|Date||Match Up||Rating||Score||Result||Profit||Lead Time||Analysis|
|12-31-18||NC State v. Texas A&M OVER 58.5||Top||13-52||Win||100||533 h 25 m||Show|
The set-up: Two teams with a ton of momentum collide in the Gator Bowl from Jacksonville Florida on Monday night and in my opinion, points are going to be plentiful. NC State enters on a three-game win streak over Louisville, UNC and ECU, while Texas A&M also posted three straight wins to end the year over Ole Miss, UAB and LSU. NC State will be leaning heavily on QB Ryan Finley here, and he has 3,789 passing yards along with 24 TD’s. The Aggies weakness on defense is against the pass, allowing 262.7 YPG. Clearly Finley will be given the “green light” to air it out from start to finish. The Aggies are also down several defenders, including safety Donovan Wilson. The Aggies feature a potent offensive attack as well, featuring dynamic back Trayveon Williams, who had 1,524 rushing yards and 15 major scores.
The pick: Take it for what you will as well, but NC State has seen the total go “over” the number in seven of its last nine non-conference road games as an underdog in the 2.5 to 9.5 points range. This one has “shootout” written all over it, play the “over.”
|12-29-18||Notre Dame v. Clemson UNDER 55||Top||3-30||Win||100||482 h 51 m||Show|
The set-up: The Irish are 12-0 and the Tigers are 13-0. This is the Cotton Bowl, but the winner of this will move on to face either Oklahoma or Alabama in the National Championship Game. Notre Dame had to hold on for dear life in its regular season finale vs. USC, while Clemson easily steamrolled Pittsburgh in its ACC Championship title. Both teams feature elite defenses and I believe they’ll “steal the show” in this one.
The pick: Each team will be trying to establish its run game throughout while on offense. And take it row what you will, but Notre Dame has seen the total go “under” in seven of its last ten after allowing 280 or more passing yards in its previous game and in four of its last five neutral site games, while Clemson has seen the total go “under” in seven of its last nine neutral site affairs on a three weeks or more lay off. This number is a little high, play the “under.”
|12-28-18||Syracuse v. West Virginia OVER 68||Top||34-18||Loss||-110||461 h 45 m||Show|
The set-up: No one expected the Orange to finish 9-3 overall and go 5-1 in their last six, but now they’ll look to continue to defy the odds and carry that momentum over into the Camping World Bowl. WVU comes in off back-to-back losses to Oklahoma State and Oklahoma and it’ll be without starting QB Will Grier, who will skip to focus on the draft. That just means that it’s “next man up” for the Mountaineers. And that next man is Jack Allison, who now has a golden opportunity to cement his role next year. WVU is loaded with other offensive weapons though and the Mountaineers will be hungry to finish up strong as well. From a situational stand point, there’s no doubt this one sets up as a “shootout” in my opinion.
The pick: Note as well that Syracuse has seen the total go “over” the number in five of seven as a favorite already this year, while WVU has seen the total go “over” in five of six already this season when the total is greater than or equal to 63. This number is a little low, play the “over.”
|12-27-18||Vanderbilt v. Baylor OVER 55||Top||38-45||Win||100||314 h 49 m||Show|
The set-up: I think this one will sneak “over” the number once it’s all said and done. This is the Texas Bowl from NRG Stadium in Houston. Vandy became eligible by winning its final two games of the year over Ole Miss and Tennessee. Baylor’s also looking to cap a 6-6 season a high note after it broke a two-game skid with a bowl eligibility victory over Texas Tech back on November 24th. On offense, Vanderbilt will be leaning on Ke’Shawn Vaughn, who posted 1,001 rushing yards and ten TD’s on 144 carries this season. Baylor is susceptible against the run as well, allowing 172.8 rushing yards per game. Vandy also has a steady presence under center in Kyle Shurmur, who finished with 2,844 yards and 23 passing TD’s. After only one victory last season, clearly the Bears are very happy to be back bowling this year. Baylor’ QB Charlie Brewer finished with 2,635 passing yards and and 17 TD’s.
The pick: Take it for what you will as well, but Vanderbilt has seen the total go “over” in three of its last four when playing with two weeks rest, while Baylor has seen the total go “over” in its last two non-conference games. This number is a little low, play the “over.”
|12-22-18||Buffalo v. Troy UNDER 53.5||32-42||Loss||-105||321 h 52 m||Show|
The set-up: Buffalo enters with a 10-3 record, while Troy finished 9-3. Buffalo averaged 34.8 PPG, behind a strong rushing offense which finished 45th in the country. The Bulls were above average defensively, allowing just 24.7 PPG, ranked 48th (Jared Patterson and Kevin Marks had 1,751 rushing yards combined). Troy only averaged 29.8 PPG, but it made up for it on the other side of the ball by allowing only 21.2 (ranked 23rd.) The Trojans had to make a shift at QB when No. 1 Kaleb Barker went down with injury and backup Sawyer Smith was average at best, finishing with a 10/6 TD:INT over seven games. Troy’s offense revolves around RB BJ Smith, who posted at least 100 rushing yards in five of his last eight games.
The pick: Take it for what you will as well, but Buffalo has seen the total go “under” the number in seven of its last nine after having lost two of its last three games, while Troy has seen the total go “under” in four of its last five following a two weeks or more period of rest. This number is high, play the “under.”
|12-18-18||Northern Illinois v. UAB UNDER 44||Top||13-37||Loss||-115||225 h 2 m||Show|
The set-up: I think this one has defensive battle written all over it. UAB won the C-USA with a 10-3 record, while NIU was 8-5 overall. The Blazers ten wins were a school record and UAB got the job done with stifling defensive play. UAB has a question mark with its starting QB AJ Erdely, but the strength on offense is the run game behind Spencer Brown anyways. The UAB offense would only post 30 points four times this year, but the defense is allowing just 17.3 PPG. NIU also relies on its run game to generate offense, led by Tre Harbison. The Huskies averaged only 20.7 PPG and they allowed just 21.5.
The pick: Two defensive minded teams which rely on the run game collide in this one. Also note that UAB has seen the total go “under” the number in four of its last five then the total is set between 42.5 and 49 points, while NIU has seen the total go “under” in ten of its last 15 when the total is set in the same points range. This number is high, play the “under.”
|12-08-18||Navy v. Army OVER 39.5||Top||10-17||Loss||-110||75 h 41 m||Show|
The set-up: Navy dominated this match-up for over a decade, but the Army Golden Knights come into this year’s match-up having won two straight. Army is 9-2 in 2018 and enters on top form, having won seven straight. Navy is just 3-9 and it’s gone only 1-8 in its last nine overall. The Midshipmen live for this game though and I’m expecting the underdog to push the pace from start to finish. This is the first time since 2002 that Navy will finish with a losing record, so it’ll have one last shot at redemption here as it looks to play spoiler on Army’s great overall campaign to this point. With both teams pushing the pace, from a situational stand point, there’s no doubt this one sets up as a higher-scoring shootout.
The pick: Note as well though that Navy has seen the total go “over” the number in three of its last four as a neutral field underdog, while Army has seen the total go “over” in 14 of its last 20 as a favorite. Play the “over.”
|12-01-18||Memphis v. Central Florida OVER 70.5||41-56||Win||100||142 h 6 m||Show|
The set-up: It’s the AAC Championship between Memphis and UCF. The Tigers finished 8-4 overall, while the Knights come in at 11-0. UCF may be without its starting QB McKenzie Milton, but I think that Darriel Mack Jr. is “the next man up,” and will fill in seamlessly. The Tigers will be relying on the legs of RB Darrell Henderson, who had 24 carries for 178 yards and two TD’s in last week’s high-scoring 52-31 win over Houston.
The pick: Mack is out to prove himself and he will be given the green light to air it out all night long. Memphis will be pushing the pace as well as it tries to pull off the upset. When you add it all up, this one has high-scoring “shootout” written all over it.
|11-24-18||Utah State v. Boise State UNDER 66||Top||24-33||Win||100||12 h 43 m||Show|
The set-up: This is an important game for both teams. The winner plays in the Big West title game. Utah State has won ten in a row and it plays with revenge after falling in this contest last year. The Aggies have a difficult task ahead of them and they were almost caught “looking ahead” to this one with a “close call” against Colorado State last weekend. Utah State has its eyes on a big bowl game, but it’ll have to take it one game at a time: “Survive and advance. Just like in the NCAA Tournament,” Utah State head coach Matt Wells said after the game, according to the Associated Press, via ESPN.com. “You know, I’m going to celebrate after a win like this. I’m going to let the players celebrate all the way until Monday. We have a special season going.”
Boise State looked decent offensively against a weak New Mexico defense last week, but the Broncos looked great defensively, holding the Lobos to only 14 points.
The pick: Take it for what you will as well, but Utah State has seen the total go “under” the number in four of its last six vs. teams with winning records, while Boise State has seen the total go “under” in four of five already this year after two or more consecutive SU victories. This number is high, play the “under.”
|11-23-18||Oklahoma v. West Virginia OVER 81.5||Top||59-56||Win||100||98 h 25 m||Show|
The set-up: This is an important game for both teams and that fact alone is the reason why I predict a high-scoring shootout. The Sooners will be playing in the Big 12 Championship Game next week no matter what, but clearly Oklahoma would like to win out with the hopes of somehow making it into the Playoff Championship. WVU needs to win this game and have Texas lose for its opportunity to play in the Conference championship and while the deck is stacked against them, clearly the Mountaineers are going to leave everything they have on the field on Seniors night. From a situational stand point, this one definitely sets up as a high-scoring game in my opinion.
The pick: Take it for what you will as well, but Oklahoma has seen the total go “over” the number in eight of its last ten as a road favorite, while WVU has seen the total go “over” in five of its last eight as an underdog. This number is low, play the “over.”
|11-17-18||Syracuse v. Notre Dame UNDER 62.5||3-36||Win||100||115 h 51 m||Show|
The set-up: It’s the No. 13 Syracuse Orange vs. the No. 3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish from Yankee Stadium in New York on Saturday and in my opinion, this one has defensive battle written all over it. The Orange enter off a high-scoring 54-23 victory over Louisville, while the Irish come in off a 42-13 home beatdown of FSU. Overall Syracuse is averaging 44.4 PPG and allowing 27.6. Notre Dame needs to win today and next week against USC and it’ll be going to the College Football playoff. Overall the Irish average 34.5 PPG and they concede only 18.7.
The pick: Take it for what you will, but Syracuse has seen the total go “under” the number in seven of its last nine road games after scoring 52 points or more in a victory in its previous outing. The neutral site affair helps turn this into a lower-scoring “under.”
|11-15-18||Toledo v. Kent State OVER 58.5||56-34||Win||100||71 h 40 m||Show|
The set-up: Toledo enters off a 38-15 road loss to Illinois last Wednesday, while Kent State comes in off a 48-14 loss to Buffalo on the road last Tuesday. Toledo has won three in a row in the series, including a 38-7 victory at home last year. Toledo is averaging 38.6 PPG and it’s allowing 31.5. QB Mitchel Guadagni has 1,053 passing yards and 13 TD’s, while also adding 423 on he ground and another four TD’s. Kent Tate is averaging 23.3 points and it’s allowing 35.6. QB Woody Barrett has 1,932 passing yards with ten TD’s and eight INT’s with another 422 rushing yards and six TD’s on the ground.
The play: Note that Toledo has seen the total go “over” the number in two of its last three as a favorite, while Kent State has seen the total go “over” in eight of its last 14 at home. Both teams hungry for a win. This number is a low, play the “over.”
|11-10-18||Michigan v. Rutgers OVER 44.5||Top||42-7||Win||100||3 h 56 m||Show|
At 3:30pmET, my selection is one Michigan/Rutgers to finish OVER the total. As one of the lowest totals on the board, I believe that this game gives everyone great value on the OVER. Michigan may even enough to score higher than the total themselves as they average 37 PPG this season so far. The last time the Wolverines played in HighPoint.com Stadium, they scored a total of 78 points. Look for another high scoring game. Take the OVER.
|11-07-18||Ohio v. Miami-OH OVER 62.5||Top||28-30||Loss||-113||51 h 18 m||Show|
The set-up: Ohio is on a roll and that’s not going to stop this weekend facing the RedHawks, who just lost 51-42 to Buffalo. The Bobcats are rolling across the board, , most recently winning 52-14 and 59-14 over WMU as a three-point dog last weekend.
The pick: Take it for what you will as well, but Ohio has seen the total go “over” the number in both games that it’s played so far this season as a favorite in the 3.5 to ten points range and in three of its last four off a win against a conference rival, while the RedHawks have seen the total go “over” in four of five as an underdog already this year (and in four of their last five as an underdog in the 3.5 to ten points range). The RedHawks desperately need a win here to keep their bowl hopes alive. With each team pushing the pace, I’m expecting this one to soar “over” sooner, rather than later.
|10-20-18||Oregon v. Washington State UNDER 68||Top||20-34||Win||100||46 h 10 m||Show|
The set-up: While it’s true that these two teams combine for 84 points and 967 yards per game this year, I believe tonight’s contest will fall “under” this sky-high number. Oregon looks primed for a bit of a letdown here in my opinion after playing ranked teams in three consecutive weeks, with two of those games going to OT. The teams: Oregon is averaging 43 PPG and it’s limiting opponents to 122.8 rushing yards per game. Also note that the Ducks are averaging 209.5 rushing yards per game themselves. I think we’re going to see a heavy dose of the run tonight. Washington State is averaging 41.8 PPG, as Gardner Minshew has 2,422 yards, 19 TD’s and four INT’s. The pick: Take it for what you will though, but Oregon has seen the total go “under” the number in four of its last six after two or more consecutive SU victories, while WSU has seen the total go “under” in four of its last six home games when the total is set between 63.5 and 70. This number is high, play the “under.”
|10-13-18||Duke v. Georgia Tech UNDER 54.5||Top||28-14||Win||100||95 h 19 m||Show|
The set-up: Duke is in the basement of the ACC Coastal Division and the last thing it can do is turn this one into a “track meet” and expect to hang with the surging Yellow Jackets, who are looking for a third straight win. In my opinion, this number is a little hight. The teams: Duke would actually go on to destroy Georgia Tech 43-20 last year, but I think we’re going to see a much lower-scoring “chess match” on Saturday afternoon. The Blue Devils comes out of their bye week off a loss to VT, a game in which it allowed a season-worst 413 yards, including 332 through the air. Duke would allow 11.86 YPA to the Hokies, which nearly doubled their season mark coming in of 6.74. Good news came on the offensive end though, as starting QB Daniel Jones returned from injury to go 23 of 35 for 226 yards and a TD. The Blue Devils roared out to four straight wins last year as well, before then dropping six straight, so clearly the team will be out to avoid a similar fate this season. After three straight losses, the Yellow Jackets have won two straight, most recently steam-rolling Louisville 66-31 last weekend. The triple-option-offense posted a season-best 542 rushing yards, with QB TaQuaon Marshall going for 175 rushing yards and two TD’s. Note that it was the second straight game in which GT did not commit a turnover. The defense has been opportunistic as well, forcing 13 turnovers over the first six games. The pick: Take it for what you will, but Duke has seen the total go “under” the number in 13 of its last 17 against the conference and in nine of its last 11 off a loss against a conference rival, while GT has seen the total go “under” in five of its last seven after two or more SU victories and in four of its last five off a win against a conference rival. This number is high, play the “under.”
|09-29-18||Stanford v. Notre Dame OVER 52||Top||17-38||Win||100||56 h 47 m||Show|
The set-up: The Cardinals enter off a 38-31 OT road win in Oregon and I think it’ll carry that offensive momentum over here. Notre Dame annihilated Wake Forest 56-27 and it’ll be out to push the pace as well. Note that these teams played to a higher-scoring affair last year as well when Stanford won 38-20.
The teams: Cardinal’ QB KJ Costello was 19 of 26 for 327 yards, three TD’s and no INT’s in last week’s win. Stanford is 47th in the country in passing at 264 YPG. RB Bryce Love had 89 yards and a TD last week. The defense has been super, allowing only 13.5 PPG, but clearly that units faces its stiffest test of the season.
Notre Dame is 71st in passing and 66th in total offense with 416.5 YPG. Last week Ian Book threw for 325 yards and two TD’s without an INT in the victory over the Deacons.
The pick: Take it for what you will, but Stanford has seen the total go “over” the number in its last four as an underdog in the 3.5 to ten points range, while Notre Dame has seen the total go “over” the number in three of its last four against the Pac 12. This number is a little low, play the “over.”
|09-20-18||Tulsa v. Temple UNDER 56||Top||17-31||Win||100||46 h 41 m||Show|
The set-up: Tulsa comes in off a 29-20 loss at home to Arkansas State, while Temple comes in off an upset 35-14 road victory over Maryland. When these teams faced off last November 25th, it was Temple that ran away with the high-scoring 43-22 victory. While last year’s total flew well above the number, I think the 2018 match-up will produce a much lower-scoring combined final score. The teams: Tulsa is averaging 26.3 PPG and it’s allowing 28. QB Luke Skipper has 521 yards, four TD’s and three INT’s to this point. He also has 109 rushing yards and another major score on the ground. Shamari Brooks has 310 rushing yards and four TD’s. Last week the Golden Hurricane was out gained 409-339. The Owls opened the season 0-2, before last week’s surprise victory over the Terps. Temple had a ridiculous 429-195 yardage edge in the end. Overall the Owls average 27 PPG and allow just 23. QB Frank Nutile has 401 yards passing, four TD’s and four INT’s. RB Ryquell Armstead has 256 yards on 54 carries. The pick: Take it for what you will, but Tulsa has seen the total go “under” the number in four of its last six after two or more consecutive SU losses, while temple has seen the total go “under” the number in 11 of its last 17 as the favorite. This number is high, play the “under.”
|09-15-18||Hawaii v. Army UNDER 62.5||Top||21-28||Win||100||20 h 50 m||Show|
The set-up: Two teams hungry for a victory collide on Saturday afternoon and in my opinion, points are going to be at a premium.
The teams: Hawaii is already 3-0 with wins over Rice, Navy and Colorado State. The Warriors have defied the odds to this point, most recently smashing Rice 43-29 as a 17 point favorite this past weekend. QB Cole McDonald was 22 of 33 for 319 yards and four TD’s last week, but I think Hawaii finally stumbles here against the Black Knights opportunistic defense and in this difficult road venue.
Army is 1-1 after losing to Duke its opener, before then bouncing back with a victory over Liberty. The Black Knights rushed for 449 yards last week and they’ll be looking to duplicate that performance here. The last thing Army wants to do is get into a “track meet” with the high-flying Warriors, so expect the home side offense to try and maintain possession for as long as possible, whenever possible.
The pick: Take it for what you will as well, but Hawaii has seen the total go “under” the number in five of its last eight as an underdog in the 3.5 to ten points range, while Army has seen the total go “under” in interestingly seven of its last ten games played in the month of September. This number is a little high, play the “under.”
|09-14-18||Georgia State v. Memphis OVER 60||Top||22-59||Win||100||11 h 58 m||Show|
The set-up: The home side will be eager to return to form here after a tough setback at Navy last weekend, eventually succumbing 22-21. Georgia State will be out to score an upset here and to atone for a lacklustre 41-7 loss to NC State last Saturday. This is the first ever meeting between the schools and I think each is going to be a wide open affair.
The teams: Georgia State scored the first TD of the game last week, but then it was shut down and outscored by 41 points the rest of the way. QB Dan Ellington threw for 194 yards. In his team’s season opening win over Kennesaw State he threw for 187 yards. But the Panthers defense is atrocious in the early going, most recently allowing the Wolfpack to throw for 426 yards. In fact the secondary returns just one starter.
Memphis smashed FCS Mercer 66-14, but it couldn’t hold on to a 21-9 lead over the Black Knights last week. Darrell Henderson had three TD runs, including 78 yard and 59 yard scampers. QB Brady White was 15 of 25 for 145 yards. The defense gave up 264 total yards. Last year the defense was a weak point, ranked 117th in the nation.
The pick: The Tigers were particularly poor against the pass last year as well, ranked 122nd by allowing 282.1 YPG. Memphis didn’t have to worry about Army passing, but it’s going to have its hands full today with a Panthers team looking to air it out early and often. This one just screams “shootout.” Play the “over.”
|09-03-18||Virginia Tech v. Florida State UNDER 55||Top||24-3||Win||100||13 h 38 m||Show|
The set-up: It’s an important ACC match-up on Monday night between the No. 20 VT Hokies and the No. 19 FSU Seminoles. The teams: Virginia Tech was 9-4 last year and 5-3 in in league play, which was then followed by a 30-21 loss to OK State in the Camping World Bowl. Last year the Hokies averaged 28.2 PPG and allowed just 14.8. While duplicating those suffocating defensive numbers will be difficult with many of those key players gone, the pieces are still in place for another productive campaign on that side of the ball. Josh Jackson is the man under center and he finished with a 20/9 TD/INT and had 324 rushing yards as well. Florida State went 7-6 last year and 3-5 in ACC play, followed by a loss to Southern Mississippi in the Independence Bowl. The Seminoles averaged 27.8 PPG last year and they allowed 21.2. The defense was a strength last season and it will be again this year as well with many of the starters returning. Deondre Francois is the starting QB and he missed most of last season with injury. The pick: Take it for what you will, but VT has seen the total go “under” the number in its last two as an underdog in the 3.5 to ten points range, while FSU has seen the total go “under” in ten of its last 15 against the conference. This number is high, play the “under.”
|09-02-18||Miami-FL v. LSU UNDER 47||Top||17-33||Loss||-105||11 h 38 m||Show|
The set-up: This is the lone game on Sunday night and for a number of different reasons, I think that points will be at a premium. Note that this is being played at a neutral field, at AT&T Stadium in Dallas.
The teams: Miami Florida was 10-3 last year, including 7-2 in the ACC, followed by a setback to Wisconsin in the Orange Bowl. The Hurricanes return QB Malik Rosier, who had 3,120 passing yards and a 26:14 TD/INT along with 468 rushing yards. Miami averaged 29.1 PPG and it allowed just 21.
LSU was 9-4 last year and 6-2 in SEC play, which was followed by a loss to Notre Dame in the Citrus Bowl. The Tigers have a big void to fill this season with QB Danny Etling gone. Myles Brennan and Joe Burrow will be duking it for the No. 1 spot. LSU averaged 27.2 PPG last year, but I think it’ll struggle to match that pace early. The defense was a strength (giving up only 18.9 PPG) and it will be again this year as well.
