Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, September 14

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, September 14

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KENTUCKY +15½ over LouisvilleFREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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All the hype here is on the Cardinals. This is by far the biggest public play on the board today because Louisville is ranked #7 in the country and they’re coming off two blowout wins while outscoring the opposition 93-14. The Cardinals also destroyed the Wildcats last season and their upset win over Florida State in last year’s Sugar Bowl is still somewhat fresh in the minds of bettors. Louisville is primed and picked to reach a BCS game and they also have one of the early Heisman favorites at QB in Teddy Bridgewater. The Cardinals are in the spotlight and everything written about them so far has come true. They’ve been flawless in their first two games. However, Louisville also has played two complete marshmallows in Ohio and Eastern Kentucky. They probably have the easiest schedule in the entire country and it would be shocking to see them lose a single game this season. The Cardinals will be favored in every game by two or three TD’s and when you’re expected to win in such easy fashion, it’s not a positive thing. These Louisville players may be feeling a bit too complacent right now.
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The Wildcats were projected to be an SEC bottom feeder and that’s actually not so bad when you consider the power in that conference. But this isn’t the same old Wildcats. The team brought in offensive coordinator Neal Brown and he’s as good as they come. Kentucky has nothing to lose here. They are a young and very talented squad with a great coaching staff that will be well prepped for this rivalry game. Kentucky isn’t likely to win four games this year but they have an incredibly tough schedule and they are only going to get better under this new regime. This is truly a buy-low, sell high opportunity on the Wildcats. Week 3 is known for its big upsets over the years and that’s because most power schools schedule its first handful of games against what they figure to be easy prey. Kentucky is not nearly as talented or deep as the Cardinals but they’re not easy prey and they are being offered a generous spot here in a game that means everything to this program. The entire betting world is on the favorite here and that’s always a huge red flag. This one is no exception and if it’s close after the first quarter, expect Kentucky to hang around the entire afternoon.
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UTAH/Oregon State Over 57½FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Both of these teams are having nothing but trouble running the ball so we don’t expect either of them to try to establish something that has very little chance of success. What that means is an aerial show between two offenses that are lighting it up early. The Utes have scored 100 points in the first two weeks while Oregon State was carved up for 49 points by Eastern Washington in the most shocking upset of the young season so far. Last week the Beavers allowed another 14 points at home to Hawaii and while it may not seem like much, it actually was when you consider that the Warriors rarely had possession. Both the Beavers and Utes have huge issues in their secondary and both don’t figure to get right-sided against two QB’s that have put up some healthy numbers.
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Oregon State’s defense is a train wreck right now and it’s not going to be corrected until they have time to go over all the issues. That’s not going to happen until after the bye in Week 6, leaving this guest extremely vulnerable to big chunks of yardage and many scores. Utah is getting nothing from the back end of its defense and the only shot OSU has here is to air it out and hope to score more in a shootout. That’s going to lead to this one soaring over this number and we’re on it.
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TEXAS A&M +9½ over Alabama
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This game needs no introduction, as it’s the marquee game on today’s schedule and the college football world has been talking about it since the Aggies defeated Nick Saban and the Tide 10 months ago. Nick Saban vowed revenge and most people are eating that up because Saban is 7-1 in revenge games when losing to a team the previous year. All the so-called experts are quick to point out that if the Aggies surrendered 31 points to Rice and 28 points to Sam Houston State in their first two contests, ‘Bama should score twice that. Well, it’s not that easy. Those two games were warm-ups for the Aggies. They were dealing with several issues, including suspensions to key personnel on defense but A&M gets back Gavin Stansbury, Steven Jenkins, the teams’ leading tackler from last season and De'Vante Harris, the club’s top corner. That’s big for the Aggies and makes a huge difference. A&M is not as good as they were a year ago because several players left for the NFL but they were ready for the Tide and they’ll be ready again this season. Besides, Alabama isn’t as good as they were last year either.
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‘Bama won its opener over Virginia Tech 35-10 but that score is misleading, as the Tide was actually outgained in that contest by a count of 212-206 with the time of possession being near equal. The Crimson Tide also scored two TD’s on punt returns in the game against the Hokies and it’s a good thing they did because the offense couldn’t move five yards. Alabama’s offensive line is a question mark and there is no question that they also have the inferior QB in this contest. Most are suggesting that Alabama’s defense will be licking their chops to get at Johnny Manziel and while that may be true, nobody has been able to stop him yet, including Alabama’s heralded defense from a year ago when the Aggies stormed out to a 20-0 lead. QB AJ McCarron was shut down by the Hokies in the first game of the season two weeks ago. In fact, the Crimson Tide did not look sharp at all in that contest. Some will point out that they were gearing up for this game but that’s an argument we’re not buying. It was the first game of the year and every team gets jacked up to get back on the football field. When you wager on the top ranked team in the country, you are always going to pay a premium to do so. That rarely comes recommended. What we see here is that we’re getting 9 points at home with the nation’s best QB and the 6th ranked team in the country. So, forget the lame revenge angle. It means nothing. Alabama has not created an identity for its offense yet and while they are likely to put up some points here, so too will Johnny Football and it wouldn’t surprise us one bit if Manziel and the Aggies put up more points than McCarron and the Tide. Don't pay for the hype folks.   
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CALIFORNIA +14½ -over Ohio StateFREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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The Buckeyes are 2-0 after defeating Buffalo and San Diego State and that’s the problem with the #2 ranked team in the country. There is a price to play for scheduling games against cupcakes and it’s something the Buckeyes do every season in their non-conference schedule. The Buckeyes hate to risk a loss and when they scheduled this game, they figured they were in for an easy time against a Golden Bears squad that went 3-9 a year ago and lost its final five games. However, Cal made some changes by bringing in offensive guru Sonny Dykes (Louisiana Tech) to run the show. In his third and final season with the Bulldogs, Dykes oversaw the No. 1 offense in the country, as Louisiana Tech averaged a staggering 578 yards per game en route to a nine-win campaign. The players bought in right away to Dykes system and now the Golden Bears lead the nation in passing yards with an eye-opening 472 yards per game. One of those games came against #22 Northwestern.
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Cal’s defense is another story and it’s the main reason they are getting 14½ points here. They have a long way to go to be able to stop a potent offense like the Buckeyes potentially have. However, this is the Buckeyes first road game. They have not been battle tested yet with two easy games against two rather weak squads, especially the Aztecs. OSU’s starting QB Braxton Miller is likely sitting this out with a knee sprain and even if he does suit up, he’s not likely to play 60 minutes.  Perhaps overlooked with the spotlight shining so brightly on Miller's knee is the fact Ohio State is dealing with another injury concern on the other side of the ball. The groin problem for defensive end Adolphus Washington actually might be a more pressing issue. Considering the youth in the front seven for the Buckeyes and Cal's up-tempo, aggressive style with the football, removing Washington from the lineup could be a significant blow up front. Ohio State isn’t looking to blow away Cal. They are likely going to run the ball as much as possible to keep the Golden Bears offense off the field but this is too many points to be spotting on the road to this capable offense. In fact, it’s a distinct possibility that California scores the first TD and then you’re looking at a 21½-point spread. OSU is almost always overpriced, especially in the early going when they’re coming off big wins but the Buckeyes are not in as easy as they would like here and we give the Golden Bears a fighting chance to pull this upset.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, September 14

