Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, September 21

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Marc LawrenceFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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San Jose State at MinnesotaFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: MinnesotaFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Spartans are a solid fade based on my 2009 Black Book article called “The Longest Time” which fades teams on the road who enjoyed a winning season last year after having endured losing seasons each of the prior three years. These “Reverse Mission” teams do not handle the rarefied air well after suddenly becoming winners, and San Jose State is no exception coming off an 11-2 campaign. Such teams are 43-61-1 versus the number in these away tilts, and if the hosts are undefeated in addition to coming off a double-digit win, the visitors dip to 7-33 SU and 15-25 ATS. Though first-year HC Ron Caragher has an NFL prospect in QB David Fales, the senior has been running for his life despite an experienced offensive line. Most of the attention directed at the Gophers involves HC Jerry Kill and the epileptic seizures he has suffered either during or immediately after four of his 22 games with Minnesota. He suffered another one last week and was carried off the field on a stretcher – alarmingly the third such occurrence in the last 11 games, meaning that the frequency is increasing. Kill wants to continue coaching and the school has expressed “100% support” for him to remain as Gopher head coach, so it’s certainly not for us to decide. However, it is a shame that Kill’s epilepsy takes the focus off the great job he has done in Minneapolis; in fact, a win here would give the Gophers a 4-0 start for the second consecutive season. No word as to whether Kill will return to the sidelines for this week’s game, but at press time, the game was off the board with Minny QB Phillip Nelson questionable with a hamstring. His backup, Mitch Leidner, was 7 of 8 for 105 yards and rushed 17 times for 64 yards in a relief role against Western Illinois last week. Still, we like Minnesota in this spot, thanks in small part to the fact that the Gopher staff and players have amazingly become almost accustomed to incidents regarding Kill’s condition and therefore keep them from becoming a distraction, and the fact that is a 9:00 AM body clock start time for the Spartans. Gophers golden again this week. We recommend a 1-unit play on Minnesota.

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Sean MurphyFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Idaho vs. Washington StateFREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: UnderFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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These two teams have combined to post a 2-4 o/u record this season, and I don't see that trend changing on Saturday night.
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Idaho put up a whopping 35 points last week, but still managed to lose by 10 points against an underrated Northern Iliinois squad. Keep in mind, that game was played at the Kibbie Dome, where the Vandals have certainly played with much more of an edge over the years, and are comfortable getting involved in shootouts.
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The Vandals have now allowed at least 40 points in all three games this season, so there's little question what has been emphasized in practice this week. This may look like another beatdown in the making, but I do expect Idaho to play with some pride defensively, and at least slow down the Cougars for stretches. This ultimately amounts to a possible letdown spot for Washington State coming off back-to-back wins, including a shocker at USC (we won with the Cougars in that game).
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Offensively, don't count on Idaho to put up 35 points again on Saturday. Washington State is an underrated defensive squad right now - something I noted in my analysis of my play supporting them at USC two weeks ago. The Cougars return enough talent and experience on the defensive side of the football that they no longer have to rely on putting up 40+ points to have a shot at winning on a weekly basis.
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There will be stretches where we see Washington State move the football at will in this game, but that's certainly being accounted for with this total sitting in the high-50s. Idaho has a good enough passing game to move the chains, but I'm not convinced they'll end many drives with touchdowns.
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With a big home game against Stanford on deck, this has the feel of a 'win and move on' type of game for Mike Leach's Cougars. We may see some early fireworks, but I look for the scoring to settle down once Washington State is able to put the game out of reach.

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Teddy CoversFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Colorado State vs. AlabamaFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: Colorado StateFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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I’m not a big fan of betting on the ‘big ugly underdog’ in college football, but this situation is simply too good to ignore.  Alabama has been a pointspread juggernaut throughout the Nick Saban era in every role except one – as a 30+ point favorite over lesser competition. 
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The Crimson Tide are just 1-6 ATS in their last seven tries in this pointspread range, including an 0-4 mark last year.  Coming off a HUGE win at Texas A&M with their SEC opener against Ole Miss on deck, I’m not expecting an inspired performance from this huge home favorite.
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Colorado State head coach Jim McElwain got the job at Colorado State because of his success as Nick Saban’s offensive coordinator from 2008-2011.  He knows Saban’s mentality and his gameplans as well as any coach in the country.  ‘Bama is not likely to run up the score to ridiculous proportions against Saban’s buddy, especially with no need for huge margins to impress the pollsters – Alabama is already the clear #1 team in the country.
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And Colorado State’s offensive line is a clear unit of strength this year.  A handful of rushing first downs will go a long way towards shortening the game and allowing the Rams to hang within this inflated number.

