Football Weekend Preview
Football Weekend Preview
Football Weekend Preview
by Lenny Del Genio
Oklahoma (-26.5) at Baylor: The Bears are off a bye and much improved. However, the Sooners are 17-0 all-time vs. Baylor with the average margin of victory coming by 30 points per game. Last time in Waco, OU held Baylor to -48 yards rushing (2nd best mark in program history). This is a sandwich game for OU, who comes off a revenge win over TCU and has Texas on-deck. Sooners are 5-12 ATS the week before the Red River Shootout. Visitor has cashed 10 of 12 in this series. Baylor is just 12-27 ATS as a home dog.
Kentucky at Alabama (-15.5): Both these teams are unbeaten. UK has never won in Tuscaloosa in 20 tries (2-33-1 all-time vs. Alabama), although they have won BB SEC openers (had lost 18 straight before that). Teams have split the last six meetings at the betting window. Some trends working against the Crimson Tide include: a 12-16 ATS record when coming off a win with a bye on deck, 6-20 ATS at home vs. conference opponents, 5-14 ATS as DD SEC favorites.
Missouri (-10) at Nebraska: Mizzou dominated LY, winning 41-6 at home (606 yards of total offense!). However, they have not won in Lincoln since '78 (0-15 SU w/ avg loss by 26 PPG). Last year was the first time the Tigers won more than two road conference games since the Big 12 was formed. They are 5-2 ATS in road openers. Home team has won six straight in this series.
Texas (-13.5) at Colorado: Like Oklahoma, Texas is not a very good bet prior to the RR Shootout, going just 6-6 ATS. However, Colorado is now on a 0-5 ATS run the week prior to the Kansas game. The Buffs are 10-6 as home dogs in conf play and 17-10 ATS L27 overall in Boulder vs. Big 12. Longhorns have covered 7 of 9 in this series, including a 70-3 win the last time they met in the '05 Conference Championship game, the most lopsided Conf. Title game in CFB history (3rd worst loss in CU history). Texas has won 81% of their reg season Big 12 games.
Penn State (-13.5) at Purdue: PSU is just 8-15 SU L23 conference road game's, but have only been outscored by two points/game. Last season vs. the Boilermakers, they had a season high 29 FD's. Purdue is just 2-9 SU vs. the Nittany Lions since they joined the Big 10, but 10-1 SU in conference openers. Penn State is 0-5 ATS/1-4 SU L5 Big 10 road openers.
Texas Tech (-7) at Kansas State: Red Raiders are off a bye (17-9 ATS in that situation). Home team is 7-2 SU all-time with the avg margin of victory coming by three touchdowns, but Tech has won three straight overall. In the last meeting, KSU allowed 699 passing yards (2005). Tech is just 4-6 ATS L10 as a road favorite with two of those covers sucksing out of conference. The Wildcats are 6-2 ATS as Big 12 home underdogs. These teams played the first ever Big 12 game back in 1996.
Auburn at Vanderbilt (+5): The Commies are one of three unbeatens to be GETTING points on Saturday. They have not beaten Auburn since the 1955 Gator Bowl, losing 13 straight. In the last three meetings, they have been outscored by 30 PPG. Auburn has won 8 straight the week prior to Arkansas. Vandy is ranked for the first time in 24 years and ESPN GameDay will be live in Nashville. The favorite and home team are both on 4-1 ATS runs in this series, so something will have to give.
Texas A&M at Oklahoma State (-23.5): A&M went 4-0 on the road in conference play LY, but is just 8-14 SU L22 overall. They have beaten OSU 10 of 12. The Cowboys are just 4-8 SU in conference openers. Huge revenge spot for them, however, as two missed extra points cost them in an OT loss in College Station LY.
Connecticut (+7.5) at North Carolina: UConn joins Vandy as the only unbeaten underdog facing an opponent with at least one loss on Saturday. Huskies QB Lorenzen is out due to injury. Tar Heels are just 4-9 in Chapel Hill vs. non-conference teams. UConn is just 4-22-2 all-time vs. the ACC, but beat Virginia earlier in the year. Only the 2nd meeting ever between the schools.
Ball State (-7) at Toledo: Coming into the year, Toledo was 43-6 SU at the Glass Bowl. They are 0-2 this year. Visitor in this series is just 3-11-1 SU and the avg loss in the last 11 meetings is 20 PPG. BSU outscored the Rockets 21-0 in the 2nd half last year en route to 41-20 home win. The Cardinals did win their last visit to Toledo snapping a five-game losing streak here.
Rice at Tulsa (-16): Tulsa has replaced East Carolina as the darling of C-USA. They are averaging 54.7 PPG this season and have covered all lined games. However, the Golden Hurricane is just 6-10 ATS L16 as DD favorites and 3-8 ATS vs. Rice. The Owls are averaging 48 PPG in league play thus far, so Over may be the way to go here. Rice has covered 7 of 8 as C-USA road dogs and 11-4 ATS the week before a bye. Visitor has won 8 of 11 straight up in the series. Last year, they combined for an incredible 66 FD's and 1,292 yards of total offense. Rice QB Clement has 601 total yards himself in the 48-43 loss.
Indianapolis at Houston: Colts are 11-1 SU (6-6 ATS) all-time vs. Texans, but 0-8 ATS off SU/ATS division loss. Teams have gone Over in each of last six meetings and Houston has gone Over in seven straight division games. Colts are 8-1 Over L9 post-bye week games. We like the Under.
Tennessee at Baltimore: Both teams have covered every game they've been in and they rank 1-2 in scoring defense in the entire league.
San Diego at Miami: Chargers are 15-3 ATS L18 vs. AFC. Visitor is 7-1 ATS in this series. Over has cashed in each of the last seven meetings.
Kansas City at Carolina: Chiefs snapped a 12-game SU losing skid last week. Carolina is just 1-6 ATS in non-conference play.
Washington at Philadelphia: Under has cashed in 20 of L31 meetings. This will be Washington's final road division game. Road team is on 4-1 SU/ATS run.
Chicago at Detroit: Lions are allowing 37.7 PPG, but are 3-1 SU/4-0 ATS off a bye week. Under has cashed L4 meetings. Underdog is 14-3-2 ATS L19 meetings.
Atlanta at Green Bay: Game is currently OFF THE BOARD due to Rodgers injury. Atlanta has lost both road games 24-9 (1-10 SU L11 road games overall). Underdog has covered five straight in this series and Atlanta has covered the last three. Packers are 10-3 SU/8-4-1 ATS as home chalk under McCarthy.
Seattle at NY Giants: Off a bye, Seattle is just 5-13 SU/4-14 ATS and 7-0 Over. Giants are just 3-10 SU/3-9-1 ATS off a bye and 15-5 Under. Seahawks are 0-4 SU/ATS L4 road games.
Tampa Bay at Denver: Broncos are just 6-18 ATS L24 as a favorite.
New England at San Francisco: Home team is 4-0 SU/ATS in this series, but Pats are 4-1 ATS/5-0 SU off a bye. They are also 13-4 ATS under Belichick coming off a DD loss.
Buffalo at Arizona: Cards are 5-0 ATS vs. AFC under Wisenhunt, but Buffalo is 17-4 ATS vs. NFC West. Bills are 0-9 SU/2-6-1 ATS before a bye.
Cincinnati at Dallas: DD NFL Favorites are 0-6 ATS/3-3 SU this season. Dallas is 6-2 ATS vs. AFC, but 1-5 ATS as DD favorite, including outright loss to Washington last week.
Pittsburgh at Jacksonville: Jaguars have won four straight in the series, including both meetings (at Pittsburgh) last year. Jags are 7-2 ATS L9 vs. the Steelers and 7-3 SU/9-1 ATS at home vs. Pittsburgh.
Re: Football Weekend Preview
(6) Penn State (5-0, 3-1 ATS) at Purdue (2-2, 1-2 ATS)
The Nittany Lions leave the comforts of Happy Valley for just the second time this season when they go to West Lafayette, Ind., to take on Purdue in a Big Ten matchup.
