35-32 victory over Akron as a three-point road favorite back on Nov. 23. Central Michigan won the MAC’s West Division with a 6-1 league record, going 4-1-2 ATS.

Last December at Ford Field, Central Michigan topped Ohio 31-10 as a 3½-point favorite to win the MAC title.

Miami dropped three of its last five games, including last week’s 38-29 lost at Ohio as a one-point road favorite, but still won the MAC East with a 5-2 record. The Redhawks covered the spread in their first three conference games, but are 0-4 ATS in the last four.

These teams last met in 2005, with Central Michigan pulling off a huge 38-37 upset win as a 23½-point road underdog. The underdog is 7-1 ATS in the last eight meetings going back to the early 1990s.

The Chippewas are 17-4-3 ATS in their last 24 conference games and 22-7-3 ATS in their last 32 overall. Also, they’ve won nine straight against teams from the MAC East (8-1 ATS), while the Redhawks are just 2-5 in their last seven against the MAC West (3-4 ATS).

The over is on runs of 7-0 for Central Michigan overall and 10-1-1 for Central Michigan away from home. However, the under is 6-3 in Miami’s last nine.

ATS ADVANTAGE: CENTRAL MICHIGAN and OVER


Tulsa (9-3, 4-8 ATS) at Central Florida (9-3, 7-5 ATS)


The third-ever Conference USA Championship game pits two teams riding lengthy winning streaks, as Tulsa battles the Golden Knights at Bright House Networks Stadium, which is Central Florida’s home field.

Central Florida captured the Conference USA East division with a 7-1 league record (5-3 ATS), including six straight wins (4-2 ATS) to close the regular season. On Saturday, the Golden Knights upended UTEP 36-20, but failed to cover as a 21-point home favorite.

The Golden Hurricane held off Rice 48-43 as a 13½-point road favorite on Saturday to claim the West division title with a 6-2 mark, beating Houston in a tiebreaker. Tulsa has won five in a row, but is 2-8 ATS in its last 10, including 2-6 ATS in conference games.

Central Florida’s six-game winning streak began with a 44-23 rout of Tulsa back on Oct. 20, which was also the Golden Hurricane’s last loss. The Knights, who forced seven Tulsa turnovers and finished with a 453-379 edge in total offense, easily covered as a 2½-point home favorite.

These teams met in the inaugural Conference USA title game in 2005, and Tulsa prevailed 44-27 as a three-point road favorite in a game that was also played on UCF’s home field.

The Golden Hurricane have scored 48 points or more in four straight games and they’re averaging 40.7 ppg overall. Meanwhile, UCF is averaging 42.5 ppg during its winning streak, tallying 34 or more in all six games.

The Knights have outgained eight of their last nine opponents, while Tulsa has finished with the yardage advantage in seven of its last nine, the only exceptions being last week against Rice and in the game against UCF.

The over is 3-1 in Tulsa’s last four. However, the under is 11-5 in the Golden Hurricane’s last 16 conference games and 5-1 in UCF’s last six overall.

ATS ADVANTAGE: CENTRAL FLORIDA


(6) Virginia Tech (10-2, 6-5 ATS) vs. (12) Boston College (10-2, 6-5 ATS),


at Jacksonville, Fla.

A month after pulling out a miraculous victory at Virginia Tech that at the time saved Boston College’s unbeaten season, the Eagles take on the Hokies once again, this time for the ACC Championship at Municipal Stadium in Jacksonville.

Virginia Tech had Boston College on the ropes back on Oct. 25 in Blacksburg, Va., but the Eagles rose from the mat as QB Matt Ryan tossed two touchdown passes in the final 2:11 to turn a 10-0 deficit into a 14-10 victory. Boston College covered as a three-point road underdog, improving to 7-1 ATS in the last eight meetings with Va-Tech (all as an underdog) and 3-1 SU in the last four.

Since losing to Boston College, Virginia Tech has ripped of four straight double-digit wins, easily going 4-0 ATS while winning by an average of 21 points per game (36-15). Last week, the Hokies topped rival Virginia 33-21 as a 3½-point road chalk to claim the ACC Coastal Division title.

Boston College captured the Atlantic Division crown with a 20-17 upset win over Clemson as a nine-point road underdog on Nov. 17, then followed that with last Saturday’s 28-14 victory over Miami (Fla.), coming up just short as a 14½-piont home chalk.

While Virginia Tech is on a 5-1 ATS run, B.C. is just 3-5 ATS in its last eight, including 1-3 ATS since beating the Hokies.

Virginia Tech has topped the total in five of its last seven, including the last three in a row. However, the under is 4-2 in Boston College’s last six overall and 3-0 in the last three head-to-head meetings in this rivalry.

ATS ADVANTAGE: NONE


(14) Tennessee (9-3, 8-4 ATS) vs. (5) LSU (10-2, 5-7), at Atlanta

Two teams coming off multiple-overtime games with different results clash for the SEC title in the Georgia Dome, as LSU takes on Tennessee.

Just days after reclaiming the No. 1 ranking in the national polls, LSU saw its national title hopes go up in flames in a thrilling 50-48 triple-overtime loss to Arkansas as a 13½-point home chalk. The Tigers scored with 57 seconds left in regulation to tie the score at 28, but lost when they failed to convert a two-point conversion in the third overtime.

Tennessee needed to defeat Kentucky last week to win the SEC East and earn a spot in this game, and the Vols got the job done 52-50 in four overtimes, covering as a 2½-point road underdog after blowing a 31-14 second-half lead. Including the overtime sessions, QB Erik Ainge threw seven TD passes, helping the Vols to their fifth straight win (4-1 ATS).