The pick: These teams both have question marks on offense coming into the season, but each looks ready to build off an impressive defensive campaign with an even better performance this year. This number is a little high, play the “under.”
|09-01-18||Louisville v. Alabama UNDER 60.5||Top||14-51||Loss||-107||119 h 49 m||Show|
The set-up: This is a neutral site affair and I think points will be at a premium. Louisville was 8-5 last year and it lost 31-27 to Mississippi State in the TaxSalyer Bowl, while Alabama went 13-1 and won the College Football Championship with a 26-23 OT win over Georgia.
The teams: The Cardinals were 8-5 last year and only 4-4 in the ACC. Heisman QB Lamar Jackson is gone and there’s also a new defensive coordinator in Brian VanGorder. Louisville was 11th in the FBS in scoring last season, but that was with Jackson. The defense was in the middle though by allowing 27.4 PPG and it will be again this year as well. Jawon Pass is now the main man under center, he has 238 yards and two TD’s for his career. The run game focuses around Dae Williams and Trey Smith.
Alabama averaged 37.1 PPG and it allowed just 11.9. Note that seven different time the Tide would hold an opponent to just single digits. Jalen Hurts had 2,081 yards, 17 TD’s, as well as 855 rushing yards and eight more TD’s.
The pick: I think the defending champs control this one on both sides of the ball as the Tide look to roll to another National Championship. This one has “chess match,” written all over it. Play the “under.”
|09-01-18||Oregon State v. Ohio State UNDER 64||Top||31-77||Loss||-106||111 h 59 m||Show|
The set-up: It’s the Pac-12 and Big Ten on Saturday afternoon. Oregon State was just 1-11 last year, while Ohio State went 12-2. The Buckeyes would go on to beat USC 24-7 in the Cotton Bowl and I believe the tooth-less Beavers will have difficulty moving the sticks this afternoon as well.
The teams: Last year Oregon State put up just 20.7 PPG, while allowing 43. QB Jake Luton had 853 yards, four TD’s and four INT’s. Artavis Pierce was the standout on the ground with 323 yards and a TD.
The Buckeyes beat Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game and then smoked USC in the Cotton Bowl. Seven starters return to an offense which averaged 41.1 points. The defense was ranked 15th overall, allowing only 19 PPG. QB Dwayne Haskins had 565 yards and four TD’s.
The pick: Oregon State hasn’t had a winning season since 2013 and the Beavers are going to have their hands full again in 2018/19. Ohio State will look to control this one while on offense with its devastating ground attack, while also shutting the Beavers down from start to finish. This number is a little high, play the “under.”
|01-08-18||Alabama v. Georgia OVER 45||Top||26-23||Win||100||148 h 28 m||Show|
The set-up: The SEC has been CFB's unquestioned top conference for some time now and it's only fitting that the 2017 SEC champion Georgia Bulldogs will square off in this year's CFP national championship game against their SEC rivals, the Alabama Crimson Tide. The winner will claim the national title for the ninth time in the past 12 seasons for the SEC. That said, the Bulldogs will be looking to win their first national title since the Herschel Walker-led team won the 1980 crown, while the Crimson Tide are striving for their fifth during Nick Saban's amazing 11-season tenure at Alabama. The Georgia Bulldogs are coming off a 54-48 double-overtime victory over the Oklahoma Sooners (arguably the best and most exciting game of the 2017 season, to-date), while Alabama left no doubt that it was fully deserving of being included in this year's 'Final 4' (despite not even winning the SEC West), by completely dominating No. 1 Clemson 24-6.
Georgia: The Bulldogs fell behind Oklahoma 31-14 but then scored the game's next 24 points to take a 38-31 lead. Oklahoma re-took the lead 45-38 but Georgia sent the game to OT tied at 45-all. After exchanging FGs in the first OT, Georgia blocked Oklahoma's FG attempt in the second OT and clinched a spot in the title game on Sony Michel's 27-yard TD run. Michel ran for 181 yards (16.5 YPC and 3 TDs) while Nick Chubb ran for 145 yards (10.4 YPC & 2 TDs). Georgia's freshman QB Jake Fromm has been seen a possible weak link for Georgia but he was 20-29 for 210 yards (2 TDs / 0 INTs) against Oklahoma, after going 16 of 22 for 183 yards (2 TDs & 0 INTs in the SEC title game vs. Auburn. No defense is capable of stopping Oklahoma's offense (Georgia allowed 48 points and over 500 yards) but note that Georgia entered the Rose Bowl matchup allowing just 13.2 PPG on 270.9 YPG.
Alabama: Speaking of defense, how about 'Bama's? The Crimson Tide stepped up last week and looked like the Alabama Crimson Tide of old, playing physical, nasty defense and doing just enough offensively to pull away. Make no mistake about it. Alabama won that game with its defense, giving the offense a short field with an interception and then getting a pick six. Alabama entered its game with Clemson allowing an FBS-low 11.5 PPG on 258.9 YPG and held Clemson to 188 totals yards (64 rushing yards) and six points. BTW, Clemson came in averaging 35.4 PPG and almost 450 YPG , including 244.1 YPG on the ground. Jalen Hurts continues to be under appreciated, but while he threw for just 120 yards he had two TD passes and did not throw an INT in 24 attempts. Hurts has passed for more than 200 yards in only two games this season but the Tide scored 37.9 PPG, and a multi-headed rushing attack ranks 10th nationally led by slashing RB Damien Harris (983 YR & 7.6 YPC / 11 TDs) and slamming 235-lb. Bob Scarbrough 573 YR / 4.8 YPC & 8 TDs). Plus, the elusive Hurts added another 808 YR (5.5 YPC & 8 TDs). Hurts is more feared as a runner but has 17 touchdown passes against just one interception (248 attempts) and enters this contest 27-2 as a starting QB.
The pick: Nick Saban will meet his former DC in Georgia's Kirby Smart, who is adamant that it doesn't give him crucial insights to the methods of the Crimson Tide. "There's not a lot of tendencies that he has that are just going to be ground-breaking to allow us a benefit," Smart said during a press conference. "The bottom line is our players got to go out and we've got to play a really good football game to stay with these guys." Saban also downplayed the situation, saying "I don't think the game is about the coaches. I think it's about the players." Aabama leads the nation in rushing defense at 92.8 YPG and will receive a big test from Georgia's senior duo of Nick Chubb (1,320 yards) and Sony Michel (1,129) bu that's what we thought against Clemson's running game, too. Athens may be in the same state as Atlanta but don't think this venue creates an edge for Georgia. The Crimson Tide are 6-0 in the Georgia capital overall since 2014. "We treat Atlanta like it's our home," Alabama linebacker Mack Wilson said. "We win a lot of games there." Should I close with the fact that Saban is 11-0 SU in his career vs. his former assistant coaches? Maybe, but instead, I expect to see a score closer to the Rose Bowl final than to what we saw in the Sugar Bowl. This total is TOO low. Make the Over a 10* play.
|12-30-17||Washington v. Penn State OVER 55||Top||28-35||Win||100||21 h 27 m||Show|
The set-up: The University of Phoenix Stadium is the setting for this year's Fiesta Bowl, featuring the 10-2 Washington Huskies and the 10-2 Penn State Nittany Lions. Each school was 7-2 in their respective conference schedules, the Huskies in the Pac-12 and the Nittany Lions in the Big Ten. Washington opened 6-0 but was then upset, losing to Arizona State on October 14. The Huskies won four of their last five games, including an Apple Cup rout of Washington State. Penn State began 7-0 but coughed up a big lead in losing 39-38 at Columbus to Ohio State, then lost the following week 27-24 at Michigan State. Penn State closed out with three straight wins, averaging 52.3 PPG.
Washington: The Huskies have an excellent QB in Jake Browning and a big-time RB in Myles Gaskin. Browning is completing 68.8% for 2,544 yards with 18 TDs and just five INTs. Gaskin (1,282 yards / 6.2 YPC / 19 TDs) leads a ground game averaging 189.8 YPG (38th). Washington will check in averaging 36.9 PPG (16th). Browning has seen a dip of nearly 900 yards and 25 TDs from his phenomenal 2016 campaign, but he is the school's all-time leader with 77 TD passes and is on the verge of becoming its second 9,000-yard career passer. Washington's defense is top-notch, allowing 14.5 PPG (5th) on 278.3 YPG (6th).
Penn State: RB Saquon Barkley was an early Heisman front-runner but he ended the regular season with 1,134 yards (5.7 YPC) and 16 TDs, while catching 47 passes for another 594 yards with three TDs. QB Trace McSorley led the Big Ten in passing (3,228 yards) and added 431 yards and 11 TDs on the ground to pace the nation's sixth-ranked scoring attack (41.6 PPG). The defense checks in allowing 15.5 PPG (7th) on 329.4 YPG (17th).
The pick: Penn State is 9th in the CFP rankings and returns to the area, if not the exact site, of one of its greatest bowl triumphs, the 14-10 victory over then-No. 1 Miami in the 1986 season. Penn State enjoyed a wonderful history in the Fiesta Bowl, going 6-0. Both teams had designs on a berth in the College Football Playoff (Washington for the second straight season) but both suffered two single-digit losses on the road, which was just enough to keep them on the outside looking in. While both teams owns outstanding defenses, expect the offenses to rule the day. Make the Over a 10* play.
|12-28-17||Michigan State v. Washington State OVER 47||Top||42-17||Win||100||20 h 35 m||Show|
The set-up: This year's Holiday Bowl from San Diego will feature 9-3 Michigan State (7-2 in the Big Ten) and 9-3 Washington State (6-3 in the Pac 12). Michigan State bounced back from last season's awful 3-9 season to make a run at the Big Ten's East Division. The Spartans finished with three wins in their final four games (checking at No. 16 in the last CFP rankings), including an impressive 27-24 home win over then-No. 7 Penn State on Nov. 4. However, the very next Saturday, the Spartans were crushed 48-3 at Columbus and wound up one game back of the 8-1 Buckeyes, who went on to win the Big Ten championship game. The Cougars ended the 2016 season with three straight losses (including a bowl loss to a depleted Minnesota team) but opened 2017 in the AP's top-25 poll at No. 24 and closed at No. 21 (Washington St. is 18th in the latest CFP rankings).
Michigan State: The Spartans have been up and down offensively this season. The passing game averages 215.4 YPG (76th) and the ground game 162.9 YPG (67th). QB Brian Lewerke has thrown for 2,580 passing yards and 17 TD (just six INTs) but note that 845 of those yards and six of his scoring passes came over a two-game span bridging October and November (445 yards at Northwestern and 400 yards at home against Penn St.). Similarly, leading rusher LJ Scott (785 yards / 4.3 YPC / 6 TDs) gained 341 and had three TDs in two wins, at Minnesota and home against Maryland. Looking back at his season and we find that he had fewer than 40 yards rushing in four games this season. Teams coached by Mark Dantonio have always been known for defense and this yera's Spartans come in 9th in total defense (297.4 YPG allowed) and 24th in scoring defense at 20.2 PPG.
Washington State: The Cougars will challenge MSU's defense with one of the best offensive passing attacks in the country (374.8 YPG ranks 2nd), led by their record-setting QB, Luke Falk, who has thrown 3,593 yards with 30 TDs and 13 INTs (he became the Pac-12's all-time career passing leader in November)..Falk has thrown to a deep group of receivers throughout his three seasons as Washington State's starting QB, while operating behind a stout offensive line. This season's leading receivers for the Cougars has been Tavares Martin Jr. (70 catches / 9 TDs), Isaiah Johnson-Mack (60 catches / 5 TDs) and Kyle Sweet (50 catches / 2 TDs). Then there is RB Jamal Morrow who had 56 catches and four TDs. However, the Cougars' running game ranks 129th, averaging a woeful 71.1 YPG. WSU averaged 38.2 YPG but this year's team checks in at a more modest 31.4 per. A challenge will be that Tavares Martin Jr. was dismissed from the team and Isaiah Johnson-Mack left the program. However, that doesn’t mean the team won’t continue to go to the air, especially with seven players remaining that have caught 24 or more passes this season. Mike Leach has always been known for his "Air Raid" offense but after his first three Washington St. teams allowed 33.7, 32.5 and 38.6 PPG, his next two dipped under the 30 PPG mark. This year's unit checks in at 24.4 PPG (45th) and in allowing only 313.9 YPG, ranks 13th.
The pick: Washington State was 6-0 and ranked 8th in the country after beating Oregon 33-10 on October 7. However, the Cougars were "no-shows" at Cal the following week in a 37-3 loss. Two weeks after that, they gained 653 yards at Arizona, yet lost by 21! Washington was still alive for the Pac-12 North title its final game against Washington (Apple Cup) but were humiliated 41-14. Welcome to Mike Leach's world. This is nothing new! Michigan State will be 'bowling' for the 10th time in the last 11 seasons but head coach Mark Dantonio still feels a bit slighted nationally. When unranked Michigan (the school's biggest rival which lost to the Spartans this year) was selected for a New Year's Day bowl rather than MSU, it didn't sit well. Dantonio got into a bit of a Twitter war with Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh about the perceived snub and many of the Michigan State players made their unhappiness known as well. Something tells me MSU is out to prove something here and Washington St. needs to wash the bitter taste out of its mouth after a second staright embarrassment in the Apple Cup. What's in store? How about an 8* play on the Over.
|12-26-17||Kansas State v. UCLA UNDER 60.5||Top||35-17||Win||100||26 h 33 m||Show|
The set-up: The 7-5 Kansas State Wildcats (5-4 in Big-12) will take on the 6-6 UCLA Bruins (4-5 in Pac-12) in the Cactus Bowl at Chase Field in Phoenix. The Wildcats finished the season strong, winning four of their last five games and will be participating in their 8th consecutive bowl game. The Bruins had an up and down season but were able to reach a bowl game after their 30-27 victory over the California Golden Bears on the last weekend of the season. However, after its Nov. 18th loss to USC, UCLA decided to part ways with head coach Jim Mora. The Bruins have already made a big splash with the hire of Chip Kelly but that's for next season, UCLA will be led by interim head coach Jedd Fisch in this one.
UCLA: QB Josh Rosen finished the regular season 10th in the FBS in passing yards with 3,717 (62.5% with 26 TDs and 10 INTs) but he has been slowed by injuries the past two seasons and twice was unable to finish a game this fall. He was replaced against California after getting sacked three times in the first half but he has since returned to practice and appears ready to go against Kansas State.
The pick: Some (many) expected QB Zach Rosen to go the Christian McCaffrey-Leonard Fournette route and opt out of the bowl before his likely early entry into the NFL draft (more than a few believe he's the best prospect) but all indicators are that he’s a go for this game. Why not? The Kansas State pass D is awful, ranking 129th in allowing 310.2 YPG. However, given the coaching situation and distractions in preparation caused by fires in the L.A. area, I'm not all that convinced the Bruins will bring their "A game." Kansas State is making its eighth consecutive bowl appearance -- a streak that is tied for 13th in the FBS -- and its 19th under coach Bill Snyder, who twice has turned the program around, once following a short retirement.I say Under is worth an 8* play.
|12-24-17||Houston v. Fresno State UNDER 49||Top||27-33||Loss||-108||36 h 21 m||Show|
The set-up: There are few nicer places to spend Christmas Eve than in Hawaii. Sunday night from Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, the 7-4 Houston Cougars will face the 9-4 Fresno State Bulldogs The Houston Cougars won three of their last four games to make it to their fifth consecutive bowl game.As for the Bulldogs, coming off a 1-11 season in 2016, they won the MWC West Division at 7-1 and then lost 17-14 to Boise State in the MWC championship game
Houston: The Cougars own impressive road wins at Arizona (19-16) and South Florida, when Houston ended USF's 12-game winning streak with a 28-24 victory..Houston also lost two "close ones" at home vs.Texas Tech (27-24) and Memphis (42-38). Houston's season has seen them go through three QBs and sophomore D’Eriq King is currently making it seem like "the third time is a charm." He led the comeback win against USF and has completed 73 percent of his passes for 832 yards over the last three games (Cougars won twice and lost by three at Tulane). Houston has a stable of RBs but no standout. The team is averaging a respectable 175.5 YPG on the ground (53rd) and the team's defense has been very solid (23.0 PPG ranks 40th).
Fresno State: Former Cal head coach Jeff Tedford has had some "first season." The Bulldogs lost back-to-back games at Alabama and Washington by a combined 63 points in their second and third games, then won four in a row, capped by a dominant 27-3 victory at San Diego State. Tedford’s squad followed the win in San Diego with an ugly home loss to UNLV but closed the regular season with four straight victories, including a 28-17 triumph over Boise State (as noted above, the Bulldogs then lost 17-14 to Boise in the title game). The team's remarkable turnaround has been sparked by a revitalized defense and the arrival of junior quarterback Marcus McMaryion, a transfer from Oregon State who has thrown 14 touchdown passes against just four interceptions. FSU allowed 30.9 PPG on 415 YPG last year but enter this contest allowing 17.2 PPG (9th) on 319.0 YPG (16th).
The pick: Fresno State has not won a bowl game since 2007, when it beat Georgia Tech 40-28 in the Humanitarian Bowl. Its most recent bowl game did not go well, a 30-6 loss to Rice in Hawaii in 2014 that dropped the school to 10-13 in bowl games, going 0-6 ATS in its last six bowl games. Houston is playing in its fifth bowl in a row (2-2 last four) and is 11-13 in bowls, all-time. FSU's defense has been terrific and Houston's is much better than most realize. The play is a 10*!
|12-20-17||Louisiana Tech v. SMU OVER 71||Top||51-10||Loss||-105||24 h 10 m||Show|
|12-19-17||Akron v. Florida Atlantic UNDER 64.5||Top||3-50||Win||100||56 h 27 m||Show|
The set-up: The Akron Zips were a surprise winner of the MAC East but lost 45-28 to Toledo in the MAC championship game, which brings them to the Boca Raton Bowl with a modest 7-6 record. Awaiting the Zips will be the Florida Atlantic Owls, who are looking to complete a remarkable season with a bowl victory and cap of the year with a 10-game win streak. The Owls opened teh 2017 season 1-3 (lost to Navy, Wisconsin and Buffalo), before winning a C-USA East division title at 8-0 record in league play. The Owls ten beat North Texas 41-17 at FIU Stadium (where the Boca Raton Bowl will be played) in the C-USA title game. An interesting storyline comes with this game, as Akron head coach Terry Bowden is the son of Bobby Bowden, the man who made Florida State a two-time national champion plus FAU's Lane Kiffin is the son of Monte Kiffin, recognized as one of football's most creative defensive minds in the game and the father of the "Tampa Cover 2" defense.
Akron: Bowden suspended QB Thomas Woodson and redshirt freshman Kato Nelson scratched out a couple of wins to allow Akron to become bowl-eligible and win its half of the MAC. Woodson returned for the conference title game vs. heavily-favored Toledo but was ineffective, completing only 5 of 14 for 35 yards. Nelson, who started the game and returned in the second half, and third-string Robbie Kelly led a few late TD drives that allowed the Zips to record a backdoor cover. Woodson completed 159 of his 278 pass attempts (57.2%) for 1,777 passing yards with 14 TDs and nine INTs, while Nelson tossed for 909 yards, eight TDs and only two INTs but completed just 48.8 percent of his passes. No RB even gained 400 yards on the season with Akron ranking 118th with 108.5 YPG on the ground. The team averaged only 23.6 PPG (103rd) on just 329.5 YPG (118th) and that hardly bodes well when its defense is allowing 26.3 PPG (60th) and a more troubling 432.3 YPG (98th)
Florida Atlantic: Offense is one aspect of the game everyone concedes Lane Kiffin knows quite a bit about. QB Jason Driskel has completed 65.6% for 1,977 yards with 13 TD passes and four INTs. He's run for 360 yards (5.1 TYPC) with six more TDs. the ground game ranks 6th with 283.1 YPG, leading an offens which averages 39.8 PPG (9th).RB Devin Singletary has had an outstandiung season (1,794 yards (6.5 YPC) and 29 rushing TDs) plus gets help from Howell, who added 690 rushing yards (6.7 YPC) and five TDs. The defense is plenty good enough with those kind of offensive numbers, allowing 24.2 PPG (44th).
The pick: Kiffin rarely "makes friends" in the coaching business, as he sure seemed to enjoy former employer Tennessee stumbling all over itself as it searched for a new head coach. However, he's authored a dramatic turnaround in Boca Raton and his Owls are one of the biggest bowl favorites in recent memory. Akron was able to fill one of the 78 available slots simply by competing in the watered-down MAC East and scoring a non-conference win over Arkansas Pine-Bluff. In the Zips’ other three non-conference games, they were limited to 31 total points in losses to bowl-bound Penn State, Iowa State, and Troy State. Expect this to be a somewhat boring game and the 10* play is on the Under.
|12-02-17||Memphis v. Central Florida UNDER 82.5||Top||55-62||Loss||-117||92 h 53 m||Show|
The set-up: This year's AAC Championship between the 10-1 Memphis Tigers and 11-0 UCF Knights at Spectrum Stadium in Orlando is quite special. Memphis has a chance to win 11 games for the first time in school history while earning its sixth conference title. UCF looks to continue its perfect season while winning the school's fifth conference title. This showdown features the top-two point-producers in college football. Memphis ranks 2nd at 47.0 PPG and UCF 1st at 48.7 PPG. Better yet, the winner will earn a New Year's Six Bowl berth.
Memphis: QB Riley Ferguson is completing 62.2 percent of his passes for 3,500 yards with 32 TDs and eight INTs. Ferguson has two quality RBs playing along with him in Henderson (1,052 YR / 9.1 YPC / 8 TDs) and Taylor (700 YR / 5.8 YPC / 12 TDs). Ferguson has 23 TD passes to go along with only three interceptions since the team's 40-13 loss at UCF in its fourth game of the season, one in which he had three INTs. WR Anthoy Miller (78 catches / 15.5 YPC / 14 TDs) holds almost every school receiving record. On the entire season, defense has been an issue for Memphis, which comes into this contest allowing 30.8 PPG on 453.5 YPG (112th).
UCF: QB McKenzie Milton can match Ferguson, completing 69.1% for 3,301 yards with 30 TDs and six INTs. Memphis has the best RBs on the field but UCF's backfield depth has allowed them to average 198.9 YPG rushing, just a few YPG less than Memphis (202.5). The real edge UCF owns in this game is on the defensive side of the ball. The Knights allow more than a TD less per game (22.5) and just over 50 YPG less, at 399.0 per. Then there is also the Knights' 27 takeaways (17 INTs / 10 fumble recoveries), which leaves then tied with Miami-Fl. for the national lead with a plus-17 turnover margin.
