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Athlon Sports

Connecticut (+3.5) at Louisville

Louisville has bounced back from a dreadful performance in an opening-day loss to Kentucky to post consecutive wins over Tennessee Tech (51–10) and Kansas State (38–29). We don’t know quite yet how good (or bad) Kansas State is (the hunch is more bad than good), but the Cards played very well in the Thursday night win over the Wildcats. Victor Anderson posted his second straight 100-yard rushing game and Hunter Cantwell looked far more comfortable in the pocket. The challenge will be more difficult this week. UConn once again is winning games without much fanfare, doing so with a potent rushing attack and a very solid defense. Donald Brown leads the nation in rushing with 179.0 yards per game, but he is far from a one-man show. The Huskies boast several big-time running backs — some young, some old — to complement Tyler Lorenzen and the pedestrian passing game. In my opinion, the wrong team is favored in this game.

Connecticut 27, Louisville 21

Alabama (+6) at Georgia

We knew Georgia’s 2008 schedule was going to be brutal, but back in the summer we didn’t figure this early season date with the Crimson Tide would end up being such a big hurdle. Nick Saban’s club has been one of the nation’s biggest surprises, rolling out to a 4–0 record highlighted by dominating performances against Clemson in Week 1 and at Arkansas in the SEC opener. The strength of the team has been the rushing attack, with a host of talented ball-carriers operating behind a veteran offensive line. Georgia is a tough club to run on, however, so senior quarterback John Parker Wilson likely will be forced to make some plays down the field. Could this be Julio Jones’ coming out party? The freshman wideout has been solid when called upon, but the Tide haven’t really needed to open up the passing attack. Speaking of supremely talented freshman receivers, Georgia is getting a big (and much-needed) lift from A.J. Green, who has emerged as Matthew Stafford’s favorite target. In Stafford, Green and tailback Knowshon Moreno, Georgia boasts a trio of skill players that rival any in the SEC. Alabama is very good. Georgia is great.

Georgia 20, Alabama 17

Colorado (+6) at Florida State (Jacksonville)

One team is coming a thrilling overtime win over a (formerly) ranked opponent. The other team is coming off sobering 12–3 loss at home that featured some dreadful play on offense. Yet, Colorado (which beat West Virginia) finds itself as almost a touchdown underdog against Florida State, which managed only 220 total yards in a loss to Wake Forest. Yes, Florida State has the home field advantage, even though this game is being played in Jacksonville, but there isn’t much evidence (if any) to suggest that the Seminoles are the better team. They are still having major problems at the quarterback position. Against Wake, true freshmen Christian Ponder and D’Vontrey Richardson combined to complete only 33 percent of their passes and were intercepted a total of five times. The Noles’ defense played well, but this team needs to get better on offense to challenge for the Atlantic Division title. Colorado isn’t likely to challenge for a division crown in the Big 12 North, but the Buffaloes continue to makes strides under Dan Hawkins. They have a pair of talented true freshman tailbacks in Rodney Stewart and Darrell Scott, and quarterback Cody Hawkins has been steady in the first three games. Florida State will be by far the best defense CU has seen, but I think the Buffs will have enough to get it done on the road.

Colorado 21, Florida State 17

Tennessee (+6.5) at Auburn

These are not good times for Phil Fulmer. The man who delivered a national title at his alma mater in 1998 is under intense fire in the Volunteer State after a fourth straight loss to the hated Gators. It doesn’t figure to get much better in the near future, with trips to Auburn and Georgia looming. This team has talent, but the offense has struggled under new coordinator Dave Clawson, and the special teams have been poor. Auburn must rebound from an agonizing 26–21 loss at home to SEC West rival LSU. The Tigers have been outstanding on defense (as usual) but have been inconsistent on offense while adapting to Tony Frankin’s spread attack. Chris Todd showed some positive signs against LSU, throwing for 250 yards and a touchdown, but he was intercepted twice. Both teams are very good on defense and both teams are experiencing some growing pains on offense. Should be a typical SEC game.

Auburn 17, Tennessee 13

North Carolina (+7) at Miami

North Carolina’s hopes of reaching the ACC title game for the first time took a big hit when quarterback T.J. Yates injured his ankle in the third quarter of the Tar Heels’ 20–17 loss at home to Virginia Tech. Backup Mike Paulus, who completed 3-of-8 for 23 yards with three interceptions in relief, will make his first career start this weekend. Miami is coming off the biggest win of the Randy Shannon era, a surprisingly easy 41–23 victory at Texas A&M. Redshirt freshman Robert Marve looked very good at quarterback, completing 16-of-22 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns, and Graig Cooper rushed for 128 yards and two scores on only 16 attempts. We’ll know more about this team after Saturday, but the Hurricanes are looking like a legitimate contender in the Coastal Division.

