Newsletters 11/12 - 11/18

Re: Newsletters 11/12 - 11/18

THE GOLD SHEET

N.Y. JETS by 7 over New England (Thursday, Nov. 13)
TAMPA BAY by 14 over Minnesota
OVER THE TOTAL in the Denver-Atlanta game


*New York Jets 20 - NEW ENGLAND 13—Brett Favre wasn’t able to
alter the dynamics of this incestuous rivalry when teams first met in Week Two
in N.Y., but that was just his second start for Jets. With Favre more familiar with
new offense and Thomas Jones (149 YR last week vs. Rams) running up a
storm, Jets capable of extending series visitor dominance (road team has
covered last 6 reg.-season meetings). Stout N.Y. defense (just 3.1 ypc; 31
sacks) should force Matt Cassel to be more of a playmaker than Bill Belichick
would prefer. TV—NFL NETWORK
(08-Ne. 19-NYJ 10...Ne.18-12 Ny.21/104 Ne.33/104 Ne.16/23/0/156 Ny.18/26/1/152 Ne.0 Ny.0)
(07-Ne. 38-JETS 14...Ne.28-17 Ne.37/134 Ny.19/60 Ne.22/28/0/297 Ny.21/31/0/167 Ne.0 Ny.0)
(07-NE. 20-Jets 10...Ne.16-13 Ne.35/131 Ny.17/90 Ny.25/40/1/146 Ne.14/27/1/134 Ne.0 Ny.1)
(08-N. Eng. +1 19-10; 07-N. Eng. -6' 38-14, NEW ENG. -21 20-10...SR: New England 49-48-1)


SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 16
OVER THE TOTAL ATLANTA 31 - Denver 30—Denver Pro Bowl CB
Champ Bailey (played at Georgia) says he expects to return from his groin
injury. That might not help the undersized defensive front of the Broncos,
missing two starting LBs and giving up 5.1 ypc in containing bruising RB
Michael Turner (890 YR) and fleet Jerious Norwood (365 YR TY; 65-yd. TDC
last week). But can Atlanta’s secondary (3 ints. last week) cope with Jay Cutler
and premium targets Brandon Marshall & Eddie Royal (combined 109 recs.).
Denver “over” 10-3-1 last 14 away; Falcs’ 4-0 vs. spread at home TY.
(04-Atlanta +6' 41-28...SR: Denver 8-4)


TAMPA BAY 30 - Minnesota 16—Insiders say Jon Gruden very
pleased the way his gradually-rebuilt OL now developing. And Joey Galloway
is back in action to stretch the stretchable Viking defense, drawing attention
away from new go-to WR Antonio Bryant (45 recs.). Minny 1-3 vs. the spread
on the road TY (“over” all four), and Adrian Peterson not likely to flourish on the
grass vs. the quick & stubborn T.B. defense, refreshed after its bye week. Gus
Frerotte smart, but not fast enough here. (05-T. Bay +6 24-13...SR: Min. 31-19)


MIAMI 26 - Oakland 10—The NFL’s six western-most teams are 0-13 SU
and 3-9-1 vs. the spread this year playing in east coast states (plus
Pennsylvania). The on-going coaching and roster changes (e.g., release of CB
DeAngelo Hall), plus player demotions and injuries, make this a one-sided
game in terms of stability and leadership. Worse yet, the Raiders had fallen to 30th
vs. the run prior to last week and must cope with Ronnie Brown & Ricky Williams.
Number is puffy, but Oakland’s frequent breakdowns make for low percentages.
(07-Oak. 35-MIAMI 17...O.21-13 O.49/299 M.20/141 M.14/25/2/137 O.5/12/0/70 O.1 M.0)
(07-Oakland +4 35-17...SR: Oakland 19-12-1)


NY GIANTS 23 - Baltimore 19—Ravens have the key element to needed to
make things difficult for the champs, namely, a stout run defense to keep N.Y.’s
bruising ground game in check. And Baltimore’s own McGahee-McClain-Rice
rush offense taking lots of pressure off Joe Flacco, who was sacked only three
times and intercepted just once at Pittsburgh, when he impressively drove the
Ravens for the tying 4th-Q TD before losing in OT. Baltimore TE Todd Heap is
a special weapon when healthy, and he caught two TDs last week.
(04-BALTIMORE -10 37-14...SR: Baltimore 3-0)


INDIANAPOLIS 30 - Houston 26—Sage Rosenfels still has nightmares
about TY’s first meeting, when he fumbled twice and tossed an int. in the last
eight minutes, as Houston became the first team to blow a 17-point lead in the
last 5 minutes to lose in regulation. Hot Texan WR Andre Johnson was 9 for 131
receiving in that game. With Indy only 1-3 vs. the spread so far at “The Luke,”
and with both defenses hurting (Texans 8-1 “over” TY), might look for eighth
straight “over” in series.
(08-Indy 31-HOU. 27...H.23-18 H.32/156 I.22/79 H.21/33/1/235 I.25/34/1/235 I.0 H.2)
(07-Indy 30-HOU. 24...I.18-16 I.29/92 H.17/40 I.20/29/0/270 H.27/33/2/214 I.0 H.0)
(07-INDY 38-Hou. 15...I.33-18 I.31/120 H.19/66 I.31/40/0/338 H.22/36/3/233 I.1 H.0)
(08-Indy -3' 31-27; 07-Indy -6' 30-24, INDY -7 38-15...SR: Indianapolis 12-1)


Tennessee 23 - JACKSONVILLE 16—While the Tennessee offense has its
flaws (no dynamic WRs, lack of pass-run balance in a pass-oriented league),
the Titan defense (13 ppg, best in the league) keeps shining through. One key
factor on that unit has been DT Albert Haynesworth (6 sacks), opposed this
week by the Jags’ fill-in Gs. Vince Young (2 ints.) was the Tenn. QB in the first
meeting opening weekend. Must note Jags15-6-1 dog mark last 22 (2-0 TY).
(08-TENN. 17-Jack. 10...T.14-13 T.32/137 J.17/33 T.14/24/2/172 J.23/35/2/156 T.0 J.1)
(07-Tenn. 13-JACK. 10...T.22-13 T.46/278 J.18/72 J.17/30/0/200 T.11/18/1/68 T.0 J.1)
(07-Jack. 28-TENN. 13...J.19-17 J.44/166 T.19/62 T.24/41/2/230 J.13/23/0/96 J.1 T.1)
(08-TENN. +3 17-10; 07-Tenn. +7 13-10, Jack. +4' 28-13...SR: Tennessee 16-12)


Chicago 24 - GREEN BAY 23—Kyle Orton might return at QB, but Bears can
go to war with Rex Grossman, who has reduced his mistakes since call from
bullpen two weeks ago. Even the “bad Rex” can hand off to Matt Forte, which
could spell big problems for the suddenly-soft G.B. rush defense allowing 5
ypc and has been gashed for 175 YR or more six times already TY.
Meanwhile, inconsistencies in Pack’s own infantry creating an increased
burden for Aaron Rodgers.
(07-Chi. 27-G. BAY 20...G.18-16 G.22/121 C.33/82 G.29/40/2/318 C.15/25/1/203 C.0 G.3)
(07-CHI. 35-G. Bay 7...C.14-13 C.45/139 G.21/125 G.17/32/2/149 C.8/14/0/101 C.0 G.0)
(07-Chicago +3 27-20, CHICAGO +8 35-7...SR: Chicago 90-79-6)


Philadelphia 27 - CINCINNATI 13—Eagles 4-1 their last 5 as a road favorite,
and the emergence of speed WR DeSean Jackson to go with Brian Westbrook
& Donovan McNabb gives Philly quite a formidable group of “triplets” compared
with Cincy’s Chad Ocho Cinco, Cedric Benson & Ryan Fitzpatrick (62%, but 4
TDs vs. 6 ints.; 1-4 vs. spread as starter TY). On defense, Bengals’
combination of only 14 sacks & ints. was second-worst in NFL prior to last
weekend. (04-Cincinnati -3' 38-10...SR: Cincinnati 7-3)


New Orleans 30 - KANSAS CITY 20—Reggie Bush says he expects to
return from his knee injury for this game, while Chiefs’ Larry Johnson will have
concluded his NFL suspension. Tyler Thigpen & Jamaal Charles now appear
to be the future of the K.C. offense. But the present of the Chiefs’ defense (only
6 sacks TY!) clearly not ready for the quick-firing Drew Brees (17 TDP), eager
to atone for his 3 ints. of last week.
(04-NEW ORLEANS +3' 27-20...SR: EVEN 4-4)


CAROLINA 27 - Detroit 9—Panthers’ bright rookie C Ryan Kalil and powerful
rookie RT Jeff Otah back in action after lingering ankle injuries, improving the
already-potent Carolina ground game. That’s good news for Panthers, now 6-
0-2 vs. spread last eight at home. Further good news is the arrival of the limited
Detroit offense (7 sacks last week) and the see-through Lion defense (31 ppg).
Dean Stanton or Daunte Culpepper vs. Julius Peppers is not good.
(05-Carolina P 21-20...SR: Carolina 3-1)


TAMPA BAY 30 - Minnesota 16—Insiders say Jon Gruden very
pleased the way his gradually-rebuilt OL now developing. And Joey Galloway
is back in action to stretch the stretchable Viking defense, drawing attention
away from new go-to WR Antonio Bryant (45 recs.). Minny 1-3 vs. the spread
on the road TY (“over” all four), and Adrian Peterson not likely to flourish on the
grass vs. the quick & stubborn T.B. defense, refreshed after its bye week. Gus
Frerotte smart, but not fast enough here. (05-T. Bay +6 24-13...SR: Min. 31-19)


SAN FRANCISCO 23 - St. Louis 16—Mike Singletary, in his post-game
tirade after his first game as a HC three weeks ago, inadvertently
shouted the wish of all handicappers when he yelled, “I want winners!”
Victory quite possible vs. the flailing Rams if Steven Jackson (thigh) is still
sidelined from an offense producing only 14 ppg while the defense gives up 31.
Niners 6-1 vs. spread in last 7 in series; own the better defense.
(07-S. Frn. 17-ST. LOU. 16...St.20-8 Sf.28/89 St.23/61 St.24/41/0/331 Sf.11/17/0/97 Sf.2 St.3)
(07-St. Lou. 13-S. FRN. 9...St.15-13 St.29/102 Sf.16/32 Sf.20/42/2/212 St.21/32/0/105 St.0 Sf.0)
(07-San Francisco +3 17-16, St. Louis -3 13-9...SR: St. Louis 60-55-2)


SEATTLE 21 - Arizona 20—Return of Matt Hasselbeck (check status) is set
for this game after he missed five straight with a herniated disk that has been
fazing his knee strength. However, even if it’s Seneca Wallace again, he has
at least stabilized the offense (no turnovers last week in cover at Miami),
meaning the visiting Cards will have to fully earn everything they get on this
tough field vs. the four-time defending NFC West champs. Hawks’ defense can
keep Warner on the move.
(07-ARIZ. 23-Sea. 20...A.20-18 A.26/132 S.24/92 A.23/37/1/299 S.22/36/0/278 A.0 S.1)
(07-SEA. 42-Ariz. 21...A.23-21 S.28/80 A.16/50 A.28/46/5/305 S.22/33/0/269 S.0 A.0)
(07-ARIZONA +3 23-20, SEATTLE -7 42-21...SR: EVEN 9-9)


PITTSBURGH 28 - San Diego 19—S.D. (7-2-1 as a dog) is getting points for
the first time since Chargers’ injury-hampered AFC title game last season in
Foxborough. It’s pretty clear S.D. not playing to that level these days.
Pittsburgh might be, if it could only keep its key players healthy. Willie Parker
(shoulder) expected back this week. Chargers, tops in takeaways LY, now very
vulnerable to the pass. Steeler defense hopes OLB LaMarr Woodley (9½
sacks; out with calf injury last week) ready to go. Men of Steel 44-15-1 “over”
last 60at Heinz. (06-SAN DIEGO -3' 23-13...SR: Pittsburgh 19-8)

*Dallas 26 - WASHINGTON 23—It’s not quite an elimination game for
Dallas, but Cowboys’ wobbling playoff hopes (and HC Phillips’ continued
employment) can’t afford another divisional loss and a season sweep vs.
Redskins. With Tony Romo expected back—plus healthier Felix Jones & Jason
Witten to go with recently-acquired WR Roy Williams—must expect supreme
effort after much-needed bye week. Washington QB Jason Campbell (finally
threw two ints.!) proved mortal two weeks ago vs. Steelers. TV—NBC
(08-Wash. 26-DAL. 24...W.22-21 W.34/164 D.11/44 D.28/47/1/300 W.20/31/0/220 W.0 D.0)
(07-DAL. 28-Wash. 23...W.28-19 D.25/72 W.17/62 W.34/55/1/361 D.22/32/1/287 D.0 W.1)
(07-WASH. 27-Dal. 6...W.22-7 W.37/131 D.16/1 W.22/31/0/223 D.14/27/1/146 W.2 D.0)
(08-Wash. +10' 26-24; 07-DALLAS -10' 28-23, WASH. -9 27-6...SR: Dallas 56-39-2)


MONDAY, NOVEMBER 17
*Cleveland 24 - BUFFALO 20—Cleveland has blown big leads at home in
recent weeks, but Browns have covered their last 3 away. Brady Quinn (66%,
2 TDs) appeared quite ready to the lead attack in his first start vs. Denver.
Meanwhile, worst-case scenario materializing for fading Buffalo, with defensive
injuries mounting, running game bottled up, and 2nd-year QB Trent Edwards (2
picks last week at N.E.) unable to hit big gainers. CABLE TV—ESPN
(07-CLEVE. 8-Buf. 0...C.16-11 C.37/174 B.32/108 C.9/24/0/130 B.13/33/0/124 C.0 B.0)
(07-CLEVELAND -5' 8-0...SR: Cleveland 9-5)

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Re: Newsletters 11/12 - 11/18

THE GOLD SHEET

KEY RELEASES

VANDERBILT by 6 over Kentucky
COLORADO STATE by 11 over New Mexico
MARSHALL by 19 over Ucf
TROY Plus over Lsu


*Vanderbilt 23 - KENTUCKY 17—With number rising following last
week’s disparate results, willing to take extra value with bowl-seeking Vandy
(just one more win!), which is a profitable 14-3 last 17 as a road dog. Doubt
Wildcats talented but raw frosh QB Cobb (only 105 YP vs. Georgia) steadily
moves chains vs. fast, athletic ‘Dore defense (24 pts. or fewer in 8 of 9 TY),
remarkably consistent until Florida debacle last week. Vandy’s now-healthy
triggerman Nickson can take advantage of UK 2ndary possibly missing premier
cover guy CB Lindley. CABLE TV—ESPN2
(07-Ky. 27-VANDY 20...V.30-19 V.48/239 K.37/129 K.17/29/0/222 V.20/34/0/193 K.1 V.1)
(07-Ky. -3' 27-20 06-KY. -2 38-26 05-Ky. +11' 48-43...SR: Kentucky 39-37-4)


COLORADO STATE 28 - New Mexico 17—Now that NM is eliminated
from bowl contention following depressing, come-from-ahead 27-20 loss at
UNLV, favor upbeat, home-lovin’ CSU (5 straight covers in Fort Collins), which
bitterly recalls LY’s last-second series loss. Have much more faith in Rams
productive 6-3 sr. QB Farris (827 YP last 3 weeks) than Lobos RS frosh backup
Gruner (only 11 of 25 for 128 vs. Rebels). Careful CSU has lost a mere 3
fumbles, and RB G. Johnson III chomping at the bit after 172 YR vs. NM LY.
(07-N. MEX. 26-Colo. St. 23...C.21-18 C.53/178 N.31/120 C.13/19/0/221 N.21/29/0/211 N.1 C.0)
(07-UNM -9 26-23 06-Unm +6' 20-19 05-Csu +5' 35-25...SR: Colorado State 31-24)


*MARSHALL 36 - Ucf 17—Usually not enamored of laying substantial
points with Marshall side that’s found straight-up wins hard to come by in recent
seasons. Still, eager to buck impotent UCF, as Knight offense hasn’t even
managed to reach its nation’s-worst 234 ypg output in any of last 4 outings!
Herd’s maturing RS frosh QB Cann has enough receivers & ground support to
stretch margin.
(07-UCF 47-Marshall 13...U.24-14 U.52/269 M.26/88 M.19/35/3/249 U.14/22/1/203 U.0 M.0)
(07-UCF -14 47-13 06-Ucf +3' 23-22 05-UCF +3' 23-13...SR: EVEN 3-3)


*Troy 21 - LSU 30—LSU’s downward spiral continued in deflating OT
loss to Alabama. Tigers have dropped 5 of last 6 vs. the number and are 1-11
in their last 12 laying more than 7 points. LSU frosh QB Lee has completed just
43% with 8 ints. in last 3 games, while Troy counterpart Levi Brown has rolled
through Sun Belt since taking over for Hampton at midseason. Trojans 8-3 as
a dog last 2+ seasons. Game rescheduled due to Hurricane Hannah.
(DNP...SR: Miss. 2-0)


*Buffalo 34 - AKRON 24—Buffalo has won three straight, with recent play of
RB James Starks (362 YR, 4 TDs last 2 games) and QB Drew Willy (66%, 5
TDP, 0 ints. last 3) leading the way. Meanwhile, Akron defense ranks 103 in
pass efficiency “D” and vs. the run, and has allowed 34 ppg in MAC play. Zip QB
Jacquemain & RB Kennedy have been productive, but Turner Gill and the Bull
defense have a better chance of slowing them than Akron defense vs. Starks &
Willy. CABLE TV—ESPNU
(07-BUF. 26-Akron 10...A.21-18 B.51/155 A.39/142 A.19/39/2/185 B.11/14/0/125 B.0 A.1)
(07-BUFFALO -1 26-10 06-AKRON -17 31-16 05-Akron -10 13-7...SR: Akron 8-1)


