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Newsletters 10/21 - 10/27
Newsletters 10/21 - 10/27
College Key Releases
1--Alabama over TENNESSEE 34-13
1--GEORGIA TECH over Virginia 38-13
2--TULSA over ucf (Sunday) 61-20
3--TCU over Wyoming 58-7
3--MISSOURI over Colorado 57-20
4--Oregon over ARIZONA STATE 31-17
5--Northwestern over INDIANA 38-14
5--VANDERBILT over Duke 27-7
NFL Key Releases
3--Washington over DETROIT 31-13
4--PHILADELPHIA over Atlanta 24-10
4--MIAMI (+) over Buffalo 23-17
5--NY JETS over Kansas City 34-13
5--NEW ENGLAND over St. Louis 27-13
Re: Newsletters 10/21 - 10/27
4* Georgia Tech 28-6
3* Florida St. 27-13
2*SMU + 37 (+)-34
2* North Carolina 30-20
Underdog Michigan (+5) 23-20 Michigan Outright
4* Carolina 24-10
3* Philidelphia 34-13
2* K.C. + 20(+) -23
2* Washington 34-20
3* KC/Jets over 38
3* Bills/Fins over 40
3*NYG/Steelers over 43
2* Rams/Pats under 43
2* Cards/Panthers under 44
Re: Newsletters 10/21 - 10/27
CKO CONFIDENTIAL KICK-OFF
RATINGS: 11 - Exceptional, 10 - Strong, 9 - Above Average
11* FLORIDA over Kentucky
*FLORIDA 48 - Kentucky 14
Long-time SEC scouts report Florida’s clever o.c. Dan Mullen has added a few wrinkles during the bye weekforpoised, speedy but strong frosh RBs Demps & Rainey, who combined for 195 YR (9.3 ypc!) in convincing 51-21drubbing of LSU. And now that Heisman Trophy winner Tebow (leads SEC in pass efficiency; 10 TD, just 1 int.) is performing more “instinctively,” according the coaches, that spells bad news for a highly-ranked Kentucky defense that has yet to face an attack that has Gators blend of speed, balance and creativity. Plus, with gifted Southern Cal transfer RB Moody expected back from an ankle injury, smallish Wildcat defense succumbs in “The Swamp,” where Urban Meyer’s crew has covered 8 of last 10. Expect fast, sure-tackling UF defense (13 ppg, 3.2 ypc) to smother a containable, starless UK attack (only 17 ppg vs. SEC foes) that was mostly flummoxed by green Arkansas defense until unpolished QB Hartline hit a couple TD passes in final few minutes of near-miraculous 21-20 comeback win vs.Hogs. Not here. Refreshed, poll-conscious UF captures 22nd straight in series in convincing fashion.
10* ILLINOIS over *Wisconsin
ILLINOIS 33 - *Wisconsin 20
Illinois has come together in Big Ten play, covering 3 of 4 games behind spectacular production of QB Juice Williams.Williams has thrown for an average of 348 yds. in the last 3 games with 7 TD passes and has run for 192 yards and 3 more scores. He holds a major edge over any of Wisconsin’s choices at QB, who’ve combined to complete only 32 of 68 passes with 0 TDs and 5 ints. in last 2 games. Illinois physical WR Rejus Benn has 543 receiving yards in the last 4 games. Badgers have dropped four straight, and HC Bielema likely to go to a more basic, smashmouth attack this week. The problem with that is that the Illini have yielded just 2.9 ypc in their last 3 games, and that Badgers top rusher P.J. Hill suffered an ankle injury in last week’s loss at Iowa and didn’t return to the game.
10* LSU over Georgia
*LSU 27 - Georgia 14
Talented LSU bounced back from Florida setback with a good effort at South Carolina, but expect even more out of Les Miles’ crew this week against Georgia. ‘Dawgs are 0-4 against the number in SEC play this season, and QB Matthew Stafford has thrown just as many interceptions (5) as TD passes in Georgia’s last 3 games. Stafford has been under more pressure than HC Mark Richt would like due to a young offensive line, and LSU has two of the top three sack men in the SEC in DEs Tyson Jackson and Rahim Alem. Tiger RS frosh QB Jarrett Lee coming along well,ranking 4th in the conference in pass efficiency, and he had his best SEC game so far in front of the friendly crowd in Baton Rouge, where LSU has won 22 of its last 23 games.
10* VIRGINIA TECH over *Florida St.
VIRGINIA TECH 24 - *Florida St. 19
Although a narrow loser last week at BC, trip to Tallahassee won’t spook Virginia Tech bunch that has already won at North Carolina and Nebraska and has long since established itself as a pointspread force on the road (17-4 vs. line last 21 as visitor) and as a dog (10-3 last 13 in role). Fundamentals suggest matchup vs. FSU not too bad for Hokies, especially since Bud Foster’s aggressive defense can effectively blitz and disguise coverages much as Wake Forest did when frustrating the Noles and erratic QB Ponder last month. And with Ponder (only 53% completions) still a work in progress, FSU unlikely to reverse its underachieving ways as Doak Campbell chalk (0-1 TY, now 5-14 last 19 in role). As long as soph QB Taylor doesn’t self-destruct, VT will be in position for “Beamer Ball” (“D” scored 2 TDs at BC) to once again make the difference.
10* N.Y. GIANTS over *Pittsburgh
N.Y. GIANTS 28 - *Pittsburgh 20
Pittsburgh off to a fine 5-1 start, winning its last three games without Willie Parker. Making it four in a row vs. the Giants—if Parker is either out or still not 100%—figures to be a much tougher task. The 2008 Steeler OL has had more than its share of problems, losing stalwart G Alan Faneca to the Jets in the offseason and then starting G Kendall Simmons to injury in the fourth game. Philly defensive coordinator Jim Johnson was able to dial up nine sacks vs. Pittsburgh in the third week of the season, and Johnson was the mentor of N.Y. def. coord. Steve Spagnuolo before the latter took over the Giants’ rushers on their way to a Super Bowl victory over Tom Brady & the Patriots LY. With Ben Roethlisberger trying to overcome a sore shoulder, you know N.Y. will be bringing the heat. Giants deeper at RB and 8-2 their last 10 as an underdog.
TOTALS: UNDER (45½) in the Atlanta-Philadelphia game—Falcs like to use RB Michael Turner (597 YR) to help keep opponents under control, keeping rookie QB Matt Ryan out of shootouts while he learns on the job...OVER (43½) in the Arizona-Carolina game—Cards’ turnovers, combined with their aerial game, have helped them go “over” 11 of last 15 on the road.
HONORABLE MENTION (Nine-Rated Games): NORTH CAROLINA STATE (+10½) at Maryland—Terrapins (3-12 last 15 when favored) can be caught when carrying the points; RS frosh QB Russell Wilson sparking the NCS offense while defense now healthier...ALABAMA (-7) at Tennessee—Crimson Tide way too sound overall, much more experienced at QB for struggling Vols to match on scoreboard...PENN STATE (-1½) at Ohio State—Nittany Lions (0-7 last seven trips to OSU) have been playing better than Buckeyes in the pits TY; sr. QB Daryll Clark gives PSU better balance, more experience on offense...NEVADA (-3½) at Hawaii—After years of being out-gunned by the Red Gun, Nevada’s Kaepernick is by far the best QB in this game, and bruising 5-10, 225 soph Vai Taua the best RB...BALTIMORE (-7) over Oakland—Mistake-prone Raiders making cross-country trip to face surprising Ravens, who feast on opponents’ blunders.
Re: Newsletters 10/21 - 10/27
THE GOLD SHEET NFL ANALYSIS
MIAMI by 10 over Buffalo
WASHINGTON by 18 over Detroit
OVER THE TOTAL in the N.Y. Giants-Pittsburgh game
BALTIMORE 21 - Oakland 10—It appears that Baltimore rookie QB Joe Flacco is further ahead in his development than second-year Oakland QB JaMarcus Russell. Considering Russell’s protracted holdout in 2007 and TY’s early coaching change, that’s quite understandable. Ravens suffered a blow when aggressive G Marshall Yanda, the new anchor of their OL following the retirement of Jonathan Ogden after LY, suffered a season-ending injury. But in a duel of the Ryan brothers as defensive coordinators, we’ll trust Ray Lewis & Co. to get into the head of the talented—but young—Mr. Russell.
(06-BALTIMORE -12' 28-6...SR: Baltimore 4-1)
New Orleans 23 - San Diego 17—If the Wembley pitch is as waterlogged as it was for last year’s Giants-Dolphins mud bath (and rain is a good bet this time of year in London), then Reggie Bush’s likely absence due to a knee injury might not hurt N.O. as it might have on the fast track of the Superdome. Besides, Deuce McAllister might be a better infantry alternative on an “off” track anyway. Meanwhile, we’re beginning to wonder if it’s the occasional bursts of brilliance, or the ongoing inconsistencies, that represent the “real” San Diego, which misses Shawne Merriman’s pressure and intimidation on defense and is another misstep from falling to 3-5. (at London, England)
(04-SAN DIEGO -6' 43-17...SR: San Diego 7-2)
NY JETS 30 - Kansas City 13—Even with the pointspread lofty, K.C. has too many problems to make the Chiefs a worthy side. QB carousel. Tony Gonzalez’ attempt to get out. High-maintenance Larry Johnson in the doghouse. Youth in the OL. Effort concerns on defense (Titans 332 YR last week). Jets are 2-1 vs. the spread at home TY and capable of a much better offensive effort than last week’s 13 points in OT. Thomas Jones had 159 YR week ago behind N.Y.’s improved OL. In Favre we trust.
(07-NYJ 13-K. City 10 (OT)...N.20-14 N.45/199 K.19/53 K.20/43/0/166 N.14/26/0/138 N.0 K.0)
(07-NY JETS -5 13-10 (OT)...SR: Kansas City 17-16-1)
***MIAMI 23 - Buffalo 13—Perhaps Baltimore’s defense has provided the road map to deal with Ronnie Brown and Miami’s “Wildcat” formations, blitzing repeatedly and limiting the Dolphins to just 4 yards on 5 Wildcat plays last week. Buffalo, however, neither stonewalls the run nor pressures the passer as well as the Ravens, so Chad Pennington (75% the past 4 weeks) ought to be able to so some business. No complaints about Trent Edwards, but Bills not trustworthy on the road, especially with their OL experiencing power shortages (Fowler out last week) and with Marshawn Lynch yet to crack the century mark.
(07-Buf. 13-MIAMI 10...15-15 M.38/143 B.25/63 B.12/23/1/151 M.16/29/0/126 B.0 M.0)
(07-BUF. 38-Miami 17...B.20-18 B.40/224 M.21/65 M.23/44/2/220 B.11/23/0/165 B.1 M.3)
(07-Buffalo -2' 13-10, BUFFALO -7 38-17...SR: Miami 50-37-1)
DALLAS 20 - Tampa Bay 16—The absence of Tony Romo, RB Felix Jones, CB Adam Jones, WR Sam Hurd and P Mat McBriar proved to be far more than Dallas could absorb last week, even vs. marginal St. Louis. Moreover, considering the way the Cowboy OL and defense played, the coaching staff can also be faulted for failing to fire up the remaining core of key Dallas players. Romo’s status remains uncertain at this writing, but the Cowboys’ 2-10 spread mark their last 12 overall is not. At our deadline, we’re uncomfortable laying more than four in Dallas’ return home after two defeats.
(06-DALLAS -11 38-10...SR: Dallas 9-3)
PHILADELPHIA 20 - Atlanta 17—Normally reluctant to recommend a rookie QB against Jim Johnson’s aggressive Philly defense that made Ben Roethlisberger look like chopped liver at the Linc in September. But Atlanta’s Matt Ryan is mature far beyond his years, and the presence of Michael Turner (597 YR) is providing the necessary balance for the Falcon attack. And with new HC Mike Smith “slowing down” the games for Ryan, it’s doubtful the Eagles can capitalize on the sort of mistakes they did vs. Mike Martz’ 49er offense in Philly’s last outing. A bit reluctant to lay significant points with Eagles until Brian Westbrook (ribs; check status) able to play with abandon.
(06-PHILADELPHIA -8' 24-17...SR: Philadelphia 14-11-1)
NEW ENGLAND 20 - St. Louis 17—Rematch of Super Bowl XXXVI in the 2001 season, when Bill Belichick’s defensive schemes vs. Mike Martz’ offense and the clutch plays of the young Tom Brady began the Patriots’ dynasty. Lots has happened since then, most of it good for the Pats and bad for the Rams...until Brady’s knee injury. St. Louis has put together back-to-back hardfought victories, with Steven Jackson rushing for 239 yards in the two and speedy rookie WR Donnie Avery contributing 9 recs. for 138 yards. Rams have a long way to go, but Pats were 0-7 vs. the spread their last 7 at Foxborough prior to their Monday nighter vs. Denver.
(04-New England P 40-22...SR: EVEN 5-5)
CAROLINA 30 - Arizona 16—Now that order has been re-established in Charlotte after last week’s 30-7 romp past the Saints, will lay points with confident host. After all, Panthers a much different “animal” when Jonathan Stewart & DeAngelo Williams (66 & 68 YR, respectively, last week) establish Carolina’s power rush attack, allowing Jake Delhomme to execute play-action and locate old friends Steve Smith (6 for 122 vs. Saints) & Muhsin Muhammad downfield. Meanwhile, Arizona one of the five western-most teams that has struggled with cross-country travel (2-7 vs. spread in role TY; Cards have already lost at Skins & Jets).
(07-Car. 25-ARIZ. 10...C.14-10 C.30/181 A.26/98 C.20/33/0/193 A.14/26/3/159 C.0 A.2)
(07-Carolina +5 25-10...SR: Carolina 5-2)
***Washington 31 - DETROIT 13—Redskins once captured 18 straightmeetings between these two from 1968-97. Detroit is 2-3 in the series since, but it’s hard to count on them—even as a sizeable home dog—now that they’re clearly thinking of the future (e.g., GM Matt Millen ousted, WR Roy Williams traded, QB Jon Kitna placed on IR). Redskin OL is being praised for its improvement in Jim Zorn’s West Coast base, and Shaun Alexander is now around to help relieve some of the work load on Clinton Portis (818 YR). Opposing QBs Jason Campbell (no ints. TY) & Dan Orlovsky both in their fourth seasons. But who is more likely to make costly mistakes? Lions—trying to overcome poor choices in the front office and on draft day—only 3-11 vs. the spread last 14 overall.
(07-WASH. 34-Det. 3...W.23-11 W.35/118 D.20/68 W.23/29/0/248 D.16/29/2/76 W.1 D.0)
(07-WASHINGTON -3' 34-3...SR: Washington 29-10)
JACKSONVILLE 23 - Cleveland 20—Jags 0-3 vs. the spread at home, as TY’s early OL injuries a key factor in the team’s inconsistent 2008 offense. Jacksonville is hopeful that C Brad Meester, G Chris Naeole, and S Reggie Nelson will be returning to action for this game after its bye week. However, Cleveland (16-6 last 22 vs. the spread) also benefited health-wise from its recent bye week and seems ready to rejoin the AFC playoff chase if only Browns can get QB Derek Anderson (14 of 37 at Wash. last week) back on track.
(05-Jacksonville -3 20-14...SR: Jacksonville 8-2)
***OVER THE TOTAL NY Giants 27 - PITTSBURGH 26—Winners of two of last three Super Bowls. Can the 2008 Steeler OL, with no big-play threat of Willie Parker (check status) behind it, keep the attacking N.Y. pass rushers off Ben Roethlisberger? Remember, Giants’ offensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is a pupil of the Eagles’ Jimmy Johnson, who battered Pittsburgh QBs for nine sacks a month ago in Philly. G-men warmed up with six sacks vs. S.F. last week and are surely deeper at RB, while Eli was able to throw just fine despite bruised chest. Steelers “over” 2-0 at home TY and “over” 43-14-1 last 58 at Heinz Field!!!
(04-Pittsburgh -10 33-30...SR: NY Giants 43-28-3)
SAN FRANCISCO 23 - Seattle 17—S.F. offense suffering from problems with sacks (28) and turnovers (-8), while Mike Holmgren can’t seem to keep his beloved offense healthy in his final year in Seattle. Seahawks have garnered only 187, 177 & 176 total yards, respectively, in their last three games. Seattle blew a 17-6 lead in the first meeting TY, losing at home in OT despite outrushing the 49ers 169-93, but turning loose J.T. O’Sullivan for several key plays in the second half. Niners only 1-2-1 when favored the last 2+Ys, but they have a few more weapons going for them than crippled Hawks.
(08-S. Fr. 33-SEA. 30 (OT)...Se.22-20 Se.34/169 Sf.23/93 Sf.20/32/0/272 Se.18/36/2/182 Sf.1 Se.1)
(07-Sea. 23-S. FR. 3...Se.17-9 Sf.19/109 Se.37/93 Se.23/32/1/278 Sf.12/34/2/75 Se.0 Sf.1)
(07-SEA. 24-S. Fr. 0...Se.27-6 Se.36/106 Sf.16/79 Se.27/40/1/274 Sf.12/28/0/94 Se.1 Sf.2)
(08-S. Fran. +6' 33-30 (OT); 07-Sea. -2 23-3, SEA. -9' 24-0...SR: Seattle 10-9)
HOUSTON 34 - Cincinnati 17 [Schedule re-arrangement due to due Hurricane Ike]—Houston did everything but blow out the Lions last week, with only a Matt Schaub fumble in the red zone keeping the game from being a first half rout. Detroit then used a couple of 54-yard FGs and a 96-yard TD pass to come in the back door. With Schaub completing 26 of 31 vs. the Lions, can’t count on Ryan Fitzpatrick (0-3 vs. the spread as a starter vs. Browns, Jets, Steelers) to keep pace. (05-CIN. +9' 16 - Hou. 10...SR: Cincy 3-0)
MONDAY, OCTOBER 27
*Indianapolis 24 - TENNESSEE 23—Indy is clearly not the team of recent years. Peyton Manning has only 8 TDP vs. 7 ints. The OL has been banged up, Joseph Addai is expected to miss another game, and Marvin Harrison doesn’t seem to be his old self. The DL is undersized, and 2007 defensive player of the year Bob Sanders is out. In LY’s 16-10 Titan victory in Game 16, Tennessee needed to win, while the Colts did not, with Manning completing 14 of 16 before taking a seat. But it’s now do-or-die for one of the league’s proudest teams, which is 8-4 vs. the spread the last 5+Ys as a road dog. Titans 6-0 SU & vs the spread in 2008, but their schedule has hardly been imposing. Let’s see how they cope with Indy’s desperation shot. CABLE TV—ESPN
(07-Indy 22-TENN. 20...I.23-19 T.34/141 I.22/81 I.28/42/1/300 T.17/27/0/172 I.0 T.2)
(07-Tenn. 16-INDY 10...T.25-13 T.39/98 I.10/46 T.24/31/0/258 I.25/40/0/148 T.2 I.1)
(07-Indianapolis -7 22-20, Tennessee -4' 16-10...SR: Indianapolis 15-12)
Re: Newsletters 10/21 - 10/27
THE GOLD SHEET COLLEGE ANALYSIS
MINNESOTA by 12 over Purdue
VANDERBILT by 20 over Duke
GEORGIA TECH by 28 over Virginia
TULSA by 32 over Ucf (Sunday, Oct. 26)
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 23
*Auburn 20 - WEST VIRGINIA 19—Star sr. QB Pat White should be back in action for West Virginia. Still, TY’s Mountaineer offense was already looking very mediocre (especially in comparison with prolific strike forces of last few seasons) before White sat out 17-6 home win over woeful Syracuse on Oct. 11. Extra week of prep no panacea for wayward Auburn attack. But time enough for some tweaking by veteran HC Tuberville after jettisoning o.c. Tony Franklin, and speedy Tiger defense (only 13 ppg) matches up well against WV’s spread option. TV— ESPN (First Meeting)
*AIR FORCE 26 - New Mexico 24—We’re sure New Mexico enjoyed a rare chance to imitate Tom Osborne’s old Nebraska teams when running the ball down San Diego State’s throat last week. Dominating a capable Air Force bunch is an entirely different matter, but Lobos also on ascent because OL jelling and QB situation no longer dire with RS frosh Gruner getting comfy at controls. Rocky Long’s unorthodox 3-3-5 “D” might unnerve Falcs’ exciting but green frosh QB Jefferson.
(07-N. MEX. 34-A. Force 31...18-18 A.49/212 N.48/156 N.16/28/1/169 A.11/18/0/110 N.1 A.5)
(07-UNM -6 34-31 06-AFA -13' 24-7 05-Afa +12' 42-24...SR: Air Force 14-10)
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 24
*Boise State 25 - SAN JOSE STATE 23—Boise’s recent trips to San Jose have been harrowing to say the least (narrow escapes in ‘04 & ‘06 almost scuttled unbeaten Bronco reg.-season marks). Don’t expect anything different this time, not with Spartan “D” shutting off passing lanes with lockdown CBs Owens & Francies, likely forcing Boise RS frosh QB K. Moore to “matriculate” downfield in more conservative manner. Note Dick Tomey’s bunch on 9-game home cover streak! CABLE TV—ESPN2
(07-BOISE ST. 42-Sjsu 7...B.23-13 B.31/144 S.32/98 B.32/41/1/290 S.16/30/0/100 B.1 S.0)
(07-BSU -25' 42-7 06-Bsu -13' 23-20 05-BSU -30' 38-21...SR: Boise State 8-0)
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 25
ARMY 24 - Louisiana Tech 19—La Tech hasn’t been traveling well since the days George W. Bush’s approval ratings were near 50% (Bulldogs 0-3 vs. number on road TY, 13-35-2 vs. line away since early ‘01!), so don’t mind giving ascending Army a look. “Back to the future” theme playing well at West Point, as Black Knights have covered 4 straight since Stan Brock switched to option on full-time basis, and robust “D” (ranks respectable 40th) excellent by academy standards. (First Meeting)
MARYLAND 28 - North Carolina State 24—Although “buy” signs on the Terrapins were abundant in last week’s impressive beatdown of ranked Wake, desultory Maryland has been an exceedingly poor investment as a favorite recently, covering just 3 of last 15 laying points. With resourceful RS frosh QB R. Wilson making plays for N.C. State offense and Wolfpack defense getting healthier, compelled to back dog.
(07-Mary. 37-N. CAR. ST. 0...M.22-14 M.49/249 N.16/10 N.26/45/1/240 M.20/25/0/217 M.0 N.0)
(07-Mary. +2 37-0 06-MARY. -2 26-20 05-NCS -3 20-14...SR: EVEN 30-30-4)
MIAMI-FLORIDA 26 - Wake Forest 20—Tough to predict which platoon will prevail in matchup of young, banged-up Hurricane defense vs. regressing Wake offense that has mustered just 1 TD in first 3 ACC games. Can precocious Miami true frosh QB Jacory Harris (4 TDP, 1 TDR, 2 ints. during last week’s win at Duke) avoid major mistakes against Deacons’ ball-hawking veteran stop unit (20 takeaways)? TV-ESPNU
(05-Miami-Florida -16' 47-17...SR: Miami-Florida 5-3)
Northwestern 31 - INDIANA 17—Seven straight spread losses and a 10- ranked pass defense are enough to keep Indiana on our “go-against” list. Hoosier QB Lewis (ankle injury) has just 1 TDP and only 39 YR in the last 3 games, so no end in sight for Indiana slide. Northwestern has already won tougher road games than this at Duke and Iowa, so QB Bacher and a solid corps of receivers should hurt Hoosier 2ndary.
(07-N’WESTERN 31-Ind. 28...N.26-17 N.46/165 I.27/94 N.27/34/3/291 I.18/28/1/204 N.0 I.1)
(07-NORTHWESTERN +2' 31-28...SR: Northwestern 42-33-1)
***Minnesota 31 - PURDUE 19—Rested Minnesota has covered 5 straight and owns one of most improved defenses in the nation. Gopher d.c. Ted Roof has a bend-but-don’t break unit that’s generating lots of turnovers (Gophers rank 1st in TO margin; Purdue 101st). Not sure reeling Purdue capable of moving ball consistently, considering Boiler QB Painter has been a disappointment in ’08, with 9 ints. & just 4 TD passes in last 6 games, and has apparently lost the confidence of HC Tiller. Minny’s Weber-to-Decker combo too much Purdue 2ndary that bee hurt by lesser QBs.
(07-Purd. 45-MINN. 31...P.28-25 M.37/232 P.33/166 P.33/48/1/338 M.23/44/1/237 P.0 M.3)
(07-Purd. -14 45-31 06-PURD. +2' 27-21 05-MINN. -3' 42-35 (OT)...SR: Minnesota 31-30-3)
NORTH CAROLINA 23 - Boston College 16—Carolina trying not to let gutwrenching loss at Virginia (Heels never trailed until Cavs punched in game-winning overtime TD) linger, while resilient BC has put together 4 straight victories. Tough to ignore Eagle QB Crane’s carelessness with rock (3 ints., 2 returned for TDs, during win over Va. Tech), however, especially considering that UNC leads nation with 14 “picks.” Heel soph RB Draughn (338 YR last 3 games) is top ground threat on field.
(05-NORTH CAROLINA +4' 16-14...SR: EVEN 2-2)
Cincinnati 20 - CONNECTICUT 17—Acknowledge that well-coached UConn has been profitable play as host, covering 15 of last 20 at Hartford. Still,reluctant to buck money-making Cincy mentor Brian Kelly, who’s been a 68% play vs. spread over last few seasons. Bearcats’ vastly superior receivers & greater speed on defense held sway in LY’s meeting. Same story this time around.
(07-CINCY 27-Conn. 3...Ci.18-11 Ci.39/144 Co.22/22 Ci.21/33/0/276 Co.18/37/1/182 Ci.0 Co.0)
(07-CINCY -6' 27-3 06-Cincy -4' 26-23 05-CINCY +7' 28-17...SR: Cincinnati 4-0)
Illinois 28 - WISCONSIN 21—Wisconsin is broken, and we’re not convinced HC Bielema can fix things in one week. Offensive failures continued against Iowa last week, as Badgers’ move to Dustin Sherer at QB didn’t help (17 of 34 passing, 174 YP, 2 ints. & 0 TDPs). Ankle injury to top rusher P.J. Hill compounds Bielema’s problems, and Wisconsin is just 7-8 SU in last 15 games. Conversely, Illinois offense exploding as QB Juice Williams (1043 YP, 8 TDP, 3 rush TDs & only 1 int. in the last 3 games) and WR Rejus Benn (136 ypg receiving in last 4) clicking, while highly-touted frosh RB Jason Ford had
172 YR against Indiana.
(07-ILL. 31-Wis. 26...W.28-18 I.44/289 W.31/127 W.27/49/2/392 I.12/19/0/121 I.0 W.0)
(07-ILL. -2' 31-26 06-WIS. -21 30-24 05-Wis. -20' 41-24...SR: Illinois 36-33-7)
PITTSBURGH 24 - Rutgers 10—In first 6 games vs. FBS foes, Rutgers’ reeling Ray Rice-less offense mustered just 9 TDs, while Scarlet Knight stop unit failed to snag a single “takeaway.” Improving Panthers ride star soph RB McCoy (447 YR & 5 TDs in last 3 games) & stingy defense to convincing victory.