The pick: Memphis is seeking to avenge a 40-13 blowout loss at this same venue in Orlando back on Sep. 30 but note UCF leads this series 10-1 and is 5-0 ATS in its last five home meetings against Memphis. What changes here? Probably nothing but so much is at stake in this contest, that I believe that with this super-high over/under number, the under is the play. UCF owns a very good defense and Memphis has allowed fewer than 15 points in two of its last three game. Make the Under an 8* play.
|11-23-17||Ole Miss v. Mississippi State OVER 62.5||Top||31-28||Loss||-110||55 h 21 m||Show|
The set-up: The 114th edition of the Egg Bowl will be contested Thanksgiving night in Starkville when 5-6 Ole Miss (2-5 SEC) takes on 8-3 Mississippi State (4-3 SEC). The Rebels need a win to become eligible but in fact, will be playing their final game of the season as a result of a self-imposed postseason ban, which came in February after the NCAA found the program committed multiple violations under former coach Hugh Freeze. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs were ranked 14th in the latest CFP rankings and are hoping to improve their bowl status with a victory. Ole Miss guaranteed itself its second straight non-winning season after losing at home to Texas A&M 31-24 the last time out, while Miss. St. reached eight wins for the fifth time in Mullen's nine seasons with that 28-21 win at Arkansas.
Ole Miss: The Rebels couldn't hold onto a 24-21 halftime lead against the Aggies and the seven-point loss snapped a two-game win streak. Junior QB Jordan Ta'amu moved into the starting role in mid-October after Shea Patterson (2,259 YP / 17-9 ratio) was lost to a season-ending injury. He compl eted 19 of 34 passes for 189 yards with two TDs (one interception) and enters completing 69.5% with nine TD and three INTs. A.J. Brown has 69 catches for 1,085 yards with 10TDs and RB Wilkins has 901 YR (6.4 YPC) and seven TDs. The offense averages 33.0 PPG (37th) but the defense ranks 114th in both points allowed (35.2 per game) and yards allowed (455.7 YPG).
Mississippi State: QB Fitzgerald extended his own SEC record for 100-yard rushing games by a QB to 14 after rushing for 101 against the Razorbacks and needs only 52 more yards to move past ex-Bulldog Dak Prescott (2,521) and into third place on the conference's all-time rushing list from a signal-caller. He has 1,770 passing yards (15-10 ratio) but is most dangerous running the ball, with a team-high 968 yards (6.1 YPC / 14 TDs). He and RB Williams 944 YR / 4.6 YPC) lead a rushing game averaging 245.5 YPG (17th), The Bulldogs average 32.5 PPG (39th), about the same as Ole Miss, but the huge difference comes on the defensive side of the ball. Miss. St. allows 19.5 PPG (20th) on 297.2 YPG (9th).
The pick: Tensions are always high when Mississippi and Mississippi State collide but this week's meeting seems even more intense than normal. In fact, the athletic directors from both schools sent out a request to fans, hoping to prevent emotions from boiling over on Thursday night. "In the spirit of sportsmanship, we ask that fans from both schools honor this storied rivalry with civility and respect for each other," Ole Miss athletic director Ross Bjork and Mississippi State athletic director John Cohen wrote in a joint statement. Fitzgerald accounted for 367 total yards, including a school-record 258 yards on the ground, and five total TDs (three passing / two rushing) in last year's 55-20 thrashing of Ole Miss, allowing Mississippi State to avenge a defeat in 2015 and take home the Golden Egg Trophy for the fifth time in eight tries under coach Dan Mullen. I also like the way QB Jordan Ta'amu has filled in for Patterson, so I expect a shootout. Make the Over a 10* play.
|11-21-17||Bowling Green v. Eastern Michigan UNDER 59.5||Top||31-34||Loss||-110||12 h 51 m||Show|
The set-up: A pair of 2-5 MAC schools will conclude their respective 2017 seasons Tuesday night at Rynearson Stadium when the Eastern Michigan Eagles host the Bowling Green Falcons. Bowling Green is hoping to end the year on a positive note after suffering a humiliating 66-37 defeat at the hands of the Toledo Rockets (a bitter rival) as a 17-point home dog in its last contest. The Falcons trailed just 24-21 at the half but were outscored 35-16 over the final two quarters. Meanwhile, Eastern Michigan is aiming for back-to-back wins following a 27-24 victory at the Miami (Ohio).
Bowling Green: Mike Jinks' second season at BG is coming to a close and it hasn't been pretty. After going 4-8 SU & ATS in his first season, the Falcons have been even worse in 2017, entering this final game 2-9 SU & ATS. Doing the math, that's 6-17 SU & ATS mark. The Falcons don't have much of an offense (24.8 PPG ranks 92nd) and the defense is dreadful, allowing 38.4 PPG (124th) on 519.5 YPG (127th).
Eastern Michigan: The Eagles, like the Falcons are just 2-5 in MAC play but they have two more wins (4-7, overall) and more importantly, are a money-making 8-3 ATS. EMU's offense is no better than BG's (averaging 25.4 PPG) but on the defensive side of the ball, Eastern Michigan has allowed 22.6 PPG (37th) on 355.7 YPG (32nd).
The pick: Eastern Michigan won 28-25 at Bowling Green in last year's matchup but that was just the Eagles' second win in 13 games since 1990 (both victories were by just three points). Meanwhile, Bowling Green's 11 wins in that span have come by an average margin of 19 PPG. However, the current Bowling Green team makes it impossible to back the Falcons here in 2017. Then again, the Falcons have played way better on offense since freshman Jarrett Doege has taken over. Doege has completed 59 of 91 (64.8%) in his three starts, throwing for 738 yards with nine TD passes and just one INT. BG has averaged 36.3 PPG in that span. However, as noted, EMU's defense is the reason the team is 8-3 ATS. Let me also note that the last six Bowling Green games have averaged 73.0 PPG, with all "going over." Enough already! I say play UNDER and make it a 10*.
|11-18-17||Navy v. Notre Dame UNDER 62||Top||17-24||Win||100||91 h 35 m||Show|
The set-up: Notre Dame's CFP hopes were likely dashed when the team lost last Saturday night in Miami, 41-8 to the Hurricanes. The 8-2 Fighting Irish (now No.9 in the CFP rankings) will try to pick up the pieces this Saturday afternoon, when they welcome the Navy Midshipmen to South Bend. Navy ended a two-game slide with last Saturday's 43-40 win over SMU, although once again the Midshipmen struggled with inconsistency. Against SMU, Navy coughed up a 34-11 halftime before winning on a FG on the game's final play. Navy payed in last year's AAC championship game but this year's team is a more modest 6-3 overall, including just 4-3 in the AAC West.
Navy: The Midshipmen won the yardage battle 559-426 with EVERY yard coming on the ground. QB Malcolm Perry threw just ONE pass and it was intercepted. However, Perry ran for 282 yards and four TDs. RB Anthony Gargiulo ran for 145 yards and a TD but Navy did little or nothing in the second half. Perry adds more speed than Abey and showed it off last Saturday. However, Perry injured his ankle toward the end of the win and could find himself back on the sidelines this weekend. Navy is still shuffling through its QB options. "Zach will definitely be back in the mix and I'll turn this back over to (quarterbacks coach Ivin Jasper)," Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo told reporters. "We'll have to discuss it as a staff and see where we're at. We have to find out Malcolm's health and Zach's health." Regardless of the QB, Navy ranks first in the nation at 369.8 YPG on the ground.
Notre Dame: The Irish rank 6th in rushing (303.2 YPG) bu had just 109 rushing yards vs. Miami. Josh Adams (1,231 YR / 8.0 YPC / 10 TDs) totaled 40 yards on 16 carries. QB Brandon Wimbush completed only 10-of-21 for 119 yards and a touchdown but threw a pair of interceptions, including a 65-yard "pick six." He was also was limited to 24 yards rushing and a lost fumble on 11 carries. Ian Book was no relief, as he connected on 3 of 6 for 33 yards and another interception. Both were overwhelmed by the situation. However, we know Navy's D in no way resembles Miami's. The offense comes in averaging 38.0 PPG (15th) but the defense allows just 20.7 PPG (30th).
The pick: Let's repeat: Navy leads all FBS teams in rushing yards per game (369.8) while Notre Dame ranks sixth (303.2). The clock will be running all game in this one. Navy's win last Saturday to become bowl eligible for the 14th time in the last 15 seasons. With that accomplished, Navy hopes to add a "signature win." Notre Dame can't help but be somewhat flat after the 'Canes 'killed' its Final 4 hopes and don't forget, "the clock will be running all game!" Make the Under an 8* play.
|11-15-17||Toledo v. Bowling Green OVER 65||Top||66-37||Win||100||23 h 6 m||Show|
The set-up: The Toledo Rockets will travel about 25 miles down I-75 to Doyt Perry Stadium to take on the Bowling Green Falcons this Wednesday night in MAC play. The Rockets lost badly at Ohio U last Wednesday (38-10), dropping them to 8-2 (5-1 in MAC West play) on the season. The good news is, Toledo had beaten Northern Illinois 27-17 in its previous game, so the Rockets still control their destiny in the MAC West, as they own the tie-breaker over the Huskies, who are also 5-1. Bowling Green lost a week ago Tuesday 38-28 at Buffalo and enter this contest against its long-time rival just 2-8 (2-4 in the MAC East).
Toledo: The Rockets only trailed the Bobcats 10-7 at the half last week but got rolled in the second half and by game's end got out-gained 532-to-316 in total yards (Ohio U ran for 393 yards!). The Rockets are averaging 36.1 PG (25th) with a balanced offense (294.0 YPG passing and 205.3 YPG on the ground). QB Logan Woodsid has completed 64.8% of his passes on the season for 2,912 yards with 20 TDs and two INTs. The ground game ranks 31st in the nation, led by a trio of RBs, Swanson (854 YR / 5.1 YPC / 11 TDs), Seymour (544 YR / 6.6 YPC) and Thompson (466 YR / 5.5 YPC). Swandson's banged up but that's the beauty of the team's at the RB position. The defense imploded last week in Athens but that's not typical, as despite that effort Toledo comes in allowing 25.8 PPG to rank 60th (there are 130 FBS schools).
Bowling Green: The Falcons fought back after trailing by a 21-7 margin at the end of the 1st quarter, last week at Buffalo but the Bulls held on for a 10-point win. The Falcons were out-gained by Bulls by a 582-394 margin, something which has become familiar. BG averages only 23.6 PPG (98th) on 380.8 YPG, while allowing 35.6 PPG on 507.8 YPG (127th). Freshman Jarret Doege is the latest QB for struggling BG and he completed 28 of 43 passes for 294 yards and three TDs. However, when the defense allows 38 points on 582 yards, improved QB play doesn't mean all that much.
The pick: Toledo holds its fate in its hands and needs only to beat struggling BG and then Western Michigan (at home) in its season-finale, to earn a place in the MAC title game. Mike Jinks is 6-16 SU and ATS in his second season at Bowling Green and it's unlikely even the presence of a bitter rival like Toledo will be enough for the Falcons to earn a "W." However, I like what I see from Doege and while the BG defense will be all but helpless against Toledo's well-balanced offense (ready to roll after last week's 10-point effort), That said, expect Doege to help BG to put points on the board, as well. Make the Over a 10* play.
|11-11-17||Rutgers v. Penn State OVER 52.5||Top||6-35||Loss||-110||59 h 25 m||Show|
The setup: The Penn State Nittany Lions coughed up a 15-point fourth quarter at Ohio State on Oct. 28 and then lost last Saturday 27-24 at Michigan State. Penn State was No. 2 in the AP poll before the the loss to Ohio State but after opening No. 7 in the first CFP rankings, now checks in at No. 14, with almost no hope of reaching the Big Ten championship game. The 7-2 Nittany Lions (4-2 in the Big Ten) will host the 4-5 Rutgers Scarlet Knights (3-3 in Big Ten) at Beaver Stadium. Penn State has beaten Rutgers the last two seasons 28-3 and 39-0, giving them a 25-2 advantage in the all-time series.
Rutgers: Chris Ash had a 'nightmare' first year at Rutgers, as the Scarlet Knights went 2-10, including 0-9 in the Big Ten. However, the Scarlet Knights look for their fourth win in last five tries in this game, hoping to get back to a .500 record. This year's offense is only marginally better, averaging 22.6 PPG (105th), which is up from 15.7 PPG but the defense has made major strides. Rutgers allowed 37.5 PPG in 2016 but here in 2017 the Scarlet Knights are allowing 24.9 PPG (33rd). RB Gus Edwards ran for 109 yards against the Terrapins and hauled in the decisive 23-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter as the Scarlet Knights won 31-24. The team is now within two victories of becoming bowl eligible for the first time since 2014. Rutgers has won three of its last four, covering each of its last four games.
Penn State: The Nittany Lions have seen a promising season derailed by back-to-back narrow road losses and will try to take out their frustration at home against an improving Rutgers squad on Saturday. Penn State needs a victory here in order to avoid its first three-game losing streak since the end of the 2015 season. QB Trace McSorley is completing 64.2 percent of his passes for 2,452 yards with 19 TDs and eight interceptions. RB Saquon Barkley was the early Heisman favorite but he has fewer than 20 rushes in three of his last four games, including a season low-tying 14 last week. Is Barkley really a dynamic RB? The Lions have managed to rush for only 156 yards on 56 carries over the last two weeks, as a team. Defensively, Penn State is allowing 14.8 PPG (7th) on 331.4 YPG (25th) but in back-to-back losses, Penn State's D has allowed 65 points (32.5 per) on 1,003 yards (501.5 per).
The pick: Consecutive road losses have doomed Penn State’s championship aspirations but Rutgers’ defense is allowing 5.6 YPC, so I expect Barkley to break out of his two-game "mini-slump." The over is 13-6 in the Nittany Lions last 19 conference games and I say make it 14-6. The Over is an 8* play.
|11-08-17||Kent State v. Western Michigan OVER 46.5||Top||20-48||Win||100||28 h 59 m||Show|
The set-up: The Western Michigan Broncos welcome the Kent State Golden Flashes to Kalamazoo in another Wednesday night football game in the MAC. Western Michigan lost to in-state rival Central Michigan 35-28 at home last Wednesday but at 5-4 (3-2 in the MAC West), the Broncos are just one win away from being bowl-eligible for the fourth consecutive season. As for Kent State, the Golden Flashes were embarrassed at home a week ago Tuesday, losing at home 44-16 to Bowling Green. Kent is now 2-7, including 1-4 in the MAC East.
Kent State: Bowling Green was not only a woeful 5-15 SU but also 5-15 ATS heading into last Tuesday's game at Kent State. The Falcons were averaging only 20.5 PPG but scored 44 points on yards, including 251 rushing yards. To say the least, it was a low point for Kent State's season. Actually, Kent State's entire season has been a low point, as the not so-Golden Flashes rank dead-last (130th) in scoring at 10.7 PPG and 129th in total yards at 253.4 per game. When one's defense allows 34.1 PPG (107th) on 436.3 YPG (102nd), one's offense has to score more than 10-plus PPG!
Western Michigan: The Broncos were 13-1 last year under P.J. Fleck but he's now 'rowing his boat' in Minnesota. The Broncos suffered a tough loss last week at home to Central Michigan, blowing a 21-7 halftime lead in which the Broncos had out-gained the Chippewas 269-82 (CMU had just two FDs at the half!). Western Michigan's Jarvion Franklin fumbled early in the fourth quarter and Jonathan Ward pulled Central Michigan to 28-21 on a 29-yard touchdown run. CMU blocked a punt on Western Michigan's next possession and Ward's 35-yard run on first down set up Eric Cooper's touchdown grab in the end zone to tie it at 28 with 5:50 left. CMU got the ball back with 2:47 left at its 23 and QB Shane Morris threw a 77-yard touchdown pass to Corey Willis with 2:37 remaining. Western Michigan turned it over on downs near midfield and Ward ran for a first down to run out the clock. The loss of starting QB Wassink has certainly been a blow to WMU but Bronco RB Franklin’s 228 YR in loss vs. Central Mich bodes well against Kent State rush D allowing 5.4 YPC.
The pick: With KSU's pathetic offense, going over may seem risky but I did just that last week in the BG/KSU game. I'll 'go to the well' again here while noting that the over is 10-2 in Western Michigan's last 12 home games. Make the Over a 10* play.
|11-04-17||Arizona v. USC OVER 73.5||Top||35-49||Win||100||75 h 8 m||Show|
The set-up: Arizona ended September at 2-2, losing a pair of home games to Houston and Utah by a single possession. Following a bye week, the Wildcats traveled to Colorado on Oct. 7, where QB Brandon Dawkins was flung into the sidelines on the game's opening drive. Dawkins was pulled and sophomore Khalil Tate entered the lineup. Four games, four wins and an unprecedented four straight Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week honors later, Tate has not relinquished the job. He leads Arizona in rushing with 926 yards on just 69 carries and has eight rushing TDs while passing for 784 yards and six more TDs. USC head coach Clay Helton said about the move to Tate, "It changed the dynamic of their team." He should know. USC closed September last season at 1-3, before a QB change to Sam Darnold ignited a nine-game winning streak that closed the campaign. The two schools meet in the LA Coliseum with the pac-12 South division lead on the line, as USC is 5-1 and Arizona, 4-1.
Arizona: Tate is a "force of nature," leading Arizona's rushing attack which is averaging 339.2 YPG (5th). The Wildcats are averaging 45.0 PPG (3rd) on the season, including 48.8 PPG in the school's current four-game winning streak. Defensively, Arizona is allowing opponents to average 30.2 PPG (88th) on 453.0 YPG (112th). which includes 300.6 YPG through the air (128th). Helping out the poor defensive numbers is the fact that Arizona has forced 19 turnovers on the season!
USC: The Trojans have been a minor disappointment and QB Sam Darnold has been a major one. He was Heisman-favorite and there was talk that he could be the next overall No. 1 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. However, after throwing 31 TDs with just nine iNTs in 2016, he already has 10 INTs this season with 20 TD passes. USC has escaped against Texas in two OTs and against Utah by one-point, plus has lost at Washington State and got creamed at Notre Dame. USC averages 33.7 PPG but allows 25.8 and its 2-7 ATS record speaks volumes regarding the team's status as an underachiever in 2017.
The pick: The depth-shy Trojan D has struggled with dual-threat QBs and right now, is there a better one than Arizona's Tate. However, there's little reason to trust Arizona's D, especially its pass D, which figures to easy pickins' for Darnold. Make the Over an 8* play.
|11-01-17||Central Michigan v. Western Michigan OVER 47||Top||35-28||Win||100||12 h 37 m||Show|
The set-up: It's MACtion on Wednesday night from Waldo Stadium in Kalamazoo, Mi. when the 5-3 Western Michigan Broncos host the 4-4 Central Michigan Chippewas. The Chippewas kept their bowl hopes alive with a 56-9 rout at Ball State Cardinals on Oct. 21, reaching .500 at 4-4 on the season (2-2 in the MAC West). The Broncos also won on Oct. 21, edging the Eastern Michigan Eagles 20-17 in OT on the road. That gives WMU a 3-1 conference mark but the Broncos are still looking up at a pair of 4-0 teams in the West, Toledo and Northern Illinois.
Central Michigan: Head coach John Bonamego has taken the Chippewas to consecutive bowl games in his first two seasons (lost them both) and Central Michigan is still technically still alive for the MAC title but that's a long-shot. However, the team needs just two wins in its final four games to become bowl-eligible here in 2017. QB Shane Morris completed 16 of 21 for 199 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions in the rout of Ball State but he's completing a modest 56.7 percent on the season with 16 TDs and 11 INTs. The offense is mediocre at best, averaging 25.8 PPG (83rd). Defensively, CMU is allowing 27.0 PPG (73rd).
Western Michigan: Tim Lester is in his first season at WMU, with P.J. Fleck 'rowing his boat' in Minnesota, these days. Western Michigan had won four straight games, after its 71-68 seven-overtime win over Buffalo on Oct. 7. However, that win may have taken something out of the Broncos, who fell to Akron, 14-13 at home in their next game. Then came the 20-17 OT win at EMU, a game in which they lost starting QB Jon Wassink to a broken collarbone. Wassink was injured with 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter and true freshman Reece Goddard entered the game. Ultimately, Goddard led the Broncos to the game-winning FG drive in overtime
The pick: QB Morris is off his best game of the season (see above) plus the CMU running game had its best effort of the season vs. the Cardinals, running for a season-high 256 yards. The Chippewas are an impressive 15-5 ATS theri last 20 MAC road games, which goes well with the fact that the road team is on a 5-0 run in this series. The WMU defense is no bargain (allows 27.69 PPG to rank 79th) but I'm not sold on CMU slowing the WMU offense either, even without Wassink behind center. The Broncos have won the last three in this series, averaging 40.7 PPG. Make the Over an 8* play.
|10-31-17||Bowling Green v. Kent State OVER 50||Top||44-16||Win||100||12 h 44 m||Show|
The set-up: It's the final day of October and two struggling MAC teams take the field on Halloween night, with the 1-7 Bowling Green Falcons visiting the 2-6 Kent State Golden Flashes. Both schools are 1-3 in MAC play (East Division), with each owning wins over Miami-Ohio (ironically, Miami is 2-2 in MAC play). Bowling Green comes in 1-7 SU and ATS and Kent State at 2-6 SU and 3-5 ATS. Bowling Green has won the last four meetings with Kent and owns a commanding 59-19-6 advantage in the all-time series.
Bowling Green: Mike Jinks is in just his second season at Bowling Green and is not only a woeful 5-15 SU but also 5-15 ATS, as well. Bowling Green averages just 20.5 PPG on offense, while its defese allows 37.8 PPG (120th) on 526.5 YPG (127th). James Morgan started the last seven games of the 2016 season at QB for Bowling Green and was instrumental in the Falcons’ three-game winning streak to end the season. It was expected hat he would build on that performance but the exact opposite has been the case. He's completed just 45.3 percent of his passes with nearly as many interceptions (seven) as TD passes (nine). Morgan was benched in favor of freshman Jarrett Doege, who relieved Morgan in a 49-7 loss at Northwestern and then made his first start the following week at Middle Tennessee. He showed good accuracy (63.5 percent completion rate) and had some success running the offense but then suffered a back injury in his second start against Akron. Morgan took over and led the Falcons to a 37-29 victory on the road against Miami (Ohio) in the next game, but gave way to another freshman, Grant Loy, in last week’s 48-17 blowout home loss to Northern Illinois. What's the ext move?
