Saturday Service Plays

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Great Lakes Sports

Nebraska at Texas Tech
Play:Texas Tech

The Texas Tech Red Raiders are 2-0 ATS over all this year, and are a very nice 73-46 ATS when playing on Artificial Turf since 1992. The Texas Tech Red Raiders is also a very solid 44-23 ATS when playing in the month of October since 1992, and they are a very solid 53-28 ATS when playing at home since 1992. We look for the high powered offense of Texas Tech to roll over the Nebraska Cornhuskers in this key Big 12 showdown for the ATS win & cover tonight.

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LEE KOSTROSKI

Kansas St. / Texas A&M
PICK: Texas A&M +3.5

With the way KSU’s defense has been playing, there is no reason for them to be favored on the road. The Wildcat stop unit has allowed 577, 509 and 626 yards and 44 PPG their last three games (vs. Louisville, Louisiana-Lafayette & Texas Tech). And while the Aggies have not been a potent offense this season, it looks to us that they are starting to “come around” with Mike Sherman’s new schemes. They should be able to do some damage against the nation’s 102nd ranked defense.

Last week vs. Oklahoma State, even though they were beaten badly, the light came on for the Aggie offense. They put up 28 points and 402 yards of total offense (184 rushing and 218 passing). Their 184 yards on the ground came at a 6.1 yards per carry clip which should continue this Saturday vs. a Wildcat defense that has allowed 5 yards per carry this season. QB Jerrod Johnson, who subbed for the injured Stephen McGee the last two weeks is getting better. However, there is a chance McGee returns from an injured shoulder this week. Either way, expect the Aggies to move the ball on Saturday.

We mentioned earlier about the defensive struggles the Cats have had their last three games. Well those deficiencies go back further to last season. If you take out their two “cupcake” games this year vs. North Texas and Montana State, this Kansas State defense has been absolutely shredded their last 6 games. You saw the numbers for this year where they have allowed 1,712 yards in their LAST THREE GAMES, however let’s glance back at the end of 2007. They faced off vs. Fresno State, Missouri and Nebraska, the Wildcats allowed 1,678 yards on those final three of last year. Thus, minus the North Texas and Montana State games this year, KSU has allowed a horrible 3,390 total yards their last six games (vs. opponents with at least a pulse). That’s an average of 565 yards per game!

This KSU team is not the Bill Snyder led Wildcats of old. Their defense is weak, their running game is suspect and they can’t win on the road. They have only won 2 of their last 9 games dating back to last season and those wins were against an 0-5 North Texas team and a Division 1AA Montana State team. Their road woes are worse. This team is just 2-13 SU their last 15 road tilts dating back to 2005. Not a team you would want to back in the role of road favorite. We’ll fade them here and take A&M to win this game at home.

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MARC LAWRENCE

Oklahoma St. / Missouri
PICK: Oklahoma St. +14.5

The Cowboys battle the Tigers in a battle of Big 12 Conference unbeaten powers this evening.

From our database we note that underdogs Game Six matchups involving a pair of undefeated opponents are 10-2 ATS if the foe won its last game by 24 or more points.

In addition, OSU head coach Mike Gundy is 3-0-1 ATS with the Cowboys in games off back-to-back wins when he is seeking revenge. With Missouri 0-3-1 ATS off a win in games before tackling Texas we'll grab the points with this high-powered offense.

We recommend a 1-unit play on Oklahoma State.

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Ted Sevransky

Temple / Central Michigan
PICK: Central Michigan -7

We’ve made a fair bit of money backing the Central Michigan Chippewas over the past three years, and this looks to be another ideal spot to get to the betting window with the two-time defending MAC champs again this week. In order to compete with Central, teams have to be able to score points in bunches. The Chippewas offense is an elite level group by MAC standards. Junior QB Dan LeFevour is the reigning MAC Offensive Player of the Year. LeFevour leads the conference in total offense, ranking 11th in the country with 318 yards per game. Most importantly, he doesn’t commit many turnovers – as a team, the Chips have lost the football only four times all year long.

Central has been an absolute juggernaut in this role, as a home favorite. Yes, a talented and capable Buffalo team came through the backdoor to cover against the Chips prior to their bye week, but prior to that game, the Chips had been 8-1 ATS in Mt Pleasant over the previous two seasons. The Chips hung 42 on Temple in Philadelphia the last time these two teams met, and there’s little reason to think that they won’t approach that number again this week, at homecoming, with an extra week to prepare for their MAC home opener.

The betting marketplace has fallen in love with the Owls following their surprising – shocking? – upset win at Miami-Ohio last week. With the exception of their loss at Penn State, when they were outclassed and they lost starting quarterback Adam DiMichele to injury, Temple has been competitive in every game this year, losing by three in OT to UConn, by two on a touchdown on the game’s final play at Buffalo and by four at home to Western Michigan.

But it’s surely worth noting that backup QB Chester Stewart has not moved the offense at all since he got the job. In three games, Stewart has less than 120 yards passing per contest, while completing less than half his passes. The running game behind him ranks 110th in the nation in ‘true’ rushing yards per carry. The Owls big upset at Miami-O last week came despite this offensive futility, not because of Stewart’s ability to replace DiMichele without the offense missing a beat. The Owls were +7 at Miami last week, and we’re seeing a similar spread range against a vastly superior team to the Redhawks this time around, compelling me to recommend a play on the Chippewas here. (#136) 2* Take Central Michigan.