(07-RUT. 20-Pitt 16...P.14-13 R.40/111 P.41/110 P.14/28/1/158 R.5/17/2/108 R.2 P.1)
(07-RUTGERS -12 20-16 06-Rutgers +6' 20-10 05-RUTGERS P 37-29...SR: Pittsburgh 19-6)
*Texas A&M 27 - IOWA STATE 24—ISU (five straight losses) has the advantage of defense and the home field, but the Cyclone offense is slowing to a walk (10 & 7 points last two games). The A&M defense (34.4 ppg), however,continues to betray the development the Aggie offense has been showing under former Packer coach Mike Sherman. ISU only 3-7 last 10 when favored.
(05-Iowa State +11 42-14...SR: Texas A&M 7-1)
FLORIDA 42 - Kentucky 12—Though UK finally showed offensive competence in 21-20 comeback Lexington victory vs. Arkansas, prefer refreshed UF, which has covered 8 of past 10 in “The Swamp.” Gator o.c. Mullen has found the right formula by using both speedy true frosh Demps & RS frosh Rainey (both prep WRs) in backfield (combined 195 YR vs. LSU!). With UF’s previously over-thinking QB Tebow heeding advice of Mullen, who said “Quit acting like a professor and play like a guy who won the Hesiman Trophy,”Wildcats highly-ranked defense fails toughest test to date.
(07-Fla. 45-KY. 37...K.29-21 F.37/171 K.35/97 K.35/50/0/415 F.18/26/0/256 F.0 K.0)
(07-Florida -7 45-37 06-FLORIDA -26' 26-7 05-Florida -23 49-28...SR: Florida 41-17)
*Mississippi 28 - ARKANSAS 20—UA might suffer a “hangover effect” after leading for 58 mins. of painful 21-20 setback at Kentucky, so side with rejuvenated Ole Miss, primed to snap 4-game series losing skein (outscored 82-11 L2YS). Rebels dynamic QB Snead more likely to make game-changing plays than Hog counterpart C. Dick (ugly 11 of 29 for 94 yds. vs. UK), especially with hot RB M. Smith cooled off by Ole Miss’ stingy front 7 (just 3.2 ypc; limited Bama to a meager 107 YR).
(07-Ark. 44-MISS. 8...A.23-20 A.54/293 M.34/112 M.14/34/4/182 A.12/18/1/144 A.0 M.0)
(07-Ark. -5' 44-8 06-ARK. -20' 38-3 05-Ark. +1 28-17...SR: Arkansas 30-23-1)
BALL STATE 45 - Eastern Michigan 14—Teams headed in opposite directions, as 7-0 Ball State seeking MAC title, while EMU looking like the team that’s dropped 15 of last 21 spread decisions (How long can Jeff Genyk avoid the axe?). Defensive contrasts dramatic, as Cardinals rank 16th in scoring “D” at 15 ppg, while Eagles are 101st. Main question is whether Nate Davis and highpowered Ball State attack “get the number” before being replaced by reserves.
(07-Ball St. 38-E. MICH. 16...B.24-11 B.42/153 E.28/107 B.19/39/0/306 E.16/26/1/155 B.0 E.0)
(07-Bsu -4 38-16 06-BSU -5 38-20 05-Bsu +6 26-25...SR: Ball State 27-20-2)
BYU 47 - Unlv 17—BYU’s BCS hopes abruptly ended in stinging 32-7 loss at TCU, but expect angry Cougs to vent frustration vs. defensively-outmannedUNLV (yielding 32 ppg), which is 2-11 vs. spread last 13 as MWC visitor.BYU’s prolific QB Hall (69%, 20 TDs, 6 ints.) easily dissects inviting Rebel 2ndary (11 TDs, only 3 ints.), totally untested by Air Force option last week.Resilient Cougs (6-2 vs. spread last 8 following SU loss) 10-4 vs. spread in Provo since ‘06.
(07-Byu 24-UNLV 14...B.26-14 B.45/227 U.25/96 B.21/33/3/214 U.16/26/1/121 B.1 U.0)
(07-Byu -11 24-14 06-BYU -28' 52-7 05-Byu -12 55-14...SR: BYU 12-3)
***VANDERBILT 34 - Duke 14—Since Vandy might have big trouble reaching that elusive 6th win with a brutal Nov. slate, now’s the time to endorse hungry ‘Dores stepping waaayy down in class. Vandy’s mobile QB M. Adams & RB Hawkins (399 YR, 4.2 ypc) burn a Duke defense feeling “bad vibes” after allowing 35 2nd-H pts. in 49-31 loss vs. Miami. ‘Dores TO-creating stop unit (17 takeaways; 13 ints.!) helps set up favorable field position vs. Blue Devils, on road for only 2nd time TY. (06-Vanderbilt -8 45-28...SR: Vanderbilt 7-3)
Rice 37 - TULANE 34—Sure, high-stepping Tulane jr. RB André Anderson (185 ypg rushing in last 4) will keep potent Rice attack idling on sidelines for extended stretches. But quick-trigger Owl sr. QB Clement (6 more TDP last week, 72 in last 2+ seasons!) doesn’t usually need much time to strike pay dirt.
(07-Tulane 45-RICE 31...19-19 T.54/267 R.15/23 R.35/55/0/353 T.11/22/1/188 T.0 R.0)
(07-Tulane +2' 45-31 06-TULANE +2' 38-24 05-RICE -1 42-34...SR: Rice 15-14-1)
Fresno State 38 - UTAH STATE 24—Despite the best efforts of exciting soph QB Borel, Utah State remains so deficient in so many other areas (such as 109th-ranked “D”) that it’s risky recommending Utags at almost any price. But disappointing Fresno not providing a lot of value either (no covers last 5). And with BCS dreams long since dashed, not sure we trust Bulldogs carrying heavy lumber on road.
(07-FRES. ST. 38-Utah St. 27...F.23-20 F.47/255 U.38/155 U.18/26/0/214 F.13/18/1/131 F.1 U.1)
(07-FSU -20' 38-27 06-USU +26' 13-12 05-FSU -33 53-21...SR: Fresno State 12-10-1)
NAVY 34 - Smu 30—Contrast in styles of these two as stark as the differences between Sean Hannity and Alan Colmes. But Navy option not operating at peak efficiency if QB Kaipo’s hamstring injury continues to linger. Meanwhile, SMU quietly becoming more competitive (no spread losses last 4), and back door wide open for Bo Levi Mitchell and June Jones’ evolving Dallas version of the Red Gun.
(DNP...SR: SMU 7-5)
Alabama 24 - TENNESSEE 13—While embroiled HC Fulmer’s growing legion of critics temporarily silenced following 34-3 romp vs. offensively-iffy MSU, they return following Vols anticipated 4th loss TY vs. an SEC contender.Fast-starting Tide (outscoring foes 95-3 in 1st Q!) likely to force UT (outscored 37-0 in 1st Q) to be in early catch-up mode. Doubt immature QB Stephens (just 23 of 50 L2 weeks) can close deficit vs. stout Tide defense (15 ppg, 2.3 ypc) hell-bent to play 4 intense Qs after HC Saban has bemoaned “complacent efforts” following intermission in recent victories.
(07-ALA. 41-Tenn. 17...A.21-19 A.38/147 T.19/103 A.32/46/0/363 T.23/38/2/259 A.0 T.0)
(07-ALA. +1 41-17 06-TENN. -11 16-13 05-ALA. -3' 6-3...SR: Alabama 45-38-7)
*ARIZONA STATE 29 - Oregon 24—Native son John McCain might wish he could have taken a week off as did ASU, which hopes last week’s “bye” allowed Dennis Erickson and o.c. Rich Olson a chance to tune up laboring “O” in Sun Devil garage. Banged-up Oregon also welcomed its own “bye” and should have QB Roper available once more. But if off week indeed allowed Rudy Carpenter’s sore ankle to heal, Sun Devils might start to resemble their form from ‘07 and the first few weeks of this season when attack was popping.
(07-ORE. 35-Ariz. St. 23...A.25-22 O.41/200 A.41/110 A.22/37/1/379 O.15/26/0/200 O.1 A.1)
(07-ORE. -8 35-23 06-Ore. +1' 48-13 05-Ore. +10 31-17...SR: Arizona State 16-12)
CALIFORNIA 30 - Ucla 20—UCLA not scoring many style points these days. But this isn’t Dancing With The Stars, and sage o.c. Norm Chow has juco QB Craft making just enough plays to keep Bruins within earshot most weeks. Meanwhile, Jeff Tedford’s QB juggling act showing signs of backfiring (both Longshore & Riley erratic), and top Cal weapon RB Best could be compromised by nagging arm injury. Heavy technicals in UCLA’s favor (Bruins 14-2 last 16 as dog, and 37-18 overall vs. number since early ‘04; Bears 4-15-1 last 20 laying DDs). REG. TV—ABC
(07-UCLA 30-Cal. 21...U.22-19 U.45/183 C.30/67 C.22/34/3/232 U.19/28/0/190 U.2 C.1)
(07-UCLA +2' 30-21 06-CAL. -17' 38-24 05-UCLA -1 47-40...SR: UCLA 49-28-1)
MIAMI-OHIO 26 - Kent State 24—Can’t lay many points with Miami-O. side that’s dropped 8 straight as a favorite. Return to action of Kent RB Eugene Jarvis (50 YR & 2 recs. in limited duty vs. Ohio) and a week off should be enough to pry a good performance out of Golden Flashes. Miami offense doesn’t scare anybody, as RedHawk QB switch from vet Raudabaugh to RS frosh Belton netted a win at Bowling Green, but Belton completed only 11 of 23 passes for 129 yards. Kent won’t be surprised by Miami true frosh Jay Taylor (127 YR in first extended duty vs. BG).
(07-Miami 20-KENT ST. 13...K.25-16 K.45/203 M.36/101 M.16/22/0/310 K.19/33/2/260 M.2 K.1)
(07-Miami +9 20-13 06-Ksu +12' 16-14 05-Miami -6' 27-10...SR: Miami-Ohio 28-20-2)
***GEORGIA TECH 35 - Virginia 7—Three straight home wins have put surprising Virginia & beleaguered HC Groh back in thick of ACC title chase. But Cavs now hitting the road, where they’re just 9-25 vs. spread in last 34 as true visitor. Facing Tech’s terrific DL a tough assignment for still-learning UVa soph QB Verica, and no better bankroll buddy than new Jacket & former Navy mentor Paul Johnson (5-0 against line TY). TV—ESPNU
(07-VA. 28-Ga. Tech 23...V.20-17 G.31/121 V.42/121 V.20/35/1/233 G.17/40/1/230 V.2 G.1)
(07-VA. +3' 28-23 06-TECH -17 24-7 05-VA. -3' 27-17...SR: Virginia 15-14-1)
TEXAS 38 - Oklahoma State 31—Rare deep-in-the-season matchup of teams undefeated both SU and vs. the spread. The public unloaded on Missouri at UT last week, but Mack Brown deserves credit for keeping his team from “eating the cheese” in the trap of a possible letdown after the Horns’ upset of Oklahoma. OSU has a recent history of wild shootouts vs. the Longhorns,and QB Zac Robinson (70%, 14 TDs , 4 ints.) is playing nearly as well as UT’s McCoy. REG. TV—ABC
(07-Texas 38-OK. ST. 35...O.29-27 T.42/307 O.45/164 O.30/42/0/430 T.20/27/3/282 T.0 O.1)
(07-Texas -2' 38-35 06-TEXAS -18 36-10 05-Texas -37' 47-28...SR: Texas 20-2)
LSU 26 - Georgia 20—Now that o.c. Crowton has expanded playbook for strong-armed, fast-learning QB Lee, support loaded, deep LSU, which is 41-4 SU in Tiger Stadium since 2002 (last two losses in OT!). UGA QB Stafford finds no comfort zone behind green OL (all frosh-soph) hard-pressed to slow down an unleashed Tiger pass rush (season-best 6 sacks at S. Carolina). LSU’s blazing 5- 5 return man Holliday (24-yd. avg. on punts) can score any time, while undervalued RB K. Scott (6.4 ypc) not outdueled by Dawgs more celebrated RB Moreno.
(05-GEORGIA +1' 34-14 at Atlanta...SR: LSU 14-11-1)
Oklahoma 47 - KANSAS STATE 23—Despite all its firepower (47 ppg), OU has failed to cover its last two games, going 1-1 SU, with oddsmakers writing “pointspread checks” the Sooner defense couldn’t cash with its allowances of 45 points vs. Texas and 31 vs. Kansas. But it’s hard to go against the Sooners with their solid OL and big-play offense when juco-laden K-State has been scrambling for a running game and defensive stability to help support powerful QB Josh Freeman (12 TDs, 2 ints.). (05-OKL. -7 43-21...SR: Okla. 67-17-4)
Michigan State 24 - MICHIGAN 23—Both of these teams a bit shellshocked after suffering blowout-losses last week. Not quite ready to lay points at Ann Arbor with MSU side that hasn’t won there since 1990. Spartans have challenges, as QB Hoyer left the Ohio St. game with a hand injury and has a possible concussion, while Michigan run defense yields just 3.3 ypc. Wolverines played one good half of football last week, which is more than can be said for the Spartans. REG. TV—ABC
(07-Mich. 28-MICH. ST. 24...U.18-17 S.43/191 U.30/100 U.18/33/1/211 S.19/35/1/161 U.0 S.0)
(07-Mich. -3' 28-24 06-MICH. -15' 31-13 05-Mich. +5 34-31 (OT)...SR: Michigan 67-28-5)
FLORIDA STATE 24 - Virginia Tech 23—“Technicals” clearly favor taking points with Tech, as Hokies still 17-4 vs. spread last 21 as visitor (even after dropping decision at BC last week), while Seminoles have been decidedly subpar as favorite over last several seasons. Fundamentally, however, FSU has the best RB on field in sr. Antone Smith (335 YR & 8 TDs in last 3 games) and the QB most likely to do damage through air in blossoming soph Ponder. REG. TV—ABC
(07-VA. TECH 40-Fla. St. 21...V.17-13 V.54/188 F.28/116 V.11/19/1/207 F.13/33/2/151 V.0 F.1)
(07-TECH -6' 40-21 05-Fsu +14 27-22 at Jacksonville...SR: Florida State 21-11-1)
Re: Newsletters 10/21 - 10/27
NORTHERN ILLINOIS 37 - Bowling Green 23—With Huskies’ veteran defense (only 11 ppg last 3) clamping down and their offense getting a spark from return of resourceful RS frosh QB Harnish (3 TDP last week), the only thing preventing a strong recommendation on NIU is recent profitability of Bowling Green (13-5 vs. spread last 18 as visitor) on road.
(DNP...SR: Bowling Green 10-5)
New Mexico State 42 - IDAHO 20—After NMS’ record-breaking QB Holbrook tossed two “picks” for TDs in 31-14 home loss vs. SJS, look for the future 6-5 NFL draftee to bounce back big-time vs. “invisible” Idaho defense (50 ppg) that lost emotional leader (if they had one) SS Keo to season-ending injury. Woeful Vandals gain no inspiration in Kibbie Dome, where they’ve failed to cover 9 straight.
(07-N. MEX. ST. 45-Idaho 31...N.26-25 I.43/234 N.24/88 N.36/49/0/404 I.19/35/2/212 N.0 I.1)
(07-NMS -9 45-31 06-IDAHO -1 28-20 05-Idaho +5' 38-37 (OT)...SR: Idaho 10-4)
*TCU 41 - Wyoming 3—No truth to the rumor that Wyo is so desperate to find a QB that HC Glenn inquired if Joe The Plumber had any eligibility remaining. Not that Joe would fare much worse than regressing Karsten Sween or the other QBs that Cowboys have used to no avail in recent weeks. Hot TCU pretty reliable laying heavy lumber at Fort Worth (7-1 last 8 laying DDs) now that passing QB Dalton back in lineup. A better question is what to do if presented with a 3½ “Wyo only total” on this game?
(07-WYO. 24-Tcu 21...22-22 W.51/232 T.43/134 T.22/39/1/210 W.12/26/1/134 W.1 T.2)
(07-WYOMING -3 24-21 06-TCU -6' 26-3 05-Tcu +7 28-14...SR: EVEN 2-2)
Central Michigan 34 - TOLEDO 21—CMU impressed by beating Western Michigan last week without MAC MVP QB LeFevour at the controls. Chip backup QB Brian Brunner completed 20 of 28 passes for 346 yards in relief, and frosh Brian Schroeder made the most of his opportunity, rushing for 106 yards and 2 TDs. Toledo defense ranks 104th and has yielded 40 ppg in losing 3 home games. Rocket QB Opelt and WR S. Williams can’t trade scores with Chippewas for long.
(07-C. MICH. 52-Tol. 31...C.28-21 C.42/218 T.36/101 T.26/42/0/381 C.22/32/0/244 C.0 T.1)
(07-CMU -3 52-31 06-Cmu +2' 42-20 05-CMU +7' 21-17...SR: Toledo 17-16-3)
South Florida 28 - LOUISVILLE 27—Substantial edge at QB for visiting USF & its irrepressible jr. triggerman Grothe, as strong-armed Louisville sr. counterpart Cantwell’s lack of mobility a major concern against hard-charging Bull front 7 led by sackmeister DE Selvie. No surprise, however, if elusive RS frosh RB V. Anderson (663 YR) and improved defense & special teams (4 TDs last 2 games) keep Cards close.
(07-S. FLA. 55-Lvl. 17...S.26-23 S.49/230 L.26/130 L.24/49/4/273 S.19/27/1/251 S.0 L.3)
(07-USF -9 55-17 06-LVL. -17 31-8 05-USF +20 45-14...SR: South Florida 3-2)
NEBRASKA 34 - Baylor 20—After apologizing to the state of Nebraska for his team’s performance in its 52-17 home loss vs. Missouri, Bo Pelini’s team hung tough in 37-31 OT loss at Texas Tech and then routed ISU 35-7 in Ames. Baylor QB Robert Griffin a marvel, but lack of a supporting ground game making things difficult for “Rambo” on the road.
(05-Nebraska -2 23-14...SR: Nebraska 9-1)
KANSAS 34 - Texas Tech 28—TT (7-0), off to its best start in 32 years, is beginning a stretch of four straight games vs. upper-echelon Big XII foes. With Brian Batch (491 YR) leading the way, the usually pass-happy Red Raiders have topped 100 YR in every game TY, out-rushing 6 of their 7 foes! The 2008 Jayhawks (sacked 5 times last week) miss the power runs of Brandon McAnderson, but their 10-1 spread mark their last 11 at home is impressive.
(05-TEXAS TECH -18 30-17...SR: Texas Tech 9-1)
*MISSOURI 41 - Colorado 13—After being serenaded for 20 minutes by chants of “o-ver-RA-ted” at Austin last week, expect HC Gary Pinkel, QB Chase Daniel and the Tigers to dig deep back at home. MU has rushed for only 64 & 30 yards, respectively, in its consecutive losses vs. Oklahoma State & Texas.But CU just 4-12-1 vs. the spread its last 17 away and is juggling QBs in search of offense.
(07-Mo. 55-COLO. 10...M.25-7 M.42/169 C.30/84 M.27/45/1/429 C.14/28/1/112 M.0 C.2)
(07-Mo. -3' 55-10 06-MO. -15 28-13 05-COLO. -12 41-12...SR: Missouri 38-31-3)
*Penn State 27 - OHIO STATE 20—Favor red-hot Penn State, as Nittany Lions have a QB edge with sr. Daryll Clark (18th in pass efficiency; 11 TDPs, 8 rush TDs) over still-learning true frosh Terrelle Pryor. Argument can also be made that Paterno has better players in the pits. Penn State protects and rushes the passer better than the Buckeyes, and the Nittany Lions allow more than a half-yard less per carry than the OSU defense. Paterno 0-7 SU and vs.number last 7 visits to the “Big Horshoe,” but he’d dropped 9 straight to Michigan prior to last week’s game against the Wolverines. REG. TV—ABC
(07-Osu 37-PSU 17...O.24-14 O.48/200 P.23/139 O.19/26/1/253 P.16/26/1/124 O.0 P.1)
(07-Osu -3' 37-17 06-OSU -17 28-6 05-PSU +3' 17-10...SR: Ohio State 12-11)
*Southern Miss 31 - MEMPHIS 23—True, visiting Eagles have dropped their last 4 games SU & vs. spread. But backing Memphis a very dicey proposition now that Tigers likely down to third-string QB Toney (see Special Ticker).
(07-Mem. 29-USM 26...M.27-16 U.38/147 M.26/26 M.35/49/2/396 U.12/18/1/159 M.0 U.0)
(07-Memp. +16' 29-26 06-Usm -7 42-21 05-Memp. +7 24-22...SR: Southern Miss 37-20-1)
*Notre Dame 32 - WASHINGTON 16—Not completely sure that Ty Willingham will still be on the job to face his old team when this one kicks off (new U-Dub AD Steve Woodward under pressure to hit “eject” button before season concludes). But with Jake Locker sidelined, reliever Fouch erratic, and Huskies apt to wave the white flag at any time, we’d rather take our chances with Notre Dame, especially since Charlie Weis’ improved OL should provide Jimmy Clausen all day to throw. CABLE TV—ESPN
(05-Notre Dame -13 36-17...SR: Notre Dame 6-0)
*Colorado State 32 - SAN DIEGO STATE 15—SDSU’s prospects are so bleak that we doubt even CNBC’s Jim Cramer would be interested in “buying” Aztecs at current depressed price levels. CSU not a prototypical road favorite, but Rams have at least displayed some offensive competence with RB G.Johnson & QB Farris. Note SDSU continues en route to historic stat exacta (last
nationally in both rush “O” and rush “D”!).
(07-Sds 24-COL. ST. 20...S.19-16 S.44/148 C.39/139 S.14/27/0/230 C.14/27/1/188 S.1 C.1)
(07-Sds +13' 24-20 06-SDS +1 17-6 05-Sds +7' 30-10...SR: San Diego State 15-12)
*Southern Cal 30 - ARIZONA 22—Now that SC facing a functioning offense instead of the injury-plagued imitations it has seen in recent weeks, Trojans might actually have to work for a full 60 minutes. Remember, Mike Stoops’ UA teams have proven competitive lately (covering last 3) vs. Troy, and plenty of competence in o.c. Sonny Dykes’ Texas Tech-like spread that uncovered a new weapon last week in frosh RB Antolin (149 YR vs. Cal). Stoops’ scheming on “D” has held Trojans to far under normal production in last 2 meetings (SC only scored 20 on both occasions).
(07-S. CAL 20-Ariz. 13...S.19-13 S.43/146 A.16/22 A.30/43/0/233 S.19/31/2/130 S.0 A.3)
(07-USC -21 20-13 06-Usc -21 20-3 05-USC -37' 42-21...SR: Southern Cal 25-6)
*Nevada 29 - HAWAII 22—With QB Kaepernick likely at full attention after disciplinary benching during 1st Q of last week’s game vs. Utah State, properlyfocused Nevada has enough weapons to outscore post June Jones-version of Hawaii Red Gun. New Warrior QB Funaki more likely to cause damage with his legs than his arm, which won’t catch Wolf Pack “D” by surprise after chasing Utags’ mobile Diondre Borel last week in Reno.
(07-Hawaii 28-NEV. 26...H.21-19 N.48/216 H.21/51 H.35/49/0/379 N.9/20/1/134 H.1 N.2)
(07-Hawaii -6 28-26 06-HAWAII -12 41-34 05-NEVADA -5 38-28...SR: EVEN 6-6)
*MISSISSIPPI STATE 24 - Middle Tenn. St. 16—Scrappy MTS suffered 2nd- H meltdown (outscored 27-6 after intermission) in 42-23 loss at L’Ville, but still reluctant to lay DDs with offensively-shaky MSU (12 ppg), admittedly dropping in class in midst of murderous SEC slate. Blue Raiders clever QB Craddock & speedy WRs could hit enough plays to stay within DD impost of a Bulldog squad 0-4 as Starkville chalk since ‘05. CABLE TV—ESPNU
(DNP...SR: Miss. St. 2-0)
*LA.-MONROE 27 - Florida Atlantic 22—Charlie Weatherbie didn’t make Monroe backers very happy by showing unusual compassion vs. outclassed North Texas last week (Warhawks shut down their “O” after racing to 35-6 halftime lead). But we’ve seen more competence from QB Lancaster and the ULM attack than from counterparts at FAU, now forced to rely on infantry diversions (RB Pierre 192 YR at WKU) in light of QB Rusty Smith’s ‘08 struggles.
(07-La.-Mon. 33-FAU 30 (OT)...F.25-21 L.47/207 F.33/128 F.35/55/2/317 L.23/36/1/201 L.1 F.0)
(07-Ulm +6 33-30 (OT) 06-Fau +14 21-19 05-Ulm +7' 28-21...SR: La.-Monroe 3-1)
*Troy 48 - NORTH TEXAS 16—Not that impressed by North Texas scoring final 20 spread-covering points at La.-Monroe last week, as moribund Mean Green (outscored 324-81 in first 3 Qs TY!) rarely positioned to sneak in “back door.”
(07-TROY 45-N. Texas 7...T.21-13 T.35/137 N.35/26 T.28/43/4/356 N.23/41/1/179 T.3 N.1)
(07-TROY -22' 45-7 06-TROY -10' 14-6 05-Troy +2 13-10...SR: Troy 4-1)
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 26
*** *TULSA 56 - Ucf 24—While the old-school handicapper in us might tend to favor defense over offense, the firepower edge enjoyed by Tulsa in this matchup is so stark that we’re compelled to lay the lumber. How can sputtering UCF (just 243 ypg—worst in country) possibly keep pace with juggernaut Golden Hurricane side that peppers the scoreboard with a nation-leading 57 ppg? CABLE TV—ESPN
(07-UCF 44-Tulsa 23...T.25-24 U.48/229 T.25/59 T.35/61/4/320 U.21/29/0/224 U.1 T.0)
(07-UCF -3 44-23 05-Tulsa -2 44-27 at Orlando...SR: EVEN 1-1)
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 28
*Buffalo vs. OHIO—Check our website at Sports Handicappers - Football Picks - Handicapping Picks - Basketball Betting for details on this one!! CABLE TV—ESPNU
(07-BUF. 31-Ohio 10...B.22-18 B.56/251 O.32/90 O.23/41/2/186 B.11/20/0/146 B.0 W.0)
(07-BUFFALO +4 31-10 06-OHIO -17' 42-7 05-Ohio -4' 34-20...SR: Ohio 9-5)
Re: Newsletters 10/21 - 10/27
KEVIN O’NEILL’S THE MAX
Selection and analysis by Kevin O’Neill
Army (-1½) over Louisiana Tech
Having changed to a triple option offense in the offseason, Army understandably struggled, losing their first four games, but is now starting to get it. Against Temple, New Hampshire, and Akron, Army averaged 179 yards rushing on 3.3 yards per rush, but things really turned around in a close loss to Texas A&M. The Cadets went for 280 yards on the ground at 4.3 yards per carry in that one. And since then, Army has cranked on the ground, averaging 317 yards on 6.0 yards per carry against Tulane, Eastern Michigan, and Buffalo. They beat Tulane and Eastern Michigan, and lost in OT Saturday to Buffalo. In that Buffalo game, Army went for 320 yards on 54 carries, just a shade under 6 yards per rush. And Buffalo’s head coach was uniquely qualified to coach his team against the Army offense, as Turner Gill was one of the premier triple-option quarterbacks in the history of college football at Nebraska. For Louisiana Tech, this is a “what are they doing here?” kind of game. It’s one thing to be here in September, but when you’ve already been to Honolulu and Boise so far this season, how enthusiastic are you going to be on the bluff overlooking the Hudson River in late October? In the midst of your WAC schedule, do have the will do to what’s necessary to win this game against such a unique offense? The Bulldogs haven’t seen an option team this year, nor did they see one last year. The triple option can be like learning to play defense all over again, and how much does Louisiana Tech really want to go to the wall to stop it? How will Louisiana Tech’s defensive line feel late in the game when fullback Colin Mooney at 5-10, 247 pounds, plows into the line for the 50th time? He sets up RB Wesley McMahand, who is only 5-6 but averages over 8 yards per carry. Louisiana Tech has decent run defense stats, but the best running team they’ve played is Boise (ranked 66th), everyone else they’ve played is ranked 85th or higher. Without the speed and athleticism of many opponents, Army’s physical, intense defense, gives maximum effort on every play. Opponents have been quoted as saying that their intensity has been tough to match. Ross Jenkins is the new quarterback for Louisiana Tech, and his first start was Saturday night in a blowout win over Idaho, the worst team in 1-A football. This is his first road start, and Michie Stadium can be an intimidating environment, with the wind, the noise from the Cadets, and the intensity of the Army defense. Army’s off a disappointing defeat. They had a pretty good (for the level) Buffalo team beat in the fourth quarter, but a key turnover helped lead to a 14-point Buffalo comeback and the result was a 27-24 loss to the Bulls in overtime. It can be tough to play a team off a close defeat, especially an overtime game they should have won, but these service academy kids have a lot of resiliency, and the Black Knights will bring their A-game each and every week.Lousiana Tech is happy with their blowout WAC win, has a big WAC home game against Fresno next Saturday, and will be asking themselves “what are we doing here?” when they realize that Army is the team that wants this game more. Army by 9.
