Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday January, 1

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday January, 1

Craig Davis

No, I haven't lost my mind... I just have one of those feelings, and I'm only rating it a 1♦ so it's not like we're going nuts here. But a money line win in this game could net a $100 player over $450 if it hits.

I like those odds and I like my chances.

On paper you might not know which team is which... and the only reason FSU is favored by so many points is that they're FSU and they supposedly have the best athletes in the country. How can Vegas do anything but list Florida State as a double digit favorite?

Obviously, this is a lose/lose situation for the Seminoles... so what do they have to play for? Seriously? If they win big, they were supposed to, and the rest of the country will criticize the BCS for even letting Northern Illinois into this game.

On the other hand, Florida State could possibly not take Northern Illinois seriously, but that would be a huge mistake because the Huskies are the third toughest team on FSU's schedule this year.

Both coaching staffs are in the midst of changes with FSU losing Mark Stoops, DJ Elliot and Eddie Gran leaving FSU. NIU lost Dave Doeren to North Carolina State but the rest of the staff is staying on to coach the bowl game. Yeah, I'm as confused as you are.

The bottom line is this... both of these teams are in a bit of a mess, but it will be much more of an entertaining game than people think. And yes, I like Northern Illinois to pull off the upset as your free play of the day.

1♦ NORTHERN ILLINOIS - MONEY LINE

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday January, 1

Matt Rivers

New Year's Day free play is Northern Illinois in the underdog role against Florida State as the teams meet in the Orange Bowl this Tuesday night.

True the Huskies lost their head coach to another higher-profile job, but motivation should be on the side of NIU, as they are out to prove this BCS game is well-deserved.

Northern Illinois has won twelve in a row heading into this one, and they are 9-3-1 against the spread for the season, and they have covered in six of their last eight when they are getting points. Quarterback Chandler Harnisch is too good to give nearly two scores to.

As for Florida State, they went a money-burning 0-6 against the spread on the road this season, most recently missing the cover as the double-digit favorite in the ACC Championship Game.

Jimbo Fisher has won and covered both of his previous bowl games as Florida State head coach, and the Sems are 4-0 overall their last four bowl games, and while they may run the bowl winning streak to five games, I don't see them getting the cover minus the big number tonight.

2♦ NORTHERN ILLINOIS

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday January, 1

DAVID BANKS

Wisconsin Badgers +6

The first BCS bowl of the season is a good old fashioned Rose Bowl with the Big Ten Champion facing the Pac-12 Champion, as the Wisconsin Badgers (8-5, 6-7 ATS) take on the Stanford Cardinal (11-2, 8-5 ATS) at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA at 5:00 ET on ESPN. The traditional conference affiliations for this bowl have not always been in tact since the BCS came into existence, but things worked out this season. Stanford handed Oregon its only loss this season and then beat UCLA twice to win the Pac-12, while the five-loss Badgers advanced to the Big Ten Championship Game despite finishing third in their division behind two ineligible bowl teams in Ohio State and Penn State, and yet annihilated Nebraska 70-31.

The Badgers struggled offensively early in the season while having some close calls vs. mediocre competition and they lost their final two regular season games to aforementioned Ohio State and Penn State. However, Wisconsin certainly seized the opportunity that was gift-wrapped for the Badgers by rushing for an incredulous 539 yards vs. the Cornhuskers, with last year's Heisman Trophy finalist Montee Ball and freshman Melvin Gordon each going over 200 yards! Thus, a team that finished unranked on the final BCS Standings advanced to perhaps the most prestigious bowl game of all. Wisconsin ended the year 12th in the country in rushing with 237.8 yards per game on 5.2 yards per carry, but the Big Ten was not particularly strong this season and the Badgers do not figure to have their usual rushing success vs. the very stout Stanford run defense. Therein lays the problem, as Wisconsin used three starting quarterbacks this season and none of them were effective passing the ball. The Badgers ranked 115th in the county in passing offense with a scant 162.6 yards per game, so they do not seem equipped to take advantage of the Stanford secondary.