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Larry NessFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Tennessee vs. FloridaFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: FloridaFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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The Butch Jones era of Tennessee football got off to a strong start, as the Vols won each of their first two games at home against Austin Peay (45-0) and Western Kentucky (52-20). However, Tennessee experienced a rude awakening traveling out west to face No. 2 Oregon last week, getting blown out 59-14. The Vols are currently in the midst of a six-game stretch where they will play five ranked teams, with a visit to No. 19 Florida on tap for this Saturday. The Gators had last weekend off and likely needed to “cool off” from an extremely frustrating 21-16 loss at Miami back on Sep 7, in which the Gators repeatedly shot themselves in the foot by committing five turnovers!
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Florida has dominated this once-competitive series, winning EIGHT straight (6-2 ATS), the last six by an average margin of 19.0 PPG (smallest margin has been 10 points). Tennessee had a situational edge in last year’s matchup, catching Florida off a HUGE 20-17 road win at Texas A&M and on the road again at Knoxville. In comparison, Tennessee was coming off a 51-13 home win over then-FCS foe Georgia St. The Vols led 14-10 at the half but Muschamp made the necessary adjustments and the Gators cruised to a 37-20 win (outgained Tennessee 399-109 in yards during the second half).
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The set up is much different this year, as Tennessee is playing back-to-back road games this year (off that shellacking at Oregon), while the Gators are off a much-need bye week, after ‘handing’ a game to the hated-Hurricanes two Saturdays ago.
Florida QB Driskel came under heavy criticism at Miami (had two INTs & a fumble) but he did throw for a career-best 291 yards vs the ‘Canes. Let me remind all that Driskel accounted for 300 total yards at Tennessee last year (219 yards passing with two TDs plus 81 yards rushing) and the Gators ran for a whopping 336 yards (7.8 YPC) at Knoxville.
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Tennessee’s defense was absolutely shredded at Oregon (59 points and 687 yards) and let me point out that last year’s “D” allowed 35.7 PPG on the season. That includes them allowing 43.3 PPG over the Vols’ first seven SEC games, before holding the pathetic 2-10 Kentucky Wildcats to just 17 points. "Florida is not going to feel sorry for (us)," Butch Jones said. "We knew at this juncture of the season, against the most difficult schedule in the history of college football, it's going to take perseverance and it's going to take resilience."
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I couldn’t agree more and fully expect the Gators to at least match the 37 points they were able to score last year in Knoxville and Tennessee’s offense won’t be able to keep up. Lay it with the Gators

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, September 21

John Ryan

Arkansas at Rutgers
Play: Arkansas

The simulator shows a high probability that Rutgers will win this game by five or more points. Supporting this graded play is a proven system posting a 28-4 ATS mark since 2002 and is a perfect 5-0 ATS this season. Play against any team (ARKANSAS) in the first month of the season, after closing out last season with 2 or more straight losses and is now facing an opponent in the first month of the season and was a bowl team from prior season who lost their last 3 games. 20 of the 32 winning plays have covered by 7 or more points. SIM shows that Rutgers will gain between 110 and 150 rushing yards. This is very good news for backers of Rutgers as they are 7-0 ATS the past three seasons when gaining this range of yards on the ground. Take Rutgers.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, September 21

Tony George

Utah State +7

I have been saying this to anyone who would listen to me for the past 2 years, Lane Kiffen is not a good coach and in all honesty USC is not a good football team with a clearly bad situation at QB this year. Lane Kiffen is a coordinator at best, just like his daddy, and has no business being a head coach for a school like USC. Washington State came into LA and waxed them with a bad defense, and USC has struggled to perform in every game. The Aggies were an 11-2 team last year and ranked, and return 15 starters from that team. Yes their head coach bolted fro Wisconsin but Coach Wells has been there awhile and QB Keeton for Utah State is a veteran QB who commands an offense putting up 49 ppg and over 550 yards of offense.

USC is laying a number here based on the fact they waxed a deplorable BC team last week, I put absolutely no stock in that win. Oddsmakers have by posting a line that should be -3 at best. Utah State in my opinion is the better team, capable of putting up points fast and should hang within this number, and an outright win but this experienced Aggie team is not out of the question. I like the Live Dog in this one.

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Jimmy Boyd

Michigan State/Notre Dame Under 43

Michigan State's defense has looked extremely good through the first three weeks off the season. They have held opponents to an average of just 12 points per game. They face a Notre Dame team whose scoring average is inflated because the Irish have played three soft defenses. The Spartans scoring average is also inflated due to a 55-point performance last week against Youngstown State.

The Irish defense is much better than the story their statistics tell. They let Michigan control the pace of the game in week two, and ended up getting into a shootout. The Spartans offensive attack is much slower than the Wolverines since they are a very run-heavy team. Notre Dame has been solid against the run, holding opponents to just 113 yards per game on an average of 30 carries. Since the Irish run defense is so good, I expect to see a lot of time killing drives from Michigan State which will keep this game under the total.

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Jim Feist

Ball State vs. Eastern Michigan    
Play: Ball State -9½

Ball State (2-1) continues to be undervalued, on a 16-6 ATS run. The Cardinals are also 38-15 ATS in their last 53 road games. This is one of the best passing offensive in the nation, averaging 39.3 points and 332.7 yards passing (13th). They take on an Eastern Michigan squad that is one of the worst offensive teams in the country, averaging 17 ppg. The Eagles are 9-24 ATS in their last 33 home games. And when these teams meet the Cardinals are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 meetings in Eastern Michigan.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, September 21

Chip Chirimbes

North Carolina vs. Georgia Tech    
Play: North Carolina +7

These too powerful offenses set all kinds of ACC records last year when Georgia Tech beat the Tar Heels 68-50 in the highest scoring game in conference history. There were 16 touchdowns scored and almost 1,100 yards in total offense. The Yellow Jackets will continue with their triple-option offense that has run for 356 yards per contest in it's first two games. They have scored 108 points in their two wins while allowing only seven points on defense. Still, Carolina has enough to keep this one close.

