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Saturday Gameday News and Notes

Saturday Gameday News and Notes

Games to Watch - Week 12
By Chris David   

Texas at Kansas

Quick Hits
The Longhorns bounced back from their first loss of the season by dismantling Baylor 45-21 last Saturday. Texas can finish the year 11-1, yet still be sitting on the outside of a conference championship and perhaps BCS berth as well. The final road test will be in Lawrence on Saturday against Kansas, who has dropped three of four. The Jayhawks' defense has given up an average of 51 PPG in the three setbacks and that doesn't bode well against a Texas team that can light up anybody behind quarterback Colt McCoy. The two schools haven't met since 2005, with Texas capturing a 66-14 blowout win over Kansas. Mack Brown knows his team needs to continue to rack up double-digit wins, which is perhaps why the oddsmakers listed Texas as a 13 ½-point road 'chalk' on Saturday. 

California at Oregon State

Quick Hits
Did you know that if Oregon State wins out, it would play in the Rose Bowl? The Beavers would finish 8-1 in Pac 10 play and own any tiebreakers. Three games left on the docket for Mike Riley's team including a home battle on Saturday against California. The Golden Bears were upset by the Beavers 31-28 last year in Berkley when they were ranked second in the nation. The road team has won and covered the last five battles, including the aforementioned surprise. That streak could come to an end this week, considering Cal has gone 1-3 on the road this year with the lone win against Washington State and Oregon State owns a 4-0 record in Corvallis. If OSU does run the table, they would most likely have a rematch against PSU, who whipped 'em 45-14 back in September. 

South Carolina at Florida

Quick Hits
If there is one coach that the majority of Gator backers fear it's none other than South Carolina's Steve Spurrier. Last year, Tim Tebow ran woodshed over the Gamecocks as Florida posted a 51-31 road victory. Oddsmakers opened Florida as a 21-point home favorite and that might be a tad low considering the school has won all eight of its games by an average of 34.8 PPG. Still, it should be noted that South Carolina is 7-3 under the Ole Ball Coach this year and all three setbacks came by exactly seven points each. Do we have an upset brewing in the Swamp or another blowout? 

Southern California at Stanford    

Quick Hits
Last year, Stanford pulled off the biggest upset in college football gambling history (NCAA doesn't track this) by shocking Southern California 24-23 as a 39 ½-point road underdog. Can head coach Jim Harbaugh and the Cardinal catch lightning in a bottle again? It's highly doubtful and the oddsmakers agree, listing the Trojans as 23-point road favorites. Troy's defense helped the school dominate California 17-3 last week and most would expect another stellar effort in Northern California. The 'over/under' on the Cardinal's points might be set at 7 ½ and that's probably being generous. 

Boston College at Florida State

Quick Hits
Along with North Carolina (17), Bobby Bowden and Florida State (20) are the only two ranked schools from the ACC in the latest AP Top 25 poll. The majority of people that follow college football know the conference is down this year, but here's how bad it is. Even though the Tar Heels and Seminoles are the lone pair ranked from the ACC, both teams can win out and not play in the ACC Championship Game. FSU will face Boston College at home this week and this series has been all about the visitor, which has won and covered the last three meetings. The two losses that FSU suffered this year came by a combined 12 points to Wake Forest (12-3) and Georgia Tech (31-28) and the team committed nine turnovers in the setbacks as well. Can you imagine how much pub a matchup between an undefeated FSU and one-loss Florida battle would've received on Nov. 29

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Re: Saturday Gameday News and Notes

Letdown Spots -- Week 12
By Judd Hall

If you were expecting a ton of upsets last week in college football, you didn’t get them. Underdogs were only able to get the outright victory 12 times in Week 11.

As few and far between those shockers were, we did get one that did help clear up the road to the national title.

We’ve got three programs that are set up for the letdown this Saturday, so let’s take a gander.

Hawkeyes Down…

There were a few rumblings from within my office that the Nittany Lions were primed for an upset last Saturday in Iowa City. I didn’t pay much attention to it since Penn State had a full week off after a huge win in Columbus.

Turns out the Hawkeyes were prepared to deliver that upset by frustrating Daryll Clark, allowing him to complete nine of 23 passes for 86 yards. Despite Clark’s play, Penn State took a 16-7 lead into the third quarter.
Iowa didn’t let that deficit faze them in the second half as evidenced by scoring 17 points in the final 25 minutes. To give you an idea of how much of a charmed life the Hawkeyes lead in this tilt, their 31-yard winning field goal was made by Daniel Murray…a backup kicker who hadn’t made a three-pointer since Sept. 20 at Pittsburgh.

The euphoria could be short lived when the ‘Hawks welcome Purdue to town this Saturday. The Boilermakers kept Iowa out of the end zone in their contest with Iowa in 2007 during a 31-6 blowout. Purdue’s Curtis Painter completed 29 of 48 passes for 315 yards and three touchdowns in that matchup. Recent reports suggest that he might come back to play in passing situations, while Justin Siller takes control of the ground attack under center. That could wreak havoc with the Hawkeyes’ defense.

Beware of the Pirates…

East Carolina looks like it has itself back on track after escaping its battle with the Thundering Herd with a 19-16 overtime victory. The Pirates’ recent rise to success can directly be attributed to their defense. ECU has allowed an average of 231.3 YPG in its last three matches, while picking off four passes.

As good as things are looking for the Pirates, we have to remember that they needed overtime to get their last two wins. That won’t work against Southern Mississippi. The Golden Eagles are riding a two-game winning streak right now after outscoring their opponents 87-20. And that is without their top running asset in Bubba Kirksey.

Aside from playing two emotionally draining extra-time affairs, East Carolina hasn’t fared that great against Southern Miss. That’s because the Golden Eagles are 8-2 straight up and against the spread when facing the Pirates.

Low Tide…

So much was made about Nick Saban’s return to Baton Rouge last week that we almost forgot about the game against LSU. Alabama was able to take advantage of three interceptions and a bullheaded run by John Parker Wilson to get past the Tigers, 27-21.

While the Crimson Tide is riding high right now, they can’t afford to look past Mississippi State. Sure the Bulldogs five of their last seven games, but Sly Croom’s squad knows how to defend the ball with the 19th best unit in the nation, allowing 295.89 YPG.

Plus Mississippi State has won the last two meetings as an outright underdog. Looking at the Tide as 21½-point home favorites, it’s not a bad spot to play the ‘Dogs.

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Re: Saturday Gameday News and Notes

SEC Tip Sheet - Week 12
By Brian Edwards

Bettors have four SEC games to wager on this weekend, in addition to a pair of non-conference games involving Ole Miss and LSU. We’ll have a Florida-South Carolina preview posted later in the week, but let’s take a look at the other contests now.

**Georgia at Auburn**

--Las Vegas Sports Consultants opened Georgia (8-2 straight up, 3-6 against the spread) as a nine-point favorite. As of Thursday afternoon, most spots had UGA at 8½ with a total of 47.

--Mark Richt’s team survived a scare in Lexington last week, capturing a 42-38 win as a 13 ½-point favorite. With UK in the red zone in the final minute, Demarcus Dobbs intercepted a screen pass from Randall Cobb to seal the deal for the Dawgs.

--Matthew Stafford had a big day against the Wildcats, bouncing back from a three-interception disaster in a blowout loss to Florida the previous week. Against UK, Stafford threw for 374 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions. Mohamed Massaquoi had a career-day, hauling in eight receptions for 191 yards and one TD. Knowshon Moreno rushed for 123 yards and three touchdowns.

--Auburn (5-5 SU, 1-8 ATS) snapped a four-game losing streak with last week’s 37-20 win over UT-Martin, but the Tigers have still lost eight in a row ATS. In the non-lined matchup, Auburn was locked up in a 20-20 tie midway through the third quarter. However, the Tigers scored the last 17 points to pull away. Kodi Burns ran for 158 yards and two touchdowns for the winners.

--We know Burns can make things happen with his legs, but he has an atrocious 1/8 touchdown-interception ratio.

