Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, October 12

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Scott SpreitzerFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Oregon -14FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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I have played Washington a couple of times this season, cashing when they won and covered against Boise State and Arizona. But the Huskies are facing what I have ranked as the #1 team in my CFB power rankings. And making matters worse for the home team is that they're a little banged-up...a little bruised following last week's physically draining game against Stanford. The offensive line gave up five sacks and QB Keith Price will play this one with a sore thumb. That loss hurt - we heard Washington HC Steve Sarkisian still talking about the game as late as Monday morning. When you take on the Ducks, you'd better be focused as soon as the previous week's game goes final. Oregon has topped 50 points in five straight games and it has already been reported, but worth repeating that Oregon has won 17 games with Marcus Mariota behind center and all 17 wins came by double-digits. Oregon has won 9 straight in the series, covering 8 of those games. And while this is the best Washington version we have seen in a while, they just don't matchup well with the Ducks, especially off the Stanford loss. The series continues to be lopsided...I'm recommending a play on Oregon minus the points.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, October 12

Marc LawrenceFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Oklahoma vs. TexasFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: TexasFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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It’s the Battle of the Alamo all over again… only this time Mack Brown is channeling Colonel William Barrett Travis, drawing a line in the sand while asking his outnumbered Longhorns to defend their outpost against Bob Stoops and his hordes of Sooner troops. Unfortunately for Ol’ Mackie, Travis and his volunteers were ultimately massacred after a 13-day siege much like Oklahoma has stampeded the Longhorns the last two years (63-21 and 55-17) in their annual Red River Rivalry. So will Brown take the bullet today after a third straight series beatdown? That’s open for debate, despite Oklahoma’s recent death grip on this longtime rivalry. The Sooners have won and covered three straight, plus they’re an impressive 10-4 SU and 10-3-1 ATS when entering the contest undefeated, including 3-0 ATS as double-digit chalk. Mack doesn’t aid his cause with a poor 18-34 ATS effort against unbeaten foes, including 1-5 SUATS when his team is .600 or less.  However, despite the lopsided series history in the Sooners’ favor, they are a 5-0 ‘Fat Cat’ Smart Box fade and we’re obligated not to go outside this Box! In truth, the feeling here is the much-scrutinized 19 returning Longhorn starters (minus QB David Ash) who have taken it on the chops each of the last three years will finally step up today. Like another famous defender of the Alamo, Jim Bowie, said after surveying the thousands of Mexican soldiers surrounding the compound: “We would rather die in these ditches than give them up to the enemy.” Yes, the Longhorns are outmanned today but throwing a major scare into No. 10 Oklahoma might be just enough to save Mackie’s job for another week or so. Remember the Alamo.  And remember to take the points.  We recommend a 1-unit play on Texas.

