7 Best Bets this week and 3 Strong Opinions.
Rotation #113 Nevada (+1) 3-Stars at -1 or better, 2-Stars from -1 1/2 to -3 points.
Rotation #125 Illinois (-7) 2-Stars at -8 or less.
Rotation #136 South Carolina (-12) 3-Stars at -14 or less, 4-Stars at -11 or less, 2-Stars up to -16.
Rotation #147 Army (+11) 3-Stars at +10 or more, 2-Stars down to +7.
Rotation #155 Clemson (+5 1/2) 3-Stars at +4 or more, 2-Stars down to +3.
Rotation #194 USC (-21) 2-Stars at -21 or less.
Rotation #197 New Mexico (-3 1/2) 3-Stars at -4 or less, 2-Stars up to -6.
Thursday Strong Opinion - Rotation #112 Utah (+1 1/2) Strong Opinion at pick or underdog. 2-Star Best Bet at +3 or more.
Strong Opinion - Rotation #137 Georgia (-11) Strong Opinion at -11 or less.
Strong Opinion - Rotation #162 Iowa (+7 1/2) Strong Opinion at +7 or more.
3 Star Selection
***SOUTH CAROLINA (-12.0) 34 Arkansas 10
10:00 AM Pacific, 08-Nov-08
Arkansas has improved since the early season under new coach Bobby Petrino, but the Razorbacks are still not close to South Carolina in terms of talent and the Hogs’ upset win over Tulsa last week sets them up in a very negative 15-55 ATS road letdown situation. Arkansas also applies to a negative 52-130-1 ATS situation that is completely different from the other angle. The situations combine to give South Carolina a 60% chance of covering the spread at a fair line, but I’d be playing the Gamecocks even if there were no favorable situations. South Carolina has one of the top defensive units in the nation, allowing 4.3 yards per play to a schedule of teams that would combine to average 5.8 yppl against an average team and that unit has a huge advantage over an Arkansas attack that is just 0.3 yppl better than average for the season with starting quarterback Casey Dick in the game (5.7 yppl against teams that would allow 5.4 yppl to an average team). Arkansas’ defense is average against both the run and the pass and the Hogs rate as 0.1 yppl better than average overall (5.7 yppl allowed to teams that would combine to average 5.8 yppl). That unit matches up pretty evenly against a mediocre South Carolina offense that I rate as average with current personnel. The Gamecocks are actually 0.7 yppl worse than average overall this season (5.0 yppl against teams that would allow 5.7 yppl), but taking out the horrible stats of game 1 starting quarterback Tommy Beecher and excluding the passing stats of the 3 games that star receiver Kenny McKinley missed gets South Carolina to rate as average. In 4 games since McKinley returned the lineup the Gamecocks have averaged 5.0 yppl against teams that would combine to allow 5.0 yppl, so my adjustments are in line with reality. South Carolina doesn’t have an edge over Arkansas when they have the ball, but they have a huge edge when the Razorbacks have the ball and should be favored by about 20 points in this game. Arkansas has covered the spread in their last 4 games, but I still get South Carolina by 17 points even if I use Arkansas’ last 4 games only. In those 4 games the Razorbacks have actually been slightly worse offensively (5.5 yppl against teams that would allow 5.3 yppl) than they are for the season and they’ve been only slightly better defensively (5.4 yppl allowed to teams that would average 5.7 yppl against an average team), so don’t overreact to their 4 game spread win streak. Combining the math model prediction with the situations give South Carolina a stellar 63% chance of covering at -12 points. I’ll take South Carolina in a 3-Star Best Bet at -14 points or less, for 4-Stars at -11 or less and I’d still play South Carolina as a 2-Star Best Bet up to -16 points.
