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QB McGee's status uncertain for Aggies

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) -Texas A&M quarterback Stephen McGee is throwing again after spraining his shoulder, but coach Mike Sherman hasn't decided if he'll play against Miami on Saturday.

McGee was injured early in A&M's game against New Mexico on Sept. 6, and sophomore Jerrod Johnson stepped in to lead the Aggies to a 28-22 victory.

''I'm feeling pretty good,'' McGee said Monday. ''I'm just looking for improvement every day, just taking it day by day. I've been making big strides these last three days.''

Sherman said he would see how things go in practice the next couple of days before deciding on McGee's status for Saturday. Even if McGee is healthy, Sherman wouldn't commit to starting him.

He beat out Johnson for the starting job in preseason workouts, but when asked if there was a chance McGee wouldn't start even if he's healthy, Sherman responded: ''We'll see about that.''

Johnson was solid in relief of McGee, throwing for 124 yards and three touchdowns.

McGee said it was a relief when an MRI revealed no structural damage to his shoulder. He said he was initially worried because he's had surgery on his non-throwing shoulder before and knows how long it takes to recover. McGee said he hasn't missed a game since he started playing football in fourth grade.

''It's very difficult because I've never been in this situation my entire life,'' he said. ''This is one tough deal. I've never had one like this.''

McGee said he was encouraged that he didn't experience any pain Sunday while throwing and he wasn't very sore Monday after the light workout.

Johnson, who was practicing at receiver and quarterback before McGee's injury, said the off week has helped him feel more comfortable with the offense. He said he'll be prepared to play either position.

''I'm going in with the intention of playing quarterback,'' he said. ''If I am prepared for that then I can play any other positions I need to play. I feel pretty confident in my skills at receiver. Whatever they need me to do I'm ready.''

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Dire Straits
Marc Lawrence

Like a racehorse, you can tell the makeup of a college football team by the size of its heart. And no, it needn't be 'Secretariat-like'. Just one that is alive and pumping blood. For without the presence of either, you can put a nail in them. In other words, they're as good as dead.

Because we're handicappers, and not heart surgeons, a good barometer in gauging a team's pulse is to identify how they respond in a game after having been run over by an opponent. Often times the worse the result, the better the gauge. That's because most teams who have been – or are being – embarrassed beyond imagination tend to fold like a lawn-sale accordion. It's the ones who refuse to have their 'last rites' read to them that is of primary interest to us.
Surprisingly, one of the quickest measures in responding to devastating defeats happens early in the season. Especially with teams who have opened the season on the heels of back-to-back double-digit losses. Suddenly, teams in Game Three of the campaign are now in dire straits, as this contest becomes Critical – with a capital C.

Last year, no less than four teams played in a 'lined' Game Three scenario off back-to-back double-digit defeats. Namely they were Eastern Michigan, Florida Atlantic, North Texas and Notre Dame. Collectively they combined to go 2-2 ATS. The two spread losers, North Texas and Notre Dame, proceeded to bottom out by season's end, finishing the season with 2-10 and 3-9 records respectively. The two covering teams managed to finish with a combined record of 12-13. Thus, the sudden importance in these Game Three tilts.

Upon further examination, we found that whenever our captious crew was seeking revenge in these critical Game Three matchups they responded with aplomb. Thus, entering this season, if we were to –

PLAY ON any college football team with revenge in Game Three off back-to-back double digit losses

- we would own a resuscitating 58-31 ATS mark since 1980. To further enhance our chance of recovery, we can dramatically increase our critical numbers simply by pitting our revenging team against an opponent that lost its previous game. By re-qualifying these teams we are left with a palpable 25-10 ATS record. Bring us in off a game in which we scored less than 17 points and the blood pressure rises to a 19-5 ATS level. Two well-rested teams qualify on this week’s card, namely Army and UTEP.

And if your heart can take it, a 16-1 ATS result occurs when our 19-5 ATS qualified Game Three revenger takes on a foe off a loss that won 7 or fewer games last season. Once again, Army and UTEP look to be brought back to life this weekend.

There you have it, a season-saving formula designed to keep you, and your favorite team, in the game all season long. Enjoy the walk of life...

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ECU loses key LB as it prepares for Wolfpack
September 15, 2008

GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) -East Carolina managed to make it through two wins against ranked opponents in relatively good shape. The 15th-ranked Pirates weren't quite as lucky during their tough conference opener.
Starting linebacker Quentin Cotton is likely out for the season after injuring his right knee during the weekend win at Tulane, robbing the Pirates of one of their most experienced defensive players. The Pirates also will be without starting left tackle Stanley Bryant when they travel to in-state rival North Carolina State this weekend in search of their first 4-0 start in nine years.

Cotton was hurt in the second quarter during a goal-line stand in the 28-24 come-from-behind win Saturday. He had started 15 games over the past two seasons and all three games this year, tallying two interceptions and 1.5 sacks. The injury means versatile reserve Nick Johnson will move into the starting lineup, though coach Skip Holtz will have to sort out a rotation filled with inexperienced players.

Holtz said he wouldn't move senior Pierre Bell, who has 28 career starts, out of the middle linebacker spot.

``We lose arguably one of our best players on defense,'' Holtz said Monday during his weekly news conference. ``I don't want to lose two by moving Pierre where he's in a new position and he's not as comfortable.''

The injury leaves the Pirates very thin at linebacker. They had played only Cotton, Bell, Johnson and Jeremy Chambliss in the first three games there, meaning redshirt freshman Cliff Perryman and sophomore Melvin Patterson are now listed on the two-deep depth chart.

Perryman didn't play in wins against Virginia Tech and West Virginia before appearing on special teams at Tulane. Patterson had played on special teams in all three games, assisting on a tackle against the Mountaineers.

``Young players scare you because they're going to be all eager and fired up ... but at the same time you're worried the mistakes you think they could make will cost you a football game,'' Holtz said.

The Pirates might be able to get through this weekend's game against a team that hasn't scored an offensive touchdown against a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent since the next-to-last game of the 2007 season, a span of 13 straight quarters. But the injury might wound the Pirates' hopes of winning the Conference USA championship, which would be the only way to crash the BCS party and make good on their early upsets of the Hokies and Mountaineers.

Bryant, a senior, hurt his left knee on the first play of the second quarter against Tulane and is out indefinitely. He had started 11 straight games on the offensive line. The Pirates plan to move right tackle D.J. Scott to the left side, while reserve Terence Campbell will fill in on the right.

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Ducks QB out 2 to 4 weeks with knee injury
September 15, 2008

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) -Oregon quarterback Justin Roper will be out two to four weeks because of a partially torn ligament in his left knee.

Ducks , coach Mike Bellotti said Roper injured his knee late in a 32-26 overtime victory at Purdue on Saturday and that preliminary reports indicate a partial tear of Roper's medial collateral ligament. More tests were expected on Monday.

Roper was picked to start for Oregon (3-0) in the week before the team's opener against Washington when projected starter Nate Costa injured his left knee in practice. Costa had surgery and is expected to miss the season.

The No. 17 Ducks host Boise State on Saturday. The team is expected to use backup Jeremiah Masoli and true freshman Chris Harper at quarterback.

Both Masoli and Harper have played in all three of Oregon's games this season. Masoli, a junior college transfer, has completed 16 of 28 passes for 193 yards and two TDs. Harper has run for 102 yards and two touchdowns, while completing 4 of 6 for 40 yards and a TD.

Bellotti did not immediately pick a starter for the game against the Broncos, but said both would likely play.

``Both have strong attributes and bring different strengths to the table,'' Bellotti said. ``We can capitalize on their assets.''

Oregon had planned on redshirting true freshman quarterback Darron Thomas, but he will be taking more snaps in practice, Bellotti said.

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News and Notes - Week 3
Northcoast Sports

Week 3

N Carolina was our #2 Most Improved Team and after struggling to get past McNeese St in the opener, they had an impressive win over Rutgers on the road. The 1H was actually closer than the numbers would indicate as RU had a 206-179 yd edge but thanks to a 69 yd TD pass, NC led 17-6 and outscored RU 21-0 in the 3Q en route to the win...

USF asserted itself as a potential National Title contender by knocking off #13 ranked Kansas. KU appeared in control in the 1H leading 20-3 and it was 20-10 at the half but USF held KU to 1 FD on their first four 2H poss while USF drove 76/13pl, 66/9pl, 71/5pl and 36/2pl for 3 TD's and a short 23 yd FG to lead by 14. KU rallied with 2 TD's and had the ball when they were int'd setting up USF's game-winning 43 yd FG...

Illinois did have a 213-132 yd edge at the half vs ULL but needed a 27 yd FG with 1:36 left to make it 20-10. UL got a TD on 4th & 10 with :18 left but IL rec'd the onside kick to win by 3...
Duke has been dominant in the 3Q this year and vs Navy they held the Midshipmen to 1 FD in four poss of the 3Q and Duke overcame a 24-20 deficit at the half to take a 34-24 lead. The one FD was a 3rd & 12 short pass that turned into a 68 yd TD that got Navy back in the game. Duke went back up by 10 and their final drive ate up nearly 7:00 and was SOD at the Navy 20 in their 10 point win...