Miami 24, North Carolina 14

Illinois (+14) at Penn State

The schedule hasn’t been overly taxing, but Penn State has been one of the most impressive teams so far this season. Thanks in large part to the emergence of senior Daryll Clark at quarterback, the offense is averaging over 50 points and 500 yards per game. And the defense has been impressive, too, giving up no more than 14 points in any single game. The Nittany Lion D figures to get its stiffest test from a potentially explosive Illinois attack. The Illini scored 42 in a season-opening loss to Missouri and 47 vs. FCS opponent Eastern Illinois but managed only 20 points (with only one offensive TD) in a sluggish 20–17 win vs. Louisiana-Lafayette. Over the last two games — against inferior competition — Juice Williams has thrown three interceptions and only two touchdowns. He will need to play mistake-free football to give his team a chance to win in Happy Valley.

Penn State 37, Illinois 24

Purdue (+2.5) at Notre Dame

Purdue, which lost in overtime in Week 2 to Oregon, is painfully close to being 3–0 on the season. But the Boilers, who escaped with a 32–25 win over Central Michigan last Saturday, could also be 1–2. Joe Tiller’s club is getting great production from tailback Kory Sheets (117.3 ypg), but senior quarterback Curtis Painter isn’t posting the type of numbers we are used to seeing. He hasn’t been bad, but he has yet to throw for 300 yards (after doing so six times last season) and has only tossed three TD passes. Purdue’s offensive balance should pose problems for Notre Dame. The Irish have struggled against the run and have had a tough time putting pressure on the quarterback, with only three sacks in three games. Jimmy Clausen has shown improvement at quarterback, but he isn’t getting much help from the running game. I’m not sure the ND offense is good enough to outscore Purdue, even at home.

Purdue 34, Notre Dame 24

Northwestern (+7.5) at Iowa

Northwestern is one of the undefeated teams that we still don’t know too much about. The Wildcats have defeated a bad Syracuse team, a decent Duke team (on the road), a FCS foe in South Illinois and a solid MAC team in Ohio. The offense hasn’t been quite as potent as we thought, but the defense has been better than expected. This week will present quite a challenge, however. The Cats will be facing the nation’s eighth leading rusher in Shonn Greene, who has rushed for at least 100 yards in each of the first four games. The Hawkeyes have been playing both Jake Christensen and Ricky Stanzi at quarterback this season. Stanzi, a sophomore, did not play in the second half of a one-point loss at Pittsburgh last week but is expected to get the start against Northwestern. Iowa has been terrific on defense, giving up a total of 29 points in four games; if the Hawkeyes are simply mediocre on defense, they should be in position to earn a spot in the top half of the Big Ten.

Iowa 20, Northwestern 14

Virginia Tech (+6.5) at Nebraska

It’s the first significant test of the Bo Pelini era. The Huskers have passed every test so far, but we haven’t learned too much about this team in wins over Western Michigan, San Jose State and New Mexico State. This is far from a vintage Virginia Tech team, but the Hokies are good enough to beat Nebraska in Lincoln. Statistically, Tech hasn’t been impressive, but Frank Beamer’s club has found a way to eek out 20–17 wins over Georgia Tech and North Carolina to open the ACC schedule with a 2–0 record. Nebraska hasn’t given up a lot of points (14.3 per game), but the Huskers have been a bit vulnerable against the pass, allowing 269.7 yards per game. However, don’t expect Virginia Tech to come into Lincoln and throw the ball all over the yard. Tyrod Taylor is winning games as the starting quarterback, but the Hokies are doing very little in the passing game. He has thrown for a total of 173 yards with no touchdowns and two INTs in two ACC games. If Virginia Tech can’t move the ball through the air, scoring points could be very difficult.

Nebraska 24, Virginia Tech 14

Wisconsin (-6.5) at Michigan

With Ohio State not dominating like we thought, the Big Ten race could get very interesting. Wisconsin, off to a 3–0 start, looks like a contender, but the Badgers are about to embark on a very difficult three-game stretch that features a road game at Michigan and home dates with Ohio State and Penn State. Wisconsin has been sharp in every phase of the game, most notably running the ball and stopping the run. If the Badgers can slow down Michigan’s ground game, led by freshman Sam McGuffie, they should be in good position to celebrate their first win in Ann Arbor since 1994.

Wisconsin 27, Michigan 18

Last week: 6–4 straight up (7–3 against the spread)

Season: 24–16 straight up (21–18–1 against the spread)

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JB Sports

Oklahoma State -17.0

Under normal circumstances I would tend to look toward the big dog in this one. However, that's not the case this year, as Okla. St. will be highly motivated for this one. Okla St. went to Troy last year as a 10.5 point favorite and were embarrassed on national TV getting blown-out 41-23. They were off last week, therefore have had 2 weeks to prepare for the rematch and are catching Troy coming off a tough game last week at Ohio St. Look for Okla St. to roll in this one.