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Steve Janus

Michigan Wolverines -17½

This is the perfect spot to jump on the Wolverines after a poor showing at home last week against Akron. While I was surprised the final was as close as it was, I wasn't shocked to see Michigan suffer a letdown after that huge win at home over Notre Dame.

Expect the Wolverines to bounce back in a big way against a Connecticut team that has suffered a serious drop off from last season. The Huskies have little to nothing on offense and defensively they aren't the same after losing four players to the NFL. Personally, I think the players have already given up on head coach Paul Pasqualoni and they aren't going to want anything to do with a more talented and motivated squad from Michigan.

The Wolverines are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games following an ATS loss and 13-6-1 in their last 20 non-conference matchups. Connecticut on the other hand is just 2-8-1 ATS in their last 11 non-conference games, 1-5-1 in their last 7 home games and 0-5-1 ATS in their last 6 following an ATS loss.

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Dave Price

Tennessee Volunteers +16½

Tennessee hasn't lost any sleep over last week's 59-14 loss at Oregon. This is the game it wants. The Vols were favored to beat Florida last season but suffered their eighth straight defeat in the series. They will be lacking no motivation as they look to bring this lengthy skid to an end. Plus, they will only benefit from stepping on the field with Oregon last week. Florida isn't even on the same planet as Oregon in terms of what it brings to the table offensively. The Gators are averaging just 20.0 ppg behind mediocre play from QB Jeff Driskel. They are coming off a bye but are clearly being overvalued here. We're talking about a team that has been held to 24 points or fewer in 6 of its last 8 games. That kind of scoring production will make it awfully hard to cover such a big number here. Consider that Tennessee has scored at least 17 points in each of its last 3 meetings with Florida. This is a huge rivalry game for the Vols, and I expect them to throw the kitchen sink at the Gators. Teams headed up by Butch Jones are 11-0 ATS all-time after being outgained by 125 or more total yards in their last game. The Gators are 1-7 ATS in their last 8 games overall and 0-5 ATS in their last 5 home games. The road team is 4-0-1 ATS in their last 5 meetings. Take the points.

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Harry BondiFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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MARSHALL (+10) over Virginia TechFREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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Virginia Tech has fallen from the ranks as one of the best programs in the nation, but for some reason the oddsmaker still puts lines on their games as if it were still the glory days of Michael Vick. How overrated have the Hokies been recently? Not only are they 0-2 ATS this season, but in their last 20 games they've only covered eight times, including a 6-17 record as a favorite. In two games against FBS teams this season, the Hokie offense has scored a total of 25 points and they'll have to do much better than that today against a Marshall offense that is averaging 46 points per game. Take the generous points.

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SC Live Dogs

Phillies -105

This game could turn into a very valuable fade against Dillon Gee and the New York Mets. When we take a look at these two pitchers most recent starts, we see that Dillon Gee comes in with a 2.18 era over his last 20 innings of work where he allowed just 3 BBs on 18 Ks & 2 HRs. On the other hand, when we look at Tyler Cloyd's numbers for the Phillies, we can see that he comes in with a whopping 10.93 era over his last 14 innings (3 starts) where he allowed 27 hits on 1 BB, 11 Ks & 2 HRs. With that being said, one would think that the opening line on this game should favor the Mets much more than -115...When we dig a bit deeper into this game and specifically its matchup, we notice something very interesting regarding Dillon Gee and his starts against the Phillies IN Philadelphia. When we look at Gee's last five starts IN Philadelphia dating back to 2011, we can see that he carries a 14.82 era where he has allowed 28 earned runs on 36 hits through 17 innings on 8 BBs, 14 Ks & 8 HRs. Gee has also shown little success against the Phillies as a whole where the Phillies have a combined 100 ABs off of Gee with a .310 average and 3 HRs. We understand that Tyler Cloyd of the Phillies has hit a rough patch as of late, but he may have a few things going for him. Cloyd has allowed 12 runs on 19 hits through his last 8 innings of work (two starts) but it changes his routine a bit as he has posted pitch counts of 73 and 64 in those last two starts which may play to his advantage. Another plus for Cloyd is that the Mets are yet to see him 2013. When we look back to 2012 which were the only two starts that he has against the Mets, Cloyd allowed 4 runs through 14 innings of work on 10 hits 2 BBs & 11 Ks. Offensively, the Phillies are playing the better ball at this point in the season as they are averaging close to 6 RPG over their past 7 games which should play to their advantage against Dillon Gee and the Mets. Play on the Phillies at -105.

