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UNDERDOG GAME OF YEAR
I'm taking the points with KENT STATE. These instate rivals have played each other every year since 1992 and 51 times overall. This will be the 37th time that they have played for the "Wagon Wheel." With the schools just 14 miles apart, it's no surprise that there is big rivalry between them. That rivalry gained some added intensity back in August when Akron fans vandalized Kent State's newly renovated stadium. The vandals sprayed grafitti on the walls saying things like "Go Zips" and making reference to the missing wagon wheel. I expect the Golden Flashes to have their revenge on the field this afternoon. It's true that the Golden Flashes are just 1-4 on the season. However, three of those losses came on the road and they're 1-1 here at home. The lone home loss was against Boston College back in Week 1, so we can cut them a bit of slack for that one. As for the Zips, their two victories came vs. Syracuse and Army. The Orange and Black Knights are a combined 1-8 this season and they were a combined 5-19 last year. In other words, there's nothing particularly impressive about beating those teams. The Zips, who were blown out in their lone conference game, fought hard last week. They still lost though, blowing a second half lead vs. another instate rival (Cincinnati) and losing a heart-breaker. I feel that type of loss will be difficult to recover from, as the players are still thinking about what could/might have been. Overall, Kent State comes in as the healthier team. However, running back Eugene Jarvis is currently doubtful. While the Golden Flashes will hope that the 5-foot-4 Jarvis can go, they've got some other very solid backs on the roster and I expect them to have success on the ground, no matter who is running the ball. Note that Jarvis didn't play last week and the Golden Flashes still gained 176 yards on the ground, including 70 by QB Edalman. Jarvis was also out the previous week and the Golden Flashes gained 227 yards on the ground. In other words, they're still very capable of running the ball even without Jarvis. That should be particularly true against a soft Akron run defense which is allowing 215.4 yards per game on the ground. Akron was home for last season's meeting and knocked off the Golden Flashes by a score of 27-20. However, a closer look at that game shows that Kent State was actually leading 17-7 entering the fourth quarter and that the Zips needed an interception in the end zone on the final play to seal the win. In fact, the Golden Flashes had a 375-245 edge in total yards. Kent State was a small (-2.5) favorite for that game. This year, the Golden Flashes are getting more than a field goal AND playing at home. Note that Kent State returned 16 starters from last year's team while Akron returned only 13. Additionally, note that last time the teams met here (2006) the Zips were also slight favorites. However, the Golden Flashes hammered them by a score of 37-15! The Golden Flashes have had this game circled since the schedule came out. While I'll take the points, I look for them to reclaim the Wagon Wheel earning some payback from last year's tough loss and last summer's "prank." *Underdog GOY
BIG TEN GAME OF WEEK
I'm taking the points with PURDUE. I successfully played against both these teams last week. I played against the Nittany Lions because I respected their opponent (Illinois) and I felt that the line on Penn State had become too high. The Nittany Lions won but didn't cover. I played against Purdue because they were playing on the road and I felt that their opponent (Notre Dame) was much better than the betting public believed. Purdue hung tough for a half but got blown out in the second half. There are some differences for the Boilermakers this week, which I feel will work in their favor. This time, Purdue is playing at home. This time, Purdue plays with "revenge" instead of facing an opponent which is playing with revenge. This time, Purdue is getting a large handful of points, rather than playing a game which was roughly a "pick'em." The Boilermakers are 14-5 SU their last 19 games at home and two of the five losses, including one to Penn State here in 2006, came by 12 points or less. The Boilermakers are 8-4 ATS thee last 12 times they were underdogs of greater than eight points, including 3-0 ATS the last three times that they were home underdogs of more than eight. It's also worth noting that the Boilermakers are 10-1 their last 11 Big 10 Openers. The Nittany Lions won and covered their only road game. However, that was at Syracuse, a team which is 3-15 its last 18 games. Even including that cover, Penn State is still just 3-8 ATS it's last 11 road games. During the same stretch, after failing to cover last week, the Nittany Lions are also a money-burning 4-13 ATS their last 17 games against conference opponents. It should also be noted that Penn State could easily get caught looking past Purdue as Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin are all on deck. Look for Tiller's Boilermakers to give Paterno's team its toughest test yet, with a shot at the outright win. *Big 10 GOW
BIG 12 GAME OF WEEK