Penn State has opened the season with five straight wins, including last week’s 38-24 victory over Illinois, though Joe Paterno’s club came up just short as a 15-point home favorite, its first non-cover of the season. In their lone road trip this season, the Nittany Lions went to Syracuse and delivered a 55-13 beatdown as 27½-point road chalk. Penn State comes into this contest ranked fourth in the nation in scoring (49.8 points per game) and ninth in total offense (515.2 yards per game).
Purdue couldn’t stop Notre Dame last weekend in South Bend, giving up 476 yards in a 38-21 loss as a two-point road ‘dog. The Boilermakers have scored 21 or more points in every game this season, but they’ve been outrushed in every contest and outgained in their last three. Also, senior QB Curtis Painter has not been on top of his game this season, throwing just five TDs and four INTs.
Painter has not thrown a TD pass in 104 attempts over three games against Penn State, and the Purdue offense hasn’t scored a TD in its last two matchups, including a 12-0 home loss in 2006. The Nittany Lions won last year’s game 26-19 in Happy Valley, but came up short as an eight-point favorite. Penn State is 7-2 ATS in the last nine meetings, and the straight-up winner is 7-3 ATS in the last 10 series clashes.
Penn State is just 12-20 ATS on the road in Big Ten action since 2000, and they are on additional ATS slides of 3-8 on the road overall and 1-7 in conference roadies. Purdue is on a slew of ATS nosedives, including 1-5 overall, 7-15 at home, 3-14 in October, 8-20 against teams with a winning record and 5-17 following a straight-up loss.
The over is 4-1 in the Lions’ last five conference games and 4-1 in their last five after a straight-up win. Meanwhile the under is on a plethora of runs for the Boilermakers, including 26-8-2 at home, 27-10 in Big Ten matchups, 16-5 in October and 12-5 following non-cover. Finally, the under has been the play in this rivalry each of the last the last six years.
ATS ADVANTAGE: PENN STATE and UNDER
(24) UConn (5-0, 2-2 ATS) at North Carolina (3-1, 2-1 ATS)
UConn is trying to go 6-0 for the first time in 14 years when it visits Kenan Memorial Stadium in Chapel Hill, N.C., to take on the Tar Heels.
The Huskies opened last season 5-0 to catapult themselves into the Top 25 and they’ve done the same this year, with three of the victories coming in thrilling fashion. That includes last week’s 26-21 win at Louisville as a 3½-point underdog, as UConn got an interception return for a touchdown for the winning score in the waning minutes. The Huskies also narrowly edged Baylor 31-28 back on Sept. 19 as a 13-point home favorite and got a 12-9 overtime win over Temple in a downpour in Philadelphia, coming up short as a seven-point favorite.
UConn’s offense revolves around stud RB Ronald Brown, a junior who is the nation’s leading rusher with 906 yards in five games, and he is second in scoring with 11 TDs.
North Carolina rallied for a 28-24 road win in Miami last week, cashing as a 7½-point underdog. The Tar Heels got the job done in South Florida behind backup QB Cameron Sexton, who threw for 242 yards and a pair of fourth-quarter TDs against the Hurricanes, including the game-winner with less than a minute to play.
UConn is on ATS slides of 5-12 as a road ‘dog since 2003, 1-5 against winning teams and 1-4 in its last five on the road overall, but the Huskies are on positive pointspread runs of 28-13-1 in non-conference action and 4-0 in October contests. North Carolina is on ATS streaks of 12-5-1 in October and 4-1 in non-conference action, but they are on slides of 1-5 against Big East foes and 2-7 ATS as a home favorite since 2003.
For the Huskies, the under is on streaks of 7-2 vs. ACC foes, 13-6 in non-conference action, 6-0 in October and 5-1 on the highway. Meanwhile, the Tar Heels have topped the total in six of their last eight against the Big East, but the under is 4-0 in their last four at home.
These two teams have not met since 1990 when North Carolina scored a 48-21 win, getting the cash as a 14-point favorite.
ATS ADVANTAGE: NONE
South Carolina (3-2, 2-2 ATS) at Mississippi (3-2, 3-1 ATS)
In what might just boil down to an early elimination game in the SEC, South Carolina heads to Oxford, Miss., to take on Ole Miss at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks have beaten two inferior opponents in Wofford (23-13 in a non-lined contest) and UAB (26-13 as a 26-point favorite) the last two weeks after losing back-to-back SEC contests to Georgia and Vanderbilt. Redshirt freshman QB Stephen Garcia will get the start today after throwing for 131 yards, rushing for 86 and accounting for two TDs in the ‘Cocks win over UAB.
South Carolina’s defense leads the SEC in total yards allowed (221.4 ypg) and is fourth in scoring defense (12.8 ppg).
Mississippi pulled off the upset of the week last Saturday, going to Gainesville and shocking Florida 31-30 as a 23-point ‘dog. The Gators scored late in the game, but Ole Miss blocked the ensuing game-tying PAT attempt. Houston Nutt’s offense averages 172 rushing yards per game and 214 through the air, but his defense has allowed 23.4 points per game this season. QB Jevan Snead paces the offense, throwing for 1,029 yards, but his eight TD passes have been offset by eight INTs.
These squads haven’t met since 2004, when Ole Miss went to South Carolina and prevailed 31-28 as a 17-point underdog. The Rebels have won all four meetings dating back to 1998 (2-2 ATS), but three of the four contests have been decided by three points or less with the underdog going 3-1 ATS and the road team a perfect 4-0 ATS.
South Carolina is 7-2-1 ATS as a road underdog under Spurrier, but otherwise the ATS numbers aren’t pretty for the ‘Cocks, including 2-7-1 overall, 1-4 in October kickoffs, 0-5-1 in SEC action, 0-4 on the road and 0-4 following a straight-up win. Conversely, the Rebels are on ATS streaks of 8-3-1 at home, 6-1 overall, 4-1 in SEC play and 4-1 in October.
For the Gamecocks, the under is on runs of 4-0-1 overall, 25-9-1 on the road and 6-2 following a non-cover. The under is also 9-3 in the Rebels’ last 12 October games. But the over has been the play in the last two head-to-head meetings.
ATS ADVANTAGE: UNDER
(7) Texas Tech (4-0, 1-1-1 ATS) at Kansas State (3-1, 1-2 ATS)
Kansas State tries to remain perfect at home in 2008 while trying to slow one of the most potent offenses in the country in this Big 12 battle with Texas Tech, which arrives in Manhattan carrying a six-game winning streak.
The Wildcats have posted three double-digit wins at home, all against inferior foes North Texas (45-6), Montana State (69-10) and Louisiana-Lafayette (45-37). However, the one time it stepped up in class, Kansas State lost 38-29 at Louisville as a 5½-point road underdog, getting outgained 577-343. Wildcats QB Josh Freeman (67 percent completion rate, 1,105 yards, 11 TDs, 2 INTs) has been solid, but the defense is allowing 22.8 points and 370.5 yards per outing.
The Red Raiders prepped for this Big 12 opener with a 56-14 home win over Massachusetts in a non-lined game on Sept. 20. Senior QB Graham Harrell (64.5 percent completion rate, 1,573 yards, 12 TDs, three INTs) paces a Texas Tech offense that’s averaging 47 points and 572.8 total yards per game, including 426.2 passing ypg. But the biggest surprise has been the play of the Red Raiders’ defense, which is yielding only 16 points and 346 yards per contest.
Texas Tech is on a 3-0 SU and 4-0 ATS roll against the Wildcats, with the most recent meeting coming in 2005, when the Red Raiders cruised to a 59-20 victory as a 15-point home chalk.
Texas Tech is 4-1 ATS as a road favorite dating to last season, 4-1-1 ATS in its last six on artificial turf and 35-17 ATS in its last 52 October games. Meanwhile, Kansas State is 1-6 ATS in its last seven lined games, but 13-6 ATS in its last 19 at home.
Despite their explosive offense, Texas Tech has stayed under the total in eight of its last 10 games overall and six of its last seven in Big 12 play. Conversely, K-State is on over runs of 35-16 overall, 20-7 in league action and 4-1 at home.
