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Thread: Cnotes preview of 2019 college football conference outlook

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    Default Cnotes preview of 2019 college football conference outlook

    2019 AAC Preview
    June 9, 2019
    By Marc Lawrence


    2019 AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE PREVIEW

    Coaches Call

    Entering its sixth year of existence, the American Athletic Conference remains the top Group of 5 League heading into the 2019 football season.

    While the loop has struggled in bowl games, going 12-22 SU and ATS (2-9 SUATS versus .690 or greater foes), it continues to be a breeding ground for up-and-coming head coaches, including the likes of Cincinnati’s Luke Fickell, Memphis’ Mike Norvell, Tulane’s Willie Fritz, Tulsa’s Phillip Montgomery and UCF’s Josh Heupel.

    Meanwhile, the 24 wins by Navy’s Ken Niumatalolo over Power Five or BCS Conference foes is still the most of all Group of Five schools.

    Three head coaches make their AAC debut in 2018, including Houston’s Dana Holgorsen, Temple’s Rod Carey, and ECU’s Mike Houston – who makes his debut as a head coach at the FBS level.

    Expect one or two of the aforementioned coaches to move on to a Power Five team in the near future, much like last year when Geoff Collins moved from Temple to Georgia Tech.

    Talking Points

    • Danger ahead: since the AAC formation in 2014 the conference has struggled mightily in non-conference games following a SUATS loss, going just 13-37-1 ATS. And if they are visitors in these games they fall off the face of the earth, going 2-17 and 3-16 SUATS. Gulp.

    • Since the formation of the conference in 2014, the best role for AAC teams has been on the road when coming off a win and facing a foe coming off a loss. It’s where teams in the conference stand 51-34 SU and 54-30-1 ATS overall, including 39-19-1 ATS if they scored 35 or more points in their last game.

    • Average attendance at American Athletic Conference home stadiums was 28,669, clearly No. 1 for Group of Five conferences. The problem, though, is it represents a decline of -2,709 fans per game dating back to the 2016 season, the largest fall-off of all FBS conferences.

    The numbers following each team name represent the amount of returning starters on offense and defense, along with the number of returning linemen, with an asterisk (*) designating a returning quarterback. The RPR represents each team’s overall, offensive and defensive rankings in overall returning production experience.

    AAC EAST

    CINCINNATI (Offense - *8/3, Defense - 7/1, RPR: 36/42/44)


    TEAM THEME: NITPICKY

    After ascending from 4 wins to a surprising 11 victories last season, Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell will feel like he has his hands tied this season. That’s because teams who improve at such a dramatic rate as the Bearcats did last year often regress the following campaign. If there is an improvement, it generally does not show in the win-loss column. Yes, UC brings back a ton of experience on both sides of the ball but as a result, they will likely be an overpriced commodity in 2019. That being said, the Bearcats welcome back the best punter in the FBS, James Smith, who averaged 44.3 net yards per punt. We’re not being persnickety... just realistic.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Fickell is 1-8-1 ATS as a single-digit favorite as a head coach with Ohio State and Cincinnati.

    PLAY AGAINST: vs. UCLA (8/29) - *KEY as a favorite.

    ***********************************

    CONNECTICUT (Offense - 6/4, Defense - 10/4, RPR: 60/125/2)

    TEAM THEME: TEAM XANAX

    When you are described as the most depressing team in the FBS, as the Huskies were by SB Nation’s Bill Connelly, you can rest assured that alumni are most likely suffering from pangs of anxiety. This once proud football program simply hasn’t been the same since Randy Edsall left, and then returned, as they enter the 2019 season riding a 7-year losing skein. Worse, UConn actually allowed 605 points last season. A lot can be attributed to the fact that, next to Minnesota, freshmen accounted for more starts than any team in the nation last season. A 2-21 record against FBS foes in Edsall’s recent return – including 17 straight losses – continues to paint a gloomy picture.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Huskies have been out-yarded in 25 of their last 26 FBS games.

    PASS

    ********************************

    EAST CAROLINA (Offense - *7/4, Defense - 7/3, RPR: 83/60/91)

    TEAM THEME: HOUSE AFIRE

    New coach Mike Houston, who guided James Madison to successive FCS Championship Game appearances and one national title, owns an 80-25 record with a combined six conference championships in eight seasons as a head coach. During his time with JMU, the Dukes sported a 15-3 ledger against Top 25 teams. He’ll like knowing that ECU force-fed underclassmen, who made 20 starts last season, as they welcome back over 70% of their lettermen in 2019. Bill Connelly put it best when he said, “When you fire a good coach (Ruffin McNeill) in the hopes of getting a great one, you end up burning your house to the ground.” In Houston, the Pirates appear to have a good one.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE:
    The Pirates are 2-24 SU and 1-25 ATS versus conference foes with a winning record since 2010.

    PLAY ON: at SMU (11/9)

    *************************

    TEMPLE (Offense - *7/4, Defense - 7/2, RPR: 67/65/75)


    TEAM THEME: DRAGONSTONE

    When you are the third head coach inside of a calendar year at a rising football program, you’re likely to take on a redheaded stepchild complex. However, being the 6th head coach at Temple over the past 10 seasons, Rod Carey can take comfort in knowing that he owned a 38-10 (.792) career mark in conference games at Northern Illinois. How good is that? Consider: that is better than both Nick Saban (.774) and Jimbo Fisher (.747). Carey inherits a squad that improved its numbers across the board on both sides of the ball last season. Expect Carey to pull a Jon Snow and conquer all critics as he finds a comfortable spot upon his new throne.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Owls head coach Rod Carey is 22-10 SU and 22-9-1 ATS as a visitor in his CFB head-coaching career.

    PLAY ON: vs. UCF (10/26)

    ****************************

    UCF (Offense - *8/3, Defense - 5/1, RPR: 90/96/66)

    TEAM THEME: A LONG TIME BETWEEN DRINKS OF WATER

    When star QB McKenzie Milton suffered a gruesome knee injury last season, it looked like doomsday for the Knights. Nonetheless, FR QB Darriel Mack Jr. filled in admirably over the course of the final three games of the season (named MVP of the AAC championship game when he tossed for 6 TDs). Yet Mack finds himself in a battle with Notre Dame transfer Brandon Wimbush. With it, head coach Josh Heupel guides a UCF squad that takes a 25-1 skein into 2019 – the best two-year record in the FBS. The loss (to LSU in the Sugar Bowl) was the Knights’ first defeat in 745 days when it last fell to Arkansas State in the 2016 Cure Bowl.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: UCF has scored 30 or more points in each of its last 26 games the past two seasons.

    PLAY AGAINST: at Temple (10/26)

    ***************************

    USF (Offense - *9/4, Defense - 5/3, RPR: 38/11/93)


    TEAM THEME: 6-EGG OMELET

    USF opened 2018 with 7 straight wins. Then reality settled in quickly, as the Bulls dropped their final 6 games to conclude the season. With it, head coach Charlie Strong overhauled his coaching staff when he replaced five assistants in the offseason, and hired OC/QB coach Kerwin Bell, whose mantra is “play fast, score faster”. Remember, only six teams in the country had more starts by freshmen (20.4%) than the Bulls last season (51.9) – and that generally pays off in spades the following year. With their leading QB and top three RBs in the fold, they’ll be eager to wipe the egg off their face for last year’s frustrating finish.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: USF is the first team in AP Poll history to lose 6 straight games after starting the season 7-0.

    PLAY AGAINST: at East Carolina (10/26) - *KEY

    *********************************

    AAC WEST

    HOUSTON (Offense - *8/3, Defense - 4/1, RPR: 82/13/126)


    TEAM THEME: HOLGO HEADS HOME

    New head coach Dana Holgorsen arrives from West Virginia in what might appear to be a step-down in programs. A closer inspection shows that Holgorsen has deep connections to the city where he was an offensive coordinator when he teamed with QB Case Keenum 10 years ago for two-record-setting seasons. He’s back home where his closest friends reside. His five-year, $20 million contract is the richest of all Group of Five coaches, including an added $1 million bonus should the Cougs enter the Big 12 during his tenure. With it, Holgorsen is the first sitting head coach to leave a Power Five program for the Group of Five since the College Football Playoff began in 2014.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Dana Holgorsen is 0-12 ATS with rest when his team owns a sub .750 win percentage.

    PLAY AGAINST: at Oklahoma (9/1)

    ******************************

    MEMPHIS (Offense - *6/2, Defense - 8/3, RPR: 7/23/12)

    TEAM THEME: TIGERIFFIC

    Head coach Mike Norvell can’t wait to hear the first whistle of the 2019 football season. And neither would you if your team was as loaded as his. Memphis underclassmen started 41.6% of the team’s starts last season, meaning its Returning Production Ranking is 7th best in the nation this year. The combination of a soft schedule (only four FBS foes with winning records last season) affords them the chance to be favored in every game in 2019. Remember, this team has averaged 9 wins per season the last five years (9.6 wins and 42 PPG under Norvell) and returning QB Brady White was a blue-chip recruit at Arizona State. Can you say New Year’s 6?

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Memphis is 21-0 SU in its last 21 home games against .666 or fewer opponents.

    PLAY ON: vs. Navy (9/26)

    *********************************

    NAVY (Offense - 4/2, Defense - 4 /1, RPR: 126/108/122)

    TEAM THEME: OPERATION CATCH UP

    If it seems like the Middies are a bit light on experience this season, it’s because they are. Gone is a senior class that started over 60% off all games last season (3rd most in the land) as no less than 18 of them made starts. However, after seeing a 6-year bowl skein snapped with a 3-win season last year, Navy is a classic “mission team” in 2019 and we’re not about to step in front of that. Not when, since 1980, military “mission teams” coming off a losing season that was preceded by three consecutive winning campaigns are 43-28-2. The question is will that be enough to “catch up “ with suddenly surging Army? Hooyah.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Navy is 72-5 under Niumatalolo when entering the fourth quarter with the lead.

    PLAY ON: vs. Army (12/14) - *KEY as a dog

    **********************************

    SMU (Offense - 7/3, Defense - 9/4, RPR: 27/52/20)

    TEAM THEME:
    WHAT’S UP WITH THAT?

    The big news on campus this season is the transfer of QB Shane Buechele from Texas to SMU. It's an ideal situation for the Mustangs. Buechele is an atypical graduate transfer who is not only immediately eligible but also has two years of eligibility remaining. He passed for over 4,000 combined yards in his freshman and sophomore campaigns while compiling a higher percentage of completions and fewer interceptions than outgoing QB Ben Hicks during those seasons. Buechele will also benefit from six star-studded receivers in 2019. After a strange year in which the defense actually improved 47 YPG and the offense regressed 112 YPG, expect this Air Raid offense to reach new heights in 2019.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Dykes is 8-1 SU and 7-1-1 ATS at home versus sub .500 opponents.

    PLAY AGAINST: at Navy (11/23)

    *********************************

    TULANE (Offense - *5/2, Defense - 8/4, RPR: 99/106/71)

    TEAM THEME: PUTTING ON THE FRITZ

    So how important was Tulane’s 7-win effort last year? The Wave experienced its first winning record in conference play last year since 2013, and only it’s second dating back to 1998. It’s important to note that prior to HC Willie Fritz’ arrival, Tulane had enjoyed just one winning season in 13 years. “We’ve gotten better every year we’ve been here,” boasted Fritz. One look at the Green Wave rushing stats under Fritz tells you all you need to know. To help balance the attack, former Oklahoma State WR Jalen McCleskey (snared 50 passes in 2017) arrives and figures to be a big boost to the offense. Look for Fritz’s footprint to be ever present this season.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Head coach Willie Fritz is 20-3 SU and 15-5 ATS versus .333 or fewer opponents.