UAB had an 18:08-11:52 TOP edge in the 1H vs Tennessee but had a 75/12pl drive end on a SOD at the UT 19 and a 50/7pl drive end on an int in the EZ and they trailed 14-0 at the half. Up 14-3 UT went on 3 consec TD drives to put it away. The game was played in front of a less than sell-out crowd of 98,205...

In the 1H GT had a 175-135 yd edge but fumbled at their own 43 with 1:10 left 1H and VT, 7 plays later got a TD for the lead, 14-9. GT was int'd at the VT 42 (4:36 3Q) and 10 pl later VT hit a 25 yd FG, 17-9 (13:58). GT went 81/9pl for a TD and 2 pt conv to tie but VT drove 75/11pl for a 21 yd FG and the win, 20-17 (4:40). GT was SOD at their own 32 with 2:14 left...

Penn St has scored 35 pts in the 1H in each of its first 3 games, the first time they've done that since 1994. They delivered a dominating win, leading 38-6 with 393-42 yd and 19-3 FD edges at the half in their 55-13 win over Syracuse...

Auburn had a 14-6 FD edge vs Miss St and 315-116 yd edge, an almost 3-1 yardage edge. Unfortunately some key plays did not go in the Tiger's favor. AU had a FD at the 11 of MSU but after a pair of pen, settled for a 35 yd FG. AU missed a 42 yd FG at the end of the 1H and despite a 170-66 yd edge, led just 3-0. In the 3Q AU got a 1st & gl at the 7 but settled for a 22 yd FG and amazingly missed it. AU had a FD at the MSU 26 on their next poss but a pen and sk forced a punt. AU got a FD to the MSU 22 on their next poss but it was called back on a hold. AU also had a 3-1 TO deficit and only won by 1...

QB Tyler Graunke ret'd LW and had a big 2H for Hawaii but struggled in his first start of the year hitting 12 of 27 for 118. Oregon St missed 3 FG's in the 1H and only led 14-7 late 2Q. They would score on their first 4 poss of the 2H to open it up and ended the game at the UH 14 yd line in a 45-7 win with a 485-211 OSU yd edge...

UCLA suffered its first shutout loss since 2001. BYU did have 2 long drives for TD's but then UCLA imploded with 3 TO's and a blk'd FG setting up BYU for 37, 30, 25 and 53 yd drives for TD's, the latter with :14 left in the half and BYU led 42-0. BYU did have a 310-89 yd edge at the half...

Tough loss for Steve Spurrier this past week. SC led 7-6 at the half with 2 key plays keeping alive UGA's FG drives as a 3rd & 12 int was wiped out by a questionable pass interference and they also converted on 3rd & 21 with a 38 yd pass before the half. SC trailed 14-7 and had a 1st & gl at the 2 but fmbl'd into the EZ for a TB with 8:04 left. UGA got off a 77 yd punt but SC still drove and was SOD on 4th & 2 at the UGA 32. SC's last drive got to the UGA 17 but a hold forced a 2nd & 20 and they were int'd at the 3...

Notre Dame took advantage of 6 Michigan TO's but jumped out to a 21-0 lead including a 48 yd TD pass. They led 28-17 at the half and got the 2H's only score on a 35 yd FR TD in a game played in the rain. HC Charlie Weis suffered MCL and ACL injuries and spent the 2H on crutches...

It was exciting in the final minute of the 1H in the Temple/Buffalo game. At the end of the 1H, each team scored a TD in the final :54 and each team had a TO in that same brief span. At the half TU had a 257-164 yd edge. At the end of the game, Buffalo got a 25 yd FG with 2:22 left but TU got a TD with :38 left to appear to pull out the win. Buffalo, however, got a 35 yd TD pass on a Hail Mary on the game's final play for the miracle finish...

Ohio St had a tale of 2H's vs USC and missed opportunities. While most folks only remember a USC blowout, after each team punted, OSU went on a 64/17pl drive and had a 1st & gl at the 5 but settled for a 24 yd FG. USC went 75/63 yds for TD's to lead 14-3. The Buckeyes had not one, but two TD's called back on offensive holding on a 10 pl drive and settled for a 46 yd FG and missed it and USC then got an IR TD with 2:49 left 1H. At the half OSU actually had a 177-173 yd edge and a 20:07-9:53 TOP edge. The Buckeyes were deflated and only had 25 yds offense in the 2H and USC dominated that stanza...

Ohio is one of the best 0-3 teams in the country. They should have beat Wyoming in the opener, outplayed Ohio St for most of the game and LW vs the MAC favorite, C Michigan, they only trailed 31-28 and drove to the CM 8 yd line. QB Boo Jackson, who played because starting QB Theo Scott is out for 4 games appeared to have the go ahead TD but he fumbled into the EZ for a TB with 3:09 left and CM escaped...

Miami, Oh trailed Charleston Southern 27-17 with 4:45 left 3Q when they got a 44 yd PR TD by Eugene Harris. Clemson transfer Tribble Reese hit 26 of 39 for 257 yards for CS. Miami scored the game's final two TD's, one after a 78 IR to the 21 and the other a 60/6pl drive to pull away in the 4Q...

Donald Brown had missed the previous year's game vs Virginia but this time rushed for 206 yds and Conn had 1H drives of 70, 77, 86 and 75 yards finishing with a 506-219 yd edge. UVA benched starting QB Peter Lalich who did not make the trip and Marc Verica in his first start hit 22 of 32 passes for 158 yds...

Wyoming got its 2nd narrow win of the year. They barely escaped vs Ohio and this time got a 29 yd FG with :04 left to get past N Dakota St. The FG was set up by an int with 1:28 left in the game. NDSt had a 313-266 yd edge. Interestingly our PP computer called for NDSt to win the game by 2 and it was close, as expected. In the 1H NDSt had 9-3 FD and 191-78 yd edges...

Pat Hill billed it as the biggest home game in the history of Fresno St football but they trailed Wisconsin 10-0 at the half and trailing by 3 in the 4Q, missed a FG. Despite a 343-304 yd edge, FSU lost that game at home and burst their BCS bubble...

Rice and Vanderbilt were tied at 21 at the half but VU pulled away in the 2H for a 17 pt win holding Rice scoreless. Rice did finish with a 407-344 yd edge...

Arkansas St had a 447-348 yd edge vs Southern Miss but trailed 17-3 at the half and 27-17 in the 4Q...

Ole Miss trailed Samford 7-6 late 1H but then scored consec TD drives of 53, 91 and 63 yds to blow the game open and dominated with a 424-198 yd edge...

The good news for Utah St is they had 19,061 on hand, the bad news was over half the crowd was Utah fans. They witnessed a dominating 58-10 win with Utah's 29-8 FD edge...

Nick Saban was upset by the fact that Alabama played down to their competition last year and then upset again when they were outgained by Tulane in their home opener 318-172. He threatened to move players to the scout team if there was a lack of effort and they responded vs WKU piling up 557 yds, their highest total since 1989 in their 41-7 romp. It was 31-7 at the half.


A few years back Kentucky appeared to knock off LSU but gave up a long pass on the final play to the Tigers and that came after Coach Guy Morriss was dunked with Gatorade. Versus Middle Tennessee, UK appeared to have it locked up at 20-14 but they had a 31 yd FG blk'd with :08 left. MT ret'd it and was at the UK 38. Their Hail Mary pass was tipped and caught by King at the 5 and they appeared on their way for another last second win but he was tkl'd inches short of the goal line at the 1. UK did have a 21-13 FD edge.


Nebraska piled up 368 yds in the 1H but had a 70/13pl drive end in a missed 35 yd FG and a 60/12pl drive SOD at the 4. NMSt also had a 77/15pl drive on a blocked 20 yd FG and it was just 21-0 at the half. In the 2H NMSt was int'd at the 4 and at the end of the game was at the NU2 firing incomplete in the EZ but the Huskers controlled matters with 330 yards rushing and 553 total yards...

Montana St had lost to Kansas St 69-10 but jumped out to a 134-21 yd edge vs Minnesota in the 1Q and led 6-0. They also played well early vs Kansas St with the game tied at 7 in the 2Q. UM did lead 35-16 before allowing a TD early 4Q.


The situation greatly affected the Houston/Air Force game. UH no longer had a HG last week as it was moved to Dallas. The UH players were probably worried about their homes and generally in a disruption like this, where the field was changed as was the start time, you would figure a military academy, which is geared to adapt to anything would have the edge. The game as also played in wind and rain. AF had zero completions on 7 pass attempts but ran for 380 yds and despite UH having a 534-380 yd edge, AF led the game 31-7 before UH got 3 TD's.


It was a misleading box score in the Idaho/W Michigan game as UI finished with a 455-416 yd edge but WM scored a TD with 7:06 left to lead 51-21 and UI gained 124 yds with a 90 yd drive for a garbage TD with :59 left. They then rec'd the onside kick and tacked on an additional 34 yds at the end.


SJSt RB Yonus Davis, who was questionable most of last season and got off to a slow start this year, rushed for 143 yds and a TD vs SDSt. QB Kyle Reed, who was inj'd LW vs Nebraska, played the entire game hitting 20 of 25 for 178 and the Spartans rolled up a 476-146 yd edge. The 146 yds allowed was the fewest by a Dick Tomey SJSt team in their 34-10 win.


Troy set a school record for total offense with a 736-120 yd edge over Alcorn St in their 65-0 win. It was 52-0 at the half when they pulled their starters...