*Virginia Tech 23 - MIAMI-FLORIDA 21—Tech hopes a future star was born
last Thursday when RS frosh RB Darren Evans (61 TDs as high school senior!)
blistered Maryland for school-record 253 YR. With sr. QB Glennon healthy, wily
old Hokie HC Beamer (17-5 vs. spread last 22 as visitor) probably has enough
offensive balance to slug out victory over still-learning Miami counterpart
Shannon and his jelling Hurricanes. Very little home-field edge for youthful host
in first season at far-from-campus Dolphin Stadium. CABLE TV—ESPN
(07-VA. TECH 44-Miami 14...V.22-13 V.43/182 M.29/M2 M.21/36/1/215 V.14/26/0/176 V.0 M.2)
(07-TECH -16' 44-14 06-Tech -2 17-10 05-Miami +6' 27-7...SR: Miami-Florida 16-9)


*UNLV 24 - Wyoming 22—Believe it or not, there are bowl implications
involved here, as winner can become postseason-eligible with wins this week
and next! Not sure, however, we want to lay anything meaningful with UNLV
bunch that still has defensive issues and has been forced to turn to talented
(but green) RS frosh QB Clausen. Wyo still competing for under-fire Joe Glenn,
and RS frosh QB Stutzriem effectively piloting low-risk Cowboy “O” that’s content
to feed ball to RBs Moore & Seldon.
(07-WYO. 29-Unlv 24...U.23-20 W.46/208 U.41/43 U.21/39/2/223 W.13/33/2/156 W.0 U.0)
(07-WYO. -11 29-24 06-Wyo. -9' 34-26 05-WYO. -18 42-17...SR: EVEN 8-8)


FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 14
*Cincinnati 31 - LOUISVILLE 21—Wary of laying inflated points after last
week’s disparate results, as Louisville is piloted by a senior QB, has a major
ground threat in RS frosh RB V. Anderson (913 YR on 6 ypc), and needs one
more victory to be bowl eligible. Still, compelled to back burgeoning
Bearcats, who are looking to bag Big East’s BCS bid after winning 6 of last
7. Big edge at WR for Cincy, which hasn’t beaten cross-river rival Cards
since 2002. CABLE TV—ESPN2
(07-Lvl. 28-CINCY 24...C.26-20 C.33/136 L.38/97 L.28/38/0/350 C.26/46/2/324 L.0 C.2)
(07-Lvl. +9' 28-24 06-LVL. -25 23-17 05-Lvl. -21' 46-22...SR: Cincinnati 26-21-1)


SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 15
PENN STATE 48 - Indiana 6—Difficult to predict mood of Penn State after
having BCS Championship dreams smashed at Iowa, but Paterno’s team has
been an excellent bully the last few years, covering 8 of last 9 laying more than
22 points. Indiana is 1-8 vs. the number, and has already had its defense
shredded by Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa and Michigan St. in Big Ten play, as that
unit has suffered season-ending injuries to 3 of 4 2ndary starters. Nittany Lion
QB Clark makes amends vs. Hoosiers.
(07-Penn St. 36-IND. 31...25-25 P.47/192 I.30/68 I.30/48/0/318 P.22/32/1/195 P.1 I.4)
(07-Penn State -7' 36-31...SR: Penn State 11-0)


IOWA 32 - Purdue 10—Upset of Penn State likely to energize Hawkeyes
down the stretch. Iowa defense ranks 8th in points allowed, RB Shonn Greene
has rushed for more than 100 yards in every game this season, and Hawkeyes
own major edges in special teams play. After making a splash against
Michigan, Boiler soph QB Siller rushed for only 6 yards and threw for just 83
against Michigan St., and that won’t feed the bulldog facing intense Iowa.
(07-PURDUE 31-Iowa 6...P.29-14 P.42/116 I.29/77 P.29/49/1/315 I.17/40/1/177 P.0 I.1)
(07-PURDUE -7 31-6 06-IOWA -11 47-17 05-Iowa +4' 34-17...SR: Purdue 45-32-4)


MICHIGAN 24 - Northwestern 17—Michigan showed it still has pride with its
dominating performance at Minnesota last week, and expect another positive
effort, from Wolverine seniors (14 in 2-deep) playing last home game.
Northwestern couldn’t tackle Ohio State RB Beanie Wells last week, and a 3-0
turnover count did in Wildcats. Still, Michigan has dropped 6 straight as a
favorite, and NW could have QB C.J. Bacher back in action.
(07-Mich. 28-N’WESTERN 16...N.22-21 N.34/128 M.38/120 N.22/42/3/289 M.23/38/0/260 M.0 N.2)
(07-Mich. -16' 28-16 06-MICH. -30 17-3 05-Mich. -3 33-17...SR: Michigan 52-14-2)


WISCONSIN 24 - Minnesota 13—The euphoria over Minny’s 7-1 start has
faded with back-to-back home losses to Northwestern & Michigan, and injury to
star WR Decker could put a major crimp in the Gopher attack. Suddenlyresurgent
Wisconsin can become bowl-eligible with a win, and Badger RB P.J.
Hill looks healthy again and has gained 6 ypc in last 2 games. Wiscy QB Dustin
Sherer has cut mistakes (just 1 int. in last 3 games), and Gophers aren’t
generating TOs as they were in first half of season. TV—ABC
(07-Wisc. 41-MINN. 34...M.23-19 W.48/325 M.35/149 M.21/37/2/352 W.7/15/1/118 W.0 M.1)
(07-Wisc. -13' 41-34 06-WISC. -8 48-12 05-Wisc. +3' 38-34...SR: Minnesota 59-50-8)


Wake Forest 21 - NORTH CAROLINA STATE 20—Composed Deacon QB
Skinner hasn’t thrown a “pick” since late September, and well-coached Wake
still in prime position to make ACC title game. Stubborn State (covered 6 of last
7) has a chance to play spoiler, but only if rapidly-emerging RS frosh QB Russell
Wilson (10 TDP, no ints. his last 5 games!) able to keep dynamic Deacon
defenders (8 takeaways last 2 weeks) at bay. TV—ESPNU
(07-W. FOR. 38-N. Car. St. 18...W.20-17 W.47/137 N.21/57 N.24/56/3/286 W.21/30/0/216 W.2 N.1)
(07-WFU -6' 38-18 06-Wfu +3 25-23 05-WFU +3 27-19...SR: N. Carolina St. 60-35-6)


CLEMSON 35 - Duke 18—No secret downtrodden Duke vastly improved
under new HC Cutcliffe. But depth-shy Blue Devils (dropped 4 of last 5) hardpressed
to maintain their resolve down stretch. Clemson’s fiery interim mentor
Swinney auditioning for permanent job, Tigers’ shaky OL should hold its own,
and host owns most explosive weapon on field in speedy jr. RB Spiller.
(07-Clem. 47-DUKE 10...C.18-11 C.32/152 D.30/28 C.19/29/0/198 D.17/29/1/170 C.0 D.1)
(07-Clemson -17 47-10 05-CLEMSON -30 49-20...SR: Clemson 34-16-1)


MARYLAND 19 - North Carolina 17—“Handle with Care!” when it comes to
handicapping games involving capricious Maryland. Ball has been bouncing
the way of North Carolina (+13 TO margin!) most of season. But with Tar Heels
off satisfying home win over Ga. Tech, inclined to support topsy-turvy Terps, who
are 5-0 at College Park TY. TV—ABC
(07-N. CAR. 16-Mary. 13...M.18-15 N.36/110 M.33/93 M.20/36/1/209 N.16/26/2/149 N.1 M.1)
(07-UNC -2' 16-13 05-Maryland +2' 33-30 (OT)...SR: North Carolina 37-31-1)


Notre Dame 28 - NAVY 21—Notre Dame is off two losses and can get bowleligible
with a revenge win against Navy this week. Realize Navy is 29-10 vs.
the number away from Annapolis, but memory of ‘07 OT loss (fueled by a
fumble-return TD by the Middies) should be extra motivation Irish need to bring
out a top effort. Navy’s pass defense ranks 108th in efficiency and 104th in
yardage, and yielded 340 YP & 3 TDP in last outing (vs. Temple). Irish QB
Clausen should do some damage. (at Baltimore, MD) TV—CBS
(07-Navy 46-NAVY 44 (OT)...Nd.27-23 Na.66/257 Nd.63/235 Nd.17/27/0/140 Na.6/9/0/81 Na.1 Nd.1)
(07-Navy +3' 46-44 (OT) 06-Und -13' 38-14 at Balt. 05-UND -23' 42-21...SR: N. Dame 70-10-1)


*Connecticut 26 - SYRACUSE 10—Orange mustered only 168 total yards
last week at Rutgers, and nearly half of that paltry total came from long TD run
on first possession. Rested Huskies should hammer their way to easy victory
behind star RB Donald Brown (nation-leading 156 ypg rushing), as sorry
Syracuse (3-9 vs. spread last 12) just playing out the string for soon-to-be-fired
HC Greg Robinson. CABLE TV—ESPNU
(07-CONN. 30-Syr. 7...C.25-17 C.49/185 S.32/135 C.16/24/0/213 S.15/38/2/120 C.0 S.1)
(07-CONN. -19 30-7 06-SYR. -1' 20-14 05-CONN. -6' 26-7...SR: EVEN 2-2)


ALABAMA 31 - Mississippi State 3—Though No. 1-ranked Bama has
punched its ticket to SEC title game, fast-starting Tide (outscoring foes 115-20
in 1st Q) itching to end rare two-game losing streak vs. MSU. Bama QB Wilson,
still haunted by 100-yd. int. return in LY’s loss, afforded ample time to scan field
vs. Bulldog defense sans a pass rush (last in SEC). Meanwhile, fierce Tide
stop unit (12 ppg) heavily blitzes MSU’s still-learning QB T. Lee, who can’t work
play-action without sufficient ground support (just 3.2 ypc). Game still a big deal
for MSU mentor Croom (see Looking for an Angle), but he’s suffered too many
season-ending injuries (lost 9-10 key performers) to hang close in Tuscaloosa.
(07-MISS. ST. 17-Ala. 12...A.23-14 A.37/153 M.42/115 A.16/35/2/121 M.9/21/1/100 M.0 A.0)
(07-MSU +4 17-12 06-Msu +14' 24-16 05-Ala. -16 17-0...SR: Alabama 71-18-3)


*Vanderbilt 23 - KENTUCKY 17—With number rising following last
week’s disparate results, willing to take extra value with bowl-seeking Vandy
(just one more win!), which is a profitable 14-3 last 17 as a road dog. Doubt
Wildcats talented but raw frosh QB Cobb (only 105 YP vs. Georgia) steadily
moves chains vs. fast, athletic ‘Dore defense (24 pts. or fewer in 8 of 9 TY),
remarkably consistent until Florida debacle last week. Vandy’s now-healthy
triggerman Nickson can take advantage of UK 2ndary possibly missing premier
cover guy CB Lindley. CABLE TV—ESPN2
(07-Ky. 27-VANDY 20...V.30-19 V.48/239 K.37/129 K.17/29/0/222 V.20/34/0/193 K.1 V.1)
(07-Ky. -3' 27-20 06-KY. -2 38-26 05-Ky. +11' 48-43...SR: Kentucky 39-37-4)


BAYLOR 30 - Texas A&M 27—Art Briles has always been able to build
exciting offenses, and he has again TY with true frosh QB Robert Griffin (668
YR, 11 TDR; 12 TDP, 2 ints.). But defense has never been his strength, so
might give a look to underdog A&M (9-4 vs. spread last 13 as visitor) with QB
Jerrod Johnson (19 TDs, 6 ints.) facing less defensive speed after seeing the
Sooners last week.
(07-TEX. A&M 34-Bay. 10...T.31-7 T.65/352 B.16/60 T.16/29/1/200 B.12/36/2/194 T.0 B.1)
(07-TAM -16' 34-10 06-Tam -4' 31-21 05-TAM -23 16-13 (OT)...SR: Texas A&M 65-30-9)


COLORADO STATE 28 - New Mexico 17—Now that NM is eliminated
from bowl contention following depressing, come-from-ahead 27-20 loss at
UNLV, favor upbeat, home-lovin’ CSU (5 straight covers in Fort Collins), which
bitterly recalls LY’s last-second series loss. Have much more faith in Rams
productive 6-3 sr. QB Farris (827 YP last 3 weeks) than Lobos RS frosh backup
Gruner (only 11 of 25 for 128 vs. Rebels). Careful CSU has lost a mere 3
fumbles, and RB G. Johnson III chomping at the bit after 172 YR vs. NM LY.
(07-N. MEX. 26-Colo. St. 23...C.21-18 C.53/178 N.31/120 C.13/19/0/221 N.21/29/0/211 N.1 C.0)
(07-UNM -9 26-23 06-Unm +6' 20-19 05-Csu +5' 35-25...SR: Colorado State 31-24)


WESTERN MICHIGAN 42 - Toledo 19—Hot meets cold. WMU is 8-1 SU &
5-1-1 vs. the number in last 9 games, while rudderless, leaderless Toledo failed
to rally for lame-duck HC Amstutz and lost for the 6th time in 7 games at Akron
last week. Rocket pass defense has been terrible this season (109th in
efficiency), and Toledo allows 33 ppg. Bronco QB Hiller (360 ypg passing, 15
TDs, just 2 ints. last 5 games) should fricassee Rocket 2ndary.
(07-W. Mich. 42-TOLEDO 28...W.30-16 W.58/261 T.36/224 W.21/29/1/229 T.9/23/1/158 W.1 T.1)
(07-Wmu +1' 42-28 06-WMU +10' 31-10 05-TOLEDO -22 56-23...SR: Toledo 36-26)


LOUISIANA TECH 31 - Utah State 10—While bowl-seeking 5-4 La Tech
playing its best ball with back-to-back upsets vs. Fresno State and San Jose
State, mistake-prone Utah State (21 fumbles, 11 lost) has dropped 4 straight on
road by combined 127 points. Bulldogs potent 1-2 punch of RBs P. Jackson &
Porter (combined 434 YR last two weeks) should KO permissive Aggie defense
(37 ppg; 5.1 ypc) that gave up 288 on ground in ‘07 meeting. Fourth straight
series cover for Tech.
(07-La. Tech 31-UTAH ST. 21...L.30-17 L.53/288 U.35/106 L.23/29/1/230 U.17/26/1/220 L.0 U.0)
(07-Tech -2' 31-21 06-TECH -6 48-35 05-Tech -7 27-17...SR: Louisiana Tech 3-2)


SOUTHERN MISS 26 - East Carolina 19—Pointspread pendulum swinging
back (hard) on former bankroll buddy Skip Holtz (lost 6 of last 7 vs. line), as
attrition has robbed his Pirates of their best playmakers on offense and much of
their depth on defense. USM’s touted 6-6 true frosh WR DeAndre Brown has
snagged 8 TDC in last 4 games, and coagulating Eagle defense has permitted
just 3 TDs during last 2 outings.
(07-S. Miss 28-E. CAR. 21...21-21 S.43/146 E.37/97 S.18/28/1/237 E.20/35/1/203 S.2 E.0)
(07-Usm -1' 28-21 06-Ecu +6 20-17 (OT) 05-Usm -7 33-7...SR: Southern Miss 25-8)


TULANE 28 - Uab 27—Lack of depth is main problem for UAB. But Tulane’s
roster has been ravaged by injuries lately, so compelled to take points with
rested Blazers, who shouldn’t be outmanned against depleted Green Wave.
(07-UAB 26-Tulane 21...T.24-15 T.45/240 U.25/110 T.19/39/2/264 U.17/32/0/262 U.1 T.0)
(07-UAB -2' 26-21...SR: EVEN 3-3)


Texas 34 - KANSAS 27—Kansas down on defense TY, but Jayhawks have
suffered only one loss by more than 14 points (63-21 vs. TT) in their 18-5 run
over the last two seasons. Although the Longhorns own more talent on defense,their ground game is not dominating, and UT has faced quite a gauntlet over
past month. Last meeting on this field in ’04 ended in controversial UT win with
Mark Mangino blasting the officials, insinuating favoritism.
(05-TEXAS -33 66-14...SR: Texas 6-2)


*Missouri 34 - IOWA STATE 13—Mizzou was upset on its last trip to Ames.
This time, Tigers find the desperate Cyclones on an eight-game losing streak,
unable to generate many big plays. But ISU (3 straight covers in series) does
grind out plenty of first downs with its “little” offense, and Tigers missed the
services of A-A TE Chase Coffman (turf toe) last week. Will the November
weather help slow the relentless Chase Daniel (28 TDP)?
(07-MO. 42-Iowa St. 28...I.25-23 I.39/152 M.28/116 M.28/37/1/250 I.33/48/0/237 M.0 I.1)
(07-MO. -28' 42-28 06-ISU +13' 21-16 05-MO. -6 27-24 (OT)...SR: Missouri 58-33-9)


OREGON ST. 27 - California 18—They’re talking Rose Bowl in Corvallis, where
wins in next 3 games can put OSU in Pasadena for first time since Tommy Prothro’s
1964 Beavers turned the trick! And, since OSU wasn’t bothered in the least at
UCLA by going to backup QB Canfield (with starting experience) after starter
Moevao’s shoulder injury, don’t mind giving hot OSU a look. Jeff Tedford’s
ongoing QB juggling not helping continuity of Cal offense, and Bears have only
covered 1 of last 5 after always-emotional games vs. USC. TV—ABC
(07-Ore. St. 31-CAL. 28...C.23-17 C.39/184 O.42/153 C.20/37/1/294 O.18/33/0/186 O.1 C.2)
(07-Osu +14 31-28 06-Cal. -9 41-13 05-Osu +16 23-20...SR: California 33-28)

