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Thread: NCAAF Trends and Indexes - Week 8 (Thurs., Oct. 18 - Sat., Oct. 20)

  1. #16
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    Friday's Tip Sheet
    Brian Edwards

    **Colorado State at Boise State**

    -- As of Thursday afternoon, most sports books had Boise State (4-2 straight up, 3-3 against the spread) installed as a 23.5-point home favorite with a total of 62.5 or 63. William Hill was offering the Rams on the money line for a 12/1 return (risk $100 to win $1,200).

    -- Boise State has only played at home twice this season, going 1-1 both SU and ATS. Bryan Harsin’s club smashed UConn by a 62-7 count as a 34-point home ‘chalk’ back in Week 2, but it dropped a 19-13 decision to San Diego State on Oct. 6 as a 13.5-point favorite.

    -- BSU bounced back from the loss to the Aztecs last week to slip past Nevada, 31-27, as a 14.5-point road favorite. The 58 combined points slithered ‘under’ the 59.5-point total. Senior QB Brett Rypien threw for 299 yards and a pair of TDs, but he was intercepted three times. Trailing 10-7 early in the second quarter, the Broncos got a huge momentum-shifting play out of senior CB Tyler Horton, who intercepted Ty Gangi and returned the pick 99 yards for a TD. John Hightower had an 88-yard TD run for BSU and turned seven touches into 179 all-purpose yards.

    -- Rypien, a second-team All-MWC selection last year and a first-team All-MWC choice in both his freshman and sophomore campaigns, has completed 67.4 percent of his passes for 1,858 yards with a 14/5 touchdown-to-interception ratio. His favorite target is Sean Modster, a senior WR who has 34 receptions for 480 yards and two TDs. A.J. Richardson has 27 catches for 430 yards, while Hightower has caught 21 balls for 306 yards and three TDs. Hightower has also rushed for 163 yards and two scores on merely eight attempts for a 20.4 yards-per-carry average. Junior RB Alexander Mattison has run for 416 yards and six TDs, but he’s only averaging 3.9 YPC.

    -- BSU is ranked 19th in the nation in total offense, 10th in passing yards and 31st in scoring with its 36.2 points-per-game average. The Broncos are ranked 23rd in the country in total defense, 37th in pass defense, 30th at defending the run and 38th in scoring ‘D’ (21.8 PPG).

    -- BSU’s other loss came at Oklahoma State (44-21) as a 1.5-point road favorite on Sept. 15. The Broncos’ two other wins came at Troy (56-20) and at Wyoming (34-14).

    -- Since joining the Mountain West Conference, BSU has gone 7-0 SU and 5-2 ATS when facing Colorado State. However, the Broncos needed to overcome an 18-point halftime deficit and rally from 14 points down with less than four minutes remaining to capture a 59-52 victory in Ft. Collins last year. Gamblers backing BSU got an incredibly fortunate cover as a 6.5-point road ‘chalk.’ Rypien threw for 331 yards with a 4/1 TD-INT ratio, while Mattison rushed 23 times for 242 yards and three TDs.

    -- Colorado State (3-4 SU, 3-4 ATS) is 1-1 both SU and ATS on the road. Since starting 1-4 both SU and ATS, Mike Bobo’s squad has won back-to-back contests both SU and ATS at San Jose State (42-30) and vs. New Mexico (20-18).

    -- CSU edged the Lobos as a one-point home favorite thanks to Wyatt Bryan’s 26-yard walk-off field goal as time expired. The Rams played turnover-free football, had a 24-15 edge in first downs and 423-299 advantage in total offense. K.J. Carta-Samuels connected on 24-of-42 passes for 311 yards and one TD without an interception. Preston Williams, the former 5-star recruit to Tennessee who sat out last season after transferring, had nine receptions for 93 yards and one TD. Izzy Matthews rushed for 92 yards on 26 totes.

    -- Colorado State owns a 6-2 spread record in eight games as a road underdog during Bobo’s four-year tenure. Meanwhile, Boise State is an abysmal 9-19 ATS in 28 games as a home favorite on Harsin’s watch.

    -- Carta-Samuels has completed 61.0 percent of his throws for 1,934 yards with a 16/6 TD-INT ratio. Williams has played lights out, hauling in 52 receptions for 671 yards and seven TDs. Olabisi Johnson has caught 36 balls for 533 yards and four TDs. Matthews has 425 rushing yards for two TDs with a 3.9 YPC average. The senior RB also has 18 grabs for 116 yards and one TD.

    -- CSU could be without four starters Friday night on the blue carpet. Johnson (ankle) is listed as ‘questionable’ along with senior center Colby Meeks and junior DT Richard King. Senior OG Tyler Bjorklund is ‘doubtful’ due to an ankle issue.

    -- The ‘under’ is 5-2 overall for the Rams, 1-1 in their two road assignments. They’ve watched their games average combined scores of 59.7 PPG.

    -- Totals have been an overall was for BSU both overall (3-3) and at home (1-1). The Broncos have seen their games average combined scores of 58.0 PPG.

    -- Kickoff is scheduled for 9:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN2.


    **Air Force at UNLV**

    -- As of Thursday afternoon, most spots had Air Force (2-4 SU, 4-2 ATS) listed as a 10-point road favorite with a total of 57. The Rebels were +330 on the money line (risk $100 to win $330).

    -- Air Force is winless in three road games, but it has produced a 2-1 spread record. The Falcons covered the spread as eight-point underdogs at FAU in a 33-27 loss, failed to cover in a 42-32 loss at Utah State as 9.5-point ‘dogs and took the cash in last week’s 21-17 setback at San Diego St. as 11-point puppies.

    -- Troy Calhoun’s club ended a three-game losing streak two weeks ago by blasting Navy 35-7 as a 2.5-point home underdog. The Falcons shut down Navy’s vaunted ground attack by limiting it to 129 rushing yards on 41 attempts (3.1 YPC). They enjoyed a 17-9 advantage in first down and a 399-178 edge in total offense. Sophomore QB Donald Hammond rushed for 60 yards and three TDs on 19 carries, in addition to throwing for 142 yards and one TD without an interception.