It was a record setting day for Baylor frosh QB Griffin who set a BU record with 217 yards rushing and set a Big 12 record avg an amazing 19.7 ypc. Wash St had to fly in the day of the game as the game was moved to Friday and gave Kevin Lopina his first start. It was 14-14 late 2Q but BU dominated after that finishing with 555-340 yd edge...

Missouri's offense is potent and scored on their first 10 poss vs Nevada. It was "only" 38-17 at the half with MO having a 371-237 yd edge but the Tigers would score on their first 4 poss of the 2H to blow it open 69-17 and tied a school record with 69 pts (previous record 1969 vs Kansas). The Tigers avg 10 ypp.


Besides USC's glorious win over Ohio St, the Pac-10 had a rough outing. Cal was playing across the country at 9:00 am on West Coast. They sleepwalked early and Maryland jumped out to a 21-3 lead. The Terps led 35-13 after a TD with 6:22 left and Cal got 2 late TD's but MD rec'd 3 onside kicks after Cal's last 3 scores...

Oregon gave up an 80 yd TD run on the 2nd play of the game, settled for a 24 yd FG, was stopped on a fake punt, int'd at the PU18 and were SOD at the PU41 and settled for a 21 yd FG in the 1H and despite a 17-7 FD edge actually trailed 20-6 and needed 2OT to pull out the win over Purdue...

Washington lost by its largest margin at home since 1929 with a 55-14 blowout loss to Oklahoma. Last time OU traveled to P10 country, ref calls cost them a win over Oregon. They made sure there was no margin of error. OU had a 591-336 yd edge in the rout...

For the 2nd straight year New Mexico delivered a Big Dog outright upset winner vs Arizona. NM was coming off a misleading final where they outgained A&M 370-236 and AZ's offense appeared unstoppable after waxing 2 overmatched foes. NM led throughout. In fact, it was 36-21 when AU got a TD with 4:28 left...

TCU deserved better vs Stanford they had 378-193 yd & 24-10 FD edges. SU, thanks to a blocked punt for a TD was actually tied at 14 at the half but 2 key plays happened that allowed TCU to cover. The first came when SU got a 49 yd PR for a TD. They reviewed it and marked him out at the 13 and SU was int'd in the EZ on 3rd & 9. Later, after TCU had come up inches short of a TD which would have given them the pointspread push and settled for a 23 yd FG with 2:24 left. SU fumbled. TCU had a 4th & 7 and got a 10 yd QB draw by Andy Dalton for the spread covering TD with 1:05 left.


There were two key IR in the NCSt/Clemson game which ultimately determined the 1 pt cover for the Wolfpack. On the first play of the game, NCSt got a 32 yd IR TD, their only TD of the game. At the half CU had a 230-92 yd edge but settled for a 22 yd FG and only led 17-6. At the end of the game, CU led 27-9 and needed an IR for a TD to get ahead of the spread. NCSt drove to their 24 and was int'd and it appeared our prayers were answered as CU raced 71 yds with the IR but they were tkl'd at the 29 yd line as the clock ran out...

QB Rusty Smith had a horrible game for FAU hitting 8 of 34 for 143 yds in heavy rain. Javon Ringer had a career high 282 yds and after avg'ing just 3.5 ypc in his first 2 games, broke off for 6.6 ypc. Mich St only led 7-0 at the half and got to an ATS push with a TD early 4Q when the play of the game happened. FAU had a 2nd & gl at the 5 but fmbl'd at the 4 with 6:35 left in the game's only remaining scoring threat...

While it did not rain much during the Iowa/Iowa St game, it was played on a tough field as it had rained 2 inches in the previous 24 hours. Iowa was outgained 325-244 but led 17-3 and had the cover in hand after an 81 yd PR for a TD in the 4Q. Coach Fernetz didn't make Iowa alums very happy when with :28 left, pinned at their own 1 yd line, he had the P take an intentional safety giving ISU the cover.


A couple of key games played right into the Letdown/Lookahead situation, much like LW's Ohio St/Ohio battle. This time E Carolina was off a pair of wins over ranked teams and a big road fav over a winless Tulane team. TU nearly pulled the upset. In fact, EC needed a 24 yd TD pas with 1:41 left to take the lead after trailing most of the 4Q. TU had last beaten a ranked team in 1982 and EC only had a 316-306 yd edge...

Arizona St has been getting ready for their huge game vs UGA probably since the start of preseason practices for the UNLV game. ASU appeared to go through the motions but led 20-10 in the 4Q before they gave up a 20 yd FG and then a one-handed 8 yd TD rec with :18 left to force OT. Thomas Weber, one of the best K's in the country, had a FG blk'd in OT and #15 ranked Arizona St came up short in a lookahead game.

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College Football Power Rankings - The Ferringo 15
by Robert Ferringo

The Ferringo 15 is my Profit-Power Rankings, a ladder or hierarchy based on which teams are the most profitable on the field. I'm not trying to give you some other nonsensical, random, speculative power rankings based on my own biases and conjecture. So instead of Ohio State moving up or down the polls on the basis of how badly they blew out Northwestern the previous Saturday, I'm going to rank each team based on past, present, and projected future achievement against the spread.

This is not a ranking of the 15 top teams to bet in any given week. This is an overall overview and ranking of the teams that have been the most profitable throughout the season. That said, last year the teams that were listed in my Ferringo 15 every Wednesday covered the spread that weekend at a 56-percent success rate, making the F-15 a pretty solid system in and of itself. Also, in 2007 the teams that ended the season in the Ferringo 15 finished an astonishing 121-46 ATS, good for a 73-percent success rate and nearly $70,000 for dime bettors.

It was a pedestrian 3-3 ATS week for the Ferringo 15 last week, discounting Temple's game against Buffalo. However, the F-15 is still 11-6 on the season for a strong start. Without further ado, here is our Ferringo 15 (all records are ATS):

1) Mississippi (2-0) - Ole Miss was off the board last week, but their value didn't take a hit. After a potential letdown spot following a tough Wake Forest loss, Ole Miss didn't lose to Samford (which would tell me they weren't as good as I thought) and they didn't blow the Bulldogs out (which would have told everyone how good they are). The Rebels held Wake to 2.6 yards per rush two weeks ago. They will need to be that stout against a dangerous Vandy attack this week. The Rebs are 1-6 ATS in their last seven against the 'Dores.

2) Oklahoma State (2-0) - Hopefully a week off will keep the Cowboys off some radars for the next couple weeks. They have back-to-back home games closing out a four-game stretch in Stillwater: Troy on Sept. 27 and Texas A&M on Oct. 4. Those are both revenge games and I will be surprised if they don't win both games by at least three touchdowns.

3) North Carolina (1-0) - If the Tar Heels beat Virginia Tech this weekend then UNC may find themselves out of the Top 10 here. Again, it's all about value. And back-to-back wins against Rutgers and Va. Tech would really sound the alarms for the squares that this Heels squad is one of the two or three best teams in the ACC. (Which I predicted at the start of the year.)

4) TCU (2-0) - The Horned Frogs absolutely dominated Stanford over the weekend, and that's a tremendous accomplishment for a team that could have been distracted by the impending hurricane. TCU made two huge stops - an INT in the end zone when a TD could have tied the game in the second half, and a fourth-and-one stop at midfield in the fourth quarter - and their defense has allowed just 24 points (to 124 scored) through three games. They are 24-point favorites this week but are coming off a big win, they have a game at Oklahoma on deck, and they are facing a fluky, pass-happy attack on the road. TCU is just 1-4 ATS in its last five against SMU.

5) Temple (3-0) - Not only killing myself for not going to the well with the Owls, but pissed that I actually bet against them! The Owls are now 1-2 on the year and may be the best 1-2 team in the country. A tough loss at home to Connecticut in overtime was only surpassed by a loss on the final play at Buffalo. Now Temple has to get up for a trip to Happy Valley, where a not-as-good Penn State team beat them 31-0 last year. Can the Owls avoid the letdown? A critical question. But this team is 8-2 ATS in its last 10 games.

6) Ball State (2-0) - That was a solid 17-point win on the road against an Akron squad that has just played a pair of BCS schools tough. Ball State will be an F-15 staple this year mainly because Nate Davis is probably one of the best 5-10 quarterbacks in the country. Three of the next four are on the road for BSU, and I'm going to be wary of them as a road favorite. But first things first: they need a grudge win over Indiana, which dealt them an 18-point blasting last year. BSU basically stood no chance in that game though, as a win was needed to send Indiana into a bowl game. This year it may be different, but Indiana is also 20-0 in their last 20 against MAC teams.

7) Vanderbilt (3-0) - Perhaps it's no coincidence that there are three option teams on my list this week. And right now Vandy is the best one. The Commodores are headed to Oxford this weekend and again catching some points. They are 4-1 ATS in their last five at Ole Miss, 6-1 ATS in the last seven meetings, the underdog is 5-2 ATS in the last seven meetings, and Vandy is 11-4-1 ATS in its last 16 games on the road. All-in-all this team has been paying out.

8) Southern Mississippi (3-0) - Hey, if you start 3-0 you get on the list. I am stunned by Southern Miss's success to start the season when absolutely everything pointed to the contrary. They brought back just 10 starters and had to go through a coaching change. But this team has played very tough football. They handled a pair of BCS teams and managed to backdoor Auburn. So why aren't they ranked higher if they are 3-0? Because as they head into conference play I think they might come back down to earth a bit.