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Dave Cokin

Maryland / Clemson
Take Clemson

I think there's some decent value on the Clemson side this week. The Tigers burned money in the disaster against Alabama. Then they got steamed by the public against North Carolina and failed to beat the number in the process. Wagerers will likely get a little gun shy because of that and the fact Maryland has looked great the last two weeks will discourage players as well. I think this is the time to step in and back the Tigers. The Terrapins are a bit of a fraud and the number for this game is now actually cheap. Look for Clemson to blow out Maryland.

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James Patrick Sports

Troy vs. Oklahoma State

The Oklahoma State Cowboys as its payback time in Stillwater for the Cowboys. An extra week of preparation will help as OK State recalls the boisterous celebration they witnessed in Alabama last season after Troy pulled a 41-23 upset over the Big XII team. The Trojans Offense can’t match points in Stillwater with these Cowboys. How Bout Them Cowboys!

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Brian Gabrielle

South Florida Bulls vs NC State Wolfpack   

The South Florida Bulls hit the road to take on the North Carolina State Wolfpack in a contest they should win – even if it’s not by as big a margin as most people think.In fact, my personal power ratings show the Bulls with a -6 point advantage.Take the points with the home team.

South Florida 24, NC State 19


Northwestern Wildcats vs Iowa Hawkeyes

The Wildcats haven't played any stiff competition yet, so the fast start they are enjoying is a bit deceiving.Meanwhile, Iowa is coming off a tough loss, but I expect this team to rebound at home, behind another stingy defensive effort.Look for the Hawkeyes to come out on top this weekend on their own field.

Iowa 28, Northwestern 16

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Steve Zukiel

Virginia Cavaliers vs Blue Devils Duke

Rating: EZ Free Winner In this contest, my money is on the Duke Blue Devils. Duke is much improved under first year head coach David Cutcliffe. They have won two of three and are still perfect ATS this season. They are looking to end an eight game losing streak to the Cavaliers, who are a woeful 9-24 ATS in their last 33 on the road, including 4-17 ATS in their last 21 as a visiting underdog. A win here would end a 25 game ACC losing streak. Take the Blue Devils.

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Max Prophet

Arkansas Razorbacks vs Texas Longhorns

Arkansas, (2-1 SU, 0-2 ATS, 2-0 O/U), got literally blown out on Saturday, losing to the Crimson Tide 49-14 despite playing at home. I say they fall once again in this matchup against a Texas, (3-0 SU, 3-0 ATS, 0-3 O/U), team that is clearly superior. Take the Longhorns to ‘Hook ‘em’ good this weekend.

Texas 38 Arkansas 14

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Norm Hitzges

NCAA Football Record: 45-29

NCAA
Double Plays

Ohio State -19 vs Minnesota
Oklahoma -18.5 vs TCU
Penn State -16 vs Illinois
Oklahoma State -17 vs Troy
Colorado +5.5 vs Florida St

Single Plays

Georgia -6.5 vs Alabama
So. Florida -9.5 vs NC State
Louisville -3.5 vs UConn
W. Michigan -4 vs Temple
Duke -7 vs Virginia
Miami, Fl -7.5 vs North Carolina
LSU -25 vs Mississippi St
Nebraska -7 vs VaTech
California -26.5 vs Colorado St
Clemson -10.5 vs Maryland
South Carolina -25 vs UAB
UNLV -4 vs Nevada
Kentucky -20.5 vs W. Kentucky
UNT +17.5 vs Rice

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Larry Ness

Minnesota @ Ohio St.
PICK: Ohio St. -18.5

As the Big 10 opens conference play this weekend, four schools enter unbeaten in their non-conference schedules. Penn State (4-0) and Wisconsin (3-0) are not surprises but Northwestern and Minnesota (both 4--0), sure are. The Gophers are the real surprise in '08, as in Tim Brewster's first year in Minneapolis, the not-so Golden Gophers ended the '07 season on a 10-game losing streak, finishing 1-11 SU and 4-7 ATS. The team finished 115th in pass D last year (289 YPG) and allowed 36.7 PPG, while finishing minus-15 in turnovers. Not many could have anticipated this year's 4-0 start, despite the fact that the schedule included home games with Northern Illinois, Montana St and FAU plus a road game at Bowling Green. After all, BG won in Minnesota last year and FAU won the Sun Belt title in '07 plus last year's New Orleans Bowl over Memphis, to finish 8-5. However, led by sophomore QB Adam Weber (71.8 percent completions with seven TDs and one INT) and a running game which has averaged 162.0 YPG, the Gophers have averaged 36.3 PPG, while allowing just 17.5 PPG. As for Ohio State, the Buckeyes were humbled at USC two weeks ago and despite all the hype over Tyrelle Pryor's ascension to the starting QB slot last week against Troy (he went 10-16 with four TD passes plus ran for 66 yards), one can't ignore the fact that the Trojans actually outgained the Buckeyes in Columbus and OSU led just 14-10 in the 4th quarter before winning, 28-10. Remember, the 0-4 Ohio U Bobcats also led OSU in Columbus into the 4th quarter on September 6! That being said, Minnesota is jumping way up in class in this game and let's note that the Gophers are just 2-33 vs Ohio State since 1969, including just 1-17 SU in Columbus. We've seen Ohio State "not measure up" in two straight BCS title games against elite teams from the SEC (Florida, then LSU) and at USC on September 13 but the Buckeyes are back in the Big 10 now. It's a conference they have dominated the last three seasons, going 22-2 SU and 18-6 ATS against conference rivals from 2005-07. Lay the points with Ohio State.