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North Texas + over GeorgiaFOR FREE SERVlCE PLAYS VlSlT THESPREAD.COM
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This game certainly has the potential to get overlooked as the Bulldogs had a week off to soak in the big win over South Carolina but has a home date with LSU lurking next week. North Texas returned 17 starters from a team that was better than its record last season. The Mean Green is off to a 2-1 start with only a narrow loss to Ohio, a team that beat one of the Conference USA favorites last week. North Texas lost by 27 to LSU last season and by 14 against Kansas State as they played respectably with some high level competition and Coach McCarney will have his team ready to play especially with an off week next week. North Texas did benefit from five turnovers in the narrow comeback win over Ball State last week and the defense will obviously have a very tough time competing in this matchup but with such a huge spread a few stops will be enough to hang around below the number. The situation clearly favors the heavy underdog as this is the only light spot in a loaded early season schedule for the Bulldogs and a flat effort would certainly be understandable. The Georgia defense is still really young and has been vulnerable and a few scores will be enough for North Texas to cover at this price.

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Joe Gavazzi

North Texas at Georgia -33

Horrible situation for home standing Georgia. The Bulldogs have had 2 weeks to get fat after rebounding from the week 1 loss at Clemson with a 41-30 home victory over S. Carolina. Surely their focus has been on next week’s Marquee Matchup with LSU. Though the N. Texas offense will not be confused with either of Georgia’s first two opponents, it must be noted that the 3 RS on the Georgia defensive side of the ball have allowed 34 PPG and 461 YPG. Tough to lay this number in this situation against a veteran Mean Green team who has 17 RS and quality leader in 3rd year HC McCarthy. The Green will enter with great confidence. After trailing Ball St. at home 27-9 last week, the Green scored the last 25 points for a 34-27 victory. Technical support abounds. North Texas is 5-0 ATS taking 23 or more points of late, while Georgia HC Richt was 0-4 ATS laying 20 or more last year.

LA Monroe at Baylor -29.5

Last year at this time, the Warhawks were taking the nation by storm with a 34-31 upset of Arkansas, a narrow 3 point loss at Auburn, and a 47-42 loss to this Baylor team, a game in which they outgained the Bears 560-549. With 17 RS, including QB Browning, and the reigning Sun Belt COY Todd Berry, LA Monroe is at it again. In the week 1 loss to Oklahoma, they were surprised by the Sooner ground game. Last week, however, they returned to upset form in outgaining Wake 424-315 in a 21-19 win as +3. Meanwhile, Baylor has blown the doors off Wofford and Buff to enter today averaging 70 PPG, 737 YPG and 9.7 YP play. The result is this week’s biggest -77 AFP DIFF favoring the Warhawks at a price that is 3 TDs more than opening week and 3 TDs more than last year. Lots of value with this big dog.

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Rob Vinciletti

Miami Ohio +23

I expect the Red Hawks to play much better in this one.as they return home off a pari of road losses. Miami Ohio is one of the worst teams in the country on both sides of the ball. So why on earth would we back them? Simply because they are off a bye week and are getting an over adjusted line. They fit a solid week 3 system that plays on teams that lost back to back games by 10+ points if they have revenge and scored less than 9 points in their last game. These teams are nearly 90% if the lost that last game by 4+ touch downs. They also fit a home dog with rest and revenge system we use when opponent are off a win by 7 or more. Cincy has not really played that tough a schedule and will win here but this one is a classic win and no cover for the favorite.

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Freddy Wills

Utah State vs. USC    
Play: Utah State +7

Utah State wants that signature win over a BCS team really bad and they keep getting closer each and every year. In 2009 they lost by 8 Texas A&M, in 2010 it was just 7 to Oklahoma, 2011 just 4 points to Auburn, and by 2 at Wisconsin in 2012. So can this finally be it for Utah State?

When USC Has The Ball:
USC finally put some offense out there last week against a decent defense in Boston College, but BC was awful on defense last year and had to travel across the country so how much stock can you really put in their 35 point efforts? At the end of the day there are more questions than answers for USC's offense that seems to have some depth issues at WR and their offensive line has had some major issues. Their real strength is running the ball, but at some point they are going to have to pass to win this game, because Utah State is capable of shutting down a running game. Utah State's front 7 is led by their linebacker strength led by Kyler Fackrell and Jake Doughtry which should be able to get off the field on third down. Utah State's defense is ranked 21st in third down conversion defense allowing 29%.

When Utah State Has The Ball:
They will have the best player on the field in QB Chuckie Keeton who also has help at RB with Joe Hill and Joey De Martino which gives this rushing offense some nice balance. I think there is value here with USC's defense getting a ton of praise for really no reason. They luooked stout against BC, Washington State and Hawaii, but all three of those teams are predictable and one dimensional. Washington State is 2nd in passing play% throwing 70% of the time, Hawaii is 18th, and Boston College is 109th passing just 36% of the time. Utah State is a perfect balance and can do both behind a veteran offensive line that is arguably one of the best in football with a combined 125 starts. They will pass the ball 49% of the time and run 51% of the time. There has been a lot of media hype calling USC's defense great and I think it's about to get a bit of a shock when they face a hurry up offense with a dual threat QB. Utah State also has life on 3rd down ranking 4th in conversions. The three previous opponents that USC has faced all have been terrible with conversion percentages of 37.5, 29.17, and 17.