Selection and analysis by Kevin O’Neill
Cincinnati (pk) over @Connecticut
Both of these teams most recently played Rutgers, and played tight, low scoring games against the Scarlet Knights. Before their bye week, Cincinnati beat RU at home 13-10 without their top two QB’s. Saturday, UConn went to Rutgers and lost 12-10 with one of their top quarterbacks, but they may not have him Saturday. We’ll get to those details in a bit. First let’s look at the nature of the Huskies. It is always a little dangerous to go against Connecticut, as the Huskies results on Saturday, where they largely outplayed Rutgers but lost, are the reverse of what is usually the case. In their last 15 games, Connecticut is 9-6, and in 5 of those 9 wins, they were outgained. They’re well coached, opportunistic, and pretty good on special teams. But some of those characteristics appear to be disappearing. That’s what makes their loss to Rutgers Saturday painful. Their special teams were awful. They missed three FG’s, didn’t field a pair of punts, and trying to turn a kickoff return into a big play, got tackled on their own 1. When they aren’t doing all the little things perfectly, they’re really an average team. Kind of pedestrian on offense, with a good running game but a very poor passing attack. Starting QB Tyler Lorenzen is out with a broken foot. Zack Frazer’s status is unclear after suffering a possible concussion Saturday. The Huskies averaged 5.4 yards per pass attempt heading into the Rutgers game, only 15 teams in all of Division 1-A were worse. But Frazer went for 11.8 yards per attempt against that horrid Rutgers secondary (allow over 9 yards per attempt on the season). Much of the passing production came in the fourth quarter while trailing. Frazer’s backup is a redshirt freshman. Connecticut can run the ball fairly well, but they’ve scored 12 points or less against Temple, North Carolina, and now, Rutgers. Against North Carolina and Rutgers the sloppy Huskies combined for 17 penalties for 154 yards. That’s not something that would have happened last year. Coach Randy Edsall is taking some heat in Storrs for the penalties and defending himself against unimaginative play calling. Cincinnati’s quarterback position is the reverse of Connecticut’s as it has been devastated by injuries but is now getting healthier. Tony Pike will be back for this one. Pike is completing over 8.3 yards per pass attempt with 6 TD’s and a single interception. Bearcats may have some matchup advantages, as they beat UConn 27-3 last year on yardage of 420-204. UConn has had a good defense in recent years, but permit 5.5 yards per play against teams that are less explosive than UC. Brian Kelly is an excellent coach and he has an extra week to prepare his game plan and look for weaknesses in his opponent. Bearcats are a little bit of a stealth team. They were about to get some national attention but then the QB’s got hurt and people saw the ugly close loss against Rutgers and probably forgot about them. Cincy is the better team and it shows here.Cincinnati by 7.
Selection and Analysis by Dave Fobare
Illinois (-1½) over @Wisconsin
For now Bret Bielema's job is plenty safe. Despite losing both straight up and to the spread four straight Big 10 games including last Saturday's 38-16 loss to Iowa, Bielema has the approval of the only voice that really matters: Barry Alvarez. After a 48-7 loss to Penn State two weeks ago Alvarez made a very public defense of his coach. An AD's legacy is determined by the coaches he hires and Alvarez is going to give his guy every opportunity to turn this around. Things could get dicey though, if the Badgers don't go bowling. You need six wins to qualify. Wisconsin has three so far with five games left to play. The final game is a gimme against Cal- Poly SLO. Wisconsin's problems can be traced to their problems in the running game. Long a team that has relied on smash mouth football the Badgers are having problems pushing opponents around. After a sound spanking of Akron to open the season, the Badgers have outrushed their six opponents since by just 45 yards. Wisconsin needs to dominate on the ground because QB Allen Evridge is completing less than 54% of his passes. And that is where the biggest edge for the visiting Illini is. Illinois is averaging just over 10 yards per pass attempt, and on just the air attack alone my stat model has Illinois favored by 15 points. If Wisconsin jumps out to the early lead Juice Williams has enough talent to bring Illinois back. But if Illinois races in front, it is most unlikely that Evridge has the goods to mount a comeback. Off their 55-13 win over Indiana I have a 291- 193 ATS momentum system on Illinois. Best tech I have on this game is a negative 166-269 ATS system that plays against Wisky thanks to their 0-4 mark inside the Big 10. This system is 8-16 ATS in 2008, including losers last weekend on Colorado, Indiana, and the Badgers themselves. A lot of handicappers thought Bielema's 12-1 record in 2006 was a fraud. Maybe it was. Since then the Badgers have had problems against their better opponents. They have covered just four of their last fourteen against opponents with a winning record and the Illini are 4-3. Wisconsin's fade continues. Illinois by 10.
Selection and Analysis by Matty Baiungo
Mississippi (-4) over @Arkansas
This is a big game down in Fayetteville. The Hogs can’t wait to payback Houston Nutt after leaving for Mississippi. And this game has been dubbed the “Nutt Bowl.” You’ll hear about it often this week from the talking heads. But how much of that will really have an effect on the outcome of this game? And how much of it is really just hog wash by the media looking at that angle to carry their stories all week? Plenty. Because when you look at the makeup of the current Arkansas team, you’ll see that they are loaded with a ton of freshman. And they never played for Nutt, so he’s had little (maybe recruiting?) to zero affiliation with them. Most of the talk isn’t coming from the players, but the reporters. And after what happened last week at Kentucky, the Arkansas players have a lot more to worry about than Houston Nutt. Arkansas blew a win at Kentucky. They held a 20-7 fourth quarter lead, but lost 21-20 after allowing a touchdown pass with just over 2 minutes to go in the game. And that loss will be extremely difficult for them to get over. “This is probably the lowest of the lows that we’ve experienced as a team this year,” All-American center Jonathan Luigs said. “And then to give it away like that is a tough one to swallow. It’s probably going to test the character and integrity of this team, how we’re going to bounce back.” And they’ll have to bounce back without their best offensive player who has carried their production. Junior running back Michael Smithleft the Kentucky game with a concussion, and his return here doesn’t look good according to head coach Bobby Petrino: “It’s scary because we don’t know how long he’ll be out with that. It’s a shame because he was playing his heart out, doing a great job running the ball, catching the ball.” In fact, after Smith left the game, the Arkansas offense had three drives that totaled 11 yards on 13 plays. Smith had 253 all-purpose yards by himself. If the SEC’s leading rusher is out, Arkansas will have no chance at matching points with Mississippi. Ole Miss lost another close one last week at Alabama. The 24-20 loss looks good, but the Rebels trailed by 21 (24-3) at the half. We won with them on the late phones, and we got a fortunate and inspired second half performance. And that’s what is so good about Houston Nutt. His kids don’t quit on him, and he knows that. “Tell you what we do have, we've got some fighters and some guys that are really believing," Nutt said. "If they keep doing that, good things are going to happen." The Rebels offense should be able to score at will on the worst defense in the SEC. Arkansas has allowed opposing teams to score on 18 of 22 possessions including 14 touchdowns inside the red zone. And even though the Rebels defense has been equally awful in that category, Arkansas may not get too many chances if Smith doesn’t suit up. While Arkansas is on the improve, they are just in a bad spot off the blown lead last week and the potential of their best offensive player being out. Mississippi by 10.
Selection and analysis by Kevin O’Neill
Duke (+9½) over @Vanderbilt
David Cutlcliffe rescue of the Duke football program was big news a few weeks ago, but since then Duke has lost badly to Georgia Tech and Miami and the bloom is off the rose. But let’s take a look at both their losses. Georgia Tech simply creamed the Blue Devils, but when Paul Johnson’s option offense gets rolling, that can happen some time. People realize that, and that’s why there was significant support for Duke in the betting markets last week. That underdog money looked pretty good early in the third quarter when Duke led Miami 24-10, but the game got away from Duke in a barrage of droppedpasses, missed assignments, and other mistakes, with Miami winning 49-31. Leading receiver Eron Riley dropped four balls, to the great consternation of David Cutcliffe. Coach Cutcliffe will have his teams full attention this week, as he was very displeased with the effort in the 4th quarter. “We stopped playing in the 4th quarter,” said the coach. But we’re willing to forgive the loss, and see it as something to bounce back from. Miami is a team of lighting-quick high school All Americans who also scored a lot of points against Florida State. They’re improving rapidly and Duke was competitive for most of the game. Miami had non-dominant edges in first downs (23-19) and total yards (420-331). The Blue Devlis didn’t just get rolled. They were in the game for a long time. Things are different at Duke than they used to be. Vandy is not a team that is poised to take advantage of Duke’s thin defense. The Commodores have done very little offensively since the first two weeks of the season. Their 131 passing yards against Georgia were only the second time all year that Vandy has cracked 100 yards passing. They were outgained for the fifth time in six games. In wins they have been outgained by 100 yards against South Carolina, by 63 against Rice, by 183 against Ole’ Miss. Against punchless Mississipppi State they were outgained 247-107. Though a win here gets them bowl eligible, this is still a flat spot on the schedule, the only game in a string of 8 that is against a non-conference foe. They are far less experienced than Duke, returning only 9 starters to Duke’s 16. Remember that since Duke waxed Virginia 31-3 three weeks ago, UVA has won three games. Duke’s defense has shown some vulnerability in the past two games, but is Vandy the team to cash in on it? This Vanderbilt team does not fit the profile of a significant favorite, and Duke isn’t as bad as people think. Look for the Blue Devlis to hang in there.Vandy by only 3.
Selection and Analysis by Matty Baiungo
@Missouri (-21½) over Colorado
If Missouri is as good as we think they are, then this is a good bounce back spot for them. The Tigers enter off back-to-back losses against Oklahoma St and Texas. Two weeks back, Mizzou was a 14½- point home favorite over Okie St and lost straight-up 28-23. And last week they were just pounded from the get-go at Texas and wound up losing 56-31. But there should be no shame in losing either one of those games. The Oklahoma St loss looks worse because of the high spread, but that line was simply out of whack. Many thought Missouri would give Texas all they wanted last week as they were off that home loss and were catching Texas off their big Oklahoma win. And we saw a ton of support for them as the line crashed from 7½ to 4 at kickoff. Now how many bettors who backed Missouri last week will be quick to unload on them again this week? Not too many, especially with the Tigers laying three touchdowns. But we’ll certainly step in here. Missouri’s highoctane offense has been stalled by much bigger and faster defenses than what they’ll face with Colorado. Missouri’s gimmicky offense is not as effective when facing good defenses, but when it lines up against weak ones, it explodes. Over their first five games, Missouri scored at least 42 points in every game. They had just 17 going into the 4th quarter last week before they piled up the garbage points and yards when the game was out of reach. Last year, Chase Daniel led the Tigers to 55 points and 598 yards in their 45-point win at Colorado. And a repeat of that performance is certainly attainable again this year. Missouri’s schedule is weak the rest of the way, and big, lopsided wins should resume. Colorado was supposed to be much improved this year. It’s Dan Hawkins third year, and after going from 2-10 in 2006 to 6-7 and a bowl game in 2007, another positive step was expected. But that certainly has not been the case. Colorado got out of the gate fast opening the season at 3-0. But the wheels have come off lately as the Buffaloes are just 1-3 over their last four games. The win came last week over a bad Kansas St team, but Colorado should be embarrassed by the 14-13 final. Kansas St’s defense is horrible, but they held Colorado to just 13 points on 353 yards. Over their previous four games, K-St allowed at least 30 points and 509 yards to opposing offenses. Colorado has no chance of trading points with Missouri here. Under Dan Hawkins, Colorado is only 2-9-1 against the spread as a road underdog. That, combined with the fact that Missouri will be looking to atone for the last two weeks, equals blowout. Missouri by 28.
Selection and Analysis by Erik Scheponik
@Hawaii (+3½) over Nevada
This was supposed to be a major rebuilding year in Honululu under new HC Greg McMackin. The Warriors returned only 8 starters from last year’s Sugar Bowl squad. They have struggled at times,but the drop off has not been quite as severe as many of us expected. They played Florida very tough for a quarter and a half in Gainesville before understandably being blown out in the 2nd half.Since then they have played pretty well, including upsetting Fresno on the road as a 3 TD underdog,beating Louisiana Tech by double digits at home,and then losing but covering at Boise this past Friday. They trailed the Broncos by only a field goal at the half in a very physical game on the blue turf.We all know what a tough place Boise can be to play, and usually in this conference the top teams really thrash teams in big home revenge games or statement games. The Boise players commented all week how they had waited all season for that game (their only lost from last season), and although they won by 20, it was not the cakewalk many of us thought it would be.Although they still run a version of the run-andshoot, UH’s passing numbers are way down from their teams of the past decade under June Jones.However, their rushing offense has improved by nearly 40 yards per game. The defense has benefited from some extra time on the sidelines and has played well against a good slate of opposing offenses, allowing 5.3 yards per play and 370 yards per game. One thing you will always get from Hawaii is maximum effort, especially on this field where they are 17-2 SU the last 19 games, and 49-12 SU since 2001.Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick is a future NFL QB and gives the Wolf Pack a big edge at the position in this matchup. However, the Wolf Pack defense, ranked 94th in the nation, leaves a lot to be desired and will struggle with Hawaii’s run-and-shoot. They allow 8.3 yards per pass, and although that number has been inflated by a schedule that includes Texas Tech and Missouri, they have given up at least 225 yards passing to every team on their schedule. This is also a team that routinely struggles on the road when they aren’t clearly the superior squad. Since HC Chris Ault returned in 2004, they are only 7-16 ATS in away games when not favored by double digits. As good is Kaepernick is, it must be noted that Hawaii’s defense (led by now HC McMackin) held him to his worst numbers ever last season as he had only 23 yards rushing and 134 yards passing.We’ll back the better defense and strong home field in this one. Hawaii by 3
Re: Newsletters 10/21 - 10/27
KEVIN O’NEILL’S THE MAX
Selection and Analysis by Dave Fobare
@Ravens (-7) over Raiders
Who in the heck is Joe Flacco and how did he become the Ravens' starting QB? The 23-year old first round pick out of Delaware had a breakout game last week at Miami. The Ravens beat the Dolphins 27-13 and Flacco completed 17 of 23 passes for a healthy 232 yards. The kid has shown slow but steady improvement after taking over thanks to a season-ending injury to Kyle Boller. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron has done a solid job bringing Flacco around. Now that Cameron is back at the offensive coordinator position after a miserable job as the top dog in Miami he is displaying the same talent for QB development he showed in San Diego first with Drew Brees and then Philip Rivers. Flacco's counterpart in Oakland also comes off a fine game. JaMarcus Russell outdueled Brett Favre in overtime to lead the Raiders to a 16-13 upset over the Jets. But Flacco has proved to be the better QB even though Russell is in his second season. Russell is completing just 51.2% of his passes, while Flacco is hitting for 64.2%. Flacco has thrown more interceptions, but the disparity in completion percentage is enormous. Russell also has a better rushing attack to rely on yet is not able to consistently take advantage of the more favorable coverages it forces. Part of Russell's problem may be the crowd. All QBs will perform at a lower level on the road, but Russell's problems seem especially acute when traveling. In three road games so far he has completed 37.1, 47.4, and 35.3% of his throws. That slate includes a game at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, where the fans these days are as likely to boo the home team as the visitors. The Ravens stats edge is large in both phases of the game. When only the teams' rushing numbers are tallied my model makes Baltimore an 11-point favorite, and the passing game gives Baltimore a 16.5-point edge. That edge in the run game may seem odd as the Raiders do run the ball fairly well. But the Ravens' run D is stout, giving up just 2.9 yards per carry and my numbers show Baltimore has played the better schedule so far in large part because of the aforementioned game against the Chiefs. I don't have a great deal of technical backing for the Ravens here, but what I have is pretty good. Off their double digit win the Ravens apply to a 125-64 ATS momentum system that has performed at better than 60% ATS out of sample since I started using it several years ago. Given the difficulties they have faced Ravens' first year head coach John Harbaugh is doing a fine job. The injury list has 15 players on it, a rookie quarterback from Division 1-AA has taken every snap and yet the team is 3-3 and occupies second place in the AFC North. Tom Cable has his first win as Oakland's head coach, but he has no more authority than Lane Kiffin or any other of the recent Raiders' coaches had. Oakland has won just 22 of its last 87 games, and the coaches aren't the problem, Al Davis is.I'll take the better program with the better coaching. Lay the wood. Baltimore by 14
Selection and analysis by Kevin O’Neill
Bills @Dolphins under 41
There’s a reason that gimmick offenses don’t work in the NFL. Superior athletes, who are prepared and understand their assignments, can stop gimmicks. A lot of “systems” and gimmicks can work in college football, especially when the opponent sees it only once a year or less. But unlike the limited practice time available in college, playing in the NFL playing is a full time job. In their three wins, the Dolphins used the Wildcat formation 25 times for 252 yards and 6 TD’s. Obviously the Ravens burned the midnight oil when it came to preparation to stop the Wildcat (stay in your gaps, don’t freelance our of your assignment, etc.) and it worked out great for Baltimore. Gaining only 4 yards on 5 plays, after gaining over 10 yards per play previously, the Dolphins obviously realize that the bloom is off the Wildcat rose. Their offense isn’t terrific when not in the gimmick. In the three games prior to the Baltimore loss, they scored 11 touchdowns, with 6 of those TD’s coming out of the Wildcat. With the league catching up to the direct running back snaps, Miami doesn’t figure to get a lot of production against a Bills defense that had another outstanding game Sunday against the Chargers high-powered offense. Buffalo has held 4 of their 6 opponents below 17 points and are very capable. Under defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni, the Dolphins D has been sound, holding three opponents below 300 yards. But Miami didn’t play well Sunday, with head coach Tony Sparano pointing out that poor tackling was an issue. Miami may have been complacent against a Ravens offense that doesn’t scare a whole lot of people. That poor performance figures to spur them back to another quality performance, especially against a conference foe. The Bills have yet to sniff 300 yards of total offense in their three road games thus far, and are generating significantly more offense back in Orchard Park. Miami’s in a new system (their third in three years), so past history doesn’t mean as much as if the coaching staff was together, but still, a lot of the same players were on the field the last two years these two teams have combined for 23 and 22 points. This one won’t be that low scoring, but neither will it see a barrage of explosion plays.Under is the call.
Selection and Analysis by Matty Baiungo
@Patriots (- 7) over St Louis
The transition from Tom Brady to Matt Cassel has been much rougher than people thought. Nobody can match what Brady has done on the field, and to think Matt Cassel would pick-up where Brady left off was just wishful thinking. But Cassel was expected to step-up and be serviceable. He’s done exactly that, in spots though. The Jets game and the 49ers game are clear evidence of that. Cassel completed 69% (38-55) of his passes for 424 yards while averaging 7.7 yards per pass in those two games. But the home game against Miami was bad, and the loss at San Diego was embarrassing. In those two games, Cassel completed only 59.4% (41-69) of his passes for 334 yards while averaging just 4.8 yards per pass. Let’s forgive him for the faux pas on the West coast as the Chargers had pointed towards that game for a while. After opening the season at 0-4, the Rams went into a much-needed bye. And they fired Scott Linehan. Jim Haslett took over, and as he promised during that off week, we’ve seen a much different Rams team. The first thing Haslett did was give the starting quarterback spot back to Marc Bulger who was a victim of Linehan’s desperate attempt to save his job. Out of the bye, the Rams went into D.C. and beat the Redskins 19-17 as a 12-point road underdog. But they caught the Skins in a flat spot off their back-to-back wins over Dallas and Philadelphia. Last week, the Rams smashed the Cowboys at home winning 34-14 as 8-point home dogs. They again were fortunate as they caught the Cowboys without Tony Romo, and also benefited from 4 Dallas turnovers. But St Louis finds itself in the bad spot here. Off back-to-back underdog wins, the Rams must travel east and play this game against either a desperate Patriots team or a confident Patriots team. This write-up comes before the Monday game, but even without knowing if the Patriots won or lost, the Rams are in a tough situation. The Patriots should be able to throw with great efficiency as the Rams allow over 8 yards per pass attempt. And we haven’t seen New England explode in the passing game under Cassel yet, but this could very well be that breakout game, especially if he plays like he did against the Jets and 49ers. If that happens, things could get ugly here. Over the last two years, St Louis has lost 8 games on the road. All eight of those losses have come by at least 9 points or more with the average loss coming by 24 points per game. Over that same time frame, the Patriots have won 11 games at home. Ten of those eleven wins have come by 7 points or more with the average winning margin coming by 18 points per game. The Rams are not as good as their last two wins suggest, and they’ll resemble the awful 0-4 Rams here. Patriots by 14.
Selection and analysis by Kevin O’Neill
New York Giants (+3, -120) over @Steelers
The team with the second best record in the AFC meets the team with the top record in the NFC here. And what do they have in common? Neither one of them has beaten a team with a winning record. Sure, they’ve both benefited from some fortuitous scheduling and catching teams with problems, but these two have won games, and you can’t ask for anything more than that. After avoiding it impressively for a while, the dreaded post-Super Bowl hangover has apparently caught up with the New York Giants. Clearly, this team had a lot of trouble getting motivated for the Browns and Niners the past couple of weeks. “I think we’re capable of playing a whole lot better than we did,” said Giants mentor Tom Coughlin following their ugly (teams combined for 24 penalties for 214 yards) win over San Francisco. But showing how he’s learned to coddle the modern player, Coughlin quickly added “but as I told the players, the objective was to win one game.” The Steelers offensive line doesn’t like Ben Roethlisberger’s penchant for holding onto the ball, leading to a lot of sacks that they’re blamed for. But clearly this isn’t the best pass-protecting unit in the league either. That problem was masked by facing the toothless Bengals Sunday, but it won’t be here. Giants have been stumbling around, looking for a challenge, and they have one here. And they have the defensive line and pass rush to get in Big Ben’s face and really cause him some problems. On the other side of the ball there is certainly some concern about Plaxico Burress’s diva act, as he and Coughlin got into a shouting match Sunday after Plax picked up a 15-yard personal foul call for arguing a phantom offensive pass interference call, which negated a great catch for an important gain. The team played with tremendous passion when Burress was suspended for the Seahawks game, but have played inspired football the past two weeks upon his return. Maybe Coughlin needs to look for a reason to give Burress the boot once again. The Steelers running game has been shut down by a couple of solid defenses (33 yards vs. the Eagles, 69 yards vs. the Ravens) and if the Giants can slow them down you have to figure the pass rush (5 sacks and constant pressure against San Francisco) can get to Roethlisberger Some matchups favor the Giants here, and the spotlight game motivation helps quite a bit. It speaks volumes that they played so poorly against the Niners yet they still won by double digits and it could have been a 20+ point win were it not for a blocked punt returned for a TD. Giants offense needs a crisper effort, and we think they’ll offer one up in a big game. NFC looks to be better than the AFC this year and taking the best team from the better conference with the points seems like a sensible proposition. Giants by 3.
Selection and Analysis by Erik Scheponik
Colts (+4) @Titans
Tennessee is the deserving favorite here, as they bring a perfect 6-0 record into this contest. The defense is rock solid, ranking in the NFL’s top 3 in points per game (11.0), yards per game (269 yards per game), and yards per play (4.5 yards per play). They are definitely one of the league’s best coached by one of the league’s best in Jeff Fisher. However,it must be noted that they have not yet played a team with a winning record, and the best statistical offense they have shut down is Houston, a team who has gotten much of their yards in games where they trailed big early. In fact, 3 of the offenses they have faced are among the league’s bottom 6. Not saying the Titans aren’t the real deal, but they certainly better be if they want to pull away from a veteran Colts team that is basically in must-win mode here. Tennessee leans heavily on their defense, and I’d like to see them against a real offense before christening them the new king of this division. The Colts trail the Titans by 3 games in the AFC South, and have already lost a divisional game to Jacksonville. They have played plenty of big games over the last 5-6 seasons, and that experience will help them here. They have played a tougher schedule than has Tennessee, and have dealt with a ton of injuries. Although Joseph Addai is probably out again here, they are now healthy on the offensive line, and there’s a chance that one of the league’s best safeties Bob Sanders returns today (check status). Peyton Manning has seen everything this league can throw at him defensively, and I have to believe that he will find something that works against the Titans’ rugged defense as Indy still has plenty of weapons. He’s beaten the Titans 8 out of the last 10 times he’s faced them, with one of the losses coming in the season finale last year when the Colts rested their starters. That’s the only time that Tennessee has been favored during those 10 meetings before today.Indy is 8-3 to the number as an away underdog under Tony Dungy, and have won 12 or more games in 5 straight seasons. You don’t get that kind of pedigree in a 4-point underdog too often. They have been in must win games before, while Tennessee is in unfamiliar territory here. They have the better record, but are they really better based on who they have beaten? Also, can they generate offense if Indy puts up some of their own points on that mighty defense? We shall see, but this game is priced like those questions don’t exist when they certainly do. Like I said, must-win for Manning and company. Indy by 3
Re: Newsletters 10/21 - 10/27
ALABAMA over Tennessee RATING: 1
GEORGIA TECH over Virginia RATING: 1
TULSA over Central Florida RATING: 2
TCU over Wyoming RATING: 3
MISSOURI over Colorado RATING: 3
OREGON over Arizona State RATING: 4
NORTHWESTERN over Indiana RATING: 5
VANDERBILT over Duke RATING: 5
WEST VIRGINIA 17 - Auburn 15 - (7:45 - ESPN) -- Not the explosive meeting
that TV expected. Tigers 0-6 ATS LA, with last 5 decided by 1, 5, 2, 1, & 3 SU.
Just 1 TD & 56 RYs vs Arkansas' paper "D", but rank #10 in scoring "D". WVa:
only 17 ppg last 5, & ranks #78 in total "O". Potential, but we don't get near it.