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Frank Jordan

Oklahoma State vs. Missouri    
Play:Missouri  -14.5

Both teams are ranked in the top 20 and 1-0 thus far in their only conference game. Oklahoma State is 5-0 and lighting up the scoreboard with 50+ points in each of their last 4 games, but this game is their first big test against a ranked team. Missouri, on the right shoulder of Chase Daniels, is 5-0 and also putting up major points scoring at least 42 points per game and have won each game by 10 or more points. Expect a shoot out in this one with the offenses running up and down or I should say passing down field with Missouri coming out on top. Play Missouri

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John Fisher

Arizona State vs. USC    
Play:Arizona State +28

USC has practiced all week with back us QB's. Sanchez is listed as questionable but Pete Carrol said he should go but did say his knee is somewhat swollen. USC is just a good football team. If they were great they would of taken care of a medicore Oregon State team. 28 points looks a little lofty against Arizona State that has underachieved all year. Look for Rudy Carpernter QB of the Sundevils to make a closer than 4 TD game. Trojans 34 Sun Devils 17

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Texas Longhorns at Oklahoma Sooners -7

Last week the Longhorns beat Colorado 38-14 while the Sooners beat Baylor 49-17. Can regular season games get any bigger than this? In this Big 12 match up first place in the conference is up for grabs, as in the other Big 12 game Missouri plays Oklahoma state, so the 4 undefeated teams in the conference will be down to 2 after this Saturday. The Longhorns are led by QB Cold McCoy (1280 yds 16 TD 3 INT) and his main targets are WR's Quan Cosby (32 rec 416 yds 3 TD) and Jordan Shipley (24 rec 368 yds 7 TD). The Longhorns rushing attack is led by RB Cody Johnson (193 yds 6 TD). The Sooners are led by QB Sam Bradford (1665 yds 18 TD 3 INT) and his main targets are Manuel Johnson (26 rec 468 yds 5 TD) and Juaquin Iglesias (23 rec 401 yds 5 TD). The Sooners rushing attack is led by the duo of DeMarco Murray (431 yds 5 TD) and Chris Brown (313 6 TD).

Staff Pick: This game has major National Title implications, as each is undefeated and has a dynamic offense. While Texas has received more press about their high scoring offense, the Sooners rank ahead of them in yards per game, passing yards per game, and points per game. Both QB's are putting up Heisman numbers and are tough to stop. McCoy is also a threat with his legs, as he has rushed for 317 yards and has 4 TD's. The Sooners have dominated their opponents this year outscoring them 248-69. Can either team play any defense in this game? The edge goes to the Sooners who have the 11th ranked D in the nation. However, the Longhorns are legit on D as well, as they rank 28th. The Longhorns are undefeated not because of their offense, but their improved defense, which killed them last year. The Longhorns are tied for 4th in the FBS in scoring defense, surrendering only 11.4 points per game and they have only given up 5 TD's in their 5 games. The Sooners have to establish the running game, so the Texas D does not only focus on stopping Bradford. The Sooners have the advantage in the rushing game, which is a huge advantage. Another huge advantage is the game is in Norman, which is one of the toughest places to play in college, well at least for opponents. Look for a close game, but for the Sooners to run the ball, which should keep McCoy off the field long enough for the Sooners to put points up on the board and cover the spread.

Sooners 31 Longhorns 23

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JEFF BENTON

For Saturday we’ll lay the big price with Texas Tech against Nebraska.

First off, the last time the Huskers went to Lubbock (back in 2004), they got depantsed 70-10 as a 7½-point road underdog, one of the worst losses in the program’s storied history. Well, not much has changed in the last four years, as Nebraska is still trying to regain its glory while Texas Tech has become a legitimate Top 10 team with a vastly improved defense now paired with one of the nation’s most explosive offenses (which has put up 49, 35, 43, 56 and 58 points in its first five games).

Last week, in what was easily their toughest test to date, the Red Raiders steamrolled Kansas State 58-28 as a seven-point road favorite, rolling up 626 total yards and 33 first downs, while holding K-State to 296 total yards and 18 first downs. Hours after that impressive win, Nebraska hosted Missouri and fell flat on its face in a 52-17 loss (the score was 52-10 going into the fourth quarter). And that Huskers debacle came on the heels of a 35-30 home loss to Virginia Tech – that’s right, the Hokies’ pedestrian offense put up 35 points on the Black Shirts!

Bottom line: The talent gap between these teams is enormous right now, and with the Red Raiders in the mode of impressing the pollsters, they’ll show no mercy against a Nebraska squad that’s covered just once in its last nine road games and is 4-12 ATS in its last 16 overall. Lay the wood with confidence.

5♦ TEXAS TECH

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SCOTT DELANEY

Last week Nevada steamrolled the Vandals in Idaho. This week could be the absolute worst loss in school history, and that’s no exaggeration.

Idaho ranks dead last nationally in total defense, 119th out of 119 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams, as it surrenders 504 yards per game. At 1-5 overall this season, Idaho also ranks 118th in scoring defense (47.3 points per game), 116th in passing defense (286.1 yards per game) and 111th in rushing defense (217.8 yards per game).

The main culprit for Idaho’s treacherous season is inexperience and/or youth. With this team playing nine freshmen and 10 sophomores on defense this season, it isn’t difficult to see why the Vandals rank poorly and have allowed 42 or more points in every game against FBS competition. And here’s the worst part, of Idaho’s six games this season, Arizona and Nevada are the only teams worth mentioning. Forget the fact those two won by a combined final of 119-14, let’s look at the other four teams.

Idaho beat intra-state rival Idaho State 42-27, but Western Michigan, Utah State and San Diego State rolled to a combined final of 138-62 – an average final of 46-20.7. And make no bones about it, Fresno State belongs in the same conversation as Nevada and Arizona, not the other latter-mentioned quartet.

Lay the chalk with the Bulldogs, as they’re experience against teams like Rutgers, Wisconsin, UCLA and Hawaii will help them win this one by more than 40 and closer to 50 points.