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Re: Newsletters 11/12 - 11/18

Arizona 34 - OREGON 31—We’ll give Arizona “D” a mulligan for falling asleep
at the switch on a few occasions last week at Wazzu. But for the most part in
‘08, Mike Stoops’ stop unit has overachieved, especially vs. the pass (ranking
3rd nationally). And no question that sr. QB Tuitama and o.c. Sonny Dykes’
Texas Tech-like spread can trade points with Oregon, which has found Cats a
very tough matchup in recent years (UA victories last 2, and covers last 3
meetings, all as DD dog).
(07-ARIZ. 34-Ore. 24...O.24-16 O.43/238 A.30/56 A.21/39/1/266 O.27/54/3/225 A.1 O.1)
(07-ARIZ. +11 34-24 06-Ariz. +13' 37-10 05-Ore. -10' 28-21...SR: Oregon 19-13)


*Ucla 26 - WASHINGTON 23—Winless Washington (outscored 95-19 past 2)
not exactly rallying down stretch for lame duck Ty Willingham. But Husky brain
trust at least emptied its bag of tricks vs. ASU last week, and backup QB Fouch
has demonstrated some playmaking ability. Besides, taking points with U-Dub
slightly more preferable than laying anything with banged-up UCLA bunch that
hasn’t covered its last 8 as Pac-10 road chalk. What kind of reception might
Rick Neuheisel get in Seattle?
(07-UCLA 44-Wash. 31...U.24-16 U.51/333 W.32/124 W.17/37/2/216 U.18/33/1/204 U.1 W.0)
(07-UCLA -6 44-31 06-WASH. +3 29-19 05-UCLA -21' 21-17...SR: UCLA 36-29-2)


Georgia 24 - AUBURN 21—While 5-5 Auburn in midst of a disappointing
campaign, still reluctant to lay around a TD with UGA, which narrowly escaped
in 42-38 win at banged-up Kentucky. Bulldog defense, which had trouble
coping with Wildcats mobile QB Cobb (82 YR), has similiar concerns vs. Tigers
swift triggerman Burns, who is well-supported by dangerous RBs Tate, Lester
& Fannin. Proud, athletic AU defense (16 ppg) on a mission after allowing 82
pts. last two meetings. And embroiled Tiger mentor Tuberville has suffered only
one SEC loss on The Plains by more than a TD since ‘03.
(07-GEORGIA 45-Aub. 20...A.18-16 G.43/180 A.35/83 G.11/19/1/237 A.14/30/4/133 G.1 A.0)
(07-GEORGIA -2 45-20 06-Georgia +12 37-15 05-Aub. +3 31-30...SR: Auburn 53-50-8)


AIR FORCE 25 - Byu 23—Now that playmaking frosh QB Jefferson (a
surprising 171 YP last week vs. CSU) getting the hang of things running Air
Force’s spread/option, Falcs better equipped to trade points with BYU than
recent years. MWC scouts also raving about scheming of shrewd AFA d.c.
DeRuyter and opportunistic Falc “D,” now at +12 TOs. Meanwhile, pass-happy
Cougs (only 104 YR vs. SDSU) becoming a bit one-dimensional as season
progresses, and have dropped last 6 vs. line (all as chalk).
(07-BYU 31-Air Force 6...B.25-12 B.44/159 A.32/133 B.23/33/1/293 A.10/21/1/98 B.1 A.0)
(07-BYU -11' 31-6 06-Byu -9' 33-14 05-BYU -6' 62-41...SR: BYU 22-6)


FLORIDA 35 - South Carolina 20—Sure, national-title seeking UF, which just
clinched the SEC East, is en fuego. But interested in taking heavy lumber with
highly-competitive USC (all 3 losses by 7 pts.) eager to get another crack at
Gators following stinging 51-31 Columbia setback LY. HC Spurrier—making
his 2nd return visit to The Swamp (last-second loss there in ‘06)—now effectively
“shuffling” QBs Smelley & Garcia (from Tampa), who was strongly recruited by
UF and will be in front of family & friends. SEC sources believe injury-free ‘Cock
defense (15 ppg; leads SEC in total & pass defense) ranks with the best ever
in Columbia (remember the Fire Ants?), so not so sure Gators continue to
rampage vs. fired-up, self-named “Goon Squad” also loaded with playmakers.
07-Fla. 51-S. CAR. 31...F.28-22 F.48/233 S.26/68 S.26/44/1/316 F.22/32/1/304 F.2 S.2)
(07-Fla. -7 51-31 06-FLA. -13 17-16 05-USC +4 30-22...SR: Florida 21-4-3)


NEVADA 36 - San Jose State 17—Whereas San Jose “O” has suddenly lost
the keys to its ignition (QBs Eden & Reed both ineffective last week vs. La Tech,
and top RB Davis ? with ankle), Chris Ault’s Nevada Pistol (38 ppg) firing live
ammunition as slamming RB Taua (WAC rush leader added 263 YR at Fresno!)
continues to provide effective complement to long-striding soph QB
Kaepernick. That’s bad news for undersized Spartan “D”. Note Wolf Pack’s 14-
3 mark as Reno chalk since ‘04.
(07-S. JOSE ST. 27-Nevada 24...S.25-22 N.35/174 S.40/86 S.30/47/1/346 I.12/24/0/252 S.0 I.2)
(07-SJS +3' 27-24 06-NEVADA -13 23-7 05-Nevada -3' 30-23...SR: Nevada 12-8-2)


*MARSHALL 36 - Ucf 17—Usually not enamored of laying substantial
points with Marshall side that’s found straight-up wins hard to come by in recent
seasons. Still, eager to buck impotent UCF, as Knight offense hasn’t even
managed to reach its nation’s-worst 234 ypg output in any of last 4 outings!
Herd’s maturing RS frosh QB Cann has enough receivers & ground support to
stretch margin.
(07-UCF 47-Marshall 13...U.24-14 U.52/269 M.26/88 M.19/35/3/249 U.14/22/1/203 U.0 M.0)
(07-UCF -14 47-13 06-Ucf +3' 23-22 05-UCF +3' 23-13...SR: EVEN 3-3)


Boise State 49 - IDAHO 7—Now that BSU’s creative attack (98 pts. last two)
is playing on the same level of its fast, head-hunting defense (10 ppg!), must
“lay it” with superbly-coached Bronco bunch that has easily covered all 4 road
games TY. BSU’s terrific QB K. Moore (6th nationally in pass efficiency) directs
his undefeated BCS-seeking squad to another lopsided victory vs defenseless
Idaho (44 ppg), equally charitable vs. run (27 TDs) and pass (22).
(07-BOISE ST. 58-Idaho 14...B.25-17 B.36/151 I.44/136 B.26/37/0/405 I.12/29/0/212 B.0 I.1)
(07-BSU -34 58-14 06-Bsu -21 42-26 05-BSU -32' 70-35...SR: Boise State 19-17-1)


*Tulsa 52 - HOUSTON 49—Two of nation’s most prolific offenses (combined
1140 ypg!) tangle in this crucial C-USA West battle. Golden Hurricane benefits
from week off to refocus following first loss of season at Arkansas, while
Houston has had whole year to stew over shellacking it absorbed at Tulsa LY.
Visitor’s offensive arsenal runs a bit deeper, but can’t lay roomy points vs.
quick-trigger Coug QB Keenum (68%, 29 TDP).
(07-TULSA 56-Hou. 7...T.22-17 T.46/202 H.43/198 T.15/28/0/313 H.15/24/3/126 T.1 H.2)
(07-TULSA P 56-7 06-HOU. +3 27-10 05-Hou. +3 30-23...SR: Houston 17-16)


FRESNO STATE 33 - New Mexico State 23—Difficult to make a case for
either of these WAC underachievers. But we might be less interested laying
significant points with Fresno bunch that hasn’t covered a game since Joe The
Plumber was, well, just a plumber (Sept. 1 at Rutgers), and is now a rather
unbelievable 3-19 its last 22 as chalk! NMSU (no wins or covers last 4) has spit
the bit, but Hal Mumme’s Air Raid at least still functioning, thanks to sr. QB
Holbrook (394 YP last week vs. Hawaii).
(07-Fres. St. 30-NMS 23...F.23-22 F.53/263 N.27/96 N.31/53/0/323 F.10/19/0/205 F.0 N.0)
(07-Fsu -13 30-23 06-FSU -12' 23-18 05-Fsu -27' 37-7...SR: Fresno State 14-0)


*Southern Cal 27 - STANFORD 15—Revenge motive awfully strong for SC
after LY’s shocking loss as 40½-point chalk (!) vs. Stanford. And Pete Carroll’s
voracious “D” on course to be first FBS stop unit to allow fewer than 100 points
since Miami’s 2001 national champs. But Stanford better equipped than most
Pac-10 foes to follow the road map Oregon State used to upset Troy, namely,
using physical, vet OL to attack SC in north-south fashion, especially if
slamming RB Gerhart (hamstring at Oregon) available to go. Sr.-laden Cardinal
“D” confident it can keep recently-misfiring Trojan attack under control after forcing
several mistakes with schemes and disguised coverages in ‘07 mega-upset.
(07-Stan. 24-S. CAL 23...Sc.19-16 Sc.38/95 St.39/86 Sc.24/41/4/364 St.11/30/1/149 St.0 Sc.1)
(07-Stan. +40' 24-23 06-Usc -29 42-0 05-USC -34 51-21...SR: Southern Cal 58-25-3)


Nebraska 37 - KANSAS STATE 26—First home game for KSU’s Ron Prince
since the announcement of his imminent termination. Meanwhile, Bo Pelini’s
Cornhuskers (6-4) became bowl eligible with a fired-up defense (5 sacks) and
varied offense (328 YP, 167 YR, RB Marlon Lucky a TD throw, NT Ndamukong
Suh a TD catch) last week vs. Kansas. Would be more enthusiastic if NU’s
secondary were a little more trustworthy. Prince 0-8 SU vs. North rivals Kansas,
Mizzou & Nebraska.
(07-NEB. 73-Kan. St. 31...N.35-24 N.37/183 K.28/108 N.31/43/0/519 K.26/44/0/320 N.0 K.0)
(07-NEB. +7' 73-31 06-Neb. -9 21-3 05-NEB. -6 27-25...SR: Nebraska 75-15-2)


*Oklahoma State 34 - COLORADO 20—Will OSU—whose BCS hopes were
crushed last week with its second loss—lose its edge a bit, as BYU did in a
somewhat similar situation earlier this year? Cowboys better not, as CU is 4-1
SU at home TY and is rejuvenated after a four-TDP performance last week from
QB Cody Hawkins (who is still yielding some snaps to the better-running Tyler
Hansen). OSU 8-1 vs. spread TY, and 10-1 last 11 as a DD favorite! TV—ABC
(05-Colorado -3 34-0...SR: Colorado 26-17-1)


Rutgers 27 - SOUTH FLORIDA 26—Don’t look now, but here come the
Scarlet Knights, who have won 3 straight (and covered last 5) after staggering
out of gate TY. Sr. QB Teel (637 YP & 9 TDP in just last 2 games!) is in a
groove, and now-healthy soph RB Kordell Young balancing Rutgers attack.
Bulls just 2 covers in last 9 on line, their defense isn’t as stout as LY, and USF
has mustered only 3 TDs during previous 2 games. Upset alert!
(07-RUTGERS 30-S. Fla. 27...S.20-18 R.42/170 S.38/115 S.17/35/1/247 R.13/32/0/230 R.3 S.0)
(07-RUTGERS +2 30-27 06-Rutgers -3' 24-22 05-Usf +2' 45-31...SR: Rutgers 2-1)


*FLORIDA STATE 27 - Boston College 14—Not a bad matchup for stingy
Eagle stop unit, which has enough girth in the middle and enough speed on the
perimeter to stymie Florida State’s renascent rushing attack (205 ypg TY; just
106 ypg in previous 3 campaigns!). Speedy Seminoles no slouches on defense
themselves, however, and developing soph QB Ponder is more careful with ball
than mistake-prone BC counterpart Crane. TV—ABC
(07-Fla. St. 27-BOS. COL. 17...F.25-20 F.31/81 B.21/63 B.26/53/3/415 F.30/46/0/371 F.0 B.0)
(07-Fsu +6' 27-17 06-Bc +6' 24-19 05-Fsu -1' 28-17...SR: Florida State 4-2)


Ohio State 27 - ILLINOIS 24—Up-and-down Illinois has alternated spread
results the last 6 games and is due for an “up” effort this week. Illini upset the
Buckeyes last season and gave Tressel’s crew all it could handle in ‘06, and they have covered 3 of last 4 as a home dog. OSU’s talented frosh QB Terrelle
Pryor is still learning, while Illinois counterpart Juice Williams burned Buckeyes
for 4 TD passes in last season’s meeting. Illini RB Dufrene (5.6 ypc) returned to
action last week, and he had 106 YR at Columbus last year.
(07-Ill. 28-OHIO ST. 21...I.19-18 I.51/260 O.36/180 O.13/23/3/156 I.12/22/0/140 I.0 O.0)
(07-Ill. +15 28-21 06-Osu -25 17-10 05-OSU -35 40-2...SR: Ohio State 60-30-4)


*Utah 45 - SAN DIEGO STATE 7—Sure, it’s a potential sandwich spot for Utah
between TCU and BYU showdowns. But we’re talking about SDSU, where it’s
considered a moral victory these days to gain more than a few inches per carry
and lose by less than a TD per quarter. And Utes not terribly interested in merely
going through the motions, as they’d like to impress pollsters who can keep
them in line for BCS at-large berth if wins keep flowing.
(07-UTAH 23-S. Diego St. 7...U.27-12 U.46/282 S.29/62 U.24/32/1/232 S.15/32/1/149 U.1 S.1)
(07-UTAH -14' 23-7 06-Utah -9 38-7 05-Sds +10 28-19...SR: Utah 14-12-1)


*UTEP 38 - Smu 35—Although initial impulse might be to side with potent
UTEP & underrated soph QB Vittatoe (49 TDP, only 13 ints. last 1+ seasons)
against visiting 1-win SMU, prefer to shade technical trend that finds
defensively-vulnerable Miners losers against spread in 14 of their 15 as favorite!
(07-Utep 48-SMU 45 (OT)...U.32-29 U.52/308 S.45/257 S.15/29/1/259 U.18/36/2/250 U.0 S.1)
(07-Utep +1' 48-45 (OT) 06-UTEP -12 24-21 05-SMU +7 40-27...SR: SMU 9-6)


ARIZONA STATE 55 - Washington State 10—Well, the good news for Wazzu
was that its punchless “O” awakened last week vs. Arizona, scoring 28 points.
The bad news, however, was that Cougs allowed another 59 vs. Wildcats, as
WSU “D” continues its Wayne Gretzky-like assault on record book (Wazzu has
already allowed 99 more points than any Pac-10 “D” in history...with 2 games to
go!). Meanwhile, ASU “O” balancing things better in recent weeks (RB Herring
144 YR at U-Dub), and Sun Devils’ bowl hopes suddenly resuscitated.
(07-Ariz. St. 23-WASH. ST. 20...21-21 W.25/82 A.45/79 W.27/51/1/369 A.19/27/2/217 A.0 W.0)
(07-Asu -9 23-20 06-ASU +1 47-14 05-Asu -2 27-24...SR: Arizona State 20-12-2)


ADDED GAMES
Middle Tennessee State 24 - WESTERN KENTUCKY 16—Payback time for
Middle Tennessee vs. an old rival that will officially be joining the Sun Belt next
season. So, with Blue Raiders owning two experienced QBs (Craddock &
Dasher each had a TDP last week), and Hilltoppers down to No. 3 (jr. B. Smith)
last week, will lay small number.
(07-W. Ky. 20-MTSU 17...M.17-16 W.49/234 M.37/119 M.14/24/0/169 W.9/15/1/122 W.2 M.0)
(07-Western Kentucky (NL) 20-17...SR: Middle Tennessee State 29-28-1)


*La.-Lafayette 30 - FLORIDA ATLANTIC 23—FAU stirring a bit in recent
weeks as QB Rusty Smith emerges from early-season slump. But ULL’s QB
Desormeaux, RB Fenroy, and ground-gobbling Ragin’ Cajun “O” (6.4 ypc/
ranked 6th rushing in nation) can abuse FAU stop unit that has had trouble
stopping the run (6th vs. rush in Belt) this year and set up bowl-deciding ULL
showdown vs. Troy.
(07-Fau 39-LA.-LAF. 32 (OT)...F.25-21 L.53/317 F.42/126 F.26/45/0/308 L.14/24/2/121 F.0 L.1)
(07-Fau -6' 39-32 (OT) 06-Ull -8' 6-0 05-Fau +5' 28-10...SR: Fla. Atlantic 2-1)


MISSISSIPPI 31 - La.-Monroe 19—With multi-talented QB Lancaster (202
YP, 136 YR vs. Middle Tennessee) back at the helm, recommend taking 2+TDs
with scrappy ULM, 3-0-1 vs. spread last 4 vs. SEC foes, including upset at
Bama LY and near-miss at Arkansas TY. Bowl-seeking 5-4 Ole Miss might
want to conserve some energy for LSU & hated rival MSU final two weeks.
Disciplined Warhawks (only 10 giveaways in 9 games) won’t give Rebel
attack short scoring drives.
(DNP...SR: Mississippi 2-0)


TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 18
*Northern Illinois at KENT STATE
(07-N. ILL. 27-Kent St. 20...N.28-25 N.54/235 K.39/204 N.21/29/2/275 K.21/42/1/159 N.1 K.1)
(07-NIU +3' 27-20 05-Niu -10' 34-3...SR: Northern Illinois 14-7)


WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 19
*Ball State at CENTRAL MICHIGAN—CABLE TV—ESPN2
(07-C. Mich. 58-BALL ST. 38...C.32-20 C.45/298 B.39/141 C.30/38/1/360 B.18/38/0/228 C.0 B.1)
(07-Cmu +12' 58-38 06-CMU -10 18-7 05-Cmu -4 31-24 (OT)...SR: Central Michigan 21-18-1)

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Re: Newsletters 11/12 - 11/18

PLAYBOOK

PENN ST over Indiana by 31
If you’re old enough to remember the ‘Lawrence Welk Show’, you’ll recall that
a distinctive melody punctuated by a loud ‘pop’ heralded the appearance of
Welk’s band, the Champagne Music Makers. There won’t be any champagne
served in Happy Valley this week following Penn State’s crushing 1-point loss
to Iowa but the dreaded BUBBLE BURST will be in full effect for today’s clash
with Indiana. Credit Joe Pa for keeping the defeat in perspective: “We need
to keep our heads up… we can still have a heck of a year.” And with home
games against the Hoosiers and Michigan State to close out the season, an
11-1 record is well within Penn State’s reach. But we’re more concerned with
the ATS outcome today and laying fi ve TDs after seeing your perfect season
blown to smithereens… well, that’s just not for us. If you can’t keep your
mitts off this one, note that Penn State has gone 5-1 ATS in the series lately
and stand 4-0 ATS as Big 10 chalk of 21 or more points. Meanwhile, Indiana
is 1-8 ATS away with conference revenge, 2-6 ATS as conference dogs of 21
or more points, and the Hoosiers are fast heading down the porcelain chute.
Tough call but we’ll rely on the melodic tunes from the ole band-leader and
sip some bubbly with the puppy here.