These rivals have alternated wins and losses in their last six meetings, with LSU scoring a 28-24 victory as a 3½-point home favorite in the most recent matchup in 2006. The Tigers are 4-1-1 ATS in the last six clashes, including a 31-20 victory as a seven-point favorite in the 2001 SEC Championship game.

Tennessee is 8-1 SU in its last nine games, scoring 33 points or more in six of the eight wins.

The Tigers are averaging 47 points in their last four games, topping the 40-point mark in all four. However, the once-stout defense has surrendered 24 points or more six times in the last seven weeks.

LSU is on a 2-7 ATS slide, including 1-3 ATS away from home and 1-6 ATS against SEC foes. Conversely, the Vols are 7-2 ATS in their last nine, including 3-0 ATS as an underdog and 2-1 ATS away from Knoxville.

LSU has topped the total in seven straight games, but the under is 4-1 in Tennessee’s last five. The over is 3-1-1 in the last four series meetings.

ATS ADVANTAGE: TENNESSEE

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(9) Oklahoma (10-2, 6-6 ATS) vs. (1) Missouri (11-1, 9-2 ATS)

at San Antonio, Texas

A spot in the BCS Championship game awaits surprising Missouri, but first the Tigers must avenge their only loss of the season when they battle Oklahoma for the Big 12 championship at the Alamodome.

Missouri clinched the Big 12 North title and ended Kansas’ undefeated season and national championship chances with last week’s 36-28 victory in Kansas City as a 1½-point underdog. The Tigers, who outgained the Jayhawks 514-388, have won six in a row (4-2 ATS) since a 41-31 loss at Oklahoma back on Oct. 13, averaging nearly 44 points per game during the streak.

The Sooners bounced back from a devastating 34-27 loss at Texas Tech and thumped instate rival Oklahoma State 49-17 as a 13½-point home chalk to clinch the Big 12 South and a spot in the conference title game for the fifth time in the last seven years. QB Sam Bradford, who was knocked out of the Texas Tech loss with a concussion on the second play of the game, returned and went 11-for-15 for 150 yards and four TDs.

The Tigers outgained the Sooners 418-384 in the 10-point loss in Norman, Okla., back in October, but still dropped to 1-17 SU in the last 18 meetings, including 0-5 in the last five. Missouri did score late to cover as a 12-point underdog, improving to 3-1 ATS in the last four clashes. Including this year’s result, the underdog is 6-1-1 ATS in the last eight in this rivalry.

While this is Missouri’s first appearance in the Big 12 title game, Oklahoma is 4-1 in this contest (3-1-1 ATS, all as a favorite), including last year’s 21-7 victory over Nebraska as a 3½-point favorite.

Missouri has scored at least 31 points in every game this season – the only Division I-A team to do so – with the low mark coming in the loss to Oklahoma. Meanwhile, the Sooners have scored at least 42 points in eight of 11 games. Overall, the Tigers average 43.8 points and 458.4 yards per game (194.8 rushing ypg), while Mizzou puts up 42 points and 507 yards per outing (170 rushing ypg).

Both offenses are piloted by outstanding quarterbacks. Bradford has completed 70.2 percent of his passes for 2,670 yards with 32 TDs and seven INTs, while Heisman Trophy candidate Chase Daniel is connecting on 70.5 percent of his throws for Missouri, accumulating 3,951 yards and 33 TDs against just nine INTs. In the first meeting this season, Bradford went 24-for-34 for 266 yards, two TDs and no INTs, while Daniel was 37 of 47 for 361 yards, one TD and two INTs.

Defensively, Oklahoma yields 18.2 points and 324.6 yards per contest (91.4 rushing ypg), while Missouri surrenders 23.4 points and 380.5 yards (114.7 rushing ypg).

Despite last week’s easy spread-cover against Oklahoma State, the Sooners are still just 2-6 ATS in their last eight contests, all against Big 12 foes, including 0-4 ATS in road/neutral-site games.

Missouri is on ATS runs of 11-2 overall, 8-1 against winning teams, 7-2 in Big 12 contests and 5-0 in neutral-site affairs.

The over is 8-4 for Missouri this year, but the under is 5-2-1 in Oklahoma’s last eight. The under is also 13-3-1 in the Sooners’ last 17 conference contests.

ATS ADVANTAGE: MISSOURI

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2007 NCAAF Conference Championship Rematch Analysis

When it comes to the NCAAF Conference Championship game, a lot has been written over the years concerning teams playing each other their second and even third time in a single season.

Some even go so far as saying that rematches always side with the team who lost previously, especially if it's game three after losing the first two. Certainly there is historical information that will either confirm or deny that issue but the more important concern is whether or not it will have any bearing in this week's Championship games. So, as not to ignore history, going back into the archives there have been a total of 28 college football same-season rematches where one team beat the other in the first meeting. In 23 of the 28 rematches, the team who lost the first game either won the rematch outright or played the game a lot closer then the first one! There are three such contests where teams met earlier in the year and it is those games where I focused my analysis.

2007 C-USA Championship -- Central Florida vs Tulsa


Central Florida has had good success at home this season going 4-1 SU & ATS while scoring 32 or more points in every game. But, take note that UCF coach O'Leary is just 7-14-1 ATS when favored when playing an opponent whom they beat SU and an even worse 2-9-1 if line is less than 7 points. It that isn't enough underdogs in conference championship games that allowed more than 30 points in their last game are 8-1 ATS. Might be worth a look at Tulsa in this one.