    PLAY ON: at SMU (11/30)

    *************************************

    TULSA (Offense - *6/2, Defense - 8/2, RPR: 17/41/19)

    TEAM THEME: THREE-CARD MONTY

    With just 5 wins the past two seasons, Phil Montgomery finds himself sitting on a pretty hot seat in Tulsa. If there is one commodity a coach in his situation could ask for, it’s a well-stocked defense that improved 121 yards per game last season. And it doesn’t hurt knowing Montgomery stands 16-11 SU and 17-7-1 ATS in games in which his teams allow 34 or fewer points. Still, even though Tulsa is bolstered by the return of a deeply experienced squad that has been ravaged by injuries the last two seasons, resulting in 8 one-possession losses, pulling themselves back up won’t be easy. But the feeling here is Field Marshall Montgomery saves his hide with an all-in effort.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Tulsa is 31-8 SU and 30-9 ATS in conference games in which it scores 30 or more points.

    PLAY AGAINST: as a favorite at SMU (10/5)
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    Tuesday’s 6-pack

    Six least experienced offensive lines, according to Phil Steele’s magazine:

    Navy— 23 returning starts

    Florida— 24

    Oklahoma— 24

    Colorado State— 26

    Tulsa— 27

    Rice, Cincinnati– 31

    Quote of the Day

    “Chris (Paul) has a personality where he just doesn’t let anything go. He just keeps pestering and pestering and pestering and pestering. Sometimes James (Harden) has had enough — and not just him. That’s what makes [Paul] a winner and also what keeps him from being a big-time winner. He’s got to temper that.”
    Unnamed person, talking about the Houston Rockets’ stars

    Tuesday’s quiz
    What fine actor plays Bradley Cooper’s brother in A Star Is Born?
    (Hint: He is also the football coach at Wisconsin in Draft Day)

    Monday’s quiz
    Wrigley Field, Dodger Stadium are the two oldest stadiums in the NL; Coors Field in Denver is the third oldest ballpark in the NL.

    Sunday’s quiz
    JJ Watt played his college football at Wisconsin.

    **************************

    Tuesday’s Den: Some early notes for SEC college football……

    14) Vanderbilt— Vandy has new QB this year but grad transfer Neal started 23 games at Ball State. Commodores have won three straight over Tennessee for first time since 1926.

    13) Texas A&M— Jimbo Fisher is 6-2 in bowl games; Aggies scored 52-52 points in their last two bowls, are 8-1-1 vs spread in last 10 non-league games. A&M has only 4 starters back on defense.

    12) Tennessee— Volunteers haven’t gone bowling since 2016; they won last three bowls, scoring 42.7 ppg. Last two years, Vols are 3-11 vs spread at Neyland Stadium. Their offensive line is expected to be much better this year.

    11) South Carolina— Senior QB Bentley has already started 32 games; last two years. Gamecocks are 6-0 vs spread as a road dog. Carolina last four games with Georgia, by 32-14-14-24 points.

    10) Missouri— Clemson transfer Kelly Bryant takes over at QB for Drew Lock; under Odom, Mizzou is 10-7 vs spread as a HF. Former Tennessee coach Derek Dooley is the Tigers’ OC.

    9) Mississippi State— Last seven times Bulldogs were an underdog, the home team covered the spread; last two years, State is 8-3 vs spread as a home favorite. New QB for MSU this season.

    8) Ole Miss— Under Luke, Rebels are 3-9 vs spread as an underdog, 0-5 at home; they were 0-8 vs spread in SEC games last year. Ole Miss won four of its last five bowl games (last one in ’15).

    7) LSU— Under Orgeron, Tigers covered six of seven games as an underdog, but he is 0-3 vs Alabama, outscored 63-10 in those games. Tigers are 7-9 as a favorite under Coach O.

    6) Kentucky— Wildcats won 10 games LY for first time since 1977; they have only 10 returning starters this year. Last two years, Wildcats are 0-9 vs spread as a home favorite.

    5) Georgia— Dawgs won 10+ games five of last seven years; they’re 13-6 vs spread in last 19 SEC games. This is first time since 1995 that Georgia opens season with an SEC game (Vanderbilt).

    4) Florida— Gators have only one returning starter back on OL (24 career starts). Mullen is 6-2 in bowl games, winning last four. Florida plays Miami this year for first time since 2013.

    3) Auburn— Last five years, Tigers are 9-20-1 vs spread as home favorites; LY they were 0-7 vs spread in game following a win, 4-1 after a loss. New quarterback this season for Auburn.

    2) Arkansas— Razorbacks are 6-18 SU the last two years, 1-15 in SEC games (beat Ole Miss 38-37 in ’17). Arkansas brought in pair of grad transfer QB’s this year, figure to improve there.

    1) Alabama— Crimson Tide is +40 in turnovers the last four years; they’re 41-1 SU at home the last six years, and covered 10 of last 15 games as a road favorite.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    2019 ACC Preview
    June 18, 2019
    By Marc Lawrence



    ACC 2019 ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE PREVIEW

    A Dozen And Counting

    The 2019 ACC football season marks the 67th season for the conference. Clemson’s Dabo Swinney and Duke’s David Cutcliffe are the loop’s longest-tenured coaches with 12 seasons each at their respective schools. Swinney’s 116-30 career record at Clemson stands out as the best mark.

    Newbies

    Speaking of head coaches, 4 new mentors will be on the sidelines in the ACC this season: Georgia Tech’s Geoff Collins, Louisville’s Scott Saterfield, Miami Florida’s Manny Diaz, and North Carolina’s Mack Brown. Only Diaz has never been an FBS head coach.

    Like last year, Florida State’s Willie Taggart remained in a class by himself. Taggart’s 52-57 overall career mark is the only one in the league with a losing record.

    Easy Peasy

    According to ESPN, Virginia Tech will take on the easiest schedule of all FBS Power 5 teams in 2019 (Wisconsin held the same honor last year). The Hokies will miss Clemson, Florida State, and Syracuse. Virginia and NC State follow Tech as far as soft slates go.

    On the flip side, Boston College and Duke take on the most difficult degree of schedules among ACC teams this season.

    The numbers following each team name represent the amount of returning starters on offense and defense, along with the number of returning linemen, with an asterisk (*) designating a returning quarterback. The RPR represents each team’s overall, offensive and defensive rankings in overall returning production experience.

    ACC ATLANTIC

    BOSTON COLLEGE (Offense - *6/2, Defense - 4/1, RPR: 110/50/128)

    TEAM THEME: A REVERSAL OF FORTUNE

    Hmm. After owning a Top 10 ranked defense in both 2015 and 2016, the Eagles’ numbers fell off the map the past two seasons as they allowed 100 yards per game more than in their stalwart days. Instead, the offense ignited the last two seasons when it became the fifth-highest scoring unit in 120 years of school history in 2018 as QB Anthony Brown’s 20 TDs were the second-most by any sophomore in BC history. However, the Eagles ranked 7th in the nation in the highest percentage of starts by seniors (56.3) last season – which means a new rebuild is in order, starting with an overhaul of both lines. Stay tuned.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Eagles started a total of 30 players last season, 2nd in the nation to Alabama (29).

    PLAY AGAINST: vs. Virginia Tech (8/31)


    CLEMSON (Offense - *8/3, Defense - 4/0, RPR: 53/26/100)

    TEAM THEME: TIGER PAUSE

    Trevor Lawrence authored the finest season by a true freshman quarterback in FBS history when he led the Tigers to a smashing National Championship over defending champion Alabama. As a result, Lawrence is the preseason favorite in the 2019 Heisman Trophy race. And we didn’t even mention star RB Travis Etienne. Clemson’s magnificent season last year was even more impressive when you consider the fact that they downed 10 opponents that sported winning records. A 19-1 SU away mark since 2015 bodes well for a team with no back-to-back away games for the 4th consecutive season. Still, after going 15-0 and winning a national championship last season, the Tigers should be a targeted team in 2019.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Tigers have the nation’s longest current streak (100 games) without losing back-to-back games.

    PLAY AGAINST:
    vs. Texas A&M (9/7)


    FLORIDA STATE (Offense - *8/3, Defense - 8/2, RPR: 13/33/17)

    TEAM THEME: WILLIE OR WON’T HE

    After Florida State suffered its first losing season in 42 years in 2018, head coach Willie Taggart is sweating more than a pedophile in a Santa suit. FSU dismissed troubled quarterback Deondre Francios in February and now find themselves hitting the transfer trail. QB Alex Hornibrook arrives as a graduate transfer from Wisconsin where he was 26-6 as a starter and completed 60.5% of his passes for 5,438 yards and 47 touchdowns but had 33 interceptions. He figures to start ahead of veteran junior James Blackman. According to PhilSteele.com, the Seminoles faced 10 ranked foes, including 10 opponents with winning records last season. However, what good is a highly experienced team with little discipline?

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Taggart’s last two teams (FSU in 2018 and Oregon in 2017) have finished No. 129 and No. 126 in penalties per game.

    PLAY ON: vs. N.C. State (9/28)


    LOUISVILLE (Offense - *7/1, Defense - 10/4, RPR: 24/49/18)

    TEAM THEME: THE LOUSE HAS LEFT THE HOUSE

    On the heels of the Cardinals’ first losing season since 2009, the Bobby Petrino epitaph is finally cast in stone as far as Louisville is concerned. Scott Satterfield arrives from Appalachian State where his teams won 51 games while going 34-6 in league play in six seasons – including three consecutive Sun Belt Conference championships. Satterfield is known as an innovative offensive mind. He is the only coach to lead a school from the FCS to FBS and immediately earn three consecutive bowl victories. They will take on 10 foes in 2019 that were in bowl games last season – just as they did last season. With a boatload of experience back this year, they’ll be playing with house money.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Louisville is 1-10 ATS in Last Home Games.

    PLAY ON: at Florida State (9/21)


    N.C. STATE (Offense - 4/2, Defense - 7/3, RPR: 109/129/31)

    TEAM THEME: CH-CH-CH-CH-CHANGES

    The Pack has taken some big hits the past few seasons, losing a good portion of its defensive line, including ACC Defensive Player of the Year Bradley Chubb, to the draft last season. And now QB Ryan Finley to the NFL this year – making it five Wolfpack quarterbacks in the pros this season – along with State’s two leading WRs and top RB (Reggie Gallaspy Jr., 1,091 yards and a school-record 18 TDs). Worse, the offense for 2019 returns the 2nd fewest amount of Returning Player Production per the RPR rankings outlined above. In addition, in David Bowie fashion, NC State enters 2019 with four new assistant coaches, two new quality control coaches, and three new graduate assistant coaches. Turn and face the change.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Wolfpack are 39-6 SU and 27-12-1 ATS in games in which they outgain their opponents under head coach Dave Doeren.

    PLAY AGAINST: vs. North Carolina (11/30)


    SYRACUSE (Offense - 6/2, Defense - 7/3, RPR: 64/93/40)

    TEAM THEME: BIGGER FASTER STRONGER

    The gains Syracuse has made in the strength and speed departments over the last three seasons have been critical to the recent rise of the program. Last year marked the first time the program was ranked in the Top 25 at season’s end since 2001 – its last 10-win season. Unfortunately, QB Eric Dungey has graduated after tossing for 9,340 yards and 58 touchdowns in four years. Tommy DeVito takes over for Dungey, whose talents were immense. Much to Dino Babers’ liking, he brings a bigger arm. Also aboard is RB Abdul Adams, an Oklahoma transfer, and WR Trishton Jackson, a transfer from Michigan State.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Hall of Famers Floyd Little, Larry Csonka, and Super Bowl champion coach Tom Coughlin all shared the same Syracuse backfield in 1966.

