Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, September 7

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, September 7

Nick Parsons

Tigers vs. Royals
Play: Under 8

After losing 20-4 to Boston on Wednesday, the Tigers took their frustrations out on the Royals in a 16-2 victory last night.

Suffice it to say, with these two competent starters battling head-to-head on Saturday night, I believe runs will be at a premium this evening.

Justin Verlander (12-10, 3.59 ERA)

Verlander was unfortunate to get saddled with a no-decision vs. the Tribe on Sunday, going seven shutout frames, scattering four hits with two walks to go along with six K's.

The veteran will bring his very respectable 7-4, 3.46 ERA road record into Kansas City today.

Danny Duffy (2-0, 1.35 ERA)

Duffy was under a pitch count in his start vs. the Mariners on Monday and had to leave after just 3 2/3's innings of work. Before he left though he allowed just one earned run off five hits and four walks, striking out four.

The southpaw has been sharp and had not allowed a run in his previous two trips to the bump (both victories).

The Bottom Line

Verlander has dominated the Royals throughout his career going 15-4 with a great 2.71 ERA in 27 lifetime meetings.

Duffy's stuff has been electric so far and I believe has the tools in place to battle his counterpart into the latter frames.

As a result, consider a second look at the "under" in this matchup.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, September 7

Nick Parsons

Tigers vs. Royals
Play: Under 8

After losing 20-4 to Boston on Wednesday, the Tigers took their frustrations out on the Royals in a 16-2 victory last night.

Suffice it to say, with these two competent starters battling head-to-head on Saturday night, I believe runs will be at a premium this evening.

Justin Verlander (12-10, 3.59 ERA)

Verlander was unfortunate to get saddled with a no-decision vs. the Tribe on Sunday, going seven shutout frames, scattering four hits with two walks to go along with six K's.

The veteran will bring his very respectable 7-4, 3.46 ERA road record into Kansas City today.

Danny Duffy (2-0, 1.35 ERA)

Duffy was under a pitch count in his start vs. the Mariners on Monday and had to leave after just 3 2/3's innings of work. Before he left though he allowed just one earned run off five hits and four walks, striking out four.

The southpaw has been sharp and had not allowed a run in his previous two trips to the bump (both victories).

The Bottom Line

Verlander has dominated the Royals throughout his career going 15-4 with a great 2.71 ERA in 27 lifetime meetings.

Duffy's stuff has been electric so far and I believe has the tools in place to battle his counterpart into the latter frames.

As a result, consider a second look at the "under" in this matchup.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, September 7

Andy IskoeFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Ohio -4FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Ohio U is in a great spot to even its record at 1-1 as the Bobcats step down in class after having been humilated at Louisville last Sunday. Here they face a North Texas team that steps up in class after having routed lowly Idaho. Those disparate results give us great value here as had both teams performed close to expectations last week Ohio U probably opens up as a TD favorite. They have significant edges on both sides of the football and in North Texas face the quality of foe they've been able to handle with relative ease over the past few seasons. Look for a double digit win by Ohio in the neighborhool of 10 to 14 points.
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Auburn -10.5FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Auburn was a bit shaky last week in coach Malzahn's head coaching debut as the Tigers limped past Washington State 31-24. They should be primed for a much better effort this week as they face the team from whom they hired away Malzahn following last season. Arkansas State was 10-3 last season, winning 8 straight to end the season including a Bowl win over Kent State. They did step up in class and stumble in losses at Oregon and Nebraska. Arguably Auburn's talent is not at the level of Oregon's but is considered comparable to the Huskers' (who defeated Arky State 42-13). State is breaking in a new QB but it's hard to glean much from their 62-11 home win last week over Arkansas Pine Bluff, one of the weakest FCS programs. Auburn is bigger, stronger and faster and the Tigers have the added edge of having a coach familiar with the personnel on both teams (Malzahn was offensive coordinator of Auburn's 2010 BCS Title team). And although there might be some sentiment that Malzahn won't just lay it on to his former team, it's not like the Tigers have to win by 40 to cover the impost. Especially given the tightness of last week's win, even a 14-17 point lead here cannot be considered all that safe.

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JR O'DonnellFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Tulsa -10.5FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Home Cooker as the Tulsa Cannes - the 10.5 we will lay the lead to the Colo State Rams... The Cannes are a focused Under Rated squad ... Off a 9 day rest and a embarrassment 34-7 to the boys from Bowling Green Tulsa Cannes are ready to pound a Over Rated Colorado St crew.... These Cannes  are a smooth 7-2 ATS run as a HF and have huge edge on the D front. The Bill Blankenship lead Cannes had misleading #'s last week as the BG crew scored on 2 drives inside the Cannes 16 yd & 4 yd line. We are Power rating this ball game @ Tulsa - 17.8 points.

