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Saturday Premium Service Plays
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Larry Ness' Las Vegas Insider-MLB (8-3 in MLB the L8 days / 54-33 run with MLB Insiders)-Day
My Las Vegas Insider is on the Tor Blue Jays at 1:05 ET. The Red Sox may not be able to overtake the Rays in the AL East but a wild card spot is "theirs for the taking." Boston is 1 1/2 games behind first-place Tampa Bay but last year's champs can wrap up the wild card spot with a win Saturday, combined with losses by Minnesota and the New York Yankees. Beating Toronto tonight also officially eliminates the Blue Jays from any playoff consideration. Jon Lester (15-5, 3.15 ERA) has had a terrific season for the Red Sox and has been dominant against AL East opponents this year, going 9-1 with a 2.18 ERA in 14 starts (Boston is 11-3). He just beat Toronto and Halladay last Sunday in Fenway 4-3, going eight innings while allowing just one ER (I had Boston in that one). The win was his third straight, while posting an 0.87 ERA. Halladay takes an 18-11 mark (2.77 ERA) into this game and is hoping to get to 20 wins for just the second time in his career (won 22 games and the Cy Young award in 2003). He was pitching on just three days rest last Sunday and allowed only three runs (two earned) in seven innings. Interestingly, Halladay is the only pitcher with more wins against AL East foes than Lester this year, going 10-6 with a 2.97 ERA in 16 starts against division opponents. Considering last Sunday's results, this game sets up pretty well for Toronto and Halladay. As good as Lester has been this year, he's been much more effective at Fenway (10-1 with a 2.54 ERA in 16 starts / team is 14-2) than he's been on the road (5-4 with a 3.90 ERA in 15 starts / team is 7-8). Halladay really wants to win 20 and the Blue Jays sure want him to. For that to happen, he MUST win here. Expect a great effort from the veteran today. Las Vegas Insider on the Tor Blue Jays.
Larry Ness' Weekend Wipeout Winner-CFB (19-12 or 61.3 percent ATS start to FB '08!)
My Weekend Wipeout Winner is on Indiana at 7:00 ET. Brad Hoke is in his sixth year at Muncie, Indiana and this is the best team he's had. The Cardinals are off to a 3-0 start (first time since 1988), coming off a 7-6 season in '07, which included an International Bowl loss to Rutgers (52-30). Junior QB Nate Davis passed for 3,667 yards last year (30 TDs / 6 INTs) and has completed 75.0 percent for 916 yards through three games TY, with nine TDs and three INTs. He's really been helped by the return to health of RB MiQuale Lewis, who's been lost to injuries (dislocated shoulder in '06 and torn ACL in '07), each of the last two seasons. Lewis has 363 yards (6.1 per) through three games but who knows how long he'll stay injury-free (history says, not much longer)? Indiana's also unbeaten (2-0), as Bill Lynch enters his second year as the team's head coach. He took over last year, after Terry Hoeppner lost his battle with cancer in June of '07. Lynch led the Hoosiers to their first bowl appearance since 1993 last year and after easy wins over Western Kentucky and Murray State to open '08, a win here gets IU to 3-0 before Big 10 play begins next week (home to Michigan State). QB Kellen Lewis (66.7 / 314 YP / 2 TDs and 1 INT) is again the team's leading rusher (736 yards LY on 5.0 YPC awith 9 TDs) with 183 yards on just 10 carries (two TDs). However, he's not the only one running well, as the Hoosiers have opened the '08 season averaging an impressive 275.5 YPG on the ground (5.9 YPC), albeit against modest competition. While Ball State is 3-0, let's note that the Cards are 0-19 all-time vs current Big 10 members, with the average margin of defeat coming by 21 PPG. The Cards lost at home to Indiana in '06 (just 24-23) but by the score of 38-20 in Bloomington last year (trailed 24-0 at the half). This is not a good scheduling spot for Ball State, as the team is off a conference road game last week (a 41-24 win at Akron) and plays Kent State next week in its Homecoming game. Meanwhile, the Hoosiers had an "off week" last Saturday and will be highly motivated to open 3-0 after last year's 7-5 regular season. Lewis threw for a career-high 354 yards vs the Cardinals in last year's game (plus had four TD passes, one shy of his single-game high) and I expect him to out-duel his counterpart Nate Davis again on Saturday. The Hoosiers have dominated opponents from the MAC, posting a 32-4-1 mark all-time and that includes a 20-game winning streak. Weekend Wipeout Winner on Indiana.
Larry Ness' 15* Bailout Game of the Week (8-3 MLB run the last eight days!)