    PLAY ON: vs. Pittsburgh (10/18)


    WAKE FOREST (Offense - *7/3, Defense - 5/1, RPR: 61/92/37)

    TEAM THEME: SIGN ON THE DOTTED LINE

    As Dave Clawson enters his sixth season in Winston-Salem, an undeniable chasm has grown between Wake Forest’s offenses and defenses the past three years. In fact, things got so bad last season that DC Jay Sawyer was fired on the spot after the Notre Dame game in September. Hoping to spur Clawson toward balancing the scales, the Demon Deacons recently signed him to an 8-year contract extension. But the truth is there’s a huge amount of work ahead if they hope to land a 4th straight bowl bid this season. For openers, in a scheduling oddity, the Demons game against North Carolina this year will be a non-conference game for both teams. A marquee win certainly won’t hurt, but the last time Wake beat a Top 10 ranked team, Harry S. Truman was in the White House (1946).

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Wake Forest was the 2nd team in 15 years to overcome a double-digit halftime deficit in a bowl game in consecutive seasons last year.

    PLAY ON: at Syracuse (11/30)


    ACC COASTAL

    DUKE (Offense - 4/3, Defense - 8/4, RPR: 106/123/45)

    TEAM THEME: QB WHISPERER

    SR QB Quentin Harris (played in 12 games last season making two starts) takes over for Daniel Jones, the surprising 6th choice in this year’s NFL draft. It should be noted that head coach David Cutcliffe has coached 11 QBs who earned either all-conference honors or won a bowl game. In addition, Duke ranked 10th in the nation in the highest percentage of starts by underclassmen 47.4 made by 21 players) last season. And it’s worth noting that Cutcliffe is a native of Birmingham and graduated from the University of Alabama. His Blue Devils dropped a 63-12 decision at home to the Tide in their only meeting back in 2010 – the worst non-conference loss in his career. Just sayin’.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Duke will face 11 foes in 2019 that appeared in a bowl game last season.

    PLAY AGAINST: vs. Georgia Tech (10/12)


    GEORGIA TECH (Offense - 5/3, Defense - 4/1, RPR: 119/115/97)


    TEAM THEME: SOUR PUSS OUT

    First-year coach Geoff Collins is a lock to kick up the Jackets’ energy level. But he’ll have to do it with a heavy heart as 21-year old defensive tackle Brandon Adams died just prior to spring camp from a fall in a garage. Forging on, the Yellow Jackets switch from Paul Johnson’s option attack to new OC David Patenaude’s spread system. There will be a “getting to know one another” phase with a new quarterback and a dearth of wide receivers on hand. Making matters more difficult, the Ramblin’ Wreck ranked 4th in the nation in the highest percentage of starts by seniors (59.8.) in 2018. The rebuild begins.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE:
    Collins is the only coach to be a Broyles award nominee – the nation’s best assistant coach – at three schools.

    PLAY ON: vs. USF (9/7)


    MIAMI, FL (Offense - *6/2, Defense - 6/2, RPR: 86/67/83)

    TEAM THEME: HURRICANE TRACKER

    In a huge surprise, UM head coach Mark Richt called it quits after his squad was embarrassed by Wisconsin in last year’s Pinstripe Bowl. The team was coming apart at the seams and Richt knew it. It was the Hurricanes’ 2nd worst bowl beat ever. The truth of the matter is Miami’s offense had become archaic under Richt who had only one team ranked in the Top 20 in total offense in his 18 seasons as a head coach. Former DC Manny Diaz spurned Temple to circle back and take the reins in Miami. To which we wonder: where will the points come from? Hopefully, an influx of transfers, including QB Tate Martell (Ohio State), will help.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Mark Richt’s 171 career wins were 3rd in the nation behind Nick Saban and Urban Meyer (186).

    PLAY ON: vs. Virginia (10/11)


    NORTH CAROLINA (Offense - *9/4, Defense - 7/2, RPR: 35/15/76)

    TEAM THEME: MACK THE KNIFE IS BACK

    After a five-year coaching absence, Mack Brown is roaming the sidelines again. Ironically, Brown coached his last game with the Tar Heels 20 years ago after posting a 70-46-1 SU mark with UNC. Remember this, though: in games in which he is slightly expected win, Brown is just 2-8 SU and 1-9 ATS in his career as a favorite of fewer than 8 points. So where does that leave him this year? A deeply experienced squad helps for openers, but a brutal schedule finds all 11 FBS foes in bowl games last season. Our guess is the addition of DC Jay Bateman from Army will find old Macky spearheading this program back to respectability sooner than later.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Brown is 23-3 SU in season openers in his career, including 14-0 the last fourteen.

    PLAY ON: at Virginia Tech (10/19)


    PITTSBURGH (Offense - *5/1, Defense - 6/2, RPR: 54/62/62)

    TEAM THEME: PICKETT FENCE

    Entering 2019 as the defending Coastal Division champions, the Panthers did so despite an anemic output from QB Kenny Pickett, who averaged 6.4 Yards Per Pass attempt and 142.6 Passing Yards Per Game. And with 1,000-yard RBs Qadree Ollison and Darrin Hall no longer around, it won’t be as easy this season. It should be noted, though, since Pat Narduzzi took over the reins at Pitt, the Panthers have compiled the 3rd-best record (20-12) in league play among all ACC teams. Pitt ranked 10th in the nation in the highest percentage of starts by seniors (54.7) last season but the benefit from playing 15 redshirt freshmen in 2017 should help salve the wounds of a salty schedule.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: 27 of Pitt’s 31 losses under Narduzzi have occurred against teams that went on to a bowl game.

    PLAY AGAINST: at Georgia Tech (11/2)


    VIRGINIA (Offense - *6/3, Defense - 8/3, RPR: 55/90/38)

    TEAM THEME: BRONCO ON THE LOOSE

    Celebrating their first winning season since 2011 last year, and coming off a 28-0 shocker over South Carolina in the Belk Bowl, the Cavs saw 20 underclassmen make starts in 2018. That bodes well for continued success this year. The better news is that projected first-round NFL pick Bryce Hall will be returning to anchor down the CB position in 2019. Through it all, Bronco Mendenhall strung together his best recruiting class in Charlottesville this year. After a 2-10 debut with the Cavs in 2016, Mendenhall clearly has Virginia climbing the ladder of success. With only 4 foes on this year’s slate sporting winning records last year, the ride up the rungs continues.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Virginia is 3-19 SU in its final two games of the regular season since 2008.

    PLAY AGAINST: vs. Georgia Tech (11/9)


    VIRGINIA TECH (Offense - *6/2, Defense - 10/3, RPR: 11/77/1)

    TEAM THEME: BUD BALL

    For a Hokies team rich in defensive tradition, last season was an absolute nightmare. Despite returning six starters for long-time defensive coordinator Bud Foster, Tech’s usually stalwart “Lunch Pail D” suffered arguably its poorest effort ever in the Foster era. Fortunately for HC Justin Fuente, he welcomes back what is now the most experienced defense in college football. Aiding the cause this season is the fact that the Hokies led the nation last year in the percentage of most underclassmen starts (59.9% made by 23 players). With nary a single back-to-back road trip, remember this: last season’s loss to Boston College was the only game in which the Hokies blew a halftime lead under Fuente (see more on this below).

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Hokies are 22-1 when leading at the half under Fuente.

    PASS
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Hot Seat - College Coaches
    June 18, 2019
    By Bruce Marshall


    Before we get into our annual conference previews, we usually like to take a quick look at how the college “hot seat” is warming up in the summer.

    We’ve been doing this long enough to realize in advance the potential benefits of recognizing these situations that often deteriorate during the course of an upcoming season. Every year, we see teams begin to lose altitude, and fast, when it is apparent their coach is on his way out the door. And these days, schools often don’t wait (read Louisville a season ago with Bobby Petrino) before hitting the eject button after the damage has been done.

    When taking a look at the “hot seat” we also have to caution about reading too much into the “buyout” dynamics which come in various shapes and sizes. Moreover, the entire “buyout” game can be significantly misunderstood by the masses who don’t have all of the pertinent info at their fingertips. Which, admittedly, is a bit difficult because no two contracts are drawn exactly alike. Especially in “buyout” terms.

    Generally speaking, contract buyouts only include base salaries, and not the added perks such as compensation for radio and TV shows, shoe company kick-ins, performance bonuses, and any general sweetening of the pot that might be offered by alumni. Still, “buyout” provisions can differ wildly from contract to contract. Remember, any buyout, effectively, tries to protect both parties, including an employer that will try hard to keep a coach it likes in the fold and use the buyout to hopefully dissuade a suitor from poaching their in-demand mentor (read Iowa State’s rising star Matt Campbell, whose hefty buyout has reportedly spooked some potential suitors the past two winters).

    Often, however, the buyout is financial protection for a coach who is at risk of being terminated before a contract is completed. (It’s worth noting that almost every coaching dismissal these days involves a buyout of sorts; the days of an entry such as Notre Dame seeing out a contract like Gerry Faust’s until it concludes, and not providing extensions along the way, is rare nowadays.) In past summers, we spent some extra time talking to various college football insiders, many of whom either boosters themselves or with booster/administrator contacts, regarding buyouts. Their observations have been as enlightening as they have been informative.

    A particular situation, one with a not-insignificant buyout, involves Illinois and Lovie Smith, who has made little headway in three years at Champaign-Urbana, has had staff turnover and defections, and has proven a wildly unpopular hire with the support base, which began to get mutinous a year ago. Generally speaking, most Power 5 schools these days can absorb a buyout in the $10-12 million range without too much trouble. Especially entities like Illinois from the Big Ten, which are further enriched to the tune of up to $50 million simply by TV contracts and the expanding reach of their proprietary Big Ten Network. Well-heeled boosters and, more recently, shoe company sponsors are also often glad to chip in to help with (or even fund) the buyout of an underperforming/unpopular coach.

    In 2017, using UCLA as an example, its HC Jim Mora was also thought by some to be “un-fire-able” because of a hefty buyout. But Mora got the boot anyway; if sources are to be believed, much of the Mora buyout was taken care of by new shoe partner Under Armour as well as mega-booster Casey Wasserman (though Bruin AD Dan Guerrero, when announcing Mora’s dismissal, claimed that it was “athletic department funds” taking care of any buyout. While perhaps technically true, much was from dollars that were only shortly before in the accounts of Under Armour and boosters like Wasserman).

    Moreover, there are other factors to consider when weighing a buyout, specifically how much the current coach might be costing the school. In the case of Illinois, which has often been playing in front of 20-25,000 empty seats at Memorial Stadium for much of the Lovie regime (as well as for predecessors Bill Cubit and Tim Beckman), the yearly loss in attendance revenue due to an underperforming coach reaches into the low seven-figures (if assuming near-capacity attendance should the football team perform better with a more-capable coach). Donations also drop, as do related revenues such as merchandising. According to our Big Ten sources, Illinois keeping Lovie (or another major school keeping an underperforming coach) is probably costing the program and athletic department at least an extra couple of million dollars a year, not much (if any) more than the annual terms of a buyout.