I'm taking the points with BAYLOR. With the #1 ranking in the nation, Oklahoma is obviously a very strong team. However, that ranking combined with a 3-0 ATS (4-0 SU) record, have the Sooners laying a huge number this week. I feel that it's too big. For starters, the Sooners are in a very difficult scheduling situation. That's because they're off a blowout "revenge" win of TCU, which had defeated Oklahoma back in 2005. Note that game could have easily been closer, as TCU had an edge in time of possession and had 16 first downs to Oklahoma's 17. In addition to the potential "letdown" spot, the Sooners also have the biggest game of their season (Texas) on deck. Facing a Baylor team which they have always dominated, it will be easy for the Sooners to look past the Bears and ahead to the Longhorns. You may recall that the Sooners were -23 point road favorites before facing Texas last season - they lost outright! While still not in the same class as the Sooners, this year's Baylor team is playing much better than in recent seasons. The Bears struggled in their opener but responded with back to back blowout victories and then followed it up with a 3-point loss at UConn. Note that game came went back on 9/19, meaning the Bears have had plenty of extra time to prepare. This year's Bears are averaging greater than 34 points per game while putting up greater than 200 yards per game on BOTH the ground (224) and through the air (206). The defense has a legit star in Junior linebacker Joe Pawelek. Pawelek already has 48 tackles along with two interceptions and one fumble recovery. Look for the Bears to put up a much tougher fight than expected, as Oklahoma falls to 10-23 ATS the last 33 times it was favored in the -21.5 to -31 range. *Big 12 GOW
I'm taking the points with NEBRASKA. The Tigers are a very good team. They come in with an undefeated record and a lofty national ranking. However, they've never fared well here and I expect them to have some real trouble with the under-rated Huskers. As far as Missouri being undefeated, just ask highly ranked teams like USC, Florida and South Florida, how quickly that can change. All three of those teams were undefeated and ranked in the Top 10 heading into Week 5. As you know, all three were upset by teams which were unranked. Yes, the Tigers have been impressive. However, their schedule hasn't exactly been demanding. They faced a fairly good Illinois team at St. Louis in their opener. The Tigers escaped with a 10-point (52-42) victory but the Illini had plenty of opportunities to win the game and the 42 points allowed shows that the Tigers' defense can be exposed. The next three games have all been at home and they've come against Southeast Missouri State, Nevada and Buffalo. Southeast Missouri State is a 1-AA program and Nevada and Buffalo are middle-of-the-road teams from the Mac and Wac. With all due respect to the Wolfpack and the Bulls, none of those teams are in the same class as Nebraska. While they have fallen on hard times in recent seasons, the Huskers still always have plenty of talent and I believe that this year's team is currently flying under the radar. The Huskers did lose to Virginia Tech last week. However, the loss came by only five points and they can take some positives from the fact that they didn't quit after falling behind. Like Missouri, the Huskers' victories haven't come against big name programs, as they have faced a pair of teams from the WAC and one from the MAC. Those three schools (Western Michigan, SJ State and New Mexico State) currently have a combined 8-5 record though and the Huskers crushed all three of them. In fact, the Huskers won those games by a combined score of 120-43! Nebraska has scored 30 or more points in all four games and will be facing a Missouri secondary which ranks 112th in the nation, giving up nearly 280 passing yards per game. While both teams are likely to score quite a few points, one has to like first year Nebraska coach Bo Pellini's attitude. Pellini was quoted as saying: "I've never gone into any game making concessions. I won't start this week. We're going to play the best we possibly can. We're going to try and shut them out." Note that the Tigers are just 1-3 ATS the last four times they were road favorites in the -10.5 to -14 range, including an 0-2 ATS mark the last two years. The Huskers have beaten the Tigers 15 straight times here and they've won 30 consecutive conference home openers. Don't expect them to go down without putting up a serious fight. *Main Event
