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Thread: NCAAF Trends and Indexes - Week 14 (Fri., Nov. 30 - Sat., Dec. 1)

  1. #16
    Join Date
    Nov 2004


    MAC Championship Preview
    Joe Nelson

    Championship weekend kicks off in Detroit with the MAC Championship Game Friday night in Detroit. Northern Illinois has now represented the West in seven of the last nine title games while this is just the second appearance for Buffalo.

    Here is a look at Friday’s closely-lined championship game in the MAC.

    Match-up: Northern Illinois Huskies vs. Buffalo Bulls;
    Venue: At Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan
    Time/TV: Friday, November 30, 7:00 PM ET, ESPN2
    Line: Buffalo -3, Over/Under 49
    Last Meeting: 2017, at Northern Illinois (-8) 14, Buffalo 13

    Buffalo has been the prominent MAC team all season since starting the year 4-0 with notable wins at Temple and at Rutgers. The Bulls started 6-0 in conference play to take a commanding lead in the East but slipped up at Ohio in mid-November before clinching the division title last weekend. At 10-2, it has been the best season record-wise in Buffalo history already and the Bulls will have two more opportunities to add to the win count.

    This if the fourth season for Lance Leipold who won six Division III championships in eight years at Wisconsin-Whitewater and figures to be a candidate to be interviewed for major conference positions in the near future. Buffalo went 5-7 and 2-10 in his first two seasons before reaching 6-6 last year without getting a bowl invite.

    Rod Carey took over Northern Illinois for the Orange Bowl at the end of the 2012 season after Dave Doeren was hired at NC State. In six-plus seasons he is 51-29 with the Huskies finishing in the top three in the West every season while this will be his fourth MAC title game, going 1-2 in three straight appearances from 2013 to 2015. A bowl win has eluded Carey, winless in five tries but the program has been a consistent force in the conference.

    The Dollar General Bowl in Mobile vs. a Sun Belt team has been the typical landing spot for the MAC Champion though there are not true ranked bowl tie-ins for the MAC. The Camellia, Famous Idaho Potato, Frisco, and Bahamas Bowls are also tied to the MAC with the conference featuring seven bowl-eligible teams including six that are at least 7-5 this year.

    West champion Northern Illinois is just 7-5 but the Huskies lost non-conference games to Iowa, Utah, and Florida State, while beating BYU for one of the nation’s most difficult non-conference schedules. The Huskies held this spot despite losing its final two MAC games to slide to 6-2 in league play, falling in single-score games hosting Miami and at Western Michigan in the final two weeks.

    Northern Illinois has the top scoring defense in the MAC, allowing just 19.8 points per game while Buffalo was one of the conference’s top offensive teams, posting 35.5 points per game in conference play. These teams didn’t play in the regular season this year but Buffalo did face Eastern Michigan and Toledo in the crossover games for a fairly difficult schedule. Northern Illinois drew Ohio and Miami as both teams faced the second and third place teams from the opposing divisions.

    Experienced mobile quarterbacks are on both sides with sophomore Marcus Childers playing significantly last season as a freshman for Northern Illinois. He posted worse numbers across the board this season however despite a similar record for the Huskies. Junior Tyree Jackson threw nearly twice as many touchdown passes this season compared with last season for Buffalo but he also saw major declines in most of his passing numbers compared with last season. At 6’7” Jackson is a difficult matchup for any defense but the Huskies have had great defensive numbers this season.

    Only Clemson is allowing fewer yards per carry than Northern Illinois at just 2.6 yards per rush attempt on the season. The Huskies were only out-gained on the ground three times this season and never in MAC play with only Iowa, Florida State, and BYU holding a ground edge in this matchup while in six of eight MAC games Northern Illinois had a rushing edge of at least 96 yards.

    Dominating the ground game has been the key to beating Buffalo this season as in the team’s two losses they had a major rushing deficit. In September Army out-gained Buffalo by 178 rushing yards and won 42-13 in Buffalo while in mid-November Ohio out-rushed Buffalo by 280 yards in a 52-17 result that prevented the Bulls from clinching the division at the time.

    Despite the 6-2 record Northern Illinois played almost exclusively close games in MAC play with seven of eight games decided by 10 or fewer points in either direction. The only lopsided result was a home win over 2017 MAC Champion Toledo but that game featured nearly identical production but a few big turnovers and special teams plays tilting the scales to the Huskies. Northern Illinois actually has a negative scoring differential on the season despite being 7-5, though they outscored MAC foes by an average of 5.3 points per game.

    Buffalo outscored foes by an average of 11.0 points per game overall this season and 10.9 points per game in MAC play. Buffalo scored at least 31 points in nine of ten wins this season while five of seven wins for Northern Illinois came with 26 or fewer points scored by the Huskies as these teams have generally been in contrasting types of contests and whoever dictates the pace could have the advantage.

    2017 Meeting: In mid-October Northern Illinois visited Buffalo and took 14-3 lead with a pair of early second quarter touchdown drives led by Marcus Childers who ran for the first score and threw for the second. Buffalo would answer with 10 points before halftime including getting a field goal following a fumble for a one-point game at the break, 14-13. Northern Illinois had 1st-and-goal early in third quarter before a Childers fumble and on the next possession the Huskies missed on a 43-yard field goal. Buffalo got zero points after an 81-yard drive early in the fourth quarter with a missed field goal that could have taken the lead and a few minutes later an interception in Huskies territory also cost the Bulls a chance to get in front. Northern Illinois missed another field goal in the final minutes as the 14-13 edge held after a scoreless second half filled with missed opportunities.

    Series History:

    -- Northern Illinois is 10-0 S/U in this series since Buffalo joined the FBS ranks with the Huskies 7-3 ATS.