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Penn State Nittany Lions +2.5FOR REE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Nittany Lions are coming off of an uninspired performance last week at Indiana and I'm still kicking myself for not playing the Hoosiers last week, but I like Penn State to bounce back in this big game against the Wolverines. Michigan is undefeated, but they have hardly looked like world beaters so far this season. Michigan Head Coach Brady Hoke has taken care of business at home where the Wolverines have not lost a game since Hoke arrived at Ann Arbor, but on the road this Michigan team is just 5-5 straight up and 4-6 against the spread. Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner is capable of making big plays with his arm and his legs, but he is also capable of making poor decisions as his five interceptions in two games against Akron and UConn will indicate. PSU's defense got Mike Hull back on the field last week after missing time with an injury. Hull is the captain of the defense and with that game under his belt last week I expect a better performance from this Nittany Lion defense at home. Beaver Stadium should be rocking with well over 100,000 in attendance and this is the first time this season that Penn State has been a dog on the big board. I like the Lions to roar in this one, take the points.
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Mississippi Rebels +6FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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These two teams played last season and that was a game that Ole Miss could have easily won as a 13.5 point home underdog. The Rebels led 27-17 before Johnny Football and the Aggies made some incredable plays to get back in the game and eventually get the win. Mississippi was pretty much even with the Aggies in first downs and yardage, but six turnovers were the Rebels downfall. The Rebels have not lived up to high expectations so far this season and have lost back to back games, but I like them to battle in this game. Ole Miss has not handled the favorite role very well, but now they are the underdog that doesn't have the weight of winning on their shoulders. The Rebels are solid on both sides of the ball and should take this one down to the wire. The Aggies are scoring a ton of points with Johnny Football under center throwing to wide receiver Mike Evans but their defense is still a huge concern that is allowing their opponents to gain more than 100 yards over their season averages. Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace has the ability to match scores with Manziel and Wallace has a huge weapon to throw to as well in receiver Donte Moncrief. Take the points.
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Washington State Cougars -2FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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This should be a Pac12 shootout. The Oregon State tandem of quarterback Sean Mannion and wide receiver Brandon Cooks are statistically the best in the nation but the Washington State offense led by quarterback Connor Halliday is 8th in the country in passing and have played a much tougher schedule. Oregon State's schedule has not been very tough. They Beavers actually dropped their first game of the season at home against Eastern Washington before reeling off four straight wins against Hawaii, Utah, San Diego State and Colorado. The Cougars lost a tough opener at Auburn defeated USC and also have played Stanford. The Washington State defense is an underrated unit that ranks 35th in the country in points against. The Beavers defense is 92nd in the nation in scoring defense allowing over 31 points per game despite playing a weaker schedule. The Beavers have also been allowing a lot of passing yards against opposing offenses that are not known for having a good passing game so there is a very strong chance that this secondary gets shredded by the Mike Leach WSU passing attack. I expect the home field advantage and the better defense to give the Cougars the win in this game and cover this short number. Lay the points.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, October 12

Sean MurphyFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Northwestern vs. WisconsinFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: WisconsinFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Northwestern is in a tough spot this week, traveling to face the Badgers in a series that has been dominated by the home side over the years. I believe the oddsmakers have got it right this time around, installing Wisconsin as a considerable favorite.
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While the Badgers were idle last week, Northwestern was involved in a barn-burner at home against Ohio State - a game the Wildcats ultimately lost by a 40-30 score. I simply don't like the progression, or lack thereof, we've seen from Northwestern this season. After winning its first two games handily against Cal and Syracuse, it has been rather unimpressive over a three-game stretch, posting an 0-3 ATS mark.
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Wisconsin is a modest 3-2 SU to start the season, but it shouldn't be knocked for either of its two losses. Those came on the road against a pair of still underrated squads in Arizona State and Oregon State. It's certainly worth noting that the Badgers gave both opponents all they could handle, going 1-0-1 ATS and losing by just nine points combined.
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The Badgers are getting it done in all facets of the game this season, averaging 7.7 yards per play on offense while giving up a stingy 4.2 yards per play defensively. While the Wildcats do pose a significant challenge, I believe home field will prove to be the difference for Wisconsin.
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Note that the last time these two teams met was back in 2010, when the Badgers rolled to a 70-23 victory right here at home.
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With back-to-back trips to Illinois and Iowa on deck, the Badgers must realize the importance of this game in the Big Ten picture. Northwestern gets a home game against Minnesota next, so I'm not sure they'll be able to match Wisky's sense of urgency on Saturday.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, October 12