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LOUISVILLE (-43) 51 Florida International 6SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Florida International has given up 7.0 yards per play and 38 points per game to Maryland, UCF, and Bethune-Cookman, who beat the Panthers 34-13 last week. On the other side of the ball FIU has averaged only 8 points on 201 yards per game and 3.6 yards per play. My ratings favor Louisville by 42½ points, so the line is fair, and the Cardinals apply to a 151-69-1 ATS statistical matchup indicator that works up to -45 points.
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WISCONSIN (-24) 38 Purdue 12FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Wisconsin may have spent most of this week thinking about how they go screwed by the officials in last week’s loss at Arizona State, but if they were able to focus on Purdue then they should win this game easily. Wisconsin has been very impressive in outgaining their opponents 549 yards at 8.1 yards per play to 279 yards at 4.2 yppl and Purdue has looked horrible offensively. The Boilermakers have averaged only 273 yards at 4.4 yppl, including just 297 yards at 4.4 yppl against FCS team Indiana State. Purdue is solid defensively but Wisconsin is averaging 8.3 yards per rushing play and 7.8 yards per pass play, which are incredible numbers. My ratings favor Wisconsin by 25 ½ points and I get 27 points using this year’s games only. I’ll lean with the Badgers.
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FLORIDA (-16½) 30 Tennessee 13FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Tennessee applies to a 72-21 ATS situation that is based on their blowout loss at Oregon and Florida applies to a negative 28-65-4 ATS conference opening home favorite angle. However, I can’t recommend Tennessee in his game despite the strong situations. Florida is just a much better team. The Vols have a worse than average offense that is going to have their hands full with a nasty Gators’ defense that has allowed only 210 yards per game at 4.0 yards per play to two pretty good offensive teams in Toledo and Miami-Florida. Florida’s offense might also be better this season based on the 7.0 yards per pass play in the first two games, which is a vast improvement over last year’s bad passing numbers. My ratings favor Florida by 20 points and I’d get 26 points based on this year’s games only. With the value on the side of Florida and the situations on the side of Tennessee this game looks like one to pass.
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NOTRE DAME (-4½) 24 Michigan State 17SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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This should be an interesting game. Notre Dame’s defense has not come close to mimicking what they did last season, as the Irish are allowing 5.4 yards per play to teams that would combine to average just 5.1 yppl against an average team, and Michigan State’s offense is a disaster (only 5.1 yppl against teams that would allow 6.6 yppl). The matchup is even more interesting when Notre Dame has the ball. The Irish have a potent attack that has averaged 6.8 yppl against teams that would allow 5.6 yppl to an average attack but the Spartans might have the best defense in nation and have yielded only 2.9 yppl in 3 games against teams that would average 4.7 yppl against an average defensive team. It’s weakness against weakness and strength versus strength and my ratings favor Notre Dame by 7 points, which is what my preseason rating predicted and what using this season’s games only would also predict.
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BAYLOR (-29) 52 UL Monroe 20FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Baylor is annihilating bad teams so far this season, beating Wofford and Buffalo by an average score of 69.5 to 8. UL Monroe is a bit of a step up in class, especially defensively, but the Warhawks only averaged 2.7 yards per play against Oklahoma and just 4.2 yppl against Wake Forest last week. Baylor has actually been pretty decent defensively in allowing only 4.1 yppl to two teams that would combine to average 4.8 yppl against an average team and I know rate the Bears’ defense at 0.2 yppl better than average. My ratings, which still incorporate my preseason ratings, favor Baylor by 29 points and using this year’s games only would predict a 43 point win. Baylor does apply to a 64-24 ATS big favorite off a bye angle and I’ll lean with the Bears to win big again.
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TEXAS A&M (-28½) 52 SMU 27FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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There is no doubt that Texas A&M has one of the 3 best offenses in the nation (Oregon and Georgia are in the running) but laying 4 touchdowns is a risky proposition with a defense that’s allowed 36 points per game on 490 yards and 7.0 yards per play. It wasn’t just Alabama that exploited the A&M defense but Rice and Sam Houston State also racked up an average of 450 yards at 6.2 yppl against the Aggies. SMU has a worse than average attack but they should still score enough points to stay within 28 points given the Mustangs’ better than average defense. Plus, the Aggies could have a tough time getting up for this game after all the emotions that went into last week’s showdown with the Bama. My rating favor A&M by only 25 points.
