Saturday Service Plays

Saturday Service Plays

Chris Jordan

Middle Tennessee St. at FLORIDA INTL. 

There's a reason the Blue Raiders were the originally favored team in this game, and why in the hell the early money came in on Florida International is beyond me.

Middle Tennessee State will have had 11 days to prepare for this game, after last Tuesday's exciting, last-second win over Florida Atlantic, 14-13. And it was that win right there that has me concvinced the Raiders aren't going to overlook the Golden Panthers. The close call is out of the way, and now it's time run up and down the field on an opponent.

This is the perfect spot, as the Raiders' 16th-ranked passing offense will be able to move the ball effectively on the 88th-ranked overall defense in D-I football. And when you compare an offense that can electrify the friendly skies, to an offense that ranks 112th in rushing, 108th in passing and dead last - 119th - in total offense, you have the makings of a pure blowout.

Yet this is a game Middle Tennessee State pretty much just has to win to collect the money? A no-brainer boys, as the Raiders need a win to climb to .500 on the year, and in Sun Belt Conference play.

Middle Tenny has played the likes of Maryland and Kentucky outside of conference play, beating the Terps and hanging with the 'Cats, so I am going to bank on it to give outshine the worst offense in America.

2♦ MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE

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Razor Sharp Sports

LSU @ Florida

How often can you say that a batle between #4 & #11 isn’t the top match-up of the weekend?  Well, this week the Red River Rivalry between #1 Oklahoma and #5 Texas may take the top billing, but when #4 LSU heads to Gainville to take #11 Florida there will be plenty of eyes watching.  Lucky for us, the TV networks were wise enough to put the Big-12 battle during the day and the SEC tilt at night so we won’t have to wear out out jump button on the remote.  Here we are going to look at the night battle in the SEC.  We may be looking at a rematch later this season for the Conference Championship, sorry Vandy and Bama, I don’t mean to count you out.  We have a battle of the last 2 National Champions.

Last year’s champs are out to a perfect 4-0.  They are 2-0 in the SEC West with victories over Mississippi St at home and on the road against then #10 Auburn.  The Tigers had last week off and have had 2 weeks to prepare for this key match-up.  There are so many similarities to last year’s team for the Tigers.  Offensively they haven’t put up incredible numbers, but they are getting the job done.  The quarterbacking duties have been split between Freshman Jarrett Lee and Junior Andrew Hatch.  Hatch suffered a concussion against Auburn and Lee has handle the QB duties since.  Lee became the first freshman to start at QB for LSU since Herb Tyler did it in 1995.  Hatch is listed as probable this week, but his playing time may continue to be limited.  This season Lee has completed 58.4% of his passes for 643 yards, 6TDs and 3 ints. Hatch has completed 51.4% for 218 yards, 1TD and 1 int.  The rushing game has been strong all season long .  Junior Charles Scott has ran for 535 yards (133.8 per game) and 6TDs.  He averages 7.5 yards per carry.  The true strength of the team again looks to be on the defense.  Currently the defense ranks in the top-20 in points against (15.3)  and yards against (260.8).  The unit is lead by S Harry Coleman (22 tackles) and LB Perry Riley (20 tackles).

On the other side of the ball is the Florida Gators.  The Gators bounced back last week from their upset loss to Mississippi, by dominating Arkansas 38-7.  Of course when you talk about the Gators, you have to start with Heisman Trophy winning QB Tim Tebow.  Tebow’s numbers have been down a bit this season, but that hasn’t affected the teams performance.  Last year Tebow averaged 253 yards passing and 69 rushing per game.  This year that is down to 205 passing and 31 rushing.  He also threw for 32 TDs (2.5 per game) and 23 rushing TDs (1.8 per game).  This year he has thrown for just 8 TDs (1.6 per game) and ran for just 2 scores.  Still with Tebows numbers being down, the teams productivity is up.  Last year they outscored opponents by 19 points per game and this year they are taking care of opponents by an average of 25 points per game.  The reason would be the supporting cast.  This year, Tebow is just the 4th leading rusher.  Chris Rainey leads the team with 220 yards and double threat Percy Harvin had ran for 177 yards rushing and 284 yards receiving with a combined 5 TDs.  The Gator defense is led by LB Brandon Spikes with 41 tackles, 1 sack and a forced fumble.  Upfront pressure on the opponents quarterbacks have come from all directions.  DL Carlos Dunlop (3.5 sacks), Jermaine Cunningham (3 sacks) & Lawrence Marsh (3 sacks) have kept QB running all season.

Last season LSU beat Florida 28-24 in Baton Rouge and the year before it was Florida winning 23-10.  The Gators have won 11 of the last 16 meetings and have gone 10-6 ATS.  This series has also gone UNDER the total in 10 of the last 13 games include all 5 in Florida.  I look for the defensive trend to continue here in this one.  As a free winner for this weekend take the LSU/FLORIDA game UNDER the total. 