Steve MerrilFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Florida vs. LSUFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Play: Florida +7FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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This game will be a match-up of strength versus strength with Florida’s stout defense facing LSU’s explosive offense. The Gators got the best of the Tigers last season in their 14-6 win, and while we don’t expect that same type of low-scoring grinder, we do expect this game to go right down to the wire. Florida’s defense has been phenomenal this season. The Gators are holding teams to just 12.2 points per game on 217 yards of total offense per game. They are allowing only 3.7 yards per play which ranks them #2 in the country and only 4.6 yards per pass attempt which ranks them #3 in the country. The Gators run for 192 yards per game while averaging 46.8 rushes per game. They’ll have success against a weak LSU rush defense that has allowed every opponent except Kent State to gain over 100 yards on the ground. LSU allowed over 200 rushing yards to both Auburn and Mississippi State. The Tigers are allowing 4.3 yards per rush overall and 5.0 yards per rush to SEC opponents this season.
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Florida’s ability to run the ball successfully will keep the potent LSU offense off the field. The Tigers have scored 35 points or more in every game; they are averaging 45.5 points on 489 yards of offense per game. However, they are taking a monumental step-up in defensive class here against Florida. The defenses that LSU has faced allow an average of 28.6 points per game which is 16.4 points per game more than Florida allows. Under HC Les Miles, LSU is 9-6 SU but only 4-10-1 ATS at home as a single digit favorite or underdog. Two of the ATS wins and the push came in the underdog role which means LSU is just 2-9 ATS at home as a single digit favorite under HC Miles. Florida is off back-to-back easy wins where they didn’t expend too much emotion or energy. The opposite is true for LSU as they were involved in a high-scoring shootout loss at Georgia two weeks ago and last week they were in a dogfight with Mississippi State for three quarters before scoring 28 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. The Gators’ defense and their rushing match-up edge along with the intangible edge make them a live underdog in this spot. We’ll take Florida plus the points in this game on Saturday afternoon.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, October 12

Freddy Wills

Memphis vs. Houston    
Play: Memphis +9½

Houston has been extremely lucky to start the season and everyone is automatically assuming this is the same Houston team that hung up 50+ points on a regular basis, but I'm still not convinced considering Houston largely benefited last game from turnovers against Texas San Antonio, and got lucky in Rice who lost their start offensive player early in that game. In both games they were -9 minutes in time of possession.

Memphis meanwhile just comes off a game in which they hung with Central Florida leading 17-10 in the 4th quarter when they allowed 2 TD's in 9 seconds to go on and lose 24-17. Memphis defense held UCF to just 297 yards, but the 4 turnovers cost them. Memphis should be able to runt he ball and pass against Houston whose defense is not up to par. Memphis has a very balanced offense, but it's their defense that's catching a lot of respect.

Memphis is ranked 21st allowing 3.2 yards per carry in run support which is better than Houston's last two opponents. They are also ranked 26th in opposing QB rating, and 19th in sack % also much better than Houston's last two opponents. Houston's offense struggled against Temple and I think they will have similar issues again today especially in the red zone where opponents have only gone 9 times this season.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, October 12

Bruce Marshall

Hawaii vs. UNLV
Pick: UNLV

They're talking bowl (!) at UNLV for the first time since the days of the Clinton Administration after Rebs' 3-game win streak. And Hawaii doesn't look much better than the collection of stiffs recently vanquished by Bobby Hauck's bunch, especially with Norm Chow still seeking consistency at QB (sr. Schroeder three picks vs. San Jose). Believe it or not, revenge-minded Rebs 14-6-1 vs. line at Sam Boyd Stadium during the Hauck era!

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Larry NessFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Indiana vs. Michigan StateFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Pick: Michigan StateFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Hoosiers come to East Lansing off a 44-24 victory at home over Penn State, the school’s first-ever win against the Nittany Lions, after 16 unsuccessful attempts. This game also marks Indiana’s first road game of 2013, after opening with five home games. The Hoosiers are greatly improved offensively this year, as QB Sudfeld is completing 64.2% for almost 1,500 yards (has topped 300 yards in three games), tossing 13 TDs against six INTs. However, the defense leaves MUCH to be desired (31.0 PPG allowed on 452.6 YPG) and it’s why Indiana is just 3-2, allowing 41 points (to Navy) and 45 points (to Missouri) in two home losses.
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While Indiana ventures away from Bloomington for the first time in 2013, the Spartans return home to East Lansing for the first time in 28 days. Michigan State’s last home game was back on Sep 14 vs Youngstown St. MSU’s offense is not explosive (I’m being kind) but the improvement of sophomore QB Cook has been steady, if not spectacular. He didn’t have a TD pass in either of MSU’s first two games (no INTs, either!) but over the team's last three, he’s had seven TD tosses against just one INT. He also gets the support of a solid rushing attack, averaging 176.6 YPG on 4.4 YPC.
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However, the key to this year’s Spartans is the team's defense, which ranks 1st in yards allowed at just 203.8 YPG (that’s about 250 less than Indiana's per game average!) and ranks 7th in points allowed at 13.4 per. Indiana upset Michigan St here in East Lansing back in 2001 but since that time, Michigan State has won its home games in this series 31-3, 46-15, 52-27 and 56-3. I’m laying the point with the Spartans.