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Philadelphia +135 over WASHINGTONFREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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There is no chance that we are passing up an opportunity to take back a tag like this on Cole Hamels. Hamels comes in with a 7-13 record, which is the most misleading W/L record in the majors. Hamels had a pretty decent first half but he's been outstanding in the second half with a skills supported 2.18 ERA from July to now. Over his last five starts, covering 36 innings, Hamels has walked just four batters while whiffing 37. Furthermore, since his first start in July, Hamels line-drive rate of 15% is the lowest in the game of any starting pitcher with at least 20 innings. Cole Hamels is a true ace in every sense of the word. The more important number to know about Hamels this year is 10—the number of losses he's suffered with his offense providing two or fewer runs of support. With only a little more luck, he could have 15 wins. His 13 losses is a complete farce, resulting in this preposterous take back.
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Gio Gonzalez is coming off a complete game, one-hit shutout over the Mets. That near-no-hitter lasted into the seventh inning and a performance like that one often suffers a serious letdown the next time out. We see it with no-hitters and the same can be applied to a near ho-hitter. Additionally, Gonzalez has shown some inconsistencies this season. He’s been whacked in three of his past eight starts, allowing 26 hits and 22 runs over 12.1 innings against Detroit, Kansas City and these same Phillies in those three starts. That’s some serious disasters there and the reason is in the under the hood numbers. Gonzalez has an alarming 34% line-drive rate over his past six starts. His groundball rate has dramatically decreased from 44% on the season to a low 30% over that same span. Gonzalez appears to have dominated the past three games but it’s all smoke and mirrors, as every hard hit ball, and there were plenty of them, was hit right at someone. Gonzalez is showing serious signs of fatigue but it’s all under the surface, allowing us to take full advantage of this exceptionally overpriced favorite. 
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PITTSBURGH -1½ +132 over ChicagoFREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Give the Cubbies some credit for making life difficult on both the Reds last week and the Pirates in the first two games of this series. Chicago won four of those five games with only loss occurring against Pittsburgh in the opener of this series but that all changes here. Scott Baker’s start will be his second of 2013, having been sidelined since 2011 with elbow issues. Baker’s first start was a beauty at home against Milwaukee with the winds blowing in at Wrigley. In that game, he struck out one batter, allowed two hits and was very efficient with just 55 pitches thrown. Baker will be on a strict pitch-count again here because the Cubbies have him in their plans for next season. Even if he throws a quality game, he’s not likely to go past five innings and at that point we expect the Pirates to be up a run or two. Baker has 963 career innings on his résumé. He’s always had a good combination of command, control and strikeouts but he’s been prone to giving up the long ball with his career fly-ball bias profile. Two years removed from his last extended playing time at this level, Baker is too rusty to come out and dominate like he did in his first start. He was a slightly above average pitcher in the past and he’s a long way from being anything more.
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Then there’s Gerrit Cole. If you have not seen this guy pitch yet, do yourself a favor and watch him work. Cole has played a key role in the Pirates banner season, especially in the second half. Cole needed a few starts to get his feet wet but he's been as good as anybody since the beginning of July with 74 IP, 7.8 K’s per nine innings, a 2.82 ERA and a 50% groundball rate. Cole is getting stronger with each start. He’s coming off one of the best pitching performances of the year in Texas when he threw a 7-inning, three-hit shutout and struck out nine. He did it with such ease too and needed just 92 pitches to get through seven. Cole has some of the nastiest breaking pitches in the league and he’ll now face a Cubs team that is last in the majors with a .228 road batting average and 28th out of 30 teams in runs scored on the road.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, September 14

