|Date||Match Up||Rating||Score||Result||Profit||Lead Time||Analysis|
|09-13-18||Boston College v. Wake Forest +7||41-34||Push||0||52 h 13 m||Show|
15* Boston College/Wake Forest ACC ANNIHILATOR on Wake Forest +7
The Wake Forest Demon Deacons just get no respect. They went 8-5 last season and 8-3-2 ATS in their 13 games. Dave Clawson has now gotten the Demon Deacons to back-to-back bowl games. They are well on their way to another bowl game after their 2-0 start in Clawson’s 5th season.
The Demon Deacons returned 14 starters this season. Eight starters are back on an offense that set a school record with 454 points last year while averaging 35.3 points and 466 yards per game. They were competitive in every single game last season due to the offense and did not get beat by more than 14 points all season.
All five starters and a whopping 132 career starts returned along the offensive line in what will be one of the ACC’s top O-Lines. Each of the top two receivers are back from last year in Greg Dortch (53 receptions, 722 yards, 9 TD) and Scotty Washington (45, 711, 3 TD), as is leading rusher Matt Colburn (904 yards, 7 TD). That has helped ease the transition of highly touted freshman QB Sam Hartman.
The offense is in high gear already as the Demon Deacons have averaged 37 points and 565 yards per game in wins over Tulane and Towson. They beat Tulane 23-17 in a game that was a bigger blowout than the final score showed. They outgained Tulane by 112 yards, and that’s a Tulane team that went on to beat FCS power Nicholls State 42-17 the following week. Nicholls State upset Kansas on the road in Week 1. Wake Forest then handled Towson 51-20 in Week 2.
Hartman is completing 61.5% of his passes for 620 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions, while also rushing for 128 yards and a score on 5.8 per carry. And he hasn’t even had the services of Washington yet, who missed the two games with a shoulder injury and is questionable tonight. Dortch leads the way with 19 receptions for 243 yards and Sage Surratt has 15 receptions for 213 yards.
Boston College is a team that everyone and their brother has jumped on this season as being a team that could contend in the ACC. While I agree they should be good, the love has gotten out of control, especially after a 2-0 start against weak competition in UMass and Holy Cross. Now the Eagles are being asked to go on the road and win by a touchdown or more to cover this spread this week, and I feel like it’s too much. I think Wake wins this game outright.
That’s precisely what happened last year as Wake Forest dominated Boston College 34-10 on the road. The Demon Deacons forced four turnovers and held Boston College to 305 total yards. Boston College has only beaten Wake Forest by more than 6 points on the road once in the last seven trips to Winston-Salem. That was a 10-point victory back in 2010.
Plays on underdogs of 3.5 to 10 points (Wake Forest) - in a game involving two dominant teams that are outgaining their opponents by 100-plus yards per game, after gaining 475 or more total yards in two consecutive games are 28-5 (84.8%) ATS over the last five seasons.
Wake Forest is 11-2 ATS in its last 13 games as an underdog. Clawson is 14-3 ATS off a win by 21 or more points in all games he has coached. Clawson is 9-1 ATS off two consecutive games with a turnover margin of -1 or worse in all games he has coached. They only had 13 turnovers all of last season, and now they have 5 already this season. It has been a point of emphasis in practice this week for Clawson. Look for a big effort from the Demon Deacons at home tonight. Take Wake Forest Thursday.
|09-08-18||Fresno State v. Minnesota -1.5||14-21||Win||100||34 h 34 m||Show|
15* CFB Saturday Non-Conference KNOCKOUT on Minnesota -1.5
I’m buying Minnesota being vastly improved this season in Year 2 under P.J. Fleck, who is one of the most underrated head coaches in the country. What he did at Western Michigan two years ago goes without saying. And now he’s trying to rebuild Minnesota football into a Big Ten contender.
Fleck now has more of his players in place after a 5-7 campaign in his first season. He has 14 returning starters to work with. The Gophers can only be better offensively as they return seven starters, their leading rusher, top two receivers and four starters along the offensive line. That makes life on freshman QB Zack Annexstad much easier.
Fleck turned an inexperienced defense that returned just five starters last year into one of the Big Ten’s best units. The Gophers only allowed 22.8 points and 347 yards per game in 2017. Now they return seven starters, led by leading tackler Thomas Barber (115 tackles, 10.5 for loss last year) at linebacker. This is an experienced unit that has nine junior and senior starters. One of the sophomores is Antoine Winfield, who got a medical redshirt and will be one of the best safeties in the Big Ten.
Minnesota was sharp in its 48-10 season-opening victory over New Mexico State as 21.5-point favorites, covering the spread by 16.5 points. Annexstad threw for 220 yards and two touchdowns in his first career start. The Gophers rushed for 300 yards and 6.5 per carry. Winfield made his presence felt with a 76-yard punt return TD that blew the game wide open.
