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Football Newsletters Sept. 24 - 29
Football Newsletters Sept. 24 - 29
Pointwise College Key Releases
1--CENTRAL MICHIGAN over Buffalo 45-20
1--Cincinnati over AKRON 41-17
2--Purdue (+) over NOTRE DAME 23-14
3--BALL STATE over Kent State 50-20
3--PENN STATE over Illinois 41-17
4--Northern Illinois over EASTERN MICH. 48-24
5--Colorado (+) over FLORIDA STATE 20-16
5--Oregon over WASHINGTON STATE 48-14
NFL Key Releases
2--San Diego over OAKLAND 31-17
3--Cleveland (+) over CINCINNATI 17-16
4--Buffalo over ST. LOUIS 34-13
5--CHICAGO (+) over Philadelphia 20-17
5--Carolina over ATLANTA 24-10
Re: Football Newsletters Sept. 24 - 29
CENTRAL MICHIGAN over Buffalo RATING: 1
CINCINNATI over Akron RATING: 1
PURDUE over Notre Dame RATING: 2
BALL STATE over Kent State RATING: 3
PENN STATE over Illinois RATING: 3
NO ILLINOIS over Eastern Illinois RATING: 4
COLORADO over Florida State RATING: 5
OREGON over Washington State RATING: 5
TULANE 37 - Smu 17 - (8:00 - CBSC) -- Wave as this solid a chalk certainly a
rarity, but have allowed only 40 FDs in 3 games, & are 5-1 ATS by 67½ of late,
with Anderson & Moore providing the "O". Pony "D": 44 ppg last 10 contests,
including 55, 56, & 43 pts in last 3 RGs. Mitchell: 7 INTs last 2 games. Greenies.
So California 45 - OREGON STATE 13 - (9:00 - ESPN) -- Sanchez latest USC
Heisman candidate: 4 TDs in rout of OhioSt. Troy has a 1,149-523 yd edge in
the early going, with an 87-10 pt advantage. Now +78½ pts ATS in last 5 tilts.
Beavs off the schneid with 38-pt rout of hapless Hawaii, & Moevao has thrown
for 923 yds, but still no overland game, & chalk is 17-7 ATS in OregSt contests.
LOUISVILLE 31 - Connecticut 27 - (8:00 - ESPN2) -- Only one way to go when
UConn travels. Huskies are 0-4 ATS away of late by 59½ pts. Brown now at 716
yds & 10 TDs, but 'Ville woke up the ghosts with 38-pt, 578-yd effort vs KanSt,
led by Cantwell & Anderson (176 RYs, 3 TDs). And no TOs after 7 in previous 2.
WAKE FOREST 44 - Navy 27 - (3:45) -- Wake in FlaSt/Clemson sandwich, &
still seeking an overland game, but opportunistic Deacs have 15 takeaways so
far, held 'Noles to 3 pts, & winning breeds winning. Mids beat Rutgers in final
2:06, but still allowing 44 ppg in 12 of their last 13 tilts. Skinner the difference.
Western Michigan 31 - TEMPLE 20 - (2:00) -- A taste of reality for Owls in PSt
massacre. Check a 546-138 yd deficit in that 45-3 drubbing. Were 87½ pt
ahead of the spot previous 13, so competitive. WM has allowed 34 ppg in lined
games, but Hiller has thrown for 9 TDs past 2 wks, & had 300-yd edge yr ago.
WEST VIRGINIA 52 - Marshall 14 - (3:30) -- Implausible 17 pts combined for
Mounties last 2 wks (just 72 & 43 PYs), despite 311 RYs at Colo. Herd stuck
it to us LW, by snapping their 9-game road slide, in upset of SoMiss, with RB
Marshall motoring for 252 yds last 2 wks. But call angry Mounties in bounceback.
Pittsburgh 27 - SYRACUSE 10 - (12:00) -- No 100 RY games for McCoy as yet,
with underachieving Panthers in off mere 13 FD effort hosting Iowa. The dog is
17-3 ATS in Pitt games, with 2 of the 3 misses by 4 & 1½ pts, but the Orange
have a 342-114 pt deficit as a HD since LY. Just a 23-22 FD edge vs N'Eastern.
Michigan State 33 - INDIANA 17 - (12:00) -- Check Hoosiers losing to a MAC
team for first time in last 21 meetings, with 42-20 home embarrassment vs Ball
St. QB Lewis is a force: 166 RYs, 159 PYs LW, but that "D" not to be trusted.
Spartan RB Ringer has 483 yds last 2 wks, & 9 TDs for the yr. Rolled last yr.
IOWA 31 - Northwestern 20 - (12:00) -- The dog is 13-4 ATS in 'Cat games, &
note allowing just 4 RYs in LW's win over OhioU. But Bacher threw 4 INTs in
that one (also 3 vs Iowa LY), & RB Sutton is hurt again. Hawk RB Greene has
10.0, 6.0, & 6.4 ypr last 3 games, & Iowa has a 105-8 pt edge at home so far.
Virginia 22 - DUKE 20 - (12:00) -- Both teams had last week off, & it could not
have come at a better time for the 'Cavs, who have a 97-17 pt deficit in lined
affairs to date, along with a 600-63 RY deficit. Fourth straight HG for the Imps,
who've covered their last 3 games by 22½ pts. But still can't trust Duke as fav.
MIAMI-FLORIDA 27 - North Carolina 20 - (12:00) -- Regrouping game for Tars,
who led VaTech 17-3 in final minute of the 3rd, only to lose 20-17. Had 121 yds
in penalties in that one, & now may have lost QB Yates. 'Canes were at 7.8
ppg, before 41 at TexA&M, behind QB Marve & RB Cooper. A bit of a payback.
FLORIDA 41 - Mississippi 13 - (12:30) -- Gators were outstatted in 30-6 win at
Tennessee, but no denying a rush "D", which has allowed only 60, 41, & 96 yds
thus far. And what a weapon KR James is, to complement the steady Tebow.
Reb QB Snead in off 4 INT effort in loss to Vandy, despite nearly doubling 'Dore
yardage. But no "O" TDs in that one for OleMiss, & Gators 7-1 ATS as chalks.
LSU 26 - Mississippi State 10 - (7:30) -- Don't like this one a bit. The Bengals
have covered 10-of-11 vs 'Dogs, & have allowed only 52, 44, & 70 RYs so far.
RB Scott rolled up 132 yds LW, but Lsu needed TD in final 1:03 to take Auburn.
Solid MSt "D" was skunked for 438 RYs in 38-7 loss to GaTech, & only 1 "O"
TD for 'Dogs in last 9 quarters. But Visitor is 17-4 ATS in Tiger games. 'Nother.
Northern Illinois 48 - EASTERN MICHIGAN 24 - (1:00) -- Finally some "O" for
the Eagles after an 83-27 deficit in their first 2 lined games. But they lost their
last HG by 26 pts ATS, & have allowed 52, 39, 45, 42, 41, & 51 pts in their last
6 lined games. NIU nailed first win for Kill. Averaging 34 ppg & a solid run "D".
CENTRAL MICHIGAN 45 - Buffalo 20 - (4:00) -- As we've written before, the
Chips are back in their element. Despite LW's last-minute loss to Purdue, note
26-16 FD & 440-344 yd edges, & have to see patented bounceback. Are +114
pts ATS in last 12 league tilts. Bull QB Willy: 10 TDs, but suddenly no run "O".
Cincinnati 41 - AKRON 17 - (3:30) -- Pike for Grutza was certainly no detriment
for Bearcats in rout of Miami-O. He was 20-of-24 for 241 yds & 3 TDs. And
check overland domination in 2-of-3 games to date. Visitor is 6-0 ATS in Zip
tilts (by 42 pts TY), & Akron allowed 35.5 ppg in 43 outings previous to Army.
EAST CAROLINA 34 - Houston 27 - (3:30) -- Call this along lines of LY. The dog
is 5-0 ATS in Pirate games lately, by 77½ pts. Balanced "O", but in off OT loss
to NCSt. Coogs can't stop the run, but nearly climbed completely out of 17 &
21 pt holes last 2 wks. Eschewed tying FG LW. But Keenum: 16 TDs so far.
Purdue 23 - NOTRE DAME 14 - (3:30 - NBC) -- Irish still in search of an "O",
ranking 96th, with 203-16 RY deficit at MichSt. Clausen just 6/6 this yr, but
check 14.8 ppg "D" last 5 outings. Boilers in off last minute win (46-yd Sheets
run; he has 271 RYs last 2 weeks). And Painter has had his way with NoDame.
OHIO STATE 31 - Minnesota 17 - (12:00) -- Still no Wells for Bucks, but Pryor
(true frosh QB) lit a fire vs Troy with 4 TD passes. That one was just 14-10 in
the 4th. OSt now minus 69½ pts ATS last 6 outings. Minny at 4-0 with 13-2
TO edge. RB Eskridge (192 RYs, 5 TDs in 2 games) & Co may keep it close.
NEBRASKA 22 - Virginia Tech 19 - (8:00) -- Let's see. The last 4 lined games
involving the Hokies saw final scores of 24-21, 27-22, 20-17, & 20-17, so why
not another? Just 108th on "O", with QB Taylor in off 2 INT game. Neb: just
138 & 99 RYs first 2 tilts. Nowhere near Husker 48.3 ppg average last 4 HGs.
Stanford 27 - WASHINGTON 24 - ( 10:00) -- Rested Wash has heartbreaking
28-27 loss to BYU, bookended with 44-10 & 55-14 defeats. Can't run, & surely
can't stop anyone. Cards have a 128-54 pt deficit in their last 4 RGs, but held
SJSt to just 38 2nd half yds, & Gerhart is motoring (148 RYs LW). Mild upset.
CALIFORNIA 41 - Colorado State 14 - (6:00) -- Check the Bears' last 2 games:
49½ pt cover; 32-pt ATS loss. And note Cal coming from 391 RYs to just 38
(Best: from 200 to 25). Have to figure bounceback, as Rams in off nearly
blowing all of 21-pt lead, with endzone INT on final play. Are 5-21 ATS of late.
GEORGIA 20 - Alabama 19 - (7:45) -- What a "D"! Bulldogs have allowed just
22 RYs combined past 2 wks, against SoCaro & ArizSt. Moreno: another 149
yds, with QB Stafford & WR Green the perfect complements. Tide hammered
Arkies with the big play: 87, 25, 31, 62 yd plays, with 63 & 74 yd INT returns.
GA "D" obviously horse of a different color, but 'Bama stayed with 'em yr ago.
Tennessee 19 - AUBURN 16 - (3:30) -- Both of these combatants came up short
in SEC biggies LW, with the Tigers losing to LSU in the final 1:03, managing
just 70 RYs. Had allowed just 5 ppg entering that one, & rank 10th in the land
on "D". Vols outstatted Fla, in their 30-6 setback, being stopped at the 1 twice.
Were nicely balanced before that game, & bit of return to form. Call the upset.
MICHIGAN 27 - Wisconsin 22 - (3:30) -- That Badger overland game opened at
404 yds, but has managed just 158 & 154 since. But still perfect. Not that the
Wolverines are anything to write home about, with their 18.7 ppg "O". Six TOs
in loss to Irish. But Wisky has allowed 31, 38, 38, & 34 pts last 4 Big10 RGs.
CLEMSON 26 - Maryland 20 - (12:00) -- Well, Tiger RB Davis finally got going in
rout of SoCaroSt (3 TDs), but Harper managed 2 INTs in that 54-0 romp. Fact
is CU is 0-5 ATS lately, by 46 pts. The dog is 49½ pts ahead of the line in MD
games, with Terps nicely balanced all year (1 punt LW). They're worth a shot.
Fresno State 30 - UCLA 17 - (3:30 - ABC) -- Bruins at rock bottom now, with no
TDs the past 2 wks, along with a 90-10 pt deficit. Only 11 FDs vs 'Zona, with
just 81 PYs from Craft, & injuries taking their toll. FSt "D": from 10 ppg to 54
in LW's win at Toledo, stopping 2-pt OT try. But allowed only 304 yds vs Wisc.
Bowling Green 27 - WYOMING 17 - (4:00) -- A couple of teams plagued by the
TO. Eight in last 2 games for BG, which outplayed Boise 2 wks ago,& six by
the Cowboys in LW's 44-0 wipeout loss to BYU. WY ranks 115th in total "O",
& 113th in total "D", & is on unheard of 0-11-1 ATS run. Not about to buck it.
Oregon 48 - WASHINGTON STATE 14 - (6:15) -- Duck QB situation worse by
the week, with Masoli (concussion) now hurting, after losing Roper. Still, a
227-38 RY edge in loss to Boise, along with 237 PYs. WSt lost its last 3 HGs
by 38, 18½, 49½ pts ATS, & has the nation's worst rushing "D". No other way.
OKLAHOMA 34 - Tcu 17 - (7:00) -- In '05, Frogs pulled off upset (Wise Points),
& are loaded again. Check a 96-39 FD edge TY, allowing only 30.5 RYpg. Are
79½ pt ahead of the spot in their last 8 games, with QB Dalton leading a finely
balanced "D". But Okies are another matter, altogether. Bradford: 47-of-59 for
699 yds & 10 TDs in their 2 lined games to date. But can't jump in either way.
SOUTH CAROLINA 33 - Uab 14 - (7:00) -- Gamecocks very unimpressive in the
early going, despite a solid "D". Can't run, & another 2 INTs by Smelley LW,
leading Wofford by just 16-13 until the final 1:58. Blazers snapped 9-game
slide (AlabamaSt), with 223 PYs & 121 RYs from Webb. But 41 ppg "D" last 9.
TEXAS A&M 37 - Army 10 - (7:00) -- Ags in Miami/OklaSt sandwich, & hardly a
safe play here, as they've lost their first 2 HGs by 22 & 15 pts ATS, & can't run,
altho Johnson (for McGee: shoulder) has 6 TD passes last 2 games. First RG
for the Cadets, which have 85-20 pt deficit thus far, & 12 TOs in their 3 games.
BALL STATE 50 - Kent State 20 - (12:00) -- Flashes now on 0-10 ATS slide by
145½ pts. In off 667-yd defensive effort vs Lafayette, & have allowed 46 ppg in
their 2 roadsters. BSt smoking with 4-0 start, with Lewis on fire (166 RYs & 4
TDs) in 24-pt cover at Indiana. And try Davis' 10 TD passes so far. Romper!
South Florida 27 - NORTH CAROLINA STATE 17 - (7:30) -- No Grothe TDs,
either running or passing, in narrow win over FlaInt (just 2nd time in 30 games),
the Bull "D" is smothering: 6, 12, 9 FDs in 3-of-4 games. 'Pack rode 3 Wilson
TD passes to upset of ECaro, so note 30 pts vs 29th rated Pirate "D". Pass.
Colorado 20 - FLORIDA STATE 16 - (3:30 @ Jacksonville) -- 'Noles came from
57.5 ppg to just 3, in a week. Seven TOs vs Wake, including 5 INTs from QBs
Ponder & Richardson. Can't run, but just 48 RYpg "D", so CU Stewart (166
RYs vs WVa) will be tested. And Hawkins may open up overhead lanes. Tite.
UTEP 24 - Central Florida 21 - (8:00) -- Miners have unveiled a decent run "D"
(122 yds vs Texas; 37 yds LW), but are hurting at RB, & now QB Vittatoe is out
(ankle). Allowing 39.3 ppg, but the Knights have less than 200 RYs combined
in their past 2 games, & have been a conference road flop. Mildest of plays hr.
PENN STATE 41 - Illinois 17 - (8:00 - ABC) -- Lions just keep on doing it. Now
have a 211-44 pt edge for the year, with an enviously balanced "O": 1,182 RYs,
1,062 PYs, behind Royster, Clark, Green, etc. Illini are solid DD dogs (Wise
Points), but are down a notch from LY's Rose Bowl team, despite presence of
Juice at QB. Needed 27-yd fumble return to take Lafayette LW. Lions, easily.
New Mexico 38 - NEW MEXICO STATE 37 - (8:00) -- Lobos shellshocked off 56
pt, 606 yd defensive effort vs Tulsa, & now QB Porterie is hurting. Shootout LY,
with Holbrook's 437 PYs & 4 TDs, similar to his 329 PYs & 5 TDs in snapping
6-game losing skein LW. Lobos lost last 2 RGs by 37-0, 28-10, & 56-14 counts.
SAN DIEGO STATE 31 - Idaho 21 - (8:00) -- Worst of the worst here. SDiegoSt
stands at 0-3, with a 293-6 RY deficit in its last game, while managing only 104
RYs for the year. Allowing 41 ppg in last 5 lined games. Vandals 1-11 ATS, &
in off 356-84 RY deficit vs previously 0-3 UtahSt. Anyone remotely interested?
UNLV 33 - Nevada 27 - (10:00) -- Rebels in off a pair of 3-pt OT wins. Still no "D"
(32.6 ppg last 25 contests), but showing decent balance, behind RB Summers
& QB Clayton. Reno also defensive midgets, allowing 41.6 ppg in its last 10
outings, but note amassing 488 yds vs TexTech 2 wks back. Revenge takes it.
San Jose State 30 - HAWAII 20 - (12:05) -- Hate going against home team in
SJSt contests (a 293-92 pt deficit away since last yr). Held to minus 24 yds in
4th quarter at Stanford, but note QB Reed hitting his first 12 & first 16 passes
last 2 wks. 'Bows have 142-27 pt deficit in their last 3 lined games. Spartans.
TEXAS 49 - Arkansas 14 - (2:00) -- This one was moved back a couple of wks,
due to Hurricane Ike, but it makes little difference. Another 4 TDs for McCoy in
LW's drubbing of Rice, so he has set a school-record with 62, & is 63-of-81 for
the season. 'Horns have scored 59, 52, 52, 42, & 52 pts in their last 5 wins, &
that Arky "D" is ripe for the picking (39 ppg last 9). QB Dick: 3 INTs LW. Rout!
BOISE STATE 45 - Louisiana Tech 14 - (7:00) -- Only way to go, as the Broncos
are a spectacular 19-3 ATS as conference HFs of <28 pts. Check QB Moore with
3 TDs & 386 yds in his first start (upset of powerful Oregon). That 227-38 RY
deficit may be cause for concern, but Tech won't to much denting of the Boise
"D". As a matter of fact, the Bulldogs have a 136-20 pt deficit in their last 3 RGs.
KENTUCKY 31 - Western Kentucky 13
Arkansas State 23 - MEMPHIS 16
OKLAHOMA STATE 38 - Troy 20
TOLEDO 37 - Fla International 24
KANSAS STATE 28 - La-Lafayette 17
RICE 28 - North Texas 27
Florida Atlanta 21 - MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE 20
Re: Football Newsletters Sept. 24 - 29
SAN DIEGO over Oakland RATING: 2
CLEVELAND over Cincinnati RATING: 3
BUFFALO over St Louis RATING: 4
CHICAGO over Philadelphia RATING: 5
CAROLINA over Atlanta RATING: 5
Denver 30 - KANSAS CITY 27 - (1:00) -- Broncos 3-0 for first time since '03, but
that "D" sure is vulnerable, a they've allowed 28 ppg, the most for any AFC
team, & stingier than only the hapless Lions & Rams. Cutler a splendid 8/2 for
the year, with Marshall snagging 24 passes the past 2 weeks. Note that this is
Denver's 2nd division RG, & that they won their first such setup, 41-14. The
Chiefs have dropped 12 straight on the field, with Thigpen an anemic 27-of-73
thus far, so hardly the answer. KC: just 12.2 ppg in its last 11 games. Sure,
Johnson motored for 121 yds last week, but still a 38-14 loss. The host is 8-2
ATS in Bronco games, but the visitor is 10-3 ATS in Chief contests. Denver is
17-9 off allowing 30+ pts. Chiefs are 11-0 ATS in division play, off allowing 34+
pts, & 36-13 ATS as HDs. And backing Denver as chalk not profitable of late.
Cleveland 17 - CINCINNATI 16 - (1:00) -- A couple of very disappointing teams
meet here. The Browns have said good-bye to LY's super "O", scoring just 8,
14, 20, 10, 6, & 10 pts in their last 6 outings (11.3 ppg). No rushing "O", & in
off just 11 FDs in loss to the Ravens. Cincy took the Giants into OT, but have
a 523-255 RY deficit for the season, altho Palmer was back in form a bit, with
286 PYs, after a combined 223 in his first 2 starts. The Bengals have reached
20 pts in just 2 of their last 8 games, with the dog covering 10-2 in their last
dozen outings. Meshes nicely with Browns' spectacular 16-2 ATS log after
allowing 27+ pts. And Cincy is 1-10 ATS at home vs a foe off a DD SU loss.
JACKSONVILLE 22 - Houston 19 - (1:00) -- Jags avoided 0-3 start on 51-yd
Scobee FG in final 0:04 vs the Colts. Not only that, but their overland game
came to life with Jones-Drew & Taylor both over 100 RYs. Throw in a 16-of-22
showing for Garrard, along with a 41:35-18:25 time edge, & shades of '07
beckon. Texans still searching for missing ingredient, after managing only 12
pts after getting inside the Titan 14 six times. Schaub: just 1 TD pass, with 5
INTs so far, & check a 69-29 scoring deficit. But also check Slaton with 116
RYs (6.4 ypr) vs Tennessee. Houston has a 277-148 pt deficit in its last 8
RGs, but is 10-2 ATS in division play off a pair of losses. We'll take the points.
Arizona 20 - NEW YORK JETS 16 - (1:00) -- Well it had to happen. No TOs for
the Cards in their first 2 games of the season: 2 wins & covers. But 2 miscues
at Washington, as they tried to go 3-0 for the 1st time since '74, with a 24-17
loss the result. And that one also snapped their 10-game streak of scoring at
least 20 pts, but 'Zona is still scoring at a 30.7 ppg clip over its last 11 contests.