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InsiderAngles SportsFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Oregon St vs Washington StFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Pick : OverFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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A potential Pac-12 upset may be worth staying up for Saturday night when  the Oregon State Beavers (4-1, 2-3 ATS) pay a visit to the Washington State Cougars (4-2, 5-1 ATS) at Martin Stadium in Pullman, WA at 10:30 ET on ESPNU. The Cougars are small favorites at home here but the Beavers have a very real chance for this victory as they have won four straight games since being caught by surprise in a 49-46 loss to Eastern Washington out of the FCS on opening week to knock Oregon State out of the Top 25.
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The play by the Beavers since then however suggests that they simply got caught looking ahead and took EWU lightly, as they have since outscored their four FBS opponents by an average score of 40.5-27.3, and their quarterback Sean Mannion is quietly starting to throw his name into the Heisman Trophy conversation. Mannion has already passed for over 2000 yards this season while completing 67.2 percent of his passes and averaging 8.5 yards per attempt, and he leads the country with his 21 touchdown passes while throwing just two interceptions! Granted Washington State a respectable 47th in the country in passing defense, but the best quarterback the Cougars have faced to this point was probably Kevin Hogan of Stanford, and he passed for 286 yards against them and probably could have passed for more if the Cardinal did not pull in the reins in a 55-17 blowout. Mannion is a much more highly regarded NFL prospect than Hogan is, so Oregon State should be able to put points up on the board even on the road.
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Besides, Washington State has failed two of its three biggest tests so far with its two losses to Stanford and the Auburn Tigers, and even its 10-7 upset win over USC loses its luster considering how much disarray the Trojans were in at the time, leading to the firing of Lane Kiffin. The other three Cougar wins have not come vs. much in Southern Utah out of the FCS, one of the worst FBS teams in the country in Idaho and one of the worst teams in the Pac-12 in California 44-22 last week. Thus it is hard to trust Wazzou as a favorite until it actually has a quality win, especially since the Cougars have been very erratic offensively and downright bad in that department vs. the three best teams they faced including the win over USC, so they should have a tough time matching a prolific Oregon State offense.
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Oregon State is 5-0 ATS in their last five head-to-head meetings in Washington State and 19-9-1 ATS in their last 29 road games overall. Washington State is 3-11 ATS in its last 14 games following a straight up win by at least 20 points.

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Tom StrykerFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Colorado vs. Arizona StateFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
Play: Arizona State -26FOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Last week's complimentary selection on Missouri got the job done. A special thanks to those of you that were on board with the Tigers. Don't forget, the most cost-effective way to make money out here is to consider purchasing a subscription package. Over the weekend, I'll post well over 20 plays. You'll save a ton and make a bundle. Try a subscription package today. You'll be glad you did.
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Off last week's primetime loss to Notre Dame, Arizona State will bounce back in a big way on Saturday night. Colorado comes to town off back-to-back thrashings by Oregon State and Oregon and the Buffaloes are in the wrong place at the wrong time once again.
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As home favorites priced at -14 or more, ASU has been at its money-making best posting a respectable 35-17-1 ATS record. In this role coming off a straight up loss, the Sun Devils have won 19 straight and have posted a juicy 15-3-1 ATS investment mark. Please note: Those 19 victories came by an average of 25.8 points per game. Equally impressive, as a conference host, Arizona State holds a solid 44-28-3 ATS in its last 75 lined games.
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Statistically speaking, this is an ugly matchup for visiting Colorado. The Buffs bring to Tempe one of the nation's worst pass defenses. CU has allowed opponents to throw for an average of 326.8 yards per game. With Taylor Kelly at quarterback, Arizona State has torched opposing secondaries for an average of 359.4 yards per game. Rest assured, Kelly and the Sun Devils will throw with success all night long in this conference battle.
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In their last 37 games, Colorado has been at its worst notching a feeble 8-29 SU and 10-24-1 ATS record including a pitiful 2-15 SU and 3-14 ATS in this set as a guest. Even worse, dating back to their days as members of the Big 12, the Buffaloes have posted a miserable 5-28 SU and 8-25 ATS in their last 33 as a conference guest.
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If the Sun Devils want to have a shot at the Pac-12 Championship, then they need to take care of business against the Buffs. ASU failed in its statement game against Notre Dame and they'll be anxious to get back on the winning track.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, October 12