2007 Big-12 Championship -- Oklahoma vs Missouri

Another rematch where history says it will be close if not an outright Missouri win but before you jump on the Tigers consider that Oklahoma is 11-3 ATS as a favorite of less than 8 points against revenging conference a opponent and 5-0 ATS as a dog or favorite of less than 13 points. On Missouri's side, coach Pinkel is 13-4 ATS versus .800 or greater opposition if his team has won .750 or better. but Oklahoma has won 17 of the last 18 meetings SU in this series.

2007 ACC Championship -- Virginia Tech vs Boston College

History again sides with the first game loser (Virginia Tech) but Boston College is 4-0 SUATS in 2007 against .750 or greater opponents including 3-0 SU ATS as an underdog. Plus BC holds a 6-1 ATS series edge. Is it time to buck history?

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Virginia Tech vs. Boston College
VegasInsider.com

The Atlantic Coast Conference Championship Game Saturday in Jacksonville pits two teams that played each other down to the wire just over a month ago. The winner between sixth-ranked Virginia Tech and 12th-ranked Boston College gets a slot in the Bowl Championship Series.

The fact that these two teams collided in such an intense game last month in Blacksburg should play into this contest according to VegasInsider.com handicapper Jorge Gonzalez, who is 11-3 his last 14 college football selections en route to hitting 58 percent of his plays this season.

“Virginia Tech controlled the first meeting with Boston College until the very end when Eagles quarterback Matt Ryan rallied his team,” stated Gonzalez. “Ryan has to make key plays once again to win this contest in similar fashion.”

Caesars Palace lists Virginia Tech as a 4 ½-point ‘chalk’ over Boston College, with the total set at 47. The Hokies opened as a five-point favorite, with the total listed at 46. ABC Sports will begin coverage of the ACC Championship Game at 1:00 p.m. ET from Jacksonville’s Municipal Stadium.

“This game comes down to a matchup between Boston College’s offense against Virginia Tech’s defense,” noted Gonzalez. “The Hokies’ special teams also have a knack for coming up with crucial plays in big games.”

Virginia Tech (10-2 straight up, 6-5 against the spread) is riding a four-game SU and ATS winning streak since falling to Boston College back in late October. The Hokies continued their winning ways by upending rival Virginia last weekend as a 3 ½-point road ‘chalk,’ 33-21. The combined 54 points toppled the 40-point closing total, helping the ‘over’ cash the second game in a row with a total posted.

Quarterback Sean Glennon was 13-of-19 passing for 260 yards with a touchdown, while Branden Ore paced the ground game with 31 carries for 147 yards and two scores. Wideout Eddie Royal also enjoyed a solid effort by catching six passes for 147 yards and a touchdown.

The Hokies finished the contest with advantages in first downs (20-15), rushing yards (131-97), passing yards (299-144) and time of possession (32:17-27:43). Virginia Tech notched its fourth consecutive victory over the Cavaliers by outscoring them, 10-0, in the fourth quarter.

Boston College (10-2 SU, 6-5 ATS) defeated Miami for the first time since 1984 last weekend as a 14 ½-point home favorite, 28-14. The Eagles have struggled to a 1-3 ATS ledger their last four outings.

Signal caller Matt Ryan completed 26-of-43 passes for 369 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Andre Callender ran the ball 15 times for 96 yards and a score, while wideout Rich Gunnell caught nine passes for 135 yards.

Boston College finished the game with advantages in rushing yards (93-83) and passing yards (369-198), but trailed the Hurricanes in turnovers forced (4-2) and time of possession (34:31-25:29).

The Eagles are 3-1 SU and ATS the previous four encounters with Virginia Tech after winning the October 25 encounter as a three-point road underdog, 14-10. The combined 24 points never seriously threatened the 43-point closing total, helping the ‘under’ cash the third game in a row between these teams.

“The Hokies have to close out this game if they get a lead like the last meeting,” said Gonzalez. “The offense has to produce some points, and the defense has to put pressure on Ryan.”

Boston College was shut down by the Hokies defense until late in the fourth quarter when the Eagles scored two touchdowns the final 2:11. Ryan was 25-of-52 passing for 285 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. The Boston College rushing attack could only muster 32 yards on 18 carries, while Virginia Tech ran the ball 40 times for 126 yards.

Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor (flu), tight end Greg Boone (hamstring), offensive tackle Ed Wang (leg) and center Ryan Shuman (knee) are ‘probable’ against the Eagles.

Boston College cornerback DeJuan Tribble (knee) is ‘questionable’ versus the Hokies, while strong safety Marcellus Bowman (shoulder) and running back AJ Brooks (suspension) are ‘out.’

Saturday’s forecast for Jacksonville, Florida calls for partly cloudy skies with a high of 70 degrees and a low of 53. There is a 20 percent chance of precipitation, with winds expected to be 10-20 mph.

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Miles says QB Flynn a game-time decision

Perrilloux ready to go despite some rust

ATLANTA -- LSU Coach Les Miles said Friday that quarterback Matt Flynn's availability for today's SEC championship game would be a "game-time decision."

But during Friday's walk-through practice the signs didn't look good.

Flynn, who injured his right (throwing) shoulder in LSU's loss to Arkansas, did not participate with the other quarterbacks in the throwing drill early in practice. Flynn stood nearby, throwing short passes with offensive coordinator Gary Crowton instead. Only the first 15 minutes of the practice were open to the media.

"Matt Flynn, just to let you know, took snaps and threw balls during the week of practice and really took part much more on Thursday," Miles said in the press conference before practice. "That will be a game-time decision. We'll take him to the field and warm him up and see how that feels. But you know, if, in fact, he is ready to play, we'll play him. If not he'll watch. But I would expect that he may well play."

If Flynn doesn't start, Miles said Ryan Perrilloux would play in his place. Perrilloux has seen significant action, but other than some mop-up duty in two games, he hasn't played since being suspended for the Alabama game on Nov. 3.