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Saul Alvarez +246 over Floyd MayweatherSERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Well before this fight was made, many thought Saul Alvarez could give Floyd Mayweather a problem but since the match was signed, most people have sprung back to Mayweather as the probable winner but this is not an easy opponent for the champ. Everyone knows Mayweather is a defensive master and has a way of dictating the terms of his bouts. Mayweather is still quick, very hard to hit cleanly and extremely confident in his abilities. He isn’t usually a busy fighter but his ratio to punches connected and taken has the greatest disparity in the sport. Alvarez might be the next best in that regard, being 2nd or 3rd best in the game with that same high ratio. Mayweather muted the usually aggressive Robert Guerrero in his last fight while Alvarez bested cagey southpaw champion Austin Trout in a technical contest.
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There are several reasons why Alvarez could spell trouble for Mayweather. He is an underrated boxer. His defense is excellent and he has very fast hands. Canelo can throw fast and varying combinations that can cross up any fighter. He is an excellent body puncher and while he’s not a pure KO artist in the form of one punch, he can hurt most guys and grind many opponent’s down. Alvarez will be forced to make 152 for this fight, which is a hindrance to the stocky built Mexican but he’s handling the weight properly and come fight night, he will likely be replenished up to nearly 170 pounds.
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In Mayweather’s penultimate fight against Miguel Cotto, while it wasn’t exactly Provodnikov vs. Bradley, the fight forced Floyd into a level of discomfort that he didn’t enjoy. Mayweather doesn’t usually throw an overabundance of punches because he doesn’t usually have to. He keeps opponents in check and guessing. But Cotto was determined that night and frequently forged his way inside. Mayweather was forced to let his hands go much more than he likes to. He threw nearly 700 punches which is a number he usually doesn’t approach. Cotto won three or four rounds and after eight rounds, with blood from the nose and in his mouth, Floyd looked like he had an inkling of doubt. Even after the fight, he implied that this was as hard as he’d like to get pushed in a bout and didn’t relish another fight of that nature. Now we all know it wasn’t an epic war but for Floyd, who usually boxes virtuoso style, it was demanding. He doesn’t like an opponent near him when he crosses the finish line. Cotto was in view at least. Alvarez is very capable of providing Floyd with more discomfort than the ring-worn Cotto did. Alvarez is much fresher, faster and stronger than Cotto was on that night. And he is a little less plodding and more diversified. Look at the job Trout did on Cotto, yet Alvarez was able to handle and hurt the dangerous southpaw.
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Alvarez isn’t a pure pressure fighter, but he can bring smart pressure, he can box and counter. Some are down on Alvarez’s stamina, as he has taken moments off in rounds but has still been dominant and strong late in fights. Alvarez threw 750 punches against Shane Mosley at 154 and landed about half of them. When Mosley fought Floyd at a depleted and drug tested 147, Shane really hurt Floyd and won the first 2 rounds, but was soundly out-boxed for the reminder of the fight. But that was a low contact fight with a light volume of punches thrown. But the connect and receive ratios were about the same but with Alvarez & Mosley there was twice the output. Mosley was stronger against Alvarez at 154 than he was against Floyd, who made him test his blood prior to the fight at his whim.
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When we look at Alvarez’s fight with the rangy and talented southpaw Austin Trout, we see a guy in Trout that would also greatly trouble Floyd. It’s obvious Floyd thinks he can exploit Alvarez but he might be in for a surprise. Maybe at this point, with six fights left on his Showtime deal, he was forced to step up. No matter what happens, he will be able to cash out very nicely. If Floyd loses competitively, and it sells, expect a rematch, and then another match if they split the 1st two.
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Despite all the possibilities, Alvarez is quite live. He brings more to this dance than anyone Floyd has seen before. Let’s highlight Floyd’s most recent opposition; a faded Oscar de la Hoya, small Ricky Hatton, a pre Memo Heredia, flabby Juan Manuel Marquez (and Mayweather duped him on the scale), a mentally delicate boxer in Victor Ortiz, the grizzled veteran champ Cotto, who came to fight and didn’t embarrass himself and blown up featherweight Robert Guererro who was overmatched. With Alvarez, he’s in with a big, strong, fast and talented young man with a lot of experience in his 23 years. Mayweather is no cinch here. Alvarez can hurt Mayweather with shots while not letting himself get bamboozled by the tricky Money May. We expect Alvarez to surprise many and pound out a big win, probably by decision but regardless of what happens, we know for sure that Alvarez has a damn good chance and is a huge overlay against a guy that has a big mouth, a ton of arrogance and zero “real” quality wins against difficult opponents over the past five years.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, September 14

