Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, October 26

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, October 26

Jeff Benton

Your Saturday freebie is the Knights of Central Florida to put the sledgehammer down on the Huskies of UConn.

UCF is fresh off their come-from-behind upset win over previously unbeaten Louisville, and unless they lose interest today, should be able to name the score versus the Huskies.

Connecticut is just 1-5 versus the line this season, and have failed 11 of their last 15 overall against the spread. Little chance they match the Knights for the full 4 quarters, as UCF owns the superior firepower, and they also own a solid 14-7 home spread mark since the 2010 campaign.

George O'Leary's team has also been able to cover 14 of their last 22 when laying double-digits, and now that they look like the team to beat in the new AAC, they can ill-afford an off day in this spot.

With UCF averaging just about 33 points per game, expect QB Blake Bortles to have a field day against the yielding Huskies defense - 32 points or more allowed in 4 of their 6 games this season.

The Knights march on!

4♦ UCF

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, October 26

Craig Davis

I'm going to take a flier here on Ohio State minus the big number against an up-and-coming Penn State team at home.

Perenially, Ohio State has been a better road team at night than home team... though that doesn't make much sense to me. Having said that, I believe the freshmen QB Penn State will run out there tonight is going to be caught like a deer in the headlights.

Ohio State played about as poorly as you can play last week in a home win vs. Iowa. They trailed much of the first half and had to fight from behind to catch, and eventually pass, the talented Hawkeyes.

But let's be honest... those two teams are miles apart in terms of overall talent. Iowa isn't anywhere near as talented as Ohio State yet they challenged much of the game.

Ohio State seems like they play up or down to their competition, but if they keep doing that against the lesser teams, they're going to take an image hit nationally.

I hate to say it, but the Buckeyes need "style points" in order to maintaining their BCS ranking as there are several teams breathing down their necks.

Urban Meyer's bunch might hang 50 on Penn State tonight. Take the Buckeyes as your free play of the day.

3♦ OHIO STATE

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, October 26

Brad Wilton

My free play winner for Saturday will be to lay it with Ball State in their MAC battle at Akron.

The Zips were able to snap a 3 game slide with the road win at Miami-Ohio last week, but must keep in mind that Terry Bowden's team has covered just once in their last six tries when listed as a home underdog, and their 5-13 overall mark in the same role since the 2009 season does not bode well in this conference meeting with the high-flying Cardinals.

Ball State has dropped just one game straight up this season, and they have covered 5 of 7 this year in the favored role. These teams have not played the past 2 seasons, but with the Redbirds on a 20-7 spread run under Pete Lembo, it is hard to take the points with an Akron team that has dropped 6 in a row at home in MAC play.

Cards to fly high once again with the double-digit road win and cover.

4♦ BALL STATE

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, October 26

Brett Atkins

UCLA is headed into Eugene at the wrong time, as the third-ranked Ducks will be on a mission to score 70 points. The Ducks have plenty of motivation, and there is no number that will be enough.

Oregon has scored at least 55 points in six of its seven games this season, but was leapfrogged by Florida State in the first BCS standings of the season. Sure, the Ducks have only played one team that was ranked at the time, so now they'll be out to take advantage of their schedule, and could get a boost over the next two weeks with routs against UCLA and at Stanford.

Defending national champion Alabama and Florida State hold the top two spots, respectively, while Oregon is a close third behind the Seminoles..

The Bruins are in after losing to Stanford, 24-10, a setback that handed UCLA its first loss of the season, so coming in on a down note doesn't help things one bit.

I'll lay the points with the Ducks, who are out to prove something in this one.

3♦ OREGON

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, October 26

Sean Michaels

I know TCU went into Austin last year on Thanksgiving night and took care of business against the Longhorns. Today, it's payback time as the Horned Frogs go down in Dallas.

Like the way Texas has turned its season around after blowout losses at BYU and Ole Miss. Three straight wins - including an improbable blowout of Oklahoma two Saturdays ago in the Red River Rivalry - has left the Horns undefeated in Big 12 play and kept those calling for Mack Brown's job temporarily at bay.