    -- Northern Illinois has been favored by at least seven points in every previous meeting as this will be the first time Buffalo has been favored in this series and in eight of the previous 10 meetings Northern Illinois has been favored by 14 or more points.

    MAC Championship History:

    The MAC Championship has been won by the West representative in eight of the last 12 seasons and Northern Illinois has been six of the previous eight MAC championships, winning the title in 2011, 2012, and 2014, with the last title under current head coach Rod Carey.

  2. #17
    Join Date
    Nov 2004


    By: Monty Andrews

    First-Half Bull Rush

    The Buffalo Bulls have their sights set on the MAC Championship – but the Northern Illinois Huskies stand in their way as the teams prepare to do battle Friday night at Ford Field in Detroit. The Bulls have punished opponents in the opening half of recent games, scoring 28 or more first-half points in three of their previous four games. Buffalo is one of only 17 teams in the country averaging better than 20 first-half points against Division I opponents, while the Huskies find themselves near the bottom of the nation in that category with just nine points per game.

    Bettors should consider pouncing on the 1H props in favor of the Bulls. We suggest leaning toward Buffalo on the 1H spread, and we're even more insistent on the Over on the Bulls' 1H total.

    Can Memphis Stifle UCF on Third Down?

    The Memphis Tigers are the only team over the past year to have a legitimate shot at ending Central Florida's 24-game win streak – and the visitors will take their third crack at beating the Knights in just over a year as the teams meet Saturday at Spectrum Stadium in Orlando. It's a rematch of last year's American Athletic Conference title game, which UCF won 62-55 in overtime; the Knights also beat Memphis 31-30 earlier this season in their closest call to date. Memphis held UCF to 2-for-12 on third down in that game, and have limited their last four opponents to a 35.2-percent success rate.

    Memphis comes in as a 3.5-point underdog, but the Tigers' improved third-down defense – combined with recent success against a UCF team that will be without without starting quarterback McKenzie Milton – makes the visitor a trendy cover play. We also like the Tigers to hold the Knights below their 34.5-point team total.

    Back to the Touchdown Well

    When Boise State and Fresno State met in regular-season action three weeks ago, we recommended taking a Broncos touchdown as the first scoring play because these teams love them some first-quarter TDs. And of course, it was a Boise State field goal that ended up cashing. So let's go right back to that prop as the Broncos and Bulldogs meet again, this time to decide the Mountain West championship at Albertsons Stadium in Boise. The teams combined for 117 touchdowns and just 22 field goals during the season, while converting a combined 22-of-37 field goal attempts.

    Boise State is a 2.5-point favorite, and is a good bet to kick off the scoring again. And this time, we like them to actually convert the TD, which pays out at +140.

    Going For It

    Don't be surprised to see Appalachian State take some chances as they look to secure the Sun Belt championship against Louisiana on Saturday afternoon at Kidd Brewer Stadium. The Mountaineers were one of the top fourth-down teams in the country, making good on 12 of their 20 opportunities (60 percent). And that presents a major challenge for the Ragin' Cajuns, who were downright dreadful on fourth-down defense this season, allowing teams to convert 18 of 24 changes (75 percent) – the third-worst mark in the nation. App State went 1-for-2 in a 27-17 win over Louisiana on Oct. 20.

    The Mountaineers are 16.5-point favorites for Saturday's rematch – and if they connect on a few fourth-and-short situations, they should be in great position to cover. The potential boost in App State's time of possession will also make the Under on Louisiana's team total of 20.5 a viable option.
    Last edited by StarDust Bum; 11-30-2018 at 12:25 PM.

  3. #18
    Join Date
    Nov 2004


    Big Ten Championship Preview
    By ASA

    Ohio State (-14.5) vs. Northwestern - (FOX, 8:00 PM ET)
    Lucas Oil Stadium - Indianapolis, Indiana

    Ohio State – OSU enters the Big Ten Championship game with an 11-1 overall record, 8-1 in the Big Ten. Their lone loss was a bad one as Purdue trounced the Buckeyes 49-20 back on October 20th. Last week they were a home underdog to arch rival Michigan for the first time since 2004. They didn’t look like the underdog on the field as they routed the Wolverines 62-39. The Michigan defense had allowed a TOTAL of 105 points in their 8 Big Ten games entering last week. OSU lit them up for more than half that season total in one game. It was the most points OSU has EVER scored in this rivalry and the most points Michigan has EVER allowed in a game period (in regulation). That win pushed Ohio State’s record vs their rival to 14-1 the last 15 meetings.

    The Buckeye offense was as explosive as it’s been all season long scoring TD’s on plays of 24, 24, 31, 78, 2, 1, and 16 yards and almost 30% of their offensive plays 19 of 67) went for at least 10 yards. This team is obviously very talented and it took being an underdog at home to Michigan to bring their “A” performance. They had muddled through much of the conference season struggling to beat teams they should have handled easily. They were just 2-6 ATS in Big Ten play entering last week’s game. Can they bring their peak performance again this week versus a “ho-hum” opponent?

    They didn’t for most of the season, however they now have the College Football Playoff in sight and may need a big win here to get there. OSU’s mental state after last week’s emotional win will be key to handicapping this game. The Buckeyes lead the league in total offense by large margin as they average 523 YPG which is 70 YPG more than Nebraska who checks in at 2nd place. However, on defense OSU has fallen off big time from last year as they allow 403 YPG which is 130 YPG more than they gave up in conference play last season. This will be OSU’s 5th appearance in this game in 9 seasons.

