Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, August 31

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, August 31

Brett Atkins

My free winner is on the Boise State Broncos, plus the points in Seattle, against the Washington Huskies in Seattle. I'm not sure why the oddsmakers are ignoring the nationally ranked Broncos, other than U-Dub unveiling its new stadiu, but I like Boise senior quarterback Joe Southwick and his seven-receiver attack to light up Seattle's skies in this west coast battle.

Southwick's receiving corps each have caught at least 17 passes in a season. Then you mix in the talented Jay Ajayi, the Broncos' sophomore tailback who averaged 6.7 yards per carry last season, and this looks like another dangerous offense for coach Chris Peterson.

And yes, I know the Huskies return eight starters on defense, but I always have confidence in Peterson and his preparations for gametime. What I'm not confident in is Washington matching wits with Boise on offense, especially since the Huskies will be without star tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who was suspended for the opener after pleading guilty to a DUI earlier this year. Though wide receiver Kasen Williams also was involved in an alcohol-related infraction, he is expected to play. The thing about all this, is those are distractions your offensive unit does not need.

And while the Huskies are reportedly excited to be switching to an up-tempo offense, keep in mind the Broncos' defense practices against one all week, and will be ready for this game.

I'm taking the nationally ranked road pup in this one.

5♦ BOISE STATE

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, August 31

Chris Jordan

Look, here's the thing, you can count on several things as if it were Death and Taxes when it comes to college football: the SEC will pretty much always contend for the BCS title, I will always look to go against Reno and I will NEVER refer to UNR by the name of our Silver State - ever! The Wolfpack will always be referred as UNR.

Thus, my free play for Saturday is on the UCLA Bruins against the UNR Wolfpack.

It's Jim Mora’s sophomore season starts at the helm of the defending Pac-12 South champions, and I would love nothing more than to see them devour UNR, which is going to suffer a bit now that longtime head coach Chris Ault is retired and now a consultant in the NFL for the Kansas City Chiefs. The Wolfpack usher in Brian Polian in his first-ever game as a head coach, and he'll have his hands full.

I will hand it to Polian, he looks to be doing something Ault never had the balls to do, and that's beef up the schedule. UNR has road games against UCLA, Florida State, Boise State and Fresno State. The first three are ranked.

UCLA is ranked No. 21  in the nation in the Coaches’ Poll, and I honestly think the Bruins are going to be out to prove how much better they are than Southern Cal was in its opener in Honolulu this past Thursday night. I suspect we're going to see how good quarterback Brett Hundley is, but I'm more intrigued by UCLA's defense, and how it'll shut down UNR's normally high-octane offense.

The Bruins will get physical in this one, and I have this game being won in the trenches. Linemen on both sides of the ball will step up behind the leadership of team captain Xavier Su’a-Filo. I'll be hard-fought, for a while, but look for UCLA to roll to a rather easy victory.

4♦ UCLA

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, August 31

Bob BalfeFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Georgia -2.5FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Bulldogs return their offensive line, have a great quarterback and without a doubt have the best running back combo in all of college football. Their defense lost pretty much every starter, but I believe in the SEC top programs that they don’t rebuild, but simply reload. If Georgia can control the tempo why not just run the ball and keep Clemson’s Offense of the field. Georgia should win the time of possession. This should be the best game on the card, but I will take SEC speed any day over an average Clemson Offensive and Defensive Line. Take Georgia.
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Kentucky -4FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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So I am big on SEC talent obviously and love big upsets, but I just don’t see Sun Belt teams winning when they have a new coach and don’t have an experienced quarterback. Kentucky lost this matchup last year so lets just step back and think for a second. Sun Belt middle of the road teams should never beat SEC teams. This will be a good game, but I will take my chances with a defensive line of Kentucky that should get to the Hilltoppers QB all night. This line is designed for people to think Western Kentucky is a better team. Prove it. Take Kentucky.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, August 31