AIR FORCE 31 - New Mexico 30 - (8:00 - CBSC)) -- Home series, & Falcs on
11-3 ATS run, while piling up 747 RYs last 2 wks. But they've allowed 30 & 33
pts in their last 2 HGs, & Lobos are also cranking it up as well: 291 RYpg last 3
outings, & in off 70-7 pasting of SDSt. Visitor is 30-18 ATS in NewMex games.
Boise State 24 - SAN JOSE STATE 20 - (9:00 - ESPN2) -- Hard to fathom the
Broncos picking off 5 Hawaii passes, & Moore clicking on 25-of-33, yet only a 20
pt win. Spartans always play their best at home: amazing +187½ pts ATS hosts
since '06, covering by 19 & 10 pts TY. Can't run, but neither can their opponents.
ARMY 34 - Louisiana Tech 27 - (1:00 - ESPNC) -- A 364-15 RY edge for Tech
LW, as latest to take advantage of hapless Idaho. LT lost its last 4 RGs by a
combined 160-34 score, & with the Cadets rushing for 280, 291, 341, & 320
yds in their last 4 gms (Mooney: 588 RYs last 3), could be more of the same.
MARYLAND 26 - North Carolina State 24 - (3:30) -- Terps: from a 31-0 loss, to
a 26-0 win. The dog is now +125½ pts ATS in MD games TY, & 26-14 ATS in
Terps' last 40 games. NCSt: from 30 RYpg in previous 2 outings, to 157 vs
FlaSt (led in 4th). Wilson: 5 TDs passes last 3. The puppy continues to yap.
MIAMI-FLA 20 - Wake Forest 17 - (12:00) -- Improbable 10 ppg for the Deacons
in their last 4 games, with Skinner at a mere 7/4. Wake can't run (64 RYpg 4 of
last 5), but is 14-4 SU of late. 'Canes' QB move of Harris for Marve resulted in
4 passing & 1 rushing TD, so a huge success. Bucks visiting trend in UM tilts.
Northwestern 38 - INDIANA 14 - (12:00) -- Solid bounceback for 'Cats, off their
1st loss, with rout of Purdue (Bacher: 3 TDs). Have 14 takeaways in last 3
wins. Indy playing out the string. Five straight losses by an average score of
40-15, while allowing 224, 236, 227, & 292 in their last 4. Chalk series again.
Minnesota 27 - PURDUE 17 - (12:00) -- Amazing turnaround for rested Gophs,
who sand at 6-1, following LY's 1-11 suffering. Note holding Illinois' 19th-rated
run "O" to just 88 yds, as well as covering their last 4 lined RGs by 64½ pts. Iffy
Boiler rushing "O": 168 RYs from Sheets in loss to NW, but try 3 Painter INTs.
Boston College 22 - NORTH CAROLINA 20 - (12:00) -- Tight games the rule in
Tar games, with 4 of last 5 decided by 3, 4, 5, 3 (OT) pts. Stand at 5-2, behind
solid rush "D", with the dog a 17-5 ATS play in Heel games. Ditto BC, with the
pup 8-2-1 ATS in ACC games. Took VTech, with just 82 RYs, & 3 Crane INTs.
Cincinnati 23 - CONNECTICUT 16 - (12:00) -- Four missed FGs proved demise
of UConn in 12-10 loss to Rutgers. Just 11 ppg for Huskies in last 2 outings,
despite Brown standing at 1,274 RYs. Rested 'Cats have held all foes (except
Okla) to 74 RYpg, & QB Anderson is in off 21-of-29 effort. Dominated yr ago.
Illinois 30 - WISCONSIN 24 - (12:00) -- Badgers now 0-4 in Big10 for 1st time
since '96, with 13 TOs in those 4 setbacks. And how about not reaching 180
RYs in any of their last 4 games? As figured, Illini romped over Indy, & are at
538 ypg in their last 3 outings. Finely balanced behind Juice, Ford, etc. Illinois.
PITTSBURGH 17 - Rutgers 16 - (3:30) -- Five straight wins for Pitt, with McCoy
at 149, 142, & 156 RYs last 3 wks. Nearly 500 yds for Panthers vs Navy, but
dog is 19-4 ATS in Pitt games. Knights last 3 games: just 17, 10, 12 pts, but 3
covers. Minus 116½ pts ATS in 14 of last 15 regular season gms. Pitt, barely.
IOWA STATE 31 - Texas A&M 26 - (7:00) -- Nice one to avoid. Cycs a 73-17 pt
deficit last 2 wks, allowing 56 FDs, following a pair of excruciating setbacks. At
only 89 RYpg 4 of last 5. But Ags have dropped 3 straight, as well as -43½ pts
ATS last 5. Can't run (0.9 ypr LW), & in off allowing 33 FDs & 561 yds. Pass.
FLORIDA 41 - Kentucky 13 - (12:30) -- Gators in LSU/GA sandwich, but they've
been awesome since upset loss to OleMiss, with a 89-28 pt edge, including
that 51-21 bludgeoning of Lsu (265-80 RY edge). Two 'Cat TDs in final 4:15 to
take Arkansas, behind 3 Hartline TDs, and rank #3 in scoring "D". Forget it.
Mississippi 33 - ARKANSAS 20 - (7:00) -- Hogs hardly comforted with home
field, as they've been outscored 87-21 in their 2 SEC hosters TY. In off blowing
20-7 lead in final 4:15, altho Smith has motored for 358 RYs last 2 wks. Rebs
nearly came all the way back from 27-3 halftime deficit vs 'Bama. Chalk series.
BALL STATE 45 - Eastern Michigan 10 - (12:00) -- Rested Cards 7-0 first time
since '65. 6-0 ATS by 64½ pts, but by just 1 & 5 pts at home. EM allowing 39
ppg last 10 , as well as >230 RYs in 6 of last 7. Decent "O", but only one cover.
BYU 51 - Unlv 17 - (2:00) -- Just like that, 16-game Coog run is over. A 240-23
RY deficit at Tcu, with Hall sacked 7 times. But he is still at 21/5, & remember,
BYU won its last 3 HGs by a combined score of 124-3. Vegas can't stop the
run, allowing 1,006 last 3 games, & at 40 ppg "D" in its 4 losses. Bounceback!
VANDERBILT 27 - Duke 7 - (3:00) -- 'Dores now at +67½ pts ATS TY, holding 5
of last 7 foes below 18 pts. Stayed with MissSt & Ga in only losses, despite
397-159 RY deficit. Finally some rushing "O" for Imps, but still just 85 RYpg
last 4. Note 42-14 pt deficit to wind up vs Miami. Vandy becomes bowl eligible.
TULANE 38 - Rice 36 - (3:00) -- Check Owls' Clement with 13 TD passes last 3
games, including six vs SoMiss (22/5). Greenie RB Anderson: 852 yds last 3
(255 vs Utep), but in off losing on a 68-yd pass, & lost last HG by 51 pts ATS.
Fresno State 45 - UTAH STATE 34 - (3:00) -- Two teams in search of a defense.
FSt hasn't covered since its opener vs Rutgers, with 4 of last 5 decided by 3, 1,
5, 3 pts SU. No rushing "D": 215 RYs by Idaho. Similar lot for Ags, who've
ceded 46.4 ppg in 5 of last 6 games. Host has covered last 4 Ag tilts by 43 pts.
NAVY 40 - Smu 27 - (3:30 - CBSC) -- Ponies allowing >500 ypg. Worst "D" in
land, & 2nd worst rushing "O", but are just a pt away from 4 straight covers.
QB Mitchell: 8 TD passes last 2 wks. Middies couldn't stay with Pitt (248-yd
deficit), & rank 86th in total "D". Always super, overland, but are hurting at QB.
Alabama 34 - TENNESSEE 13 - (3:30) -- Tide now 7-0 (first time ever for Saban).
Nearly blew comfy lead vs OleMiss (just 107 RYs), but have played their best
away (3-0 ATS by 72½ pts). Vols in off 34-3 win, despite just 16 FDs & 275
yds (2 TDs on INT returns). Were at 11 ppg previous 4, & rank 104 in total "D".
Oregon 31 - ARIZONA STATE 17 - (10:00) -- Rested Ducks at 43 ppg 18 of last
20 outings. No Roper last game, & are minus 31½ pts ATS last 2 tilts. But own
Devils, overland (Wise Points), & are super off a bye. Four straight losses for
ASU, including 4, 71, & 75 RYs in last 3 efforts. Carpenter? Just 8/5 thus far.
CALIFORNIA 27 - Ucla 22 - (3:30) -- Never-say-die Bruins rank 114th in run "O":
323-63 & 250-86 RY deficits last 2 (sacked 7 times by Stanford), but have
covered last 4. Cal not to be trusted. Check 11 takeaways in their 4 wins, but
just 104 RYpg last 4 tilts, despite 110 yds from Best LW. QB a huge question.
MIAMI-OHIO 31 - Kent State 27 - (3:30) -- Let's see. Flashes on 0-12-1 spread
slide, but have run for 627 yds last 3, missing spot by 1, 0, & 6 pts. Belton a
spark at QB for MU (218 RYs in upset of BG), but dog 15-5 ATS in 'Hawk tilts.
GEORGIA TECH 38 - Virginia 13 - (3:30) -- Overland exploits of Cavs ended at
2 (>100 yd deficit in LW's OT comeback win). So 3 straight wins, but all at
home. Now take to road, where they have a 76-13 pt deficit. Tech: 4 straight
wins, 5 straight covers, & a 1,309-513 RY edge in lined games. Home series.
TEXAS 47 - Oklahoma State 34 - (8:30) -- Letdown? Hardly. McCoy: 29-of-32
vs Mizzou. Now at 19/3 & 81%! And he was superb last 2 vs OklaSt. 'Boys
are off to best start (7-0) in 60 years, & like the Steers, are also perfect vs the
pts. Don't forget Robinson with 430 PYs vs Texas LY. Bucking either is futile.
Georgia 26 - LSU 17 - (3:30) -- Nice bounceback for Bengals LW, holding SoCar
to just 4 2nd half FDs in 24-17 comeback win. Came from 80 RYs to 164. But
still minus 33 pts ATS last 3 games. 'Dawgs in dominant stat win over Vandy
(Moreno: 172 RYs), but 2 more Stafford INTs. "D": <18 pts 9-of-10 lined tilts.
Oklahoma 48 - KANSAS STATE 17 - (12:30) -- Okies at 47.5 ppg in their last 7
lined wins, so why not again? Bradford (26/5) in off school-record 468 PYs, so
try 674 yds vs that Kansas "D". 'Cat QB Freeman at 12/2 TY, & has 5 rushing
TDs last 2 wks, but can't ignore KSt's 112th ranked "D". Juggernaut rolls on.
Michigan State 30 - MICHIGAN 20 - (3:30) -- Embarrassing Wolve season just
continues. Were outscored 39-0 to wind up PennSt loss. Rank 108th in total
"O", altho Minor a fine 117 RYs vs Nits. Spartans had won 6 straight before 5
TO loss to OhioSt. Just 67 yds for Ringer, but still 963 last 6. Mild MichSt call.
Virginia Tech 20 - FLORIDA STATE 19 - (3:30) -- Five takeaways for Hokies,
including a couple of TDs on INT returns, yet a 28-23 loss to BC. But only Ga
Tech on 'em, so may be able to control Ponder & Co of the 'Noles. The dog &
visitor is 6-1 ATS in VT games, while the pup is 21-10 ATS in Sem tilts. Upset.
Bowling Green 24 - NO ILLINOIS 23 - (4:00) -- Visitor now 7-0 ATS in Falcon
games by 125½ pts! NIU has allowed only 2 "O" TDs in last 21 quarters (held
last 5 foes to 7 ppg), & QB is Harnish back. But we string along with line trend.
New Mexico State 38 - IDAHO 24 - (5:00) -- Back to normal for Vandals with
364-15 RY deficit at LaTech, after 215 RYs in last HG. Allowing 49 ppg in lined
gms TY. But NMSt "D": 39 ppg since LY, & is 105th in rushing. We stay away.
TCU 58 - Wyoming 7 - (6:00) -- What a team? Frogs have a 73-14 pt edge at
home since loss to Oklahoma (+32½ ATS), with a 615 RY edge! Balanced &
well remember LY's heartbreaking loss to 'Boys. WY outscored 68-0 in its last
2 RGs, & is on an 0-14 spread slide. Try a 153-23 pt deficit in its last 4 games.
Central Michigan 40 - TOLEDO 14 - (12:00) -- Brunner for LeFevour (ankle) for
Chips: 346 PYs in 38-28 win over WM (12-pt cover). CM now +123½ pts ATS
in last 15 MAC tilts. Rockets in epic tailspin, losing last 2 MAC games, 69-7.
South Florida 31 - LOUISVILLE 17 - (3:30) -- Series host has been the play
(Wise Points), but we buck it. Check Bulls holding 5-of-7 foes to just 10 FDpg.
Balanced behind Grothe leadership. Cards came back from 14-0 deficit LW,
moving to 4-2. Decent run "O" & "D", but Bulls covered their last RG by 21½.
NEBRASKA 33 - Baylor 24 - (7:00) -- Finally some overland production for Neb,
in 35-7 wipeout of IowaSt, coming from 137 RYpg to 220. And note Ganz with
677 PYs last 2 wks. Improved Bears in off 250-yd deficit at OkieSt, & won't
stay with Huskers, altho they are +42 pts ATS in their last 5 games. Near spot.
Texas Tech 45 - KANSAS 41 - (12:00) -- Raiders stand at 7-0, but now it starts.
Harrell (23/5): 450 PYs vs A&M, & check >100 RYs in every game. But check
allowing 28 ppg in last 3 tilts. KU got the cover vs Okla, despite being stung for
36 FDs & 674 yds. Reesing at 17/5 & 70%, but Jays just 88th in rushing "O".
MISSOURI 57 - Colorado 20 - (6:30) -- Quite a comedown for Tigers, who have
tumbled from 3rd to 16th in the polls in just 2 wks. Unbelievable 390-94 RY
deficit in losses to OklaSt & Texas. But still at 41 ppg last 21, & destroyed the
Buffs LY (Wise Points). CU a mere 16 ppg in last 5 tilts. Lambs to slaughter.
Penn State 27 - OHIO STATE 20 - (8:00 - ABC) -- Miracle cover for Lions LW,
with 80-yd pass/run in final 2:05. Now at 1,965 RYs & 1,985 PYs in 8-0 start
(363-94 pt edge). Royster LW: 174 RYs. Bucks in off first truly impressive
showing of year, but still just 18 FDs & 332 yds. Nothing left on field in this one.
So Mississippi 32 - MEMPHIS 24 - (8:00 - CBSC) -- Tigers represented our only
rated college loss LW, losing top 2 QBs in game's first 11 minutes. Remember,
Hall had 6 TD throws in previous 2 games. Four straight losses for Eagles,
despite Davis throwing for 461 yds & 4 TDs vs Rice. Defense is still an issue.
Notre Dame 34 - WASHINGTON 19 - (8:00 - ABC) -- Decent showing for Wash,
in loss to OregSt. A mere 44-yd deficit, but killed by 3 Fouch INTs. Now stand
at 0-6, & rank 118th on "D". Irish are rested, & Clausen has burned 'em up of
late: 1,005 PYs (8/2) in last 3 games. Note just 19 ppg "D" in ND's last 7 tilts.
Colorado State 27 - SAN DIEGO STATE 17 - (9:30) -- Extremely difficult to back
either team, as Rams have lost their only 2 RGs to date, by a combined 101-23
score, & have been outrushed 478-121 the past 2 wks. But Aztecs in similar
rut, with an 820-101 RY deficit last 2 games, & in off 70-7 pasting. Steer clear.
So California 34 - ARIZONA 24 - (10:15 - FSN) -- Latest Troy accomplishment:
Laying 42 pts, & covering by 27. Amazing 28-4 FD & 625-116 yd edges, with
5 TD passes from Sanchez. But 'Cats have a 201-57 pt edge at home, & in off
turning 24-14 deficit, into a 42-27 win over Cal. Tuitama keeps this near spot.
Nevada 31 - HAWAII 21 - (12:05) -- Check Reno with a 1,305-253 RY edge in its
last 4 games, behind Kaepernick's leadership. Check also 49 & 49 pts in last
2 RGs. 'Bows improved, but killed by Funaki's inconsistency (5 INTs vs Boise).
TULSA 61 - Central Florida 20 - (8:00) -- Revenge! 'Canes something else. Try
791 yds in rout of Utep. Johnson (31/8): 434 yds & 5 TDs, & check 38.8 yds per
catch for Marion LW. Knights gained just 78 yds at Miami & 280 on SMU's "D".
Buffalo 27 - OHIO U 23 - (7:00 - ESPNU) -- Could be first-ever RF role for Bulls,
who are in off a pair of OT games. Have been outrushed 528-107 in 2 of last 3
games, but Willy is a dependable 14/4. Visitor is 6-0 ATS in BU games of late.
Houston 31 - MARSHALL 21 - (8:00 - ESPN2) -- Coogs on 3-game run, with
1,705 yds, but needed 2 TDs in final 2:34 to take SMU's sieve. Keenum: 23/5.
Herd just the opposite: 3 straight losses, with a 737-211 RY deficit. And again.
MISSISSIPPI ST 21 - Mid Tenn St 17
LA-MONROE 27 - Fla Atlantic 24
Troy 38 - NORTH TEXAS 10
Re: Newsletters 10/21 - 10/27
WASHINGTON over Detroit RATING: 3
PHILADELPHIA over Atlanta RATING: 4
MIAMI over Buffalo RATING: 4
NEW YORK JETS over Kansas City RATING: 5
NEW ENGLAND over St Louis RATING: 5
BALTIMORE 23 - Oakland 10 - (1:00) -- Ravens' NFL best "D" put the clamps
on streaking Dolphins, allowing Miami only 71 RYs, & in the process stopping
their own 3-game slide. And how about >100 RYs for McGahee. Baltimore
has held foes to 10, 10, & 13 pts at home so far, & with the Raiders coming in
with the 23rd ranked "O", have to see more of the same. Oakland gave Cable
his 1st win on a 57-yd Janikowski OT FG, despite a 242 RY "D", so figure back
to the drawing board vs this squad. Baltimore is 7-1 ATS hosting Oakland,
while the Raiders are 17-27 ATS on the road of late (lost their last RG, 34-3).
San Diego 27 - NEW ORLEANS 20 - (1:00) -- Chargers couldn't maintain their
psyche edge, displayed in previous week's rout of the Pats, succumbing to the
Bills, with only 263 yds, altho Rivers was a decent 2/1 & now 16/5 for the year.
But still on a 12-4 ATS run, & chance to take on the Saints, possibly without
Bush, who went out vs Carolina (knee). Check Saints' 17-0 pt deficit after he
left. And Brees just 21-of-39, after a 26-of-30 showing vs the Raiders. Saints
have allowed at least 24 pts in 7 of their last 10 games, & are 1-11 ATS home
vs a foe off a RG. SD is 14-4 ATS off a loss, & 13-4 ATS as a RF of <4 pts.
NEW YORK JETS 34 - Kansas City 13 - (1:00) -- Futility seems the only word
to properly describe the Chiefs, who've dropped their last 2 games by near
identical 34-0 & 34-10 scores (only pts LW coming in final 4 minutes). Own
worst run "D" in the NFL, & certainly proved that point by allowing 332 RYs
(8.3 ypr) in loss to the Titans. Now on 1-14 SU run. Jets in off OT loss to the
Raiders, despite 242 RYs, including 159 from Jones (7.3 ypr). NY has held 6
of its last 8 foes to 14 ppg, & has averaged 41 ppg in its last 2 HGs. KC 4-14
ATS vs the AFC East, as well as 5-10 ATS away vs a .500 or better opponent.
MIAMI 23 - Buffalo 17 - (1:00) -- Just 71 RYs for the Dolphins, in their loss to the
Ravens, after 160 RYpg in previous 3 outings. Simply never in that one, altho
Pennington continues his brilliant play, which has him at 82-of-109 the last 4
weeks (75%). Bills' bye week enabled Edwards to return, & a solid 25-of-30
for 261 yds vs the Chargers was the result. Just a single setback for Buffalo,
but that came in their last RG by the tune of 41-17. As a matter of fact, the Bills
average just 13.7 ppg in their last dozen RGs. Buffalo is 8-0 ATS vs Miami,
but it must be noted that the Dolphs had a record of 20-44 during that period.
DALLAS 20 - Tampa Bay 17 - (1:00) -- No Romo for the 'Boys in their lopsided
loss to the Rams, with Johnson no help (3 INTs). But neither play "D", so note
that Dallas allowed TD drives on StLouis' first 3 possessions, for a quick 21-7
hole. Thus the Cowboys have dropped 3-of-4, after appearing as the team to
beat with their impressive 3-0 start. And Dallas is on a money-burning 2-10
spread run, as well, including 0-5 ATS at home, by 48 pts. The Bucs allowed
covering TD in dying minutes vs Seattle, despite 22-7 FD, 402-176 yd edges.
Last 4 Tampa RGs have been decided by 2, 4, 3, & 3 pts SU. That continues.
PHILADELPHIA 24 - Atlanta 10 - (1:00) -- Rematch of '04 NFC Championship
game. Neither team played LW, which has to be a help to the Eagles, as a
healthy Westbrook is essential. Philly finally had a bit of a breather in its last
game, a 40-26 win over SanFran, after 4 straight wars vs Dallas, Pittsburgh,
Chicago, & Washington. Solid shot at a repeat here, as the 4-2 Falcons have
allowed 24, 24, & 24 pts in their 3 RGs to date. Took the Bears on a 48-yd
Elam FG as time ran out, before their break, but doubt that they will have that
chance here. Eags are 16-10 ATS off a SU/ATS win, & won't let this get away.
NEW ENGLAND 27 - St Louis 13 - (1:00) -- Two straight wins for the Rams,
under Haslett, scoring TDs on their first 3 drives vs Dallas. Check Jackson's
160 RYs & 3 TDs in that one. But still 5-16 ATS since LY, allowing 33 ppg in
last 9 contests. Catching the Pats off their Monday Nighter vs the Broncos is
a plus, & the visitor is 6-1 ATS in NewEngland tilts, with Pats losing their last
HG by 37½ pts ATS. However, StLouis is 11-22 ATS away vs winning teams,
while the Patriots are an amazing 11-0 ATS vs the NFC West, & 38-15 ATS as
a non-division HF. Rematch of '01 Super Bowl goes to the Patriots once again.
CAROLINA 27 - Arizona 17 - (1:00) -- Well, the dog, which was 54-28 ATS in
Panther games, has taken it on the chin over the last 5 weeks, with the chalk
covering all 5. Carolina has opened it up at home of late, with a combined pt
edge of 88-16 in its last 3 HF setups. The Cards are in off their bye week, &
enjoy a 2-game lead in their division, with Warner the 2nd rated passer in the
NFL. He is now 12/5. Arizona is 12-6 ATS off a bye, but 9-23 ATS on the non
division road, as well as 1-10 ATS in Oct off a SU dog win. LY, the Panthers
took the measure of the Cards, 25-10, & that one was in Arizona. Call repeat.
Washington 31 - DETROIT 13 - (1:00) -- Two straight covers for the winless
Lions, despite a 47-23 FD deficit, with 1 of their 2 TDs vs the Texans coming on
a 96-yd pass. Fact is that Detroit is on a 1-13 SU slide, while allowing 33.3 ppg
in its last 12 contests, & ranking 30th or worse in 6-of-8 major stat columns.
'Skins have held 16 foes to 20 pts or less since LY, & have covered their last 2
RGs by 13 & 12 pts. And check a 1,023-451 RY edge for the 'Skins, with
Portis at an NFL best 818 RYs (175 LW). Can't see the Lions, with their 32nd
ranked "D", doing much containing. Took 'em by 31 last year, & are improved.
JACKSONVILLE 20 - Cleveland 17 - (4:05) -- Only one way to go when the Jags
take the field, & that's with the dog, which has covered their last 8 contests.
And that includes 5 upsets in their 6 games to date. Went from 28-14 FD &
200 yd deficits, to 26-19 FD & 100 yd edges in their last 2 games, with Garrard
25-of-34 vs the Broncos. The Browns are averaging only 13.6 ppg in 8 of their
last 9 outings, but note allowing 19 pts or less in 9 of their last 10 games. But
they can crank it up at times, such as their upset of the Giants, with 320 PYs
from Anderson. J'Ville 0-8 ATS as a chalk of 6+ pts vs an opponent off a RG.
PITTSBURGH 23 - New York Giants 19 - (4:15) -- Plaxico Burress returns to
Pittsburgh. Well, maybe. Steelers tough team to get a handle on, as 3 of their
previous 4 games were decided by 4, 3, & 5 pts SU, before they put a 38-10
pasting on the hapless Bengals. Moore for the injured Parker: 120 RYs (6.0
ypr). Champ Giants just a safety away from 2 straight ATS setbacks, & check
a 707-646 yd deficit for NY in those contests vs 2-5 SanFran, & 2-4 Cleveland.
Check Giant RB Ward with 101 RYs on just 10 carries vs the Niners. Pitt is
17-7 ATS home off a win of 14+ pts, & 27-15 ATS home off a DD division win.
SAN FRANCISCO 27 - Seattle 20 - (4:15) -- First revenge setup of the season,
with the Seahawks seeking retribution for earlier 33-30 OT home loss to the
Niners. And it was legit, as SanFran held a 365-351 yd edge in that 9½ pt
cover. The Niners still not a defensive force, allowing >28 pts in 5 of their last
6 games, but the Seahawks on the road, without Hasselbeck, are lost. Check
deficits of 22-7 in FDs, 402-176 in yds, & 41:41-18:19 possession time, in loss
to the Bucs. But a cover, nonetheless, thanks to a 17-yd drive a KO return.
'Hawks had allowed 44, 42, 34, & 44 pts in their 4 RGs previous to that joke.
HOUSTON 34 - Cincinnati 17 - (4:05) -- Well, the Texans did it to us again. No
less than 3 straight excruciating losses in the last 3 wks (1, 2, 2½ pt setbacks),
with latest vs Detroit, as a 28-10 lead in the 4th, deteriorated into a 28-21 win
(96-yd TD pass). So, a 52-29 FD edge for Houston the past 2 wks, but 0-2
ATS. This marks their 4th straight HG, thanks to schedule rearranging, & we
will string along with them again, as they average 30.5 ppg at home in their last
8 hosters. Cincy the pits. An 0-7 record (5th time in 18 yrs), with a 1,066-512
RY deficit, altho the dog is 12-4 ATS in Bengal games of late. Finally a cover.
TENNESSEE 30 - Indianapolis 20 - (8:35 - ESPN) -- Titans just keep on doing
it. Not only are they the only unbeaten team in the NFL, but they've gone 5-0-1
ATS this year, with 10, 18, 14½, 10, & 15 pt covers. Racked up 332 RYs vs KC,
with Johnson & White posting 168 & 149 RYs, respectively. Colts still seeking an
overland game, as they've been outrushed 922-420 thus far, & Manning is off a
pair of crucial INTs in loss to the Packers. And check Tennessee with allowing
less than 18 pts in each of its last 10 games. We'll give the Colts a bit more than
that, but bucking this Titan squad has been suicidal. Are 4-0 ATS in series lately.