IOWA over Purdue by 10
Kirk Ferentz may have fi nally worked his way out of the doghouse in Iowa
City. After dropping his fi rst two Big 10 games this season to fall to 3-3 (15-
16 L31 SU), Ferentz directed his Hawkeyes to a 4-game conference-winning
streak, capped by last Saturday’s monster upset of Penn State. The key has
been the standout play of RB Shonn Greene and a defense that’s held four
of the past fi ve opponents to season low – or 2nd low – yards. No such luck
for the bumbling Boilermakers, a team that’s failed to give departing head
coach Joe Tiller the winning sendoff he so richly deserves. They’re in a bad
spot here: Purdue is just 2-8 ATS in Last Road Games under Tiller while Iowa
is a superb 13-3 ATS in Last Home Games. Still, we can’t throw our support to
a Hawkeye team that fi nds itself as a BRILLIANT DISGUISE go-against today
(see PLAYBOOK 9). And when we consider the Boilers are playing their 11th
straight game without rest after taking on opponents with a combined W-L
percentage of .680, we can entertain the notion that they’re not as bad as
their 3-7 record suggests. We may not play Purdue with the vigor normally
accorded a Bruce Springsteen ditty but we sure don’t like the idea of laying
over two touchdowns with a team that took 7.5 points at home last week.

MICHIGAN over Northwestern by 4
You can be sure more than a few sarcastic cheers from Michigan fans greeted
the Wolverines’ 29-6 trouncing of Minnesota last week, especially since the
Maize-and-Blue’s season will slink away into the shadows in two weeks’ time.
As with most of the year’s prior Big 10 matchups, the Wolves own a big edge
in the ATS department. UM is 20-3 SU in its last 23 rumbles with Minnesota
– including 19-1 SU at the Big House since 1960 – and the hosts were favored
in every game! Should you decide to go with the Wildcats, you’ll be receiving
zero line value: the Purple Cats were 30-pt dogs here in 2006. If this were
any other year, we’d mention the possibility of a Michigan lookahead to
Ohio State but in this worst of all possible years for the Wolverines, we think
they’ll stay focused on grabbing something positive they can build on for
next season.

4* BEST BET
Following a startling 7-1 start, Minnesota has fi nally been exposed for
the team they are not and will likely limp into postseason play on a
4-game losing slide. Wisconsin’s season has been equally surprising
but not in a good way: after a 3-0 run out of the gate, the Badgers
self-destructed, losing fi ve of their next six games before unleashing
a 55-20 whuppin’ on Indiana last Saturday (three players rushed for
over 100 yards in the rout). Wisky has certainly had little trouble with
Minnesota in days gone by, going 6-0 SU and 5-1 ATS, including 4-0
ATS lately at Camp Randall Stadium, and the 5-5 Badgers can ensure
their 12th bowl in 13 years with wins over Cal Poly and the Gophers…
the latter a likely outcome when we consider Wisconsin has averaged
40 PPG this decade against Minnesota. Even better for Badger backers,
Wisky is the featured team in this week’s INCREDIBLE STAT on page 3,
consistently ringing the register in its fi nal Big 10 home game of the
season. Look for another blowout of the Foldin’ Gophers today.
WISCONSIN over Minnesota by 24

Wake Forest over NC STATE by 1
Much like Michigan, NC State will be playing for next year when they host
the Demon Deacons: a closing schedule that includes Wake, North Carolina
and Miami Florida means the 3-6 Pack own a slim chance of reaching the
6-win mark. But even though they became the last ACC team to record a
conference victory in ’08 with its 27-17 win over Duke, don’t expect State
to go down without a fi ght here. True, Wake Forest is tied for the Atlantic
division lead with Florida State but the Deacs are leaking oil, losing the stats
in four consecutive contests. Even with a defense that’s 99 YPG better than
the Wolfpack’s and a 5-0 ATS series advantage, we just can’t lay points on the
road with struggling Wake. If State remains the pointspread dog at kickoff,
it will mark the 9th time in this year’s nine lined games that the Pack has
been made the underdog. And we all know if you kick a dog long enough,
sooner or later he’ll bite.

CLEMSON over Duke by 8
With both teams suffering defeats last week to sink to identical 4-5 records,
the Tigers and Blue Devils need to win two of their remaining three games
to become bowl-eligible… meaning the loser here is likely out of the
postseason picture. Clemson’s 2008 collapse has been well-documented,
from the season-opening 34-10 humiliation against Alabama to the dismissal
of 10-year head coach Tommy Bowden. By contrast, Duke has looked to shed
its doormat status in the ACC under fi rst-year coach David Cutcliffe but backto-
back losses in the last two weeks show the Blue Devils still have a ways to
go. Neither squad brings any positive ATS results to the table today. Duke is
0-13 SU away at Death Valley and the series visitor has stumbled to a poor
1-8 ATS mark. Clemmie sports an ugly 0-4 ATS record as a pick or favorite this
year, a badge of shame that stretches to 0-7 since last year. No doubt the
Tigers own the superior players but Duke has a defi nite coaching advantage
with Cutcliffe over interim coach Dabo Swinney. Can’t lay doubles in what
looks to be a ferocious fi ght for postseason survival.

MARYLAND over N Carolina by 3
Week in and week out, you just never know which Maryland team is going
to show up. However, we do know the Terps have been installed as home
underdogs twice this season (against California and Wake Forest) and they
easily won both games outright. Maryland also carries some outstanding
ATS numbers into today’s fray. The Terrapins have cashed in seven of the
last eight tries against the Tar Heels, including three straight at College
Park, and Ralph Friedgen has crafted a profi table 8-2 ATS mark in his last 10
appearances as an ACC home mutt when taking 7 or less points. Impressive
back-to-back wins over Boston College and Georgia Tech has moved UNC
up to the #16 spot in this week’s BCS standings but the truth is the Heels
are a negative stat team on the year, allowing 21 YPG more than they gain.
With the Terps winning all fi ve home games in ’08 and logging a trio of SU
underdog victories, expect UM to handle a Carolina defense that got ripped
for 423 total yards by the Yellow Jackets. And after the Tar Heels ensured
their fi rst winning season in seven years by beating Georgia Tech, a minor
letdown here would come as no surprise.

Notre Dame over NAVY by 6
As we’ve said before, there’s ‘revenge’ and then there’s ‘major revenge’
– and today’s showdown falls into the ‘major’ category as far as the Irish
are concerned. Sure, last season’s 3-9 record was a disaster for Notre Dame
fans but the hardest loss to stomach came against these Midshipmen. Navy’s
improbable 46-44 victory snapped an incredible 44-game series win streak
for the Irish and Charlie Weis’ squad will be foaming at the mouth to begin
a new one. It’s strange to see Notre Dame as road chalk off last week’s 17-0
shutout loss at Boston College but our powerful database says to ‘Play On’
any greater than .333 road or neutral favorite off a shutout loss in Game Ten
or less of the season, a scenario that’s gone 23-9 ATS since 1980. The Middies
welcome back QB Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada (say that three times real fast)
for this game but Navy is just 1-5 ATS playing at Baltimore and must tackle an
Irish squad that’s won the stats in six consecutive games. Make that seven…

Connecticut over SYRACUSE by 10
It’s really true that time heals all. Today’s contest marks the Last Home Game
for soon-to-be-dumped Syracuse head coach Greg Robinson, architect of a
four-year debacle that turned the once-intimidating Carrier Dome into a
house of horrors for Orange fans – and probably seemed to last as long
at the Mesozoic Era. But just as the close of that geological period spelled
doom for the dinosaurs, so too will the next three weeks close the book on
Robinson’s disastrous tenure (currently 9-35 SU). UConn spoiled a 5-0 start
by losing three of its last four outings but unlike today’s humbled hosts, the
Huskies still have something to play for. Randy Edsall’s squad has cashed in
seven of its last ten games as road chalk but with brutal season-enders on
tap against South Florida and resurgent Pittsburgh, we can’t bring ourselves
to lay doubles here. Who knows? Syracuse team could actually play with
some fi re and intensity today in an effort to send its seniors out as winners.
We’ll call it a sharp number and let it go.

ALABAMA over Mississippi St by 17
Nick Saban and his Crimson Tide remained #1 in the BCS polls after a
harrowing overtime win against LSU at Death Valley but we guarantee the
Alabama players are already thinking about busting some Bulldog. That’s
because Bama was held to a mere 12 points in last year’s shocking defeat
at Starkville, Game Two in a 4-game losing streak that damn near cost the
Tide a bowl berth. The problem here is ALL the ATS numbers in this matchup
seem to align in favor of the visitors. Missy State has cashed to the tune
of 10-3 in the series (covered four of fi ve at Tuscaloosa) and head Bulldog
Sylvester Croom is 5-1 ATS when taking points with rest (4-2 SU). Meanwhile,
Alabama fi nds itself wedged in the unenviable position of an LSU-Auburn
sandwich: the Tide is 2-8 ATS after a road game with the Bayou Bengals and
just 3-9 ATS before taking on Auburn in the annual Iron Bowl. Bama is also a
weak 1-4-1 ATS home playing with SEC revenge and our database warns us
that the last 12 teams to beat the defending National Champs have gone 2-
10 ATS in their following game. With the pressure to remain undefeated still
weighing down on the Crimson Tide, the points look like the play here.

KENTUCKY over Vanderbilt by 3
Vandy fans have got to be pulling their hair out. The past three seasons,
the Commodores managed to hit the 4-win mark but couldn’t avoid a late
season swoon that kept them from earning bowl-eligibility. Well, they’re
at it again, opening with a 5-0 SU spurt before suffering four consecutive
loses and the Commies have three more shots at nabbing the elusive win
#6. Kentucky also started ’08 with a bang, going 4-0 SU but the Wildcats
have managed to secure a 6-win season and should make their third straight
bowl appearance under head coach Rich Brooks. The Bluegrass Cats have
punished the boys from Nashville lately, going 6-1 SU and ATS (4-0 SUATS
in the L4) while covering fi ve of six meetings at Lexington. Unfortunately,
UK qualifi es as one of this week’s teams to spring a leak in the crankcase,
losing the stats in its last three games. We’re also hesitant to lay points with
a Kentucky team that had Georgia in the ground last week – shoveling dirt
on ‘em, in fact – but let the Bulldogs escape with a win in the game’s closing
minutes. Not much here to recommend.

Texas A&M over BAYLOR by 1
Speaking of teams that are a few quarts low on the Quaker State, here
comes Baylor. At 2-7, the Bears have been whipped In The Stats in their
previous four games and may just go through the motions tody as they wrap
up the latest in a seemingly endless line of losing seasons. Texas A&M has
struggled mightily under fi rst-year head coach Mike Sherman (given up over
40 PPG in half of their 10 outings) but are technically still alive for a bowl.
Of course, they’ll need wins here and next week at Texas but don’t dismiss
the possibility – A&M has conquered the mighty Longhorns for two years
running. An 8-point dog against the Bears, the Aggies are a mind-boggling
21-1-1 SU in the series. They’ve been favored in all but one game – which
they won 34-12 as +3.5 dogs – and have been installed as the chalk in 16
straight tussles. Mix in Baylor’s anemic 6-14-1 ATS mark in Last Home Games
and we’ve got a recipe that calls for bear meat as the main ingredient. Chef
Sherman cooks up a winner for his Aggies today.

Blade
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Re: Newsletters 11/12 - 11/18

COLORADO ST over New Mexico by 3
After back-to-back bowl appearances, Rocky Long’s Lobos will stay home
for the holidays. In their 12th and fi nal game – without a single week’s rest
during the season – New Mexico can only hope to spoil the Rams’ chances at
qualifying for a bowl game in head coach Steve Fairchild’s initial campaign.
The series numbers do not support CSU: the host is a miserable 1-10 ATS and
the Rams have failed to cash in the last fi ve meetings at Fort Collins. Even so,
we won’t turn our backs on a Colorado State team that’s been ram-tough at
home this season in lined action. Fairchild’s squad beat Houston and UNLV
while losing to TCU by just 6 points and falling to BYU by only 3 points. Fueled
by inspired efforts like that and the possibility of CSU reaching postseason
play, look for the Lobos to be tits up in a ditch at the end of this one.

W MICHIGAN over Toledo by 10
In three weeks, Toledo’s Tom Amstutz will hang it up after eight years on
the Rocket sidelines. But if you’re looking for a ‘win one for the gipper’
performance out of the visitors today, it may not materialize until the fi nal
two games, both at home in the Glass Bowl. However, considering the price
on today’s matchup, Toledo just may sneak out of Kalamazoo after picking
the Broncos’ pockets (WMU laying 15 points here but was 1-point underdog
LY). The Rockets have soared to a 10-3 SU series edge, favored in all 13
contests, and will need to overcome a particularly strong stat to get the cash:
.500 or greater MAC teams off a SU win versus Big 10 teams are 12-3 SU and
5-1-1 ATS in the next game. Western Michigan is in a terrible scheduling spot
here, though, coming off a big win over Indiana with an even bigger game
against undefeated Ball State on tap. Much like the aftermath of last week’s
election for Republicans, we think a letdown is in order.

LOUISIANA TECH over Utah St by 16
What’s this? Louisiana Tech wins two straight after losing 14-7 to Army
and now the Bulldogs are double-digit chalk? Believe it! The surging Dogs
surging allowed an average of 438 YPG in their fi rst fi ve games then put the
defensive hammer down, limiting their last four foes to just 292 YPG – and
those teams were held to season low – or 2nd low – yardage. Tech is fi nally
exhibiting more of the disciplined play that lead to last year’s 5-7 record
under rookie head coach Derek Dooley and the Bulldogs need just one more
win in their fi nal three games to go bowling. Considering they’ve won and
covered three in a row over Utah State – and the Aggie defense is getting
dissected for 43 PPG on the road this year – we see no reason that Dooley’s
Dogs can’t grab the win and the money here.

3* BEST BET
These two haven’t tied it on since 2005 when Mack Brown’s Longhorns
trampled Kansas, 66-14, and we’re here to tell you the Jayhawks have
gotten a whole lot better since that undressing. KU certainly brings
the superior ATS artillery to today’s battle. Kansas has covered fi ve
straight Last Home Games and stands 7-1 ATS as a home dog of 3 or
more points. Compare that to Bevo’s miserable 1-5 ATS mark in Last
Road Games and the ‘Horns’ awful 2-5 ATS failure as Big 12 road
favorites of 7 or more points. Our powerful database chips in with
this little beauty: 500 or greater conference home dogs of more than
2 points who won 10 or more games last season are 15-4 ATS in Last
Home Games versus an opponent off a win. Even worse for the visiting
Texans, coach Brown is just 4-13-1 ATS as conference road chalk off
a win versus .600 or greater opposition. Face it, with the Longhorns
having bitten the poison cheese – and no longer undefeated, their
focus has waned. We’ll take a hungry dog with two TDs or more
against a distracted favorite all day long.

SOUTHERN MISS over East Carolina by 6
Jeez, what is with these Pirates? After starting the season like a ship afi re by
beating Virginia Tech and West Virginia, the Bucs started handing BACK the
loot, losing six of seven against the number (0-4 ATS as a visitor TY). Even
worse, ECU sails into Hattiesburg off a pair of 3-point overtime wins – and
our database reminds us that OT winners are a troubling 54-78-2 ATS in the
next game. Since the Pirates don’t seem to have their sea legs of late and
USM stands 6-1 SU and ATS in the series, we’ll take a shot with a Southern
Miss squad playing its Last Home Game. Oh yeah, if the Eagles win here
and next week at SMU, they join the ever-growing legion of ‘BE’ wannabes.
Works for us…

Uab over TULANE by 1
Would someone call a mechanic? We’ve got another oil leaker in Tulane,
victimized in the stats in its last four games en route to a 2-7 disaster. This
particular role is not the Green Wave’s favorite: they’re 0-4 ATS as conference
chalk over the past three seasons. UAB has had two weeks to recover from a
70-14 traumatizing at the hands of Southern Miss but that beating shouldn’t
disguise the fact that the Blazers rush for a solid 4.8 YPC – a number that
works nicely with the 5.1 YPC allowed by the Greenie stop unit. Come to
think of it, we like running dogs against mediocre favorites… especially a
Wave that’s lost in a downward spiral.