    -- Air Force came up short against the 5-1 Aztecs last week. The 38 combined points went below the 42.5-point tally to provide the Falcons with a third straight ‘under.’ Hammond left the game with an injury and is ‘questionable’ at UNLV. Junior RB Cole Fagan rushed for 90 yards on 16 carries.

    -- Air Force has compiled a 12-16 spread record in 28 games as a road favorite during Calhoun’s 12-year tenure.

    -- Air Force is 28th in the country in total defense, eighth at defending the run and 37th in scoring ‘D’ (21.8 PPG).

    -- UNLV (2-4 SU, 3-3 ATS) will be without star QB Armani Rogers for at third consecutive game Friday night at Sam Boyd Stadium. Tony Sanchez’s team has lost 50-14 at home to New Mexico and 59-28 at Utah State since the sophomore QB went down with a toe injury that’s expected to keep him out for another 3-4 weeks. Rogers rushed for 780 yards and eight TDs as a true freshman in 2017. In UNLV’s first four games this year, he had run for 488 yards and six TDs while averaging 6.9 YPC. He had completed just 41.5 percent of his throws for 369 yards, but he had a decent 6/4 TD-INT ratio.

    -- Third-year sophomore QB Max Gilliam, who was an original 2016 Cal-Berkeley signed, has started the past two games. He has completed only 45.8 percent of his passes for 373 yards with a 5/2 TD-INT ratio this season.

    -- UNLV senior RB Lexington Thomas has been upgraded to ‘probable’ vs. Air Force after sustaining a concussion last week. Thomas is third in career rushing yards (3,040) at UNLV and can become the school’s all-time leader if he can run for 694 more rushing yards this year. He’s run for 556 yards and six TDs with a 5.7 YPC average in 2018.

    -- UNLV owns an atrocious 1-5 spread record in six games as a home underdog during Sanchez’s four-year tenure.

    -- Air Force is 7-2 SU and 4-5 ATS in the past nine games of this rivalry. The Falcons had to shake off a 27-7 intermission deficit at home vs. UNLV last season to capture a 34-30 come-from-behind victory. The Rebels took the cash, however, as nine-point underdogs. The ‘over’ had hit in four straight games and eight of the past nine in this series, but the 64 combined points inched ‘under’ the 65.5-point tally. Rogers rushed for 148 yards and one TD, while Thomas rushed for 91 yards and one score on 17 attempts.

    -- The ‘under’ is 5-1 overall for the Falcons, 2-1 in their road outings. They’ve seen their games average combined scores of 50.8 PPG.

    -- The ‘over’ is 4-2 overall for the Rebels, 2-1 in their home games. They’ve watched their games average combined scores of 66.8 PPG.

    -- CBS Sports College will have the broadcast at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.


    **B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

    -- North Texas is 6-1 for the first time in 30 years going into this week’s C-USA showdown vs. UAB at Legion Field in Birmingham. Junior QB Mason Fine, a first-team All-Conference USA choice in 2017, has a stellar 16/1 TD-INT ratio. The Mean Green is a 1.5-point underdog to the Blazers, who are 5-1 both SU and ATS and 3-0 both SU and ATS at home. North Texas is 3-0 SU and 2-1 ATS in three road assignments. The Mean Green have seen the ‘under’ cash at a 7-0 clip.

    -- How many times has Navy been a double-digit underdog during Ken Niumatalolo’s 11-year tenure? Only once. That was two seasons ago when the Midshipmen captured a 46-40 win over Houston as a 17-point home underdog. If the line holds at +11.5 like it was as of Thursday afternoon, Niumatololo’s squad will be a double-digit ‘dog once again the Cougars, who take a three-game winning streak to Annapolis.

    -- Wyoming has failed to cover the spread in six straight games since getting the cash in its season-opening win at New Mexico State. The Cowboys host Utah St. on Saturday. Speaking of the Aggies, they’re 5-1 SU and 6-0 ATS. Furthermore, Utah St. has seen the ‘over’ go 6-0. Utah St. was favored by 15 with the total at 51 as of Thursday.

    -- Rutgers is noted in a 1-5 ATS slump going into Saturday’s home game vs. Northwestern as a 20.5-point underdog.

    -- Besides Utah State, there are two other teams who remain unscathed for our purposes. Washington State is 6-0 ATS and Appalachian State is 5-0 versus the number.

    -- Colorado WR Laviska Shenault has 60 receptions for 780 yards and six TDs, and he’s also run for 87 yards and five TD on 15 carries. However, Shenault is ‘questionable’ at Washington due to a toe injury. The Buffaloes, who are 5-1 after losing 31-20 at USC last week, were 16.5-point road underdogs as of Thursday. RB Travon McMillian, a grad transfer from Virginia Tech, has been upgraded to ‘probable' at UW despite dealing with a leg contusion. McMillian has rushed for 560 yards and four TDs with a 5.5 YPC average.

    -- Nation’s Biggest Disappointments:
    1) Wisconsin
    2 ) FSU
    3) Auburn
    4) Nebraska
    5) Arizona
    6) UCLA
    7) Arkansas State
    8) TCU
    9) Louisville
    10) Navy

  2. #17
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    Oregon at Washington State
    Brian Edwards

    Matchup: No. 12 Oregon at No. 25 Washington State
    Venue: Martin Stadium, Pullman, Washington
    TV/Time: FOX, 7:30 p.m. ET

    If the Pac-12 is going to be represented in the College Football Playoff, it will be the winner of Saturday night’s game in Pullman between Washington State and Oregon. Either team will have to win out and get some help in front of it, but the latter tends to happen in November.

    The Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas issued Washington State a team total of six (‘over’ -125, ‘under’ +105) this past summer. Expectations were low following the loss of Luke Falk, the school’s all-time leading passer with 14,481 career yards.

    Not only that, but Falk’s heir apparent Tyler Hilinski, who helped the Cougars rally to an overtime win over Boise State last season, tragically passed away when he committed suicide shortly after the 2017 campaign ended.