9) Northern Illinois (2-0) - NIU is 0-2 in the standings but 2-0 at the window--that is Ferringo 15 gold! The experience that they bring to the table each week with 22 returning starters is priceless and I can see this team doing a lot of damage in the wide-open MAC. If they do ever get rolling I'd be worried about them as a favorite, but this NIU club is definitely a live dog.

10) Arizona (2-1) - Raise your hand if you didn't think that Arizona was good for one or two embarrassing, inexplicable road losses. Anyone? Yeah, Mike Stoops is still a joke when it comes to scheme and motivation and this Wildcats team is going to be involved in several wild and wacky games this year. I think you will be able to earn with them - that's why they are on the list - but let's just say that you might not want to watch too many of their games if you have money on them. Could be bad for your heart.

11) Georgia Tech (2-0) - Coach Johnson is taking some flack from the local media for calling the play-by-play guys in the Va. Tech game "morons". Tough times. We'll now see how the Jackets perform as a favorite and as somewhat of a market team. Mississippi State hails from the SEC, a conference that has dominated the ACC against the spread. MSU brings the No. 21 defense in the nation to Atlanta and will mark Tech's toughest test to day.

12) Alabama (2-1) - Armed with the most experienced quarterback in the SEC, John Parker Wilson, the Crimson Tide are a serious BCS sleeper. They have the overall talent to beat Georgia, Florida, and the rest of the heavyweights and we will likely get the best line value on this team. They are a poor 4-10 ATS in their last 14 games and 1-6 ATS in SEC play. They are just 1-4 ATS against Arkansas and just 5-1 ATS in their last six meetings. I think this is a different team, though. We will see.

13) Florida Atlantic (2-1) - The Owls have played a brutal nonconference schedule and the reason they make the list, mainly, is because I think they are going to wreck people in Sun Belt play. They have a Grudge Game this weekend at Minnesota, as the Gophers are going to want some payback for their shocking loss at FAU last season. They played Michigan State tight and covered in that game on the road last week. Can they deal with that serious travel two weeks in a row? To cover this weekend they may have to win outright.

14) Air Force (2-0) - Never betting against the Falcons. Why not bet on them every week then? It doesn't work like that. This is a fickle business. Air Force used and abused Utah last year when the Utes were laying in the gutter. I doubt the Utes have forgotten. Air Force is 3-1 ATS against Utah, but they are just 1-3 ATS in their last four at home against them. This is, yet again, a solid 'stay away' game for me since my lean is on Utah.

15) Iowa (2-1) - Die Kirk Ferentz you fucking clown. He takes an unnecessary safety at the end of the Iowa State game and then the first words out of his mouth at his postgame press conference are about the spread of the game. I leave them in here at the end basically so I can rail him and mention A) what a joke Iowa football has become, and B) tell him to have a fun time with the job search at the end of this season. This team was pathetic on Saturday on offense, and Rick Stanzi is pretty clueless under center. This team could pull an upset or an ATS cash in Big Ten play against the Big Boys, but only if they are catching a boat load of points.

Others Receiving Votes: Penn State (2-0), Texas (2-0), Oklahoma (2-0), Missouri (2-0), Tulsa (2-0), Tulane (2-0), Cal (2-1), Oregon (2-1), Kansas State (1-0), Middle Tennessee State (2-1), San Jose State (2-0), Buffalo (2-1), Rice (2-1), Duke (2-0)

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College Cram Session: Week 4

Five Games That Jumped Out at Me Early

Alabama (-9.5) at Arkansas

Nick Saban says Arkansas is the best team the Crimson Tide will have faced.

Think Saban was watching the right channel?

Bobby Petrino’s version of Pig Sooey stunk, especially defensively and on special teams, in close, come-from-behind wins against Western Illinois and Louisiana-Monroe. But the Razorbacks will have more defensive ammunition this week, with the return of four linebackers who all missed the first two games. Four freshmen were manning the linebacker spots in their absence.

Initial gut reaction: Tide rolls easily.

More I thought about it: Perhaps Saban sees things on film mere mortals don’t. Perhaps it’s just coach speak. But, if it holds true, and Arkansas plays tough, that means the team picked to finish last in the SEC is better than Clemson, the team picked to finish first in the ACC.

Be careful here.

Mississippi State at Georgia Tech (-8)

Georgia Tech got healthier during the week, with defensive tackle Vance Walker and top wideout Demaryius Thomas expected to play Saturday.

Tech’s best running back Jonathan Dwyer bruised his back against Virginia Tech and had to leave the game. He returned, but was noticeably hampered. Dwyer practiced all week.

Initial gut reaction: Even when Georgia Tech opened as a 7-point favorite, it seemed like a lot of points for a game that has all the makings of a defensive struggle.

More I thought about it: The line surged to +8 ½, making Mississippi State’s top-20 defense look even more valuable. And the Bulldogs’ offense can’t get any worse than it was last week’s 3-2 loss to Auburn.

Has anyone else read about the ACC being down? This line’s still too high.

Virginia Tech at North Carolina (-3)

The Hokies began the week as a small favorite, but the line quickly shifted over to the Tar Heels, who were extremely impressive in a blowout win over Rutgers.

Initial gut reaction: When Virginia Tech was giving 1½-points, the wrong team was favored.

More I thought about it: The line seems much more accurate with the Tar Heels laying three. Virginia Tech looks better with athletic Tyrod Taylor under center. North Carolina had more time to prepare. Be careful here.

Wake Forest at Florida State (-4)

The Seminoles get back wide receiver Preston Parker and defensive tackle Budd Thacker - both starters. But they’re still missing 11 other players from last year’s academic scandal and have 14 freshmen on the two-deep roster.

Wake Forest is coming off a bye week.

Initial gut reaction: Wrong team is favored.

More I thought about it: Line’s not moving much. Wrong team’s still favored.

Miami (-3.5) at Texas A&M

Randy Shannon spent the bye week reminding his team about Urban Meyer tacking on a field goal in Florida’s closer-than-the-score-indicated win over Miami. A&M spent it worrying about banged-up quarterback Stephen McGee.

Initial gut reaction: Loved the Hurricanes, especially at the opening -2 ½. Line jumped to -3 ½, and I pounced in fear it might go higher.

More I thought about it: Regretting this play a little, even with A&M’s gimpy starting quarterback. Three weeks into the season, the Aggies’ opening loss to Arkansas State doesn’t seem as bad, and their win at New Mexico seems more impressive.

Payne Pondering: What do bettors want to read before finalizing their Saturday plays?

I'm going to be with you every Saturday during the college season. So, as I often tell my supermodel girlfriends, please take advantage of me. I hope you guys are more receptive. And real.

What are you looking for when stopping by on a Saturday morning?

Do you want injury and weather news about random games? Do you need documented predictions to make your time worthwhile? Or would you prefer deep line analysis from experts and other betting sources?

So far I've avoided making predictions for the following reasons. I'm a very small and undisciplined recreational player. I believe strongly that limiting your plays is absolutely crucial to overall success; yet, because of the aforementioned discipline problem, I often bet a game just because it's on TV.

I played 11 games last Saturday, including allowing my supermodel baby mama's picks (she's 2-0, with Arizona State over Stanford and Wisconsin over Fresno State).

In summary, I do this for fun. I’m anything but a professional and would never want anyone to base his or her bets solely on my predictions.

That said, I can be an asset to you.

Through my modest sports writing career, I have some insight to go along with a competitive passion for the strategy behind football and gambling. Most importantly, I’m willing to spend my time researching and compiling information that I feel is relevant each weekend.

So that’s what I have to offer. Now, shoot me a comment below and let me know how I can best assist you with your wagers each week. I’ll be logging on around 10:30 a.m., Saturday, if anyone has requests or wants to chat.

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What Bettors Need to Know: Georgia at ASU

Line Moves

The line opened at 6 1/2 and settled in at 7 soon after.

The over/under has shifted a half-point as well, opening at 50 1/2 and sitting now at an even 50.

New Horizons

This marks the first time Georgia has traveled outside the southeast region for a regular season game since they went to Michigan and Houston in1965 and 1967 respectively.

The trip to Tempe is the farthest the team has traveled since a game at USC in 1960. This is also Georgia’s first non-conference road game, with the exception of Georgia Tech, since 1995.

The willingness to travel is reflective of a conscious effort to shed the image of being a regional team and to build the Georgia brand on the national level.

West Coast Finesse

Questions about ASU’s toughness were underscored after they were pushed around at by UNLV during last week’s 23-20 OT loss.

While the Sun Devils offensive line has size, it remains to be seen whether they can handle the physicality of the Georgia defense.

Strangely enough, last season’s ASU offense managed excellent production even without good line play. Despite the OL allowing 55 sacks (second most in the NCAA) and generating just 3.2 yards per carry on the ground last year, the team put up an average of 32.3 points per game.

It remains to be seen whether this unlikely combination of poor line play and offensive production can be maintained against an SEC defense.


Quarterback Rudy Carpenter is the key to success for the ASU offense. Carpenter has started 31 straight games, the longest streak of any current Division 1 QB.

He has completed 71 percent of his passes for 975 yards and six TDs in three games.

Premier Backfield

You can make an argument that Georgia features the best backfield in the nation.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford has thrown for four TDs and no interceptions.