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Charlie ScottFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Florida vs. Miami FloridaFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Play: Florida -3FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Expect Florida to control both lines of scrimmage & make this game a physical battle that Florida will win. Florida has some starters returning from suspension and injuries for Todays game. It will be a Hot, Humid Florida afternoon with players suffering from the heat and cramping up. Florida is the deeper Team ! Florida with the better defense and special teams Wins this early start !

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, September 7

Bob Balfe

Houston -3.5

Houston has a very fast tempo offense and I don’t think the Owls are designed to go toe to toe with them. Temple’s starting QB is only in his second game of his career and there are just too many young guys on this team to win a shootout. I think Temple will score, but in a shootout I favor the more experienced offense. Temple looked decent against Notre Dame, but I am sure that has more to do with the Irish not giving Michigan anything to look at on tape. Take the Cougars.

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Harry BondiFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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NAVY (+12) over IndianaFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Any time the Midshipmen are catching this many points, they are going to get our attention. The team is a profitable 81-51 ATS as a dog since 1992, including 7-0 ATS when getting between 10 and 14 points. In fact, only four teams have beat Navy by more than 10 points over the last four seasons and all of them (Notre Dame, Penn State, Southern Miss, Pitt) were ranked at the time. Indiana is much improved, but certainly not in that class just yet. Navy is also 65-31 ATS on the road and got the benefit of having last week off, which gave them extra preparation time. Look for an extra-spirited effort today from the Midshipmen, as they have dedicated the game to their head coach Ken Niumatalolo, whose mother died earlier this week. Take the generous points.

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Big Kat SportsFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Arizona vs. UNLVFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Take: Over 61FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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When this line came out at Arizona -17, we though it was too high and almost made a play on UNLV. Now, the line is too low we though about a play on the Wildcats. One thing that has stayed pretty consistent throughout the week is the total, and the OVER play here is one that just missed our final cut. UNLV enters the game off a road loss to Minnesota in a game where they actually didn’t play too badly but gave up three return TD’s, one each on an INT, kickoff and punt while Arizona comes into the contest off a 35-0 shut-out of FCS Northern Arizona. The Rebels are pretty much two different team depending on if they are at home or on the road. They have lost 23 straight games away from Sam Boyd Stadium but they have been respectable on their home turf, posting a 12-5-1 ATS under Coach Bobby Hauck. Arizona is a better team than they showed last week while the UNLV special teams can give up a touchdown on any snap of the ball. Add that to the fact that the two teams are a bit weak on the defensive side of the ball. If UNLV has any chance to win this one outright, it will be a shootout and we’ll take the over and look for a bunch of points in Sin City.