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STANFORD (-5½) 28 Arizona State 20FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The 237 yards at 7.9 yards per rushing play that ASU gave up to Wisconsin last week is a bad omen for the Sun Devils against a Stanford team that likes to run the ball and does so very well (206 yards at 5.8 yprp). Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan is also very efficient (8.1 yards per pass play) and a good test for a very good Arizona State pass defense. The Cardinal defense is good against both the run and the pass and Arizona State’s one dimensional offense (only averaging 4.0 yprp but 351 passing yards at 7.8 yppp) is going to be subject to a very good Stanford pass rush. The Cardinal held San Jose State star David Fales (72.5% completions and 9.3 yards per attempt last year) to just 3.8 yppp a couple of week ago, so they’ve proven that they can stop a good quarterback. My ratings favor Stanford by 8 ½ points.
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ALABAMA (-39) 45 Colorado State 10FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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My preseason ratings would have favored Alabama by 39 points but the Crimson Tide haven’t looked very dominant in their first two games and have actually been outplayed from the line of scrimmage 6.1 yards per play to 6.5 yppl. Using this year’s games only would make the line 30 points and Nick Saban is just 5-9 ATS at Alabama when favored by 30 points or more (1-6 ATS favored by more than 38 points).
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TEXAS TECH (-27½) 42 Texas State 16FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Texas State looks better defensively than they were last year, although holding Southern Miss and Prairie View to 4.4 yards per play is certainly not a real indication. However, that is far better than what my ratings had expected the Bobcats to surrender in their first two games. Texas Tech is also playing better than expected but my preseason ratings favored the Red Raiders by 26 ½ points and using this year’s games only also would favor Tech by 26½ points.
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LSU (-17) 37 Auburn 23FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Both of these Tigers have been good offensively this season, with Auburn averaging 441 yards at 6.5 yards per play against teams that would allow 5.5 yppl to an average team and LSU racking up 492 yards at 8.0 yppl against teams that would allow 5.9 yppl to an average team. LSU’s Zach Mettenberger may be the most improved quarterback in the nation, as he’s gone from better than average to great in 3 games this season. LSU’s defense hasn’t been as dominating as expected but that unit has still been 1.0 yppl better than average, which is the same ratings as Auburn’s offense. The mismatch in this game is LSU’s offense (2.1 yppl better than average) against Auburn’s good but not great defense (5.5 yppl allowed to teams that would average 5.8 yppl against an average team). My ratings favor LSU by 16½ points and using this year’s games only projects an 18 ½ point margin but Auburn applies to a 68-33-1 ATS early season momentum situation and LSU is just 12-37-2 ATS as a conference home favorite of more than 8 points over the years (although 4-1 recently). I’ll lean with Auburn.
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Michigan (-18) 38 CONNECTICUT 17FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Michigan was extremely flat for last week’s narrow win over a horrible Akron team, as they may have spent more time celebrating their win over Notre Dame than preparing for the Zips. Focus should not be an issue this week after nearly losing that game and the Wolverines should dominate this game. Michigan’s potent attack, the one that was good enough to rack up 461 yard at 6.5 yards per play and 41 points against a good Notre Dame defense, should have no problem against a U Conn stop unit that’s given up 453 yards at 6.6 yppl to Towson and Maryland. Michigan’s only problem offensive is the turnovers that come from taking chances down the field through the air. Former quarterback Denard Robinson was extremely turnover prone and now Devin Gardner had thrown 6 picks in 3 games this season.
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While Michigan is rolling up the yards the Wolverines’ solid defense (0.6 yppl better than average) should contain a sub-par Huskies attack that has averaged only 5.0 yppl in their first two games. My ratings favor Michigan by 17 ½ points, so the line is fair, but the Wolverines apply to a very good 106-36-1 ATS statistical matchup indicator that carries more weight than a 3-25 ATS situation that they also apply to.
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UCLA (-42½) 58 New Mexico State 10FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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I actually considered making UCLA a Best Bet here. The Bruins can win this game by whatever they want to if they’re the very least bit interested. New Mexico State has given up 339 rushing yards at 7.5 yards per rushing play and 238 passing yards at 9.3 yards per pass play to Texas, Minnesota, and UTEP, who as a group are a bit worse than average offensively. UCLA is much better than average offensively and the Bruins have averaged 584 yards at 7.5 yards per play against Nevada and Nebraska, who would allow 6.5 yppl to an average team (based on this year’s games). Using this year’s games only would predict UCLA to win by 62 ½ points and my ratings favor UCLA by 55 points if their starters played the entire game. UCLA also applies to a 151-69-1 ATS indicator that is 21-9 ATS when applying to favorites of more than 35 points. I made a small play on UCLA -25 ½ on the 1st half line.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, September 21