From the moment Brown canned defensive coordinator Manny Diaz after the BYU fiasco and brought back former coordinator Greg Robinson, the fate of the Texas program changed. The defensive has picked up 13 sacks the past three games after notching just two in the season's first three games.

Offensively Texas QB Case McCoy gets the job done despite some erratic play and suspect arm strength. More importantly, the Horns are starting to run the ball downhill effectively and that's lightened his load. The ground game accounted for 255 yards in the Oklahoma upset.

TCU is coming off a 24-10 loss at Oklahoma State. The Horned Frogs are a young team with lousy quarterback play. Their three wins this year have come against SE Louisiana, SMU and Kansas. They're other losses have come against T-Tech and Oklahoma - the same Oklahoma the Longhorns just dominated.

The Frogs are 4-9 ATS in conference play since stepping up to the Big 12. Make that 4-10 after Texas gets payback for last year's nationally televised disaster on Thanksgiving.

5♦ TEXAS

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, October 26

Tom Barton

Clemson vs Maryland
Pick : Clemson -14

Well Clemson is angry and embarrassed and will take it out on Maryland here today, Sometimes games just go above and beyond X's and O's and that is today's game. While some think the Tigers will hang their heads I am betting they come out firing on all cylinders. This Maryland team has been overrated and exposed recently and will struggle to do much here. Clemson won last year 45-10 and I can't find many reasons this score won't look like that. Clemson despite the loss last week still sits at 6-1 on the year and only FSU and Georgia in week one have scored more than 14 points. This defense was lost last week but FSU is a national title contender. Now they have Maryland. The Terps scored just 10 points against Wake Forest last week and 2 weeks ago was humiliated at home by the same FSU team. Maryland does not have a good quality win this season and are out manned, outmatched, and will be outscored here in a cakewalk for an angry Clemson squad looking for revenge. The Terps also come in missing key players who went down last week. This is walking directly into a buzzsaw.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, October 26

Jeff Scott Sports

5 UNIT PLAY

Vanderbilt/ Texas A&M Over 68.5:  The Aggies have played just 1 games this year that failed to put up 70+ points and that was vs SMU. Since then their games have averaged 81 ppg, while their games for the season overall have put up 80.8 ppg. The Aggies average 588.7 ypg and 46.9 ppg overall, while at home they have put up 602.2 ypg and 48.4 ppg. That means that we pretty much need just 21 points form Vanderbilt and that shouldn't be too tough, considering the fact that the Aggies have allowed 494.4 ypg and 33.9 ppg on the year, while allowing less than 28 points just once this year. Vandy should be able to at least hit that vs this defense, even with backup QB Patton Robinette in there. The Commodores have averaged 33.9 ppg on the year and 37 ppg in their last 3 games, should they should hit the 30+ point mark vs this horrid Aggie defense, while an Aggie offense that has failed to score less than 41 points n the year should be good for at least that much in this one. I look or this game to flirt with 80 points.     


3 UNIT PLAYS

FAU +24 over AUBURN: Tough spot for Auburn here as they are coming off a huge game vs Texas A&M on the road and they have another road game next week at Arkansas, plus we also note that the Tigers became bowl eligible with last week's win and the fact that FAU is off a bye week. Classic letdown/ sandwich spot here for the Tigers. The Tigers offense showed they can put up points vs a bad defense last week, but this FAU defense is not bad at all as they rank 30th overall, 8th vs the pass and allow just 26 ppg. Very solid numbers indeed. On offense the Owls are 88th in yards and 100th in points, putting up 22.3 ppg, but they have averaged 30 ppg in their last 2 games and will be going up against a bad Auburn defense that ranks 90th overall and 113th vs the pass. The Tigers do allow just 22 ppg, but as long as we get at least 17 from FAU we will be golden, because I don't see Auburn hitting 40 vs this tough defense. The final nail in the coffin here is the fact that the Owls are 11-0 ATS in their last 11 road games, covering by an average of 11 ppg. The Owl have the better defense, a massive situational edge, the play well on the road and they are getting a boatload of points. Ill take those points as the Owls keep this game within 17 points.