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Brad Diamond Sports

Play on: UTEP over Tulane

After seeing the game film of Tulane and Army, you must wonder what happened to the improving Green Wave. Injuries! Last week against a physically adept club, Tulane felt the injury bug once again, losing seven players. Three of the injuries were serious, with two starters out indefinitely. The Wave entered the season with 48 lettermen, but out of that bunch only 39 are participating. Now they face a UTEP club looking for revenge (34-19 LY)after suffering a difficult road loss last season. Recall, the key to the Tulane offense last year (Matt Forte 2,127)is now a Chicago Bears running back. Without much push upfront the Greenies will once again play into a club that can throw down the field. In what should be a hight scoring affair, UTEP 37 Tulane 28

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Tony Karpinski

Arkansas vs. Auburn
Play:Auburn -19.5

They'll bounce back this week after they blew it last week against Vandy. Auburn is too good and their defense holds their opposition to a 14% third down conversion. They'll win this game by 21-28 pts so play them early as I expect the line to go up as the week goes on.

PREDICTION: AUBURN WIN 42-20

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WINNING POINTS

****BEST BET

MISSISSIPPI STATE* over VANDERBILT* by 20
Last week at the top of this page we cashed a BEST BET ticket with SouthCarolina over Mississippi, focusing on the notion of “SEC gravity”. Here is more of the same. In what is clearly the best conference in the nation it is going to be difficult for teams to stay on physical and emotional highs from week to week, especially when it is a team like Vanderbilt, which is not accustomed to such a lofty place in the league standings. It led to making that home affair vs. Auburn a little too much of a championship game atmosphere, in what was instead merely another regular season game. Now a team that has to work so very hard to get whatever they can has a difficult time generating that same kind of energy here, and who could blame them for even celebrating a little after that draining win – no one on this roster had even been born the last time that the Commodores were in a bowl game. It is more than just a letdown setting here, however, with Mississippi State bringing a lot of energy off of a bye week that helps to set up Sylvester Croom’s squad in a multitude of ways. Not only does it help from a game plan standpoint, as they become one of the first SEC teams to take Vandy seriously, but it also means a chance to assimilate QB Tyson Lee into the offensive schemes (17-26-175 and a touchdown off the bench at L.S.U., and the likely starter here), and for Anthony Dixon’s groin injury to heal. When healthy he is a horse between the tackles, and that is the Commodore weak spot. MISSISSIPPI STATE 30-10.

***BEST BET

IOWA over INDIANA* by 22
After a rare non-bowl campaign in 2007, and sitting on a current three-game losing streak, Kirk Ferentz and his Iowa program are losing the favor they had once built up with the sporting public, which results in a much shorter line than we should be seeing here. It also results in an excellent opportunity for us, for while the Hawkeyes have indeed been on the wrong end of three straight scoreboards, they were the better team on the field in every one of those games. They handled Pittsburgh, Northwestern and Michigan State to the tune of +12 in first downs and 153 yards in total offense, but finished -5 in turnovers. And some of those miscues were huge, like a pair inside the Michigan State 10-yard line on Saturday to turn that result around. This is not a sloppy team fundamentally, but rather one that has had some frustrating bounces of the ball, and this is exactly the kind of setting in which we can back them to clean things up, as they control the line of scrimmageon both sides of the ball in this matchup. Emerging Hawkeye RB Shonn Greene can continue his break-out season vs. this soft defensive front (over 100 yards in every game, including 157 yards in Saturday’s loss), and an Indiana secondary that has only one interception in 147 pass attempts becomes vulnerable when play action passes are called for. And what better way to set up his players to vent some frustrations than for Ferentz to show films of last year’s embarrassing 38- 20 home loss to these Hoosiers over and over again. IOWA 36-14.

**PREFERRED

Oklahoma over Texas by 17 (at Dallas)
This year’s “Red River Shootout” is taking on a meaning that the series has not had in many seasons, but instead of it being an elimination game in the national championship hunt, we see it more as a matter of a contender taking care of business against a pretender. Oklahoma is loaded, lacks a weakness, and the Sooners have their eyes on the prize, after winning the Big 12 last year. Texas may be unbeaten, and carrying a nice historical reputation, but we see the Longhorns as having some key holes that can be exploited at this level of competition. A lead RB? They do not have one. And while those great passing numbers from Colt McCoy so far can make it appear as though they can survive without one, note that so many of those completions were short tosses, with the receivers getting yardage after the catch. That is all that his arm strength allows. Meanwhile the secondary is young and can be exploited, which no one in that soft early schedule could do, but the poised Sam Bradford and a deep Sooner WR corps surely can. OKLAHOMA 34-17.