FRESNO STATE

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Jeff Scott Sports 

5 UNIT PLAY (SEC Game Of The Year)

FLORIDA -6 over LSU

Coach Urban Meyer is 14-3 ATS as a dog or fav of less than 10 when playing with revenge, while the Gators are 8-3 ATS vs teams with winning records. LSU is 3-10 ATS as SEC road dogs, while defending champs are just 9-25 ATS on the road off back-to-back wins vs an opponent that allows 19 or less ppg. Last year Florida lost a heartbreaker as they blew a 24-14 lead in the 2nd half to lose 28-24. In that game LSU went 5-5 on 4th downs as Les Miles took chance after chance to pull out the win. Florida has been waiting for this game. Turnovers have been a big plus for the Gators as they check in with a +8 TO margin, while the Tigers have a -2 TO margin. The Gator offense is 47th overall and 22nd in scoring and will be taking on an LSU defense that is 14th overall and 20th in scoring. The LSU offense has been good, ranking 27th overall and 24th in scoring and they will be facing a Florida defense that is ranked 19th oerall, 17th in passing and 5th in scoring. The teams match up evenly statistically but the difference here is the level of competition. While LSU was blowing out the likes of App State and North Texas and struggling with a bad Auburn team and Miss State, the Florida Gators were taking on teams like Arkansas, Miami-Fla, Ole Miss, Hawaii and Tennessee. Sure Florida lost to Ole Miss, but that really makes this game all the more important for them. Look for the Gators to build another DD lead like last year, but this time they will hold on to it.

POWER TREND for this game: The Florida Gators are 15-1-1 ATS with conference revenge off a SU & ATS win.


4 UNIT PLAYS

TOTAL OF THE WEEK--- Missouri/ Oklahoma State Under 78

The Under is 5-0 in Cowboys last 5 road games and  5-1 in Cowboys last 6 road games vs. a team with a winning home record, while the Under is 4-1 in Tigers last 5 vs. a team with a winning record. Yes this game features the 3 ranked scoring offense of the Cowboys and the 2nd ranked Tiger's scoring offense, but did you know that these teams can "D" it up a bit as well. Missouri has given up their share of yards But they do allow just 20 ppg on the year. Their defense really showed what they can do last week as they held a very good Nebraska offense to just 369 yards and 17 points. Missouri's defense has been very weak vs the pass this year, ranking 115th in the nation, but a lot of those yards have come in garbage time when they were way ahead, plus the pass isn't really the weapon of choice by the Cowboys as they rank 57th in passing, but they have the #2 ranked rushing offense. That Cowboy rushing offense feeds right into the strength of the Missouri defense as they are ranked 15th in rushing defense, allowing just 95 ypg and 2.7 ypc. The Cowboy defense has not been that bad this year as they rank 51st overall, allowing just 339 ypg and 55th in scoring, allowing just 23 ppg. Both teams will get some points here, but the defenses will step it up enough to keep this one from going over this very high number. I see a game in the 60's here.

3 Team 6 Point Teaser Of The Week--- Boise State -4.5, Arizona -1, Oregon -12.5


3 UNIT PLAYS

UNDERDOG OF THE WEEK--- Arkansas +17 over AUBURN

The Road team is 5-1 ATS the last 6 in the series, while the Tigers are 0-5 ATS vs. a team with a losing record. The Auburn offense is a mess right now as they come in 104th overall, 103rd in passing and 104th in scoring. There is just no identity on that side of the ball for this team as it looks at times that they are running 4 different offenses. No wonder the numbers are so bad and no wonder why they fired their OC this week. The Arkansas defense has been shelled this year, allowing 38 ppg, 388 ypg overall and 208 ypg on the ground, but the pass defense has been solid as they have allowed just 179 ypg through the air, which ranks 31st in the nation. The Arkansas offense nas not been very good this year, as they score just 17.4 ppg, but they do own the 31st ranked passing offense and should be able to move the ball enough to get some points here.  The defense has been superb for the Tigers this year, but laying this many points with an offense that just can't get out of its own way is never a good thing. Auburnn needs a win in the worst way and will try to do just enpough to get it, as Arkansas say finds a way to get enough points to keep it close. I say Auburn by 7 here.

Arizona -7 over STANFORD

The Wildcats are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 conference games and 8-2 ATS w/ Pac-10 revenge after scoring 35 or more points, while the Cardinals arte 3-9 ATS at home off BB road games and 1-6 ATS the last 7 at home in the series, plus we note that the road team is 10-2 ATS the last 12 in the series. This arizona offense has been very good this year as they are ranked 25th overall (428.6 ypg), 28th in passing (258.2 ypg) and 8th in scoring (43.6 ppg). Arizona is also outscoring teams by 28.4 ppg and they have a +2 in turnover margin. This offense should have a field day today as they take on a Stanford defense that ranks 91st overall (394.3 ypg) 113th vs the pass (273.8 ypg) and 84th in points allowed (27.7 ppg). The Stanford offense hasn't been much better as they come in ranked 99th overall (316.5 ypg), 107th in passing (149.3 ypg) and 74th in scoring (24.3 ppg), polus they are -5 in turnover margin. Not very good numbers if you are going up against one of the best defenses in the nation. Remember the Desert Swarm defense of the '90s? Well this team is on par with those units. The Arizona defense comes in ranked 2nd overall (226.2 ypg), 1st in passing (118.8 ypg) and 18th in scoring (15.2 ppg), plus they allow just 12 firstdowns per game. The numbers are very one sided, in favor of the Cats, on both sides of the ball, plus Arizona always plays well here and they have revenge for a 21-20 home loss to the Cardinals last year.  Add it all up and you get a 2+ TD win by the Cats.