--UGA is playing outside of Athens for the fourth consecutive week. The Dawgs have been to Baton Rouge, Jacksonville, Lexington and now Auburn.

--Georgia has won four of the last six head-to-head meetings against the Tigers, including two of the last three at Auburn. When these teams met in Athens last year, UGA broke out the black uniforms and rolled to a 45-20 win as a 1½-point home favorite.

--The ‘over’ has hit in three straight Auburn-Georgia games.

--Dating back to last season, the ‘under’ is 6-2 in Auburn’s last eight home games. The ‘under’ is 6-3 overall for the Tigers this season, 3-2 in their home outings.

--The ‘over’ is 5-4 overall for UGA, but it has cashed in each of the Dawgs’ last three games. During that three-game stretch, Georgia has given up 38 points (to LSU), 49 (to UF) and 38 (to UK).

--Raycom Sports will have the telecast at 12:30 p.m. Eastern.

**Mississippi State at Alabama**

--LVSC opened Alabama (10-0 SU, 7-3 ATS) as a 20-point favorite, but the number was in the 21-22 range early Thursday afternoon. The total was 41 at most spots.

--Nick Saban’s team is in a letdown spot here after surviving a physical, emotional battle in Baton Rouge last week. The Crimson Tide captured a 27-21 win at LSU as a 3½-point favorite. Rashad Johnson had three interceptions, returning one for a touchdown to tie the game late in the second quarter. His third pick came on LSU’s opening drive in overtime, allowing John Parker Wilson’s one-yard quarterback sneak on ‘Bama’s ensuing drive to send the LSU faithful home bitter and heartbroken.

--Gamblers were tortured throughout Alabama’s slugfest with the Bayou Bengals. At the end of regulation, the Tide appeared to be on the cusp of victory as Leigh Tiffin lined up for a short field-goal attempt. However, LSU’s Ricky Jean-Francois blocked the kick to force the extra session. If ‘Bama had made the field goal to win by a 24-21 count, LSU backers would’ve cashed thanks to ‘the hook’ in the 3½-point spread. But in OT, Wilson connected with Julio Jones for a 24-yard gain to the LSU one, and to the elation of ‘Bama backers, Saban wasn’t going to let a kicker determine the game at that point.

--Mississippi State (3-6 SU, 3-5 ATS) has taken the cash in both of its previous games in which it was listed as a double-digit underdog. The Bulldogs lost 3-2 to Auburn as 10-point home ‘dogs, and they lost 34-24 at LSU as 24-point road ‘dogs.

--MSU had an open date to recover from a 14-13 home loss to Kentucky as a 1½-point home ‘chalk’ two weeks ago.

--Mississippi St. head coach Sylvester Croom was born and raised in Tuscaloosa and was one of Bear Bryant’s favorite all-time players, garnering All-American honors as an offensive lineman for the Tide during the early 1970s. Croom is so beloved at his alma mater that an award bearing his name is given out every spring to the hardest-working player. But with Croom coaching at an SEC West rival, Mike Shula decided to change the name of that award a few years back. When that decision was met with outrage, Shula reversed course, but Croom didn’t forget. Therefore, it was poetic justice when MSU went into Bryant-Denny Stadium in 2006 and won a 24-16 decision, prompting Shula’s pink slip a few weeks later.

--MSU is winless in four road games in 2008, going 1-3 ATS in the process.

--The ‘under’ is 4-1 in Alabama’s last five games. The lone ‘over’ came last week and only because the game went to overtime. The 48 combined points slipped ‘over’ the 46 ½-point tally.

--MSU has beaten Alabama the last two seasons and has a 10-3 spread record in the last 13 head-to-head encounters.

--The ‘under’ is 7-2 in the last nine ‘Bama-MSU meetings.

--ESPN will provide television coverage at 7:45 p.m. Eastern.
**Vanderbilt at Kentucky**

--Most books are listing Kentucky (6-4 SU, 5-4 ATS) as a four-point favorite with the total in the 39-40 range. The Commodores are plus-150 on the money line (risk $100 to win $150).

--Vanderbilt (5-4 SU, 6-3 ATS) has lost four in a row since starting the season with five consecutive wins. Bobby Johnson’s team is off a 42-14 home loss to Florida as a 24-point underdog. To their credit, however, the ‘Dores nearly notched an improbable backdoor cover after trailing 35-0 at intermission. They were in the red zone threatening to hook up their backers before getting stopped on downs in the final minute.

--I was puzzled when Johnson benched senior QB Chris Nickson in favor of Mackenzie Adams after a 17-14 loss at Mississippi St. Both QBs are solid, but Nickson has a scrambling dynamic that’s special, as evidenced by his six rushing touchdowns this year. Nickson threw a pair of TD passes after Adams left last week’s game with a hip injury. As of Thursday, Johnson had not announced a starter, but the guess here is that Nickson will get the nod.

--Nickson has a 5/2 TD-INT ratio this year, while Adams has a 5/6 ratio.

--Rich Brooks’s team is coming off a gut-wrenching 42-38 loss to Georgia. The Wildcats hooked up their backers, though, cashing as 13 ½-point home underdogs. Kentucky quarterback Randall Cobb ran for 82 yards and three TDs in his second career start.

--UK is 4-2 SU and 2-3 ATS at home in 2008. Meanwhile, Vandy is 2-2 SU and 3-1 ATS on the road.

--Vandy hasn’t tasted a bowl bid since 1982. Since then, the Commodores have had 17 chances to get bowl eligible and have lost each time.

--Vandy leads the SEC and ranks 12th nationally with 26 sacks.

--The ‘under’ is 6-3 overall for the ‘Cats, 3-2 in their home games. Vandy has watched the ‘under’ go 5-1 in its last six outings.

--UK has won four in a row both SU and ATS against Vandy, including last season’s 27-20 triumph as a four-point road favorite.

--Kick-off is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN2.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

--As of Thursday afternoon, Florida was a 22-point home favorite against South Carolina. Some books, including, had the Gators at 23. Spurrier coached at Florida for 12 years and lost only five home games by a combined 25 points. He lost by one in his lone return trip to The Swamp since taking over at South Carolina. Therefore, he’s lost by only 26 combined points ever in Gainesville, yet he’s catching nearly that number in one game? Interesting, to say the least.

--Back in August, Alabama had 50/1 odds to win the national championship. That number is now down to 5/2. Florida and USC are currently the co-favorites to win it all at 2/1 odds. I’m holding a 7/1 ticket for the Gators from my August trip to Las Vegas.

--LSU could be in a dangerous game Saturday when it hosts Troy as an 18 ½-point favorite. The Tigers have to be drained after last week’s effort and don’t have much to get them motivated in this spot. Did we mention Jarrett Lee’s struggles? Seriously, it’s upset alert in Baton Rouge this weekend.

--Ole Miss will play host to ULM as a 21-point home favorite. Since 2006, the Rebels have only been double-digit ‘chalk’ once, beating La. Tech 24-0 as 13-point home favorites.

--The Orlando Sentinel's Mike Bianchi had an interesting take on Gator fans for the UF-SC matchup Saturday.

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Re: Saturday Gameday News and Notes

College football top 25 cheat sheet: Week 12

Mississippi State at Alabama (-22.5)

Why Bulldogs cover: They have beaten the Tide the past three seasons and Bama hasn’t scored an offensive touchdown in its last three meetings with the Bulldogs. Mississippi State had last week off and MSU has won three of its four games against ranked teams after open dates under coach Selvester Croom. The Dogs defeated No. 20 Florida in 2004, No. 21 Alabama in 2007 and No. 13 Vanderbilt this season.

Why Crimson Tide cover: Nick Saban already has warned his players not to look past this game and he has the past results to emphasize his point. The Bulldogs rank only 11th in the SEC in rushing defense. MSU has been outscored 128-48 while going 0-4 on the road this season.

Total (41): The under is 7-2 in past nine meetings.