I backed Fresno State several times last season. I saw the improvement coming from Jeff Tedford, the former Cal coach, and he did a remarkable job. The Bulldogs finished 10-4 and lost to Boise State by only a field goal in the Mountain West Championship Game. They went on to beat Houston 33-27 in their bowl game.
Now Fresno State returns 15 starters and is on everyone’s radar. The betting public is quick to back this team, but I think the love for them is too much right now. That’s especially the case off a 79-13 win over FCS bottom feeder Idaho. That game was much closer than the final score as the Bulldogs only outgained them by 181 yards but shockingly won the turnover battle 7-0.
Now Fresno State is basically being asked to go into enemy territory against a quality Big Ten opponent and win the game straight up just to cover. I’m not buying it. I’ll gladly take Minnesota at this price and watch the Golden Gophers steamroll this Group of 5 squad.
Minnesota is 9-1 ATS in its last 10 games after allowing 40 or less rushing yards last game. Fleck is 17-6 ATS in non-conference games as a head coach. Tedford is 10-23 ATS when the line is +3 to -3 in all games as a head coach. Bet Minnesota Saturday.
|09-08-18||Kentucky v. Florida -13.5||27-16||Loss||-107||33 h 24 m||Show|
15* SEC PLAY OF THE DAY on Florida -13.5
Florida should be one of the most improved teams in the country in 2018. The Gators are coming off a 4-7 disaster. They lost their starting RB, top WR and eight other players to suspension prior to the season. None of those suspended players returning. They were also decimated by injuries and had no depth. They were without 28 scholarship players and their head coach by the end of the season.
Now Dan Mullen steps into a great situation. Florida has 19 returning starters and gets some of those suspended players back. Mullen did an underrated job at Mississippi State, taking the Bulldogs to seven bowl games in his nine seasons. He was the perfect hire for Florida and exactly the guy that can get them back into SEC title contention.
Florida owns the longest series win streak in the nation with 31 consecutive wins over Kentucky. That streak was in jeopardy last year as the Gators trailed 24-14, but Felipe Franks took over for an injured Luke Del Rio at that point. Franks led two touchdown drives in the final eight minutes and Kentucky missed a potential game-winning field goal, with the Gators prevailing 28-27.
Last time in Gainesville, Florida rolled Kentucky 45-7. The Gators led 45-0 until garbage time and outgained the Wildcats 564-149. I think we get back to seeing the kind of dominance we expect from Florida in this rivalry in 2018.
Kentucky is just 2-10 in its last 12 SEC road openers. Kentucky lost their left tackle Landon Young in the season opener and don’t have much of a veteran presence this season. The Wildcats are only the 102nd-most experienced team in the country, so this is a young roster. Dan Mullen went 8-1 against Kentucky while at Mississippi State, playing them every year.
Kentucky wasn’t very impressive in its opener, failing to cover as 17.5-point favorites in a 35-20 home win over an inexperienced, rebuilding Central Michigan team. The quarterback play was very shaky as the Wildcats break in a new QB this year. The combo of Terry Wilson and Gunnar Hoak went 15-of-27 passing for just 128 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions in the win. They have more questions than answers heading into Week 2 at QB. Whoever is under center is going to have to make plays with their arm to hang with Florida, and I just don’t think they are capable.
Conversely, Florida handled its business, winning 53-6 as 43-point favorites against Charleston Southern. Franks threw for 219 yards and 5 touchdowns in the win. He suddenly looks like a star in the making as a sophomore. Charleston Southern QB’s went just 5-of-16 passing for 3 yards against Florida.
Kentucky is 2-8 ATS in its last 10 games overall. The Gators are 9-2 ATS in the last 11 meetings. Plays on favorites of 10.5 to 21 points (Florida) - after gaining 6.25 or more yards per play in their previous game, with 9 or more offensive starters returning are 57-25 (69.5%) ATS over the last five seasons. Roll with Florida Saturday.
|09-08-18||Baylor -16 v. UTSA||37-20||Win||100||33 h 55 m||Show|
15* CFB Saturday Big Chalk BLOWOUT on Baylor -16
Baylor should be one of the most improved teams in the country in 2018. Matt Rhule enters his second season and is another year removed from the tumultuous offseason from 2016. Rhule loves a challenge, and I think he starts seeing some of the fruits of his labor in 2018.
Baylor went just 1-11 last season, but took both Oklahoma (41-49) and West Virginia (34-38) to the wire. The Bears were more competitive than their record showed. Now they have a whopping 17 starters and 52 lettermen returning this season, while losing just 15 lettermen. Rhule has cleaned house and now has his players in place moving forward.