Statfox Brian

Louisville -13.5

I realize that Louisville doesn't always blow out inferior opponents, but I can't overlook the fact that Kentucky is 0-9 ATS as an underdog of 10.5 to 21 points in the past three seasons. Also, Cardinals head coach Charlie Strong is 12-4 ATS (75%) on the road and 8-1 ATS (89%) following an ATS loss since coming to Louisville. His quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, has been dominant this year (46-of-60, 752 yds, 9 TD, 1 INT) and completed 19-of-21 passes versus Kentucky last season. Also, Strong is well aware that his team plays such a soft schedule, that to be in the national title discussion, he needs to run up the score all year to impress the pollsters. Louisville wins by 30 on Saturday.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, September 14

Tony George

Northern Illinois - 29

How bad is Idaho?  Ranked 120th on defense and 121st on offense allowing 41 ppg.  The Vandal defense is a funnel to the end zone for opposing teams and QB Lynch for No. Ill will have a field day against this porous defense.  Wyoming was up 42-0 last week in the 3rd quarter against Idaho before they pulled all starters!   Huskies off a bye week after beating Iowa on the road.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, September 14

Jeff Scott Sports

4 UNIT PLAY

Tulsa/ Oklahoma Under 50:  Blake Bell isn't really a throwing QB, and the Sooners have showing in the early going this year that they are more of a running teams, averaging 310.5 ypg on the ground so far. This is a game where I feel that Bell won't be asked to do a whole in the passing game as Stoops know that he has that awesome defense to fall back on should the Sooners have to punt. The Tulsa offense is usually solid, but they did struggle in their opener vs a very tough Bowling Green defense and I expect them to struggle here as well. Tulsa has been a run first team this year and that makes both teams looking to gain the majority of their yards on the ground. That should eat plenty of clock. While The Sooners may get around 35 points in this one, it is very hard to see the Golden Hurricane cracking double digits. The Sooner defense is just playing too well right now. No more than 45 points in this one.