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Dr BobFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Early GamesFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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TEMPLE (+3) 34 Houston 33FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Both of these teams look equally bad defensively, as Temple allowed 543 yards at 8.8 yards per play in their 6-28 loss at Notre Dame (the 28 points disguises how bad their defense was) while Houston gave up 372 yards at 5.6 yppl to a Southern University team that was 2.1 yards per play worse than an average FBS offense last season. Southern has a horrible defense too (1.7 yppl worse than average last year) so the 7.1 yppl that Houston gained in their 62-13 win isn’t actually all that impressive (it rates at 0.3 yppl worse than average after compensating for their opponent). The fact that Cougars’ quarterback David Piland averaged only 6.4 yards per pass against such a bad defense is cause for concern and I actually like what I saw from Temple quarterback Connor Reilly more. Reilly’s 4.8 yards per pass play and 69 yards on 11 runs is actually pretty good against a very good Irish defense. My ratings favor Temple by 1 point and I’ll call for the mini upset.
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Oregon (-22½) 44 VIRGINIA 16FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Virginia is solid defensively but quarterback David Watford, who sucked a couple of years ago (4.5 yards per pass play on 76 pass plays in 2011) apparently still sucks based on his 3.6 yppp average last week against BYU. Watford simply isn’t comfortable throwing the ball down the field (just 6.3 yards per completion last week and only 9.6 ypc in his career; 12.0 ypc is the national average) and he’s not going to have success against Oregon’s speedy defense. I had figured Watford would be better (around 5.4 yppp against BYU) and I didn’t adjust his rating as harshly as I could have simply because I didn’t want to overreact to one game. However, Watford has never been good and I don’t see that changing today. My ratings favor Oregon by 28 points if they keep their starters in the entire game.
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NORTH CAROLINA (-17) 43 Middle Tennessee State 23PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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North Carolina has a good offense but the Heels were overmatched by a great South Carolina defense last Thursday night, averaging just 3.7 yards per play in a 10-27 loss. Veteran quarterback Bryn Renner completed 65.4% of his passes last season and he’ll find more open targets against a horrible Middle Tennessee pass defense that allowed 67.5% completions despite playing a pretty easy schedule. The Blue Raiders have a good run defense but Renner will convert on 3rd down when he needs to and slightly better than average UNC defense should keep a mediocre MTS offense relatively in check.
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MICHIGAN STATE (-23) 28 South Florida 9SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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South Florida lost 21-53 at home to McNeese State. Wow! That’s bad. The Bulls actually played at below average level offensively that I expected but and they held a good running McNeese State team to 4.3 yards per rushing play. However, giving up 9.8 yards per pass play is ridiculous and it appears if the Bulls might be even worse in pass defense than they were last year. I’m not sure that matter against an impotent Michigan State attack that managed only 3.0 yards per pass play and 3.9 yards per play against a Western Michigan defense that was 0.7 yppl worse than average last season and that I had rated the same heading into last week’s game with the Spartans. The Michigan State defense looks as dominating as ever in allowing just 204 yards at 2.7 yppl to a decent Western Michigan attack. South Florida is going to have trouble moving the ball but I’m not sure I trust the Spartans to score enough points to cover a big number – something they failed to do last week in a 26-13 win as a 28 point favorite.
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OHIO STATE (-28) 40 San Diego State 14SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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I thought Ohio State was overrated heading into the season and I won a Strong Opinion against them last week with Buffalo plus the points. The Buckeyes’ defense is improved, as expected, but Braxton Miller still appears to be mediocre in the passing game (he was average last year) after averaging just 6.2 yards per pass play last week. The Ohio State rushing attack is among the very best in the nation but San Diego State has a good run defense with their entire defensive front 7 returning from last year’s stout unit that was 0.5 yards per rushing play better than average. The problem with the Aztecs is a pass defense that was good last season (0.5 yppp better than average) but which I rated worse than average heading into this year after losing top CB Leon McFadden to graduation. The Aztecs’ pass defense appears worse than expected after giving up 7.9 yppp in last week 19-40 loss to FCS team Eastern Illinois. The other issue with San Diego State is their quarterback Adam Dingwell, who took over the position in week 8 last year after starter Ryan Katz was hurt. Dingwell wasn’t good last year (5.8 yppp against teams that would allow 6.8 yppp to an average QB) and I thought he’d be worse this season with a less experienced receiving corps. Worse he appears to be after averaging just 4.3 yppp on 68 pass plays against Eastern Illinois. Dingwell also threw 4 interceptions and now has thrown 11 picks in just 7 games. My ratings favor Ohio State by 27 points and coach Urban Meyer is 34-7 ATS in non-conference games when not favored by 35 points or more. However, San Diego State applies to a 34-3 ATS game 2 bounce-back situation that I certainly don’t want to buck.
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Kentucky (-17) 38 Miami Ohio 17FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Kentucky performed pretty well offensively in last week’s 26-35 loss to Western Kentucky, averaging, 7.0 yards per play, but I was surprised at the 6.7 yppl that they Wildcats yielded to the Hilltoppers given the solid crew of returning starters that defensive minded head coach Mark Stoops has at his disposal. Perhaps it is just a case of new Western Kentucky coach Bobby Petrino instilling his offensive magic on the Hilltoppers and I still think Kentucky’s defense is a better than average unit after rating as 0.1 yppl better than average last season. Miami-Ohio was horrible in a 14-52 loss at Marshall, being outgained 244 yards at 4.3 yppl to 419 yards at 7.0 yppl. Miami is bad on both sides of the ball and my ratings favor Kentucky by 21 ½ points with Maxwell Smith being installed as the starting quarterback this week after coming off the bench last week. Smith was far and away the best quarterback for Kentucky last season before getting injured, as he averaged 6.2 yards per pass play on 153 pass plays over the first 3 games of the season (against teams that would allow 6.3 yppp to an average QB) while the rest of the quarterbacks were 2.0 yppp worse than average. Smith averaged 7.6 yards per pass play last week and Kentucky should be better with him at the helm – although backup Jalen Whitlow’s running ability will be missed (82 yards on 6 scrambles). I like the Wildcats to bounce back with an easy win.