    Therefore, Mike Leach’s team only brought back a total of 10 starters (four on offense and six on defense) from a 9-4 team. However, Leach shrewdly landed East Carolina grad transfer QB Gardner Minshew, who has been nothing short of sensational. He’s led an offense that’s ranked No. 1 in the nation in passing yards, 14th in total yards and 15th in scoring with 41.8 points-per-game average.

    Minshew has led Washington State to a 5-1 straight-up record and a 6-0 against-the-spread mark. Four of the team's five wins have come by margins of 19 points or more. The Cougars are 3-0 both SU and ATS at home.

    Minshew has completed 68.7 percent of his passes for 2,422 yards with a 19/4 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Sophomore WR Tay Martin has been his favorite target, bringing down 40 receptions for 440 yards and six TDs. Easop Winston has 29 catches for 426 yards and five TDs, while Dezmon Patmon has 25 receptions for 370 yards and two TDs.

    Junior RB James Williams has rushed for a team-best 260 yards and five TDs with a 4.1 yards-per-carry average. Williams is a serious threat in the passing game out of the backfield, too, as he has caught 32 balls for 283 yards and three TDs.

    Leach’s team has home victories over San Jose State (31-0), Eastern Washington (59-24) and Utah (28-24). The Cougars won 41-19 at Wyoming and 56-37 at Oregon State, but they allowed a second-half lead to get away in a controversial 39-36 loss at Southern Cal as 4.5-point underdogs.

    Washington State has had two weeks to prepare for the Ducks, who fall into a bit of a letdown scenario after capturing a huge overtime win at home over Washington last week. The Cougars took the cash by one-half point as 18.5-point road ‘chalk’ in their win at OSU two weeks ago.

    The Beavers had two different leads, including a 30-28 advantage midway through the third quarter. But Minshew threw two of his five TD passes in the fourth quarter. He finished with 430 passing yards and five TDs without an interception in Corvaillis. Minshew connected on 30-of-40 throws, while Williams ran for 56 yards ono 10 carries and had four receptions for 78 yards and one TD.

    Martin had eight catches for 119 yards and two TDs against the Beavers. Winston brought down seven balls for 99 yards.

    Oregon (5-1 SU, 2-4 ATS) and WSU are both 2-1 in league play. After Stanford won 20-13 at ASU last night, the Ducks and Cougars are looking for a win to pull into a first-place tie in the Pac-12 North with both the Cardinal and UW, who are both 3-1 in conference action. However, both Stanford and Washington have two overall losses and barring 2007-like chaos at the top of the rankings, neither has a shot at the CFP.

    Mario Cristobal’s team has bounced back nicely from an unfathomable home loss to Stanford back on Sept. 22. The Ducks had a 24-7 lead late in the third quarter and appeared to score a TD to extend their lead, but the score was reversed by replay officials. A couple of plays later, a fumble was scooped up by Stanford’s Joey Alfieri and turned into an 80-yard TD the other way.

    Then Oregon fumbled with less than 90 seconds remaining while trying to ice the game with a seven-point lead. Stanford then forced overtime with a field goal on the final play of regulation and eventually won 38-31 in the extra session.

    Since then, Oregon has won back-to-back games both SU and ATS, including a 42-24 win at California as a two-point road ‘chalk’ and last week’s 30-27 triumph over Washington as a 3.5-point home underdog. There were four ties in regulation and no team led by more than seven points.

    Oregon forced UW to settle for a 22-yard field goal from Peyton Henry on the first possession of OT. Then RB C.J. Verdell found paydirt on a six-yard TD run to lift his team to victory. It was sweet vindication for Verdell, whose attempt to stretch the ball out to the first-down marker late in the fourth quarter against Stanford resulted in the fumble that gave the Cardinal new life.

    QB Justin Herbert completed 18-of-32 passes for 202 yards and two TDs without an interception against the Huskies. Verdell rushed 29 times for 111 yards and two TDs, while Dillon Mitchell had eight catches for 119 yards and one TD.

    Oregon played a cupcake non-conference slate, which certainly won’t help its cause if it gets into the CFP picture come late November. The Ducks beat up on Bowling Green (58-24), Portland State (62-14) and San Jose State (35-22) in non-covering home wins that preceded the defeat vs. Stanford.

    Herbert has completed 63.1 percent of his throws for 1,613 yards with a 17/5 TD-INT ratio. He’s also run for 106 yards and one TD. Mitchell is his go-to guy, hauling in 35 receptions for 561 yards and three TDs.

    Verdell has rushed for a team-best 531 yards and four TDs, averaging 5.5 YPC. He also has nine catches for 112 yards. Travis Dye has run for 320 yards and a pair of scores with a 5.2 YPC average, while Tony Brooks-James has 200 rushing yards, three TDs and a 4.8 YPC average.

    The ‘over’ is 5-1 overall for the Cougars, 2-1 in their home games. They’ve watched their games average combined scores of 65.7 PPG. This is the highest total WSU has seen all season.

    Totals have been an overall wash for the Ducks (3-3), and the ‘over’ hit in their lone road assignments in Berkeley when the 66 combined points jumped above the 58-point number. They've seen their games average combined scores of 67.8 PPG.

    Oregon won seven in a row in this rivalry from 2008-2014, but Washington State has won three in a row over the Ducks. In fact, the Cougars have covered the spread in eight consecutive head-to-head meetings with Oregon. The ‘over’ is on a 7-3 run in this rivalry.

    Washington State went to Autzen Stadium last year and collected a 33-10 win as a 1.5-point road favorite. The 43 combined points dropped ‘under’ the 60.5-point total. Herbert was injured and didn’t play, while Falk there's for 282 yards and three TDs without an interception. Williams rushed for 48 yards on 11 carries.

    In its last visit to Martin Stadium in Pullman, Oregon lost 51-33 as a 2.5-point road ‘chalk’ and the 84 combined points soared ‘over’ the 74.5-point tally. Williams rushed for 91 yards and two TDs on 11 carries, while Martin had five receptions for 45 yards.

    Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Eastern on FOX proper.

    **B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

    -- 5Dimes.eu updated its lines for upcoming Games of the Year. Some of those include Texas -3 vs. West Virginia, Michigan -7 vs. Penn State, Penn State -6 vs. Wisconsin, Memphis -3 vs. Houston, Oklahoma -4 at WVU, Ohio State -6.5 vs. Michigan and Notre Dame -4.5 at Southern Cal.

    -- I backed the ‘under’ (closed at 57.5) on Thursday for an easy winner in Stanford’s 20-13 win at Arizona State as a two-point road favorite. ASU was threatening to score a game-trying TD in the final seconds, but a second-down play came up short of the first-down marker just inside the red zone and time ran out on the Sun Devils. With the game knotted at 6-6 midway through the third quarter, Stanford sophomore QB K.J. Costello found J.J. Arcega-Whiteside for a 28-yard scoring strike to put the Cardinal ahead for good. Cameron Scarlett’s one-yard TD run with 3:05 left in the third extended the lead to 20-6. ASU got a 10-yard TD run from Manny Wilkins with 7:50 remaining to make it interesting, but the Sun Devils came up short nonetheless. Costello threw for 231 yards and one TD without an interception, while Arcega-Whiteside finished with seven receptions for 91 yards and one TD. Bryce Love returned from a one-game absence due to an ankle injury, but he gained merely 21 rushing yards on 11 attempts.

    -- Arkansas State captured a 51-35 win over Georgia State as a 13-point home favorite last night in Jonesboro. The 86 combined points easily jumped ‘over’ the 56.5-point total with more than a minute remaining in the third quarter. Senior QB Justice Hansen stole the show for the Red Wolves, throwing for 257 yards and three TDs without an interception. Hansen also ran for 76 yards and two TDs on 11 carries.

    -- Temple RB Ryquell Armstead (ankle) has been upgraded to ‘probable for Saturday’s key AAC showdown vs. Cincinnati at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. Armstead has rushed for 626 yards and six TDs. The unbeaten Bearcats have had two weeks to prepare for the Owls, who are 4-1 SU and 5-0 ATS since starting the season with home losses to Villanova and Buffalo.

    -- UCLA will be without a pair of former 5-star recruits – RB Soso Jamabo and LB Jaelan Phillips -- for the rest of the season due to concussion issues.

    -- East Carolina has named true freshman QB Holton Ahlers as its starter for Satureday’s home game vs. undefeated UCF. Speaking of the Knights, they got a Herculean effort from their defense that held Memphis scoreless in the second half of last week’s 31-30 come-from-behind win at the Liberty Bowl.

    -- Two of the nation’s premier defensive players are done for the season: USC’s Porter Gustin (ankle) and Ohio State’s Nick Bosa (core). Bosa is actually leaving school and starting to prepare for the NFL Draft despite Ohio State’s unbeaten status.

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    The Triple Option: College football Week 8 picks, predictions
    Andrew Caley

    Can you believe the college football season is already halfway done? Me either. And while a lot of things have changed through the first two months of the season, much is still the same. Alabama, Ohio State and Clemson are the top 3 teams in the country, the SEC has seven teams in the top 25, and UCF hasn’t lost a football game in almost two years.

    So, with that in mind, it’s time for our mid-season betting awards.

    Mid-Season Best Bet: Utah State Aggies (6-0 ATS)

    Utah State opened their season by surprising everyone (including Michigan State) when they nearly upset the Spartans in East Lansing as 23.5-point road underdogs and they haven’t let their backers down since. The Aggies have an unblemished record against the spread this season, covering the number by just over 14 points per game and they’ll be a contender all season in the Mountain West. This week they are 14-point road favorites against Wyoming.

    Honorable Mention: Washington State (6-0 ATS), Appalachian State (5-0 ATS) & Florida (6-1 ATS)

    Mid-Season Best Fade: Connecticut Huskies (0-5-1 ATS)

    Boy. Connecticut is bad. I mean really bad. Not only have the Huskies not covered a spread so far this season, but they rank 97th in total yards, 122nd in points per game and dead last in yards and points allowed. Plus, their -33.3-point differential isn’t just dead last in the country, it is 13-points worse than the next closest team. Connecticut is a 32.5-point underdog this week at USF.

    Honorable Mention: Wyoming (1-6 ATS), Louisville (1-6 ATS) & USTA (1-5-1 ATS)

    Mid-Season Best Over: Massachusetts Minutemen (6-1 O/U)

    The Minutemen of UMass are an Over bettors dream. They have more holes on defense than a block of swiss cheese allowing nearly 45 points per game, but at the same time can hold their own on the offensive side of the ball, scoring over 36 per contest. That’s 81 combined points per game! 81! But have oddsmakers caught on to this Over Train? UMass faces their biggest total of the season when they host Coastal Carolina at 72.

    Honorable Mention: Utah State (6-0 O/U), Bowling Green (6-1 O/U) & Oklahoma (5-1 O/U)

    Mid-Season Best Under: Mississippi State Bulldogs (1-4 O/U)

    Mississippi State’s defense is one of the stoutest in the country. They limit opponents to just 12.7 points per contest, the best in the nation and are top 10 in total yards allowed. But what makes them a great Under bet is that the offense and more specifically Nick Fitzgerald have just never really gotten on track this season. Fitzgerald is completing just 49.6 percent of his passes this season. Mississippi State is seeing an NFL total this week at just 45.4 going up against another stout defense in LSU.

    Honorable Mention: North Texas (0-7 O/U), UAB (1-5 O/U & Northern Illinois (1-6 O/U)

    And on to the picks!

    North Carolina State Wolfpack at Clemson Tigers (-17.5, 57.5)

    Is it just me, or does Clemson look like one of the worst 6-0 Power 5 teams in recent memory? With the Kelly Bryant saga and their struggles against decent teams, the Tigers just don’t look right. Things won’t get any easier this week when they welcome the Wolfpack to Death Valley.