    Northwestern – The Cats come into this game with just an 8-4 overall record, but a near perfect 8-1 mark in Big Ten play. Pat Fitzgerald’s troops are now 15-1 SU their last 16 conference games dating back to last season. They weren’t always overly impressive in doing so as just one of their eight conference wins came by more than 10 points. Last week they were favored by 16 at home against state rival Illinois and came away with a tight 24-16 win. That was just one week after the Illini lost 63-0 at home to Iowa. Illinois actually outgained the Cats 435 to 375, however with a 21-6 lead at halftime, Fitzgerald pulled many of his starters in the 2nd half as they had already locked up a spot in the Championship game.

    Even as the game tightened up late in the 4th quarter with the Illini driving for the potential tying score, Fitzgerald kept most of his regulars on the bench. The defense stiffened late and picked off an Illini pass at their own 17-yard line to ice the game. Despite only losing one conference game, Northwestern was outgained in Big Ten play by an average of 27 YPG (344 YPG offense / 371 YPG defense) and by 0.7 YPP (4.7 YPP offense / 5.4 YPP defense).

    Offensively they rank 12th in the league in total offense and 13th in rushing although they’ve run the ball better as of late averaging 166 YPG their last 5. They rely heavily on their QB Clayton Thorson who will be starting his 52nd consecutive game under center which is a Big Ten record. Defensively they rank 5th in the Big Ten in total defense and 4th against the rush. This will be the Wildcat’s first ever appearance in the Big Ten Championship game.

    Inside the Numbers – OSU is favored by 14 in this one and it’s the first time in Big Ten Championship history that a team has been favored by double digits. Last year Ohio State was favored by -5.5 in this game and won 27-21 covering the number by a half point. It was the first time in Big Ten Championship history the favorite actually covered the game as the dog is now 6-1 ATS.

    Not only has the favorite struggled to cover in this game, they are just 4-4 SU. The Buckeyes have owned this series winning 30 of the last 31 meetings outright with Northwestern’s only win coming in 2004. OSU has been favored in all 25 games played in this series since 1980 and they are 16-9 ATS in those games. Northwestern is 6-0-1 ATS as a dog this year with point spread wins over both Michigan & Notre Dame. Going back even further, the Cats are 22-6 ATS the last 28 times they’ve been getting points.


  4. #19
    Join Date
    Nov 2004


    Saturday's Group of 5 Tips
    Joe Nelson

    Playing for a championship is the goal of every program and eight conference champions will be decided on Saturday.

    College Playoff berths are not likely on the line in the Conference USA, American, Sun Belt, and Mountain West games but all four contests will be rematches to fill out the championship Saturday schedule. One of these teams should also get called for the top Group of 5 spot in the New Year’s Six.


    Match-up: UAB Blazers at Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders
    Venue: At Johnny Floyd Stadium in Murfreesboro, Tennessee
    Time/TV: Saturday, December 1, 1:30 PM ET, CBSSN
    Line: Middle Tennessee State -1, Over/Under 44½
    Last Meeting: November 24, 2018 at Middle Tennessee State (+3) 27, UAB 3

    UAB wasn’t playing football two years ago and after a successful bowl season in last year’s re-boot the Blazers look to take another step this season with a division title and a shot a the conference title. Middle Tennessee State is also in the Conference USA Championship for the first time looking to keep a run of four consecutive championships for the East division champion going.

    Bill Clark stayed with UAB through the two-year hiatus after coaching the Blazers for his first season in 2014 following one year at Jacksonville State. UAB was perfect at home this season in a 9-3 campaign though the team enters this game off back-to-back losses, falling 41-20 to Texas A&M and then in last week’s game in Murfreesboro. Senior quarterback A.J. Erdely miss three November games before returning last week with freshman Tyler Johnston filling in with similar numbers as both could see the field this week.

    Rick Stockstill won a Sun Belt title in his first season with the program in 2006 and this will be his first trip back to a championship game, leading mostly successful results over now 13 seasons with an 87-76 record and no losing seasons in Conference USA play. Last year’s team had a lot of potential but his son Brent was injured most of the year. Back as a senior quarterback the younger Stockstill has posted terrific numbers this season and he missed most of the one conference game the Blue Raiders lost at Florida International.

    These schools are only about 200 miles apart as a good crowd should be expected even with some potential rain in the forecast for Saturday.

    Regular Season Meeting:
    These teams met just last week on the same field. The incentives were vastly different however as Middle Tennessee State needed to win to get to this game and shortly after kickoff knew that Florida International had lost to make it a win-and-win-the-division-title game. UAB had already clinched its division and had little at stake last week and it showed, ultimately posting only 89 net yards of offense and not scoring again after taking a 3-0 lead on the opening drive in an eventual 27-3 result.

    Series History:
    UAB won last season’s meeting 25-23 while Middle Tennessee State has won four of seven meetings since 1995 with a 3-2 ATS run in lined games since 2000.


    Match-up: Memphis Tigers at Central Florida Knights
    Venue: At Spectrum Stadium in Orlando, Florida
    Time/TV: Saturday, December 1, 3:30 PM ET, ABC
    Line: Central Florida -3, Over/Under 65
    Last Meeting: October 13, 2018, Central Florida (-4½) 31, at Memphis 30

    This will be the fourth meeting in two seasons for these programs with UCF looking to extend the nation’s longest winning streak to 25 games with a second straight conference title. The storyline however will be the absence of quarterback McKenzie Milton who was injured for UCF in last week’s win over South Florida.

    In last year’s championship game these teams put on a show with Milton helping to deliver a 62-55 win in double-overtime with both teams eclipsing 700 yards of offense in a game with several big swings. UCF has won the regular season meetings the past two years as well, getting a lopsided home win last year and this year winning in Memphis by one-point with a second half comeback.