Northern Illinois* over Miami O. by 21
It was “close but no cigar” again for these Huskies on the road last week, with losses to Minnesota, Western Michigan and Tennessee by a combined 11 points already this season, games in which just a bounce or two in their direction could have changed all of the final scoreboards. But that works to our advantage here in terms of them staying under the radar, as what may be the most improved team in the nation gets a chance to step back into conference play, where they are serious contenders. Remember that it was an alarming injury count that led to their disappointing 2007, and not necessarily poor play, and as can often be the case, a season filled with injuries means that a lot of depth has been developed for the following campaign. Meanwhile the RedHawks are a rudderless ship, not getting the leadership from the coaching staff or the QB position (under-performing veteran Daniel Radabaugh may have finally lost his starting position), and their season will only go from bad to worse. NORTHERN ILLINOIS 31-10.

Georgia* over Tennessee by 24
We don’t get teams as good as Georgia in the setting that the Bulldogs are in this week very often – off of an embarrassing loss, playing with revenge for a humiliation the previous season, and with two weeks to prepare. And because Tennessee still brings the kind of respect for past performances that means a fair line, we can put this into play. Here is a pure “A” level program on a week in which they should throw the best punches they have, particularly with Knowshon Moreno looking like he will be ready to go. That means setting a tempo that the Vols can’t match. Phil Fulmer’s squad does not have the playmakers in the skill positions to be a factor in the SEC this season, which became painfully aware for him when they could manage only 18 points in those losses to Florida and Auburn. They could not reach 150 yards either running or passing in those defeats, and even when there was a chance to step down in class vs. Northern Illinois on Saturday the offense regressed (nine first downs!), instead of getting better. GEORGIA 34-10

Penn State over Wisconsin* by 14
Although it was a genuine sweat to the final possession, the win that we got from Ohio State over Wisconsin near the top of these pages last week came in almost perfect fashion. For the second straight week the Badgers were extended for the full 60 minutes against a major Big 10 rival, and for the second time in a row they saw a lead in the fourth quarter get away. That leaves them both physically drained and emotionally fragile at this point, and that is hardly the position you want to be in when the Nittany Lions come to town. While Wisconsin was going to the final bell in a pair of heavyweight fights, State has been methodically coasting in recent weeks, and will come in as the much fresher side. And after rolling to a 38-7 win in State College last year, when the Badgers had the better QB on the field, it is asking a lot of Brett Bielema’s squad to close the gap anywhere near what the oddsmakers are calling for under the current circumstances, with the Lion speed advantages simply too much. PENN STATE 27-13.

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CKO CONFIDENTIAL KICK-OFF

RATINGS: 11 - Exceptional, 10 - Strong, 9 - Above Average
CKO CHOICE IN CAPITALS

11* ARMY over Eastern Michigan
*ARMY 31 - Eastern Michigan 19

The Army’s new triple option running game is showing remarkable results, and the Cadets figure to present
serious matchup challenges for Eastern Michigan. The Eagle defense ranks 99th against the run and is yielding
almost 5 ypc, and it’s surrendered 17 rush TDs & 38 ppg in the last 5 games. EMU is just 5-12 vs. the number in
last 17 games under HC Jeff Genyk, and QB Andy Schmitt and Kyle McMahon have combined to throw just 4 TD
passes but 6 ints. this season (last year Schmitt had a 14 TD/6 int. ratio). After rushing for 230 yds. in first two
games, sr. Eagle RB Terrence Blevins has averaged just 33 ypg on the ground. Army is a tiny favorite, and EMU
is 0-38-1 SU visiting non-conference foes since winning at Youngstown State on Sept. 10, 1988.


10* MEMPHIS over Louisville
*MEMPHIS 27 - Louisville 23

Louisville is taking to the road for the first time this season! And, while former Michigan defensive coordinator
Ron English deserves lots of credit for solidifying the shaky Cardinal defense, it is a fact that Louisville is an
unproven commodity on the road, where they were only 2-4 LY, with only one victory by more than four points.
Thus, the percentages appear to be against the Cards, who must show they’re capable of dealing with the
emerging Memphis offense featuring 6-3 juco QB Arkelon Hall (4 TDP last week at UAB), juco RB Curtis Steele
(578 YR, 6.4 ypc), and a tall and experienced cast of WRs. CKO scouts report the Tigers’ confidence is growing
following three straight victories (albeit vs. marginal competition), and proud Memphis is 16-8 when a home dog
the last 10+Ys.


10* INDIANA over Iowa
*INDIANA 23 - Iowa 19

Really don’t see enough difference between these two to warrant Iowa being made an early 5½-point road
favorite over Indiana. Hoosiers have a dynamic, veteran QB in Kellen Lewis who’s completed 61% of his passes
this season and has rushed for 1552 yds. & 17 TDs in his career. Indiana’s 2ndary got a bit healthier last week
vs. Minnesota with the return of safeties Austin Thomas and Nick Polk (combined for 17 tackles vs. Gophers).
Hoosiers have gotten consistent big plays from track star RB Marcus Thigpen, who has 309 yards rushing &
receiving and 4 TDs in the last 2 games, scoring 3 times on plays of more than 70 yards. Respect Iowa RB Shonn
Greene’s credentials (6th in the nation in rushing), but he’s a bit of a “grinder” who scored just once in Big Ten
games against Northwestern & Michigan State. Hoosier rush defense is more than respectable (3.1 ypc), and
vet defenders LB Geno Johnson and DE Jammie Kirlew are having strong seasons.