Nobody ran on Stanford this year as the Cardinal finished third in the country in rushing defense, allowing only 86.9 yards per game on a measly 2.9 yards per carry. After keeping the speedy Oregon running game in check, stopping a more physical style Wisconsin rushing attack may not seem so daunting for an even more physical Stanford defense. The Cardinal have also been toughened by playing the 16th toughest schedule in the country according to the Sagarin Ratings, and Stanford is a fantastic 6-1 vs. teams in the Sagarin Top 30 with the only loss coming in overtime on the road vs. undefeated and top ranked Notre Dame. Offensively, the Cardinal have a solid running attack of their own led by Stepfan Taylor, who rushed for 1442 on 4.8 yards per carry with 12 rushing touchdowns and two more touchdowns on pass receptions.

Stanford is 38-17-1 ATS in its last 56 games overall, including 10-1 ATS in the last 11 non-conference games. Wisconsin is 2-9 ATS in its last 11 games after accumulating more than 200 rushing yards in its previous game. Not today!

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday January, 1

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Sacramento vs. Detroit
Pick: Detroit
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Both teams have been playing well recently. However, that success has come primarily at home, particularly in Sacramento's case. With this game being played at Detroit, I expect the Pistons to have an advantage.
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The Pistons are a "respectable" 8-8 at home. It could be better than that too, as they've outscored teams by a 97.1 to 92.9 margin here.
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While Detroit's home record may not initially seem overly impressive, it sounds a lot better when compared to Sacramento's 1-12 mark on the road. The Kings are getting outscored by a 102.4 to 91.3 margin away from Sacramento, more than 11 points per game.
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While they lost a close one at Sacramento earlier this season, the Pistons are still 4-1 SU/ATS the last five in the series. Playing with "revenge" and catching the Kings likely without Tyreke Evans, take a look at Detroit. Good luck and all the best in 2013.