OREGON -23 over UCLA: As if the Ducks didn't need any more incentive to run up scores, now they do after getting leap frogged by Florida State last week in the BCS standings, despite their 24 point win over Washington State. The Ducks, IMO, are the best team in the Nation and their offenses is unstopppable when they want to be and today that offense that has put up 643 ypg and 57.6 ppg will feel the need to be unstoppable. Last week the Ducks ran for 383 yards vs a tough Washington State defense and that was without RB De'Anthony Thomas. This week he will be back. The UCLA offense has been very good this year but last week they had some trouble vs a tough Stanford defense and this week will face an Oregon defense ghat allows just 17.3 pg on the year. UCLA needs to be able to run the ball to make their offenses effective, but they will be missing RB Jordon James in this one and RB Davis is questionable. Last week UCLA was missing both vs Stanford and the Bruins were able to put up just 266 yards in the game. The Bruins are off a tough physical game vs Stanford and now must take on this high tempo and angry Ducks squad on the road. This will not be pretty for UCLA.

2 UNIT PLAYS

Houston +7 Over RUTGERS: The Houston Cougars suffered their first lost of the season last week, but that was a non-conference so no real bubble burst here. This team still has a shot at the AAC title and they will take their high powered offense to Rutgers, where the Knights are 121st in the nation in pass defense, allowing 306.8 ypg, while also allowing a whopping 15 TD passes to just 4 INTs on the year. The Houston defense isn't all that good, but Nova is not a good QB and Rutgers is also missing RB James for this one. The OL is weak as they allowed 8 Sacks last week, while the Houston DL is in a bit of a roll grabbing 8 sacks vs BYU last week. I would not at all be surprised to see a Houston upset in this one.

FLORIDA STATE -31.5 over NC State: Huge revenge game for the Noles as they had a16pt 14ty quarter lead last year at NC state and ended up losing the game outright. In that game the Noles came in ranked 3 in the nation and this year they are 2nd in the BCS rankings, so you can bet this team will be fully focused and not let what happened last year again. The Noles have been dominant of late beating Maryland 63-0 and beating Clemson in Death Valley, 51-14 last week. this team is on a roll both offensively and defensively and should be able to win this one by at least 38 points.

Wake Forest +24 over MIAMI:  The Wake Forest Demon Deacons are not all that bad and they catch a Miami team that is off a tough game at North Carolina last week and has a road game vs FSU on deck. Classic sandwich spot here. Miami also has injury woes as RB Johnson and WR Phillip Dorsett as both are listed as questionable for this one, plus the cCanes have turned the ball over 12 time in their last 3 games. Too many points for them to be laying, with their injuries, mistake prone offense and FSU on deck.   

1 UNIT PLAY

OHIO -25 over Miami- O: HMMM Lets see. Ohio beats Akron 43-3, in Akron and Akron won in Miami, plus Ohio has revenge for last years loss to the Redhawks. No brainer here. Ohio should win this one by at least 4 TD's.

Top 5 Power Angles For The Week (11-8-1)

Oregon State is 13-2 ATS as conference dogs of 7 or less points. Play Oregon State +4.5 over Stanford
California is 0-11 SU & ATS in their last 11 games vs FBS foes. Play Washington -27.5 over California
Oregon is 11-1-1 ATS in their 2nd of back-to-back home games. Play on Oregon -23.5 over UCLA
Temple is 5-14-1 ATS off one win exact if playing a foe off a win. Play SMU -14 over Temple
Ball State is 16-3 ATS on the road off a road game. Play Ball State -9.5 over Akron

System Of The Week (2-2)

Game 8 road dogs of 8 or more off 3 losses are 3-23-2 ATS, since 1980, if they allow 32.5 ppg on the year and are facing an opponent off BB losses.  Play on Washington -27.5 over California