"If he takes snaps for us, he will be doing the things that he can do, run and pass," Miles said. "As long as he doesn't try to do too much, I suspect that he'll do fine for us."

FLASHBACK: It was 2001 when LSU and Tennessee met in the SEC championship game. The Vols were a victory away from playing Miami for the national championship in the Rose Bowl, but a then-unheralded backup quarterback got in the way.

LSU's Matt Mauck, who two years later would guide the Tigers to the national championship, came off the bench to run for two touchdowns and win the game's MVP award in a 31-20 LSU upset. He replaced Rohan Davey, who was injured in the first quarter.

"I guess we messed up when we knocked their quarterback out of the game," Tennessee Coach Phillip Fulmer said. "We weren't prepared for a running quarterback."

In fact, Mauck said the offensive package with the quarterback draw plays was put in as an afterthought, late in the week.

"I ran it one time in practice, and we ended up using it for 15-20 plays during the game," Mauck said.

Mauck ran for his first touchdown from 4 yards to give LSU a 7-0 lead before Tennessee scored 17 straight points. The Tigers dodged a bullet when a fourth-down try deep in their own territory failed, but the Vols could only get a field goal out of it.

LSU cut the deficit to 17-16 on three John Corbello field goals when Mauck struck again. He weaved his way for a 13-yard run and passed to Josh Reed for the two-point conversion to give LSU the lead for good with 14:20 left.

LSU iced the game with a long scoring drive to make it 31-20 as Mauck completed a key third-down pass to Michael Clayton.

RICKY'S BACK: Defensive end Ricky Jean-Francois, who sat out the season because of an academic issue, will be eligible to play.

"He's a high-strung guy and loves to play, and he's very talented," Miles said. "But I want him to get into the flow of the game in a nice, easy, comfortable fashion."

Jean-Francois, a significant part of the defensive line rotation, hasn't played since the Arkansas game last season.

OTHER INJURIES: Miles said running back Trindon Holliday, who missed the Arkansas game, should be back at full speed. Miles did not mention guard Will Arnold, who did not suit up for Friday's practice.

timespicayune.com

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College Football Weather Forecast

Navy at Army, 12:00 p.m. (Baltimore, MD)
Partly Cloudy Partly cloudy. Winds blowing from the Northwest at 5-15 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 45.

Louisiana Tech at Nevada, 4:00 p.m.
Mostly Sunny Mostly sunny. Winds blowing from the Southwest at 10-20 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 40.

U-C-L-A at U-S-C, 4:30 p.m.
Partly Cloudy Partly cloudy. Winds blowing from the West at 5-15 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 60.

Oregon State at Oregon, 4:30 p.m.
Mostly Cloudy Mostly cloudy with a 60-percent chance of rain. Winds blowing from the Southwest at 5-15 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 40.

California at Stanford, 7:00 p.m.
Partly Cloudy Partly cloudy. Winds blowing from the West at 5-10 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 50.

Pittsburgh at West Virginia, 7:45 p.m.
Partly Cloudy Partly cloudy. Winds blowing from the Southeast at 5-15 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 40.

Arizona at Arizona State, 8:00 p.m.
Mostly Cloudy Mostly cloudy with a 30-percent chance of rain. Winds blowing from the Southwest at 5-15 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 60.

Washington at Hawaii, 11:30 p.m.
Partly Cloudy Partly cloudy with a 30-percent chance of rain. Winds blowing from the Southwest at 5-15 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 70.

Florida Atlantic at Troy, 2:00 p.m.
Mostly Sunny Mostly sunny. Winds blowing from the East at 5-10 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 70.

North Texas at Florida International, 7:00 p.m.
Partly Cloudy Partly cloudy. Winds blowing from the Northeast at 5-10 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 75.

Tulsa at U-C-F, 12:00 p.m. (Orlando, FL)
Partly Cloudy Partly cloudy. Winds blowing from the Northeast at 5-15 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 75.

Virginia Tech at Boston College, 1:00 p.m. (Jacksonville, FL)
Partly Cloudy Partly cloudy. Winds blowing from the Northeast at 5-15 m.p.h. Game-time temperature: Around 70.

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Saturday football weather watch
Covers.com

A look at games around the county in which the weather could play a key factor today.

Tempe

Fans attending Arizona-Arizona State won’t be sweltering tonight at Sun Devil Stadium. The temperature is expected to drop to a cool 48 degrees in Tempe.

There is also a 60 percent chance of rain in Tempe with strong winds gusting from the southwest at 18 mph. The conditions should favor Sun Devils star running back Keegan Herring, who is averaging more than 70 rushing yards.

The forecast has caused the line to move from Arizona State -6 ½ to -7 since Wednesday.

Eugene

Rain and snow should impact the result of the 111th edition of the Civil War game between Oregon State and Oregon. There is an 80 percent chance of precipitation in Eugene with winds gusting from the southwest at 15 mph.

Oregon was already prepared for a sloppy game without quarterback Brady Leaf able to go, who was filling in for injured starter Dennis Dixon. The Ducks’ seventh-ranked running game should shoulder the offensive load against the Beavers.

Soggy conditions have caused the total to drop from 44 ½ to 43 points since Friday and the spread has moved to Oregon +1 after opening as a pick ‘em.

WIND WARNING

Washington at Hawaii

Winds are expected to gust to 12 mph in Aeia, which could impede the Warriors’ powerful aerial attack, which is led by Heisman Trophy candidate Colt Brennan. The line has moved from Hawaii -14 to -13 ½ and the total has dropped from 74 ½ to 73 points since Thursday.