Re: Newsletters 10/21 - 10/27
THE SPORTS MEMO
COLORADO AT MISSOURI -21
Will this Missouri team fall flat on its face after losing in back-to-back weeks? That is certainly a valid question, but I feel confident that Chase Daniel and the other seniors will prevent that from happening. One thing is certain, if they come to play in this contest, they will have an easy win over a pitiful Colorado team. The Buffaloes managed just 14 points for a third consecutive week against a terrible Kansas State defense. And somehow, they slipped away with a win despite only 106 passing yards. Colorado took the redshirt off of freshman quarterback Tyler Hanson, and he led them on their only two scoring drives, catching K-State by surprise. Colorado was shutout in the second half after that and now the youngster makes his road debut behind an offensive line that is banged up, and missing key players. Those who are participating are flat out not blocking very well and it has showed. Mizzou got blown out by Texas last week and the offense that was so brilliant in its first five games has struggled the past two. They should get back on track this week against a Colorado defense that allowed over 400 yards to Texas and Kansas. Missouri’s weapons will be too much for the Buffs this week.
DUKE +10 AT VANDERBILT
Vanderbilt has surprised. During the summer, in these same pages, we called for Vanderbilt to be one of the worst teams in the nation. Without question we were wrong but recently we have seen them falter against Mississippi State and Georgia. Still, they stand at 5-2 and need one win to earn Bowl eligibility. With conference games against Florida, Tennessee and Kentucky plus non-conference games against Duke and Wake Forest, there are several chances for the Commodores. All five of VU’s conference games have been decided by 10 points or less. With a similar caliber of opposition,we should see several close games the remainder of the way. In six of Vandy’s seven games this season the underdog has covered. The lone exception was the Rice game, in which the Owls were facing a horrible situation with the aftermath of the events of Hurricane Ike. Still in rebuilding mode, the Blue Devils have held the lead or been within a field goal in the second half of all their losses, they just haven’t been able to close the deal. This week as they face an offense more their speed, we expect a full 60-minute effort. Duke is improved but the overall recent results have tempered the market’s enthusiasm for this squad. We’ll scoop in and grab the inflated number.
VIRGINIA TECH +4.5 AT FLORIDA STATE
Recommendation: Virginia Tech
Maybe that vaunted Florida State defense isn’t that good after all. It sure didn’t look like it against NC State last Thursday night as the Wolfpack gashed them on the ground and through the air, averaging over seven yards per play. The Seminoles got the win as their offense was able to keep the ball away from the Wolfpack by converting on third downs and running 80 plays to 47 for NC State. The fact is, the Seminoles have statistically prospered by playing a handful of weak offenses. They won’t face a great one this week either, as Virginia Tech’s one-dimensional offense limps into Tallahassee after losing to Boston College. But in this spot, it isn’t about Tech putting together 400 yards of offense and driving up and down the field. They simply need to do what they did last week: move the ball just enough to keep the FSU defense honest and wait patiently to take advantage of any Seminole mistakes (14 turnovers in six games). Assuming the Hokies score a special teams or defensive touchdown or at worst benefit from a short field, getting this amount of points is an excellent play
ILLINOIS -1 AT WISCONSIN
The Badgers once high expectations have come crashing down and the season looks to be in free fall. A once dominant home field advantage has seen two losses in the last month. Since an incredible second half collapse at Michigan, the Badgers having dropped three straight conference games and sit at 3-4. The overall offense of this team is quite limited as they have failed to score more than 17 points in four of their last five games. Overall in Big Ten play they are averaging just 16 points per game. The quarterback play has been atrocious as the Badgers have completed just 50% with eight interceptions and two touchdowns in Big Ten games. Additionally the once regarded rushing attack has also been pedestrian ranking in the bottom half of the league in yards per rush. Defensively they rank dead last in stopping the run in the Big Ten. Illinois should have some success in moving the football. While they have played some sloppy games, they have also delivered a consistency with their offense. This week they catch a team that may be further hampered with the loss of their running back, PJ Hill. With uncertainty at quarterback and poor performances and efforts on defense, we’ll fade Wisconsin.
PENN STATE AT OHIO STATE +1.5
Recommendation: Ohio State
There is no question that Penn State has been impressive, but I believe this line is out of whack. Ohio State hasn’t been a home underdog since the 2004-2005 season when they were a four-point underdog against Michigan. The Buckeyes won that game outright 37-21 and I anticipate they’ll do the same in this contest. Ohio State’s SU record (I-AA teams not included) in the Horseshoe is 45-3, 94% since the 2002 campaign. The Buckeyes are also coming off of their most impressive win of the season, blowing out Michigan State, 45-7. “It’s either ours or Penn State’s world and we’ll find out next week,” Buckeyes guard Jim Cordle was quoted as saying. “We like our chances with the momentum we’ve got going into it.” With road games at Purdue, Syracuse and Wisconsin, who has been exposed after an 0-4 Big Ten start, this will be Penn State’s toughest test of the season and while they’ve been very good, they haven’t gone on the road into an environment like this. In my opinion, Ohio State is being discounted way too much and seeing them at home as an underdog is too tempting not take. Penn State’s perfect season ends Saturday
BOSTON COLLEGE +3 AT NORTH CAROLINA
Recommendation: Boston College
Confidence-building win for Boston College last week as they took down Virginia Tech, 28-23, despite five turnovers and two interception returns for touchdowns. Just the opposite for North Carolina, as the Tar Heels blew a late lead and then lost in overtime to Virginia, 16-13. That loss marked the third time in North Carolina’s last four contests that the game was decided in the closing minute. It was the second ACC defeat in which the Tar Heels blew a fourth quarter lead. North Carolina was also outgained in its three previous contests before holding the total yardage advantage over the weak Virginia offense. Now the Tar Heels will face the ACC’s No. 3-ranked offense and No. 2-ranked defense against the run. North Carolina’s offense, and specifically
the passing game, is significantly less efficient since quarterback TJ Yates went out with injury. And with top wide receiver and kick return specialist Brandon Tate out for the year, the offense struggled even more against a sub-par Virginia defense. Boston College is more confident, healthier
and the better team right now in an underdog role. Fly with the Eagles.
NEVADA -3 AT HAWAII
Recommendation: NevadaI took a shot last Friday with Boise State, laying 23.5, to cover against this same Hawaii team. Even though it lost, I’ll take my shot with Nevada in this situation. I just don’t buy into this Warriors team; they turn the ball over at an alarming rate, their QB is wildly inaccurate and their option-based, run-n-shoot offense is decidedly high school. While the Wolf Pack aren’t nearly as good defensively as Boise, I don’t think Hawaii has any shot of slowing down their offense. Nevada averages 520 ypg and 40 ppg and is one of the few offenses in the country that can boast over 200 yards rushing and passing per game. Quarterback Colin Kapernick has tallied over 1,900 total yards with a combined 21 TDs (rush/pass), RB Vai Taua has rushed for over 6.4 ypc and has added nine scores, while speedster Marko Mitchell has averaged nearly 19 yards per catch. When it comes right down to it, Hawaii will be forced to trade scores in this one and I don’t think they can keep up. The only team of comparable talent to get the best of Nevada this year was New Mexico State. The Aggies are a very good passing team and the Warriors are not. Take Nevada.
RICE AT TULANE -2.5
An intriguing Conference-USA match-up this Saturday as the Owls make the trek to New Orleans to battle the Green Wave. No question the high-flying Owls with Chase Clement at quarterback can score points in bunches. However, their ability to run the football and play defense will be tested in this matchup. The Owls have proved winning on the road with little defense (480 ypg allowed) and a suspect running game can be a tough task (2-8 SU on the road the last two years). Meanwhile, the more physical Green Wave will enter this game refreshed off their bye week. They’ll have a great opportunity to win this game at the line of scrimmage as they’ve easily outgained four of their six opponents on the ground. They even held their own against the vaunted Alabama front five. The line of scrimmage discrepancy was on display in last year’s meeting when the Green Wave outgained Rice by 244 yards on the ground and won in Houston, 45-31, as a three-point underdog. Rested and ready, look for Tulane to take care of the Owls this weekend in the Superdome.
NEW ORLEANS VS. SAN DIEGO -3.5 O/U 46.5
Last year, when the Giants and Dolphins met at Wembley Stadium in London, the field conditions could not have been worse. Wembley was built for soccer, not professional football. The description of last year’s game was “a mud-caked slog through the unfriendly pitch at torn-up Wembley Stadium.” We should expect more of the same in 2008. If you’ve ever been to London in the Fall, you know already that it rains almost every day. The look-ahead forecast for London on Sunday shows a likelihood of rain leaving the field in quagmire condition once again. Yes, the Saints and Chargers both have explosive, high-powered offenses. But let’s not forget they combined to produce just 21 points in good conditions last weekend. And each team’s defense has exceeded expectations in recent weeks as well. After a streak of five consecutive Overs to open the season, the Saints have now gone Under the total in each of the last two weeks, with the Chargers riding a three-game Under streak of their own. In a game where staying healthy in ugly conditions is likely to be every bit as important as winning, look for both coaches to utilize conservative game plans, leading to another low scoring affair.
WASHINGTON -7.5 AT DETROIT O/U 44.5
I find it hard to buy into Detroit as an improving squad even after back-to-back spread covers. There has been a 796-538 total yardage and 47-23 first down advantage for Lions’ opponents the last few weeks, making final scores and subsequent covers a bit misleading. Last Sunday versus Houston, the Detroit pass defense was absolutely torched as Matt Schaub hit 26-of-31 passes for 267 yards. The run defense was no better, allowing 150 yards on 4.4 per carry. The Redskins’ balance with Clinton Portis (now in Pro Bowl-type form) and Jason Campbell’s efficient passing, figures to light up the Lions defense which is yielding an NFL-worst 418.7 total yards per game. Washington’s defense has been the polar opposite as they’ve held four of its six opponents, including potent units New Orleans and Philadelphia. The Redskins have outgained every opponent since their season opener and they’ve committed just five turnovers. Detroit’s youth movement, led by quarterback Dan Orlovsky, is still in a learning and evaluation period while the Redskins have their sights squarely set on the playoffs. Washington has already pocketed straight-up road wins against Dallas and Philadelphia and they’ll add a blowout victory here.
Re: Newsletters 10/21 - 10/27
COLLEGE SELECTION OF THE WEEK: ARIZONA STATE + 4 over Oregon - Both teams are off of Byes. At 2-4 Arizona State has been disappointing thus far and are on a 4 game losing streak after starting 2-0. They've played the more demanding schedule than has Oregon as reflected in Oregon's opponents' combined 18-29 record while ASU's foes are a combined 28-13. Both teams have played - and lost - on the road to conference power USC. ASU actually compiled the better stats in their loss, being outgained by the Trojans 387-229 in their 28-0 loss while Oregon was outgained 598-239 in their 44-10 loss. State does get starting QB Carpenter back for this game. Coach Erickson's teams have always played exceptionally well at home where they are comfortable being aggressive and playing with swagger and attitude. Oregon's a solid program but the talent level on these teams is about even and does not justify ASU being a home underdog even though Oregon has won the last three meetings. Arizona State wins outright, 27-21.
Other Featured College Selections
Mississippi - 4 ½ over ARKANSAS - Former Arkansas coach Nutt has been looking forward to this game ever since his bitter dismissal as Head Hog last season despite years of success with the program. He's had a positive impact at Ole Miss in his first season as the Rebels have improved their level of play and pulled a stunning road upset of Florida. Though just 3-4, they've been competitive in all 4 losses with their largest margin of defeat just 7 points. Arkansas has played better of late for new coach Petrino after playing very poorly earlier. The offense has been inconsistent and the defense has been susceptible to the big play. The major edge for Ole Miss comes in Nutt's knowledge of the Arkansas players as he recruited most of them. Add in the emotion and this has the makings of a beatdown, especially since Arkansas with Nutt as coach has won 4 straight against Mississippi, including 44-8 and 38=3 the past two seasons. Mississippi wins 30-17.
MISSOURI - 21 ½ over Colorado - Mizzou's dreams of a National Title were dashed when they were upset at home two weeks ago by Oklahoma State. Any chances of a rebound went away when the Tigers were blown out at Texas last week 56-31. Now they return home and drop in class to face a Colorado team that has struggled on offense all season. The Buffaloes have been held to 14 points in 3 of their last 4 games and scored 21 points in a one sided loss to Florida State. Missouri has an outstanding offense behind QB Daniel that should flourish in this situation. Las season Missouri won 55-10 at Colorado as 3 point favorites. Mizzou can still win the Big 12 North and play for the conference title so the motivation to refocus is there. They have the balance to put up big numbers in this game (7.6 yards per play, # 2). Missouri wins big, 49-17.
OHIO STATE + 2 over Penn State - This game likely decides the Big 10 as both are unbeaten in league play with Penn State 8-0 overall and #3 in the BCS standings. After losing at USC, Ohio State's won 5 straight and is #9 in the BCS, a ranking that would improve with a win here. This game's winner will be favored to win their remaining games and with no Big 10 title game will be in excellent position for a spot in the BCS Title game as other contenders fall to one another. Penn State has not won at Ohio State since joining the Big 10, losing 7 straight by an average score of 28-8. They have yet to score more than 10 points at the Horseshoe. This may be JoePa's best team since joining the Big 10 in 1992 but they have benefitted from a relatively weak schedule. Yes, they did rout Oregon State at home but the overall record of their opponents is just 22-35 (OSU's foes are 20-16). Ohio State is a Home Dog for just the fifth time since 1993. They are 3-1 both SU and ATS. Saturday night under the lights will be Penn State's biggest challenge yet but the OSU defense and continued emergence of versatile QB Pryor will be too much to overcome. Ohio State wins 23-14.
NFL SELECTION OF THE WEEK: PHILADELPHIA - 9 over Atlanta - Both teams are off of Byes. Atlanta has been a major surprise thus far with rookie QB Ryan leading the Falcons to a 4-2 record. Philly is just 3-3 but has had to deal with injuries, most notably to RB Westbrook, expected back for this game. The Eagles' aggressive defense should create some problems for the Falcons who have played poorly in 2 of 3 road games when the ground game struggled. The Philly offense, with a healthy Westbrook, is well balanced and potent, especially with QB McNabb healthy. Atlanta may well be a team on the rise but the Eagles are a mature, experienced and well coached team. Their defense will set the tempo for this game and is likely to force mistakes upon which the Philly offense will capitalize. Philadelphia wins 27-13.
Other Featured NFL Selections :
DALLAS - 4 over Tampa Bay - The uncertain status of Dallas QB Romo could create volatility in the line during the week but Dallas should ultimately be favored by more than a FG, less than a TD. This is a critical game for the 'Boys as they return from a pair of upset road losses at Arizona and St Louis and have a pair of Divisional road trips on deck at the Giants and Washington. They were clearly unfocused and unprepared last week in St Louis and took a scolding from team owner Jones afterwards. Tampa is off 2 solid home wins but is in a tough spot against a more talented team playing with their season virtually on the line. Even with backup QB Johnson Dallas is poised for their best effort to date. Both teams are in very competitive Divisions and this game could play a part in Playoff tiebreakers. The expectation is that Romo won't go and the line will be closer to a FG. Either way, look for Dallas' defense to come up big and be the key. Dallas wins 26-13.
JACKSONVILLE - 7 over Cleveland - Jacksonville had started to play well prior to last week's Bye after a sluggish 0-2 start. They''ve won 3 of 4 and appear poised to again contend for the Playoffs. Cleveland was competitive in losing at Washington after their Monday night upset of the Giants. The Browns' defense has actually put up better than expected stats, allowing under 20 points per game. Most of their defensive success has been against the pass (#7) but their run defense has been below average (146 ypg, # 26). Unfortunately their offense has dropped off considerably from last season (256 ypg, #30). Jacksonville is the better overall team and they have a significant edge in the running game which should be decisive here. The Jags have yet to have a breakout game as all 3 wins have been by a TD or less. The Bye allowed them to make adjustments to allow their running game strength to exploit Cleveland's weakness. Jacksonville wins 31-13.
Cincinnati + 10 over HOUSTON - Both teams were scheduled for Byes this week before Hurricane Ike necessitated a schedule adjustment. Cincinnati is winless (0-7) although they were competitive for most of last week''s game against Pittsburgh, trailing 17-10 after 3 quarters. Houston has won 2 straight after starting 0-4. But the Texans have a poor defense, one that creates few turnovers (just 0.8 per game, # 30). Cincy's struggled on offense with starting QB Palmer sidelined. They are gaining a league low 232 ypg but that should improve as backup QB Fitzpatrick gets more work as starter. Given the success of double digit dogs and the fact that Houston should not be laying such large numbers with their lowly rated defense, the Bengals are ripe to pull the upset, and certainly stay close. Houston is the weakest foe faced to date by the Bengals as they and Cleveland are the only teams Cincy has faced that currently have losing records. Cincinnati wins 23-20.
Best of the NFL Totals
Oakland/Baltimore UNDER 35 ½
Kansas City/N Y Jets UNDER 38
St Louis/New England OVER 43
Washington/Detroit UNDER 43 ½
N Y Giants/Pittsburgh UNDER 43
Indianapolis/Tennessee UNDER 42 ½
Money Line Recommendations
N Y Giants
NFL Home Dogs - An Endangered Species???? - Or Maybe Just a Myth ???
The NFL regular season approaches the midway point with 102 of 256 games having been played. 2008 is unfolding as a season in which favorites and underdogs have performed almost equally, as they did last season but unlike the two seasons before. In 2005 Favorites were dominant, covering nearly 58% of the time (142-104-9). Withing that group, Road Favorites were an astounding 47-29-4 (61.8%) meaning Home Underdogs covered just 38% of the time! In 2006 Favorites were just 106-140-5, 43.1% ATS (Against the Spread). Home Underdogs were a solid 46-32-1 ATS (59.0%). These disparate results have called into question the long held "belief" that the best "value" comes playing Underdogs, especially home underdogs.
Witness how Home Underdogs have done over the years. Over the past 26 seasons Home Underdogs are 965-889-54 ATS, or 52.05%. That's below the 52.4% needed to break even laying 11 to 10! Since 1982 the best season for Home Underdogs was 1996 when they went 39-25-0 for 60.9%, a profit of 11.5 net units (2002 & 2006 were close behind). The worst was 2005 as Home Pups went 29-47-4 for just 38.2% (previously 1984 had produced the poorest results). Of the past 26 seasons there have been only 7 seasons in which Home Underdogs hit at less than 50% although there have also been 4 seasons in which Home Dogs hit above 50% but below the 'break even' point of 52.4%. There have been 15 seasons in which Home Underdogs turned a profit, but in 8 of them the profit was less than 2.0 net units for the entire season!
Blindly betting Home Underdogs between 1982 and 2004 would have produced a net profit of just 7.7 units but that entire profit was more than offset by the loss in 2005 of 22.7 net units for a net loss, on a flat bet basis, of 15.0 units over more than 1,700 plays -- hardly the definition of long term success -- or success at all for that matter. 10.8 units were "recovered" in 2006 but most of that was given back in 2007 when Home Underdogs produced a net loss of 8.6 units. Thus there has been an overall NET LOSS of 12.9 units by blindly having bet NFL Home Underdogs over the past 26 seasons! Quite a surprise to nearly everyone.
As to the "value" of Home Underdogs? It's a matter of semantics or, more accurately, a matter of relativity. Home Underdogs are the best of four "evils" in that relative to Home Favorites, Road Favorites and Road Underdogs betting on Home Underdogs has produced the lowest level of losses over a quarter century. So the next time you hear a handicapper or commentator extol the virtues of the Home Underdog you will be aware that the "bark" is much louder than the "bite" and that while looking for Home Underdogs is indeed a solid approach to handicapping it's not the be all and end all many have proclaimed it to be.
Re: Newsletters 10/21 - 10/27
Mark Lawrence Playbook
5* BEST BET
Boston College over North Carolina by 7
The Tar Heels return to Chapel Hill off an immensely frustrating loss to Virginia at Charlottesville. North Carolina controlled the game defensively for 58 minutes but could not prevent Virginia from driving 82 yards for a tying touchdown in the fi nal two minutes of regulation. Then, after regaining the lead with a fi eld goal in overtime, the Cavs needed just four plays to punch in the game-winner, dropping UNC to 1-2 in the ACC race. Wait, it gets worse: Carolina is a woeful 1-9 ATS as a single-digit conference home favorite and has covered just once in five tries as chalk in the fi rst of BB homers. Boston College makes the trip south following an impressive win over Virginia Tech and the Eagles bring along a bankroll-building 10-1 ATS mark as road dogs of less than 10 points. BC is also just one of fi ve remaining teams to own a perfect ‘In The Stats’ record this year – the mirror opposite of UNC’s awful 1-5 ITS effort. The clincher is BC’s defense, allowing a mere 13 PPG this season. That ties nicely into Butch Davis’ dastardly 3-19 ATS mark as a college head coach in games when he is favored and his team fails to score 30 points. As we’ve said before, home favorites playing off an OT loss are not our cup of tea, so we’ll be flying with theEagles against the downtrodden Heels today
4* BEST BET
Florida over Kentucky by 10
With a week off to bask in the glow of their 51-21 dismemberment of LSU, Urban Meyer and his Gators had to be disappointed to see theirone-loss team land at #10 in the season’s initial BCS rankings released on Sunday. And as we all know, the only way for a squad to make any headway in the polls these days is to run up the score whenever possible while hoping the higher-ups somehow falter. If you think this looks like a great opportunity for Florida to give the scoreboard a workout, you’d better think again: Kentucky’s rugged defense has yielded a season-high of just 24 points, less than the spread on this matchup! Still buoyed by their stirring come-from-behind win over Arkansas, the Wildcats own all the ATS edges here. Ready? UK has consistently cashed in the series, going 5-1 ATS in the last six games (3-0 ATS at The Swamp), they’re 6-2 ATS as SEC dogs of 14 > points and head coach Rich Brooks stands 8-1 ATS as a double-digit dog when his Cats are .500 or greater. Florida doesn’t scare anyone with its feeble 2-11 ATS record as conference favorites of 14 or more points and our powerful database tells us that a team who beat the defending National Champs are just 6-21 ATS when facing an opponent that won 7 or more games the previous season, including 3-18 since 1990! With a monster revenger against Georgia waiting in the wings for UF, we’ll gladly oblige and grab the hefty points.
3* BEST BET
Wake Forest over Miami Florida by 8
Deacons have not been living the Life of Riley since QB Skinner went into the tank three weeks ago by throwing four interceptions and losing a fumble in Wake’s surprising home loss to Navy. And even though the Deacs rebounded to stop Clemson the following week, Skinner stunk it up again (14-of-30 passing) in last Saturday’s puzzling defeat at Maryland, Jim Grobe’s first-ever shutout since he arrived in Winston-Salem seven-plus seasons ago. Miami awoke from a fi rst half slumber in Durham to outscore Duke 35-14 in the second stanza en route to a convincing 49-31 that puts the Canes back in the thick of the ACC race. But a full-fl edged QB controversy is brewing at Coral Gables between mistake-prone starter Robert Marve and Jacory Harris, not good news when we take a gander at the Hurricanes’ recent ATS results. Miami is just 1-5 SU and 0-6 ATS as conference favorites under Randy Shannon and has failed to cover a single game in eight straight tries after winning and covering as road chalk. Wake’s pointspread numbers inspire much more confi dence: the Deacs are 6-0 ATS in Game Seven of the season and the aforementioned Grobe stands 9-2 SU and 10-0-1 ATS as a dog of 5 or less points with the Demons. Despite the visitors gaining just 219 total yards last week versus the Terps, we’ll ride the Wake Forest elevator ‘up’ this week as Skinner returns to form by defl ating the Hurricanes.
Philadelphia over Atlanta by 20
For multiple reasons, the Eagles picked an opportune time to even their record for the season. For openers, head coach Andy Reid sparkles in games when playing with rest, going 13-1 SU and 11-3 ATS, including 5-0 ATS versus a .666 or greater opponent. Better yet, when Donovan McNabb is his starting QB and his team is rested, the Eagles are 9-0 SU and 8-1 ATS. In addition, Reid is 6-1 ATS in games when his record is dead-even .500 and he’s taking on a foe off a SU and ATS win. And speaking of dead-even .500 clubs, teams in Game Seven that are playing at home off one-win exact are 12-4 ATS since 1980. While the Falcons are an improved unit from last season they have allowed three of their last four foes 2nd high season yards. The Eagles, on the other hand, have held four foes to season-low yardage. Andy looks dandy in this spot today.
4* BEST BET
NY Giants over Pittsburgh by 10
As we approach the halfway mark of the 2008 NFL season, it’s apparent there is no clear-cut favorite in either conference. The Chargers, Colts and Patriots have struggled, thus vaulting the Steelers and Titans into prominence in the AFC. The Cowboys, Eagles and Bucs have all had their woes, making the G-Men and Redskins the teams to beat in the NFC. Thus, this could be a possible Super Bowl preview. We all know the Giants’ affi nity for playing away from home (12-1 SU and 11-2 ATS last 13 games). What you don’t know is that defending Super Bowl champions shine on the road if not favored when taking on a .833 or greater opponent. That’s because these ring-winners are 12-1 ATS in this role since 1980! Considering Steeler boss Mike Tomlin is 0-4 ATS in games off back-to-back wins if the last game was against a division foe, we’ll stand tall with Big Blue.
3* BEST BET
Arizona over Carolina by 7
Both of these teams missed out on the playoffs last season and both appear to be in post-season contention as we near the halfway mark of this 2008 campaign. The Cardinals were denied a winning record last year when the Panthers upended them, 25-10, as 6-point home favorites.If that isn’t incentive enough then perhaps Ken Whisenhunt’s 10-1 ATS career mark in games against opponents off a win of 7 or more points should be. On the other side of the ledger, Carolina head coach John Fox trots off to the fi nance company as a home favorite in games against .666 or greater opposition, going 3-6 SU and 1-7-1 ATS. That being said, we fully expect the Panthers to drop to 3-15 ATS at home against .500 or greater opponents with revenge here today.We’re raising Arizona.
Re: Newsletters 10/21 - 10/27
4* MARYLAND 31 NC STATE 16
MD is 6-2 SU, 5-3 ATS in this series, but the visitor is 6-1 ATS. NC St is on a 2-9 ATS run in ACC
AG’s. PP says MD will win by 15 (line 10’) and we agree.
4* MIAMI FL 25 WAKE FOREST 18
Miami has won 4 in a row SU in this series but WF is 9-4 ATS as an AD. PP says that UM will
win by 7 (line 2’) and neither can afford another ACC loss
4* NORTHWESTERN 38 INDIANA 20
NW is 8-2 SU in this series but has only won by an avg of 31-27. PP calls for NW to win by 18
(line 9’) and the Cats will lock in a bowl bid with their 7th win.
4* NORTH CAROLINA 26 BOSTON COLLEGE 19
In their last meeting NC upset #19 BC 16-14 as our ‘05 College GOY. PP calls for NC to win by
7 (line 3) and though the ydg forecast is close, NC has a large special teams edge.
4* PITTSBURGH 24 RUTGERS 9
LW Pitt dominated Navy and won a 3* LPS for us. PP predicts they will end their 3 gm losing
streak to Rutgers with a 15 pt win and a 389-213 yd edge and we agree.
4* FLORIDA 36 KENTUCKY 8
UK gutted out a last second win over Ark LW, but they are in way over their heads in this one. PP
says the Gators will win by 28 (line 23) and though UK’s D is tough, UF has a huge speed edge.