San Jose State/ Utah State Under 46.5

The Under is 27-7 in San Jose State's last 34 games on Saturday and 23-3 in their last 26 games vs a conference opponent, while the Under is 5-1 in Aggies last 6 games after allowing more than 280 yards passing in their previous game. These teams have met each of the last 3 year and none of those 3 games have scored more than 43 points.  Both teams have really struggled to score this year as Utah State puts up just 21.4 ppg, while the Spartans have averaged just 18 ppg. Now the Aggies defense has been pourus this year as they are allowing 40.4 ppg, but San Jose has played some bad defenses this year and have not really capitalized on teh opportunities. The Apart defense has been tough this year as they rank 24th overall, 22nd vs the run and they allow just 19 ppg. San Jose has played 5 games this year so far and only 1 game went over today's total and that was the 47 points scored in the Nebraska game. I see about 35 points scored in this one.


2 UNIT PLAYS

Colorado +14 over KANSAS

This Colorado team is better than they have shown in  their last 2 games vs Florida State and Texas, while the Kansas Jayhwaks have not resembled last years squad that went 12-1. Kansas comes into this game with a 4-1 mark, but the offense is averaging 15 ypg and 8 ppg less than last year and that is vs a piss poor schedule. Last week the Jayhawks went into Iowa State as 11 fav, but quickly found themselves down 20-0, before rallying for a 35 -33 win. The Kansas defense has been struggling of late as they allowed 5 ppg and 186.5 ypg in their 1st 2 games, but in their last 3 games they have allowed 402.7 ypg and 28 ppg.  The Colorado offense has not been that good this year as they rank 89th in total offense, but they have still put up 24 ppg and they should have some success today vs this slumping Kansas defense. The Colorado defense has been solid vs the pass, allowing just 183 ypg, while they have allowed 352 ypg overall and 26.4 ppg.  Colorado is 3-2 on the year and Hawkins should have his team ready to play this one after two bad games. Kansas has been inconsistent this year and while they may win this game outright, I don't feel they will cover the big number.

MISSISSIPPI STATE +2.5 over Vanderbilt

The 'Dores are 1-5 ATS vs .350 or worse opposition and 1-5 ATS in their last 6 times they have been installed as an SEC road fav, while the Bulldogs are 5-1 ATS the l;ast 6 at home in the series. Full let down spot here for Vanderbilt, after last weeks emotional win over Auburn. Throw in the fact that Vandy has been out scored by 27 ppg in their last 5 trips here and you have the makings of an upset. Miss State has not had a good year, but they have played well vs Auburn and LSU and I do see them ending the 'Dores dreams of a perfect season here. 

3 Team 6 Point Teaser--- Oklahoma/ Texas Under 62, Notre Dame +14.5 & Miami/ Central Florida Over 41.5


1 UNIT PLAYS

Texas +6 over Oklahoma

The Longhorns are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 neutral site games and 12-2 ATS as conf dogs off a SU win, while the Sooners are 3-11 ATS before playing Kansas. Both teams are pretty evenly matched statistically in this one as both teams have outscored their weak competition by 35.8 ppg. Both teams have averaged 27 first downs a game. The rushing game is pretty even, but the Sooners do have a slight edge in the passing game. The defenses are alos even as Texas allows just 11 ppg and 296 ypg, while the Sooners allow 14 ppg and just 256 ypg. Texas may be ranked #5 in the polls, but this team is clearly flying under the radar, as all the talk in the Big 12 has been about Missouri and Oklahoma. This is a big chance for Colt McCoy and the Horns to show the Nation they are for real. Not exactly sure they can win the game outright, but two evenly matched Top 5 teams on a nuetral field does not warrant a 6 point spread. The Longhorns will keep this one close.

NORTHWESTERN +1 over Michigan State

Northwestern is 7-0 ATS off a bye, while the Spartans are 4-16 ATS as a fav vs an opponent off a win and 0-7 ATS as favs vs an opponent off a SU dog win. Northwestern is 5-0 for the first time in 46 years the turnaround has has been in large part due to their defense. After yielding 31,26, 34 and 28 ppg the last 4 years, this Cats defense has allowed just 12.4 ppg (12th in the nation). Overall they are 30th in total defense, 50th vs the pass and 34th vs the run. Granted tyhe Spartan offense is much better than the ones they have faced thus far, but State is still ranked just 55th overall, 77th vs the pass and 49th in scoring, so it's not a great offense and one that this confidence defense of the Cats can slow down. MSU's defense allows just 16 ppg, but they are 73rd vs the pass and should have problems with the Cats no-huddle spread offense. Northwestern stays undefeated for at lest one more week. 

3 Team 6 Point Teaser--- Illinois -5.5, Mississippi State +8.5 & Michigan/ Toledo Under 55.5

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GREG SHAKER

Notre Dame Fighting Irish at North Carolina Tar Heels
Play: Over 47

I like this game a lot and with a cleared weather forecast all systems are GO. This Total Line Leaped at me when I first saw it and all for good reasons. We have a typical contest between two teams that do not play each other often, and in fact just once previous in recent years, and that makes this game less intense on the defensive side of the field. Neither team has been that effective stopping their opponents and even the UConn Game that NC won 38-12 saw the Huskies gather more yardage than the Tarheels. The Irish have played better this year limiting their opponents to scoring less than last year but they remain very lean in this phase of their game. Judging D's is all about the ground game and these teams are ranked well down in the bottom 40% in doing so for all Division 1A schools. Both teams are capable of striking anywhere on the field. They both have capable QB's. Both teams are currently on a 3-1 OVER mark their last 4 played and 2 years ago we saw these schools score 71 points when they met. We are more than likely going to see the ball in the air often on Saturday as well and that is going to lead to a slow clock. With a completion rate of at or over 60% for both QB's and yardage gained per catch of 7.4 and 10.6 respectively, I can't see any reason why this total should not be met easily. The Head Coach of Notre Dame seems to agree with at least one thing. Weis has made it clear that this will be his defense's biggest challenge this year stopping what NC Will throw at him. ND's Clausen has keyed the offensive resurgence for the Irish and has been particularly good the past two weeks, throwing for 622 yards and six touchdowns with no interceptions. New NC QB Cam Sexton will continue to lead the Heels unit after making his first start since 2006 last Saturday after taking over for an ineffective Mike Paulus the previous week. Paulus had been starting in place of T.J. Yates, who remains sidelined due to a broken ankle suffered last month. Sexton has seen plenty of playing time and he does know this offense very well. We have a great combination of 2 less than superior D's, 2 better than average offensive programs, and a cross country, non-rival game. This one goes OVER.