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, October 26

Charlie Sports

Texas +2.5

The 4-2 Texas Longhorns of the Big 12 Conference will take on the 3-4 TCU Horned Frogs also of the Big 12 Conference in 2013 NCAA Football action. Texas is 0-4 Against The Spread vs. A team with a losing record. TCU is 0-8 ATS in their last 8 home games vs. A team with a winning road record.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, October 26

Wunderdog

Ball State at Akron
Pick: Ball State -9

This is a short line considering the resumes of these two teams. Ball State comes in at 7-1, averaging 39.1 points per game. Sure it's a road game but Ball State is 3-1 on the road, averaging actually more points (41.0 per game). Akron is 2-6 including 1-2 at home. They are allowing 31.5 points per game (37 per game at home) and their offense has really gone in the tank since the start of conference play. In four conference games, the Zips are averaging just 15.2 points per contest. Since the arrival of Pete Lembo in Muncie, this Cardinals team has out-performed expectations going 22-11 ATS. On the flip side, Terry Bowden coached teams are just 2-10 ATS as a home underdog. Lay the points with Ball State.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, October 26

Harry Bondi

UTAH(+5) over Southern California

You can make the argument here that Utah is the better team and is catching points in this game. Utah has already beat better teams in BYU and Stanford. USC is also dealing with a number of key injuries that will see them without thier starting tight end, leading receiver and second leading rusher. Take the Utes over the Trojans.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, October 26

Tony George

Georgia Tech -10

The Yellow Jackets are off a convincing win at Syracuse where they hammered the Orangemen 56-0  last week, while Virginia was still trying to figure out how to mount an offense against a suspect Duke team who won at Virginia by 13 points.  The number in this game is just a little bit more than 10 points with the visiting Yellow Jackets this weekend laying double digits.  Georgia Tech has the 4th ranked rushing offense in the NCAA at over 300 yards a game this season and also has a very stout defense ranked 17th in points allowed.  Is Georgia Tech going to look past Virginia, they have Pitt next week and that game has no history, so I do not see GT slowing down.  With a fast paced offense and a solid defense, they are no way that Virginia who is a deplorable cover team covering just 5 out of their last 21 games and who gave up 421 yards last year to the triple option attack of GT.

With defensive numbers like Georgia Tech as, and offensive numbers like they have, their limited ability to pass the ball hampers them little in this game, and I see a score similar to last year’s blowout in Atlanta which was 56-20.  Lay the points in this one and do not break a sweat.  These yellow jackets should have some serious sting this weekend.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, October 26

Tony Karpinski

Michigan State vs. Illinois    
Play: Illinois +9

Michigan State comes in as we know with an awesome defense, but they have lacked extremely top notch opponents, with a weaker schedule so far. But, MSU has to rely on the turnover battle, MSU visibly has an elite defense but their offense is very average, they lack a strong passing game. And they haven’t really met up with a top notch smash-mouth type of running attack yet, and Illinois has a unremitting running game. Contrary, Illinois has no defense, and they come in losers of 3 out of 4 games, by an average of 18 pts. And their couple wins have been against bad teams. But they have a better scoring team than perceived; they dropped 32 on Wisconsin, who is a good defensive team as well. 10 pts is too much, Illinois is 4-2 ATS in its last 6 games at home.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, October 26

SPORTS WAGERS

SOUTH FLORIDA +21 over Louisville

After dropping four in a row to open the year, the Bulls of South Florida has now won consecutive games over Cincinnati and UConn. Yeah, big deal but this is a USF team that lost by just 15 to Michigan State when they were playing worse and they also played Miami in Week 4, eventually losing 49-21. The Bulls offense is one that leaves plenty to be desired but the total here is just 46 and any time you can scoop up 21 points in a game with a total this low, it instantly becomes the prudent choice. As a home underdog, the Bulls are rock solid against almost anyone and that includes this game.