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Dr. Vegas

Wisconsin vs Michigan

Big 10 Conference action begins with this classic matchup, though their standings so far are nothing but classic. Wisconsin is ranked #9 in the nation and favored by 6 points in this game against a Michigan team that has lost 2 of its first three. The Wolverines are also lacking any starting Seniors in their offense, while breaking in a new coaching staff.


Good thing they had a bye week last week. They needed it. Of course Wisconsin also had a bye week, and will be just as ready to pounce on this reeling Michigan team.

Looking further at the numbers, we see that Wisconsin is 3-0 SU and 2-1 ATS. Michigan is 1-2 SU and 0-3 ATS.

It’s hard to say that the fourth game of the season is “must win” but it at least falls in the “had better win” category for Michigan. Indeed, the Wolverines lost two early games and ended up with a respectable 9-4 mark by the end of the season.

They’re at home, rested, and feel a sense of urgency. They’ve had two weeks to make changes. This is about the time Vegas starts to over-correct. A 6-point dog at home is too good to ignore.

Take Michigan plus 6 over Wisconsin.

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Nevada Sharpshooter

Texas Christian vs Oklahoma

The 23rd ranked Horned Frogs of TCU travel to Norman to square off against the 2nd ranked Sooners of Oklahoma.  TCU will rely on a strong defense and powerful running game.  The rushing attack is led by RB Ryan Christian and QB Andy Dalton who each are averaging about 4.5 yards per carry.  When Dalton does throw the ball the target usually is WR Jimmy Young who has 20 catches for 237 yards. Defensively the Horned Frogs have been holding opponents to about 8 points a game.

Oklahoma will take the field with a more balanced attack.  QB Sam Bradford has thrown for 12 TDs and only 2 ints.  The ground game relies on RBs DeMarco Murry (6.8ypc) and Chris Brown (5.7ypc).  Defensively the Sooners are holding opponents to 14 points per game.

While Oklahoma has won its games by spreads of 55, 26 and 41 points, TCU is by far the toughest opponent they will have faced to this date.  I like TCU +17.5 points in a battle between unbeatens.

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Totals 4 U

Tennessee @ Auburn

Tennessee (1-2, 0-1 SEC) out-gained the Gators on offense last Saturday at Neyland Stadium, but were still stomped 6-30 largely due to 3 critical turnovers, including a pair inside Florida’s 5-yard line, plus a surrendered 78-yard punt return touchdown. Dean of SEC Coaches Phil Fulmer (148-47) has seen too much to panic and has some facets of the Volunteers game to be excited about. On defense, the experienced line of starters 6’4” 265 LDE Wes Brown (9 T, TFL), 6’6” 290 LDT Demonte Bolden (7 T, 2 TFL), 6’3” 310 RDT Dan Williams (10 T, 2 ½ TFL), and 6’3” 270 RDE Robert Ayers (5 T, 2 ½ TFL) plus versatile backup 6’3” 275 Walter Fischer (7 T, S) have yet to allow a 100-yard rusher this season (10 in 2007), holding opponents to 94.7 yards per game at just 3.0 yards per carry and just a single rushing score. The pressure they bring hasn’t shown up in sack numbers yet but it has been key to producing 7 picks. Tennessee has always favored quickness over size at the linebacker position with 5’10” 225 senior Ellix Wilson (25 T, 3 ½ TFL, S, INT) the best of the current crop but it is the defensive backs that stand out for us. The crew of 6’2” 195 junior FS Demetrice Morley (11 T, TFL, INT), 5’11” 195 sophomore SS Eric Berry (18 T, S, 2 INT), 6’0” 200 senior LCB DeAngelo Willingham (10 T, TFL, 2 INT), and 5’10” 185 sophomore RCB Dennis Rogan (12 T, 26.9 kick return, 8.4 punt return) lead the deepest and most talented group that the Volunteers have fielded in many years. Offensive Coordinator Dave Clawson’s squad is also plenty talented and it all starts up front. The wall of Scott, Parker, McNeil, McClendon, and Foster (average 6’4” and 307 pounds) have combined for 102 career starts and plough holes for 179.7 rush yards per game at a brisk 5.1 yard clip and 6 scores on the ground while being tagged with just 2 sacks through 3 games. 6’1” 215 senior RB Arian Foster (39 for 233 yards rushing, 7 for 53 receiving) is the prime beneficiary while 6’0” 210 RB Montario Hardesty (24 for 109 and 3 TD) handles the goal and short-yardage work plus 6’1” 210 sophomore Lennon Creer (9 for 97 and 2 TD) has displayed explosive ability. So far, first year starter at the trigger 6’4” 220 junior QB Jonathan Crompton (56 of 100 for 591 yards, 2 TD, 4 INT) hasn’t be phenomenal but has shown some ability outside the pocket and has connected with 8 different Volunteers in each game led by receivers Lucas Taylor (14 for 193 yards) and Gerald Jones (12 for 119 and 2 TD). Don’t let sophomore K Daniel Lincoln’s 1 of 4 field goal mark. A pair of those misses were from 50+ and he hit 21 of 29 in 2007.