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PRO INFO SPORTS

1 STAR SELECTION (2% of Bankroll)

BAYLOR -4½ over Iowa State

The Bears and Cyclones won't isn't exactly be a preview of the Big 12 Championship, but these two aren't the doormats of the past, either. Iowa State head coach Gene Chizik and his Cyclones had Kansas on the ropes last week with a 20-0 halftime lead, only to see it go up in smoke in a rough 35-33 loss. That loss, on top of a heartbreaking overtime loss to UNLV and a clunker of a rivalry game against Iowa has made for a tough month around Ames.

Baylor has sparked up with the emergence of freshman dynamo Robert Griffin at quarterback under the direction of new head coach Art Briles. The Bears got blasted at Oklahoma last week, but that's little more than a speed bump on this team's road to respectability. They will get over last week's loss much easier than the Cyclones will get over their defeat.

Iowa State has had problems against the run, and against running quarterbacks. UNLV's Omar Clayton is more of a passer than a runner, but he was able to get moving a little bit while Frank "The Tank" Summers barreled for 109 yards. Kent State's Julian Edelman ran for 65 yards while RB Eugene Jarvis ran for 139 yards and a score. Basically, Iowa State's defensive front can be run on. The Bears might have been blasted by the Sooners, but Griffin got his 102 yards and two touchdowns in.

We like to go against teams that are in a bad spot as Iowa State is here, as they are an atrocious 0-9 SU (-28.2 ppg) & 0-9 ATS (-12.9 ppg) on the road off a conference game allowing 35+ points since 2002.

The Cyclone's setback last week was most disappointing because they blew that 20-0 halftime lead.

"This loss hurts a lot," quarterback Austen Arnaud said.

We like to play AGAINST a team with a coach and/or players admitting that they suffered a disheartening loss and have to follow it up with another tough game.

We also have an NCAA Football POWER SYSTEM showing that after coming up just short as a double-digit home underdog, road underdogs and small favorites have had very little fight left. It states:

From Game 4 on, play AGAINST a road team (not a favorite of 4+ points) with less than 13 days rest off a SU loss of less than 3 points as a home underdog of more than 10 points.

Since 1984, these teams are a horrible 0-17 ATS, failing to cover the spread by more than 13 ppg on average.

Iowa State is the PLAY AGAINST team in that role, while Baylor has some good numbers in their favor. Baylor is 8-0 SU (+13.6 ppg) & 8-0 ATS (+7.7 ppg) as a favorite of less than 12 points when not seeking revenge for a road SU loss more than 2 seasons ago. We expect the Bears to jump on the Cyclones early and cruise to a comfortable SU & ATS victory.

PROJECTED FINAL SCORE: BAYLOR 35 IOWA STATE 21

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Sports Insights

East Carolina vs Virginia

East Carolina came out of the gate in the 2008 season with two huge upsets over Virginia Tech and West Virginia. These wins moved the Pirates into the top 15, but after that they escaped Tulane with a close win before losing two straight to North Carolina State and Houston. That made three straight disappointing efforts heading into their bye week. Their defense has become much more porous since losing linebacker Quentin Cotton during the Tulane game. They allowed 30 points to the Wolfpack and 41 to the Cougars. The Pirates' offense is led by QB Patrick Pickney, who has completed almost 70% of his passes and compiled over 1,000 yards.

Virginia was looking awful heading into last week's ACC match up with Maryland, but the Cavaliers pulled out a stunning 31-0 upset over the Terrapins. Virginia QB Marc Verica made his third start since Peter Lalich was kicked off the team, and he displayed the ability to run the Cavs offense by completing 25 of 34 passes for 226 yards with two touchdowns through the air. The Cavalier defense pitched their second shutout of the season, but they still allowed over 300 yards to the Terrapins.

East Carolina is coming off two losses and a bye week as they travel to Charlottesville. Skip Holtz should have his team prepared to bounce back from those disappointments. The Pirates opened as -4.5 favorites at Pinnacle, but the line has moved to East Carolina -6.5 as they are receiving around 70% of spread bets from the books tracked by Sports Insights. The line movement triggered multiple Steam Moves from books with positive results. We'll take a hungry Pirates team looking to prove itself against a Cavalier team coming off a huge blowout win.

East Carolina -6.5


Tennessee vs Georgia

Tennessee is struggling this season as they sit at 2-3 overall and 0-2 in SEC play. The Volunteers are coming off a sloppy 13-9 win over Northern Illinois. Sophomore Nick Stephens made his first collegiate start in that game and was effective enough to earn the win. He completed 10 of 17 passes for 156 yards and one touchdown. The Volunteers also plan to utilize WR Gerald Jones' athleticism with a direct snap formation. The defense was effective against Northern Illinois as they held the Huskies to three field goals.

Georgia's bye week gave the Bulldogs an extra week to prepare for this SEC matchup after being blown out by Alabama at home two weeks ago. Head Coach Mark Richt was tougher on his team over the last two weeks due to a habit of committing costly penalties. They are averaging 87.4 penalty yards per game on the season. Tailback and Heisman Trophy candidate Knowshon Moreno is expected to play through an elbow injury. He is hoping to fare better against the Volunteers than he did last season when he produced a career-low 30 yards on 13 carries.

