Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday November, 3

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday November, 3

Scott Delaney

My free pick run for Saturday is going to be out of the Sun Belt Conference, as I play the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks minus the points over rival Louisiana-Lafayette, in a crucial league showdown. Tell you what, this is a dangerous Warhawks team and I wouldn't turn your back on it. Since falling to Baylor in the home opener back on Sept. 21, the 'Hawks have won five straight games, the first time they've won five straight since 1993, when they were a member of the FCS (1-AA) ranks.

The Warhawks, who are 4-0 in the Sun Belt for the first time since joining the conference, check in on ATS win streaks of 4-0 against winning teams, 8-2 after an ATS setback and 7-2 overall. Meanwhile, the Cajuns check in on a two-game losing streak on the gridiron and three-game slide versus the books and are 1-4 ATS in their last five games.

This kid Kolton Browning has taken charge of the offense, and could be headed to all-Sun Belt honore, as the 6-foot-1 junior quarterback needs just three touchdown passes to set a new school-record for career touchdown passes. Browning, who leads the Sun Belt with an average of 270.5 yards per game, has 53 career touchdown passes.

And with Middle Tennessee State pulling off a 34-29 upset Thursday night as a 9-point underdog at Western Kentucky, the Warhawks are now atop the conference standings by themselves. That should provide Browning enough motivation to set that school record in this game alone.

Monroe has the 22nd-ranked offense that averages almost 465 yards per game, while it's 18th-ranked scoring offense puts up nearly 40 points per game. That doesn't bode well for the Ragin Cajuns, whose defense ranks 92nd nationally, allowing 437 yards per game. Also, and another benefit for Browning, is the fact Lafayette has the 12th-worst pass defense in the country, allowing nearly 300 yards per game via the air.

Yeah, everything is in the right spot for the Warhawks in this game, and I'm laying the points.

2♦ UL MONROE

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday November, 3

Chuck O'Brien

My free winner for Saturday is going to be a Conference USA clash in New Orleans, as I'm playing the Rice Owls over the Tulane Green Wave in what is a little bit more of a rivalry than you might know. Honestly, anything out of Houston is considered a rival to the Bayou state, as it very close to the border of Texas and Louisiana.

So as the Owls have won two of their last three overall and closed out October with a 2-2 record, I expect them to start out November with a crucial win. See, at 3-6 with three games left - Rice has to win them all to become bowl eligible. Good thing this is their time of the year, as the Owls are 17-9 in games played in November or later since 2006.

And they should be nice and fired up for struggling Tulane (2-6), as they crushed Southern Miss last week, 44-17, the Owls' largest margin of victory in a conference game since defeatin SMU 56-27 in the opening game of the 2008 season.

What I've noticed about this Rice team, while going 2-2 in October, it has sliced opponents' average per carry nearly in half. In its first five games, opposing runners averaged 6.8 yards per carry (215 carries, 1,452 yards), while over its last four they're averaging a mere 3.6 (169/610). Overall, the Owls have held their last three foes to an average of 323 yards per game in total offense, after allowing an average of 559.0 to start the campaign.

Rice, which has outscored its last three opponents 112-73 and has yet to trail in the first half in each of the last four games, arrives in The Big Easy on ATS win streaks of 4-1 on the road, 17-7 in November, 4-0 after an ATS cover and 6-2 overall.

Lay the points, as Rice inches closer to bowl eligibility.

2♦ RICE

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday November, 3

Craig Davis

The biggest thing going against Oregon State tonight (well, two things actually) is the fact they have an awful series history record against ASU and they are coming off a devastating loss last week that knocked them from the ranks of the unbeaten.

Aside from that, I believe they are the better football team and, playing at home, should be able to take care of business as long as they can eliminate turnovers and penalties.

True, ASU leads the series 25-12-1, but that's mainly because Oregon State has been so bad for so many years. Arizona State might have won last year's matchup, but that ended a three-game losing skid in this series and the Devils have always struggled in Corvallis, going just 6-8-1 despite many "down" years for the Beavers.

Last week's OSU loss in Washington was the Beaver's first loss of the year, but it can be directed to one main area that they must eliminate tonight... turnovers. OSU outgained Washington 427 to 293, but four Sean Mannion INTs gave the Huskies a huge edge that they took advantage of.

We've all seen what ASU's offense is capable of, but can they do it on the road against a defense that has been as good as Oregon State's? Not many teams have been able to do it and I'm not sure ASU, despite what we saw last week with 43 points and over 500 yards of offense, is going to be nearly that successful.