Texas at Kansas (+13)

Why Longhorns cover: They face a sinking KU team that has lost three of four games, including last week’s 45-35 setback at Nebraska, the Jayhawks’ first loss to an unranked team in nearly two years. The KU defense has given up at least 45 points in three of the past four games and is allowing 520 total yards per game in that stretch.

Why Jayhawks cover: Perhaps unfamiliarity will help KU - Texas hasn’t seen the Jayhawks since 2005. The Jayhawks likely must win to have a shot at the Big 12 North title. If they lose and Missouri wins, the Tigers clinch. Todd Reesing could have a big day against an iffy Texas secondary.

Total (68): The over is 8-1 in Texas’ last nine Big 12 games.

South Carolina at Florida (-22.5)

Why Gamecocks cover: Steve Spurrier will keep his former school on its heels defensively with his quarterback rotation of Stephen Garcia and Chris Smelley. South Carolina ranks third in Division I in total defense (256.5 yards per game) and 10th in scoring defense (15.6 ppg).

Why Gators cover: The Gators have won two straight in the series and 15 of 16 meetings since South Carolina joined the SEC in 1992. Florida has won all 11 games against the Gamecocks in Gainesville. UF has won five in a row this year, none by fewer than 28 points.

Total (50.5): The over is 13-3 in UF’s past 16 games vs. a team with a winning record.

USC at Stanford (+23)

Why Trojans cover: Holy revenge, Batman! USC will want to lay the wood to the team that shocked it last year as a 38-point favorite, ending the Trojans’ conference-record 35-game winning streak at home. USC has outscored its last six opponents 231-23.

Why Cardinal cover: They are 5-0 ATS in their past five home games and are unbeaten at home this season – which includes a win over the Oregon State team that punked USC. Stanford’s last three losses have been by a TD or less.

Total (48): The over is 9-3 in the past 12 meetings.

Utah at San Diego State (+30)

Why Utes cover: They have outscored SDSU 61-14 in winning the past two meetings. San Diego State has allowed conference highs in both yards (466.0) - the ninth-most in the nation - and points (36.2). Utah is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings.

Why Aztecs cover: The Utes could easily be looking ahead to next Saturday’s big tilt with rival BYU. SDSU is 8-3 ATS in its past 11 home games. The Aztecs are due to upset a ranked team – it hasn’t happened in 12 years.

Total (54): The over is 5-1 in SDSU’s past six home games and 4-1 in Utah’s last five road games.

Indiana at Penn St. (-35)

Why Hoosiers cover: Has the Big Ten figured out that Penn State Spread HD offense? The Nittany Lions have only totaled 36 points in the past two games. Indiana no doubt will get a down PSU team after last week’s upset at Iowa.

Why Nittany Lions cover: Indiana is porous and enters off its third 30-point loss in conference play. The Hoosiers even have lost to two MAC teams this year. IU is averaging 16.5 points in Big Ten games but allows an average of 38.7. It has covered just once this season.

Total (57): The under is 10-3-1 in PSU’s last 14 games following a loss.

Boise State at Idaho (+36.5)

Why Broncos cover: They have outscored conference opponents 196-40 this season and allowed no more than 16 points in any of those games. The Idaho defense is allowing a WAC-worst 478 yards and 42 ppg.

Why Vandals cover: Well, it is a rivalry game (Potato Bowl? Spud Showdown?). Boise tends to make mental mistakes: It has committed at least 11 penalties in three straight games. The home team is 5-0 ATS in the past five meetings.

Total (59.5): The over is 14-6 in Boise’s last 20 vs. a team with a losing record.

Georgia at Auburn (+8.5)

Why Bulldogs cover: Auburn’s offense is lousy, having scored just four TDs in the past three SEC games. Auburn ranks 100th nationally in total offense and 102nd in scoring. The Tigers are 0-8 ATS in their past eight games.

Why Tigers cover: Georgia hasn’t been great against the number, going 1-5 ATS in the past six. Auburn also is playing for a bowl and likely to save Tommy Tuberville’s job. The Georgia defense isn’t great, having surrendered 33 touchdowns to opposing offenses.

Total (47): The under is 11-4 in Auburn’s past 15 SEC games.

Ohio State at Illinois (+9.5)

Why Buckeyes cover: Penn State’s loss last week suddenly gives the Buckeyes hope of winning the Big Ten again. Ohio State is No. 1 in the Big Ten in total defense (285 ypg) and 14-4 ATS in its past 18 road games. The Buckeyes have won six in a row in Champaign and 14 in a row in Big Ten road games.

Why Illini cover: They are 6-1 ATS in the past seven meetings and average a Big Ten-best 438 yards on offense. Juice Williams torched OSU for four TDs in last year’s upset in Columbus and this year he leads the Big Ten with 2,769 yards passing and a 141.9 passer rating.

Total (47): The over is 6-2-1 in the Illini’s past nine Big Ten games.

Missouri at Iowa State (+27.5)

Why Tigers cover: They likely will clinch the Big 12 North with a victory. ISU has lost eight straight games. Mizzou is fourth in Division I passing (351.5 yards per game), fourth in scoring (45.1 points per game) and sixth in total offense (513.8).

Why Cyclones cover: Maybe if Chase Daniel gets hurt, since ISU ranks No. 115 in pass defense. The Cyclones are 5-2 ATS in their past seven home games. The underdog is 4-0 ATS in the past four meetings.

Total (64): The under is 4-1 in the last 5 meetings.

Oklahoma State at Colorado (+16.5)

Why Cowboys cover: Colorado has lost its past three conference games against ranked teams by a margin of 126-28. OSU is 9-1 ATS this season. The Buffs are 0-7 ATS in their past seven.

Why Buffaloes cover: OSU is likely to suffer a bit of a letdown after last week’s loss to Texas Tech ended its Big 12 title hopes and the Cowboys are 2-2 on the road this year. CU had its best offensive game of the season last week against Iowa State.

Total (58): The under is 7-1 in OSU’s past eight road games.

North Carolina at Maryland (+2.5)

Why Tar Heels cover: They need to win to stay atop the Coastal Division and keep those ACC title game hopes alive. The Heels had their best rushing game of the season last week versus Georgia Tech and face a Terps team allowing an average of 152.3 yards on the ground.

Why Terrapins cover: They get up for ranked teams, going 3-0 against them this season. Maryland is 5-0 at home, outscoring teams 153-82. The Terps are 7-1 ATS in the past eight meetings.

Total (45.5): The over is 4-1 in Terps’ past five home games and Heels’ last five road games.

BYU at Air Force (+5.5)

Why Cougars cover: BYU is 4-0 ATS in the past four meetings and the favorite in this matchup is 6-1 ATS in the past seven. QB Max Hall has thrown for 12 TDs and only one interception in his last three games, all wins. BYU has beaten Air Force four games in a row by an average of 20.5 points.

Why Falcons cover: They have won five in a row and have probably the second-best defense in the Mountain West, holding opponents to 17.3 points and 304.0 yards of offense. Air Force is 10-1 ATS in its past 11 conference games. BYU is 0-6 ATS in its past six games.

Total (51): Over is 4-1 in Air Force’s past five games.

Boston College at Florida St. (-6.5)

Why Eagles cover: FSU has fallen behind by at least 10 points in the past four games. BC has the ACC’s best rush defense, allowing 101.8 yards per game. In the last four games, the Eagles have returned an interception, a fumble and two punts for touchdowns. The Eagles have won seven of their past nine against ranked teams.

Why Seminoles cover: The Noles are 5-1 ATS in their past six home games while BC is 1-6 ATS in its past seven ACC games. This year’s Noles have a running game, averaging 205.2 yards, second in the ACC. They have won four of six against BC.

Total (46.5): The over is 5-1 in both teams’ past six games overall.

Troy at LSU (-18)

Why Trojans cover: They face a struggling LSU team that has dropped three of five games. No one is struggling more than Tigers QB Jarrett Lee, who threw four picks last week and has eight in the past three games. The Trojans are 7-2 ATS in their past nine against the SEC. LSU is 0-5 ATS in its past five at home.