10* UTAH over *Wyoming
UTAH 41 - *Wyoming 6

Undefeated Utah has a mean streak where Wyoming is concerned, as bad blood between these two goes way back. Last season the Utes recorded a 50-0 victory and certainly are not opposed to kicking an opponent when it’s down. Just ask Utah State, as a 44-10 lead over the Aggies after 3 Qs on Sept. 13 just wasn’t good enough for Ute HC Kyle Whittingham, who watched his team punch across two more scores in 4th period. Wyoming HC Glenn’s “You’re Number One” signal during LY’s shellacking caught Whittingham’s attention, and the Cowboys are on an 0-13-1 pointspread run, rank last in the nation in scoring, and next to last in TO margin. Can’t be overly concerned about laying this many points on the road, as road favorites of 14 points or more are 11-5 this season,especially considering Wyo is coming off losses of 24, 29 and 44 pts. in last three games.

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Pointwise

COLLEGE KEY RELEASES
TULSA over Smu RATING: 1 80-30
TEXAS TECH over Nebraska RATING: 1 55-20
ILLINOIS over Minnesota RATING: 2 36-13
TCU over Colorado State RATING: 3 38-14
UTAH over Wyoming RATING: 4 48-7
SAN JOSE STATE over Utah State RATING: 4 41-13
LSU (+) over Florida RATING: 5 20-22
KANSAS over Colorado RATING: 5 41-17

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Power Sweep

4* Miami 37-10
3* West Va. 45-10
3* N.D. 24-20
2* Bowling Green 30-20
2* Florida 30-17
2* Western Michigan 27-21
Underdog Northwestern +3 27-23

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THE GOLD SHEET

KEY RELEASES

MINNESOTA Plus over Illinois
WESTERN MICHIGAN by 8 over Buffalo
VANDERBILT by 12 over Mississippi State
OREGON STATE by 39 over Washington State

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Jeff Allen

Miami-Ohio / Northern Ill

It's been a train wreck of a year for the Miami Oh Redhawks. This was a team that was expected to contend in their division of the MAC and after five games, can only claim a win over I-AA Charleston Southern. Miami is rushing for just 89 ypg and have been ravaged by turnovers including four last week in loss to Temple. Today they face a team they've dropped three straight to and find themselves in a spot where they've been awful including a 2-10 ATS L12 mark vs losing records. Northern Illinois is on the improve and getting better every week The Huskies are 4-0 against the points this year and last week lost to Tennessee by four allowing the Vols just nine first downs. Sure, UT probably not all that interested with Georgia on deck, but still a vaid effort in front of 109 thousand at Rocky Top. UNI rushing for about two bills a game against own kind and the power offense will keep superior defense well rest in three TD Huskie win today. Take Northern Illinois.

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Alex Smart

South Carolina +1.0

Kentucky prepares to play host to South Carolina in a key SEC battle, after taking part in a hard fought emotional 17-14 loss against the Alabama Crimson Tide last week. That result and effort will have the Wildcats in a let down situation , making them susceptible to a slow start.

Meanwhile, South Carolina behind QB Chris Smelley looked fantastic , upsetting Ole Miss 31-24 on the road last week , and will be primed to keep that positive momentum working for them in this spot. I am expecting Spurriers team to come out here with all guns blazing and take a early lead, against an excellent but tired D. This also makes the Gamecocks a viable first half bet.

I know winning on the road in the SEC is tough to achieve, especially two weeks in a row, but thats what I am betting will happen.

It must be noted Steve Spurrier led teams have owned this Wild Cat program in the past, winning 15 straight confrontations, including 8 in a row as a coach of the Gamecocks ( three straight against coach HC Rich Brooks. )

Projected score: South Carolina 21 Kentucky 17 

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Jeff Alexander Sports

Tulane vs. UTEP

1 Unit on UTEP -4.5

We'll side with the more explosive offense at home in this one. UTEP has won two of the last three meetings between these two teams and has been favored in all three. The two wins have come by 24 and 14 points respectively in 2005 and 2006. Last year's upset loss at Tulane puts the Miners in a revenge spot here. First off, Tulane is 1-10 ATS off 2 or more consecutive overs since 1992, losing these games by 17.3 ppg on average. Tulane is also 7-18 ATS against teams who force 2.5 or more turnovers/game on the season since 1992,losing to these teams by 18.9 ppg on average. The Green Wave are just 3-11 ATS in their last 14 games after allowing more than 40 points in their previous game. Lay the points.

