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SATURDAY PREMIUM SERVICE PLAYS
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$800.00 #315 Cincinnati (-3.5) over Louisville
If the Cardinals are bad enough to lose to Syracuse they are bad enough to lose to Cincinnati. This Bearcats teams is very physical at the line of scrimmage and reminds me of the Kentucky team that destroyed the Cardinals at home this year. Cincy is 19-9-2 ATS overall and is 12-4-1 ATS against a team with a winning record. The favorite is 8-3 ATS in this series and I think that we are getting solid odds on a short number here.
$600.00 #386 Florida State (-6.5) over Boston College
Florida State has quietly put together a strong season and is one of the ACC's top teams. Boston College has not played well on the road. Boston College has not covered in either of its conference road games this year. B.C. is 1-6 ATS in its conference games and FSU is 4-1 ATS at home.
$400.00 #330 Maryland (+3) over North Carolina
The Terps have been an up-and-down team for years. But that’s what makes them dangerous. If they can handle Cal at home I think that they can go toe-to-toe with the Tar Heels. The public is all over North Carolina this week and we’re going to go against the grain with a very live home dog.
$300.00 #324 Wisconsin (-13.5) over Minnesota
The bubble has clearly burst on this Gophers team. The oddsmakers opened this game around -10.5 and it was immediately bet up to nearly two touchdowns. I see it climbing even further. The Badgers have had a disappointing season, but their losses have at least come to the top teams in the Big 10 (except Michigan, but that game was a fluke). Camp Randall is going to be too much for Minnesota, which has not been competitive against the top-tier Big 10 teams all season.
Re: SATURDAY PREMIUM SERVICE PLAYS
N CAROLINA (7-2) at MARYLAND (6-3)
The parity in the ACC this season has created a muddled mess in the standings, it also has made every game an important one, and no fewer than 8 of the 12 teams still have realistic conference championship hopes. Entering the third week in November, that is just an unprecedented scenario, and the pressure mounts with each passing game. One very key match-up to help sort this mess out pits #17 ranked North Carolina (7-2 SU & 5-3 ATS) against Maryland (6-3 SU & 4-4 ATS). The Tar Heels enter this game 3-2 in ACC play, trailing the winner of the Miami/Va. Tech game Thursday by a half a game in the Coastal Division. Maryland is also 3-2 in conference play, and trails Wake Forest and Florida St by a half game each. Maryland has already beaten Wake and has another key game next week against the Seminoles, so they control their own fate towards getting in the ACC title game.
These 2 teams could not be entering this game off more divergent results last week. Maryland played on ESPN last Thursday night and were completely dominated by Va. Tech. They fell behind 20-3 early in the 2nd quarter of that game, rallied to within 20-13, but never had a realistic chance to win that game. The Hokies so dominated the line of scrimmage in that game that Maryland had a net rushing total of minus 12 yards in 18 carries! Maryland was much more successful through the air though as they completed 19 of 31 passes for 240 yards. They were dominated on the other side of the ball just as thoroughly, as the Hokies amassed 273 yards rushing at a 5.6 yards per carry clip. North Carolina meanwhile, comes in off an extremely impressive 28-7 win over then #22 ranked Georgia Tech last week. That win was impressive to most who just looked at the final score, further investigation into the box score reveals that score was indeed very deceiving. While Ga. Tech managed to score just 7 points in that game, they were hardly thwarted by the Carolina defense. They out gained the Tar Heels 423-314 in that game, and only lost because they constantly shot themselves in the foot with turnovers. Indeed, the Yellow Jackets had 326 yards rushing in that game, and gained that yardage at a 6.0 yard per carry clip! Not the kind of stat you often see from a team that only scored 7 points. The combination of that deceiving final score, and the Terrapins dismal showing on ESPN has created great line value because of the perception of these 2 teams right now. I have said repeatedly in my game analysis, that line value is the ultimate goal we look for when wagering on sports, and we definitely have tons of it here.