The focal point of the Sun Devil attack will be running backs D.J. Foster and Marion Grice, both as runners and receivers. No doubt they are a dangerous tandem and must be taken seriously, but this OSU defense is so aggressive that I'm not sure they're worried. They've seen good RB combos in the past and have fared quite well.

The major story of the week for OSU, offensively, is at quarterback, where starter Sean Mannion has been benched in favor of Cody Vaz after Mannion tossed four interceptions in last week's loss. The only thing Vaz lacks that Mannion has is size. Vazi is a few inches shorter than Mannion, but is a very poised QB with a good arm and better mobility. That will help in the fourth quarter, if you ask me. You want a QB who is able to scramble if the pocket breaks down.

The biggest thing for OSU tonight is turnovers, ultimately. If they can limit the mistakes and keep the ball in their possession for more than 30 minutes, they'll win this game going away.

Both teams are fairly even in terms of match-ups, but the defensive advantage and home field advantage is enough for me to release the Beavers tonight, minus the points, as your free play of the day.

3♦ OREGON STATE

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday November, 3

Jeff Benton

Your Saturday freebie is to grab the double-digits with the Pittsburgh Panthers as they play in South Bend against the unbeaten Irish of Notre Dame.

Hats-off to Brian Kelly for taking his team into Norman last week as the near two touchdown underdog and winning outright in  laugher, 30-13. No doubt the Fighting Irish defense can make life miserable for many teams out their, but is this the spot where the Irish come up a little flat and dodge a bullet?

I think it is.

Pittsburgh has won four of their six games since opening the campaign at 0-2 under first-year coach Paul Chryst, and are fresh off a 41-17 rout of the Temple Owls their last time on the field.

The road team in this rivalry is 5-1-1 against the spread the last seven times the schools have faced one another, and the Irish come into this game in South Bend having dropped three of their four home games at Notre Dame Stadium - all as the favorite.

Definite letdown spot for the Irish who will do just enough to get the outright win today, but will fail against the spread.

Take the Panthers plus the points.

3♦ PITTSBURGH

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday November, 3

Chris Jordan

Akron at KENT STATE (-20')

Battle for a Wagon Wheel.

That's why my early free pick has to do with this week. When the Kent State Golden Flashes host the Akron Zips, a battle for the coveted Wagon Wheel inside Dix Stadium will take place. And after seeing what the Flashes did to Rutgers last week, I'm switching gears with this Mid American Conference force and will lay the near three-touchdown favorite.

The Golden Flashes come in off their first win over a ranked opponent in 23 tries, as they handled Rutgers in a 35-23 win in New Jersey, at Rutgers, which was No. 15 in last week's BCS standings. Kent State has six straight wins in a season for the first time since 1940. The Golden Flashes have won eight straight games against teams currently in the MAC, and dating back to Oct. 29, 2011, Kent State has won 11 of its last 13 games overall.

Kent State leads the nation with a plus-19 turnover margin after forcing 13 turnovers in its last two games, and that could be trouble for the pass-happy Zips, who rank 13th in the nation and lead the MAC in passing, averaging 316 yards per game. I know the Zips rank 42nd in the nation in total offense, but this is too hard a game for them to overcome.

Kent has been defying odds all season to get to this point. Last week, Rutgers ranked third in the nation in run defense and scoring defense, but Kent State's five ball carriers combined for 242 rushing yards.

Lay the points with Kent State.

2♦ KENT STATE


Arizona (+3') at UCLA

My late freebie for Saturday takes me out to Pasadena, where I like the visiting Arizona Wildcats against the UCLA Bruins inside the Rose Bowl. Arizona is ranked 24th; UCLA is 25th. In the BCS Standings, Arizona is 22nd and the Bruins are nowhere to be found. And as Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez seeks his first road victory, I think this could be a symbolic victory for his Wildcats.

Both Pac-12 rivals carry two-game conference win streaks into this matchup, which could very well shape the South Division race heading into the final weeks of the season. The six FBS opponents that Arizon has played in 2012 have a combined record of 43-12 entering this week’s game, and I think that'll prove to be beneficial in this road contest.

And what I see this one coming down to is how Arizona's resilient and opportunistic defense performs, as it's forced eight turnovers over the last two games. I expect it to capitalize and get key stops to complement one of the nation’s most explosive offenses. And remember, the Wildcats have won five straight in the rivalry, including last year's 48-12 blowout last season, an embarrassing loss that contributed to then-UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel's dismissal.