Baylor rolled Abilene Christian 55-27 in its opener. The Bears racked up 606 total yards, including 295 rushing and 8.2 per carry. QB Charlie Brewer, who completed 68.4% of his passes with an 11-to-4 TD/INT ratio last season, got banged up in the win. They took him out for precautionary reasons, but he is expected back healthy this week.
UTSA had a solid team the last two years, going 6-7 in 2016 and 6-5 in 2017. But they lose a lot of players from those teams as they have just 10 returning starters this season. They had to replace a ton of seniors from last year and are actually just the 128th-most experienced team in the country this season.
I think we saw that inexperience in the opener. UTSA was blitzed 7-49 by Arizona State. They managed just 220 total yards and committed three turnovers in the loss. And that was an Arizona State team going through change and a new head coach in Herm Edwards. I think Baylor is better than Arizona State this season, and the Bears should be much bigger than 16-point favorites in this matchup.
Plays on road favorites (Baylor) - after gaining 275 or more rushing yards last game against an opponent that was outrushed by 125 or more yards last game are 42-13 (76.4%) ATS over the last five seasons. Rhule is a perfect 7-0 ATS all-time after leading in their previous game by 17 points or more at the half in all games as a head coach. Take Baylor Saturday.
|09-08-18||Ball State +34.5 v. Notre Dame||Top||16-24||Win||100||30 h 35 m||Show|
25* CFB Non-Conference GAME OF THE YEAR on Ball State +34.5
Ball State has the makings of one of the most improved teams in the country. They went just 2-10 last season with 11 starters back, but now they have 16 starters back in 2018 and should challenge for a bowl game.
The biggest problem for Ball State last year was that QB Riley Neal started the first three games but then was knocked out with a season-ending injury. And the Cardinals opened 2-1 with their only loss coming 21-24 at Illinois as 6-point underdogs. They also lost RB James Gilbert after two games. Well, Neal and Gilbert are both back healthy to guide the offense this season.
Both players were on their game in their season-opening 42-6 victory over Central Connecticut State as 19.5-point favorites, covering by 16.5 points. Neal went 23-of-30 passing for 259 yards and two touchdowns, while also rushing for 37 yards and a score. Gilbert had 100 yards rushing and a touchdown on 14 carries. This is certainly a team to look out for this season.
This is an awful spot for Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish opened the season with arguably their biggest game of the year, and they beat Michigan 24-17. Now they are primed for a letdown the falling week as they will have been patted on the back all week leading up to this game. They won’t have 100% focus for Ball State.
But the Fighting Irish only managed 302 total yards in the win, and their offense is going to hold them back again this year. They don’t have the kind of offense that is built to cover massive numbers like this 34.5-point spread. They are a power-running team that needs to control time of possession because Brandon Wimbush isn’t a very good passer. He only completed 49.5% of his passes last season for 1,870 yards despite making 12 starts. He managed just 12-of-22 completions against Michigan.
The Cardinals are 8-1 ATS in their last nine non-conference games. Ball State is 7-1 ATS in its last eight vs. Independent opponents. The Cardinals are 54-26 ATS in their last 80 road games. The Fighting Irish are 1-4 ATS in their last five vs. a team with a winning record.
Plays on underdogs of 31.5 or more points (Ball State) - after outgunning their opponent by 175 or more total yards in their previous game are 32-7 (82.1%) ATS since 1992. This is way too many points. Bet Ball State Saturday.
|09-08-18||Rutgers +35.5 v. Ohio State||Top||3-52||Loss||-110||29 h 30 m||Show|
20* Big Ten GAME OF THE WEEK on Rutgers +35.5
Rutgers is a team I’m looking to back early and often. In fact, when I did my Top 10 season win total bets, Rutgers OVER 3.5 was high up on my list. I won with them last week as 16-point favorites in a 35-7 win over Texas State. I’m back on them for many of the same reasons this week.
Rutgers went 4-8 last year, but was more competitive and now enters Year 3 under head coach Chris Ash, which is when teams usually make their biggest improvements. The Scarlet Knights return 15 starters this season. They have seven back on offense and will be better, simply because freshman QB Artur Sitkowski is one of the top recruits in the country. He ran away with he job this fall and is one of the better young QB’s that not many folks know about.
The defense improved a ton last year, going from allowing 37.5 points per game in 2016 to 28.3 points per game in 2017. Now the defense returns eight starts and five of the six tacklers. Not only will this be Ash’s best defense yet, it will also be one of the better units in the Big Ten.