My 15* is on the Colo Rockies at 8:05 ET. The Rockies made a dramatic second-half run last year and wound up in the '07 World Series. What a difference a year makes. Colorado batted an NL-high .280 last year and scored more runs (5.28 per game) than any NL team other than the Phillies. However, in '08, the Rockies have hit .264 as a team and their scoring average is down to 4.57 RPG. More importantly for us bettors, the Rockies went from being MLB's biggest "money-makers " at plus-$2,466 to falling to 26th of 30 teams against the moneyline, at minus-$1,907. The Rockies swept the D'backs in last year's NLCS but for most of this year, it's been Arizona with the upper hand. However, the D'backs have played very poorly down the stretch and enter this game 3 1/2 games behind the Dodgers, who lead the division. Arizona has completely fallen apart away from Chase Field, as last night's 3-2 loss at Coors was the team's 11th straight road defeat. Why should anything change tonight? It shouldn't and I don't expect it will. Doug Davis (6-8, 4.30 ERA) has not allowed more than three ERs in any of his last seven starts but he's picked up just win during that stretch (team is 4-3). That's what happens when the team doesn't "hit behind you." He'll be opposed by Colorado's Aaron Cook, who is finishing off the best season of his career. Cook made this year's All Star game and will take a 16-9 mark (3.95 ERA) into this contest (team is 19-12 in his starts). That's a far cry from his last two seasons, in which he went a combined 17-22, with Colorado going 20-36 in his starts. Colorado ended Arizona's season last year in the NLCS and this year, could help "drive a stake through the heart" of the team's playoffs hopes with wins Saturday and Sunday. First things first. Colorado wins tonight! Bailout Game of the Week 15* Col Rockies.
Larry Ness' NFL 25* (won LEGEND last Saturday with Oregon St, 45-7)
My NFL 25* is on the Was Redskins at 1:00 ET. Everyone knows the storyline. The Cards own just ONE winning season since moving from St Louis to Arizona for the start of the 1988 season (that came in 1998). That was also the team's last postseason appearance and the Cards opened this year with the NFL's longest-active postseason drought of nine consecutive playoff-less years. So what's going on in '08? The Cards are one of 10 teams to have opened 2-0 and Kurt Warner has gone "Back to Future," looking as little like he did from 1999-2001 (well, almost). Warner's completed 70.4 percent for 558 yards with four TDs (0 INTS) and a QB rating of 128.5. In Boldin (14 catches / three TDs) and Fitzgerald (nine catches / 20.4 YPC) he has one of the NFL's best pass-catching duos plus the team's defense, ranks fifth in PPG allowed (11.5) and seventh in YPG allowed (263.5 YPG). The Cards' decision to go with Kurt Warner as their starting QB has been a good one so far, as the team's 31-point effort last week vs Miami was Arizona's 10th straight game in which it has scored at least 20 points, the longest current streak in the NFL! The Redskins come in 1-1, losing at the NY Giants in the season's first game but then beating the Saints last week (29-24). The 'Skins mustered only 209 yards in the season-opening loss to the Giants but had 455 yards against the Saints. QB Campbell looked confused vs the Giants but was 24-of-36 for 321 yards (1 TD / 0 INTs) vs New Orleans, while RB Portis has been solid in both games, gaining 84 vs the NYG and 96 vs New Orleans. Moss has 12 catches and has a TD catch in five straight games, while fellow WR Randle-El has 11 catches in the first two games. TE Cooley has just six catches but don't worry, he's averaged just about 65 catches per season the last three years. Washington's defense is solid and it should get pressure on Warner. The Cards can no longer depend on James (3.5 YPC through the season's first two weeks / 3.6 YPC over his first two season with Arizona) to give them a solid running game, which means all the pressure is on Warner and his talented WRs. Washington held a very talented New Orleans offense to just 16 FDs (3-of-10 on 3rd down), 250 total yards and just two offensive TDs, as the Saints' third TD came on a 55-yard punt return by Bush. Brees, who passed for 343 yards with three TDs vs Tampa Bay, was held to just 216 yards with one TD and two INTs by the Redskins. At 2-0, the Cards could get to 3-0 with a win here. That's a significant mark, as over the last five years, 24 of the 26 teams which have opened 3-0 have made the playoffs, including all 14 teams which got to 3-0 over the last three seasons. The Cards I "know and love" will find a way to lose here. Let's note that since the 2000 season, the Cards are just 14-51 SU on the road (including their Week 1 win at San Francisco this year). A quick check of the record book shows that just TWO of those 51 losses have come by LESS than three points. NFL 25* on the Was Redskins.