While Stafford is known for his steady, mistake-free play, RB Knowshon Moreno has been nothing short of spectacular. With a 6.7 yards per carry average and seven TDs in three games, Moreno has been as good as any RB in the country.

Concerns at Receiver

Stafford’s numbers could be better if it wasn’t for sub-par receiver play. The Bulldog receiving corps has been a significant disappointment this year, a problem that plagued the team for most of last season.

Tight end Tripp Chandler and WR Kenneth Harris have both been guilty of dropping passes.

Freshman A.J. Green might see some more balls thrown his way this week. Green emerged as the team’s leading receiver last week against a tough South Carolina defense.

Off Balance

While Carpenter has been outstanding for Arizona State, he isn’t getting much help. The opposition has noticed and is dropping extra defenders back into coverage and daring ASU to run.

This lack of balance has been a particular problem in the red zone. While ASU has scored on 12 of 13 trips, only six trips have produced touchdowns. This is a common problem for pass-oriented teams that lack the ability to pound the run when necessary.

ASU will have to walk a tight line against Georgia. The fact that South Carolina had some success throwing against the Bulldogs last week may tempt the Devils to let Carpenter air it out. If they choose this route, however, ASU’s one dimensional offense could become a problem.

Maroon Red Herring

ASU has a better chance to get something going on the ground if senior RB Keegan Herring is able to play. Herring has missed two of three games so far with hamstring issues. The former sprinter has 4.3 speed and brings an element of explosiveness that his replacements lack.

He is questionable to play against Georgia but don’t be surprised to see him start.

Bulldog D a Work in Progress

While the Georgia defense has flashed speed at the linebacker position, they have still not found the right formula along the defensive line.

Georgia has compiled only six sacks so far and is looking for a breakout game against ASU.

Erickson Hat Trick

ASU coach Dennis Erickson was named Pac-10 Coach of the Year in his first season at the school last year.

This makes Erickson the first and only coach to win Pac-10 Coach of the Year at three different schools. Erickson won the award at Washington State in 1988 and Oregon State in 2000.

Erickson’s coaching career has taken him from humble beginnings at Idaho and Wyoming to a pair of national championships at Miami in addition to the three Pac-10 stints.

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LSU at Auburn
By Brian Edwards

With apologies to Alabama, Saturday's LSU-Auburn winner will have the inside track to a berth in the SEC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome in December. The loser will have to win out in the SEC and hope the winner slips up twice in conference play.

In other words, the stakes couldn't be higher for this Battle of the Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Las Vegas Sports Consultants opened Auburn (3-0 straight up, 1-2 against the spread) as a 1 1/2-point favorite with a total of 37. The War Eagles were the favorites for all of about two seconds, as the number was quickly adjusted to LSU minus three.

As the week has progressed, most books have shifted the Bayou Bengals to 2 1/2-point 'chalk.' The total has remained in the 37-38 range. Gamblers can get Auburn at plus 115 on the money line (risk $100 to win $115).
LSU (2-0 SU, 0-1 ATS) is coming off a 41-3 win over North Texas, but Les Miles' team failed to cover the number as a 43-point favorite. Charles Scott ran for 102 yards and a pair of touchdowns on just seven carries, while Trindon Holliday demonstrated his blazing speed when he scored on a 92-yard punt return.

The Bayou Bengals opened the season with a 41-13 win over Appalachian State in a non-lined affair (unless you spent Week 1 at the Las Vegas Hilton, where I was told LSU cashed as a 25-point 'chalk'). They were supposed to face Troy the following Saturday, but Hurricane Gustav forced that game to be postponed until Nov. 15.

With LSU's aerial attack still in its infancy with a pair of inexperienced signal callers, Harvard transfer Andrew Hatch and redshirt freshman Jarrett Lee, the Troy postponement could prove costly. The two QBs have been splitting time with Hatch starting both games.

Lee has completed 57.1 percent of his passes with two touchdowns and one interception. Hatch has been on the money 54.8 percent of the time with a 1/1 TD-INT ratio.

LSU offensive coordinator Gary Crowton has mostly kept it simple for his QBs, throwing quick low-risk passes to a talented array of wide receivers led by Brandon LaFell, who has 11 receptions for 156 yards and a pair of TDs. When the QB combo has been asked to throw the ball downfield, it hasn't been pretty. Both signal callers were way off the mark on a few chances to stretch the field against the Mean Green.

Although the passing game remains a question mark, there's nothing wrong with LSU's ground game. The Bayou Bengals are four-deep at the RB position with Keiland Williams, Richard Murphy and Stevan Ridley all more than capable of spelling Scott at any given time.

Speaking of Scott, he's trying to keep the other RBs off the field. He has gained 262 yards and scored four TDs on just 23 totes. That's an eye-opening average of 11.4 yards per carry.

Auburn is also breaking in new QBs. Kodi Burns saw playing time as a true freshman last season, but most of that work came either at garbage time or in running situations. Burns is an excellent scrambler, but his lack of accuracy throwing the ball has resulted in Tommy Tuberville turning to Texas Tech transfer Chris Todd as the starter.

Todd played in high school for new offensive coordinator Tony Franklin, who spent the two previous seasons tutoring Omar Haugabook at Troy. He is more familiar with Franklin's spread attack than Burns, but you couldn't tell in last week's 3-2 win at Mississippi State.

The War Eagles failed to cover the spread as 10-point road favorites in Starkville. Auburn generated 315 yards of total offense, but it couldn't find the end zone.

"We obviously need to go back to the drawing board a little bit," Tuberville told the Associated Press.

As much as gamblers took note of Auburn's lack of punch offensively, they should also recognize its nasty defense. The War Eagles have given up only 15 points in 12 quarters of football. They held the Bulldogs to just 116 yards of offense last week.

Auburn opened the season with a 37-0 win over ULM, taking the cash as a 27-point favorite. The War Eagles failed to hook up their backers in Week 2, though. They won a 27-13 decision over Southern Miss, but the Golden Eagles covered as 18-point underdogs.

Auburn is 4-3 ATS as a home underdog during Tuberville's 10-year tenure. Meanwhile, LSU has a 5-4-2 spread mark as a road favorite under Miles.

The home team has won eight consecutive games in this rivalry, including LSU's 30-24 win in Baton Rouge last year. When these teams met at Auburn two season ago, they played the lowest scoring game at Jordan-Hare since 1973 with the War Eagles collecting a 7-3 triumph.

The winner of this game has gone on to win the SEC West in six of the last eight years.

Kick-off is slated for 7:45 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.

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Florida at Tennessee
By Brian Edwards

Back in the 1990s, the loser of the annual Florida-Tennessee showdown was basically eliminated from the SEC East race before the end of September. Times have changed, however. With Georgia's rise back to prominence under Mark Richt, the loser of this game remains in the division hunt.

Just look at last year, when Florida dealt out a 59-20 shellacking to the Volunteers at The Swamp. After the Gators lost to both LSU and Georgia, UT won the SEC East thanks to a blowout win over the Dawgs (not to mention nail-biting, late-season wins over Vandy and Kentucky).

Florida (2-0 straight up, 1-1 against the spread) comes to Knoxville fresh off an open date that was preceded by a 26-3 home win over Miami. The victory over the Hurricanes was UF's first since 1985, but the Gators failed to hook up their backers since the line closed at 24.

Bettors can't blame UF coach Urban Meyer, though. Florida was favored by 22 for most of the week and if you placed a UF wager early, Meyer really hooked you up. With the Gators leading 23-3 with 25 seconds remaining, Jonathan Phillips booted a 29-yard field goal that gave some gamblers a fortunate win (or push).

Tennessee (1-1 SU, 1-1 ATS) is off a 35-3 triumph over UAB last Saturday as a 31-point favorite. Jonathan Crompton threw for 240 yards and a pair of TDs as the Vols racked up 548 yards of total offense. However, Crompton also threw two interceptions.

Arian Foster ran for 100 yards on 12 carries, while sophomore running back Lennon Creer had 93 yards and a pair of TDs on just eight totes. Montario Hardesty also had a rushing TD after finding paydirt twice against UCLA.

Speaking of the Bruins, they rallied for a 27-24 win over UT in its season opener. Rick Neuheisel's team garnered the outright victory in overtime as a 7 1/2-point underdog.

The Vols appeared to be in control of the game early, intercepting UCLA quarterback Kevin Craft four times in the first half alone. But UT inexplicably went away from its ground attack with Foster and Hardesty in the second half, calling on Crompton -- who was making just his second career start -- to pass 41 times for the game.

With UT's offense stalling, Craft shook off his brutal first half and seemingly turned into Joe Montana in the blink of an eye. He executed a two-minute drive to near perfection at crunch time, throwing a TD pass for the go-ahead score with 27 seconds remaining.

UT answered quickly to force OT on a Daniel Lincoln field goal as time expired. But after UCLA made a field goal on its first possession of the extra session, Lincoln was off the mark on another attempt, giving the Bruins the dramatic victory.

With UCLA taking a 59-0 clubbing at BYU last week, many bettors could be tempted to conclude that the Vols aren't Top-25 material. But it says here that that would be a mistake. handicapper Christian Alexander agreed during Thursday's edition of the Power Hours. "You just can't compare games like that," Alexander said. "Anytime a team goes on the road in the SEC, it's going to be tough. With Tennessee getting more than a touchdown at home, that's the way to go. This has all the makings of another classic UF-UT game that goes to the wire."