And Warner is going along decently, with 6 TDs & only 1 pick for the season.
The Jets are in off their Monday Nighter with the Chargers, & are just 8-23 ATS
as Sept HFs. The Cardinals, meanwhile are 16-6 ATS off a SU loss of <8 pts.
NEW ORLEANS 30 - San Francisco 13 - (1:00) -- Wow! After failing to reach
18 pts on 13 occasions since LY, the Niners explode for 33 & 31 pts in back-toback
weeks. Check their 35:54-24:06 time edge in their win over the Lions,
with Gore cranking out 130 RYs, & O'Sullivan tossing a pair of TDs (no INTs).
First of 3 HGs for the Saints, who haven't normally done all that well as hosts
(12-24 ATS run, & 6-15 ATS as a HF off a SU loss), but who've succeeded
nicely vs the Niners: 9-2 ATS of late, including LY's 31-10 win in 'Frisco. The
Saints nearly came all the way back from an 18-pt deficit at Denver, with Brees
& Bush leading the way to 27 FDs & >500 yds. We'll call for it to continue here.
CAROLINA 24 - Atlanta 10 - (1:00) -- We know that this one bucks prevailing
wisdom whenever the Panthers take the field, namely sticking with the dog, as
the pup is now 54-29 ATS in Carolina games lately. As if that weren't enough,
the visitor is on an 8-0 spread run in Panther division games. But the time is
now for Carolina to come storming back, following their dismal play at Minny, in
which Delhomme was sacked 5 times, with key fumbles & 12 penalties putting
the nails in that particular coffin. The Falcs have been splendid at home with
Ryan 21-of-31, but he was just 13-of-31 with 2 picks in his lone RG. Ditto RB
Turner: 324 RYs at home, but just 42 away. Falcons are 4-11 ATS off scoring
28+ pts, & 1-7 ATS Sept dogs off a win of more than 7 pts. Carolina the play.
TENNESSEE 17 - Minnesota 16 - (1:00) -- No questioning the fine play of the
Titans, as they stand at 3-0, both SU & ATS, covering by 10, 18, & 14½ pts.
Are 3-0 for just the 3rd time, & have held their last 7 opponents under 18 pts.
And check Collins' 28-of-47 the past couple of weeks. But the Vikes are rarely
out of a game, with their 2 losses this year coming by just 3 &1½ pts. Not only
that, but Frerotte (for Jackson) has breathed new life into this team, with RB
Peterson now at 340 yds. And check allowing only 25 & 47 RYs past 2 wks.
This could easily go down to the final gun, with pts at a premium. Mild dog call.
TAMPA BAY 23 - Green Bay 17 - (1:00) -- Battle of old NFC Central powers
meeting here. Buccaneer QB Griese set a franchise record by throwing no
less than 67 passes, in Tampa's OT upset of the Bears, connecting on 38 of
them for 407 yds, altho 3 wound up in Chicago hands. Tampa trailed 24-14
with just 3:15 remaining in that one, by the way. The Pack couldn't get it done
at home vs the Cowboys, but are still a formidable play, covering 16-6-1 lately,
& 20-5 SU since the windup of the '06 campaign. Bucs are 32-17 ATS as non
division hosts, while the Pack is 0-8 ATS as a RD off a SU loss to NFL East foe.
Buffalo 34 - ST LOUIS 13 - (4:05) -- Until things change, there is only one way to
go when the Rams take the field. They are now not only on a 3-16 SU slide, but
are 3-15-1 ATS since last year, accumulating a 116-29 pt deficit just this year,
as well as allowing 39.3 ppg in their last 6 outings. They have yet to reach 200
PYs, have a 77-35 FD deficit, as well as a total yard 1,374-607 short end. The
Bills are 3-0 for the first time since '92, & enter off 25-10 FD & 34:27-25:33
time edges, but a narrow 24-23 win. Lynch & Edwards have this "O" purring.
Buff 17-9 ATS lately, & 26-8 ATS off a win of <3 pts. Extension of Ram futility.
San Diego 31 - OAKLAND 17 - (4:05) -- It continues. Thus far, the visitor in
games involving the Raiders is a perfect 3-0, both SU & ATS, covering by a
combined total of 51 pts. Oakland actually led the Bills, 23-14, with 4 minutes
remaining, before that collapse. We say "actually", because the Raiders had a
25-10 FD deficit, while coming from 300 RYs at KC to just 98 at Buffalo. The
Raiders catch the Chargers off their Monday Nighter with the Jets, but that
should matter little, a Oakland is 6-15 ATS off a loss of <3 pts, is 2-15 ATS as
a division host, is 1-9 ATS vs the Chargers, & a perfect 0-6 ATS as series host.
DALLAS 30 - Washington 17 - (4:15) -- Home team is the way to go in 'Skin
games thus far, as Washington has compiled 53 pts, 46 FDs, & 778 yds the
past 2 weeks (both played at Fedex). But in their only RG, they were held to
just 11 FDs in that opening day loss to the Giants. Campbell is in the groove,
with a nice 69.7% completion rate the past 2 wks (46-of-66), & has thrown for
4 TDs, without an INT. But taking to the road vs this dedicated Cowboy outfit is
a bit too much. Check 488 & 453 yds in 2 of their 3 outings, with Romo at 5
TDs already. 'Boys are only 10-21 ATS as DD chalks lately, but mild chalk call.
CHICAGO 20 - Philadelphia 17 - (8:15 - NBC) -- Check it out. Nine sacks for
the Eagles in their win over the Steelers. Philly had been held below 18 pts on
10 occasions LY, but opened with 38 & 37 pt outbursts. However, Westbrook
is hurting (ankle: just 5 carries vs the Packers), & McNabb was shaken up as
well. The Bears must regroup off blowing a 10-pt lead in the final 3:15 to the
Bucs, losing despite a 158-47 RY edge. Forte is now at 304 RYs. The Bears
are +68½ pts ATS in their last 6 games, & the dog is on a 5-0-1 ATS run in
Chicago tilts. And the Bears are 13-0 ATS HDs off 2 losses vs a foe off a win.
PITTSBURGH 31 - Baltimore 13 - (8:35) -- First RG for the Ravens, who have
opened at 2-0, thanks to a rebirth of its once feared "D". As a matter of fact, they
allowed 29.3 ppg in their final ten '07 games. But stat edges in '08: 42-19 in FDs;
631-323 in yds. No early line here, as Ben's throwing hand was injured vs the
Eagles, altho it doesn't appear serious. And check Parker coming from 243 RYs
the first 2 wks, to just 20 yds on 13 carries vs Philly. A year ago, Pitt also hosted
a Monday Nighter vs the Ravens: 38-7 romp (22-pt cover). Ravens are just 2-7
ATS as Monday RDs, while Steelers are 17-6 ATS as Monday HFs. Settles it.
Re: Football Newsletters Sept. 24 - 29
CKO CONFIDENTIAL KICK-OFF
11* WESTERN MICHIGAN over *Temple Shoulder injury to Temple QB Adam DiMichele gives Western Michigan a massive QB edge in this game. HC Al Golden said his QB (and charismatic leader of an Owl team that covered 3 of its first 4 this season) will be out “a considerable amount of time,” with the injury. He was replaced by RS freshman Chester Stewart, who tossed 3 interceptions in relief against Penn State. The Broncos, who have never lost to Temple and outscored the Owls 56-10 in last 2 meetings, have veteran Tim Hiller at the controls. Hiller has thrown for 5457 yds. and 54 TDs in his 23-game career and has completed 72% of his passes this season. WMU RB Brandon West has run for 403 yards in the Broncos’ last 3 games. WMU’s rush defense has allowed just 3.6 ypc, and the Broncos, who have produced All-MAC pass rushers in recent seasons, will put pressure on Stewart (Penn State had 7 sacks against the Owls last week). Temple’s defense, which ranks 114th against the run, isn’t in good health, either, as four starters and a backup (including 3 LBs) have missed time with injury.Late Score Forecast:WESTERN MICHIGAN 30 - *Temple 13
10* N.C. STATE over South Florida Scouts report last week’s upset of undefeated East Carolina has done wonders for the confidence of the Wolfpack players, reflecting the cumulative effects of the solid coaching of Tom O’Brien. N.C. State had been giving signs of improvement last year, with victories in 4 of its last 6 games. Now that quick RS frosh QB Russell Wilson is providing an improved passing dimension and 2007 top rusher Jamelle Eugene (667 YR LY) has returned to the offense, the athletic NCS defense should find itself both better rested and with more to fight for.The South Florida offense, lacking marquee rushers and long-distance threats, is too often overly dependent on QB Matt Grothe to bail it out. Bulls 0-2 vs. the spread on the road TY, and 2-6 last 8 as a traveler overall. Late Score Forecast:*N.C. STATE 23 - South Florida 21
10* ALABAMA over *Georgia Alabama, with its sr. QB (John Parker Wilson) and its strength in “the pits,” is one of the few teams that figures to be able to challenge loaded Georgia where it is vulnerable. The Crimson Tide returned four starters on their O-line, led by future NFL LT Andre Smith (6-5, 330). And the deep Bama DL (including 6-5, 365-pound NT Terrence Cody) figures to be a problem for the still-youthful Bulldog offensive line, which was re-shuffled when LT Trinton Sturdivant was lost for the season in August. South Carolina’s veteran defense slowed the Bulldog juggernaut to just 14 points two weeks ago, and the Crimson Tide should have some success too. Frosh RB Mark Ingram and blue-chip WR Julio Jones have given Nick Saban more punch on offense in 2007. The Red Elephants haven’t lost a game by more than 7 points in Saban’s tenure.Late Score Forecast:ALABAMA 24 - *Georgia 20
10* MICHIGAN over Wisconsin Big Ten scouts tell us new, crafty HC Rich Rodriquez believes Michigan has greatly benefited from the bye week, as it has given his squad a chance to get healthier (especially on OL), as well as spending additional time working on techniques and fundamentals. Look for Wolverines’ improving RS frosh QB Threet (16 of 23 vs. Notre Dame) to be afforded more time to connect with WRs Matthews & emerging frosh Odoms, now that more confident, hotshot frosh RB McGuffie (131 YR in 25 tries vs. Irish) demands more attention from Wisconsin front 7.Meanwhile, not so sure Badgers new QB Evridge will easily dissect the Wolverines secondary, particularly if top RB P.J. Hill frustrated by tenacious UM stop unit once again (only 25 carries, 78 YR in 2 games vs. UM). And with Wolverines’ speedy LB corps keeping close tabs on Badgers top target TE Beckum, UM primed to avoid 1st home loss in series since 1994. Wiscy, which was fortunate to escape in 13-10 win at Fresno (Bulldogs missed 3 FGs), not so lucky in the boisterous Big House.Late Score Forecast:*MICHIGAN 23 - Wisconsin 20
10* TAMPA BAY over Green Bay Well, maybe replacing Brett Favre isn’t going to be as easy as it first seemed for Aaron Rodgers, who faced some real pressure for the first time as a starter last week against Dallas, and couldn’t do much damage until outcome was decided. It isn’t helping Rodgers that Green Bay infantry at less than 100% these days with Ryan Grant slightly compromised by a sore hamstring. Things won’t get any easier at loud and distracting Raymond James Stadium, where d.c. Monte Kiffin’s Tampa 2 schemes have frustrated many accomplished QBs (much less one making only 4th career start). Moreover, must note the leadership rejuvenated vet QB Brian Griese (67 pass attempts at Chicago!) now providing for Buc offense. Greater accumulation of edges rests with T.B., which usually takes care of business as home chalk (7-2 last 9 in role).Late Score Forecast:*TAMPA BAY 30 - Green Bay 17
TOTALS: OVER (45½) in the Denver-Kansas City game—Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall and Denver offense (38 ppg) lighting things up with new spread attack; Broncos have played three straight “overs”...UNDER (44½) in the Cleveland-Cincinnati game—Cleveland (9 ppg) hurting at receiver; Browns 8-0-1 “under” last nine games.
HONORABLE MENTION (Nine-Rated Games): NORTHWESTERN (+8) at Iowa—Hawkeye offense limited by inconsistent play at QB; Northwestern HC Pat Fitzgerald (a former standout Wildcat LB) is building a hard-nosed defense (11 ppg TY) in Evanston...OHIO STATE (-18½) vs. Minnesota—Buckeyes already had the defense; frosh QB Pryor (4 TDP in his first start) should improve weekly as he boosts the offense...OKLAHOMA (-18) vs. Tcu—Sooners,who were stunned in Norman in their opener in 2005 vs. the Horned Frogs with Paul Thompson at QB, now have revenge in mind with the prolific Sam Bradford running OU’s no-huddle offense...NEW MEXICO STATE (+3½) vs. New Mexico—With Lobos’ Donovan Porterie gone for the season, QB edge in this bitter rivalry goes to N.M. State’s pass-happy Chase Holbrook (5 TDP last week at UTEP) in Aggies first home game TY...WASHINGTON (+12) at
Dallas—Cowboy offense impressive, but Eagles showed Dallas pass defense still needs some work; new Redskin HC Jim Zorn has helped young QB Jason Campbell get the ball to playmakers Moss, Randle El and Cooley.
Re: Football Newsletters Sept. 24 - 29
Statfox Platinum Sheet
(199) HOUSTON at (200) JACKSONVILLE
Hold your applause for Jacksonville everyone, the Jaguars are not “back” as most experts are now claiming. They simply beat a struggling Colts team last weekend, a team that HC Jack Del Rio’s team has always gotten up for and played competitively against. The Jags struggle against the Texans, having gone just 3-9 ATS in the L12 games of this head-to-head series. Meanwhile, Houston certainly can’t be happy about its season thus far, but let’s not forget, they’ve played two of the toughest defenses in the NFL in the first two games and they’ve faced an unusual scheduling situation. This will be their third straight road game and with things finally getting back to some semblance of normalcy on the home front, I expect the same on the football field. This game price is an overreaction to Jacksonville’s win. The last time the Texans faced a similar overpricing in Jacksonville, they won outright 13-10 in 2006.Play: Houston +7.5
(203) SAN FRANCISCO at (204) NEW ORLEANS
Far for me to be talking about which teams are good or not after my personal Week 3 performance, but I just don’t get all the buzz about the Saints. This team is 1-2 and giving up over 27 PPG and nearly 400 YPG. This week they’ll be hosting a San Francisco team that has proven itself very offensively worthy in the early going, averaging a lofty 8.6 yards per pass attempt. Anyone who reads the StatFox site often knows how important this stat is to handicapping NFL games. When you can get a team with this much big play potential playing as a 6-point underdog, the numbers say you gotta play it. If that’s not enough, consider the tremendous defensive advantage that the 49ers will enjoy here.They are allowing 4.6 yards per play, the Saints give up 6.3. In actuality, San Francisco’s YPP numbers (6.5 offense, 4.6 defense) are characteristic of an elite team. This pointspread doesn’t reflect it.Play: San Francisco +6
(207) MINNESOTA at (208) TENNESSEE
There aren’t too many occasions where a 3-0 team with the best point differential is playing at home against a 1-2 team and only laying 3-1/2 points. What gives? Why is Tennessee not getting the respect that the Giants, Dallas, and Denver are getting? Perhaps because they are winning with dominant defense and not big play offense. Still, the Titans are outscoring opponents by 14.3 PPG thus far and holding opponents to just 240.3 YPG and 4.2 YPP. Here they’ll be hosting an unfamiliar foe that has endured offensive struggles to date. This will be a very tough spot for the Vikings, who’ve struggled on the road versus AFC foes, losing seven straight games while going 1-5-1 ATS. The Titans meanwhile, have thrived versus the NFC, covering 66.7% of the time under Jeff Fisher. Tennessee is a solid team, it just isn’t being treated as such.Play: Tennessee -3.5
(213) SAN DIEGO at (214) OAKLAND
If San Diego is truly an elite team, this is a game where it should easily take care of business. The Raiders have little to no home field advantage to speak of and are the NFL’s most discombobulated team. They are just 2-11 in their last 13 home games. If Lane Kiffin were to survive this week’s rumors, this is still a franchise with a cloud hanging over it. Meanwhile, San Diego’s Super Bowl aspirations may have taken a hit in the early going but the Chargers are still breathing and ready to make a run. They have dominated Oakland as well, going 21-11 ATS overall since ’92, and 13-3 ATS on the road. Norv Turner’s team has also thrived in divisional play, recognizing its importance. San Diego could and should be in a much better spot than it is now. They’ll eventually get back to that spot, and in the meantime, there will be some nice lines to take advantage of.Play: San Diego -7
(217) PHILADELPHIA at (218) CHICAGO
The NFC East Division is loaded with playoff caliber clubs and only a painstaking 41-37 loss at Dallas in Week 2 has Philadelphia looking up in the standings. Right now, the Eagles have to be considered one of the top teams in the NFL. The numbers back it up. Even with that 41-point effort by the Cowboys, HC Andy Reid’s team is allowing just 242 YPG, holding its two other opponents to 6 & 3 points respectively. On offense, led by the resurgent Donovan McNabb, the Eagles are averaging 289 YPG thru the air and 7.6 yards per pass attempt. Chicao, while better than expected offensively in the early going, has still lost a pair of heartbreakers that have demoralizing potential. The Bears’ offensive balance has been the key to their early season offensive success. However, with Philly stopping the run at a 46 YPG and 2.4 YPR pace, this game figures to fall on Kyle Orton for the first time this season. Like you are probably think, I don’t like those chances either. Look for Philly to win a 5th straight game in Chicago.Play: Philadelphia -3
Re: Football Newsletters Sept. 24 - 29
STATFOX PLATINUM SHEET NCAA
(105) CONNECTICUT at (106) LOUISVILLE
Well, it seems that Louisville in as bad of shape as oddsmakers would have led you to believe prior to the Kansas State game. With QB Hunter Cantwell getting the passing game going in the last two outings, the Cardinals are now one of the more balanced teams in the Big East, both offensively and defensively. The same can’t be said for Connecticut, who relies extensively on the running game. The Huskies’ inability to throw the ball on Baylor last Friday night was eye opening. Though they still won that game, the problem for them in this Friday night clash is that they’re going to have problems running the ball on Louisville. HC Steve Kragthorpe’s team has shut down each of their first three opponents’ ground attacks. With the running game, UConn will have trouble staying in this one. They are 4-0 having played NOBODY. This game will be a wake up call. Take the hosts. Play: Louisville -3
MISSISSIPPI ST at(126) LSU Conference games with lines in the 20’s should catch your eye, especially if both teams are returning bowl teams. LSU comes off its huge win at Auburn last weekend and has this game to get ready for the real showdown of 2008, at Florida on October 11th. That alone makes this a tough spot for the Tigers, not necessarily dangerous in terms of winning the game,but a difficult game in which to beat a large pointspread. Mississippi State, of course, relies on its defense, as the offense is probably the worst in the SEC. However, this is the same team that held Auburn to 3-points two weeks ago. In fact, had this game been played last weekend, before the Bulldogs’ blowout loss at Georgia Tech, the line would have been at least 3-4 points more favorable. As it is, it’s in overreaction. LSU has struggled at home vs. SEC foes, going 22-41 ATS. MSU is 6-0 ATS on the road off of a spread loss. Look for a 30-13 type of game here with the dogs getting done on the number.Play: Mississippi St +24.5
(135) PURDUE at (136) NOTRE DAME
Saturday’s game at Michigan State was proof enough for me that this Notre Dame team is not ready to turn the corner just yet. The Irish are lacking offensively, producing just 287 YPG in their first three outings. They are also struggling with turnovers week-in and week-out, having given up the ball nine times thus far. Purdue meanwhile, is all about offense, and road underdogs with prolific offenses make for good plays typically. The Boilermakers’ defensive numbers are also negatively influenced by the fact that they’ve played Oregon and Central Michigan, a pair of clubs that put up big numbers. Saturday’s game figures to improve Purdue’s defensive outlook. In terms of trends: NOTRE DAME is 11-25 ATS (-16.5 Units) in home games when playing against a team with a winning record since 1992. The average score was NOTRE DAME 25.7,OPPONENT 25.1 - (Rating = 1*). This is a case where the wrong team is favored. Take advantage.Play: Purdue +2.5
(145) ALABAMA at (146) GEORGIA
Alabama has put up some heady numbers in the early going as part of their 4-0 start. In not-so-typical Tide-fashion, they are averaging a healthy 5.9 yards per play. However, something about that performance at Tulane has me believing this is the same inconsistent ‘Bama offense. In that game, they put up just 172 yards in all. Against Georgia, it certainly won’t be easy to move the ball: GEORGIA is 6-0 ATS (+6.0 Units) versus good offensive teams - averaging >=5.9 yards/play over the last 2 seasons. The average score was GEORGIA 34.2, OPPONENT 17.2 - (Rating = 1*). Additionally, the Bulldogs have typically brought their best game for the biggest games: Richt is 22-11 ATS (+9.9 Units) vs. good teams - outscoring opponents by 10+ PPG on the season as the coach of GEORGIA. The average score was GEORGIA 28.1, OPPONENT 21.0 - (Rating = 1*). In this contest, you have one of the elite teams in the country taking on one that is still coming into its own. The best part is that the elite team is laying less than a TD at home.Play: Georgia -6
(153) FRESNO ST at (154)UCLA
UCLA and Fresno State have a naturally developed regional rivalry and have met four times in the last 15 seasons. In those four contests, UCLA was the favorite each time, by an average of 12.5 PPG. Fresno State won outright in one of the games, a bowl game following the 2003 season. This time around, a Bulldogs’ team that is 2-1 with wins over a suspect Rutgers club and Toledo is the somewhat heavy road favorite. In the game against the Rockets, Fresno couldn’t get a stop, winning 55-54 in overtime. Let me ask you this: Is this the type of team you want to again lay 6-1/2 points with on the road playing “up” in conference stature? This is still WAC vs. Pac 10, and the WAC is rarely favored in such matchups. UCLA is still one of the better home underdogs in college football, going 18-5 ATS in their L23 opportunities. Having beaten Tennessee outright in the season opener, I imagine the Bruins will be extra motivated by being an underdog here. This game means a lot on the West Coast, don’t expect the Bruins to roll over.Play: UCLA +6.5
TOP STATFOX OUTPLAY FACTOR RATING EDGES:
1. WAKE FOREST (-15.5) over NAVY 20
2. WISCONSIN (-4) over MICHIGAN 16
3. ALABAMA (+7) over GEORGIA 16
4. MARSHALL (+17) over W VIRGINIA 14
5. BALL ST (-18) over KENT ST 14
6. SAN JOSE ST (+3) over HAWAII 13
Top College Football Systems, Trends and Head-to-Head Data
Saturday, 09/27/2008 (161) UAB vs. (162) S CAROLINA
Play On - A home team (S CAROLINA) - with a turnover margin of -1 /game or worse on the season, after 2 consecutive games with a turnover margin of -2 or worse. (38-9 over the last 5 seasons.) (80.9%, +28.1 units. Rating=4*).The situation’s record this season is: (0-0). L3 Seasons: (16-2). L10 Seasons: (62-59). Since 1992: (94-84).