A statistical comparison of these 2 teams reveals very little difference, Maryland averages about 25 yards more per game offensively than Carolina, and allows about 20 yards per game more defensively. Maryland averages 16.8 first downs per game and Carolina averages 16.2. Maryland allows an average of 4.0 yards per rush and Carolina allows 3.8 yards per carry. I could go on and on, and you would see very little to choose from as far as how either one of these 2 teams is better than the other. The whole point of this exercise is to show that these teams match up very well, and are basically mirror images of each other. If these 2 teams are so evenly matched, then why exactly is North Carolina favored on the road? They are favored on the road for exactly the reasons I outlined above. Very opposite results in their last games have skewed the public's perception of these 2 teams, forcing Vegas to set a line reflecting that perception. A fair line between evenly matched teams normally places the home team as a 4 or 3.5 point favorite, here we have the road team favored by a FG, coming off a very impressive win. Line value established. How has Maryland one this season facing teams perceived as being better than they are? They are 3-1 ATS as dogs this season and are a perfect 5-0 SU at home, outscoring their opponents 153-82. 3 times this season the Terrapins have faced ranked teams, each time they came away with impressive SU wins as underdogs. Last time they were home dogs to Wake Forest and whitewashed them 26-0, out-gaining them 470-219! Before last week's results Maryland was ranked #23 and North Carolina was not ranked at all. Has one week changed these teams so much that the home team should be the dog here? An emphatic NO! Take the points!
Verdict: North Carolina 21, Maryland 28
PLAY 1* UNIT (2%) ON MARYLAND +3
Re: SATURDAY PREMIUM SERVICE PLAYS
3 Star Selection
New Mexico (-1.0) 31 COLORADO ST. 21
New Mexico lost last week at UNLV, but the Lobos played as I expected they would in out-gaining the Rebels 380 yards at 5.1 yards per play to 260 yards at 4.0 yppl. A negative turnover margin and a blocked punt TD cost us the chance to win that bet, but I’m back on New Mexico this week against a defenseless Rams team that can’t stop the run (5.7 yards per rushing play allowed) or the pass (7.3 yards per pass play allowed) and has been even worse than normal the last two games without their best defender SS Mike Pagnotta. Colorado State has been 1.1 yards per play worse than average overall on defense this season (6.4 yppl allowed to teams that would combine to average 5.3 yppl against an average team), but they’ve allowed 7.9 yppl the last two weeks without Pagnotta against BYU and Air Force offensive units that would combine to average 5.6 yppl against an average defensive unit. New Mexico is 0.4 yppl worse than average offensively, but the Lobos have a good rushing attack (5.1 yprp) and they have been pretty good offensively when they don’t need to depend on throwing the ball as much. New Mexico has faced 4 teams that are poor defending the run (Texas A&M, New Mexico State, San Diego State, and UNLV) and the Lobos have averaged 297 rushing yards at 5.7 yprp in those 4 games while scoring 35 points or more in 3 of them (and averaging 37 points). New Mexico has a 0.7 yppl advantage over Colorado State’s horrid defense even if I don’t adjust for Pagnotta being out, and the Lobos’ fine defense (5.0 yppl allowed to teams that would combine to average 5.5 yppl against an average team) is better than a Colorado State attack that is 0.2 yppl better than average. I should mention that New Mexico is without starting CB DeAndre Wright, but Wright isn’t having a great season this year and New Mexico allowed just 4.0 yppl last week without him in the lineup. In addition to having an advantage from the line of scrimmage, the Lobos are better in special teams (despite last week’s punt block) and should be favored by 4 points in this game. In addition to the line value, New Mexico applies to a very strong 33-2 ATS subset of a 53-9-1 ATS statistical match-up indicator along with a few other stat angles. The Lobos are also 39-17 ATS in the regular season from game 7 on under coach Rocky Long, including 29-4 ATS in their last 33 late season games when not favored by 3 points or more (2-1 ATS this season). I considered making the Lobos a 4-Star Best Bet but there is a chance that getting eliminated from a possible bowl game last week deflated their spirits a bit. But, there is no evidence that suggests that teams that lose to be eliminated from bowl eligibility are bad bets the next week. In fact, such teams usually rebound when facing another losing team. I’ll take New Mexico in a 3-Star Best Bet at -2 ½ points or better and for 2-Stars at -3 points.
3 Star Selection
AIR FORCE (+5.0) 27 BYU 23
Blowout wins of 59-0 over UCLA and 44-0 over Wyoming early in the season created a situation in which BYU became vastly overrated. The Cougars are 0-6 ATS since that win over Wyoming and I’ll go against BYU in a negative situation today against an Air Force team that is 7-2 ATS this season and 16-5 ATS in two seasons under coach Troy Calhoun. The line on this game actually isn’t that far off, as my math model favors BYU by 2 ½ points, but the Cougars apply to a very negative 2-28-1 ATS subset of an 11-53-2 ATS road letdown situation. Air Force, meanwhile, applies to a very profitable 186-85-6 ATS home momentum situation. BYU is 0-4 ATS on the road this season (all as favorites) while Air Force is 8-1 ATS at home under Calhoun. I’ll take Air Force in a 3-Star Best Bet at +3 ½ points or more and for 2-Stars at +3 points.