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Dr BobFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Afternoon GamesFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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GEORGIA (-3½) 29 South Carolina 26FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray gets a bad rap for his team not being able to win big games, which was brought up by the media after last week’s 35-38 loss at Clemson. The losses Georgia has suffered against elite teams the last few years usually have nothing to do with Murray, who averaged 9.0 yards per pass play last week in leading his offense to 551 total yards at an incredible 8.0 yards per play. Georgia outgained Clemson by 82 yards and 1.7 yppl and were the better team last week aside from the 1 extra turnover. South Carolina looked great in beating North Carolina 27-10, outgaining the Tarheels by 113 yards and 3.2 yppl and the Gamecocks’ defense looks even better this season that it was a year ago.
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South Carolina defended Georgia better than any team by far in last year’s 35-7 win, holding Murray to 11 of 31 passing. I don’t see Murray struggling nearly that much again and the 7.2 yards per pass play that he averaged against Alabama in last year’s SEC Championship game is an indication that he can perform well against elite defensive teams. My ratings favor Georgia by 5 ½ points in this game but the Gamecocks do apply to a negative 54-98-4 ATS situation that is based on last week’s loss. That angle isn’t too significant but it’s enough to balance out the line value favoring Georgia. I suggest passing on this game.
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OKLAHOMA (-21) 40 West Virginia 16FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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West Virginia barely beat William & Mary last week, coming from behind to win 24-17. This year’s Mountaineers are not likely to be nearly as explosive as last year’s team with quarterback Geno Smith and weapons Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. In fact, I rated the West Virginia attack at just 0.2 yards per play better than average heading into the season and they were 0.1 yppl worse than average last week after adjusting for site and for the quality of defense they were facing. West Virginia’s run defense was solid as expected but giving up 7.1 yards per pass play to the Tribe is a sign that their horrible pass defense (1.9 yards per pass play worse than average last year) is still horrible.
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West Virginia’s bad pass defense may not be an issue given how back the Oklahoma pass attack was last week. Starter Trevor Knight completed only 11 of 28 passes for 86 yards against UL Monroe’s worse than average pass defesne (or, at least I expected them to be worse than average). Knight nearly made up for his horrible passing with his 112 yards on 12 runs and I can’t imagine his passing being as bad as it was last week. If he couldn’t throw the coaching staff would have made him a running back and not their quarterback. The good news from last week’s 34-0 win was the performance of the defense against a UL Monroe offense with a veteran quarterback and a decent rating (I rated that unit as just 0.2 yards per play worse than average heading into the season). The Warhawks could only muster 166 total yards at 2.7 yppl against the Sooners and it appears as if defensive coordinator Mike Stoops has assembled a unit reminiscent of the defenses he put together for his brother from 1999 through 2003. My ratings favor the Sooners by 24 points so I’ll lean towards the favorite in this one.
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KANSAS STATE (-10½) 38 UL Lafayette 27SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Both of these teams had disappointing results in week 1, as UL Lafayette was whipped 14-34 at Arkansas while Kansas State lost straight up 21-24 at home against North Dakota State. That loss by the Wildcats wasn’t actually that improbable given that NDSU is the 2-time defending FCS champion with 18 of 22 starters returning. The Bison would beat an average FBS team by 10 points and Kansas State averaged 6.2 yppl and allowed 5.3 yppl, which is the differential that my ratings expected. Kansas State was horrible in special teams and -1 in turnovers, which are the factors that led to their demise but that game was actually not a sign of doom for the Wildcats this season. However, the Cats are probably feeling sorry for themselves and may not be fully focused on this non-conference game against Lafayette. Teams that lose straight up to an FCS/1AA team are only 6-23 ATS as a favorite the next week against a non-conference opponent. Kansas State also applies to a 38-71 ATS game 2 situation that is based on their opening game upset loss. UL Lafayette, meanwhile, applies to a 76-28 ATS underdog bounce-back situation that is based on last week’s loss to the Razorbacks. My issue is that UL Lafayette played much worse than expected in being outgained 274 yards at 4.4 yards per play and allowing 524 yards at 7.3 yppl. My ratings would have favored Kansas State by 14 ½ points prior to last week’s games and now I get 16 ½ points after adjusting for last week’s results. There has been an overreaction to Kansas State’s loss to an FBS team but Lafayette is more than 10 points worse than North Dakota State. My ratings like Kansas State but the situation is strongly in favor of UL Lafayette and I suggest passing on this game.
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CENTRAL FLORIDA (-24½) 37 Florida International 16PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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UCF is coming off a 38-7 win over Akron while Florida International lost 10-43 at Maryland. Those disparate results have skewed the line, as I favor UCF by just 16 ½ points based on my ratings, but I also don’t want to play the Panthers here given that Central Florida applies to a 113-38-2 ATS big favorite momentum situation. I’ll lean with my ratings over the situation.
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OHIO (-4½) 31 North Texas 30FOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Ohio was not nearly as good last season as their 9-4 record would indicate and the Bobcats’ 7-49 loss at Louisville last Sunday night gives them 5 losses in their last 7 games after starting last season 7-0. North Texas started their season in opposite fashion, winning 40-6 over a horrible Idaho team. That win sets up North Texas in a very good 51-12 ATS early season indicator and a 60-17-2 ATS underdog momentum situation. Unfortunately, my ratings favor Ohio by 7 ½ points and the line opened at 6 ½ and has gone down. That North Texas win simply wasn’t as impressive as it looked, as the horrible Mean Green defense gave up 6.2 yards per play to Idaho’s suspect offense. North Texas did average 7.5 yppl and the stats would still predict a 24 point win, so the Eagles did play well. Ohio, meanwhile, certainly didn’t play well, although veteran quarterback Tyler Tettleton should have an easier time today than he did against Louisville’s pretty solid defense. I’ll lean with North Texas to cover based on the situation but the line value isn’t there.
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OREGON STATE (-27) 37 Hawaii 14FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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I didn’t expect Oregon State to be as good this season as they were last season (my preseason ratings had the Beavers at #31) but I also didn’t think the Beavers would lose their opening game to an FCS team. Eastern Washington is actually a highly ranked FCS team (now ranked #2) and heading into the season I had the Eagles rated at only 2 points worse than average FBS team. Oregon State’s offense was fantastic, as quarterback Sean Mannion made coach Riley’s decision to name him the starter look like a wise move with his 422 yards on 43 pass plays. The defense, however, gave up 626 yards at 8.9 yards per play, which is unimaginable for a team that was 0.6 yppl better than average last season. I’m not going to overreact to one game and Oregon State hasn’t had a worse than average defense since at least 2001 (that’s as far back as my mathematical ratings go back).
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Hawaii was horrible on offense in their 13-30 spread covering loss to USC (just 3.2 yppl and 60 yards came on one play against the Trojans’ subs in the final minute) but the Warriors only allowed 4.9 yppl to the Trojans. I had expected Hawaii’s defense to much better this season after posing respectable numbers last season (just 0.2 yppl worse than average) and Hawaii’s defense certainly looked like a better than average unit last Thursday night. Defending Oregon State’s attack is not going to be easy and my math favors the Beavers by 25 points in this game. In addition to the line value the Beavers are in a negative situation after last week’s upset loss. You might expect Oregon State to be fired up to atone for last week but a loss to a FCS team is not a good omen. In fact, favorites of more than 3 points are just 21-42-2 ATS the week after losing to an FCS/1AA team, including 6-20 ATS against a non-conference opponent. If Hawaii’s offense had shown me more last week I’d be more interested in making the Warriors a play but fading Oregon State is certainly the best decision in this game.