Larry Ness' Las Vegas Insider-CFB (75% ATS with FB Insiders in '08!)
My Las Vegas Insider is on Tulsa at 7:00 ET. Rocky Long returned to his alma mater, taking over the reigns of the New Mexico program in 1998. The Lobos had been to just one bowl since 1961 prior to his arrival but Long led New Mexico into a bowl game in FOUR of his first nine seasons. The problem being, the Lobos went 0-4 SU and ATS in bowl games from '02 through '06. However, in his 10th season at Albuquerque ('07), Long led the Lobos to a 9-4 season, including the school's first bowl win since the 1961 Aviation Bowl, when they beat Nevada 23-0 in the New Mexico Bowl. However, his 'honeymoon' with the faithful didn't last long (pardon the pun), as New Mexico opened the '08 season with home losses to TCU (26-3) and Texas A&M (28-22). The natives had become more than a little restless in Albuquerque with the Lobos' poor start but New Mexico "eased the pain" somewhat with last week's 36-28 home win over Arizona. The Wildcats had opened the '08 season 2-0 with wins of 70-0 (Idaho) and 41-16 (Toledo) but in their first road game, turned the ball over FIVE times. New Mexico owns an excellent RB in Rodney Ferguson (back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons) and he's opened '08 with 352 yards (5.7 YPC) in three games. However, QB Donovan Porterie (3,006 YP and a 15-9 ratio LY) has not been sharp, as he's thrown for only 280 yards (in three games!) to open '08, while throwing four INTs without a TD pass. The Lobos takes to the road for the first time in '08 and will face a Golden Hurricane team which has averaged 50.5 PPG (7th-best in the nation) and 578.0 YPG (3rd-best) in winning two road games at UAB and North Texas. Granted those weren't real 'tests' but this team (nine offensive starters are back) averaged 41.1 PPG and 543.9 YPG in '07, which ranked them No. 1 in total offense. Not returning this year was QB Paul Smith (5,065 YP with 47 TDs in '07) but new QB David Johnson has opened by completing 79.0 percent of his throws for 750 yards with nine TD passes and not a single INT! Steve Kragthorpe began the turnaround at Tulsa in 2003 and he led the Golden Hurricane to three bowl games in his four years at the school. When he left for Louisville after the '06 season, his DC from 2003-05 (Todd Graham), returned from a one-year stint as Rice's head coach, to assume control of the program last year. All Graham did in his one year at Rice ('06), is end a 45-year bowl drought at the former SWC school. Graham led Tulsa to a 10-4 mark in '07, one which included a 63-7 GMAC Bowl win over Bowling Green. The Tulsa 'D" leaves a lot to be desired but I don't think New Mexico has any chance of "trading points" with Tulsa. I also expect Tulsa's defense to perform better here in its home opener than it has on the road. Tulsa was off last week and only has Division I-AA Central Arkansas up next. Meanwhile, the Lobos play their first road game of the season and have state rival New Mexico State ("The Battle of I-25") up next. Golden Hurricane win in a rout in this one. Las Vegas Insider on Tulsa.
Re: Saturday Premium Service Plays
1. 300,000♦ North Carolina
2. 50,000♦ Michigan State
1. North Carolina- Two programs headed in opposite directions, and I expect we'll see exactly that this afternoon from Kenan Stadium. Hokies have been far from impressive, with an offense that's struggled, and a young defense that's working with 3 new starters in the secondary. The Tarheels on the other hand, are vastly improved, as Butch Davis reknowed ability to recruit is starting to pay big dividens in Chapel Hill. But let's examine the match further...
No question the biggest match up of the day is the Tarheels outstanding wideouts versus the Hokies secondary. True, CB Victor "Macho" Harris is excellent, but its no secret this Hokies secondary has new starters at the other CB and both safety spots. Because Virginia Tech played "run-heavy" teams like Eatern Carolina and Goergia Tech in 2 of their first 3 games, their secondary has yet to be tested, and believe you me, T.J. Yates and his bevy of stud WRs are going to expose them in this one.
On the flip side, the Hokies offense is in complete disarray, with coach Beamer pulling the redshirt off QB Tyrod Taylor in a move that screams of desperation. Not like it mattered much, as Taylor was pathetic against Georgia Tech, going 9 of 14 for a measly 48 yards passing, although he did some damage on the ground, it won't be nearly as easy against a solid North Carolina stop-unit playing at home.