    Finally, there are the all-important “offsets” which are fairly standard in coaching contracts. Again, the specifics can differ, but our research indicates that there are only a handful of college head coaching contracts minus the “offset” provision, which simply reduces the amount of the eventual buyout (almost always prorated, usually for the duration of the terminated contract) by whatever amount of money a coach might earn in his next job. Thus, again using Lovie Smith as an example, should Illinois decide to part ways, and Lovie hooks on as an assistant with an NFL team, Lovie’s buyout would be further lessened, and offset by earnings from his next gig. (Assuming he would rather get back to work than play golf or fish for a couple of years.)

    The bottom line? Buyouts do not usually end up costing what the public believes, and money owed is not often an impediment if a big school really wants to get rid of a coach. Though there are limits; Gus Malzahn’s buyout at Auburn is reportedly near $30 million, and Willie Taggart, proving intensely unpopular in just his first year at Florida State, would have cost the Noles roughly $20 mill if they pulled after last season (his buyout has since dropped). As for Lovie, his buyout dropped from roughly $12.6 mill to a more-palatable $8 mill on February 1. So, money won’t stop Illinois from getting rid of him...if it wants to, that is, as AD Josh Whitman, the man whose first move on the job was to hire Lovie at top dollar against no competition and gave Smith a Charlie Weis-like contract to boot, remains in Lovie's corner, at least for now (that’s an understatement; read more abour Illinois and Lovie below). But if enough boosters and money people at Illinois voice displeasure (and they are rumbling), the dynamics can change quickly.

    As we approach the summer and the college season begins to loom on the horizon, following are the coaches who appear to be in the most trouble as the 2019 campaign beckons.

    Clay Helton, Southern Cal...Well, at least Helton hasn’t been fingered in the embarrassing Lori Laughlin scandal that has ensnared the school and the athletic department. Still, many figured Helton was a goner after the Trojans fell below .500 (5-7) for the first time since 2000 and missed a bowl for the first time, when not postseason-banned, since that same year under Paul Hackett. Sources say that AD Lynn Swann, who did not hire Helton (it was predecessor Pat Haden), values the Pittsburgh Steelers model of sticking with coaches, and resisted urging from a mutinous fan and alumni base while deciding to keep Helton for 2019. The subsequent hire of Kliff Kingsbury as o.c., sources tell us, provided a ready-made successor should Swann have to dump Helton later in the year. But Kingsbury’s subsequent move to the NFL and the Cardinals blew up in Swann’s face, as many alums were even more angered for not just giving Kingsbury the HC job. (Helton would subsequently hire a Kingbury "Lite" in Graham Harrelll, like Kingsbury another former Texas Tech QB most recently the o.c. for "Cowboy" Seth Littrell at North Texas). Whatever, much of the support base believes that QB Sam Darnold bailed out Helton in 2016 and ‘17, and a truer measure of Helton came this past season, when among other things, SC’s offense dropped to 11th in a poor Pac-12. There is further speculation in L.A.. that a) AD Swann could be in some trouble and b) Urban Meyer, on hiatus from coaching as he was in 2011, might be plotting a return in 2020 and is on the radar of various Trojan boosters. Stay tuned.

    Kalani Sitake, BYU...They aren’t used to losing seasons at BYU, and Sitake barely avoided that fate with a win over Western Michigan in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl to get to 7-6. But memories of Gary Crowton’s aborted regime from 2001-04 are still fresh in the minds of BYU backers who are not used to mediocrity and remember Sitake’s 4-9 mess from 2017. Sitake will likely have to do better than 7-6 to stick around into 2020.

    Lovie Smith, Illinois...In the end, it wasn’t as much Lovie’s buyout (addressed above) as much as an inane stubborn streak from AD Josh Whitman, whose first act on the job was to hire Smith, to maintain status quo for the Illini into 2019. And Whitman not only decided to keep Lovie after a third straight losing season, punctuated by a 63-0 loss to Iowa on November 17, but extend Smith’s contract (though still not clear if the buyout terms were altered). The support base in Champaign-Urbana is livid, as much at Whitman as Lovie, and this looks a case of an AD flying a plane into the side of a mountain to prove his point. We’d say Lovie should be in trouble in 2019, but maybe it’s his AD who should be worried. (One possible plus for Lovie is a downgraded non-conference slate featuring two MAC teams and lowly UConn, which could easily get the Illini off to a 3-0 start; sometime in September, we're planning a serious editorial feature on this sort of farcical non-conference scheduling of many FBS entries.)

    Bob Davie, New Mexico...At Mountain West Media Days last summer, Davie sounded almost resigned to the fact that he might be fired at the end of the season. After all, he had been suspended from his job for 30 days earlier in the offseason, and the Lobos were not close to a bowl bid for a second straight year, finishing 3-9 once again. What gives? Being that it’s the Mountain West, and buyouts are not quite as routine or easy as at Power 5 schools, perhaps that has something to do with Davie still being on the job, but we, and a lot of regional observers, remain surprised they haven't yet made a change at Albuquerque. By next season, many Lobo backers expect Davie could be back in the broadcast booth from where he came to UNM.

    Chris Ash, Rutgers...Rutgers isn’t Ohio State, from where Ash arrived in 2016, but even the Scarlet Knights have standards. And regressing to 1-11 in 2018 after making mild progress in 2017 (to 4-8) is not the sort of trajectory that keeps a coach employed for very long. Some believed Ash might walk the plank in December, but he’s being given one more season to forge a turnaround in New Brunswick.

    Willie Taggart, Florida State...It would have cost the Noles in the neighborhood of $21 million to buy out Taggart after his massively-disappointing debut season, which ended FSU’s nation’s-longest bowl streak that began in 1982. But there were plenty of boosters who wanted to see the buyout triggered after the Noles regressed to the middle of the ACC pack, hard to ****** for a team that was competing for (and winning) national titles for Jimbo Fisher just a few years ago. The buyout reduces after 2019, and we’d suggest to Taggart to at least get back into the bowl mix this fall; the natives are more than a bit restless in Tallahassee.

    Randy Edsall, UConn...Safe to say this back-to-the-future scenario has not worked as envisioned with UConn, as “Edsall 2.0" has not fared too well for the Huskies. One of the worst defenses in memory would sabotage a 2018 campaign that would have been winless if not for a 56-49 win over FCS Rhode Island. The defense was so bad, in fact, that it set FCS records for futility in yards (7409!) and points (605!) allowed. Sheesh! Defensive coordinator Billy Crocker, who humanely dismissed by Edsall after the season, might be forced to leave the country to find work. Hopes that Edsall could rekindle the success of his first stint at UConn that included a Fiesta Bowl appearance vs. Oklahoma at the end of the 2010 season have all but disappeared the past two years. Edsall is a top contender to be among the first coaches fired in the fall if he doesn’t get things headed in the right direction by midseason.

    Tony Sanchez, UNLV...Sanchez is in year five of his original five-year deal (which was extended by former AD Tina Kunzer-Murphy), yet to get the Rebels to .500 or a bowl, and having done little to dissuade his many doubters in the Valley who wondered about the wisdom of promoting a coach straight from the high school ranks (from where Sanchez led local national power Bishop Gorman). Moreover, he’s not working for the AD (Kunzer-Murphy) who was on the job when he was hired, though MW sources suggest the original Sanchez hire was greatly influenced by higher-ups at UNLV. If reports are to be believed, Sanchez has long been the preferred choice of the Fertitta clan, well-heeled Rebel boosters who own the highly-profitable Stations Casinos chain and not long ago sold their controlling interest in UFC for several billions (that’s with a “b”), the same boosters who have mostly underwritten a sparkling new football complex. And until the facility is completed, and as long as the Fertitta clan stays in the corner of Sanchez, current AD Desiree Reed-Francois, who reportedly would like to move out Sanchez (also to get another one-up on predecessor Kunzer-Murphy, with whom Desiree apparently has no love lost after firing Tina’s last significant hire, hoops coach Marvin Menzies, not long ago), is working with her hands tied. Keeping do-everything QB Armani Rogers in one piece after missing considerable time the past two years will be key. But if Sanchez can’t at least get the Rebs to .500 and a bowl in season five, does the program risk losing further credibility when it moves into the new NFL Raiders stadium next year?

    Chad Morris, Arkansas...Only in year two on the job, it might be premature to put Morris on this list. Especially after a boffo recruiting haul after last season that was ranked among the nation’s best. But Morris will be testing the patience of the win-hungry Hog boosters if his 2019 edition comes anything close to the unsightly 2-10 mess of a year ago and a winless mark in the SEC. Remember, Morris was not the first choice of Arkansas backers to succeed Bret Bielema, and many in "Pig Sooey" Nation still dream of a return of native son Gus Malzahn.

    Philip Montgomery, Tulsa...A few years ago, Montgomery was regarded as a rising star in the business. But that was before the past connections to Art Briles (under whom Montgomery worked at Baylor) would become regarded as something of an albatross, and two highly disappointing season that included the Golden Hurricane slumping to a combined five wins in 2017-18. Considered an avante garde offensive mind, Montgomery’s strike forces have nontheless struggled the past two seasons, ranking a lowly 103rd in scoring a year ago. All a far cry from some prolific Tulsa offenses in the first two seasons (2015 & 2016) on Montgomery’s watch. Another campaign well beneath .500 would suggest the downward trajectory is not fleeting and likely force Tulsa to look elsewhere.

    Charlie Strong, South Florida...Though Strong might not enter the new campaign in as deep of the rough as some others on this list, his career in Tampa is trending the wrong way after an absolute collapse down the stretch a year ago, as the Bulls lost their last six games, one of the worst collapses in college FB history. Not the sort of entry that a coach likes to see on his resume’. Strong, whose specialty is supposed to be defense, saw his stop unit sagged to near the bottom of national rushing stats a year ago (ranking 123rd). A slew of starters (especially on offense) return, so Strong will have no alibis if the swoon continues from last fall. It is also not lost upon USF backers how Texas almost immediately recovered after Strong was run out of Austin following 2016.

    Mike Bobo, Colorado State... Bobo endured a difficult 2018, not only because his Rams nosedived to 3-9, but because of medical issues that included hospitalization and treatment for nerve damage in his feet and hands that made it difficult for him to walk in much more than a slow shuffle. We can’t imagine that Bobo’s physical condition was helped by CSU’s steep decline which actually began during the later stages of the preceding 2017 campaign. Another round of staff changes has further contributed to an ongoing atmosphere of instability. With a considerable investment in a new football facility and on-campus stadium within the past couple of years, the Ram administrators and boosters are not likely to sit idly by and watch another season deteriorate.

    Brent Brennen, San Jose State...The trendline is not good for the Spartans, with a decreasing win total the past four seasons (6-4-2-1), the last two of those years on the watch of Brennen, who was a surprise hire of of the Oregon State staff after 2016. Brennen’s candidacy was based mainly upon the fact he had coached at SJSU in the past and thus knew of the tightrope the program always walks to stay competitive, but thus far all the Spartans have done is regress. Even at San Jose, there are some standards, and needless to say that Brennen could be deep into the soup with another 1-or-2 win season. As usual, the schedule does SJSU no favors, with games in five different time zones this fall.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Saturday’s 6-pack

    Updated spreads for Week 1 NFL games:

    — Chiefs @ Jaguars (-3.5, 51.5)

    — Titans @ Browns (-5.5, 45.5)

    — Rams (-3, 51) @ Panthers

    — Lions (-1.5, 48) @ Cardinals

    — Bengals @ Seahawks (-8.5, 43.5)

    — Colts @ Chargers (-3, 47.5)

    Quote of the Day

    “I just felt with the Giants I was just stuck at a place that wasn’t working for me anymore. I felt like I wasn’t going to be able to reach my full potential there; mentally, physically, spiritually, everything I felt capable of doing, I just couldn’t see it happening there.”
    Odell Beckham Jr

    Saturday’s quiz
    When the Buccaneers came into the NFL in 1976, what other team joined the league with them that season?