Las Vegas Sports Consultants opened Florida as an eight-point favorite with a total of 52. As of Friday afternoon, most books had the Gators listed as 7 1/2-point 'chalk' with the total adjusted to 51. The Vols are plus 220 on the money line (risk $100 to win $220).

Since 2004, Tennessee has only been a home underdog four times. Phillip Fulmer's team has taken the cash in all four of those games, winning outright twice (35-14 over UGA last year and 35-18 over Cal in 2006).

During Meyer's four-year tenure, UF has struggled as a road favorite with an abysmal 2-8 spread record. Dating back even further, the Gators are 3-13 ATS as road 'chalk' since 2002.

Florida has won all three head-to-head meetings against UT since Meyer took over. As previously mentioned, the Gators spanked UT by a 59-20 count last year, easily covering the spread as 7 1/2-point favorites.

Earlier this week, UF's All-SEC linebacker Brandon Spikes stirred emotions in Rocky Top by saying, "We saw them give up. They quit playing."

That's what we call bulletin-board material.

But we've seen this before from the Gators when it comes to playing Tennessee. Before the '96 and '97 games, Tim Beauchamp called Peyton Manning to the carpet. Fred Taylor added intrigue to the '97 matchup by saying, "They know they can't beat us."

Indeed, UF won five in a row over UT from '93-'97. Finally in '98, Fulmer was able to lift the Steve Spurrier monkey off his back with a 'goal-post-game' victory in overtime.

The Gators responded with narrow wins in '99 and 2000. However, Fulmer seemingly made amends for all eight of his torturous defeats to Spurrier in 2001.

The annual September encounter was pushed back to early December due to the 9/11 tragedy. Therefore, the Gators and Vols met with everything on the line.

When I say everything, it's not a stretch. The game was to decide the SEC East. The winner would move on to face LSU in Atlanta with a trip to the Rose Bowl at stake.

The Gators had beaten LSU 44-15 in Baton Rouge that year. In other words, the orange and blue faithful were booking their flights to Pasadena to face Miami for the national title.

After all, the Gators were 18-point favorites to beat UT. The Vols hadn't won at The Swamp since the 1970s. There was no way UT was going to come to Gainesville to pull the upset. Not with this much riding, right?

Wrong. John Henderson spent the night in Rex Grossman's face. Gus Scott couldn't tackle Travis Stephens, who exploded for 200-plus rushing yards. And Tennesse beat UF 34-32 in a shocker.

It is perhaps the most painful defeat in the annals of UF football history. It was the last game Spurrier would coach for the home team at The Swamp. It was a victory so enormous in scope that you almost felt as if Fulmer's 4-8 record (in UF-UT matchups, that is) against Spurrier was now a push.

Even the biggest of Fulmer supporters would give you that Spurrier absolutely owned Fulmer until the 2001 game. Likewise, the biggest UF fan will give you that Fulmer won "The Big One."

As it turned out, the Vols left everything they had in Gainesville that night. Even with LSU QB Rohan Davey leaving the SEC Championship Game in the first quarter the next week, the Tigers still took out UT 31-20 and denied them an invite to the Rose Bowl.

Seven years later, Tennessee is still in search of its first SEC title since 1998. And Fulmer's detractors have put that December 2001 night at The Swamp in the rearview mirror, replacing it with a home loss to Vandy in 2005, the blowout loss in Gainesville last year and the UCLA debacle a few weeks ago.

If UT loses Saturday and falls to 1-2, a 2-4 record in mid-October looks like a strong probablilty. The Vols have to play at Auburn and at Georgia in the next three weeks. If they are 2-4 in mid-October, Fulmer's hot seat will occupy every inch of his rear end.

Translation: Tennessee needs this win over Florida in the worst way. Just like in '98 and 2001, Fulmer is desperately in need of a stirring victory that will (temporarily) silence his critics.

Will he get it? We'll find out Saturday in Knoxville where these bitter rivals collide at 3:30 p.m. Eastern. CBS will provide the telecast.

**B.E.'s Bonus Nuggets**

--Tim Tebow has thrown a school-record 130 consecutive passes without an interception.

--Since the start of the SEC Championship Game in 1992, either Tennessee or Florida has represented the East Division 13 of 16 times.

--Florida has won outright in five of its last seven trips to Neyland Stadium.

--If you're interested, I had a bunch of thoughts on Week 4 in this week's chat session.

--Georgia hasn't had a road trip this far away (at Arizona St.) since 1960 when it played at USC.

--Alabama at Arkansas. Bobby Petrino vs. Nick Saban. Let's just call it the A-Hole Bowl.

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Weekend Preview
by Lenny Del Genio

LSU at Auburn, 7:45 (ESPN): The home team has won eight straight in this series by an average of 9 PPG. Winner has not needed more than 10 points in the last two meetings at Jordan-Hare Stadium. In fact 29 total points were scored in those two games. Huge revenge spot for Auburn, who lost with :01 left when LSU coach Les Miles elected to go for the TD on 4th down rather than go for a game-tying FG. Auburn is 9-4-1 ATS at home vs. ranked teams, including 7-3-1 vs. the Top Ten. The offense has struggled though including just three points against Miss State last week.

Georgia at Arizona State, 8:00 (ABC): UGA has not travelled out of state in non-conference play since 1995. It is their first non-conference road game of any kind since 2003. Arizona State got caught looking ahead last week and were upset as 25-point home favorites by UNLV (we had the Rebels as our Late Night Bailout!). Arizona State is 11-3-1 ATS as a home dog going all the way back to 1995.

Florida at Tennessee, 3:30 (CBS): Tebow dominated in last year's 59-20 Florida win, which was the worst loss ever for Phil Fulmer. This year could be more of the same. Tennessee certainly doesn't look very good after losing to UCLA in its opener and then the Bruins lost 59-0 to BYU. The Gators come off a bye week. Team that has won the rushing battle has won 16 of the last 18 meetings and Florida has won three straight and 11 of 15. Underdog is 7-4-1 ATS L12 in the series, however. Under Meyer, Florida is 10-3-1 ATS in SEC road openers and 8-5-1 ATS as single-digit road favorites.

Notre Dame at Michigan State, 3:30 (NBC): Visitor has won seven straight and is 6-0-1 ATS over that span. SU winner has covered 13 of the last 15 meetings with Michigan State covering 9 of the last 12 (includes one push). That being said, ND is 6-2 ATS as a road dog under Charlie Weis. This will be the Irish's only road game in its first five contests.

Virginia Tech at North Carolina, 3:30 (ABC): In a down year for the ACC, this game may very well determine the Coastal Division. The Tar Heels are 0-4 against the Hokies since VT joined the conference, but actually outgained them (306-241) in LY's 17-10 loss.

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Top 13 games

-- Home team won six of last seven Ole Miss-Vandy games; Rebels are 1-6-2 vs spread in last nine tries as favorite, but that was before Nutt took over- he's a major upgrade as coach. Vanderbilt is 3-0 and halfway to its first bowl in 26 years- they covered 14 of last 18 tries as road underdog. Commodores lost last two visits here, 26-23/17-10

-- Mississippi State lost 3-2 to Auburn last week, gaining total of 116 yards; Bulldogs are 7-2-1 vs spread in last ten tries as road dog. This figures to be defensive struggle, as Tech split last two games, (19-16 at Boston College, 17-20 at Virginia Tech), are still learning Johnson's run-based offense. SEC road dogs are 4-0 in non-conference games.

-- Home side won last eight LSU-Auburn games; LSU lost last two at this site, 10-9/7-3, so this figures to be smashmouth game between a couple of teams that both struggle at QB. Auburn lost six fumbles in last two games- they're 9 for last 28 on third down. First road game for both LSU QBs-- they've yet to be tested by a quality opponent.

-- Home side won last four Alabama-Arkansas games, with last two decided by total of four points; Tide lost by point in OT in last visit here, but Hogs now have new coach, struggled to beat pair of inferior foes in first two games. Bama covered three of last 18 as double digit favorite. Arkansas failed to cover last three tries as road underdog.

-- North Carolina was impressive in win at Rutgers last week; they lost last four games vs Virginia Tech, losing last two games played in Chapel Hill, 27-24/35-10. Home favorites are 0-3 vs spread in first three ACC games this season. Hokies nipped an improved Georgia Tech team last week, 20-13; more mobile Taylor is back at QB.

-- Wake Forest beat Florida State last two years, first time they did that; Seminoles beat pair of I-AA teams in first two games, to lessen effect of suspensions-- they still have 11 guys out for this game, but seem to have found QB in Ponder. Wake already won big at Baylor, nipped improved Ole Miss, so they're more battle-tested team here. Grobe is 7-9 vs spread when getting points on road.

-- Home team lost last seven Notre Dame-Michigan State games, as Irish won last two games here, 31-24/40-37; average total in last four was 65.5. Big 11 home favorites are 5-7 vs spread outside of Big 11. Notre Dame covered six of last eight as road dog; Spartans are 5-9 in last 14 tries as home favorite. Spartans went toe-to-toe with Cal in Berkeley; this is a game they should win.

-- Oregon will use #3-4 QBs at home vs Boise State; Ducks won last week in OT at Purdue, after being down 20-6 at half- they're 14-3 vs spread as home favorite, facing Boise squad that has QB making his first road start in tough stadium. Broncos usually much tougher home side than on road- they lost at mediocre Washington of Pac-10 LY.