UCLA at USC

Winds are expected to gust to 14 mph from the west in Los Angeles, causing the temperature to plunge to as low as 45 degrees. The total has dropped from 46 ½ to 45 ½ points overnight.

Louisiana Tech at Nevada


Relentless winds gusting to 17 mph from the southwest could force both clubs to the ground. Nevada has the 12th-ranked rush offense in the country, averaging more than 220 yards per game. Running back Luke Lippincott has amassed more than 1,200 rushing yards and also leads the team with 13 touchdowns.

The line has moved from Nevada -8½ to -7 since Wednesday. The total has also dropped from 64 to 63 points.

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College mismatches: Where to find the edge in Saturday’s games
Covers.com

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

California running back Justin Forsett vs. Stanford’s rush defense

Golden Bears running back Justin Forsett should shred Stanford’s struggling rush defense.

The senior running back has compiled more than 1,300 rushing yards to go along with 14 touchdowns in eight outings. That is an average of more than 115 rushing yards per game. Forsett ran for more than 160 yards on 31 carries against USC’s third-ranked rush defense two weeks ago. He has also rushed for more than 150 yards four times.

Stanford conceded more than 120 rushing yards with three touchdowns during last Saturday’s 21-14 setback to the lowly Irish. It is also allowing more than 170 rushing yards per outing and more than four yards per carry.

Hawaii quarterback Colt Brennan vs. Washington’s secondary

Prolific passer Colt Brennan, who led the Warriors to the WAC championship last Friday, turns his attention to Washington’s weak secondary.

Brennan enters the game as the nation’s fourth best passer. He has completed nearly 70 percent of his passes for more than 3,700 yards with 33 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Brennan also smashed Ty Detmer’s mark for most touchdown passes in a season when he tossed five against Boise State. He also had more than 490 passing yards against the Broncos.

Huskies’ opponents are averaging more than 240 passing yards and have scored more than 20 aerial touchdowns. Washington also allowed 400 passing yards with five scores in last Saturday’s 42-35 setback to lowly Washington State.

North Texas receiver Casey Fitzgerald vs. Florida International’s secondary

North Texas receiver Casey Fitzgerald has been the lone bright spot in the school’s miserable campaign.

Fitzgerald has more than 1,200 receiving yards and ranks fourth nationally with more than 100 receiving yards per game. The athletic junior caught eight passes for 80 yards in last Saturday’s 27-26 victory over Western Kentucky. He also had a season-high 327 receiving yards and two touchdowns during a 45-31 loss to Southern Methodist on Sep. 8. Fitzgerald also leads the team with 12 touchdowns.

The agile receiver should torch a winless Golden Panthers team that is conceding an average of 242 receiving yards.  Florida International allowed more than 340 passing yards and five receiving touchdowns in last Saturday’s 55-23 loss to Florida Atlantic.

Florida Atlantic linebacker Cergile Sincere vs. Troy’s offensive line

Owls linebacker Cergile Sincere ranks third nationally with six forced fumbles. The Trojans, meanwhile, are conceding more than one fumble per game.

Sincere has forced three fumbles in his last three outings, leading the Owls to a 3-1 record during that span.

Troy has lost 12 fumbles in 11 outings, including six in its last four games. Trojans senior quarterback Omar Haugabook has also thrown 16 interceptions.

Navy’s third-down offense vs. Army’s third-down defense

Navy has been leaning on its running attack all season, especially on third down. Thanks to a strong ground attack, led by multipurpose quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada, the Midshipmen have not had a problem moving the sticks.

Navy has converted more than 53 percent of its third-down attempts. The Midshipmen were also 3-for-5 on third-down situations during last Saturday’s 74-62 shootout win over North Texas. Kaheaku-Enhada rushed for 53 yards and passed for 108 yards with a touchdown against the Golden Panthers.

The Black Knights are allowing opponents to convert 44 percent of their third-down attempts. They are also conceding more than 220 rushing yards per contest. Army allowed more than 190 rushing yards in last Saturday’s loss to Tulsa. It also allowed the Golden Hurricane to convert 58 percent of third-down attempts.

Oregon cornerback Walter Thurmond III vs. Oregon State quarterback Ryan Gunderson

Beavers senior quarterback Ryan Gunderson takes the helm against the Ducks because starting quarterback Sean Canfield is sidelined with a shoulder ailment. Gunderson will make his first start against Walter Thurmond III, one of college football’s fiercest defenders with three takeaways.

Oregon State senior quarterback Gunderson has thrown four passes for 17 yards with no touchdowns and no picks in just two games this season. Moreover, Gunderson has thrown just two touchdowns and four interceptions in his college career.

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C-USA Championship Preview
VegasInsider.com 

They say payback can be sweet and on Saturday afternoon the University of Central Florida will have their chance to take the Conference USA Championship for the first time. However, Tulsa is standing in the way and adjusting its sights on a second Conference Championship in the last three years, the Golden Hurricane are sure to put up one tough fight.

It was on Dec. 3, 2005 when Tulsa cut the tape on the C-USA's inaugural championship game. Downing the same UCF team it will face on Saturday by the score of 44-27, the Golden Hurricane continued down the path of victory, defeating Fresno State at the Autozone Liberty Bowl (its first bowl win in 15 years).

So now that you’re up to speed on the history of these two squads let’s see what will transpire this weekend.

