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Las Vegas Insider
Gene Chizik was a highly touted DC at both Auburn in '04 (Tigers were 13-0) and at Texas in '05 and '06 (Longhorns won national title in '05). His first head coaching job came last year at Iowa State and while he finished a disappointing 3-9, he was able to continue ISU's recent domination of Iowa, beating the Hawkeyes 15-13, as 17-point home 'dogs. Kirk Ferentz took over the Iowa program in 1999 and went 1-10 and 3-9 in his first two years but then reeled off six consecutive seasons in which he led the Hawkeyes to a bowl, before going bowl-less in '07. The loss in Ames last year, being the difference between 7-5 (and a bowl appearance) and 6-6. Ferentz is well respected at Iowa but he's come up woefully short against Iowa State in his nine-year tenure, going 3-6 SU and a pathetic 1-8 ATS vs the Cyclones. That's in direct contrast to his predecessor at Iowa City, Hayden Fry, who from 1979 through 1998 went 16-4 SU against ISU. Both teams enter this game at 2-0. ISU has beaten South Dakota State (44-17) and Kent State (48-28), while Iowa has beaten Maine (46-3) and Florida International (42-0). ISU's high scores are a little deceiving, as the Cyclones have failed to reach 400 yards of total offense in either game this year (in comparison Iowa has gained 457 and 512 yards in the first two games this year) and was actually outgained by KSU (410-374) last week. ISU has taken full advantage of its 10 takeaways in '08, as a blocked punt and two fumble recoveries led directly to 21 points last week against the Golden Flashes. QB Austen Arnaud has completed 76.9 percent of his passes this year (20-of-26) for 254 yards but that's really not a lot of work. Phillip Bates (8-of-14 for 109 yards with two TDs) is more of an athletic QB and has seen his share of playing time as well. He'll enter this game as ISU's leading rusher (17-138 8.1 YPC), as despite some excellent rushing numbers, the Cyclones don't have a dominant RB. ISU's defense, against two mediocre teams, has NOT looked very impressive so far. For the second straight week the Cyclones' front-seven was pounded by the opposition's ground attack, as Iowa State is currently allowing an average of 211.5 YPG on the ground (6.2 YPC). The Hawkeyes should be "licking their chops" to get at ISU's DL, as Iowa has averaged 243.0 YPG (5.7 per) on the ground the first two weeks, with six TDs. Shonn Greene has 239 yards (6.8 YPC) and freshman Jewel Hampton has 122 yards (6.4 per). LY's starter at QB, Jake Christensen, started against Maine but Ricky Stanzi started LW and gets the nod here. Both have played at a high level. Unlike ISU's 'D', Iowa's 'D' has been terrific. Iowa has surrendered a total of just three points in its first two games, limiting teams to just 96.5 rushing YPG on a mere 3.1 YPC. The Hawkeyes have been equally impressive against the pass, allowing an average 122.5 YPG (has four INTs and of course, no TDs allowed). Iowa has also done a tremendous job pressuring the QB, collecting seven sacks a four interceptions. This will be Arnaud's first road start (plus Bates first real taste of action on the road as well) and he'll be facing a team eager to erase the bitter taste of recent failures by the Iowa football program against its in-state rivals. Revenge is a great motivator in CFB and it works especially well when you get the more talented team "playing with revenge!"
Las Vegas Insider on Iowa.