Auburn (3-1, 1-1 SEC) suffered a rare 2nd-half collapse last week, spoiling a 14-3 lead at the break, at the hands of LSU in a 21-26 loss at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Defense is still the hallmark for Tommy Tuberville’s (83-34 in 10th season) team but this season they have an offense to nearly match. 1st-year Offensive Coordinator Tony Franklin’s spread offense has piled up 171.0 yards rushing (at 4.1 yards per rush and 5 TD) plus 184.2 pass yards (at 6.2 per attempt and 2 TD) per game to produce a respectable average of 21.2 points. A pair of backs with 1500+ career rush yards apiece in 5’11” 216 junior Ben Tate (67 for 323 yards and 2 TD) and 5’11” 197 senior Brad Lester (42 for 174 yards and TD) keep defenses on their heels and Auburn’s offensive line has matured greatly from 2007. Not big by most standards (6’4” and 288 pounds per man), the crew of Ziemba, Green, Pugh, Isom, and Bosley have benefited from a year under their belts and have been beaten for just 5 sacks over 4 games. In the spread, junior QB Chris Todd (61 of 107 for 722 yards, 2 TD, 3 INT) hasn’t produced a ton of big hookups but has hit 14 different players led by wide receivers 6’2” 186 Montez Billings (9 for 124), 6’1” 195 Rodgerious Smith (13 for 159), and 6’0” 174 Robert Dunn (9 for 118 and TD, 21.4 per punt return including 66-yarder for TD). With the way these guys line up, 6’5” 242 junior TE/WR Tommy Trot (3 for 44 yards) could create major match up problems but we haven’t seen much of it yet. The Southeastern Conference’s best defense in 2007 will push hard for the title again this season. Currently allowing 84.2 yards at 2.7 per attempt rushing, 175.5 yards at 4.9 per attempt passing, and 10.2 points per game, the Tigers haven’t been beaten for a single rushing score yet and have yielded just 3 first half points. Impact players are found at every position, especially in the front 7 where 6’3” 250 junior LDE Antonio Coleman (15 T, 5 ½ TFL, 3 S, FF), 6’2” 296 junior RDT Sen’Derrick Marks (17 T, 7 TFL, 1 ½ S), and 6’0” 216 junior MLB Tray Blackmon (19 T, 2 S) have been simply dominating on 3rd down where Auburn leads the nation at 11.7% of conversions to be made. 1st-year Defensive Coordinator Paul Rhodes also coaches defensive backs and his kids don’t avoid contact – the seek it out. 5’10” 192 junior LCB Jerraud Powers (22 T, INT) actually leads the Tigers in total tackles while safeties Zac Etheridge (17 T, INT) and Mike McNeil (16 T, 2 TFL, S) pack a wallop at 206 and 204 pounds. Freshman P Clinton Durst is averaging 43.7 yards and sophomore K Wes Bynum has already nailed a trey from 52-yards in 2008.

SELECTION: The line-makers have shown Tennessee quite a bit of respect considering they lost by 24 points at home to Florida. We’ll go and take Auburn –6 ½ and keep our eyes out for a “middle” opportunity if the public bites and bets this contest up to 7 ½ or 8.

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Mike Wynn Sports

North Carolina @ Miami-Fla

After taking the North Carolina job at the end of the 2006 season Butch Davis makes his first trip back to Miami to face his old club the Hurricanes. Last year Davis’s Tar Heels got the better of it in Chapel Hill winning 33-27. This year things have changed as the Hurricanes seem to be back on the rise after a couple down years and N Carolina will be going it with an inexperience QB as starter Yates is out for 6 weeks with an ankle injury. So let’s take a look at both teams here and well start with the visiting N Carolina Tar Heels.