Why Tigers cover: They haven’t lost consecutive games since 2002 and have won 17 straight non-conference games. Troy hasn’t beaten a ranked team since 2004 (seven straight losses). Freshman QB Jordan Jefferson is expected to see more time this week, which could spark a struggling offense. LSU is 8-2-1 ATS in its past 11 following a loss.

Total (54.5): Over is 5-0 in Trojans’ past five vs. the SEC.

Tulsa at Houston (+4)

Why Golden Hurricane cover: The Golden Hurricane lead the Football Bowl Subdivision with 52.0 points and 593.0 yards per game. They crushed Houston 56-7 last year. The Cougars are 1-7 ATS in their past eight games following a win.

Why Cougars cover: An upset here would mean Houston would control its own destiny to win C-USA’s West Division. Tulsa QB David Johnson is struggling with just two TD passes in his last two games after throwing 31 in his first seven. Houston has scored at least 41 points in four of its last five games.

Total (79.5): The under is 7-0 in Tulsa’s last seven games on grass.

California at Oregon State (-3)

Why Golden Bears cover: They have won their last two visits to Corvallis by a combined 90-20 score. The visiting team in the series has won the last five meetings. Cal has held five of its past six opponents to 20 or fewer points. The Bears lead the Pac-10 with 17 interceptions. They are 5-1 ATS in the Pac-10 this year.

Why Beavers cover: They control their destiny in the Pac-10, holding the tiebreaker over USC. Oregon State’s defense has held opponents to averages of 14.3 points and 260.3 yards over the last four games while forcing 10 turnovers. OSU’s Jacquizz Rodgers has exceeded 100 yards rushing in six of the past seven games.

Total (51.5): The under is 9-4-1 in Cal’s past 14 road games.

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Re: Saturday Gameday News and Notes

Pac-10 Tip Sheet
By Brad Young

**California at Oregon State**

-Caesars Palace installed Oregon State as a three-point home ‘chalk’ over California, with the total set at 51 ‘under’ (minus 110). ABC Sports will provide coverage of this contest beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET.
-California (6-3 straight up, 7-2 against the spread) was riding a modest two-game SU winning streak before falling to Southern Cal last weekend as a 22-point road underdog, 17-3. There was no total on that contest. The Golden Bears have covered their last three games.

-Cal found itself on the short end of first downs (22-13), rushing yards (173-27) and passing yards (238-138). Quarterbacks Nate Longshore was 11-of-15 passing for 79 yards, while Kevin Riley completed 4-of-16 passes for 59 yards and an interception. Riley is expected to get the start against the Beavers.

-Oregon State (6-3 SU and ATS) continues to control its destiny to the Rose Bowl after throttling UCLA last weekend as a 7½-point road favorite, 34-6. The combined 40 points failed to topple the 48 ½-point closing total.

-The game was tied at halftime, 3-3, before the Beavers scored two touchdowns in the third quarter and another 17 points in the fourth. Oregon State finished the game with advantages in first downs (18-17), rushing yards (201-48), passing yards (222-189), turnovers forced (4-2) and time of possession (32:47-27:13). Signal caller Sean Canfield was 16-of-22 passing for 222 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, while Jacquizz Rodgers had 31 carries for 144 yards and a score.

-The road team has won the last four games in the Cal-Oregon State series both SU and ATS. The Beavers prevailed last season as a 14-point road underdog, 31-28, while the combined 59 points went ‘over’ the 57 ½-point closing total. The Golden Bears were ranked second at the time, and that setback started a six-game losing skid.

-Cal offensive guard Noris Malele (ankle), offensive lineman Mike Tepper (pectoral), kicker David Seawright (thigh), safety Bernard Hicks (thigh), defensive lineman Cody Jones (ankle), offensive lineman Matt Laird (shoulder) and safety Sean Cattouse (concussion) are ‘questionable’ against the Beavers.

-Oregon State quarterback Lyle Moevao (shoulder) is ‘probable’ versus the Golden Bears, while cornerback Tim Clark (toe), defensive tackle Stephen Paea (calf), wide receiver Shane Morales (hip), safety James Dockery (knee) and tight end Gabe Miller (hamstring) are ‘questionable.’

-Saturday’s forecast for Corvallis, Oregon calls for partly cloudy skies, with a high of 61 degrees and a low of 42.

**Arizona at Oregon**

-Las Vegas Hilton lists Oregon as a 6½-point home favorite over Arizona, with the total set at 60. This game is scheduled to kickoff at 6:30 p.m. ET.

-Arizona (6-3 SU and ATS) has alternated SU wins and losses its last five games after pummeling Washington State last weekend as a 40 ½-point road ‘chalk,’ 59-28. There was no total on that contest.

-The Wildcats finished the contest by leading the Cougars in first downs (28-12), rushing yards (317-94), passing yards (214-114), turnovers forced (4-2) and time of possession (37:27-22:33). Quarterback Willie Tuitama completed 11-of-15 passes for 214 yards with a touchdown and an interception, while Nic Grigsby carried the ball 28 times for 189 yards with a score.

-Oregon (7-3 SU, 4-6 ATS) slipped past Stanford last weekend as a 14-point home favorite, 35-28. The combined 63 points eclipsed the 55 ½-point closing total, helping the ‘over’ improve to 2-1 the past three games.

-The Ducks scored the winning touchdown with just six seconds remaining, finishing the game with advantages in rushing yards (307-187) and passing yards (144-138). Oregon had to overcome disadvantages in turnovers forced (4-1) and time of possession (39:13-20:47). Signal caller Jeremiah Masoli was 11-of-21 passing for 144 yards with a touchdown, while Jeremiah Johnson had 15 carries for 135 yards and a score.

-The Wildcats are 2-0 SU and ATS the previous two meetings with the Ducks after prevailing last year as a 10 ½-point home underdog, 34-24. The combined 58 points went ‘under’ the 66½-point closing total.

-Arizona defensive tackle Kaniela Tuipulotu (ankle) is ‘probable’ versus the Ducks, while wide receiver Terrell Reese (suspension) is ‘questionable.’

-Oregon wide receiver Drew Davis (knee) is ‘out’ against the Wildcats.

-Saturday’s forecast for Eugene, Oregon calls for partly cloudy skies, with a high of 60 degrees and a low of 44.

**UCLA at Washington**

-Caesars Palace opened UCLA as a seven-point road ‘chalk’ over Washington, with the total listed at 47. FOX Sports Net starts its coverage of this contest at 10:15 p.m. ET.

-UCLA (3-6 SU, 5-4 ATS) is currently mired in a two-game SU and ATS losing skid after getting run over by Oregon State last weekend, 34-6. The combined 40 points went ‘under’ the 48½-point closing total.

-Quarterback Kevin Craft completed 20-of-42 passes for 189 yards with two interceptions, while Kahlil Bell paced the ground game with 12 carries for 45 yards.

-Washington (0-9 SU, 1-8 ATS) continued its downward spiral after losing to Arizona State last weekend as a 13½-point home underdog, 39-19. There was no total on that contest.

-The game was actually close until the Huskies were outscored in the fourth quarter, 16-0. Quarterback Ronnie Fouch was 13-of-40 passing for 192 yards with two interceptions, while Terrance Dailey had 14 carries for 66 yards.

-The home team has won the last two meetings SU and ATS in the UCLA-Washington series, with the Bruins prevailing last year as a six-point home ‘chalk,’ 44-10. The combined 54 points toppled the 47-point closing total.

-UCLA wide receiver Nelson Rosario (ankle), defensive tackle Jess Ward (suspension), offensive guard Scott Glicksberg (suspension) and Micah Reed (suspension) are ‘probable’ against the Huskies, while linebacker Joshua Edwards (foot) and linebacker Kyle Bosworth (knee) are ‘questionable.’

-Washington wide receiver Jordan Polk (concussion), kick returner Chris Polk (stinger), defensive back Victory Aiyewa (groin), cornerback Mesphin Forrester (knee) and running back David Freeman (ankle) are ‘questionable’ versus the Bruins.