-- Air Force upset Utah 20-12 LY, ending series losing streak vs Utes who won last two visits here, 45-43/17-14; Utah scored 100 points in winning last two games since their win at Michigan- they're 7-12 vs spread in last 19 tries as Mountain West road favorite. Air Force has covered last nine games, but just two of last seven as home dog.

-- Miami crushed Texas A&M LY, leading 24-0 at half when Aggies had less than 50 yard of total offense; Aggies have new coach now, but they lost at home to Arkansas State, so some adjusting is going on. Aggie QB McGee has bad shoulder; status uknown. ACC teams are just 3-6 vs spread in non-ACC road tilts; Big 12 teams are 18-4 vs spread in their non-conference contests.

-- East Carolina needed blocked FG for TD and TD in last minute to escape Tulane with win last week; they've taken couple of injuries on defense, are not real deep with quality. NC State was outscored 61-9 in two games vs I-A foes this year, but their only loss in last three vs ECU was 21-16 loss here two years ago. Teams combined to throw 97 passes in NC State's 34-20 win over Pirates last season.

-- Florida gained 554 yards and crushed Tennessee in second half of a 59-20 win LY; Gators are just 2-7 vs spread in last nine tries as road favorite in SEC games. Tennessee covered last four tries as home dog. Florida split last two visits to Knoxville, with two games decided by total of three points. SEC home dogs are 2-0 vs spread this season.

-- Arizona State had horrific loss last week, blowing 20-10 lead in the 4th quarter, losing at home in OT to UNLV, a 22-point dog, now the Georgia Bulldogs make rare trip outside southeast. Dawgs won fierce struggle with South Carolina last week; they're 6-2-1 vs spread in last nine non-SEC games. Sun Devils have habit of falling behind early; it would be very bad idea to fall behind this Georgia team.

Knowledge for rest of the card

-- Penn State has been pounding patsies; now they face Temple club that has 22 starters back from LY and lost last two games on last play Would Golden be auditioning here to replace JoePa? Lions covered 11 of last 16 as home favorite. Paterno will run it up when he can.

-- Central Florida had bye week after OT loss to South Florida; CUSA road dogs are just 3-6 vs spread this season. ACC favorites are 3-4 vs spread out of conference. Boston College scored 37 points in splitting first two games, despite a +3 turnover margin.

-- Ohio U led Ohio State at halftime in Horseshoe, lost by one point at Wyoming, is getting 11 points here from Northwestern squad that is 3-0 but beat Duke just 24-20, and hammered Syracuse, I-AA team for other two wins. Wildcats covered three of last 18 as home fave.

-- Cincinnati has to break in new QB here after Grutza broke leg late in Oklahoma loss; Bearcats whacked rival Miami OH last two years, 24-10/47-10. Home side covered four of last five in series, which is a local rivalry. Big East home favorites are 1-6 out of conference.

-- BYU on letdown alert after beating pair of Pac-10 squads, waxing UCLA 59-0 last week (was 42-0 at half) and surviving at Washington week before. Wyoming barely got by North Dakota State last week, after losing 23-3 to Air Force- they lost last two vs BYU, 55-7/35-10

-- Southern Miss won last three games vs Marshall, 27-24/42-7/33-24; Eagles upset Arkansas State in Jonesboro last week- they've forced 10 turnovers in first three games, losing by just 27-13 at Auburn. Herd nipped Memphis 17-16 last week, after 51-14 loss week before.

-- Houston gave up 87 points in losing last two games- they're 22 for last 33 on third down, but can't stop anyone, giving up 31 points in wind/rain to Air Force squad that didn't complete a pass whole game. Colorado State had last week off, after being lucky vs Sacramento St the week before, winning 23-20 on late score.

-- Rutgers lost at home to Fresno, North Carolina, now goes on road to face Navy squad that has to be on decline with coach Johnson now at Georgia Tech. Middies allowed 76 points in losing last two games at Ball State, Duke. Big East teams just 2-11 vs spread non-league.

-- Pitt off to sluggish 1-1 start, throwing ball 85 times, running it just 56; they beat Buffalo 27-16 after getting beat by Bowling Green, now face Iowa squad that allowed total of five points in wins over Iowa St and Florida International, not exactly national powers.

-- New Mexico upset Arizona as double digit home dogs last week, . now visit Tulsa squad that scored 101 points in winning its first two games, at UAB, North Texas. Lobos allowed 80 points in three home games (1-2); Mountain West underdogs are 5-3 out of conference.

-- Ball State scored 76 points in winning last two games, faces former coach Lynch here. Indiana beat Cardinals 24-23/35-20 in its last two meetings. Ball State covered 10 of last 13 as road dog. Hooaiers beat Western Kentucky, Murray State; now they move up in class.

-- Purdue beat Central Michigan 51-48 in Motor City Bowl LY (led 34-13 at half) and 45-22 during season; they blew 20-6 halftime lead last week, lost in OT to an Oregon team that wound using 4th-string QB in OT. Chippewas are on the road for third straight week

-- Army lost last eight games; they've had two weeks since 28-10 loss to I-AA New Hampshire. Any team that lost 35-7 at home to Temple ain't much. Akron allowed 107 points in three games (1-2). Army has covered just 34% of its home games over last several years (13-25).

-- Maryland is weird, beating Cal easily after being upset by Middle Tennessee; Terps covered just two of last 13 tries as a home favorite. Eastern Michigan allowed 83 points in losing last two weeks- they got drilled at home in MAC opener last week, by Toledo.

-- Missouri gained 651 yards on 65 plays vs Nevada last week; they scored 121 points in two games vs D-I foes, have bye next before a trip to Nebraska, which is Buffalo coach Gill's alma mater. Buffalo is improved at 2-1 (8-4 as road dog), with only loss 27-16 at Pitt.

-- Fresno lost tough game at home to Wisconsin last week; they go to UCLA next week, so trap game here vs Toledo squad that won 41-17 in conference opener, after losing 41-16 at Arizona. Rockets are 6-1 in last seven tries as home dog, Fresno 1-5 in last six as road favorite.

-- Texas won its last three games vs Rice, 52-7/51-10/58-14; not sure what effect hurricane has on college campuses in Houston area, but at very least, their practice schedule had to be disrupted. Big 12 teams are 19-5 vs spread in non-conference games this season.

-- Road team won last two Utah State-Idaho games; Vandals won last trip to Logan, 41-21 (-3), but lost 24-19 at home to Aggies last year. Idaho allowed 121 points in its two games vs D-I foes; there is zero reason to back either side in this competitive but low-level game.

-- Only one of last four SMU-TCU games was decided by more than 11 points; this is local rivalry, so even though Frogs are way better than Ponies, dog covered last three meetings. TCU is 3-0, winning its two games vs D-I foes (New Mexico, Stanford) by combined 57-17.

-- UNLV had disputed loss vs Iowa State two years ago; teams meet again, a week after Rebels upset Arizona State in Tempe, as 22-point dogs. Iowa State lost 17-5 at Iowa last week; they're 6-24 vs spread on artificial turf. UNLV covered two of last 14 as ahome favorite.

-- San Jose State has best team they've had in years, rushing ball for 293 yards vs San Diego State last week; they outgained Nebraska by 38 yards in Lincoln, trailing just 14-9 at half in 35-12 loss. Stanford lost 31-14 at TCU last week; they covered five of last six vs SJSU.

-- UTEP lost last eight games; their last win was 48-47 vs Tulsa, 349 days ago, but New Mexico State lost last two visits to Sun Bowl, by 45-0/44-38 scores. Home side won eight of last nine series tilts. UTEP covered just one of last eight tries as a home favorite.

-- Arizona had bad loss at New Mexico last week, but UCLA lost at BYU 59-0, its worst loss since 1929. Home side won last four series games, with Arizona losing last two visits to Rose Bowl, 37-17/27-7. Bruins covered 15 of last 18 games that followed a loss.

-- Beanie Wells is out for Ohio State, freshman QB Pryor is expected to get majority of snaps for Buckeye team reeling from getting waxed in LA last week. Troy State lost by 10 at Georgia, 20 at Arkansas, 28 at Florida LY, but they also won at Oklahoma State.

-- Middle Tennessee beat Maryland, came within yard of upsetting Kentucky last week; seven of their last nine games stayed under the total. Arkansas State won at Texas A&M, then lost at home to USM, so not sure what they are, other than 1-8 vs Middle Tennessee.

-- Tulane hung tough in losses to Alabama, East Carolina, but they've allowed three special teams TDs that undid them. Sun Belt teams are 5-4 as road dog out of conference. UL-Monroe covered 13 of last 19 as road dog. Tulane failed to cover only game as favorite last year.

-- Minnesota is 3-0 this year after being 1-11 LY; they scored 73 pts in winning both games vs D-I teams; they allowed 356+ yards in all three games this year, but are +8 in turnovers the last couple weeks. Gophers lost 42-39 at FAU last year, thanks to -7 turnover ratio.

-- Florida International lost first two games 40-10/42-0, now USF is in town off 37-34 win over Kansas in ESPN Friday night game- they've got NC State/Pitt on deck. Bulls are 3-0, but their last two wins were in OT and by 3 points, so not like they're crushing anyone.