I'm taking the points with IOWA. I believe that these teams are much more evenly matched than this pointspread indicates. Last year's meeting was so close that it needed two overtimes to decide it. The Hawkeyes would finish with a 34-27 victory. After back to back losses, many of the betting public are down on the Hawkeyes. However, a closer look shows that those two losses came by just six combined points. In fact, dating back to last November's meeting between these two teams, NONE of Iowa's nine games have resulted in losses of more than nine points. Not surprisingly, the Hawkeyes are 3-0 ATS the last three times they were listed as underdogs and 5-2 ATS their last seven in that role. Looking back further and we find the Hawkeyes have covered five of six meetings against the Spartans this millennium. The Spartans were rather fortunate to cover at Indiana last week (Hoosiers had a 97 yard TD called back due to a hold which would have given them the lead) but are still just 8-12 ATS the last 20 times that they were laying points. It's also worth noting that the Spartans haven't fared very well at this time of year recently. They won only one of their four October games last year and are a money-burning 3-9 SU/ATS their last dozen October games overall. The Hawkeyes are solid on both the offensive and the defensive line. While the Spartans have been excellent on the ground, the Hawkeyes also have a strong ground attack. Like the Spartans, they're very well-coached. The Hawkeyes also have a defense which has allowed an average of just 10.2 points per game. I expect another close game and feel that getting more than a touchdown with a defense this good is providing us with excellent value.
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Cajun-Sports Gator Report Newsletter
NCAA “Tech” Game of the Week:
2 STAR SELECTION
Rutgers +14 over WEST VIRGINIA
PROJECTED FINAL SCORE: WEST VIRGINIA 34 RUTGERS 27
NCAA 70% Super Situations:
NCAA Saturday: Play Under CFB teams where the total is greater than or equal to 70 in weeks 5 through 9. This situation is 24-4 Under (85.7%) since 2003.PLAY: Rice / Tulsa Under 80
Gator Report NCAA Games of the Week:
SEC GOW (2-2 -.20 ): Kentucky +15½ over ALABAMA
ACC GOW (1-0 +100): Florida State +2 over Miami, Fl
“BIG EASY” GOW (4-1 +290): TCU -24½ over San Diego State
Underdog GOW (3-1 +190): NEBRASKA +10½ over Missouri
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4 Unit Play.Take Minnesota Golden Gophers over Indiana Hoosiers
May question myself for laying a touchdown against a team that only earned one victory in 2007; however, Coach Brewster had his team ready to play Ohio State last week and they were competitive. QB Weber has moved the football well through the air and this is an area that the Hoosiers are weak in: pass defense. This is the Hoosiers first road game in 2008 and losing the last two @ Memorial Stadium certainly does not increase their moral. The Gophers are on a revenge trail in 2008 and they lost to Bowling Green, 32-31 in 2007 but won 42-17 in 2008. They lost to FAU, 42-39 in 2007 but won 37-3 in 2008. Now they face Indiana who beat them 40-20 in 2007 and now you can see the picture. In a high scoring affair, the homer gets the call. Minnesota 45, Indiana 27.
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OKLAHOMA STATE COWBOYS -vs- Texas A&M Aggies
ASA 5-Star Oklahoma State –25
This is a classic match up of strength vs. weakness. The strength is the Cowboys rushing offense while the weakness in the Aggie run defense. Okie State is averaging a whopping 340 YPG rushing on almost 6.5 yards per carry which is good for 1st in the country. The A&M defense is allowing 228 YPG and 5 YPC which is 115th nationally (last in the Big 12). We look for OSU to get ahead at home and pound TAMU into submission in the second half. Not only will the A&M defense not be able to slow down the Okie State offense, they simply will not be able to “keep up” on offense either. While Oklahoma State is fourth nationally in offensive yards per game at 562 and 3rd in the country in scoring at 52 PPG, the Aggies are the polar opposite. New head coach Mike Sherman has watched his TAMU team average just 297 total yards per game which ranks them last in the league and 107 among the country’s 120 Division 1A teams. The Cowboys will move the ball up and down the field and score at will. A&M will not as they lost QB Stephen McGee to a shoulder injury last week. While his back up Jerrod Johnson has played a lot this year, he is not nearly the passing threat that McGee is. Remarkably, as bad as the Aggies have been (last in the Big 12 in total offense and last in rushing defense), they have a 2-2 record. Texas A&M has been out gained by a total of 246 yards in their four games and they only team they have “barely” out played was Army who we consider one of the worst three teams in the nation. The Cadets brought their 0-3 record (beaten badly by the likes of Temple, New Hampshire and Akron) and almost pulled out a win. Army lost the game 21-17 but rolled the Aggie stop unit for 280 yards on the ground. If Army can do that what do you think Oklahoma State will do on Saturday? The Cadets simply were one- dimensional throwing the ball only 4 times the entire game. The problem for A&M in this one is, OSU can pass. Cowboy QB Zac Robinson hits on 70% of his pass attempts and they average 228 through the air as a team. The TAMU defense is in big trouble on Saturday. Oklahoma State has all the motivation in the world and they have actually had this one circled for a while. They have lost each of the last two games with A&M by just one point. Last year was the kicker as Okie State had a 17-point lead and blew it. This year the Boys will roll to a big lead and NOT blow it. They will continue to roll it up and Texas A&M simply doesn’t have the offensive firepower to come from way behind. This one gets really ugly!