-Saturday’s forecast for Seattle, Washington calls for a 30 percent chance of rain, with a high of 57 degrees and a low of 49.

**Southern Cal at Stanford**

-Caesars Palace installed Southern Cal as a 23-point road favorite over Stanford, with no listed total. Versus will provide coverage of this contest beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET.

-Southern Cal (8-1 SU, 5-3 ATS) continues to be led by its defense after stopping Cal last weekend as a 22-point home ‘chalk,’ 17-3. There was no total on that game. The Trojans have allowed just 13 points the last five games.

-Quarterback Mark Sanchez completed 18-of-29 passes for 238 yards with two touchdowns, while C.J. Gable paced the ground game with 10 carries for 79 yards.

-Stanford (5-5 SU, 6-4 ATS) has alternated SU wins and losses its last six games after falling to Oregon last weekend as a 14-point road underdog, 35-28. The combined 63 points eclipsed the 55 ½-point closing total, helping the ‘over’ improve to 5-2.

-Quarterback Tavita Pritchard was 15-of-22 passing for 138 yards with a touchdown, while Anthony Kimble accounted for 106 yards and a score on 24 carries.

-Stanford shocked the Trojans last season as a decided 39 ½-point closing total, 24-23. There was no total on that contest. The Cardinal are 3-1 ATS the past four games in this series.

-USC defensive tackle Fili Moala (personal) and defensive tackle Averell Spicer (ankle) are ‘probable’ versus the Cardinal, while running back Broderick Green (bronchitis) and tight end Blake Ayles (knee) are ‘questionable.’ Strong safety Kevin Ellison (knee) is expected to be ‘out’ for this matchup.

-Stanford running back Toby Gerhart (hamstring) is ‘probable’ against the Trojans, while fullback Owen Marecic (ankle) and safety Austin Yancy (hamstring) are ‘questionable.’ Safety Taylor Skaufel (foot) is ‘out’ for the rest of the season

-Saturday’s forecast for Palo Alto, California calls for sunny skies, with a high of 76 degrees and a low of 49.

**Washington State at Arizona State**

-Caesars Palace opened Arizona State as a decided 36½-point home favorite over Washington State, with no total posted. Kickoff is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. ET.

-Washington State (1-9 SU, 1-8 ATS) fell to Arizona last weekend as a 40 ½-point home underdog, 59-28. That marked the most points the Cougars have scored against a Division I-A team this season.

-Quarterback Kevin Lopina was 8-of-15 passing for 94 yards with two interceptions, while running back Logwone Mitz paced the ground game with 11 carries for 57 yards and a score.

-Arizona State (3-6 SU, 3-4 ATS) ended a six-game SU losing skid by beating Washington last weekend as a 13 ½-point road favorite, 39-19. There was no total on that matchup.

-Senior signal caller Rudy Carpenter completed 22-of-31 passes for 218 yards with two touchdowns, while Keegan Herring had 22 carries for 144 yards and a score.

-Arizona State is 4-0 SU and 3-1 ATS the previous four meetings with Washington State after winning last year as a nine-point road ‘chalk,’ 23-20. The combined 43 points never seriously threatened the 63-point closing total.

-Washington State running back Chris Ivory (hamstring) and defensive end Kevin Kooyman (undisclosed) are ‘probable’ against the Sun Devils, while cornerback Tyrone Justin (ankle) and defensive end Andy Mattingly (ankle) are ‘doubtful.’ Tight end Aaron Gehring (shoulder), tight end Tony Thompson (concussion), defensive back Alfonso Jackson (stinger) and linebacker Myron Beck (hand) are ‘questionable.’

-Arizona State defensive tackle Lawrence Guy (shoulder) is ‘probable’ versus the Cougars, while center Thomas Altieri (stinger) and defensive tackle David Smith (stinger) are ‘questionable.’ Offensive guard Zach Schlink (knee) is ‘out’ for the season.

-Saturday’s forecast for Tempe, Arizona calls for sunny skies, with a high of 82 degrees and a low of 57.

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Football Cheat Sheet
by: Marc Lawrence

Ohio State at Illinois

Series History: illini won, 28-21, at 15-point dogs at Columbus last season to improve to 6-1 the last 7 games in this series.

Ohio State Key Stat: The Buckeyes are 10-1 SU and 8-3 ATS conference revenge under head coach Jim Tressel.

Illinois Key Stat: The Illini have lost the money in 8 of the last 10 tries against avenging Big 10 teams.

You Need To Know: Since last season, five Big 10 teams have lost to a MAC Conference team.  They are 0-4 ATS in their next game.

California at Oregon State

Series History: The Beavers upset the Bears, 31-28, as 14-point dogs at Berkeley last year, improving the record of the visiting team to 5-0 SU and ATS the last five meetings in this series.

California Key Stat: The Bears are 0-4 ATS as conference dogs of less than 6 points.

Oregon State Key Stat: The Beavers have held 3 of 6 conference opponents to season low - or 2nd low - yards this season.

You Need To Know: Oregon State controls it's own destiny in the PAC 10.  If they win out they win the conference title and a trip to the Rose Bowl.

South Carolina at Florida

Series History: The Gators are 15-1 SU the last sixteen games in this series, including 5-1 ATS off a SU and ATS win.

South Carolina Key Stat: Steve Spurrier is 47-23 SU and ATS on the conference road in his college football head coaching career.

Florida Key Stat: The Gators are 16-7-1 in conference games after scoring 40 or more points in each of its previous four games.

You Need To Know: Last year's 51-31 loss in Columbia represented the most points ever allowed by a Spurrier team in a conference game in his college football head coaching career spanning 153 games.

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The Big 12 Report - The Red Raiders are King for a Week!
By: Tony George   

If there was any doubt that Texas Tech was a one hit wonder against Texas the week before, those doubts were silenced is a behind the woodshed beating of Oklahoma State on national TV Saturday Night as QB Harrell threw 6 Td passes and the Red Raiders rolled a very good Okie State team (as I predicted in this blog last week). With a week off to prepare for the Big 12 South Showdown at Norman Oklahoma, what was once a "gimmie" for OU in that game, now will be one of the biggest games in College football this season, and Texas Tech has every chance of winning that game. The Big 12 South title and possible National Title is on the line in that game.

In other news (not so good for me), Nebraska who I went against for My Big 12 Game of the Year dominated Kansas in a 10 point win as I took the 1.5 points and what I felt was a better KU team, especially with their passing game and spread attack, and Nebraska beat them up. Only my 3rd loss in 12 years of specializing in the Big 12 with my game of the year, but I tell it like it is. Nebraska has K State this week on the road, and then Colorado at home the day after Thanksgiving, and sitting at 6-4 on the year, they look to be 8-4 with a decent bowl game on tap for Bo Pellini in his first year as a head coach, and a Big 12 North 2nd place finish. WOW!

Texas took care of Baylor last week as expected, and Colorado barely beat Iowa State as I predicted, and still are struggling on offense. Texas AM suffered a 66-28 loss also as I predicted last week as they have no offense to trade punches with a team like Oklahoma and continue to play little or no defense against the pass. How far have things fallen for Texas AM you ask? They are an 8 point underdog to Baylor this weekend in Waco. Mizzou is still commanding spreads of greater than 25 points even though they continue not to rebound and win in convincing fashion, as they won a 42-24 game last week against Kansas State in Columbia, an uninspired performance. They take on Iowa State this week in Ames laying 26 points.

Speaking of Kansas State, what a debacle. They fire Ron Prince after a little over 2 years there, and let a lame duck coach out the season. The recent firings of numerous head coaches like Tommy Bowden at Clemson is disturbing to me, as AD's cave to pressure from big money boosters about winning right here and right now. It should be noted that this particular year in the Big 12, if you are a sub par team, you are going to get slaughtered, the Big 12 has numerous teams that are the best in nation. Ron Prince deserved better.