3 Star Selection
***Army 23 RICE (-11.0) 24
12:00 PM Pacific, 08-Nov-08
Army is an underrated team that covered the spread in 5 consecutive games before last week’s 9 point loss as an 8 point dog to Air Force and the Cadets’ option rushing attack matches up well against a Rice defense that is among the worst in the nation defending the run. The Owls have surrendered 5.9 yards per rushing play to a schedule of teams that would combine to average just 4.7 yprp against an average team, and Army has shown that they can move the ball against teams that don’t defend the run well. The Cadets are a horrible passing team, so being able to run the ball is key for them. They were able to do that in games against Tulane, Eastern Michigan, and Buffalo – averaging 319 rushing yards at 6.2 yprp in those 3 games before having trouble the last two weeks against the good run defenses of Louisiana Tech and Air Force. Army is also well equipped defensively to contain a good, but not great Rice offense that has averaged 6.3 yards pear play against a schedule of teams that would combine to allow 5.9 yppl to an average team. The Owls have scored over 40 points 6 times this season, but 5 of those were against bad defensive teams (SMU, Memphis, North Texas, S. Miss, and UTEP) while the other came against a slightly worse than average Tulane defense. Rice’s offense was held to 21 points or less by the two better than average defensive teams that they’ve faced (Vandy and Texas) and Army is surprisingly good defensively. The Cadets started the season playing horrible defense, but the addition of star LB Stephen Anderson to the lineup in week 5 has made a major impact after Anderson missed the early part of the season. Anderson is already 3rd on the team in tackles despite missing 2 games and barely playing in another, and he has 8.5 tackles for loss and 5 passes defended, which are very good numbers for a linebacker in so few games. With Anderson in the starting lineup the Army defense has allowed just 4.6 yppl and 16 points per game while rating at 0.6 yppl better than average. My math favors Rice by only 3 ½ points in this game and the Cadets apply to a 25-2-2 ATS subset of a 46-13-3 ATS statistical match-up indicator. I’ll take Army in a 3-Star Best Bet at +10 points or more and for 2-Stars from +9 ½ to +7 points.
3 Star Selection
***Clemson 24 FLORIDA ST. (-5.5) 20
12:30 PM Pacific, 08-Nov-08
I won with Clemson last week against an overrated Boston College team and I’ll take the Tigers again versus an overrated Florida State squad. Florida State’s 6-2 record was built against a pretty easy schedule of teams and their 4-2 mark in game against Division 1A competition is misleading given that the Seminoles have only out-gained those teams 5.1 yards per play to 5.0 yppl. After compensating for their opponents, the Seminoles rate at 0.1 yppl worse than average on offense and just 0.2 yppl better than average defensively – which is clearly mediocre. Clemson, meanwhile, is a misleading 2-4 in their 6 games against 1A opposition, as the Tigers have out-gained those teams 5.2 yppl to 4.5 yppl and while the Tigers rate at just average offensively they are 1.2 yppl better than average defensively after adjusting for their opposition. These teams are about the same offensively (both average), but Clemson has a HUGE edge defensively. The reason for Clemson’s 2-4 record in 6 games against 1A foes is a -12 turnover margin in those 6 games. Even with the turnover issues, the Tigers have lost just one game by more than 5 points and that was to #1 Alabama. My math model favors Clemson in this game and Florida State applies to a negative 59-108-2 ATS situation. I’ll take Clemson in a 3-Star Best Bet at +4 points or more and for 2-Stars at +3 ½ or +3 points.
3 Star Selection
***New Mexico (-3.5) 32 UNLV 19
07:00 PM Pacific, 08-Nov-08
The only thing that UNLV had going for them was quarterback Omar Clayton, who averaged an impressive 7.0 yards per pass play with 18 touchdown passes against just 4 interceptions. Clayton was injured against TCU last week and backup Mike Clausen doesn’t appear to be capable of coming anywhere close to Clayton’s production. Clausen has averaged a pathetic 2.7 yppp on his 25 pass plays, but I’ll assume he’ll be considerably better than that given a full week of practice with the first team offense. Based on his limited stats so far, and the normal drop-off between a starter and an inexperienced backup, I’ll rate Clausen at 0.6 yppp worse than average, which is certainly on the generous side of the scale given how poorly he’s performed so far. UNLV is 0.2 yppl better than average for the season offensively, but I’ll rate the Rebels at 0.3 yppl worse than average with Clausen at quarterback. New Mexico is 0.3 yppl better than average defensively, so UNLV won’t have an easy time scoring with their backup quarterback. New Mexico’s offense was very bad early in the season, but the Lobos have been better recently with freshman Brad Gruner completing 68% of this passes the last 4 games after completing just 41% of his passes in his first 4 games. Even without factoring in the improvement the Lobos rate at a decent 0.3 yppl worse than average offensively thanks to a good rushing attack that has averaged 223 yards at 5.1 yards per rushing play. New Mexico has had trouble scoring against teams that defend the run well, but they’ve scored a good number of points against teams with bad run defenses. Since Gruner took over at quarterback the Lobos have faced two teams that are bad defending the run and they ran for 306 yards while scoring 35 points at New Mexico State while running for 419 yards and scoring 70 points against San Diego State. UNLV is horrible defending the run, allowing 240 yards per game at 5.6 yprp (against teams that would combine to average 4.9 yprp against an average team). The Rebels are actually worse defending the pass, allowing 8.0 yards per pass play to teams that would average just 6.0 yppp against an average team. Overall, UNLV is 1.1 yppl worse than average on defense, so New Mexico should score plenty of points while their solid defense holds down a sub-par Rebels’ attack. My math model favors New Mexico by 8 ½ points in this game (it would have been 4 ½ points with Clayton playing) and the Lobos apply to a very good 53-8-1 ATS statistical match-up indicator. I’ll take New Mexico in a 3-Star Best Bet at -4 points or less and for 2-Stars from -4 ½ to -6 points.