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VIRGINIA TECH (-8) 27 Marshall 18FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Virginia Tech has the best defense in the nation through 3 games, allowing just 191 yards per game at 3.4 yppl to teams that would average 5.6 yppl against an average team. That includes holding Alabama to just 3.3 yppl in a 10-35 loss that had more to do with special teams than how the Hokies played from the line of scrimmage. Marshall scored a lot of points last year and should be just as good this year but the Thundering Herd attack hasn’t been that impressive so far given that their 6.5 yppl has come against 3 teams that would combine to allow 6.6 yppl to an average team. Marshall does get off a lot of plays (82 per game) but Virginia Tech’s defense only allows 56 plays per game, so this will be an interesting matchup. The Hokies’ offense has been a big problem, as they’ve averaged only 4.8 yppl against teams that would combine to allow 5.6 yppl to an average team. Marshall has been really tough to run against (2.8 yards per rushing play allowed to teams that would average 4.1 yprp against an average team) but the Herd can be beaten through the air (5.5 yppp allowed to teams that would average 4.9 yppp). The question is if Virginia Tech can take advantage of that. My ratings favor the Hokies by 10½ points, although I get only 6½ points using this year’s games only.
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Wake Forest (-3) 26 ARMY 24FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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We’re going to find out which is worse, Wake Forest’s offense or Army’s defense. Wake has averaged only 4.7 yards per play against 3 worse than average defensive teams while Army is once again one of the worst defensive teams in the nation. The Demon Deacons should throw the ball well in this game but Army’s option attack is scheduled to run for about 300 yards in what is predicted to be a close game. My ratings favor Wake Forest by 1½ points.
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Pittsburgh (-3½) 29 DUKE 26FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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It’s tough to figure out how good Pittsburgh is based on their two games, one a 13-41 loss to an elite Florida State team and the other a 49-27 win over a bad New Mexico team. The offense actually has been good in averaging 5.4 yards per play against Florida State and an impressive 10.1 yppl against New Mexico but the defense is questionable based on one bad performance (8.5 yppl allowed to FSU) and one good performance last week (3.4 yppl allowed to New Mexico before the starters were taken out). Duke’s defense has been really solid this season but the Blue Devils’ offense has been worse than expected in averaging only 5.6 yppl against teams that would allow 6.0 yppl to an average team. My ratings favor Pitt by 2½ points so I’ll go with that.
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Cincinnati (-24) 41 MIAMI-OHIO 18FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Miami-Ohio has been horrible in their first two games, losing to mediocre teams Marshall and Kentucky by an average margin of 36 points. My ratings call for the Redhawks to lose this one by 28 points but Cincy applies to a very negative 58-132-2 ATS road letdown situation and Miami-Ohio applies to a 33-8-1 ATS game 3 situation that plays on teams that have been embarrassed in their first two games. I’ll pass.
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San Jose State (+3½) 25 MINNESOTA 24SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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San Jose State was a better team than Minnesota last season, as last year’s stats would have them favored by 3 points in this game. I expected Minnesota to be improved this season (so far they’ve been about the same) but San Jose wasn’t likely to repeat the magic of last season, when they went 11-2 with their only two losses being at Stanford by just 3 points and to Utah State, who was one of the top 15 teams in the nation in my ratings. Senior quarterback David Fales, who completed 72.5% of his passes for 33 touchdowns against just 9 interceptions last season, is once again at the helm but the Spartans have a new coaching staff after Mike MacIntyre took off for Colorado. So far Fales and the offense haven’t been nearly as good as last year’s very good attack (0.8 yppl better than average), as they’ve mustered just 4.8 yppl in their first two games against teams that would combine to allow 5.5 yppl to an average team. I still think San Jose State has a better than average offense, as two games is not enough to make the assumption that they are suddenly not going to be good, especially with Fales and 3 of his top 4 receivers from last year still on the team.
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Minnesota was 0.3 yards per play worse than average from the line of scrimmage last season and they have the same rating through 3 games this season. The offense takes a bit of a hit this week with starting quarterback Philip Nelson out. Nelson has been good throwing the ball (just 51% completions and 5.0 yards per pass play but he’s run for 246 yards at 8.0 yards per running play in less than 2½ games. Backup Mitch Leidner completed 7 of 8 passes against William & Mary last week, which doesn’t say much, but he’s average only 4.8 yards on his 21 runs, which is far less than Nelson was averaging. Using this year’s games only I get Minnesota by 4½ points but San Jose State is better than what they’ve shown and my ratings favor the Spartans by ½ a point.
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IOWA (-16½) 32 Western Michigan 16FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Western Michigan has really struggled offensively in their first 3 games, averaging just 4.4 yards per play against teams that would combine to allow 5.8 yppl to an average team. The Hawkeyes are better than average defensively, although the Broncos could have some success through the air in this game. While Western Michigan probably won’t score many points, I’m not sure Iowa can score enough to cover this number. The Hawkeyes have averaged only 5.4 yppl despite facing 3 worse than average defensive teams that would allow 6.2 yppl to an average offense. Western Michigan’s trouble defending the run (5.7 yprp allowed) should enable Iowa to keep the chains moving but my ratings only favor the Hawkeyes by 15½ points. I’ll pass.
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BAYLOR (-29) 52 UL Monroe 20FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Baylor is annihilating bad teams so far this season, beating Wofford and Buffalo by an average score of 69.5 to 8. UL Monroe is a bit of a step up in class, especially defensively, but the Warhawks only averaged 2.7 yards per play against Oklahoma and just 4.2 yppl against Wake Forest last week. Baylor has actually been pretty decent defensively in allowing only 4.1 yppl to two teams that would combine to average 4.8 yppl against an average team and I know rate the Bears’ defense at 0.2 yppl better than average. My ratings, which still incorporate my preseason ratings, favor Baylor by 29 points and using this year’s games only would predict a 43 point win. Baylor does apply to a 64-24 ATS big favorite off a bye angle and I’ll lean with the Bears to win big again.