    North Carolina State is also undefeated at 5-0 thanks in large part to the play of quarterback Ryan Finley. The senior signal caller leads a Wolfpack offense that ranks 22nd in the nation in total yards and sixth in passing. Finley is completing nearly 70 percent of his passes for 1,621 yards and 8.7 yards per attempt. If the Wolfpack o-line can keep Finely upright lone enough, they’ll be able to succeed on offense.

    The other key here, will be if NC State can contain Clemson stud running back Travis Etienne. The sophomore back has been running extremely well, but the Wolfpack defense ranks 13th against the run and 16th in points allowed.

    If NC State is able to do these things, they won’t just cover, they’ll put Clemson on upset alert once again.

    Pick:
    North Carolina State +17.5

    Alabama Crimson Tide at Tennessee Volunteers (+28.5, 57)

    This one is pretty simple. We all know Alabama could win most games by a score of 70-14 if it left its starters in for a whole game. But Nick Saban won’t do that. He doesn’t do that. Especially when going up against those who used to work for him.

    As we mentioned a few weeks ago, he just doesn’t like embarrassing former assistants. Alabama is 0-2 ATS vs former Saban assistants this season, and Tennessee’s head coach? Jeremy Pruitt, who spent a decade working for Saban, including the previous two seasons as his defensive coordinator. Additionally, Bama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa still may be nursing a bit of a knee injury.

    Meanwhile, the Vols have shown some fight lately, going 2-0 ATS in their last two contests, covering as 30.5-point underdogs at Georgia and winning outright as 14.5-point pups at Auburn. The play of quarterback Jarrett Guarantano has stood out over those games. Throwing for 471 yards on nearly 64 percent passing with four touchdowns and no interceptions.

    Lastly this is also a bit of a lookahead spot for Bama, who was a date with LSU next week.

    Pick:
    Tennessee +28.5

    UCF Knights at East Carolina Pirates (+21.5, 65)

    Guess who’s back? The National Champs in this column, that’s who!

    Another simple rationale here. We’re just 10 days away from the first College Football Playoff rankings being released and while it is certainly unlikely, if UCF has any hope of making it, it’s going to have to start really running up the score on its opponents. That could be bad new for East Carolina.

    The Pirates have struggled against good quarterbacks this season, ranking 80th in passing defense and 100th in points allowed. On the other side of the ball they rank 109th in points scored. So, they don’t score much and allow a lot of points. That won’t work against McKenzie Milton and Co.

    UCF won this matchup last year 63-21, where Milton threw for 324 yards on 21-27 passing and two touchdowns, in just a half of action.

    The Knights were lucky to escape Memphis with a win last week, but that scare should motivate them to come out firing this week.

    Pick:
    UCF -21.5

    Last week: 2-1
    Season to date: 12-9
    Last edited by StarDust Bum; 10-20-2018 at 09:42 AM.

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    TCU'S TURNOVER TROUBLES

    The TCU Horned Frogs are steeling for their biggest game of the season Saturday against visiting Oklahoma – but in order to win, or even cover, they'll need to take much better care of the football. Despite boasting a top-15 defense in terms of total yards allowed, the Horned Frogs have had all sorts of problems hanging onto the ball, coming into the weekend with 15 turnovers and an overall turnover margin of minus-9 – third-worst in the nation. Oklahoma's turnover differential isn't that great either at minus-1, but the Sooners have been much better at retaining possession, having turned it over just six times all season.

    The Sooners are favored by 7.5 points at Amon G. Carter Stadium, but that huge turnover edge makes them a good bet to cover. If TCU can't take better care of the ball, the over on its team total of 26.5 (-120) could prove to be a fool's play; it might also be worth considering the defensive touchdown prop, valued at +120.


    NICE DAY FOR A RUN

    Wild weather is expected at Camp Randall Stadium for Saturday's encounter between the host Wisconsin Badgers and the Illinois Fighting Illini. Reports suggest the wind will be blowing between 15 to 25 miles per hour, with gusts of up to 40 miles per hour expected during the game. Add in the fact that the temperature will be hovering in the low-40s, and you have terrible conditions for passing and kicking. Fortunately, both teams are well-prepared: The Badgers own the sixth-best rush attack in the nation at 269.7 yards per game on the ground, while the Illini rank 22nd at 229.7.

    With both teams expected to forego the pass and torch the respective defenses on the ground, the over on the total of 57 is well within reach. And with the kicking games likely to go by the wayside, look for both teams to open with TDs; a Wisconsin TD to open the game scoring is listed at -115, while an Illinois TD as the first scoring play is +350.


    RED ZONE REJECTION

    The New Mexico Lobos have been a decent red-zone team through the first six games of the season – but they'll face their toughest test of the season Saturday as they entertain the Fresno State Bulldogs. New Mexico has made 28 red-zone trips in 2018 and has produced 21 touchdowns and three field goals on those possessions. But the Bulldogs' defensive tenacity has it leading the nation in red-zone defense, surrendering just five touchdowns and one field goal on 11 opponent trips inside the 20-yard line. Fresno State has also snagged 17 turnovers so far this season, tied for the third-most in the nation.

    New Mexico's team total is 20.5 – but between Fresno State's relentless red-zone defense and its incredible ball-hawking prowess, we recommend taking the under with confidence. The Bulldogs are favored by 13.5, and are a strong cover play here.


    A SAD STOREY

    The Arkansas Razorbacks will be without starting quarterback Ty Storey for Saturday's home encounter with Tulsa. Storey sustained a head injury in last weekend's loss to Ole Miss, and while head coach Chad Morris said he had progressed enough to return to practice earlier this week, he wasn't considered healthy enough to return to action against the Golden Hurricane. Storey has had an up-and-down season for the 1-6 Razorbacks, having thrown for 983 yards with seven touchdowns and five interceptions. One of Cole Kelley or Connor Noland will get the start in Storey's place.