Friday, 09/26/2008 (105) CONNECTICUT vs. (106) LOUISVILLE
Play On - Home favorites of 3.5 to 10 points (LOUISVILLE) - off an upset win as a home underdog, in weeks 5 through 9. (25-4 since 1992.) (86.2%, +20.6 units. Rating=3*).The situation’s record this season is: (0-0). L3 Seasons: (4-1). L5 Seasons: (8-1). Since 1992: (18-3).
Play Against - Favorites of 3.5 to 10 points (IOWA, IDAHO) - off an extremely close road loss by 3 points or less, with a winning record on the season playing another winning team. (29-7 since 1992.) (80.6%, +21.3 units. Rating=3*) The situation’s record this season is: (0-0). L3 Seasons: (9-4). L5 Seasons: (14-4). L10 Seasons: (19-6).
TOP COLLEGE FOOTBALL STATFOX HEAD-TO-HEAD TRENDS - WEEK 5 (ATS & Total)
Saturday, 09/27/2008 (125) MISSISSIPPI ST. vs. (126) LSU
LSU is 15-1 SU & 14-2 ATS vs. MISSISSIPPI ST since 1992.
Saturday, 09/27/2008 (127) N ILLINOIS vs. (128) E MICHIGAN
The ROAD TEAM is 5-3 SU & 8-0 ATS in N ILLINOIS-E MICHIGAN series since ‘00.
Saturday, 09/27/2008 (117) NORTHWESTERN vs. (118) IOWA
The UNDERDOG is 7-4 SU & 9-2 ATS in NORTHWESTERN-IOWA series since ‘95.
Saturday, 09/27/2008 (135) PURDUE vs. (136) NOTRE DAME
The UNDERDOG is 4-12 SU but 11-4 ATS in PURDUE-NOTRE DAME series since ‘92.
Saturday, 09/27/2008 (179) NEVADA vs. (180) UNLV
The FAVORITE is 10-1 SU & 9-2 ATS in NEVADA-UNLV series since ‘94.
Re: Football Newsletters Sept. 24 - 29
THE GOLD SHEET - NCAA
KEY RELEASES- COLLEGE ANALYSIS
LOUISVILLE by 14 over Connecticut (Friday, September 26)
PURDUE by 8 over Notre Dame
WASHINGTON by 14 over Stanford
PENN STATE by 25 over Illinois
***LOUISVILLE 31 - Connecticut 17—UConn brings nation’s leading rusher in jr. D. Brown (179 ypg & 10 TDs), as well as sound, veteran defense. However, Louisville’s own stop unit much improved, allowing only 4 meaningful TDs in first 3 games. Emergence of RS frosh RB V. Anderson (176 YR & 3 TDs last week) opening airways for rifle-armed Card sr. QB Cantwell, who’s a much more highly-regarded pro prospect than Husky counterpart Lorenzen. Cards avenge LY’s upset loss. TV—ESPN2 (07-CONN. 21-Lvl. 17...L.20-16 C.39/175 L.31/93 L.29/43/3/228 C.9/18/0/130 C.2 L.0) (07-CONN. +3 21-17 06-LVL. -28' 48-17 05-Lvl. -15 30-20...SR: Louisville 3-1)
***Purdue 28 - NOTRE DAME 20—Notre Dame reverted to recent form, as loss to Michigan State sank Irish spread record to 10-21-1 last 32 under Charlie Weis. Purdue bounced back from disappointing OT-loss to Oregon with win against C. Michigan. Boilers own QB edge with Curtis Painter (9517 YP & 57 TDP career) over soph Jimmy Clausen (2 ints. in each game this season). Big edge for Purdue is sr. RB Kory Sheets (5.7 ypc; scored 2 TDs in 6 straight games) who ran for 141 yards last season against the Irish. TV—NBC (07-PURDUE 33-N. Dame 19...P.27-21 P.42/119 N.26/49 N.34/52/2/377 P.22/37/2/252 P.0 N.1) (07-PURDUE -21' 33-19 06-UND -14' 35-21 05-Und +3' 49-28...SR: Notre Dame 51-26-2)
***WASHINGTON 31 - Stanford 17—Creative blitz and stunt packages devised by veteran Stanford d.c Ron Lynn were enough to impede San Jose QB Kyle Reed last week, but similar aggressiveness might not work vs. punishing Jake Locker and UW spread that rolled for 388 YR vs. Tree LY. And Jim Harbaugh reportedly thinking very hard about using true frosh Nathan Luck at QB if uneven performances of starter Pritchard (just 1 TDP) continue. Do-or-die time for Ty Willingham, who needs immediate course correction or risks impeachment and removal from office by angry Husky Nation. (07-Wash. 27-STAN. 9...W.31-14 W.63/388 S.26/116 W.16/32/1/151 S.17/31/0/137 W.1 S.1) (07-Washington -3 27-9 06-Stanford +19 20-3...SR: Washington 40-34-4
***PENN STATE 42 - Illinois 17—Cantankerous Penn State HC JoePaterno called his team’s 45-3 romp over Temple “sloppy” and said he wasn’t happy with the effort. Mind you, the Nittany Lions are 4-0 and have outscored the opposition by an average of 53-10! HC Ron Zook of rested Illinois has expressed worries as well, but his issues are real concerns. Illini QB Juice Williams was held to just 157 yds. total offense last season by Nittany Lions, who have the guns to make revenge work. REGIONAL TV—ABC (07-ILL. 27-Penn St. 20...P.18-17 I.38/216 P.36/129 P.21/38/3/298 I.11/27/2/120 I.0 P.1) (07-ILL. +3 27-20 06-PSU -18 26-12 05-Psu -18 63-10...SR: Penn State 12-3)
*TULANE 37 - Smu 13—Although substantial favorite an exceedingly strange pointspread role for long-suffering Tulane, inclined to support resurgent host following last week’s satisfying win over La.-Monroe. Squalid SMU “stop” unit (nation’s-worst 531 ypg) can’t stop anyone, and Mustangs have scored just 2 TDs in last 2 games behind misfiring true frosh QB Mitchell (10 ints. TY).Green Wave has enough rushing and defense (only 223 ypg—No. 8 in country!)to bludgeon visitor into submission.(07-Tulane 41-SMU 34 (OT)...S.23-21 T.50/361 S.32/84 S.28/37/1/354 T.13/24/0/160 T.1 S.1) (07-Tulane +6 41-34 (OT) 06-Smu -3 33-28 05-Tulane -3' 31-10...SR: Tulane 11-5)
*Southern Cal 37 - OREGON STATE 10—Granted, Corvallis has been a real minefield lately for SC, which has failed to cover last 3 trips to Reser Stadium and lost 2 of those outright (including 33-31 shocker in ‘06). But can’t envision erratic OSU QB Moevao doing too much business vs. Pete Carroll’s latest defensive monster that’s loaded with future NFL first-round draftees. And since rebuilt Beaver “D” not yet generating the pressure of recent OSU stop units, Mark Sanchez should again have plenty of time to locate his various weapons downfield. CABLE TV—ESPN(07-S. CAL 24-Ore. St. 3...S.16-12 S.36/100 O.37/91 S.20/34/0/187 O.11/28/1/85 S.1 O.0) (07-USC -16' 24-3 06-OSU +10' 33-31...SR: Southern Cal 58-9-4)
WAKE FOREST 32 - Navy 20—Swarming Demon Deacon defense has 50 takeaways in last 16 games (!) and holds MAJOR edge over smallish, slowish Navy stop unit. Still, no surprise if tough-minded Middies hang inside roomy impost, as Wake just 4-15 vs. line last 19 laying more than a TD. TV—ESPNU (07-W. For. 44-NAVY 24...W.28-23 N.67/328 W.44/196 W.22/28/0/213 N.4/12/0/39 W.0 N.3) (07-Wake Forest -3 44-24...SR: Wake Forest 6-2)
Western Michigan 23 - TEMPLE 16—Western, with 17 returning starters and veteran leaders in nearly every platoon, saw its advantage grow when Temple QB DiMichele suffered a shoulder injury at Penn State, with RS frosh backup Stewart throwing three interceptions. Bronco QB Hiller (27 of 31, 5 TDP in 41-7 walkover vs. Tenn. Tech), RB West, WR Simmons, and FS Delmas (3 ints.) too much for Owls. (07-W. MICH. 16-Temple 3...W.19-6 W.40/162 T.27/54 W.24/39/1/276 T.6/25/0/92 W.0 T.1) (07-WMU -12 16-3 06-WMU -30 41-7 05-Wmu -3' 19-16...SR: Western Michigan 6-0)
WEST VIRGINIA 35 - Marshall 24—New WV HC Bill Stewart already under heavy fire in Morgantown, as Mountaineers off back-to-back losses for first time since 2004. Meanwhile, hungry instate rival Marshall catching a little updraft lately. Host can still hit “home runs” with star QB Pat White & speedy RB Devine. But confident RS frosh triggerman Cann helping Herd attack strike nice balance last couple weeks.(07-W. Va. 48-MAR. 23...W.27-17 W.52/362 M.32/121 M.20/32/0/266 W.13/18/0/149 W.0 M.1) (07-Wvu -24' 48-23 06-WVU -22 42-10...SR: West Virginia 7-0)
Pittsburgh 32 - SYRACUSE 9—With tough trip to South Florida up next, Pitt probably content to ride star soph RB McCoy & HUGE defensive edge to any SU win. However, that’s not reason enough to back awful Orange, who have dropped their last 7 as Carrier Dome dog by average score of 46-16. (07-PITT 20-Syr. 17...P.16-15 P.41/141 S.31/30 S.19/37/0/235 P.21/30/0/153 P.0 S.0) (07-PITT -13 20-17 06-Pitt -7 21-11 05-PITT -12' 34-17...SR: EVEN 30-30-3)
Michigan State 34 - INDIANA 20—Indiana defense couldn’t handle run/ pass Ball St. combo of Lewis and Davis last week, and MSU has the potential of giving Hoosiers the same headaches. Spartans have played a tougher schedule, has won 3 straight, and QB Brian Hoyer has yet to find his best form (45%, just 1 TD pass). Also, WR Mark Dell (24 ypc) is developing into a go-to receiver and Javon Ringer is 2nd in the nation in rushing. Indiana QB Kellen Lewis was just 11 of 25 passing with 0 TDs and 2 ints. vs. Ball State, and 95 of his 159 YP came on two completions to Andrew Means. TV-ESPN2 (07-MICH. ST. 52-Ind. 27...M.28-9 M.67/368 I.17/22 M.20/23/0/190 I.13/19/0/171 M.1 I.2) (07-MSU -3' 52-27 06-IND. +7 46-21 05-MSU -18 46-15...SR: Michigan State 40-14-2)
IOWA 26 - Northwestern 23—Although off to a slow start, Northwestern QB Bacher still has an edge over Iowa counterparts, Christensen and Stanzi, neither of whom has played well enough to win the job. Hawkeye defense wasn’t quite as dominating last week at Pitt, and visitor has covered last 3 in series. NU RB Sutton’s injury that forced him out of Ohio game didn’t appear serious, but sr. Conteh is a quality backup. Wildcat defense making plays (rank 4th in sacks & TFLs). (07-Iowa 28-N’WESTERN 17...N.24-18 N.33/116 I.34/70 I.21/36/0/299 N.28/55/3/277 I.1 N.0) (07-Iowa +1' 28-17 06-Nwu +20 21-7 05-NWU +3 28-27...SR: Iowa 46-20-3)
DUKE 31 - Virginia 20—Sure, downtrodden Duke hasn’t been favored in an ACC game since 2002 (and they lost that one). But these programs headed in different directions. Confidence growing at Durham under new HC Cutcliffe, while Charlottesville insiders insist longtime Virginia mentor Groh on his way out. Little chance Cavs’ inexperienced QBs able to trade points with Duke’s QB Lewis (26 TDP, only 10 ints. last 1+ seasons). TV—ESPNU (07-VA. 24-Duke 13...V.17-12 V.34/133 D.34/84 V.22/32/0/191 D.15/35/1/145 V.2 D.0) (07-VIRGINIA -18 24-13 06-Virginia -5' 37-0 05-VIRGINIA -24' 38-7...SR: Virginia 32-27)
MIAMI-FLORIDA 28 - North Carolina 27—Check status of UNC starting QB T.J. Yates (ankle). If Yates is able to make post, then Tar Heels have enough weapons to inflict some damage on Miami’s speedy defense. If he’s not, resourceful Hurricane RS frosh QB Marve likely to lead host to more comfy victory. TV—ESPN (07-N. CAR. 33-Miami 27...M.20-18 N.46/183 M.36/109 M.17/33/4/302 N.15/23/0/218 N.1 M.0) (07-UNC +7 33-27 06-MIAMI -19 27-7 05-MIAMI -20' 34-16...SR: North Carolina 6-5)
FLORIDA 42 - Mississippi 10—Ole Miss has sprung a couple upsets (‘99 & ‘00) and took UF to wire (in ‘08) in last 3 meetings, but that only keeps Gators focused for SEC opener in The Swamp, where they are 7-1 vs. spread last 8. Rebel QB Snead, who had his confidence shaken in 4-int. effort in Vandy loss, won’t have it restored vs. smothering Gator “D” that hasn’t allowed a meaningful TD in ‘08! UF’s star-studded cast (RB Moody had 55 YR in 9 carries vs. Tennessee) taking pressure off Mr. Tebow (only 126 total yds. vs. Vols!). (07-Fla. 30-MISS. 24...F.28-18 F.45/246 M.21/80 M.19/32/1/310 F.20/34/0/261 F.0 M.0) (07-Florida -23 30-24...SR: Mississippi 11-10-1)
*LSU 37 - Mississippi State 3—Though LSU could suffer some letdownfollowing thrilling, last-minute 26-21 victory at Auburn, want no part of regressing 1-3 MSU, which has failed to score a TD over last 8 Qs. Streak continues here. Meanwhile, Tigers rapidly-developing RS frosh QB Lee will take full advantage of explosive arsenal (RB Scott had 132 YR vs. Auburn!) vs. wound-licking Bulldog defense that allowed a whopping 500 yds. in Georgia Tech blowout loss. History repeats itself (Looking for an Angle). TV—ESPN2 (07-Lsu 45-MISS. ST. 0...L.22-9 L.50/198 M.26/10 L.14/22/0/149 M.14/33/6/136 L.0 M.1) (07-Lsu -18' 45-0 06-LSU -33' 48-17 05-Lsu -14' 37-7...SR: LSU 65-33-3)
Northern Illinois 34 - EASTERN MICHIGAN 21—EMU “D” and special teams have regressed this season, and the Eagles have yielded 134 points in last 3 games. NIU is scoring 34 ppg, and the visitor has covered 7 straight in this series. NIU QB Harnish sat out Indiana St. game with a foot sprain, and Huskie HC Jerry Kill went with former starter Nicholson (on the mend from shoulder surgery) & RS frosh DeMarcus Grady effectively. (07-E. Mich. 21-N. ILL. 19...N.19-18 E.41/189 N.36/184 E.16/24/0/189 N.20/28/1/160 E.0 N.0) (07-Emu +13' 21-19 06-Niu -7' 27-0 05-NIU -21 24-8...SR: Northern Illinois 22-14-2)
CENTRAL MICHIGAN 31 - Buffalo 29—Could this be a MAC title game preview? Buffalo’s continuing improvement under Turner Gill suggests that might be a possibility, and doubt Bulls will flinch at prospect of facing productive CMU QB LeFevour after battling Chase Daniel and Mizzou’s high-octane attack last week. Pliable Chippewa “D” should present plenty of opportunities for UB QB Willy and big-play WR/KR E. Jackson (3 TDs vs. Mizzou) to make things interesting. (06-Central Michigan -15 55-28...SR: Central Michigan 3-1)
Cincinnati 30 - AKRON 17—Since Cincy’s strong-armed 6-6 jr. QB Pike (20 of 24 for 241 yds. vs. Miami-Ohio) has picked up where injured Grutza left off, Bearcats fast, sure-handed WRs Goodman & Gilyard (combined 41 catches, 6 TDs) should repeatedly burn rebuilt Akron 2ndary in Zips 1st acid test of year. So, support profitable Cincy (17-8-1 vs. spread since ‘06) making relatively-short 238-mile trip to Rubber Bowl. (06-CINCINNATI -6 20-14...SR: EVEN 2-2)
EAST CAROLINA 35 - Houston 29—Pirates trying to shake lingering emotional effects of last week’s OT loss at N.C. State that quashed BCS hopes stoked by ECU’s early upsets of Va. Tech & W. Virginia. Meanwhile, Houston desperate to get off the schneid after 3 straight losses, and quick-trigger QB Case Keenum (16 TDP, only 4 ints.) gives Cougars good chance to take this one the distance. (07-E. Car. 37-HOU. 35...H.23-14 E.40/173 H.46/139 H.30/41/2/345 E.11/26/1/156 E.1 H.1) (07-East Carolina +13' 37-35...SR: East Carolina 5-3)
OHIO STATE 41 - Minnesota 9—Hype over Tyrelle Pryor’s ascension to the starting QB slot last week against Troy and his 4 TD passes can’t mask the fact that the Trojans outgained the Buckeyes in Columbus, and OSU led just 14-10 in the 4th Q. That being said, 4-0 Minnesota is jumping way up in class after facing lighter weight competiton, and the Gopher pass defense ranks last in the Big Ten after finishing 115th in the nation last season. Tressel’s Buckeyes continue dominance over Gophers. (07-Ohio St. 30-MINN. 7...O.24-15 O.47/250 M.29/45 M.27/44/2/232 O.18/29/0/209 O.1 M.0) (07-Osu -23' 30-7 06-OSU -27 44-0 05-Osu -4 45-31...SR: Ohio State 40-7)
*NEBRASKA 23 - Virginia Tech 20—VT traveling a long way to play the better-balanced Huskers. Hokies managed comeback win last week at North Carolina despite 2 ints. by QB T. Taylor and with the benefit of an injury to Hokie QB Yates. Nebraska OL bolstered by the return of sr. starter Christensen from suspension. Bo Pelini has improved the NU defense, but his young LBs will be tested by VT’s youthful, but talented, backfield. Hokies 11-2 last 13 as dog. TV—ABC (DNP...SR: Nebraska 1-0)
CALIFORNIA 37 - Colorado State 19—Can the Mountain West play Larry Holmes to the Pac-10’s Leon Spinks one more time? Hard to envision Cal meeting same fate as befell various conference brethren, but still not sure Golden Bears can run away and hide from better-than-advertised CSU bunch that’s getting surprising production from QB Farris and rediscovered semblance of infantry diversion last week vs. Houston. Cal a notorious underachiever as DD chalk (3-13-1 last 17 in role). (07-Cal. 34-CSU 28...Co.22-14 Ca.31/245 Co.42/157 Co.21/30/2/301 Ca.19/29/0/146 Ca.0 Co.1) (07-California -14 34-28...SR: EVEN 1-1)
*GEORGIA 26 - Alabama 23—Though previously top-ranked UGA demonstrating it didn’t deserve to drop in polls with its resounding 38-7 thrashing in Tempe, still ready to “take” with big, fast & athletic Bama, owning plenty of playmakers on both sides of ball (school-record 2 ints. returned for TDs vs. Arkansas). Tide’s battle-tested, now-mistake-free QB J.P. Wilson (only 1 int.) keeps pace with Dawg counterpart Stafford, working play-action vs. UGA defense that hasn’t faced such a deep, formidable ground assault all year. Saban’s crew tough to beat by margin, with last 8 losses by 7 pts. or fewer. TV-ESPN (07-Georgia 26-ALA. 23 (OT)...G.20-18 A.35/164 G.40/153 G.19/36/2/224 A.17/35/0/185 G.0 A.1) (07-Georgia +3' 26-23 (OT)...SR: Alabama 35-25-4)
AUBURN 20 - Tennessee 17—Not counting on UT winning the SEC East as it did LY following 1-2 start. But do expect proud Vols to bounce back with fiercely-competitive effort vs. Auburnbunch not easily getting “off the mat” following last-minute loss vs. LSU. UT HC Fulmer unhappy with QB Crompton, but seriously doubt unfinished Tiger QB Todd dissects tight-covering Vol 2ndary (7 ints.; Florida had just 96 YP). AU still has ball security issues (9 TOs last 3 games). Tigers just 4-7 vs. spread last 11 on the Plains, while resilient Vols 4-0-1 vs. spread last 5 following SU loss. TV-CBS (DNP...SR: Auburn 24-21-3)
Wisconsin 19 - MICHIGAN 17—Wisconsin HC Bielema spent the team’s bye week expanding the playbook, getting the team healthy, and discussing the merits of “cheddar vs. Swiss” cheese on The Big Ten Network. Michigan counterpart Rodriguez had no time for TV revelry, as he had work to do. The Wolverine defense has played well when not pressured by turnovers or poor field position. Doubt now-focused Michigan will oblige Badgers by committing 6 turnovers, as UM did vs. ND. Wisconsin RB P.J. Hill hasn’t had much success against the vet Wolverine run defense (25 carries, 78 YR in 2 games), so Badger QB Evridge will be forced to make some plays in a very hostile environment. TV-ABC (07-WIS. 37-Mich. 21...W.24-17 W.52/232 M.25/47 M.14/41/3/273 W.14/28/0/245 W.1 M.0) (07-WIS. +2' 37-21 06-MICH. -14 27-13 05-WIS. +3 23-20...SR: Michigan 48-12-1)