    Friday’s quiz
    Steve Spurrier played QB for the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who went 0-14 in their first season in the NFL.

    Thursday’s quiz
    Over the last 25 years, Chipper Jones hit the most home runs against the Mets.

    ***************************

    Saturday’s Den: Looking at some Pac-12 football trends…….

    Arizona— Wildcats are 22-28 SU last four years; since ’13, they’re 5-16 ATS as road underdogs. Average total in their last five bowls (3-2) is 76.2. Senior QB Tate has 20 career starts; they don’t play Washington State this year- they lost 69-28 to the Coogs LY.

    Arizona State—
    Sun Devils lost four of last five bowls, giving up 38.8 ppg; they’re 10-4-1 in last 15 games as an underdog. Last two years, ASU is 7-2-1 vs spread coming off a loss; they’ll have a new QB this year, playing behind an experienced OL.

    California— Golden Bears made only 2nd bowl since 2011 LY; they’ve got only 4 starters back on offense this year. Cal lost to arch-rival Stanford last five years, by average score of 32-19 (1-4 vs spread). Under Wilcox, Cal is 11-5 ATS as an underdog, 2-5-1 as a favorite.

    Colorado— Last year’s 5-0 start turned into an injury-riddled 5-7 debacle that cost MacIntyre his job. Buffs have been to one bowl since 2007; their last bowl win was 33-28 over UTEP in the 2004 Houston Bowl. Mel Tucker is a long-time DC; this is his first head coaching job.

    Oregon— This is first time since 2016 that Ducks have same HC two years in row; they lost three of last four bowls, winning LY’s bowl 7-6 over Michigan State. Last three years, under three HCs, Oregon is 1-7-1 ATS as a road underdog.

    Oregon State— Last four years, Beavers are 9-39 SU, 6-11 ATS as a home underdog, 9-13-1 as a road dog- their last bowl was in 2013, when Mike Riley was HC. In their last 25 games, OSU is -24 in turnovers; they’re very experienced this year, should show improvement.

    USC— Trojans were 5-7 LY; they’re 3-9 vs spread in last 12 games as a home favorite. USC is 3-2 in its last five bowls, scoring 45-45-52 in the wins, 21-7 in losses. Since 2012, Trojans are 3-12 as a road underdog.

    Stanford— Won 8+ games every year for last decade; their last three bowls (2-1) were decided by total of five points. Cardinal is 8-3 in last 11 games as a road favorite; over last decade, they’re 5-0 ATS as a home underdog.

    UCLA— Bruins are 13-24 SU the last three years; since 2014, they’re 8-15 as a home favorite. Over last decade, they’re 39-53 ATS (42.4%) in Pac-12 games. In their last three bowls, UCLA allayed 35-37-35 points, losing two of three.

    Utah— Last two years, Utes are 8-2 vs spread as home favorites; since 2014, they’re 11-2 as a road underdog. Whittingham is 11-2 SU in his career in bowl games. Senior QB Huntley has 19 career starts.

    Washington— Huskies are 32-9 SU last three years, but went 0-3 in bowls; they’ll have a new QB this year (Georgia transfer Eason- 13 starts for Dawgs). Washington has + turnover ratio the last seven years, going +51 the last five years.

    Washington State— From 2009-14, Coogs were 19-54; from 2015-18, they’re 37-15; Mike Leach is a damn good coach. Since 2013, WSU is 16-5 ATS as a road underdog. This year’s QB is Gage Gubrud, a grad transfer from I-AA Eastern Washington.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    2019 Big Ten Preview
    June 24, 2019
    By Marc Lawrence


    Big Ten2019 BIG TEN CONFERENCE PREVIEW

    Bowlers Welcome


    Twelve Big Ten teams will square off against at least one non-conference team that participated in a bowl game last season, with 21 of all 42 non-conference games featuring opponents coming off bowl trips. Michigan and Purdue will each face bowl teams in all three of their 2019 non-conference contests, while Maryland, Michigan State, and Penn State will each play two bowl opponents outside the conference schedule.

    Counting conference and non-conference contests, every Big Ten team will face at least six teams that played in a bowl game last season. Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Penn State, Purdue, and Wisconsin lead the way with eight such contests, followed by Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern and Rutgers with seven.

    Welcome Aboard

    The Big Ten will welcome a pair of new head coaches to the sidelines for the 2019 campaign in Maryland’s Michael Locksley and Ohio State’s Ryan Day. Locksley brings over 20 years of coaching experience, including two separate stints at Maryland, totaling 10 years with the Terps. The winner of the 2018 Broyles Award, given to the nation’s top assistant coach, Locksley has spent the last three years working under Nick Saban at Alabama. Day, the Ohio State offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach who led the team to a 3-0 record at the start of the 2018 season, took over as head coach of the program on January 2, following Urban Meyer’s retirement.

    The numbers following each team name represent the amount of returning starters on offense and defense, along with the number of returning linemen, with an asterisk (*) designating a returning quarterback. The RPR represents each team’s overall, offensive and defensive rankings in overall returning production experience.

    BIG 10 EAST

    INDIANA (Offense - *7/2, Defense - 7/2, RPR: 12/25/23)


    TEAM THEME: FINE TUNING

    With the Hoosiers stuck in neutral the past two seasons, head coach Tom Allen tweaked his coaching staff with the addition of OC Kalen DeBoer, who comes over from Fresno State where the Bulldogs posted a school record 12 victories. DeBoer also assumes associate head coach and quarterbacks coach duties. In addition, Kane Womack was named IU’s DC. The former LB coach inherits a suddenly wobbly stop-unit. Before last season, since Allen’s arrival, Indiana was the most improved team nationally in total defense (169.4 YPG). Behind a deeply experienced squad, the Hoosiers will need to get back to that standard in 2019 in order to achieve their first winning season since 2007.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Over the last 23 years, the teams for which Allen has been a member of the coaching staff have posted a combined 232-83 record (.737).

    PLAY ON: at Penn State (11/16) - *KEY


    MARYLAND (Offense - 4/2, Defense - 5/1, RPR: 70/47/92)


    TEAM THEME: BANG THE DRUM SLOWLY

    New Terrapin head coach Mike Locksley marks the arrival of Maryland’s fourth mentor in as many years. A promising 5-3 start to the season last year cratered out with four season-ending losses, including a gut-wrenching 52-51 OT defeat to Ohio State. Locksley enters from Alabama where he was the offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach when the Tide won the national title in 2017 – and pounding the ball on the ground was his cup of tea. New defensive coordinator Jon Hoke brings 40 years of experience, including most recently with Tampa Bay in the NFL. The rebuild will take time, especially knowing that 52.1 % of starts last season were made by seniors – the 13th most in the nation.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Terps are 0-11 SUATS following a win from Game Seven out the last five years.

    PLAY ON: vs. Indiana (10/19)


    MICHIGAN (Offense - *8/4, Defense - 5/1, RPR: 68/30/106)


    TEAM THEME: HOWLING AT THE MOON II

    The good news for the Wolverines in 2019 is that QB Shea Patterson decided to return for his senior season. He’ll be working under his sixth offensive coordinator in the last six years (dating back to high school) in Josh Gattis, former Alabama OC. And this one, he feels, fits his skill set the best. Michigan’s new up-tempo, no-huddle shotgun offense is called RPO, or run-pass-option, and with an array of talented wide receivers, it could prove potent. Still seething over season-ending blowout losses to Ohio State and Florida, the Maize-and-Blue face a salty schedule in 2019, with non-conference tilts against three bowl teams. Expect them to be up for the challenge.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The SU winner ‘In The Stats’ is 47-5 in UM games with Harbaugh as its head coach.

    PLAY ON: vs. Ohio State (11/30) - *KEY as a dog


    MICHIGAN STATE (Offense - *8/3, Defense - 8/3, RPR: 48/24/99)


    TEAM THEME: LOCKED AND LOADED

    The Spartans return five seniors on defense who have earned All-Big Ten honors in their careers, including first-team All-American and Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year Kenny Willekes, who led the conference with 20.5 tackles for loss in 2018. In addition, first-team All-Big Ten middle linebacker Joe Bachie has led the team in tackles the past two seasons (100 in 2017, 102 in 2018) and returns for his third year. After fielding one of the youngest teams in the nation in 2017, the rush defense ranked No. 1 in the land last season. Should fifth-year SR QB Brian Lewerke rebound from last season’s shoulder injury, that groundwork should pay big dividends in 2019.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Mark Dantonio became the first coach in Big Ten history to record five 11-win seasons in a six-year span. Prior to Dantonio’s arrival, MSU had not recorded an 11-win season in its history.

    PLAY ON: at Northwestern (9/21)


    OHIO STATE (Offense - 4/1, Defense - 9/3, RPR: 62/117/8)


    TEAM THEME: A NEW DAY DAWNING

    Changes abound for the Buckeyes in 2019 as former assistant Ryan Day takes over the reins from Urban Meyer while Georgia transfer QB Justin Fields steps in for Dwayne Haskins. Fields was a five-star prospect rated No. 1 overall by ESPN in 2018. A soft non-conference schedule finds Brutus taking on the likes of FAU, Cincinnati and Miami Ohio. Plus they will host three of their biggest foes at the Horseshoe in Michigan State, Penn State, and Wisconsin. Last year’s dynamic duo of running backs is down to just one in J.K Dobbins n 2019. Expect him to have a breakout season while Day relies heavily on an ultra-experienced defense.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Ohio State has played only 3 back-to-back road games in five years.

    PLAY AGAINST: vs. Penn State (11/23)


    PENN STATE (Offense - 6/3, Defense - 6/2, RPR: 100/116/55)


    TEAM THEME: DEAD LIKE ME

    The Grim Reaper appears to have paid a visit to Happy Valley during the offseason and it wasn’t pretty. The team witnessed a mass exodus of underclassmen to the NFL Draft. As a result, they rank near the bottom of the barrel in returning starter production. Fifth-year senior QB Tommy Stevens is expected to replace Trace McSorley, the school’s all-time passing leader and winningest quarterback. With it, James Franklin’s coaching abilities will be put under the microscope in 2019 – and we’re not necessarily sure that is a good thing, especially considering our ‘Stat You Will Like’ below. Not when they tackle 8 bowl foes, including each of their final four treks.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Franklin is 2-11 SU and 1-12 ATS away in his career against greater than .666 conference opponents.

    PLAY AGAINST: at Iowa (10/12)


    RUTGERS (Offense - *8/3, Defense - 5/2, RPR: 87/32/116)


    TEAM THEME: ASHES TO ASHES

    Perhaps the most eyebrow-raising statement made by head coach Chris Ash at the conclusion of the season last year was when he said, "We're going to have the same offensive coordinator coming back." It was news given the fact that Rutgers has used 9 different offensive coordinators in the last nine years. Strange also given the fact that the Knights are coming off their worst season in a decade and a half following last year’s 1-11 debacle. Meanwhile, returning starting QB Artur Sitkowski was one of 21 underclassmen making starts last year, which should help. But if Ash fails to deliver this season, he could be residing inside a coaches urn in 2020.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Rutgers has outgained 4 foes in 36 games under Ash: Kansas, Morgan State, Norfolk State, and Texas State.