ATS ADVANTAGE: NONE
(13) Auburn (4-1, 1-4 ATS) at (19) Vanderbilt (4-0 SU and ATS)
Off to one of the most surprising starts in college football, Vanderbilt looks to remain perfect when it hosts 13th-ranked Auburn in an SEC battle.
The Commodores opened SEC play with a 23-17 upset win at Mississippi as a seven-point road underdog back on Sept. 20, then took last week off. Vandy is putting up nearly 30 points per game despite an offense that’s averaging only 282.8 total yards per contest, including 80.8 ypg on the ground. In fact, the Commodores have been outgained in three of their four wins – including by a 385-202 margin at Ole Miss – and the defense is surrendering 81 more ypg than the offense is producing.
Auburn bounced back from a difficult 26-21 home loss to LSU by eking out a 14-12 home win over Tennessee last week. However, the Tigers, failed to cover as a 6½-point home favorite and have yet to cash a ticket this season.
Auburn has defeated Vanderbilt 13 straight times dating to 1995, and that includes a 35-7 rout as a seven-point home favorite in 2007. The Tigers are 7-3 ATS in the last 10 meetings, including three straight spread-covers since 2002, with the average margin of victory being 30 ppg (37-7).
In addition to its spread-covering woes this year, Auburn has failed to cover in five of its last six league games. But the Tigers are 18-5 ATS in their last 23 in October and 5-2 ATS in their last seven on the highway. Meanwhile, Vanderbilt is just 3-6 ATS as a home underdog since 2005 and 10-21-1 ATS in its last 32 in October.
For Auburn, the under is on runs 6-1 overall, 9-3 in SEC action and 5-2 on the road. For Vanderbilt, the under streaks include 11-4-1 overall, 7-2-1 at home, 9-1-1 in conference and 4-0 in October.
ATS ADVANTAGE: AUBURN and UNDER
Illinois (2-2, 1-2 ATS) at Michigan (2-2, 1-3 ATS)
Illinois faces its second tough Big Ten road test when it travels to Ann Arbor to take on the resurgent Wolverines, who are coming off the biggest come-from-behind victory in Michigan Stadium history.
The Illini went to Happy Valley last week and became Penn State’s latest victim, falling 38-24, but cashing as a 15-point underdog. Illinois had a balanced offensive attack (183 passing yards, 189 rushing yards), but its leaky defense couldn’t stop the Nittany Lions, giving up 422 total yards, including 241 on the ground. For the season, the Illini are surrendering 32 points and 384 total yards per game (182.5 rushing ypg).
Michigan stormed back from a 19-0 halftime deficit in last week’s Big Ten opener against Wisconsin and held on for a 27-25 victory as a 5½-point home underdog, its first spread-cover of the season. The Wolverines prevailed despite just 96 passing yards and five turnovers (all in the first half), but the defense forced four Badgers turnovers, one of which was returned for a touchdown.
These schools met last year for the first time since 2004, and Michigan prevailed 27-17 as a 1½-point road favorite, improving to 39-4-2 SU all-time against the Illini. The Wolverines have won the last five meetings in a row since 2001, going 4-1 ATS, all as a favorite.
Michigan snapped an 0-5-1 ATS regular-season slide with last week’s win and cover, and the Wolverines are now 15-5-1 ATS in their last 21 Big Ten contests, as well as 8-2 ATS in its last 10 in October. Meanwhile, by getting the cash at Penn State, Illinois improved to 8-2 ATS in its last 10 true road games and 4-0 ATS in its last four Big Ten outings. On the downside, the Illini are in ATS ruts of 22-47 after a SU defeat and 6-15 in October.
The over is on runs of 6-1 for Illinois overall, 5-0 for Illinois on the road, 4-0 for Illinois on artificial turf and 4-1 for Michigan overall. However, the under is 12-5 in the Wolverines’ last 17 conference contests, and 2-0 in the last two meetings between these teams (both at Illinois).
ATS ADVANTAGE: MICHIGAN
(4) Missouri (4-0, 2-1 ATS) at Nebraska (3-1, 2-2 ATS)
Nebraska will try to bounce back from its first loss of the Bo Pelini era when it hosts Heisman Trophy candidate Chase Daniel and the high-scoring Tigers in the conference opener for both Big 12 North rivals.
After blowing out three weak non-conference opponents – Western Michigan, San Jose State and New Mexico State – by the combined score of 120-43, the Huskers finally met their match last week, losing 35-30 to Virginia Tech as a seven-point home favorite. Nebraska’s offense produced just 333 total yards and 14 first downs, and the Huskers got outrushed 206-55 and lost the turnover battle 2-0.
Missouri has been idle since a 42-21 win over Buffalo on Sept. 20, coming up short as a hefty 31½-point home favorite. The 42 points were the fewest the Tigers have scored this season, as the offense is netting nearly 54 points and 595.5 total yards per game. Daniel has been the catalyst, completing an astounding 77 percent of his throws for 1,412 yards with 12 TDs and just one interception.
The home team is on a 6-0 SU and ATS roll in this rivalry, including Missouri’s 41-6 rout in Columbia last year as a 6½-point chalk. Each of the last nine series meetings dating to 1999 has been decided by double digits, with eight decided by at least two touchdowns.
Going back to last year, Nebraska has alternated ATS wins and losses in its last nine games, but otherwise the Huskers sport a bunch of negative ATS trends, including 4-11 overall, 3-7 at home, 2-7 in Big 12 games, 4-10-1 on artificial turf, 1-4 in October and 2-9 against winning teams.
Missouri is 7-1 ATS on the highway since last year, going 3-0 ATS as a road favorite. The Tigers are also on pointspread runs of 14-4 overall, 7-3 in conference play, 4-0 after an ATS setback and 9-3 versus winning teams.
The over for the Cornhuskers is on streaks of 5-2 overall and 15-6 in Lincoln, while the over is 6-1 in Mizzou’s last seven on the highway.
ATS ADVANTAGE: MISSOURI and OVER
(5) Texas (4-0 SU and ATS) at Colorado (3-1, 2-1 ATS)
Texas quietly rolled through a perfect September and now figures to face its stiffest test of the season when it travels to Colorado for a Big 12 clash.
The Longhorns are coming off identical 52-10 home routs of Rice and Arkansas, covering easily as 29- and 27½-point favorites. Texas has given up exactly 10 points in three of its first four games (allowing just 13 in the other), and the offense has produced exactly 52 points in four of five games going back to last December’s 52-34 Holiday Bowl rout of Arizona State. For the season, Mack Brown’s troops are averaging 49.5 points and 482 total yards per game, while giving up 10.8 points and 303.2 yards per outing.
Texas junior quarterback Colt McCoy is playing out of his mind, completing 80 percent of his passes for 1,018 yards with a 14-1 TD-to-INT ratio. He faces a defense today that’s allowing just 163 passing yards per game.
Colorado followed up a 17-14 overtime upset win over then-No. 21 West Virginia with last week’s 39-21 loss at Florida State, falling way short as a 5½-point road underdog. The Buffaloes got outgained 368-278, including 249-124 on the ground, in suffering their first defeat of the season.
These teams last met in the 2005 Big 12 Championship game, and Texas pummeled the Buffs 70-3 as a 25½-point favorite. The Longhorns also routed Colorado 42-17 as a 16-point home favorite in the 2005 regular season, and they’re on a 6-0 ATS tear in this rivalry, winning four of the last five meetings by the combined score of 184-34.
Texas has cashed in five straight games overall dating to last year and is also 6-1 ATS in its last seven against teams with a winning record. Conversely, Colorado is mired in pointspread funks of 6-13 in Big 12 play and 1-4 against winning teams.
The over is 7-2 in Texas’ last nine on the highway, 9-4 in its last 13 on grass, 5-2 in Colorado’s last seven overall, 8-3 in Colorado’s last 11 conference contests and 3-1 in the last four series meetings.
ATS ADVANTAGE: TEXAS and OVER
Re: Football Weekend Preview
Florida State (3-1, 1-1 ATS) at Miami (Fla.) (2-2, 1-2 ATS)
One of the sport’s most heated rivalries gets renewed at Dolphin Stadium in South Beach, as the Hurricanes host Miami in an annual ACC battle.