Georgia opened as -13 favorites at Pinnacle as Tennessee travels to play between the hedges. The line moved to Georgia -12 shortly after opening, and it has remained there across the marketplace. We like the line moving down in Georgia's favor as they're coming off that huge loss to Alabama. We'll take the Dawgs when there are still some books, such as SIA, offering Georgia -12.

Georgia -12


Middle Tennessee State vs Florida International

Middle Tennessee shocked many people with a win against Maryland earlier in the season. Since then they have scored exactly 14 points in each of their three games, only winning against lowly Florida Atlantic 14-13. The Blue Raiders needed a late touchdown to pull out that win at home. The MTSU defense has forced 12 turnovers on the season, while the offense has committed 8. The Blue Raiders are currently 0-2 on the road.

Florida International plays their second home game in their new FIU stadium. In their home opener the Golden Panthers hung with then-No. 12 South Florida before falling 17-9. Since that close loss, FIU has won two roads games by convincing scores over Toledo and North Texas. Freshman T.Y. Hilton is a big play WR. He has 284 yards and 3 touchdowns on only 8 receptions for the season. He also gets the occasional carry, but he has yet to break a long run.

The game opened as a Pick at Pinnacle and other books tracked by Sports Insights, but it has since moved to Florida International -2 at most books. There isn't a huge discrepancy in the public betting percentages, but the Golden Panthers are receiving 54% of spread bets. Florida International has received multiple Steam Move triggers from books with winning records. We're going to follow the Steam and take the Golden Panthers at home only giving up a few points.

Florida International -2

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Cajun-Sports "Gator Report" Newsletter for Saturday

NCAA “Tech” Game of the Week:

2 STAR SELECTION

Utah State +14 over SAN JOSE STATE

The Spartans will host the Aggies on Saturday, as the WAC combatants battle to pecking order in the league standings. It appears San Jose State will be in the mix this year for a second bowl invitation in the last three years under head coach Dick Tomey. Before going on break for a weekend, they went on the road to beat Hawaii, and have been resilient in losses to Nebraska and Stanford; however, don’t be fooled by Utah States’ 1-4 SU record. They’re actually showing signs of improvement under Brent Guy. Two weeks, they throttled Idaho, 42-17, to move a step further from the league basement, and have now won their last 3 WAC games going back to last season. Last week, in a non-league game, they played respectably well against #8 BYYU before falling 34-14.

The Aggies offense has shown more punch and production than at any point in the Guy era. First-year starting QB Diondre Borel is a dangerous dual-threat, who has thrown for six touchdown passes and rushed for 257 yards. Behind him is freshman Robert Turbin, a big-play runner with 197 yards and two touchdowns in his last 23 carries. Factor in veteran WR Otis Nelson, and the Aggies have the ingredients of a potent offensive attack.

Our Power Ratings indicate that the Spartans should be no better than a 1 TD favorite here, so we see some great line value available. We look to play ON an underdog getting between a FG & TD of points in line value when comparing the pointspread to Power Ratings if the team is not in a “let-down” situation and the favorite not in a “get-up” situation. If the underdog has been fairly consistent with respect to its performances as compared to the Power Ratings, this will be a case of a team not getting the respect it deserves and being under-rated by the wagering public.

The Aggies qualify for a couple of other handicapping situations we look for, as we like to play ON a team that is being overlooked after a bad start, but has accrued its poor record by playing stellar teams with winning records and we like to play ON a team with a poor SU record but a great ATS record. Such teams are the most undervalued on the board. Due to their bad SU mark, they won't get a lot of attention from the public, preserving their line value.

We have some great numbers to back us up here, as Utah State is:

5-0-1 ATS on the road after playing BYU since at least 1980;
4-0 ATS between last 2 years with 7+ days rest;
11-0 ATS (+8.3 ppg) as an underdog of 2+ points off a home ATS win of 5+ points;
3-0 ATS (+11.3 ppg) as an underdog of more than 4 points vs. San Jose State since at least 1980;
7-0 (+12 ppg) the last 2 seasons on the road vs. non-BCS schools.

Meanwhile, the Spartans are a 2-TD favorite here, which allows us to play AGAINST a homecoming team that is either a large favorite or large underdog. Homecoming can mean a lot of distractions for players, and if they don't have a "big" game to concentrate on, they can easily lose focus. Teams that assume they are going to win or know they don't have a chance are most likely to be flat on gameday.

We also note that San Jose State is 0-6 ATS (-15.2 ppg) as a favorite of 9+ points with 7-20 days rest from Game 5 on and an ugly 0-10 ATS (-17.6 ppg) with 7+ days rest off scoring more than 7 points since 1999!

The Aggies will be brimming with confidence off their strong finish against BYU and should make this game very close, easily covering the 14-point spread.

PROJECTED FINAL SCORE: SAN JOSE STATE 24 UTAH STATE 21


NCAA 70% Super Situations:

NCAA Saturday: Play Over CFB teams where the total is between 42.5 and 49 in a game involving teams who are outscoring opponents by 10+ PPG, after a loss by 6 or less points, 33-13 Over since 1992 (71.7%)
PLAY: Penn State / Wisconsin Over 46.5


Gator Report NCAA Games of the Week:

SEC GOW (3-2 +80 ): MISSISSIPPI STATE +2½ over Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt is due for a fall after their 14-13 win last over Auburn. The Commodores are 0-7 ATS (-8.8 ppg) in conference road games when not an underdog of 6+ points

Despite riding a win streak of at least 5 games like Vandy is, small road favorites have stumbled against teams on a losing streak. An NCAA Football POWER SYSTEM states:

Play AGAINST a road favorite of less than 6 points off 5 SU wins vs. an opponent off 2 SU losses.