Missouri over IOWA ST by 27
After getting trashed by Oklahoma State and Texas in back-to-back losses,
Missouri quickly dropped from the public’s list of BCS contenders. News
Flash: right now the Tigers are 8-2 and look like the odds-on favorite to
meet Texas Tech, Texas or Oklahoma for the Big 12 Championship. Following
this massacre, the Columbia Cats get two weeks to prepare for their seasonender
with Kansas – and then we’ll see how far a 2-loss team can get in this
year’s BCS mix. However, we can’t go hunting with the Tigers today, not
with Iowa State owning a 6-1 ATS mark as double-digit conference home
dogs. The Cyclones have also cashed in the series’ last three confrontations
and own a 3-0 ATS record recently in Last Home Games, numbers that make
Mizzou’s 1-4-1 ATS mark as double-digit road chalk particularly futile. But
the bottom line is this: the Tigers can name the score here – and we’re not
speaking Tiger these days.

OREGON ST over California by 3
This is a big one for the Beavers; having already disposed of Southern
Cal, Oregon State is still in position to claim the PAC 10 title and a trip to
the Rose Bowl. But fi rst they’ll have to fi ght through a rugged California
defense that held the Trojans to their lowest point total of the season (tied
with Arizona), 17, in last week’s loss at the Coliseum. There’s not much to
choose from in the ATS archives since both squads own excellent numbers
for this matchup. In Cal’s favor, the series visitor has won and covered fi ve
in a row, the Bears are 6-1 ATS after a road game with USC and they’re also
7-3 ATS on the PAC 10 highway playing with revenge. Back at the pond, the
Beavers can claim a 4-1 ATS mark at home in Game Ten of the season and a
7-2 ATS log as conference favorites of 6 or less points. It all boils down to a
tough call between two teams playing their best ball of the season… feel
up to it?

OREGON over Arizona by 7
There’s joy in Tucson these days. For the fi rst time in 5th year head coach
Mike Stoops’ troubled tenure, the Wildcats will go bowling – the program’s
fi rst postseason appearance since 1998 when Dick Tomey ran the show.
Don’t get carried away, though… Arizona’s 6-3 SU record has come at the
expense of a weak slate of opponents whose combined win total is just 29-
55. Another huge negative for the Desert Cats is Oregon’s lust to avenge last
year’s loss, a bitter defeat that cost Mike Bellotti’s team a certain BCS bowl
berth. The feathered ones were 8-1 SU and ATS at the time, cruising toward
the conference title when QB Dennis Dixon went down with a knee injury
and the Ducks’ season crashed and burned (lost fi nal three regular season
games). Oregon outgained the Wildcats by 141 yards in that 10-point defeat
and owns the personnel to duplicate the feat, topping the 30-point mark
in eight out of 10 games this year. With the Ducks undefeated at Autzen
Stadium in 2008, we’ll take the hosts to keep Arizona’s 6-win record right
where it is – and ring the register to boot.

Ucla over WASHINGTON by 3
Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder but most folks would agree this is
one UGLY matchup here. Man, how dreadful must the Huskies be if the lowly
Bruins are installed as a touchdown favorite on the road? Already given his
walking papers a few weeks ago, Washington head coach Ty Willingham
will be making his last appearance before the Seattle faithful and he’d like
nothing better than to check out with a win over ex-Huskie mentor Rick
Neuheisel, now leading UCLA. Washington remains the only team winless
In The Stats this year in Division 1-A college football but we still don’t think
they’re bad enough to take 7 points from this clawless bunch of Bruins. Take
it if you play it.

UPSET GAME OF THE WEEK UPSET
AUBURN over Georgia by 1
Bad spot for the Dawgs here, playing their 4th consecutive game away
from Athens with a defense that’s been showing some serious wear and
tear of late. Be honest… are you comfortable laying more than a TD
with a team that’s been slashed for 38, 49 and 38 points in its last three
games? Didn’t think so. Georgia’s also a feeble 2-9 ATS versus an SEC foe
playing with revenge and a money-burning 2-7 ATS as conference road
chalk of 8 or more points. Picked in the preseason to knock LSU of its
SEC West perch, the Tigers have instead fallen prey to the Season From
Hell, needing a win over pitiful Tennessee-Martin last week to square
their season record at 5-5. Still, Tubs and his Tigers can actually become
bowl eligible with a win here today or next week at Alabama (how
sweet would it be to beat Bama for the SEVENTH straight time and turn
the Tide’s undefeated year into an impression of the Hindenburg?). We
like Aubbie’s chances better this week: the Tigers are 5-1 off a doubledigit
SU unlined win and Tuberville is a solid 9-3 ATS as a dog of 4 or
more points off a win versus .800 or greater foes (5-0 L5). Auburn’s
offense fi nally answers the bell… and down goes UGA.

5* BEST BET
Matchup of the nation’s No. 1 (Tulsa 593 YPG) and No. 4 (Houston
547 PYG) offenses fi nds the Golden Hurricane stalled out in the worst
possible BUBBLE BURST role (see this week’s Awesome Angle on page
2). After that, it’s all downhill for the visitors. Tulsa has compiled a
weak 14-28-2 ATS record in conference games off SUATS loss if they
allowed 28 or more points (0-3 with Todd Graham) while the Cougars
are a perfect 8-0 ATS as home dogs off a SU win. Last year’s 56-7 loss to
Tulsa was Houston’s worst conference defeat since 1993 and with only
one stat loss this season, we think the Cougars can claw their way to
a victory here. Kevin Sumlin has done a terrifi c job with the Houston
program and will have them headed to its 4th straight bowl game by
season’s end. One further note: the home team is a ‘Puttin’ On the
Stats’ SMART BOX play, too. You know what to do.
HOUSTON over Tulsa by 10

AIR FORCE over Byu by 3
You already know BYU will take the fi eld at Colorado Springs with one eye
looking ahead to its season-ending road trip against hated Utah. But you
probably didn’t know the Cougars are just 1-5 SU and 0-6 ATS versus a foe
off a win before tangling with the Utes. Air Force has overachieved under
2nd year coach Troy Calhoun, winning fi ve straight to go 8-2 on the year (17-
6 overall with Calhoun) but more importantly the Flyboys have fashioned
a fi ne 7-2 ATS record – the mirror opposite of BYU’s awful 2-7 pointspread
mark. The Cougars showed no mercy in last year’s 31-6 thumping of the
Force, a mistake considering the Falcons are 5-1 ATS when playing with
MWC revenge. With the jet jockeys owning a superb 8-2 SU and 9-1 ATS log
as conference home dogs of 2 or more points, we’ll push the envelope and
call for an outright upset here.

FLORIDA over S Carolina by 16
He’s baaaack. Yes, former Gator great Steve Spurrier is back at the Swamp
his weekend and he’s bringing along something you rarely ever see: the
nation’s 3rd-ranked defensive team as a 20-point underdog! One thing’s for
sure… Spurrier certainly contributed to Florida’s 15-1 SU series dominance
before surfacing with the Gamecocks in 2005 and he’ll return to Gainesville
with a sharp 6-1 ATS record as a double-digit SEC underdog. Florida’s recent
blowout wins over LSU, Kentucky, Georgia and Vanderbilt have made the
Gators the current darlings of the BCS but the truth is they’re averaging 43
PPG on 408 YPG of offense – the yards don’t equate to the points. And when
we note that coach Spurrier is the answer to this week’s TRIVIA TEASER
(page 2), the decision is fi nal. The Ol’ Ball Coach is just too slippery and
dangerous to give this many points. Cocks raid the Gators’ nest and make
off with the eggs.

NEVADA over San Jose St by 11
Go fi gure. The Spartans entered last week’s game against Louisiana Tech
with only a single home loss this season to Boise State. They had also won
four of their previous fi ve games and owned a sub 300-yard defense. But
inexplicably San Jose State was completely shut down by the Bulldogs and
dropped a 21-0 decision as 7-point chalk. That doesn’t bode well against a
Nevada team that’s won and covered fi ve of the last six in the series and
currently sports a 9-2 ATS mark as double-digit favorites. There’s nothing
wrong with the Wolf Pack’s offensive attack, either; the Reno Wolves have
scored 41 or more points six times this season. But with Boise State lurking
in the weeds next week and Nevada eager for a rematch of last year’s 69-67
thriller won by the Broncos, we just can’t pull the trigger today.

MARSHALL over C Florida by 3
If there’s trouble in River City, then pandemonium is about to break out in
Huntington, West Virginia. Like Duke last week, the Herd is a conference
home favorite playing off an OT loss taking on a .400 or greater opponent
– and teams in this role are a pathetic 18-37-2 ATS. Hmmm… both teams
are 0-8 In The Stats in their last eight games but one of them has curiously
been made a touchdown favorite. Considering UCF is 5-1 SU and 6-0 ATS
as a single-digit road dogs, we think the wrong side could be laying the
points. And when we notice that the Herd is a ‘Puttin’ On The Stats’ SMART
BOX fade, the Knights look like a good bet to bring some cash back to
Disneyworld.

Boise St over IDAHO by 28
There’s not a lot to like about the Vandals other than the fact they have lost
only 2 of 22 games under head coach Robb Akey by more than 35 points.
Hold on, though… turns out the Tater Tots are a ‘play on’ proposition in
this week’s ‘Rip van Winkle Revenge’ SMART BOX and they also boast a 3-1
ATS mark of late playing with WAC revenge. For all its unbeaten bluster,
Boise State has covered only once in its last four tries as chalk of 25 or more
points, plus the combined SU W-L record for the Broncos’ lined foes in ’08
adds up to a feeble 20-51 (Idaho will pull that percentage down even lower).
Looking back at PLAYBOOK #12, we also note that Boise Blue is a SMART
BOX ‘As the Noose Tightens’ fade. For those of you left with any ‘disposable
income’, hold your nose and take the points as Idaho says farewell to its
senior spuds.

FRESNO ST over New Mexico St by 14
Anyone… Anytime… Anywhere. Fresno State’s traditional battle cry has
been little more than a hollow slogan in this year’s terribly disappointing
season for the Bulldogs. Following a 9-4 season in ’07 and returning 15
starters, much was expected from Pat Hill’s team. However, they’ve been an
average team at best and just can’t seem to stop the bleeding, losing two
straight as chalk while extending a dreadful 0-8 ATS run in their last eight
games. Fresno also faces the challenge of this daunting stat: the Bulldogs
are just 14-21-2 ATS from Game Seven out versus conference opponents
since 2002, including 1-11 ATS off a loss. The Bulldogs’ saving grace here
comes from playing their Last Home Game, a situation where they’ve
cashed fi ve straight times when taking on a foe off back-to-back losses.
Pitiful New Mexico State has, in fact, dropped four in a row both SU and ATS
and have staggered to a lifeless 2-15 SU mark in the fi nal fi ve games of the
season under coach Hal Mumme. With the wounded Aggies playing their
10th straight game without rest, Fresno should bag win no. 6 to become
bowl eligible but the Dogs are simply not a viable candidate to cover a hefty
2-TD spread. Pass.

Blade
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Re: Newsletters 11/12 - 11/18

Usc over STANFORD by 31
You know what they say about paybacks – and now it’s time for Stanford
to suffer the consequences of it actions. Last year USC was cruising along at
4-0 when rookie head coach Jim Harbaugh brought his 1-3 Cardinal to the
Coliseum for an expected annihilation (Trojans were 39.5 point favorites).
But despite being outgained by a 459-235 edge, gritty Stanford somehow
emerged with a stunning 1-point victory over Southern Cal. Now the scene
shifts to Palo Alto and Harbaugh should heed these words from Cal QB
Kevin Riley, victimized by the Trojan ‘D’ in last week’s 17-3 loss: “They have
athletes making plays everywhere. We had guys open but they closed fast,
and you don’t get too many opportunities.” Yes, since suffering a 27-21
loss at Oregon State in the last week of September, the impenetrable USC
defense has allowed just 23 POINTS in six PAC 10 games. That averages
out to just under 4 PPG and the Cardinal happens to own a 3-27 ATS mark
this decade in games where they score 14 or less points. Stanford’s hopes
dwindle further when we get a look at its recent 1-6 ATS record as doubledigit
home dogs and a similarly futile 1-5 ATS mark versus conference
opponents looking to settle the score from a prior defeat. The fi nal nail
in the Cardinal coffi n? USC’s Pete Carroll is an incredible 25-0 SU and 20-5
ATS in November and with two weeks off before facing Notre Dame you
know he’ll unleash his full array of weaponry here. Hide the women and
children…

Utah over SAN DIEGO ST by 24
A diffi cult dilemma here. You know our fondness for fading undefeated road
teams at this stage of the season – see last week’s ‘As the Noose Tightens’
SMART BOX. Couple that with the Utes having their biggest game of the season
up next (BYU) and it makes it all too apparent which side of this game we’ll
be lining up on. The problem, though, is two-fold. One – the Aztecs are a ‘Dog
With No Bite’ (see this week’s BETCHA DIDN’T KNOW on page 2) and Two – the
Aztecs allow points and yards like AT&T packages phone services… in bundles.
Still, with the Utes feeling the rope getting more snug by the day, we can only
take the points and pray the SDSU defense plays like it did against Notre Dame
and not New Mexico earlier this year. In the name of the Father…

UTEP over Smu by 10
It’s never hard lining up against a team that has dropped fi fteen conference
games in a row… especially one that has been outscored to the tune of
40-17 on the road under its new coach this season. With one win in its last
twenty games, the regents at SMU are scratching their heads and wondering
if the money spent on June Jones was a wise investment. Then again, all
they need to do is console with the higher-ups at Michigan and they might
not feel all that bad. UTEP needs 2 wins in its last 3 games to become bowl
eligible and with road games at Houston and East Carolina on deck, this
game is a must. It’s not our style, however, to lay double-digits with a team
that is 1-10 ATS as a favorite the last three seasons. All the more reason to
stay out of this mess in Texas.

ARIZONA ST over Washington St by 30
For the record, this is the most points a Sun Devil team has laid dating back
into the 1970’s or maybe even the ‘60’s for that matter. What we do know is
that WSU outstatted ASU, 451-296, in a 23-20 home loss as 9-point dogs last
year. So why are the Sun Devils laying an unheard of amount of points, you
ask? When your team has been outscored 197-33 on the road this season you
know the reason. The truth of the matter is the Cougars have actually played
better on the highway than at home where they’ve been out tallied, 257-
45, against four lined opponents under rookie coach Paul Wulff this season.
So, let’s see, lay 36 points with a losing Homecoming favorite or take the
points... guess what we’ll do?

Nebraska over KANSAS STATE by 8
It’s true that Kansas State’s Ron Prince was on shaky ground this season after
sinking to a 3-10 SU mark against Big 12 North competition but the Wildcats
brass didn’t hesitate to drop the ax on Prince following an embarrassing
52-21 loss to blood rival Kansas. Now the outgoing lame duck coach’s team
is a ‘Dog With No Bite” (see this week’s BDK on page 2), a situation made
even more hopeless by Prince’s 1-5 SUATS mark as a home underdog versus
a foe off a SU win. Meanwhile, Nebraska continued its improvement under
1st-year head coach Bo Pelini with a hard-fought 45-35 victory over the
aforementioned Jayhawks at Lincoln, avenging last season’s horrifying 76-
39 loss that sealed the fate of then-coach Bill Callahan. The Huskers are a
solid 3-1-1 ATS in Last Road Game scenarios and did drop 73 points on the
Wildcats last year but they’re off that huge win over Kansas and have a
major revenger on tap next against Colorado. Who knows? Maybe K-State
will show up and play hard in Prince’s fi nal two games, both at Manhattan,
but we’re not ready to risk our dough to fi nd out.

Oklahoma St over COLORADO by 10
With the coach’s son having to come off the bench to rally the Buffaloes to
a 28-24 win over lowly Iowa State, very few will give Colorado at chance
at hanging close to high-powered Oklahoma State. But after noticing the
17-point favorite Cowboys have been the dog in this series in 12 of the last
13 games, count us among the few left standing in the Buffs’ corner. Okie
State has been outstatted in four of its previous six games and the Pokes
are coming off an incredibly demoralizing 56-20 humiliation at Texas Tech
– plus they’ve got a season-ender waiting on deck against mighty Oklahoma.
Today’s contest marks Colorado’s Last Home Game, a scenario where the
Buffs have gone 19-8 SU and ATS, and Buffi e has also rung the register 11
times in 13 tries in Game Eleven of the season. We think the last place the
Cowboys want to be right now is in chilly Boulder so we’re not looking for
the typical big-margin blowout by OSU. Ralphie snaps a 7-game ATS losing
streak with a supreme effort here.

SOUTH FLORIDA over Rutgers by 3
Let’s face the facts. These are NOT the Bulls and Knights we came to love
last season. After a 5-0 start to the 2008 campaign, USF has fallen on hard
times limping into tonight’s contest with one win in its last four games. A
lot of that has to do with the fact that they were +232 net YPG in the fi rst
fi ve contests as opposed to being just +40 net YPG in the last four. Rutgers
has been fl at out awful all season, showing spirited signs of life here of late
with wins and covers in its last two games. That being the case we’ll point
to Greg Schiano’s glittering 10-1 ATS mark as a dog in games off a win of
more than 10 points. No, we’re not all that enamored with the Knights. Just
with the facts.