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Dave Price

Colorado vs. Kansas Kansas

1 Unit on Kansas -13.5

After a major scare at Iowa State last week, I like the Jayhawks to run up the score on the Buffs. The Jayhawks are 9-1 straight up and ATS at Memorial Stadium in last 10 contests with the Big 12 North and 15-6 ATS in their last 21 in the home chalk role. Colorado is just 5-14 ATS as an underdog over the last 3 seasons and the defense is starting to break down against better competition. The Buffs have allowed 39 and 38 point respectively to Texas and Florida State the past two weeks in a pair of blowout defeats. With a lot of injuries piling up, it looks like it's going to be a tough second half of the season for Colorado. Lay the number here.

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Tony George

Colorado / Kansas
Play Colorado

I will be all over Colorado here in what should be a very tight football game. Colorado off 2 straight losses against Florida State and Texas, where they laid an egg in both games and failed to establish any defense. Kansas was exposed last week, and while QB Reesing and the offense overcame a 20-0 deficit against a game Iowa State, they also were exposed. Kansas does not have any balance on offense, and have no running game. Granted they were down 20 and had to throw, but KU is not near as physical as last years stellar edition that won the Orange Bowl. Colorado has some moxie on offense, and they match up well against KU's defense, and I look for Head Coach Hawkins to rally the troops this week, balance the run with their 2 running backs and use the spread attack to move the chains. This will be a score fest in Lawrence and a tight one. Kansas 35 Colorado 28

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#1 Sports

Penn State @ Wisconsin

Penn State (6-0, 2-0 Big 10) maintained their standing as the Big 10’s #1 offense and #1 defense in a grind it out 20-6 win at Purdue last week, the first of 4 road trips over 5 weeks that will be critical to the Lion’s National Championship hopes. Balance is the key for Coach Joe Paterno’s (378-125-3 in 43rd season) offense with 256.7 yards of rushing (at 6.1 yards per carry and 21 TD) versus 243.0 yards of passing (at 8.6 yards per attempt and 12 TD) combining for the nation’s 7th best mark of 44.8 points per contest. With first year starter 6’2” 235 junior Daryll Clark (80 of 124 for 1116 yards, 9 TD, 1 INT) at the trigger, offensive line play was going to be key and this crew is one of the better in the country. 6’1” 300 senior C A.Q. Shipley leads a squad of 4 returning starters joined this season by 6’3” 294 sophomore RG Stephan Wisnewski who brings the same intensity as his father and uncle (Raiders standout Steve) – each former All Americans. Both 6’1” 211 sophomore RB Evan Royster (84 for 659 and 8 TD) and 5’10” 294 freshman RB Stephon Green (53 for 368 and 4 TD) have run wild behind this crew but it’s the trio of veteran Nittany Lion senior receivers that set this offense apart. 6’0” 190 Derrick Williams (19 for 240 and TD), 5’10” Deon Butler (19 for 311 and 2 TD), and 5’11” 171 Jordan Norwood (18 for 318 and 4 TD) have combined for 422 career catches and each has a season to set the school record before season’s end. The game plan so far has been conservative to allow QB Clark the opportunity to develop but these kids without a doubt represent another gear that will be unleashed down the homestretch and gives Paterno a legitimate shot and going out on top.

Coordinator Tom Bradley’s defensive unit has been stiff throughout, allowing the nation’s 9th best mark at 11.7 points per game on 80.2 rushing yards (2.5 yards per rush and 4 TD) and 170.2 passing yards (5.4 yards per attempt and 4 TD), despite being without one of the country’s most productive players much of the young season. 6’2” 262 junior DE Maurice Evans (7 T, S) tallied 21 ½ tackles for loss and 12 ½ sacks in 2007 but a marijuana bust benched him for 3 games. In his absence, 6’4” 245 sophomore LDE Aaron Maybin (23 T, 9 TFL, 7 S) has exploded opposite of 6’1” 273 senior RDE Josh Gaines (20 T, 5 ½ TFL, 3 ½ S) leaving Evans in a part-time role since his return – likely costing him millions. Tackles Odrick and Ogbu each tip the scales around 300 pounds plus 6’2” 238 senior OLB Tyrell Sales (31 T, FF) and 6’2” 239 junior MLB Josh Hull (32 T, INT, 2 TFL) are each strong tacklers but the young kid to watch this front 7 is Navorrow Brown. The 6’1” 228 sophomore OLB has seemingly been everywhere with 52 tackles, 7 ½ tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and a pick! Get past these kids and a dynamite secondary is waiting led by 6’0” 197 senior FS Antonio Scirrotto (29 T, FR, INT). 6’2” 220 senior SS Mark Rubin (24 T, TFL, INT), 5’10” 192 senior LCB Tony Davis (13 T, INT), and 6’1” 197 junior A.J. Wallace (11 T) round out the base set but Penn State might be even better in the nickel. Sales comes out and 5’10” 190 sophomore CB Drew Astorino comes in where he has racked up 21 tackles including one for loss plus 2 of the team’s 9 interceptions.