Miami squandered a 10-point, fourth-quarter lead in last week’s conference opener against North Carolina, falling 28-24 as a 7½-point home chalk. The Canes outrushed the Tar Heels by 100 yards (135-35), but allowed a second-string quarterback to pass for 264 yards and two touchdowns, including the clincher with 46 seconds to play.
The Seminoles rebounded from an ugly 12-3 home loss to Wake Forest with a dominating 39-21 non-conference home win over Colorado, easily covering as a 5½-point favorite. After committing seven turnovers in the loss to Wake, Florida State coughed the ball up twice against Colorado, but also forced two miscues, one of which led to a safety.
After a series of boring low-scoring affairs against each other, the Canes and Seminoles got the offenses cranked up last year in a 37-29 shootout, with Miami prevailing as a 5½-point road underdog. Not including one pick-em contest, the underdog has covered in six consecutive head-to-head battles, including five straight outright upsets.
Going back to 2000, Miami is on a 7-2 SU roll against Florida State and 7-3 ATS in the last 10 battles. Finally, the last seven clashes have been decided by an average of 4.4 points per game.
Florida State is on an 8-3 ATS roll as an underdog since 2005, but Bobby Bowden’s squad is 3-7 ATS in its last 10 ACC games, 1-5 ATS in its last six after an outright win and 1-5 ATS in its last six in October. Meanwhile, Miami is 8-19 ATS as a favorite going back to 2005 and 0-5 ATS in ACC home games under coach Randy Shannon. Additionally, the Hurricanes are on pointspread nosedives of 9-20-1 overall, 0-5 at home, 3-7 on grass, 1-4 in the ACC and 1-4 in October.
These teams had stayed under the total in six straight meetings before last year’s clash, and the under is 5-0-1 in the last six tussles in Miami. The under is also on streaks of 41-20 for the Hurricanes overall, 24-8 for the Hurricanes at home, 13-6 for the Hurricanes in conference action and 7-3 for the ‘Noles following a SU win.
ATS ADVANTAGE: MIAMI, FLA. and UNDER
Kentucky (4-0, 2-1 ATS) at (2) Alabama (5-0, 4-1 ATS)
Fresh off a dominating victory over third-ranked Georgia, Alabama will try to avoid the dreaded letdown when it returns home to Tuscaloosa for an SEC battle against unbeaten Kentucky.
The Crimson Tide went to Georgia as a 6½-point road underdog but quickly proved the oddsmakers were way off, jumping out to a 31-0 halftime lead and cruising to a 41-30 victory. Although Alabama had just a 10-yard edge in total offense (334-324), it forced two turnovers, got efficient play from QB John Parker Wilson (13-for-16, 205 yards, 1 TD, no INT) and was never threatened in the game. Nick Saban’s defense is yielding just 13.4 points and 259.4 yards per outing this season.
Kentucky was barely tested during its non-conference campaign, outscoring its four opponents by the combined tally of 126-22, including last weekend’s 41-3 rout of Western Kentucky as a 21-point favorite. The Wildcats have held three opponents – Western Kentucky, Norfolk State and Louisville – to 3, 3 and 2 points, respectively, and they’re giving up an average of just 227.5 ypg.
This is the first meeting between these teams since 2004, when Alabama rolled to a 45-17 road win as a 4½-point chalk. That snapped a 4-0 run (3-1 ATS) by the home team in this rivalry. The Tide are 33-2-1 SU all-time against the ‘Cats, including 19-0-1 at home.
The Wildcats, who have won five straight games dating to last year’s bowl victory over Florida State, are 6-2 ATS in their last eight road games and 7-4 ATS in their last 11 as a double-digit underdog, but 1-4 ATS in it their last five SEC contests and 2-5 ATS in their last seven in October.
Alabama has followed up an 11-22-3 ATS slide by going 5-1 ATS in its last six. However, the Tide are just 7-19-2 ATS in their last 28 at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, including 3-15 ATS as a home favorite since 2005.
Kentucky is on under runs of 6-2 overall (3-0 this year) and 5-2 on the road, but Alabama has over streaks of 3-0 overall, 7-3 at home, 7-2 in SEC play, 8-1 following a SU win
ATS ADVANTAGE: NONE
(14) Ohio State (4-1, 0-4 ATS) at (18) Wisconsin (3-1, 2-2 ATS)
Seven days after a shocking loss at Michigan, things don’t get much easier for Wisconsin when it welcomes electrifying freshman QB Terrelle Pryor and Ohio State to Camp Randall Stadium for a Big Ten tussle.
The Badgers were seemingly in control with a 19-0 lead at Ann Arbor last week, then completely came unglued in the final two quarters, losing 27-25 as a 5½-point road favorite. Wisconsin, which had a 384-270 edge in total offense, scored a touchdown with 13 seconds to left, but a game-tying two-point conversion was nullified by a penalty, and the second attempt failed.
Ohio State opened Big Ten play with last week’s 34-21 victory over Minnesota, but the Buckeyes gave up a touchdown with a little more than a minute to play to blow the cover as a 20-point home favorite. A week after throwing for four touchdowns in his first collegiate start, Pryor accounted for three scores in the win over Minnesota (one passing, two rushing) and finished 8-for-13 for 70 yards in the air and had 97 rushing yards on just eight carries (12.1 yards per rush).
The Buckeyes hammered Wisconsin 38-17 as a 16-point home favorite last year, snapping the Badgers’ two-game SU and four-game ATS winning streaks in this rivalry. Prior to OSU’s rout last year, the underdog had cashed in seven straight series meetings.
Despite failing to cover a spread all season, the Buckeyes are still on ATS hot streaks of 11-3 as a road favorite, 22-8 in conference action, 9-2 in Big Ten road games and 6-1 in October. Meanwhile, Wisconsin is 6-2 ATS as a home pup since 1998, including 2-0 ATS since 2005, and 4-1 ATS in its last five overall at Camp Randall. However, the Badgers have now failed to cash in seven of their last nine Big Ten battles.
The over is 6-2 in Wisconsin’s last eight overall, 4-0 in its last four in league play and 4-1 in Ohio State’s last five Big Ten games. However, the last four head-to-head clashes at Camp Randall have stayed under the posted number.
ATS ADVANTAGE: OHIO STATE
(23) Oregon (4-1, 3-2 ATS) at (9) USC (2-1 SU and ATS)
Having had nine days to digest its shocking loss at Oregon State, USC returns to the field hoping to re-establish its dominance – and avenge a loss – when it hosts Pac-10 rival Oregon at the L.A. Coliseum.
The Trojans went to Corvalis, Ore., as a 25-point favorite and the top-ranked team in the nation last Thursday, but they came out flat, falling behind 21-0 at halftime. They were unable to recover in a 27-21 loss, snapping a seven-game winning streak (6-1 ATS) that dated to last year’s loss at Oregon. Against the Beavers, USC committed two turnovers, forced none and got manhandled at the line of scrimmage, giving up 176 rushing yards while totaling just 86 yards on the ground.
Oregon bounced back from a surprising 37-32 home loss to Boise State with last Saturday’s 63-14 destruction of Washington State as a 21½-point road chalk, improving to 2-0 in Pac-10 play. The Ducks rolled up 507 total yards, gave up only 271 and forced four turnovers while committing none. Mike Bellotti’s team has lost its top two quarterbacks this season, but sophomore Jeremiah Masoli (9-for-16, 161 yards, 2 TDs) performed well last week.
Oregon’s offense has been unstoppable this year, putting up 47.4 points and 531.6 yards per game (308.6 rushing ypg), while the Trojans are averaging 36 points and 405.3 total yards (155 rushing). However, USC has the edge on defense (12.3 points, 245.7 yards per game) over Oregon (22.2 points, 330.2 yards per game).
The Ducks snapped a three-game losing skid against USC with last year’s 24-17 victory as a three-point home favorite. The favorite has covered in each of the last four meetings dating to 2002 after the ‘dog went 5-1 ATS in the previous six.