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Dave EsslerFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Toledo +17FOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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I do believe that Missouri could be, as a result of last years' debacle, under valued in spots here. But, they played a cream puff in game one, so stats can simply be thrown out the window. Conversely, Toledo played in Gainesville against a quality (and superior to the Tigers) opponent. With that in mind, playing in Columbia is certainly no big deal. Three times last year and once this year (against UF) Toledo was an underdog of more than DD. They only failed to cover at Utah State, which given Chuckie Keaton is somewhat predictable. The Tigers are in rare air here, being favored by three possessions. It's only happened five times in three years, and they've failed to cover three of them, and one of the two wins was over Kentucky last year, which you'd expect. Perhaps the most important thing here is Pinkel. His old school is, you guessed it, Toledo. He's simply not going to embarrass them if he can help it. Some coaches probably would, but Gary's to much of a gentleman to do that, IMO. I did release this to clients at +17.5 but think it's still solid.

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Dave Price

Texas Rangers -130

Texas' Holland has been outstanding on the road where he's 7-2 with a 2.99 ERA in 15 starts. The Rangers are an impressive 17-4 in his last 21 starts as a road favorite and 5-0 in his last 5 starts versus the Angels. LA's Richards has pitched well at home (3.62 ERA) but hasn't been quite as sharp as Holland has been on the road. The Angels are 0-4 all-time in Richards' starts against the Rangers. Texas has won 7 of the last 8 meetings. Take the Rangers.

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Jeff Alexander

K-State -10.5

The Wildcats dropped their opener to FCS North Dakota State, but the Bison have won the last two FCS national championships and are good enough to beat A LOT of FBS schools. With that said, one thing you don't want to do is bet against teams headed up by Bill Snyder following a loss. The Wildcats are 9-3 ATS in their last 12 games following defeat. Plus, Snyder's squads are 38-18 ATS since 1992 when they check in off 1 or more consecutive losses. They have won by an average of 12.0 points in this situation. We'll lay the number with the Wildcats.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, September 7