    The Tigers are one of the nation’s top rushing teams with Darrell Henderson posting 1,699 yards so far and Memphis posting 6.4 yards per carry for nearly 276 yards per game. Replacing a highly productive quarterback, junior Brady White has been effective in his first season after transferring from Arizona State. Freshman Darriel Mack will start at quarterback for UCF with Milton out. Mack did play in entire game in the win over East Carolina but that has been his only meaningful action this season. He is much bigger than Milton and a serious rushing threat but likely not nearly the same caliber performer in the passing game at this point in his career.

    Regular Season Meeting:
    In a highly anticipated rematch of the 2017 championship game Memphis took command early with a 30-14 edge until just before halftime. UCF trimmed the deficit to just six points in the third quarter and then took a one-point lead in the fourth. Memphis fumbled twice in the second half to wind up shut out in the second half at home and losing despite a 281-165 rushing edge.

    Series History:
    Central Florida has won S/U 12 meetings in a row in this series going back to 2005 with the last win for Memphis coming in 1990 when UCF was not playing at the top college football level. Memphis has gone 4-2-1 ATS in the seven meetings going back to 2010.


    Match-up: UL-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns at Appalachian State Mountaineers
    Venue: At Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone, North Carolina
    Time/TV: Saturday, December 1, 12:00 PM ET, ESPN
    Line: Appalachian State -18, Over/Under 59
    Last Meeting: October 2, 2018 at Appalachian State (-25½) 27, UL-Lafayette 17

    The Sun Belt split into two five-team divisions this season and will join the Championship Weekend with the inaugural title game this weekend after often featuring a full regular season schedule in this final weekend in previous years. There was great drama in determining the division champions this season with last week’s results meaningful and the heavy Sun Belt favorite to open the season, Arkansas State, did not make it.

    Scott Satterfield led a 4-8 FCS squad in his first season in Boon in 2013 but has had a winning season every year since the program jumped to the FBS level in 2014. The Mountaineers are 3-0 in bowl games the past three years and 39-11 the past four years combined while going 28-4 in Sun Belt play in that span. Expect Satterfield to field interviews from prominent openings if he so chooses as he has done a remarkable job. This year may have been his best work as the roster appeared to be in a major transition with the loss of several key players from last season.

    The one game in Sun Belt play that Appalachian State lost came without quarterback Zac Thomas at Georgia Southern and the numbers were dominant for the Mountaineers with a 255-108 scoring record in going 7-1 in league play. Appalachian State went 5-0 at home on the season and nearly upset Penn State in the opening week on the road.

    Louisiana started the season 1-3 but losses at Mississippi State and at Alabama certainly are forgivable. The Ragin’ Cajuns beat Arkansas State at home 47-43 and last week earned this spot by besting rival UL-Monroe on the road 31-28. The Ragin’ Cajuns played both Appalachian State and Troy on the road for a difficult crossover draw and lost both games by 10 points in lower scoring games. In going 5-3 in Sun Belt play Louisiana outscored foes by just 24 points while being outscored overall on the season despite being 7-5.

    Regular Season Meeting:
    As a massive home favorite Appalachian State led just 17-10 at the half before pulling away. The final score was 27-17 but Louisiana scored with 63 seconds to go to make the final margin tighter, though the yardage edge for the Mountaineers was modest at 372-328. The ground game was the key with a 266-140 rushing advantage for the Mountaineers at home.

    Series History:
    These teams have met each of the last five years with five straight wins for Appalachian State, going 3-2 ATS including 2-1 in the home meetings.


    Match-up: Fresno State Bulldogs at Boise State Broncos
    Venue: At Albertson’s Stadium in Boise, Idaho
    Time/TV: Saturday, December 1, 7:45 PM ET, ESPN
    Line: Boise State -2½, Over/Under 50½
    Last Meeting: November 9, 2018, at Boise State (+2½) 24, Fresno State 17

    These teams met in the Mountain West title game last season with a 17-14 win for Boise State with a 90-yard touchdown drive for the lead late in the fourth quarter. That was after Fresno State defeated Boise State at home the previous week to close the regular season. These teams also met in the 2014 MWC Championship, also a win but missed cover for Boise State.

    The stakes are potentially higher this season as if UCF loses to Memphis now playing without its star quarterback, the victor of this game could be the highest rated Group of Five squad in line for a New Year’s Six bowl bid. Boise State is currently 22nd while Fresno State is 25th in those rankings. UCF is 8th and could potentially hold the highest ranked spot with a loss though that would be an unusual precedent to set as they wouldn’t be a conference champion and would likely look like a much less promising team without Milton.

    Marcus McMaryion and Brett Rypien are both in the nation’s top 12 in QB Rating and both seniors are coming to the close of excellent seasons and careers. They have combined to throw only 10 interceptions in nearly 800 attempts. Defense has been the key for Fresno State however, second nationally allowing just 13.5 points per game with a significant edge in pass defense relative to Boise State. The Broncos are 119-7 S/U at home since 1999 for truly the toughest home field edge in the nation however.

    Regular Season Meeting:
    As a rare home underdog Boise State fell behind 17-3 early in the third quarter. The Broncos rallied to win in the fourth taking a 24-17 edge while Fresno State had a missed field goal while getting stopped on downs in Boise territory on its final two possessions. Boise State had a 448-390 edge in yards and committed the only turnover in the game.