3 UNIT PLAYS

Louisville -13.5 over KENTUCKY: Only reason that this isn't rated higher is that so many are on the Cardinals and also because this game really looks to easy. Style points are huge in CFB, especially if you are not considered a major power program and the Cardinal are not thought of that way. This is a very good team and they really have no shot at a BCS Title game, but still if they have any hopes of getting there a blowout win over an SEC team on the road will help matters. Kentucky really is outclassed in all phases here. Their offense is better than in year's past, but they are still not in the class of Teddy Bridgewater and company. Also, often over looked on Louisville is their defense and this year they may have their best unit of the Charlie Strong ERA. They have 9 starters back on that side of the ball and have allowed just 14 total points through their first 2 games. Defense is not something Kentucky plays well. They did allow Miami-Oh just 7 points in their last game, but were exposed for 35 points in the loss to WKU, which has a much better offene than Miami's, to open the season. Well Louisville's offense is head and shoulders above that of WKU and light years ahead of Miami's. Teddy and this offense are just too strong to think that Kentucky can stop them enough to keep this game with in 2 TDs. Louisville will be fully motivated for all their games this year as they try and get style points, plus they would also like Teddy to continue to put up big numbers for the Heisman voting. Look for a blowout by the Cardinals in this one.

USC -13.5 over Boston College:  The Boston College Eagles must travel cross country to take on an angry USC squad that is off a tough home loss to Washington State. This is a bad spot for the Eagles. USC has had many problems on offense, but maybe they will start to turn it around as the Trojans have finally settled on a QB, Cody Kessler. I feel that will help stabilize this offense that has had problems putting up points this year. Defensively the Trojans are very stout as they have allowed just 226 ypg and 11.5 ppg so far. I find it very hard to expect a weak BC offense to put up much on this defense. The BC defense has been good this year, but Cody Kessler is a good QB and will look to stretch the field and get the ball to Lee. Really the bottom line here is how much will BC score. Im not expecting a whole lot and certainly not expecting more than 10 points, while USC should finally get some offense going and put up at least 27 points here. This play goes well with the system above, but how about another little system here. Since 1986, Eastern Time Zone dogs of 10-15 are 2-20 SU and 7-15 ATS when traveling to the Pacific Time Zone. 

2 UNIT PLAYS

Northern Illinois -28 at IDAHO: Idaho just may be the worst team at the FBS level and have been outscored by 34 and 32 points in their 2 games so far. Today's game won't be any prettier for them. The Huskies have one of the top offenses in the nation, led by Jordan Lynch, and even though he may be missing a few key WR's for this game, there is still plenty of talent on this offense to do allot of damage vs a weak NIU defense. Lynch could actually beat them by himself. Last year he piled up 1815 yards on the ground and 6.2 yards per pop and will be facing an Idaho team that has allowed 224 ypg and 5.3 ypc on the ground this year. Im sure he will use his other weapons though, but you get the point. The Huskies struggled on defense vs Iowa, but this Vandals offense is not that of the Hawkeyes, putting up just 8 ppg in their first 2 games. NIU had a weak off for this one and they have just Eastern Illinois on deck so the should be fully focused here. Idaho has little talent and or depth and just won't have the horses to keep this one close. Let's seal the deal with a solid system here. Road teams who had a bye week after a season opening win are 19-5 ATS if they are facing a team that allows 27 ppg or more on the year (From Playbook). NIU by at least 31 here.

South Florida/ FAU Under 45:  This just has the feel of an ugly game. The FAU defense is not the bad as they showed last week vs a powerful East Carolina offense, especially in then 2nd half where they held the pirates to just 10 points. The USF offense is not hard to stop as they come in averaging just 248.5 ypg and 13.5 ppg on the year so far. The FAU offense is even worse as they come in averaging just 266.5 ypg and 9.5 ppg. These are two really bad offenses for sure. USF had a bad outing on defense in their opener vs McNeese State, but they showed they can clamp down on a bad offense, but holding Michigan State to just 21 points and 265 yards last week. Clearly the punter will get more work than the score board operator in this one, as this ugly game puts up no more than 35 points.