Kent State: The Golden Flashes lost 48-3 on Oct. 21 at Ohio U, getting out-gained 474-166 in yards. It was nothing new for a team which ranks 130th (dead-last!) among all FBS teams by averaging 10.0 PPG. Kent State averages only 249.6 YPG, which ranks 129th. The defense checks in allowing 32.9 PPG (102nd) on 437.8 YPG (100th). Take away the 38 points the Golden Flashes scored in their win over Howard (FCS) and they have scored a total of 42 points against seven FBS teams, which is 6.0 PPG!.
The pick: OK, so the play is under, right? As the saying goes, "not so fast!" These two schools have plenty of history together (see above) and note that Bowling Green's 59 wins are the most for the Falcons over any other opponent in program history. Bowling Green also has won four in a row over Kent State, averaging 40.3 PPG. The Falcons will nedd some help from the Golden Flashes but not all that much. Bowling Green’s defensive issues should give the Golden Flashes a chance to at least move the ball and go above their scoring average. Make the Over a 10* play.
|10-28-17||Oklahoma State v. West Virginia UNDER 74||Top||50-39||Loss||-110||68 h 17 m||Show|
The set-up: The Cowboys were held under 41 points for the first time last Saturday at Texas but were able to escape with a 13-10 OT win over the Longhorns, keeping the team's CFP hopes alive. The 11th-ranked Cowboys are 6-1 overall (3-1 in the Big 12) and will travel to Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown to take on the 22nd-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers, who are 5-2 overall and also 3-1 in Big 12 play. The series is tied at 4-all but OSU has won the last two years, 37-20 and 33-26 (OT).
Oklahoma State: QB Mason Rudolph already owns 30 school records and enters this contest leading the nation in passing yards (2,650) and passing yards per game (378.6). He's completed 161-of-242 attempts (66.5 percent) for 19 TDs and four INTs. He's backed by an solid rushing game (197.4 YPG which ranks 38th), led by RB Hill (750 YR / 5.4 YPC). OSU averages 43.7 PPG (3rd) on 590.1 YPG (1st). Defensively, OSU allows 22.3 PPG (43rd) on 359.7 YPG (41st), and the team's stop unit "saved the day" against Texas. The Longhorns were held to just 10 points on 283 yards, while converting only 3 of 17 third down attempts.
West Virginia: QB Will Grier has the misfortune of playing in the same conference as Heisman Trophy contenders like Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma State's Mason Rudolph. However, Grier is some talent, completing 66.3 percent with 26 TDs and just five INTs, leading West Va to rank 4th in passing YPG at 364.0. Grier's favorite target is WR David Sills V, once a highly touted prep QB prospect himself, who leads the nation with 15 TD receptions. RB Crawford (639 YR / 6.1 YPC / 7 TDs) offers nice balance, with West Va/ checking in averaging 43.3 PPG (4th) on 540.1 YPG (5th). Defensively, West Va. allows 29.0 PPG (85th) on 450.0 YPG (12th).
The pick: The QB matchup commands the spotlight plus WR James Washington of OSU (leads the nation with an average of 24.1 YPC and his 32 career receiving TDs is tops among all active FBS players) will not want to accept "second-billing" to West Virginia's David Sills V (see above). Oklahoma State returns home next Saturday for "Bedlam" with Oklahoma but that game won't hold much importance if the Cowboys lose here. Yes, these are two offensive juggernauts but I've 'made a living:" playing these high totals under, all season. Second verse, same as the first. Make the Under an 8* play.
|10-26-17||Stanford v. Oregon State OVER 58.5||Top||15-14||Loss||-110||29 h 19 m||Show|
The set-up: The Stanford Cardinal opened the 2017 season ranked 14th in the AP's preseason poll but after losing badly at USC 42-24 in its second game of the season and following with a 201-7 loss at San Diego State, the Cardinal's season was headed for big trouble. However, led by spectacular RB Bryce Love (198.1 YPG rushing on 10.3 YPC and 11 TDs), Stanford has won four in a row while averaging 41.0 PPG. The now 20th-ranked Cardinal will travel to Reser Stadium in Corvallis on Thursday night to take on the Oregon State Beavers. Oregon State is 1-6, beating only Portland State and that win came just 35-32 here at home.
Stanford: The Cardinal last played on Oct. 14th, a 49-7 rout on the road at Oregon. The Cardinal out-gained the Ducks by a 504-309 margin. Love had 147 yards and two TDs and QB Kellar Chryst was back healthy, throwing for 181 yards (15 of 21) with three TDs. Three Stanford QBs have combined for 11 TDs and three INTs but Chryst in the best of the bunch. Stanford's defense has not allowed more than 22.6 PPG in any of the last seven seasons, allowing 19 PPG or less, four times. This year the Cardinal are allowing 22.0 PPG (42nd) but on 416.9 YPG to rank 89th (unusually high for a Stanford team).
Oregon State: I noted above that OSU only owns one win, that unimpressive three-point victory over Portland, which was back on Sep. 2nd. The Beavers have since lost five in a row and a head coach as well, in Gary Andersen. Andersen stepped down on Oct. 9 after the Beavers dropped five of their first six games by an average of 31.4 PPG. Interim head coach Cory Hall's first game was Oregon State's most competitive since beating Portland State by three points on Sept. 2, but the Beavers fell to Colorado 36-33 on Oct. 14. Oregon State held a 33-29 lead with 4:22 left in that game but the Beaver defense were unable to hold the lead as Colorado scored on a 13-yard TD pass with just 1:34 left in regulation. The Beavers actually out-gained the Buffaloes by a 569-385 margin. Leading the way for Oregon State was RB Ryan Nall who carried the ball 24 times for 172 yards and 3 TDs. Defensively, Oregon State is a mess, allowing a whopping 43.7 PPG (128th) on 478.3 (117th).
The pick: Expect RB Love and a now-healthy QB Chyrst to have their way against OSU's defense but also note that Satnford's D is a little 'off' in 2017, especially against the run, allowing 196.3 YPG on the ground (98th) on 5.0 YPC. Make the Over an 8* play.
|10-21-17||Oklahoma State v. Texas OVER 64.5||Top||13-10||Loss||-110||46 h 29 m||Show|
The set-up: The (5-1, 2-1 Big 12) Oklahoma State Cowboys are ranked 10th in the latest AP poll and travel to Austin to play the (3-3, 2-1 Big 12) Texas Longhorns at Royal Texas Memorial Stadium. OSU brings the nation's No. 1 offense (617.2 YPG) and its No. 2 scoring offense (48.8 PPG) into the contest, after gaining a school-record 747 yards in a 59-16 rout of Baylor last Saturday. The Longhorns are off their annual Red River Showdown against Oklahoma, a game in which Texas rebound from a 23-10 deficit to take a 24-23 4th-quarter lead, only to lose 29-24.
Oklahoma State: QB Mason Rudolph is completing 66.7 percent with 19 TDs and just four INTs, with OSU leading the nation with 411.2 YPG through the air. Considering how "pass-happy" the offense is, it's impressive that the Cowboys are also averaging 199.5 YPG on the ground (on 5.4 YPC), led by RB Hill's 633 yards on 6.0 YPC. With the kind of numbers OSU's offense puts up, the defense has to be good but not great. That's a fair description for an OSU stop-unit that's allowing 24.3 PPG (56th).
Texas: Steve Buechele opened the season as Texas' starting QB but it was freshman Sam Ehlinger who led the comeback against Texas. He's completing just 54.5 percent of his passes for 1,178 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions but does have has at least one TD pass in all four of his games this season. Of greater importance is his ability to run, as Ehlinger has rushed for 217 yards (5.2 YPC) in the Longhorns' last two games. He will start in this one, leading an offense averaging 33.7 PPG (41st). Defensively, Texas is allowing 24.7 PPG on 381.5 YPG but it's hard to ignore the 518 yards it allowed last Saturday to Oklahoma, a team with a similar QB to Rudolph, in Baker Mayfield.
The pick: Oklahoma State was a trendy pick to make the four-team College Football Playoff but that was before it was upset at home 44-31 by TCU back on Sep. 23. TCU is now the leader of the pack in the Big 12 and currently ranks 4th in the latest AP poll. OSU is quite 'dead' yet but the Cowboys no longer have any margin of error. The Longhorns hold a 24-7 series lead over Oklahoma State and a 15-5 advantage in Austin but the Cowboys have put their mark on the series by winning five of the past seven meetings. In fact, after losing 15 of 16 times in Austin, the Cowboys have won the last four meetings in Austin, marking the longest winning streak against Texas at home by one team. Here's the catch though, Tom Herman’s Houston & Texas teams are a perfect 7-0 ATS as an underdog! Best way to go here is an 8* on the Over, as the Texas D won't be able to stop Rudolph and Co, while Ehlinger's dual-threat ability will allow Texas to score as well.
|10-20-17||Western Kentucky v. Old Dominion OVER 47||Top||35-31||Win||100||29 h 31 m||Show|
The set-up: Western Kentucky opened 1-2 but enter Friday's game on a three-game winning streak (but just 1-2 ATS). The Hilltoppers go for their 4th straight win with a visit to the Old Dominion Monarchs, who are 2-4 SU and 1-5 ATS. Both schools reside in the East Division of C-USA, with Western Ky sitting at 2-1 and ODU at 0-2.
Western Kentucky: Jeff Brohm took over at Western Ky when Bobby Petrino left for Louisville and led the Hilltoppers to three straight bowl berths. Western Ky won all three of those bowl games, although Brohm took the Purdue job prior to last year's bowl win. Mike Sanford Jr. is a first-time head coach and his offense has averaged only 25.5 PPG (87th), after Brohm's three teams averaged 44.4, 44.3 and 45.5 PPG. However, the defense allows a modest 18.2 PPG (19th) on 340.5 YPG (34th). In comparison, Western Ky had allowed 25.9 and 24.6 PPG the last two seasons.
Old Dominion: Monarch fans may already be looking ahead to the start of basketball season. The offense stinks, averaging 17.0 PPG (123rd) on 287.3 YPG (126th). The defense is no better, allowing 34.7 PPG (110th) on 436.8 YPG (103rd). ODU has a freshman QB in Steven Williams and RBs Ray Lawry (back healthy) and Jeremy Cox have underachieved.
The pick: Western Kentucky is coming off a 45-16 victory versus the Charlotte 49ers on Saturday and while the Hilltoppers didn't run the ball well, QB Mike White completed 33 of 47 for 398 yards with five TDs. I realize this is not the Western Ky offense of the last three seasons but these two schools have met just three times, all coming these last three season. Western Ky has won all three, with the final scores being 59-24, 55-30 and 66-51. Doing the math, that's an average final of 95.0 PPG. Yes, make the Over an 8* play.
|10-14-17||Oregon v. Stanford OVER 61.5||Top||7-49||Loss||-105||121 h 43 m||Show|
The set-up: The Stanford Cardinal began the 2017 season ranked 14th in the AP's preseason poll but dropped out after back-to-back road losses at USC (42-24) and San Diego State (20-17). However, the Cardinal eked out a 20-17 win at Utah (then ranked 20th) last Saturday, giving them a third straight win. Stanford is back in the top-25 (at No. 23) and will welcome the 4-2 Oregon Ducks to Stanford Stadium on Saturday night. Both teams are 4-2 but while Stanford is 3-1 in Pac 12 play, Oregon is just 1-2.
Oregon: The Ducks opened the season 3-0 but have lost two of three conference games, after falling 33-10 at home last Saturday to Washington State (Cougars are currently ranked 8th). New head coach Willie Taggart lost starting QB Sean Hebert (9 TDs and 2 INTs, while completing 68.3 %) early on in Oregon's 45-24 home win over Cal and on Sep. 30. Braxton Burmeister has stepped in to complete 57.1 percent of his passes for 149 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Burmeister enters this game with just 28 career pass attempts under his belt. The running game averages a healthy 239.3 YPG (20th) and the Ducks enter this contest averaging 43.0 PPG (11th). The defense has allowed just 338.3 YPG (29th) but allows 27.2 PPG, to rank 76th.
Stanford: There's a saying that goes when a team has two starting QBs, it often has none. Keller Chryst and K.J. Costello have combined for seven touchdown passes and two interceptions this season but Stanford averages only 188.3 YPG through the air (93rd). However, Stanford just may have the nation's best RB in Bryce Love, who leads the way with 1,240 yards (10.5 YPC) and nine TDs. As a team, Stanford ranks 14th in rushing yards at 260.0 YPG. The D allows 434.8 YPG (102nd) but somehow has held opponents to a modest 24.5 PPG (55th).
The pick: Burmeister was a highly-touted QB coming in and should be much better here, in his second start. That Stanford defense has given up way too many yards to keep opponents under 25 points. Let's remember that Oregon was the nation's highest-scoring team heading into last Saturday's home game against Washington State but true freshman Burmeister struggled in his first start, with Oregon getting hammered 33-10 by the Cougars 33-10. The usually supportive crowd at Autzen Stadium booed the Ducks, so being on the road this weekend may be a blessing. Oregon's rush D has been outstanding so far but that D hasn't seen the likes of Stanford's Love. These teams have scored 74 and 78 points in meetings the last two seasons and this over/number comes in way too low. Make the Over a 10* play.
|10-14-17||Oklahoma v. Texas OVER 62.5||Top||29-24||Loss||-110||113 h 19 m||Show|
The set-up: The Oklahoma Sooners and the Texas Longhorns will meet Saturday at the Cotton Bowl on ESPN for the latest edition of the Red River Rivalry. The Sooners will 'limp in' off yet another shocking early-to-mid-season loss. "Big Game Bob" may be gone, but Oklahoma's penchant for losing games that it should win, is still "alive and well." Oklahoma climbed as high as No. 2 in the rankings after beating Ohio State on the road Sep. 9, but the Sooners have struggled in three games since, winning the first two (1-1 ATS) before last week's 'ugly' 38-31 loss to Iowa State in Norman, where Oklahoma closed as a 31-point favorite. It marks the SEVENTH consecutive season in which the Sooners have lost as a double-digit favorite. Tom Herman became a star in two years at Houston and was a 'natural' for the Texas job. The Longhorns opened the season ranked in the AP's preseason poll but promptly lost at home 51-41 to Maryland, as an 18-point favorite. However, the Longhorns have rebounded well, going 3-1 since, with their only loss being a 27-24 double-OT defeat at USC. Texas holds a 61-45-5 lead in the series, which began in 1900 and has been played at the Texas State Fair annually since 1929. Herman and Oklahoma's Lincoln Riley will be making their head coaching debuts in the Red River Showdown, marking the first time since 1947, when Blair Cherry's Longhorns beat Bud Wilkinson's Sooners, 34-14, that the rivalry has featured new coaches on both sidelines.
Oklahoma: QB Baker Mayfield completed 70.9% last season with 40 TDs and eight INTs. He's been just as good so far in 2017 (better?), completing 74.6% with 15 TDs and not a single INT in 134 pass attempts. Oklahoma ranks fifth in passing yards (3984.4 per) and secnd in total offense (587.0 YPG), while scoring 44.6 PPG (6th). The defense has been adequate, allowing 23.2 PPG (46th) on 356.0 YPG (44th). However, that's after allowing an average of 486 yards and 39.5 points over its last two games against Baylor and Iowa State? For Lincoln Riley (Stoops' replacement), this game will be HUGE. "I think in the past after a tough loss -- we haven't had many around here -- but when we've had them, we've been able to respond regardless of who we've played," Riley said. "I would hope that we have enough pride -- and I feel we do have enough pride as a team -- that we'd be motivated to go play Norman Junior High this week."
Texas: It won't be Norman Junior High this week for Riley and Oklahoma but rather Texas. You can assured that Tom Herman knows what this game means. What happens here, could set the tone for the remainder of the Longhorns' season. Herman has been coy about who his starting QB will be after sophomore starter Shane Buechele missed the Kansas State victory with a sprained ankle, with freshman Sam Ehlinger passing for 380 yards and two TDs, while also rushing for 107 more Saturday. Buechele is a good QB but many think Ehlinger has proven to be much more than valuable backup. The Texas defense has "picked itself up" after that embarrassing opening 51-41 loss to Maryland, allowing just 17.0 PPG the last four games (down to 23.8 PPG on the season).
The pick: Oklahoma lost another game as a double-digit favorite, so what else is new? However, here's a stat one can't ignore. The Sooners haven't lost back-to-back regular-season games since 1999, Bob Stoops' first season in Norman (that's a long time!). Oklahoma has scored at least 30 points in a school-record 15 consecutive games and go back and check out Mayfield's numbers this season (see above). The Sooners will be tough to keep off the scoreboard in this one but I also believe the Longhorns offense will "come to play." Make the Over an 8* play.
|10-12-17||Texas State v. UL-Lafayette UNDER 58||Top||7-24||Win||100||69 h 6 m||Show|
The set-up: The Sun Belt Conference takes 'center stage' for a second straight night, as the Texas State Bobcats go on the road to face the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns in a Thursday night matchup on ESPNU (South Alabama played at Troy Wednesday night on ESPN2). Texas State is 1-5 (0-2 in SBC play) and ULL is 2-3 (1-1 in SBC play). Texas State is off 3-9 and 2-10 season, so a 1-5 start is no surprise. ULL went 6-6 in the 2016 regular season, then lost 28-21 in the New Orleans Bowl. BTW, ULL has played in the New Orleans Bowl five times since 2011, winning four in a row before last year's loss (ULL went 4-8 in 2015).
Texas State: The Bobcats won their 2017 opener 20-11 over Houston Baptist but have lost five in a row since, failing to cover the last three. Texas State lost 45-27 to visiting UL-Monroe in its last game, allowing 589 overall yards, including 433 through the air. The Bobcats scored 20 points in the first quarter but just seven points the rest of the way. The team's offense has been awful, scoring only 14.5 PPG (125th) on 300.7 YPG (124th). The defense has collapsed the last three games, allowing 44, 45 and 45 points. It comes in allowing 33.7 PPG on the season (106th), on 410.8 YPG (87th).
Louisiana-Lafayette: The Ragin’ Cajuns won 21-16 as a six point road underdog last Saturday at Idaho, the team's first ATS win of the season. ULL averages 37.0 PPG (29th) on 418.2 YPG (60th) but the team's defense is a mess, allowing 46.2 PPG (129th) on 506.6 YPG (125th). These defense numbers are this bad despite the fact that ULL held Idaho to just 16 points on 279 yards last Saturday.
The pick: As I continue point out, I've consistently won in 2017 by going under high totals. That's not exactly the case here but like with Idaho, the Texas State offense (averaging only 14.5 PPG) is one ULL's defense can handle. I'm making the Under a 10* play.
|10-07-17||Maryland v. Ohio State OVER 58.5||Top||14-62||Win||100||114 h 40 m||Show|
The set-up: Ohio State (4-1, 2-0 in Big Ten) will host Maryland (3-1, 1-0 Big Ten) at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio on Saturday. Urban Meyer leads his No. 10 Buckeyes against one of his former assistants for the second week in row, this time around it's D.J. Durkin. This is Durkin's second season at Maryland and the Terps opened the season with a win a shocking 51-41 win Texas (+18) and have also added a 31-24 road win at Minnesota last Saturday (as a two-TD dog), to open Big Ten play. Maryland doesn't appear to be as over-matched as the 6-7 team that was clobbered 62-3 by Ohio State last year. Ohio State is trying to put its 31-16 home loss to Oklahoma behind them, in an effort to climb back into the CFP discussion. Dominating wins over Army, UNLV and Rutgers don't hurt the Buckeyes' chances but also don't help all that much, either.
Maryland: The Terrapins rebounded from a surprising home loss to Central Florida by winning 31-24 at Minnesota last week to open its Big Ten slate. However, let's note that UCF is 3-0 and currently ranked 25th in the latest AP poll. Sophomore Max Bortenschlager completed 18-of-28 passes for 154 yards and two TDs plus also ran for a score against Minnesota in his first start after the Terrapins’ top two quarterbacks, Kasim Hill and Tyrrell Pigrome, went down with season-ending knee injuries. RB Ty Johnson has 411 rushing yards on 8.9 YPC with four TDs, leading a ground game that averages 233.5 YPG (24th) on 5.7 YPC with 12 scores. Defensively, Maryland is allowing 30.0 PPG (92nd) and will be severely tested by an Ohio State offense which has scored 148 points over the last three games since the loss to Oklahoma!
Ohio State: J.T. Barrett 'laid an egg' against Oklahoma but has comlalted 71.2 percent for 765 yards with 10 TDs (no INTs over 73 attempts) , while adding 125 rushing yards and another TD in OSU's three-game winning streak. Freshman RB Dobbins has 573 yards (7.6 YPC) and three TDs on the season, leading a ground game accounting for 241.0 YPG (20th). The defense is holding opponents to 160.0 YPG (16) on 335.6 YPG (34th).
The pick: Barrett has been outstanding the last three games and on the season, has 13 TD passes spread around over nine different players. Freshman J.K. Dobbins has been terrific and now Mike Weber, who ran for 1069 yards last year on 6.0 YP is back, running for three scores against Rutgers after struggling with hamstring issues. The Ohio State defense has allowed fewer than 100 passing yards in each of the last three games, after averaging 403 in the team's first two. With all due respect to Bortenschlager, he is the team's third-team QB. I'll note that Ohio State is just 6-12 its last 18 laying more than 21 points but Meyer's Ohio State teams have a 17-1 SU record in October since 2012. He's shown no mercy against ex-assistant Chris Ash, beating Rutgers 56-0 and 54-0. He took Durkin's Maryland team 'to the woodshed' last year (62-3). You may want to "think twice" about laying the big price but OSU has averaged a notch under 50 PPG its last three and will 'cover' most of this over/under number itself. Make the Over an 8* play.
|10-06-17||Boise State v. BYU OVER 44||Top||24-7||Loss||-110||96 h 56 m||Show|
The set-up: Friday night football on ESPN will feature the 1-4 BYU Cougars hosting the 2-2 Boise State Broncos. The Cougars are desperately trying to save their season, as it sure looks as if BYU's streak of 12 consecutive bowl appearances is in real danger. Boise State has been to 15 straight bowls but with road games here at BYU and and next weekend at San Diego State (currently 5-0 and ranked No. 19 in the latest AP poll), it hardly looks like "smooth sailing" for the Broncos, either.