    Series History:
    Boise State is 15-4 S/U in this series since 1996 with a 13-5 ATS record however Fresno State has covered in four of the past five meetings. This will be the MWC Championship matchup for the third time in the last five years with a 28-14 win for Boise in 2014 and a 17-14 win over Boise last season with the Broncos hosting all of those games. Fresno State did win S/U hosting Boise State in the regular season in 2013 and 2017 but has not won in Boise since 1984.
    Last edited by Udog; 11-29-2018 at 11:58 PM.

  5. #20
    Join Date
    Nov 2004


    The Triple Option: College football Conference Championship Week picks and predictions
    Andrew Caley

    It’s hard to believe another college football season has come to an end. That’s right, we’re at conference championship week.

    But that means another season of The Triple Option comes to a close. And while we weren’t as profitable in Year 2 as we were in Year 1, profit is never something to turn down. We went a respectable 22-17 this season (56.4). And it would have been a little better if Notre Dame didn’t let USC march down the field at the end of the game for a meaningless backdoor cover last week.

    Luckily for us we have one more chance to improve on, or tank, that record by picking every conference championship game this week in a special edition of the Triple Option. This year we're up to 10 conference Championship games with the Big 12 and the Sun Belt joining the mix. (Covers' editorial staff will be doing our Bowl Pick'em challenge once again this season in which we pick every Bowl game, so there will be still ample time to fade me hahaha).

    Thank you all once again for reading and following this season. I hope you enjoyed reading the column as much as I had writing it. So, let's eat up one more batch of winners and some awesome eats with the complete compilation of all of this season’s recipes. Thanks again and good luck as always. Now, it's showtime!

    Sun Belt Championship – Louisiana vs Appalachian State (-17, 58)

    The Sun Belt championship game is also a rematch, as Appalachian State hosts Louisiana for the second time this season. The Mountaineers defeated the Ragin’ Cajuns 27-17 as big 24.5-point home favorites back on Oct. 20.

    Appalachian State is the class of the Sun Belt going 9-2 this season, but Louisiana head coach Billy Napier (and former Nick Saban assistant) has already started to change the culture for the Ragin’ Cajuns. After a 1-3 start (to be fair two of those games were against Alabama and Mississippi State), Louisiana has won six of its last eight games scoring nearly 38 points per contest.

    This game will be determined on the ground as both Louisiana and App State rank in top 20 in rushing at 230.2 and 242.5 yards per game respectively. So, the big difference between these two teams is on defense, where the Mountaineers dominated the conference and rank fourth in the country in total yards and fifth in points allowed.

    Appalachian State should ride this edge to another win, but I really like what Napier has done in his first season at Louisiana and the Ragin’ Cajuns will put on a respectable show.

    Louisiana +17

    Big 12 Championship – Texas vs Oklahoma (-8, 77.5)

    Hey, look! Another rematch! This time it’s a rematch of one of the best games in college football this season when Texas upset Oklahoma 48-45 as 7-point underdogs in an instant classic back on Oct. 6.

    We all know the narratives this time around. Kyler Murray and Tom Herman as an underdog.

    Murray leads the nation’s No. 1 offense in terms of total yards and scoring. The incredible two-sport athlete is completing over 70 percent of his passes for 3,674 yards with 37 touchdowns compared to just seven interceptions. He also has another 800-plus rushing yards and 11 majors on the ground.

    But as good as the Sooners have been on offense, they have been almost equally as bad on defense. They own the third worst passing defense in the country and rank 100th in points allowed at 32.8 per game. Over their last four contests its been even worse ballooning to an obscene 47.3 ppg and are 0-3-1 ATS in those games.

    For Texas, quarterback Sam Ehlinger is healthy enough and racked up 314 passing yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions in the last meeting. He should be able to go blow for blow with Murray here.

    I just don’t have any faith in Oklahoma to cover a number this large with a defense this bad. And of course, Tom Herman is 10-1-1 ATS (2-0-1 this season) in his career as an underdog.

    Texas +8

    AAC Championship - Memphis vs UCF (-3, 64.5)

    Straight up. This line scares the hell outta me.

    UCF is looking to wrap up its second straight undefeated season and New Year’s Six bowl game berth when it takes on Memphis in the AAC Championship. But they will have to do it without their heart and soul after quarterback McKenzie Milton suffered a devastating knee injury in last week’s win over USF.

    Despite no Milton, oddsmakers still have the Knights favored. And I’m not sure why. UCF should have lost when these teams faced off in Memphis last month and probably would have if it wasn’t for two fourth quarter fumbles and some poor last-minute play calling by the Tigers. And that was with Milton at quarterback.

    UCF backup quarterback Darriel Mack Jr. will make just his second career start. His first came in a 37-10 walkover against East Carolina where he completed 12-20 passes for just 69 yards but put up 120 yards and a touchdown on the ground. However, Memphis is decent at stopping the rush and has collected 15 sacks over its last three games.

    Let’s not forget about likely All-American running back Darrell Henderson. The junior running back has racked up 1,699 at a clip of 8.6 yards per carry with 22 total touchdowns and ran all over UCF in their last meeting for 199 yards and a score.

    UCF will definitely be dedicating this game to Milton, but I’m not sure that amounts to much. What’s life like if you’re not a little scared sometimes? Memphis extracts some revenge and wins outright.

    Memphis +3

    SEC Championship – Alabama vs Georgia (+12.5, 63.5)

    For me, this may bet the easiest game to cap this weekend.

    Every week, even with these massive spreads, there seems to be whispers of “What if Alabama losses?” Guess what. They’re not going to lose. Guess what else. It’s not going to be close.

    Alabama has passed every test this season with flying colors. I mean, they shutout then ranked No. 3 LSU in Death Valley and then ranked No. 16 Mississippi State at home in consecutive weeks! They covered the 25.5-point spread in the Iron Bowl. Just crazy stuff.