    With Kelley more of a pocket passer than Storey, and Noland having thrown just seven collegiate passes, Arkansas might be in tough to cover at -7 vs. Tulsa – though it's worth noting that the Golden Hurricane have just seven sacks in six games.


    SDSU'S JASMIN IN DOUBT

    San Diego State might be without both of its leading rushers for Saturday's encounter with San Jose State. Chase Jasmin is in the concussion protocol after getting hit in last weekend's 21-17 victory over Air Force, and will need to be cleared in order to play. Head coach Rocky Long said earlier this week he was hopeful the sophomore would get the go-ahead to hit the field, but there is no update on his status as of Friday. Jasmin ranks second on the team in carries (87), yards (381) and scores (three); the guy who leads all three categories, Juwan Washington, is out indefinitely with a fractured clavicle.

    Jasmin's absence would leave the Aztecs without the two players responsible for 86.7 percent of their total rushing yards on the season. For a team that runs the ball twice as much as it passes it, that's bad news – and would make the under on their team total of 35 a great play against a Spartans team much better at defending the run than the pass.


    SPARTY IN BIG TROUBLE?

    The Michigan State Spartans could be significantly short-handed for Saturday's marquee matchup with visiting Michigan. In addition to running back LJ Scott remaining questionable with a leg injury – he hasn't played since Week 2 – the Spartans might have to do without senior wideout Felton Davis III, who is dealing with a hip injury. While Davis played through the injury to record the game-winning 25-yard TD pass in last week's 21-17 win over Penn State, his appearance on the injury report is concerning for a Michigan State team tasked with facing the No. 1 defense in the country.

    The Spartans' team total sits at 15.5 points; even if Davis returns, he won't be at 100 percent. The under on the Michigan State total (-120) is in play regardless of Davis' status – but if he sits out, bettors might consider an alternate under-14 play (+160).
    Last edited by StarDust Bum; 10-20-2018 at 09:46 AM.

  5. #20
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    College Essentials - Week 8
    October 20, 2018
    By Tony Mejia


    It looks unlikely that the Pac-12 will be able to secure a spot in college football's national semifinals, which means this will be one of their final chances to truly captivate the nation's attention since they've got a number of attractive matchups on tap to strengthen Satruday's card. The following are the best games on the slate.

    Oregon at Washington State (-3/68), 7:30 p.m. ET, FOX: Both Washington schools, Stanford and Oregon have each lost only once in Pac-12 play and harbor realistic hopes of reaching the conference title game. The Cougs have had dream seasons before, but this would be an unlikely one given the graduation of Luke Falk, the most prolific quarterback in conference history. ECU transfer Gardner Hinshew has stepped in and made the Cougs his team, making the most of a tremendous receiving corps that the Ducks will have to stay in front of. Tay Martin, Dezmon Patmon and Easop Winston will have to win individual battles against a Ducks secondary to help the Cougs hold serve as a home favorite in order to maintain a perfect record against the spread.

    Dillon Mitchell is the main cog in the Ducks’ receiving corps and should draw extra attention to make life easier for Justin Herbert, who is picking up steam as the likely first QB taken in the next NFL draft so long as he stays healthy. Weather in Pullman should be perfect, so don’t rule out a shootout here. Washington State has won three straight meetings against Oregon for the first time since the early 1980s, rising up after years of mostly being the conference doormat. The Cougs are hoping that hosting College Gameday won’t be the lone highlight of a potentially special weekend.

    Michigan (-7.5/40.5) at Michigan State, 12 p.m. ET, FOX: If you long for the days of old school Big Ten football, the kind with the three yards and a cloud of dust, the universe has your back with this one. Although last year’s game was over the top in that regard due to monsoon-like conditions, this year’s edition should feature milder rain and challenging winds. Mix in the heated rivalry as the Spartans now seek out this upset to highlight a disappointing season and you should see why this isn’t expected to be a cakewalk for the Wolverines. A victory for Michigan would ensure that the most promising run of the Jim Harbaugh era since it would take them into its bye with a single loss and a seven-game win streak entering Ohio State week.

    Defensive end Rashan Gary, one of the top players in the country, will be a game-time decision for the Wolverines. Rumors had him following Ohio State’s Nick Bosa lead in hanging up the college jersey early to prepare for the pros, but he’s now likely to play in this one after sitting out the Wisconsin win with a shoulder injury. WR Tarik Black has been out all season but is expected to be one of QB Shea Patterson’s top targets. The Ole Miss transfer is also a go despite a hand injury. Counterpart Brian Lewerke comes off throwing two touchdowns in a 21-17 upset of Penn State and has experience in this rivalry game, running for a score and remaining turnover-free in last year’s 14-10 upset as a 10-point underdog. In order to win their first game over the Wolverines in East Lansing since 2014, the Spartans have to overcome injuries to guards David Beedle and Kevin Jarvis, both of whom are out. Corner Josiah Scott won’t play, RB L.J. Scott is a huge question mark and WRs Darrell Stewart, Jalen Nailor and Cam Chambers will likely be game-time decisions.

    USC at Utah (-6.5/48), 8 p.m. ET, Pac-12: The Trojans failed to cover the number in any of their first four games but have cashed in holding serve against Arizona and Colorado in their last two contests. USC is 0-2 in an underdog role, being outscored 54-17 by Stanford and Texas in September. It went 0-2 when catching points last season, falling to Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl and at Notre Dame by a combined margin of 73-21, so the last time it came through with a genuine upset came back at Washington in Nov. 2016. The Trojans have lost in their last two trips to Salt Lake City, last winning in 2014. They’re 7-16 on the road against the number under Clay Helton and are 1-10 SU/ATS getting points on the road. USC must overcome the absence of top pass rusher Porter Gustin, who was disruptive before suffering an ankle injury against the Buffs.