CLEMSON 28 - Maryland 24—Since Maryland’s previously-meandering offense now finding end zone with regularity, eager to take points with Terps. Mobile backup QB Portis (originally at Florida; 9 carries for 98 yards last week) an added dimension for humming UM attack, while Clemson QB Harper (only 3 TDP & 4 ints. in first 4 games; 27 & 6 LY) developing “happy feet” behind Tigers’ young, rebuilt OL. (07-Clem. 30-MARY. 17...C.27-18 C.56/249 M.32/97 M.19/31/1/217 C.20/26/0/179 C.1 M.1) (07-Clem. -3' 30-17 06-Mary. +18' 13-12 05-Clem. +2 28-24...SR: Clemson 30-24-1)
Fresno State 24 - UCLA 12—After second straight TD-less performance last week vs. Arizona, banged-up UCLA “O” and QB Craft looking about as uncomfortable as Barack Obama in recent interview with Bill O’Reilly. As long as Bruin attack continues to flatline, have no problem supporting the far-greater offensive competence demonstrated by Fresno, which lives for these sort of dates and will have plenty of support at Rose Bowl (as many as 20,000 “Red Wavers” could make the trip!). REG'L TV—ABC (DNP...SR: UCLA 6-1)
Bowling Green 24 - WYOMING 13—The last time Wyo covered a pointspread (9-15-07 at Boise), Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton were considered frontrunners in the presidential race! And with HC Joe Glenn’s future job prospects in Laramie not looking much better than Rudy or Hillary’s dashed White House dreams, prefer BGSU bunch that MAC sources say used “bye” week to tune-up “O” (expect more runs from QB Sheehan in Falc spread option). New Cowboy o.c. Cole might be readying his résumé, too, with redesigned Poke “O” scoring paltry 10 ppg. (FIRST MEETING)
Re: Football Newsletters Sept. 24 - 29
Oregon 38 - WASHINGTON STATE 15—We could excuse Mike Bellotti for asking Dan Fouts if he has any eligibility remaining after yet another Oregon QB (juco Masoli) was KO’d last week, forcing true frosh Darron Thomas into the fray vs. Boise. And Wazzu’s Paul Wulff might be down to his third option at QB (RS frosh Lobbestael) after starter Lopina & backup Rogers went down for the count vs. Portland State. But Coug “D” still by far the most-vulnerable platoon on field, so need more evidence than last week’s smackdown of Jerry Glanville’s Vikings that WSU stop unit has plugged its many leaks.(07-ORE. 53-Wash. St. 7...O.30-17 O.51/213 W.30/63 O.26/35/0/338 W.15/36/2/251 O.1 W.1) (07-ORE. -19' 53-7 06-WSU +3' 34-23 05-Ore. -4 34-31...SR: Oregon 40-38-7)
*OKLAHOMA 35 - Tcu 10—Sooners well remember TCU’s 17-10 upset in Norman three years ago, so expect special effort from OU team averaging 55 ppg (eased up) in its new no-huddle offense, directed excellently by Sam Bradford (79%, 12 TDs, 2 ints.). Yes, points will not come so easy vs. the respected Horned Frog defense. But TCU will discover its ground game mostlygrounded. (05-Tcu +25 17-10...SR: Oklahoma 6-4)
*SOUTH CAROLINA 42 - Uab 10—Realize USC mastermind Spurrier (says he might switch to hotshot QB Garcia) still seeking answers on laboring offense, but good chance he finally finds solutions vs. sieve-like UAB defense that’s permitted an eye-popping 1703 yds. in 3 non-covering losses so far. Look for swift, sturdy ‘Cock defense to spin a web around Blazers fleet-footed QB Webb after facing highly-mobile SEC triggermen Nickson & Stafford in early SEC battles. (DNP...SR: South Carolina 1-0)
TEXAS A&M 46 - Army 13—New A&M coach Mike Sherman is forcing a few square pegs of the old Aggie offense into the round holes required by his prostyle attack. Even so, A&M’s 6-5 soph QB Jerrod Johnson has 6 TDP in two games relieving Stephen McGee, while Army looking toward the Pentagon for help after just 223 yards and 7 completions last week vs. Akron. (06-TX A&M -27' 28-24 at San Antonio...SR: Tx. A&M 2-1)
BALL STATE 41 - Kent State 20—Could Ball State really be a stealth BCS contender? Well, Cards’ prospects of running the table are still in order after romping past Indiana. And even without star WR Love (scary cervical fracture vs. Hoosiers), Nate Davis & Co. should have no trouble outscoring sagging KSU bunch that allowed UL-Lafayette to gain 3/8 of a mile last week and has proven poorer value to its investors than some financial services stocks (Flashes no covers last 10 on board!) (06-BALL STATE -3 30-6...SR: Ball State 22-17-4)
*South Florida 23 - NORTH CAROLINA STATE 20—Plenty of “buy” signs flashing for Wolfpack during last week’s upset OT home win over E. Carolina. RS frosh QB Russell Wilson (3 TDP) is emerging as heady field general, hardcharging RBs Andre Brown & Jamelle Eugene are finally healthy, and athletic defense hung tough even though it was missing 2 top players. Bulls’ have burned backers’ money in 6 of last 8 away from Tampa. (05-NO. CAROLINA ST. -4 14-0 (Meineke Car Care Bowl)...SR: N.C. St. 1-0) TV—ESPNU
FLORIDA STATE 23 - Colorado 13—Last week’s grisly home loss to Wake (FSU had 7 giveaways & 139 yards in penalties!) proves early talk of Seminoles’ imminent return to grace was fantasy. On plus side, venerable d.c. Mickey Andrews’ stop unit looked plenty gnarly and welcomes back a handful of suspended starters vs. Colorado. Buff QB Hawkins’ lax ball security a major concern against hard-hitting FSU. (at Jacksonville, FL) (07-Fla. St. 16-COLO. 6...C.21-10 F.37/95 C.25/M27 C.34/54/2/306 F.8/18/0/126 F.0 C.0) (07-Florida State -4' 16-6...SR: Florida State 2-0) TV-ABC
*Ucf 24 - UTEP 17—Though UCF (led 7-3 at H!) forgot to show up following intermission of 34-7 setback at Boston College, still not endorsing floundering UTEP, which has dropped 9 straight games and might be down several key offensive starters, including QB Vittatoe (see Ticker). Knights developing dualthreat, 6-3 jr. QB Greco, who was benched after throwing 3 ints. vs. Eagles,should bounce back vs. inviting Miner defense yielding 43 ppg over last 11.(07-UCF 36-Utep 20...C.27-17 C.55/213 T.19/28 T.20/37/2/292 C.19/28/1/267 C.0 T.0) (07-UCF -20' 36-20...SR: UCF 1-0)
*NEW MEXICO STATE 34 - New Mexico 29—Now that QB Holbrook (5 TDP vs. UTEP) back in cockpit of NMSU Air Raid after threatened benching by HC Mumme, don’t mind giving Aggies a whirl vs. hated UNM. After all, Rocky Long’s defenses haven’t exactly slowed Holbrook (945 YP & 8 TDP last 2 vs. Lobos), and UNM will have to go with backup QB Gruner after starter Porterie KO’d in last week’s humbling loss at Tulsa.(07-UNM 44-Nms 34...S.30-20 U.39/154 S.28/108 S.47/64/2/473 U.18/25/0/342 U.1 S.0) (07-UNM -7 44-34 06-Unm -6 34-28 05-UNM -22 38-21...SR: New Mexico 65-28-5)
*SAN DIEGO STATE 33 - Idaho 16—Which is the lesser of these two evils?A cautious vote for SDSU, whose RS frosh QB Lindley at least demonstrated some competence at Notre Dame (we won’t mention subsequent effort at San Jose). And even James Carville would be hard-pressed to put a positive spin on anemic Idaho bunch that’s on 1-11 pointspread run and absorbed vicious beating vs. Utah State (the Aggies, not the Utes) last week. (DNP...SR: EVEN 1-1)
*Nevada 27 - UNLV 23—True, UNLV off to its most positive start in many years (3 wins already exceed victory total of each of Mike Sanford’s previous 3 teams!). But we’re accustomed to seeing similar encouraging early efforts from Rebs, and it’s worth noting that losses to Nevada in each of the last three campaigns have sent UNLV seasons spinning out of control. Wolf Pack “D” won’t be stretched as it was in recent outings vs. Big XII heavyweights Texas Tech & Mizzou, and Rebel “D” was burned badly the last time it saw a QB (Utah’s Brian Johnson) as mobile as Nevada’s Kaepernick. (07-NEV. 27-Unlv 20...U.24-21 U.39/205 N.35/128 N.20/38/1/330 U.18/40/1/249 N.0 U.0) (07-NEVADA -3' 27-20 06-Nevada -3' 31-3 05-NEVADA +1' 22-14...SR: Nevada 18-15)
*San Jose State 27 - HAWAII 20—Greg McMackin’s rebuilt Hawaii Red Gun about as similar to June Jones’ previous editions as Sean Hannity’s political= views are to those of Alan Colmes. And with QB Graunke possibly compromised by hand injury, Warriors won’t rediscover their old scoring magic anytime soon. Not sure undersized UH “D” can blitz SJS QB Reed into submission as did Stanford last week, and Spartans’ shutdown CBs Owens & Francies will come in handy vs. Red Gun. (07-Hawaii 42-SJS 35 (OT)...H.34-18 H.26/56 S.25/42 H.44/75/4/545 S.27/47/3/302 H.0 S.1) (07-Hawaii -17 42-35 (OT) 06-HAWAII -25 54-17 05-Hawaii -6 45-38...SR: EVEN 15-15-
*KENTUCKY 29 - Western Kentucky 10—In 1st-ever meeting between these two, lean to excited WKU squad that has enough offensive skill to sneak inside number vs. nicked-up UK team (key LB M. Johnson & DT Lumpkin doubtful) that still has issues at WR (too many drops & incorrect routes, according to coaches) & STs (kicker Seiber missed 4 of 6 FGs vs. MTS).Wildcats, who narrowly escaped vs. M. Tenn. St., have huge lookahead toward Bama next week. (FIRST MEETING)
Arkansas State 33 - MEMPHIS 27—Sure, Memphis in double-revenge mode after dominating cross-river rival ASU for years. However, current reality finds Red Wolves holding substantially stronger hand. Visitor’s irrepressible jr. QB Leonard and much deeper well of defensive resolve will trump top-notch Tiger WR corps. (07-ASU 35-Mem. 31...A.24-17 M.45/177 A.39/134 A.16/37/0/255 M.12/25/0/218 A.2 M.0) (07-ARKANSAS ST. -4' 35-31 06-Arkansas St. +9 26-23...SR: Memphis 27-22-5)
*OKLAHOMA STATE 38 - Troy 17—It’s payback time for OSU, which remembers Troy’s boisterous celebration LY after the Trojans whupped the Cowboys 41-23 in Alabama. State defense still has a few questions, but don’t look for the Cowboy offense, led by heady jr. Zac Robinson, to let up. OSU (bye week following Sept. 13 rout vs. Mo. St.) has extra time to prep for youthful Troy offense. (07-TROY 41-Osu 23...T.29-20 O.38/241 T.48/174 T.34/49/1/388 O.18/37/2/191 T.1 O.3) (07-TROY +10 41-23...SR: Troy 1-0)
*TOLEDO 41 - Florida International 20—Stark contrast in offensive production for these two teams, as FIU ranks last in scoring and total offense while Toledo scores 37 ppg & generates 396 ypg. Would draw the line at 3 TDs as defense-shy Rockets have potential lookahead to homecoming vs. MAC foe Ball State up next. (FIRST MEETING)
KANSAS STATE 48 - La.-Lafayette 20—Clever QB Michael Desormeaux and Louisiana offense must be respected. But undersized Cajun defense (633 yards at So. Miss) should be just what the doctor ordered for K-State offense after its spotty Wednesday play at Louisville. Juco RB Keithen Valentine should be of more help to QB Freeman, while HC Prince’s STs already have 4 TDs TY. (DNP...SR: Kansas State 2-0)
*RICE 42 - North Texas 27—After being manhandled by big, bad Texas, Rice & star QB Clement will welcome shot at little, sad North Texas. Very measured vote to dog, however, based on belief that Mean Green attack can land some shots of its own against wounded Owl defense.(DNP...SR: North Texas 1-0)
TEXAS 38 - Arkansas 16—Youthful Razorbacks (4 ints.) humiliated 49-14 last week by ascending Alabama. But Arkansas always extra-focused vs.Texas, whose early schedule of Florida Atlantic, UTEP & Rice has been none too testing. UT and Colt McCoy will get their win, but humbled Hogs will fight all the way.(DNP...SR: Texas 55-21) TV-ABC
Re: Football Newsletters Sept. 24 - 29
THE GOLD SHEET NFL
CAROLINA by 18 over Atlanta
PITTSBURGH by 21 over Baltimore (Monday)
OVER THE TOTAL in the Buffalo-St. Louis game
CAROLINA 28 - Atlanta 10—Week Two redux for Atlanta, which, after opening impressively vs. a troubled foe (Detroit), was stonewalled at an angry Tampa Bay? Perhaps, as Falcs now must face another NFC South contender (Carolina) in bounce-back mode. Improved as Atlanta “D” might be under new HC Mike Smith, it’s unlikely the Falcs can shut down the Panther infantry as did Minnesota’s strong front seven last week. And if Jake Delhomme can effectively use play-action, expect his special rapport with favorite WR Steve Smith (4 catches in return from suspension last week) to reappear. Atlanta still not asking a lot of rookie QB Matt Ryan (only 31 total pass attempts in Falcs’ two wins), and doubt Michael Turner (366 YR) provides enough ground support on road to compensate.(07-Car. 27-ATL. 20...C.24-21 C.36/175 A.19/91 A.31/44/0/351 C.13/22/0/138 C.2 A.0) (07-Atl. 20-CAR. 13...A.12-10 C.28/90 A.28/88 A.20/27/0/189 C.13/29/1/145 A.1 C.1) (07-Carolina -4 27-20, Atlanta +3' 20-13...SR: Atlanta 16-10
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 29
*PITTSBURGH 34 - Baltimore 13—Kudos to Joe Flacco for his hurricane-aided 2-0 start. But initial road games are rarely easy for rookie QBs (ask Atlanta’s Matt Ryan). Trying to decipher the confusing Steelers’ zone blitzes, account for their mobile quartet of LBs, and keep an eye on active SS Troy Polamalu figures to be a major challenge for tall Baltimore rookie Flacco (who, by the way, left Pitt to transfer to Delaware!) Moreover, you can expect a special effort from the Pittsburgh OL after it gave up nine sacks in last week’s loss at Philly. Steelers “over” 42-14-1 at Heinz since 2001! CABLE TV—ESPN (07-PITT 38-Balt. 7...P.14-5 P.39/90 B.14/64 P.14/21/1/201 B.16/31/1/40 P.0 B.3) (07-BALT. 27-Pitt 21...B.21-14 B.40/180 P.19/46 P.16/31/2/218 B.16/27/0/154 B.1 P.1) (07-PITTSBURGH -9 38-7, BALTIMORE +3 27-21...SR: Pittsburgh 15-10)
OVER THE TOTAL Buffalo 29 - ST. LOUIS 24—The Rams’ back seven has been shredded the first three games, with opponents completing 58 of 88 passes for 7 TDs with no interceptions. St. Louis has now lost seven straight games going back to LY, the last six of them by 17 points or more! Meanwhile, the Bills have fortified their aerial game with the addition of 6-5 WR James Hardy, their second-rounder from Indiana. All that being said, this is the NFL, and the opening spread near 10 could still turn out to be a heavy load for improving Buffalo (3-0 for the first time since 1992). Rams HC Linehan fighting for his job, and he still has talent on offense in RB Steven Jackson, QB Marc Bulger, and WR Torry Holt. St. Louis “over” 17-8-1 its last 26 at home. (04-BUFFALO +1 37-17...SR: Buffalo 5-4)
Denver 31 - KANSAS CITY 20—While K.C. has started three different QBs in the first three games, Denver’s Jay Cutler has emerged as one of the brightest young passers in the league, with 714 YP and 6 TDs. And, while the Chiefs’ rebuilt OL has failed to meld, the remodeled Bronco front wall has allowed only one sack. Rebuilding K.C. 1-7-1 vs. spread last 9 at home. However, with the pointspread so uncharacteristic for this old AFC West rivalry, and with Chiefs able to run with Larry Johnson, might look for 10-3 series “over” trend to continue. (07-Denv 27-K. CITY 11...K.19-18 D.29/141 K.22/67 K.23/45/3/217 D.17/31/1/186 D.0 K.1) (07-DENVER 41-K. City 7...D.23-7 D.34/215 K.17/16 D.20/27/0/238 K.15/29/1/113 D.0 K.2) (07-Denver +3 27-11, DENVER -7 41-7...SR: Kansas City 52-44)
CINCINNATI 23 - Cleveland 13—0-3 vs. 0-3. Bengals at least showed signs of life last week with their near win vs. the Giants, as Carson Palmer hit 27 of 39, Chris Perry the balanced offense with 70 YR, and T.J. Houshmandzadeh got loose for 12 receptions. Meanwhile, Cleveland offense (9 ppg) was stifled in Baltimore, with Derek Anderson (5 sacks, 3 ints.) under pressure, receiving corps thin, and Jamal Lewis showing his age. Cincy 6-1 SU last 7 in series; “under” 7 of last 9 overall; Cleveland “under” 8 of last 9 overall. (07-CLE. 51-Cin 45...Ci.33-23 Cl.30/226 Ci.26/137 Ci.33/50/2/394 Cl.20/33/1/328 Cl.0 Ci.1) (07-CIN 19-Cle. 14...Cl.25-15 Ci.33/155 Cl.26/136 Cl.29/48/4/244 Ci.11/21/2/115 Ci.1 Cl.0) (07-CLEVELAND +7 51-45, CINCINNATI +2' 19-14...SR: Cleveland 35-34)
JACKSONVILLE 23 - Houston 20—Houston has played Jacksonville tough over the years, covering 9 times in 12 series meetings. With the Jags’ offense hurting in the line and at WR, don’t mind looking for a continuation, as Texan offense had problems shaking off the rust in the red zone last week in Tennessee. With 2007 seventh-round pick Zach Diles locking up one OLB spot, Houston now has four rock-solid young guns in front seven (Diles, MLB DeMeco Ryans, DE Mario Williams, DT Amobi Okoye) to counter Jacksonville’s improving ground game (236 YR at Indy). Must acknowledge, however, the hurricane-disrupted Texans have yet to play a home game. (07-JACK. 37-Hou. 17...J.25-23 J.26/244 H.24/61 H.30/43/1/329 J.22/34/0/213 J.3 H.2) (07-HOU. 42-Jack. 28...J.24-19 H.34/170 J.23/96 J.25/39/0/285 H.11/18/1/120 H.0 J.1) (07-JACKSONVILLE -6' 37-17, HOUSTON -6' 42-28...SR: Houston 7-5)
NY JETS 24 - Arizona 16—The NFL’s answer to a Jamie Moyer vs. Randy Johnson pitching matchup, with vet QBs Kurt Warner (37) & Brett Favre (38) each a bit long in the tooth, but still quite serviceable. Warner has had more chances to show his stuff early in the season, but expect that dynamic to gradually change as Favre gains familiarity and Eric Mangini (hopefully) loosens the handcuffs on the Jets’ offense, which was limited by conservative playcalling in first two games. Will count on improved N.Y. OL to help Favre get things going. Arizona only 3-7 SU last 10 on road. (04-NY Jets -3 13-3...SR: NY Jets 4-2)
NEW ORLEANS 30 - San Francisco 27—With N.O. defense thinned by injuries, it’s a good time for S.F. QB J.T. O’Sullivan to make his second road start. Niner offensive coordinator Mike Martz, who liked what he saw of O’Sullivan a couple of years ago while studying film of NFL Europe players, says the QB could develop into one of his best with O’Sullivan’s combination of mobility with a quick release. Offensive-minded Saints (4-11 last 15 as Superdome favorite) have hardly protected their turf very well lately, but they do have a penchant for going “over” (16 of last 22).