    They rank at or near the top of every major statistical category (outside field goal percentage) you can think of. And Tua is just an unfair weapon for Nick Saban to have at his disposal. He creates too many mismatches on the field and the defense is getting better every week.

    This is obviously a huge rematch for Georgia, who were seconds away from a national championship before Tua TagovaIloa happened. And they need almost certainly need a win to qualify for the CFP, but I just don’t see it happening. Georgia is good, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think they’re that much better than LSU, who by the way, the Bulldogs lost to by 20 back in mid October.

    Tua and this Tide squad Saban has assembled is special. Lay the points. Bama will wins by 20.

    Alabama -12.5

    Mountain West Championship – Fresno State vs Boise State (-1, 52.5)

    These Mountain West rivals have faced off three times since last November with the Broncos taking two of the three meetings, both of which were on the blue field of Albertson Stadium. Speaking of which, the Bulldogs have never won on the blue field. Ever.

    Both teams head into this game with 10-2 records with Fresno State at 8-4 ATS and Boise State at 7-4-1 ATS. The Broncos have the better offense, while the Bulldogs have the better defense. But Broncos running back Alexander Mattison is on fire right now, rushing for 489 yards and six touchdowns in his last three games, including 144 yards and two scores against the Bulldogs just a few weeks ago.

    In matchup this close, I’m giving the edge to who I think is the better quarterback, and to me that’s Brett Rypien. Throw in the blue field advantage and the Broncos capture back-to-back Mountain West titles.

    Boise State -1

    ACC Championship – Clemson vs Pittsburgh (+27.5, 52.5)

    I honestly can’t believe this is the sad matchup we get for the ACC title game. Earlier this season I was convinced Pitt would be near the bottom of the ACC Coastal standings and maybe one of the worst teams in the country. They were blown out by Penn State and UCF and lost to a two-win UNC team. So, yeah, I still might make that argument.

    It also means laying four touchdowns with Clemson doesn’t scare me. Qadree Ollison and Darrin Hall won’t be able to move the chains against a Tigers defensive line that is NFL quality and ranks No. 2 in the nation in rushing yards allowed. And they won’t get any help from a pass game that ranks 120th and is facing the team with the third most sacks this season.

    For Clemson, Trevor Lawrence is looking better every week and brings balance to offense that loves to pound the rock with sophomore running back Travis Etienne. The potential ACC offensive player of the year, Etienne has totaled 1,308 yards at a clip of 8 yards per carry and has 20 total touchdowns.

    Clemson -27.5

    Big Ten Championship – Northwestern vs Ohio State (-14.5, 61)

    This might be the game that I’m having the most trouble with.

    On one side we have Ohio State, coming off a massive 62-39 dismantling of rival Michigan to get here and likely need to put down another beatdown in this matchup to qualify for the CFP.

    But on the other hand, we have Northwestern. These ‘Cats are actually scrappy underdog that went 6-0-1 ATS and 4-1-1 SU when getting points this season. Northwestern also has not been in a game all season decided by more than 14 points either way. So of course, the spread is 14.5.

    The Buckeyes, led by quarterback Dwayne Haskins, have the nation’s second rated offense in terms of total and passing yards and are clearly the more talented team. But before their Big Blue beatdown, the Buckeyes almost lost at Maryland, needed at late comeback vs Nebraska and were blown out at Purdue. So, this team is definitely inconsistent, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

    And you know who always has his team prepared? Pat Fitzgerald. While I expect Ohio State to win, Fitzgerald will have his ‘Cats primed for one more scrappy performance.

    Northwestern +14.5
    Last edited by StarDust Bum; 12-01-2018 at 12:15 PM.

  6. #21
    Join Date
    Nov 2004


    Large spreads rule the College Football Playoffs but Notre Dame has their supporters
    Patrick Everson

    The arguing will linger for days, but the four-team College Football Playoff is set, and oddsmakers seem to think the Dec. 29 semifinals might not be close contests. We check in on the opening lines and early action, with insights from John Murray, director of The SuperBook at Westgate in Las Vegas.

    Orange Bowl

    No. 4 Oklahoma Sooners vs. No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (-14)

    Defending national champion Alabama is no stranger to these parts, having reached the College Football Playoff all five times it’s been contested and winning two national titles. The Crimson Tide (13-0 SU, 8-5 ATS) rallied from a 28-14 third-quarter deficit to beat Georgia 35-28 as 11-point favorites in the Southeastern Conference championship game.

    Oklahoma is back in the CFP for the second straight year, after falling to Georgia in last year’s semifinals. The Sooners (12-1 SU, 5-7-1 ATS) fended off Texas 39-27 as 9.5-point faves in the Big 12 title game.

    “We had been talking about what the numbers would be on both matchups for a long time, so it was pretty easy to get the lines up,” Murray said. “I’m sure we will need Oklahoma, and probably the Under.”

    The SuperBook set the total at a massive 79.5.

    Cotton Bowl

    No. 3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. No. 2 Clemson Tigers (-11.5)

    Clemson is also quite familiar with the CFP, playing Alabama in the title game each of the past three years and claiming the national championship two years ago. The Tigers (13-0 SU, 7-6 ATS) entered the Atlantic Coast Conference title game as 27-point favorites against Pittsburgh and covered with a late touchdown in a 42-10 victory.

    Notre Dame is in the CFP for the first time, though the program is steeped in winning tradition. As an independent, the Fighting Irish (12-0 SU, 7-4-1 SU) didn’t have to weather a conference title game, wrapping up their season Nov. 24 with a 24-17 victory laying 13.5 points at Southern Cal.