Boise State: The Broncos fell 42-23 at home in their last game (Sep. 22), making it Boise State’s worst home loss since 2001. QB Brett Rypien was 24 of 42 for 285 yards without a TD pass and one INT vs. the Cavs. He's had a injury-marred season and is not even Boise's clear-cut No. 1 QB. To emphasize the Broncos' woes, I'll note that the team's "other QB," Montell Cozart, is the team's leading rusher with 191 yards. Boise State is averaging just 118.0 YPG on the ground (104th). The Broncos are averaging 29.8 PPG and it's been quite awhile since the team hasn't averaged at least 30 PPG (I quickly looked back eight years and all seasonal averages were 30-plus points). The defense comes in allowing 29.0 PPG (8656th).
BYU: Speaking of a lack of scoring, it's hard to fathom seeing a BYU team averaging only 12.6 PPG (126th). The Cougars can't pass (152.6 YPG ranks 118th) or run (104.0 YPG also ranks 118th), leaving them 129th overall in total yards at 256.6 YPG! The Cougars opened with an unimpressive 20-6 home win over Portland State and enter this game on a four-game slide. BYU led 21-7 a minute and a half into the second quarter against Utah State in its last game but then allowed 33 unanswered points, mostly due to seven turnovers. Ouch. Koy Detmer Jr. stepped in for injured QB Beau Hoge (who was already playing for No. 1 QB Mangum) and things went from bad to worse. Detmer took over and went seven of 20 with no scores and three interceptions of his own. Hoge is listed as questionable coming into this game. The BYU defense has played as well as one could expect, considering the fact that the team's offense gives them no 'cover.' The Cougars are allowing 26.4 PPG (72nd) on 381.6 YPG (68th).
The pick: With BYU and Boise State's recent (and not-so recent) history, who could have imagined them playing a game against each other and having the over/under number open 45? My sinning totals this year have often been playing "under" and on "inflated numbers" but here, it's just the opposite. Current 2017 form keeps this number low but it's TOO low. Both schools didn't play last weekend so make the Over an 8* play.
|09-30-17||Navy v. Tulsa UNDER 72.5||Top||31-21||Win||100||100 h 14 m||Show|
The set-up: Navy is 3-0 to open the 2017 season (2-0 in AAC play) and looks to start 4-0 for the second time in three years when it visits the Golden Hurricane of Tulsa Saturday at H.A. Chapman Stadium. Tulsa could use a feel good victory here, as the Golden Hurricane have opened 1-3, with the team's lone win coming 66-42 over ULL (another 1-3 school) at home. However, losing at home 16-13 to New Mexico last Saturday hardly inspires much confidence, plus the team lost a 54-51 hesrt-breaker at Toledo the week before!
Navy: I'm a huge fan of head coach Ken Niumatalolo and Navy's overall discipline. QB Zach Abey is completing just 36 percent of his passes but he has made the most of his nine completions, throwing for 295 yards and three TDs. His strength is leading a rushing attack which averages 393.0 YPG (2nd), after Navy rushed for 569 yards in last week's 42-32 victory over Cincinnati (the second-most in program history!). Abey has 471 rushing yards (5.8 YPC) and four TDs. Navy is averaging 35.7 PPG, well on its way to its fifth consecutive season in which the Midshipmen will have averaged better than 31.8 PPG! Navy allowed 31.0 PPG in 2016 but just 24.0 PPG so far in 2017, an improvement of a TD per game!
Tulsa: QB Chad President is completing a modest 55.9 percent of his passes for 677 yards with just one TD and one interception. That's hardly the standard for past Tulsa QBs. However, Tulsa's ground game is averaging 311.5 YPG (4th), the reason Tulsa checks in scoring 38.5 PPG. The problem for Tulsa is, its defense is allowing 42.8 PPG (124th) on 590.2 YPG (129th).
The pick: OK, so here we go again. Regulars are well aware that I've 'made a killing' with my CFB totals in 2017, specializing in going under on over/under numbers like this, which are 'sky high.' Let's chalk up another one here. Make the Under an 8* play.
|09-29-17||BYU v. Utah State OVER 46||Top||24-40||Win||100||81 h 37 m||Show|
The set-up: The BYU Cougars have opened the season 1-3 and Friday night will travel to Romney Stadium in Logan, Utah to take on the 2-2 Utah State Aggies. The Cougars were off last Saturday, after losing 40-6 at home to Wisconsin on Sep. 16. The Cougars were out-gained by the Badgers 491-to-192 in total yards, as the the team's season-long offensive woes continued (BYU ranks 130th in scoring at 9.8 YPC). Utah State improved to 2-2 on the season after defeating San Jose State 61-10 this past Saturday. The Aggies jumped all over Spartans, scoring the game's first 55 points and out-gained them by a margin of 589-to-171 in total yards.
BYU: It's hard to imagine that BYU, a school known for its offensive prowess over the years, ranks 130th in scoring and 129th in total yards (221.8 YPG). Tanner Mangum was named the starting QB prior to the season but suffered a leg injury during the final play of the Cougars' 19-13 loss to Utah on Sep. 9. Beau Hoge started in place of Mangum against the Badgers, completing 11 of 20 passes for 111 yards and two interceptions in what was the first start of his collegiate career. According to BYU head coach Kalani Sitake, Mangum's availability against the Aggies is still up in the air (note: Mangum took the field as a team captain wearing a protective boot and with an accompanying riding scooter prior to the Cougars' 40-6 loss to Wisconsin). Defensively, BYU has allowed 27.0 PPG (53rd) on 404.0 YPG (82nd).
Utah State: Dominating San Jose State is nothing to brag too much about. Leading the way for Utah State was QB Kent Myers, who completed 18-24 passes for 181 yards and two TDs with an INT. The Aggies are averaging 33.0 PPG (56th) on 439.0 YPG (55th) with nice balance (264.0 passing / 175.0 rushing). Defensively, the Aggies are allowing an average of 32.0 PPG (103rd) on 385.0 YPG (66th). Utah State has been helped by forced nine turnovers in four games.
The pick: This is the 87th meeting of this series (BYU leads 48-35-3) but I'll note that Utah State has won seven straight home games against non-conference opponents. BYU comes in with an offense which has done nothing but the Cougars are dropping way down in class after losses to LSU, Utah and Wisconsin (combined 10-1 SU). The Cougars have dominated this series since 1983 (won 25 of 28) and I see a "breakout performance." This 'low' total sets up a 10* play on the Over.
|09-23-17||Arkansas State v. SMU UNDER 73||Top||21-44||Win||100||103 h 5 m||Show|
The set-up: The 1-1 Arkansas State Red Wolves of the Sun Belt will travel to Gerald J. Ford Stadium in Dallas to take of the AAC's SMU Mustangs, who have opened their season 2-1. The Red Wolves opened with a tightly-contested 43-36 loss in Lincoln against Nebraska, before seeing their game with Miami-Fla. canceled to due to Hurricane Irma. ASU picked up its first win of 2017 by routing Arkansas-Pine Bluff at home, 48-3 last Saturday. SMU opened its season with home wins over SF Austin (58-14) and North Texas (54-32) but then could not slow down then-No. 20 TCU last Saturday in Fort Worth, losing 56-36. SMU gets Arkansas St. this Saturday and then UConn next Saturday (both at home), so the Mustangs have to be 'smelling' a 4-1 start, not bad for a program that was just 5-7 last year, plus 2-10 and 1-11 the previous two seasons.
Arkansas State: QB Justice Hansen is completing 70.7 percent of his passes for 751 yards with eight TDs and just two interceptions. It's only two games but ASU's 385.5 YPG through the air ranks 8th-best in the nation. The defense had its problems with Nebraska (43 points allowed on 463 yards) but then the three points allowed vs. Ark-Pine Bluff, makes the defensive stat sheet look somewhat better.
SMU: QB Ben Hicks is completing just 48.4 percent of his passes but he's thrown for 729 yards with eight TDs and three interceptions. Hicks and Rafe Peavey have combined for nine touchdown passes this season and an average of 318.3 YPG passing (20th-best). Freeman (151 yards) and Jones (150 yards) lead a rushing attack which averages 155.3 YPG. All told, it has translated into 49.3 PPG or 6th-best in the nation. SMU couldn't stop TCU at all (56 points on 619 yards) and will enter this game with its defense allowing 34.0 PPG (105th).
The pick: OK, so is the Over the play? I've had great success so far in 2017 by "playing under" on more than a few of these games with extremely high totals. That's the angle once again here, as I make the Under an 8* play.
|09-22-17||Virginia v. Boise State OVER 51.5||Top||42-23||Win||100||80 h 6 m||Show|
The set-up: Friday night CFB on ESPN comes from Albertsons Stadium (home of the famous "Blue Turf'), as the 2-1 Boise State Broncos host the 2-1 Virginia Cavaliers. The Cavs have opened the 2017 season with three consecutive home games, beating William & Mary 28-10, losing 34-17 to Indiana and then topping UConn, 38-18. The Broncos own home wins over Troy (24-13) and New Mexico (28-14), sandwiched around a 47-44 triple-OT loss at Washington State. The schools have only met once before, with Boise State crushing the Cavs 56-14 at Charlottesville in 2015. Virginia was just 4-8 taht season but fell to 2-10 last year, in Bronco Mendenhall's first season at Virginia.
|09-16-17||San Jose State v. Utah OVER 60||Top||16-54||Win||100||80 h 52 m||Show|
The set-up: The 1-2 San Jose State Spartans will visit Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City to take on the 2-0 Utah Utes this Saturday night. The Utes are not ranked in the AP poll but do check in at No. 24 in the coaches' poll. The Spartans own a 43-13 home win over Cal-Poly but have lost 42-22 at home to USF (season-opener) and last Saturday lost 56-0 at Texas. The Utes opened with a 37-16 home win over North Dakota and then improved to 2-0 on the season by defeating BYU 19-13 at Provo this past Saturday. Utah jumped out to a 19-6 lead with 2:35 left in the 3rd quarter and were able to survive a late BYU comeback in the 4th.
San Jose State: The Spartans opened the season with a first-year head coach in Brent Brennan and have played three QBs so far with red-shirt freshman Montel Aaron making his first start in the loss to Texas. The Spartans are averaging only 18.7 PPG (110th) on 346.7 YPG (99th). The defense was gashed for 623 total yards by Texas, including 406 yards and six TDs on the ground. San Jose St. is allowing 37.0 PPG (115th) on 468.0 YPG (112th).
Utah: Tyler Huntley is the team's new QB and he's a true dual-threat. He has completed 73.5 percent of his passes for 527 yards (one TD / one INT) and is also he team’s leading rusher with 159 yards on 37 attempts (three rushing TDs). Huntley's top target is Oregon transfer Darren Carrington, who has 17 catches for 256 yards and a TD. The Utes are averaging a modest 28.0 PPG (87th) on offense but the defense has been excellent, allowing 14.5 PPG (30th) on 235.5 YPG (17th).
The pick: Utah holds a 7-1 lead in the series between these former WAC rivals, including a 34-16 road win last season in San Jose. The Utes are 23-1 in non-conference games since joining the Pac-12 in 2011. Utah hasn't had a breakout offensive effort yet but I expect one here vs. San Jose State, which was routed by Texas last week (see above) and as noted above, has allowed 37.0 PPG (115th) on 468.0 YPG (112th). The Over is an 8* play.
|09-16-17||Louisiana Tech v. Western Kentucky UNDER 61.5||Top||23-22||Win||100||77 h 53 m||Show|
The set-up: The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs will travel to L.T. Smith Stadium in Bowling Green, Ky. to take on the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers this Saturday night. Both teams have opened 1-1. La. Tech opened with a 52-24 home win over Northwestern St. but was no match for Mississippi State last Saturday at home, losing 57-21. La. Tech took a quick 9-0 lead early in the 1st quarter but couldn’t fight back after 36 unanswered points by Mississippi State gave them a 36-9 lead with :41 seconds left in the 2nd quarter. Western Kentucky opened with a 31-17 win over Eastern Ky but then lost 20-7 at Illinois this past Saturday, as a six-point road favorite. The schools have met just seven times with La.Tech leading 4-3. However, after beating Western Ky 55-52 at home during the 2016 regular season, the Bulldogs lost 58-44 at Western Ky in the C-USA championship game.La. Tech: The Bulldogs averaged 44.3 PPG last season but Skip Holtz' team may struggle some on offense this year. La. Tech is averaging 36.5 PPG (47th) but QB J’Mar Smith has completed only 48.3% of his passes for 2 TD sand an INT while averaging 208.0 passing YPG (note: last year's starter Ryan Higgins passed for 4,617 yards with a 41-8 ratio). The team's running game is averaging a respectable 186.5 YPG to rank 56th. Defense is a problem though, as the Bulldogs have allowed 40.5 PPG (121st).Western Ky: The Hilltoppers are coming off seasons of averaging 44.4, 44.3 and 45.5 PPG. However, just four offensive starters are back. Yes, one of them his QB Mike White, who threw for 4,363 yards with a 37-7 ratio, but after two games, he's got just one TD pass in 74 attempts, while averaging a modest 251.0 YPG. Forget those 40-plus PPG averages of the previous three seasons, as the Hilltoppers are averaging only 19.0 PPG (109th) here in 2017. The good news for Western Ky is the defense is a allowing just 18.5 PPG (47th). The pick: At the moment, it sure looks as if the Hilltoppers miss head coach Jeff Brohm (he's now at Purdue), as Mike White and the offense is not "hitting on all cylinders" for new head coach Mike Sanford. Then again, the Western Ky defense looks very good. La. Tech is scoring (36.5 PPG) but allows even more (40.5 PPG). These two schools were the preseason favorites to return to the C-USA title game but at this stage of the season, both teams have plenty of kinks to work. The two meetings last year in which the finals were 55-52 and 58-44 keep this total WAY higher than it should be. Make the Under an 8* play.
|09-15-17||Illinois v. South Florida OVER 55.5||Top||23-47||Win||100||53 h 29 m||Show|
The set-up: Illinois and South Florida are both 2-0 to open the 2017 season, although it's the lesser-known school from Tampa which is the ranked team, at No. 21 in the latest AP poll. Illinois is off a 3-9 season in Lovie Smith's first year as head coach and the Fighting Illini haven't had a winning season since their 20-14 bowl win over UCLA in 2011 allowed them to finish 7-6. Meanwhile, Willie Taggert rejuvenated the USF program, going 8-5 in 2015 and 11-2 in 2016, including an exciting 46-39 OT win over South Carolina in the Birmingham Bowl. Taggert used his success to land the Oregon job but Charlie Strong brings solid credentials to the program, despite his lack of success at Texas. USF had its game last week at Connecticut cancelled, due to complications with Hurricane Irma.
Illinois: Ilinois goes after its third straight victory to open the season and Lovie Smith will be returning to 'the scene of the crime,' as Tampa is home to the NFL’s Buccaneers, which was his previous job before landing at Illinois. The Fighting Illini opened with an unimpressive 24-21 home win over Ball State but then as a six-point home 'dog to Western Kentucky, won 20-7. Lovie's always been known as a defensive coach and through two games, Illinois is allowing 14.0 PPG (28th) on 309.5 YPG (48th). However, the team's offense is another story. Illinois averages a woeful 258.0 YPG (123rd), due to anemic passing attack with ranks 120th, averaging 126.0 YPG. In the most important offensive stat of all, points scored, Illinois is T-100th at 22.0 PPG.
USF: Taggert may be in Oregon but he left behind QB Quinton Flowers for Charlie Strong. Flowers threw for 2,812 yards with a 24-7 ratio last year, while rushing for 1,530 yards and another 18 TDs. He's not off to a Lamar Jackson-like start in 2017 (398 passing yards with 4 TDs and 1 INT plus 137 rushing yards with just 1 TD) but he has led the Bulls to 42 and 31 points. USF ranks 44th in scoring (36.5 PPG) and 51st in total yards (443.5 YPG). The defense, which allowed 31.6 PPG in 2017, is off to an excellent start, allowing 19.5 PPG (50th) on 308.0 YPG (42nd). That said, the competition has not been all that tough.
The pick: The Fighting Illini have proven to be offensively challenged so far but USF's early defensive numbers are a bit of a mirage. As for Illinois' defense, it gets a severe test here from USF, which has scored at least 30 points in 19 straight games! I believe USF will dictate this contest and with a total in the mid-50s (note: the lowest final score for an USF game in 2017 was 60 points!), the Over is an 8* play.
|09-09-17||Middle Tennessee State v. Syracuse UNDER 77||Top||30-23||Win||100||75 h 36 m||Show|
The set-up: The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders opened their 2017 season with a 28-6 loss at home to Vanderbilt and now visit the Syracuse Orange this Saturday at the Carrier Dome in search of their first win. Syracuse is home for a second straight weekend, romping 50-7 over Central Connecticut State to open its 2017 season. MTSU went 8-5 overall in 2016 (5-3 in C-USA play), including a 52-35 loss in the Hawaii Bowl to the home-standing Rainbow Warriors. Dino Babers used back-to-back bowl appearances at Bowling Green to get the head job at Syracuse but in his first season (2016), finished just 4-8 (2-6 in the ACC). The two schools are meeting for the first time as FBS members.
Middle Tennessee State: The Blue Raiders were shut down against Vanderbilt, falling behind 14-0 after the first quarter. MTSU didn't crack Vandy's end zone until the fourth quarter, well after the outcome had been decided. The offense was held to a modest 215 yards. QB Brent Stocksrtill, who threw for over 4000 yards (30-9 ratio) in 2015 and for 3233 yards in 2016 (31-7 ratio), was held to 166 yards with one TD and one INT. MTSU ran for only 49 yards on 26 attempts.
Syracuse: The Orange totally out-classed Central Connecticut State, opening up a 31-0 advantage at halftime, before coasting the rest of the way. The Orange had a dominant 586-167 advantage in total offense and racked up 34 FDs to Central Connecticut’s eight. QB Eric Dungey was outstanding, completing 28 of 36 passes for 328 yards with three TDs (he also ran 51 yards and two scores on the ground).
The pick: The Syracuse defense had no problem with Central Connecticut State but let's not forget that the Orange allowed 38.6 PPG. Yes, 10 starters return but the MTSU offense will be a much tougher test. The Blue Raiders were shut down by the Vandy defense but this team did average 39.7 PPG last season. The 'catch' here though is, the over/under number is currently in the mid-70s. MTSU struggled with Vandy's D (at home!), so while the Syracuse D is much 'softer,' this is a road game. Note that MTSU enters on a 3-19 run in road openers. Make the Under an 8* play.
|09-02-17||Louisville v. Purdue UNDER 68||Top||35-28||Win||100||123 h 23 m||Show|
The set-up: The Louisville Cardinals, ranked 16th in the AP's preseason poll, will open the 2017 season against the Purdue Boilermakers, led by new head coach Jeff Brohm. The game will be played at at Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis), the home of the Colts. It's only fitting that Brohm's first game as Purdue's head coach comes against his alma mater, where he was Louisville's starting QB for two seasons in the early 1990s.
Louisville: Bobby Petrino can coach (forget about the off-field stuff) and his Cardinals were 9-1 through 10 games last season (lone loss at Clemson by six points) and ranked No. 3, before imploding. However, a 36-10 loss at Houston was followed by an embarrassing 41-38 loss at home to Kentucky (as a nearly four-TD favorite) to end the regular season. Louisville was then man-handled by LSU, 29-9 in the Citrus Bowl. However, the team's late-season collapse didn't prevent QB Lamar Jackson from winning the Heisman (it shouldn't have). Jackson passed for 3,543 yards and 30 TDs last year while rushing for 1,571 yards and another 21 scores! Jackson lost a few key contributors but he's so talented, don't expect too much of a drop-off in 2017. That said, don't expect a second straight Heisman, either.
Purdue. Brohm come to Purdue from Western Ky, where he turned the the Hilltoppers into the nation's highest-scoring team at 45.5 PPG in 2016. David Blough is Purdue's returning starter at QB but Brohm says he likes three of his QBs and would not be afraid to use all of them with Blough struggling with a sore shoulder (he suffered a strained right shoulder during an August 12 scrimmage). To be competitive, Purdue needs to score, as its defense ranked 117th in the nation last year, allowing 38.3 PPG.
The pick: Brohm was an asistant at Western Ky when Petrino was hired as the Hilltoppers head coach. Petrino has said he is thrilled that Brohm landed a Power-5 conference coaching position. He expects his former assistant will turn around a Purdue program that has gone just 9-39 the past four seasons with only three victories in Big Ten conference play. However, that may be wishful thinking right now. Louisville has the best QB on the field (in the country?) but did lose a lot of key players, including most of the offensive line. It may take Louisville a few games to jell. The Boilermakers have lost nine of their last 10 non-home games and are a near-4 TD underdog here, so expect a loss. However, don't expect Petrino to run up the score and thisov er/under number is too high. Make Louisville/Purdue a 10* Under play.
|09-02-17||Michigan v. Florida OVER 44.5||Top||33-17||Win||100||120 h 33 m||Show|
The set-up: Two CFB superpowers open Saturday in this game at "Jerry's House" in Arlington, Texas, with No. 11 Michigan taking on No. 17 Florida. This marks the first time these two legendary programs have met in regular season, although Michigan has won all three bowl meetings, including a 41-7 beat-down of an injury-riddled Florida offense in the Citrus Bowl following the 2015 season.
Michigan: Jim Harbaugh took over Michigan in 2015, inheriting a team which was just 5-7 the previous year. His first team went 10-3, including that previously-mentioned bowl win over Florida and then last year's team again went 10-3. However, that doesn't tell the entire story. Michigan opened 9-0 and was ranked No. 2 in the nation when it lost 14-13 at Iowa. An unimpressive 20-10 win over Indiana followed and then Michigan lost a controversial double-OT at Columbus to Ohio State, 30-27. The Wolverines capped its season with a 33-32 loss to FSU in the Orange Bowl. Harbaugh's an intense coach and will be looking to quickly establish his team after last year's poor finish (three losses in its last four games). Harbaugh can easily rub people the wrong way. He refused to release his team's playing roster until Wednesday, declined to formally announce his quarterback and then went overboard by insinuating Florida coach Jim McElwain was the one playing games by initially not revealing his team's signal-caller. Harbaugh can play all the "head games" he wants but he needs to replace 10 starters off last year unit, which was one of the nation's best (allowed 14.1 PPG on just over 262 yards per). I'm still not quite sure who will be Michigan's starting QB for most of this year.