    PASS


    BIG 10 WEST

    ILLINOIS (Offense - 7/4, Defense - 10/3, RPR: 16/45/15)


    TEAM THEME: STUCK IN LOVE

    Lovie Smith signed a small but impressive recruiting class in the offseason, including six 3-star prospects and two elite 4-star players in QB Isaiah Williams and DB Marquez Beason. But like a die-hard mentor staying true to his school, Lovie stuck with a youth movement last season when 25 underclassmen accounted for 55.3% of all starts – the 4th most in the land. While Smith’s overall record with the Illini is only 9-27, last year’s 4-8 record was his best thus far. Meanwhile, the offense improved a whopping 130 yards per game, but the defense slipped 90 yards per game while allowing 508 yards per contest. With it, Lovie will take over DC duties in 2019.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Illinois is 4-42 SU and 16-30 ATS in its last forty-six Big Ten games versus .500 or greater opponents.

    PLAY ON: vs. Northwestern (11/30)


    IOWA (Offense - *6/3, Defense - 4/0, RPR: 49/39/84)


    TEAM THEME: GOING BOLDLY WHERE NO MAN HAS GONE

    Kirk Ferentz heads into his third decade as the Hawkeyes head coach – and the winningest coach in the University of Iowa history. Senior quarterback Nate Stanley led the Hawkeye offense to an average of 31.2 points per game and has tossed 26 touchdown passes in each of the last two seasons. However, Stanley loses stud TE’s T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant, both first-round picks in this year’s NFL draft. Iowa was seventh in the nation in total defense and has led the nation with 41 interceptions over the past two seasons. However, four key players on the defensive line from a year ago are no longer around. Thus, September becomes a critical month for Captain Kirk’s starship.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Ferentz is the longest-tenured FBS head football coach in the nation.

    PLAY ON: at Northwestern (10/26)


    MINNESOTA (Offense - *9/3, Defense - 7/2, RPR: 10/4/61)


    TEAM THEME: FIRST RESPONDERS

    No team in the land featured more starts by freshmen (32.9%) than the Gophers when underclassmen combined to make 22 starts overall. That works in tandem with the fact that 37 of 44 players from last season’s two-deep are back. Hence, Minnesota will be highly experienced, if nothing at all, this football season. It starts with sophomore QB Zack Annexstad, who along with Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield, are the only two true freshmen walk-on quarterbacks to start a Division-1 game in Week One. With three RBs as lethal as any in the country operating out of the backfield, and super safety Antoine Winfield now healthy, head coach P.J. Fleck should be rowing up a storm this season.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Fleck’s teams are 33-1 SU in their L34 games in which they’ve won the stats, including 22-0 the last 22.

    PLAY AGAINST: at Fresno State (9/7)


    NEBRASKA (Offense - *7/3, Defense - 6/2, RPR: 93/79/94)


    TEAM THEME: BEND THE KNEE FOR HIS ICENESS

    It was an excruciating yet rewarding first season for Scott Frost as coach of his alma mater. The Cornhuskers lost their first six games by an average 15 PPG, but they won four of their last six by 12.5 PPG while nearly beating Northwestern, Ohio State and Iowa on the road. QB Adrian Martinez, electric as a freshman despite lingering knee problems, appears on the verge of a breakout season in 2019. Still, despite taking on four opponents with new coaches, Frost has his work cut out for him this season after losing four of his top five tacklers. With Frost setting a Nebraska season record for total offensive YPG last year, football is king in Lincoln once again.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: 2019 marked the first time since 1962 that no player from Nebraska was selected in the NFL draft.

    PLAY ON: at Colorado (9/7) - *KEY


    NORTHWESTERN (Offense - 5/2, Defense - 6/2, RPR: 72/97/42)


    TEAM THEME: PURPLE REIGN

    Despite their first winless non-conference season since 1992, the Wildcats rebounded nicely to win 9 games in 2018, including an impressive 31-20 bowl win over Utah – marking the first time in school history that NU won three straight bowl games. “Now it’s become a consistent theme of our program, becoming champions,” insists head coach Pat Fitzgerald. With it, they begin defense of their Big West title minus the services of four-year starting QB Clayton Thorson, selected in the 5th round by the Philadelphia Eagles in this year’s draft. Lest we forget, this from our database: Fitzgerald is a ‘good dog’ (59-37-2 ATS) and a ‘bad favorite’ (27-41-1 ATS). In these two roles last season he went 10-2-2 ATS. Play accordingly.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Pat Fitzgerald has never had a player selected in the first three rounds since taking over the program 13 years ago.

    PLAY ON: as a dog vs. Ohio State (10/18)


    PURDUE (Offense - 3/2, Defense - 9/4, RPR: 103/124/35)


    TEAM THEME: THE PERFECT BROHMIDE

    Not only did head coach Jeff Brohm say no to Louisville, his alma mater, his electrifying star WR Rondale Moore also returns after leading the nation with 114 receptions, good for 1,258 yards and 12 touchdowns as a freshman last year. Moore also returned kicks for 744 yards while setting a school record with 313 yards... in his first career game! Through it all, the offense averaged 30 PPG last season for the first time since 2007 under Joe Tiller. QB Elijah Sindelar returns after opening the 2018 season as the starter before giving way to since-departed David Blough. Meanwhile, just 32 players started a game last season – only three teams in the land started fewer.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Brohm is 15-2 SU and 14-3 ATS from Game Eleven out.

    PLAY ON: at Northwestern (11/9)


    WISCONSIN (Offense - 5/1, Defense - 6/2, RPR: 29/7/78)

    TEAM THEME: BOWL ME OVER

    A five-game home stand from September till mid-October practically insures an 18th straight bowl game for the Badgers. For what it’s worth, with its 35-3 win over Miami in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, Wisconsin won its 5th-consecutive bowl game – becoming the first team to win 5 straight bowls as a member of the Big Ten Conference. UW’s run of 5 straight bowl victories is tied for the nation’s longest active streak, along with Louisiana Tech. Badgers’ freshmen made 21.3% starts in 2018, the 5th most of any team in the nation, while underclassmen totaled 24 overall starts. QB Alex Hornibrook transferred to Florida State but Doak Walker Award-winning RB Jonathan Taylor returns.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Wisconsin and Penn State are the only Big Ten teams that have posted a winning season the last 14 consecutive years.

    PLAY ON: at Minnesota (11/30)
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Wednesday’s Den: Big 14 football knowledge…….

    Illinois— Love Smith is 9-27 SU at Illinois, 4-10 vs spread as a home underdog; with 17 of 22 starters back this year, if they don’t show improvement this year, then what? Illini is 9-18 vs spread as an underdog under Smith; their last bowl was in 2014, last bowl win in 2011.

    Indiana— Under Allen, Hoosiers are 5-1 vs spread as a home favorite, 2-5 as a home dog; they’ve got seven starters back on both sides of the ball this year. Indiana has two new coordinators this season, with their new OC coming in from Fresno State.

    Iowa— Last four years, Iowa is 37-16 SU, with a +33 turnover margin; they won their last couple bowls. Since 2013, Hawkeyes are 15-2-1 vs spread as a road favorite. Iowa has only four starters back on defense this year.

    Maryland— Mike Locksley went 3-31 as HC of New Mexico from 2009-11, somehow got this job. Terps lost their last three bowls; their last bowl win was in 2010. Last five years, Maryland is 5-19 vs spread coming off a win.

    Michigan— Under Harbaugh, Wolverines are 7-12 vs spread on road, 4-7 vs spread coming off a loss- they lost last three bowls, giving up 33.3 ppg. Michigan has a senior QB (23 starts) and a new OC who ran a no-huddle offense at his last stop.

    Michigan State— Last four years, Spartans are 8-13 vs spread as a home favorite; they’ve got 17 of 22 starters back this year, with a senior QB (25 starts). In their last four bowls, MSU scored 42-0-42-6 points. TO margin from 2013-15: +46. From 2016-18: -1.

    Minnesota— Gophers have 9 starters back on offense this year; both soph QB’s (split time LY) are also back. Minnesota won its last three bowls, allowing 14-12-10 points. Under Fleck, Minnesota is 6-1 vs spread in non-conference games.

    Nebraska— From 2009-14, Nebraska was 57-24, but Cornhuskers had losing seasons three of last four years; since 2013, they’re 13-20-1 vs spread as a home favorite, but last two years, they’re 7-2 as road underdogs. Last seven years, Nebraska’s turnover ratio: minus-41.

    Northwestern— Wildcats are 3-2 in last five bowls; they were underdog in four of those five games- they’ve had a plus TO ratio the last seven years (+45 total). New QB this year, with one candidate a transfer from Clemson.

    Ohio State— Day is the new HC; over last decade, Buckeyes are 10-1 vs spread as an underdog. OSU has only 4 starters back on offense; QB Fields is a transfer from Georgia. Since 2015, Buckeyes are 11-16 vs spread as a home favorite.

    Penn State— Under Franklin, Nittany Lions are 17-11-1 vs spread as a home favorite, 7-8 as road favorite, 5-8 as an underdog, 4-13 coming off a loss. Average total in their last three bowls: 75.0. PSU will have a new starting QB this fall.

    Purdue— Last five years, Boilermakers are 14-4 as road underdogs; they were favored in all their road games LY. Purdue is 8-3 vs spread in last 11 non-league games. Split bowls last two years, with totals of 73-77, their first bowls since 2012.

    Rutgers— Scarlet Knights’ last bowl was 2014; under Ash, they’re 7-29 SU. Rutgers had a -14 turnover ratio LY; their last positive TO ratio was in 2012. Last two years, Knights are 7-4 vs spread as a home underdog.

    Wisconsin— Badgers are 5-0 in bowls the last five years; they were underdog in three of the five games. Over last decade, they’re 11-5 vs spread as an underdog. Under Chryst, Wisconsin is 11-3 vs spread as a road favorite
    .
    Last edited by StarDust Bum; 06-29-2019 at 12:49 AM.
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    Saturday’s List of 13: Mountain West football knowledge

    Air Force- Falcons went 5-7 last two years, unusual for them; last three years, they’re 6-17-1 vs spread in Mountain West games- last four years,AF is 10-3-1 vs spread as a road underdog. Flyboys have covered 11 of last 13 non-conference games.

    Boise State-Broncos won 10+ games eight of last ten years, are +24 in turnovers the last two years. Boise’s bowl game in Dallas LY was stopped late in 1st quarter LY because of bad weather and was never resumed. Broncos are 5-14 vs spread in last 19 games as a home favorite.

    Colorado State- Rams slumped to 3-9 LY after five straight winning years; last two years, State is 1-7 vs spread as a home favorite. Rams lost last four bowl games, allowing average of 41.3 ppg; they lost last four games with rival Colorado (0-3-1 vs spread).

    Fresno State- Redford is 22-6 in two years at Fresno; why did Cal ever fire this guy? They’re 12-5-2 vs spread as favorites under Tedford, 6-0 as an underdog, winning bowls 33-27/31-20- they’re +20 in turnovers last two years.

    Hawai’i- Rainbows played in the Sugar Bowl 12 years ago, losing 41-10 to Georgia; since then, all four of their bowls have been at home, with average total of 74.8. Under Rolovich, Hawai’i is 3-9 vs spread as a home favorite, 0-3 as a road favorite.