4* MISSISSIPPI 30 ARKANSAS 24
Houston Nutt was forced out at Ark LY and now returns to his home state to face his former team.
A lot of emotions on both sides, but you can bet this is one Nutt would love to win. PP says UM wins
by 6 (line 4), but we think it could be by a lot more
4* RICE (+) 37 TULANE 32
The dog is 5-2 ATS in this series that has avg 71 ppg since Rice joined CUSA. PP says that Rice
will win by 5 and they are getting 2, and we agree.
4* FLORIDA STATE 28 VIRGINIA TECH 19
It’s surprising to see a VT squad forecasted to get outgained 402-213. Remember FSU had numerous
susp to start the ssn and have yet to hit their stride. They’re only a 4’ pt fav and a Top Play here.
4* TEXAS TECH 33 KANSAS 31
Kansas has not seen this TT off S/‘05 and TT is avg 46 ppg and gained 561 yds LW at A&M. They
are forecasted to have a slight 468-462 yd edge and win. TT is a dog so that makes this a 4★.
4* HAWAII 33 NEVADA 31
A trip to the Islands is always diffi cult and Nev has lost all 4 (1-3 ATS) by 17 ppg. Now the Warriors
are forecasted to outgain the Wolf Pack 445-417 and they’re a HD. That makes this a Top Play
3* NOTRE DAME 33 WASHINGTON 20
Washington’s numbers keep getting adjusted with the loss of QB Locker. They have gained yards
but have had trouble scoring, being held to 14 or less in 3 of 4. ND has now covered 3 straight
3* BALL ST 40 EASTERN MICHIGAN 11
BSU is one of only 9 undefeated teams, off a bye and now faces one of the MAC’s weakest
squads. PP calls for a 29 pt win (line 23’) with a 479-306 yd edge.
3* CENTRAL MICHIGAN 34 TOLEDO 28
All Toledo has done is lose to a pair of MAC tms by a combined 69-7 and sandwiched around an
upset win at Michigan. They’ve dropped all 3 SU at home TY and PP is calling for a 4th home loss.
3* MISSOURI 38 COLORADO 15
Missouri can fall apart after B2B losses or do what we expect which is to fi nish the season with
a vengeance. PP is calling for a 482-288 yd edge and the Tigers get a big feel good win
3* TROY 47 NORTH TEXAS 19
NT has held only 1 team to under 41 points and PP shays they won’t do it here. PP is calling for Troy
to fi nish with a 471-404 yd edge, have a turnover edge and they also have a huge ST advantage
4* EAGLES 32 FALCONS 18
(ATL #8 vs PHI #7 PHI #9 vs ATL #25) ATL is one of the good stories in the NFL but like most young QB’s
Ryan isn’t as good on the road (170 ypg 50% 2-3) & his only win was when ATL caught GB at the right
time dealing with a slew of inj’s. McNabb has been playing at a Pro Bowl level TY & will have Westbrook
& his #1 & #2 WR’s together for the 1st time TY. PP likes PHI big here with a 448-256 yd edge & they will
have a very hostile crowd to back up DC Johnson’s various blitz schemes & the Eagles are the play
3* REDSKINS 26 LIONS 14
WAS #7 vs DET #32 DET #28 vs WAS #6) WAS survived a late rally by CLE to squeak out a narrow
14-11 win. Campbell is the only Wk 1 starter without an int & he gets a great matchup vs a DET defense
with just 12 sacks, allowing a 9.2 ypa with an 11-1 ratio. DET QB Orlovsky was much better LW & his
play-style is similar to Jake Plummer’s. PP gives WAS a 411-216 yd edge & the road team is the play.
2* RAVENS 20 RAIDERS 10
OAK #22 vs BAL #2 BAL #26 vs OAK #27) The Ravens bounced back from their big loss vs IND with
a 27-13 win vs MIA. BAL converted 50% of its 3rd & 4th Dns as Flacco had a solid day with 232 yds
(74%) with a 1-0 ratio. OAK went deep into OT & won on the NFL’s longest OT FG (57 yds) but allowed
418 yds. PP gives BAL a 333-245 yd edge vs an OAK team that is 6-12 ATS in the EST & the home
team is the play.
1* JAGUARS 22 BROWNS 18
CLE #30 vs JAX #24 JAX #21 vs CLE #18) The Jags are off their bye & C Meester, OG Naeole & FS Nelson
are due back. They get a good matchup with their #13 rush off (4.1) vs CLE’s #27 rush def (4.8). CLE was
in a poor situation LW after their MNF win vs a WAS team off a bad loss at home but they were in a position
to send it to OT at the end. CLE’s offensive struggles aren’t entirely Anderson’s as the receiving corps isn’t
living up to its end. PP likes CLE to keep it within the line despite the yardage for a small play
Re: Newsletters 10/21 - 10/27
4* CAROLINA over Arizona - This is the 7th meeting in 8 years with CAR beating ARZ 25-10 as a 5.5 pt AD LY. Both teams were playing their 3rd string QB as CAR brought in Testaverde on Tues & ARZ lost Warner (elbow) in the 1Q. ARZ was up 10-9 mid-4Q when Testaverde hit on a 65 yd TD to Smith (2ptng) to make it 15-10. ARZ was int 3 times in the 4Q which CAR converted into 10 pts for the win. ARZ returns from their bye (4-1 ATS away) but have to travel to an EST site where they are 8-16 ATS (0-2 TY). CAR bounced back from their loss to TB LW holding Brees to just 69 yds passing (56%) in the 1H LW after he strung together 4 straight 300 yds passing. CAR is 4-0 SU & 3-0-1 ATS at home TY outgaining foes 349-249 with a 27-8 avg score. ARZ is hoping WR Boldin (sinus fracture) returns. Warner is back to playing at an elite level with 285 ypg (70%) with a 12-5 ratio & he has 4 games with 70%+ completion rates. ARZ runs a very unpredictable blitz heavy defense (#6 sacks) that is high risk/high reward with a 12-3 ratio (6-2 w/o NYJ game) & CAR expects C Kalil & RT Otah back here. ARZ HC Whisenhunt noted that he fully expects his team to win the division after the DAL game. However, passing offenses need 1.5 Qtrs to get back in gear & going cross country vs a CAR team that got its confidence back makes us side with the home team here. FORECAST: CAROLINA 24 Arizona 10
3* PHILADELPHIA over Atlanta - Both teams come in off their bye week with PHI being 9-3 ATS (inc playoffs) under Reid afterwards while ATL is thrilled to be 4-2 after a last second win vs CHI before it. Inc playoffs, this is the 6th meeting in 7 years with ATL covering the L2. PHI beat ATL 24-17 in the 2006 season finale but failed to cover as a 9 pt HF. This game has PHI’s #9 & #7 units (+5 TO’s) vs ATL’s #8 & #25 units (+2 TO’s). PHI expects RB Westbrook (ribs) to return along with WR’s Brown, Curtis & LG Andrews as well. PHI has outgained foes 343-245 at home TY with a 23-11 avg. ATL has been outgained in all 3 road games 373-291 with Ryan passing for 170 ypg (50%) with a 2-3 ratio. ATL beat a very depleted GB team in their last road game vs a QB playing with a separated shoulder. ATL now faces a PHI defense that is 2nd in the NFL with 21 sacks & allowing just 91 (3.5) ypg rushing. McNabb has been playing at a Pro Bowl level TY despite the injuries around him & with DC Johnson having a rabid home crowd to help his blitz packages vs a talented but young QB makes the Eagles are the play. FORECAST: PHILADELPHIA 34 Atlanta 13
2* Kansas City (+) over NY JETS - Herm Edwards takes on his former team for the 2nd time. LY the Jets beat the Chiefs 13-10 in OT & failed to cover as a 6 pt HF. The Jets moved the ball well with 20-14 FD & 337-219 yd edges but QB Clemens had bruised ribs & the Jets were just trying to wrap up the season. KC lost QB Croyle for the year due to a torn left ACL & may be down to #3 QB Thigpen as Huard left LW with a thumb injury. NYJ are 5-1 ATS as a non-div HF. KC has the #29 & #32 units (+0 TO’s) over the L4W vs NYJ’s #15 & #18 units (-2 TO’s). The Jets have a massive edge with Favre making his 260th start vs a Chiefs defense that has just 3 sacks (32nd), allowing 207 ypg rushing (5.6) which inflates the pass defense ranking (13th). While KC does get RB Johnson back after being deactivated LW minus the DEN game he’s only avg 55 ypg (3.4) & faces a Jets team that is allowing 83 ypg rushing (3.2). KC is tied with GB for the youngest roster in the NFL & Edwards is still teaching them how to play. Aside from the Cardinals game where Warner threw 3 int & Favre had 6 TD passes the Jets have squeaked by MIA & let CIN linger in the game before winning by 12. The Jets have a big road game vs BUF on deck & KC comes in angry after 2 straight bad losses. The generous points makes this the Ugly Dog (22-9 71%) which has earned 5 straight upset wins. FORECAST: Kansas City 20 (+) NY JETS 23
2* Washington over DETROIT - WAS throttled the Lions 34-3 as a 3.5 pt HF back when DET was a respectable team. WAS forced DET to punt on their first 4 drives & had a 14-0 lead at the half with 15-4 FD & 236-41 yd edges. WAS turned 2 DET TO’s into 10 pts & added a safety. After placing Kitna on IR & trading away one of their best players on the team the Lions found themselves down 21-3 after the 1H but rallied behind Orlovsky for the cover LW. Orlovsky was much better than 2 wks ago (265 yds 48% 1-0) as he used his mobility on bootlegs & rollouts & threw well on the move. The problem is the #32 defense which lacks a strong pass rush (18th) & their #30 pass defense is worse than its ranking with an 11-1 ratio & 9.2 ypa. WAS QB Campbell has been extremely efficient as he avg’s 204 ypg (64%) with an 8-0 ratio & is the only Wk 1 starter without an int. RB Portis leads the NFL in rushing (117 ypg 5.0) & faces a DET team that has been outrushed 168 (4.8) - 78 (4.3). Expect a wake up call from HC Zorn as the Skins have now lost to STL as a 13 pt HF & let CLE stay in the game being a missed FG away from OT. Don’t be fooled by DET’s B2B covers as both MIN (outgained DET by 180 yds) & HOU (outFD them 29-15) outmanned their team but played down to their level. In the competitive NFC East WAS gets back to taking care of business. FORECAST: Washington 34 DETROIT 20
BALTIMORE 24 Oakland 7- This game features the sons of Buddy Ryan who was one of the NFL’s defensive innovators squaring off. Not surprisingly both teams are very similar to each other with OAK having the #22 & #27 units (+2 TO’s) vs BAL’s #26 & #2 units (-4 TO’s). OAK is 6-12 ATS in ET games. BAL is 15-6 ATS as a non-div HF. While BAL has a beat up secondary (still #4 pass def) this is a good matchup for them as they are only allowing 67 ypg (2.8) rushing. BAL gets a break as Russell who has passed for 123 ypg (39%) with a 1-1 ratio & meager 5.2 ypa on the road TY (1-2 SU 2-1 ATS). Flacco had a good game vs MIA’s #21 defense with 232 yds passing (74%) with a 1-0 ratio as the coaching staff puts him in a position to succeed & grow rather than force the game on him. OAK was in a good situation LW at home vs the Jets coming cross country & they were able to harass Favre into 2 int including one on the OAK 8. While this figures to be a low scoring game we’ll side with a more physical defense at home where they have allowed 43 pts in 3 games with an OC in Cameron who is familiar with the road team going cross country after basically playing 5 full Qtrs.
San Diego 21 New Orleans 20 - London, UK - This game will be played between a surprising pair of 3-4 teams on a soccer field built for speed but the grass roots aren’t as deep as an NFL field resulting in a torn field. Brees noted before the CAR game that he was looking forward to facing his former team for the 1st time. SD rested WR Chambers (knee), OLB Tucker (hamstring) LW to prepare for this game. NO got WR Colston & TE Shockey back in limited roles LW but RB Bush (knee) will not make the trip. NO is 9-5 ATS away vs a non-div foe. SD is 1-8 ATS away vs a non-div foe. The QB’s will be the stars of this game with Brees (311 ypg 68% with a 12-7 ratio) vs SD’s #31 pass defense. Rivers is avg 233 ypg 64% with a 16-5 ratio & he faces NO’s #21 pass defense. Tomlinson (turf toe) has only rushed for 100 yds once TY (57 ypg 3.3) & his 3.6 ypc is a big drop from his career 4.5 ypc. NO’s DL is only allowing 91 ypg (3.5) the L4W on the ground. The early forecast is for rain & we’ll call for SD to win by 1 & wait to see who exactly lines up on both sides here.
Buffalo 28 MIAMI 21 - The Bills are 7-1 SU & 8-0 ATS vs MIA. BUF squeaked out a 13-10 win as a 2.5 pt AF in the 1st meeting & blasted them 38-17 as a 7 pt HF in the 2nd. Pennington has avg’d 192 ypg (66%) with a 6-7 ratio for a 3-5 SU & 2-6 ATS record vs the Bills. This is a good matchup with BUF’s #17 & #9 units (+1 TO’s) vs MIA’s #10 & #21 units (+4 TO’s) with the Bills having an edge with a top 10 special teams vs a MIA team with one of the worst. MIA is 2-12-1 ATS hosting a division foe. BUF is 8-2 ATS in division play. Hidden in MIA’s improvement TY is the fact that their pass defense (#28) has been very poor allowing 235 ypg (62%) with a 9-3 ratio & 8.5 ypa. In Edwards 5 full games TY (5-0 SU & 4-1 ATS) he is avg 238 ypg (69%) with a 5-2 ratio. It’s pretty clear that BUF is saving RB Lynch (65 ypg 3.5 but only 1 gm w/20 att’s) for later in the year. BUF is off to their best start since 1995 & while MIA is a better team than LY we’ll side with the road team with better depth & special teams with a manageable line here.
DALLAS 31 Tampa Bay 21 - TB comes in off a SNF game vs a beat up SEA team coming cross country. TB has the #11 & #11 units (+3 TO’s) vs DAL #4 & #10 units (-6 TO’s). DAL’s was unable to set aside their distractions LW & was blasted by the Rams 34-14 as they had 4 TO’s converted into 10 pts. Romo could start but a road game vs the Giants on deck makes that very risky. DAL is 10-5-1 ATS as a non-divHF. TB is 5-13 ATS as a non-div AD. 40 yr old Brad Johnson who took TB under Gruden to SB 37, made his 1st start in 2 years LW & at one point was 4-12 before finishing with 234 yds (50%) with a 1-3 ratio. Johnson is vulnerable to a defense like TB’s that has great LB speed allowing just 223 ypg passing (57%) with an 8-11 ratio & 6.9 ypa. Losing RB Jones (hamstring strain) means a big facet of the offense is gone & a defense allowing just 90 ypg rushing (3.4) can focus on Barber’s (77 ypg 4.2) power rushing style. DAL has no one to blame but themselves here & this is an ideal spot for them to circle the wagons vs a team coming in off a short week vs a weaker foe. We’ll side with the talented & desperate team here.
NEW ENGLAND 20 St Louis 14 - This is a flat spot for NE who is off B2B primetime games vs SD & DEN with a road SNF game vs IND on deck. The Rams are off 2 huge upsets of WAS & DAL taking advantage +6 in TO’s but may have lost DT Carriker (knee) & will be without RB Jackson (quad inj). The loss of Jackson is a tough break for STL as #2 RB Leonard (shoulder) landed on IR & #3 RB Pittman is coming off a broken leg. STL is 3-6 ATS vs the AFC & 2-11 ATS away in the ET. NE is 19-8-2 ATS vs the NFC. While the Rams are 2-0 SU & ATS under Haslett & playing with a renewed sense of purpose they have been outFD 25-10 & outgained 432-202 on the road TY. NE has struggled in the transition from Brady to Cassel due to OL injuries (both OT’s quest LW) & injuries to Maroney (shoulder) & Jordan (left leg) leaving the team with the #17 rush offense (112 ypg 3.8) & allowing 20 sacks (25th). There is no line due to MNF so we’ll call for the home team by a TD & see if the Patriots can open the offense up vs a bad defense.
JACKSONVILLE 20 Cleveland 17 - This is the 1st trip to Florida since the end of 2004 for CLE & the 1st trip in the middle of the season since a 17-3 loss to TB as a 7 pt dog in 2002. JAX is 6-2 ATS as a non-div HF of 6 or more. The bye came at a good time for JAX as they will get C Meester, OG Naeole & FS Nelson back here. While JAX lacks consistency at WR (Matt Jones #1 WR 30 rec 11.3) the running game is coming into form with 142 ypg (4.5) the L4W. While CLE has an improving defense (#18) they are allowing 146 ypg (4.8) TY on the ground. They were in a tough situation LW coming off a perfect game & facing a WAS team off an embarrassing loss at home. Anderson regressed as the offense got back TE Winslow but it wasn’t his fault entirely as Winslow ran the wrong routes & Edwards dropped no less than 5 balls. Still they were in a position to send the game into OT with a 54 yd FG that had the distance. JAX hasn’t been that dominant TY beating IND by 2 on a last sec FG, HOU by 3 in OT & they only scored 24 vs DEN’s #30 defense. CLE is a desperate team that is more talented than their record & they should keep it close enough for the cover.
NY Giants 31 PITTSBURGH 27 - This is the premier game of the week with PIT’s #24 & #1 units (+4 TO’s) hosting NYG’s #3 & #4 units (+1 TO’s). PIT RB Parker missed LW’s game after aggravating his knee injury but he is expected to return here. NYG are 9-3 ATS on the road. PIT is 2-5 ATS at home. The Giants were caught in a perfect storm vs CLE on MNF & the defense was embarrassed. They assaulted SF with 6 sacks, 4 FF, 2 ints & held the 49ers to 2 of 10 on 3rd Dns. The run game carried the offense as they outrushed SF 112 (3.5) to 35 (2.2) holding Gore to 11 yds (1.0). They now face a PIT team that scored 21 pts in the 4Q vs a CIN team that had given up. PIT was physically handled by PHI who runs the same defensive scheme losing 15-6, being outgained 260-180 as Roethlisberger was sacked 9 times & the run game was held to 33 yds (1.7). It’s unusual to see the defending SB Champ as an AD especially with just 1 loss. After thriving LY in the Dog role look for them to avenge their last road loss vs a PIT team that is 28th in sacks allowed (20) TY.
SAN FRANCISCO 27 Seattle 17 - SEA is off LW’s SNF game & without QB Hasselbeck (bulging disk) they started their 3rd QB (Wallace) LW on SNF. SEA lost at home to SF in the 1st meeting back in Wk 2 33-30 in OT as a 6.5 pt HF. SEA sacked O’Sullivan 8 times but he hit 321 yds (63%) with a 1-0 ratio for SF’s first 300 yd passing game since Oct 2004. SEA turned the ball over 3 times which SF converted into 14 pts. SEA is 2-5 ATS away in div play. SF is 0-4-1 ATS at home in div play. While O’Sullivan has the best grasp of the Martz offense teams have caught up to him as he’s avg 211 ypg (53%) with a 5-9 ratio & 57.7 QBR. His ypa has dropped from 9.4 over the 1st 3 gms to 6.9 & he’s been sacked 29 times TY. SEA has only won the yardage battle in 1 game prior to SNF & in their L2 games they have gained 187 & 177 yds. LY SEA had the best pass rush (45 sacks) & secondary (15-20 ratio 6.7 ypa) in the NFC West but this year they have just 13 sacks (14th) with a 9-1 ratio & 8.1 ypa. SEA’s injuries have also hurt the special teams as they are near the bottom while SF has a top 10 unit. Look for much better play by the 49ers at home in a very winnable game & for SEA’s troubles to continue here.
HOUSTON 34 Cincinnati 17 - This is a tough situation for CIN as they are in their 3rd road game in 4 Wks without QB Palmer vs a HOU team with a rare 4th straight HG. HOU also got their best CB Dunta Robinson (torn ACL/MCL LY) back in a limited role LW. CIN started slow LW (5 straight 3 & outs 3 yds) & while they got some momentum later they haven’t won the yardage battle in any game TY. CIN has been outFD 21-16 & outgained 347-235 on the road with only 1 game of 300 yds offense all year. CIN simply can’t run the ball (28th 74 ypg 3.2) or stop the run (31st 152 ypg 4.4) & lost their best defensive player in TY’s 1st RD DC WLB Rivers (broken jaw) for the year. HOU is finally coming together & have won the yardage battle in 4 straight games by a 416-346 margin with teams passing more (DET, MIA) to keep up with the #5 offense. They have converted an impressive 27 of 52 (52%) on 3rd Dns while holding foes to 16 of 45 (35%). HOU remains an undervalued team that isn’t getting a lot of TV coverage due to their record & look for them to keep their momentum going here.
Indianapolis at TENNESSEE - The Titans are the last undefeated team in the NFL & get a stiff test vs the team that has won the AFC South every year since realignment. IND wasn’t as good as their 31-3 win vs BAL showed as Manning had 2 int ret’d for 161 yds and 2 TD’s and could not handle a windy venue LW. TEN matches up well here with their strong run game vs a suspect DL & a powerful DL vs an iffy OL. This is only the 2nd time IND has been a division dog (1-1 SU & ATS). TEN could take a big step forward with a win but IND doesn’t want anything to do with looking at a Wildcard this early.
Re: Newsletters 10/21 - 10/27
4* GEORGIA TECH over Virginia - The home tm is 12-1 SU (9-1 ATS) incl LY’s UVA 28-23 upset win. GT is 12-0 SU in HC games and in their 2 lined HG’s TY, GT has outscored their opp 65-7. Both tms have faced Duke as GT shutout the Blue Devils 27-0 while UVA lost 31-3. QB Nesbitt is avg 145 ttl ypg & has 7 TD (5 rush). RB Dwyer has 684 rush yds (6.3). Although GT runs the triple option, WR D Thomas has 22 rec (18.9). LW GT defeated CU 21-17 in an emotional gm for the Tigers just 5 days after HC Bowden stepped down & it gave the Yellow Jackets their 4th straight win. GT has solid edges on both sides of the ball (O #56-90, #23-52 D). LW UVA was held to just 3 pts for about 58 mins before getting a late TD to send the gm to OT, where they upset #18 NC 16-13. QB Verica is avg 169 ypg (65%) with a 3-7 ratio. RB Peerman has 423 rush yds (6.0) and WR Ogletree has 37 rec (12.3). Virginia deserves credit for 3 straight wins but now GT has definite advantages on both sides of the lines and we will grab the value playing against UVA with their recent success. FORECAST: GEORGIA TECH 28 Virginia 6
3* FLORIDA ST over Virginia Tech - Beamer is 1-7 SU vs Fla St and Bowden is 14-1 SU vs VT but the 1 for each was LY and they’ve combined for over 800 gms as HC. LY the Seminoles led 21-20 into the 4Q before getting outscored 20-0. Fla St lost QB Weatherford in the 2Q and backup QB Lee was susp so they had to go with rFr Ponder getting his first real action ever. Tech has won 7 of 8 league road games with the only loss LW vs BC (28-23) in a game BC held VT to just 240 ttl yds. QB Taylor has avg 172 ttl ypg in the 6 gms he’s played and RB Evans has 442 rush yds (3.8). FSU has a solid edge on both sides of the ball (off #28-72, def #19-35). QB Ponder who threw for 254 yds (66%) vs NCSt LW, is avg 209 ttl ypg. RB Smith has 483 rush yds (4.8, 10 TD). VT is struggling and now has to travel to Florida with the ACC’s #11 offense (285 ypg) and now faces the #1 D (248 all’d ypg). FSU also has the #1 offense (419 ypg) vs VT’s #6 D (312). The Florida St off and def are both showing improvement and it will be obvious here. FORECAST: FLORIDA ST 27 Virginia Tech 13
3* NEBRASKA over Baylor - NU is 6-0 in B12 play vs BU winning by a 48-12 avg and outgaining them by 349 ypg. NU is 12-4 ATS in HC gms and 8-4 ATS when hosting B12 South. Huskers snapped a 3 gm losing streak LW avoiding its 1st 0-3 conf start in 63 yrs taking care of ISU (21-0 HT lead with a 330 yd edge for the gm). Ganz is avg 281 ypg (70%) with a 12-6 ratio. BU is 5-13 ATS in B12 AG and has been outgained in their L/8 (0-8 SU & 1-7 ATS) by 217 ypg incl LW when OSU held them to 204 yds (QB Griffin 174 yds, 85% of offense). Griffin is avg 182 ypg (61%) with a 9-0 ratio & is 65% of the Bears off (1,704 ttl yds). For the 1st time this ssn BU is not catching an opp in a favorable situation & the last time NU faced a mobile QB they all’d VT’s Taylor to gain 258 ttl yds. This will be the Huskers only HG in a month and they have the off edge (#13-66) and have played the far tougher sked (#25-65). FORECAST: NEBRASKA 38 Baylor 17
2* WISCONSIN over Illinois - LY’s 31-26 win marked Illinois’ 1st win over a Top 5 team S/’89 even though the unranked Illini were actually favored (-2’) at home. UW has won their L4 HC by a 34-12 avg but in ‘06 in Madison, UW (-21’) trailed 21-3 & was fortunate to win 30-24. The Illini are off a 55-13 pounding of Indy (minus QB Lewis) in which they outgained the Hoosiers 563-313. QB WIlliams (278 ypg, 60%, 16-7 ratio, 599 rush yds) leads the B10 in passing, pass eff & ttl off. True frosh RB Ford (PS#32) got 172 yds in his 1st start vs the Hoosiers and at 6-0 220+ he fits the more physical Mendenhall mold. Illini allow 151 rush ypg (4.0). After being voted #2 in the B10’s media preseason poll, the Badgers are in the basement at 0-4 (1st time S/’96) after LW’s 38-16 loss at Iowa in which they trailed just 14-9 in the 3Q before the wheels fell off. QB Sherer got his 1st start but provided little spark hitting 17-34 for 161 with 2 int and Evridge DNP. OL Carimi and Urbik sat out due to inj. Badgers have allowed 179 rush ypg (5.0) in B10 play. The Badgers have the home, D (#40-55) & ST (#47-98) edges and are desperate to turn their season around. FORECAST: WISCONSIN 31 Illinois 24
2* Smu (+) over NAVY - SMU is 2-4 SU/ATS vs Navy S/‘93. Navy is 3-8 as a HF while SMU 6-3-1 as an AD. June Jones was 2-0 vs AF & Navy (two option service academies) at Hawaii beating AF 52-30 (-9’) in 2001. SMU is making a rare trip to the East coast but does have a bye on deck. SMU QB Mitchell is avg 285 ypg (60%) with a 21-18 ratio, but has improved avg 345 ypg (65%) with a 9-6 ratio the L/3. After losing 3 of their 1st 4 gms by 35 ppg, SMU had a big comeback vs Tulane (lost by 7), outgained UCF 376-280 (lost by 14), led undefeated Tulsa 31-24 in the 4Q (lost by 6) and led Houston 35-23 in the 4Q (lost by 6) showing the team’s improvement under Jones. SMU does lead the NCAA in off int (18), but Navy ranks #112 in our pass D rankings. SMU has already faced Rice (#24 NCAA total off), TT (2), Tulsa (1), and Houston (4) and their D is #117 as a result of such a tough slate of opposing offenses. SMU has allowed 215 rush ypg (5.2). Navy’s offense has been hampered with starting QB Kaheaku-Enhada missing a lot of PT TY with inj and backup Bryant is only avg 38 ypg pass with 392 rush (3.2). SMU is now grasping this new offense and they can exploit Navy’s pass D and an outright upset will not surprise. FORECAST: Smu 37 (+) NAVY 34
2* NORTH CAROLINA over Boston College - In their last meeting, NC upset #19 BC 16-14 as a 5 pt HD and it was our 2005 College GOY. NC never trailed but settled for 3 short FG’s and led 16-7 with the ball in BC territory with 2:25 left. BC got a garbage TD in the final seconds. LW NC held UVA to just 3 pts for 58 mins but all’d a late TD to send the gm into OT & lost 16-13 extending their losing streak at Scott Stadium to 14. NC was w/o WR Tate (torn ACL, out yr), who led ACC in all-purp yds. LB Carter did get his 4th blk’d kick of the ssn vs UVA. QB Sexton is avg 182 ypg (59%) with a 3-3 ratio. WR Nicks has 39 rec (16.5). Both teams matchup about even on off (NC#52-58), BC has a slight def edge (#28-39) but NC has a solid sp tms edge (#12-108). BC defeated #17 VT 28-23 thanks to their D (only allowed 240 ttl yds) as QB Crane had 4 TO’s (2 ret’d for TD). On the season, Crane is avg 185 ypg (56%) with a 5-9 ratio. True Fr RB Harris has 374 yds (6.4, PS#159). The Heels force alot of TO’s (18) which could spell trouble for Crane. FORECAST: NORTH CAROLINA 30 Boston College 20
UNDERDOG PLAY OF THE WEEK
Michigan +5 1/2 over Mich St
Thursday, October 23rd
Auburn at WEST VIRGINIA - 1st meeting. Auburn is 6-1 SU on Thurs Night and beat SCar on the road in 2006. Auburn DC Rhodes was Pitt’s DC last year and they held WV to 183 total yards but Aub is on an 0-6 ATS streak. WV QB White DNP last game but returns here. LY we used BE member USF (+7) as our Underdog POW in Power Sweep and they pulled the outright upset 36-23 over Aub in OT. Both are underachieved on offense (AU 19 ppg, WV 22 ppg) and have some ground to make up in their conf races.