2 Star Selection
**Illinois (-7.0) 38 Western Mich 23 (at Detroit)
09:00 AM Pacific, 08-Nov-08
Illinois is only 5-4 straight up but the Illini are a much better team than their record indicates. Illinois has averaged 6.5 yards per play on offense against a schedule of teams that would allow 5.4 yppl to an average team and that attack should exploit a sub-par Western Michigan stop unit that rates at 0.4 yppl worse than average. The Broncos have only faced two better than average offensive teams this season and they gave up 7.2 yppl and 47 points to Nebraska and 7.7 yppl and 38 points to Central Michigan. My math model projects 515 total yards at 7.3 yppl for Illinois in this game. The Illini defense started the season poorly and couldn’t stop the run early on, but the addition of run stuffing DT Josh Brent into the rotation in week 3 has changed that. Illinois allowed an average of 222 rushing yards at 6.5 yards per rushing play to Misouri and Eastern Illinois the first two games without Brent, but they’ve been 0.9 yprp better than average against the run in 7 games with Brent in the lineup (4.5 yprp allowed to teams that would average 5.4 yprp against an average team). Illinois is 0.9 yppl better than average overall defensively in those 7 games and they have an advantage over a Broncos’ attack that I rate at 0.4 yppl better than average. I project Western Michigan with a modest 330 yards at 4.9 yppl in this contest and Illinois has a huge overall advantage from the line of scrimmage. The only negative is Illini quarterback Juice Williams penchant for throwing interceptions (12 in 9 games this year) and Western Michigan’s Tim Hiller not throwing many picks (just 5 this season), but my math model still favors the Illini by 14 ½ points even after factoring that in. Western Michigan is a good MAC team, but the Broncos are only 5-20-1 ATS as a regular season underdog against winning teams since 2001 and they are out-classed here. I’ll take Illinois in a 2-Star Best Bet at -8 points or less.
2 Star Selection
**USC (-21.0) 38 California 10
05:00 PM Pacific, 08-Nov-08
USC has the nation’s top defense and I rate the Trojans’ offense at #8, but their slip up against Oregon State may keep the best overall team in the nation out of the National Championship game. Pete Carroll will continue to try to run up the score to impress the pollsters and a convincing win over a good Cal team would certainly be worth some extra votes. The Bears are known for their offense under Jeff Tedford, but it’s the defense that has made this year’s Bears a quality team. Cal rates as the 8th best defensive team in the nation, allowing just 4.3 yppl to teams that would combine to average 5.5 yppl against an average defense, but that unit is at a disadvantage against a Trojans’ attack that is 1.5 yppl better than average (6.8 yppl against teams that would allow 5.3 yppl to an average team). USC’s offense has been a little inconsistent, but the Trojans did gain 5.6 yppl and score 35 points against Ohio State, who ranks just ahead of the Bears in my defensive ratings. Cal’s defense has also struggled some on the road, allowing 35 points in a loss at Maryland (although on just 4.8 yppl) and 42 points on 6.3 yppl in a loss at Arizona, so USC should score 30 points or more in this game. Cal’s offense has averaged 6.0 yards per rushing play thanks to the big play abilities of running backs Jahvid Best (736 yards at 6.8 ypr) and Shane Vereen (555 yards at 5.5 ypr), but the Bears’ pass attack has been hindered by inexperienced receivers and has been just average this season. Nate Longshore and Kevin Riley have both seen plenty of action and the starting job is a week to week decision, but Longshore has been 0.4 yards per pass play better than average (compared to Riley’s 0.1 yppp worse than average rating) and I’ll assume Longshore will start this week with Riley nursing a concussion he sustained last week. USC has the best defense I’ve seen in years, allowing 3.4 yppl to teams that would average 5.5 yppl against an average team, and the Trojans have allowed more than 3.5 yppl only once all season (they allowed 5.0 yppl in their loss at Oregon State). They’ve also given up more than 10 points just once all season. Cal is capable of topping 10 points if Best can bust a breakaway run or two, but I don’t see the Bears driving the ball down the field without a big play – and USC simply doesn’t give up many big plays. Cal’s impressive 26-16 win last week over Oregon sets the Bears up in a negative 23-81-4 ATS road letdown situation today and USC applies to very strong 91-26-2 ATS situation that went 2-0 last week with Texas Tech and Oklahoma. That’s actually just one of many situations that favor the Trojans this week and USC also applies to a few good teams trends. The Trojans are tough to beat when their offense is playing well and USC is 17-3-1 ATS at home laying less than 35 points after a game in which they scored 35 points or more. The Trojans also tend to play their best late in the season and they are now 32-10 ATS from game 8 on since 2001. I’ll take USC in a 2-Star Best Bet at -21 points or less.