Offense wins Games

Ranked first in the nation at driving the ball up and down the field, Tulsa (9-3 straight up, 4-8 against the spread) has accumulated 548.6 yards per game this season. High flying gunslinger Paul Smith has been a sensation behind center, completing 61.3% of his passes for 4,327 total yards and a career high 164.9 QB rating.   
Tulsa's QB Paul Smith has thrown for 4,327 yards with 39 TDs. (AP Images)   

This explosive offense has helped Tulsa earn an 11-5 ATS record in its last 16 after accumulating 450 total yards in their previous game. With most books installing UCF (9-3 SU, 7-5 ATS) as a 7 ½-point home favorite, bettors beware that the Golden Hurricane is 5-1 ATS in its their last six contests as an underdog of 3 ½-10 points and are 6-2 ATS in their last eight as a road underdog.

Tulsa’s running back Tarrion Adams hit the 100-yard plus mark five times this season, brining his ground game to an effective 1,072 total rushing yards. A total of nine scores (two receiving) make him a very dangerous target for UCF to defend against and even worse, Adams helps keep opponents off balance when QB Smith takes to the air.

Then there’s the other Smith.

The Knights’ firecracker of a running back, Kevin Smith has paved gridirons with gold. A possible dark-horse candidate for the Heisman trophy, Smith is leading the nation with an astounding 2,164 rushing yards and 26 trips across the goal line.

A great reason for Smith’s excellent production on the ground stems from the guys that hold back other teams on the offensive line. I’m talking about tackles Josh Sitton and Patrick Brown, combined with center Kyle Smith. The big three have not only manufactured tremendous holes but are like a steel wall, protecting QB Kyle Israel (1,957 passing yards with 15 TDs) from a lot of pocket pressure.

It doesn’t take a genius to see that offensive production is in Tulsa’s favor, but how did that work out for this squad back on Oct. 20 of this year?

Citrus Bowl Blowout

While Tulsa brandished some serious skill in the 2005 Conference Championship game, the Knights opened up a new chapter on this rivalry. On Oct. 20, UCF began a run that has since seen it take six in a row leading up into Saturday’s kickoff.

Outscoring Tulsa 44-23, the Knights’ RB Smith was once again on a rampage. His 170 rushing yards with three TDs helped keep a bewildered Golden Hurricane defense off keel. This brings up another interesting angle to this matchup; if Tulsa stalls on offense how can its 111th ranked ‘D’ in the nation pick up the pieces?

The biggest concern is the Golden Hurricane’s inability to stop the run game, a problem which might cater to UCF’s Smith running up the score with a possible repeat performance from October. Tulsa’s pass defense ranks at the bottom of the list as well, allowing 285.2 YPG and the turnover margin has been putrid at -0.67 (101st in the nation).

The Golden Hurricane is 11-2 on the ‘under’ in their last 13 games after accumulating more than 450 total yards in their previous game and are 7-2 on the ‘under’ in their last nine versus a team with a winning record.

Look for UCF’s signal caller Israel to run the play-action down Tulsa’s throats. With Smith looking to steam roll over an inadequate Golden Hurricane run defense, Israel will have the opportunity to select his targets with patience or may even use his average speed to run in a score all by his lonesome (Israel racked up five scores on the ground this season).

Make a Note

On paper, UCF is the dominant team hands down. They’ve got a brand new stadium to play in (Bright House Networks Stadium), the running game is head over heels what Tulsa can bring to the game and the Knights’ cornerbacks Joe Burnett and Johnell Neal have pushed the team into the No. 1 spot in the league with 20 interceptions for 310 yards. If the linebacker core, led by Cory Hogue (65 tackles, 5 ½ tackles for losses) and defensive end Leger Douzable can continue his monster pace of 11 tackles for losses with 5 ½ sacks, expect UCF to lay siege to the visiting team.

The Knights are 6-1 ATS in their last seven after allowing less than 100 yards rushing in their previous game and are 5-2 ATS in their last seven home games.

If you’re a totals player approach with caution as most books are predicting this contest to resemble more of a basketball game score then totals found in a game of pigskin. Bodog.com has set the total at 74½ points. In both teams last 10 contests (20 games all together) the total of 70 or more has been set nine times with the ‘over’ only going 2-7. In their last head-to-head match, the ‘under’ hit when the total was set at 72½.

Take heed to the fact that both squads are entering this clash in Orlando on great winning runs. UCF has taken its last six beginning with its defeat over Tulsa in October and the Golden Hurricane has shelved five wins in a row.

The bottom line is look for this battle to focus on Smith versus Smith.

Game time is set to begin on Saturday at 12:00 p.m. EST, with ESPN providing full coverage of the event. Weather conditions are currently forecasted to remain sunny with high temperatures reaching a comfortable 77 degrees.

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Saturday's College Football TV Capsules

CENTRAL MICHIGAN CHIPPEWAS @ MIAMI (OH) REDHAWKS

Opening Line: Central Michigan by 3 1/2.

Series Record: Miami leads 11-9-1.

Last Meeting: 2005, Central Michigan 38-37

Last Meeting: 2005, Central Michigan 38-37

The last team to win consecutive MAC Championship Games was Marshall (four straight from 1997-2000). No West Division representative has ever won two straight MAC Championship games. ... Miami is making its first appearance in the title games since 2004. ... Miami is second in the MAC in rushing defense (160.3 yards per game), total defense (369 yards per game), and fourth in passing defense (124.65). ... Central Michigan is the only team to rank in the top three in the MAC in rushing (third, 175.8 yards per game), passing (third, 271.8 yards per game), and total offense (second, 447.6 yards per game). ... Central Michigan has won nine straight games against opponents from the MAC East Division, including last year's MAC Championship game win over Ohio.

ARMY BLACK KNIGHTS @ NAVY MIDSHIPMEN

Opening Line: Navy by 14.

Series Record: Navy leads 51-49-7.