USC is on a 4-2 ATS roll following a SU regular-season defeat. The Trojans are on further pointspread streaks of 28-12 at home (1-0 this year), 16-8 ATS as a home chalk in league play, 5-1 against winning teams and 6-1 on grass. However, they’re 1-6 ATS in their last seven October affairs and now 3-11 ATS in their last 14 as a double-digit chalk against Pac-10 rivals.
Oregon has cashed in four of its last five in October and is 25-13 ATS in its last 38 as an underdog dating to 1998 and 8-2 ATS in its last 10 after a victory of more than 20 points.
The under is 5-1 in the last six series meetings between these teams. Furthermore, USC is on under streaks of 20-8 overall, 7-1 at home, 21-7 in the Pac-10, 16-5 on grass and 4-0 in October. Finally, Oregon’s under runs include 4-1 on grass and 5-2 in conference, but the over is 5-1-1 in the Ducks’ last seven overall and 9-4-2 in their last 15 on the highway.
ATS ADVANTAGE: OREGON and UNDER
Re: Football Weekend Preview
What Bettors Need to Know: FSU at Miami
By CHRIS MARAKOVITZ
Head to Head
These teams have met every year since 1969. Miami has won seven of the last nine, with the last seven games being decided by an average of 4.4 points and neither team winning by more than 8.
Last year FSU held a 29-24 lead with just 1:15 left before Miami scored 2 TD’s in an 11 second span to post a 37-29 victory.
Seminoles Back at Full Strength
After several suspended players returned last week from last year’s academic scandal, FSU will finally be back to full strength with DT Paul Griffin returning this week. Griffin joins Justin Mincey and Neefy Moffett, who returned last week, in returning depth to the defensive line, the unit that was hurt most badly by the suspensions.
Two more key returnees last week included LB Dekoda Watson and TE Caz Piurowski. Watson racked up 10 tackles in his first game back while the 6-7, 275 Piurowski made a strong blocking contribution to the run game and caught some key passes as well.
The team was also excited to get stud CB Patrick Robinson last week, but unfortunately he hurt his back during a 39-yard return of the second half kickoff.
Young and Restless
With both programs trying desperately to rebuild, FSU and UM are both going the youth movement route. Miami played a total of 21 true freshman in their opening win over Charleston Southern. FSU went one better by playing 22 against West Carolina. No other team in the country has played more than 15 in a single game.
Currently, Miami features 9 true or redshirt freshmen on their two-deep while FSU has 13 on theirs.
FSU Ground Game Getting in Gear
One of the encouraging signs for FSU in their 39-21 win over Colorado was their ability to run the ball effectively, something they have struggled desperately to do.
The sometimes maligned senior RB Antoine Smith busted out for 159 yards and 3 TD’s, including a 60 yarder.
The performance was also significant for a young offensive line that features seven freshmen on the two-deep and not a single player who has been with the program for more than 14 months.
"That can become an identity for us, just as a hard-nosed football team," said junior TE Caz Piurowski, “We have the guys to do that and the attitude to definitely do that."
Miami D Tough Up Front
Running the football against Colorado is one thing for FSU, but it remains to be seen whether they can do the same against Miami.
The Canes are allowing just 65 yards a game on the ground. Last week they held North Carolina to 35 and did not allow a run longer than 8 yards.
Holes in the Secondary
While Miami has been stout against the run, their secondary is pretty much a gaping hole. It was the secondary that essentially cost Miami the game against North Carolina, with two severe breakdowns in the fourth quarter paving the way for the Tar Heels comeback victory.
The Canes have allowed 8 passing touchdowns already this season and the team’s only interception has come from defensive end Eric Moncur.
Indications are that there will be some shuffling of the lineup this week with freshman Brandon Harris perhaps moving into the starting lineup ahead of junior Chavez Grant.
The question for FSU is whether their shaky-at-best sophomore QB Christian Ponder can exploit the Miami secondary. Ponder was atrocious with 3 picks against Wake Forest but rebounded, and likely saved his job, with a respectable showing in the second half against Colorado.
Ponder has passed for 547 yards in four games, completing 50.6% of his passes with 6 TD’s against 4 INT’s. His backup, sophomore D’Vontrey Richardson, has seen time as well, appearing in three games and throwing for 240 yards with 2 TD’s and 2 INT’s.
Miami redshirt freshman QB Robert Marve has been looking increasingly comfortable, completing 34 of 49 attempts in the last two games. Against North Carolina he was 18 for 27 for 135 yards and 3 TD’s along with 2 picks. He has also led the Canes to touchdowns on their opening drive in 3 of the last 4 games.
True freshman Jacory Harris continues to make sporadic appearances as well on a weekly basis. He led the offense to a field goal on one drive against North Carolina.
FSU Special Teams Big Against Colorado
The special teams played a big role in the FSU win over Colorado, directly contributing to 18 of the Noles’ 39 points. The unit generated a safety with a blocked punt, later blocked a field goal, returned a kick for a touchdown, and converted three field goals on offense including a 52-yarder.
Miami coach Randy Shannon has been ecstatic about the contributions of freshman WR Travis Benjamin in returning punts. Benjamin is averaging 17.7 yards per return, including a 36-yarder against North Carolina and a 44-yarder against Texas A&M.
Shannon has stated that he believes Benjamin is ready to “break one soon.”
The team may also make more of an effort to get him the ball on offense as well.
“Coach told me last week they got to find a way to get the ball in my hands because of my speed and my ability,” Benjamin said. “Because to them, when I get the ball in my hands, there's no telling what I can do.”
The line opened at 3, was bet down to 1.5 in the first 24 hours, and subsequently settled at 2.
The over/under opened at 43.5 and early action on the under drove it down to 42.5.
Re: Football Weekend Preview
Auburn at Vanderbilt
By Brian Edwards
For the first time ever, ESPN’s GameDay crew is in Music City. For the first time since 1947, Vanderbilt (4-0 straight up, 4-0 against the spread) will play host to a game between ranked teams when Auburn comes to Nashville on Saturday night.
Kick-off on ESPN is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. Eastern.
Las Vegas Sports Consultants opened the Tigers as 4½-point favorites with a total of 37. The total has remained the same, while Auburn was four just about everywhere as of late Friday afternoon. Vandy is plus 150 on the money line (risk $100 to win $150).
Bobby Johnson’s team has been an underdog in three of its four victories. The Commodores opened the season with a 34-13 win at Miami (OH.) as a four-point underdog. Senior quarterback Chris Nickson was the catalyst, rushing for a career-high 166 yards and two touchdowns.
In Week 2, Vandy knocked off South Carolina 24-17 as a 10-point underdog, hooking up money-line backers with a huge plus 350 payout. Nickson ran for a score and passed for another in his team’s first home win over a ranked school since 1992.
After thumping Rice 38-21 as eight-point home favorites, the ‘Dores went into Oxford and upset Ole Miss by a 23-17 count as seven-point underdogs. Junior safety Ryan Hamilton was the star, intercepting three passes and returning one for a touchdown.
Auburn (4-1 SU, 1-4 ATS) has been burning the pockets of its backers all year long and last week was no exception. The Tigers held on to capture a 14-12 win over Tennessee, but they failed to cover the number as 6 ½-point home ‘chalk.’
Robert Dunn caught an 18-yard touchdown pass from Chris Todd in the first quarter, but that’s all the Tigers could muster offensively. They got their other TD from the defense when junior noseguard Jake Ricks recovered a fumble (after a careless hand-off exchange from UT’s Jonathan Crompton to Arian Foster) in the end zone.
The Volunteers had a pair of chances to take the lead when they started drives inside of Auburn territory in the fourth quarter. But on each occasion, the Tigers didn’t even let UT get into field-goal range. Auburn’s defense allowed Tennessee just 191 yards of total offense.
However, Tommy Tuberville’s squad had just 226 yards of offense. Tony Franklin, Auburn’s new offensive coordinator who brought his spread offense from Troy last December, is coming under heavy scrutiny for the unit’s lack of production.