Rutgers outgained Texas State 423 to 169, or by 254 total yards. Sitkowski threw for 205 yards and a touchdown, but he was also picked off three times. Now that he has a game under his belt, he should be much more comfortable in Week 2. And the Scarlet Knights ran for 218 yards as a team, led by Boston College transfer Jon Hillman, who had 60 yards and two scores and adds a punch to this rushing attack.
I think Ohio State comes in overvalued off its 77-31 victory over Oregon State as 40-point favorites. Well, Oregon State is the worst team in the Power 5 outside of perhaps Kansas. And they managed to hang 31 points on the Buckeyes. Ohio State isn’t going to score 77 on Rutgers in this one. I’m anticipating Rutgers is good enough to hold the Buckeyes below 50, which will make it very difficult for them to cover this massive 35.5-point spread.
Ohio State is also in a big lookahead spot. The Buckeyes have a huge game at TCU on deck in their biggest non-conference game this season. I think they’ll be more than happy to get a win and pull the starters early in this one. They won’t be looking to run up the score like they were against Oregon State, especially since defensive coordinator Greg Schiano owes Rutgers a big thanks for getting his coaching career kick-started. Schiano and company will call off the dogs if necessary.
Ash is 6-0 ATS off a win as the coach of Rutgers. Urban Meyer teams are 4-12 ATS as a favorite of 31 or more points as the coach of Ohio State. Plays against home favorites of 31.5 or more points (Ohio State) who outgained their opponents by 1.5 or more yards per play, with 5 defensive starters returning are 23-5 (82.1%) ATS since 1992. Plays on underdogs of 31.5 or more points (Rutgers) - after outgaining their last opponent by 175 or more total yards are 32-7 (82.1%) ATS since 1992. Take Rutgers Saturday.
|09-08-18||Arkansas State +36.5 v. Alabama||7-57||Loss||-110||29 h 25 m||Show|
15* CFB Saturday Undervalued Underdog on Arkansas State +36.5
This is a situational play for me. Alabama just doesn’t cover these kinds of game. Since 2011, in their last 13 games as a favorite of at least 28 points against non-conference FBS opponents, Alabama just just 1-10-2 ATS.
I have cashed going against the Crimson Tide several times in this same scenario. I was also against them the one time they actually did cover two years ago as 43-point favorites in a 48-0 win over Kent State. But Kent State had a TD overturned on review late, otherwise they wouldn’t have covered that game, either.
The reason for their struggles in this spot is because they are usually in a letdown situation or a lookahead spot. In this case, it’s a letdown situation after their big win over Louisville last week, and they could be looking ahead to Ole Miss. Plus, Nick Saban just isn’t the type of coach to run it up on an opponent. He shows mercy, unless it’s an SEC rival.
Arkansas State is one of the better Group of 5 programs in the country. The Red Wolves have won five Sun Belt titles in the past seven seasons. They fell just short last year with a 25-32 loss to Troy. In fact, they went 7-5 last year and four of those five losses came by 7 points or fewer. They were in every game they played.
Now the Red Wolves welcome back 12 starters, and they biggest key is that they get their top three playmakers back on offense. Leading rusher Warren Wand and leading receiver Justin Mcinnis both return. But the key is getting senior QB Justice Hansen back. He threw for 3,967 yards and 37 touchdowns last year, while also rushing for 422 yards and seven scores. He will give Alabama some problems.
Arkansas State’s 48-21 win over SE Missouri State last week was a bigger blowout than the final score showed. The Red Wolves outgained them by 400 yards. They racked up 685 yards on offense, including 423 passing yards and six touchdowns from Hansen. They also gave up just 285 yards on defense. But they lost the turnover battle 3-0 to keep the score closer than it was, and gave up a meaningless TD with only 37 seconds left.
Plays on underdogs of 31.5 or more points (Arkansas State) - after outgaining opponent by 175 or more total yards in their previous game are 32-7 (82.1%) ATS since 1992. The Red Wolves are 14-6 ATS in their last 20 vs. a team with a winning record. The Crimson Tide are 0-5 ATS in their last five vs. Sun Belt opponents. Bet Arkansas State Saturday.
|09-08-18||Nevada v. Vanderbilt -8.5||10-41||Win||100||26 h 54 m||Show|
15* CFB Saturday No-Doubt Rout on Vanderbilt -8.5
The Vanderbilt Commodores just get no love every season, especially early in the year. They opened this season as only 3-point favorites over Middle Tennessee. They proceeded to crush the Blue Raiders 35-7, covering the spread by 25 points.
The Commodores held what was supposed to be an explosive MTSU offense to just one touchdown and 294 total yards. Now they’re up against another supposed high-powered Nevada offense, and I expect them to shut them down, too.
I like what Jay Norvell is doing at Nevada, making them a fun program to watch. It’s an offense that put up 28 points per game last season and got better as the season went on. But the defensive deficiencies are still there after allowing 34 points per game and 471 total yards per game last year.