1 UNIT PLAYS

UConn/ Maryland Under 47: The Uconn offense is not very good this year and will struggle all year long. They were able to put up just 287 yards vs an FCS for and could have more troubles vs a Maryland squad that has looked very good on tat side of the ball. That is not all that surprising that Edsall would turn that defense around, after all the Huskies always had solid defenses when he was here. Offensively, Maryland has looked good, but still this will be by far the best defense they will have faced so far. The Huskies struggled some vs Towson, but the week off should have them ready for this one. This just has the feel of a lot of running and defense, keeping the final score right around 40 points.

UTAH -3 over Oregon State: Oregon State has a lot of players back from last year, but this team is not playing well at all, especially on defense, where they have allowed 432 ypg overall, including 309 ypg through the air. The offense is ok but they just can't stop anyone. Now they take on a Utah team that is playing with confidence, having put up 70 points last week, while averaging 50 ppg and 296 ypg through the air so far. Unlike the Beavers, the Utes do play some defense as they have allowed just 16.5 ppg so far. Utah is an improved team and on a mission to make it back to a bowl. OSU has a good offense, but just way too weak on defense to take this game. I look for the Utes to win by at least a TD in this one.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, September 14

Craig Davis

As for your free play, I like the Cal Golden Bears to cover this inflated number vs. Ohio State in their own back yard.

This is a long trip for Ohio State and they might be without their starting QB, Braxton Miller. I know many of you will be saying that Kenny Guiton will be just fine and is, in many ways, just as good as Miller.

Well, they might be right, but it's one thing to beat up on San Diego State... it's another thing to go on the road vs. a Pac 12 team.

While I don't expect Cal to win this game SU, I do expect them to be able to score... whether through the air or on the ground.

I wasn't impressed with OSU's defense in Week 1 and was mildly impressed with them in Week 2. Will they score points? Sure they will, regardless of whether or not Miller or Guiton is under center.

But Cal can score too. They have two running backs that ran all over the Buckeyes last season and a QB in Jared Goff who finished 33 of 51 for 485 and three TDs in last week's win over FCS Portland State.

Yes, it does seem embarrassing to barely beat an FCS team, but you have to believe they were looking ahead to this game.

After losing to Northwestern (from the Big 10) in Week 1, they get a shot at redemption tonight in their third consecutive home game.

Cal is improving under Sonny Dykes, but they aren't quite there yet. The Bears will make this game close and cover the number, but I don't believe they have enough to pull off the SU upset.

Take Cal as your free play of the day.

3♦ CALIFORNIA

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, September 14

Jeff Benton

Your Saturday freebie will be to lay it with 'Bama in their big-time revenge game in College Station against Texas A&M.

We all know how Johnny Manziel engineered the upset of Alabama last year in Tuscaloosa by a 29-24 count, but Alabama was coming off an all-out war the week before in their win at LSU. That is NOT the case today, as Nick Saban's team was idle last week, and there aren't many coaches in the college level that prepare for a foe with a week off than Coach Saban.

The Tide is on a 15 game winning streak away from home, and Saban is the owner of a 15-2 straight up mark when playing with revenge on his side, covering in 6 of the last 8 since arriving in the SEC.

No doubt the Aggies fans will be primed, as will Manziel, but I do not feel this A&M team has what it takes to upend the Tide for a second consecutive season, and I honestly do not think they will even be close with the points.

Roll Tide!

2♦ TAMPA BAY-MINNESOTA OVER

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, September 14

Brad Wilton

My free play winner for Saturday will be to take the double-digits with the Boston College Eagles as they play in Los Angeles against the USC Trojans and their on the "hot-seat" coach Lane Kiffin.

Hard to back a Trojan team that could only muster one touchdown in a 10-7 conference home loss to double-digit underdog Washington State last weekend. That makes it 5 straight pointspread losses for Southern Cal and a 3-12 overall spread run since last year!

No way in the world you can back the Men of Troy laying the double-digits based on those numbers.

Boston College is off to a 2-0 start in the Steve Addazio era, and I was impressed with the way the Eagles defense put the clamps on Wake Forest in their last game, as BC was able to both win and cover that game by a 24-10 margin.

I do not think this is going to be a high-scoring game, and since USC is being asked to cover double-digits, I think the way to go in this one is to back the road dog despite their 0-5 mark as a road dog from a season ago. That was under Frank Spaziani. This is a new year, a new coach, and a new attitude.

Kiffin survives with the win, but it will not come easy.