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North Texas +4 over OHIOFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Ohio was on track to be a BCS buster in 2012 after it won its first seven games with impressive road victories at Penn State and Marshall highlighting the early season run. Coach Frank Solich's squad lost steam down the stretch, but it coasted to a 45-14 win over ULM in the Independence Bowl to arrive at a 9-4 overall record. Including bowl games, the Bobcats have won nine of their last 11 non-conference contests and when you combine that with this unfamiliar foe, it has the ‘Cats overvalued. The Bobcats were a big pooch last week to Louisville and they obliged by getting pounded by 42 points while scoring just seven in a 49-7 defeat. That’s the problem with Ohio. The Bobcats defense got shredded more than once last season and they return just two starters from that group. Ohio’s defense could not get off the field last week and this week figures to be almost as difficult.
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North Texas is coming off an easy 40-6 win over a young Idaho group. The Mean Green racked up 591 yards of total offense in a game that was projected to be much closer. North Texas has its best team since the Mean Green went to four straight New Orleans Bowls from 2001 to 2004. This is one of the most experienced squads in the nation, and it has an explosive star in wide receiver/returner Brelan Chancellor. This a rather young Ohio team that is still searching for its defensive identity. The Bobcats will mount some offense this week, but North Texas throws and catches well enough to exploit some of the same deficiencies Louisville exposed. Throw in a margin and this confident visitor has plenty to get the cover. Upset possibility.
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NEW MEXICO ST +15 over MinnesotaFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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The New Mexico State Aggies have little appeal. They have not been to a bowl game since 1960 (Sun Bowl), the longest bowl drought of any team currently in the FBS. In the season opener, the Aggies lost 56-7 to Texas and when you combine that with the Aggies 1-11 record last year and putrid past, you get a team that is getting extra points every single week. That’s not to say that NMSU should be bet every week but at home this week against an overvalued Minnesota squad, you can be damn sure we’re going to bet it. Texas is a powerhouse that could be playing for a National Championship in January and while the Longhorns crushed the Aggies, that game was 14-7 at the half and New Mexico State had a 7-0 lead with just two minutes to go in the first half. That’s something to build off of. The final score was much uglier than the product on the field. New Mexico has a new coach in Doug Martin. He’s an offensive minded coach who has a new starting QB in Andrew McDonald. A former standout at Santa Ana College, McDonald threw for 4,229 yards and 50 TDs in the two seasons prior to his arrival in Las Cruces. The Aggies jumped right into the fire in Week 1 by playing a juggernaut Longhorns squad but take a huge step down in this one and we’re suggesting they’re going to keep it close.
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The Golden Gophers are a known program that is coming off a seemingly easy win 53-21 victory over UNLV. Trust us when we tell you that the Gophers will not come close to scoring 53 points again this season. That win over UNLV is not only grossly misleading but it has influence on this number. At home against the Rebels last week, the Gophers could not move forward. They had just 320 yards of offense the entire game and had 24 less offensive snaps than the Rebels. Minnesota’s 32 point margin of victory last week makes no sense whatsoever and falls into the category of peculiar to say the least. Minnesota’s passing game is virtually non-existent, which means a heavy dose of running the ball. Even the defense, which was supposed to be the Gophers strong suit, looked out of sorts last week. You can never put too much emphasis on one game but Minnesota is simply not that good and could be in danger of taking the Aggies very lightly here. Even at their best, the Gophers might have trouble covering this number. The most overvalued team in college football is now spotting huge points to a team nobody wants to bet on. That’s an overlay. 
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UNLV +10½ over ArizonaFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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of last week’s most misleading scores was UNLV’s 51-23 defeat at Minnesota. UNLV held the edge over the Gophers in time of possession, first downs and total net yards but a series of bizarre plays, some turnovers and some calls that went against them did the Rebels in. That loss and score last week has them grossly undervalued here in a game they can win outright. The Rebels have a good balance of offense and defense and are very capable of pulling off this upset. This is the best UNLV squad since 2000 but not many are aware of just how competitive they are going to be. We'll be backing Bobby Hauck's fourth UNLV team with more enthusiasm later in the season against its peers, but a double-digit price at home is worth a look for a team with wide road performance splits.
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Rich Rodriguez and defensive lieutenant Jeff Casteel need another year or three before Arizona will really challenge in the Pac-12. The Wildcats ran only 47 plays last week versus Northern Arizona, not because of offensive inefficiency but because the defense couldn't get off the field as the underdog played ball-control. Ka'Deem Carey's return helps, but UNLV will present a much stiffer challenge in both trenches and is capable of running downhill on Arizona. Minnesota put three non-offensive touchdowns on the Rebels last week and didn't break them until the last one. UNLV held up well man for man, though, and has the personnel and the mental toughness this year to make a game of it at home with a middling Pac-12 squad like the Wildcats. If you bet parlays, throw the Rebels in one of them on the money line. We’re calling the upset here but will gladly accept the generous spot.
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MIAMI +133 over FloridaFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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The Gators are ranked 12th in the country and when you wager on ranked versus unranked, you’re almost always going to pay a premium to do so and that’s something we can’t endorse. Besides, we’re not close to being convinced that the Gators are the 12th best team in the land. They defeated the Toledo Rockets last week 24-6 but pretty it was not. The Gators defense provided the offense with great field position all game long and it was painful to watch the offense do little with it. The Gators are not sporting good team health and continuity right now and Miami will get more from the personnel surrounding its quarterback.
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We'll caution against over-investment this year in a Miami team that isn’t the most creative bunch, but the Hurricanes are good enough for us to continue fading an overvalued Florida outfit this week. Florida’s defense is most likely better than the ‘Canes but that’s not enough to warrant spotting road points. The ‘Canes have the program's best mix of talent, experience and opportunity of the Al Golden era. This is a focused Miami group that has had all of its post-season sanctions removed. They have their eye on more than a good season and this week's visit from the Gators is low-hanging fruit as far as statement games go. Miami outright.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, September 7