Highlighted Games this Week (11-4 record, 2-1 last week)

Texas AM +8 @ Baylor

While Texas AM continues to struggle, the only thing Baylor has going for them is QB Griffin, who is a major stud. While Baylor is improving under a solid new head coach, not ready to lay 8 points with a team with a losing record who when playing equal teams in terms of talent, have struggled to put away or win games. Texas AM should be able to run it and slow down the pace here and keep this one tight till the end. Texas AM won by 24 last year in this game and both teams off of serious beat downs last week. Baylor 24 Texas AM 21

Nebraska -7 @ Kansas State

Although my beloved Huskers beat me up last week in terms of a point spread winner, they also convinced me they are better than advertised. In recent years Nebraska has dominated Kansas State, as QB Freeman had committed to Nebraska before Ron Prince convinced him to drop his letter of intent to the Huskers and play for Kansas State. The Husker nation has never forgotten that and once again last year NU pounded Kansas St. 73-31 in Lincoln with a team not as good as this one. Huskers playing for a major bowl and buying into Pellini's coaching big time. Kansas State has no defense and QB Ganz for Nebraska the best kept secret in the Big 12 at quarterback, and #3 in the nation is passing efficiency. Nebraska 35 Kansas State 24.

Texas -13.5 @ Kansas

If Kansas could have beat Nebraska this line would be around 7 or 8, but a failed attempt and serious beat down of QB Reesing last week, as he was pounded in Lincoln, will be the demise of Kansas again this week. Not sure I like laying such a number on the road with any team against a decent team like KU, but if you look at the good teams, the elite teams Kansas has played, both Oklahoma and Texas Tech blew them out. Texas is on a mission to compete at a high level with a better than average chance to play for Big 12 south title if Texas Tech fails to win at OU next week, they will be focused and I look for QB McCoy to have a big day against a weak KU defense and secondary that Nebraska shredded last week. Texas 38 KU 21.

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Notre Dame at Navy

Fighting Irish have certainly owned the series winning 10-of-11 meetings (6-6 ATS). However Charlie Wise's troops with their inept offense look primed for a a second consecutive series defeat. Just 1-3 on the highway managing a lowly 16.0 points per game Fighting Irish will be hard pressed vs Midshipmen entering with momentum from back-2-back victories and it's 5-1 (4-2) run averaging 28 PPG. Fighting Irish as 3.5 point road favorites appears to be in dangerous territory, they're 4-6-3 ATS the past ten laying 4 or less points while Midshipmen enter a cash stuffing 8-3 ATS taking 4 or less points.

Mississippi State at Alabama

The top-ranked Crimson Tide (10-0, 7-3 ATS) clinching the SEC West earning a league title game against Florida drop in class this week when they host Bulldogs (3-6, 3-5 ATS ATS). A mismatch to be sure but if planning on backing Saban's troops at -20 keep in mind Bama is 0-2 against-the-number this season laying double digits in conference play. Just 5-15 ATS it's last twenty overall laying eight or more points and 3-9 ATS last twelve vs. Bulldogs. It's also interesting to note that despite Bulldogs woes this year, they're 4-1 against-the-number vs. conference rivals losing by an average 9.2 PPG and will enter 7-2 ATS the past nine on the highway taking double digits.

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Big Ten Notes
By Judd Hall

That din you’ve been hearing for the past week is college football fans across the country celebrating the fact a Big Ten team won’t be playing for the national championship. The Nittany Lions ended that national nightmare last Saturday by falling to Iowa in the closing seconds, 24-23.

Now as bad as it might seem for Penn State at the moment, it controls its own destiny to play in the Rose Bowl. Not a bad consolation prize for a fine year overall.

Watching Joe Paterno’s team rebound at home is just one of five games on the Big Ten’s slate this Saturday.

Ohio State at Illinois – 12:00 p.m. EST

If the Buckeyes were in a funk last week in Evanston, then they fooled me completely. Terrelle Pryor connected on nine of 14 passes for 197 yards and three touchdowns to lead Ohio State to a 45-10 destruction of the Wildcats as a 12 ½-point road favorite. It was Jim Tressel’s third straight win over Northwestern, outscoring them 157-27 in that stretch.

Illinois wants to forget last week’s game in the worst way. Juice Williams completed 20 of his 45 pass attempts for 328 yards, but had more interceptions than touchdowns (2-1) against Western Michigan. Even more embarrassing is that the Fighting Illini converted just one out of 13 third downs en route to a shocking 23-17 defeat to the Broncos. 

Las Vegas Sports Consultants opened the line for this tilt with Ohio State listed as an eight-point road favorite. While that is a large line, it has grown to 9½-points at Brobury Sports. Head oddsmaker Eddie Franks explains, “This line is more an indicator of how bad Illinois is than anything else.” Franks continues, “Despite the Buckeyes being a lowly 3-6 against the spread, the Fighting Illini have been a roller coaster of a team to watch; they play great one week and God awful the very next Saturday.”

Franks also mentioned that 94 percent of the early money his betting shop has seen is going towards Ohio State. And he believes that this line could still move another point or two before kickoff.

The Illini are 4-1SU at home, but 2-2 ATS. Meanwhile, Ohio State is 3-1 SU and ATS away from Columbus. Road teams have fared well in this battle of Illibuck as they’re 8-2 SU and 7-3 ATS in the last 10 meetings.

Northwestern at Michigan (-3½, 46) – 12:00 p.m. EST

Not a lot went right for the Wildcats last Saturday at home against Ohio State. But they did receive information that C.J. Bacher could be back under center for the first time in almost a month. However, head coach Pat Fitzgerald has said that he won't put Bacher into the lineup unless he is cleared by the medical staff. That means Mike Kafka will most likely be the starter, gaining 300 rushing yards, 320 yards through the air and three touchdowns over the past two weeks. Of course, Fitzgerald would be in his right to sit Kafka after turning the ball over four times in his past two starts.

Michigan’s season from hell had a sliver of light last Saturday when it dominated the Golden Gophers as a 7½-point road ‘dog, 29-6. The Wolverines got a great performance out of quarterback Nick Sheridan, who nailed 18 of 30 passes for 203 yards and a score against Minnesota. That performance ensured he’ll be back on the field this week over Stephen Threet, who is still working his way back from a concussion.

The Wolverines have dominated the recent series, going 8-2 SU over the last 10 head-to-head contests. But Northwestern is 6-4 ATS during that stretch, including the past two meetings. And the 'Cats have covered the spread in their last three games that followed a loss to Ohio State. The ‘under’ is on a 3-0 run in this matchup as well.

Indiana at Penn State (-36, 57) – 12:00 p.m. EST

A bowl game was no longer a possibility for the Hoosiers last week when they hosted Wisconsin as 10-point underdogs. Playing for pride may have been ruled out as well after getting smacked down by the Badgers, 55-20. It was the seventh loss in eight games for Bill Lynch’s program.

Questionable play calling on offense and a defense that disappeared on the final drive cost the Nittany Lions a perfect season…and possibly a national title game berth by falling at Iowa, 24-23, as 7 ½-point road favorites.

Penn State fans shouldn’t worry about this matchup as they’ve never lost to the Hoosiers since joining the Big Ten Conference in 1993. And JoePa’s squad has posted a 6-3-1 mark ATS in the last 10 scuffles.

Purdue at Iowa (-17½, 44) – 12:00 p.m. EST

The Boilermakers never appeared to get in sync last Saturday at East Lansing, compiling just 191 total yards and converting on third down three times out of 16 chances. What will prove more problematic for Purdue this Saturday is the fact that Michigan State’s Javon Ringer ran for 121 yards and two scores on 32 carries. That means Iowa’s Shonn Greene should have just as much success pounding the rock…especially after running for 117 yards and two touchdowns against a stingy Penn State rush defense.

It is true that Iowa is in a letdown spot here after such a big win last week. However, the recent history between the Boilers and Hawkeyes has shown the home team has the advantage after going 8-2 SU and ATS.