4♦ BOSTON COLLEGE

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, September 14

Brett Atkins

My free play is on tonight's non-conference clash in Vegas, where I want you to play the Central Michigan/UNLV game under the posted number. The number is posted at 54, and I think we could see a grind-it-out ball game, as the Rebels are looking for their first win of the season, and could very well get as defensive as they did in their first game, in Minneapolis, against Minnesota.

Last week the Arizona Wildcats came to Las Vegas for UNLV's home opener, and that hurry-up offense ran circles around the Rebels, building a wicked 45-6 lead by halftime. This is one week the Rebels will need to step up in all facets of the game, and demonstrate how losses to the a Big Ten team and Pac 12 team have paid off for winnable games like this one.

As for the Chippewas, they're a big, physical midwestern team that can come in and slow things down, keeping the ball out of UNLV's hands. CMU's top offensive threat is wideout Titus Davis, but the Chipps are also starting a third-string quarterback under center, redshirt freshman quarterback Cooper Rush, who will be making his first career start.

Rush saw action last weekend against New Hampshire, and helped the Chippewas in a comeback win, finishing the game completing 19-of-32 passes for 326 yards and three touchdowns.

But this is an entirely different defense, one that played well in Minneapolis and is looking to save face in front of the Vegas crowd after last week's debacle against Arizona.

Telling you, these two will grind this one out, and it's going to stay low.

5♦ UNDER CMU/UNLV

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, September 14

Chris Jordan

My free play for today is going to be on the Ohio State Buckeyes going into Berkeley and getting it done over the California Golden Bears.

There calling it a stiff test.

I think it'll be more like some stiff necks for the Buckeyes once they slay the Golden Bears and then get on a long trip home to Columbus.

As for the game, the Bears - who struggled against Portland State last week - are going to get thumped by a solid Ohio State team.

I already know Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller sprained his left knee on the seventh play of the team's first series last week and did not return. But he was limited in practice all week and is expected to play today. He led the way last year against the Bears, as he threw for 249 yards and four touchdowns while adding a 55-yard touchdown run in a 35-28 victory. This year the Buckeyes are better.

Though Ohio State will be playing just its eighth nonconference road game in the past 14 seasons, make note the Buckeyes are on a 9-6 run in road openers. The Bucks are also in on ATS win streaks of 9-2 against the Pac 12, 5-0 after a straight-up victory and 12-5 in September. On the flipside, the Bears are mired in a 1-5 ATS non-conference slide.

1♦ OHIO STATE

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, September 14

Jeff Alexander

LA Angels -160

Houston has given the Angels fits, and Oberholtzer has pitched well. Even so, the Halos have the advantage with their ace on the hill. The Astros aren't at all familiar with Weaver, who will be making his first start against them. The Angels are 45-14 in Weaver's last 59 starts as a favorite and 11-4 in his last 15 starts as a road favorite. LA has won 12 of its last 15 on the road and 4 of its last 5 in Houston. Weaver wins this duel. Bet the Angels.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, September 14

SPORTS WAGERSFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
FOR THE LARGEST SELECTION OF FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
Winnipeg +180 over EDMONTONFREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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A couple of weeks ago we were pretty high in the one-win Eskimos, calling them the best one-win team in a long, long time. Edmonton had lost five straight games by five points or less and could have easily been 5-3 instead of 1-8. However, quite a bit has transpired since then and now we see this team as being one on the brink of a collapse because there is turmoil within the organization. After Edmonton dropped its eighth game in nine tries, GM Ed Hervey singled out guard Simeon Rottier at a news conference the following Tuesday. Hervey said that while some members of the offensive line have shown promise this season, he had lost patience with Rottier and the player would be indefinitely benched.Hervey now finds himself in some hot water for violating the league’s collective bargaining agreement that clearly prohibits clubs and their employees from publicly criticizing the on-field performance of any player in the CFL. The Eskies didn’t respond well in their next game, losing to Calgary 22-12. Hervey and the club have now reinstated Rotter for this game and he’ll be on the starting offensive line for this game. Basically, what the Eskies have done is set Rotter up to fail. The Eskimos offensive line, which has been a mess the entire season, will now face the best defensive line in the game and it’s not close. Winnipeg’s 38 sacks on the season over the first 10 games is tops in the league and that pressure was a big part of their upset victory over the first-place Saskatchewan Roughriders last week. They’re an explosive group that will get to Mike Reilly over and over again. Reilly has been completely battered this season, having to pick himself up off the ground after numerous thundering hits and it’s taking a toll. The Eskimos have not had to face this explosive defensive front of the Bombers this season and with Rotter back in the lineup and fearing making a fool of himself, this can’t turn out well.
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Winnipeg gained some huge confidence with back-to-back strong showings against the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Winnipeg’s offense has been solid and the defense has been great. Football games are won and lost on the ability of the offensive line to protect its QB and in that regard, Edmonton is in big trouble here. State of mind, confidence and momentum also play a big role in the outcome and in that regard, again the Blue Bombers have a big edge. Edmonton was on the verge of turning this thing around until their own GM turned on them like a pit bull. Edmonton has now turned into a reluctant and fragile squad while the Bombers are gaining steam and playing an extremely aggressive brand of football. With that, we’ll play the Bombers on the money line because their chances of winning are better than the Eskimos chances.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, September 14

