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SATURDAY PREMIUM SERVICE PLAYS
Re: SATURDAY PREMIUM SERVICE PLAYS
Big Ten Game of the Month
Iowa -8.5 vs Northwestern
Don't be fooled by Northwestern's 4-0 start. The Wildcats aren't nearly as good as their record indicates or when they go on the road in the Big Ten.In four conference road games last season, the Wildcats surrendered 41 points at Illinois, 35 at Purdue, 41 at Michigan State and 58 at Ohio State.Northwestern was lucky to get past 0-4 Ohio last week, winning 16-8. Their other victories have come against Southern Illinois, a non-board team from the Missouri Valley, 1-3 Syracuse and versus Duke. The Blue Devils outgained Northwestern by 144 yards and had 14 more first downs.I'm not a big fan of Northwestern quarterback C.J. Bacher. He throws too many interceptions. He had four last week. Bacher was picked off 19 times last season.Tyrell Sutton is the Wildcats' main running threat. He's expected to play, but may not be 100 percent after suffering a leg injury last week.The Hawkeyes are a sound team, both offensively and defensively. They have a tremendous runner, Shonn Greene. He's had four straight 100-yard rushing games. He's averaged at least six yards per carry during his past three games. He's rushed for 397 yards during these past three games.Iowa suffered its only loss in four games last week to Pittsburgh. But the Hawkeyes outgained the Panthers, 361-259. Iowa has outscored its three home foes this season, 105-8.
Re: SATURDAY PREMIUM SERVICE PLAYS
25* (2-0 with 'signature' plays in FB '08)
Michigan +6 vs Wisconsin
Rich Rodriguez has plenty of work to do in his first year at Ann Arbor. The Wolverines are an extremely young offensive unit with just three returning starters from last year. It's hard to lose talent like Henne (QB), Hart (RB), Manningham (WR) and OL Jake Long and "not miss a beat." Add to that, Rodriguez trying to install a new offensive system and the Wolverines have averaged just 18.7 PPG and 290.7 YPG in opening 1-2 (win over Miami-Ohio). However, this is a veteran defensive unit and despite getting little help from its offense, Michigan's 'D' has allowed only 284.3 YPG overall and has been superb against the run (65.3 YPG / 1.8 YPC). Wisconsin comes in ranked No. 9 and must be careful not to look ahead, as the Badgers return home for games vs No. 14 Ohio State and No. 12 Penn State the next two Saturdays in Madison. Both teams are off byes, with Michigan off a 35-17 loss at Notre Dame and Wisconsin winning at Fresno State 13-10 back on 9/13. Michigan was able to move the ball fairly consistently against Notre Dame, racking up 388 yards but six turnovers killed many drives and set the Irish offense up with some short fields. The good news is that redshirt freshman QB Threet looked pretty good, completing 16-of-23 for 175 yards with one TD and no INTs. Another freshman, RB McGuffie, rushed for 131 yards (5.2 per) and added four catches for 47 yards. Wisconsin was not overly impressive in its win over FSU, as after running up point totals of 38 (Akron) and 51 (Marshall), the Badgers led 10-0 at the half in Fresno, barely holding on for a 13-10 win (FSU missed three FGs!). PJ Hill had 1,569 YR as a freshman (15 TDs), 1,212 YR as a soph (14 TDs) and has opened his junior year averaging 126.3 YPG through three games with four TDs. However, that Michigan rush D is very good (see above) and he's totaled just 68 rushing yards vs Michigan in the last two years, averaging 2.7 per (he was less than 100% in LY's game, gaining 14 yards on five attempts). If Michigan can keep Hill in check, QB Evridge could (should) struggle. He had just 10 attempts vs Akron, had 308 yards vs Marshall but then was an unimpressive 12-of-24 for 143 yards (1 TD / 0 INTs) vs FSU. Does history count for anything? This is the first time that Wisconsin has been favored over Michigan since 1959 (also the first time the two schools have met with Wisconsin being ranked and Michigan not). The Badgers have only won in Ann Arbor ONCE since 1965 and will try to beat the Wolverines in back-to-back years (won 37-21 in Madison LY) for the first time since 1993-94. Prior to that, the Badgers hadn't beaten the Wolves in consecutive years since 1959-60. Michigan has put together 40 consecutive winning seasons and has gone to 33 straight bowls (both streaks are the longest active ones in CFB) and Rodriguez will have to "work some magic" to keep those streaks alive in '08. I'm calling for some 'magic' this Saturday in the Big House. Take the home dog to 'bark loudly' in this one. STP on Michigan.