Butch Davis seems to have the Tar Heels headed in the right direction, but the loss Saturday to Virginia Tech was costly in more ways than one. Tar Heels starting QB Yates was injured in that game and that’s a huge loss to N Carolina coming into this game. Tar Heels are not a good rushing team ranking ninth in the ACC and they were held to just 103 yards against the Hokies and 50 of that came on a 50-yard touchdown run. Without Yates at the helm Davis will have to rely on backups Cameron Sexton and Mike Paulus against a Miami Hurricane team that’s hanging it’s hat on defense this season. Sexton has some experience, but was just 1-4 as a starter in 2006, while Paulus got the call last week after Yates went down and completed 3 of 8 passes for just 23 yards and also threw 2 interceptions. Either way N Carolina will have their hands full against a good Miami defense. While the offense may be a big question mark Saturday, Butch Davis’s defense has certainly held up their end of the bargain. Tar Heels only gave up 268 total yards to Virginia Tech last week, and the week before they forced 4 big turnovers in the win over Rutgers. If the Tar Heels are going to have a chance in this one Saturday their defense is going have to play well and lead the way.

Miami Hurricanes head coach Randy Shannon is also in his second year at the helm and he has Miami moving in the right direction as well. After a disappointing 5-7 last season the Hurricanes are off to 2-1 start with the only loss to the Florida Gators on the road, and that game was closer than the 26-3 final. Last week Miami rolled to a 41-23 win at Texas A&M and handed the Aggies their worst non-conference loss at home since 1988. Freshmen QB Marve, in only his second career start, picked apart the Aggies completing 16 of 22 for 212 yards and 2 touchdowns. Canes held Texas A&M to just 87 yards rushing as they forced the Aggies to throw after the game was out of reach. Randy Shannon is giving Hurricane fans a lot to be optimistic about as they have a lot of young talent that will only get better as the season goes on. Sophomore RB Cooper ran for 128 yards and a couple of scores and Freshmen LB Sean Spence is going to be a stud before he finishes his collegiate career at Miami. With the young talent that Randy Shannon has recruited, this is going to be a teamed to be reckoned with in the ACC for years to come.

Looking at some of the past history in this series we find that the home team has won the last 4 seasons, but UNC has covered 3 of those 4 getting significant points in all 4 match ups. N Carolina is 6-3 ATS as underdogs of 3½-10 points the last 3 seasons, but just 1-4 ATS as road underdogs of 7½-10 points. Hurricanes after a rough couple of seasons are now just 5-11 ATS favorites but 1-0 this year, Miami is just 4-11 ATS versus the ACC since 2006. Trends would tend to point toward N Carolina in this one but I lean toward the Miami Hurricanes. Tar Heels QB loss is going to probably be the difference here. I expect the Hurricanes defense to be dominant against the Tar Heel offense minus Yates, and I think that Miami offense at home has enough play making ability to cover the 8 points.

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Razor Sharp Sports

Illinois @ Penn St

The Big-10 kicks off their 2008 conference schedule this weekend and we have a battle between two top-25 teams.  No it is not 4-0 Minnesota at Ohio St.  It isn’t Wisconsin taking on Michigan at the Big House.  Instead it is the Fighting Illini and the Nittany Lions.  #12 Penn St is at home at Happy Valley to take on #23 Illinois.

Penn St is out to a 4-0 start this season.  They have outscored their opponents 211 to 40 so far.  The only problem is they really haven’t played anyone.  The opponents combined record this season is 5-10 with 3 of the victories coming against Division 1-AA teams.  Still you can only beat the teams that are on your schedule and that is exactly what Penn St has done.  Joe Paterno knows that his first four games were time to work on the depth of his team and get ready for the Big-10 season.  They have played 3 quarterbacks throw the ball, 7 running backs carry the ball and 15 receivers catch the ball.  Now that the conference schedule is here, you will here the names Daryll Clark, Evan Royster and Jordan Norwood.  Clark is the starting QB and has completed 61.5% of his passed for 720 yards, 7TDs and only 1 int.  Royster is the starting running back who has run for 379 yards on only 47 carries.  That is 8.1 yards/carry.  He has also scored 7 TDs.  Jordan Norwood is the leading receiver.  He has caught 18 balls for 318 yards and 4 TDs.  The starting defensive unit is real good.  They have allowed just 20 points in the first half and they haven’t trailed in a game this year.  They are allowing just 222 yards per game.

The Fighting Illini program has really started to turn things around.  After being a joke of the Big-10 for about a decade straight, Coach Ron Zook took over the program and has restored them to respectability.  Last season, Illinois went 9-4.  They are 2-1 this season for a combined 11 wins in under a year and a half.  In the 4 years prior to that,  they were a combined 8-38.  This season, Illinois dropped their  opener in a shootout to #6 Missouri 52-42.  Since then they have won 2 over Eastern Illinois and UL-Lafayette.  The Illini offense is again lead by QB Juice Williams.  Williams has thrown for 7 TDs and ran for 2 more.  RB Daniel Dufrene has taken over for Rashard Mendenhall.  He has run for 300 yards so far this season.  Illinois had the week off last week, so they will have an extra week to prepare.