Dave Price

Kansas State +17½

Baylor is riding high following four consecutive dominant performances against overmatched opponents, but now it goes out on the road for the first time and will be facing a hungry foe. Kansas State lost by only four points as a 13-point dog at Oklahoma State last week despite five turnovers and 12 penalties. Both numbers are extremely uncharacteristic for Bill Snyder teams, and I expect a much more disciplined effort here. I also expect a very passionate performance from the Wildcats, who were 10-0 and holding the No. 1 spot in the BCS standings before losing 52-24 at Baylor last season. That loss will fuel K-State here. The home team has dominated the series, winning each of the last six meetings by an average of 19.0 points. The Wildcats are 4-0 at home in the series with a 27-point average winning margin. The Wildcats are 20-9-1 ATS in their last 30 games overall, 19-6-1 ATS in their last 26 conference games, 8-1-1 ATS in their last 10 games versus a team with a winning record and 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games following a loss. Also, you want to fade road favorites of 10.5 to 21 points that outgain opponents by 125.0 yards or more per game, provided they have outgained their last two opponents by 175 yards or more. Doing so has produced a 33-9 ATS result the last 10 seasons. Teams fitting this situation have been favored by 15.7 points on average but have won by just 9.9 points on average. Baylor is an explosive team, but I like a Kansas State squad that is hungry for revenge to keep this one within the number.

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Jeff Alexander

Georgia -7

Missouri is yet to be tested but that changes Saturday when it visits the Dawg Pound. The Tigers have been favored in every game and have won with relative ease, but they take a big step up in competition here. Georgia has played the likes of Clemson, South Carolina and LSU - winning two of the three - and it will be ready to meet this challenge following a disappointing performance at Tennessee where it blew a 17-3 halftime lead and was fortunate to hang on in OT. Georgia smoked Mizzou 41-20 on the road last season, and I expect to see another double-digit victory from the Dawgs. Georgia has been taking excellent care of the football, which is significant because it is 8-0 ATS the last 3 seasons after 2 consecutive games where it committed 1 or less turnovers. It has won by an average of 19.1 points in this spot. Bet the Bulldogs.

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Jack Jones

Utah Utes +8

The Utah Utes are certainly a much better team than they were last year when they went 5-7 to miss their first bowl game in over a decade. They have opened 3-2 with impressive wins over both Utah State and BYU, which are two of the better non-BCS teams in the country. Their only two losses this season came against Oregon State (48-51) and UCLA (27-34) in games that they essentially gave away by committing a combined nine turnovers.

Stanford is very fortunate to be undefeated right now. It was thoroughly outplayed last week in a 31-28 home win over Washington. In fact, it was outgained 279-489 in the win, or by 210 total yards. It benefited from a kickoff return for a touchdown on the opening play of the game, which proved to be the difference. Washington also had a completion overturned on the final drive that was suspect to say the least, putting an end to its bid to either tie or win the game late.