The Real Animal Sports

Stanford -30

We started off last Saturday 3-0 and leading the way was 4* Ball State over Army. The Cadets scored first on a 71-yard run by Larry Dixon. Dixon ended up with 107 yards on 14 carries. So that meant he had 13 carries for 36 yards the rest of the game or less than three-yards per attempt. QB Angel Santiago was 3-of-11 for 49 yards. The problem for the Cadets is Stanford will dare them to pass and load up the box to stop the run. I mentioned last week how small the Army offensive line is averaging 249 pounds per man and that it would be an adjustment playing without 4-year starter Steelman behind center. Last week San Jose State had 35 rushing yards on 23 carries. Meanwhile QB David Fales, who is very good, was 29-of-43 for 216 yards with a pick. Its going to be tough for Army to move the ball on the ground and especially score points. The Stanford defense last year allowed just 17.2 points per game. Thats incredible considering they played in the pass-happy Pac-12 conference. The Cardinal will have an enormous edge in the trenches. But will they be interested considering they have a showdown with Arizona State next week? The answer is yes. Stanford is 12-2 ATS as a road favorite the last three years. Some Stanford defensive players were not happy with their performance, allowing just 251 total yards. I thought we played average at best; said linebacker Trent Murphy, who recorded two sacks. Keep in mind Army was just +95 in total yards against Morgan State in week #1. I read this on Friday night and found it somewhat amusing: Stanford QB Kevin Hogan is 6-4 and 228. That means hes bigger than all but two of the front seven Army defense. The Cadets have allowed 40 or more points six times since the start of last season.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, September 14

Any Kelso picks for today?

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, September 14

Wunderdog

Baltimore at Toronto
Pick: Toronto +127

The Toronto Blue Jays made a lot of off-season moves that had them expected to contend, but injuries and a division that features the four other teams still battling for a playoff spot, and a schedule of 107 games vs .500 or better teams, was just too much to overcome. They can be a spoiler by knocking off Baltimore here. Esmil Rogers gives them a great chance here, as he has found the groove and has not allowed a run in each of his last two starts. Rogers is 1-0 with a 1.69 ERA in seven relief appearances against Baltimore, and certainly puts the Jays in a winnable spot here as a valued dog at home. Baltimore, having issues on the road where they are just 4-9 in their last 13, is a woeful 12-39 in their last 51 over the border against the Jays. Play on Toronto.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, September 14

Richard Witt

Texas -2

Everybody's jjumped off the Texas train, and Mack Brown may be in a world of trouble if the bad news keeps mounting, but you're getting marked value here with the long-term established program, benefitting from a quarterback switch which could well prove to be a marked upgrade, given our information. Ole Miss still looking over their shoulder, hoping NCAA investigators go away. It's the 'Horns, minus the deuce.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, September 14

Rocketman

Kent State @ LSU 
Play: LSU -36

The Kent State Golden Flashes travel to LSU to take on the Tigers on Saturday night.  LSU is scoring 46.5 points per game overall this year and 56 points per game at home this season.  Kent State is 4-12-1 ATS last 17 games after a SU loss.  Kent State is 5-15 ATS last 20 non-conference games.  Kent State is 0-4 ATS last 4 games against SEC opponents.  LSU is 9-2 ATS last 11 games after a SU win of 20 or more points.  LSU is 7-3 ATS last 10 games after scoring 40 points or more.  LSU is 9-4 ATS last 13 games after an ATS win.  LSU will be way too quick for Kent State in this one.  They will control the line of scrimmage and score at will.  Easy blowout!  We'll recommend a small play on LSU tonight!

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