I think Nevada is getting too much credit for its 72-19 shellacking of Portland State last week. Well, Portland State went 0-11 last season and is one of the worst teams in the FCS. Now Nevada will have to go up against SEC talent, and I believe Vanderbilt will have the talent edge at every position on the field.
Nevada is 0-4 against current SEC members all-time. The Wolf Pack are just 1-11 SU in true road games over the last two seasons. Vanderbilt is 15-2 SU when hosting non-conference opponents since 2011, and 10-2 SU when hosting Group of 5 teams since 2008.
Derek Mason is a perfect 6-0 ATS off a game with a turnover margin of +2 or better as the coach of the Commodores. The Wolf Pack are 1-5 ATS in their last six vs. a team with a winning record. Roll with Vanderbilt Saturday.
|09-07-18||TCU -22 v. SMU||Top||42-12||Win||100||12 h 56 m||Show|
20* TCU/SMU ESPN 2 Friday No-Brainer on TCU -22
The TCU Horned Frogs have one of the most underrated programs in the country. Gary Patterson just gets the most out of his players. What the Horned Frogs lack in talent, they make up for in guts and smarts. They have won at least 10 games three of the past four seasons.
The Horned Frogs have a stout defense every year, and that is the case again this season. They have six starters back on D from a unit that gave up just 19.0 points per game last season, which is mighty impressive in the Big 12. They should have the best defense in this conference once again.
I thought Kenny Hill was an erratic quarterback last year and held their offense back. But talented sophomore Shawn Robinson will be the signal caller this season and should be better than Hill was. The leading rusher (Darius Anderson) and leading receiver (Jalen Reagor) are both back this season to help out Robinson.
TCU beat Southern 55-7 in its opener. Robinson threw for 182 yards and three touchdowns, while also rushing for 45 yards and two scores on two carries before giving way to backup quarterbacks. They had 55 points by the end of the 3rd quarter before calling off the dogs.
SMU was a team I was high on under Chad Morris. He did a great job of getting them to a bowl last season and a 7-6 record overall. Now Morris is gone to Arkansas, a much-deserved promotion for him. SMU hired Sonny Dykes in the offseason, and Dykes is a coach I have no problem going against because he simply isn’t that good. He has a career record of 41-46. LA Tech got better once he left, and Cal got better once he left, too.
Dykes was on the sidelines for SMU’s 10-51 loss to Louisiana Tech in the bowl game. And Dykes’ 2018 debut was a rough one as well. SMU lost 23-46 at North Texas, giving up 461 passing yards to the Mean Green. Their offense only managed 256 yards against a terrible North Texas defense, and they were outgained by 273 yards in the game.
That’s a sign of things to come about how much this SMU program has fallen with the loss of Morris and the hiring of Dykes. The thing is Dykes is known for having an offensive mind, and he has a good QB in Ben Hicks back from lsat season. So to only managed 256 yards against that North Texas defense is atrocious. And SMU has never been good defensively as they gave up 36.7 points and 477 yards per game last season. They could be even worse on that side of the ball this year.
I think TCU can name its number on offense, and the defense is going to limit SMU to fewer than 20 points. TCU has really owned SMU, going 5-0 SU & 3-2 ATS in the five meetings over the past five seasons. The Horned Frogs have outscored the Mustangs by an average of 31.2 points per game in those five meetings. I expect them to win by 30-plus in this one as well, and they only need to win by more than 22 to get us a cover. Bet TCU Friday.
|09-03-18||Virginia Tech v. Florida State OVER 54.5||24-3||Loss||-110||106 h 4 m||Show|
15* VA Tech/FSU ESPN Monday Total DOMINATOR on OVER 54.5
Willie Taggart steps into a great situation at Florida State, especially from an offensive perspective. He is known for coaching up high-octane offenses, and he will love the talent he has to work with here. Florida State returns 8 starters on offense, including QB Deondre Francois, who was lost to a season-ending injury in the opener against Alabama last year. That injury derailed their season.
Francois has the luxury of having each of his top two rushers back, including the electric Came Akers, who rushed for 1,024 yards and seven touchdowns last year as a freshman. He also had leading receiver Nyqwan Murray back, along with four starters and 90 career starts on the offensive line. This should be one of the best offenses in the country.
The problem for the Seminoles this year is going to be defense. They go from having 9 returning starters on D last year to only 4 returning starters this year. They lost six of their top seven tacklers. This unit is certainly going to be a mystery, and I’m banking on this being one of the worse defenses in recent memory at FSU.