Minnesota at Wisconsin (-13½, 46½) – 3:30 p.m. EST

The Badgers find themselves a win from bowl eligibility in what has been a truly disappointing season after downing Indiana in Bloomington last week, 55-20. It was just the second win for Wisconsin on the road in 2008. Minnesota, on the other hand, finds itself in a dogfight for fourth place in Big Ten play after a home setback to the Wolverines, 29-6.

Home teams in this rivalry have won seven of the 10 contests SU. However, double-digit favorites have not covered a spread in this battle during that time. The ‘over’ has hit in the last eight meetings.

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College New & Notes

Minnesota @ Wisconsin- Gophers without WR Decker (74 receptions)…next 3 receivers have 78 catches combined!…Minny has scored 17 points or less in 4 of 6 Big Ten games…Wiscy has scored 106 points over last 3 games…’07 Badgers had 325 rushing…might be encore this year

Vanderbilt @ Kentucky- Wildcats operating without studs Locke & Lyons on offense, but still pushed Ga. to limit last week…Vandy offense in hibernation…’Dores have scored exactly 14 pts in 4 of last 5…7 in the other…last time Vandy scored 20 pts was Sept 20th

Texas @ Kansas- last meeting was ‘05 in Austin (Texas 66-14)…over last 4 games Jayhawks have allowed 13 passing TD’s, 1475 aerial yards and 174 points…Colt McCoy 78%, 28-7 ratio

BYU @ Air Force- Cougars have scored at least 41 points in 6 of 10 games including last 3…but D allowed 32 to TCU, 35 to UNLV and 42 to Colo State…Air Force has had at least 50 rushing attempts in 8 of 10 games

South Carolina @ Florida- since loss to Ole Miss, Gators have outscored opponents 243-57 (5-0 SU & ATS)…in 7 SEC games, So Car has held opponent to 24 pts or less…last meeting in Swamp Gamecocks (+13) lost 17-16…Fla won 51-31 last year in Columbia

Tulsa @ Houston- Golden Hurricane QB David Johnson 67%, 3000 yards, 33 TD, 10 INT…Tulsa has scored less than 45 points just twice in 9 games…Houston 4-1 in conference games…Cougars QB Case Keenum 67%, 3400, 29-9…

Boston College @ Florida State- Sems beat then #2 BC at Chestnut Hill last year…Eagles -4 in turnovers in that game…this is fourth meeting as ACC rivals…visiting team has won previous 3

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Tom Stryker's College Football System Play of the Week!


This week’s college system is one that took me by surprise. When I handicap games, I try and look for specific situations where I think a team will either rise or fall. In this particular set, I envisioned a team emotionally spent and on the verge of an upset loss. Not to my surprise, after some intensive research, the exact opposite came to be true.

Let me set the stage for you. In this scenario, we have a conference road favorite of -9’ or more coming off a SU and ATS conference road favorite victory. Without saying another word, the knee-jerk would be to fade that piece of road chalk thinking an encore performance, especially as a guest, wouldn’t be possible. That couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, if our conference road favorite is matched up against a greater than .200 foe that checks in off a straight up loss, this situation boasts an impressive 35-21 ATS record for 62.5 percent.

Common sense would lead us to believe that this road favorite would struggle. Thankfully, my powerful college database dismisses that way of thinking and puts us on the correct side.

Like all of my systems, there are certain tighteners that apply that make stronger sets. This one is no different. First, if we take all of the “Class A” teams out of the original 35-21 ATS system – those with a won/loss percentage greater than .900 – this technical situation improves to a sparkling 29-14 ATS for 67.4 percent. That actually makes perfect sense. Teams that carry a won/loss percentage greater than .900 are most likely overpriced. In this situation, we are able to remove a 6-7 ATS record by eliminating those teams.

If we take our 29-14 ATS set and bring their foe in off a straight up loss of 31 points or less, this college system zips to a powerful 26-8 ATS for 76.4 percent. After researching so many different technical situations, I’ve discovered that it’s usually a good thing to dismiss teams that enter off really big losses. Those teams tend to try a little harder coming off an embarrassing performance. Plus, the linemaker has probably over compensated for these teams coming off the blowout loss.

This weekend, there is one team that fits the general system and both tightereners – OHIO STATE! The Buckeyes looked fantastic in their win and cover at Northwestern last Saturday and travel to Illinois to take on an Illini team that lost by six in their last game versus Western Michigan!

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South Carolina at Florida
By Brian Edwards

Eleven years after Steve Spurrier coached his best game ever, guiding Florida to a 32-29 win over top-ranked and previously-undefeated FSU by shuttling quarterbacks Doug Johnson and Noah “Fat Dog” Brindise in and out every other play, Spurrier returns to The Swamp with the same plan in mind.

But so many things have changed. This time around, Spurrier will be on the enemy sidelines and the QBs will be Stephen Garcia and Chris Smelley. This time around, the Gators are heavily favored and thanks to last week's Penn St. loss, they have a clear path to win a second national championship in three years.

Back in 1997, Bobby Bowden was seemingly en route to his second national title, but he was denied by Spurrier's brilliant play-calling. Can the former Heisman winner return to the stadium he named and lead his new team to a stunning upset that would rock the national-title picture?

If he does, it would be one of the most remarkable accomplishments of his storied coaching career. And it would sting the Gators as much as any loss since the 2001 defeat to Tennessee, when UF lost 34-32 as an 18-point favorite in Spurrier's last home game as UF's coach.

Las Vegas Sports Consultants opened Florida (8-1 straight up, 7-2 against the spread) as a monstrous 21-point favorite. As of Friday night, most books were listing UF as a 22-point ‘chalk’ with a total of 48. A few betting shops in Vegas have the Gamecocks at plus-1000 on the money line (risk $100 to win $1,000).

The Gators have been absolutely dominant since losing 31-30 to Ole Miss back in Week 5. They have won five in a row both SU and ATS, outscoring their opponents 243-57.

Junior quarterback Tim Tebow has been the catalyst, emerging as a serious candidate to win a second straight Heisman Trophy, something that has only been done once by Ohio State’s Archie Griffin. Tebow has an outstanding 17/2 touchdown-interception ratio and has also rushed for 10 TDs.

Urban Meyer’s team went into Music City last Saturday night and delivered woodshed treatment to Vanderbilt. The Gators raced out to a 35-0 lead at intermission and eventually captured a 42-14 victory as 24-point road favorites.

UF backers did have some anxious moments down the stretch, however. Vandy quarterback Chris Nickson threw a pair of TD passes in the second half and had the Commodores in the red zone in the final minutes threatening to produce a backdoor cover. It didn’t happen, though.

Tebow completed 12-of-17 passes for 171 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for 88 yards and a pair of scores on 11 carries.

South Carolina (7-3 SU, 6-3 ATS) has quietly won six of its last seven games, including last week’s 34-21 win over Arkansas as a 12½-point home favorite. Spurrier used the play-by-play QB rotation for the first time in his four-year tenure with the Gamecocks.

Smelley threw for 148 yards and one touchdown, while Garcia threw for a TD and ran for another. Garcia, the redshirt freshman from Tampa, scrambled for 35 yards. He brings a running dynamic that Spurrier has never had in a QB, but Garcia missed all of spring practice and doesn’t quite have a full grasp of the offense yet.

That’s why Spurrier wants to play Smelley, too. Garcia is clearly the better athlete and has a stronger arm, but Smelley is a better decision-maker at this point. Smelley has an 11/9 TD-INT ratio this season, while Garcia has a 6/4 ratio and two rushing touchdowns.

Whoever is under center, he will have a pair of big-time targets to look for. Kenny McKinley missed several games with a hamstring injury earlier this year, but he’s back to 100 percent as evidenced by last week’s seven-catch, 130-yard performance. The ‘Cocks have one of the best tight ends in America in Jared Cook, who has 33 receptions for 542 yards and two TDs.

After ending last year on a five-game losing streak, defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix took the same position at Ole Miss on Houston Nutt’s staff. Spurrier initially hired Brian Van Gorder to replace Nix, but Van Gorder left after just a few weeks on the job to take the d-coordinator position with the Atlanta Falcons.