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SPORTS WAGERSFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Purdue +17½ over Oklahoma State
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The Boilermakers are a mistake prone club that had some really ugly losses this season and at one point dropped five in a row with four of those being of the blowout variety. It’s difficult to get too enthusiastic about backing them but the alternative is likely worse.
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Although talented, OSU is a young club that will play this one without its offensive coordinator. In terms of momentum, Purdue won its final three games while the Cowboys dropped their final two and this wasn’t the game Oklahoma State envisioned playing in. Now the ‘Boys are being asked to spot the largest price in this year’s bowl games and in a disappointing assignment, that’s not a winning recipe. No units risked.
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Northwestern -1 over Mississippi St
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This will be Pat Fitzgerald’s best shot at winning a bowl game after going 0-4 and his Wildcats should have no problem getting it for him. In those previous four bowl appearances, Northwestern was a significant dog in all of them of seven points or more and the Wildcats went 3-1 against the number with only game not covering being by a single point. The 2012 edition is Fitz's best. They lost just three games all year with one occurring in OT and another one being by a single point. This is a strong rushing team that should be able to exploit MSU’s lack of playmakers in their front seven.
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The Bulldogs have lost to all four bowl teams they faced by at least 17 points. They closed out the year by losing four of their last five games while averaging less than 18 points a game over that span. A coaching edge in all phases of the game combined with better overall talent makes these Wildcats easy to get behind here. 
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Michigan +6 over South Carolina
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SportsInteraction is offering up six points and if you don’t have an account there, we’re still suggesting you take the points. Those six points is rather significant when you consider that the game is likely to be played in the trenches with both teams struggling to score. The Wolverines haven’t allowed a 200 yard passing game all season and that’s an amazing fact that confirms just how good this defense really is. The Wolverines can't be expected to score much but the explosiveness of Denard Robinson combined with a strong game plan could cause enough damage for Michigan to pull off this upset. Michigan is a better team than its 8-4 record suggests, with four excusable losses (three to squads with a combined 36-1 record plus a tough road trip to Nebraska without Robinson).
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The Gamecocks defense is really good, holding Clemson to 17 points and Georgia to 7 while ranking 11th in the country in points allowed. QB Connor Shaw is coming off a solid year and the offense has racked up some decent numbers but against this strong defense, moving the chains consistently is going to be a huge challenge and Steve Spurrier's lethargic bowl record inspires us to take the points. 
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Georgia -8 over Nebraska
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The Cornhuskers don’t belong and if we knew for sure that Georgia isn’t disappointed about playing in this game, it would likely be one of the best wagers of the bowl season. Nebraska’s Bo Pelini's count of outright losses as a favorite now stands at nine. His record of blowouts suffered by at least three scores is at eight and the streak of games with multiple turnovers committed has reached 12 straight. For the Huskers, we can’t get over two games that stick out like a sore thumb this season. First, there was that 63-38 loss to Ohio State and who could ever forget that 71-30 humiliation to Wisconsin on Dec 1. 
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The Bulldogs came so close to appearing in the BCS National Championship Game. This is one of the best teams in the country and would absolutely be favored Notre Dame, the #1 team in the country. Georgia finished 10-2 after playing in the nation’s top conference. If the Bulldogs show up at full speed here, this game will not be close. A modest effort is likely to leave the Huskers outclassed once again.
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Wisconsin +5½ over Stanford
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These two are so similar in every way that it just doesn’t make sense spotting points with either of them. Stanford and Wisconsin both play smash-mouth football, led by backs who have earned All-America recognition. They both won their respective conferences and each fields an inexperienced quarterback whose first career start came on Nov. 10. Neither QB has managed to generate any explosion in the downfield passing attack with both squads featuring an outstanding defensive front seven that rate among the nation's best run-stopping units.
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The similarities have become the Rose Bowl storyline and the significant edge that Stanford has is in its outstanding FG kicker. The edge that the Badgers have is that they’re getting significant points and are led by a Hall of Fame coach with an 8-3 bowl record. We trust that’ll get us paid.
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Northern Illinois +15 over Florida State
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The Seminoles get the benefit of playing in Miami but this team has been a bankroll killer all season with a 3-9 record against the spread and that’s unlikely to change here. ‘Noles QB EJ Manuel is not in good form with just 316 passing yards and six turnovers in FSU’s final two games. A month off isn’t going to make him sharper. FSU will also be without its defensive coordinator, Mark Stoops, who took on the coaching job at Kentucky. Florida State is talented indeed but they're too self-destructive to get our money.
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The Huskies literally played one of the weakest schedules in the nation and that’s the only reason they’re being offered this many points and we’ll gladly take them. NIU lost its first game of the year to Iowa by a single point and subsequently ran the table. Teams that play a weak schedule had better not have any red flags in their numbers and the Huskies don't. They rank high in all offensive and defensive stats with QB Jordan Lynch throwing for nearly 3,000 yards passing and leading the Huskies to 43 TD’s against just five picks. The Huskies are the only team in the country besides Texas A&M to rank inside the top 10 in both rushing and passing plays of more than 30 yards. Jumbo Fisher has raved about the way his Seminoles have practiced leading up to this game. We’re still not buying, as Jimbo has sung that tune before with poor results, most notably before the ACC championship game, when his demonstrative praise for the team's practice-field execution turned out to be a dud of a nail-biter win over an even bigger underdog than Northern Illinois. Big insult line will have the Huskies even more motivated.

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Greg ShakerFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Wisconsin +5FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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It is easy not to be impressed with the Pac 10 this year and even though Stanford comes into this contest with a lot of wins they have had some close calls and they certainly do not have the offense that they have had with Luck doing the signal calling. We do hear a lot about how well the Cardinal Plays D but Wisconsin is just as good or even better if you look at the numbers this year. This game no doubt comes down to whether can "Bread and Butter" it with their running game verses the strong Stanford Rush D. I do think their Big O-Line guys have success today and IMO this game is at best a Tossup. I will grab the 5 Points..