3 Star Selection
Oklahoma St. (-16.5) 40 COLORADO 13
Oklahoma State finally failed to cover the spread last week in their blowout loss at Texas Tech (they’re now 8-1 ATS this season), but I expect them to get back on the profitable side of the ledger with an easy win over a below average Colorado team whose offense can’t possibly keep up with the Cowboy’s potent attack. Oklahoma State has averaged 7.1 yards per play this season (against teams that would allow 5.3 yppl to an average team) and Colorado is just 0.3 yppl better than average defensively and is a bit worse than average defending the run (5.1 yards per rushing play allowed to teams that would combine to average 5.0 yprp against an average team). The Buffaloes have faced 3 very good rushing teams this season and they allowed West Virginia to run for 311 yards at 6.0 yprp, Florida State to run for 259 yards at 5.6 yprp, and Missouri to run for 190 yards at 5.9 yprp. Colorado’s inability to stop good running teams will hurt them today against an Oklahoma State attack that has averaged 254 rushing yards at 5.8 yprp this season. The Cowboys can also throw it when they need to, as quarterback Zac Robinson is averaging an incredible 9.4 yards per pass play in 9 games against Division 1A foes. Oklahoma State has averaged 41 points per game against Division 1A teams that combine to rate at 0.1 yppl better than average defensively, so they ought to score around 40 points in this game against a Colorado defense that is 0.2 yppl better than average. Colorado is averaging just 15.6 points in their last 8 games and they rate at 1.0 yppl worse than average for the season (4.6 yppl against teams that would combine to allow 5.6 yppl to an average team). Coach Hawkins has been splitting snaps at quarterback the last 4 games between his son Cody and freshman Tyler Hansen, who is more of a running threat. Hanson has been horrible when he’s thrown the ball and his good running has been countered by the loss of top back Rodney Stewart, who was averaging a decent 4.7 ypr and his now out for the rest of the season. In 4 games since alternating quarterbacks the Buffaloes are still at 1.0 yppl worse than average (4.6 yppl against teams that would allow 5.6 yppl), but they’re throwing more interceptions since Hansen tends to make the bad decisions that freshman are prone to making (he’s thrown 4 picks on 65 passes). Oklahoma State is only 0.3 yppl better than average defensively (5.7 yppl allowed to teams that would combine to average 6.0 yppl against an average team), but the Buffs have averaged only 15.6 points in their last 8 games against teams that are 0.1 yppl better than average, so I don’t see them scoring more than 17 points in this game. My math model favors Oklahoma State by 21 ½ points and the Cowboys apply to a very good 107-49-2 ATS blowout bounce-back situation this week. In addition to the favorable general situation, coach Mike Gundy’s team is a perfect 10-0 ATS as a favorite of 13 points or more, 16-1 ATS in their last 17 games against unranked teams, and 10-2-1 ATS after a loss. In other words, don’t expect a letdown from the Cowboys, who tend to take care of business against mediocre and bad teams. Colorado, meanwhile, is just 3-16 ATS as an underdog of less than 21 points under coach Hawkins. I’ll take Oklahoma State in a 3-Star Best Bet at -17 points (at -1.10 odds or better) or less and for 2-Stars up to -20 points.