UTAH 20 TCU (-1.5) 16
05:00 PM Pacific, 06-Nov-08
TCU has the nation’s 2nd best defense in my ratings, but the unbeaten Utes are a good team too and qualify in a very good 60-21-1 ATS situation. Utah’s offense has been 0.4 yards per play better than average this season, so the Utes are at a distinct disadvantage against a dominating TCU stop unit that rates at 1.7 yppl better than average (3.8 yppl allowed to teams that would combine to average 5.5 yppl against an average team). However, Utah has a very good defense that is 1.0 yppl better than average (4.2 yppl allowed to teams that would average 5.2 yppl) and TCU is 0.6 yppl worse than average offensively with starting quarterback Andy Dalton in the game, averaging 5.3 yppl against teams that would combine to allow 5.9 yppl to an average team. So, Utah’s defense has a 1.6 yppl advantage over the Horned Frogs’ offense, and the Utes are just 0.1 yppl worse than TCU overall from the line of scrimmage. Utah also has better special teams, but TCU has a 1.9 points edge in projected turnovers. Overall, this game is a toss-up and the situation favors Utah, who also has a tradition of money making success as an underdog (45-16-2 ATS, 7-4-1 ATS under coach Whittingham). I’ll consider Utah a Strong Opinion at pick or underdog and I’d take Utah in a 2-Star Best Bet at +3 points (at -115 odds or better) or more. I’ll also lean with the Under.
Georgia (-11.0) 31 KENTUCKY 16
09:30 AM Pacific, 08-Nov-08
Georgia may be a bit deflated after losing to Florida, but they were beaten so convincingly that they are more likely to bounce-back than feel sorry for themselves, as they might have had it been a close loss. The Bulldogs, in fact, apply to a very good 106-48-2 ATS blowout bounce-back situation that actually just won last week with Kentucky after they were whipped by Florida. Kentucky has a good defense, but he Wildcats have lost their two best offensive players in the last month, as top receiver and star punt returner Dicky Lyons was injured and lost for the season in week 7 against South Carolina while top running back (and second leading receiver) Derrick Locke was lost for the season 3 weeks ago against Arkansas. Locke is also a very good kick returner (28.5 average) and not having Lyons and Locke returning punts and kicks has hurt the special teams. The offense hasn’t suffered noticeably yet, but the Wildcats have scored a total of just 19 points the last two weeks and rate at 0.7 yards per play worse than average for the season. Georgia’s defense has been about average, relatively, the last two weeks against great offensive teams LSU and Florida, but they’ve handled the mediocre and bad offensive teams that they’ve faced this season. Georgia’s offense is 1.5 yppl better than average, so they have a pretty good edge over a Kentucky defense that is 0.6 yppl better than average, and my math model favors the Bulldogs by 13 points after putting all the pieces together. Normally, I’d play a pretty strong situation applying to a team with some positive line value, but Georgia is just 8-19 ATS after playing Florida over the years (2-5 ATS under coach Richt), so I’ll consider Georgia a Strong Opinion at -11 points or less rather than making the Bulldogs a Best Bet.
IOWA 23 Penn St. (-7.5) 24
12:30 PM Pacific, 08-Nov-08
Penn State has been an underrated team most of this season (7-1 ATS), but the line has caught up to the Nittany Lions great team and my math model favors Penn State by just 6 ½ points over a good Iowa team that is better than their 5-4 record. The reason for favoring Iowa in this game is not the small bit of line value but rather a 16-59-1 ATS situation that applies to Penn State. That angle plays against unbeaten teams at this stage of the season and Penn State also applies to a negative 31-77 ATS favorite off a bye angle. Iowa is certainly capable of playing with Penn State, as the Hawkeyes have a very strong rushing attack (5.6 yards per rushing play), a better than average quarterback in Ricky Stanzi, and a good defense that has allowed 4.7 yppl to teams that would combine to average 5.4 yppl against an average stop unit. I respect Penn State enough not to make this game a Best Bet, but I’ll consider Iowa a Strong Opinion at +7 points or more
Re: Dr. Bob
Actully he still sucks in the pros but is good in college. I have been a customer of his for three years and he hasnt won in the nfl for me yet. I have made good money overall in college football with the exception of last year.
He has had a very good year in college and pro after a horrendous previous year.