New Mexico at AIR FORCE - LY AF lost 3 of its 5 fmbls in the 4Q as NM snapped an AF 3 gm SU win streak in the series 34-31 but AF has covered 4 in a row. NM QB Porterie had just 169 yds pass but lost more than 100 yds due to dropped passes. The HT is 8-3 ATS but NM has all’d just 297 ypg the L/2 meetings & has held AF under its season rush avg 8 of L/9Y. AF is just 1-6 the gm before Army (only win is under Calhoun) but 4-1 as a HF under the 2nd yr HC. LW we went against AF and won with a 4H LPS on UNLV (+4) as the Falcons won SU but failed to cover, 29-28. NM embarrassed SDSt LW, 70-7 with 565-227 yd & 28-13 FD edges. NM HC Long’s knowledge of the option negates the short prep time but AF is 3-1 in MWC play and making waves.
Friday, October 24th
Boise St at SAN JOSE ST - Boise is thinking BCS again but this could be a proverbial “trap game” as this is SJSt HC Tomey’s best team since he’s arrived in the Bay Area. For the 3rd consec time, BSU comes to San Jose undefeated & ranked. BSU has won all 8 gms in the series by 28 ppg but in the L/2 here, escaped with close wins. In the “Pajama Party” in ‘04 (9:00 AM kickoff), #13 BSU needed OT to escape with a 56-49 (-33) win as Boise blk’d a 30 yd FG to force OT. In ‘06, the #14 Broncos trailed by 8 in the 4Q but got a TD & 2 pt conv with 5:22 left to tie it at 20 before hitting a FG on the final play (23-20, -13). This is the 2nd of B2B Fri night gms for Boise but they’re 16-2 SU & 12-4 ATS in weekday reg ssn gms S/’01. BSU is 3-6 as an AF but has won the L/3, while SJSt is 5-0 as a HD & is on a 3-1 ATS run in the series & boasts the NCAA’s #13 def & is #3 in sks (25).
Re: Newsletters 10/21 - 10/27
ARMY 23 Louisiana Tech 21 - 1st meeting. LT steps out of conf play making its first trip to NY and its 1st gm vs a service academy. Army snapped a 5 gm home losing streak in its last outing at Michie Stadium defeating EM in a contest in which it didn’t complete a pass. LW the Knights blew a pair of 14 pt leads and lost to Buffalo in OT despite outrushing the Bulls 320-41. Army switched to the option off where 87% of the plays have been a run (383 of 441). QB Bowden has 362 rush yds (3.4) but has passed for just 106 yds (15 ypg) while FB Mooney has churned out 817 yds (6.3) & 6 TD. LT is 1-9 SU (2-8 ATS) in non-conf AG’s but the Bulldogs are 4-1 ATS as an AF incl 2-0 ATS under Dooley. LT has the edge on off (#95-119) & ST (#17-101) & while LT is #118 in the NCAA in pass D (304 ypg), it won’t matter here as Army is avg just 47 ypg. LT made a change at QB in an effort to energize the off production after Bennett started the first 5 gms but completed just 39%. Jenkins was named the starter LW & hit 13-20 for 192 yds in the win over ID (LT had a 30-13 FD edge). RB’s Porter (428 yds, 4.8, 3 TD) & Jackson (275 yds, 3.8, 3 TD) are sharing the workload. This is LT’s 3rd AG in 4 wks having recently traveled to Boise & Hawaii.
MARYLAND 34 NC State 17 - LY was a bowl elimination game as the winner would go to a bowl while the loser would be home for the holidays. The Terps (+2’) rolled to a 37-0 win with a 466-250 yd edge and are 6-2 SU (5-3 ATS) in the series while the visitor is 6-1 ATS. NCSt, however, is 2-9 in ACC road gms but did cover TY vs Clemson (+20). The dog in MD gms TY have won outright 5 of the L6 incl the Terps’ 26-0 shutout win vs #21 WF LW. QB Turner is avg 186 ypg (61%) with a 7-6 ratio. RB Scott has 555 rush yds (5.1). MD does have the edge on both sides of the ball (off #41-78, def #60-90) but NCSt has the ST’s (#32-70) & schedule (#27-77) edges. NCSt has lost 5 straight ACC gms but has covered 4 of their L5 gms. QB Wilson is avg 143 ypg (56%) with a 6-1 ratio. WR Spencer has 20 rec (20.2). LW NCSt was last in ACC in rush ypg (80) but rolled up 157 vs FSU’s top run D. NCSt did return starters LB Irving, DT Cash & TE Hill all from inj’s. The Terps could clinch bowl eligibility while putting the Pack one step closer to staying home for the holidays.
MIAMI, FL 23 Wake Forest 16 - Miami has won 4 in a row SU vs Wake by an avg of 45 ppg (last met ‘05). Wake’s last 2 ACC trips to Florida were outright upsets of FSU. Wake is 9-4 as an AD. UM has won only 17-of-34 gms in ACC play in 4+ yrs and are 6-13 L/19. UM is 2-5 ATS as a HF under Shannon. UM has a solid offensive edge (#47-97) but WF has the defensive (#14-29) and tougher schedule (#14-66) edges. QB Skinner is avg 215 ypg (65%) with a 7-4 ratio but was held to just 127 yd LW in their 26-0 loss vs MD which was their 1st shutout since 1998 & their last ACC shutout was vs MD in ‘96. WF was w/o K Swank (WF career scoring leader) and rFr Popham missed 2 FG’s. LW UM QB Harris took over for a struggling Marve and threw 4 TD’s & rushed for another (185 pass yds) to lead UM past Duke 49-31. RB Cooper has 476 (5.3). With Harris’ performance LW, expect a starting QB change and a change in ACC fortunes.
Northwestern 37 INDIANA 20 - NW is 8-2 SU but has only won by a 31-27 avg. LY the gm ended controversially as IU’s Lewis appeared to get the ball away as he was being sk’d but the officials awarded a fmbl to the Cats which replay upheld. NW had gotten a TD with :44 left to pull out the 31-28 (+2’) home win. NW is 7-3 as an AF (0-1 TY) while IU is 0-4 at home TY vs IA tms. IU has lost 5 in a row & is 0-4 in conf play (outscored by 20 ppg & outgained by 108 ypg) after LW’s 55-13 loss to Illinois. QB Lewis (ankle) DNP and the Hoosiers went to a 2 RB set to help a struggling OL & 1st time str QB Chappell. The Hoosiers ran for 141 yds but after 2 missed 1Q FG’s, the rout was on. NW is off a 48-26 home win over PU in which they forced 5 TO’s and led 34-12 after 3Q’s. RB Sutton has 699 yds (5.5). The Cats have 21 sks and have forced 16 TO’s. The Cats have all of the edges (#38-73 off & #62-97 D) and know that 6 wins won’t guarantee them a postseason berth as they were home for the holidays at 6-6 LY.
PURDUE 30 Minnesota 23 - Tiller is 8-1 SU & 7-1-1 ATS (never scored less than 27) vs Minny and his only loss was by 7 in OT (+3). Minny has not won SU in West Lafayette since ‘90. LY Purdue jumped out to a 24-3 lead and won 45-31 on the road as the tms combined for 973 yds. The Boilers are 2-5 after LW’s 48-26 loss in which they committed 5 TO’s that the Cats cashed into 24 pts. Tiller yanked Painter (#96 NCAA pass eff) with the Boilers leading 6-0 2Q but Elliott fmbl’d away his 1st snap and was KO’d with a separated shoulder. PU has scored 2 meaningful TD’s in the L/14Q’s (2 in garbage time LW). After all’g 2 TD’s to PSU & OSU, the D was gashed for 6 TD’s vs NW and they’re allowing 185 rush ypg (4.6). The 6-1 Gophers are off a much needed bye which helped QB Weber (230 ypg, 68%, 9-2 ratio) recover from his knee scope. WR Decker (59, 13.3) is #3 in the NCAA in rec/gm. Gophers are tied for the NCAA lead in TO margin (+12) with 20 TO’s forced. The desperate Boilers need a win vs a familiar foe.
Cincinnati 23 CONNECTICUT 20 - Cincy is 3-0 SU (2-1 ATS) in BE play vs Conn and LY held the #16 Huskies to a ssn low 22 yds rushing in a 27-3 home win (420-204 yds). In ‘06 here Conn was +5’ and led 23-16 but gave up a TD with 2:19 left and then a FG with :10 left and lost by 3. Conn is off a 12-10 loss to Rutgers in which they missed 3 FG’s incl the GW with 1:09 left. Soph QB Frazer got his 2nd start & has passed for 536 yds (58%) with a 2-3 ratio. Conn relies heavily on the nation’s leading rusher Brown who avg 168 ypg (5.7) with 12 TD. They now face a Cincy D that is all’g 95 rush ypg (2.9). The Cats last game was a 13-10 win over Rutgers. Cincy QB Pike should return here & has passed for 634 yds (67%) with a 6-1 ratio. These teams are similar on defense (Cin #42-50) & offense (Con #51-63) while Cin has huge ST’s edge (#1-104). Although Conn has won 6 straight at home in BE play, 10 straight at home overall (8-2 ATS), the Cats stingy D should be able to shutdown Brown.
PITTSBURGH 27 Rutgers 10 - Rutgers has won 3 straight by an avg of 7 ppg but is only 6-19 in the series. LY Pitt held RU to 219 yds but had a game winning TD called back for off pass inf and then was int’d in the EZ on the next play in a 20-16 road loss (+12). As a NFL HC Wannstedt hired Rutgers HC Schiano as DC for the Bears. We won a 3H LPS as Pitt dominated Navy 42-21 LW. RB McCoy ran for 156 (8.7) and in the L/3 games he has 447 yds rush & 5 TD’s. Pitt is just 1-6 ATS vs the BE the L/2Y at home while RU is 5-0 as an AD vs conf. We also won a 4H LPS as Rutgers squeeked out a 12-10 win over Connecticut LW. QB Teel avg 194 ypg (56%) with a 3-7 ratio. RB Young has 252 yds (3.3) in just 3 gms while WR Britt leads the BE with 46 rec (12.4). Pitt has the edges on offense (#37-92) and defense (#17-47). The Panthers have a big game vs ND on deck but won’t look past RU with the BE Title on the line.
Texas A&M 27 IOWA ST 24 - The Aggies are 7-1 SU (5-3 ATS) all-time vs ISU incl losing their last meeting at home 42-14 in ‘05. A&M is 3-0 in Ames with the avg score of 29-10 but they have been outgained in 2 of 3. The HT is 1-3 SU & 0-4 ATS. A&M dropped their 4th straight (2-5 ATS) as they were drilled by TT LW (outgained by 255 yds, only 32 2H yds after a 23-20 HT lead) and now have surrendered 48 ppg & 470 ypg in B12 play. QB Johnson is avg 196 ypg (62%) with an 11-4 ratio but over the L2W has hit 69% with 702 pass yds (no int). ISU dropped its 5th straight LW as NU rolled them (outgained by 330 yds, ssn low 218 yds). QB Arnaud is avg 171 ypg (60%) with an 8-4 ratio. Both teams find themselves at 2-5 and the winner would still have a bowl chance while the loser is likely eliminated. The schedule lightens up for A&M here as they have played the far tougher sked (#15-63) & the only time that ISU was a HF TY (1-3 ATS) they beat Kent St 48-28 (-7, last win), but were outgained and outFD’d.
FLORIDA 37 Kentucky 6 - Florida has won 21 in a row SU vs UK and LY both teams came into this game ranked for the 1st time since 1950. Florida went into UK the wk after the Cats upset LSU and led by 7 to 14 most of the 2H (UK got a TD on the last play but did not try an xp) 45-37 (-7). Florida has a huge game vs Georgia on deck and UK is 5-1 ATS in the series covering 3 straight in the Swamp. UF is off a bye and Meyer is 25-3 SU all-time with more than a week to prepare for an opp (UF 14-8-1 off bye since ‘94). We will probably see a conservative gameplan for Tebow (206 ypg pass, 62%, 10-1 ratio), to keep him healthy for UGA because LY he was inj’d vs UK and then unable to run vs UGA which probably cost them that gm. UF has played a much tougher schedule (#9-88). UF is on a 13-5 ATS run with several frontdoor covers TY and Meyer goes for the jugular whenever possible, but UF is 2-10-1 as DD SEC fav under Meyer (UK 8-3 as DD SEC dog). UK QB Hartline (181 ypg, 55%, 8-6 ratio) threw 2 TD passes to WR/QB Cobb in the L5 mins to beat Ark 21-20 LW. UK’s #85 off faces UF’s #4 D and the biggest advantage for the Gators is their team speed.
Mississippi 34 ARKANSAS 20 - Normally when an ex-coach returns to face his former team his former players are well motivated, but in this case Nutt was forced out so the players won’t be bitter. Nutt is a native of Little Rock, Ark and also a former player at Ark. Ark has won 4 in a row SU in the series but Nutt won all those (last 2 by 82-11 margin). The HT is 10-4-1 ATS in the series (fav 12-3-1). LY’s 44-8 win by Ark was the most lopsided in this series as UM was off a controversial loss to Bama and came out sluggish. Once again TY Ole Miss is off a close loss to #2 Bama, but Nutt has thorough knowledge of his former players and this game has been circled since he was hired at Ole Miss. Ark is off a last minute loss to UK (Petrino’s first loss to UK, now 4-1 SU) in which UK scored 2 TD’s in the L5 min for the come-from-behind win. UA RB Smith has 791 yds (5.5) & leads the SEC in rush & all-purp ypg. UM has edges on off (#29-54), def (#43-74) and ST’s (#45-95) and the stronger QB as Snead avg 209 ypg (55%) with a 10-10 ratio while Dick avg 215 ypg (56%) with a 6-9 ratio. Ark is 0-5 as a HD (0-2 TY) while UM is 3-0 ATS on the road TY (but all as a dog).
BALL ST 45 E Michigan 17 - In ‘06, BSU QB Davis made his college debut going 7-8 (88%) for 108 yds w/a 3-0 ratio vs EM. LY EM was outgained by a ssn high 197 yds vs BSU. The Cardinals covered both of those games winning by an avg of 20 ppg. Ball St should have their full focus on this game as 3 of their next 4 gms are vs the other 3 top tms in the MAC West and they can not afford a slip up vs a underachieving but dangerous EM tm. BSU is fresh off a bye while EM is playing for a 9th straight week. This will be the Cardinals 2nd game as a ranked team and they are 7-0 SU and 5-1 ATS with their only non-cover being by 1 pt as a 22 pt HF. EM is off a hard luck loss to Akron as they led 35-34 in the final minute and blocked a Akron FG attempt but UA advanced the deflection for a FD and scored the game winning TD with :14 left. The Eagles are just 1-6 ATS but won outright 24-21 over BG as a 20’ pt AD. Ball St has the off (#34-104) and def (#63-109) edges. BSU is avg 195 ypg rush (5.1), while EM is all’g an avg of 223 ypg (5.5).
BYU 38 Unlv 24 - Pop! That’s the sound of BYU’s BCS bubble bursting. LW TCU delivered as a Thurs Night Winner for us with their blowout of BYU, 32-7, snapping the nation’s longest win streak (16). BYU was behind the whole gm incl 26-0 before getting a TD and TCU finished with 410-297 yd & 29-19 FD edges. Mendenhall is 3-0 SU vs LV (avg win 44-12) incl a 52-7 win here in ‘06 but LY only won 24-14 despite a 441-146 yd edge blowing numerous opp’s as UNLV got a garbage 71 yd TD drive and the backdoor cover with :58 left. QB Hall still avg 303 ypg (68%) with a 20-8 ratio and his top targets are Collie (53, 14,9) and Pitta (48, 13.0). Unga leads with 603 rush yd (4.5). LV is off a heartbreaking loss, 29-28 (+4) to AF but delivered for us as a 4H LPS Winner. They were up by 2 (AF missed 2 pt) but AF nailed a 19 yd FG and LV was SOD on its 47 on its final drive. WR Payne did cont his campaign for MWC Frosh of the Yr with 124 rec yd (20.7) vs AF. TY Clayton avg 218 ypg (59%) with a 16-2 ratio. His fav target has been Wolfe (49, 11.8) who has a rec in 42 gms. LV has all’d a comb 1,638 yds & 119 pts the L/3 gms but BYU is in a huge letdown situation here as they were thinking BCS & now wonder if they will even make it to the Las Vegas Bowl. Nice to have a dog that’s perfect in the red zone TY.
Duke 20 VANDERBILT 17 - Duke has lost 6 in a row SU to Vandy (1-5 ATS) & has been outscored by an avg of 36-19 the L4. Vandy is 5-10 as a HF (3-1 L4) but they are still playing for that elusive 6th win which would make them bowl elig and they have a bye on deck. Johnson is 0-3 SU vs Cutcliffe as HC’s but 3-0 ATS. Duke is 23-11 as an AD (0-1 TY). Vandy QB Adams made his first start TY in LW’s close loss to UGA & has avg 110 ypg (53%). We have won 2 LPS on Duke TY (vs Virg & Navy). VU is 5-2 on the year but has been outgained by 84 ypg. Duke is also off B2B losses and LW led Miami 17-14 at the half before all’g 35 unanswered pts to lose 49-31. Duke QB Lewis is avg 184 ypg (58%) with an 8-3 ratio. VU has played a much tougher schedule (#16-46) and has a large edge on def (#27-71) and Duke all’d 216 rush ypg (4.1) vs Navy & GT who also have strong run-based offenses. Both of these tms excel as a dog and are unfamiliar with the fav role, so take the pts in this one.
Rice 37 TULANE 30 - These 2 have avg’d 71 ppg since Rice joined CUSA and the dog is 5-2 ATS. Tulane has won the L2 by 14 each time and led 45-24 on the road LY before all’g a TD with :25 left. TU is off a bye and is led by RB Andre Anderson, who leads CUSA in rushing with 142 ypg (5.0) and is coming off a career high 255 yd gm against UTEP 2W ago. TU is playing without their ldg rec Jeremy Williams (27 rec, 16.2), who is out with a broken hand. QB Moore is avg 223 ypg (60%) with a 7-6 ratio. The Green Wave D is all’g 26 ppg and 360 ypg in conf play and will be challenged by Rice’s high octane offense. Rice is off a 45-40 home win against SMiss in which the Eagles scored 2 TD’s with less than 5:00 left. QB Clement threw for 444 yds and 6 TD’s and avg 313 ypg (64%) and an outstanding 22-5 ratio. His favorite targets are WR’s Dilliard (53 rec, 15.4) and Casey (61 rec, 12.3). Rice has a huge edge on off (#26-91), but does have our #114 D (TU #78). Rice has won 3 of the L/4 in the Superdome and the visitor is 8-3 ATS. The Green Wave will try to pound the ball with Anderson in hopes of keeping the Owls explosive offense off the field.
Fresno St 37 UTAH ST 20 - USt is 8-2 SU vs FSU in Logan & the Aggies have won the L/2 gms here (‘06 & ‘91) pulling out a 1 pt win in both. Last time here (‘06), we used USt as our Big Dog POW & the Aggies won outright 13-12 (+27) which was their only win of the ssn. The HT has won 6 straight in this series & the Aggies are 6-1 ATS vs the FSU S/’90. USt HC Guy is actually 3-0 ATS but 0-3 SU vs FSU HC Hill. USt QB Borel was named the starter in Wk 4 & is avg 133 ypg (52%) with an 8-6 ratio & leads the tm in rushing (350 yds) but the Aggies’ D is all’g 433 ypg (#109 NCAA). FSU has the edge on off (#32-116) & ST (#48-112) & its rush off is #12 in the NCAA (226 ypg). QB Brandstater is avg 206 ypg (61%) with a 10-5 ratio. The Bulldogs are coming off their 2nd bye TY (8-5 SU but 3-10 ATS following a bye). FSU is 3-2 SU since its last bye wk but 0-5 ATS.
Alabama 24 TENNESSEE 13 - This intense rivalry is traditionally played on the 3rd Sat in Oct (what’s up SEC schedule maker?). The HT has won 4 in a row SU. LY Bama had 510-362 yd & 27-19 FD edges in their 41-17 blowout win despite susp 2 starting OL just prior to the gm. Four of the L/5 have been decided by 8 or less. Fulmer is 10-3 SU vs the Tide but the HT is 2-9 ATS. Bama lost their humongous DT Cody (knee inj LW) and UT lost perhaps their best all-purp ply’r WR Jones (also PR & runs G-Gun pkg, ankle inj-CS). UT is 4-1 as HD with 2 outright upsets S/‘06. Since their impressive win over UGA (much more dominating than final indicates as they led 31-0 at the half), Bama has struggled to get past UK and then Ole Miss LW (both at home) and now must travel. UT seems to pull out wins for Fulmer whenever he’s really on the hotseat and LW the Vols got 2 IR TD’s to beat Miss St 34-3. UT QB Stephens has avg 167 ypg pass (49%) with a 3-0 ratio in 3 sts. UA QB Wilson has avg 153 ypg (61%) with an 8-3 ratio and UA leads the SEC in rushing (209 ypg, 5.1) led by RB Coffee (760, 7.0). UT is fortunate to face Bama without DT Cody, but Stephens will still struggle vs Bama’s fast, aggressive D.
Oregon 34 ARIZONA ST 24 - Both tms return to action after much needed byes in a series where the HT has won & covered just 2 of 6. After winning 2 straight to begin the ssn, ASU has now dropped 4 straight incl an embarrassing hm loss to UNLV (-24). QB Carpenter was not expected to play in their 28 pt loss to USC & probably did more bad than good throwing for just 126 yds & an int. Despite his ssn-high 379 yds passing LY, the #4 Ducks prevailed 35-23 (-7’) over a #6 ASU squad. In ‘06, UO dealt the Sun Devils their worst defeat in Sun Devil Stadium in 13 yrs with a 48-13 pounding (574-175 yd edge) as Carpenter hit just 6-19 for 33 yards. The Ducks are 14-4 ATS off a bye & should have a full arsenal of QB’s back for this one as Roper should return from inj & illness but Masoli (5-19 pass, 170 rush vs UCLA) will likely get his 5th start here despite his 2-2 record. UO has paved the way for a league-best 275 ypg on the ground so far in ‘08 which could lead to a 5th straight loss here for an ASU tm that was ranked #15 in the nation 6 wks ago.
CALIFORNIA 38 Ucla 17 - For the 2nd time visiting Tucson in the L3Y, Cal blew a 2H lead falling to UA 42-27. It also appears that the QB controversy may be opened back up TW as Longshore struggled & HC Tedford opted to go back to opening day starter Riley in the 4Q (neither plyd well). The nation’s all-purp leader RB Best (215.5 ypg) missed the 4Q with his inj’d elbow & is ? (CS). The HT has gone 7-2-1 ATS w/Cal winning the L/2 here by 14 & 17 pts. LY UCLA CB Verner ret’d an int 76 yds for a TD w/1:33 remaining icing the 30-21 victory over #10 Cal. With their win vs Stanford LW (4 straight covers), the 3-4 Bruins still have bowl aspirations despite the multitude of inj they’ve had at key positions on both off & def. They played well as big dogs a few wks back in Eugene losing by 7 (+19’). The Bruins have gone 10-2 ATS as a conf dog. While UCLA has gone 14-5-1 ATS prior to a bye & the Bears have a date with Oregon on deck, Cal has a solid off edge (#20-84) & has covered 4 of 6 TY (dropped L/7 reg ssn gms ATS LY) which should be too much for an inexperienced UCLA squad to handle.
Re: Newsletters 10/21 - 10/27
MIAMI, OH 23 Kent St 20 - LY KSU had 9 more FD’s & a 52 yd edge but 3 TO’s & 10 pen’s (108 yds) cost them at home (-9) in a 20-13 loss. Last time here Kent St was the Big Dog Play (+14) and delivered the upset 16-14 in a game they led 16-0. Both tms have underachieved TY as KSt has no IA wins (outgained by 29.9 ypg) while Miami has just one IA win (being outgained by 7.4 ypg). Miami has won 2 straight ATS incl upsetting BG 27-20 (+9’) thanks to BG’s 100+ pen yds and MU scoring the game’s final 13 pts. Miami does have the def edge (#77-106). Miami’s off has struggled so rFr QB Belton (PS#36) got his 1st start and threw for 129 yds (48%) with a 1-0 ratio. While RB Merriweather leads the team with 482 yds (4.0), true frosh RB Taylor saw extended time vs BG and had 127 yds (7.1) with the game winning TD. KSt is off a bye and the extra time should help RB Jarvis, who has missed 3 gms TY and was limited in their last game.