Finally, did you know Virginia Tech has failed to cover in 7 straight September contests?! In other words, they come out of the gate slow, and with their issues at the quarterback position, you can expect more of the same this season. North Carolina on the other hand, is 6-2 ATS over their last 8 at Kenan Stadium and 4-1 ATS over their last 5 against a team with a winning record!
Bottom line, expect Yates and WRs Tate (stud who will play on Sunday's), Nicks (Carolina record 74 catches last season) and Foster (800 career receiving yards) to make the difference in this contest, as Virginia Tech is not built to play from behind. Tarheels offense is dynamic, while their defense was clearly on display in their 44-12 shellacking of Rutgers last week! As a final note, the Tarheels also have quadruple revenge working in their favor, as they haven't beaten the Hokies since 1998! Look for that to change today, as the Tarheels take it to the Hokies, and take the top spot in the ACC Coastal along with it!
Take North Carolina over Virginia Tech as your top-rated play of the day.
2. Michigan State- Good spot to back the Spartans, as Notre Dame comes into this contest with some buzz after beating a Michigan team that tried their best to give them the game. You'll forgive me for harping on the Wolverines, but 4 fumbles and two picks later, its hard for me to be that impressed by Notre Dame's win. In other words, don't be fooled, Michigan State has owned this series of late, and they'll own today's game as well!
Last two years the Irish have been unable stop anything the Spartans offense has thrown at them, allowing 40 and 31 points in their last two meetings respectively. I see little difference this year, as QB Hoyer and RB Ringer return, along with a big and experienced o-line (all upperclassmen). Some people were disappointed by the Spartand mere 17 points scored against FAU, but rest-assured, that was a rain-soaked contest that required power running, not passing, and I think we can all agree they were succesful (Ringer 43 carries for 276 yards rushing and 2 TDs)!
For those of us who watched the Irish beat the Wolverines, were you really that impressed by this Norte Dame offense? Clausen completed under 50% of his passes for 2 TDs and 2 picks, while the running game averaged just 3.3 yards per carry! Guys, I'll tell you again, Notre Dame won that game because Michigan handed it to them, not because of anything special they did. While the Spartans defense isn't as sack-happy as they were last season, they'll still apply more than enough pressure to keep Clausen guessing. Also, with CBs Weaver and Rucker playing extremely well, passing the ball has become a lot harder than it used to be against this Spartans D.
Bottom line, while the visitor has grabbed the cash in this series for 7 straight meetings, look for that trend to broken this afternoon, as an overrated Notre Dame squad gets all they can handle and more from this Michigan State team. The public has always loved the Irish, but truth be told, they're still a ways away from being relevant, while the Spartans are an up-and-coming team looking for a big home win. Spartans roll!
Take Michigan State comfortably over Notre Dame in this college football match up.Tonight's Game...
1. 100,000♦ Wake Forest
1. Wake Forest- Okay, let's make something crystal clear, the Demon Deacons are the cream of the ACC crop, featuring a top-tier offense led by one of the better QBs in the nation (Riley Skinner), and a stout oppurtunistic defense and special teams that contributed 10 TDs last season! Florida State on the other hand, is still living off their glory days, and coming into this contest extremely overrated thanks to early season blowouts over cupcakes Western Carolina and Chattnooga.
First things first, while the Seminoles have racked up impressive offensive numbers, doing so against those two cupcakes mentioned above is hardly a vote of confidence. Sure, Ponder's 6 TDs to 0 picks "looks" good, as does a defense that's allowed only 1 TD thru two games, but let's get real. Neither contest was lined because neither contest was really a "contest!" Overconfidence is a team killer, and make no mistake, all reports out of Tallahassee is this Seminoles team is beaming with confidence, which is laughable when you consider the comp they've faced.
Second, let's not forget the Deacons have won and covered the last two in this series, as their program is on the way up, and the Seminoles in clearly in decline. Not only that, but anyone who knows Wake Forest football knows they present a tremendous amout of value as an away dog, going 17-9-1 ATS in that spot! Florida State has also been piss-poor as a home favorite of late, going just 4-8 ATS over their last 12!
Finally, while Florida State gets a couple players back this week, including WR Preston Parker and DL Bud Thacker, Wake Forest comes into this game fully healthy and off a bye. Needless to say, that's a huge edge and more than enough time for coach Grobe to gameplan his unorthodox offense to beat the Seminoles. In the end, while the outright upset is definate possibility, we'll take the points and grab the cash with the ACC's best team visiting an overconfident FSU squad that's primed for a letdown against their first "real" competition of the season.
Take Wake Forest plus the points over Florida State in this college football match up.
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