That’s when Spurrier hired Ellis Johnson to run his defense, and what a score that has turned out to be. South Carolina hasn’t allowed more than 24 points in a game all year. The Gamecocks are No. 1 in the SEC in total defense, giving up just 256.5 yards per game.

They will face their toughest challenge to date. Florida leads the SEC in scoring offense, putting up 42.8 points per game. The Gators have weapons galore, including big-play threats like Percy Harvin, Jeffrey Demps and Chris Rainey.

And as Spurrier pointed out many times this week, the Gators might have the nation’s premier special-teams units. Brandon James is arguably the best return man in the country on both punts and kick-offs. He leads the SEC with a 19.1 yards per punt return average.

The Gators also like to block punts and kicks. Carlos Dunlap and Demps have both blocked multiple punts in 2008.

The 'over' has hit in four straight Florida games with the Gators scoring 42 points or more in each contest. The 'over' is 6-3 overall for UF, 4-1 in its home games.

The 'under' is 5-3-1 overall for South Carolina, but the 'over' is 2-0-1 in its road games.

Since Spurrier took over in Columbia, the Gamecocks are 1-2 SU and 2-1 ATS against Florida. They won a 30-22 decision at Williams-Brice Stadium as four-point home underdogs in 2005.

In 2006, the 'Cocks went into The Swamp and outplayed UF for the most part. However, Jarvis Moss blocked a PAT attempt midway through the fourth quarter and also blocked a potential game-winning field goal from 48 yards out on the game's final play, allowing the Gators to collect a 17-16 win as 13 1/2-point favorites. They went on to win the national title.

In Columbia last year, it was all Florida as Tebow ran for 120 yards and five TDs in a 51-31 triumph as a 7 1/2-point road 'chalk.'

South Carolina wide receiver Moe Brown is “questionable” after injuring his knee in practice this week. More importantly, safety Chris Culliver is suspended for the first half after he threw a punch at an Arkansas player late in the fourth quarter of last week’s game. Culliver is expected to play in the second half.

CBS will provide television coverage at 3:30 p.m. Eastern.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

--When Spurrier was at UF, the Gators went 82-12 in SEC games. They are 24-8 against SEC foes under Meyer.

--South Carolina special-teams coach Ray Rychleski hasn’t allowed a punt to be blocked in more than seven years. Rychleski was hired away from Maryland this past offseason.

--South Carolina linebacker Eric Norwood leads the SEC in sacks with seven.

--South Carolina has never won in Gainesville.

--Great stat from Marc Lawrence on Thursday’s edition of the Power Hours on VI Radio: Georgia has given up 38 points or more in three straight weeks. During 25 seasons under Vince Dooley, UGA gave up more than 38 points in a game only…twice!

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Re: Saturday Gameday News and Notes

What Bettors Need to Know: Boston College at Florida State


FSU is 4-2 all-time against BC. The road team has won three straight in the series. Last season the Noles won outright as a 6.5-point dog, ending the dream for then undefeated and No. 2 ranked BC.

Line moves

FSU opened as a 7-point favorite, with the line inching downward to 6.5 and then 6 over the course of the week.

The over/under opened at 46.5 and then dipped to 44 on Friday, most likely due at least in part to the announced suspension of the five receivers.

The stakes

Although FSU is 4-2 and tied for first in the ACC Atlantic and BC is in fourth place at 2-3, the Eagles are the ones who control their destiny in the division.

If BC wins its final three against FSU, Wake Forest, and Maryland, the Eagles would hold the tie-breaker against all three and would go to the league championship game.

FSU needs to win its final two league games and then hope for a Wake Forest loss, as Wake holds the tie-breaker due to the Deacs’ 12-3 win over the Noles.

FSU suspensions

Suspensions have been a familiar occurrence in Tallahassee this season. Prior to this week, 16 players had been suspended for at least one game for a variety of reasons.

This week we can add five WRs to the list, suspended as a result of a campus brawl. The list of players out for the BC game includes Taiwan Easterling, Bert Reed, Corey Surrency, Cameron Wade and Richard Goodman.

Easterling, Reed, and Surrency are all significant contributors, having combined for 51 catches, 722 yards, and 8 TDs.

The team will not be completely wiped out at receiver, though. Greg Carr, Rod Owens and Preston Parker are all regular contributors and will be ready to go on Saturday night.

The running game: strength vs. strength

A key to the game will be the matchup of FSU’s running game, 19th in the nation with 205 yards per game, against BC’s 12th ranked rush defense.

All “D” at BC

The Eagle defense has been the savior of the team this season. The defense is ranked in the top 14 in the nation against the run and pass as well as in scoring D, red zone D, and total D.

The Eagles pitched their third shutout of the year last week against Notre Dame.

Third down struggles

Even while winning against the Irish, BC was atrocious on third down. The Eags converted 3 of 14 opportunities last week after going 3 for 18 the week before against Clemson.

This could be a problem against an FSU defense that is holding opponents to an 18 percent conversion rate, allowing only 21 third down conversions on 116 opposing attempts.

A tale of two kickers

FSU should have an advantage in the kicking game. Place kicker Graham Gano has made 17 consecutive field goals including five from 50-plus yards. Gano is a semi-finalist for the Lou Groza award.

In contrast, BC kicker Steve Aponavicius missed two chip shots last week and is in danger of losing his job to freshman Ryan Quigley.

Blackout in Tallahassee

The Noles are the latest team to jump on the “blackout” bandwagon. The team will dress in all black uniforms and the crowd will be asked to wear black for this week’s nationally televised night game at Doak S. Campbell Stadium.

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Re: Saturday Gameday News and Notes

Saturday's key college line moves

Game: Purdue at Iowa

Weather conditions: Flurries 34°F, Chance Precipitation. 30%, Wind from NW 18 mph

Where the line opened: Iowa -15

Where it stands now:  -18

Where the wise action is: Iowa (mostly at -15 1/2 and -16). Betting public is on the other side with 65 percent backing Purdue.

Over/under movement: Remains at 44. Sixty-six percent of our players are on the over.

Injuries: Purdue has all sorts of injury issues on the offensive line as Justin Pierce, Eric Hedstrom and Sean Sester all are questionable.

Game: Arizona at Oregon

Weather conditions: Partly Cloudy 57°F, Chance Precipitation. 0%, Wind from NNE 6 mph

Where the line opened: Oregon -3 1/2

Where it stands now:  -6

Where the wise action is: Oregon (mainly at -3 1/2 & -4). This will be one of the biggest decisions of the day for us, as a whopping 79 percent of our bettors are on the Ducks.

Over/under movement: 58 1/2 to 59. People usually expect high scoring games with Oregon, so that’s why I guess a staggering 81 percent are on over 59.

Game: SMU at UTEP

Weather conditions: Clear 52°F, Chance Precipitation. 0%, Wind from E 6 mph

Where the line opened: UTEP -9

Where it stands now: -13

Where the wise action is: UTEP (mostly at -10 & -10 1/2). Squares and sharps see eye-to-eye on this one with bettors backing UTEP at an alarming 84 percent clip.

Over/under movement: 75 to 67 - a huge move on the total, as sharps kept playing it under until 68 1/2). Most of the action (54 percent) from our players is on OVER 67.

Injuries: Good and bad news for SMU. Good: QB BoLevi Mitchell is probable (shoulder). Bad: SMU's two leading receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Aldrick Robinson have been suspended the last two games of the season. The two wideouts account for 17 of SMU's 27 passing TDs.

Game: Troy at LSU

Where the line opened: LSU -19

Where it stands now: -16

Where the wise action is: Troy (+19 and +18 1/2 mainly). Our players are all over the favorite (78 percent backing LSU).

Over/under movement: 54 1/2 to 54. Players are actually leaning towards under 54 (56 percent).

Injuries: LSU QB Andrew Hatch is doubtful due to leg injury.

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