Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday October, 11

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday October, 11

Chuck O'Brien

My free pick is the same as yesterday's 60 Dimer I lost on the Run Line. Thanks to a 10-cent reprieve, we'll just lay the chalk in this one and play the Yankees to wrap things up tonight in the Bronx.

As I said yesterday, it must seem strange to see this team of relative no-names in black and orange not only make the postseason against huge preseason odds but seemingly hang tough with the diabolical New York Yankees. After all, the Bronx Bombers boast names like Derek Jeter, Ichiro Suzuki, Alex Rodriguez, Nick Swisher... you know - the big boys.

Well, it's true. The Orioles have done a fantastic job at hanging in there, and proved everyone wrong when they went into Arlington, Texas last week to win the one-and-out playoff over the two-time American League defending champion Rangers. But, all that being said, enough is enough.  I mean seriously, this is Baltimore's first postseason appearance since 1997, while the Yankees have qualified in 17 of the last 18 years. It's time to send the O's home and bring an end to their season.

I think the pinstripes know they have no choice but to step up and bring a halt to all this madness tonight, and can't chance getting into an elimination game tomorrow. They're not going to overlook this, take the O's for granted or come into this game light-hearted. Not when they know the Orioles beat New York in six of nine games at Yankee Stadium during the regular season, their most wins there since 1976.

Take the Yankees tonight, as they move on to the American League Championship Series.

2♦ NEW YORK

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday October, 11

Craig Davis

Tonight I'm focusing on the NFL for my premium release, but I'm taking a crack at a small school college football game for my free release.

I like the Troy Trojans plus the small number at home vs. Western Kentucky. Sorry, but I believe the wrong team is favored.

The good news is... the Trojans are 8-1-1 all-time versus Western Kentucky including a 4-0-1 mark at Veterans Memorial Stadium. Admittedly, Western Kentucky is playing the best football its played in quite some time and I understand why they're favored. But that doesn't mean it can't be a bad line... and that's what I believe it is.

The Hilltoppers are 4-1 overall, 1-0 in conference and are coming off a come-from-behind 26-13 victory over Arkansas State on the road.

This one should be extra fun because it pits two strengths against each other... Troy's passing attack vs. W. Kentucky's pass defense and (more importantly) pass rush. Quanterus Smith is an absolute beast at defensive end. He leads the nation averaging 1.62 sacks per game. Conversely, Troy’s offensive line ranks 15th in the NCAA having allowed just four sacks on the season.

Something's gotta give... and I think when push comes to shove, the fact that this game is being played at Troy's home stadium, that will be the difference.

Take Troy at home as your free play of the day.

4♦ TROY

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday October, 11

Jeff Benton

Hit my last pair of freebies, O's-Yanks Under last night.

Your Thursday freebie is high-octane Tulsa to roll struggling UTEP.

Mike Price's Miners are a little depth-shy, and are dealing with numerous injuries, so it is no wonder they were just blanked at home against SMU. UTEP is now 1-5 straight up and only 2-2 against the spread in the underdog role.

Tulsa is fresh off a road win and cover against a tough Marshall team, as the Golden Hurricane has now won five in a row straight up, and they are averaging over 46 points per game along the way.

After two in a row on the highway, Tulsa will be ready to post a blowout win in front of the home crowd in this prime time spotlight contest.

Tulsa has won and covered three of the last four in this series, including a 57-28 romp last season in El Paso. Look for a similar final tonight.

Golden Hurricane to roll big.

5♦ TULSA

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday October, 11

Chris Jordan

My free winner is in the matinee contest between the St. Louis Cardinals and Washington Nationals, and I'm going to go ahead and list both and play the road team. Unfortunately, for me personally, I don't think the young Nationals have enough experience to get it done against the defending World Series champion Redbirds. I've been riding the Nationals all season, and have a personal interest in the Nationals, with Bryce Harper being from Las Vegas. But I'm afraid the Cardinals are going to win this game today.

St. Louis learned to be resilient during their stretch run last season, also getting into the playoffs with the final National League berth.

This season, the Cardinals won 10 fewer games than the Nationals, finished second in the NL Central nine games back of division champion Cincinnati, and snuck into the postseason as the league's second wild-card under this year's new format.

There is no quit in the Cardinals, and they have the right guy on the hill for a win today.

While I've followed the Nationals for much of the season, I've also made plenty of money on St. Louis right-hander Kyle Lohse. He comes in after helping to extend the Cardinals' season by in last Friday's Wild Card win in Atlanta. It was Lohse's first postseason victory in five starts, and was yet another remarkable achievement in what has been a career year.

I know the veteran right-hander posted a 6.94 ERA in two September starts against Washington, but something tells me he's going to be on fire for this one.

2♦ ST. LOUIS

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday October, 11

Matt Rivers

35-17-3 free play run, and tonight I like the Buffaloes of Colorado to stay inside of this ridiculous impost at home against Arizona State.

Head coach Todd Graham has his Sun Devils off to a flying 4-1 start both straight up and against the spread, but with a home game up next against highly-ranked Oregon, I can totally see State being just a little flat-footed tonight and failing to cover this large road impost.

Colorado is just 1-4 straight up and against the spread, so winning outright appears to be a rather long-shot. Still, college football home underdogs are 8-3 this season on Thursday and Friday nights.

Last week Utah covered at home against USC, no reason the Buffs can't stay within striking distance tonight.

Take the points.

3♦ COLORADO

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Thursday October, 11

Wunderdog

Arizona State at Colorado
Pick: Colorado +22

Colorado has hit rock bottom. Since joining the Pac-12, they own a 3-9 mark. If not for a big upset win at Washington State, this team was staring at a winless season. Arizona State has looked good thus far, suffering just one setback in an out-of-conference tilt at Missouri. I am not going to argue for the merits of Colorado here. They stink. But, the Sun Devils might be thinking that they are on easy street here in Colorado vs. a less than average Buffaloes team. That becomes a stronger likelihood with Oregon on deck. In fact, I think ASU may already be preparing for Oregon. The oddity is that game will also take place on Thursday, so the Sun Devils will not benefit from extra rest here. The objective will be to get the win and get out - utilize minimal energy, rest starters, and stay healthy. The team benefitting from extra rest here is Colorado who comes in after a bye week. They have had two full weeks to prepare - a situation that has been good to them as they are 5-0 ATS in their last five off a bye. Arizona State has not travelled well at just 1-4-1 ATS  in their last six road games. They are also just 2-12 ATS in their last twelve when taking to the road off a road win. The Sun Devilscould get caught here by a rested team on the road. Play on Colorado with the generous points.

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