Arizona is among the nation's top offenses with 553 yards per game. And even though quarterback Matt Scott was rocked by the Southern Cal defense last week, he's expected to play, and that'll be trouble for the Bruins. Scott is going to put on a show, along with receiver Austin Hill and tailback Ka'Deem Carey against a Bruins defense that has given up 43 points in two of its last three games.

Take the road pup here, as the 'Cats are playing with a purpose and will aim for the outright.

1♦ ARIZONA

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday November, 3

Matt Rivers

College football free play winner for Saturday night is to lay the points with the #1 rated Alabama Crimson Tide as they visit their conference rival LSU for a Saturday night showdown in Baton Rouge.

Sure the Tigers would like to exact revenge from last January's domination at the hands of the Tide in the National Championship Game, but that scenario is just not likely to happen.

LSU has had their problems against lesser foes trying to go vertically in their offense, and I see no way the Bayou Bengals get any kind of passing game started against the staunch Tide defense. The Alabama defense has allowed just 65 total points in their eight wins this season, so the 21-0 final that was recorded in the championship game could very well be repeated for a second straight time.

The Tide is +17 in turnover margin this year, and they have 14 straight games by 19 points or more, including a 38-7 beatdown of a pretty decent Miss State team last Saturday in Tuscaloosa.

LSU is on a 1-4 spread run their last five, and they have failed two of their last three tries when installed as a home underdog since the 2007 season.

Sorry Tigers fans, but Bama is indeed that much better than you are.

Roll Tide!

4♦ ALABAMA

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday November, 3

Tony Stoffo

Toronto Raptors vs. Brooklyn Nets
Play: Brooklyn Nets

Free Play - Toronto at Brooklyn This game sets up exactly the same as last night's Miami/New York game where the home team was the much more inspired group after what has happened in the Tri-State area. So going with the Nets tonight for the same reason - plus add in the fact that this will be their home opener in front of their new fans. All the intangibles point towards a lopsided Nets win here this evening.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday November, 3

SPORTS WAGERS

Toronto +6 -110 over BROOKLYN

The ‘new’ Nets went over the cap, used every exception, re-signed a few of their own players to inflated deals and ended up with an $82 million payroll for this season. Their players aren't worth that much but the PR is good, enabling a quick fix and at the very least, the Nets will score points with all five starters capable. However, they can’t and likely won’t defend anyone and it’ll make these Nets much more valuable when taking points than spotting them.

Toronto is commonly undervalued because they play in a market that gets little coverage in the U.S. The Raps are much-improved in every key area, (rebounding, defense and scoring). They showed that in their season opener against the Pacers in which they came within a shot of winning. Now the Raps are taking back some points against a group of guys that are still unfamiliar to one another. The Nets, if they are to succeed at all, are going to need some time to gel. In the interim, we’ll take advantage.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday November, 3

OC Dooley

Mississippi +14

Many reading this analysis are aware that Ole Miss a couple of weeks ago finally snapped an 0-16 skid within the Southeast Conference and now have actually strung together consecutive OUTRIGHT victories.  But since the Rebels have just beaten a pair of struggling sides (Auburn, Arkansas) they still have much to prove late this afternoon in what is a rare National-TV appearance for a school who used to be the collegiate home of quarterback Eli Manning.  Even though Manning has been employed by the NFL for quite some time, the Rebels offensive attack has come alive the last couple of weeks putting a combined 71 points on the scoreboard.  Ole Miss runs a balanced an up-tempo offense th at features Jeff Scott who is rushing for a healthy average of more than 84 yards per game.  The starting quarterback for Ole Miss these days is Bo Wallace who has run the second-most offensive plays in the entire country.  While Wallace is a pass-first quarterback who has thrown for more than 1,600 yards, he also has the knack for avoiding pressure by scrambling for first downs that sustain drives.  Host Georgia is in a classic “emotional letdown” situation as one week ago on CBS they ended up defeating rival Florida outright for a second consecutive year, which is something the Bulldogs last accomplished way back in the 1989 campaign.  Georgia came out of last week’s upset BANGED UP as center David Andrews (knee), guard Chris Burnette (broken thumb) and noese guard John Jenkins (ankle) are all nursing injuries.  Georgia will also be without starting fullback Merritt Hall (ankle) who also fell victim to a physical tussle a week ago versus the Gators.  Another outright upset for Ole Miss this afternoon would make them Bowl eligible for the first time since the 2009 campaign.  Ole Miss is 7-1 ATS this season and also a dazzling 14-2 ATS/ROAD long term when up against an excellent passing offense that on averages gains at least 250 aerial yards per contest

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