Florida: Jim McElwain begins his third season with the Gators, after going 10-4 and 9-4 in 2015 and 2016. He is dealing with two key issues in this contest. The big story is the suspension of seven players, including 2016 leading receiver and special teams stud Antonio Callaway (54 catches and 721 receiving yards with four TDs in 2016) and defensive lineman Keivonnis Davis, for misuse of school funds. The other question mark is who will start under center. RS freshman Feleipe Franks started the spring game for the Gators and played well enough to be considered for the starting job, while Luke Del Rio is recovering from off-season shoulder surgery and then there’s the wild card in Notre Dame transfer Malik Zaire. In the end, McElwain named Franks as the starter on Wednesday. Franks threw for 2,766 yards and 35 TDs during his senior season at Wakulla High School in Crawfordville, Fla. The defense took a big on hit, with only five starters returning from last season and don't expect the Gators to match last year's numbers of 16.8 PPG on about 293 YPG.
The pick: I'm no fan of either of Michigan's two QBs, Wilton Speight or John O’Korn and I believe Michigan's preseason ranking of No. 11 is based more on Harbuagh's notoriety. After all, Michigan had a school-record 11 players selected in the 2017 NFL Draft, meaning there are many new faces in new roles all over the field. Let me add that Florida has won 27 consecutive season openers, the best streak in the nation. The Gators will likely remember that recent Citrus Bowl loss to the Wolverines but after careful consideration I prefer to make the Over an 8* play.
|01-02-17||Iowa v. Florida OVER 40||Top||3-30||Loss||-115||49 h 2 m||Show|
The set-up: Florida lost 54-16 in the SEC championship game against Alabama, after losing 31-13 to Florida State in its regular season finale. The Gators take an 8-4 record into Monday's Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla, up against the 8-4 Iowa Hawkeyes. Iowa was punished 41-14 at Penn State but then earned a "signature" 14-13 win over then-No.3 Michigan on Nov 12, beat Illinois 28-0 and had a regular season-ending 40-10 rout over then-No. 16 Nebraska.Florida:The Gators were simply decimated by injuries on defense and were also without Luke Del Rio at QB for six of their 12 games in 2016. He's returned to practice but Florida head coach Jim McElwain has said Appleby, who faced Iowa last year while at Purdue, will get the nod. Appleby passed for 1,225 yards, eight touchdowns and five interceptions this year. However, expect Del Rio to see game action. The Florida defense allowed 14 or less points in eight of its first 10 games but then allowed a combined 85 points against rival Florida State and Alabama in its last last two. Many of those key defensive cogs are back for this one, which should infuse the team with some renewed energy The Gators, an SEC team, will own a major speed advantage over Iowa, a Big Ten opponent. Iowa: The Hawkeyes lost their top receiver (Matt VandeBerg) to a season-ending injury early on and coach Kirk Ferentz had to do a lot of mixing and matching on the offensive line. Senior quarterback C.J. Beathard (17 touchdown passes, seven interceptions) threw for only 290 yards combined the last three weeks as the running attack took over. LeShun Daniels Jr. (1,013 yards and 10 TDs) and Akrum Wadley (966 yards and 10 TDs) could become the first pair of Iowa RBs to go over 1,000 in the same season. Iowa averages 171.9 YPC on the ground (4.5 YPC) and don't forget, the Gators allowed 483 yards rushing against FSU and Alabama to close the year. The pick: Neither team has a 'pretty' offense but Florida averages 23.4 PPG and Iowa 26.8 PPG. Very few bowl totals have been this low. Yes, both teams have excellent defenses but Iowa and Florid have met twice before in the Outback Bowl with Iowa winning the 2004 contest 37-17 and Florida winning 31-24 in 2006 (similar finals would be just fine). Also note that Iowa was beaten 45-28 by another SEC team (Tennessee) in the Taxslayer Bowl in 2014. The Over is a 10* play.
|12-31-16||LSU v. Louisville OVER 59.5||Top||29-9||Loss||-105||43 h 44 m||Show|
The set-up: The 7-4 LSU Tigers will meet the 9-3 Louisville Tigers in the Citrus Bowl (Orlando), in a late-morning start (11:00 ET). QB Lamar Jackson toyed with defenses for most of 2016 en route to becoming Louisville's first Heisman Trophy winner but its he'll likely face his toughest test of the season on Dec. 31 against LSU, which ranks sixth in scoring defense (16.4 PPG ) and 14th in total defense (323.0 YPG) LSU: The Tigers opened the year No. 3 in the AP's preseason poll but lost its first game 16-14 in Green Bay to Wisconsin. When the Tigers lost 18-13 at Auburn on Sept. 24th to fall to 2-2, Les Miles was fired. Assistant Ed Orgeron replaced Miles and the team went 5-2, losing 10-0 to Alabama and 16-10 to Florida. However, Orgeron has been hired full-time and LSU will be a dangerous team in this one. That said, RB Leonard Fournette will not play after declaring for the NFL Draft earlier in the month. One year after rushing for 1,953 yards and 22 TDs (both school records), he was dogged by an August left ankle injury that forced him to miss four regular-season games in 2016. Despite missing nearly half the season, he'll leave as the Tigers' single-season leader in rushing yards per game (162.8), career rushing yards per game (119.7) and 200-yard games (five). Finding a QB (or passing game) will be "Job-1" for Orgeron moving forward, as LSU enters this contest ranking 101st of 128 FBS schools with 187.6 YPG passing. Louisville: The Cardinals were in contention for the College Football Playoff spot in mid-November but lost their final two games, at Houston and inexplicably at home to state rival Kentucky (as a four-TD favorite), to finish 9-3. Jackson wasn't at his best in the final two games, as Houston sacked him 11 times and he committed four turnovers against Kentucky. However, he earned an easy Heisman victory. And, why not? Jackson is the only player in FBS history to throw for 30-plus TDs (30) and rush for 20-plus TDs (21) in the regular season. He set the ACC record for TDs responsible for in a single season (51) while breaking the single-season school marks for rushing yards (1,538) and 100-yard rushing performances (eight). Louisville second in the nation in both scoring (45.3 PPG) and total yards (558.8 YPG), which overshadows a defense which ranked 32nd in points allowed (23.3 PPG) and 12th in total yards allowed (316.2 YPG).
|12-30-16||North Carolina v. Stanford OVER 54||Top||23-25||Loss||-103||22 h 45 m||Show|
The set-up: North Carolina went 8-4 and heads to El Paso for a Sun Bowl meeting with 9-3 Stanford.The biggest storyline heading into the game was Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey announcing on Twitter that he will sit out the Sun Bowl to focus on his NFL draft preparation (will this be trend). Stanford comes in with momentum (on a five-game winning streak) while North Carolina lost two of its final three, beating only the The Citadel.
North Carolina: Junior QB Mitch Trubisky is an emerging NFL prospect who threw for 3,468 yards while completing 68.9% with 28 TD passes and just four INTs. The running game is below average, gaining 148.2 YPG (99th). Overall, North Carolina averages 33.1 PPG (40th) and its defense holds opponents to 24.9 PPG (45th). The season was a roller-coaster, with wins over Florida State, Miami and Pittsburgh but it ended with disappointing late-season losses to Duke and North Carolina State. “We weren’t able to overcome all the emotions we created for ourselves,” coach Larry Fedora told reporters. “There were a few games down the stretch that we didn’t play up to our capability. We didn’t make the ordinary plays that we needed to make.Stanford: Head coach David Shaw watched his offense struggle early in the season and replaced senior QB Ryan Burns with sophomore Keller Chryst, who provided an immediate spark and led the Cardinal to five straight wins while throwing nine TDs and one interception. McCaffrey leads the nation with 2,327 all-purpose yards and has posted 1,603 rushing yards but with his 'boycott,' it creates an opportunity for promising sophomore Bryce Love, who has run for 664 yards on 7.4 YPC. Love had 160 all-purpose yards and scored the winning touchdown in a 17-10 win at Notre Dame in October, when McCaffrey was out with an injury. According to Shaw, love is "a physical, explosive runner. He's not a small back by any stretch of the imagination. He runs through tackles and he's tough. For a guy who's under six foot, he can push the pile and drive his legs." Stanford's defense allows 20.2 PPG (17th) on 365.6 YPC (36th).
The pick:North Carolina has really been shown up in its last two bowl appearnces, losing 40-21 to Rutgers in 2014 and 49-38 to Baylor, last year. Carolina has not ben physical enough and it showed signs of wearing down defensively in losing to both Duke (allowed 467 yards) and NC St (492 yards in two of its last three games (41-7 win over The Citadel hardly counts). Stanford loves to play smashmouth FB and Chyrst has brought another dimension to the offense with his solid play. Led by Trubisky, the North Carolina offense will give Stanford's D all it can handle. The Over is an 8* play.
|12-29-16||South Florida v. South Carolina UNDER 62.5||Top||46-39||Loss||-110||65 h 9 m||Show|
The set-up: Willie Taggart did such a good job in his stint at USF that after this year's 10-2 regular season, he departed for Oregon. However, 25th-ranked South Florida still has plenty to play for when it faces 6-6 South Carolina in the Birmingham Bowl on Thursday afternoon at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama. South Florida: The Bulls will be led by wide receivers coach T.J. Weist but new head coach Charlie Strong will be evaluating his squad. Junior QB Quinton Flowers, the American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year, will also be looking to get a jump-start on the 2017 Heisman Trophy race. Flowers passed for 2,551 yards with 22 TDs and just six INTs, plus led USF in rushing with 1,425 yards on 8.1 YPC with 15 TDs. He's one of just three players in the nation to both pass for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards this season. RB Mack added 1,137 yards on 7.1 YPC and also scored 15 TDs. The team ran for 292.2 YPG (5th) on 6.7 YPC, leading the way for an offense which averaged 43.6 PPG (7th). The Bulls haven’t been nearly as consistent on the defensive side of the ball, having allowed at least 500 total yards in four of their last five games, ending the regular season allowing 482.3 YPG (120th) and 31.0 PPG (86th). South Carolina: The Gamecocks had to win four of their last six games to become bowl eligible but enter off a 56-7 'spanking' at Clemson. Still, the Gamecocks have doubled their win total in Muschamp’s first campaign in Columbia. They start start seven true freshmen including QB Jake Bentley, who took over in late October and led the team to that 4-2 finish. He's thrown for 1,030 yards with only six TDs but also just two INTs. The running game averages only 138.0 YPG (3.8 YPC) to rank 106th for an offense averaging just 19.2 PPG (122nd). However, South Carolina can trust its defense, one allowing 24.8 PPG (44th) while ranking 10th nationally in turnovers gained (25).
The pick: USF is obviously the more explosive team and likely the way better team. However, the coaching transition for USF may not be quite as smooth as other situations, as several assistants are on their way to Oregon and those that remain are unlikely to be kept on by Charlie Strong. That means the awkwardness of some of the guys in charge of game planning having are also shopping their resumes and thinking about other matters at this rather busy hiring/firing period. South Carolina has notable wins over Tennessee (24-21), Vanderbilt (13-10) and Missouri (31-21) plus also defeated East Carolina of the AAC, 20-15. The Gamecocks are bowl-eligible for the 12th time in 13 seasons and have won their last four bowl games and only Marshall’s five-game winning streak in bowl games is longer. Look for teh South Carolina defense to keep the Gamecocks in this one making the Under a 10* play.
|12-27-16||Baylor v. Boise State UNDER 67||Top||31-12||Win||100||60 h 25 m||Show|
The set-up: Miami-Ohio played in Monday's St. Petersburg Bowl, becoming the first team in NCAA history to start the season 0-6 before winning six straight to earn a bowl bid (result unknown at this time). In this year's Cactus Bowl, the Baylor Bears will take on Boise State, becoming the first team that has ever entered a bowl game on a six-game losing streak (Baylor opened 6-0 and was ranked as high as No. 8 in the AP poll). For the 10-2 Boise State Broncos, this marks the school's 17th bowl appearance and its 15th in a row (11-5 in first 16 bowls).
Baylor: No college football program in America needs a fresh start more than Baylor. Sexual assault allegations against football players led to the firing of coach Art Briles prior to the season with Jim Grobe agreeing to coach this season, while Baylor searched for a new coach. Things were going better than expected early on (see above) but then came the team's total collapse. The Bears will have a new coach next season in former Temple head man Matt Rhule but interim coach Jim Grobe will run the team one last time. Through it all, the Bears have the fifth-ranked offense nationally, averaging 523.3 YPG, including 250.3 YPG rushing (13th). However, most of that was accomplished with Seth Russell (2,126 yards, 20 TD passes and eight INTs) at QB but he hasn't played since breaking his left ankle in a 45-24 loss at Oklahoma back on Nov. 12. Freshman Zach Smith started the final three games at QB and threw eight TD passes but alos six interceptions over that span. Expect the Bears to lean heavily on a running game led by sophomore Terence Williams (945 yards, 5.9 YPC & 11 TDs) and senior Shock Linwood (751 yards, 5.4 YPC and two TDs). Baylor's defense allows 30.4 PPG to rank 81st. Boise State: The Broncos feature junior RB Jeremy McNichols, who is weighing whether or not to bypass his senior season and enter the NFL draft. McNichols was fifth nationally with 1,663 rushing yards during the regular season and ranks seventh in school history with 3,159 career yards. He scored 27 TDs (23 rushing, four receiving) this season and his 44 career rushing scores are fourth most in Boise State history. Sophomore QB Brett Rypien (3,341 yards, 23 TDs passing) has two solid WRs in Thomas Sperbeck (72 catches, 1,193 yards & nine TDs) and Cedrick Wilson (50, 1,041 yards & 10 TDs), leading an an offense that averaged 35.6 PPG (27th) on 479.8 YPG (20th). The defense has allowed a modest 22.7 PPG (28th).
The pick: After losing to Air Force for the third consecutive year and failing to make it into the conference championship for the second straight season, the Broncos are looking at a potential bowl win over a Big 12 team. "We're trying to finish this season the right way and take everything we've learned and apply it," coach Bryan Harsin told reporters. "And go out there and be a much better football team than we were in the last game." However, one wonders if a win over a Baylor team in a total collapse will mean much? Also, one has to wonder if a vote were to be taken now, just how many Baylor players and coaches would say yes to continuing this VERY awkward campaign? The Under is a 10* play.
|12-26-16||Vanderbilt v. NC State OVER 44.5||Top||17-41||Win||100||57 h 37 m||Show|
The set-up: Vandy and NC Stae are both 6-6 and will meet in the Independence Bowl at Shreveport, La. The Commodores won home games over Ole Miss (38-17) and then Tennessee (45-34) in its last two regular season games to reach 6-6, while the Wolfpack earned their sixth win at North Carolina in their regular season finale, beating the Tar Heels 28-21 as 10-point underdogs. Vanderbilt: The Commodores made three straight bowl appearances under former coach James Franklin from 2011-13, including a 38-24 triumph over N.C. State in the 2012 Music City Bowl but is going 'bowling' for the first time since Derek Mason took over the program. Derek Mason's stint at Vanderbilt began with 3-9 and 4-8 records with Mason and Vandy in danger of missing out on a bowl for the third straight season until engineering a 4-2 finish that included wins over Georgia, Ole Miss and Tennessee. In fact, the Commodores put up two of their three highest point totals of the season in the final two contests and piled up 608 yards in the 45-34 win over the Volunteers in the regular-season finale. Even with the team's "big finish," Vandy has averaged just 23.5 PPG (109th) on 359.2 YPG (108th). RB Webb is Vandy's best offensive player, running for 1,172 yards (5.1 YPC) and 12 TDs.The 'Dores defense has played well all year, allowing a modest 22.6 PPG (26th). NC State: The Wolfpack, like the Commodores, have modest offensive numbers (average 25.8 PPG) but solid defensive ones, allowing 23.2 PPG (32nd) on 356.8 YPG (28th). NC State senior RB Matthew Dayes is the team's best offensive player, running for 1,119 yards while saving his best for last with six TDs in the final three games of the regular season.
The pick: It would be easy to say "under" in this one but "not so fast!" Both teams showed late-season success against notable opponents and it seems to have perked up the motivation for Vanderbilt and North Carolina State going into this game. With Vandy in particular, the Commodores averaged 13.2 points in going 1-5 in their first six SEC games but totaled 83 points in the final two games. RB Ralph Webb piled up 237 yards and five TDs on 41 carries while QB Kyle Shurmur threw for a career-high 416 yards in the win over Tennessee and threw four TD passes in the last two games.This is one of teh lowe over/under numbers of all the bowls and the Over is a 10* play.
|12-23-16||Ohio v. Troy OVER 49||Top||23-28||Win||100||73 h 37 m||Show|
The set-up: The Dollar General Bowl in Mobile, Alabama features two teams that ended the season with close losses to miss out on conference championships. Ohio U. (8-5) played Western Michigan tough in the MAC title game before losing 29-23, while Troy was upset 28-24 by Georgia Southern to miss out on a share of the Sun Belt crown Both will get a chance here, to remove that bitter taste from their mouths.
Ohio U: Frank Solich is in his 12th season with the Bobcats and this marks the eighth time he's led his team into a bowl game. That's quite an accomplishment considering that in Ohio U history (prior to Solich's arrival), the Bobcats had been to just two bowls. This is not a great team but Ohio U. was the MAC's best defensive team in 2016. Since allowing 56 points to Texas State in triple overtime in the season opener, the Bobcats have held every opponent to fewer than 30 points and will enter this game allowing just 22.2 2 PPG (26th in the nation) and that's after allowing those 56 points in the opener. Senior DL Tarell Basham was the MAC's Defensive Player of the Year, leading the conference with 11.5 sacks and is the school’s career leader with 29.5. Senior LB Blair Brown had a conference-high 116 tackles (13.5 for loss), and MAC Freshman of the Year Javon Hagan had 50 tackles and led the team with five forced fumbles and three interceptions. The offense averages a modest 26.5 PPG, 218.0 YPG passing and 174.8 YPG on the ground.
Troy: The Trojans come in 9-3 but without a win here, the season will be considered a real disappointment. Troy was 8-1 (only loss came 30-24 against Clemson!) and entered the AP's top-25 for the first the loss at Ga. Southern, as a seven-point road favorite.Troy led the Sun Belt in scoring (34.2 PPG), passing (263.1 YPG) and total offense (439.1 YPG) with 49 touchdowns. Junior RB Jordan Chunn (1,232 yards rushing and a conference-best 13 TDs) is Troy's best 'weapon' with QB Silvers completing 64.4% for 2,951 yards with 22 TDs and nine INTs. Troy's defense allows just 22.0 PPG (23rd).
The pick: These are two good defensive teams but the reasonably low over/number on the game makes the over very tempting. Ohio has not had much success in bowl games under Solich and in the team's last five bowl appearances, those finals have averaged 58.4 PPG. Troy QB Bandon Silvers can spread the field and find open receivers against a defense that did not see this style much. The Over is a 10* play.
|12-22-16||Colorado State v. Idaho OVER 64.5||Top||50-61||Win||100||48 h 38 m||Show|
The set-up: The 8-4 Idaho Vandals have been largely non-competitive in 21 seasons at the FBS level, so the program is dropping down to FCS status, beginning with the 2018 season. However, Idaho will conclude its next-to-last season as part of college football's top level by playing in a bowl game for only the third time in school-history, when it meets 7-5 Colorado State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl at Boise, Idaho. The Rams are playing in a bowl for the fourth consecutive season, the second-longest streak in school history behind a string of five in a row under Sonny Lubick from 1999-2003. Idaho: The Vandals made the decision to drop down a level after being dismissed from the Sun Belt Conference (effective after next season), as the school figured it might enjoy more success and lose less money as an FCS school. Expectations were even lower than normal at the outset of this season and after losing back-to-back September games to Washington and Washington State by a combined 115-20, it hardly looked as if Idaho was headed for its first winning season since 2009 or second in the past 17 seasons. However, head coach Paul Petrino kept the squad from crumbling and Idaho finished the regular season by winning four straight and six of its last seven. Junior QB Matt Linehan has passed for 2,803 yards and 15 TDs with 10 INTs with senior TEs Trent Cowan (46 receptions, 532 yards, six TDs) and Deon Watson (36, 555, two TDs) being his top targets. RBs Aaron Duckworth (615 yards, four TDs) and Isaiah Saunders (584 yards, six TDs) share the rushing workload for a team averaging a modest 141.3 YPG (103rd). The defense was ravaged early on by Washington and Wash. St but held three of its last four opponents to 14 points or less. Colorado State: The rams didn’t look like they were headed for a bowl at 3-4 but they won four of their last five, averaging an astonishing 47.4 PPG on 520.6 YPG over those final five games. The four victories during that closing stretch came by an average of 26.5 points! Redshirt Junior QB Nick Stevens took over when true freshman QB Collin Hill was lost for the season with a torn ACL. Stevens passed for 14 TD passes against just ONE interception over his final six games, while standout junior WR Michael Gallup finished with 70 catches for 1,164 yards with 11 TD receptions, the second-most in school history. The Rams own an excellent running game, averaging 223.2 YPG (30th), led by a trio of RBs all of whom ran for more than 500 yards. Dawkins leads with 801 yards, while Matthews (705 yards) ran for a team-high 12 scores. The pick: It wouldn’t be a stretch to say the Vandals are probably the most unlikely participant of the 80 bowl teams this season, so saying the Vandals are reveling in the bowl berth would be quite the understatement. The Idaho defense played well down the stretch but remembering the Vandals being unable to stop Washington and Washington State should give one pause that Idaho’s defense can slow a surging Colorado St. team (remember, the Rams enter having averaged 47.4 PPG on 520.6 YPG over their last five games). Meanwhile, Idaho averaged 36.1 PPG over its final seven games and CSU’s defense is hardly anything special (allows 27.8 PPG). The Over is a 10* play.