-- Kent State is -8 in turnovers through three games; they won 24-3 vs Delaware State last week, but Hornets gained 346 yards, a bad sign. ULL lost 20-17 at Illinois last week- they lost last two home games LY, are 3-11 SU since beginning of last season.

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Florida vs. Tennessee

Man, what a game this is going to be. All accounts indicate that Florida should get fired up and blow this team out of the water right? Over 60% are riding Florida and they looked great on national television against Miami getting it done - and Meyer had the sense to go for that additional field goal to make sure he covered the ballgame for his faithful fans. Did you wonder why they were kicking that field goal near the end of the game? Ding, ding, ding - it's all about the cover baby, these coaches know inside and out what the cover is, not saying they bet it, just saying, sometimes, they will use it to get their team pumped like Meyer did telling his Gators in the National Championship against the Buckeyes, that no one respects them, they are underdogged, no one is respecting them etc... and look how that paid out for them. As per this game, Fulmer is on the hot seat, this is Florida's first road game, Tennessee is an extremely tough place to play. This game reminds me of when a few years ago UGA went on the road to face Tennessee in a similar spread and it was a disappointing season, but this team came up big and beat UGA and actually went to the SEC championship that year. I think Fulmer will be gone in less than 3 years after his mini-extension runs up. But, long story short, there is some reverse line movement here and I wouldn't be surprised to see the Vols lose by a field goal given the hot seat all the coaches are and the fact that the stadium will be rocking, leans on the vols and the over here.

Ball State vs. Indiana

This game is going to be fun to watch and frankly, it is fun to cap. Ball State is on the road and they are favored by 43% of the public here, so it is not as if Indiana is a huge public favorite here. The line opened up at Indiana -1.5 and has gone up to -3 now where it sits. Both these teams are undefeated and the total sits at 60.5. Nate Davis of Ball State is a stud, having thrown for a completion percentage of over 75% and has thrown for 9 touchdowns and 3 picks. Indiana beat this team by 18 at home last year, so Ball State does have revenge, and they covered the first 2 games in which they were -6.5 favorites - they won both games by double-digits. To be frank, Indiana has not beaten anybody this year and Murray State and Eastern Kentucky do not count while Ball State, for better or worse, beat Akron on the road easily. The spread is low here for a reason imo, I wouldn't be surprised to see a Ball State outright win here in this in-state rivalry.

Wake Forrest vs. FSU

I'll be short and sweet with this write-up, there is no reason why FSU should be favored here. I don't bet the SEC, but given the coaching, the plaers, the discipline and the defense, I like Wake Forrest here for an outright. It is probably one of the best ML out there for an outright here, after all, I understand that FSU has some revenge to dish out to Wake, but I don't like FSU's quarterback situation all that much and I like the veteran group of Wake more. After all, is it that impossible to see Wake win this game outright on the road as the have done previously at FSU or even lose this game by a field goal? I think it's definitely in the realm of possibilities.

Utah State vs. Idaho

Utah State opened up as a -1.5 favorite and they now sit at a -5 point favorite as the line quickly rose. Of course, this is kind of amusing considering Utah State is at home, they are 0-3 and over 60% of the public is on them, and yet they are still favored despite not producing thus far this year. Idaho also has revenge from losing by 5 points last year at home and here is a fact for you, Utah State has never covered back to back spreads in this series since 96/97 - meaning, there is a strong chance that Idaho does well today with that revenge factor, although this rivalry is not talked about much, these teams are not fond of each other. I just couldn't put my money on either of these teams. Obviously, Idaho has the revenge factor, the majority of the public is on Utah State which is not good, but also, keep in mind that Idaho has missed 9 of their last 10 covers. Why put hard earned money on this team? Plus, after losing to Oregon by 42 points on the road, you know how Utah State comes back fired up to play Utah at home? They lose by 48 and were 24.5 point home dogs going into that game and miserably failed. So, this team gets spanked on the road, comes back home, plays their arch rivals and gets spanked even worse. No thanks on either of these teams, there are better games out there imo.

East Carolina vs. NC State

I can't wait for this game. East Carolina opened up as a -6.5 favorite and the public has helped it rise to -7 as this team has become a public team quickly after the 2 quick upsets to start the year. Of course, I faded East Carolina on the road against Tulane and that cashed nicely. Remember, these 2 teams have some history considering that this is an in-state rivalry, and NC State went on the road to beat this East Carolina team last year by 2 scores as a 6 point underdog. So, obviously, East Carolina will be fired up for this game...but, they are favored by 65% of the public. I can see NC State having revenge and playing well, and this team comes off a n 18 point loss to Clemson (but did manage to cover the 21 point spread). I wouldn't be surprised to see a NC State cover, but more importantly, if one leans on NC State as I do, this is a rare occasion where it might go dog/under, as NC State likes to play field position, similar to Miss. State goes dog/under most of the time when they are expected to do well.

Temple vs. Penn State

Hey D, it's funny you bring this game up, but it was one of the top 5 choices that I had for Saturday. But, you know how I bet, I hate betting more than 3 games in a day as the more times you but your head against the Vegas the worst. But, this is a great public fade on Penn State. I understand that this is an in-state rivalry but Temple is much better than last year. Remember, this team is returning I think somewhere around 18 starters, their offense is nearly all returning starters, this team opened the season with a big win on the road at Army. What you might not know about Temple, is that they are the best covering team over the past 10 games out of any team in the country if I am not mistaken. They have covered each of their ballgames this year and 8 out of their last 10 dating back to last year. Over 70% are riding Penn State here, but I would not be surprised at all to see Temple lose by 2 touchdowns. In fact, this is my free pick for today. I understand Penn State won big against Syracuse and Oregon State, but I like Temple as the 2 games they have lost this year was by a total of 5 points and that includes an overtime game. I think Temple will cover their 6th straight ballgame going back to last year and go 4-0 ATS thus far this year after this cover. It's as good as any dog out there possibly imo.

Virginia Tech vs. UNC

I just think this is a dangerous game for Va Tech. Remember, the ACC is a much better conference than back in the day as it is different teams that are now the cream of the crop and this includes Wake Forrest, Georgia Tech, with FSU shrinking in significance in the ACC and UNC has come on to the horizon. Remember, I wrote about UNC in detail last year stating that as soon as Butch Davis came on board, he was going to start turning this team around for the better and he certainly has. What better way to prove it than here at home as this team is favored nicely over the Hokies. Of course, this could be the public getting too excited here

Mississippi State vs. Georgia Tech

You are well aware that I love Mississippi State, Coach Croom and what he has done for the program. He has restored integrity, honor and discipline back into a program after my school of the Tide snubbed the once great offensive lineman for Bear Bryant over and over again for the starting job, picking up bums like Mike Shula in the process. Having said that, Croom has an incredible defensive team with great intensity and their recruiting has been great as he attracts solid players from good family backgrounds. Now, if only this team get an offense. I think the best play in this game might be to look at the under, remember, this is the same team that played a 2-3 ballgame (yes, that was the score) against Auburn at home. Tech has a great offensive attack but Miss. State will be well coached here - Paul Johnson is no fool and realizes all Miss. State can do is run the ball and they can't pass worth of diddly as well. Hence, this will be a field position game. But, having said this, remember, Tech comes off a frustrating loss, the are at home, this is an SEC team, and I didn't think it was all that impossible for Tech to win by a score of let's say 21-10 with that new offensive look they had - so they might indeed get out their frustration. So, despite the line doing down, I can see Tech doing well here, either way, lean on the under.

Georgia vs. Arizona State

I'm actually watching this game later on tonight with a group of friends. Of course, I have to remind them that UGA football is relatively new to national prominence considering the Wolverines and Crimson Tide have the most national titles in the nation - with the Tide having far more SEC Titles. Heck, the Tide have won a National Title more recently than the Dawgs. Having said this though, I love watching UGA play football and I like Coach Richt a lot. Nearly 2/3rds of the public are riding the Bulldogs here, who, in all due honesty, should not have covered against South Carolina. They should have won that game, but that game should not have ended up as a push. But, remember, this is a nationally televised prime time game, UGA comes off now moving to 3rd place in the rankings, so this is their chance to pound a PAC team and move up similar to what USC did with an ACC team. Arizona State's defense is no where near the competence of South Carolina's defense which is that team's strength. The UGA defense will give up its fair share of points though as they have done to worse teams thus far, but this team's defense is physical and will take their chances to win the turnover battle. I wouldn't be surprised to see an over here as I think Arizona State gives them a run for their money coming off a loss as they were probably looking ahead to this game.

Vanderbilt vs. Mississippi

This is an interesting game and if you think too hard, it will make your head hurt. Here, you have a Vandy team that is now becoming a threat in the SEC - after all, this has been going on for some time for those of us that follow the SEC. This team beat South Carolina last year and this year, this team nearly beat UGA in Vandy last year and started the year going on the road to winning a big weekday night football game to start the college football season off. Roughly 60% of the public does favor Vandy here plus the points. Vandy has covered 6 this series 6 of the last 7 years, and I like Ole Miss's offense considerably this year. But, typically I shy away from any team that is a public dog, in other words, if Vandy was favored by 40% of the public I would think about it, but you never want to be on the side of the public for the most part, but more importantly, you don't want to be on the side of a public dog either. I'm staying away but looking forward to the outcome.

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