Louisville is ranked #20 in the nation. With that ranking comes a premium to pay and that’s something we always suggest to avoid doing. One of the worst angles in college football is to lay points with a road team that is coming off a crushing defeat and that applies to the Cardinals here after losing to Central Florida last week. And we’re not talking about just road points, we’re talking about 3 TD’s. Georgia and Oklahoma failed in this role last Saturday and Clemson and Louisville could struggle in similar situations this week. The early start time gives the Bulls even more appeal. 


IOWA STATE +13 over Oklahoma State

This big number is a serious over reaction to the Cyclones’ 71-7 loss to Baylor last week. Most people had to look at the score twice before uttering the words, “holy s**t”. Iowa State has just one win this season but other than last week, its biggest margin of defeat was 7 points and that includes a one-point loss to Texas and a 7-point loss to Texas Tech. The Cyclones rarely get blown out and they get blown out even less at home. In a favorable spot after the most humiliating loss in the program’s history, ISU figures to be play their hearts out today and redeem some dignity.

The Cowboys are 6-1 but it is an unimpressive 6-1 with wins over Mississippi State, UTSA, Lamar, K-State and TCU. OSU has its biggest game of the season up next when they will travel to #10 Texas Tech next week. That makes this a huge look-ahead spot. The Cowboys have had nothing but misery at this venue over the years with just two wins in their last eight visits to Ames and this is one of those scary looking trap games. Furthermore, the Cowboys offense is one that does not instill confidence in spotting 13 road points. This is not an easy game for OSU and it’s also not a favorable spot. Seldom will be choose a dog that does not have a chance to win the game straight up. That applies here, as the Cyclones are very capable of pulling off this upset but at the very least should stay well within this margin.


UNLV +6½ over NEVADA

We’ve had some success in the Mountain West over the past few weeks and will go to that well one more time here. The Rebels of Las Vegas were a self-destructive unit early in the year when they out-gained and outplayed the Gophers in a misleading 51-23 loss. UNLV was a comedy of errors in its next game against Arizona but subsequently they reeled off four in a row before losing to MVW power, Fresno State last week. This is Bobby Hauk’s best UNLV team. It says here that they are not only undervalued but they are much better than the sinking Wolf Pack and they come into this one with plenty of motivation. You see, the Rebels blew a 21-0 halftime lead in this matchup a year ago and the Wolfpack players had some insulting things to say afterwards. Losses don’t stick in the minds of players very long but losses that sting do, especially when the opposition shows disrespect.

Some will argue that the Wolfpack has played a tougher schedule than the Rebels and that’s true, as Nevada’s out of conference schedule included games against UCLA and Florida State. However, the only thing that proved was that Nevada did not belong on the same field as that pair after they lost by a combined 120-27. The Wolfpack’s three wins have come against UC Davis, Hawaii and Air Force. They needed OT to get by San Diego State. The Wolfpack has one convincing win this season and plenty of convincing losses. This line is based on a lot of misdirected perceptions regarding these two that suggests that Nevada is the superior squad. We couldn’t disagree more. Don’t be afraid to play the Rebels straight up at +215.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, October 26

King Creole:

Bowling Green -4

Sharp players are already aware that this MAC series is one that's been dominated by the HOME team. The host in the Bowling Green / Toledo series has gone 6-1 ATS in the last 8 meetings. And for you Totals players, ALL six of those games have gone 'Under the Total'. There's a very good chance that the Falcons will be playing in the MAC Conference Championship game... given their current 3-0 SU record in conference play (tied with Buffalo). Their balanced offense (203 ypg rushing / 263 ypg passing) is ranked in the Top 30 in the country. And that's an offense that's 50 ypg HIGHER than Saturday's foe. In addition, we'll be laying a small number with a defense that's also 60 ypg better than the Rockets. BG's only two losses on the season (5-2 SU overall) were against a Big 10 opponent and a SEC opponent.