TENNESSEE 17 - Minnesota 16—Another battle of “fossil” QBs, with 36- year-old Gus Frerotte opposing 35-year-old Kerry Collins after each was tabbed to provide veteran leadership. But, with both teams limited in receiving talent, this might turn out to be more of a contest between young RBs Adrian Peterso (340 YR) of the Vikes and speedy Chris Johnson (276 YR) of the Titans. AndMinnesota has been No. 1 against the run for the L2Ys. In ground-oriented,defensive affair, would look for Tennessee’s 13-7 “under” trend to extend. (04- MINNESOTA -6 20-3...SR: Minnesota 7-3)
TAMPA BAY 24 - Green Bay 16—Aaron Rodgers of the Packers took his first loss as a starter Sunday night vs. Dallas, but he still has 4 TDs & no ints. TY, showing a better delivery & composure than many expected. However, the heat and noisy crowd of Raymond James has done in many a good QB, as Brett Favre showed with Green Bay many a time. The Bucs won last week in Chicago despite 4 turnovers, with Brian Griese completing 38 of 67 passes! With Ryan Grant still not 100% due to his sore hamstring, will side with rejuvenated veteran Griese and home-loving’ Bucs (7-2 last 9 as a home favorite). (05-Tampa Bay -3' 17-16...SR: Green Bay 30-19-1)
San Diego 26 - OAKLAND 13—The situation in Oakland seems to have at least one bizarre twist each week, with the team’s PR department last week distributing a column critical of HC Lane Kiffin. Mike Shanahan has pointed out that he lasted one year and four games, and this is ominous Week Four of Year Two for Kiffin. More importantly, S.D.’s talented CBs capable of taking adequate care of the Raiders’ WRs, allowing Chargers to overload their injury/ suspension-thinned defense vs. the formidable Oakland ground game. With S.D. 9-0 SU last 9 in this rivalry (and 9-1 last 10 vs. the line), will side with Philip & L.T. over JaMarcus & “Run D.Mc.” (07-S. DIEGO 28-Oak. 14...18-18 S.32/206 O.23/49 O.24/37/2/193 S.14/21/1/156 S.0 O.1) (07-S. Diego 30-OAK. 17...O.17-15 O.29/122 S.33/120 O.23/31/1/194 S.15/27/0/133 S.1 O.3) (07-SAN DIEGO -9' 28-14, San Diego -8' 30-17...SR: Oakland 55-40-2)
DALLAS 27 - Washington 23—By all appearances so far, Dallas appears to by Super Bowl bound. But this is a lonnng season, and new Washington HC Jim Zorn seems to have done wonders with the Washington offense, boosting the confidence of big, mobile, strong-armed QB Jason Campbell by allowing him to fire away to talented targets Santana Moss, Antwaan Randle El, and Chris Cooley. Scouts report Redskins happy they finally have their top cover guys (Shawn Springs, Carlos Rogers, Fred Smoot) all healthy again. Washington 5- 1 vs. spread last 6 in series. (07-DAL. 28-Wash. 23...W.28-19 D.25/72 W.17/62 W.34/55/1/361 D.22/32/1/287 D.0 W.1) (07-WASH. 27-Dal. 6...W.22-7 W.37/131 D.16/1 W.22/31/0/223 D.14/27/1/146 W.2 D.0) (07-DALLAS -10' 28-23, WASHINGTON -9 27-6...SR: Dallas 56-38-2)
*Philadelphia 27 - CHICAGO 20—Will side with the experience of Donovan McNabb to make game-deciding plays over the still-evolving Kyle Orton (2 ints. last week) vs. Philly pass rush (9 sacks last week). Bears again perfecting the art of the close defeat (back-to-back 3-point losses), with offense becoming increasingly reliant upon the work of impressive rookie RB Matt Forte (on pace for 1600-yard season). Eagles (check status of Brian Westbrook’s ankle) still seething from LY’s meeting at the Linc, when then-Chicago QB Brian Griese drove Bears the length of the field without a timeout for last-second win. Compelling “over” trends of note (Philly “over” 11-6 last 17 away; Bears “over” 16-4 last 20 at Soldier Field). TV—NBC (07-Chi. 19-PHIL. 16...P.21-19 P.25/123 C.23/72 C.27/41/0/314 P.21/34/0/211 C.0 P.0) (07-Chicago +5' 19-16...SR: Chicago 26-10-1)
Re: Football Newsletters Sept. 24 - 29
KEVIN O’NEILL’S THE MAX
Selection and Analysis by Dave Fobare
Marshall (+15½) over @West Virginia
Who would have thought Rich Rodriguez' departure would have affected the Mountaineer air attack more than their ground game? Despite not being known as a good passing quarterback Pat White managed to notch 9.2 and 8.0 yards per attempt the last two seasons. In three games so far in 2008 White has gained just 5.0 yards per attempt and that includes a 48-21 win over FCS squad Villanova. Over the summer new head man Bill Stewart and his offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen talked up the need for more offensive balance in Morgantown by throwing the ball more. After poor results in the first two games the plan was junked and last week against Colorado White and RB Noel Divine combined for 281 yards on 45 carries. White threw the ball just 15 times for an anemic 43 yards. Still, even the ground game is down a notch in 2008. Last season White and Devine combined to gain 7.4 yards per carry, and this season that number is down to 6.1 ypc. My best tech system on this game is not a play against West Virginia, but a play on Marshall. It is a 154-81 ATS cross-season bounceback system. Marshall qualifies because of their 3-1 record off a dismal 3-9 mark in 2007. This system is already 4-1 ATS this season, including a 48-7 win last week on TCU over SMU. When Rich Rodriguez left for Ann Arbor assistant Bill Stewart took the helm and led the Mountaineers over Oklahoma 48-28 in the Fiesta Bowl. It was a prime example of what I call the "Altobelli Syndrome". That happens when an iconic head coach leaves a program and the players try to prove to themselves and the world that they were the reason for the team's success and not the coach. The Baltimore Orioles won the World Series in 1983 with coach Joe Altobelli after the legendary Earl Weaver retired. Then the inevitable decline set in and Altobelli was fired in May 1985. That decline has started for the Mountaineers, and the betting publichas yet to catch up. Take the points. West Virginia by 7.
Selection and Analysis by Erik Scheponik
Northwestern (+7½) over @Iowa
I like the look of this Northwestern team under young head coach Pat Fitzgerald. They returned 16 starters and 47 lettermen from a team that won 6 games last season. They had to get used to new systems on both sides of the ball, but have had 4 games against a fair even if non-intimidating schedule to get used to those systems. I especially liked Fitzgerald’s hire of Mike Hankwitz as the defensive coordinator. Hankwitz has held the same role at Texas A&M and most recently Wisconsin, and always seems to field a quality unit on that side of the ball. He has a surprising amount of talent (by NW standards) to work with this season and the results have been good so far at 11 points per game and 282ypg. The key to the offense is senior RB Tyrell Sutton who suffered a leg injury against Ohio U this weekend, but was in street clothes on the sideline after the game, and both he and teammates say he will be fine. Check Sutton’s status for sure, but we will continue under the assumption he will be starting for NW. As I said above they haven’t faced the nation’s toughest schedule thus far, but it hasn’t been the nation’s worst either, as the 24-20 win at improving Duke is far more impressive than it’s been in a long while, and Ohio U gave Ohio St. a scare at the Horseshoe. Also, the Southern Illinois team that the Wildcats ran through was one of the nation’s top 5 1AA teams last season, and rated one of the top 15 this season by the Dunkel Index. The Wildcats are a very business-like 4-0. Last season they won 3 conference games, only one less than today’s opponent, the Iowa Hawkeyes. However, it must be noted that Iowa did not play either Michigan or Ohio St. last season while Northwestern played both. Northwestern was outyarded by 23 per game in Big 10 affairs while Iowa was outyarded by 89 per game against the far weaker conference schedule. With similar returnee numbers (slight advantage to Northwestern) and a small overall talent edge to Iowa, I actually have these teams rated very close to equal, making this line look about 4 points too high. The Hawkeyes have played the toughest opponent of either of these teams so far, losing by 1 at Pittsburgh this past week. However, the rest of their schedule has been cupcake city, and they have really beaten up on some weak offensive clubs. After being a cash cow as home chalk from 2001- 2005, Kirk Ferentz is only 3-7 ATS in that role since. This line is too high based on the names and histories of these two clubs. Take the points with the under-the-radar Wildcats. Iowa by only 3
Selection and analysis by Matty Baiungo
Mississippi (+23) over @Florida
Going against Florida cost us on these pages last week, but we have no hesitation in doing it once again in this spot. Based on scheduling dynamics and recent results, this looks like a prime spot to fade Florida. The Gators enter off a spotlight win over SEC rival Tennessee, a game in which they had an extra week to prepare. But it wasn’t the typical big number Florida win. The Gators managed only 243 total yards with quarterback Tim Tebow completing 8 of 15 passes for 96 yards. And off the win we have to consider their previous history under head coach Urban Meyer. Over the last four years, Meyer has had Florida geared-up off their bye going 4-0 straight-up and 3-1 against the spread. But things are not so easy in their following game with the Gators going 2-1 straight-up and 0-3 against the spread. The two wins came by only 6 and 7 points. In games following Florida’s two biggest rivals, Tennessee and Georgia, Meyer’s Gators are just 1-5 against the spread with their average win coming by 14.3 points per game. Those two situations certainly indicate negative coaching spread patterns on Meyer heading into this game. Ole Miss is in their first year under head coach Houston Nutt. And he stepped into a pretty good situation in Oxford, getting a very talented team that just needed some good coaching. Things started off nicely with a smashing of Memphis in their opener. They then followed that with a near miss at Wake Forest, rebounded by stomping Samford, and lost a tough one last week to Vanderbilt. Ole Miss dominated the game despite the loss, allowing only 11 first downs on 202 total yards and just 3.8 yards per play. What did Ole Miss in was quarterback Jevan Snead who threw 4 interceptions, which basically handed Vandy the win. The Rebels played a sloppy game overall with six turnovers and seven costly penalties. Snead is a very good QB, and off his worst performance, he’ll bounce back and keep Ole Miss competitive here. Nutt and defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix (DC at South Carolina) have coached in the SEC for awhile so they know what to expect in conference play, and that experience cannot be overlooked. With Florida off the huge Tennessee win, and Ole Miss off a home loss, the Gators may not take the Rebels too seriously. And that would be a huge mistake because Florida had all kinds of trouble with them in the same exact situation last year. The only difference (albeit a big one) is that this game will be played in The Swamp. Ole Miss actually should have won last year’s game, but came up 6 points short in their 30-24 loss. Last year’s experience should give them confidence that they can hang with Florida, and Nutt’s presence should give them more of a chance. Taking over 3 touchdowns with a much improved Ole Miss club off a home favorite loss is the way to go, especially when we consider the negative indicators on the host’s coach. Florida by only 17.
Selection and Analysis by Kevin O’Neill
Alabama (+6½) over @Georgia
Attractive game between a pair of teams who beat up on overmatched opponents on Saturday. Georgia has an incredible schedule, and a nearly endless series of big games on tap. Georgia and the 20,000 fans they brought to Tempe were ready for the Arizona State game and dominated, and there’s no question that they had big edges in athleticism and depth over the Sun Devils. Among Georgia people there was tons of hype for that game throughout the offseason. Obviously with ASU’s loss to UNLV the week before it was not as intense as it could have been, but this is still the third consecutive big game for Georgia. Knowing that he’s going to need to pull out all the stops to motivate his team through their vicious schedule, Marc Richt is pulling out the black shirts for this one. That worked last year when they were a surprise for the Auburn game, and worked again in the Sugar Bowl. Alabama is off of an absolute whipping of Arkansas. And while Arkansas is down, 35-7 at the half, with a full game rushing yardage edge of 328-92 are nice aspects of a win. The clunker that Bama threw in against Tulane following their rampage over Clemson is helpful here, as it gives Nick Saban a effective warning for his club on not believing the hype after a big game. And this is a very big game. In Matthew Stafford and John Parker Wilson, you’ve got a pair of quality veteran quarterbacks. And they have possibly the two best true freshman WR’s in the country to throw to, in Georgia’s AJ Green (8 catches for 158 yards in Tempe) and Alabama’s Julio Jones. But what has us taking the points here is the play on the line of scrimmage. Already young, Georgia has lost some horses on their offensive front. They’re well coached up there, but those injuries have caused a shuffling in their lineup that didn’t matter against Arizona State, but should matter against a Bama team with a rock-ribbed defensive line. Nose tackle Terrence Cody is an absolute beast, going 360 pounds and forcing Arkansas to offer double team help to their center, Rimington Award candidate Jonathan Luigs. After playing up the summertime conventional wisdom that Bama actually lacked defensive depth, Saban must be laughing now, as their defense has waves of players. And Saban is one of the best defensive game planners around, important to have considering Georgia’s skill position weaponry. Nobody has had any better luck with injuries than the Crimson Tide. They’re as completely healthy as a team could possibly be for their fifth game of the campaign. Bama’s Arkansas walkover had a morning starting time in the Central Time Zone, and they were back in Tuscaloosa in time to watch Georgia’s win in the desert. The Bulldogs flew a redeye back to Atlanta, and then bused out to Athens. Obviously there’s time to recover, but will that all nighter catch up to the Dawgs late in the 4th quarter? There are some intangibles that favor Alabama, though of course the UGA crowd will be revved up for this prime time affair. But the depth of talent that Bama has defensively is remarkable, and the concerns for UGA’s offensive line are warranted. This looks like one of your last chances to take substantial points with Bama for a long time. Could go either way, and we’ll call it Bama by 1.
Selection and analysis by Matty Baiungo
South Florida (-8) over @NC State
South Florida was in a tough spot last week, and the fact that they laid an egg is not all that surprising. Two weeks back, the Bulls hosted Kansas in a Friday night spotlight game. They were down by 10 points at the half, but scored 17 points in the 3rd quarter, and then struck quickly in the 4th to take a 14 point lead. But then the Bulls needed to dig down again after Kansas tied the score at 34 with just over five minutes to play. South Florida eventually pulled out a 37-34 on a last play field goal, but the game left them drained. And they suffered a huge hangover last week at Florida International and the unimpressive 17-9 win definitely raised a few eyebrows. But South Florida has some excuses. First, and most relevant, is how the game described above played out. Second, the Bulls were playing the worst team in major college football. The FIU Golden Panthers owned just one win in their last 26 games coming in, so to expect any focus from the Bulls was simply not going to happen. “I think we were thinking a little bit ahead,” South Florida quarterback Matt Grothe said. “Luckily we won that game. It was a little scary.” And this game was also on the day of the big grand opening of FIU’s brand new on-campus stadium, which was a huge day for the school and football program. They were going to show up; this was their Super Bowl, especially against an in-state opponent ranked # 12. “We really, really played with everything we had,” FIU coach Mario Cristobal said. So everything adds up perfectly to draw a line through the game and forget the results because South Florida basically just showed up and went through the motions. And with head coach Jim Leavitt saying, “We played about as bad as we could have played, I don’t see how we could have played worse,” look for his team to play 60 minutes of football here. NC State enters off an upset win over one in-state foe East Carolina. It was fitting that the game went to overtime because the stats were dead even (literally). But it was still the first game this year in which NC State actually scored a touchdown against a real opponent after getting shutdown against South Carolina and Clemson. And South Florida’s defense is just as good if not better than those two so look for State’s offensive troubles to comeback in this game. And this comment by head coach Tom O’Brien makes me believe that his team may bounce off last week’s win: “They listen to the trash about how they can’t score and how they’ve been scoreless for so many halves (against FBS teams),” O’Brien said. “It bothers our young guys. Our veterans are more used to it and don’t take it to heart. This win got the weight off their shoulders and showed them how it feels to win a big game.” So we have two teams entering off wins, but South Florida is looking to play much better while NC State is satisfied because they finally scored a touchdown. The better team will be extremely focused here and stretches out to a comfortable win. South Florida by 14.
Re: Football Newsletters Sept. 24 - 29
Selection and Analysis by Kevin O’Neill
Colorado (+6) over Florida State @Jacksonville, Florida
Not buying into the “Florida State hype” was one of my few exhibitions of wisdom on Saturday. You may not have noticed the Seminoles on Saturday, as Georgia/Arizona State and LSU/Auburn were certainly more attractive games, but FSU’s offense was horrendous. FSU turned the ball over 7 times, but it wasn’t a case of them marching up and down the field only to have turnovers kill them. The Seminoles gained only 230 yards on 64 plays (yep, that is, in fact, only 3.6 yards per play. Wasn’t Jimbo Fisher supposed to solve all these problems?) Their offensive design continues to be dreadful, and they just aren’t a heady group. FSU has a lot of speed, and it works well on defense, but they’re going to have to score some points to get this cover and where is that coming from? Colorado is used to facing athletic teams from the Big 12 (and West Virginia, who they beat on Thursday night), and they won’t be intimidated. Dan Hawkins son Cody is the quarterback for the Buffs. He’s improved this season, completing 70% of his attempts with 6 TD’s and 3 INT’s. Colorado is a program that’s really coming together. Talent has never been in short supply in Boulder, but a ton of off-field problems predated Coach Hawkins’ arrival. And he had to win the team over. But it appears that he has. After the upset win over West Virginia Hawkins said, "I think they totally believe in what we're doing and why we do it. And that is huge." There’s no such buy-in at FSU right now. Bobby Bowden is barely involved in any game-planning or actual coaching. His heir apparent Fisher was supposed to be a great developer of quarterbacks. But he appears to have given up on Drew Weatherford after his bad year in ’07. Christian Ponder and D’Vontrey Richardson were both awful for the Seminoles at QB Saturday, and Colorado enjoys a very solid quarterbacking advantage. This game is not being played in Tallahassee; it is being played in Jacksonville. Obviously 90%+ of the fans will be rooting for the ‘noles, but there will be empty seats, it isn’t the ordinary home crowd, and it isn’t something that’s obvious to all bettors. In fact, the buzz is so little, that you could log on to Ticketmaster on Monday afternoon and order lowerlevel 30-yard line tickets for the game and you can’t find major ticket scalping web sites asking for any more than $150 apiece for the best seats. This hardly screams “big game”. Some suspended players come back for FSU this week, bolstering a solid defense. But the offense is a disaster and this game looks like it’ll be a low scoring, tight affair, and we like the direction the Buffaloes are heading in. Colorado by 3
Selection and Analysis by Kevin O’Neill
San Jose State (+3) over @Hawaii
Following a terrific season, but thinking he’s peaked with what he can accomplish with the program, the coach leaves his established home for a better paying job. An overmatched assistant takes over as head man, and the losses mount. Sure, this discussion could be about West Virginia, but it is about Hawaii, wiped out by their only two 1-A opponents thus far. Getting blasted at Florida is understandable. Losing 45-7 at Oregon State (a team that replaced their entire front 7 on defense) on yardage of 485-211? Not so much. Even the 1- AA home game in between, a 35-17 win over Weber State, was blasé. You may have read that Tyler Graunke, the UH quarterback, is supposed to be back in the lineup, but against the vulnerable defense of Oregon State he threw 27 passes at 4.4 yards per attempt with two interceptions. Nothing to be scared about. This team lost not only head coach June Jones, but QB Colt Brennan and a lot of other good players as well, as they returned only 9 starters. They’re a shadow of what they were under Jones and the fan support is suffering, as there was a lot of controversy over Jones’ departure and the culpability of the university administration and the athletic department leadership in not keeping him around. And in this game they’re taking on a team that’s better than many realize. San Jose State’s Dick Tomey has done a fine job at a school that was considering dropping the sport within the past decade. In a loss to Stanford on Saturday night, Cal transfer Kyle Reed completed 23 of 26 passes, but protection was a major issue, as the Spartans allowed him to be sacked six times in the second half. There were some instances where he should have thrown the ball away. But San Jose State can compete against a team below the BCS level of talent (outrushed San Diego State 293-6). And their 23-10 loss to Stanford was 16-10 and the Spartans had the ball at midfield with a couple of minutes left. Stanford made the strange decision (first and goal from the 9 with less than a minute left and no timeouts for SJSU) to punch in a TD to make the margin look more significant at 23-10. Stanford isn’t that bad, and at this point a significantly better team than this depleted Hawaii club, something that is obvious when you compare their results against Oregon State. Stanford outplayed Oregon State on the line of scrimmage, with a 210-86 rushing edge. That same OSU team outrushed this Hawaii team 217-57. Of course those stats were all from games played on the mainland, and UH has exhibited a big home field edge over the years. But even with better talent they are only 2-4 against the spread in their last six outings as a home favorite. Hawaii has a week off but this coaching matchup of Tomey against Greg McMakin is men vs. boys. There will definitely be support for Hawaii in the betting markets by those who are used to playing Hawaii at home and have trouble realizing that these two teams are completely different from the ones that resulted in a 42-35 Hawaii road win at Spartan Stadium last season. Take the points and look for the outright upset. San Jose State by 4.
Selection and Analysis by Dave Fobare
@Cincinnati (-3½) over Cleveland
Both teams come into this rivalry game with a deserved 0-3 record. But the Bengals woke up last weekend falling in overtime to the defending Super Bowl champ Giants 26-23. The offense showed some spine, erasing deficits three times during regulation. Carson Palmer had his first solid game of the season, withstanding a furious Gotham pass rush (six sacks) to deliver 27 completions in 39 passes. Browns' QB Derek Anderson was supposed to be the pillar of a revived Cleveland attack. In 2007 he orchestrated a boomor- bust air game that completed lots of long passes (averaged nearly 13 yard per completion) with a higher than average interception rate. So far in 2008 there has been no boom only bust. Anderson has completed less than 45% of his passes and averaged less than 10 yards per completion. My top tech on this game is a 108-44 ATS system that plays on losing teams that must give a good effort now because the road ahead looks difficult. On deck Cincinnati has a visit to a 3-0 Dallas team that is off an impressive 27- 16 Sunday night nationally televised win over the Packers at Lambeau. This system is already 1-0 ATS in 2008 with a winner on Minnesota over Carolina last week. Long term I'm not a fan of the Bengals' prospects. Over the offseason Marvin Lewis wanted to get rid of bad seed wideout Chris Henry, but owner Mike Brown overruled him. The slight has undercut Lewis' authority in the locker room. But a good effort on the road against the Super Bowl winning Giants should be enough inspiration to succeed here. Lay the points. Cincinnati by 11.