MIAMI (FL) HURRICANES -vs- Florida State Seminoles
ASA 4-Star Miami Fl -2
A few years ago, this game rivalry was all the experts could talk about as it usually meant ACC supremacy, but now it’s merely just another game on the schedule. Miami thinks they have found something special in freshmen quarterback Robert Marve. Marve has looked very good considering his first three starts of his career were at Florida, at Texas A&M, and vs. North Carolina. Marve has completed 65% of his passes for 416 yards and 5 touchdowns against some pretty talented defenses. On the other side, Florida St. still hasn’t found a legitimate consistent quarterback, they have split time between sophomores Ponder and Richardson, but both turn the ball over far too often. Expect the Seminoles to struggle against a great Hurricane defense, and Miami to get the easy win at home. Miami is 7-2 in the last 9 games vs. the Seminoles and the Seminoles are just 3-7 ATS in their last 10 meetings. Florida St. struggled earlier this season with their only real test so far, losing 3-12 to Wake Forest. In that game, the quarterbacks were combined 12-36 for only 118 yards and 5 interceptions! They gained only 220 yards and lost 2 more fumbles for a total of 7 turnovers! We see that as a very similar match-up to this game and we see Miami taking advantage of Florida St. mistakes. Take Miami minus the points.
ARIZONA WILDCATS -vs- Washington Huskies
ASA 3-Star Arizona –22
The Huskies are now officially toast. Don’t be surprised if they “pack it in” for the season. Their tank for this trip will absolutely be on low both physically and emotionally. When those two things happen and their opponent is high scoring and focused, the ingredients for a blow out are there. We know for a fact that Washington put EVERYTHING they had both physically and emotionally into last week’s home game vs. Stanford. We had the Huskies as a big play because we knew what went into last week’s game. They started 0-3 but played the likes of Oregon, BYU and Oklahoma. Last Saturday’s home game was a MUST WIN coming off a bye week vs. an average Stanford team. With the score tied at 14 in the second quarter, UW’s all everything QB Jake Locker broke his thumb and was sidelined the rest of the game. That pretty much took the wind out of the Huskies sails and they lost 35-28. Now for them to travel on the road with an 0-4 record and without their leader Locker, who is out for at least 6 weeks, will make it nearly impossible for Washington to play well. What was the most disturbing situation in last week’s game was the UW defense. They could be forgiven a bit for allowing Oregon, BYU and Oklahoma to put up big numbers, however with a week off to get ready for a slow scoring Stanford offense we expected much better results. The fact is, Washington’s defense is just bad. They are now allowing 40 PPG and 505 YPG. Even Stanford, who has scored a total of 31 points in their first two road games, put up 35 points. Cardinal QB Tavita Pritchard, who had just 469 yards passing on the year in four games, lit the Huskies up for 222 yards and 3 TD’s. This is a QB who had ONE TD pass this year and four picks coming into the game. Washington’s pass defense made Pritchard look like the next coming of John Elway. Now they go on the road to face Willie Tuitama who already has over 1,000 passing and 10 TD’s for Zona. Uh oh! QB Ronnie Fouch will be making his FIRST career start for the Huskies on the road none the less. While he played OK last week in relief, this is a totally different scenario. His top RB David Freeman, who had 64 yards in just 7 carries last week, sprained his ankle vs. Stanford and has not practiced this week. That will really hurt the UW rushing attack. However, not as much as Locker’s absence as he was their leading rusher this year and accounted for 70% of their entire offense. With Arizona putting up big numbers on offense (42 PPG) and Washington now being severely limited on offense, the Cats will pull away here. Zona head coach Mike Stoops has reminded his team of the letdown they had earlier this year @ New Mexico and they are squarely focused on Washington. Big time win here for Arizona.