Since 1998, these small road faves are 0-9-1 ATS (-11.2 ppg).

Mississippi State is 5-0 ATS (+17.8 ppg) vs. Vanderbilt with a line between -13 & +13;
3-0 SU (+11 ppg) & 3-0 ATS (+11 ppg) with a line between -7 & +7 since last year;
3-0 SU (+16 ppg) & 3-0 ATS (+17.8 ppg) off 3 SU losses since the end of the 2005 season.


Big 10 GOW (0-0-1 0.0): NORTHWESTERN +1½ over Michigan State

Michigan State is:

0-8 ATS (-17.2 ppg) as a favorite vs. an opponent off a SU win as an underdog of more than 2 points;
0-6 SU (-12.8 ppg) & 0-6 ATS (-13.3 ppg) with a line between -3 & +2.

Favorites of less than 27 points are 0-7 ATS (-7.1 ppg) before a conference home game against Ohio State (The Spartans host the Buckeyes next week).

Unbeaten Northwestern is:

8-0-1 ATS with 9+ days rest in regular season games and 13-1-1 ATS the last 15 regular season games with 9+ days rest;
8-0 ATS (+11.4 ppg) as a home underdog and not off a SU loss of 32+ points vs. an opponent seeking revenge for a SU loss last season.


“BIG EASY” GOW (5-1 +390): NORTHERN ILLINOIS -11 over Miami, Ohio

The Redhawks have been a HUGE disappointment this season and have shown no life. We look to play AGAINST or at least not on a weak team that is on a spread-losing streak.

A bad team that apparently is not even capable of a decent performance once in a while should be faded whenever possible. This looks like another good spot to fade Miami, as they are 0-6 SU (-15.5 ppg) & 0-6 ATS (-10) as a road underdog of less than 12 points off a home SU loss.

Northern Illinois is a team on the rise under new leadership and we look to play ON a team that is responding positively to a new coach, as well as play ON a team with a poor SU record but a great ATS record.


Underdog GOW (3-2 +90): Texas 6½ over Oklahoma

The Longhorns qualify for some strong handicapping situations, as we like to:

Play ON an underdog that is allowing less than 3 yards per rush on the season from October on.

Play ON a power team in the unfamiliar role of underdog.

Teams that aren’t used to being an underdog and rarely lose, will certainly be aware of the oddsmakers picking them to lose and use it as motivation. Expect this team’s best effort they are capable of. Texas has been an underdog only 4 times since 2004, and they are 3-1 SU & 4-0 ATS in those games. Oklahoma is 0-4 ATS as a favorite of less than 13 points vs. an opponent not seeking revenge for a same-season SU loss

We have also found that undefeated neutral site underdogs have done well in the regular season under the circumstances described by this NCAA Football POWER SYSTEM:

Play ON an undefeated neutral site underdog not off 3 ATS losses vs. an opponent not off a road SU loss & ATS win.

Since at least 1980, these teams are 9-0 ATS (+14.1 ppg) and have only lost 2 of the 9 qualifying games outright, still covering the spread each time.

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Winning Edge TV

BEST BETS

Big AL - Detroit Lions
Chip Chirimbes - MISS ST.
Ron Meyer - Penn St.
Kelso Sturgeon - Boise St
Wayne Root - FLORIDA

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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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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

4* Houston 28-13
3* Seattle 31-20
2* St. Louis + 27-31
2* Arizona + 28-27

3* Jets over 45
3* Colts U 39
3* Panthers U36
2* Packers over 47
2* Cowboys over 48

Underdog Play of the Week

The Spartans are 9-24 SU on the B10 road. In their last matchup in Evanston, MSU rallied from a
38-3 3Q deficit for the NCAA’s largest-ever comeback. The road tm has won 3 in a row SU and is
7-0 ATS! LY we used NW (+16) as the Big Dog play and they pulled the upset in OT 48-41 with QB
Bacher throwing for 520 yds (NW 611-481 yd edge). NW is fresh off a bye and is off to its 1st 5-0 start
S/’62, the same yr the 1st Walmart store opened in Bentonville, AR. A win here would clinch bowl
elig earlier than at any time in the program’s history (10/19/96). QB Bacher (208 ypg, 53%, 7-5 ratio)
& RB Sutton (464, 5.3) needed the wk off after being banged up. The Cats start can be credited to
their D which leads the conf with 17 sks (just 18 in ‘07) and allows 112 rush yds (3.4). MSU survived
a 4Q comeback by Iowa by stopping RB Greene on 4th & 1 at the MSU 21 with 2:16 left. The Hawks
became the 1st team to contain Ringer (#2 NCAA with 988, 4.7) who was held to 91 yds (3.6). By
game’s end MSU was playing without its entire starting secondary. The fresh Cats take advantage of
a tired Spartans team off a physical gm. FORECAST: NORTHWESTERN 27 Michigan St 23

KEY SELECTIONS

4* MIAMI, FL over Ucf - 1st meeting and UCF is 0-4 visiting in-state schools losing by 36 ppg S/‘96.
Normally UM would not be up for a lower rung in-state school but UCF is the defending CUSA champ
and Miami is 2-3 and wants to prove there’s still a huge divide between the programs to in-state recruits.
They are off a misleading loss to rival Fla St with an ACC game on deck. LW for UCF QB Greco took over
for true Fr Calabrese in the 2H and engineered 3 scoring drives to defeat SMU 31-17. On the season
he is avg 107 ypg (53%) with a 4-3 ratio. RB Weaver, who had his 1st 100 yd rush gm LW, has 328 yds
(3.7) on the season. UM is coming off a disappointing conf loss in a game they trailed 31-10 3Q and
got to within 34-32 w/8:00 left in a game in which true Fr Benjamin (PS#54) had 274 all-purp yds. On
the ssn QB Marve is avg 135 ypg (57%) with a 5-5 ratio. RB Cooper, who has taken over for the inj’d
James and has 322 rush yds (5.4). Both of Miami’s wins are vs non-conf foes TY and the Canes need
a feel-good win to prove their still relevant to in-state players after losing to UF and FSU.
FORECAST: MIAMI, FL 37 Ucf 10