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Joe GavazziFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Georgia -8.5FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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It's hard to believe that teams could be less than excited about playing a January 1st Bowl game. But with the expanded 35 game slate, that is exactly the position in which each of these teams finds themselves. The Cornhuskers had dreams of the Rose Bowl in just their second season of Big Ten play. Those were quickly doused in a 70-31 loss to Wisconsin. In that game, they allowed the Badgers to rush for 539 yards. It was a continuation of their failure against quality offenses on the road. Nebraska lost 36-30 at UCLA, allowing 344 RY and 63-38 at OSU allowing 371 RY. As a result, they are playing at the same site as last year, where they lost 30-13 to S. Carolina. Unless there have been dramatic changes in the last 31 days, the Huskers could well take the worst of it at the line of scrimmage once again. Georgia is playing old school football under HC Richt. Though the Bulldogs have the ability to stretch the field with QB Murray, a veteran signal caller, it was the Georgia ground game that provided balance and allowed them to stay in the game against a top-ranked Alabama defense in their 32-28 SEC Championship game loss. If Murray has his head on straight after the nightmarish final play of that Championship game, Georgia could put up some big offensive numbers. And though NE is a potent offensive force, 35/462, behind QB Martinez and RB Burkhead, they will be greatly challenged by an SEC type Georgia defense that played its best ball down the stretch in the regular season, allowing 14 or less points to its last five opponents. Fundamentals speak loudly to SEC rep Georgia providing there is no worse than equal motivation come kickoff time.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday January, 1

Accuscore

Stanford -6.5 vs. Wisconsin

The Badgers are in the Rose Bowl, won the Big 10 title game by 39 points, and is still unranked. That is how unimpressive they had been up until that one game in December, and that was against a schizophrenic Nebraska team that is prone to collapse under Bo Pellini. Stanford is a different animal which ranks third in the NCAA in rush defense, and first in both sacks and tackles for loss. Wisconsin has really no choice but to try and run the ball, and if it fails it will likely get blown out going against this athletic front seven. Stanford transformed into a true elite team once Kevin Hogan took over at quarterback, and the bowl layoff probably benefits him the most getting much needed reps in practice. Simulations have Stanford winning by about 3 points on average, but in my opinion they probably undersell how much better their offense is with Hogan, and the level of homefield playing in California. Three of Wisconsin’s losses came on the road, and I still have not factored in the loss of Brett Bielema.

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Wunderdog

Michigan vs. South Carolina
Pick: Michigan +5

South Carolina finished the season at 10-2 but the jury may still be out on this team. The Gamecocks avoided having to play against Alabama and Texas A&M, then proceeded to lose to Florida and LSU. They missed the biggest opponents in the conference and then lost to the two they did play. To their credit, they did knock off Georgia. Michigan may have four losses but two of them were to the only two unbeaten teams in NCAA Football this season, while the third was to a team that is playing in the National Championship game, Alabama. Their only other loss was to Nebraska, who isn't such a bad team either.  The win/loss column has more to do with this line than the reality of the level of these teams, which is a toss-up, so points will weigh heavy here in this one. The Gamecocks are not exactly-bettor friendly on a neutral field where they are 1-5 ATS n their last six, while the Wolverines making necessary adjustments after allowing 200+ on the ground in their last game at 5-1 ATS in their last six. Play on Michigan.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday January, 1

Charlie Sports

Los Angeles Clippers at Denver Nuggets
Play: Denver Nuggets

The (25-6) Los Angeles Clippers of the NBA Western Conference Pacific division will take on the (17-15) Denver Nuggets of the Western Conference Northwest division in 2012 NBA action. The teams just played on Christmas day and the Clippers won 112-100 in Los Angeles. The Clippers are the hottest team in the NBA right now, 7-3 their last 10 Against The Spread and are 8-2 ATS their last 10 vs. Denver. The Nuggets are laso 7-3 ATS their last 10 and have covered their last 4 ATS at home. Denver gets the home cover.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday January, 1