|12-19-16||Central Michigan v. Tulsa UNDER 70||Top||10-55||Win||100||50 h 48 m||Show|
The set-up: The 6-6 Central Michigan Chippewas face the 9-3 Tiulsa Golden Hurricane in the Miami Beach Bowl at Marlins Park. This marks CMU’s fourth straight bowl appearance (1-2 last three) and for Tulsa, which has the smallest undergraduate enrollment of any FBS school (about 4,600), it’s the school’s 21st bowl appearance, including its 10th since 2003. Central Michigan: The Chippewas made national news with their memorable no-time-on-the-clock, hook-and-ladder Hail Mary touchdown to upset Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Okla. back on Sept. 10. After the game, it was determined the MAC officiating crew - which later was suspended - had made a mistake by giving Central Michigan an extra untimed down with no time remaining after Oklahoma State was called for intentional grounding on fourth down. Oh well! In fact, that “win” came in very handy for Central Michigan, which lost four of its final five games, including a 26-21 heartbreaker to Eastern Michigan in its regular-season finale on a long TD pass with just 21 seconds left. Without the Oklahoma State victory, Central Michigan would be spending mid-December in chilly Mount Pleasant, Mich. instead of sunny Miami. The Chippewas are led by senior QB Cooper Rush, who has thrown for 3,299 yards and 23 TDs. WR Corey Willis is his favorite target with 1,028 yards receiving and nine TDs while Devon Spalding is the team's top rusher with 737 yards and six TDs on 131 carries despite missing two games (CMU averages a modest 119.2 YPG to rank 116th). The defense allows 28.2 PG (69th). Tulsa: Head coach Philip Montgomery, in just his second season, has guided Tulsa to an average of 522.6 YPG which ranks No. 5 in FBS nationally. Not only that, the former Baylor offensive coordinator has the Golden Hurricane on the verge of becoming the first FBS program to feature a 3,000-yard passer, two 1,000-yard rushers and two 1,000-yard receivers. Tulsa already is the just the fifth team with a 3,000-yard passer (quarterback Dane Evans with 3,044), two 1,000-yard rushers (running backs James Flanders with 1,529 and D'Angelo Brewer with 1,330) and a 1,000-yard receiver (wide receiver Keenan Lucas with 1,108). WR Josh Atkinson goes into the game needing just 73 yards in catches to hit 1,000. Tulsa averages 41.4 PPG to rank 11th and the defense allows 31.5 PPG (92nd). The pick: This will not be a low scoring game but the over/under number is so high, I’m making the Under a 10* play.
|12-17-16||Arkansas State v. Central Florida OVER 50||Top||31-13||Loss||-110||51 h 32 m||Show|
The set-up: The Sun Belt’s Arkansas State (7-5) will meet 6-6 Central Florida of the AAC in the Cure Bowl, played at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. UCF went 0-12 in 2015 but won six of its first 10 games this season under first-year coach Scott Frost before losing to Tulsa and South Florida. Meanwhile, Arkansas State began the season 0-4, including a 51-14 loss to Auburn, before winning seven of its last eight to gain a share of the school’s fifth Sun Belt Conference title in six years. Arkansas State: The Red Wolves are led by sophomore QB Justice Hansen, who did not open the season as the starter but has completed 58.9% for 2,514 yards with 16 TDs and 8 INTs (10-2 ratio over the team's last six games). He has a variety of weapons at his disposal as five receivers have accumulated 300 yards but the running game is not a big help, averaging 146.2 YPG to rank 102nd. However, the defense is very good, allowing 22.2 PPG (24th), In fact, defensive end Ja'Von Rolland-Jones was the Sun Belt Conference's overall Player of the Year! "I think any time a defensive player is picked as Player of the Year it's a little bit surprising," Wolves head coach Blake Anderson said. "It doesn't happen that often." He’s right about that. Central Florida: The roller coaster ride for UCF since 2012 has been quite a story. The Knights went 10-4 with a bowl win in 2012, 12-1 with a an upset of Baylor (at plus-16) in the Fiesta Bowl in 2013 and then 9-4 with a bowl loss in 2014 (all under George O’Leary). However, the Knights went 0-12 in O’Leary’s final season (2015), which brought Scott Frost to Orlando and now back in the business of ‘bowling!’ McKenzie Milton is a true freshman from Hawaii and made nine starts at QB after taking over for senior Justin Holman. He is averaging almost 201 yards through the air with a modest nine TD passes and seven interceptions. The running game averages 151.9 YPG which ranks 96th but UCF does average 30.1 PPG. The defense, led by LB Shaquem Griffin (American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year), allows 24.1 PPG (40th). The pick: The Red Wolves are playing in the sixth consecutive bowl game and for UCF’s 5th-year seniors, this will be their fourth bowl game. Both teams play good defense but ASU has seen its last three bowl games average 75.0 PPG and UCF has seen its last three bowl games average 70.0 PPG. That makes the Over an 8* play.
|12-03-16||San Diego State v. Wyoming UNDER 63||Top||27-24||Win||100||100 h 31 m||Show|
The set-up: San Diego State closed last season on a 10-game winning streak and sat at 9-1 (6-0 in MWC play) when it visited Laramie to play Wyoming back on Nov. 19. The Aztecs had won 19 of 20 games entering that contest and after a back and forth contest, scored on the game’s final play of regulation. SDSU chose to go for two and the win but lost 34-33. Then came an embarrassing 63-31 home los to Colorado St. but the Aztecs get a chance for redemption, as well as a second straight MWC title, Saturday night back in Laramie. Wyoming comes in 8-4 in head coach Craig Bohl’s third season. The Cowboys went 4-8 in his first season and a woeful 2-10 last year, so it’s been quite a turnaround in 2016! San Diego State: The Aztecs have a mediocre QB in Christian Chapman, who has 19 TDs and just five INTs but also has just 1,781 passing yards. However, RB Donnel Pumphrey has 1,908 yards this year (6.3 YPC and 15 TDs) and with two games left in his career, should wind up No. 3 on the all-time NCAA career rushing list, behind only Tony Dorsett and Ron Dayne. Pumphrey’s backfield partnet, Penny, has 878 rushing yards on 8.0 YPC with nine TDs. SDSU averages 275.9 YPG on the ground to rank 7th. The defense let the Aztecs down in it’s the season’s last two games (34 points to Wyoming and 63 to Colorado St.) but the unit checks in 19th in points allowed (20.8 per) on 318.9 YPG (11th). Wyoming: The Cowboys thought they would have to beat the Lobos last weekend but ‘backed in’ to the division title when Boise St. lost 27-20 at Air Force on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Therefore, Wyoming’s 56-35 loss at New Mexico last Saturday didn’t cost them an appearance in this game. QB Allen threw for 2,738 yards (23 TDs and 11 INTs) this season and led by RB Brian Hill (1,674 yards on 5.5 YPC with 21 TDs), the running game averages 218.9 YPG. However, while the offense scores 38.2 PPG, the defense pretty much gives it all back, allowing 35.5 PPG. The pick: San Diego State won last year’s MWC championship on its home field but doing so here in Laramie figures to be another story. After all, Wyoming is 6-1 SU and 5-1 ATS and still comes in as about a TD underdog. I believe SDSU is the better team and both teams rely on their running games and I’m looking for a much lower scoring game than we saw on this field back on Nov. 19th. The Under is an 8* play.
|12-02-16||Colorado v. Washington OVER 57.5||Top||10-41||Loss||-112||77 h 57 m||Show|
The set-up: Washington (11-1) is No. 4 in the current CFP rankings but knows a win over No. 9 Colorado (10-2) does bot guarantee the Huskies a spot in CFB’s ‘Final 4.’ There was a lot of talk last Tuesday (when the rankings were released) about Washington’s pathetic non-conference strength of schedule, with wins over Rutgers (2-10 overall and 0-9 in the Big Ten), Idaho of the Sun Belt (7-4 overall) and over Portland St, an FCS school. The Buffs have zero ‘Final 4 ‘ aspirations but have to be thrilled with the team's worst to first in the Pac-12 South turnaround in 2016. Colorado: Mike MacIntyre’s Colorado team set a conference record with its seven-game conference improvement, going from 1-8 in 2015 to 8-1 in 2016. MacIntyre was an easy choice for Pac-12 coach of the year, as the Buffaloes had gone 2-25 in Pac-12 games in his first three seasons at Boulder. QB Sefo Liufau missed three starts due to a midseason ankle injury but still ranks fourth in Pac-12 total offense (263.3 YPG), completing 64.6 percent with 11 TDs and 3 INTs. RB Phillip Lindsay (1,136 yards / 5.4 YPC / 15 TDs) leads a rushing attack averaging 201.1 YPG (45th). Colorado is averaging 34.8 PPG (38th) but the big improvement has been on defense, as Colorado ranks 12th in total yards allowed (323.0 per) and 13th in points allowed (18.8 per). In McIntyre’s first three seasons, the Buffs had allowed 38.3, 39.0 and 27.5 PPG on about 450.0 YPG! Washington: Chris Petersen’s third season at Washington has been the ‘charm!’ Sophomore QB Jake Browning is third in the country in passing TDs (40), fourth in passing efficiency (181.6 rating) and ninth in yards per completion (14.78). He’s completed 65.0% with just seven INTs. He’s complemented nicely by a rushing attack averaging 205.4 YPG (40th) on 5.5 YPC, led by RB Myles Gaskin (1,180 yards on 6.0 YPC with 10 TDs). Washington is the conference’s highest-scoring team at 44.8 PPG (3rd in the nation) and has scored 31 or more in all of its 11 wins. Four Huskies appear on the All-Pac-12 first-team defense, which allows 17.8 PPG (11th) on 328.9 YPG (17th). The pick: The Buffaloes can match the Huskies in the trenches but Washington owns fairly significant edges in speed and depth. Washington know how to “make things happen” as well as any team in the nation (save Alabama), with 21 offensive TDs of either 40-plus yards or TDs scored by their defense or special teams. Washington has its sights on a spot in the four-team College Football Playoff and may just get one. However, what I like even better here, is a high scoring game. The Over is a 10* play.
|11-26-16||UCLA v. California UNDER 71||Top||10-36||Win||100||31 h 53 m||Show|
The set-up: UCLA opened the season ranked 16th in the AP’s preseason poll but now wrap up the year with this game at Cal, just 4-7 overall, including 2-6 in Pac 12 play. Sonny Dykes’ first two seasons at Cal resulted in 1-11 and 5-7 records but led by Jared Goff, who would become the No.1 overall pick in the NFL’s 2016 draft, the Golden Bears finished 8-5 in 2016 after a 55-36 win over Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl. This season was expected to be a rebuilding year but after a 52-49 double-OT win over Oregon on Oct 21, the Bears stood at 4-3. However, Cal enters this season finale on a four-game slide and like UCLA, is 4-7, including 2-6 in Pac 12 action. UCLA: The Bruins opened the season with a young hot-shot QB in sophomore Josh Rosen but he’s missed five games because of a shoulder injury and has been done for quite some time now. Fifth-year senior Mike Fafaul will be starting his fifth game in place of Rosen on Saturday. Head coach Jim Mora has praised Fafual saying, "He played behind Brett (Hundley), and then Josh got the job, and he has hung in there. “He's everything that you want in a quarterback in terms of studying the game and it being serious to him. It's just great." Still, Fafual has just 11 TD passes (five came in one game) and 10 INTs on the season and gets no help from a UCLA running game which ranks 127th out of 128 FBS teams (84.3 YPG on 2.9 YPC). California: Goff may have been the NFL’s No. 1 pick but don’t blame QB Davis Webb (a Texas Tech transfer) for Cal’s woes in 2016. He’s completed 61.2% for 3,994 yards (Cal ranks 3rd in passing at 364.1 YPG) with 35 TDs and 12 INTs. Cal’s offense ranks 22nd in scoring (37.2 PPG) but its defense allows 45.5 PPG (128th out of 128 FBS schools), and 541.8 YPG to rank 127th! The pick: The urge here is to go over but note that UCLA has been a huge underachiever all season on the road, going 1-4 SU and averaging a poor 18.4 PPG. UCLA likely left all it had in the tank on the season in the Rose Bowl last Saturday, in losing 36-14 to USC. With this high total, the under is a 10* play.
|11-26-16||Boston College v. Wake Forest OVER 36.5||Top||17-14||Loss||-108||27 h 38 m||Show|
Then set-up: Boston College may be just 1-6 in ACC play it’s 5-6 overall, meaning a win here at Wake Forest would give the team a 6-6 record, making them bowl-eligible. That would be quite a turnaround after the Eagles were just 3-9 in 2015. Wake Forest already owns six wins, coming in at 6-5 overall, including 3-4 in ACC play. "We're at six wins and we're going to try like crazy to get seven," Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson told the media. "We still have a lot to play for and I'm really proud of our guys." Boston College: The Eagles broke a 12-game ACC losing streak with a 21-14 win at NC State back on Oct 29 but that’s the team's lone ACC win here in both the 2015 and 2016 seasons, combined. Boston College had hoped QB Patrick Towles, a Kentucky transfer, would spark an offense which averaged just 17.2 PPG but that hasn’t been the case. Towles has completed just 51.8% for 1,505 yards with nine TDs and six INTs. The running game averages 151.6 YPG (95th) on 3.5 YPC, as the team's leading rusher is Hilliman, who has only 455 yards (3.1 YPC). BC comes into this game averaging 19.3 PPG (123rd) on 299.3 YPG, which ranks 127th out of 128 FBS teams. BC’s defense ranks 10th in total defense (312.4 YPG) but the Eagles are allowing 25.5 PPG (49th). Wake Forest: When the Demon Deacons have run the ball well they’ve won. When they have not, they’ve lost. RBs Colburn (528 yards) and Carney (475 yards) join QB Wolford (454 yards) combine eto run for 147.3 YPG (101st) on just 3.6 YPC. However, Wake Forest has averaged 202 rushing yards in the team’s six wins, compared to just 80.8 YPG on the ground in its five losses. Boston College allows just 102.6 YPG on the ground (7th-best), so Wolford may have]e to got to the air, although his numbers are no better than Towles, completing 56.7% for 1,454 with five TDs and seven INTs. Wake’s defense allows more yards than BC’s (388.5 YPG to rank 51st) but gives up fewer points at 22.3 PPG, to rank 31st. The pick: Only two of the last 13 meetings between BC and Wake have been decided by more than 10 points, with BC averaging 21.8 points and Wake 20.8 PPG. This “super-low” total makes the Over a 10* play.
|11-24-16||LSU v. Texas A&M OVER 47||Top||54-39||Win||100||23 h 1 m||Show|
The set-up: LSU opened the season No. 5 in the AP’s preseason poll but a season-opening 16-14 loss to Wisconsin in Green Bay pretty much set the tone for the season. The Tigers fired Les Miles after a 2-2 start and while LSU won the first three games under interim head coach Ed Orgeron (averaging 41.7 PPG), the Tigers have lost two of their last three, getting shut out 10-0 by Alabama and losing 16-10 to Florida (both losses came at home!). Texas A&M began the year unranked but upset No. 15 UCLA 31-24 in OT in its season opener. When the first CFP rankings were released back on Nov. 1, the 7-1 Aggies were No. 4. However, at 8-3, Texas A&M was not in the latest CFP rankings (released Nov. 22). LSU: Orgeron was expected to spark the Tigers offense and as noted above, LSU averaged 41.7 PPG in his first three games. However, in getting shut out at home by Alabama, the Tigers were held to just 125 total yards and six FDs. Then last Saturday vs. Florida, Orgeron watched his team score just one TD in five goal-to-go chances on Saturday, including a goal-line stand that clinched the setback. "We shot ourselves in the foot and had a lot of opportunities in the red zone," Orgeron told reporters. "We didn't convert any points. Two turnovers were really costly in the football game. Guys fought the whole way, gave us a chance to win the football game." Now star RB Leonard Fournette, who was hobbled by an ankle injury that has plagued him on and off all season and was limited to 40 yards on 12 carries Saturday, is expected to miss Thursday night. Texas A&M: The Aggies are still a possibility for a Sugar Bowl berth, which would go to the second-highest ranked team from the SEC. A&M would finish in second place in the SEC West with a win on Thursday and an Auburn loss against Alabama. Texas A&M lost starting QB Trevor Knight to a shoulder injury in the loss to Mississippi on Nov. 12 and is still getting used to Jake Hubenak at QB. He threw for 248 yards and a touchdown in a 23-10 win against UTSA and has completed 58 of 97 this year for 598 yards with six TDs and two INTs. He will be helped by a running game averaging 247.5 YPG on 5.7 YPC. RB Williams (956 yards on 7.0 YPC) will go over 1,000 yards for the season in this one. The pick: LSU has nothing to play for, other than the Tigers could be playing for the well-liked Ed Orgeron's job. Texas A&M has averaged 35.1 PPG on the season but its defense has allowed 33.8 PPG over its last four SEC games. The Over is an 8* play.
|11-19-16||Arkansas v. Mississippi State UNDER 60.5||Top||58-42||Loss||-115||53 h 31 m||Show|
The set-up: It’s been a roller coaster ride for Arkansas its last four games, beating Ole Miss 34-30, losing 56-3 to Auburn, beating Florida 31-10 and then losing 38-10 last week to LSU. The 6-4 Razorback now visit Starkville to take on Mississippi St, a team which beat them last year 51-50, a game in which the teams combined for over 1,100 yards of total offense. The Bulldogs are just 4-6 in 2016 though, after losing 51-3 last Saturday to No. 1 Alabama. Arkansas: QB Austin Allen has thrown for 2,501 yards and 20 TDs (against 10 INTs) and was the SEC’s pass efficiency leader at midseason but he’s been inconsistent since suffering a knee injury in the Auburn loss back on Oct. 22. He’s completing 60.5% on the season but just 54.0% over his last three games, throwing just two TD passes with four INTs (he had 18 TD passes through seven games!). RB Rawleigh Williams III surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark last week for the Razorbacks (1,004 yards on 5.2 YPC) but he had just 22 yards against Auburn and 49 last week vs. LSU. Speaking of running the football, the Arkansas defense has plenty of soul-searching to do after allowing LSU to run for 390 yards last Saturday, on 6.3 YPC! Mississippi State: The Bulldogs miss Dak Prescott, who someone told me is doing just fine with the Dallas Cowboys. Sophomore QB Nick Fitzgerald is a dual-threat like Dak and already has 854 yards rushing on 5.8 YPC with eight TDs. However, while Dak completed 66.2% with a 29-5 ratio, Fitzgerald is completing only 53.3% with a 16-10 ratio. The Bulldogs average 214.2 YPG on the ground (30th) but neither Fitzgerald nor the running game was efficient against the Crimson Tide, failing to score a TD in nine trips into Alabama territory. The defense allows 31.9 PPG (92nd) on 434.6 YPG (84th). The pick: All four of Arkansas’ losses have come to ranked teams, No. 16 Auburn, No. 1 Alabama, No. 22 Texas A&M and No. 14 LSU. As for Miss. St, the Bulldogs are playing their first unranked opponent since Oct. 1, when they defeated Alcorn State (an FCS school). Miss. St. has won four straight meetings with the last three decided by seven points or less. Another close game is expected but unlike last year’s shootout, the Under is a 10* play in this one.
|11-18-16||UNLV v. Boise State OVER 66||Top||25-42||Win||100||75 h 7 m||Show|
The set-up: UNLV is 3-6 and heading for another season without going ‘bowling,’ something Las Vegas fans have grown accustomed to. The Rebels have been to just four bowls in school history, including two since 2000. However, UNLV did Boise State a YUGE favor last Saturday, with a 69-66 triple-overtime home victory over Wyoming. That result revived the Broncos’ chances in the Mountain Division of the MWC conference. The 9-1 Broncos, who are currently the highest ranked Group of 5 school in the CFP rankings (at No. 20) but they are far from a lock to play in the MWC title game, tied with New Mexico and Wyoming at 5-1 UNLV: UNLV rolled up 653 yards of total offense, the second most in school history, and just pummeled the Cowboys rush D, running for 401 yards on 6.3 YPC. Junior QB Kurt Palandech made his first start of the season and excelled by accounting for four TDs (three passing, one rushing) while establishing career highs for passing yardage (252) and rushing yardage (157). He will get the start again here but UNLV’s lone pass-catching threat, Devonte Boyd (45 receptions for 746 yards and four TDs), was lost for the season with a broken left arm. Nobody else on the Rebels has more than 13 receptions or reached the modest total of 200 receiving yards. Boise State: The Broncos have a quality QB in Brett Rypien (65.0% / 2,916 yards / 22-6 ratio) and a superb RB in Jeremy McNichols, who has run for 1.369 yards (fifth nationally) on 5.7 YPC with 18 TDs. He’s added 31 catches on 13.8 YPC with four TDs.His 22 TDs are tops in the nation. Unlike UNLV, Boise State owns two quality WRs in senior Thomas Sperbeck (62 catches for 1,023 yards) and junior Cedrick Wilson (44 for 827), who have both own nine TD receptions. The pick: Typically, a team traveling back from Hawaii is at a disadvantage (like Boise State is here) but that’s negated by UNLV coming off its stunning triple-OT win a vs. Wyoming, which was the third-highest scoring game in FBS history. UNLV intends to run the ball a lot and that could pose a problem for the Broncos who allowed a whopping 382 to New Mexico earlier this season. Also, the Broncos have just seven takeaways (five interceptions, two fumbles) on the season, tied for 126th nationally out of 128 FBS schools. That means the Rebels should score and no way Boise State doesn’t get its fair share against a UNLV defense that allowed this Boise State team 55 points on 705 yards last year in Las Vegas. Here on that famous “Blue Turf,” the Over is a 10* play.