3*WEST VIRGINIA over Syracuse - This is played for the Schwartzwalder Trophy. LY WV won their
6th (5-1 ATS) in a row SU and their 55 pts were the most Syr ever all’d at home. QB White sat out the
2H with inj. The fav is 15-1 ATS! The only non-cover was last time here in ‘06 when WV won 41-17
(-25’) and WV had a 562-227 yd edge. Syr is 4-2 ATS vs ranked tms on the road and pulled a stunner
LY upsetting #18 Louisville (+37). Syr is off a bye after their 34-24 loss to Pitt, a gm they led 24-16 in
the 4Q. The Orange are all’g 157 ypg rush (4.7) and now face a potent rush attack avg 206 ypg (5.1).
LW WV held on to defeat Rutgers 24-17. QB White left in the 3Q (head, CS). If WV has to go without
White they are in capable hands with backup Jarrett “Big” Brown and RB Devine (454 yds, 5.7). WV
has huge edges on off (#33-98) and def (#33-116) and the home edge and will roll into the bye at 4-2
before facing Auburn. FORECAST: WEST VIRGINIA 45 Syracuse 10


3* Notre Dame over NORTH CAROLINA - While ND is 16-1 SU in the series, their last trip here was
in 1975 and in their only recent meeting a 3-9 NCar team covered (+24’) 26-45 in South Bend in 2006 vs
Sugar Bowl bound ND (ND ended gm on NC’s 20). This matches our #1 vs #2 Most Improved tms. NC (4-1)
is off to its best start S/’97. QB Sexton, starting for the inj’d Yates (ankle), is avg 180 ypg (57%) with a 3-1
ratio. WR Nicks has 24 rec (17.2) and Tate is avg 195 all-purp ypg. NC’s D is #1 in NCAA with 12 int. QB
Clausen, who threw for 347 yds LW vs Stanford giving us a 3H LPS Winner, is avg 250 ypg (61%) with a
12-6 ratio, however, the 6 int were in the 1st 3 gms and he has 0 since. ND’s WR Tate has 23 rec (17.3)
and Floyd has 21 (15.9). ND has struggled running the ball other than vs Purdue and prior to LW only had
1 sk (5 sks vs Stanford). These tms matchup pretty evenly on both sides of the ball (ND off #43-45, NC
def #43-51). Rare line value with ND as both are off misleading finals (see News & Notes) and the Irish
prove why they are our Most Improved. FORECAST: Notre Dame 24 NORTH CAROLINA 20

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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

Minnesota 30 - ILLINOIS 31—Illinois could be caught in an emotional trough after destruction of Michigan in Ann Arbor last week. Minnesota has covered 4 straight and had its starting OL intact for the first time this season against Indiana, and Gopher defense is among most improved units in the country with infusion of jucos and leadership & preparation provided by new d.c.Ted Roof. Minny got a little dinged-up against the Hoosiers, but QB Adam Weber (bruised knee) and WR Steve Decker (knee to head) both returned to Indy game and are expected to be ready to go. TV-ESPN
(07-Ill. 44-MINN. 17...I.27-18 I.50/448 M.31/95 M.21/35/1/242 I.14/21/1/207 I.1 M.0)
(07-Illinois -11' 44-17...SR: Minnesota 31-27-3)

Western Michigan 34 - BUFFALO 26—Highly-regarded HC Turner Gill (9-3 vs. spread last 12) has energized moribund Buffalo program and turned Bulls into one of MAC’s top contenders. Well-schooled WMU still has a lot more speed & depth on defense, however. No big surprise if Broncos’ cocksure jr.QB Hiller (69%, 19 TDP & only 4 ints.) outduels careful UB sr. counterpart Willy (only 3 ints. in last 12 games) and extends WMU win streak to six. (05-WESTERN MICHIGAN -10' 31-21...SR: Western Michigan 3-0)

Vanderbilt 24 - MISSISSIPPI STATE 12—Though sizzling Vandy (1st 5-0 start since 1943!) is SEC road chalk for only 2nd time since ‘99, won’t buck bowl-hungry ‘Dores, who held Auburn scoreless for final 3 Qs of impressive 14- 13 upset in Nashville. MSU’s QB Lee (in his starting debut) likely to make a few miscues vs. Vandy’s ball-hawking 2ndary (11 ints.), while Bulldog stop unit has hands full with either Vandy triggerman QB Nickson (see Special Ticker) or dual-threat Adams. (DNP...SR: Mississippi State 10-7-2)

OREGON STATE 42 - Washington State 3—New Wazzu HC Wulff could be excused for asking Congress for some extra bailout help to aid his kittenish Cougars, who have little chance of avoiding embarrassment vs.competent opposition (of which OSU certainly qualifies) with shaky 3rd-string,RS frosh QB Lobbestael learning on the job. A lot more going for Beavers, who narrowly missed scoring second straight major upset (at Utah) and who usually take care of business at Corvallis (8-2 vs line last 10).
(07-Ore. St. 52-WASH. ST. 17...18-18 O.49/218 W.30/83 W.21/46/7/314 O.17/30/0/213 O.0 W.1)
(07-Osu +3 52-17 06-Wsu -3 13-6 05-OSU -1' 44-33...SR: Washington State 47-42-3)

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WINNING POINTS - NCAA

****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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