We'll also have a advantage at the QUARTERBACK position, as Matt Johnson (245 ypg passing / 9-2 TD-INT ratio / #34 in QB rankings) grades out much higher than Toledo's Terrance Owens (184 ypg passing / 5-6 TD-INT ratio / #105 in QB rankings). The Rockets come in off a draining double-OT win against Navy (final score 45-44) in which their defense was was torched for 414 yards. As mentioned in this week's Playbook newsletter, road teams playing WITHOUT rest off an overtime  win are GREAT 'play againsts' as of late. And Toledo has followed up each of their last 6 wins with a 1-5 ATS record. We also note that road underdogs of 10 < pts playing off a SU home favorite win in which they scored AND allowed 40 or more points have gone 1-9-1 ATS in the last 5 seasons. Despite a 4-3 SU record, Toledo is only +3.0 ppg on the season.

Like they need even MORE incentive, the host Falcons bring the ultimate 'extra' in motivation to Saturday's game. And that's the 'BIG R'... as in Revenge. And we're not talking single or double Revenge. But TRIPLE Revenge for Bowling Green... for losses in each of the of the last three seasons.

MAC Conference home favorites playing REVENGE and off a SU loss (BOWLING GREEN) have gone 12-2-2 ATS since 2003 versus any opponent off a SU win (Toledo).

Let's not forget the EXTRA rest for the host Falcons. Their last game was back on Oct. 12th... when they lost on the road (but COVERED the spread) against Mississippi State.
13-2 ATS since 2008: All conference home favorites of < 7 points playing with REST... and off a SU non-conference road loss (BOWLING GREEN).

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Ivey Walters

Duke +13

I just think think this is too many points for an offensively challenged team in Virginia Tech. They are near the bottom in every offensive category there is. A lot of experts think they are going to blow this Duke team out but I strongly disagree. They are a solid team and I've watched them several times this year. I've been impressed and they should be even better now that their do it all starting quarterback is at full strength. I know all about the Hokie defense and I agree they are very good. For Va Tech to cover this number, I think they would have to shut out this Duke offense. I don't see that happening. Duke is very balanced. They have a good run game and play makers at the wide receiver and tight end position. Their numbers on the defensive side of the ball are not great but this unit is getting better as the season has progressed. They will try and make Logan Thomas beat them with his arm and that's another big factor I'll put my money on. He's a big guy, can run, but boy he cannot throw, completing around 55% of his passes. This Hokie offense struggles to score and I don't see them just blowing out Duke today. Duke can certainly hang around and I think will put up some points. Like Bruno said, there might not be 40 total points scored in this game. Sharp money has come in on Duke as I was waiting for it to go up because the public is all over Virginia Tech. So now we have a reverse line move on our side. I'll take advantage of that all day. I see it is down to 12.5 now at some shops. Bottom line: Too many points to give a Duke team that is better than most people think or know because the public doesn't pay attention to Duke football. They are well coached and will be well prepared. The key will be to stop the run and I think they can keep Va Tech in check to a point where they don't get blown out. Take the points!

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SPORTS WAGERS

San Jose -½ +136 over MONTREAL

Regulation only. The Sharks have lost one game in regulation this year and it came with 1 second left in their last game in Boston in a game they absolutely dominated. Had it not been for the outstanding goaltending by Tuukka Rask, that score would have been about 6-1 in the Sharks’ favor. San Jose is dominating everyone. They outshot the B’s 39-17 and they usually create four times more scoring chances than their opposition. Ya think the Sharks are excited about playing in Montreal on a Saturday night? Damn straight they are, as they know all about Hockey Night in Canada and have not played here since 2010. The San Jose Sharks are a distant class above the rest of the league right now and the only way they lose this game will be if Carey Price dominates the same way Rask did the other night. Don’t count on that happening. 