OHIO STATE BUCKEYES -vs-Wisconsin Badgers
ASA 3-Star Ohio State –2
We are getting great value with the Buckeyes here. This team, believe it or not, is still very undervalued. Remember, they have been in the National Championship game two straight years. They return a whopping 20 starters from last year’s team that beat the Badgers 38-17. The problem for the Bucks is, everyone watched them get dominated by USC in the Coliseum three weeks ago which seriously dropped their “public value”. The fact is, they are still the best team in the Big Ten and until someone proves otherwise, we have to side with them at this low number which basically means they simply have to win the game. Wisconsin put up huge offensive numbers against the likes of Akron and Marshall to start the season. However, ever since then, teams with good defenses have thwarted the Badgers offensive attack. They put up just 13 points at Fresno and 25 points at Michigan mainly because the Wolverines turned the ball over 5 times in the first half alone. Now Wisconsin faces the best defense they have seen this year by far. The vaunted Badger rushing attack has only put up 3.6 yard per carry and 3.9 yards per carry the last two weeks when facing off against teams that actually have a semblance of a defense. Their offensive coordinator, Paul Chryst, has admitted this team is really inconsistent on offense. He’s had problems calling plays because of this. One play QB Allan Evridge looks great one throw and terrible the next. His receivers make great catches at times only to drop easy ones later in the game. They cannot continue that trend and expect to beat the best team they’ve faced BY FAR this year. OSU only allows 95 YPG rushing and expect them to take that away in this game. That forces Evridge to make plays and we feel he’s not equipped to win a game vs. a top notch opponent with his arm which he may have to do here. Ohio State’s new QB Terrelle Pryor now has a start under his belt vs. Minnesota last week. He also played a big role @ USC so don’t expect him to be in awe here. The Badgers have always had trouble with dual threat QB’s who can run and pass with equal effectiveness and Pryor can do just that. Beanie Wells (missed the USC game) is also back at full strength after rushing for 106 yards last week vs. Minnesota on just 14 carries. The Bucks were ripping the Gophs 34-6 in the fourth quarter last week before allowing two meaningless TD’s late. They dominated that game much more than final indicated. Ohio State is now 22-1 SU their last 23 Big Ten games which makes them the king of the hill in this conference. We don’t see anything changing here. Just because their public perception has wavered, they still have better players at nearly every position in this game. We have to take the Buckeyes at this low number.
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Vandy +4 (POD)
Iowa ST. +11.5
Northern Illinois +16.5
By no means is Kentucky going to win this game outright, but Bama comes off such a big win in the public's eyes and there is no reason why the Tide should be favored by more than two touchdowns here. After all, Kentucky is undefeated as they roll into Alabama. Heck, Kentucky could hold the lead for quite a bit during this game and then Bama likely will come back. I think Bama might be a bit star gazed after being ranked at #2. Now, of course, I am a Tide fan and I want to see my Crimson Tide win. But, that is not going to prevent me from hitting the opposite of a truly bad line here. My committment is to my clients and that is the guiding principle to which I release plays. Remember, the line has gone down despite the public favoring the Tide by over 60%. Kentucky actually has the better punter, has done better with respect to penalties than the Tide and the Kentucky defense has allowed less yards. Kentucky was solid in their last road game winning at Louisville 27-2. Bottom line here is that the Tide are simply over inflated with respect to the line coming off the big win at UGA and Kentucky should hang tough here.