Wisconsin (3-2, 0-2 Big 10) lost a 4th quarter lead for the second consecutive week against conference rivals, this time falling 17-20 to Ohio State while losing at their home Camp Randall Stadium for the first time in 17 contests and tumbling out of the AP’s top 25. The Badger defense has piled up the big plays with 9 sacks, 7 interceptions, and 6 fumble recoveries while limiting opponents to just 83 total first downs but have still given up a pretty pedestrian 17.6 points per game on 123.6 yards rushing (3.9 yards per carry and 6 TD) and 186.2 yards passing (5.8 yards per attempt and 4 TD). One of the issues is a pretty light line by Big 10 standards. Junior LE O’Brien Schofield (15 T, 3 S), senior LT Jason Chapman (15 T, 3 TFL, S), senior RT Mike Newkirk (18 T, 4 ½ TFL, S), and senior RE Matt Shaughnessy (16 T, S) bring experience with 102 career combined starts but at 6’4 ½” 242 pounds at the ends and 6’3 ½” 274 pounds at the tackles they can get pushed around. Shaughnessy in particular has been off his game with a single tackle for loss versus 18 in 2007. The Badger backers are also a little light in the anchor. 6’3” 228 senior SLB DeAndre Levy (33 T, 6 TFL, 2 S, FR, INT), 6’2” 226 senior WLB Jonathan Casillas (19 T, INT), and 6’3” 220 junior MLB Jaevery McFadden (44 T, 2 ½ TFL, FR) – who is playing with a cast over a broken hand - cover a ton of ground but will heavily tested in the run game this week. The defensive backfield is led by a couple of dynamite experienced players in 5’11” 189 senior RCB Allen Langford (17 T, INT, FR) and 6’2” 202 junior FS Shane Carter (18 T, 2 INT), who bagged 7 picks in 2007, but their mates are still learning. Sophomore SS Jay Valai (20 T, 2 TFL, S, 2 FF), sophomore Niles Brinkley (13 T, 2 INT), and freshman NB Mario Goins (14 T) have filled the highlight reels but have also been had many times.

Under Offensive Coordinator Paul Chryst (2005-present) Wisconsin has averaged 30.8 points per game but has been hampered injuries to a couple of key weapons. Working off a typically powerful rushing game, the mid-range pass is the bread and butter of this crew but 6’4” 237 junior TE Garrett Graham (11 for 154 and 3 TD) missed both conference games with injury and 6’4” 235 senior H-back Travis Beckham (12 for 128) has also battled injuries missing most of 3 games. This pair has combined for 136 receptions, 1885 yards, and 11 scores over the last 2 seasons and are finally healthy together this week for the first time in 2008. This should certainly open things up for sophomore receivers 5’11” 165 David Gilbreath (14 for 176 and TD receiving, 8 for 75 rushing) and 6’5” 175 Kyle Jefferson (11 for 159 yards) who have been batting double coverage plus make things easier for 6’2” 212 senior QB Allan Everidge (69 of 122 for 899 yards, 5 TD, 4 INT) who has not lived up to expectations so far and could be feeling the heat from junior QB Dustin Sherer. Pre-season Heisman hopeful 5’11” 236 junior RB PJ Hill (108 for 512 yards and 5 TD) has also been off the pace of each of his last 2 season, despite rushing behind a line that averages 6’6” 319 and has 129 career starts under their belts, but keep your eye out for the big freshman kid. 5’11” 207 sophomore Zach Brown (34 for 174 and 2 TD) is second on the depth chart but it has been powerful 6’2” 237 freshman RB John Clay (39 for 260 and 4 TD) that has caught our attention with a NFL-caliber explosion/power combination.

SELECTION: The Nittany Lions have been brilliant in the Red Zone with 25 touchdowns and 6 field goals in 33 trips and have a real shot at the National Championship but you just cannot lay points on the road in the Big 10 – especially against Buckey at Camp Randall. Take Wisconsin + 5 ½!

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Mike Wynn

Oklahoma & Texas

For the tenth time since 1950 the Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns are both ranked in the top 5 heading into the Red River Rivalry in Dallas. Both teams have been very impressive offensively and both teams have yet to be tested seriously. Sooners and Longhorns are both averaging about 36 points margin per victory this season and this game has national implications written all over it. So let’s take a look at both these squads and we’ll start the Oklahoma Sooners.

Oklahoma Sonners are the number 1 team in the country and deservedly so. QB Sam Bradford has the Oklahoma offense putting up 49.6 points per contest this season as he’s completed 72.6% of his passes, tossing 18 touchdowns and just 3 interceptions. Sooners have 4 receivers averaging over 17 yards per catch this season, and the RB trio of Murray, Brown and Madu keep the offense balanced nicely. Oklahoma defense ranks eleventh in the country allowing 256 total yards per game, and fifteenth in scoring defense at 13.8 a game. Bottom lime Bob Stoops has a tremendous team with a lot of explosiveness on offense, and a win here would be huge with a favorable schedule the rest of the way.