Last Meeting: 2006, Navy 26-14

Last Meeting: 2006, Navy 26-14

This is the fourth time the Army-Navy contest will be played in Baltimore, and the first time since 2000. ... Army has not beaten Navy since a 26-17 victory in Philadelphia on Dec. 1, 2001. ... A win against Navy would give the Black Knights four wins, making it the third time since 1997 has won as many as four games in a season. ... Army has not beaten a FBS team that finished its season with a winning record since beating Akron in 2005. ... Navy has won five straight in this series. ... The Midshipmen have outscored Army 202-68 in the last five meetings. ... Navy is looking for its fifth straight Commander-In-Chief Trophy, and 13th overall. ... Navy leads the nation in rushing (357.4 yards per game).

TULSA GOLDEN HURRICANE @ CENTRAL FLORIDA GOLDEN KNIGHTS

Opening Line: UCF by 6.

Series Record: Series tied 1-1.

Last Meeting: 2007, UCF 44-23

Last Meeting: 2007, UCF 44-23

This game is a rematch of the Conference USA Championship game in 2005 which Tulsa won 44-27. ... Tulsa has won five in a row and is one win away from its highest win total since 1982. ... Tulsa leads the nation in total offense (548.6 yards per game), third in passing offense (369.3 yards per game), and ninth in scoring offense (40.7 points per game). ... Central Florida enters the game with a six-game winning streak, one win shy of tying the school record of 10, set in 1990. ... UCF RB Kevin Smith leads the nation in rushing (180.3 yards per game).

VIRGINIA TECH HOKIES @ BOSTON COLLEGE EAGLES

Opening Line: Virginia Tech by 4.

Series Record: Virginia Tech leads 9-5.

Last Meeting: 2007, Boston College 14-10

Last Meeting: 2007, Boston College 14-10

This is the first neutral site meeting between the two schools. ... The Coastal Division is 0-2 against the Atlantic Division in title games. ... This is the first time since 1906 that Virginia Tech will play the same team twice in one season. ... Virginia Tech is second in the nation in scoring defense (15.4 points per game), fourth in total defense (285.3 yards per game), fourth in passing offense (97.07), and fifth in rushing (86.2 yards per game). ... Virginia Tech, the road team will wear its white road jerseys. The Hokies are 4-0 in the white jerseys this season. ... Boston College has won two in a row and three of the past four vs. the Hokies, including a 14-10 victory earlier this season. ... The Eagles are looking to win 11 games for only the second time in school history (1940, 11-0). ... The Eagles are second in the nation in rushing defense (65.6 yards per game), fourth in interceptions (20), and seventh in passing offense (331.8 yards per game).

TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS @ LOUISIANA STATE TIGERS

Opening Line: LSU by 7 1/2.

Series Record: Tennessee leads 20-6-3.

Last Meeting: 2006, LSU 28-24

Last Meeting: 2006, LSU 28-24

This is the second time LSU and Tennessee will meet in the league's title game. LSU beat the Volunteers, 31-20 to claim the school's first outright title since 1986. ... LSU has won two of the last three games against Tennessee. ... LSU is 5-1 all-time in the Georgia Dome. ... LSU is 5-0, under Les Miles in games following a loss. ... The Tigers have not lost back-to-back games since the 2002 season, when LSU fell to Arkansas 21-20 to end the regular season and then dropped a 35-20 decision to Texas in the Cotton Bowl. ... LSU is third in the nation in total defense (278.9 yards per game) and pass efficiency defense (98.3). ... Tennessee is 2-0 in the SEC Championship game when it faces an opponent it did not meet in the regular season. ... Tennessee is 10-0 all-time on Dec. 1, including 9-0 vs. the SEC. ... The Volunteers lead the nation in sacks allowed (.33 per game). ... Tennessee QB Erik Ainge is 26-9 (.743) as a starter (15-4 at home, 11-4 on the road, 0-1 at neutral sites).

UCLA BRUINS @ SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA TROJANS

Opening Line: Southern Cal by 16.

Series Record: Southern Cal leads 41-28-7.

Last Meeting: 2006, UCLA 13-9

Last Meeting: 2006, UCLA 13-9

The winner gets the Victory Bell. ... The Bruins last win in the Coliseum came in 1997, by the score of 31-24. ... UCLA has defeated three of its last four Top-10 teams. ... UCLA has outscored its conference opponents in the fourth quarter by a 91-42 margin this season. ... A win over the Bruins would earn the Trojans its 32nd Rose Bowl Berth. ... Southern Cal is 21-12-5 against unranked UCLA teams. ... The Trojans are second in the nation in total defense (267 yards per game), fourth in rushing defense (85.3 yards per game), sixth in passing defense (100.3) and scoring defense (16.7 points per game).

OREGON STATE BEAVERS @ OREGON DUCKS

Opening Line: OFF.

Series Record: Oregon leads 55-45-10.

Last Meeting: 2006, Oregon St. 30-28

Last Meeting: 2006, Oregon St. 30-28

The visiting team in the Civil War hasn't won since Oregon's 49-13 victory in Corvallis in 1996. ... Oregon State has not won in Eugene since a 15-12 victory in 1993. ... Oregon State has won a road game against a ranked opponent each of the last three seasons but has never won two true road games against nationally ranked opponents. ... The Beavers are a Pac-10 best 13-3 combined in the months of October, November and December over the last two seasons. ... Oregon State leads the nation in rushing defense (64 yards per game). ... Oregon is 25-23-4 vs. the Beavers in Eugene, and 12-6-1 vs. Oregon State at Autzen Stadium. ... The Ducks have allowed only one rushing touchdown in the last six games. ... Oregon leads the nation in tackles for loss (9.9 per game). ... Oregon is seventh in the nation in rushing offense (247.6 yards per game). ... Oregon ranks second in the Pac-10 in overall turnover margin (+0.27 per game), but is tied for last in conference play (-0.62 per game).