    Nevada- New QB, four new starters on OL for Wolf Pack this year, who are 8-4 vs spread at home in two years under Norvell; five of their top six rushers, nine of top 10 receivers are back. Last three years, Nevada is 4-9 vs spread in non-league games.

    UNLV- Five straight losing years for Rebels, who move into the Raiders’ new dome next year; they’ve played in one bowl since 2000. Last three years, UNLV is 4-9 vs spread when laying points at home. Rebels’ last bowl win outside of Las Vegas was 1984 (30-13 vs Toledo).

    New Mexico- Bob Davie is in his 8th year with Lobos; they went 3-9 last two years. Last time UNM played in a bowl other than on their home field was a 34-19 loss to Navy in ’04 Emerald Bowl. New Mexico has only two starters back on defense this year.

    San Diego State- Nine straight winning years for Aztecs, who slumped to 7-6 LY; – they were 0-8 vs spread as a favorite, and were blanked by Ohio U in their bowl (27-0). Aztecs have top six rushers back from LY and three starters back on OL.

    San Jose State- Spartans are 3-22 in two years under Brennan; they were +1 in turnovers LY, after going -26 in 2017. Last five years, State is 9-19 as a road underdog, but were 4-2 LY. SJS won last four bowls, but last one was in 2015.

    Utah State- Aggies went 11-2 LY, after three straight losing seasons; their coach moved on, so the new coach is Gary Andersen, who went 26-24 as Aggies’ coach from 2009-12. USU has only two starters back on offense. Since ’16, Aggies are 10-2-1 as home favorites.

    Wyoming- After going +24 in turnovers in ’17 with a 8-5 record, Cowboys were 6-6 LY with a +4 TO ratio. Last three years, Cowboys are 6-2 as home favorites, 8-4 as home dogs- last four years, they’re 19-13 vs spread as an underdog.
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    Sunday’s 6-pack

    Spreads for football games on August 29/30:

    — Cincinnati (-3.5) vs UCLA

    — Tulane (-3) vs Florida Int’l

    — Utah (-6) vs BYU

    — Wake Forest (-3.5) vs Utah State

    — Wisconsin (-11) vs South Florida

    — Colorado (-11) vs Colorado State
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    [SIZE=1]Monday’s 6-pack

    Over/under win totals for SEC West football teams

    — Alabama 11.5 (under -$300)

    — Arkansas (under -$160)

    — Auburn (over -$125)

    — LSU 9 (under -$150)

    — Ole Miss 4.5 (over -$1705)

    — Mississippi State 7.5 (over-$130)

    — Texas A&M 7.5 (over -$115)
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Tuesday’s 6-pack

    Over/under win totals for SEC East football teams

    — Florida 9 (under -$180)

    — Georgia 11 (under -$160)

    — Kentucky 6.5 (over -$125)

    — Missouri 8 (over -$150)

    — South Carolina 5.5 (over -$155)

    — Tennessee 6.5

    — Vanderbilt 5 (under -$200)
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Tuesday’s Den: ACC football knowledge……

    Boston College- Went 7-5 or 7-6 five of last six years; since 2014, Eagles are 11-2-1 vs spread as a road underdog. Last two years, BC is 10-3-1 vs spread coming off win. Junior QB Brown already has 22 career starts; their top four rushers are all back.

    Clemson- Tigers won 10+ games eight years in a row; they won four of last five bowls, with three of those wins by 27+ points. Clemson covered 15 of last 19 neutral field games; they’ve been an underdog once the last four years.

    Duke- Blue Devils won last three bowls, scoring 44-36-56 points; they’ll have a new, more mobile QB this year, but Cutcliffe is a QB guru. Last four years, Duke is 12-19-1 vs spread in ACC games. Average total in Duke’s last five bowls: 79.0.

    Florida State- Seminoles are 12-13 SU the last two years, after going 59-9 from 2012-16. FSU is -17 in turnovers the last two years, 8-12 vs spread in last 20 home games, 9-13-2 in last 24 games as a favorite. Average total in FSU’s last five bowls: 66.8.

    Georgia Tech- Collins went 15-10 at Temple; changing from option attack to more traditional offense can be dicey. Tech has only 9 of 22 starters back, with an inexperienced offensive line. Opening at Clemson will be a reality check, but Collins is a good coach.

    Louisville- Cardinals went 2-10 LY after eight winning years in a row, so Petrino got the boot and Satterfield comes in from Appalachian State (47-16). Last three years, Louisville is 12-26 vs spread (1-11 LY), 3-11 in non-conference games.

    Miami- Mark Richt went 26-13 in three years; not good enough. Defensive-minded Manny Diaz is the new coach; he has a new QB, inexperience on OL. Since 2012, Miami is 4-9-1 as road underdogs. From 2015-17, they were +34 in turnovers, were -1 LY.

    North Carolina- Mack Brown was on TV last five years; now he is back on sidelines after UNC went 5-17 last two years under the cloud of an academic scandal. Tar Heels lot last three bowls; their last bowl win was 2013. UNC will be breaking in a new QB this year.

    NC State- Wolfpack had five straight winning seasons, went 11-5 in ACC last two years, after going 17-31 the six years before that. State has a new QB and only two starters back on OL, so the offense (4 starters back overall) could take a step back this year.

    Pittsburgh- Pitt lost last four bowls, with pair of 1-point losses; their last bowl win was in 2014, over Bowling Green (30-27, +6.5). Under Narduzzi, Panthers are 12-6 vs spread as road underdogs, 5-10-1 as home favorites.

    Syracuse- Orangemen had their first winning season (10-3) in five years LY; they won their last four bowls (were favored in only one of those), with last bowl loss in 2004. Under Babers, Syracuse is 9-3 vs spread as a road underdog.

    Virginia- LY’s 8-5 record was first winning season in seven years; they even pitched a shutout in their bowl game. Since 2014, Cavaliers are 15-7 vs spread outside the ACC- they start couple of sophs, three juniors on OL, so they’ll be very solid the next two years.

    Virginia Tech- In three years under Fuente, Hokies are 9-5 vs spread as home favorites, 7-13 vs spread in all their other games; they’ve got 10 starters back on defense TY. QB Willis has 20 career starts; six of their top seven rushers are back.

    Wake Forest- Deacons are 22-17 SU last three years, winning bowls all three years while scoring 42 ppg. Wake is 4-0-1 vs spread in lat five bowls; they covered 10 of last 13 games as a road underdog; last four years, they’re 16-8-1 vs spread coming off a loss.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    2019 C-USA Preview
    July 14, 2019
    By Marc Lawrence


    Meaningful Milestones

    The 2019 season marks two important milestones - the 150th anniversary of college football and the 25th season of Conference-USA. The sport that began with Princeton and Rutgers on November 6, 1869, will be celebrating its 150th birthday. Conference-USA and its 14 members will join nearly 900 teams across all divisions to celebrate the anniversary with a special uniform patch. The uniform logo program will be the most widespread effort of its kind in the history of college athletics.

    The QB Conference

    Conference-USA has developed an outstanding tradition of quarterbacks throughout its history. This season could mark one of the deepest, most experienced groups of signal-callers in years with as many as 11 C-USA teams returning starters from last season. Highlighting the group is the two-time C-USA Offensive Player of the Year, North Texas senior QB Mason Fine.

    We’re Back

    A total of 11 All-Conference Offense First-and-Second team members from 2018 return this season. Plus 10 players are back from the 2018 All-Conference Defense First-and-Second teams this season.

    This Is How We Bowl


    Conference-USA sent six programs to play in bowl games last year. The conference finished the 2018 bowl season with a 4-2 record. The .667 winning percentage was the best among all FBS conferences, the fourth time in eight years that Conference USA has posted the best bowl winning percentage among all leagues.

    Conference-USA is 30-18 SU and 28-19-1 ATS in bowl games since 2011. Its .625 mark leads the Group of Five in bowl win percentage over that span. And not one to back off during the regular season, a total of 22 games are scheduled in 2019 against teams that played in a bowl game last season.

    The numbers following each team name represent the amount of returning starters on offense and defense, along with the number of returning linemen, with an asterisk (*) designating a returning quarterback. The RPR represents each team’s overall, offensive and defensive rankings in overall returning production experience.

    C-USA EAST

    CHARLOTTE (Offense - *5/2, Defense - 7/3, RPR: 51/78/50)

    TEAM THEME: TURNAROUND AND LOOK AT ME

    New head coach Will Healy arrives from Austin Peay where he won an Eddie Robinson Award as the National FCS Coach of the Year in 2017. Healy engineered one of the most incredible turnarounds in college football history. In his second year, the Governors went 8-4 after going 1-45 over the previous four years. He inherits a Charlotte defense that ranked 11th among FBS schools in rush defense last season and 25th in total defense. In addition, the 49ers return five players that earned all-CUSA honors last year. Last year we called out the fact they were a young team evolving into an experienced group, that spring chickens turn into barnyard roosters and with it an air of hidden confidence is shaped. This year they likely crash the bowl party.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Since becoming an FBS school, Charlotte is 3-15 SU in its final six games of the season.

    PLAY ON: vs. UMass (9/14)


    FLORIDA ATLANTIC (Offense - *7/3, Defense - 6/2, RPR: 96/87/88)

    TEAM THEME: LANE ADJUSTMENT

    What a mess for Lane Kiffin’s surprising upstart crew last season. Not only did they fall from 11-wins to 5 last year, but they also crashed and burned as favorites in the process, beating the spread just one time in seven tries. Ironically, they won the stats but lost the game in four of the seven contests in which they were installed as chalk. And so it was for the Owls in 2018, a total reversal of fortune for a team that destroyed Akron, 50-3, in the Boca Raton Bowl to close out the best season in school history the prior year. QB Chris Robison returns but their most valuable weapon, RB Devin Singletary, left early for the NFL draft.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Owls are 8-23 SU in one-possession games since Howard Schnellenberger resigned, including 4-13 the last 4 seasons.

    PLAY ON: at Charlotte (9/28)


    FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL (Offense - *8/3, Defense - 8/3, RPR: 6/8/26)

    TEAM THEME: BUTCH CAT ON THE PROWL

    While the Panthers improved their numbers clear across the board for the second year in a row under Butch Davis last season, the fact of the matter is the schedule maker is likely on Davis’ Christmas card list. That’s because FIU faced only three foes with winning records in 2018, taking on opponents that went 53-82 during the regular season – the softest slate in the FBS. Only five such sightings are to be found in 2019, along with no back-to-back road games. Toss in a ton of returning experience and stellar recruiting classes the past three years and you can understand why Davis still rules in South Florida these days.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Davis is 6-0 ATS in his career as an underdog when coming off a loss of 12 or more points.

    PLAY ON: at Marshall (11/30) - KEY* as a dog off a loss


    MARSHALL (Offense - *8/4, Defense - 6/2, RPR: 94/66/105)

    TEAM THEME: BACK ON THE BALL

    The Herd went bowling for the fifth time in the past six years last season but brings back a squad short on experience in 2019. Head coach Doc Holliday is faced with replacing the majority of his front seven along with his defensive coordinator, while the offense loses star WR Tyre Brady. The good news is enormous JUCO Josh Ball, who started nine games for Florida State, transfers in to anchor the offensive line. Holliday realizes that his team was the only Group of 5 program to record three straight 10-win seasons before blowing up with only 3 victories in 2016. The climb back up over the past two seasons has been rewarding. The ball is back in their court.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Marshall is 6-0 SUATS in bowl games under Holliday.