The Cardinal haven’t been all that impressive this season to say the least. They are only outgaining opponents 409.4 to 372.6 on the season, or by roughly 37 yards per game. Utah, meanwhile, is outgaining its opponents 481.2 to 406.0, or by an average of roughly 75 yards per game. That’s impressive when you consider how tough the schedule has been for Utah thus far. It has shown a great ability to stop the run, limiting opponents to just 132 rushing yards per game and 3.1 per carry. That will be huge against Stanford, which relies heavily on its running game.

Utah has had a couple extra days to prepare for Stanford having last played on Thursday, October 3. This is certainly a letdown spot for the Cardinal considering they have undefeated UCLA on deck. The extra rest, coupled with this letdown spot for the Cardinal, makes this a great spot bet for the Utes. I also like the fact that Utah has an underrated home-field advantage, going 50-14 in its last 64 home games dating back to 2003.

Plays against a road team (STANFORD) – in a game involving two average defensive teams (21-28 PPG), after a win by 6 or less points are 53-22 (70.7%) ATS over the last 10 seasons. Utah is an impressive 51-29 against the spread in its last 80 games as an underdog, including 30-15 against the number in its last 45 games as a dog of 3.5 to 10 points. The Utes are 8-3 against the spread in their last 11 games following a S.U. loss. Bet Utah Saturday.

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Bill Biles

Oklahoma -13

Texas is missing their starting QB again this week. The Cotton Bowl seems to bring out the best in Oklahoma and the worst in Texas. Look for Oklahoma to win this one fairly easily.

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Joseph D'Amico

California vs. UCLA    
Play: UCLA -24½

Can you say REVENGE?! Cal took down UCLA last year, 43-17. But these are two totally different teams now. UCLA is 4-0 both SU and ATS, beating such notables as Nebraska and Utah. Cal is 1-4 SU and 0-5 against the number this season. As matter of fact, the Golden Bears failed to cover their L10 straight contests, going back to last season. Their defense has been decimated by injuries, ranking the unit 123rd in Total Yards Allowed (526 YPG) and 124th in Points Allowed (45). They are equally bad against both the run and the pass. In comes a Bruins offense that is posting 561.8 YPG (4th nationally) and 48 PPG (5th). Dual-threat QB, Brett Hundley has 1059 YP and 9 TDs in the air and another 242 YR and 3 more scores on the ground. RB, Jordan James is listed as questionable but Perkins, Jones, and Manfro can fill in just in case, without missing a beat. On the flipside, Cal QB, Jared Goff can throw the ball but does have 5 INTs already and must face a UCLA "D" that has 8 PICKS just in the L2 games. The Golden Bears are averaging a mere 2.9 YPC on the ground. UCLA knows this and will key on the passing game. The Bruins have the pass-rushers to get to Goff and force mistakes. The Home Team is 5-1 ATS the L6 meetings in the series. The Golden Bears are 1-4-1 ATS their L6 games played at the Bruins, 0-7 ATS their L7 Conference games, and 0-7 ATS their L7 games played vs. teams with a winning record. The Bruins are 5-1 ATS their L6 games played laying DDs, 5-2 ATS their L7 Conference games, and 9-4 ATS their L13 games played at home. Take UCLA.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, October 12

Game Plan

Indiana +10

The Hoosiers are vastly underrated in the Big Ten this year and have one of the most prolific offenses in the Big Ten. They take on the BEST defense in the country in Michigan State. This is will be an interesting match-up in strength vs strength and weakness vs weakness. MSU really struggles to score and all of their games are relatively close. Indiana is one of our surprise teams this season so we will lean with the undervalued Hoosiers plus the points in this one. Take Indiana.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, October 12

Steve Janus

Houston Cougars -9

The Cougars are just one win away from matching their win total from last season. I think it’s pretty safe to say that Houston is one of the most improved teams in the country. Second year head coach Tony Levine really deserves a lot of credit for getting this program back on track.