Last season, Illinois pulled the upset over Penn St beating the Nittany Lions 27-20.  Penn St could only score in 3 of their 6 visits into the redzone in that contest and had 3 turnovers.  Illinois also had a kickoff return for a TD in that game.  The way both of these teams can score I expect an  even higher scoring game than we saw last season.Take the Illinois/Penn St game OVER the total

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The Herd

TCU (+18) 17 – OK28

LSU (23.5) 30 – Miss St 0

Bama (+7) 20 – Geo 23

ND (-1.5) 28 – Purdue 21

Penn St (-14) 36 – Ill 14

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Pittsburgh vs Syracuse

Pittsburgh opened the season as a top-25 team before a very disappointing home loss at the hands of Bowling Green. Since then the Panthers have won consecutive home games, but they didn't look great against either Buffalo or Iowa while giving up 709 yards combinded. Pittsburgh's best player on offense is Sophomore RB LeSean McCoy. He has 242 yards and five touchdowns on the ground with another 102 yards receiving. Panthers QB Bill Stull has only one touchdown pass on the season to go with three interceptions. This will be Pittsburgh's Big East opener as well as their first road game of the young season. In 2007, the Panthers finished with only one win away from home.

Syracuse opened the season with three consecutive losses, and they weren't able to stay close in any of them. Last week they notched their first win against Northeastern. The Orange keep pace with other teams on offense with three strong running backs. Senior Curtis Brinkley leads the team with 358 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. Quarterback Cameron Dantley has been been solid behind center, throwing for five touchdowns against two picks. Syracuse's weakness is its defense, which has allowed a total of 148 points in four contests.

Neither team has looked very good so far this season, and Pittsburgh may be the better team. The Panthers are giving up more than two touchdowns on the road, and they are receiving 68% of the public's bets. The line has moved from Pitt -16.5 to -15.5, and that indicates some Smart Money behind Syracuse. Sure enough, there was a Smart Money play triggered by Cris, which has a positive record on NCAA Football Smart Money plays. We'll follow the Sharps and take the Orange with the points.

Syracuse +15.5 


North Carolina vs Miami (FL)

Last week North Carolina looked poised to take a huge step towards importance in the ACC before a heartbreaking home loss to Virginia Tech. The Tar Heels had a two-touchdown lead late in the third quarter before giving up 17 unanswered points to the Hokies. Carolina lost starting QB T.J. Yates to a broken ankle during last week's loss. Backup Mike Paulus struggled against the Hokies, but he did come out of high school as a highly-regarded prospect. The Tar Heels boast one of the best receiving corps in the NCAA, including do-it-all receiver/return specialist Brandon Tate. So far in 2008 Tate has 297 receiving yards, 359 return yards, and 141 rushing yards. North Carolina's defense has forced eight turnovers through three games.

Miami came off an embarrassing late collapse two weeks ago against Florida with a huge win 41-23 win over Texas A&M. They were led by RB Graig Cooper, who finished the day with 128 yards on 16 carries, including two TDs. Freshman QB Robert Marve looked more comfortable in his second start, completing 16 of 22 pass for 212 yards with a pair of touchdowns. The Hurricanes defense did allow 362 yards to the Aggies, but they forced a pair of turnovers including a fumble returned for a score.

The media sees Miami as a team back on the rise in the ACC, much like they were saying about UNC before last week. The teams come in with very similar numbers through three games. Each sits at 2-1 and has scored 96 points, while North Carolina has allowed 59 points to Miami's 56. The Tar Heels surprised the Canes last season in a 33-27 win in Chapel Hill, and Butch Davis knows how to win in Miami. The line at Pinnacle opened at Miami -7 before climbing to -8, but has since dropped back to Miami -7.5 even though the Canes are receiving two-thirds of public bets. This movement has triggered multiple Smart Money plays on North Carolina, and we're going to buy low on Carolina and sell high on Miami.

North Carolina +8


Alabama vs Georgia

Alabama has steadily climbed into the top 10 after its impressive opening win against Clemson. The Crimson Tide won its previous two games over Western Kentucky and Arkansas in routs. Alabama has put up 144 points while allowing only 37 to open the season 4-0. The Tide has three running backs averaging more than 6 yards per carry, led by Glen Coffee, who has 404 yards on 47 carries (8.6 ypc). Senior QB John Parker Wilson has performed well, and freshman WR Julio Jones has showed he can contribute immediately. Alabama's defense has forced 8 turnovers, with 4 coming in last week's blowout win over Arkansas.

Georgia came is as the pre-season No. 1 team, but have fallen behind USC and Oklahoma in the standings. Other than a close road win over South Carolina, the Dawgs have shown they can absolutely dominate. They traveled to a rowdy Sun Devil Stadium last weekend, and easily handled Arizona State in a 27-10 win. Junior QB Matthew Stafford has looked great while compiling a 152.64 rating, and Heismen candidate Knowshon Moreno already has 9 rushing TDs while averaging 6.6 yards per carry. Freshman WR A.J. Green had a breakout performance against ASU with 8 catches for 159 yards and a TD. The Georgia defense hasn't forced many turnovers on the season, but they do keep opponents from putting up lots of points, allowing only 55 so far.