Before losing a 26-21 heartbreaker as a three-point home underdog against LSU two weeks ago, Auburn won a 3-2 decision at Mississippi State. That amounts to 38 points in the Tigers’ last three games, and 14 of those came via defensive TDs. Therefore, the Auburn offense is averaging just eight points per game in the last three weeks.
Tuberville stated the obvious after last week’s win, “On offense, we need to go back to the drawing board.”
During Johnson’s seven-year tenure, Vandy has a 10-10-2 ATS record as a home underdog. Under Tuberville in 10 seasons, Auburn has a 9-8 spread mark as a road favorite.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
--Auburn has won 13 consecutive games against Vandy.
--Auburn RB Brad Lester (4.1 yards per carry, one TD) is still nursing a sprained knee, but he is expected to play. LB Tray Blackmon missed last week's game with a wrist injury, but he will also play.
--AuburnSports.com has a sample of 12 writers from Mobile to Birmingham that predict games each week. All 12 have Auburn beating Vandy, which isn’t that big of a surprise. What is surprising is the fact that seven of the 12 have the Tigers winning by 18 points or more, while nine of the 12 have Auburn winning by double-digit margins.
--After Thursday’s 90-minute practice, Tuberville told AuburnSports.com, "This, I think, has been one of our better weeks of focus and intensity and preparation. Guys were flying around today.”
--Vandy's Nickson left the Ole Miss game two weeks ago with a shoulder injury, but the open date has allowed him to recover and he will get the starting nod.
--Tennessee has lost three of its first four games for the first time since 1994.
--Steve Spurrier has announced that junior QB Chris Smelley will be the starter in Saturday’s game at Ole Miss. On Thursday’s edition of the Power Hours on VI Radio, James Manos said that he loved the Gamecocks to win outright.
Re: Football Weekend Preview
Big 12 beat down: Who survives the conference kick off?
By JASON LOGAN
The Big 12 has been feasting on non-conference opponents in the first five weeks of the college football schedule.
Any bettor crazy enough about the conference to wager on every member’s games so far has collected enough coin to cover Mark Mangino’s grocery bill for a month. And that’s a lot of double-stuffed Oreos.
The Big 12 is 27-12-1 against the spread as a conference, mostly in part to the perfect records of Oklahoma, Texas and Oklahoma State. But let’s not count out the majority of the conference that has gone 2-1 ATS. Thank you, Iowa State.
Well, I hope you’ve had your fun because now the party is over. Big 12 play kicks off Saturday and like a rugby team stranded in the Andes, these money makers are about to feast on each other.
Darwin says survival of the fittest. Your sportsbook might say different. Here’s a look at this weekend’s Big 12 showdowns and what program’s profits could be left standing when the smoke clears.
No. 16 Kansas Jayhawks (-11½) at Iowa State Cyclones
Knowing karma, my Kansas pick for this game will go up in flames for the crack at coach Mangino above. However, I’m not the first prick to make a fat joke on his behalf so I think I’m safe. Jayhawks rock chalk behind one of the nation’s best passing games. And leading receiver Dexton Fields is back.
No. 1 Oklahoma Sooners (24½) at Baylor Bears
Baylor has had a long time to get ready for this one. And I’m sure each player has watched Oklahoma’s beat down of TCU about 14 times this week. It will be rocking in Waco for the Big 12 opener, kind of like Autzen Stadium was last Thursday. Can lightning strike twice? No. No it can’t.
No. 8 Texas Tech Red Raiders (-7) at Kansas State Wildcats
Is it possible to call the eighth-ranked team in the country underrated? Well, I want to and I am. Texas Tech is underrated. In a conference headlined by the Sooners, Longhorns and sexy Mizzou team, the Red Raiders should change their name to the red-haired bastard child. No love, no love.
No. 5 Texas Longhorns (-12½) at Colorado Buffaloes
I know what you’re thinking. Three games into this article and he’s sided with all the favorites. And, sorry to say, this one is no different. I just can’t have faith in a team that allows FSU’s anemic offense to hang 39 points on them - especially, when they’re up against a great two-way team like the Longhorns.
Texas A&M Aggies at No. 22 Oklahoma State Cowboys (-25)
Is Texas A&M really that bad. Is OSU really that good? All I know is never underestimate an age-old rivalry. The Aggies and Cowboys have been kicking each other’s butts for almost a century and the past two meetings are examples of that. Both 2007 and 2006 clashes were decided by one point.
No. 3 Missouri Tigers (-10) at Nebraska Cornhuskers
Chase Daniel single-handedly destroyed the Huskers in a 41-6 Mizzou win last season. And ole Brasky Pants was torched by Virginia Tech’s air attack last weekend. So what gives with the 10-point line? It’s spreads like these that make the hair on the back of my neck stand up.
Re: Football Weekend Preview
College News & Notes
Ohio State @ Wisconsin- Badgers mental state an issue after blowing 19-0 halftime lead in Ann Arbor last week…Buckeyes look energized with Pryor at helm…Beanie Wells returns to backfield for OSU…Ohio State 9-2 ATS last 11 times as visitor…but Wiscy always tough at Camp Randall, going 27-1 SU last 28 at home
Oregon @ USC- Ducks won 24-17 last year at Autzen, rushing for 180+…Bellotti 14-6 ATS as dog last 5 years…Trojans D shredded for 176 last Thursday against Beavers…LB’s Maualuga & Cushing not 100%
Auburn @ Vanderbilt- Tigers offense really struggling, scoring just 7 second half points in 3 SEC games…but stop unit is TOUGH, allowing only 11 of 76 on third down (14%)…Vandy already 2-0 in conf action…Commodores have held all 4 opponents to 21 pts or less
Rutgers @ West Virginia- visitor has covered 3 straight and 5 of last 6, but Scarlet Knights 0-3 SU & ATS so far in ‘08…Rutgers on 1-7 ATS slide
Illinois @ Michigan- Wolverines still don’t have proper personnel for Rodriguez offense…hate to lay even small wood with team still adjusting, especially against quality opponent…Illinois QB Williams has clear edge over counterpart Threet…WR Benn explosive for Zook’s team
Arizona State @ Cal- RB Best out for Bears…should be shootout in Berkeley with Riley/Longshore vs Carpenter…ASU has lost last 2 at Cal by combined 76-21…Devils won 31-20 last year in Tempe
Re: Football Weekend Preview
Kentucky at Alabama
By Brian Edwards
Of all the crazy stats I stumble upon on a weekly basis, this one might be the most surprising I’ve seen in 2008: Until this week, Alabama hadn’t had occupancy in the top five in 15 years. Fifteen years!
Where you been, ‘Bama? Welcome back to the party.
Alabama (5-0 straight up, 4-1 against the spread), the most storied program in college football history with its 12 national titles, appears to be back. That sentiment was announced loud and clear last week between the hedges, where the Crimson Tide raced out to a 31-0 lead over Georgia at halftime and eventually won a 41-30 decision that wasn’t near as close as the final score indicated.
Make no mistake, this was woodshed treatment. The Dawgs got run out of their own stadium. Alabama punched UGA in the mouth from the get-go, and then it continued to punish Mark Richt’s team with haymakers throughout the first half.
By the time Georgia (4-1 SU, 2-2 ATS) shook it off, it was way too late.
Alabama took the cash as a six-point underdog, hooking up money-line backers with a plus 200 return. The 71 combined points sailed ‘over’ the total.
Glen Coffee ran for 86 yards and a pair of touchdowns for the Tide, which scored on its first five possessions. John Parker Wilson completed 13-of-16 passes for 205 yards and one TD. For the season, Wilson has connected on 62.7 percent of his throws with a 6/1 TD-INT ratio.
Kentucky (4-0 SU, 2-1) has had a soft schedule to date, but it’s hard to be critical of the Wildcats’ defense. They have given up just 22 points through four games.
Rich Brooks’ team is off a 41-3 home win over Western Ky. as a 20-point favorite. Tony Dixon ran for a pair of touchdowns and Derrick Locke ran a kick back 100 yards for a TD.
The ‘Cats limited the Hilltoppers to just 157 yards of total offense. They allowed only 15 passing yards.