College Strong Opinions
IOWA (-17.5) 34 Purdue 10
I stated last week that Iowa was a much better team than their record suggests and the Hawkeyes proved that with a win over previously unbeaten Penn State. Iowa still appears to be underrated and they’ll destroy a bad Purdue team as long as they aren’t too focused on last week’s win instead of this week’s opponent. Conference home favorites of more than 3 points actually have a winning point spread record after beating unbeaten conference opponents this late in the season, so there is no history that suggests the Hawkeyes will suffer a letdown. A normal effort by Iowa in this game will result in a dominating victory over a Purdue team with a banged up offensive line, an ineffective backup quarterback at the helm and a defense that doesn’t defend the run well. Purdue’s offense has averaged only 4.8 yards per play for the season and that unit is 0.5 yards per play worse than average after accounting for the opposing defensive units that they’ve faced. The Boilermakers’ attack is even worse with Justin Siller filling in for injured starting quarterback Curtis Painter, as Siller has averaged a pathetic 4.1 yards per pass play on 89 pass plays (against teams that would allow 6.0 yppp to an average QB). Siller’s running (198 yards at 4.7 yards per rushing play) isn’t adding anything to the offense that averages 4.7 yprp as a team and I don’t see the Boilermakers getting many scoring opportunities against a dominating Iowa defense that has yielded just 4.6 yppl to a schedule of teams that would combine to average 5.5 yppl against an average defense. That unit has shut down sub-par offensive units this season while Purdue has scored a total of just 9 points in two other games against very good defensive teams Ohio State and Penn State – and that was with Painter at quarterback. The Boilermakers have actually scored 7 points or fewer in 4 of their last 6 games and could very well be in single digits in this game too. Purdue’s defense has been pretty good overall (0.2 yppl better than average), but the Boilermakers have been worse than average defending the run (5.2 yprp allowed to teams that would combine to average 4.9 yprp against an average team), which is great news for Iowa’s star running back Shonn Greene, who is the only back in the nation to rush for 100 yards or more in every game and is averaging a stellar 6.1 ypr for the season. Iowa’s offense has been better since Ricky Stanzi became the full time quarterback and I rate the Hawkeyes’ attack at 0.7 yppl better than average with Stanzi at quarterback. Iowa has a solid edge when they have the ball and a huge edge when Purdue has possession. Iowa also has a pretty solid edge in special teams and my math favors the Hawkeyes by 24 points in this game. Iowa has not been a great play as a big favorite in recent years, especially after a victory, as they are just 3-12 ATS as a favorite of more than 7 points following a victory since 2004, but Iowa is also 17-3 ATS as a home favorite of more than 9 points against a team at .500 or less under coach Ferentz (although 2-3 ATS recently). I’ll resist making Iowa a Best Bet here due to a possible letdown based on their team history, but I’ll consider Iowa a Strong Opinion at -19 or less and I’d take Iowa in a 2-Star Best Bet at -16 or less.
KANSAS ST. (+7.0) 34 Nebraska 35
There really isn’t much of a difference between Nebraska and Kansas State, as both teams are good on offense and below average defensively. The difference between Nebraska’s 6-4 record and Kansas State’s 4-6 record is a Cornhuskers’ schedule that has had them play 7 of their 10 games at home (while Kansas State has played 5 home games and 5 road games). Nebraska has averaged 6.5 yards per play this season and rates at 1.3 yppl better than average after accounting for the strength of their opponent’s defense and site of each game. Kansas State rates at 0.3 yppl worse than average defensively in 6 games since starting S Gary Chandler was suspended, allowing 6.5 yppl to a schedule of teams that would combine to average 6.2 yppl against an average team. The Wildcats are 0.6 yppl better than average offensively with Josh Freeman behind center and they have a solid advantage over a Cornhuskers’ defense that has been 0.6 yppl worse than average (6.2 yppl allowed to teams that would combine to average 5.6 yppl against an average team) in 9 games since losing star DE Barry Turner to a season ending injury in week 1. Nebraska’s defense will probably be a bit worse without top LB Cody Glenn, who has been suspended indefinitely (although I won’t adjust for that until they prove to be worse without him). So, Nebraska has a 1.6 yppl advantage when they have the ball while Kansas State has a 1.2 yppl advantage when they’re on offense. Most of that difference is made up by Kansas State being at home and my math model projects 477 total yards for Nebraska and 467 total yards for Kansas State. Kansas State has a slight edge in projected turnover and the Wildcats have an edge in special teams, as they’ve had 5 special teams touchdowns this season. Overall, these teams are about the same and Kansas State is at home, so I can certainly see the Wildcats being favored in this game. The reason they are not favored is because Nebraska’s rating based on score differential is better. However, using a model that compensates and adjusts point differentials still only favors Nebraska by 2 points in this game. I’d be on Kansas State in a Best Bet here if not for a 183-96-8 ATS statistical match-up indicator that favors Nebraska as long as they are -7 or less. That angle obviously barely applies since the line on this game is 7 points and I’ll consider Kansas State a Strong Opinion at +6 or more and I’d take Kansas State in a 2-Star Best Bet at +7 ½ points or more (at -115 odds or better).