This should be a great game as both teams are strong on both sides of the ball. Alabama will be looking to prove it belongs this high in the standings, and it will be a tough test between the hedges. The public is taking the Tide and the points in this top-10 battle at a 65% rate, and the line has moved from an opening at Pinnacle of Georgia -7.5 to -6.5. The movement has triggered Steam Moves on Georgia from multiple books with positive results. We like going against the public and Georgia giving up less than a TD on their home turf. Go Dawgs! .

Georgia -6.5

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Re: Saturday Service Plays

ROCKDEMAN

C MICHIGAN   

AT HOME AS A FAV THEY ARE  83% ATS L-3 YRS

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Re: Saturday Service Plays

Matt Foust

Navy +16.5

The Navy Midshipmen are off to a 2-2 start this year, but this Saturday they will meet perhaps their toughest opponent to date in Wake Forest. Despite the difficult draw, we are going to go with Navy +16.5 on the road against the Demon Deacons.

Navy’s two losses this year both occurred on the road, the first one against a high-powered Ball State team and the second versus the vastly improved Duke Blue Devils. The Midshipmen’s biggest issue in the Ball State game was their inability to get the Cardinals off the field on third down, consequently, they were dropped 35-23. Navy carried a 24-20 lead into halftime at Duke but allowed the Devils to post 21 second half points (they still finished within 10).

Wake Forest is a quality team but they have not exactly been overpowering. Their biggest win was their opener at Baylor (41-13), but the Bears handed the Deacons five turnovers, making the margin of victory more than it normally would have been. Since that win they beat Ole Miss 30-28 (Mississippi three turnovers) and Florida State 12-3 (FSU seven turnovers).Wake also has not exhibited a dominant running game (2.6 yards per carry) which could lead to more third and long situations versus Navy.

The Midshipmen have proven that they can run the ball (345.8 yards per game on the ground) and this will limit the Demon Deacons ability to run the score up. While their defense is far from being a big stopper, they should be able to get at least a few. Navy will not hand Wake points via turnover either, as their other opponents have. On the year the Midshipmen are averaging just one turnover per game.

Wake will get the win, but Navy will hang around here and make this game closer than people might think.

Pick: Take Navy +16.5

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Re: Saturday Service Plays

Mike Rose

Nebraska -7.0

In one of two ACC vs. Big XII games this weekend, the Virginia Tech Hokies (3-1 SU, 1-2 ATS) will storm Lincoln to face head coach Bo Pelini’s rejuvenated Nebraska Cornhuskers (3-0 SU, 2-1 ATS). The Hokies are coming off of a big come-from-behind 20-17 win against the Tar Heels. Pelini’s Cornhuskers have started the season strong, winning by at least 23 points in every game to generate their unblemished record.

Frank Beamer and the Hokies originally intended to redshirt QB Tyrod Taylor this season, but the offense sputtered under QB Sean Glennon and Taylor has taken a hold of the starting reins. Taylor also struggled last week against North Carolina, only completing 11 passes for 125 yards while throwing two interceptions in the win. Once again, the vaunted Hokie defense had to bail out the offense and did so by holding UNC to just 14 first downs while forcing four turnovers in the win. VTECH is a bankroll killing 1-7-1 ATS in non-conference games since 2006.

The Huskers have started the season strong and will look to keep it going against the Hokies. Since taking over for Sam Keller with a few games to go last year, QB Joe Ganz has dazzled when given the opportunity as the Huskers field general. In Big Reds last game against New Mexico State, Ganz threw for 227 total yards and two touchdowns in a very efficient performance. RB Marlon Lucky has again been a workhorse on the ground, carrying the ball 15 times for 103 yards and two touchdowns in that win over the Aggies. With one more ATS win this season, the Huskers will have already matched their college football gambling win total from 2007. Look for them to get it in this prime time affair!!!

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Re: Saturday Service Plays

Nelly

Maryland + over Clemson

Maryland posted big numbers last week and after a rocky start to the season the Terps have put together back-to-back strong games. In a wide open ACC this becomes a critical game. Maryland’s run defense has been strong this season and Clemson will struggle if the running game does not have a strong start. Last season Clemson had nearly 250 yards against Maryland but the Terps won on the road against a ranked Tigers team two years ago. Clemson has not been trustworthy as a favorite, covering in just two of the last nine attempts and Maryland will have a good game plan to limit the running game. Clemson has a lot of edges on paper but this looks like a situation they could struggle in. Look for a competitive effort from Maryland as RB Scott should be back in action and QB Turner has thrown the ball well since taking over at QB. We also like the coaching match-up here as Coach Friedgen has a great track record.

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