TEXAS 41 Oklahoma St 31 - Battle of Top 10 tms as #1 Texas (7-0 SU & ATS) remained perfect LW hammering MO (led 35-3 at HT with a 337-120 yd edge). The Horns are outgaining opp’s by 161 ypg & outscoring them by 31 ppg. QB McCoy (school record 17 straight comp LW in a near perfect performance) is avg 271 ypg (81%) with a 19-3 ratio. Texas is 11-1 SU vs OSU (last loss ‘97) but in 3 of the last 4 Texas has rallied from 35-7 (‘04), 28-9 (‘05) & 35-14 (LY) deficits. The home tm is 3-0-1 ATS with the avg cover by 9 ppg. OSU (7-0 SU & ATS) took care of BU LW (all’d just 204 yds) and this is their best start S/’45. QB Robinson is avg 213 ypg (70%) with a 14-4 ratio. RB Hunter has 955 yds (6.3). WR Bryant had a career day LW (11 rec, 19.3, 2 TD) & is the top target w/45 (18.0). OSU is ranked #12 in our pass eff def all’g 219 ypg (57%) with a 12-8 ratio. The Cowboys are also #5 in rushing at 283 ypg (5.5) while the Horns are #2 stopping the run allowing just 48 ypg (1.9). Both offenses are potent (UT #4-9), but the Horns have a large def edge (#5-30) & have played the tougher schedule (#28-91).
LSU 27 Georgia 20 - The HT is 5-1 SU (4-2 ATS) and these two met in the SEC Title game in both ‘03 and ‘05 (1-1 SU/ATS). The HT has won 5 of 6 reg ssn meetings SU (4-2 ATS). GA is 7-3 ATS as an AD while LSU is 3-14 as an SEC HF & 3-7-3 as a SD fav. LSU’s D held SC to just 42 yds in the 2H LW and posted 6 sks to pull out a 24-17 win. UGA RB Moreno had a ssn high 172 rush yds (762 total, 6.0) LW as UGA held off a ranked Vandy tm to control their own destiny in the SEC East. UGA QB Stafford is avg 242 ypg (61%) with a 10-5 ratio. LSU QB’s Lee & Hatch split time and avg 221 ypg (58%) with an 11-7 combined ratio. RB Scott has 631 (6.4) but has only avg 48 ypg (3.4) the L/2. UGA is 7-2 ATS as an AD under Richt and the Dogs have only lost 4 times in an opp’s stadium in 8 yrs. UGA has a big edge at QB and in the secondary with the rest of the units closely matched but this one is in Death Valley at night.
Oklahoma 41 KANSAS ST 24 - OU is 23-6 on the Big 12 road (not incl RRR) and 8-4-1 ATS in true road gms. Stoops was a co-DC/DB coach under Snyder at KSU from ‘89-’95. The dog is 4-1-1. OU is 4-10-1 as an AF and LY lost at CU and barely got past ISU, but is 2-0 TY. LW OU took care of a Kansas tm that finished ‘07 ranked higher than them, piling up 674 yds (183 yd edge) and has old rival Nebraska on deck. QB Bradford (school record 468 pass yds LW) is avg 360 ypg (71%) with a 26-5 ratio. KSU is 3-1 in Manhattan, but in their only gm as a HD (+7), TT waxed them 58-28. KSU lost in Boulder LW as they held CU to just 353 yds but missed too many scoring opp’s. QB Freeman is avg 249 ypg (62%) with a 12-2 ratio & leads the Wildcats with 263 rush yds (4.9) & 13 TD. KSU is 13-3-2 ATS vs OU, but the Sooners have large off (#1-30) and def (#12-80) edges. The Sooners have also played the tougher sked (#21-92) and with the bad taste out of their mouths look to roll the rest of the way, as they will be wary of the Wildcats who won outright in Austin LY as a DD AD.
N ILLINOIS 26 Bowling Green 23 - Since ‘84 the avg win in this series has been by 16 ppg w/just 2 gms being decided by single digits. The MAC West is 10-1 SU vs the MAC East TY and is 5-5-1 ATS as they were favorites in 8 of the 11 games. BG has played the tougher schedule (#69-107) and does have an off edge (#70-81), while NI has a big D edge (#44-94). In MAC play they’ve both played E Mich and Miami with BG going 0-2 SU & ATS both as a HF being outscored by a combined 51-41. NI went 2-0 SU & 1-1 ATS (1 AF & 1 HF) winning by a combined 54-13. BG is being outscored by 0.7 ppg and outgained by 16.8 ypg while NI is outscoring opp by an avg 15.2 ppg and outgaining them by 68.3 ypg.
New Mexico St 48 IDAHO 23 - UI has won 3 of the L/4 incl the last gm here. The HT has won 6 straight in this series & UI is desperate for a win over a IA team as the Vandals are 0-23 since a win over LT in ’06. UI is in the midst of a 2-14 ATS slump but is 11-3 SU & 6-3 ATS in HC gms. QB Enderle avg 186 ypg (54%) with a 14-9 ratio & H-back Williams has 47 rec (12.9). The Vandals’ D has been steamrolled for 503 ypg (#119 in the NCAA) & 47 ppg (#117). NMSt has the edge on off (#48-111) & def (#107-120) & has turned the corner in Year 4 of the Mumme era. NMSt entered ’08 just 1-16 in AG’s under Mumme but has won its L/2 AG’s TY by upsetting UTEP (34-33, +7) & Nevada (48-45, +19’) & is in search of the trifecta here in Moscow. QB Holbrook is avg 290 ypg (64%) with a 14-8 ratio & his favorite target is WR Williams with 41 rec (15.9), but the Aggies’ big play threat is WR Anderson who has 20 rec (17.8) & a tm high 7 TD. RB Colston has 353 yds (4.8), adding a rushing threat to NMSt’s “Air Raid” offense.
TCU 34 Wyoming 6 - LY WY beat TCU for the 1st time S/’98 building an 18 pt lead & holding off TCU’s late comeback effort. TCU dominated here in ‘06 with a 432-155 yd edge. Two wks ago WY was pounded 40-7 by Utah, turning the ball over 5x (now -19 TO’s!). The QB starter here is a ?, as WY went back to the carousel vs UT. TCU is off its biggest win over a Top 10 tm beating BYU 32-7 with a 410-297 edge. QB Dalton ret’d, tossing his 1st 2 TD passes. He avg just 165 yd in 6 gm (58%) with a 2-2 ratio but has 235 rush yd (4.1) & 5 TD. Turner is the top rusher with 400 (3.9) & 10 TD & the top rec is Young with 35 (13.2). WY’s 4 QB’s comb to avg 97 ypg pass (50%) with a 3-14 ratio & the top WR has just 14 rec’s - thru 7 gms. The one bright spot has been RB Moore who is #2 in the conf with 688 rush yds (5.2). In ‘05, the height of the Glenn era, WY entered the gm with a 10 gm ATS win streak before losing 28-14 (-6’) at home vs TCU. Since then, Glenn is 8-27-1 ATS. If this gm was played on paper TCU wins by 42, but TCU is off its biggest home win ever and Patterson is 0-2 SU & ATS after knocking off ranked teams, losing by an avg of 36-14.
C Michigan 37 TOLEDO 30 - In ‘06, CM handed Toledo its worst conf home loss S/’93 (42-20) and is trying for its 1st 4 game SU win streak vs UT S/’78. In his 2 career gms vs CM, QB Opelt has thrown for 622 yds (60%) with 5 TD’s and 1 rush TD. LY it was tied 31-31 in the 4Q at CM but UT lost by 21. Toledo has played the tougher schedule (#45-76) and has a slight def edge (#92-102). However, CM has a big off (#36-94) edge as Toledo has just 1 off TD in the last 14Q. CM is coming off a big rivalry win over WM that has given them the inside track for the MAC West Title. They won that despite being without QB LeFevour, who was a late scratch as QB Brunner threw for 346 (71%) with a 2-1 ratio. Toledo replaced the Glass Bowl’s old artificial surface with new Fieldturf this year and it seems to have shattered the Glass Bowl’s magic as they have dropped 3 straight home games for the first time S/’93.
Usf 34 LOUISVILLE 27 - The HT is 5-0 SU and ATS in the series with 2 outright upsets and has won the last 4 by a 43-12 avg. USF had 41 pts in the 1H in LY’s 55-17 win and UL led 24-0 after 3Q’s here in ‘06.These two have combined to avg 56 ppg in their 5 meetings. UL upset K-State as a HD earlier TY (first S/'02). USF rebounded from their upset loss to Pitt with a 45-13 win over Syr. QB Grothe threw for 3 TD’s & ran for another. He continues to carry the Bulls avg 267 ypg of ttl offense. The D is now healthy and all’g 227 ypg on the road. LW UL defeated Mid Tenn 42-23. QB Cantwell is avg 92 ypg (57%) with an 8-8 ratio and rFr Anderson has emerged avg 111 rush ypg. A defense that looked good early has given up 394 ypg & 26 ppg the last 2 vs subpar teams, similar to the 2007 squad. USF has a slight off edge (#22-35) but bigger edges on def (#22-65) and ST’s (#54-106). UL has a revenge gm with Syr on deck while USF has Cincy on a short wk. The USF front seven is finally healthy which spells trouble for Cantwell, who hasn’t seen this kind of pressure since the Kentucky gm.
Texas Tech 44 KANSAS 34 - TT is 4-8 SU after facing rival A&M but is 9-1 SU vs KU incl 5-0 here in Lawrence. KU has won 13 straight HG’s (10-1 ATS) but has not faced a single ranked team in that span. LW KU ran into an upset OU squad & surrendered 674 yds. QB Reesing is avg 332 ypg (70%) with a 17-5 ratio. RB Sharp (386 yds, 4.4) seems to have earned his #1 spot back posting B2B 100+ yd efforts. TT is 7-0 (just 3-4 ATS) which gives them their best start in 32 yrs. They were down vs rival A&M at HT LW but all’d just 32 yds & 5 FD’s in the 2H. QB Harrell is avg 394 ypg (70%) with a 23-5 ratio. WR Crabtree has 51 rec (14.2) with 12 TD. This is Tech’s 3rd RG in 4 wks but they have the off edge (#5-18) as KU is ranked #26 in our pass eff def all’g 250 ypg (55%) with a 10-9 ratio. We have waited a year and a half to expose this Jayhawk squad and once again TT should pile up the yds, but do keep in mind they have #1 Texas on deck.
MISSOURI 44 Colorado 13 - The Buffs were outscored 24-0 & outgained 229-14 in the 2Q as a 10-7 lead turned into a 31-10 deficit and they lost 55-10 at home (MO 598-196 yds) LY. Last time here CU had a 373-353 yd edge but was SOD 4 times and lost 28-13 (+16) as a 3H Late Phone Winner for us. MO is off B2B losses for the first time S/’06 as they were embarrassed LW in Austin all'g 591 yds (outgained by 243 yds). QB Daniel is avg 339 ypg (76%) with an 18-5 ratio, but has tossed 4 int the L/2. CU is just 2-8 ATS away from Boulder. The Buffs got an ugly home win LW vs KSU snapping a 3 gm losing streak, but have dropped 4 str ATS. HC Hawkins pulled the RS off QB Hansen LW (157 ttl yds) to give CU a different look, but it was Cody Hawkins (150 ypg, 56%, 11-6 ratio) that guided the final TD drive. CU is ranked #49 in our pass eff def all’g 201 ypg (65%) with a 5-7 ratio. The Tigers have off (#7-86) & ST (#44-97) edges while CU has a slight D edge (#45-49). Pinkel will lay the hammer down here to get Mizzou back on track as the B12 North is wide open.
Penn St 21 OHIO ST 20 - PSU hasn’t beaten a ranked team on the road S/’02 and OSU is 7-0 SU and ATS at home in the series (win 21 ppg) since PSU joined the league in ‘93. They did get a fortunate cover last time here with 2 IR TD’s late 4Q in a 28-6 win (-17). LY PSU had a “white out” but was thrashed at home 37-17. PSU has scored 1 off TD the L/10Q’s vs OSU. OSU is 1-1 as a HD under Tressel. The Bucks finally played up to their potential whipping MSU 45-7 as our 5H Oct GOM Winner. OSU led 21-0 in the 1Q & coasted with PA native Pryor throwing just 11 passes. RB Wells (619, 6.1) looks healthier & has 90+ in every game he’s played TY. OSU’s OL has all’d a conf-worst 21 sks. Bucks are T-#1 in the NCAA with 21 TO’s forced, #1 B10 in rush D (97, 3.5) and #6 NCAA in pass eff D (168 ypg, 56%, 7-12 ratio). PSU snapped their 9 gm losing streak to Mich 46-17 LW. PSU scored the L/39 pts but trailed at the half for the 1st time all yr & didn’t lead until late 3Q. QB Clark (191, 63%, 11-2 ratio) is #18 NCAA in pass eff & RB Royster has 893 yds (7.7). Lions upgraded their speed at the LB spots LW with Gbadyu & true frosh Mauti (PS#21) & all’d the Wolves’ spread just 106 in the L/3Q. DE Maybin has 10 of the Lions’ B10 leading 23 sks. PSU has a big off edge (#8-31) with both D’s & ST’s being among the NCAA’s best. OSU is the Lions’ biggest hurdle to clear to play for a BCS Championship.
MEMPHIS 27 Southern Miss 23 - Memphis has won 3 of 4 and LY in Hattiesburg overcame a 12 pt 4Q deficit scoring the gm winning TD with just 1:04 left. Memphis is off a tough 30-10 loss to E Car in which they were outgained 381-184 and lost their top 2 QB’s to injury after just 12 plays. QB’s Hall (broken thumb) and Hudgens (knee) are both expected to miss several wks. Despite the inj’s, Memphis actually led 10-7 at HT, but the Tigers only managed 49 yds and 2 FD’s in 2H behind 3rd stringer Brett Toney, a Jr who had 1 career pass att, and true Fr Tyler Bass (PS#135), who HC West hoped to RS. The D all’d 180 yds rushing to the #7 rush team in CUSA and may again be without top DT Clinton McDonald (knee, CS). SMiss is on a 4 gm SU/ATS losing streak after falling at Rice 45-40 LW, despite 461 pass yds and 4 TD’s by QB Davis. Davis (269 ypg, 57%, 13-6 ratio) hooked up with true Fr WR DeAndre Brown (PS#7) for 4 scores. Brown leads SM with 637 yds (16.8) and 7 TD’s and RB Fletcher is #2 in CUSA avg 124 ypg. UM is 25-15 off SU loss under West and the O should improve with a full week of practice, but the visitor has covered 4 straight and the Eagles’ task seems to have gotten easier with UM down 2 QB’s.
Notre Dame 37 WASHINGTON 20 - Good situation here for the Irish as they are off a bye (23-4 SU) & are playing against an 0-6 Husky squad who has virtually raised the white flag preparing for next year’s new coaching staff. ND is 6-0 SU (4-0 ATS) vs UW including a solid win in former ND HC Willingham’s 1st yr in Seattle (36-17 victory, -12). The Irish could have easily pulled off the outright upset a few wks back vs UNC as they had significant FD (27-21) & yd (472-322) edges but fell late in the 4Q. QB Clausen has made huge strides in his 2nd yr with ND passing for 272 ypg (62%) w/a 14-8 ratio but struggled with 4 int’s in his 2 RG’s so far TY. UW had their chances LW but fell short against a Beaver squad that tallied 236 yds on the ground in the 21 pt win. With non-conf matchups against BYU & Okla in the rear view mirror, UW continues to play our toughest schedule. Not much has gone well due to inj & a def surrendering 483 ypg and we expect that to continue here as ND has an excellent chance to finish at least 9-3 & potentially reach a New Year’s Day Bowl.
SAN DIEGO ST 30 Colorado St 27 - The visitor is 8-2 ATS and SDSt has won 3 in a row SU. CSU is 1-7 ATS in consec AG’s. LY SDSt got a TD with :43 left and CSU was int’d in the EZ in a 24-20 road upset (+13). SDSt was crushed 70-7 LW by NM and both cch’s and plyr’s have to be wondering, how much worse can it get? The avg’s from the L/3 gms are horrendous as SDSt has been outscored 49-8, outgained 512-159 (incl 401-29 rush) and outFD’d 29-10. QB Lindley did return LW & played decent in his 1st gm back (shldr). While he was throwing deep, he only hit 18-37 for 156 yd (now avg 232 ypg pass, 52%, 9-5 ratio), but should put up better stats back at home. After a surprising (but misleading) gm vs UNLV, then hanging tough vs TCU, Utah proved too much for CSU LW in a 49-16 road loss as the Utes finished with a 549-298 yd edge. QB Farris was held to just 166 yd with a 1-1 ratio lowering his avg to 201 ypg (64%) & a 6-7 ratio. He has 3 rec’s with more than 20 catches and RB Johnson has 616 rush yd (4.6). While SDSt is 0-3 SU & ATS in MWC play, this is CSU’s 1st time as an AF TY and they went 0-7 the L/5Y in that role under Lubick
Usc 37 ARIZONA 20 - The Trojans tallied their largest shutout S/’31 (2nd consec) as they outgained a helpless WSU squad 621-114 (Cougs didn’t get past their own 45 yd line). After a rough gm vs ASU, Sanchez became the 1st QB in school history to throw 5 TD in the 1H. AZ shook off a 10 pt HT deficit to Cal LW while moving back into the P10 hunt with their 5th outright upset of a Top 25 tm in the L5Y. The Cats have actually covered 3 straight (27 avg dog) incl LY when they led heavily favored USC 13-10 entering the 4Q in Sanchez’s 1st start (1st gm after Stanford upset). The visitor is 7-3 ATS & in ‘06 USC had a 381-154 yd edge but only won 20-3 (-21’). Both def have been solid here with USC giving up 220 ypg & AZ all’g 285 ypg, however, the Trojans have easily played a tougher sked with our #7 ranking while the Cats have played our #64. With USC coming into Tucson in the middle of a weak WSU/UW sandwich & outscoring their L/3 opp’s by a 141-10 margin, you could almost expect that they placed most of their attention towards this one.
HAWAII 31 Nevada 27 - The Warriors have won 3 of the L/4 in the series & the L/5 here. The HT is 8-1 SU (6-2 ATS) & pts are in abundance as these two avg 67 ppg in the L/4. LY’s 2 pt decision was the first gm in series history to be decided by less than 7 pts. UN has the edge on off (#14-101) and is #6 in the NCAA in ttl off (519 ypg). They still outgained Utah St 523-333 despite QB Kaepernick being benched in the 1Q LW. Kaepernick is avg 193 ypg (63%) with a 10-4 ratio & also has 613 yds rush & a tm high 11 TD. The Pack is #2 in the NCAA in rush off (305 ypg) led by Taua with 736 yds (6.4) & 9 TD. UN’s rush D is all’g only 74 ypg (#5 in the NCAA), but the pass D is all’g 333 ypg (#119). UH gets the nod on D (#70-93). QB Funaki is avg 141 ypg (57%) with a 5-11 ratio but had a dreadful outing LW throwing 5 int in a loss to Boise. RB Pilares has 249 yds (5.2) while WR Washington has 32 rec (9.4). The Warriors’ D has been decent but UH must take better care of the ball as they have 24 TO’s (17 int, 7 fmbl) which ties for #117 in the NCAA.
MISSISSIPPI ST 31 Middle Tenn 10 - Last meeting in ‘00, #20 Bulldogs won 61-35 (-27’), with the 2 combining for 1,057 yds. MSU is 0-5 as a HF and in an SEC sandwich. They’re off a 34-3 loss to Tennessee in which they were outgained 275-189 but were only down 6-3 at half before giving up 2 IR TD’s in the 4Q. QB Lee is avg 126 ypg (62%) with a 3-0 ratio. MT is in their 3rd straight road gm but has a bye on deck. They’re off 42-23 loss to L’ville. MT led 17-14 at half but only had 6 yds ttl offense in the 3Q (outgained 391-306) and they scored their final TD with :36 left. QB Craddock avg 217 ypg (64%) with an 8-5 ratio. Their #107 off will be going up against MSU’s #37 def. Both tms come in 2-5 SU and this is a must-win gm for Miss St if they want to make it to a bowl. The Bulldogs have held opponents to 2.4 ypc rush at home and will control the LOS against a Blue Raiders team that has avg’d just 3.0 ypc away.
Re: Newsletters 10/21 - 10/27
ULM 30 Florida Atl 27 - This series has been dominated by the dog with 4 straight upset winners covering by 14 ppg. Even though FAU won the SBC LY, ULM dealt them their only loss a 33-30 setback in OT on the road. Last time here FAU delivered a Big Dog Play Winner (+14) when they upset ULM 21-19. FAU is off a 24-20 win over WKU outgaining them 399-317. They’ve had 2 tough SBC losses and have a bye on deck. QB Smith avg 220 ypg (50%) with a 6-9 ratio and WR Gent has 26 rec (15.4). ULM is off a 35-23 win over NT converting 5 plays of 40 yds or more in 1H after entering gm with just 3 such plays in the 1st 6 gms. They also did not turn the ball over for the 4th time TY. QB Lancaster is avg 187 ypg (57%) with a 9-2 ratio and WR McNeal has 30 rec (13.1). FAU has played the tougher sked (#44-115) but both teams come in 2-5 SU.
Troy 41 NORTH TEXAS 20 - Troy is 4-1 vs NT & LY sk’d NT QB’s a ssn & school high 9x. Before LY’s 45-7 score, these two had combined to avg just 25 ppg. Troy is 6-1 as a conf AF and has our #44 off, #75 def and #39 ST’s. They are off a 33-23 win over FIU and tied for 1st place in SBC with ULL. Troy used 3 QBs in their 1st drive LW vs FIU w/QB Brown getting his 1st career start (QB Hampton out yr) passing for 253 yds with a 2-1 ratio. WR Jernigan also lined up under center vs FIU finishing with 219 all-purp yds. He has 39 rec (11.7). NT is off a 35-23 loss to ULM and showing signs that they are starting to grasp the new offense outFD’g ULM 31-16. They are still only 1 of 2 tms (Wash St) that have yet to win a gm TY and are also 2-5 ATS. QB Vizza avg 249 ypg (63%) with an 8-7 ratio. He set a new Malone Stadium record LW vs ULM w/37 completions. WR Fitzgerald has 64 rec (10.9). They have a 3 gm road trip on deck and our #118 def. Visiting SBC tms are 6-7 SU but 9-3-1 ATS so far TY.
Sunday, October 26th
Ucf at TULSA - UCF & Tulsa have met in the CUSA Champ gm in 2 of L/3 yrs. LY in the Title gm, UCF got the win 44-25 (-7’) after losing the inaugural champ game to Tulsa in ‘05. They also defeated Tulsa 44-23 (-2’) during the reg season with both games at Bright House Stadium. This is UCF’s 1st trip here and TU is avg 64.5 ppg at home TY. Can UCF stop Tulsa’s high-powered offense, or does Tulsa exact revenge for the 2 beatdowns UCF laid on them LY
Tuesday, October 28th
Buffalo at OHIO - Turner Gill served as Frank Solich’s asst coach while at Nebraska from 1998-‘03. Ohio is playing their 2nd straight Tuesday Night game, while Buffalo is playing their first of 5 straight weekday games to close out their regular season. The Bulls have had 4 of their last 5 games decided on the final play.
Houston at MARSHALL - LY UH won 35-28 (-12) at home. Marshall is 9-4 SU (7-6 ATS) vs CUSA opponents at home under Snyder. Houston is 4-7 ATS in CUSA road gms, but 2-1 ATS vs Marshall. Houston is avg 42.6 ppg in conf play, but Marshall is allowing just 22 ppg in conf gms. The Cougars come in undefeated in league play (3-0), but will they leave that way?
Re: Newsletters 10/21 - 10/27
RATINGS: 89 & ABOVE: SUPERIOR; 88 & BELOW: ABOVE AVERAGE
GEORGIA TECH 40 - Virginia 13 - (3:30 EDT) -- Line opened at GeorgiaTech minus 13, and is now minus
11½. Cavs have certainly turned things around over the past 3 wks, with combined 82-33 pt
edge, as well as plus 72½ pts ATS. But those were all played in Charlottesville. Now take
to the road, vs a Jacket team which has a phenomenal 1,309-513 RY edge in its lined
games, while covering 5-of-5. Not only that, but Virginia has a 76-13 pt deficit away from
home. So check Tech's 5th rated defense, to complement that overland game. The series
host is on a superb 9-1 ATS run, & the Jackets well remember LY's tough defeat.
RATING: GEORGIA TECH 89
Minnesota 30 - PURDUE 17 - (12:00) -- Line opened at Purdue minus 1, and is now pick-em. As we noted
on Pointwise, the Gopher turnaround has been incredible, as they stand at 6-1 so far, in
stark contrast to the 1-11 log that they posted a year ago. Are +97 pts ATS in their last 8
games, covering their last outing by 19 pts, as they held Illinois' then 19th-ranked rushing
offense to just 88 yds. Have had an extra week to prepare for this, & Boilers are slipping by
the week. On a 4-game slide, while averaging just 14 ppg. Purdue owns the 104th rated
running game, & QB Painter not to be trusted (3 INTs LW). "Mo" all Gophers.
RATING: MINNESOTA 89
Central Michigan 41 - TOLEDO 14 - (12:00) -- Line opened at CentralMichigan minus 3½, and is still minus
3½. This Chip squad has been magnificent over the past 2½ seasons, especially in MAC
play, where they are 123½ pts ahead of the spread in their last 15 conference games. A
week ago, they had to go it without do-everything QB LeFevour (ankle) but Brunner simply
stepped in and threw for 346 yds in Central's 38-28 upset of a Western Michigan squad
which had won 6 straight. The Rockets pulled that upset of Michigan, & took Fresno into
OT, but check a 69-7 pt deficit in their last 2 MAC games. Chips again.
RATING: CENTRAL MICHIGAN 88
FLORIDA 47 - Kentucky 13 - (12:30) -- Line opened at Florida minus 23, and is now minus 24. Dedicated
Gators took it on the chin in that embarrassing upset, hosting OleMiss, but have quickly
shown that they are far from down, having climbed to the #4 spot in the nation, with a
combined scoring edge of 89-28 in their 2 outings since. And that included their 51-21
home blasting of then 3rd-ranked LSU, in which they held a 265-80 RY edge. Full focus
here, as the 'Cats have surprised with their 5-2 start, while covering their first 2 RGs by 40½
pts. UK ranks only 96th, offensively, so no way to stay with this scoreboard lighter.
RATING: FLORIDA 88
Oklahoma 51 - KANSAS STATE 17 - (12:30) -- Line opened at Oklahoma minus 19, and is still minus 19.
Catching the awesome Sooners off their games with Texas & Kansas would seem a juicy
proposition for Wildcat backers, especially with such a high home dog spot. However, the
Sooners are at 47 ppg, & in off rolling up 674 yds & 45 pts vs Kansas, with Bradford
throwing for a school-record 468 yds. So hardly a letdown off OU's loss to top-ranked
Texas. The 'Cats are no pushover, averaging 38 ppg in their last 10 hosting roles, but their
Achilles heel is their 112th-ranked defense, and a bit down off LW's wrenching loss.
RATING: OKLAHOMA 88
PHILADELPHIA 27 - Atlanta 10 - (1:00) -- Line opened at Philadelphia minus 7½, and is now minus 8½.
The Eagles sure have had their baptism of fire, with 4 consecutive wars, before finally a
breather of sorts, in their 40-26 win over the Niners. Their bye week was especially important,
as it should enable Westbrook's return. The Falcons are improved, with their 4 wins
matching their total victories of a year ago, but they've been stung for the exact same 24 pts
in each of their 3 road games to date. And altho Ryan has proven a quick study, taking on
this 6th ranked Eagle "D", in this inhospitable spot is a true reality check.
RATING: PHILADELPHIA 88
NEAR CHOICES (Rated 87): Alabama, BYU, BallSt, UCLA, Tulsa - NFL: Ravens, Redskins, & Titans