    PLAY AGAINST: at Florida Atlantic (10/18)


    MIDDLE TENNESSEE (Offense - 4/2, Defense - 6/2, RPR: 122/111/101)


    TEAM THEME: MISSING YOU... AND YOU... AND YOU...

    Like it or not, Middle Tennessee head coach Rick Stockstill will be toiling as an “empty nester” this season. That’s because his son, 4-year starting QB Brent Stockstill, has graduated and is hoping to land an NFL free agent contract. What the 2018 CUSA Coach Of The Year is really hoping for in 2019, though, is an injury-free season as his team was hampered much of the season last year. Still, the Raiders managed to make it the CUSA championship while relying heavily on 21 seniors who combined to start 61.8 % of MTSU’s games in 2018 – the 2nd most in the nation. With that card now played out, it’s on to re-tooling a young and inexperienced unit in 2019.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE:
    MTSU has been bowl eligible ten times in 13 years under Rick Stockstill, competing in eight bowl games.

    PLAY AGAINST: at Charlotte (11/2)


    OLD DOMINION (Offense - 4/2, Defense - 5/1, RPR: 111/113/73)

    TEAM THEME: THE MAX WITH THE MINIMUM

    If the Monarchs were cast onto the Game Of Thrones, head coach Bobby Wilder would have been the Night King last season. After ascending to a 10-win team in 2016, the air has come out of the balloon for the Monarchs the last two campaigns. Making matters worse for this neophyte program that joined the FBS ranks in 2014, is an offense this season that has been decimated by player losses. Last year’s 1-6 start set the tone for things to come but to their credit, the Wildlings refused to die – a testament to the head coach who launched this program just six years ago. Sadly, Wilder is out shopping at TJ Maxx for JUCO’s this season.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Old Dominion’s home sellout streak officially ended at 60 last season. It has a 47-19 record all-time at home.

    PLAY ON: at Middle Tennessee (11/23)


    WESTERN KENTUCKY (Offense - *10/5, Defense - 6/3, RPR: 14/14/39)


    TEAM THEME: YOUNG PEAS IN A POD

    After having sailed ‘over’ its season win totals in five of the previous six years, before bouncing to only 3 victories in 2018, new head coach Tyson Helton – USC coach Clay’s brother – knows that immediate improvement is expected from the Hilltoppers in 2019. Prior to taking over the reins at Western Kentucky this season, Helton was an OC in five previous seasons at WKU, USC, and Tennessee. Those teams averaged 9.2 wins, 35.6 points and 469.4 yards per game under his tutelage. Western Kentucky’s 2015 season ended with The Hill ranked final AP ranking of 24 – the highest in school history – and a school-record 12 victories, including the first-ever FBS conference championship while breaking more than two-dozen school offensive records under Helton as offensive coordinator. Meanwhile, Sophomore RB Joshua Samuel rushed for over 600 yards at nearly 5.5 YPR in 2018 and will only get better – as should the rest of this very experienced squad.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: A total of 20 underclassmen made starts for the Hilltoppers last season.

    PLAY ON: vs. Louisville (9/14)


    C-USA WEST

    LOUISIANA TECH (Offense - *8/3, Defense - 5/0, RPR: 30/28/54)

    TEAM THEME: THE HAIR OF THE DOG

    There is no hiding the fact that Skip Holtz’s offense has been waning the past two seasons – scoring nearly 300 fewer points last year than in 2016. With it, Holtz is banking on an experienced group of returnees, starting with QB J’Mar Smith. Meanwhile, the running game failed to tally 2,000 yards for the first time since 2013, and it should be noted that the Bulldogs have suffered 5 1-point losses over the past three seasons. Safe to say that hangovers like these would normally affect most teams in a bad way. Not when you’re a Skip Holtz team looking to return to 9-win territory, where they resided from 2014-2016. We’ve learned to not bet against Skippy in underdog roles.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: Holtz is 48-24-1 ATS as a dog in his career, including 20-3-1 ATS when coming off an ATS win of more than 8 points.

    PLAY ON: vs. Southern Miss (10/19)


    NORTH TEXAS (Offense - *8/3, Defense - 5/2, RPR: 59/22/110)

    TEAM THEME: PAY ATTENTION


    Exactly how much street cred does Mean Green head coach Seth Littrell have, you ask? After inheriting a 1-11 team, Littrell has won 23 games and a division title in his first three years in Denton. Yeah, we’re paying attention. Coming off his best season ever in 2018, Littrell lost OC Graham Harrell, the ex-Texas Tech quarterback, to USC, but he’s been an OC multiple times himself. He’ll utilize the entire passing attack as QB Mason Fine (nearly 4,000 passing yards with 27 TDs and 5 INTs last season) and his receiving corps is back from the league’s top scoring offense. Remember, Littrell turned down numerous coaching offers to remain in Denton. The man can coach.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: North Texas was the only FBS team to outgain EVERY opponent during the regular season last year.

    PLAY ON:
    at Louisiana Tech (11/9)


    RICE (Offense - 6/2, Defense - 6/1, RPR: 5/29/4)

    TEAM THEME: PLAYING THE BACKUP, BACKUP, BACKUP, BACKUP QB

    As a result of starting both the 3rd most freshmen and the 3rd most underclassmen (including a nation-high 27 players making 56.8% team-starts) last season, the force-fed Owls suddenly become one of the nation’s deepest squads in terms of returning experience this season. But it wasn’t easy. Few seasons played out as unfortunate on the injury front as the Owls’ 2018 campaign. Rice lost QBs Shawn Stankavage and Evan Marshman to injury during the year. Jackson Tyner and Sam Glaesmann were bumped down the depth chart for performance, leaving freshman Wiley Green as the next man up when “next man up” was called against FIU. Taking on a brutal schedule in 2019 should be a breeze in Year Two for Mike Bloomgren.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE:
    Rice is 31-11-3 ATS as a conference home dog, including 16-2-2 ATS when taking less than 7 points.

    PLAY ON: at UTSA (10/19)


    SOUTHERN MISS (Offense - *10/5, Defense - 6/2, RPI: 4/1/47)


    TEAM THEME: HOP ABOARD, Y’ALL

    As a result of having started the third most of seniors in 2017, the Golden Eagles were forced to go the barefoot route last season. What it means is they will be one of the most experienced teams in the land in 2019. To top it off, the defense was dynamite last year, ranking 3rd in the nation overall. The biggest concern, though, is an offense that has regressed each and every year in both points and yardage under 4th-year head coach Jay Hopson. A rugged 3-game non-conference stretch to start September should have them primed for league play. Nevertheless, look for the Hattiesburg Eagles to soar once October rolls around.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: USM played in a bowl game for 14 of 15 years until the 2012 season. Since then, the Eagles have been to just 3 bowls.

    PLAY ON: vs. North Texas (10/12)


    UAB (Offense - *4/1, Defense - 4/1, RPR: 130/128/125)

    TEAM THEME: PARTY OUT

    As Don Meredith liked to say, “Turn out the lights, the party’s over.” Or so it will seem this season for the back-on-the-map Blazers, whose long climb back from football’s deathbed perhaps peaked last season with a school-record 11 victories, no thanks to a senior-laden squad urged on with motivation to help resurrect this program back to respectability. In doing so, UAB poured thru a roster that witnessed a total of 23 seniors making 69.7% of the starts in 2018 – the most in the land. As a result, four linemen and the top four WRs are gone on offense. The good news, though, is UAB will tackle only three foes that owned a winning record last season.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Blazers are 12-3 ATS under Clark when facing an opponent coming off a win, including 7-0 ATS when UAB is coming off a loss.

    PLAY AGAINST: vs. Louisiana Tech (11/23)


    UTEP (Offense - *7/4, Defense - 4/2, RPR: 124/85/129)

    TEAM THEME: MAKING LEMONADE OUT OF LEMONS

    Good news for any football team that has won ONE game the past two years: 32 signees inked to a recruiting class, including 5 three-star recruits and 12 more two-star recruits. It was clearly the best class UTEP has had in nearly a decade. Now if second-year head coach Dana Dimel finds time for the new kids on the block this season, 2020 will clearly take on a different look in El Paso, one certainly more appealing than Trump’s immigration wall. Despite just one win last season, the Miners’ stats improved significantly on both sides of the ball in points scored and allowed, as well as yardage gained and allowed in 2018. Now that’s a refreshing concoction.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE: The Miners are 9-73-1 SU and 18-60-3 ATS in the last 83 games in which they have been outgained in the stats.

    PLAY ON: at New Mexico State (11/23)


    UTSA (Offense - *9/5, Defense - 6/3, RPR: 89/58/103)

    TEAM THEME: GET THOSE ZAGODACTYL FEET MOVING

    After improving their numbers on both sides of the ball in 2017, the Roadrunners blew all four tires and went rim-running last season when the offense regressed 140 yards and the defense declined 137 yards. Through it all, UTSA had its win total slashed in half as San Antonio enters the 2019 campaign on a 6-game losing slide. We hope it doesn’t negatively affect head coach Frank Wilson’s job security, as he is an extremely well-liked, and highly respected coach. For the Roadrunners to return to their 2017 ways, though, the offense will need to hit the weight room and do some heavy lifting. Oddly, a third offensive coordinator in as many years might actually help as the ‘Runners try to solve why their get-up-and-go got up and went.

    STAT YOU WILL LIKE:
    The Roadrunners are 5-22 ATS in SU conference losses.

    PLAY AGAINST: at UTEP (10/5)
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

  14. #14
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    LEADING OFF: Cashner makes Boston debut, Bellinger's bash
    July 16, 2019
    By The Associated Press


    A look at what's happening around the majors Tuesday:

    NEW SOX

    Andrew Cashner makes his Boston Red Sox debut at Fenway Park against Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and the Toronto Blue Jays. Cashner was acquired Saturday from Baltimore for two 17-year-old prospects. The 32-year-old righty went 9-3 with a 3.83 ERA in 17 starts for the team with the worst record in the majors. He has gone at least six innings in his last five outings and has a 1.41 ERA since the beginning of June. ''This is the World Series champs. It's a chance to help these guys get to where they want to go,'' Cashner said. ''I'm definitely looking forward to the race. It's something I haven't been in, really.''

    CITY OF BROTHERLY LOVE

    Cody Bellinger, now with the most home runs in the majors, tries to add to his total as the Dodgers (63-33) - with the top record in the majors - look for another big outburst in Philadelphia. Bellinger saw a sea of blue behind him in right field and heard ''M-V-P'' chants throughout the night Monday in Philly as Los Angeles cruised to a 16-2 rout. Bellinger hit his 32nd and 33rd homers to pass reigning NL MVP Christian Yelich for the big league lead and entertained a large group of Dodgers fans who nearly turned it into a home game for Los Angeles. ''We're in Philadelphia. We shouldn't have that many fans here. That was pretty cool,'' Bellinger said.

    FISH STORY

    Mike Trout hopes to return to the lineup when the Angels host AL West-leading Houston in the second game of their series. Trout left Sunday's win over Seattle early due to right calf tightness, though the injury didn't look serious. The two-time MVP was scheduled for an MRI and didn't start Monday night.

    LUCKY 13


    The surprising big league leader in wins is Texas right-hander Lance Lynn (12-4, 3.69 ERA), who goes for No. 13 when the Rangers host the Arizona Diamondbacks. Lynn is 8-0 at home after signing a $30 million, three-year contract with Texas as a free agent in December.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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