Boston College over FLORIDA ST by 1
The saying ‘paybacks are a bitch’ fi ts this game like a Libertarian candidate
feeding his ego – they’re both in it for self-serving reasons. Let’s set the
scene for this contest, a matchup of two Top 10 ranked defenses. Last year
the Eagles were sitting pretty, 8-0 and ranked No. 2 in the polls when along
came the blood-thirsty, money-sucking Seminoles. Out of nowhere FSU
pulled the rug out from under Boston College, stunning the Eagles 27-17 as
7-point road dogs to ruin their hopes and dreams of a perfect season. Today
the Seminoles fi nd themselves tied atop the ACC Atlantic Division with BC a
game-and-a-half behind. Now, with Bobby’s Boys off last week’s satisfying
come from behind revenge win over Clemson and standing just 1-6 ATS as a
host against conference foes seeking revenge, suddenly the shoe is on the
other foot. You know what they say… what goes around comes around.

Ohio St over ILLINOIS by 14
We could simply cut and past the writeup from above and place it in this
space. That’s how similar these games are. Let’s wind the clock back to
November, a year ago. The Buckeyes were No. 1 in the land at 10-0 when
the Illini stunned them at The Horseshoe, winning 28-21 as 15-point puppies.
Gone were the hopes and dreams of a perfect season for Ohio State. Sure,
they somehow clawed their way back into the BCS title game but perfection
was spoiled and in the process this game has been circled in red ink by Jim
Tressel. It doesn’t hurt that OSU is 10-1 SU and 8-3 ATS when playing with
conference revenge under Tressel, including 4-0 ATS the last four. They bring
the tools necessary to extract said revenge, too, as they have held 8 of their
last 10 foes to season low – or 2nd low – yards this season. While the Illini
have not lost back-to-back games this season, they are just 2-8 ATS against
avenging Big 10 opposition and 5-17 ATS as home dogs off a SU and ATS loss.
Beware of the Buckeye.

PRO FOOTBALL
Sunday, November 16th
3 BEST BET
The surprise team in the NFC this season? That’s easy. It’s the
Falcons. To say they have caught the league by surprise would be
an understatement. Behind a rookie quarterback (Matt Ryan) and a
fi rst-year head coach (Mike Smith), Atlanta is 6-3 this season, currently
one game behind division leading Carolina. Today they face their fi rst
‘step-up’ game and we feel they aren’t quite ready. The Dirty Birds
are 1-1 against winning opposition this season but were underdogs
in both games. Today they change clothes and adorn the cloth of a
favorite against the fi rst-place Broncos. It’s not hard to dismiss the fact
Atlanta is 0-10 ATS at home in games off back-to-back victories. Or its
1-10 ATS log off a double-digit ATS win as a .500 or greater team when
facing a .500 or greater opponent. With Denver 5-1 SU in this series
– favored all six times – look for the Birds to get their wings clipped
here today.

ADDED GAMES

W KENTUCKY over Mid Tenn State by 1
The Blue Raiders take to the road looking for a service station knowing their
transmission is ‘leaking oil’. They have been outgained in each of their last
six football games including last week’s ‘inside-out’ win over La Monroe
(won the game 24-21; lost the stats 448-368). Tenny will need to win each
of its last three games if they wish to become bowl eligible, a tall task to say
the least for a team that’s been favored just twice this season, going 0-2 ATS
as chalk. The Hilltoppers close out the home portion of their slate looking
to improve on their 2-18 SU mark against lined FBS opponents since coming
on the ‘big’ board’ last season. One of those two wins was against MTSU in
Murfreesboro last season. No. 3 comes today.

FLA ATLANTIC over La Lafayette by 7
Intriguing Sun Belt matchup fi nds conference-leading Lafayette taking on
the bowl-hungry Owls. Interestingly, the Ragin’ Cajuns take on 2nd place
Troy next week, with the winner controlling its own destiny for the SBC
title. Hence, this games means next to NOTHING to La La and practically
EVERYTHING to Florida Atlantic. That’s because FAU, after a dismal 1-5 start
in which QB Rusty Smith played with an injured shoulder, needs two wins in
its last three games to become bowl eligible. Smith’s shoulder has mended
(FAU was -64.5 net YPG fi rst six games; +51 net YPG last three games) and
as a result the Owls have awakened from their fi rst-half slumber. Now that
we’ve captivated your imagination, you know what to do.

MISSISSIPPI over La Monroe by 17
The second of a three-game season-ending road trip takes the Warhawks into
SEC country where they are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 appearances, including
a 28-27 loss at Arkansas the fi rst week of September. Meanwhile, Johnny
Reb returns home after shooting down Auburn on this fi eld in its last battle
only to have a duel up next against LSU. Thus, this becomes a fl at spot in
the Ole Miss schedule. One could hardly blame the Rebels for a nonchalant
effort here today, especially considering their 6-20 ATS record as doubledigit
favorites against losing opposition. Toss in the fact that Mississippi has
been outgained in 4 of its last 5 games, including the last two victories, and
you can understand our disdain for this disinterested favorite here today.
Instead, we’ll go to war with the Hawks.

LSU over Troy by 17
This is another rescheduled game resulting in Hurricane Ike’s visit to the
Gulf States the fi rst week in September. And it couldn’t come at a more
distressful time for the Tigers. The defending National Champs are reeling
with 3 loses in their last 5 games, causing fans in Baton Rouge to wonder
what in the LSU is going on. There’s two ways to spin this game: (1) you
have a defending national champ off a SU and ATS loss taking on an
opponent off a win. These guys are 20-4 ATS in this powerful role. Or (2)
you have a home favorite off an overtime loss taking on a greater than .400
opponent. These guys are 12-36 ATS since the inception of OT in college
football. Put a gun to our head and we’d opt for the latter, given Troy’s
7-2 ATS mark in games against the SEC (lost here 24-20 as 23.5-points dogs
on its last visit in 2004) and the almost-impossible-to-overcome letdown of
losing to the nation’s No. 1 ranked team (Alabama). Simply a case of the
bad outweighing the good.

Blade
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Re: Newsletters 11/12 - 11/18

PRO FOOTBALL

3* BEST BET
The surprise team in the NFC this season? That’s easy. It’s the
Falcons. To say they have caught the league by surprise would be
an understatement. Behind a rookie quarterback (Matt Ryan) and a
fi rst-year head coach (Mike Smith), Atlanta is 6-3 this season, currently
one game behind division leading Carolina. Today they face their fi rst
‘step-up’ game and we feel they aren’t quite ready. The Dirty Birds
are 1-1 against winning opposition this season but were underdogs
in both games. Today they change clothes and adorn the cloth of a
favorite against the fi rst-place Broncos. It’s not hard to dismiss the fact
Atlanta is 0-10 ATS at home in games off back-to-back victories. Or its
1-10 ATS log off a double-digit ATS win as a .500 or greater team when
facing a .500 or greater opponent. With Denver 5-1 SU in this series
– favored all six times – look for the Birds to get their wings clipped
here today.Denver over ATLANTA by 6

4* BEST BET
The Colts are back! The Colts are back! Spread the word, the Colts
are back! Don’t believe us… check the numbers. They’ve won back-toback
games against two playoff teams, no less. They rallied to beat the
Texans in their fi rst meeting, scoring 21 points in the fi nal 4:15 of the
game (thanks to three Sage Rosenfels brain farts). It all looks good on
the surface – until you look inside the stats. That’s because Indy was
outyarded in each of the aforementioned victories. On the fl ip side,
Houston has won the stats in each of its last 7 games and is 12-2 ATS
as a division dog off back-to-back losses in its young history, including
5-0 on the road. Couple this with the fact that teams after tackling
Mike Tomlin’s Pittsburgh Steelers are just 8-15 SU and 6-17 ATS in their
next game and suddenly our next call is to halt the presses. The Colts
are NOT back!Houston over INDIANAPOLIS by 7

MIAMI over Oakland by 7
The surprise team in the AFC this season? You’re reading about them. Tony
and the Tuna have done a masterful job turning this one-win laughingstock
into a playoff contender as the Dolphins own a winning record for the
fi rst time since Christmas 2005. It’s been a long uphill climb and the pats
on the back are warranted. Today’s line, though, is not. As we warned on
these pages last week you just don’t take a team working its way out of the
gutter and make them a double-digit favorite. They sniffed this number last
week and failed as 8-point chalk against Seattle and we don’t see anything
different this Sunday. Confi rmation comes from the fact that better Dolphin
teams were 2-17 ATS as home favorites of 7 or more points when playing
off a win. Granted, the Raiders aren’t much but you don’t need to be at
these kind of prices… especially with the Patriots up next for the Fish. A
solid take.

NY GIANTS over Baltimore by 8
Two division leaders (Colts tied with Steelers) enter the ring off underdog
wins last week in an inter-conference clash, yet somehow this does NOT
appear to be a Super Bowl preview. Maybe it’s Baltimore’s persona, eerily
similar to the Falcons with a fi rst-year coach and rookie quarterback. If
defense gets a vote then both would garner plenty of support with the
Ravens No. 2 and Giants No. 3 stop units leading the way. Big Blue is surely a
better team away from the Big Apple (14-2 SU and 13-3 ATS away or neutral;
8-5 SU and ATS home) since last season but the Black Birds appear up against
it in this their 3rd straight road game. That’s because teams in this role, off
a SU underdog win, are just 10-25 ATS, including 1-13 ATS if they own a win
percentage of .636 or greater, since 1980. We’ll lay the points with Eli, who is
3-0 SU and ATS in his NFL career off a SU underdog win versus an opponent
in the same role, over baby Flacco.

Monday, November 17th
BUFFALO over Cleveland by 7
Bills and Browns go at it under the Monday Night lights with both teams in
need of a victory. Cleveland, who surprised the Giants at the Dawg Pound in
their other Monday Night appearance, will be anxious to improve on new QB
Brady Quinn’s impressive debut last Thursday, albeit in a losing effort. The
scheduling dynamics work in the Bills’ favor as they return home off a road
game while Cleveland takes to the road off back-to-back homers. With Buffi e
11-1 ATS as non-division home chalk in November and 14-2 ATS in games
after tackling the Patriots, look for the Bills to ‘Prove it all Night’ here.

5* BEST BET
Another same-season division revenger leads to a dramatic role change
inside this rematch. When these same two squads squared off in the
2008 season opener in Tennessee the Jaguars were installed as 3-point
favorites. Nine-straight wins later and the roles have changed as the
Titans have become an NFL knockoff artist, looking more and more like
a Louis Vuitton purse at a redneck fashion convention. The question,
though, is are they for real? Indications are they are not. Consider:
after their fi rst 6 games of the season, the Titans were +31 net YPG.
Over the last three games they are -0.6 net YPG. On the reverse side,
the Jags were -78 net YPG thru their fi rst six games but are +50 net
YPG over their last three contests. With two teams on opposite sides
of the stat-track and the pointspread roles fully reversed, we’ll point
to Jack Del Rio’s 17-6 ATS career mark as a dog with revenge (7-0 ATS
last seven) and call for the end of the streak here today. Titans exposed
as a fraudJACKSONVILLE over Tennessee by 10

GREEN BAY over Chicago by 10
Word has it Bear QB Kyle Orton should be taking snaps for the Bears this
week. Whether it’s Orton or Rex Grossman, Chicago needs to turn the corner
– and quick. Despite sitting atop the NFC North Division at 5-4 this season,
the Bears have been outplayed (lost the stats) in 6 of their last 7 games,
including the last four in a row. At 4-5 on the season the Packers are one
game back and actually playing much better than the Windy City gang (4-
1 In The Stats last fi ve games). A double revenge motive from last season,
with both losses as favorites, sets the table for the Cheeseheads. The Bears
have lost the money in each of their last seven games with a winning record
when facing an opponent off back-to-back losses while the Packers are 11-4
SU and ATS in division games under head coach Mike McCarthy, including
5-0 ATS versus a .450 or greater opponent and 4-0 ATS off a loss. Forget the
Colts. It’s the Pack that’s back!

Philadelphia over CINCINNATI by 4
Just when the Eagles appear ready to take fl ight, they crash-and-burn. So
it was last Sunday night when the table was set for Andy Reid’s squad
to play their way back into the NFC East Division race. And like a baby
chewing on chicken bones, they choked. Many will look to their 13-1 ATS
mark in games after engaging the Giants. Others might cite their 8-0 ATS
mark on the road off a division game. Us, feeling like a jilted lover (we
had Philly as a 4* Best Bet atop these pages last week), we’ll point to the
Bengals’ 7-0 ATS mark in this series and their 7-0 ATS record against NFC
East Division opposition when playing off a win. With both teams sporting
solid numbers, we’ll call for a Heimlich Maneuver and side with the well
rested Bengals.

New Orleans over KANSAS CITY by 6
Two disappointing teams will try and lift their chins off the mat in the Tee
Pee at Arrowhead but the truth of the matter is, at this stage of the season,
it doesn’t much matter. Both currently reside in the cellar of their respective
divisions largely due to the fact that neither has managed to win back-toback
games this season. The Saints do bring a 10-1 ATS mark into the contest
on the November road when playing off a double-digit ATS loss while the
Chiefs are 1-5 ATS at home with a losing record when playing off 3 or more
losses in a row against a losing foe. That might be enough of an edge to
point to the right team in this garbage collector’s dream.

CAROLINA over Detroit by 10
First reaction here is to make a case of 1st place team against the cellar
dweller. The problem, however, is the guys in the penthouse don’t deserve
their lofty status. Not when you compete 7 of 27 passes for 57 yards (and
4 interceptions) and still manage to win, 17-6, and cover against the AFC’s
version of the Lions (the Raiders). That win marked the 4th game in a row
in which the Panthers have lost the total yardage, meaning they are riding
in the pole position and are leaking oil. Yes, the Lions are a mess. That’s
confi rmed. But you simply can’t make money laying two touchdowns in the
league with teams that are going backwards on the playing fi eld. Instead
we’ll point to Detroit’s gaudy 18-3-2 ATS mark on the road when playing
off a double-digit SU and ATS non-division loss and grab the points in this
overlay.

TAMPA BAY over Minnesota by 6
Former division rivals square off in Tampa with alot riding on the line in
this game. The 5-4 Vikings fi nd themselves tied atop the NFC North Division
while the 6-3 Bucs are one game back of the Panthers in the NFC South
Division. In the long history between these two clubs Minnesota has
struggled at Tampa, going 4-9 SU and 3-10 ATS since 1990, including 0-5 SU
and ATS the last fi ve visits. The Vikes are also 2-13 ATS as road dogs off backto-
back wins against non-division NFC opponents. Admiring Jon Gruden’s
10-3 ATS career mark with rest, including 6-1 ATS at home, we’ll walk the
plank with the Pirates.

SAN FRANCISCO over St. Louis by 6
Niners played spirited ball in Monday night’s gutty loss at Arizona. We’re
certain Mike Singletary will take this team to the next level, much sooner
than later. In the meantime they return home to host the Rams in this NFC
West Division duel with the winner leaving the loser in the cellar. Frisco’s 12-
0 ATS mark as a favorite of less than 14 points in this series holds promise,
as does their 7-0 ATS record with division revenge against an opponent off
back-to-back defeats. Before snapping the rubber band, though, we should
point out that St. Louis is 6-1 ATS as a dog in this series. You’re on your own.

SEATTLE over Arizona by 3
The Cardinals survived a major scare Monday night against the 49ers to go 4
games up in their division with 7 games to play. Yes, Virginia, it appears they
will be hosting their fi rst playoff game since 1947! Between now and then
they will be traveling in unchartered waters, laying points against teams and
at sites in which they have never done before. Like this week, where they
are 3-6 SU in games at Seattle (0-5 last fi ve), having NEVER been favored in
the rainy city. They are also 2-11 SU and 1-12 ATS as a .500 or greater team
when playing with division revenge. On the other side of the coin, Seahawk
starting QB Matt Hasselbeck is scheduled to make his return here today.
Look for Seattle to move to 8-0 ATS in games off back-to-back losses against
a .500 or greater foe in this upset special.

PITTSBURGH over San Diego by 7
If there is a more disappointing team in the NFL this season let them make
their case. We’ll nominate the Chargers and put them up against any other
contender. After holding on for dear life against the pathetic Chiefs, they
must now travel to the east coast and try to so something they haven’t done
this season – win a game. It doesn’t bode well that they are 1-8-1 ATS in
their last 10 games in the Steel City, either. To top it off they take on a team
in a nasty mood in Pittsburgh who will be playing off back-to-back previous
home losses. Toss in a dose of Steeler revenge and it will be no surprise to
see the league’s top ranked defense improve on its 10-1 ATS record in games
off a SU favorite loss when seeking revenge against a losing team. Bolts
short-circuit again today.

Dallas over WASHINGTON by 7
Highly anticipated return of Cowboy QB Tony Romo awaits here and it
couldn’t come at a better time. The lack of offense in his absence has forced
the defense to work overtime, resulting in 30 or more points allowed in 3 of
Dallas’ last 4 games. Major revenge from a 26-24 home loss in late September
(as 10.5-point favorites) assures a focused effort by America’s team. Couple
the Cowboys’ 11-1 ATS record in games off a double-digit loss when facing a
division foe off a loss with the fact that teams are just 1-13 ATS after facing
Mike Tomlin’s Steelers in which they scored 20 or less points and it looks like
Dallas in a big way here today.