    The big number likely won’t scare away Fighting Irish backers, particularly on the moneyline, which Murray expects will have the SuperBook needing the Tigers.

    “There will be a ton of support for Notre Dame moneyline,” Murray said, noting the SuperBook opened the Irish +375 to win outright, with Clemson a -425 chalk.
    The pointspread briefly dipped from Clemson -11.5 to -11, but Murray said that was a market move, and the line returned to 11.5 shortly thereafter.

    And as far as who advances to, and wins, the Jan. 7 CFP Championship Game, The SuperBook sits in pretty good shape.

    “Notre Dame is the only loser in the future pool,” Murray said. “Clemson and Oklahoma are very good, and Alabama is good.”

  7. #22
    Join Date
    Nov 2004


    4th Quarter Covers - Week 14
    Joe Nelson

    Glancing at the scoreboard won’t tell you the whole story in most games. Here are some of the games that went down to the wire relative to the spread in the fourth quarter last week from Championship weekend in college football. Each week there are several teams that cover despite not necessarily deserving it, as well as other teams that played much better than the final score shows.

    Northern Illinois (+3½) 30, Buffalo 29:
    The Bulls led 22-10 at halftime and scored a touchdown to open the second half for a 19-point edge. The Huskies made some great defensive adjustments as Buffalo would pick up a net total of seven yards over its next five possessions. A marginal punt handed Northern Illinois good field position and late in the third quarter, the Huskies closed the gap back to 12 points. After another 3-and-out for the Bulls, Northern Illinois needed only four plays to score again to cut the deficit to just five points with most of the fourth quarter still to play.

    After forcing two more Buffalo punts, the Huskies had the ball back at their own 30-yard-line with just over three minutes to go. Without great resistance, Northern Illinois got the go-ahead score in eight plays, connecting for a 35-yard catch with just over a minute to go. Up one, Northern Illinois went for two and fell short leaving backers of the slight favorite still with hope for a late touchdown to get past the number. Buffalo would cross midfield thanks to a pass interference call, but wound up ending the game with four straight incomplete passes.

    UAB (+1) 27, Middle Tennessee State 25:
    UAB scored three touchdowns in the span of four minutes in the second quarter, but Middle Tennessee State had a chance to tie the game in the third quarter, failing on a two-point conversion attempt to sit behind 24-22 heading into the fourth quarter. The Blue Raiders would take the lead on a field goal with about 10 minutes remaining but after an exchange of punts that put UAB at midfield, the Blazers did enough for the go-ahead field goal with just over three minutes to go to lead by two on a spread that fell from +3 to just +1 by kickoff. Middle Tennessee State crossed midfield in the final two minutes, but ended its threat with three straight incomplete passes.

    UCF (-1) 56, Memphis 41:
    The spread on this game opened at -4½ and fell to just -1 by kickoff with the injury to McKenzie Milton putting the UCF winning streak in jeopardy. Memphis had a 24-7 lead in the first quarter and led 38-21 at halftime. As they did in the regular season meeting, UCF battled back in the second half and cut the margin to just six points by the start of the fourth quarter. The Knights took a one-point lead early in the fourth quarter and Milton’s replacement Darriel Mack would wind up with three fourth quarter touchdowns as the Knights pulled away for a second straight AAC title and will head to a New Year’s Six bowl game.

    Oklahoma (-9½) 39, Texas 27:
    For very little of this game, Oklahoma appeared in position to cover a spread that climbed from -7½ to -9½ as they led 20-14 at the half after overcoming an early deficit and the game was tied 27-27 through three quarters after the Sooners blocked a PAT on a late third quarter Longhorns touchdown. That kept overtime as a serious possibility but that changed when Oklahoma got a safety after hitting an early fourth quarter field goal.

    Texas was pinned deep following a fumble that thwarted a Sooners scoring opportunity, but a blitz put Sam Ehlinger down in the end zone for a five-point edge for Oklahoma. Getting the ball right back Oklahoma converted three third downs and scored with two minutes to go for a 12-point edge to slip past the favorite spread. Texas looked like they would get back within the number with a new set of downs inside the 20 in the final minute but an interception sealed the win and cover for the Big XII championship for Oklahoma.

    Fresno State (+1) 19, Boise State 16:
    The Bulldogs didn’t have much production in Boise on Saturday night looking to avenge a tight loss in last season’s conference championship game as well as a regular season defeat this season. Fresno State managed field goals in the two middle quarters for a 13-7 edge, but Boise State would complete an 87-yard touchdown drive with about eight minutes to go to the tie the game. The PAT was blocked as Boise State failed to go in front for what would have been a one-point win to match the closing spread on the game with the Bulldogs even briefly favored at some outlets late in the week.

    Neither squad posed much of a threat to score on late game possessions in regulation as overtime was needed. Boise State stalled inside the 10-yard-line and settled for a 23-yard field goal going first. Fresno State hit two big gains early and then on the second try from the one-yard-line rushed into the end zone for the win.

    Clemson (-28) 42, Pittsburgh 10:
    The statistics suggested a blowout but this was a 14-10 game early before Clemson scored two touchdowns in the final five minutes before halftime. That 18-point edge was well short of the four-touchdown spread and Pittsburgh held Clemson off the scoreboard in the third quarter. Early in the fourth, the Tigers put the game away with another touchdown but still seemed unlikely to slip past the favorite spread until Pittsburgh fumbled at the Clemson 30-yard-line with six minutes to go. Clemson broke a 31-yard run on second down and then a 28-yard run a few plays later, eventually putting the result-flipping touchdown on the board with just over three minutes to go.