BOSTON -1½ +138 over New Jersey

It has to be extraordinary circumstances for us to suggest spotting 1½-pucks in a hockey game when totals are usually 5½ but this game warrants it. If Peyton Manning and the Broncos were playing Christian Ponder and the Vikings, it would be considered a QB mismatch of mammoth proportions. Well, Martin Brodeur against Tuukka Rask is an even bigger mismatch. Our guess is that Devils GM Lou Lamoriello has no choice but to play Brodeur in the hopes that the hall-of-fame goaltender will embarrass himself enough times to just retire early. Whether that happens or not remains to be seen but a goaltender of Brodeur’s caliber should not be in the AHL, let along the NHL. The game is faster than it’s even been and the game has simply passed this guy by. He’s by far the worst goaltender in the league that makes Nikolai Khabibulin look like Tuukka Rask but Brodeur has such a giant ego that he won’t retire. He’ll continue to cost the Devils a chance to win because he has none. Brodeur couldn’t care less about the Devils. If he did, he would walk away gracefully and allow a younger goalie to take his job to prepare this team for the future. Bottom line, Marty Brodeur has no chance of defeating the Bruins and you can take that to the bank. Furthermore, those soft goals that Brodeur inevitably allows, ends up deflating his teammates as well. As long as Brodeur keeps minding the net, we are going to play against him because he’ll be lucky to win once every 10 starts and would even lay 2½ pucks here if we had to.


PHILADELPHIA +105 over N.Y. Islanders

Regulation only. The Islanders are coming off an emotionally charged OT win in Pittsburgh last night and that makes this one a vulnerable spot. The Islanders will also turn to backup goaltender David Poulin here and that begs the question - how good could one be if they are backing up Evgeni Nabokov? The Islanders have allowed three goals or more in eight of their 10 games so far. This was a fringe playoff team that lost their captain and best defenseman in Mark Streit for nothing, lost a first line forward in Brad Boyes and replaced him with a tiny band-aid (Bouchard), and lost a quality offensive prospect in Niederreiter and replaced him with a run-of-the-mill body checking enthusiast. The Islanders are quite literally the lightest team in the league (one of two coming in at an average under 200 pounds) and they’re one of the shortest. They just don’t have the top-tier talent to contend and as a favorite, the Islanders don’t have much appeal.

The Flyers don’t have a lot of appeal either right now. They were actually outplayed by the reeling Rangers in their last game and were lucky to escape with a 2-1 win. The Flyers have just two lousy wins this season over the Rangers and Panthers both by scores of 2-1. In fact, the Flyers have not scored more than two goals in a game all season and just sent Tye MCGinn (who was playing great hockey) back to the minors after his “nine-game” trial period. So, what is there to like about Philadelphia? Well, for one, that victory over the Rangers came after a 7-day layoff so some rust was expected. Also, a single win does wonders for a teams’ psyche and confidence and that matters. Additionally, the Flyers are sticking with goaltender Steve Mason and he’s playing well, very well in fact and lastly, the Flyers are much better than most think. Once they start scoring, it should open the floodgates because this team is loaded with snipers that will not be contained much longer. Finally, this small line is rather curious too, as the Islanders just defeated the Penguins and the Flyers can’t get out of their own way. The line absolutely suggests the Flyers are extremely live here.

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SPORTS WAGERS

Boston +101 over ST. LOUIS

Joe Kelly has struggled in each of his three postseason starts so far but the damage has been minimal. That is likely to change against the Red Sox. Kelly has surrendered 18 hits in 16.1 playoff innings. He’s allowed nine runs and has walked six batters. "Pedestrian" is the best way to describe Kelly’s skills. His lack of disaster starts looks encouraging but there is a big difference between disaster avoidance and dominance. Regardless, he doesn't know how to miss bats and that severely limits his upside. His strikeout rate falls below the threshold we want in a starting pitcher when spotting a tag against a good offense. Kelly's xERA is a run and a half higher than his actual ERA thanks to a lucky and unsustainable strand rate of 83% and he still walks too many hitters given his low strikeout rate. His underlying skills say he’s on the verge of a blowup and it would not surprise to see that occur here.