VA Tech coach Justin Fuente earned his stripes at Memphis for what he did on the offensive side of the football. And he’s doing it again at Virginia Tech. The Hokies averaged 35.0 points per game in his first season in 2016. They did slip to 28.2 points per game last year, but they only had 5 returning starters and were breaking in a freshman quarterback. Now the Hokies have 7 returning starters on offense, including QB Josh Jackson, who is now a sophomore. He completed 60% of his passes for 2,991 yards and a 20-to-9 TD/INT ratio, while also rushing for 324 yards and 6 scores as a freshman. He should take this offense to new heights this year.
Like Florida State, VA Tech’s biggest questions coming into the season are on the defensive side of the football. The Hokies return just 5 starters on defense and lose several players to the NFL. Gone to the NFL are CB Greg Stroman, LB Tremaine Edmunds, and DT Tim Settle. This is going to be one of the youngest defenses in the country. Bud Foster will have to work his magic on this group. They won’t come close to matching last year’s impressive numbers.
Taggart is 19-7 OVER as a home favorite in all games he has coached. The OVER is 5-0 in the last five meetings in this series. Bet the OVER in this game Monday.
|09-02-18||Miami-FL v. LSU UNDER 47||Top||17-33||Loss||-110||81 h 29 m||Show|
20* Miami/LSU ABC Sunday No-Brainer on UNDER 47
The Miami Hurricanes take on the LSU Tigers on Sunday in one of the most anticipated Week 1 games on the board. They will meet in Arlington, and I’m expecting a defensive battle in this one between two teams whose strengths are their defenses.
Miami gave up 18.5 points per game in 2016 and 21.0 points per game last season. Those were Mark Richt’s first two years on the job. Now they have 7 starters and each of their top 5 tacklers back from last year’s squad, making this likely Richt’s best defense yet.
Inconsistent quarterback play held Miami back down the stretch last season. Malik Rosier threw for 3,120 yards and 26 touchdowns, but he also threw 14 interceptions and completed just 54% of his passes. And now he’ll be without each of his top two receivers from last year in Braxton Berrios and Christopher Herndon.
Ed Oregon is on the hotseat already at LSU because he still hasn’t developed an offense. That was especially the case last year when the Tigers went up against some similar defenses to Miami. They managed beat Florida 17-16, lost to Alabama 10-24, and lost to Notre Dame 17-21. As you can see, their defense played well enough to win those games, but their offense didn’t get the job done.
Now LSU has just 5 returning starters on offense. They lose QB Danny Etling, who had a 16-to-2 TD/INT ratio, so he will be tougher to replace than most expect. The new QB is Joe Burrow. Derrius Guide and Darrell Williams, who combined for over 2,000 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns last year, have departed. And each of the top three pass catchers from last year are gone. This offense is going to struggle again.
But you can count on LSU to have a great defense, which they have for over a decade and that has been the case again with Orgeron running the show and defensive coordinator Dave Aranda calling the shots. LSU gave up just 15.8 points per game in 2016 and 18.9 points per game in 2017. While they only have 5 starters back this season, that happens almost every year as they had just 5 starters back on D last season as well. They do have three of their top four tacklers back, including the best LB in the country in Devin White (133 tackles, 14 for loss last year). This will be one of the best stop units in the country.
Orgeron is 34-18 UNDER in all games he has been a head coach. The UNDER is 9-2 in Hurricanes last 11 games overall. The UNDER is 20-8-2 in Tigers last 30 games overall. The UNDER is 6-0 in Hurricanes last six neutral site games. The UNDER is 4-0 in Tigers last four neutral site games. Bet the UNDER in this game Sunday.
|09-01-18||Marshall v. Miami-OH +2.5||35-28||Loss||-100||74 h 41 m||Show|
15* CFB Saturday UPSET SHOCKER on Miami Ohio +2.5
Miami Ohio remarkably opened 0-6 in 2016 and finished 6-0 to make a bowl game, where they would lose by a single points 16-17 to Mississippi State as 14-point underdogs. Many expected them to be real good last year because they had 17 returning starters. But the Redhawks lost QB Gus Ragland for three games, and they lost two starting offensively linemen for the first four games. Miami suffered four losses by 5 points or less to finish 5-7 in 2017.
Now, the Redhawks have 16 returning starters and will be one of the most improved teams in the country. Miami Ohio is expected to have 15 senior starters among the 22 on offense and defense. This is a team I’m going to be looking to back early and often.
Offensively, the Redhawks have eight returning starters, including QB Gus Ragland, who had a 39-to-8 TD/INT ratio in three years with the program. He has stud receiver James Gardner (47 receptions, 927 yards, 11 TD) back as his disposal. Each of the top two rushers are back from last year. They have seven offensive linemen with starting experience and 100 career starts back.