Johnny Detroit

Nebraska +9

70-13. Ouch. Nebraska went from a favorite to play in the Rose Bowl to getting totally embarrassed by Wisconsin. Taylor Martinez has me a little concerned with his lackluster Bowl performances (20 points and just 229 yards of offense in past two Bowl losses), but feel getting 10 points makes up for it. Nebraska is in a great spot and getting double value. 1) The obvious blowout at the hands of the Badgers. 2) Georgia losing a close on to Alabama 32-28. The Huskers have a ton to prove with the Bulldogs are in a letdown playing in the Capital One Bowl when they were so close to playing for the BCS Championship. Rex Burkhead, Ameer Abdullah and Taylor Martinez combined for 2,597 yards on the ground. Granted they are not Alabama, but the Tide averaged close to 7 yards a carry on the ground for the Georgia defense, so we like Nebraska to stay in this one and keep the score within range. Possible upset? We think so.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday January, 1

Jeff Scott Sports

3 UNIT PLAYS

Northwestern PK over Mississippi State: Very quietly the Cats have had a very good year. They went 9-3 SU and 11-1 ATS, including a 4-2 mark and a perfect 6-0 ATS vs bowl teams on the year. The Cats were outgained by 108 ypg in their games vs bowl teams, but still outscored them by 2 ppg. Mississippi State went 8-4 on the year, but they were 0-4 SU & ATS vs bowl teams and were outgained by 194 ypg, which is the second worst mark among bowl teams this year. The fact that they were 0-4 SU & ATS vs bowl teams makes sense cause Dan Mullen is 28-3 SU vs teams under .750 in his career at MSU, while also going 1-18 SU and 5-14 ATS vs team above .750. The State offense has averaged 30 ppg overall, but just 15 ppg vs bowl teams this year and this Northwestern defense has been pretty solid as they come in allowing just 23 ppg and 386 ypg on the year. MSU's defense has been solid overall as they have allowed 22 ppg and 390 ypg, but vs bowl teams those numbers jump to 39 ppg and 507 ypg. Getting to 10 wins is big for most team and I feel that will motivate the Cats just a bit more. They do have edges on both sides of the ball and should win this one by at least a TD.


Nebraska/ Georgia Over 61: People can say all they want about neither team being motivated in this one, but I think it will be different. Georgia wants to bounce back after late game blunders vs Alabama cost them a shot at the national title, while Nebraska has been itching to get back on the field after getting blasted by Wisconsin in the Big 10 title game. The Georgia Offense has been very good this year as they have averaged 37 ppg on 459 ypg of offense. The Bulldogs have averaged 30 ppg vs bowl teams this year, which includes putting up the second most points (28) on Alabama this year. If they can score that much on Bama they should be able to put up plenty here vs a Nebraska team that allowed 28 ppg to bowl teams, including 70 to Wisconsin in their last game. The Huskers do have the top rated pass defense, but that's mostly because teams have run for 195 ypg on them. Georgia will run on them, and then hit some big plays through the air. The Husker offense has averaged 35 ppg overall and 31 ppg vs Bowl teams and should score on a banged up Georgia team, especially since the will have a healthy Burkhead back for this one. I expect an exciting game here with plenty of points being scored as this one hits 65+. 

2 UNIT PLAYS

Oklahoma State -17 over Purdue: the Boilermakers were 0-4 SU and 1-3 ATS while getting outgained by 189 ypg vs bowl teams (3rd worst). They were also outscored by 19 ppg vs bowl teams. In the last 3 seasons the Cowboys have gone 9-1 ATS off 1 or more ATS losses and have outscored those foes by 27.9 ppg. Lets also note that Gundey is 42-18 as a favorite and has outscored those opponents by 19.8 ppg. Cowboys roll here.