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Raymundo Beltran +385 over Ricky BurnsSERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Ricky Burns is a guy that has built an excellent career for himself. He was a nice little boxer as a young pro but after a loss to the more grizzled Carl Johanneson in 2007, it was questioned whether he had the physicality to compete on a higher level. But he put his nose to the grindstone, made improvements and worked very hard. Now already a two-time world champ and current WBO lightweight titlist, Burns hasn’t lost since losing to Johanneson in 2007. Burns is tall, strong and with an excellent engine. He’s not thought of as a puncher but he hits with more authority than his record suggests. He has excellent wins over Roman Martinez, Michael Katsidis and Kevin Mitchell to name a few.
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Raymundo Beltran has been around a long time as he turned pro in 1999. He was always a solid opponent but not really too well known or slated for great things. He was just a fighter that went to the gym and worked hard. Gradually, he began to improve and break out in 2010. While he lost two fights as the B side in the recent past, the losses were controversial and they were against terrific undefeated prospects. In those fights he gave Luis Ramos Jr. and Sharif Bogere stern tests that could have easily swung his way. Beltran got the call to take on Hank Lundy on the road and he finally got a fair decision as a B side, winning a deserved split decision. He beat the dangerous bomber Ji-Hoon Kim in his penultimate fight leading to his shot at Burns. Beltran is being highly overlooked as a near 4-1 underdog. Beltran is a battle tested guy that one could argue has faced better overall opposition than Burns has. Beltran has been a long time sparring partner for some of the elite, like Manny Pacquiao, and he is obviously a dedicated practitioner. Beltran has fought a lot of styles and had success. We don’t see Burns running over him as the odds suggest. Burns is coming off a fight where he was behind against Jose Gonzalez but Gonzalez faded after hurting his hand and abandoned the fight. Beltran isn’t elite but he does everything well and is a fighter. Burns has become more offensive minded over the past few years and he figures to use that here. Beltran has the background and attributes to score a win. It will be tough on the road in Scotland and you almost have to give Burns a two-point lead right from the opening bell. But Beltran may just be the stronger man and can fight and grind a way to his long awaited championship. We’re calling Beltran to pull out a win in a grueling fight.
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We’re risking 1 unit only here and would suggest more at a different venue but fighting on the road in a hostile environment seems to increase the possibility of abhorrent decisions, as we all well aware of but don’t be surprised to see Beltran get the KO.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, September 7

Craig Davis

Today's comp play is on the Oklahoma/West Virginia Big 12 clash to go OVER the posted price of 57 points.

If there's one thing I've learned as not only a sports bettor, but also a handicapper, it's that you can't be narrow minded. You can't simply look at the previous week's games and assume that's how it's going to be all year.

Sometimes teams start out hot and fade. Sometimes it's the other way around. And other times, the team might be as good as they looked the previous week, but they fall a tad flat and lose a game they shouldn't, or at least not give the full effort you might expect.

I think that's probably the case in today's OU/WVU game today. The nation saw the OU defense pitch a 34-0 shutout versus UL Monroe last week and they automatically assume Mike Stoops is back to his old tricks of building a top flight defense to go along with a serviceable offense.

But that's definitely not how it's been recently with Stoops. The OU defense was (and I think still is) the weak link of the Sooners despite their shutout last week versus a weak little sister of the poor competitor.

Sure, their offense scored 34 points, but they waited till the second half to do much of their damage. I think once forced to score points like they will be today, you'll see much more structured offensive approach and the Sooners will score at least 34 today.

On the other side, the Mounties looked about as bland and lethargic as they possibly could have last week in a 24-17 win over William & Mary and much of the country is expecting them to get blown out today in Norman. I believe that is a possibility, but at the same time, I think West Va will put enough of their own points on the board to make this total soar over the number.

4♦ WEST VIRGINIA-OKLAHOMA OVER

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, September 7

Jeff Benton

Your Saturday freebie is Western Kentucky plus the points at Tennessee.