Defensively, the Redhawks have eight returning starters from a unit that gave up just 24.1 points per game last season. This will be one of the best units in the MAC this season.
Marshall made a big jump last year from 3-9 in 2016 to 8-5 in 2017. And now they have 18 returning starters, so they will be pretty good again. But they lose their most important player in QB Chase Litton, who threw for 3,115 yards and 25 touchdowns a year ago. Their defense will be good again, but their offense only managed 26.7 points per game last year even with good QB play, and they likely won’t get the kind of production they had from Litton last year.
Marshall still hasn’t announced its starting QB yet and likely won’t until gamely. Alex Thomson is likely the new QB, and the grad transfer from Wagner has made 20 starts in his career, but he has completed just 55% of his passes. It will either be Thomson or redshirt freshman Isaiah Green, and whoever starts will be making their first start at the FBS level.
What really stood out to me about this game is that this is a rematch from last year. Marshall beat Miami Ohio 31-26 as 3.5-point home underdogs. But that final score doesn’t even tell half the story. Miami outgained Marshall 429 to 267 for the game, or by 162 total yards. Marshall got three non-offensive touchdowns in the game with a 99-yard KO return, a 97-yard kickoff return and a 72-yard interception return. It’s amazing Miami only lost by 5.
Now the Redhawks will be out for revenge and get the Thundering Herd at home this time around. They are fully healthy coming into this matchup and should get the job done. The home team is a perfect 6-0 ATS in the last six meetings. Take Miami Ohio Saturday.
|09-01-18||North Carolina v. California -7||Top||17-24||Push||0||72 h 12 m||Show|
25* CFB Week 1 GAME OF THE YEAR on California -7
Justin Wilcox did a good job in his first season at Cal head coach last year. The Golden Bears went just 5-7, but they had three losses by a combined 7 points. This was an inexperienced team last year, but that won’t be the case in 2018.
The Golden Bears return 18 starters this season and go from being #110 in experience last year all the way up to #18 this year. They also faced the 2nd-toughest schedule in the country last year, and this year they only face the 49th toughest. This could be one of the most improved teams in the land.
The offense returns 10 starters after having just 5 starters back on offense last year. Junior QB Ross Bowers is back after throwing for 3,039 yards and 18 touchdowns a year ago. Leading rusher Patrick Laird (1,127 yards, 8 TD, 5.9/carry) and each of the top two receivers in Vic Wharton and Kanawai Noa (123 receptions, 1,659 yards, 9 TD between them) are back. All five starters and seven who have started return along the offensive line.
Wilcox is known for defense, and he improved this group dramatically last year. Cal gave up 42.6 points and 518 yards per game in 2016, but those numbers dropped to 28.4 points and 430 yards per game in 2017 under Wilcox. Now he has 8 starts back on defense and the numbers should improve once again.
UNC is an absolute mess right now. The Tar Heels are coming off a 3-9 season and return a modest 13 starters this year. Their three wins last year came against Old Dominion, Western Carolina and Pitt. While they can’t be any worse, they aren’t going to be much better, either.
That’s because they had 13 players suspended for at least one game and as many as four games for selling team-issued shoes. Nine of the 13 suspended players will miss the first four games, the most notable being QB Chazz Surratt, the team leader last season in passing yards, yards per attempt and completion percentage.
Not to mention, projected starting RB Michael Carter (558 yards, 8 TD, 5.8 YPC LY) is out until late September with a wrist injury. Starting DT Aaron Crawford (29 tackles, 3 sacks LY) is out with a knee injury. The Tar Heels are going to be short-handed for the opener and for the first month of the season for that matter. Cal went on the road and beat UNC 35-30 in the opener last season. Now they get the Tar Heels at home this time around and the Golden Bears are vastly improved.
This is the longest road trip (2,800 miles) in school history for the Tar Heels. California is 5-0 ATS in its last five home games. The Golden Bears are 5-1 ATS in their last six games overall. North Carolina is 1-5 ATS in its last six September games. Bet California Saturday.
|09-01-18||Appalachian State +24 v. Penn State||38-45||Win||100||72 h 1 m||Show|
15* CFB Saturday Undervalued Underdog on Appalachian State +24
The Appalachian State Mountaineers have cemented themselves as one of the better Group of 5 teams in the country over the past decade. It all started when they upset Michigan in the Big House back in 2007. But they have since taken some other Power 5 teams right down to the wire.
The Mountaineers won 11 games in 2015, 10 games in 2016 and 9 games in 2017. They have won at least 10 games five times over the past decade. They only lost 13-20 as 20-point underdogs in Week 1 against Tennessee two years ago. They lost 10-31 at Georgia in the opener last year, and we all know how good Georgia turned out to be. They also lost 19-20 as 5-point home dogs to an 8-win Wake Forest team last year.