Selection and analysis by Matty Baiungo
Texans (+7½) over @Jaguars
The Texans were in a terrible spot last week. Not only were they playing in just their second game of the season, but they also had to deal with much more important things than football. Hurricane Ike wrecked havoc in the city of Houston, and the Texans’ players had to deal with the harsh realities. It was impossible for them to focus on football when they and their families were directly affected by the nasty storm. They lost close to four days of preparation, so their results from Sunday’s game at Tennessee should be ignored. But now they’ll be back into the swing of football full time, and their improvement will show on the field this week as they face another divisional opponent in Jacksonville. Houston’s running game was very impressive in the loss at Tennessee. The Titans possess one of the best defensive lines in the game, and heading into Sunday’s game, they allowed only 33 yards on 1.9 yards per rush to the Jaguars and 88 yards on 3.1 yards to the Bengals. Those numbers are no fluke after ending last year allowing only 91 yards per game on 3.8 yards per rush. But the Texans gashed them yesterday for 148 yards on 5.2 yards per rush. Steve Slaton had a field day, and the zone blocking scheme seems to be working for Houston. Despite scoring only 12 points, the Texans had plenty of chances throughout the game. In fact, they had the ball inside the Tennessee 14-yard line six times, but came up empty on those possessions. Head coach Gary Kubiak is catching some heat for sticking with Matt Schaub at quarterback. Schaub has not played well at all with 6 turnovers in two games. But he was facing good defenses in Pittsburgh and Tennessee, and you cannot underestimate the setbacks caused by Ike. At 0-2, the Texans are desperate which might cause Kubiak to make a hasty QB switch to Sage Rosenfels. Still like the Texans in this spot though, regardless of who’s under center. Jacksonville was one play away from being 0-3. They were bailed out on a 4th down penalty on the Colts, which kept their final drive alive on way to the game winning field goal. And that was after the Jags held the ball for over 25 minutes in the 2nd half. Even with the win, the Jaguars still have issues. We can’t overlook the fact that the Jags are still missing two starters on their offensive line. A center and a guard missing make it extremely difficult for Jacksonville to run up the middle, a spot where the Jags love to run the football. They shredded the Colts for 236 yards on the ground, but that’s the norm for them when facing Indy. David Garrard admitted to reporters he could “exhale” after Sunday’s win, and that really doesn’t shout confidence right now. The Jags are satisfied off their first win while the Texans will give their all to avoid a 0-3 start. Jaguars by only 1.
Selection and Analysis by Kevin O’Neill
Niners (+6) @Saints
It’s never a bad idea to fade teams with poor defenses in the NFL, particularly as the pointspread gets larger. The Saints D is again a weak outfit. Thus far this season they’ve allowed nearly 28 points per game, on 392 yards per game, and 6.2 yards per play. They rank 27th or worse in all those categories. And before you excuse away these numbers by saying, “well they played the Broncos, and Denver is playing in some very high scoring games,” realize that New Orleans’ other two games were against the Redskins and the Bucs, who are much closer to average offensively. And the Saints offensive production resulted in part from having to let it fly when trailing 21-3. And while these are not you father’s 49ers, neither are they the horrific outfit from last season. Alex Smith will get his guaranteed $25 million, but is unlikely to ever see the field again for this ballclub. JT O’Sullivan had yet another strong performance on Sunday. Sure it was only against the Lions (that was an excellent report on Detroit by Dave Fobare that we emailed to you), but the Niners outgained the Detroit 5.9 yards per play to 4.4, marking the third straight impressive boxscore for San Francisco. O’Sullivan is averaging an impressive 9.4 yards per pass attempt on the season. With only a single interception on the season thus far, he could be a guy who is really emerging into an impressive player. In the Cardinals, Seahawks, and Lions, the Niners have faced a pretty blah set of opponents, but it is well worth noting that they’re gaining 6.0 yards per play, while giving up 4.4. Against some tougher competition (Bucs, Redskins, Broncos) the Saints gain 6.3 yards per play while allowing the 6.2 we mentioned earlier. The Niners were a team that everyone had on their “look out for these guys” list last season, but Alex Smith and injuries hurt them. Now they’ve got O’Sullivan, the unheralded but effective quarterback, and are enjoying some better health. When you see the difference between their offense last season and this season, and the decline of Detroit’s, it looks like Mike Martz is a positive influence on an offense, even relatively quickly. This club has a lot of good young players who may be blossoming. There is some concern that they gave up some yards and points on the road a couple of weeks ago to a beat-up Seattle offense, but the Saints defensive vulnerabilities strike us as being more important. Taking a TD with them against a club with significant defensive issues doesn’t look like the worst move to make on Sunday’s NFL card. Niners by 1.
Selection and Analysis by Kevin O’Neill
Falcons (+7) @Panthers
Matt Ryan had a real nice advantage in his 5th-year senior season at Boston College. He had already graduated, so he was taking a class or two as a graduate student, but for the most part he was majoring in football. He would show up to watch film for hours each day before the rest of the team gathered for his afternoon practice. Steve Logan (former East Carolina coach) had most recently been a QB coach in NFL Europe and BC head coach Jeff Jagodiznski was previously Brett Favre’s offensive coordinator with the Packers. So he had all kinds of time to watch film and learn from a couple of coaches with a lot of background in helping coach professional quarterbacks. As a result, he is more prepared than most to be an NFL quarterback and is averaging 8.0 yards per pass attempt, which ties him for 7th in the league. Veterans on the Falcons suggest that after the horror of having Bobby Petrino as head coach, Mike Smith and his staff are a breath of fresh air. Smith’s defenses at Jacksonville certainly always looked well coached, so maybe we shouldn’t be surprised by the new professionalism being exhibited by Atlanta. The Sporting News projected a 1-15 season for Atlanta but this team is making good progress. They’ve been fortunate to have home games against sad-sacks Detroit and Kansas City, but they blew both clubs out and the fact remains they’re on the right track. The Falcons are averaging 6.2 yards per play while allowing 4.9. Carolina has played stiffer competition but has averaged only 4.5 yards per play while allowing 4.9. The Panthers haven’t looked sharp since their opening win over the Chargers. In their loss at Minnesota on Sunday they didn’t score after taking a 10-0 lead with 9:55 left in the second quarter. They were penalized 12 times. And they gained only 203 yards of total offense. Valuable special teams performer and situational linebacker Dan Connor (3rd round rookie out of Penn State) tore his ACL and is done for the season. While there are new faces on the Atlanta coaching staff, many of these players are familiar with each other from having played in the division together. As bad as the Falcons were the past two seasons, they’re won in Charlotte as an underdog both times. Panthers have won only 3 of their last 18 games by more than 7 points and since the start of the 2003 season are 10-21-1 against the spread as a home favorite. In fact, you could likely do a lot worse than simply taking the points in games involving either one of these coaches. Take the points in a game that will go to the wire. Panthers by only 3.
Monday, September 29th, 2008
Selection and Analysis by Erik Scheponik
Ravens @Steelers Under The Total
No line has been posted on this game yet due to the uncertain status of Steelers’ QB Ben Roethlisberger who suffered a hand injury against Philadelphia on Sunday. Big Ben and the Black and Gold offense were rendered surprisingly ineffective at Philly as they could muster only 6 points on 180 yards. They struggled mightily with Eagles’ defensive coordinator Jim Johnson’s blitz packages and it won’t be any easier here against Rex Ryan’s attacking defense. However, Pittsburgh can afford to be more patient with the running game here, knowing that the Ravens offense is far less capable than Donovan McNabb and the Eagles. Now the line will certainly adjust downward if Byron Leftwich is under center instead of Roethlisberger, but that will create a more cautious and probably punchless Pittsburgh attack, as Leftwich will be a sitting duck for Baltimore. I expect Pittsburgh to attempt to win this game with its defense, more worried about field position than going up top with the passing game. The Ravens will likely do the same thing, as subjecting Joe Flacco to Dick Lebeau’s blitz packages any more than they have to just wouldn’t be fair at this point of the rookie’s career. The Ravens lack weapons on the outside, but have a very deep backfield with Willis McGahee, Le’Ron Mclain, and Ray Rice. With those three healthy, they won’t mind as much as some teams repeatedly plunging it into the teeth of the Pittsburgh defense. The Baltimore defense looks as strong as ever, as they’ve allowed only 333 yards TOTAL in their two games thus far. As I said last week, until they wear down in December, I expect them to be top 5 on that side of the ball. Last week I recommended Baltimore Under in these pages. It was a winner at the opening price, but a loser if you bet it on Sunday. One of Baltimore’s scores was a defensive touchdown. They face a much stiffer defense this week, and I expect this to be a smashmouth type affair. Both teams will run and run some more vs. defenses that simply have not been run on in years. Neither team wants to play from behind thus neither will want to make the first mistake. I expect the number to be somewhere around 36 with Rothelisberger starting, and most likely 33.5 or 34 if he’s not. Either way, the call is Under as the first one to 17 may just be the winner here.
Systems & Strategies
Running To Daylight: Through Game 5, play any NFL team that rushed for more than 200 yards last week and is a dog or fave up to -7 today. Record Since 1990: 77-55 ATS (58.3%)This week’s application: Jacksonville Jaguars
Bye Bye: Play against any undefeated college road favorite in Game 3 or later coming
off a bye week.Pointspread Record Since 1983: 73-44 (63.5%) This week’s application: Oregon State (play against USC), Michigan (play against Wisconsin)
That’s More Like It: Play on any 1-2 team off a loss in Game 4 vs. an undefeated conference opponent off of back to back straight-up and pointspread wins.Pointspread Record since 1980: 17-6 (74%) This week’s application: Michigan over Wisconsin
Re: Football Newsletters Sept. 24 - 29
Power Plays 4*'s
4* Michigan State
4* N. Illinois
4* Notre Dame
4* Ohio State
4* Nebraska (if line is 7 or less)
4* Georgia (if line is 7 or less)
4* Bowling Green
4* South Carolina
4* South Florida
4* New Mexico State
4* San Diego State
4* Kansas State
Re: Football Newsletters Sept. 24 - 29
Thursday, Sept 25th
Usc 4-0 bef Oregon… 4-1 Game Three… 8-3 off non conf H win 21 > pts… 1-5 as DD conf RF’s… 1-3 as weekday favs 7 > pts… 4-10 A vs conf opp w/ rev
OREGON ST SERIES: 3-0 L3 H… 5-1 as dogs w/ conf rev… 9-3 as DD HD’s… 11-4 as dogs in 2nd of BB HG… 0-5 Game Four… 1-5 on weekdays
Saturday, Sept 27th
Navy 4-0 dogs bef Air Force… 5-1 as dogs 14 > pts… 4-1 Game Five… 7-2 in 1st of BB RG… 2-7 as dogs vs ACC opp
WAKE FOREST SERIES: 3-1 L4… 4-1 aft RG vs Flor St… 3-1 Game Four… 0-6 as non conf HF’s 14 > pts… 1-5 in 1st of BB HG… 1-4 bef Clemson
Marshall 0-5 as RD’s 17 > pts… 0-3-1 vs Big east opp… 0-2-1 w/ non conf rev… 2-5 Game Five
WEST VIRGINIA 5-2 off BB SU road L… 7-3 as non conf favs 17 > pts… 5-2 H vs CUSA opp… 2-7 bef Rutgers… 2-6 game Four… 2-5 favs in 1st of BB HG
Mississippi SERIES: 4-0 L4 / 3-0 L3 A… 4-0 away off BB HG… 4-1 as conf dogs 22 > pts… 5-2 away Game Five… 7-3 aft Vandy… 7-2 A w/ conf rev
FLORIDA 5-2 bef Arkansas… 0-6 aft Tennessee… 0-3 as conf HF’s 22 > pts… 1-4 Game Four… 1-4 as con HF’s 9 > pts vs op w/ rev
Houston 5-1-1 w/ conf rev… 4-1 Game Five… 0-4 bef UAB… 1-3 in 2nd of BB RG… *3-8 as DD conf RD’s
E CAROLINA SERIES: 5-1 L6… 5-0 off BB RG… 3-0 Game Five… 6-1 as DD conf favs… 4-1 H vs con opp w/ rev… 1-4 vs conf in between non conf gms
Minnesota 6-1 off BB non conf SU wins… 6-2 bef Indiana… 5-2 dogs in Game Five… 1-4 off BB HG… 2-7 as RD’s w/ conf rev
OHIO ST SERIES: 4-1 L5… 5-1 bef RG vs Wisconsin… 5-2 as conf HF’s > 7 pts vs opp w/ rev… 0-4 in 2nd of BB HG… 1-5 Game Five
Alabama 6-1 bef Kentucky… 1-4 aft Arkansas… 1-4-1 in 2nd of BB RG… 2-7-2 w/ conf rev… 1-3 Game Five
GEORGIA SERIES: 3-0 L3… 6-2 Game Five… 1-5 home off BB RG… 3-9 favs 5 > pts off SUATS non conf road fav W… 2-5 vs conf opp w/ rev
Tennessee 4-0 aft Florida… 8-1 away off BB HG… 5-1 away vs con bef non conf HG… 6-2-2 as conf dogs 10 < pts… 2-6 Game Four
AUBURN SERIES: Host 9-3… 5-0 as conf HF’s 10 < pts… 4-1 Game Five… 1-6 bef Vandy… 1-5 in 2nd of BB HG… 2-9 H aft LSU
Wisconsin SERIES: 5-0-1 L6… 5-1 w/ rest… 5-1-1 away Game Four… 8-3 bef Ohio St… 8-3 as conf RF’s < 10 pts… 1-5 vs con opp w/ rev
MICHIGAN 4-1-1 w/ rest… 4-1 off DD SU non con L… 4-1 vs rested opp off SU dog W… 1-4 Game Four… 1-4 as dogs 6 < w/ conf rev
Maryland SERIES: 4-0 L4 A… 7-0 bef Virginia… 8-2 Game Five… 5-2 A off BB SU non con W… 5-2 A off BB HG… 2-5 A w/ conf rev
CLEMSON 1-5 Game Five… 2-8 conf HF’s < 20 pts vs opp w/ rev… 3-8 bef RG vs Wake Forest… 3-8 as favs vs opp off BB U W
Fresno St SERIES: 3-0 L3… 3-9 non-con favs… 1-4 L5 vs PAC 10 opp… 1-4 Game Four… 1-4 in 2nd of BB RG… 2-5 bef Hawaii
UCLA 9-2 aft HG vs Arizona… 4-1 in 2nd of BB HG… 7-2 L9 vs WAC opp… 5-2 Game Four
Oregon 5-0 as conf RF’s 12 > pts… 5-1 vs con opp w/ rev… 10-2 bef USC… 5-2 in 1st of BB RG… *0-4 vs undefeated opp (Gm 5 >)… 1-4 Game Five
WASH ST SERIES: 3-1 L4 H… 6-0 as dogs in 2nd off BB HG… 5-1 dogs off unlined SU W… *5-2 vs undefeated opp (Gm 5 >)…1-8 bef UCLA… 1-3 Game Five
Tcu SERIES: 3-0 L3… *7-0 as DD non con dogs… 1-7 in 2nd of BB RG… 1-4 dogs Game Five… *3-7 off non conf road W
OKLAHOMA 4-1 bef Baylor… 3-0 Game Four… 0-3 off DD non conf road W
S Florida 3-0 vs ACC opp… 0-3 favs in Game Five… 1-3 in 2nd of BB RG… 2-6 L8 as RF’s
NC STATE 2-10 in 2nd of BB HG… 3-8 Game Five
Colorado 3-0 Game Four… 8-1 bef Texas… 5-1 off SU home dog W… 0-3 L3 vs ACC opp… 1-5 as RD’s off BB HG
FLORIDA ST 4-1 Game Four… 4-1 as non conf favs 4 < pts… 3-1 bef Miami-Fla… 0-4 aft Wake Forest… 1-5 vs non con off conf gm
Illinois SERIES: 3-1 L4 / 3-1 L4 A… 3-0 in 1st of BB RG… 9-1 off SU W vs opp w/ rev… 0-6 vs conf opp w/ rev… 0-4 bef Michigan
PENN ST 7-2 as conf HF > 15 pts off DD SU W… 6-2 H w/ conf rev… 5-2 Game Five… 1-4 aft Temple… 1-4 bef RG vs Purdue
Denver SERIES: 1-3 L4 A…SEPT: 1-5 off non div vs < .500 opp off DD SU loss…1-4 UNDER Game Four
KANSAS CITY 11-0 vs div opp aft allow 34 > pts… 11-1 < .500 dogs off non div game vs div opp… 13-3 2nd div HG… 0-6 HD’s off A and BB SUATS losses… 0-5 < .500 H off 3 SU losses…1-11 H off BB SUATS losses vs opp off BB SU wins…4-0 OVER Game Four
Cleveland 7-0 off SU div loss vs div opp off SU loss… 6-0 off DD SU div loss… 12-1 RD’s 9 < pts when O/U line > 40 pts… 11-1 off BB dog roles vs opp off DD SU loss… SEPT: 6-2 off SU div loss… 1-6 Game Four
CINCINNATI SERIES: 5-2 L7 / 3-1 L4 H… 2-17 Game Four… 1-11 H off non div SU loss vs div opp off SU loss… 5-20 H vs div opp off SU loss
Houston SEPT: 7-0 OVER vs opp off A… 5-0 dogs off DD ATS loss… 4 -0 dogs 7 > pts vs Jaguars… 7-1 < .500 off BB SUATS losses… 6-1 off BB SU losses vs opp off dog role… 11-2 < .500 2nd BB RG’s… 5-1 < .500 dogs vs div opp w/rev… 0-6 A vs opp off SU win < 8 pts
JACKSONVILLE SERIES: 2-6 L8 / 1-3 L4 H... 0-7 favs 6 > pts vs opp off A…0-5 HF’s vs opp in 2nd BB RG’s…1-4 Game Four
Arizona 1-9 off DD SU loss vs opp off DD SU & any ATS loss… WHISENHUNT: 1-4 vs opp off BB SU losses… 4-1 OVER Game Four
NY JETS 11-1 HF’s vs .600 > opp… 12-2 off Monday Night (10-0 H)… 0-7 favs off DD SUATS loss vs NFC opp… 0-4 aft allow 35 > pts vs > .500 NFC opp… SEPT: 1-7 favs off SU loss vs non div opp… 3-16 favs off DD ATS loss vs non div opp… SEPT: 2-10 H vs opp off SUATS loss… MANGINI: 7-1 off DD SU loss…0-4 UNDER Game Four
San Francisco 8-1 .500 > w/rev vs opp off BB SU losses… 0-8 A off BB ATS wins vs non div opp…0-5 Game Four… NOLAN: 1-7 A vs non div opp off SU loss
NEW ORLEANS SERIES: 9-2 L11… 2-7 Game Four
Atlanta SERIES: 3-1 L4 A… 4-0 Game Four… 12-2 off SU non div win vs div opp w/rev… 1-10 .500 > off DD ATS win vs .500 > opp… SEPT: 1-7 dogs off SUATS win (0-1 this year)… SEPT: 1-6 off DD SU win (0-1 this year
CAROLINA 7-1 H w/rev off DD SU loss vs div opp… 0-12 favs Games One-Six vs .500 > opp… 0-9-1 HF’s vs .666 > opp (0-0-1 this year)… 0-4-1 .500 > H vs opp off SU win (0-0-1 this year)… 1-10 favs vs .666 > opp off SU win… 2-12 .500 > HF’s vs .500 > opp… 3-10 Game Four… FOX: 2-9-1 HF vs > .500 opp (0-0-1 this year)
Minnesota SERIES: 3-0 L3… 0-3 Game Four
TENNESSEE 0-4 Game Four… 0-5 if .500 > off SU win w/rev vs non div opp… 2-18 HF’s > 5 & < 10 pts vs opp off SU win… FISHER: 5-17 HF 3 > pts vs opp off SU win 10 < pts
Green Bay 5-0 dogs 3 > pts vs NFC South opp… SEPT: 1-7 if .500 > off ATS loss vs non div opp… 3-6 UNDER Game Four
TAMPA BAY SERIES: 1-6 UNDER L7G … 1-3 UNDER Game Four
Buffalo SERIES: 4-1 L5… SEPT: 6-2 favs off SU win vs non div opp)… 0-9 if .500 > vs non div opp… 0-5 UNDER Game Four
ST. LOUIS 5-0 HD’s > 3 pts vs non div opp off BB SU wins…15-1 H w/rev off div opp…. 9-1 H off NFC vs AFC opp off BB SU wins… SEPT: 6-2 HD’S (0-1 this year)…6-3 Game Four… 0-6 off DD SU loss vs .500 > non div opp… LINEHAN: 1-8 H vs .500 > opp off SU win (0-1 this year)
San Diego SERIES: 9-1 L10 / 6-0 L6 A… SEPT: 11-1 A vs opp w/rev (1-0 this year… 5-1 Game Four… TURNER: 18-3 off DD SU win vs opp w/rev
OAKLAND SEPT: 1-9 vs div opp off SU win… 2-14 H vs div opp (0-1 this year)… SEPT: 1-7 dogs w/rev vs div opp… 8-1 OVER Game Four
Washington SERIES: 5-1 L6… 3-0 Game Four… 0-7 dogs 9 < pts & O/U line 43 > pts
DALLAS SEPT: 3-11 favs vs .500 > opp (1-1 this year)… PHILLIPS: 6-1 H vs opp off BB SUATS wins…1-5 UNDER Game Four
Philadelphia SERIES: 3-1 L4 A / Visitor 5-1… 3-1 Game Four… SEPT: 1-6 off SUATS win w/rev… REID: 10-1 RF VS .333 < opp off SU loss
CHICAGO 13-0 HD’s off BB SU losses vs opp off SU win… 6-0 < .500 off SU loss vs opp off SUATS win… 11-1 if < .500 off non div NFC vs opp off DD SU win… SEPT: 1-8 vs opp off SU win w/rev…1-3 Game Four… SMITH: 7-0 off SU non div loss vs opp off SU win
Monday, Sept 29th
Baltimore SERIES: 5-1 L6 / 6-14 L20 A (1-6 Steelers off loss)… 2-8 UNDER Game Three
PITTSBURGH SEPT: 1-9 vs opp off DD SU win… 1-6 favs vs .500 > div opp off DD SU win… 1-4 UNDER Game Four
Re: Football Newsletters Sept. 24 - 29
3* Penn State
2* Ohio State
2* North Carolina (+)
3* Cleveland/Cincy OVER
2* Houston (+)
2* San Francisco (+)
NFL Totals (10-5 so far)
3* Cleveland/Cincy OVER
3* Atlanta/Carolina UNDER
3* Denver/Kansas City OVER
2* Houston/Jacksonville UNDER
2* Minnesota/Tennessee UNDER
Power Rating Play--TENNESSEE
Re: Football Newsletters Sept. 24 - 29
ALABAMA 20 - Georgia 19 - (7:45 EDT) -- Line opened at Georgia minus 7½, and is now minus 6½. Admittedly, the 1-pt swing has moved the line from more to less than TD. Regardless, this one should be an all-out war. The Bulldogs rank #3 in the land, & deservedly so, with their defense holding SoCarolina & ArizonaSt to a combined 22 RYs the past 2 weeks. And theMoreno/Stafford combo keeps all opposing defenses honest. But the Tide has also posted a perfect 4-0 record, with impressive showings in all but one outing. A year ago, this one went into OT, & 'Bama is much improved this time around. The Bulldogs are still fairly green across their offensive line, & the Tide's 13th ranked "D" will do its part.RATING: ALABAMA 89
Western Michigan 34 - TEMPLE 14 - (2:00) -- Line opened at Western Michigan minus 3, and is now minus 3½. No questioning the improvement of the Owls, under Golden's tutelage. They've been a highly profitable play, covering 16 of their last 24, & had been 87½ pts ahead of the spread in their 13 games, previous to their trip to PennSt last week, a game in which they were totally exposed, not only by the 45-3 final, but more importantly by a 546-138 yd deficit. Not only that, but may have lost the services of their most important player, QB DiMichele, who went down with a shoulder injury. The Bronco "D" is cause for concern, of course, but without DiMichele, the dynamic has changed, & WM "O" purring all year.RATING: WESTERN MICHIGAN 89