|11-16-16||Ball State v. Toledo UNDER 66.5||Top||19-37||Win||100||25 h 8 m||Show|
The set-up: Toledo is 8-2 overall (5-1 in the MAC West) as it gets set to host Ball State (4-6 overall, 1-5 in the MAC West) on Wednesday night at the Glass Bowl. Toledo football has maintained a winning standard for seven seasons (from 2010 through the current season of 2016) through three head-coaching changes and the departure of countless players. The Rockets have won nine games three times since 2010 and 10 games once but Toledo has not won a MAC championship since 2004. In fact, Toledo has yet to even reach a MAC title game since that 2004 championship year. Ball State won 12 games back in 2008 and 10 games in 2013 but needs to win its final two games of 2016 to avoid a third consecutive losing season (Cardinals were 5-7 and 3-9 the last two seasons). Ball State: The Cardinals visit Toledo off a heartbreaking loss a week ago Tuesday at home to Eastern Michigan. Ball State jumped out to a 21-3 lead early, rallied after falling behind 40-28, and ultimately landed on the wrong side of a 48-41 final. Eastern Michigan reached bowl eligibility for the first time in nearly two decades by virtue of the win, while Ball State needs to win its final two games to get bowl eligible after a two-year drought. The Cardinals' best bet to stay competitive with Toledo is to establish RB James Gilbert (1,196 yards on 5.4 YPC with 12 TDs) early, then throw in some low-risk passes to keep the Toledo defense honest. However, Gilbert suffered a leg injury against the Eagles and is listed as questionable. QB Neal runs well (359 rushing yards and 7 TDs) but is a mediocre thrower at best, passing for a modest 2,093 yards (Ball St. ranks 70th in passing yards) with 10 TDs and 11 INTs. The Ball State defense allows 30.3 PPG (78th). Toledo: The Rockets own excellent offensive balance, as QB Logan Woodside completes 70.8% for 3,328 yards with 37 TDs and just six INTs. Those numbers rank among CFBs best. He's averaging more passing yards per game than Baker Mayfield (Okla.), has more TD passes than Patrick Mahomes (TT), and has a better touchdown-to-interception ratio than Luke Falk (Wash. St.). RB Kareem Hunt has 1,048 yards on the ground, averaging 5.2 YPC with 7 TDs. The Toledo defense has done a nice job this year, holding opponents to 22.9 PPG (34th). The pick: Toledo’s only losses have come on a last second FG by BYU in a 55-53 defeat and a five-point home loss to Ohio (the Bobcats’ first win in Toledo since 1967!). Toledo needs to win here so when it travels to MAC West-leading and No. 14-ranked Western Michigan the day after Thanksgiving, the winner of that contest would be off to the MAC championship game. However, Ball State may not be a pushover, as five of Ball State’s six losses have been decided by 10 points or less. Toledo may play this “close to the vest” and my play is a 10* on the Under.
|11-12-16||Army v. Notre Dame OVER 51.5||Top||6-44||Loss||-107||96 h 45 m||Show|
The set-up: The Fighting Irish played Texas in Austin to open their 2016 season back on Labor Day night. Notre Dame was No. 10 in the AP’s preseason poll and lost to unranked Texas (coming off a 5-7 season) in a thrilling 50-47 double-OT contest. How the mighty have fallen, as Note Dame enters this game 3-6 and would need to win out over its final three games just to become bowl-eligible. Notre Dame comes into this contest against Army at San Antonio off a 28-27 loss last Saturday to Navy in Jacksonville. It marked just Notre Dame’s fourth loss to Navy since 1963. Army comes in 5-4 and the Black Knights are one away from that coveted sixth win and academy’s first bowl berth since 2010 (previous one before that was 1996!). Notre Dame: Brian Kelly was sitting atop the college football world back in 2012 when he led the Irish to a 12-0 regular season and a berth in the BCS championship game against Alabama. ND was outclassed in that contest (lost 42-14 and it wasn’t as close as the final score) and while the school has been bowling each of the last three years since that title-game loss, the school’s three-year run from 2013 through 2015 of 27-12 is good but hardly special. 2016 has been a frustrating season, but QB Kizer is completing 60.4% for 2,261 yards with 19 TDs and 7 INTs. He’s completed 67.7% the last two games, throwing five TDs without an INT. Notre Dame’s defense is hardly a vintage group, allowing 27.7 PPG (67th). Army: Head coach Jeff Monken has done a great job of bringing this program back to prominence, as army will go ‘bowling’ with one more win. Army struggled to get its vaunted rushing attack going in a 31-12 loss to Air Force last Saturday but the Black Knights still rank third in the nation, averaging 320.3 YPG on the ground. Despite often being out-sized, Army’s defense ranks 13th in points allowed (18.1 per) on 288.1 YPG (5th). The pick: The Fighting Irish have claimed 14 straight meetings with Army but the schools have played just twice since 1998 and last met in 2010. Army's last win in the series was a 14-2 triumph at Notre Dame back in 1958! Notre Dame didn’t come close to stopping Navy’s option-offense last week, allowing 320 rushing yards, which is the same amount of rushing yards Army average per game. I believe Army can trade scores with Notre Dame and the Black Knights will have to if they expect to win, as Kizer and Notre Dame should score quite a bit in this one. The Over is a 10* play.
|11-11-16||Boston College v. Florida State OVER 48||Top||7-45||Win||100||76 h 45 m||Show|
The set-up: Florida State lost 37-34 to Clemson on October 29th, falling to 5-3 on the season and to No. 19 in the AP poll. FSU then found themselves down 20-10 at NC State in the late third quarter last Saturday. A loss would likely mean the Seminoles would drop out of the next AP poll, ending a streak of 79 consecutive weeks in the rankings. A second straight defeat would also mark the first time FSU had lost back-to-back games since the 2011 season, a span of 71 games! However, Dalvin Cook ran for a 10-yard TD on the final pay of the third quarter and the Seminoles added a 4th-quarter TD as well, to pull out a 24-20. Streaks intact! 6-3 FSU (No. 20 in the AP poll and 18 in the CFP rankings) hosts 4-5 (1-5 in ACC play) Boston College on Friday night. Boston College: The Eagles kept finding ways to lose conference games, following up last year's 0-for-the-ACC (eight games) with four league losses this year. Boston College finally ended its 12-game ACC slide with a 21-14 win at NC State on October 29 but the Eagles could not follow up their first ACC victory versus Louisville, allowing Heisman Trophy-favorite Lamar Jackson 416 total yards and seven TDs accounted for in a 52-7 loss. BC’s offense is a work in progress, as QB Patrick Towles has completed only 51 percent of his passes for 1,293 yards (8 TDs / 6 INTs) and the Eagles rank only 88th in the nation in rushing yards (157.6 YPG) on 3.7 YPC. However, despite the Louisville blowout, the defense is giving up 26.2 PPG(57th) on 322.1 YPG (14th), including only 106.1 YPG on the ground, which ranks 8th. Florida State: Freshman QB Deondre Francois has been sacked 26 times but overall, has had a pretty solid season. He’s completed 60.0 percent of his passes for 2,492 yards and while he’s thrown a modest 12 TD passes, he has just four INTs on 295 attempts, an excellent ratio for a first-year starter. The rushing attack ranks 49th with 190.9 YPG (4.8 YPC), led by Dalvin Cook’s 1,134 yards (5.8 YPC) with 12 TDs. The FSU defense is hardly a vintage unit, allowing 28.8 PPG (72nd) on 411.1 YPG (73rd).Cook owns 3,833 yards through three seasons and the junior is now 127 yards away from breaking Warrick Dunn’s record of career rushing yards (it’s a 20-year-old). Cook averages 126 YPG, so look out! The set-up: The Seminoles will be hosting a Friday game in Tallahassee for only the second time ever, and for the first since 1957. As noted above, this year’s FSU defense is not a vintage group (for reference, the team’s 2013 unit sent all 11 starters to the NFL!). I realize that BC's offense ranks 122nd in scoring (19.4 PPG) and 126th on 312.1 YPG but I see them putting up some points here. Cook has struggled against Boston College's defense the last two seasons but he'll be highly motivated with Dunn's record easilly attainable. Deondre Francois may not be Lamar Jackson but note that FSU is averaging 36.6 PPG this season in Tallahassee and I expect them to exceed that here, making the Over a 10* play.
|11-09-16||Bowling Green v. Akron UNDER 72||Top||38-28||Win||100||30 h 18 m||Show|
The set-up: The Bowling Green Falcons have dominated the MAC East under head coaches Dave Clawson and Dino Babers the last few years, reaching three consecutive MAC championship games. However, there will certainly not be a fourth straight title game appearance for Bowling Green, as the 1-8 Falcons have taken a monster step back under first-year head coach Mike Jinks. They are winless both in conference play and in fact, against all FBS competition, with the school’s lone win coming 27-26 over North Dakota back on Sept. 10. Akron is 5-5 overall and 3-3 in MAC East play. One more win earns the team bowl eligibility, which is no small feat. After all, last season’s 23-21 bowl win over Utah St. was the school’s first-ever bowl victory in just the school’s second-ever bowl appearance. Bowling Green: Falcons freshman QB James Morgan has a bright future ahead of him, as 13 of his 14 TD passes on the season have come in the team’s last four games, where he’s averaged 300.3 YPG through the air. He’ll face an Akron defense which is highly vulnerable, allowing 35.6 PPG (110th) on 497.0 YPG (121st). However, BG’s defense is a mess, ranking last (128th) among all FBS schools in allowing 45.1 PPG on 505.3 YPG (122nd). If things weren’t already bad enough for Bowling Green, the Falcons have committed 26 turnovers, second-most behind Kansas’ 29. QBs James Morgan and James Knapke have combined for 22 interceptions, the most of any one team in the nation. Akron: QB Thomas Woodson has thrown for nearly 2,076 yards, despite missing two games in MAC play with a shoulder injury. Prior to the injury, Woodson had three games with at least three TD passes but he's yet to break that mark since returning. He’ll go up against the sieve-like Bowling Green defense, which is allowing 278.2 YPG (122nd) through the air. The Zips’ MAC East title hopes are not yet ‘dead’ but back-to-back losses have put Akron in a tough spot. Making matters worse, the Zips weren’t all that competitive in either contest. Buffalo hadn’t won a conference game until beating Akron, 41-20 on Oct. 27, and Toledo outscored the Zips 45-7 over the final three quarters in a blowout 48-17 victory Nov. 2. However, the Zips can still win the East with some help. Akron must win here and would then need an Ohio U loss on Nov. 15th at Central Michigan. That would set up a showdown with the Bobcats in the regular-season finale on Nov. 22nd at home. The pick: This seems like it should (will?) be a high scoring game and I wouldn’t argue against that but just how high scoring is the question? Akron can’t control what happens with Ohio next week but a win here not only gets them bowl-eligible (again, a big deal) but keeps them alive for a shot at the MAC title game, at least until the result comes in from the Ohio U/Central Michigan contest in Mount Pleasant on Nov 15th. This over/under number is YUGE and the Under is an 8* play.
|11-05-16||Tulane v. Central Florida OVER 49.5||Top||6-37||Loss||-107||95 h 28 m||Show|
The set-up: From 2009 through 2014., UCF made five bowl appearances in six years but coming off a 9-4 season in 2014, went 0-12 in 2015. Meanwhile, after ending a bowl drought which extended back to 2012 by going to the New Orleans Bowl in 2013, Tulane regressed to past form by going 3-9 in both 2014 and 2015. Both schools made coaching changes prior to the 2016 season and when the two teams meet in Orlando on Saturday (a game rescheduled from Oct. 7 due to Hurricane Matthew), Tulane checks in at 3-5 overall (although 0-4 in AAC play) and UCF brings a 4-4 overall record into the game (2-2 in AAC play). Tulane: Willie Fritz was the head coach at University of Central Missouri from 1997 to 2009, before moving to Sam Houston State University from 2010 to 2013, where he led the Bearkats to back-to-back national title game appearances in 2011 and 2012. He was the head coach at Georgia Southern University in 2014 and 2015, going 9-3 and 8-4. Last year’s team earned a bowl berth but he accepted the Tulane job before coaching the team in it. He’s quickly turned the Tulane offense around, as after averaging 16.0 and 19.7 PPG in 2014 and 2015, the Green Wave have averaged 28.4 PPG in 2016, despite being held to 14 points or less in three of eight games. Fritz has yet to win a conference game but it’s coming. UCF: Scott Frost was given his first-ever head coaching job at UCF prior to the 2016 season and ended the Knight’s 13-game losing streak with a 38-0 season-opening home win over South Carolina State. The Knights take the field 4-4 (2-2 in AAC play) and like Tulane, have turned things around offensively, averaging 31.1 PPG, after averaging only 13.9 PPG in 2015’s winless season. The Knights are kicking off a three-game homestand with this game on Saturday and would probably need to win all three to keep their division title hopes alive going into the finale at USF. That’s an unlikely scenario but reaching six wins to become bowl-eligible is reasonably attainable. The pick: UCF has failed to score more than 25 points in any of its last three games (has scored 24 twice and 25 once) but in its two previous contests, had rolled to 53- and 47-point efforts. Tulane visit Orlando having allowed 85 points in consecutive losses but has also scored 58 points in those two games. By game’s end, this over/under number should be in “the rearview mirror.” The Over is a 10* play.
|11-02-16||Toledo v. Akron UNDER 72||Top||48-17||Win||100||27 h 35 m||Show|
The set-up: November MACtion continues on Wednesday night as the Toledo Rockets (6-2 overall, 3-1 in the MAC West) travel to Akron to take on the Zips (5-4 overall, 3-2 in the MAC East). Both schools are coming off losses, Toledo losing at home to Ohio 31-26 and Akron coming off a loss 41-20 at Buffalo. This game qualifies as what could be described as the first knockout game of the MAC football season, as the loser will be all but mathematically out of their division race. The all-time series between Akron and Toledo is tied at nine victories apiece but the Zips have claimed two out of the last three meetings in this series. Toledo: The Rockets hosted Ohio last Thursday at 6-1, having lost only to BYU 55-53 back on Sept. 30 when the Cougars kicked the game-winning FG with no time remaining on the clock. QB Logan Woodside threw for 438 yards (three TDs and 1 INT), leading the Rockets to 560 yards of total offense but Toledo’s usually stingy defense allowed Ohio U 512 yards, including 212 rushing yards by Dorian Brown.The Rockets average 39.4 PPG (19th) on 544.4 YPG (4th), led by Woodside who has completed 71.0% for 2,715 yards with 31 TDs and 5 INTs. Despite ‘ugly’ efforts against BYU and Ohio U, Toledo’s defense allows 23.5 PPG (39th) on 377.0 YPG (42nd). Akron: The Zips average 31.2 PPG (51st) on 400.6 YPG (72nd) while the defense has allowed 34.2 PPG (1208t) on 483.1 YPG (118th). Akron QB Woodson is not in the class of Toledo’s Woodside, completing 62.0% for 1,763 yards with 16 TDs and 5 INTs, and the team's running game averages 135.3 YPG (109th) on 4.5 YPC. Meanwhile, Kareem Hunt (790 yards on 4.7 YPC) leads a Toledo running game averaging 197.2 YPG. That’s bad news against an Akron defense allowing 228.7 YPG (112th). Terry Bowden took over a school which had gone 1-11 in back-to-back seasons and went 1-11 in his first season. Two 5-7 seasons followed but he led Akron to an 8-5 season, including a bowl win, the school’s second-ever bowl appearance. The pick: As noted at the top, the loser can pretty much kiss their respective diviosn titles goodbye. Yes, Akron has won two of the last three meetings but none of those matchups have come over the previous two seasons, when Toledo went 9-4 and 10-2. The Rockets are an excellent road team, having won nine of their last 10 true road contests. Let me also point out that Toledo’s games at BYU and last week at home against Ohio U are truly outliers. In Toledo's other six games here in 2016, the Rockets are allowing a modest 17.0 PPG on 320.0 YPG, which mirrors a team which allowed 20.0 PPG in going 10-2 in 2015. The Under is an 8* play.
|10-29-16||New Mexico v. Hawaii UNDER 65.5||Top||28-21||Win||100||103 h 1 m||Show|
The set-up: Hawaii opened 1-3 but with Dru Brown, a sophomore transfer from College of San Mateo taking over at starting QB, Hawaii has won three of four MWC games to even its record at 4-4. New Mexico is 4-3 overall (2-1 in MWC play) and will travel to Honolulu for a late Saturday night game. The Lobos sit one game behind Boise St and Wyoming (both 3-0) in the Mountain Division, while the 3-1 Rainbow Warriors trail 3-0 San Diego State (which plays Friday night at Utah St) in the West Division. New Mexico QB Lamar Jordan is not asked to do much through the air (Lobos average a meager 110.1 YPG passing) but he can sure direct the team's option offense, one which leads the nation with 374.1 YPG on the ground, averaging 6.9 YPC. Four players have more than 300 rushing yards so far, including Jordan with 333 (5.5 YPC). Owens has 687 yards on 7.8 YPC, while Gipson has 623 yards on an amazing 13.0 YPC. McQuarly may have a modest 341 rushing yards on 4.9 YPC but he’s the TD leader with 10 rushing scores. New Mexico needs to score to win, as the defense allows 33.9 PPG (106th). Brown’s averaged 259.5 YPG through the air with nine TDs and just two INTs in leading Hawaii to a 3-1 start in conference play. Hawaii surely can’t match New Mexico success at running the ball but Diocemy Saint Juste (614 yards on 6.0 YPC) leads a rushing attack averaging 183.0 YPG on 5.2 YPC. Fellow RBs Harris (328 yards on 7.1 YPC) and Lakalaka (317 yards but 10 TDs), are nice complements. Hawaii’s defense is an issue, allowing 37.4 PPG (120th) on 477.8 YPG (118th). The pick: The Lobos’ starting QB Jordan is suffering from a hamstring injury and with backup Austin Apodaca still recovering from a collarbone fracture, JaJuan Lawson could get the start. The sophomore has attempted just five passes and run only 12 times in limited action over three games. Just maybe, New Mexico’s option will not be at peak efficiency. The Rainbow Warriors took to the air in beating Air Force last week but more use of the team's trio of RBs (see above) could control the ball and eat some clock. My 10* play is on the Under.
|10-29-16||Cincinnati v. Temple UNDER 54||Top||13-34||Win||100||95 h 42 m||Show|
The set-up: Cincinnati is 4-3 overall (1-3 in AAC play) as the Bearcats visit Temple (5-3 / 3-1) on Saturday afternoon. The Bearcats have been postseason regulars, having made 14 bowl appearances since 1997, including all three years under current head coach Tommy Tuberville. However, while Cincinnati needs only two wins to reach six victories to go bowling again this season, the path will be difficult with road games at Temple (here) and UCF (11/12) plus home games against BYU (11/5) and Memphis 11/18) still left among the team's final five games. Temple’s Matt Ruhle led the Owls to a 10-4 season last year and pleased all in Philly when he decided to not seek greener pastures. Down 25-7 in the first half at UCF on Oct. 15, Temple shut out the Knights in the second half and won 26-25, with the game-winning TD pass coming with one second remaining. Temple followed with a 46-30 pasting of USF last Saturday, rushing for 319 yards. Cincinnati: The Bearcats ended a two-game slide with their first AAC win of the season last week, beating East Carolina 31-19. Former starter Gunner Kiel returned to the lineup at QB after losing his job and passed for 348 yards and four TDs (who expected that?). The Cincy defense held an opponent under 20 points for the first time since opening the season with a 28-7 win over UT-Martin but all in all, the defense has been pretty decent, allowing 24.4 PPG on the year. However, after averaging 30-plus PGG over each of the last five season, this year’s team is averaging just 24.1 PPG. Temple: With back-to-back league wins over UCF and USF, Temple is back in position for a second-straight trip to the AAC title games (lost last season at Houston). The Owls are tied atop the East with South Florida at 3-1 and would love for Navy to upend USF Friday night in Tampa. The Owls can’t control that outcome of that but Temple now owns the tiebreaker over the Bulls with last week’s win, so it’s just a matter of controlling one’s own destiny. RB Ryquell Armstead ran for a career-best 210 yards last week and starting QB Philip Walker did not throw an interception for just the second time this season. The pick: After back-to-back important wins, I expect Temple to play this one close to the vest, not asking Walker, a limited passer at best, to do too much, while depending on the team's very good RB duo of Armstead (613 yards / 9 TDs) and Jahad Thomas (413 yards / 9 TDs). Kiel lost his starting job earlier for a good reason, he hadn’t played well. I don’t expect him to come anywhere close to playing as well as he did last week, against a solid Temple defense, allowing 321.5 YPG to rank 16th in the nation. The Under is an 8* play.
|10-28-16||San Diego State v. Utah State OVER 44||Top||40-13||Win||100||76 h 18 m||Show|
The set-up: San Diego State ended the 2015 season on a 10-game winning streak, finishing 11-3 after a 42-7 win over Cincinnati in the Hawaii Bowl. The Aztecs opened the 2016 season with three more wins, as SDSU rose to 19th in the AP poll. However, a 42-24 loss at South Alabama on October 1st saw the Aztecs fall from the rankings. However, the Aztecs visit Utah State Friday night 6-1 overall and atop the West Division of the MWC at 3-0. Utah State is hoping for a sixth straight bowl appearance but has some work to do, sitting at 3-4 overall and at 1-3, is tied for last-place with Air Force in the Mountain Division of the MWC. San Diego State: The Aztecs are averaging 32.4 PPG (50th) led by a running game averaging 252.7 YPG (14th) on 5.3 YPC. RB Donnel Pumphrey ran for just 98 yards in the team’s opener against New Hampshire but has topped 100 yards in each of SDSU’s last six games (he now owns 28, 100-yard games in his career), including two efforts of over 200 yards. He has 1,246 yards (6.5 YPC) and 13 rushing TDs here in 2016. QB Chapman completes 64.0 percent but averages only 164.4 YPG passing with nine TDs but also has thrown only three INTs. The SDSU defense has been very good, despite an ‘ugly’ effort in the loss to South Alabama. The Aztecs are allowing just 17.6 PPG (13th) on 285.7 YPG (5th). Utah State: Gary Andersen began the turnaround in Logan, earning bowl bids in 2011 and 2012 for the Aggies, the school’s first since 1997. He then left for Wisconsin with his assistant, Matt Wells, taking over at his alma mater. Wells has continued Utah State’s rebirth and has extended the school’s bowl run to five in a row. A sixth straight bowl berth is in question, as without a win here (Utah State is about a six-point dog), the Aggies would need to win three of their final four games to reach six wins, with three of those four coming on the road. Junior QB Kent Myers is a dual threat, as he’s second on the team in rushing attempts (73) and third in rushing yards (272). Myers leads the MWC in completions per game (20.1), completing 59.0 percent for 1,480 yards but with just seven TDs (four interceptions). The running game averages 178.1 YPG (59th) on 4.9 YPC and Devante Mays (208 yards in the opener), who has been out most of the season with a leg injury, appears ready to return.Utah State’s defense is allowing 24.3 PPG (46th) on 359.6 YPG (35th). The pick: SDSU is the better team and Pumphrey one of CFB’s most overlooked stars, as he currently ranks 9th on the NCAA’s all-time rushing list (barring injury, he should close his career in the top-5). However, winning in Logan is no easy task. Consider this, Utah State is 26-4 in its last 30 home games, which includes a 17-2 record in MWC games. Utah State should be more than competitive in this one and with a fairly low total (for a CFB game), the Over is a 10* play.