Michigan/ South Carolina Under 47.5: Two very good defenses should keep the scoring low here. The Wolverines have allowed just 21 ppg vs bowl teams, while South Carolina has allowed 19 ppg vs them. This has the feeling of a 20-17 type of game.

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Harry Bondi

NORTHERN ILLINOIS (+14) over Florida State

We had an easy FREE GAME WINNER yesterday when we used Georgia Tech (+7) over USC outright and the primary reason for that pick was that the Trojans had zero interest in playing that game. It's a similar situation here tonight with Florida State, a team that had national championship hopes, but has now been relegated to playing a MAC team that they probably never even heard of until the pairings were released. Much like USC, Florida State plays down to its competition, going 4-9 as a favorite this year, including 0-6 as a chalk of between 10 and 21 points. Northern Illinois and its fan base is excited to be here and have always been worth a play as an underdog, going 2-0 this year when getting points and 41-26 (62%) the last 10 seasons. Take the points.

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John Ryan

Wisconsin at Stanford
Prediction: Stanford

The simulator shows a high probability that Stanford will win this game by seven or more points. Sim also shows that Stanford will gain between 200 and 250 net passing yards. In past games, they are 4-0 ATS this season, 11-0 ATS the past three seasons when they have gained this range of net passing yards. Stanford is projected to gain 350 to 400 total offensive yards. In past games, Wisconsin is 0-2 ATS this season and 1-5 ATS the past three seasons when they have allowed 350 to 400 yards. Stanford is off a close win over UCLA in the PAC-12 Championship game. Stanford is a solid 16-4 ATS after 1 or more consecutive straight up wins over the last 2 seasons; 11-2 ATS after a game where they committed 1 or less turnovers over the last 2 seasons; 9-1 ATS in road games off 3 straight wins against conference rivals since 1992. Cardinal is also a perfect 6-0 ATS in road games when facing strong offensive teams averaging >=5.9 yards per play over the last 2 seasons. Take Stanford.

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SPORTS WAGERS

DENVER -105 over L.A. Clippers

Rematch of X-Mas day game in L.A. in which the Clippers won by 12 and extended their winning streak to 14 games. Since then, the Clip Joint have won three more to push their winning streak to 17. No team is getting more recognition, betting support or higher praise than these Clippers. While it could last past this game, it’s not often we get a Nuggets team at home without having to spot anything and that inspires us to lean that way.

Denver has played less home games than any team in the Association so its 17-15 record is a little misleading. A look at their home record reveals one loss that occurred way back on Nov 15 to the Heat by five points. The Nuggets have beaten both San Antonio and Memphis at the Pepsi Center, among others, where they average 6.4 more points per game and give up 6.9 fewer points.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Tuesday January, 1

Jeff Scott Sports

3 UNIT PLAY

Wisconsin +5 over Stanford: Yes this game is in California and yes the Badgers have lost 2 of their last 3 down the stretch, while Stanford has won 7 in a row, but I still feel this is too many points to be giving a very good Wisconsin team that will be emotionally charged with Barry Alvarez calling the shots for them in this one. That's right Barry is back and its the players who came forward and stated that they wanted him, so you know they will be playing very hard for him. The Stanford offense has looked good down the stretch, but playing 2 games against UCLA and having games vs Cal, Washington and Colorado will make most offenses look good. The did struggle vs tough defenses like Washington, Notre Dame and Oregon and I expect them to struggle tonight vs a Wisconsin team that is 14th overall and 19th in points allowed (19.1 ppg). The Badgers average 30 ppg on offense and looked very good in their rout of Nebraska and they should be able to score enough points off of this solid Stanford defense. This has the feel of a game that will be decided by a FG and I say that it is Wisconsin kicking that FG in the end to win the game outright.

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