Blade
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Re: Newsletters 11/12 - 11/18

KEVIN O’NEILL’S THE MAX
Selection and analysis by Kevin O’Neill

@Iowa (-14½) over Purdue

Outgoing Purdue coach Joe Tiller had a senior class he liked a lot last year, and it would have made sense to go out with that group. With the minimal competitiveness that his current squad is showing it is safe to say that this class won’t go down as one of his favorites. Purdue slogged to a grand total of only 191 yards on 70 snaps in their 21-7 loss at Michigan State, not scoring until the final minute of the game, averaging fewer than three yards per pass attempt and per rush attempt. The 191 yards were the fewest of the Tiller era at Purdue. The offensive line couldn’t protect the quarterback. Tiller said, "They had a lot of penetration today. Our quarterback was on the run for his life a lot of the time. We didn't come close to blocking these guys today." Curtis Painter hasn’t been throwing much in practice, but he might be back for this one, although Siller has been more impressive. If Purdue was better, we’d be concerned about Iowa having to prepare for two different styles of quarterback. Iowa is at least the defensive equal of Michigan State. Iowa’s off that huge win over Penn State, but the win was not an accident. While Iowa was outgained by the Nittany Lions 289-272, they outgained PSU on a yards per play basis. Don’t expect a letdown, as suddenly this Iowa team can reset their goals for New Year’s Day, which would be a real thrill following last year’s bowl-less campaign. Capital One Bowl and Outback Bowl scouts were on hand for the Penn State upset and if the Hawkeyes win out placing in one of those games is possible, and if both Ohio State and Penn State make BCS bowls, it is almost a given. Iowa brings a ton of people to bowl games, so they’d be welcome in the Sunshine State. That possibility keeps the Hawkeyes' focus here. As Derrell Johnson-Koulianos (7 catches in the PSU win) put it, “It’s like tonight we got our bus ticket. Now we’re playing for a plane ticket.” In seasons that Iowa is good, they’re good in their last home game on their strong home field. They’ve lost each of their previous two concluding home games, both in years where they didn’t finish with a winning record. But this team is a lot better this year and in the previous seven seasons of the Ferentz era their home finales saw them cover all seven game by 14, 22, 6, 24, 13, 20, and 19 (in order of recent to distant). Iowa benefited from a bye before Penn State and remain fresh. With a strange schedule that saw them open a week later than most and with no bye weeks during the season, Purdue is playing their 10th consecutive game. The bumps and bruises have had their effect. They gave a big effort in their win over Michigan a couple weeks back, and they’ll be ready for the revenge game against archrival Indiana in Tiller’s last outing next week. But after getting eliminated from bowl contention with the loss in a lame effort Saturday, will this tired team buck up when the going gets tough in Iowa City? We’re willing to say no by laying the points here. Iowa by 21.


Selection and analysis by Kevin O’Neill

@Maryland (+3) over North Carolina

That was a pretty unimpressive performance by Maryland in their loss at Virginia Tech. But Blacksburg is a very inhospitable place on Thursday nights and when I was considering whether or not the Terps were worth a play in that game (they figured statistically), I was alarmed by how banged up their skill position people were. The extra time off from that Thursday affair should benefit Maryland. Receiver Torrey Smith’s ankle is given more time to heal and the backfield combo of tailback Da’rel Scot and fullback Cory Jackson were termed by Ralph Friedgen to be “no worse for wear” after each giving it an unproductive go in the loss to Tech. Writing off poor defensive performances has been a winning strategy when handicapping Maryland this season. After losing at Middle Tennessee State, Maryland returned home to beat Cal 35-27 as 14- point dogs in a game that was a blowout until late. After getting whipped 31-0 at Virginia the Terps beat Wake Forest 26-0 as a small dog. So “off a loss” is covering by 50 points combined in two outings and once again they return to College Park in that role. North Carolina benefited from an extra week preparing for Georgia Tech’s option. At least on the scoreboard they did. In fact, the Yellow Jackets all but gift-wrapped the game for the Tar Heels. Georgia Tech won rushing 326-186, total yardage 423-314, and first downs 20-13, but lost turnovers 3-0, and that killed them. North Carolina used a pair of 4th quarter fumbles (one on a punt, one a running play) to turn 7-0 into 21-0 on TD drives of 30 and 32 yards and then tacked one on after a failed onside kick for a 28-7 win that saw only a single North Carolina scoring drove of more than 39 yards. Considering the scheduling advantage that UNC enjoyed heading into the game it really wasn’t a great performance by the Tar Heels, but to the betting public 28-7 looks like a whipping. An additional factor in this game is the emergence of Butch Davis as the #1 choice in the Tennessee coaching search. Davis has had a lot of success in his brief tenure at Chapel Hill and while he turned down Arkansas last year, you have to wonder if Tennessee might be different. Considering they have $6 million to pay Phil Fulmer to walk away, money is no object and Davis is well aware that UNC will always be a basketball school, which obviously is not the case in Knoxville. Keep an eye on how much chatter results from Tennessee’s interest in Davis, as it may become a distraction for the Tar Heels. With one team that has shown that they can bounce back of a road embarrassment taking on a team that just had a big win at home that was not nearly as impressive as it seems, we’re more likely to get a focused week of practice and a big performance out of Maryland. Having played only once in the past 21 days and taking on a team that may be a little too pleased with their place in the universe, Maryland looks like a live dog here and the performance patterns of both clubs favor the Terps. Maryland by 4.


Selection and Analysis by Matty Baiungo

@Auburn (+8) over Georgia

So much for that preseason # 1 ranking on Georgia. That was obviously way off line. The current reality is that this Georgia team isn’t really that good. About a month back, I used Georgia over Vanderbilt. And in my write-up, I said: “If Georgia doesn’t win this game by 30 points or more, then they too would qualify as a phony team.” Well they didn’t win big rather they held on for a 10-point win (24-14). And since that game, the Bulldogs have gone 2-1 straight-up and just 1-2 against the spread. Over those three games, their defense has allowed 38, 49, and 38 points. And head coach Mark Richt knows his team has a ton of issues other than the leaky defense: “We’ve got some special teams issues that have put these guys in a bind. We’ve had turnover issues that have put these guys in a bind. It is a team game and it’s going to take the entire team to get the point total down. That’s the bottom line. It’s not just the defense.” In SEC play, Georgia has allowed its opponents to score an average of 28.7 points per game. You can understand the LSU game to a degree, and certainly understand the waxing at the hands of Florida, but there’s no excuse to allow 38 points at Kentucky last week. To show you just how bad that is, consider that Kentucky had scored no more than 21 points in their five conference games with an average of just 14.2 points scored per game. And they put up 38 points on Georgia while gashing them for 226 yards on the ground. Georgia’s offense has played well in spurts, but they haven’t been consistent because of their offensive line troubles. The line was young to begin with, but injuries have continued to mount and they lost another tackle at Kentucky. And the special teams have been atrocious all season long. So in all three phases of the game, Georgia has issues, and cannot be trusted laying points. Auburn is no great shakes by any means. They, themselves, have plenty of their own issues. But since Kodi Burns took over the offense, they’ve improved on that side of the ball. Burns threw for more than 300 yards at Mississippi, and then last week, ran for 158 yards against Tennessee-Martin. In those two games, Burns has accounted for 620 yards, which totaled 73% of Auburn's offense. He’s a dual threat quarterback who can take advantage of Georgia’s defensive troubles. Defensively, Auburn played the Tennessee-Martin game without their entire defensive line because of injury. But all are expected back here. Both teams have been dreadful against the pointspread with Auburn just 1-8 and Georgia 3-6. But Auburn has more incentive here. The Tigers win last Saturday snapped a four game losing skid, and with the way Burns is playing, there’s a chance momentum will carry over to their last home game here against Georgia, and then into the Iron Bowl at Alabama in their finale.Still, this is more of an anti-Georgia play than anything else. Auburn by 14


Selection and analysis by Kevin O’Neill

South Carolina (+21) over @Florida

This line seems huge, doesn’t it? But maybe there’s a good reason for it. I don’t hear a lot of talking head commentary any more (I just found it to be useless, so why bother) but in the car one day I heard Kirk Herbstreit raving about Florida and how good they were going to be when their talent started to gel. I was surprised, because I hadn’t been impressed by a team I considered to be overhyped, but since the loss to Ole’ Miss check out how Herbstreit’s opinion has been vindicated. Florida has had enormous scoring output in individual halves in each of their next five games. 24 points in the second half at Arkansas, 31 points in the second half against LSU, 42 points in the first half against Kentucky, 35 points in the second half against Georgia, and 35 points in the first half on Saturday against Vandy. Wow.Last year Florida belted South Carolina 51-31, but it was at a time when South Carolina’s defense was absolutely ravaged by injury. That’s not a reflection of what the Gamecocks are capable of this season, as they’re 10 returning defensive starters have stayed relatively healthy and new contributors have emerged. South Carolina’s defensive numbers are actually better than Alabama’s, not by much, but better. When you consider just conference play, South Carolina’s defensive numbers are the class of the conference, allowing SEC opponents only 276 yards per game on 4.3 yards per play. And the offense has some playmakers (Kenny McKinley is an underrated wideout) and a pair of capable quarterbacks in Chris Smelley and Stephen Garcia, and Spurrier will be looking for the hot hand. There’s not always a lot of harmony on a Spurrier coached team, but the Visored One called his new defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson “the best defensive coach in the country” last week while tossing a contract extension in his direction. In his big divisional games, Spurrier has done a fine job of hanging around, even as wins are hard to come by. Spurrier is 6-3-2 against Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida since arriving four seasons ago and has had the lesser talent in almost every instance. You know Spurrier’s feelings about being shut out of the process when Urban Meyer got hired, and this is the game that he shoots for all year. Not the hardest worker in the world, this is the game he puts the extra hours in not only this week, but in every season of the year. And here we’re getting three TD’s with the #1 defensive team in the conference and an outstanding offensive coach. Remember two years ago when eventual national champion Florida had to block some field goals, including one at the gun, to beat South Carolina 17-16 as a 13-point dog? Florida’s too talented for the Gamecocks to pull it off, but look for South Carolina to keep this one interesting into the fourth quarter where the Gators pure talent finally prevails. Florida by 14.


Selection and Analysis by Matty Baiungo

@South Florida (-7½) over Rutgers

The bye week came at a perfect time for South Florida. Prior to it, the Bulls lost back-to-back road games at lesser opponents Louisville and Cincinnati. But look for South Florida to bounce back strong off the week of rest and play one of their best games of the year in this spot. This is a game in which they’ve had circled after last year’s crushing loss at Rutgers. South Florida was 6-0 and the # 2 team in the country heading into that Thursday night showdown in New Brunswick, but fell short in a 30- 27 loss. And that loss led to a downward spiral for the Bulls who then lost 2 consecutive games after the heartbreaking loss at Rutgers which ruined their season. The difference between these two teams this season and from last season is huge. Rutgers lost the best player they ever had, Ray Rice, to the NFL. And his loss has been felt all season long. Over the last three years, the Scarlet Knights averaged 162, 180, and 198 yards on the ground per game while averaging 4.6 yards per rush with Rice being the workhorse. This year, Rutgers barely eclipses the century mark with 114 rushing yards per game while gaining only 3.5 yards per rush. And without Rice, Rutgers has no chance of having any success on the ground against South Florida. The Bulls defense is very good with NFL talent on that side of the ball. They allow only 85 rushing yards per game on a miniscule 2.7 yards per rush. And unlike last year in which Rutgers ran for 170 yards on South Florida, it’s not going to happen here. That means Rutgers will be one-dimensional to the pass. And Rutgers quarterback Mike Teel has struggled all year throwing the ball because he doesn’t have a solid running game to take the load off his shoulder. Teel is completing just 58.7% of his passes with a 12 to 10 touchdown to interception ratio. So he’s not the type of quarterback that can sit back in the pocket and pick a defense apart, especially a solid South Florida defense that allows just 4.6 yards per play. On the other hand, South Florida quarterback Matt Grothe should have a field day passing the ball against a very weak Rutgers secondary that allows over 60% completions and only has 3 interceptions on the season. Grothe ranks 20th in the NCAA in quarterback passing efficiency as he completes 64.1% of his passes. And he’s off his worst collegiate game ever in the loss at Cincinnati in which he hit only 13 of 31 passes for 174 yards while throwing 3 interceptions. Grothe is a very good quarterback that will bounce back strong off that awful performance, especially with the extra time to prepare. Under head coach Jim Leavitt, South Florida is 36-10 straight up at home since going on the betting board in 2001. Twelve of those thirty-six wins had no line. In the 24 remaining home wins, South Florida is an awesome 20-4 against the spread with the average margin of victory coming by 19.5 points per game with 18 of the wins coming by more than the posted spread on this game. This game will be an absolute blowout. South Florida by 14.


Selection and Analysis by Erik Scheponik

@Florida St. (–7) over Boston College

Both teams come in to this one off of big wins this past week. Boston College threw an impressive shutout against Catholic school rival Notre Dame, while FSU finally beat Clemson as Bobby Bowden avenged the firing of his son. There are definitely some buy signs with Florida St. right now, as I used them this past weekend, and will come right back with them here. Clemson was a popular pick in that game, with the line dropping to –3 by game time, but the ‘Noles took it to them on both sides of the ball outyarding the Tigers by over 100 yards. On the other hand, while a shutout is always impressive, BC benefited from a 5-0 turnover margin in their win over the Golden Domers. One of those turnovers was a 76-yard interception return for a touchdown FSU’s expensive revamping of their coaching staff didn’t pay immediate dividends last season, as they continued a 5-6 year trend of underachieving. However, this season is a different story, as the ‘Noles are bringing it hard on both sides of the ball, and seem to have a little more fight in them in the face of adversity. They are a goal line fumble away from being 8-1 and in the Top 100 right now. They responded well off of that devastating loss last week, something that recent FSU squads have not done. The biggest difference on the field is that they have rediscovered a running game for the first time in years under Offensive Coordinator and future Head Coach Jimbo Fisher. Last season, Fisher’s first in Tallahassee, FSU’s running game jumped to 128 yards per game. No great shakes, but still over 30 ypg better than the previous two seasons. This season, the Noles are going for 201 ypg on 5.2 yards per rush. The young OL is improving under coach Rick Trickett, another top dollar hire, and QB Christian Ponder has been able to settle in quite nicely as a consistent, if unspectacular dual threat.The defense is its same old rugged self under DC Mickey Andrews with solid numbers across the board, including top 10 in the nation in sacks and tackles for loss.Boston College, on the other hand, is a mess offensively.They have not gone over 255 yards in any of their last 3 games. SR Chris Cane is all the Eagles have under center right now, but he is passing for only 5.4 yards per pass with an ugly 9/12 ratio. They are not a bad running team at 152 rushing yards per game and 4.2 ypr, but with a lack of weapons and mediocre QB play, things could get ugly against Andrews and the FSU pressure. BC’s defense, like FSU’s, is top 10 statistically, but could be put in a major hole here by the offense. They also are very shaky in the kicking game, while FSU kicker Graham Gano is one of college football’s best. That gives the Garnet and Gold a major edge in 2 out 3 phases of the game, and unlike previous years, I think we can trust this club at a fair price in a game where they are the superior team. FSU by 14

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Re: Newsletters 11/12 - 11/18

NFL

Selection and analysis by Kevin O’Neill

@Falcons (-5½) over Broncos

Can’t say enough about the performance of Jay Cutler last Thursday night in Cleveland, and really the whole team for that matter. With clusters of injuries on both sides of the ball, they looked dead in the water Thursday. With little running game to start the night, Ryan Torain became the latest noname Bronco back to be plugged into the system and succeed, before suffering a second quarter season-ending ACL tear. Selvin Young pulled a groin on his next carry. With only a rookie fullback for run support, and facing a 13-point deficit, Cutler willed his team to victory in the 34-30 comeback win against the Browns. Can Cutler continue to carry Denver on his back? Probably not. The Browns have a unique ability to play like garbage and lose games, and the debate in their locker room right now is whether they quit on themselves. The Browns are very poor defensively and Cutler caught lightning in a bottle in that game. With Denver needing to sign someone off the street just to get into their preferred formations this week, things will likely be much different. Picked by The Sporting News to go 1-15, the 6-3 Falcons are a fundamentally sound, well-coached team that has been taking care of business all season long. They’ve also benefited from being much luckier than most teams, like today’s opponent, when it comes to injuries. And after the morgue-like atmosphere in last season’s Vickless lost season, this team is enjoying a substantial home field edge. You’re aware of the stat before the LSU game that Alabama had only trailed for 1:23 all season long. How about the Falcons trailing for only 11 seconds at home all season. This is actually a matchup of promising young quarterbacks, as rookie Matt Ryan has at least the potential of third-year man Cutler, and seems less mistakeprone than the Bronco. Michael Turner proves every week that his status as the league’s best backup when in San Diego was no hype. Roddy White has gone from passdropping punch line to sticky-fingered star. And the defense has solid veterans like Lawyer Milloy and John Abraham enjoying big years while providing significant leadership to the emerging youngsters around them. Don’t be concerned with the 521-361 yardage disadvantage by New Orleans on Sunday. Saints had to play a high-risk play-from-behind strategy after falling behind 27-6. Lots of garbage yards and three interceptions resulted from it. The Saints were thoroughly outplayed. Fine work by the Broncos on Thursday night but this young team (11 of the 44 Broncos who saw action Thursday night were rookies) will find it to be tough sledding in Atlanta against a solid Falcons team that’s enjoying an everincreasing home field advantage. Devastated on both sides of the ball, the Broncos will have no running game, and their defense is allowing 28 points and 389 yards pergame on 6.0 yards per play. Who would have though in August that we’d be laying points with Atlanta over Denver,but we’ll call for Falcons by 13.