In years past I think Memphis would be a team you would have to worry about the Cougars overlooking, but after their near upset win over UCF last week I would expect the Tigers to have Houston’s full attention. There’s a couple things to keep in mind when handicapping this game. First, it could be difficult for Memphis to rebound off such a devastating loss at home to UCF, where they basically gift wrapped the win for the Knights. Second, the Cougars have had a full two weeks to prepare for this much-improved Tigers defense. Houston is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a bye week.

Maybe the biggest factor favoring the Cougars is that the strength of the Memphis defense is against the run. The Tigers allowed Duke’s Brandon Connette to come in for injured starter Anthony Boone and complete 14 of 21 attempts for 198 yards and two touchdowns. Houston quarterback John O’Korn has completed 63.5% of his attempts for 933 yards with 10 touchdowns to just 1 interception. This will not only be the Tigers toughest challenge defensively, but it’s also their first true road test of the season and a lot of times defenses fail to play up to their full potential on the road. Houston also runs a fast-paced offense that could not only give Memphis trouble but really ware down the Tigers and allow the Cougars to open this thing up in the second half.

I know the Cougars haven’t played the toughest of schedules, but they too have made some noticeable improvements on the defensive side of the ball. Houston ranks 28th in scoring defense (20.0 ppg). While I’m not exactly sold on the Cougars being able to maintain that kind of success, there’s plenty of reason to believe they can shutdown a Memphis offense that has really struggled to do anything offensively. Also keep in mind Houston has forced 14 turnovers in four games while the Tigers have turned it over 9 times in four games.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, October 12

Chris Jordan

My free winner for Saturday's college football card is on Ole Miss plus the points against Texas A&M and Johnny Football. I don't care how bad consecutive road losses to No. 1 Alabama and Auburn have the Rebels reeling a bit, the ninth-ranked Aggies are about to have their hands full. I know Texas A&M has the third-best offense in the nation, averaging 561.8 yards per game, and also brings in the fourh-best scoring offense that averages 49.2 points per game.

But just as easy as it is to back the Aggies' high-powered offense, you cannot ignore the fact the Texas A&M's defense is one of the worst in the nation. With Ole Miss returning home, the Rebels will be able to match wits offensively, keep things close and stay within striking distance.

Remember, the Rebels played four of their first five games with a suitcase in hand, and now get to play their next six at  Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, beginning with A&M. And the Rebels are no slouch on offense, as they rank near middle of the Southeastern Conference, averaging 427.8 yards per game.

I'm taking a shot here with the underdog, and it might not hurt to buy the half point and take 7' with Ole Miss.

1♦ MISSISSIPPI

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, October 12

Brad Wilton

My free play winner for Saturday will be Maryland to shake off that rather lopsided 63-0 beatdown that was administered to them by Florida State last weekend, as Randy Edsall's Terps bounce-back with the home win and cover over the backsliding Cavaliers of Virginia.

UVa was just manhandled at home by Ball State last weekend, as the Cavs dropped to 2-3 both straight up and against the spread.

Virginia is now on a 4-14 spread slide their last 18 on board, and while Maryland QB C.J. Brown was knocked out of last week's game with a concussion, I trust backup Rowe to handle matters at home in College Park where they have covered both previous affairs as double-digit favorites.

The Terrapins won outright as the underdog last year at Virginia, and this year's Maryland team is hands-down better than last year's edition.

Maryland by 10 on Saturday afternoon.

4♦ MARYLAND

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, October 12

Brady Kannon

Colorado St. -3

The San Jose State Spartans had high expectations this season after putting together a nice 2012 campaign but they have sputtered this year in a big way, only winning straight up against lowly Sacramento State and Hawaii.  Meanwhile, Colorado State has been competitive, covering against number one Alabama in a not so embarrassing 31-6 loss and scoring nearly 37 points on average in their other 4-games so far.  While we are comfortable with the way The Rams are playing, this is more of a play against the very disappointing Spartans.  CSU's defense is a bit suspect but SJSU's quarterback David Fales ought to give them opportunities as he is completing just 56% of his passes and has thrown 7-interceptions in 5-games.  Until we see a rebound by once proud San Jose State, we'll fade them here and ride with The Rams at home.

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