    Ohio State (-16½) 45, Northwestern 24:
    Ohio State took advantage of a few big plays for a 24-7 edge at the break, just past the favorite spread in Indianapolis. Northwestern battled back in the third quarter with two touchdown drives as the heavy underdog sat within three with the ball back. An interception halted that momentum but Ohio State didn’t add points until late in the third quarter for a 10-point edge. Early in the fourth, Ohio State missed a field goal and Northwestern succeeded on a kick to get within seven and two scores within the underdog spread.

    A broken coverage allowed Ohio State a 63-yard pass to set-up a Buckeyes touchdown for a 14-point edge with nine minutes remaining. Northwestern crossed midfield but eventually had to go for it on 4th down and came up short, allowing Ohio State to play with a short field and the Buckeyes added a late score for a 21-point edge in the final minutes. Northwestern was sacked twice on its final possession and ultimately opted to punt facing 4th-and-19 as Ohio State was able to win and cover despite being soundly out-rushed and only leading by a single-score much of the second half.

    South Carolina (-28) 28, Akron 3:
    In rainy conditions, South Carolina had a 28-3 edge at halftime with the help of a defensive touchdown that followed-up a red zone interception. The Gamecocks had turnovers on three consecutive possessions at one point in the second half while Akron was stopped on downs in South Carolina territory twice while having another fumble near midfield. Ultimately neither team added points and Akron held on to the narrow underdog cover with the scoreless second half in a game with seven turnovers and minimal offensive production on both sides.

    Stanford (-3) 23, California 13:
    Down 13-6 at halftime, California dominated the second half of this rivalry game as Stanford had 34 net yards on its first four possessions after halftime. Cal meanwhile had an empty drive into Stanford territory, an interception in the end zone, and a missed 34-yard field goal. The Cardinal would go up two scores after the four-minute mark in the fourth quarter and the Bears would wind up with another interception that with a long return put Stanford at the three-yard-line. The Cardinal scored to go up by 17 before allowing a late touchdown to the Bears in the final minute.

  8. #23
    Join Date
    Nov 2004


    College Playoff Primer
    Brian Edwards

    The College Football Playoff is set after Sunday’s announcement of the nation’s top four teams. Unbeaten and top-ranked Alabama will square off against No. 4 Oklahoma, the Big 12 champion, at the Orange Bowl in Miami in one semifinal matchup on Dec. 29.

    The other game is also on Dec. 29 and will be at Jerry World in Arlington, where undefeated and second-ranked Clemson will take on unbeaten No. 3 Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl. The winners will collide in the finals on Jan. 7 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern in Santa Clara at Levi’s Stadium, the home of the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers.

    As of Sunday night, most betting shops had Alabama (13-0 straight up, 8-5 against the spread) installed as a 14-point favorite with a total of 79.5. The Sooners were +400 on the money line (risk $100 to win $400).

    Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa had to leave the SEC Championship Game with a foot injury that’s expected to have him sidelined for at least two weeks. Without the sophomore QB, back-up and former starter Jalen Hurts rallied the Crimson Tide from a 28-14 deficit to win 35-28 over Georgia in an epic thriller.

    Lincoln Riley’s squad avenged its only loss of the season – a 48-45 setback vs. Texas in the Red River Rivalry – by beating the Longhorns 39-27 in Saturday’s Big 12 Championship Game at Jerry World. The Sooners will be underdogs for the first time this season. They were ‘dogs three times last year in Riley’s first season since taking over for Bob Stoops, compiling a 2-1 record both SU and ATS. OU lost a 54-48 decision to Georgia as a 2.5-point ‘dog in last year’s CFP semifinals in Pasadena.

    This is Oklahoma’s richest underdog spot since the 2013 Sugar Bowl, where OU thumped Alabama by a 45-31 count as a 15-point puppy. The Sooners have won outright in both of their most recent situations as double-digit ‘dogs, beating Oklahoma St. 33-24 in Stillwater as 10-point road ‘dogs in the 2013 regular-season finale.

    These storied programs played a home-and-home series back in 2002 and 2003. OU won a 37-27 decision in Norman as a 12.5-point favorite. The Sooners went to Tuscaloosa the following season and won 20-13 at ‘Bama, but the Tide covered the number once again as a 7.5-point home underdog.

    Clemson won the ACC title with a 42-10 win over Pittsburgh as a 27.5-point ‘chalk.’ As of Sunday night, most books had the Tigers listed as 11-point favorites against the Fighting Irish. The total was in the 55-56 range and Notre Dame was +325 to win outright (paid $325 on $100 wagers).

    Dabo Swinney’s club is in the CFP for the fourth straight year. Like ‘Bama, Clemson has been a double-digit favorite in all 13 of its games, winning by at least 20 points 11 times. Meanwhile, Brian Kelly’s bunch is an underdog for only the second time this season. The Irish beat Michigan 24-17 in its opener as a 2.5-point home underdog. They haven’t been double-digit ‘dogs since the 2016 regular-season finale resulted in a non-cover when USC beat them 45-27 as 17.5-point home ‘chalk.’

    Georgia finished No. 5 and Ohio State, the Big Ten champ, was sixth in the final CFP poll. The Bulldogs will meet Texas in the Sugar Bowl, while Ohio State will face Washington at the Rose Bowl. As of Sunday night, most spots had the Bulldogs favored by 10.5 points, while the Buckeyes were 4.5-point ‘chalk’ vs. UW.

    Other New Year’s Six matchups include LSU (-7.5) vs. UCF at the Sugar Bowl and Michigan (-6) vs. Florida at the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl. Michigan junior DE Rashan Gary announced Sunday that’s he’s turning pro and will not play in his team’s bowl game. Gary had 44 tackles, four tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, and five QB hurries in nine games.



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