Selection and Analysis by Kevin O’Neill

Texans @Colts over 49

Sage Rosenfels has the Texans job for a few weeks while Matt Schaub recovers from his knee injury Jared Allen of the Vikings hit him low two weeks ago. Schaub will likely be back in September. Rosenfels is a capable quarterback but makes a lot of mistakes as well. So he’s likely to make a big play, as he did on his 60-yard strike to Kevin Walter on a one-play drive against the Ravens. And he’s also likely to set up a couple of short scores for the opponents, like the 17 and 19-yard TD drives that the Ravens enjoyed following Rosenfels turnovers.As a result, since Gary Kubiak became head coach, games in which Rosenfels logs significant time are 10-2-1 to the over. The guy can be very good. And he can be very bad. And both good and bad have helped the over in his brief career. Meanwhile, the Texans defense is cratering. Though Dunta Robinson is back from his yearlong knee injury, the rest of the defense is banged up. They do some things well (get some pressure) and some things poorly (nearly everything else). They’ve given up 28 points or more in 7 of their 9 games this season. The only two clubs they’ve held under than number were Detroit and Cincinnati, two of the worst offensive teams in the game. Another way to put that would be “Texans have allowed 28+ to every team ranked 28th or better offensively”. It would be a great week for the Colts to re-establish some rhythm and effectiveness in their passing game, which is unquestionably a priority for them.On a slow field in Pittsburgh, the Colts offense was far from terrific, and the unit has been up and down, but in taking on that Texans D, but with the big step down in class it should be a more productive day. If Joe Flacco can lead the Ravens to 27 first downs and 41 points in Houston, what will Manning do to the Texans in Indy? Colts defense has been very good against the run since they were banged up badly early in the season. In the last five games they’ve held their opponents to 2.0 yards per rush, 3.8, 2.4, 4.0, and then on Sunday 2.1. That means that the Texans are unlikely to be able to run effectively, which means they’ll be throwing the ball nearly every play (16 runs, 38 passes on Sunday). The clock will be stopped frequently and big plays for both teams should result. And pass D isn’t the Colts strength. Even a sore-shouldered Ben Roethlisberger was able to lead the Steelers to 10-18 third down efficiency. The Colts are hurting at cornerback with Marlin Jackson out for the season and Kelvin Haden having missed five straight games (possibly back this week?) It could be a good week for the fantastic Houston WR Andre Johnson. The matchups in these games should favor high scoring.And getting back on track offensively has got to be a big priority for the Colts. And that Rosenfels 83% over the total stat is meaningful. This number looks high for a reason, so let’s take the over in the Texans/Colts game.


Selection and Analysis by Matty Baiungo

@Buccaneers (-3½) over Vikings

Tampa Bay got a much-needed week of rest last week. One of only four other teams to play nine straight games before their bye week, the Bucs should be ready to roll off their freshener. Before the off week, the Bucs lost at Dallas and then stormed back from a 24-3 deficit against the Chiefs to steal a 30-27 overtime win. A lot need to happen for Tampa to get that win, and even in overtime, Bucs kicker Matt Bryant missed a chip shot field goal. But they were called for a false start, which gave them another chance, which Bryant cashed in for the win. “It would have been terrible to go into the bye week with a loss,” said Bryant. “To win the way we did, I think it’s just going to make us hungrier when we get back.” And that’s exactly the mindset you want from a team coming out of their bye; a confident team that is going to come out of the gate firing. The Bucs have been flying under the radar all season long. When talk comes up about who the better teams are, Tampa’s name rarely gets mentioned. But Tampa deserves to be mentioned in those circles. Their defense is phenomenal. The Bucs are holding opponents to just 16.3 points per game, 289 yards per game, and 5 yards per play. And to prove just how good those defensive numbers are, check out this comparison. Those numbers are only 3 points per game, 5 yards per game, and 0.3 yards per play less than the Tennessee Titans’ defense. And that’s all you hear about is how good the Titans defense is, but what about the Bucs? Tampa’s numbers are no mirage either as they’ve come against good offenses that average over 24 points per game as a group. Minnesota did everything they could to give away their 28-27 win over the Packers. When you hold an opponent to less than 100 yards at the half and to only 184 yards for the entire game, you shouldn’t be losing with a little more than 2 minutes left in the game, especially when you out-rush your opponent 220 to 74. But four costly turnovers and a punt return for a touchdown put the Vikings in that position. The big rushing number put up by Minnesota was of no surprise because the Packers cannot stop the run as they allow over 150 yards per game on 5 yards per rush. But here the Vikings will face an elite stop unit in Tampa Bay that holds opponents to under 100 yards per game on just 3.8 yards per rush. Minnesota will have trouble running the ball, and their passing game isn’t one built to carry the offense. Tampa’s defense is just as good as Tennessee’s, and the Titans held the Vikings to just 80 yards on the ground in a 30-17 win. Look for a similar result here. Buccaneers by 10.


Selection and Analysis by Dave Fobare

@Niners (-4) over Rams

I decided to fire up my NFL database to see if I couldn't find some good material on San Francisco offensive coordinator Mike Martz. I'm not generally a big fan of coaching trends unless the records are very strong and can be connected in some fashion to an identifiable aspect of the coach involved - whether it be his personality or his coaching style. I was surprised to see how easy it was. My study comprised Martz' five seasons in St Louis as head coach, but NOT 1999 when Martz was a coordinator under Dick Vermeil. Vermeil has a dominant personality and as strong as Martz is there is no way his emotional influence in the locker room even with his offensive players was stronger than that of Vermeil's, especially considering it was Martz' first stint as a coordinator in the NFL. Martz has to be the strongest negative influence on his team's betting prospects of any coach working in the NFL today. Since 2000 his teams in St Louis, Detroit and San Francisco are 56-83 ATS. Just as important is the average cover margin: -2.82 points per game. That matches up nicely with the overall spread record. The disadvantage bettors on Mike Martz' teams have faced is almost precisely equal to that of the average road team in the NFL. That is an amazing mark especially in light of Martz' overall success in St Louis. The Rams were 56-36 during his tenure. Yet as a spread proposition they were just over 40%. So the losing mark against the number has been pretty consistent wherever he has been. The amount of coordination and precision required to make the Martz offense hum is much greater than other offenses, and this shows up very strongly in his teams' home/road dichotomy. In front of friendly fans who aren't cranking up the noise to disrupt his offense Martz' teams have been all right - 33-37 ATS with an average cover margin very close to zero. It’s on the road in front of noisy, hostile crowds his teams have suffered badly, just 23-46 ATS and a cover margin of -5.6 points per game. And that is a coaching trend well worth noting. So it’s ok to bet on a Mike Martz team, just not on the road. But that is not a reason to bet Frisco. The overall yardage stats are. The Rams are being outpassed by an astronomical margin. They are throwing for a poor but not horrible 5.7 yards per attempt. But the defense is giving up 8.2 yards per throw, which IS horrible. And they are being outgained on the ground. Again, the offense isn't good, but 3.9 yards per carry ain't bad either. But the defense is giving up 4.9 yards per carry, and that IS bad. San Francisco's yardage numbers are much better. Since the Niners are playing a Monday night game as I write this, I can't list their stats. But with the yards per play numbers available at the time I write, my stat model makes the Niners a 10½-point favorite here. So why are they just 4 point faves? It’s all in the turnovers. The Niners are amongst the worst in the league so far with a -10-turnover differential. San Francisco may not be a good team, but that differential has made them look much worse than they really are. And that along with what we've learned about Mike Martz is enough to back them here. Lay it. San Francisco by 10.


Selection and analysis by Erik Scheponik

@Redskins (+1½) over Cowboys

Dallas was dubbed a 10-10.5 point favorite in their home loss to Washington earlier this season. Since then, we have witnessed more than enough evidence that that line was simply off, as Washington went on to win at Philly the next week as well. Dallas, on the other hand, eerily resembles the Cowboys of the last couple of seasons, as they don’t seem to play to sum of their parts, and can’t win big games. Yes their recent struggles can be partially attributed to injuries at a lot of different positions. However, whether it be T.O., Pac- Man, Jerry Jones on the sideline, whatever…this team still just doesn’t seem to have the chemistry needed to “tough” games out in this league. Tony Romo’s return will be huge for Dallas as it was painfully evident that the game had simply passed Brad Johnson by. However, that doesn’t overshadow the fact that this team is still without S Roy Williams, DB Pac-Man Jones, and CB Terrence Newman in the secondary. Big-play RB Felix Jones is also still out as is one of the league’s best punters in Matt Mcbriar.That’s a big chunk missing from their defense and special teams, and although they have as much firepower as any offense in football, they were held to 17 points and 250 yards in the first meeting with Washington before a desperation, last-minute drive against a prevent defense helped them pull to within one score.Washington was dominated by a very good Pittsburgh team in their Monday night loss before the bye week. The rest will undoubtedly do them some good, and that loss fits them into a 67% play on situation involving home dogs off of a bye week This was a playoff caliber team last season, and they are one of the league’s top 10 by any measurement this season. Defensively, they rank top 5 in yards per game (273) and yards per play (4.9), and they are 8th in the league in scoring D (18.7). They rush for 4.6 ypr and have a very capable QB Jason Campbell going against an injury-riddled Dallas secondary. Based on those numbers, I really can’t fathom them being the underdog here. Bad loss to Pittsburgh is excusable based on the quality of that Steelers team, and the ‘Skins being a tired team due to the late bye. The public will be all over Romo’s return, but Washington is no pushover.Washington by 4.

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Re: Newsletters 11/12 - 11/18

Statfox Platinum Sheet College

N CAROLINA at MARYLAND
As close as North Carolina (7-2) and Maryland (6-3) are in record overall and in conference play, I can’t help but consider how different these teams really are. North Carolina’s numbers are just far superior in almost every category. The Tarheels have accomplished this against a tougher schedule even. Consider the Outplay Factor Ratings as exhibit A: UNC +15.4, Maryland +0.7. North Carolina is a Top 15 team when you look at that number, while Maryland is barely even outplaying its opponents. The Tarheels outscore their opposition by 12.5 PPG while Maryland is just +2.5. The final straw for me is that UNC is the hotter team, coming in with the momentum of two straight impressive wins. Maryland is 1-3 ATS in its L4. There is a reason HC Butch Davs team is favored here.Play: N Carolina -3

NOTRE DAME vs.NAVY
Navy’s upset of Notre Dame last year snapped a 43-year losing streak in the head-to-head series. Apparently oddsmakers believe there is a good chance the Middies can make it two straight. I don’t buy it. We all know how badly the Irish struggled last season, particularly on offense. If there was ever a year in which Navy would shock Notre Dame, it was 2007. As far as this season is concerned, the Irish are a much more capable club on offense, last week’s shutout loss to BC aside. Actually, that loss last week in which the Irish turned the ball over five times has a lot to do with why they are only laying 3-points here. To me it is an overreaction. I expect a big day from Charlie Weis’ club, particularly QB Jimmy Clausen. ND rolls.Play: Notre Dame -3

CALIFORNIA at OREGON ST
I can just see the proponents of the BCS restless in their seats over their concern with Oregon State potentially snatching up the Pac 10’s Rose Bowl bid. The Beavers are on no one’s BCS standings radar, yet with an upset of USC to their credit, they are still in position to win the conference title. The fact is they are getting better and better as the season wears on. HC Mike Riley’s team comes into this matchup with a 4-game winning streak, having held those opponents to just 260 YPG. They are also 4-0 SU & 3-1 ATS at home this season, outscoring clubs by 24.7 PPG. On top of that, they’ve been historically good late in the season at home: OREGON ST is 20-6 ATS (+13.4 Units) in home November games since 1992. The average score was OREGON ST 28.5, OPPONENT 20.8 - (Rating = 2*). Hope all you will that OSU will lose to give USC the Pac 10 title. I just don’t see it happening here. Play: Oregon St -3

GEORGIA at AUBURN
Auburn is in rough shape, having lost its last eight games against the spread while scoring just 19.5 PPG for the season. I’ve learned in the past that those types of teams are like poison. Georgia meanwhile is still playing with a purpose and an outside shot at the BCS still. The Bulldogs haven’t been covering many pointspreads themselves lately, but that is due much more to a treacherous recent schedule than any other factor. They are still pouring in the points and will have a major offensive advantage here. On top of that, HC Mark Richt’s team has had its way with Auburn the last two years, winning by 25 & 22 points. This Tigers’ team does not look like a bowl team. No reason to force a play on them here as the home dog, they are overmatched.Play: Georgia -8

S CAROLINA at FLORIDA
As hard as it is to put out a play against the team playing perhaps the best football in the country with a coach that seems hungry to cover pointspreads, I can’t get over the fact that South Carolina has not lost by a margin big enough to cover this line since Spurrier’s fourth game with the team in 2005. That was essentially leftovers from Lou Holtz’s team. These Gamecocks are all Spurrier’s and they boast one of the best defenses in the country. In fact, allowing just 15.6 PPG, this is an extremely rare case where you’ll get an underdog catching 7-points more than they actually allow. Is that to mean that the Gamecocks offense won’t take the field Saturday? For the record, that unit scores 24 PPG itself. The last time these teams met in the swamp, the Gators won 17-16 in ’06. While I believe Florida will score more than that, this seems like at most a 31-17 type of game.Play: S Carolina +22

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Re: Newsletters 11/12 - 11/18

Statfox Platinum Sheet NFL

NY JETS at NEW ENGLAND
New England got the better of New York in their week 2 meeting earlier this season, but I can assure you that HC Eric Mangini won’t be anywhere near as conservative as he was in that contest. His team has shown the ability all season long to make big plays on both sides of the ball. If he turns this into a grind it out contest once again, his team will lose. He has a big offensive edge to turn to here, primarily at quarterback, outscoring New England by over a touchdown per game. He also has the better Outplay Factor Rating of both the teams, +2.9 to +0.1. If that’s not enough, consider this attractive StatFox Super Situation the deciding factor: Play On - Any team (NY JETS) - revenging a home loss against opponent, in a game involving two good teams (60% to 75%) in the second half of the season. (22-4 over the last 10 seasons.) (84.6%, +17.6 units. Rating = 3*).Play: NY Jets +3

OAKLAND at MIAMI
Oakland is struggling, no doubt about it. However, I always say that double-digit pointspreads should be reserved for the league’s elite teams. No disrespect, but Miami is not an elite team. The Dolphins are feasting on weak opponents, and when I use the word feast, I mean building their won-lost record, not dominating. The Fish only average 21.3 PPG, meaning they don’t have the offensive firepower to be expected to rout anyone. Check out the system based on the two teams’ offensive production: Play On - Any team (OAKLAND) - a terrible offensive team (<=14 PPG) against an average offensive team (18 to 23 PPG), after scoring 14 points or less in 2 straight games. (82-44 since 1983.) (65.1%, +33.6 units. Rating = 2*). If that weren’t enough, MIAMI is 0-7 ATS (-7.7 Units) versus poor offensive teams - averaging <=285 yards/game over the last 3 seasons. The average score was MIAMI 12.7, OPPONENT 25.0 - (Rating = 2*). Not that much has changed yet, last week’s Miami near-loss to Seattle proves that.Play: Oakland +11

NEW ORLEANS at KANSAS CITY
Taking the exact excerpt from this week’s feature article on page 7…Sean Payton’s teams at New Orleans have been potent offensively behind Drew Brees. Most of the games they lose are shootouts because their defense is the weaker unit. Well, when matched up against opposing offenses that can’t take advantage because of their inability to pass, the Saints win often, and win big. In fact, the average victory margin is a healthy 21.4 PPG on a 6-0 ATS record…As much as it hurts to take a team that struggles on the road defensively as a road favorite, I believe the home team has to have the ability to take advantage of that weakness. Kansas City does not and opponents are putting up big numbers through the air. I expect Brees to do the same.Play: New Orleans -4

SAN DIEGO at PITTSBURGH
I am done with the San Diego Chargers, at least until they prove they have either the heart or the talent to warrant the prices that oddsmakers are putting on them. They look much slower offensively than we’re used to seeing and teams are just pushing them around on the other side of the ball. I don’t think experts are making nearly enough about how much the LB Shawn Merriman injury meant to this team. Look at the defensive numbers they’ve allowed so far: 26.0 PPG, 396 YPG, 6.0 YPP. Those are awful. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh has stayed among the elite in the AFC despite playing one of the league’s toughest schedules. This game will seem much easier on Ben Roethlisberger than what he has become accustomed to. He and the Steelers should be able to take advantage. PITTSBURGH is 25-11 ATS (+12.9 Units) vs. poor passing defenses - allowing 235 or more passing yards/game since 1992. The average score was PITTSBURGH 24.9, OPPONENT 19.2 - (Rating = 1*). Play: Pittsburgh -3.5

CLEVELAND at BUFFALO
Motivation is one of the most under-scrutinized factors in handicapping sports. It seems we all like to look for teams that have plenty to play for,but we don’t put enough into which teams’ seasons may have already been rendered over. Well, Cleveland’s 2008 campaign has essentially been flushed down the toilet. After making a run at the playoffs a year ago,this franchise is once again in disarray and it came to a head in the late loss last Thursday night vs. Denver. Meanwhile, Buffalo is struggling a bit but still finds itself in the playoff hunt. The Bills also have the motivation of playing in front of the home folks on a Monday night. They have a history of taking care of bad teams too: Jauron is 11-2 ATS (+8.8 Units) when playing against a team with a losing record as the coach of BUFFALO.The average score was BUFFALO 21.0, OPPONENT 14.5 - (Rating = 2*). The Browns qualify as a bad team, one not worthy of your betting dollar.Play: Buffalo -4.5

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