Nebraska -7 vs Virginia Tech
Can Bo Pelini return Nebraska to CFB 'royalty?' Nebraska hasn't been the same since it saw its 35-year bowl streak end in 2004, when the Cornhuskers went 5-6 in Bill Callahan's first season. That losing record was also the school's first losing one since 1961. Callahan's team bounced back in '05 going 8-4 and followed with a 9-5 season in '06 but when Nebraska fell to 5-7 last year, "it was time for Callahan to go!" Ironically, Pelini was Nebraska's DC in '03 (when Solich was let go) and was the team's interim head coach when Nebraska beat Michigan St in that year's Alamo Bowl (17-3). He's been the DC at LSU since '05 and was a popular choice. Nebraska is off to a 3-0 start but the 'Huskers have hardly been tested, with home wins over Western Michigan, San Jose St and New Mexico St. Joe Ganz took over at QB for the team's last three games in '07 and had a remarkable three-game stretch. He averaged 466.3 YPG through the air while throwing 15 TDs (did have seven INTS), leading Nebraska to an average of 54.3 PPG. However, the Cornhuskers lost TWO of those three games, allowing 76 points to Kansas and 65 to Colorado. Hence the need to bring in a defensive oriented coach liker Pelini. Ganz leads a balanced attack this year which has averaged 40.0 PPG through three games, as he's completed 64.1 percent with five TDs and three INTs (has averaged 239.7 YPG in the air). The running game is averaging 189 YPG (5.4 per), although senior Marlon Lucky (728 YR in '06 and 1,019 in '07), has yet to have a big game. Nebraska opponents are scoring just 14.3 PPG with the 'Huskers allowing 347.3 total YPG. The Cornhuskers have been tough against the run, limiting foes to 77.7 YPG and 2.6 YPC but have yielded 269.7 passing YPG. However, Nebraska has five INTs while allowing only two passing TDs while registering nine sacks. The competition has been of the lightweight variety so far but in Va Tech, the 'Huskers face a team with offensive limitations. Va Tech lost its opening game of the year to East Carolina 27-22, when the Pirates blocked a punt and returned it for TD with under two minutes remaining. While Va Tech has rebounded with three straight wins, the 22 points the Hokies scored against ECU, remains the high-point of their season. Va Tech trailed North Carolina LW 17-3 in the late third quarter but rallied to win, 20-17. The win came despite 268 total yards and converting on just 3-of-16 3rd down opportunities. Taylor has replaced Glennon at QB and while he's a better runner, I'm not sure he's an overall improvement. As always, Va Tech is a strong defensive team but this is hardly a "vintage Beamer team." Va Tech has rarely been known to play well on the road outside of its own conference against quality programs. I guess the answer then lies in whether Nebraska is back in the class of being a quality team? I believe Nebraska has a ways to go but I also believe this is a very mediocre Va Tech team with severe offensive liabilities. Nebraska is 26-3 SU in home night games and after Saturday night, we can make that 27-3. STP on Nebraska.
15* Rivalry Game of the Month
UNLV -4 vs Nevada
UNLV is best known for its basketball program and with three MWC schools currently residing in the AP's top-25 (BYU, Utah and TCU), UNLV's football accomplishments hardly are at the top of any MWC press releases. That being said, UNLV has had a very good two weeks. Few coaches in the nation entered this season with any more 'heat' on them than UNLV's Mike Sanford. The Rebels had gone just 6-29 in Sanford's first three years in Las Vegas (two wins in each season) and his teams seemed to get worse as each season progressed and Sanford was being accused of "losing control" of his players. However, Sanford continued to profess that he saw improvement. Well, he may just have been right. UNLV opened with a matter-of-fact 27-17 win over Utah State, then got blown out in Salt Lake City by Utah 42-21, in a little "pay back" for UNLV's 27-0 shut out of the Utes last year in Las Vegas. However, UNLV did not let that loss "get them down" as the Rebels won on September 13 in Tempe, 23-20 (in OT), against then-No. 15 Arizona State. UNLV followed that win with a 34-31 win last week at home vs Iowa State, again winning in OT. These games were not flukes, as UNLV just lost the yardage 'battle' at ASU (373-345) and outgained ISU last Saturday, 454-306. Frank "Tank" Summers gained 928 YR in '07 and has 386 YR (4.5 per) through four games TY, after gaining 212 yards the last two weeks against ASU and ISU. Sophomore QB Omar Clayton has been terrific, completing 63.1 percent of his throws for 777 yards with nine TDs and zero INTs! Could UNLV be 'flat' this week off back-to-back OT wins over BCS schools? That's an argument one could make but Nevada is coming to town this week. The Rebels have lost three straight to their only in-state rival. including a 27-20 loss in Reno last year. In that game, the Rebels had tied the game late but lost when then-QB Graziano completed a 27-yard TD pass with just 27 seconds left for a Wolf Pack win and COVER. I remember it well, as I had Nevada. Colin Kaepernick won the QB job from Graziano during the '07 season and finished with 2,175 passing yards (53.8 percent) and 19 TDs with just three INTs (247 attempts). Kaepernick is off to a modest start in '08 and it sure doesn't help that senior RB Luke Lippincott (1,420 YR / 5.3 YPC / 15 TDs in '07) tore up his knee and is out for the season. Nevada was off last week and that's an edge but it's hard to get read on this team. The Wolf Pack have beaten Grambling St (49-13) but their only other games have been against current No. 10 Texas Tech (lost 35-19 at home) and at No. 6 Missouri (lost 69-17). Since returning to Reno in '04, HC Chris Ault is an impressive 20-6 at home but just 8-17 SU and 9-16 ATS on the road. The Wolf Pack own the scheduling edge but the Rebels own momentum and a HUGE revenge motive. A win here and Sanford would be 4-1 with only a trip to CSU up next and then a home date with Air Force on Oct 18 (after a bye). Things are looking 'up' in Las Vegas. Final STP is my Rivalry Game of the Month 15* UNLV.
Re: SATURDAY PREMIUM SERVICE PLAYS
Strike Point Sports
8-unit CFB Game of the Year
Take Washington -3.5 over Stanford
The Huskies opened up the season with three very difficult games, but there is no shame in losing at Autzen to Oregon, playing basically into overtime with a very skilled BYU team, or even against No. 2 Oklahoma. That’s just a tough schedule to begin the year. However, hosting Stanford, Washington will get in the win column and turn in a very strong game for fans and supporters. On the road this year Stanford has been outscored 31-72, while having a -4 turnover ratio and being outgained by over 400 yards. For the Huskies, Jake Locker has been waiting for a game to breakout and against the Cardinal he will have his opportunity to do just that. He is a do-it-all threat who can completely shine for Washington, and I think he will really take center stage and carry the Huskies to the win. I think Washington is better than what we have seen so far against extremely difficult competition. Against a lesser team we see UW come through with the cover and a convincing victory.