CALIFORNIA BEARS @ STANFORD CARDINALS

Opening Line: California by 14.

Series Record: Stanford leads 54-44-11.

Last Meeting: 2006, California 26-17

Last Meeting: 2006, California 26-17

This game marks the 25th anniversary over the ``The Play.''. ... The winner of the Big Game gets ``The Axe'' trophy. ... California has won the last five games against Stanford by a combined score of 152-49. ... California coach Jeff Tedford is 5-0 all-time vs. Stanford. ... California's RB Justin Forsett is first in the Pac-10 in rushing (118.8 yards per game) and leads the Pac-10 in rushing touchdowns (13). ... Stanford had not beaten California since a 35-28 victory at Stanford, Nov. 17, 2001. ... The Cardinal is sixth in the nation in tackles for loss (8.36 per game), and ninth in sacks (3.27 per game). ... Stanford is last in the Pac-10 in total offense (323.1 yards per game).

PITTSBURGH PANTHERS @ WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS

Series Record: Pittsburgh leads 38-19.

Last Meeting: 2006, West Virginia 45-27

Last Meeting: 2006, West Virginia 45-27

The visiting team has won 12 of the last 20 games. ... Pittsburgh is looking for its first victory at West Virginia since a 23-17 decision in 2001. ... Pittsburgh's last win over a No. 2 ranked team was on Jan. 1, 1982, when the Panthers beat Georgia 24-20 in the Sugar Bowl. ... Panthers RB LeSean McCoy is second in the Big East in rushing (107.3 yards per game) and needs only 82 yards to break the Big East freshman rushing record of 1,261, set in 1993 by Rutgers Terrell Willis. ... West Virginia has won four of five against the Panthers. ... The Mountaineers are second in the nation in rushing (310.1 yards per game) and eighth in scoring offense (41.6 points per game). ... West Virginia is 32-4 over the last 36 games, and 17-3 in the Big East in that span. ... Since 2000, the Mountaineers are 52-1 when scoring 30 or more points in a contest.

OKLAHOMA SOONERS @ MISSOURI TIGERS

Opening Line: Oklahoma by 3.

Series Record: Oklahoma leads 64-23-5.

Last Meeting: 2007, Oklahoma 41-31

Last Meeting: 2007, Oklahoma 41-31

Missouri's last win in the series was in 1998, a 20-6 victory in Columbia. ... A win over Oklahoma would give Missouri its first conference title since 1969. ... Missouri is 0-1 all-time as the No. 1 ranked team losing a 23-7 decision to Kansas in 1960. ... Missouri is 2-10 against Oklahoma when both teams are ranked, and 1-2 when the Tigers are the higher-ranked team. ... Missouri is fifth in the nation in total offense (507.33 yards per game), passing offense (336.83 yards per game), sixth in scoring offense (41.92 points per game) and eighth in passing efficiency (153.4). ... Missouri is 2-0 this season in neutral site games. ... Oklahoma has won five in a row and 17 of the last 18 over Missouri, including a 41-31 victory earlier this year. ... Oklahoma is 6-12-2 vs. the No. 1 ranked team, and 6-5-2 when the Sooners are also ranked. ... The last time the Sooners played the same opponent twice in one season was in 2002, when Oklahoma beat Colorado 27-11 at Norman and then 29-7 in the Big 12 Championship. ... Oklahoma is second in the nation in passing efficiency (174.31), third in scoring offense (43.6 points per game), fifth in sacks allowed (0.9 per game), seventh in rushing defense (91.4 yards per game) and 10th in scoring defense (18.3 points per game). ... Sooner coach Bob Stoops is 4-1 in the Big 12 Championship game.

ARIZONA WILDCATS @ ARIZONA STATE SUN DEVILS

Opening Line: Arizona St. by 7.

Series Record: Arizona leads 44-35-1.

Last Meeting: 2006, Arizona St. 28-14

Last Meeting: 2006, Arizona St. 28-14

The winner gets the Territorial Championship Cup. ... Arizona is looking for its first four-game winning streak since 2000. ... This game is the first time Arizona has faced a ranked Arizona State team in Tempe, since 1997, when the Wildcats beat No. 12 Arizona State 28-16. ... Arizona has won the last four games against ranked Sun Devil teams. ... Arizona is second in the Pac-10 in passing offense (311.8 yards per game). ... The last time a ranked Sun Devil team has beaten Arizona was a 24-13 victory in Tempe, in 1981. ... Arizona State has won six of the last eight meetings between the two schools including the last two. ... The Sun Devils are second in the Pac-10 in passing defense (109.19), and third in total defense (336 yards per game).

WASHINGTON HUSKIES @ HAWAII RAINBOW WARRIORS

Opening Line: Hawaii by 13.

Series Record: Series tied 1-1.

Last Meeting: 1973, Hawaii 10-7

Last Meeting: 1973, Hawaii 10-7

Washington has not played a regular-season game so late in the year since 1939, a 9-7 loss to No. 1 Southern Cal, on Dec. 2. ... The last time, Washington played at Hawaii was on Dec. 1, 1938 in the Pineapple Bowl. ... Huskies QB Jake Locker is 90 yards away from 1,000 rushing yards on the season, marking the first time in school history two players rushed for 1,000 yards in the same season. ... Hawaii is 11-0 for the first time in school history. ... Hawaii has won 21 of its last 22 games overall. ... Hawaii leads the nation in scoring offense (48 points per game). ... Hawaii has a 12-game winning streak, longest in the nation and longest in school history.

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