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Thursday Night Football

Thursday Night Football

Auburn Tigers vs. West Virginia Mountaineers

Oddsmakers currently have the Mountaineers listed as 3-point favorites versus the Tigers, while the game's total is sitting at 38½.

Auburn was upset 25-22 by Arkansas as a 17-point favoriye in Week 7. The game's 47 points made it OVER the posted total of 41.

Kodi Burns ran for 38 yards and a TD for Auburn, while throwing for 119 yards in the loss.

Noel Devine ran for 188 yards on 18 carries with a touchdown to lead West Virginia past Syracuse 17-6 in Week 7.

West Virginia failed to cover as 25-point home favorites as the teams played under the 48-point total set by oddsmakers.

Current streak:
Auburn has lost 2 straight games.
West Virginia has won 3 straight games.

Team records:
Auburn: 4-3 SU, 1-6 ATS
West Virginia: 4-2 SU, 1-4 ATS

Auburn most recently:
When playing in October are 6-4
When playing on turf are 7-2
After being outgained are 6-4
When playing outside the conference are 9-1

West Virginia most recently:
When playing in October are 10-0
When playing on turf are 9-1
After being outgained are 7-3
When playing outside the conference are 8-2

A few trends to consider:
Auburn is 15-4 SU in its last 19 games on the road
The total has gone UNDER in 7 of Auburn's last 9 games
The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Auburn's last 8 games on the road
Auburn is 12-5 SU in its last 17 games
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of West Virginia's last 5 games
West Virginia is 11-1 SU in its last 12 games at home
West Virginia is 17-4 SU in its last 21 games
West Virginia is 1-4 ATS in its last 5 games

Next up:
Auburn at Mississippi, Saturday, November 1
West Virginia at Connecticut, Saturday, November 1

New Mexico Lobos vs. Air Force Falcons

Oddsmakers currently have the Falcons listed as 5-point favorites versus the Lobos, while the game's total is sitting at 45½.

New Mexico scored 49 points in the first half en route to a 70-7 win over San Diego State in Week 8, as 15.5-point favorites. The 77 points sailed OVER the posted total of 44.5.

Air Force improved to 5-2 as they pulled off a close 29-28 win over UNLV in Week 8. Air Force failed to cover the 3.5-point spread, and the 57 points made it OVER the posted total of 52.5.

Current streak:
Air Force has won 2 straight games.

Team records:
New Mexico: 4-4 SU, 5-3 ATS
Air Force: 5-2 SU, 4-2 ATS

New Mexico most recently:
When playing in October are 8-2
When playing on turf are 5-5
After outgaining opponent are 6-4
When playing within the conference are 6-4

Air Force most recently:
When playing in October are 6-4
When playing on turf are 8-2
After outgaining opponent are 9-1
When playing within the conference are 7-3

A few trends to consider:
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of New Mexico's last 7 games on the road
New Mexico is 4-2 SU in its last 6 games
The total has gone OVER in 4 of New Mexico's last 6 games when playing Air Force
New Mexico is 15-8 ATS in its last 23 games on the road
Air Force is 5-1 ATS in its last 6 games when playing New Mexico
Air Force is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games when playing at home against New Mexico
Air Force is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games when playing at home against New Mexico
Air Force is 7-2 SU in its last 9 games at home

Next up:
New Mexico home to Utah, Saturday, November 1
Air Force at Army, Saturday, November 1

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Re: Thursday Night Football

What bettors need to know: Auburn at West Virginia

Line Moves

Oddsmakers installed West Virginia as a 3-point home favorite. The line was bet up to 3.5 and remained there for two days before coming back down to 3.

The over/under opened at 39, was bet down to 38.5 and has since settled at 38.

Not Afraid

We all know the SEC is superior to the Big East, but don’t tell West Virginia that. Although this is their first ever matchup with Auburn, the Mountaineers are 20-17-2 all-time against the SEC and have beaten SEC teams each of the last three years.

Don’t Blame the Auburn D

While Auburn’s 4-3 record (2-3 SEC) has been a major disappointment for a team that was ranked by many in the preseason top-10, the defense has certainly held up its end of the bargain.

The Tigers are third in the SEC in scoring defense (13.7 ppg) and first in third down conversion percentage (22.7 percent).

The special teams have done the job as well. Punter Clinton Durst averages 43.6 a kick and the team leads the conference in net punting.

Under the Radar

Lost in all the talk about West Virginia’s disappointing start is the fact that their defense has played surprisingly well.

The Mountaineers are first in the Big East and 14th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing a mere 14.7 points per game.