UK’s two previous wins prior to WKU came against Middle Tennessee (20-14) and Norfolk St. (38-3). The Wildcats’ most impressive victory came in Week 1 when they stroked Louisville 27-2 as 3 ½-point road underdogs.
Gamblers should remember how Alabama performed coming off its last big win, the 34-10 beating of Clemson back in Week 1 at the Georgia Dome. The Tide was flat the next week, barely surviving a game Tulane squad in a 20-6 win.
However, Nick Saban’s team never threatened to cover the spread and was fortunate to win outright. ‘Bama needed a pair of TDs from its special-teams units. They had only 172 yards of total offense, while Tulane had more than 300 yards of offense.
CBS will provide television coverage at 3:30 p.m. Eastern.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
--UK is 10-11 ATS as a road underdog during Brooks’s six-year tenure.
--South Carolina owns a 7-2-1 spread record as a road underdog during Steve Spurrier’s four-year tenure.
--GameCockCentral.com beat writer Scott Hood has predicted a 17-13 win by South Carolina.
--The Gamecocks haven’t beaten Ole Miss since 1979. They haven’t won in Oxford since 1974.
Re: Football Weekend Preview
Games to Watch - Week 6
By Chris David
Penn State at Purdue (ESPN, 12:00 p.m.)
The Nittany Lions remain perfect (5-0) but most pundits believe the real season starts this weekend when the school begins a five-game stretch that features four road contests, including this week's battle at Purdue. Penn State faced a little adversity against Illinois last Saturday but pulled away late with a 38-24 victory. Darryl Clark (231 total yards, 3 TDs) led an offense that racked up 422 total yards, 241 coming on the ground. The PSU defense had its worse effort of the season, allowing 372 yards. Purdue is a tough team to gauge after four games (2-2) and last week's 38-21 loss to Notre Dame showed the inconsistency of Joe Tiller's team. The Boilermakers were tied 14-14 at the break against the Irish but the defense couldn't make a stand in the second half and were outscored 24-3. Purdue gave up on the running game (17 carries) and QB Curtis Painter completed just 53% of his passes. The Boilers defense (439 YPG) is ranked last in the Big Ten and 107th nationally, and those numbers could get worse considering PSU's attack (515 YPG) is by far the best in the Big Ten.
Penn State has won three straight (2-1 ATS) against Purdue, including a 12-0 shutout in its last trip to West Lafayette. The last six meetings between the two schools have watched the 'under' go 6-0. The total this week is listed as high as 58, which is the largest number in the previous seven meetings. The Nittany Lions are 3-1 ATS on the year and have won and covered their only road trip (Syracuse, 55-13) this year. Purdue is 2-1 SU and 1-1 ATS at home, with the lone loss coming in overtime to Oregon (32-26). Look-ahead spot for PSU, who travel to Madison next Saturday for a battle against Wisconsin. The Boilers could be looking at a 2-5 record real quick if they lose to PSU, with back-to-back road games to Ohio State and Northwestern on deck. Purdue is 5-3 ATS in its last eight instances as a home underdog.
Auburn at Vanderbilt (ESPN, 6:00 p.m.)
Not a lot of folks expected Vanderbilt to be undefeated after four games and ranked 19th, but the small school that puts academics first is starting to make noise. Looking at the numbers closer, it's amazing that this team is still unbeaten but it comes down to one thing - turnovers. Vandy is ranked dead last in the SEC in both offense (282 YPG) and defense (364 YPG), yet they're plus-9 (14-5) turnover margin is the best in the conference and nation. That bodes well for Vandy on Saturday, since they're hosting an Auburn team that has coughed it up 11 times in its first five games. The Tigers haven't been able to execute on offense (329 YPG, 19.8 PPG) and new coordinator Tony Franklin is hearing it from the critics. As bad as the unit has been, the team is still 4-1 and the schedule isn't that scary. The defense (246 YPG, 10.6 PPG) has been the heart and soul of Auburn and the unit should be able to control Vandy this weekend. Can the Tigers' offense finally explode or will the SEC witness another defensive slugfest?
The Tigers have owned the Commodores, winning 13 straight including a 35-7 victory last year as seven-point home favorites. Vandy hasn't been able to score more than 7 points in any of the last three meetings. Despite the run against the 'Dores, Tommy Tuberville's team has been crushing bankrolls this season. After covering in Week 1, the Tigers are 0-4 ATS in their last four games, including 0-1 in its only road trip. Vanderbilt's surprise season has helped its backers as well, watching the school cover all four of its games, including three outright winners as a live 'dog. The Commodores come into this game with a week of rest as well. Vandy started the 2005 season 4-0 but lost six of its last seven games to close the season.
Ohio State at Wisconsin (ABC, 8:00 p.m.)
Wisconsin got caught looking ahead last week and wound up blowing a 19-point lead against Michigan en route to a 27-25 loss in Ann Arbor. The Badgers won the yardage battle and the turnover battle against the Wolverines. However, the offense stalled on key drives and wound up kicking four field goals. Ohio State's offense helped the team dominate Minnesota 34-21 in game that wasn't as close as the score indicated. The Buckeyes' two-headed monster of QB Terrelle Pryor (97 yards) and RB Chris "Beanie" Wells (106 yards) helped the ground game put up 279 yards on the Gophers. The Badgers and Buckeyes both resemble one another on both sides of the ball, running the football first and playing great defense. Neither Ohio State (152 YPG) or Wisky (195 YPG) have proven to be a threat passing the football this season. The Bucks (12) and Badgers (11) defensive units have both been opportunistic with creating turnovers and that could be the difference in what looks like a very vanilla matchup on paper.
Last year, Ohio State rocked Wisconsin 38-17 as a 16-point home favorite. Wells ripped off 169 rushing yards and three touchdowns in the win. The Buckeyes are still looking for their first cover of the year against the spread (0-4). This will be the second road trip of the year for Jim Tressel's team. In case you forgot, the team was humbled on Sept. 13 against then No. 1 USC, 35-3. The Badgers have won both of their games at home this year, but are 1-1 ATS. Wisconsin has posted 38 and 51 points in its two home tilts albeit against Akron and Marshall. If head coach Bret Bielema wants his boosters and fans to forget the loss to Michigan, then he must win this week and follow it up with a victory versus Penn State next Saturday.
Oregon at Southern California (ABC, 8:00 p.m.)
Offense meets Defense in L.A. on Saturday, when Oregon's juggernaut (47.4 PPG) faces USC's brick-wall defense (12.3 PPG). The Ducks are fresh off a 63-14 blowout road victory over Washington State last Saturday, while the Trojans are looking to bounce back from a 27-21 upset to Oregon State. The Ducks' ground game is averaging 308 YPG, led by running backs LeGarrette Blount (481 yards, 8 TDs) and Jeremiah Johnson (440 yards, 6 TDs). The duo will get its toughest test against a USC defense that is holding opponents to 93 rushing yards per game, ranked first in the Pac 10. However, that same unit looked suspect in its loss to the Beavers last Thursday as did the Trojans' offense (36 PPG). Running back Joe McKnight (228 total yards, 1 TD) is arguably the best player on the team and head coach Pete Carroll is hoping he can start living up to his playmaking ability. Fans will get to find out on Saturday night under the lights at the Coliseum.
Most gamblers are probably expecting USC to bounce back at home after the upset loss last Thursday. What you might not know is the Trojans haven't been that sharp following losses. In the last three setbacks, USC has won but only by an average of 14.6 PPG, which is lower than this week's number (16.5). Oregon stopped USC last year 24-17 in Eugene as a two-point home 'dog, which snapped a three-game losing skid to Troy. The 'under' has cashed in three straight and five of the last six battles. The 56-point total might be a tad too high, considering USC has watched the 'under' go 7-1 in its last eight home games.
Missouri at Nebraska (ESPN, 9:00 p.m.)