    The Utes own the nation’s fourth-ranked run defense, so they’ll force true freshman J.T. Daniels to grow up in his fourth true road game, having finally won his last one in Tucson. He again demonstrated maturity in overcoming two early picks, throwing three touchdowns to drop Colorado and connecting with deep threat Michael Pittman, Jr., whose emergence makes him one to watch here. Utah won last season’s game 29-27 on a TD run in the final minute and have seen QB Tyler Huntley come into his own of late, becoming the first player since 2000 to throw for over 200 yards while running and receiving for over 50 yards each. Keep an eye out for trick plays. The Utes threw to the quarterback in last years’s win in L.A. too, so expect to see a full playbook as they seek out a huge win on Homecoming.

    Oklahoma (7.5/62) at TCU, 12 p.m. ET, ABC: The Sooners had a scheduled week off after the Red River Showdown, so they’ve hit the reset button following a disappointing upset loss to the Longhorns in a shootout at the Cotton Bowl. OU is back in the DFW area for the first of three challenging road games they must now play in order to try and get another crack at Texas in the Big 12 Championship. Kyler Murray is playing out his final football season before reporting to the Oakland A’s to begin his baseball career, so it’s vital to keep him engaged. With veteran defensive coordinator Mike Stoops replaced by Ruffin McNeill, changes are expected on that side of the ball that the Horned Frogs will have identify in-game. Oklahoma hasn’t lost consecutive regular-season games since 1999 and owns a national-best 17-game road winning streak.

    TCU had a few extra days off itself after losing 17-14 to Texas Tech on Nov. 11. QB Shawn Robinson and RB Darius Anderson each were banged up, so they’re expected to be healthier here as they seek out their first upset of Oklahoma since 2015 in order to improve to 2-6 against the Sooners since joining the Big 12. Free safety Niko Small is a game-time decision while the offensive line continues to be shuffled around, so the Frogs will have their hands full as they look to avoid falling under .500 for the season. Their defensive front will have to get to the elusive Murray, who ranks second in the country in passing efficiency and fourth in total offense. OU has won 27 of its last 29 conference games but must still play at Texas Tech and West Virginia as it looks to recover and not waste a promising season.

    Colorado at Washington (-17.5/50), 3:30 p.m. ET, FOX: The Buffs lost standout WR Laviska Shenault to a toe injury last week, falling from the ranks of the undefeated in demoralizing fashion at the hands of USC at the Coliseum. With WR Juwann Winfree unable to go and another key wideout, Jay McIntyre, sidelined by a head injury, QB Steven Montez ran out of quality targets. Shenault leads the country in receptions and receiving yards per game, so if he’s unable to play against Washington, Colorado is likely to lose to the Huskies for the 10th straight time. Washington has won all six Pac-12 matchups by 15 or more points. RB Travon McMillan will play despite nursing a thigh injury. No rain is expected in Seattle, so if Colorado does get its key personnel back, it should have a chance to move the football against U-Dub’s stingy defense, giving them a fighting chance at snapping a 28-game road losing streak against ranked opponents.

    Washington is hoping both of its running backs, Myles Gaskin (shoulder) and Salvon Ahmed (knee) will be healthy enough to play, but a number of top defensive players may not be so lucky. Linebacker DJ Beavers is expected to be out, while NT Shane Bowman (foot) remains out. Senior DT Jaylen Johnson is out for the first half due to targeting and pass-rusher Amandre Williams elected to transfer this week, so the Huskies will probably look to keep the defense off the field wherever possible.

    N.C. State at Clemson (-17/58), 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN: Freshman QB Trevor Lawrence had his first bye week to help prepare for a challenging second half of the season that begins with the only other unbeaten team in the ACC’s Atlantic Division coming through town. Visits to Florida State and Boston College are also on the schedule over the next month, so the work Dabo Swinney got accomplished with Lawrence and the offense while they were on the mend should be invaluable. Clemson is as healthy as it has been all season but didn’t get the services of former starter Kelly Bryant back as a safety net for Wallace. He’s visiting Arkansas this weekend.

    The Wolfpack must find a way to protect QB Ryan Finley, who can beat you with downfield passes if he gets the time to throw and has receivers like Kelvin Harmon and Jacobi Meyers who are capable of making inroads against the Tigers secondary. RB Reggie Gallaspy has proven to be quite the find and calls himself the “Bus,” so you can imagine what his running style is like if you haven’t seen him. There’s no doubt N.C. State feels it can pull off this upset, having come within a touchdown of Clemson in each of the past two seasons after scoring 41 points in the 2015 matchup. If they can get speedy freshman Ricky Person, Jr. to find some room in complementing Gallaspy to anchor the ground game, N.C. State can possess the ball and keep its defense fresh and off the field. The Pack has covered three of the last five meetings between the schools.

    Mississippi State at LSU (-6/46), 7 p.m. ET, ESPN: Rain is likely to stay away in Baton Rouge, so at least the Bulldogs aren’t expected to have to deal with the elements in addition to a fierce Tigers defense on the road in Death Valley. Mississippi State comes off a revitalizing 23-9 upset of Auburn on the heels of scoring a combined 13 points over back-to-back weeks in losses to Kentucky and Florida. Nick Fitzgerald beat LSU 37-7 last season and nearly led a comeback from a 23-3 deficit last time MSU came to town, falling a field goal short. Coming off a bye week following its win over Auburn’s Tigers, Mississippi State’s group will be playing only its second road game since early September and will need the defense to lead the charge again by keeping the LSU offense at bay behind DT Jeffery Simmons and edge rusher Montez Sweat up front. Sophomore RB Kylin Hill will try and help Fitzgerald play keep-away in addition to limiting opportunities for miscues since the Bulldogs aren’t likely to put the ball in the air much.

    LSU will happily ride its run game and sturdy defense as well, so points may be difficult to come by. MSU’s desire to do its damage on the ground may limit the impact standout Tigers corner Greedy Williams can have, but linebacker Devin White should be a force. Coming off a 20-point blowout home win over Georgia to get over an upset loss at Florida, the Tigers will be counting on a lubed up Homecoming crowd to provide an advantage as they look to bounce back from last year’s blowout loss that saw them outgained 465-270 in a complete annihilation. LSU converted all four of its fourth-down conversion attempts last week, so look for that trend to continue in a game where maintaining possession should play a huge role.