TOLEDO 41 - Florida International 10 - (7:00) -- Line opened at Toledo minus 17, and is now minus 18½. Yes, we are aware of the fact that the Panthers have covered 2 of their 3 games to date, against no less than #18 Kansas, & #13 SouthFlorida. But the former cover was by a mere 6 pts, as the Panthers' only TD came as the result of a punt return, with Kansas calling off the dogs over the final 20 minutes. And the latter took place just a week ago, when they caught the SoFlorida off a brutal 37-34 game. Thus the draining element is squarely on the other foot in this contest, as FlaInt must now travel to take on a suddenly potent Rocketsquad (95 pts last 2 wks). Panthers have an 82-10 pt deficit on the road.RATING: TOLEDO 88
BALL STATE 51 - Kent State 20 - (12:00 Noon) -- Line opened at BallSt minus 18, and is now minus 17. They say that opposites attract, & this one certainly attracts us. Difficult to find 2 more different squads than these 2, with that Cardinal offense a thing of beauty, due to no less than 10 starters from last year's 30th ranked "O". The combo of QB Davis (10 TD passes so far), & RB Lewis (166 RYs in last week's 42-20 upset of Indiana) has them cooking. Check averaging 41.5 ppg thus far, with the Flashes allowing 48 & 44 pts in their 2 RGs to date, & in off being battered for 667 yds by Lafayette. Spread more than reasonable.RATING: BALL STATE 88
OKLAHOMA STATE 44 - Troy 17 - (7:00) -- Line opened at OkahomaSt minus 17, and is still minus 17. The Trojans of Troy continue to impress. They've made it to a couple of bowls over the past 4 seasons, with a 29-pt cover over Rice in the '06 New Orleans Bowl. So their credentials have been well established, with no greater proof than their brutal battle with OhioSt just last week, when they trailed the Buckeyes by just 14-10 in the 4th. But that game had to takes its toll, & now they run smack into one of the more unappreciated teams around. Cowboys have topped 40 pts 13 times since '06, & continue production.RATING: OKLAHOMA STATE 88
CAROLINA 27 - Atlanta 10 - (1:00) -- Line opened at Carolina minus 7, and is still minus 7. Yes, it is very unusual for us to be backing the favorite in a game involving the Panthers, as the dog has been simply golden over the past 5+ seasons. However, there has been a bit of a chink in that armor of late, with the chalk on an 8-3-1 spread run in Carolina games since last year.The return of Delhomme has resulted in a 2-1 start for the Panthers, & we have to see him doing his thing, after a less than stellar showing in Minnesota last week. The Falcons, behind QB Ryan & RB Turner, have been world beaters as hosts in the early going, but in their lone road game, both came up considerably short. Lay the wood here.RATING: CAROLINA 89
NEAR CHOICES (Rated 87): CentMich, Cincinnati, Michigan, Maryland -- NFL: Chargers, Bills, Steelers
LINE MOVES (from largest to smallest moves): Wisconsin (-3 to -6½); FresnoSt (-3½ to -7); Illinois (+16½ to +13½); SouthernCal (-21½ to -24); Louisville (-1½ to -3½); SanDiegoSt (-9 to -11); UAB (+26½ to +24½); Marshall (+17 to +15½); Duke (-5½ to -7); Stanford (+5 to +3½); Toledo
(-17 to -18½) - NFL: StLouis (+9½ to +8).
TIME CHANGES: NoIllinois/EastMich: now Noon; TexasA&M/Army: now 12:30; PennSt/ Illinois: now 8:10; Texas/Arkansas: now 3:30 -
KEY INJURIES: BallSt WR Love (Head) out; Cincy QB Grutza (neck) out; EastMich QB Schmitt (shoulder) questionable; MichiganSt RB Ringer (ankle) probable; NewMexico QB Porterie (ACL) out; NorthCarolina QB Yates (ankle) out; Northwestern RB Sutton (leg) probable; OhioSt RB Wells (foot) questionable; Oregon QB Costa (ACL) out; Oregon QB Masoli (head) questionable; Temple QB DiMichele (shoulder) doubtful; TexasA&M QB McGee (shoulder) questionable; UTEP QBVittatoe (ankle) doubtful; WashingtonSt QB Lopina (shoulder) questionable.....
Re: Football Newsletters Sept. 24 - 29
ALABAMA over GEORGIA* by 10
These Bulldogs provided us with a nice win near the top of these pages last week, as expected physically dominating an Arizona State team that is soft in the trenches. It was the type of showcase that was set up to make them look better than they really are, and they come away with plenty of public support, maintaining their #3 spot in the polls and looking like real championship contenders, with a pair of Heisman Trophy candidates in Knowshon Moreno and Matthew Stafford to boot. But all is not well in Athens. That young OL was dominated so badly at South Carolina two weeks ago that Mark Richt made a slew of changes, and while it was more than enough to push around a Pac 10 opponent, it is an entirely different story against a physical Alabama defensive front. And while most road underdogs in this price range are viewed as to whether they can hang in the game or not, the Crimson Tide will be coming to win, and believing that they can. Despite the fact that they were only in the fourth game of the Nick Saban playbook they were every bit the match of Georgia in a 26-23 overtime defeat in Tuscaloosa LY, which tells us much about how even the talent is between these programs. Now the Tide are much better settled into their schemes, which means not just stopping people but getting out and making big plays as well (two interception returns for touchdowns,along with a punt return and a blocked punt for scores). Their 328-92 rushing dominance at Arkansas is most rare on the SEC road, and they will not go down easily, if at all. ALABAMA 24-14.
FLORIDA* over MISSISSIPPI by 5
When the public looks at the scores that Florida has put up, a combined 112-19 over Hawaii, Miami F. and Tennessee, it is easy to buy into the notion that the Gators are rolling, and that Tim Tebow is making another serious run at the Heisman. That is not the case at all, however. And the flip side of this equation is that Ole Miss could just as easily be 4-0 as 2-2, with some bitter bounces of the ball leading to excruciating close losses to Wake Forest and Vanderbilt. So what does that leave us with here? A line that is projecting a gap that is much wider than the true realities between these teams. Florida benefitted from a +6 turnover ratio vs. Hawaii, getting two touchdowns on interception returns, and another on a punt return. Against Miami the Gators only led 9-3 into the fourth quarter, netting just 17 first downs and 345 yards. And at Knoxville on Saturday the totals were 16 first downs and 243 yards. The problem is that there is not a true lead RB to take the pressure off of Tebow (no Florida RB has more than nine carries in a game), and now that opposing defenses are learning how to handle this spread scheme yards are not coming easily. With the Rebels now healthy on defense (Greg Hardy should be able to play serious minutes this week), they have the depth to not get worn down in The Swamp, and with Jevan Snead having the versatile Dexter McCluster and a deep corps of WR’s to work with, this is also the biggest challenge that the Florida defense has faced this season. This is much closer than “they” think. FLORIDA 27-22.
Wake Forest* over Navy by 3
For Jim Grobe to take his roster and beat Bobby Bowden’s players three seasons in a row is a true sign of his special tactical acumen. It is also why we have cashed a lot of underdog tickets with him in the past. But this is an entirely different setting;while the Deacons can challenge just about anyone with X’s and O’s, having enough talent to get margins is another matter entirely. Grobe’s run is now 4-15 ATS as a favorite of more than a touchdown, and off of that draining win in Tallahassee this is another game in which they will do enough to win, and not much more. Note that there should also be no concern about the margin in last year’s 44-24 Deacon win at Annapolis – in that one the Midshipmen were -3 in turnovers, and could not handle WR Kevin Moore (now in the NFL), who burned them for 181 yards on 15 catches. Wake now lacks such a playmaker, which forces the offense to be methodical, and now that the Navy passing game is showing some spark (13.3 yards per pass the last two weeks), the Middies are even more difficult to defend. WAKE FOREST 29-26.
Tennessee over Auburn* by 5
The very best times to get behind class programs are those weeks in which no one else wants them. Phil Fulmer’s Volunteers rarely fall into that category, and as such it makes this one particularly solid, as we take a more than healthy number with athletes that have the talent to win the game outright, and also the mind-set.Tennessee will have fallen out of pubic favor off of ugly 30-6 result vs. Florida on Saturday, but the actually play was nowhere near what the scoreboard showed. A sound defense allowed only 16 first downs and 243 yards, and it is that unit that is the key here, against an Auburn offense that is still a work in progress. Through their first eight SEC quarters they have managed 17 points on their own (the other TD came on an interception return vs. L.S.U.), and while Tony Franklin’s schemes worked well at lower levels, spreading the field does not bring any special advantage against the class of athletes in this conference. It will take precision that they lack to make plays against the Vols. TENNESSEE 22-17.
Toledo* over Florida International by 25
Much like a convenience store worker on a graveyard shift, the Panthers have gone nothing but mail it in these “paycheck” games since Mario Cristobal took over. Except for a regional grudge match vs. Miami F. last year, his former employer, it has been an ugly 1-4 ATS in these games, with the only cover that 40-10 loss at Kansas to open the season when the oddsmakers were overly generous. Now we might find their biggest flat spot of all, coming one game after they opened their new stadium with a competitive game against South Florida, and with a Sun Belt opener at North Texas next week that they have a real chance to win. And of all trips that they could make, there are fewer that create lesser excitement for them than this venue. That brings the wrong mindset for this matchup, with the Rockets building plenty of momentum the past two weeks, especially in the way that they reached back for something extra under pressure against Fresno State, and they will relish the opportunity to erase the frustrations of finally losing early on Sunday morning. TOLEDO 42-17.
Iowa* over Northwestern by 17
Many times there are serious negatives that can be overlooked when a team wins a few games, and the current 4-0 record that sits next to Northwestern’s name is a classic example. The home slate has been a series of walkovers, and in the only road trip the Wildcats were badly out-played at Duke, winning the scoreboard despite trailing by 14 first downs and 144 yards of total offense. But perhaps the worst sign came last week. The problem in 2007 was the decision-making of C. J. Bacher, who threw 19 interceptions, including three in a 28-17 home loss to these Hawkeyes. And while Bacher is now a senior, what he did against Ohio last week was unforgiveable – he was intercepted four times vs. a mediocre defense, and he did it despite the fact that he was played with the lead throughout. When we see those mistakes it means bad news when heading to the road to face this class of defense, and now that the Hawkeyes have regained the offensive balance that was missing last year, they can control the ball throughout. IOWA 31-14.
Tulane* over S.M.U. by 17 (Thursday)
We can not help but be impressed with the tremendous defensive performances of the Green Wave so far, although a short practice week for their first look at the June Jones playbook does create some new challenges. Of course, Jones can currently only use the most basic chapters of that book at this time. TULANE 34-17.
Southern Cal over Oregon State* by 26 (Thursday)
A young Beaver defensive front has had to grow up in a hurry, and based on the
Stanford/Penn State results, they are a long way from creating the kind of pressure
to throw the Trojans off stride. SOUTHERN CAL 35-9.
Louisville* over Connecticut by 1 (Friday)
Huskies have only one road win since becoming a full-fledged member of the Big East, and until we see some indication that their passing game has any rhythm, those wins may continue to be elusive, especially with the Cardinals bringing bitter memories of the officiating in last year’s loss. LOUISVILLE 24-23.
Western Michigan over Temple* by 3
When these two met at the end of the 2007 season it was a deceptively close 16-3 for Western on the scoreboard, as the Broncos led 438-146 in total offense. But the Owls were a gassed team at that juncture, which is not the case this time around. WESTERN MICHIGAN 23-20.
West Virginia* over Marshall by 22
One of the best ways for a coach to ease pressure from the home fans is to go a little harder to build a margin. Bill Stewart faces such pressure here. WEST VIRGINIA 38-16.
Pittsburgh over Syracuse* by 17
Dave Wannstedt wanted physical play in the trenches to be the forte of this program,but we have yet to see the Panthers win the line of scrimmage this season. If they can not do it here… PITTSBURGH 31-14.
Michigan State over Indiana* by 6
When these two met in East Lansing last year it was a 52-27 Spartan blowout keyed by a 368-22 domination on the ground. Current national statistics will show that the Hoosiers have improved in that category, but those numbers have little meaning based on the early schedule. MICHIGAN STATE 27-21.
Duke* over Virginia by 3
Guess who is favored after losing the last five meetings in the series in double figures? But on merit the Blue Devils get the call, and can also win the game, with the experience of Thaddeus Lewis a big edge over the untested Marc Verica.DUKE 23-20.
Miami F.* over North Carolina by 3
Tar Heel talent is good enough to win games but adding extra confidence continues to be elusive – when that 17-3 lead late in the third quarter got away vs.Virginia Tech, it dropped them to 1-5 the last two seasons in games decided by four points or less. But the Hurricanes lack that same polish. MIAMI F. 23-20.
L.S.U.* over Mississippi State by 21
With a bye week up next, Les Miles is allowed to exorcise some frustrations here,and much like the 45-0 rout at Starkville last year, Sylvester Croom just does not have the offensive personnel or designs to make anything happen against this defense. L.S.U. 27-6.
Northern Illinois over Eastern Michigan* by 10
A good chance to put those “Huskies are under-rated” notions into play if the line remains fair – they may have been the better team on the field at Minnesota and Western Michigan both, but came away with a pair of tough L’s that keeps them under the radar screens. NORTHERN ILLINOIS 31-21.
Central Michigan* over Buffalo by 10
Chippewas have not played on their own turf since August, and may come away with a higher confidence level off of that near-miss at Purdue, instead of having a letdown. CENTRAL MICHIGAN 31-21.
Cincinnati over Akron* by 13
That depleted Akron defensive front will have a tough time competing for four quarters given the talent gap here, especially with Tony Pike nearly flawless in his first start as Cincy QB, and the Bearcat program is developing to the point at which they could have a decent following for this trip, negating the home field advantage. CINCINNATI 30-17.
East Carolina* over Houston by 12
The Cougars bring a bitter revenge motive after suffering a 37-35 home loss last year in which they led by nine first downs and 155 yards of total offense, but in reality this is the fourth straight game on the road, with their September development severely curtailed. EAST CAROLINA 35-23.
Notre Dame* over Purdue by 1
The Fighting Irish continue to show no ability to run the ball, but Jimmy Clausen and some talented WR’s are starting to develop a rhythm. Against this soft defense,the passing game may be enough. NOTRE DAME 24-23.
Ohio State* over Minnesota by 24
It was a savvy move by Jim Tressel to have Terrelle Pryor go almost all the way vs.Troy State, in order to get him some real experience before conference play begins.Now it is league play, and yet he will be facing a weaker defense than last week.OHIO STATE 37-13.
Nebraska* over Virginia Tech by 3
We do not believe these Cornhuskers are nearly as good as the public perceptions (the scores and stats certainly do not match so far), but we will cross our fingers and actually hope that they win here, so that we can step in and lay a cheap price with Missouri on this field next week. NEBRASKA 24-21.
Washington* over Stanford by 4
With two prep weeks it is a “backs to the wall” game for Tyrone Willingham’s program, and we do remember their dominance on the scoreboard (27-9) and in the trenches (388-116 rushing) in last year’s matchup vs. the Cardinal. The problem is that Louis Rankin ran for 255 of those yards, and the Huskies have yet to find a replacement. WASHINGTON 28-24.
California* over Colorado State by 24
With two weeks to build up a level of frustration following that dismal showing at Maryland the Bears can cut it loose here, especially as they remember being seriously challenged by the Rams in Fort Collins last year (a 34-28 win required a +3 turnover margin). CALIFORNIA 41-17.
Wisconsin over Michigan* by 4
Although getting an early bye week can be a major plus for Rich Rodriguez in terms of getting his playbook installed, running up against this class of defense is something that the Wolverines are not ready for yet. WISCONSIN 20-16.
Clemson* over Maryland by 8
When we see that the young Clemson OL can not even free up C. J. Spiller and James Davis vs. South Carolina State, it means that we have to approach this offense much differently than the pre-season expectations.CLEMSON 27-19.
Re: Football Newsletters Sept. 24 - 29
Fresno State over U.C.L.A.* 3
As bad as these Bruins are, we have to wonder if the nature of the early Bulldog schedule could have them a little drained at this point, especially after going deep into the night at Toledo. FRESNO STATE 23-20.
Bowling Green over Wyoming* by 6
After traveling to Boise two weeks ago there is nothing intimidating about this trip for the Falcons, who now step way down in class against a struggling Wyoming offense that has nearly given up as many touchdowns (two) as they have scored (three) in their three lined games. BOWLING GREEN 26-20.
Oregon over Washington State* by 24
Having been humbled by Boise State, there is not any fear now of the Ducks looking ahead to Southern Cal next week – they have some business to attend to.OREGON 41-17.
Oklahoma* over T.C.U. by 21
At another time we might have given this underdog a look, in a setting that can put them on the national map. But right now the BCS has three pieces to fit into two pegs (Southern Cal – Big 12 Champ – SEC Champ), and Bob Stoops has been around long enough to know that it means no letting up. OKLAHOMA 34-13.
South Carolina* over U.A.B. by 26
Steve Spurrier would like to get the kind of blowout win that builds the confidence his offense will need for much tougher challenges ahead. Neil Callaway just wants to get through this one without any injuries, before a home conference affair vs.Memphis on Thursday. SOUTH CAROLINA 38-12.
Texas A&M* over Army by 28
We used to like to back Army in trips to this state because they annually have so many players from Texas on their roster, but the switch to an option attack simply does not fit the personnel at hand. TEXAS A&M 40-12.
Ball State* over Kent State by 12
We rarely talk about a letdown spot when a team is heading into a conference game off of a non-league affair, but that win over Indiana on the road last week meant a lot to these Cardinals. BALL STATE 36-24.
South Florida over N. C. State* by 6
The beginning of Tom O’Brien’s rebuilding program officially began on Saturday,when Russell Wilson threw three TD passes without a single interception in that pressurized atmosphere vs. East Carolina. A nice building block, although the speed of this defense will cause him some issues. SOUTH FLORIDA 27-21.
Colorado over Florida State by 1 (Jacksonville)
After making the computers buzz with those big numbers vs. weak competition, it was the same old Florida State offense vs. Wake Forest, four home quarters without a touchdown. Still a “home” game here, but the Buffaloes bring more polish.COLORADO 21-20.
Central Florida over U.T.E.P.* by 3
Perhaps against this class of opponent, the Golden Knights can win with defense alone, as those young skill people need a lot of time to develop. U.C.F. 30-27.