As the old cliché goes, Missouri has the offense (595 YPG, 53.7 PPG) that will win games but unfortunately the defense (378 YPG, 20.8 PPG) that will cost them a championship. The Tigers and QB Chase Daniel (1,412 yards, 12 TDs) can light up the scoreboard on anybody but what happens when the offense has a bad game. On paper, it doesn't appear Mizzou will have trouble against a Nebraska team that just allowed 377 yards in a 35-30 home loss to Virginia Tech last Saturday. The Cornhuskers made a late rally against V-Tech but it was too little too late. This week, most would expect Nebraska's offense to play better after dealing with Frank Beamer and the Hokies' defense.
Handicapper Marc Lawrence told me this week that Missouri is 1-4 ATS off of a bye week and even though they look explosive on paper, the team is 0-3-1 in its last four games as a double-digit road favorite. Combine those trends with a possible look-ahead game to Oklahoma State and the Tigers could be in trouble. The home team has won six straight in this series. Nebraska has beaten Missouri by double-digits in the last four encounters from Lincoln. The total on this game is listed at 69. Both Nebraska and Missouri have watched the 'over/under' go 2-2 this year.
Other Games to Watch
Connecticut at North Carolina
The Huskies have jumped out of the gate with a 5-0 start but will have to finish the season without its starting quarterback. The Tar Heels stand at 3-1 and just won a big road battle against Miami, Fl. (28-24) without their starting signal caller as well.
Rice at Tulsa
Last week, Rice dropped 77 points on North Texas. Now they travel to Oklahoma and face the nation's best offense in Tulsa (54 PPG). The Golden Hurricane won 48-43 last year in Houston and another barnburner is expected.
Texas Tech at Kansas State
The Red Raiders have quietly moved up the rankings without a signature victory. The defense will get its first test of the year when it goes head-to-head with Kansas State and QB Josh Freeman on the road.
Arizona State at California
The Golden Bears and Sun Devils both have blemishes on their record but each team is still alive in the Pac 10 race. The winner will gain a large amount of confidence to possibly taking the title from USC.
Re: Football Weekend Preview
Friday Public Action Report
by T.O. Whenham
Time now for another installment of the Public Action Report. Before we get into the action, though, let's revisit just what we are doing here, and why. Though the general public can't find out the amount of money bet on either side in a particular game, there are lots of places you can find out how many bets have been made on each side. In general, a game in which one side has a significantly lopsided amount of the action, the line will move to make that team less attractive. That's just basic supply and demand. A few times each week, though, there are games where the bets are very heavily on one side, yet the line is moving to make the popular team more attractive. How does that happen?
Sportsbooks generally like to have the action balanced in games to minimize their risk. If the majority of bets go towards a team at a spread of 4.5, it would stand to reason that they would go even more so at 3.5. On the surface these situations would suggest that they are doing the opposite to what books like to do, then - encouraging the action to become even more lopsided. There are a couple of ways that the books could be doing this. The first is that the books have a strong opinion on the game, think the public is wrong, and are more than happy to take the risk for the shot at extra profit. The second is that the action isn't nearly as unbalanced as it seems - that the big bets, or smart money, are on the opposite team as the public. Either situation should be interesting to bettors. We can't often get a hint as to what sophisticated bettors are thinking, but this is one way we can.
That's not to say that these games should be blindly bet. They aren't a guaranteed indicator of betting success. They are, however, a good indicator that something strange is going on, and that means that the games are definitely worth a look. This week we have four such games - one in the NFL, and three in college:
Indiana (+6.5) at Minnesota (Saturday, Oct. 4, 12:00 pm) - As strange as it sounds given their struggles in recent years, the public likes the Gophers. That makes sense - Indiana doesn't look great, and this is a much, much better Minnesota team than we are used to. Despite that, the line movement makes Indiana worth a look. More than 70 percent of the bets have been made on Minnesota, yet the line has dropped from 7.5 to 6.5. That's particularly noteworthy because it has moved through the key number of seven. It's not that hard to make a case for Indiana. The Gophers could be frustrated coming off a hard loss to Ohio State. Indiana lost to Michigan State last time out, but the Spartans are playing good football, and Indiana played them tougher than Minnesota played Ohio State.
Stanford (+6.5) at Notre Dame (Saturday, Oct. 4, 2:30 p.m.) - The battle of the eggheads sees the Cardinal travel to play the Irish. Not surprisingly, the public loves Notre Dame. They always do. Seven out of 10 bets have been on Notre Dame, yet this line has again moved through the key number of seven, going from 7.5 to 6.5. That means that Stanford is worth a look. The Cardinal aren't a hard team to like, either. They are playing much improved football, and are coming off a nice road win at Washington. BYU showed us earlier that Washington isn't an easy place to play. Notre Dame's schedule has helped them to a better record than they probably deserve, and they have benefited from some sloppy play by their opponents. Stanford's coach Jim Harbaugh is working hard to minimize errors, and if they can do that then they should at least be able to keep it close.
Ohio State (-1) at Wisconsin (Saturday, Oct. 4, 8:00 pm) - Both teams have ugly losses in their recent past to rebound from. The only difference is that Ohio State has made a total overhaul of their offense, and things seem to be better for them. We don't know how Wisconsin is going to bounce back from a truly terrible second half against Michigan. The public doesn't think they are going to do well - three quarters of bets have been placed on the Buckeyes. Despite that, the line has dropped from 2.5 to one. The books or the smart money aren't nearly as fond of Ohio State here as anyone else.
Re: Football Weekend Preview
Top 5: College football under teams
By JASON LOGAN
After a month of college football, five teams are still favoring the under side of the total. Three of those teams come from the Sun Belt, but each is staying below the number for different reasons.
Arkansas State Indians (0-4 over/under)
The Indians have seen totals over 50 in each of their last three games since putting up 83 points against Texas Southern in Week 2. This could be a case in which their offense is getting a little more credit than it deserves.
It is ranked in the top 20 in total yards but has accumulated these numbers against weaker defenses. They’ve shown flash in the first two quarters, but seem to wear down as the games go deep.
The defense has played well enough to limit opponents to under 19 points per game and keeping scores below oddsmakers’ numbers.
The Indians are on a bye this week and host UL Monroe October 11.
Florida International Golden Panthers (0-4 over/under)
The Golden Panthers offense was responsible for the team’s first three games going under the total. They mustered just 19 points and 511 combined yards in those contests. They found their stride with 35 points on 239 total yards against Toledo Saturday.
That game also played under the 52 ½-point total, but this time Florida International had its defense to thank. The Panthers shut out the potent Rockets offense in the second half and kept the final score just 1 ½ points below the number.
Florida International visits North Texas this weekend. Books have not yet released a total.
Iowa Hawkeyes (0-4 over/under)
Iowa’s defense cracked for just eight total points in its first three games, but budged when it faced legit competition in its last two games – both losses. They gave up 21 points on 259 yards to Pitt and 22 points on 390 yards to Northwestern Saturday.
While the defense stumbled, the Hawkeyes offense played its part in their four straight under payday. Iowa turned the ball over five times to an underrated Wildcats squad that capitalized after being down two touchdowns.
The Hawkeyes take on Big Ten rival Michigan State Saturday. The Spartans are 2-3 over/under this season.
Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders (0-5 over/under)
The Blue Raiders notched their fifth-traight under against Florida Atlantic Tuesday night. Middle Tennessee State’s offense was shut out until the fourth quarter where it mustered two touchdowns for a 14-13 win that finished under the 51 1/2 –point total.
It marked the third straight game in which the Raiders scored 14 points. They’ve had success with the passing game behind the arm of quarterback Joe Craddock, but haven’t translated that into scores.
Middle Tennessee State will face Florida International October 11.
Auburn Tigers (1-4 over/under)
The No. 14 Tigers are giving up just 10.6 points per game behind one of the nation’s best defenses. The only game in which they allowed more than 13 points was a 26-21 loss to LSU and the sole over payday this season.
The offense hasn’t provided much pop and needed help from a defensive score to defeat Tennessee last Saturday. Auburn is averaging below 20 points per game and its offense is about as threatening as a kitten.
The Tigers take on another ranked SEC rival when they roll into Vandy Saturday. The undefeated Commodores are 2-1-1 over/under this year.