Weekend Wipeout Winner
Once upon a time (with Chuck Amato as its head coach), the Wolfpack were almost a "sure-thing" as a road underdog. As for NC State's current coach, Tom O'Brien, he was also known as a dangerous "road dog" while at BC. However, as the saying goes, "that was THEN and this is NOW!" This current Wolfpack team is anemic! In four road games vs BCS schools last year, NC State was only competitive vs a bad (and troubled) Miami-Fla team, beating the 'Canes in Miami, 19-16 (OT). NC St lost at BC by 20, at FSU by 17 and at Wake by 20. The Wolfpack opened the '08 season by losing 34-0 August 28 at South Carolina, gaining just 138 total yards (10 FDs). Last Saturday, at home vs William and Mary, NC St won 34-24 but again totaled a meager 11 FDs. QB Evans was replaced by Beck (17-of-25 for 246 yards with two TDs) but Evans was only starting because redshirt freshman Russell Wilson was out with a concussion. Wilson is expected to be ready here but let's remember, he's the guy who was 1-of-5 for 12 yards vs South Carolina before getting hurt. Wilson, Evans, Beck....whatever! None can play and whichever one does, he'll have to deal with a running game which averaged 89 YPG (3.0 YPC) last year and in two games this year is even WORSE (78 YPG / 2.3 YPC)! Now it's easy to "take shots" at Clemson's Tommy Bowden, who every time he has you believing his team is "ready for prime time," the Tigers "lay an egg." Ranked No. 9 in the AP preseason poll, the '08 Tigers were talking ACC title, BCS bowl game and maybe even national championship game. Yeah right! The Tigers were embarrassed 34-10 by Alabama in Atlanta on August 30 (bye-bye national title-game talk). Clemson was home last Saturday and beat The Citadel 45-17, as RBs Davis and Spiller, who combined for just 20 yards rushing vs Alabama, ran for 182. Davis has over 3,000 in his first three seasons (5.4 YPC) and 36 rushing TDs coming in. The explosive Spiller has averaged 6.2 YPC the last two years. This duo was supposed to dominate the ACC in '08, making QB Cullen Harper (65.1% with 27 TDs and just 6 INTs in his first year as a starter LY) even more dangerous. Harper was a 'bust' vs Alabama and hurt his shoulder (the one which needed surgery LY) against The Citadel, but reports are that he's fine and will play. This is a great spot for Clemson. It's the team's ACC opener and it's sandwiched between two Div I-AA opponents (The Citadel and South Carolina State) plus the Tigers end September with their fourth straight home game, a contest with Maryland (which lost 24-14 last week to Middle Tenn St!). Look for the Tigers to be 4-1 when they visit Winston Salem on October 9 for a Thursday night showdown with Wake Forest. The Tigers will likely 'tank' that one but not this Saturday. Clemson outgained NC State last year in Raleigh 608-192 in a 42-20 win and forget about revenge, as the Wolfpack have lost four straight to the Tigers and motivation can't bridge this talent gap. After each Tiger player touches "Howard's Rock," this game will be all but over.
Weekend Wipeout Winner on Clemson.
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Opposite Action Plays
FRESNO ST. +2.5
San Diego St. / San Jose St. OVER 43
MISSISSIPPI ST. +10
NOTRE DAME -2
VIRGINIA TECH -6
Re: Saturday Premium Service Plays
Rice +8.5 over Vanderbilt
Both teams have very similar offenses and both QB's have great arms and are a threat running the ball. Rice needs to get better at defense to be a legitimate threat, but today should get a break with Vandy having so many WR injuries and they are coming off a huge win which might make this a let down. Both teams should score a lot, but this line is too high without a healthy group of wide receivers for Vandy. Take Rice.
Nebraska -25.5 over New Mexico State
This will be NM States first game of the year and I expect a lot of rush from a team playing on the road in front of 80,000 fans. Nebraska is 2-0 and has a huge offensive line which should swallow the state defense all game. New Mexico State is debuting their 3-3-5 defense which should be nothing more than a joke. The state players even have been talking trash saying their receivers are 10 times better than the Nebraska receivers. Look for size and strength to dominate today. New Mexico State will be in a hole before they can even blink. Look for a blowout.
BYU -7.5 over UCLA
The Bruins have played the Cougars tight in the last two matchups but Max Hall is a lot better of a QB this year and I just don't think UCLA can keep up offensively with so many key injuries. We all remember last Monday night with the Bruins beat Tennessee, but that was at home and more of a Tennessee meltdown. The Bruins will be going with Kevin Craft at QB who might throw a lot of INT's on the road. Also, this Provo altitude is nothing to mess with and the UCLA team will just not be used to these conditions. Look for BYU to win and cover.
Hawaii +13 over Oregon State
Oregon State looks awful and we are not so much betting Hawaii as much as we are betting against the Beavers. Hawaii QB Tyler Graunke played great last week even thought it was against Weber State. The Beavers have yet to do anything offensively and cannot stop the run. Until this team proves otherwise they should not be double digit favorites. Hawaii is not the same team they were last year, but this group still has won 23 of their last 26 games and know whats its like to be winners. Take Hawaii.
Tulane +13 over ECU
The entire nation has a fascination with ECU. Maybe its the cool uniforms or Skip Holtz being related to Lou, but this team has only proven they can win at home and until they win on the road people should not get to excited. Tulane not only outplayed Alabama last week but they dominated the line of scrimmage. Alabama was lucky to have gotten special team help or it could have been upset city. ECU was remarkable the past two weeks, but its against fading teams and was at home. Look for Tulane to be a much be tougher test today.
Major League Baseball
Giants -125 over Padres