    Ohio State (-13/69) at Purdue, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC: The Buckeyes have only been favored by fewer points than they are tonight in West Lafayette against Penn State, so keep that in mind as you look to wager on this one. Add in the fact that Purdue senior QB David Blough has had a tremendous season, demostrating tremendous growth, and the potential for an upset is certainly there if he continues to make plays in order to take advantage of an injury-filled secondary. True freshman Rondale Moore has the speed to easily get away from the Ohio State defense, so count on him commanding extra attention. That could really benefit WR Issac Zico, who has stood out in taking advantage of the attention Moore receives over the past few wins. Ohio State has surrendered 22 plays of 30 yards or more, sixth-most in FBS, so it is certainly susceptible to giving up big plays.

    The Buckeyes can score in the blink of an eye themselves and knows it likely needs to score points to get awya unscathed, so count on aggressive playcalling. QB Dwayne Haskins has a number of fantastic receiving options who all block for each other well, contributing to him leading the Big Ten in passing yards per game (333) completion percentage (72.3, third in nation) and a national-best 28 touchdown tosses. Wind gusts of over 30 miles per hour could be a factor here, so don't dismiss an upset despite the fact they fell 56-0 the last time the Buckeyes visited.

    Others to watch:Memphis at Missouri, Houston at Navy, Penn State at Indiana, Auburn at Ole Miss, Alabama at Tennessee, Cincinnati at Temple, Virginia at Duke, North Carolina at Syracuse, Minnesota at Nebraska, Maryland at Iowa, Buffalo at Toledo, Wake Forest at Florida State, Arizona at UCLA, Nevada at Hawai'i
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Wrapping up a college football Saturday

    13) Purdue 49, Ohio State 20— Boilermakers led this game 14-3 at halftime; Ohio State threw 73 passes, ran ball only 25 times in an ugly loss.

    Chances are there is lot going on behind the scenes in Columbus:
    — Urban Meyer didn’t coach the first three games (suspended) this season.
    — Star DE Joey Rosa bolted school this week to get ready for the NFL Draft
    — Buckeyes have a freshman QB from Las Vegas who is more of a runner; could it be they’re going to use him in packages, to balance out their offense?

    12) Michigan 21, Michigan State 7— Spartans ran 51 plays in this game, for only 94 yards- they were 0-12 on third down, completed only 7-28 passes, ran ball 23 times for 15 yards. Just total domination by Michigan’s defense.

    There was a 65-minute lightning delay in the first quarter; don’t think it had an effect on the outcome.

    11) Washington State 34, Oregon 20— ESPN’s Game Day was in Pullman Saturday morning; the crowd was estimated at “over 40,000 people” and the show started before the sun came out in the western time zone. These are the glory days for Wazzu football, and they had Drew Bledsoe play there in the 90’s.

    Mike Leach makes $2.95M a year; he went 84-43 at Texas Tech, is 43-39 at Washington State; ain’t easy to win at the big-time level in Lubbock and/or Pullman. Wazzu was 9-40 the four years before Leach arrived— keep that in mind.

    10) LSU 19, Mississippi State 3— Bayou Bengals have a kicker named Cole Tracy who is a grad transfer from Assumption, a small school in Worcester, MA. He may be the only person in the history of man to transfer from Assumption to LSU, especially to play football.

    9) Old Dominion 37, Western Kentucky 34— You won’t see a stranger end to a game.

    Hilltoppers scored a TD run to go ahead 34-27 with 1:37 left.

    Old Dominion came back and tied the game 34-34 on a TD pass with 0:10 left.

    WKU missed a long FG at the gun, but the Monarchs had 12 men on the field, so Hilltoppers got another try to win the game.

    WKU misses the next kick short; Old Dominion runs the ball all the way back to the Hilltopper 15-yard line, and there is a facemark penalty on the play against WKU, so they get to kick the game-winning FG.

    Damn, thats a brutal way to lose.

    8) Marshall 31, Florida Atlantic 7— Yardage was about even here, but Owls were -5 in turnovers; Marshall’s first three TD drives were only 43-27-13 yards.

    You go minus-5 in turnovers, you’re going to lose.

    7) Upsets of the Week:
    — Purdue (+13.5) 49, Ohio State 20— Fun night in West Lafayette, ya think?
    — Virginia (+7) 28, Duke 14
    — SMU (+7) 27, Tulane 23
    — Old Dominion (+5) 37, Western Kentucky 34

    6) Syracuse 40, North Carolina 37 OT— Orangemen tied game on a 42-yard TD pass with 1:39 left in regulation, then won the game in OT to improve their record to 5-2. UNC is 1-5, losing its last two games by three points each.

    5) Army 31, Miami OH 30 OT— Miami scored TD in OT to make scored 31-30, then went for two points and the win instead of the tying PAT- they didn’t get it, so they lose.

    Not a fan of going for two there, especially since Miami was playing a service academy, so chances are Miami has a better kicker than Army.

    Akron 24, Kent State 23 OT— Golden Flashes did same damn thing, and they lost, too.

    4) Penn State 33, Indiana 28— Hoosiers passed up an easy FG with about 2:00 left in first half, but got ball back, then screwed up their clock management and never got a FG attempt off. They will be sick thinking about the chances they squandered in this game.

    Indiana had 32 first downs; they outgained Penn State 554-417. But they lost, turning ball over three times and going 9-21 on third down.

    3) Alabama 58, Tennessee 21— Why are Alabama games always on TV? They’re boring as hell; Alabama is so much better than everyone else, their games suck to watch. Total yardage in the first quarter of this game was 217-6.

    Crimson Tide’s first TD came 4:02 into the game; that was the longest Alabama has gone all season before scoring their first TD of a game.

    That Alabama-Citadel game on November 17 should be awesome.

    2) Houston 49, Navy 36— Middies led this game 24-21 at halftime; didn’t even cover the 12.5-point spread. This is Navy’s worst team maybe since a 2-10 team in 2002.

    1) Dodgers-Red Sox World Series; the TV moguls have to be pleased.

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