Toothless Tigers

Auburn’s offense thus far has been worse than bad. With the firing of OC Tony Franklin prior to the Arkansas game, and lacking a confirmed starting QB, the offensive unit has been in utter disarray.

Coach Tommy Tuberville claims that he is still interested in running the spread offense that the deposed Franklin was hired to implement. Yet there is talk of dissent within, including claims that remaining staff members disliked Franklin and are more geared towards abandoning the spread.

In the absence of an official OC, assistant Steve Emsminger will take over the play-calling duties.

Meanwhile, the QB situation is equally muddled. Sophomore Kodi Burns will get the start on Thursday, but he has yet to inspire confidence. Backups Neil Caudle and Chris Todd are in the mix as well. If none of the above manage to step up, the team may consider forgoing the redshirt year of freshman Barrett Trotter.

Devine Inspiration Needed

West Virginia has had its own troubles on offense. After being a virtual juggernaut in 2007, this year’s edition has managed only 17 ppg in their last five, including just 17 last time out against a Syracuse defense ranked 106th in the nation.

A particular problem has been the complete nonexistence of a downfield passing game. With the team not even attempting to throw the ball downfield their running game has become easier to defend.

Unlike Auburn, though, West Virginia has at least some cause for optimism on the offensive side of the ball. Exhibit “A” would be RB Noel Devine. Devine ran for 188 yards against Syracuse and has gone for 100 or more in three of his last four games. He is second only to national leader Donald Brown of Connecticut in Big East rushing and is averaging an eye-opening 6.6 yards per carry.

The Mountaineer offense should receive another boost on Thursday with the expected return of QB Pat White (428 yards rushing, 6.1 yards per carry) who missed the Syracuse game.

Auburn DC No Stranger to West Virginia

First-year Auburn defensive coordinator Paul Rhodes held the same position at Pitt from 2000 to 2007. Last season his Panther defense was No. 5 in the nation in total defense (297 ypg) and famously stifled the Mountaineer attack, holding them to 183 total yards in Pitt’s shocking 13-9 upset win.

Big Night in Morgantown

West Virginia possesses one of the stronger home field edges in the Big East, if not the nation. The team averages 54,494 home attendance. Expect the locals to be ready on Thursday night.

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Re: Thursday Night Football

Auburn (4-3, 1-6 ATS) at West Virginia (4-2, 1-4 ATS)

Auburn takes a one-week hiatus from its bruising Southeastern Conference schedule when it travels to Morgantown for a non-conference, nationally televised battle with West Virginia of the Big East.

The Tigers, who had a bye last weekend, are looking to rebound from a shocking 25-22 home loss to Arkansas on Oct. 11 as an overwhelming 16½-point home chalk. Auburn, which fell 14-13 at Vanderbilt the previous week, has now dumped six straight ATS decisions (3-3 SU) since winning and covering in its season opener against Louisiana-Monroe. Against Arkansas, the Tigers somehow led 20-16 entering the fourth quarter, though they finished the game with three turnovers and a paltry 193 total yards, while the Razorbacks racked up 416 yards (188 on the ground).

The Mountaineers, who also had a bye last week, topped Syracuse 17-6 back on Oct. 11 for their third consecutive win, but they failed to cash as a huge 22-point home favorite, their second straight ATS setback. With star QB Pat White on the sidelines with an injury, West Virginia was outgained 346-268, but it finished with 216 rushing yards on 32 attempts (6.8 ypc), paced by RB Curtis Brinkley’s 144 yards on 28 carries. The Mountaineers also had no turnovers.

This is the first-ever meeting between these two programs.

Despite their current 0-6 ATS slide, the Tigers are 18-7 ATS in their last 25 October contests and 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games as an underdog, including 6-1 ATS as a road pup since 2004. They’re also 6-1 SU in their last seven Thursday games. Meanwhile, the Mountaineers have been favored in all five of their lined games this season, cashing just once, and they are on additional pointspread skids of 0-4 after a bye, 0-4 after a SU win and 2-5 at home.

Both teams are paced by their defenses, with Auburn giving up just 13.1 points and 272.7 yards per game (108 rushing ypg), while the Mountaineers yield 14.7 points and 320.8 total yards per outing (118.8 rushing ypg). Offensively, West Virginia has a slight edge (22.2 ppg, 342.2 total ypg) over the Tigers (19.1 ppg, 262.6 ypg).

The under for Auburn is on runs of 7-2 overall, 4-1 against winning teams, 6-2 on the highway and 5-2 in non-conference play. The under also has been the play in all five of West Virginia’s lined games this season and is on further streaks of 4-0 at home and 6-1 in non-conference action.