SPORTS WAGERSFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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COLORADO -103 over CincinnatiFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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How can Greg Reynolds be favored over Juan Nicasio here? Nicasio is one of the rare starting pitchers that can be trusted pitching at Coors Field. At home, Nicasio has posted a 3.86 ERA, a 1.08 WHIP and 8.1 K’s per nine innings with a 52% groundball rate. Furthermore, Nicasio is in the best form that he’s been in all year. He’s allowed three runs or fewer in four straight starts and two runs or less in his last three, including a home six-inning, nine K’s shutout against San Francisco in his last start.
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Greg Reynolds replaced the injured Tony Cingrani in the Reds' starting rotation. The 27-year old Reynolds pitched 62 major league innings in 2008, then 32 innings in 2011 and now has made two starts in 2013. In 11 innings, he’s struck out three batters, walked three batters and has a BAA of .302. His career BAA at this level in 105 innings is .314. His career WHIP at this level is 1.67 and his career ERA is 7.29. We’re not going to over-analyze this one. If this is a sucker bet, so be it but based on the numbers and Colorado’s strong pedigree at this park over the years, it’s a must play.
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ARIZONA -1½ +148 over San FranciscoFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The over/under total for games in Arizona are typically 9 when two average starters oppose one another. You may think that there isn’t much difference between 8½ and 9 but there is because when you go over 8½, you need 9 to cash and when you go over 9, you need 10 to cash. With today’s total opening at 8½ we had to assume that the oddsmakers are expecting a very solid performance from at least one of these two starters and we’d be shocked if it wasn’t Trevor Cahill. Cahill came off the disabled list on August 17 and labored through five innings (94 pitches, seven hits, four earned runs) in his first outing in six weeks. He followed that up with a seven-inning, four-hit, one-run gem at hitter-friendly Cincinnati before throwing four innings of two-hit ball in relief in that marathon 18-inning game versus Philly last week. So, throw out his first game back off the DL and Cahill has allowed just six hits and one run in 11 frames and two hitter’s parks. Cahill has an elite 57% groundball rate in 113 innings. He’s healthy and he’s pitching superb. While on the mend, Cahill worked on his mechanics with particular focus on the location of his sinker and the results are fantastic. Trevor Cahill is far under the radar.
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Ryan Vogelsong also came off the DL recently and has made four starts since rejoining the rotation. Vogelsong allowed three runs or fewer in every start but three of those four came at AT&T Park and the other came in Washington. There’s a big difference between pitching in San Fran and Washington (like Vogelsong has) and Arizona and Cincinnati (like Cahill has). Vogelsong has a .290 BAA this season but on the road that BAA is .327.   He’s also surrendered 13 jacks in 71 innings but on the road, he’s surrendered seven jacks in 23.2 innings. Vogelsong is 35-years old. He had a worthy follow-up to 2011's luck-enhanced breakout but when hit%/strand% finally failed him in 2H last year, he was exposed. That has continued into this season and we can almost guarantee you that the 8½-total posted was not influenced by Ryan Vogelsong. 
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San Diego (5 innings) +144 over L.A.FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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This is strictly a five-inning play based on the pitching matchup. The Dodgers have the ability to come back on anyone but Chris Capuano is a huge risk spotting a tag like this one in five frames. Capuano has surrendered three runs or more in four straight starts in the first five innings and didn’t make it past that inning in any of them. Two of those four starts were against the Mets and Marlins. This season, Capuano has a .300 BAA to go along with a 1.44 WHIP and his ERA at pitcher-friendly home is 6.14. Pitching for perhaps the best team in baseball and starting 18 games, Capuano has four wins and that’s even more reason to fade him at this price in the early innings.
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By all accounts, Andrew Cashner has fantastic stuff (led by a 95.5 mph four-seam fastball). A dip in his strikeout rate upon moving to the rotation is a surprise. Though his fastball lost a couple mph (typical when moving from the bullpen), his strikeout rate has dropped off considerably. Better control is certainly the upshot, cutting Cashner’s walks by 1.0 per nine innings is an excellent practice in any role. Cashner’s fantastic groundball rate of 51% is also a plus, as it helps keep his pitches in the park. So far, there’s been no noticeable fatigue factor for Cashner, though it would not be a surprise for the team to skip his turn or shut him down a bit early this September. While his ERA is supported by xERA and favorable for a starter, the puzzling strikeout rate drop will be something to watch in the future but it’s not a concern for now, as many pitchers learn to cut down on K’s by inducing groundballs or weak contact until they need a strikeout. Cashner is very capable of throwing a strong five innings here while the same can’t be said for Capuano.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, August 31

Hollywood SportsFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Buffalo at Ohio StateFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Prediction: UnderFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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In a likely blowout this afternoon, look for head coach Urban Meyer to lean on his defense to dominate in this contest. Ohio State may return only four starters on their defense from last season, but Meyer has brought in outstanding recruits in his two seasons in Columbus -- and he wants that side of the ball to be dominant. The Buckeyes have played 7 of their last 10 games outside the Big Ten Under the Total. Look for Ohio State to slow this game down once they establish a lead. Buffalo looks primed for improvement in the fourth season under head coach Jeff Quinn. The Bulls do return seven starters on defense and are a club that looks to be competitive in the Mid American Conference. Buffalo has played 22 of their last 30 games outside the MAC Under the Total. Additionally, the Bulls have played 4 of their last 5 games Under the Total on the road. Look for their offense to struggle against this stout Buckeyes' defense. Take the Under in this one.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, August 31

Tony StoffoFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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BYU vs. VirginiaFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Play: VirginiaFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Our second Reverse money play of the season goes here as the public is all on the Cougars here with 70% of all bets placed - yet the odds makers have lowered this low on BYU telling us they still want more money on BYU here - Reason being all the sharp money have come in on Virginia overwhelming the public's action on the visiting Cougars. So let's follow the smart money here and release a play on Virginia getting the points here. Virginia the play here.