Texas Longhorns come into this one ranked fifth in the country and they’re equally as impressive on offense as Oklahoma. QB Colt McCoy has been spectacular this season completing 79.2% of his passes, tossing 16 touchdowns to 3 interceptions, and he leads the team with 317 yards rushing this season. Texas top backs Johnson and McGee average 3.9 & 3.7 yards per carry, so make no mistake Texas relies on the Colt McCoy and his leadership on the field. Texas defense number 4 in the country giving up 11.4 points per contest but they rank twenty eighth in total defense allowing 296 yards per contest. Texas has a much tougher row to hoe than Oklahoma schedule wise facing Missouri next and road trips to Kansas & Texas Tech later in the season.

Looking at important trends and angles for this game we find that Texas has covered the number the last 3 seasons, but prior to that Oklahoma had reeled off 5 straight win and covers in this rivalry. Texas a tremendous 26-13 ATS in the underdog role since 1992, and 27-12 ATS off a road win in the Big12 over the same span. Oklahoma a very respectable 18-10 ATS favorite over the last 3 seasons including 4-0 this year and as I mentioned a moment ago Oklahoma has been dominant in this series lately winning 6 of 8 straight up.

Interesting to note the last 10 games in this series have been decided by 7 points or more, and 9 of those 10 were by double digits. Tough one to call here Saturday, but my hunch is that Colt McCoy will find a way to keep his team right in this game and take this one to the wire. I’ll recommend taking the points in what figures to be a tit for tat kind of game.

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Nevada Sharpshooter

South Carolina at Kentucky

The South Carolina Gamecocks travel to Kentucky to square off against the Wildcats.  South Carolina will rely on QB Chris Smelley, who had 327 yards passing and 3 TDs at a good Mississippi team last week.  The win was the first in conference for the Gamecocks and brings there SEC record to 1-2.  The Gamecock defense is also playing well and was ranked #1 in the country going into last weeks game vs Miss.

The Wildcats will be looking for a couple of firsts in this match up vs South Carolina.  They will be looking for their first SEC win and also their first win in 17 attempts vs a Steve Spurrier coached team.  The Cats came up just short last week in a 14-17 loss to #2 Alabama and will try to learn from their mistakes.  QB Mike Hartline will have to play error free for the Wildcat’s to come away with a win here.

I like South Carolina here, the Gamecock defense has basically had one bad half all season.  It also seems like S. C. QB Smelley is gaining coach Spurrier’s confidence.  Kentucky on the other hand is not as good as its 4-1 record.  The only big time school they have beaten is Louisville in the first game of the season, and Louisville is a shadow of its former self.  As far as the close loss to Alabama goes, they fell behind 14-0 right away and gave up over 200 yards rushing to the Tide.  Take South Carolina in a Pick’em over Kentucky.

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Dr. Vegas

Arizona State vs USC

A classic PAC 10 matchup pits Arizona State against behemoth USC. Arizona State is 2-3 straight up and 1-3 against the number. They’re 1-1 in PAC 10 play this season. They’re coming off a 10-point loss to Cal last week.

USC is 3-1 straight up and 3-1 ATS. They’re also 1-1 in PAC 10 play. They crushed Oregon last week 44-10, easily covering the 15.5-point spread. Despite their heartbreaking loss to Oregon State on September 25, they still sit at #8 in the national rankings. And except for that single loss, the Trojans have dominated in their three wins, giving up only 7, 3, and 10 points. They have scored 152 points and only given up 47 so far this season. Arizona State, on the other hand, has scored 115 and given up 104.


Taking a look at the exclusive Dr. Vegas Power Ratings, we find USC at +23.5, with an opponent rating of +8.4. Arizona State has a PR of -1.2 and an opponent rating of -4.3. In other words, the Sun Devils are a far weaker team that has played far weaker opponents.

Because of the recent USC loss, Vegas has actually adjusted the line in Arizona State’s favor. At 26.5 points, it actually favors the Sun Devils. It’s hard to look at a 26.5-point dog and have any confidence, but we can do so in this case.

There has been much discussion on the questionable status of Arizona State QB Rudy Carpenter, who sprained his ankle last week. But USC QB Mark Sanchez is nursing his own injuries, sitting out practice on Tuesday. It could be a battle of the backups, which again would favor the large line piled on the Sun Devils’ final score.

Take Arizona State +26.5 over USC.

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LT Profits

Rutgers +7.5

The Cincinnati Bearcats managed to beat a defenseless Marshall team last week with an inexperienced quarterback, but this Rutgers defense is much tougher in the Bearcats Big East opener.

Third string quarterback and redshirt freshman Chazz Anderson will again get the start for Cincinnati here, and although he was a decent 16 for 26 vs. Marshall, he only passed for 158 yards. That approach will not work vs. a Rutgers group that actually contained West Virginia pretty well last week, and we are simply not convinced right now that Anderson is capable of having success downfield.