New Mexico (4-4, 5-3 ATS) at Air Force (5-2, 4-2 ATS)

New Mexico, coming off a huge offensive outburst, looks to keep that momentum going when it heads to Colorado Springs to take on Air Force’s triple-option attack in a Mountain West Conference matchup.

The Lobos throttled San Diego State 70-7 Saturday to cover nearly four times over as a 16½-point home chalk, their fourth straight spread-cover (3-1 SU). New Mexico, which led 49-0 at the half, rolled up a 565-227 total yardage edge, including an eye-popping 419 rushing yards, with RB Rodney Ferguson (25 carries, 144 yards, 4 TDs) leading the way.

Air Forced edged UNLV 29-28 as a 3½-point favorite Saturday night for its second consecutive SU win – both on the road. Like New Mexico against San Diego State, the Falcons also cracked 500 total yards, finishing with a 508-404 edge against the Rebels, and their vaunted running attack netted 346 yards on a whopping 68 carries (5.1 ypc). Air Force attempted just seven passes, but two of QB Tim Jefferson’s attempts went for TDs.

New Mexico edged Air Force 34-31 last year – snapping a three-game losing skid to the Academy – but the Falcons cashed as a 6½-point road underdog, improving to 4-0 ATS (3-1 SU) in this series. The host is on runs of 8-2 SU and 8-3 ATS in this rivalry, with Air Force going 4-1 ATS in the last five in Colorado Springs. Finally, the winner had cashed in nine consecutive Air Force-New Mexico clashes prior to last year.

The Lobos are on ATS runs of 5-0 on grass, 4-1 in conference play, 19-9-2 on the highway and 18-8 as a visiting ‘dog. The Falcons have failed to cash in seven of their last 10 when coming off a non-cover, but they are on positive ATS streaks of 11-3 overall, 8-1 in the MWC, 6-1 at home and 8-2 after a SU win.

This game features two of the top rushing attacks in college football. The Falcons rank third nationally at 300 rushing ypg and New Mexico (224 rushing ypg) ranks 15th, but the Lobos average more yards per carry (5.8) than Air Force (4.6). On the defensive end, New Mexico allows 341 total ypg (100.4 rushing ypg), while the Falcons yield 304.7 ypg (130 rushing ypg).

New Mexico is on a 5-2 “over” streak, but the under is 7-1 in its last eight conference games and 5-2 in its last seven on the road. The over for Air Force is on runs of 4-1 overall and 7-1 after a SU win, and the over is 5-2 in the last seven meetings between these two teams.


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Re: Thursday Night Football

Auburn at West Virginia
By Christian Alexander

Auburn (4-3, 2-3 SEC) at West Virginia (4-2, 2-0 Big East)
Thursday, October 23
7:30 PM ESPN
Mountaineer Field (FieldTurf) Line: West Virginia -2.5, O/U 38

Now that we’re past the mid-point in October, we’re really starting to see some separation between the contenders and the pretenders. Heading into last Thursday night’s game, the BYU Cougars were a very trendy choice to run the table undefeated and crash the BCS party.

Then they paid a visit to TCU and got a taste of the nasty Horned Frogs defense. A 32-7 woodshed beating later and the Cougars moved from the contender column squarely into the pretender lane.

My play on TCU (PK) combined with the other game last Thursday night, where I had NC State (+11) in a contest the Wolfpack would ultimately lose to FSU 26-17, gave me a nice double-dip winner and took my Thursday night record to 6-3. If I can get another win this week, then I can hit 70% through the first nine weeks of the Thursday night season. That wouldn’t be too shabby.

But first things first, let’s take a look at tonight’s game featuring the Auburn Tigers paying a visit to West Virginia to face the Mountaineers.
Entering this season, both West Virginia and Auburn had made some major coaching changes yet both programs were again expected to be top-10 teams and contend for a BCS berth. Like I said however, lots of contenders have been proven to be pretenders lately.

As everyone knows by now, the Mountaineers had to replace head coach Rich Rodriguez at the end of last season, opting to hand the program over to long-time assistant Bill Stewart. Despite an abundance of weapons and a proven system of success, Stewart decided to tweak the offense and the results thus far haven’t been positive.

Granted, not many teams could lose a player like RB Steve Slaton and not suffer some type of letdown but that doesn’t explain how the Mountaineers went from scoring 40+ points a game in 2007 to just 22 points a game thus far in 2008. That dramatic drop in offensive production certainly explains why West Virginia started the season 1-2, in the process falling out of the national rankings after a 46-week stay in the Top 25.

A mini three-game winning streak since that shaky start has somewhat quieted the Stewart skeptics but a shaky performance this Thursday night against Auburn and you can be sure the critics will be out in full force.

Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville definitely knows what those critics sound like. The Tigers were expected to be reborn this year on offense as Tuberville had brought in a spread offense guru, Tony Franklin to serve as the offensive coordinator.

But less than halfway through the season, with the Tigers averaging fewer than 20 points a game and fans howling for a change, Tuberville pulled the plug on Franklin in an attempt to revive the struggling Auburn offense. One thing is for sure this Thursday night, whichever coach leaves the field a loser will be sitting on a little warmer seat come Friday morning.

The key to this game will likely come down to quarterback play and turnovers.

West Virginia sorely missed QB Patrick White last week in an ugly 17-6 win over the 1-5 Syracuse Orangemen. White was forced to miss the game with a head injury but is expected to be ready to play this week.

With weapons such as WR Dorrell Jalloh and RB Noel Devine, WVU fans hope White can finally get the Mountaineers offense into high gear this season. It won’t be easy against an Auburn defense that is only allowing 108 yards a game rushing and 13.1 points per game.

It won’t be any easier for Auburn’s offense. Despite starting seven freshmen or sophomores, the West Virginia defense is allowing just 14.7 points per game.

Knowing that his team is 46-2 since 2002 when it wins the turnover battle, you can bet coach Bill Stewart will try a variety of blitzes out of its 3-3-5 stack defense to cause confusion for the Auburn offense and specifically QB Kodi Burns.

Auburn’s QB position has been such a weak spot this season that Tuberville has often gone to a two man system. However, with Chris Todd not expected to play because of a sore shoulder, Burns is likely to go the whole way this Thursday night. Then again, a shaky performance could cause Tuberville to look for other options.

Turnovers, nine interceptions and six lost fumbles, have been a real problem for Auburn and you can bet that West Virginia’s swarming defense will only be trying to continue those struggles for the Tigers.

These two teams have been two of the worst betting options so far this season with a combined 1-10 mark against the spread. West Virginia is 1-4 ATS and 1-2 at home while Auburn is 1-6 ATS and 0-2 on the road.

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Re: Thursday Night Football

Thursday Night Football: Auburn at West Virginia
by Matt Severance

Boy, how much of a letdown is this Thursday's ESPN nationally televised game and first-ever meeting between Auburn and West Virginia?

Does it look like an even matchup? It does, and WVU is just a 3-point favorite on, but that's because both teams have been incredible disappointments, especially on offense, and enter this game unranked after both had BCS National Championship hopes entering the season.

Let's start with Auburn (4-3). Offensive coordinator Tony Franklin was fired only seven games (including last year's bowl) into his Tigers career, as his spread offense was a flop. Entering their Oct. 11 game with Arkansas, the Tigers were 103rd in the country in scoring, 104th in total offense and 103rd in pass offense. So Steve Ensminger, formerly the receivers coach, got his first shot against the Razorbacks and also will direct the offense the rest of the season with input from head coach Tommy Tuberville.

The result vs. Arkansas? Not good. The Tigers' offense accounted for 13 of the team's 22 points in the loss and did that by gaining just 21 yards of offense on three respective drives. And Auburn managed a season-low 56 yards rushing - the ground game had been one of the few occasional positives in previous games. In addition, neither Auburn QB completed 50 percent of his passes and combined for three picks. The Tigers finished with just 11 first downs and 193 total yards.

Yet Ensminger saw progress.

"I want to be positive with the team about it," Ensminger said. "I felt like we were going to win that game offensively. Let's take that positive and carry it on to the next one."

That's called coachspeak.

Tuberville said when he canned Franklin that the team would keep the spread offense, but players have been noticing a change in recent practices. The rest of this season might feature more of a hybrid offense.

"I think it will be smash-mouth," quarterback Kodi Burns said. "I think we're going to give our offensive linemen a chance to get in the three-point stance and fire off the ball a little bit more."

The Tigers rank 69th in the nation in running. Not great, but a giant leap up the rankings from their passing attack.

As for West Virginia, coach Bill Stewart has been feeling major heat in Morgantown after replacing Rich Rodriguez. WVU has been very inconsistent on offense this year with RichRod in Ann Arbor.

A Heisman favorite before the season, QB Pat White has OK numbers: 75-103 passing, 590 yards, nine TDs, 70 carries, 428 yards, two TDs, but he hasn't been the game-changer under Stewart. The Mountaineers are averaging only 22.2 points and 342.2 yards per game; they averaged 456 yards per game last year under Rodriguez.