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TEXAS TECH (-27½) 42 Texas State 16FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Texas State looks better defensively than they were last year, although holding Southern Miss and Prairie View to 4.4 yards per play is certainly not a real indication. However, that is far better than what my ratings had expected the Bobcats to surrender in their first two games. Texas Tech is also playing better than expected but my preseason ratings favored the Red Raiders by 26½ points and using this year’s games only also would favor Tech by 26½ points.
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Texas San Antonio (UTSA) (-2½) 33 UTEP 26SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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These two teams have two of the worst pass defenses in the nation but UTSA is more likely to take advantage of that since the Roadrunners have thrown the ball 61% of the time while the Miners have thrown the ball on just 35% of their plays so far this season. Both quarterbacks, Eric Soza for UTSA and Texas A&M transfer Jameill Showers for UTEP, rate about the same (at 0.5 yards per pass play worse than average) and the rushing attacks are pretty similar too (both rate at 0.3 yards per rushing play worse than average). The only real difference in these two teams is that Texas San Antonio actually has a good run defense and Texas El Paso has a horrible run defense. UTSA only allowed 4.5 yards per rushing play last season (against teams that would average 4.8 yprp against an average team) and they’ve given up just 5.0 yprp this season despite facing 3 good running teams in New Mexico, Oklahoma State, and Arizona. UTEP, meanwhile, gave up 5.6 yprp last season (to teams that would average 4.9 yprp) and the Miners have given up 6.9 yprp in two games this season to New Mexico and New Mexico State.
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Not only is UTSA the better team but this is a good matchup for them since UTEP has a run heavy offense and defending the run is the strength of the Roadrunners’ defense. UTEP can’t stop the run or the pass. If UTEP ran the ball 50% of the time then my math would favor UTSA by only 3 points but if they run 65% of the time like they have been doing then I get UTSA by 7 points, so the matchup supplies a lot of line value in this game.
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VIRGINIA TECH (-8) 27 Marshall 18FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Virginia Tech has the best defense in the nation through 3 games, allowing just 191 yards per game at 3.4 yppl to teams that would average 5.6 yppl against an average team. That includes holding Alabama to just 3.3 yppl in a 10-35 loss that had more to do with special teams than how the Hokies played from the line of scrimmage. Marshall scored a lot of points last year and should be just as good this year but the Thundering Herd attack hasn’t been that impressive so far given that their 6.5 yppl has come against 3 teams that would combine to allow 6.6 yppl to an average team. Marshall does get off a lot of plays (82 per game) but Virginia Tech’s defense only allows 56 plays per game, so this will be an interesting matchup. The Hokies’ offense has been a big problem, as they’ve averaged only 4.8 yppl against teams that would combine to allow 5.6 yppl to an average team. Marshall has been really tough to run against (2.8 yards per rushing play allowed to teams that would average 4.1 yprp against an average team) but the Herd can be beaten through the air (5.5 yppp allowed to teams that would average 4.9 yppp). The question is if Virginia Tech can take advantage of that. My ratings favor the Hokies by 10½ points, although I get only 6½ points using this year’s games only.
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Wake Forest (-3) 26 ARMY 24FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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We’re going to find out which is worse, Wake Forest’s offense or Army’s defense. Wake has averaged only 4.7 yards per play against 3 worse than average defensive teams while Army is once again one of the worst defensive teams in the nation. The Demon Deacons should throw the ball well in this game but Army’s option attack is scheduled to run for about 300 yards in what is predicted to be a close game. My ratings favor Wake Forest by 1½ points.
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Vanderbilt (-31½) 41 MASSACHUSETTS 12SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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U Mass is a horrible team that’s been outgained 262 yards at 4.1 yards per play to 524 yards at 8.2 yppl in 3 games against Wisconsin, Maine, and Kansas State, so combine to be 0.5 yppl better than average. Vanderbilt has been 0.6 yppl better than average from the line of scrimmage and the Commodores should dominate. However, that’s already factored into the line and my ratings only favor Vandy by 28 ½ points and I get 31 points if I use this year’s games only. I’ll lean with U Mass plus the points.
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BAYLOR (-29) 52 UL Monroe 20FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Baylor is annihilating bad teams so far this season, beating Wofford and Buffalo by an average score of 69.5 to 8. UL Monroe is a bit of a step up in class, especially defensively, but the Warhawks only averaged 2.7 yards per play against Oklahoma and just 4.2 yppl against Wake Forest last week. Baylor has actually been pretty decent defensively in allowing only 4.1 yppl to two teams that would combine to average 4.8 yppl against an average team and I know rate the Bears’ defense at 0.2 yppl better than average. My ratings, which still incorporate my preseason ratings, favor Baylor by 29 points and using this year’s games only would predict a 43 point win. Baylor does apply to a 64-24 ATS big favorite off a bye angle and I’ll lean with the Bears to win big again.
Arkansas St. vs Memphis (4.0)
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TEXAS TECH (-27½) 42 Texas State 16FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Texas State looks better defensively than they were last year, although holding Southern Miss and Prairie View to 4.4 yards per play is certainly not a real indication. However, that is far better than what my ratings had expected the Bobcats to surrender in their first two games. Texas Tech is also playing better than expected but my preseason ratings favored the Red Raiders by 26½ points and using this year’s games only also would favor Tech by 26½ points.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, September 21

Kyle Hunter

Utah vs. BYU    
Play: Utah +7

The Utah Utes and BYU Cougars will met in another edition of the "Holy War" rivalry in BYU on Saturday. This rivalry doesn't get a lot of publicity in the rest of the country, but you better believe it means a lot to both of these teams. BYU rolled up the yards against a bad Texas defense, but they still have plenty to prove. Utah's new uptempo offense has been impressive this year. The Utes are 7-2 ATS in their last 9 games at BYU, so they aren't afraid of traveling to BYU here. The Utes have won the last three games in this series. In a game that often goes down to the final possession, grab the points. Take Utah.

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