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Greg ShakerFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Virginia +2FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Amazing year for BYU last year but hurt hard by graduation on the D side of the ball. Va a much improved club this year and they return a lot of D players to a group that was one of the best in the ACC last year. Weather could easily be a factor here with the Mormans not used to the heat will see in this contest. Tough opening game for BYU on the road and I am playing this one at 1%. You might have to grab 1.5 here but either number is good.

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Harry BondiFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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BOISE STATE (+3.5) over WashingtonFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Boise State Broncos have won 84 games the last seven seasons. They've been an underdog just twice in the last five seasons and haven't lost a game by more than four points in more than five seasons. Now, they are catching more than a field goal against a Washington team that's gone a mediocre 7-6 in each of the last three seasons under head coach Steve Sarkisian and lost to Boise State on a neutral field in last year's Las Vegas Bowl? Yes, the Huskies have more starters coming back and are opening the new Husky Stadium. But the Broncos have faced Oregon, Virginia Tech, Georgia and Michigan State in their last four season openers, going 4-0 ATS, so don't expect them to be overwhelmed. Boise State head coach Chris Peterson is a combined 8-1 ATS since 2008 in season openers and bowl games, meaning when he has time to prepare, his team comes to play. Take the points!

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Andy IskoeFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Ohio +20.5FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Louisville is a fashionable choice to be this season's BCS Buster with a talented roster and favorable schedule. They are the clear favorite to win the watered down American Athletic Conference (formerly the Big East) and may well not face a ranked team until they travel to Cincinnati to end the regular season. They are well coached with coach Strong producing winning seasons in each of his three seasons at the helm, including 11-2 last season. They have an experienced QB with Bridgewater mentioned as a possible Heisman Trophy candidate. But unlike past seasons when Louisville was the hunter the Cardinals are now the hunted, burdened by the weight of those lofty expectations. Ohio U also has a talented QB (Tettleton) and a coach (Solich) who won a National Title back in the day (Nebraska). Ohio was on the verge of an outstanding season in 2012 before numerous injuries took a great toll. Still, the Bobcats went 9-4 which followed up their 10-4 2011 campaign. They've been to 4 straight Bowls, winning the last 2 and are projected to again be a contender in the MAC. Louisville deserves to be solid favorites in this game but Ohio will compete with a well balanced offense and competent defense.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, August 31

Wunderdog

Kansas City at Toronto
Pick: Toronto -111

You have to be impressed with the development of the Kansas City Royals. The young team has come of age as they sit four games over .500 as we head for the clubhouse turn. The same can't be said for Toronto, as they have disappointed and fallen out of the race, but have executed a better than .500 mark at home. The AL East is impossible with 72 games against four winning teams. The Royals have slipped on the road where they are a meager 2-8 in their last 10 when facing a team with a winning home record. This young team has not been able to get off the mat after a loss of late at 1-6 in their last seven. The Jays have not quit and stand at 6-1 in their last seven at home vs. a team with a winning record, and have taken three of four from the Royals this season. KC is an ugly 17-35 in their last 52 here. Play this one on Toronto.

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FezzikFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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BYU / Virginia Under 51FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The BYU offense underwent is what is being called the biggest overhaul of the BYU offense in the history of the program. There are a total of five new offensive staffers, including the offensive coordinator Robert Anae, who formerly coordinated a Norm Chow-style offense here at BYU and now will be heading a Rich Rodriguez style fast-paced spread attack after being at Arizona last season. There will be a transition and that will include a tough one here.
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Virginia also has a new offense and new offensive coordinator in Steve Fairchild. In addition to the growing pains of a new offense, BYU's strong front seven has the potential even the most experienced, productive offenses. You've especially seen the Cougars D be productive early in seasons against offenses significantly better than this Cav crew will be (think BYU vs. Oklahoma to open the season a few years back).   
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The Southeastern US is finally receiving some heat and humidity after a cool summer, and we saw in the North Carolina/South Carolina game how that took some starch out of the players on both sides of the ball. Hot and humid can lead to low scores. Tough to replicate humidity in Provo, Utah. With conditions right and two new offenses let's look for an under here.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, August 31

ASA

Kansas City Royals +115

R.A. Dickey continues to post mediocre results back in the AL as Toronto continues a very disappointing season. Dickey has allowed four or more runs in five of his last 10 starts and he has really struggled at the Rogers Centre with a 5.48 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP. Kansas City has been a hot offensive team of late, batting .279 as a team over the last 10 games with over five run scored per game. Toronto is hitting just .248 in the last 10 games with poor scoring numbers and there is a big edge for the Royals in the bullpen. The Royals are 16-11 in Jeremy Guthrie starts this season and while the veteran right-hander is inconsistent, he has allowed two or fewer runs in four of his last seven starts. Kansas City has won five of the last six games overall with 36 runs scored in those six games and Toronto’s win last night was very fortunate as the Royals had nine hits compared to just four for the Blue Jays. Toronto is just 23-37 in the last 60 games and the Blue Jays do not deserve favoritism in a matchup against a surging Royals team still fighting for a playoff spot.

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