Penn State* over Illinois by 15
Have to believe that films of last year’s loss at Champagne will have State breathing fire from the start here, after allowing a kickoff return for a TD, and turning the ball over three times inside the Illinois 30-yard line. And a young Illinois defense leaves the kind of holes that can be exploited. PENN STATE 35-20.
New Mexico over New Mexico State* by 2
The Lobos showed little acumen against an offense that spread the field and threw the ball around last week (Tulsa), and note that even in beating these Aggies by 10 at home LY they allowed 581 yards. NEW MEXICO 35-33.
San Diego State* over Idaho by 17
When you fade to the point at which Utah State runs off 28 straight points, which is what happened to these Vandals in the second half last week, it becomes strictly a play-against or pass situation. Pass, for now. SAN DIEGO STATE 37-20.
U.N.L.V.* over Nevada by 4
Back-to-back wins in overtime over teams from BCS conferences are finally bringing some momentum to Mike Sanford’s program, and it could also mean taking this in-state affair as seriously as their northern rivals annually do. U.N.L.V. 31-27.
San Jose State over Hawaii* by 5
Not easy to get a feel for the Rainbows right now – while they are indeed young and the scoreboards have been awful, they are also -9 in turnovers in their first two lined games. Off of a bye, perhaps we can expect better. SAN JOSE STATE 31-26.
Kentucky* over Western Kentucky by 20
Two weeks after having been scared by Middle Tennessee, we believe that Wildcats will have properly safeguarded against being embarrassed by this opponent. But just not enough punch to beat anyone easily. KENTUCKY 33-13.
Arkansas State over Memphis* by 3
Not much of a home field advantage in this one, with plenty of seats available and the Red Wolves having a short trip. And right now they simply look better.ARKANSAS STATE 30-27.
Oklahoma State* over Troy by 11
Cowboys will surely be simmering after seeing far too many times films of last year’s debacle vs. these Trojans on national television. But at the same time, that game does reflect balanced talent between the programs, which means nothing comes easily. OKLAHOMA STATE 35-24.
Kansas State* over Louisiana by 16
After seeing the Wildcats get gouged for 303 rushing yards vs. a Louisville team that lacks a ground game, it is not easy to get a margin here against the Cajuns,since that is the one strength that they do have. But where they are not strong, they are very weak. KANSAS STATE 40-24.
Rice* over North Texas by 18
It looks like the Owls might finally get a chance to return to campus for practice this week, bringing a sense of normalcy to a team that has had to work through some major distractions. RICE 45-27.
Texas* over Arkansas by 26
Moving this one back two weeks is only delaying the inevitable for Bobby Petrino’s Razorbacks, who look shockingly lost in their new schemes. TEXAS 42-16.
Florida Atlantic* over Middle Tennessee by 6 (Tuesday)
The Owls were drubbed 106-13 in their non-conference paycheck games, in a season in which it looked like they had a better chance to compete on paper. That means that Howard may have just been playing possum, a concept that we will explore carefully before kickoff. FLORIDA ATLANTIC 27-21.
Boise State* over Louisiana Tech by 18 (Wednesday)
As much as the blue turf usually gets respected when the television cameras are on, the Boise win at Oregon now forces the oddsmakers to go even further to balance the action. Perhaps too far. BOISE STATE 34-16.
Re: Football Newsletters Sept. 24 - 29
San Francisco over *New Orleans by 14
San Francisco has a respectable defense and talent on offense.The important factor here is the 49ers now know how to maneuver their offensive talent.That makes them a dangerous foe against a crippled Saints defense that remains highly vulnerable through the air. Like him or not, Mike Martz is making a difference as San Francisco’s offensive coordinator.The 49ers’ offense is improving each game as the players, and new quarterback J.T. O’Sullivan, get more comfortable with Martz’s elaborate West Coast system. San Francisco has gained 365 and 370 yards, respectively, in their last two games facing a good defense (Seattle) and a bad one (Detroit).The Saints’ defense is closer to Detroit’s defense. Martz has said O’Sullivan is the best quarterback he’s ever coached.The 49ers have controlled the clock averaging 35 minutes in time of possession during this span.They have an elite runner, Frank Gore, to give them balance.This is a key because the potent Saints offense can’t score when they’re on the sidelines. Being on carpet also speeds up the 49ers’ offense. It’s particularly helpful to veteran wideout Isaac Bruce, who has lost a step but still knows how to get open.The Saints are without their best wide receiver, Marques Colston. Running back Deuce McAllister has yet to be a factor. Until McAllister proves he’s healthy enough to contribute, the Saints lack an inside ground attack.That proved costly last week in a two-point loss at Denver when the Saints couldn’t punch the ball in from the one-yard line near the end of the first half. By now defenses realize the Saints are gearing their offense almost entirely to Reggie Bush. The 49ers will be keying on Bush, who is not a heavy-duty back. San Francisco holds a huge edge in the kicking game. Joe Nedney is among the best place-kickers in the NFL. Saints kicker, Martin Gramatica, is struggling. SAN FRANCISCO 31-17.
Buffalo over *St. Louis by 24
Looking to go 5-0 heading into their bye week, the Bills have lots of momentum. They had their scare last week at home, nearly losing to Oakland. So don’t look for the Bills to let up as they face the Rams, the NFL’s worst team. Buffalo is off to its first 3-0 start since 1992. On the opposite end are the Rams. How bad is St. Louis? The Rams are equal opportunity employers.They rank last both in offense and defense.They have been outscored by 87 points already in just three games for an average loss of 29 points per game.The Rams are 0-15 versus teams with a winning mark, 2- 13 ATS. Buffalo is expanding its offense with star left tackle Jason Peters rounding into shape after a lengthy holdout.Marshawn Lynch keeps getting better and second-year quarterback Trent Edwards is gaining more confidence resulting in a larger playbook.The Rams’ best pass rusher, defensive end Leonard Little, may not play because of a hamstring injury. The Bills have an aggressive defense with young talent.They also have arguably the top special teams units in football with dangerous kickoff and punt returners. Buffalo last visited St. Louis 13 years ago.The Bills are used to playing on artificial turf, though.The Rams offense no longer can carry their weak defense. In fact, their offense has gotten so weak that it now needs to be carried. Quarterback Marc Bulger is shell-shocked. He hasn’t had a 200-yard passing game this season. There are injuries at wide receiver and in the offensive line. Torry Holt no longer has his explosiveness and Steven Jackson hasn’t been able to do anything on the ground or out of the backfield. He’s rushed 50 times for 159 yards, a pedestrian 3.1 yard average. He’s still looking for his first touchdown of the season.Yes, it’s seems strange to lay a big number with Buffalo, especially when the Bills are on the road. But in this matchup, it’s justified. BUFFALO 33-9.
*Carolina over Atlanta by 17
The Falcons are improved and playing hard for first-year head coach Mike Smith. But the Falcons have not improved enough to the point where they can beat a good club on the road.Atlanta’s two victories have come against two very weak foes, Detroit and Kansas City, both at home. When the Falcons ventured away from the Georgia Dome, they were soundly smacked by division foe, Tampa Bay. This matchup is very similar. The Falcons are a turf team playing on grass against a well-coached, tough defensive club. Rookie quarterback Matt Ryan couldn’t do anything at Tampa. Don’t look for him to fare any better in his second pro career away start. A rejuvenated Julius Peppers is going to make things miserable for him. Ryan has yet to exhibit accuracy on his medium-to-deep throws.The Falcons have been relying on running back Michael Turner and short passes. That’s not enough to get it down here. Steve Smith is back from suspension to provide the Panthers with a vertical threat. The Falcons’ secondary has been vulnerable all season. Luckily for them, they haven’t seen stellar quarterbacks. Jake Delhomme isn’t an elite quarterback, but he has two good running backs and Smith.That will be enough given the Falcons’ limitations on the road. CAROLINA 27-10.
*Tennessee over Minnesota by 13
Is it a fluke the Titans are 3-0 for the first time since ’99? Not really. The Titans remain under the radar screen because they don’t have any marquee stars.They do have defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, though. He’s a premier run-stuffer.The Vikings are trying to get by with Adrian Peterson and 37-year-old Gus Frerotte at quarterback after coach Brad Childress became the last person in the world to give up on Tarvaris Jackson. Peterson doesn’t have his full motor, however, because of a hamstring injury. Frerotte is an upgrade on Jackson, but that isn’t saying much.Frerotte was 1-2 with the Rams last season, throwing six touchdowns with 10 interceptions. He is 38- 44-1 as an NFL-starter.The Titans don’t exactly have a youngster behind center either with Kerry Collins. The Titans have two good runners, LenDale White and rookie Chris Johnson, to keep defenses from keying on Collins, who happens to be ranked third among active quarterbacks in passing yards behind Brett Favre and Peyton Manning. Collins has been managing the Titans well since Vince Young was injured. The Vikings are poorlycoached and playing on grass, which reduces the quickness of their pass rushers.The Titans have enough edges to cover a short number.TENNESSEE 26-13.
Denver over *Kansas City by 13
Calling Len Dawson.The Chiefs sure could use their old quarterback – even at age 73. Kansas City has yet to adequately replace Trent Green.The Chiefs are averaging 10.6 points. Herm Edwards has been a disaster of a coach. The Chiefs have dropped a franchise-record 12 consecutive games.They’ve failed to cover the spread in their past five home contests.After seeing Matt Cassel, JaMarcus Russell and Matt Ryan, the Chiefs now draw a red-hot JayCutler.The Broncos have lost four of their past five at Arrowhead Stadium.But they should prevail here if Brandon Marshall can stop getting arrested.DENVER 30-17.
*Cincinnati over Cleveland by 7
Call it the Crisis Bowl. Neither team has won yet. The Bengals may have ended their offensive slump scored 23 points and gaining 347 yards on the road last week versus the Giants. Carson Palmer should fare better after having faced tough defenses in Baltimore,Tennessee in extreme wind conditions and the Giants. It’s difficult, though, to ever place any trust in the undisciplined Bengals although they have defeated Cleveland the past four times at home.The Browns have lost their confidence and may be making a quarterback switch from Derek Anderson to Brady Quinn, the people’s choice. CINCINNATI 20-13.
*Jacksonville over Houston by 6
The Texans usually play the Jaguars strong, owning a 7-5 lifetime mark against them.This includes a 6-2 ATS record during the past four seasons. Jacksonville also is coming off a huge last-second road victory against division rival Indianapolis. Still, this isn’t a good spot either for Houston. Because of Hurricane Ike, the Texans are opening the season playing three straight road games,the first time that’s happened in the league since 1991. The Texans have only been able to average 275 yards against a couple of other tough defenses, Pittsburgh and Tennessee, and the team may be losing confidence in quarterback Matt Schaub. JACKSONVILLE 23-17.
*New York Jets over Arizona by 7
New York is on a short week following its Monday night road game against San Diego.Yet the spot is much worse for Arizona.The Cardinals are staying out East after losing Sunday to the Redskins.Arizona has dropped 58 of its past 74 road contests.The Cards have failed to cover in seven of their last eight versus AFC opponents. Brett Favre gets all the attention, but Kurt Warner is another old warrior who has been playing surprising well with just one turnover this season. He’s averaging around 300 yards passing during his last nine starts.Arizona has scored 20 or more points in 10 of its last 11 games. NY JETS 34-27.
Green Bay over *Tampa Bay by 2
Under Mike McCarthy, the Packers have become a tough road foe.They are 12-5 SU away from Lambeau Field behind McCarthy, 9-2 ATS in their last 11 road matchups.The Packers have a solid defense and a diversified offense. Tampa Bay has a solid defense, too, but no downfield passing attack. Don’t be fooled by Brian Griese passing for more than 400 yards last week. He’s strictly a check-off type of quarterback. He couldn’t unseat Rex Grossman at Chicago. Griese also could be without his lone deep threat, Joey Galloway (check status). He didn’t play last week because of a foot injury.GREEN BAY 21-19.
San Diego over *Oakland by 4
“Just win, baby” has long been replaced as the Raiders’ motto by “Just be dysfunctional,baby.”Lane Kiffin may actually be looking forward to Al Davis firing him. Now the Raiders face a team that has defeated them nine straight times, covering eight of the nine, by a victory margin of nearly 16 points a game. Temper your enthusiasm, though, for San Diego. The Chargers entered their Monday night game against the Jets yielding 32.5 points. San Diego’s pass rush isn’t the same without injured Shawne Merriman, leaving its cornerbacks exposed. SAN DIEGO 30-26.
*Dallas over Washington by 7
The Cowboys have more weapons than Barack Obama has campaign spending money. But Washington could keep this close as its offense is coming around after a slow opener picking up new coach Jim Zorn’s West Coast schemes.Clinton Portis is running well again. Dallas’ run defense isn’t as good missing injured hard-hitting safety Roy Williams. This is a fierce rivalry that the Redskins may be taking more serious than Dallas, which is off a Monday night home game versus Philadelphia and a Sunday night road game against Green Bay.Now the Cowboys have to wheel back to face this traditional foe. DALLAS 28-21.
*Chicago over Philadelphia by 2
The Eagles are going to be in trouble if Pro Bowl running back Brian Westbrook is sidelined because of an ankle injury suffered last Sunday.The Bears defense remains fierce and can tee off on Donovan McNabb if there’s no threat of a ground attack.The Eagles remain without top wideout Kevin Curtis and tight end L.J. Smith has been a non-factor up to this point.The Bears, on the other hand, need Devin Hester (check status), who was out last week with bruised ribs. Fearing Philadelphia’s blitzes, the Bears probably will look to be very conservative. CHICAGO 19-17.
*Pittsburgh over Baltimore by 14 (Monday)
Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (check status) is taking a heavy pounding in every game as his offensive line gets its act together. Baltimore’s defense is playing well again, but this is a real tough venue and spot for Ravens’ rookie quarterback Joe Flacco.The Ravens’ offensive line also is in a state of transition and could have problems handling the crowd noise and Pittsburgh’s defensive team speed. The Steelers’ 3-4 defense is tough to run on. So Flacco will need to make plays.The Ravens are 1-8 ATS in their last nine away games, 1-4 ATS as a road ‘dog. PITTSBURGH 27-13.
**OVER: San Diego at Oakland –Without their edge pass rushers, San Diego’s defense is much weaker. The Raiders have gone ‘over’ in eight of their last 10.
UNDER: Cleveland at Cincinnati – The Bengals have gone ‘under’ in seven of their last nine, while Browns quarterback Derek Anderson is averaging 135 yards passing and has thrown five interceptions and just two touchdowns.
OVER: Arizona at NY Jets – The Cardinals have gone ‘over’ 72 percent during their last 25 games thanks to an aggressive downfield passing attack and suspect defense.
Re: Football Newsletters Sept. 24 - 29
2008 COLLEGE & PRO FOOTBALL NEWSLETTER
COLLEGE SELECTION OF THE WEEK: HAWAII - 3 over San Jose State- After stepping up in class and being blown out by Florida and Oregon State - both on the road - Hawaii opens WAC play against San Jose State, a team they have had great success against over the years. Hawaii is clearly down from last season when they were unbeaten until crushed by Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. They had a Bye last week and will be fresh for this contest against a team coach by ex-Hawaii coach Dick Tomey. San Jose has lost79 straight to Hawaii. Their last 4 trips to the islands have resulted in Hawaii wins by 37, 18, 9 and 24 points. This is still an intimidating place to play and Hawaii's rough experience against tougher teams will have them primed for this contest in which they still have the superior athletes. Hawaii wins 41-24.
Other Featured College Selections
Virginia + 7 over DUKE- It's clear that the fortunes of both programs are changing as Duke is improved under first season coach Cutcliffe while Virginia is in decline after winning so many close games last season that could easily have turned their 9-4 season into a losing campaign had some of those close games gone the other way. Still, Virginia has the much greater talent and is an underdog in this series for the first time since 1988 (when the Cavs did cover). Virginia lost one sided games to USC and Uconn, sandwiched around a win over I-AA/FCS Richmond. Duke has beaten I-AA/FCS James Madison and Navy sandwiched around a home loss to Northwestern. This is the ACC opener for both teams and although Duke seemingly enjoys a huge statistical edge, the quality of competition must be considered. Duke has significant concerns on defense that the heretofore struggling Virginia offense should exploit. Both teams are off of Byes and while it is acknowledged that Duke is not the patsy of seasons past, Virginia has won the last 8 games in the annual series, 7 of which have been by double digits. This one is closer but Virginia wins again, 23-17.
MICHIGAN + 6 ½ over Wisconsin- Both teams are off of Bye weeks as they open Big 10 play. Michigan has clearly struggled in dropping 2 of their first 3 games under new coach Rodriguez, although the defense has played well, especially against the run. Wisconsin is unbeaten and is favored over Michigan for the first time in at least 30 years! And they are not just favored, but favored in Ann Arbor. Michigan still has some very talented athletes and this is the Big House where Michigan is rarely an underdog. In fact, Michigan has been a home underdog just 4 times in the past decade and 2 of those were against arch rival Ohio State. In their other two home underdog games, the Wolverines upset Penn State twice - last season and in 1998. UM is playing with revenge for a 37-21 loss at Wisconsin last season. Wisky has beaten Michigan twice in the past 3 seasons, both at home. Asking Wisconsin to upset Michigan at the Big House is not that far fetched given the fortunes of both teams this season. But EXPECTING them to do so by making them favorites, especially close to a TD, IS something of a stretch. This game goes to the wire. Wisconsin wins but by just 23-20.
Nevada Reno + 4 over UNLV- UNLV seems to have turned the corner for beleaguered coach Mike Sanford who had won just 2 games in each of his first 3 seasons. Already the Rebels are 3-1 following a pair of wins over BCS teams Arizona State and Iowa State. Both wins were by 3 points in overtime and the games were draining experiences, especially the Iowa State win in which UNLV led 21-0 at the half and then allowed ISU to tie the game at the end of regulation following a 98 yard drive. Nevada is rested for this annual rivalry game in which the Wolfpack have won the last 3. Nevada has played a very tough early schedule, losing one sided contests to a pair of Top Ten teams, Texas Tech and Missouri which followed a one sided win over I-AA/FCS Grambling to open the season. The talent gap between the teams has narrowed and UNLV is not making the mistakes that have doomed them in recent seasons. Still, this is a well coached Nevada team that places great emphasis on beating their downstate rival. Nevada coach Ault has a history of success in his multiple tenures and relishes being the underdog this season. Nevada wins 28-24.
NFL SELECTION OF THE WEEK: CAROLINA - 7 over Atlanta-It's been a nice start for Atlanta in what is a season of rebuilding and their two wins in three games has to give the young Falcons great confidence. But those wins came against inept Detroit and Kansas City and both were at home. Rookie QB Ryan struggled in his lone road start at Tampa Bay. Carolina is a legitimate Playoff caliber team and should find Atlanta's defense much more yielding than the Minnesota defense they faced last week. The Panthers will also be focused and motivated to atone for back to back losses on this field to Atlanta the past two seasons. The offense should continue to improve with WR Smith back for a second straight week following his suspension. Carolina has faced a much tougher early schedule and has the much better defense. Look for that defense to confuse the Falcons and their rookie QB, focusing on taking away Atlanta's fine running game and forcing QB Ryan into mistakes. Carolina wins 31-13.
Other Featured NFL Selections:
KANSAS CITY + 9 over Denver-Denver is unbeaten through three games largely sue to their offense. In their last two games against San Diego and New Orleans, the defense was unable to protect huge early leads and that nearly cost them two wins. Kansas City is one of the weakest teams in the league and unlikely to show much improvement in the short term, turning to untested QB Tyler Thigpen to lead the offense. But the Chiefs have always enjoyed a strong home field and have defeated the Broncos in 7 of their last 9 meetings on this field.Denver has come close to losing each of their last two games - both at home - but the wins have served to inflate the line here. KC does have problems on offense although the running game did emerge last week. Denver is allowing 425 yards per game and now plays in a very hostile environment. This is the NFL and an outright upset would not be a shock. Still, Denver finds a way to win yet another close game. Denver wins but by just 20-17.
NEW ORLEANS - 6 over San Francisco- The 49ers have won two in a row while the Saints have dropped their last two. San Francisco's offense seems much improved under offensive coordinator Mike Martz and gets to face another team with defensive deficiencies. But the Saints are dropping in class after starting the season against a pair of Playoff teams from last season and much improved Denver. This becomes a game of need for New Orleans to avoid a 1-3 start and they have the more mature offense and a defense that should match up well against the 49ers' offense. The teams are meeting for a third straight season and the Saints have won the last two meetings by nearly identical 31-10 and 34-10 scores. San Francisco has narrowed the gap and the Saints have been hit by injuries to their receiving corps including TE Shockey. But the Saints have depth on offense and an improving defense and catch the 49ers still in the early stages of learning the Martz offense. The familiarity that existed last week for the 49ers against Detroit does not exist here. New Orleans puts forth their best effort of the early season this week. New Orleans wins 34-17.
Washington + 11 ½ over DALLAS- This is another long time bitter Divisional rivalry. Washington has fared well against the Cowboys of late, covering 5 of the last 6 meetings with 4 straight up wins. This is only the third time in the past decade that there's been a double digit point spread between these teams. The Underdog has covered the two previous such games and Washington''s new offense is steadily showing improvement. It's hard to find fault with anything Dallas has done this season in starting 3-0 although there are still some concerns on defense. Washington is a physical team and that could work to wear down the Cowboys in the second half, meaning the 'Skins could put points on the board when trailing by a couple of touchdowns. But much more likely is a competitively played game from the start, with the running game of Washington keeping the Dallas defense on the field for long stretches. The offense is gaining more confidence each week and the series history suggests this gets decided late. Dallas wins but by just 27-20.
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