Jake Peavy will feel a lot more comfortable in this pitcher’s park than he did in his previous post-season appearances. Peavy has not been sharp in two playoff starts so far but he faced the Tigers and Rays and only allowed one run in his start at the Trop, despite laboring through 5.1 innings. Peavy is a fly-ball pitcher, which is something we usually avoid backing but at this park, those fly-balls on a cool night in St. Louis will stay in the yard. Peavy is still capable of striking out a lot of batters and that alone makes him more appealing than Kelly. That said, this one is more about fading Joe Kelly with an offense that can inflict a lot of damage.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, October 26

Jeff Scott Sports

Added games

3 UNIT PLAY

OHIO STATE -16 over Penn State: The Nitany Lions are just 1-9 ATS in their last 10 meetings with top 10 teams, while Ohio State is 8-1-1 ATS in their last 10 games off a win. PSU is off a bye and did defeat the Wolverines in a thriller prior to their bye, but in their lone Big 10 road game they lost by 20 points at Indiana and Ohio State is a much better team than Indiana. Ohio State is in the thick of the BCS Title race and may need some big blowout wins to have any shot of getting in to the Title game. I look for them to put the hammer down in this one and win by at least 3 TDs.

2 UNIT PLAY

USC/ Utah Under 52: Hard to see this as a high scoring game. The Utes have played decent defense this year, allowing just 26.7 ppg and will be going up against a struggling USC offense that is still looking for an identity. The USC defense has had a couple of hiccups this year, but still they are one of the best units in the Pac-12 and should be able to hold down a Utah offense that makes mistakes at the crucial times that usually costs them points. Should bre a low scoring game in the coliseum tonight.

1 UNIT PLAY

UNLV/ Nevada Over 68: Both teams played lower scoring games than they are used to last week, but this week with two horrible defenses and some very good offenses I see a ton of points being scored here. Nevada scores 37.3 ppg at home, while UNLV has allowed 47.3 ppg on the road this year. The Wolf Pack have allowed just 19.3 ppg at home, but one home game was vs weak scoring Hawaii and another was vs an FCS team. Nevada allowed just 16 total points in the two games. Their other home game was vs a good air force offense and they allowed 42 points in that game. The UNLV offense is a good one and will certainly get their fair share of points in this one. I look for this game to reach the 70's.

System Of The Week

Game 8 road dogs of 8 or more off 3 losses are 3-23-2 ATS, since 1980, if they allow 32.5 ppg on the year and are facing an opponent off BB losses. Play on Washington -27.5 over California

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, October 26

LT Profits

UCLA vs Oregon
Pick: Oregon -23

The Oregon Ducks are ranked third on the initial BCS Standings behind Florida State in second, and that could be the worst news possible for the UCLA Bruins as it should motivate Oregon to have another top performance tonight vs. a ranked opponent in an attempt to move up to the all-important two spot. The 7-0 Ducks have continued to destroy all comers despite playing to enormous points spreads, averaging 57.6 points per game while allowing only 17.3 and outgaining their foes by an enormous average of +273.3 yards! We expect nothing different tonight as UCLA scored only 10 points when it stepped up in class in a loss at Stanford last week, and Oregon represents yet another rung up the ladder. Of course it does not help that UCLA could be without leading rusher Jordan James also. Oregon is 26-8-1 ATS in its last 35 October games.


Boston vs St. Louis
Pick: Over 7

Because of Boston Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz suffering from arm fatigue, fourth starter Jake Peavy gets the start in Game 3 of the World Series vs. Joe Kelly and the St. Louis Cardinals, and that makes this posted total seem quite small. Peavy may be the weakest link in either starting rotation, as he had just a 4.16 ERA during the regular season and then was lit up for seven earned runs in only three innings by the Tigers in Game 4 of the ALCS, which was the last game that Boston had lost before losing Game 2 of this series Thursday. Kelly was 10-5 with a 2.69 ERA for the Cardinals during the regular year, but he was not as good as those numbers as he had just a 4.01 FIP, 4.19 xFIP and 0.4 WAR. The ‘over’ is 7-2-1 in the Red Sox last 10 road games.

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