New eras underway for both programs, as Bobby Petrino takes over at Western Kentucky while Butch Jones does the same in Knoxville.

Both schools opened last week with wins, but I put a little more stock into the Hilltoppers neutral site upset win over Kentucky, then I do in UT's shutout of lowly Austin Peay.

Western Kentucky is now riding a 13 game regular season cover streak on the road dating back to the 2011 season, and are catching near 2 TD's in this afternoon's affair. That should be more than enough points considering the Volunteers have dropped 4 of their last 6 against the spread as the home chalk in Knoxville, and the Vols do have a rather big road game in Eugene against the Oregon Ducks next Saturday.

Go ahead and take the points with Western Kentucky as they make this a battle at Old Rocky Top.

3♦ WESTERN KENTUCKY

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, September 7

Brad Wilton

Saturday free play winner goes on Cincinnati as the road favorite at Illinois.

Yeah, Illini 2nd-year coach Tim Beckman opened the season with a win, but defeating Southern Illinois by a 42-34 count as the -16 1/2 point favorite qualifies as a "moral victory" only. This Illinois team returned just 4 defensive starters from last year's 2 win team, and the fact they allowed 34 to the Salukis should be a major red light with Cincinnati coming to town.

Tommy Tuberville's tenure at Cincinnati got off to a rousing start, as the Bearcats came out and walloped Purdue by a 42-7 count. Whether the Bearcats use Munchie Legaux or Brendan Key under center, the offensive results should continue against the raw Illinois defense.

The Bearcats 35 point win marked the 10th time in their last 11 wins that they have stretched the margin of victory by double-digits. You couple that with the fact the Fighting Illini have lost their last 9 - 8 of the 9 losses by 14 points or better - versus FBS teams, and I like Tuberville's chances of standing at 2-0 both straight up and against the spread when this game goes final in Champaign.

5♦ CINCINNATI

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, September 7

Brett Atkins

My free play in college football for tonight is on the Georgia Bulldogs, at home catching points against the South Carolina Gamecocks, as it's triple-revenge for the Dawgs.

The sixth-ranked Gamecocks (1-0) have won three straight in the series and four of the past six, including a blowout in 2012, taking a 21-0 lead in the first quarter en route to a 35-7 victory that gave Spurrier a 15-5 mark overall in two decades versus Georgia.

Athens should be on fire tonight, after the Bulldogs lost at Clemson last week, and virtually blew their chances at winning the national championship. Now their focus has to be on the SEC championship. A loss today could be a dagger, yes, even two games into the season. If coach Mark Richt and the Bulldogs lose today, it will be hard for him to try and keep this team together moving forward.

Look for Georgia's high-potent offense to come alive for this one, after posting a 35-spot against No. 8 Clemson. The Bulldogs tallied 545 yards on 70 plays, including 222 on the ground. Tailback Todd Gurley led the rushing attack versus Clemson, and was complemented nicely by sophomore fullback Quayvon Hicks, who accounted for 38 yards rushing and a touchdown as well as one 38-yard reception.

Bounce back week here for the Bulldogs, who will get it done over ol' Ball Coach.

3♦ GEORGIA

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, September 7

Chris Jordan

My free winner for Saturday is on Auburn, getting it done over Arkansas State, as this is pure mismatch I have the Tigers winning by at least two touchdowns. Coach Gus Malzahn  is shying away from the elephant in the room, the fact he's facing his former team. But that's impossible, as it's a clear storyline.

It's not my storyline, however, as I think the Tigers are just going to SEC-bully them around and make this a rather easy chore.

I scoff at and am still laughing at a line I read in a periodical, saying: "Auburn (1-0) faces its first real challenge of the season when the Red Wolves (1-0) enter Jordan-Hare Stadium..."

When the Tigers open SEC play, then you can tell me about a real challenge. But at home, against a spunky Arkansas State team, I think Auburn is going to be an easy winner.

If you want to talk about first real challenge, let's discuss Arkansas State, which last week overmatched Arkansas-Pine Bluff by rushing for an FBS-best 509 yards with four separate running backs going over the 100-yard mark for just the seventh time in NCAA history. That was last week; now the Red Wolves come to Auburn.

Sorry, but last week against Washington State, that was a better tuneup for the Tigers, for this week, than the Red Wolves had with Pine Bluff. The Tigers bring in reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Week Robenson Therezie, who had two interceptions and seven tackles against Washington State, in his first career start.

Auburn’s all-time record against Sun Belt Conference teams is 17-0, and roll into this one having covered 4 of 5 after failing to cover the week before. The Tigers are also on an 18-2 SU run when laying more than 8 points, so a win here is automatic. By how much? I'm thinking 14.

5♦ AUBURN

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