Now the Rutgers offense has been disappointing, but that 24-17 loss at West Virginia was actually an encouraging effort, especially with the emergence of Kenny Britt, who had 151 receiving yards on 12 receptions. If the great Cincinnati defense has an Achilles Heel, it is a pass defense that is allowing 241.8 passing yards per game. Sure, their eight interception have helped cover up this deficiency, but as long as Knights quarterback Mike Teel passes to the right uniforms, Rutgers may actually be able to generate some offense this week.

If that is indeed the case, Rutgers should not only cover this contest, but they would have an excellent chance at an outright upset.

Pick: Rutgers +7.5


Temple +8.5

The Temple Owls may be just 2-4 straight up, but they have been a gold mine against the spread at 5-1, with the only ATS loss being against national powerhouse Penn State on the road. Look for the Owls to gibe the Central Michigan Chippewas all that they can handle this week.

Temple was very impressive last week, going into Oxford and upsetting the Miami-Ohio Redhawks 28-10 as seven-point underdogs. That marked the fourth time in their six games this season that the Owls have allowed 12 points or less, and it is noteworthy that unlike many other teams, they did not schedule any Division 1-AA teams during their early-season non conference portion.

That defense is the very reason that Temple has been so successful vs. the number. Even with that 45-3 loss at Penn State, the Owls are allowing just 18.5 points per game. The reason they have won just two games outright is that the offense is only averaging 17.7 points, but that 28-point outburst last week was encouraging and they are facing a bad Central Michigan defense that is surrendering 30.6 points and 405.8 total yards per game.

The Chippewas have still managed to go 3-2 SU and 2-2 ATS, thanks to an offense that is averaging 26.2 points, a figure that is skewed a bit by a still respectable 17-point performance at Georgia. However, the strength of the CMU offense is the passing game, and that just happens to be the strength of a Temple defense that is stingily allowing just 6.3 yards per pass attempt.

We do not see the Chippewas getting a big lead at any point here vs. that defense, and their own defense is capable of allowing the Owls to reproduce the 28 points they scored last week, so look for a tight contest from start to finish.

Pick: Temple +8.5

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David Malinsky

Temple @ Central Michigan
PICK: Central Michigan -7.5

There are few things that we do each week that are more important than “autopsies”, those processes of breaking down the games that go far beyond traditional methodologies, and in turn can lead to the kind of insights that can have us far ahead of the marketplace moving forward. And there can be nothing better in terms of finding future edges than an autopsy that shows that a patient was not even dead. That sets this one up for us.

In terms of the scoreboard result, our 4* play against Temple last week was as bad of a call as we have made on the college gridirons this season, and perhaps in several years. We were bucking a team that was struggling badly on offense because of so many freshmen playing key roles, and one that had not scored a touchdown in consecutive games since losing starting QB Adam DiMichele, and turning the reins over to red-shirt freshman QB Chester Stewart. Note that it was not even a case of Stewart truly winning the job anyway – Al Golden wants to red-shirt Vaughn Charlton, who had starting experience LY, and was merely using Stewart to bridge the gap until DiMichele can return.

Our interest peaked even more when Stewart did not practice last week, and was still wearing a walking boot on Friday. So what exactly did we learn in both viewing, and then doing a further autopsy on Temple’s 28-10 win at Miami O.? Mostly that the RedHawks are much worse than we thought they were. As for that Temple offense, note that the Owls had only 11 first downs, managed just 2.9 yards per carry, and for the second time in as many starts, Stewart completed less than 50 percent of his passes. It was not a case of Temple being good, but rather Miami being bad.

But that is not how the markets reacted. Miami closed at -7 last week, and now we find a much better Central Michigan team laying only -7.5. It shows that the marketplace significantly upgraded Temple through that scoreboard result, despite the fact that many of the Owl weaknesses were still most evident (particularly the penalty issues that we wrote about last week, with Temple picking up nine more, taking the season total to 50 flags for 428 yards in only six games). And now we get the excellent timing of the Chippewas not only having two weeks to prepare, but of that very Temple scoreboard result also telling them that they can not take this opponent lightly.

This now gives us a veteran team (11 senior starters on offense and defense, with eight juniors) off of back-to-back M.A.C. titles that will play with a special focus on Homecoming weekend. And with the precision of QB Dan LeFevour leading the way they can exploit a young Owl defense. LeFevour leads the conference in total offense and is 11th nationally at 317.8 yards per game, but what we like even more is how this offense values the football, with only four turnovers in 363 snaps. His experience has allowed for a lot of no-huddle looks, which can befuddle a young opponent that did not face them LY, and will be on their heels throughout. That also sets a tempo that forces Stewart and the Temple offense to have to open up from behind, something that they lack the ability to do. It all adds up to a game that can break wide open, yet is being offered at a bargain rate.

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