"They have had some troubles at quarterback like we've had," Stewart said of Auburn. "They've kinda stumbled at times as we've kinda stumbled at times. But they have a pretty good football team, which I hope we still do."

Stewart said he would not be shocked to see a defensive-dominated, low-scoring contest: "Their defense plays pretty darn well; again, much like our defense."

More coachspeak, although he's right: Opponents are scoring only 13.1 ppg vs. Auburn and 14.7 against West Virginia. The over/under for Thursday's game is 38 on

White, who missed the Mountaineers' last game (a close win over Syracuse) with a concussion and a thumb injury, has been back at practice this week and will start.

"I feel like my feet are back under me," he said.

White grew up in Alabama and this will be the first time he faces a home state school. Auburn didn't recruit him out of high school as a quarterback.

WVU hasn't lost on a Thursday night at home since Nov. 25, 1926, but it did lose at Colorado on a Thursday earlier this year. Auburn is 6-1 all-time in Thursday night games, including a 3-0 mark under Tuberville.

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Re: Thursday Night Football

Two Betting Chances For Thursday
Doug Upstone

This probably won’t go down as the most important college football Thursday, with two rather ordinary games as it turns outs. Nonetheless, two opportunities to wager on college football are better than none. With the economy sinking like the Titanic, and big box retailers ready to do anything to secure any part of your Christmas buying even this early, we’ll have a two or one special, having both college football game betting previews in one article.

Auburn at West Virginia

When the schedule came out this looked like a very absorbing non-conference tilt, now ESPN probably wished they could shift it to ESPN360. In the 12 days each squad has had off, it has been about rebuilding offensive continuity, with each far down the ladder in total offense in the country. West Virginia is 79th, at 342.2 yards per game and Auburn is far worse at a reprehensible107th   nationally, with a lousy 292.6 YPG.

The oddsmakers at have noticed, placing a total of 38 points on this non-conference contest. With West Virginia ( 4-2, 1-4 ATS) averaging 22.2 points a game and Auburn 19.1 PPG the number is accurate, especially considering the Tigers have a grand total of 16 points on the road this campaign. 

West Virginia is a three point home favorite and is 13-4 ATS versus offensive teams averaging 4.5 yards or less a play. The Mountaineers expects to get QB Pat White back from a concussion and they still control their own destiny for a BCS bowl game. Any win against a SEC school is good news for a Big East team, thus adding incentive.

Blog rumors are surfacing Tommy Tuberville might be hitting the hot seat and another sorry offensive effort turns up the heat even more. The Auburn defense is still up to usual standards, allowing just 13.1 PPG. About the only other positive aspect Auburn (4-3, 1-6 ATS) can come with is 8-1 ATS mark before playing Ole Miss.

ESPN will switch studio and regular Thursday game crew for this 7:45 Eastern contest, with the Tigers 6-2 ATS as road dogs in this first ever meeting.

New Mexico at Air Force

It's that time of the season, when New Mexico (4-4, 5-3 ATS) always seems to come together as a team and play its best football. New Mexico is as rested as it has been all season, thanks to last weekend 70-7 demolishment of San Diego State. The game was over by halftime, with the Lobos leading 49-0, allowing coach Rocky Long to rest his starters for the majority of second half. They'll go into a game for only the second time this season in which all the players they're counting on are expected to play. The flip side to the easy win is 0-7 ATS mark after leading in their previous game by 24 or more points at the half.

The Air Force (5-2, 4-2 ATS) situation was quite different from their opponent’s. Down 28-20 at UNLV, the Falcons needed a touchdown and later a field goal to escape Sin City 29-28. Air Force boarded a plane shortly after the UNLV game, flew back to Colorado and arrived at the academy early Sunday morning. Less than 12 hours after getting off the plane, players were in meetings.

Air Force practiced for an hour on Sunday, 80 minutes on Monday and an hour on Tuesday, and none of the workouts were in full pads as coach Troy Calhoun tried to walk the line between giving his players plenty of rest while making sure they were prepared. "What you do is you still have to have very crisp workouts," Calhoun said. "That's the only way you have carryover to Thursday night." All this strict preparation (what else would you expect at the Air Force) has not always paid off in the past with the Flyboys 3-9 SU on Thursday’s.

The Air Force is a five-point favorite with a total of 46. The running game is churning out 300 yards a game (3rd in the nation) and they are 10-2 ATS against MWC opponents over the last two seasons. New Mexico is 12-4 ATS in road games after two or more consecutive wins against the spread. The Lobos are 1-5 and 2-4 ATS at Colorado Springs and have lost four in a row SU and against the spread to the Air Force.

The ever popular CBS-CSTV has this MWC matchup at 8 Eastern.

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