I was impressed with the way the Mountaineers finished the season last year. They won their final four games by 21, 21, 49 and 34 points, including their 34-0 beat down of Toledo in the Dollar General Bowl. That gives them a ton of momentum heading into 2018.
Appalachian State returns only 11 starters but 59 lettermen, so while they may be a little young, they have plenty of depth. The loss of four-year starting QB Taylor Lamb is tough, but sophomore Zac Thomas is ready to be the next great QB here. Reports are he’s actually a better runner and has a better arm than Lamb did, so the future is bright for him.
The good news for Thomas is that he’ll be able to lean on an offensive line that returns five players with starting experience, including 1st-Team All-Sun Belt LT Victor Johnson. And they’ll be blocking for the best RB in the Sun Belt in Jalin Moore, who has delivered back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons.
The bread and butter of the Mountaineers has been defense under head coach Scott Satterfield. They allowed just 19.1 points per game in 2015, 17.8 in 2016 and 20.2 in 2017. They return 14 of their top 20 tacklers from a year ago and should be good again. It’s this defense that will give them a chance to hang with Penn State Saturday.
I think the Nittany Lions are one of the most overrated teams in the country heading into 2018. They shocked everyone by winning 11 game each of the last two seasons, but now they lose a ton of talent from those two teams. The Nittany Lions have just 10 returning starters in 2018.
While they have seven starters back on offense, including QB Trace McSorley, they lose their top three playmakers in RB Saquon Barkley (1,903 scrimmage yards, 21 total TD LY), WR DaeSean Hamilton (857 yards, 9 TD LY) and TE Mike Gesicki (57 receptions, 563 yards, 9 TD LY). That trio is simply irreplaceable.
The losses are just as big on defense as the Nittany Lions return only 3 starters this year. They lost seven of their top eight tacklers from a year ago, so it will basically be all new faces for them on this side of the ball. There’s no way they even come close to last year’s 16.5 points per game allowed. They gave up 25.4 points per game in 2016 and will likely be closer to that number this year.
Penn State opens the 2018 season with expectations it simply cannot live up to from a point spread perspective. They should not be 24-point favorites over pesky Appalachian State in the opener. The Mountaineers are 4-0 ATS in their last four games overall. Roll with Appalachian State Saturday.
|09-01-18||Texas State v. Rutgers -16||Top||7-35||Win||100||68 h 22 m||Show|
20* CFB Saturday No-Doubt Rout on Rutgers -16
Rutgers is a team I’ll be looking to back early and often. In fact, when I did my Top 10 season win total bets, the Rutgers Over 3.5 made my list. It’s a team that went 4-8 last year and now enters year 3 under head coach Chris Ash, which is when teams usually make their biggest improvements.
The Scarlet Knights return 15 starters this season. Freshman QB Artur Sitkowski is one of the top recruits in the country, and he ran away with the job in fall camp and has been named the starter. He is a big reason why I’m so high on this team because he has all the tools to be one of the better quarterbacks in the country that most don’t know much about.
The offense has seven starters back and can only improve after averaging just 18 points per game a year ago. They brought in a new coordinator in John McNulty, who has spent the past nine years in the NFL with four teams, and he was the former offensive coordinator at Rutgers from 2004-2008. There is a lot of talent at receiver, three starters return on the offensive line that allowed just 18 sacks last year, and Jon Hillman is a grad transfer from Boston College at running back who should inject life into the running game.
The defense improved a ton last year, going from allowing 37.5 points per game in 2016 to 28.3 points per game in 2017. Now that unit returns eight starters and five of the top six tacklers. This will be one of the most underrated stop units in the Big Ten this season.
Texas State was one of the worst teams in the country last season. The Bobcats went just 2-10 and were outscored by an average of 16.3 points per game on the season. Their two wins came against Houston Baptist and Coastal Carolina, an FCS team and a team that was in their first season at the FBS level.
The Bobcats do have 14 starters back this year, but they won’t be any good. They lose their starting QB in Damian Williams and their most explosive playmakers in WR Elijah King (750 yards, 3 TD). Sophomore Willie Lee Jones is expected to step in at QB, but he completed just 48.6% of his 37 attempts last year in the backup role.
Texas State is expected to be the worst team in the Sun Belt, which is the worst conference in the country. The Scarlet Knights from the Big Ten should have no problem waxing them by 17-plus points to get the win and cover in this one. Take Rutgers Saturday.
|09-01-18||Costal Carolina +29.5 v. South Carolina||15-49||Loss||-106||68 h 11 m||Show|
15* CFB Saturday Line Mistake on Coastal Carolina +29.5
The Coastal Carolina Chanticleers will be playing their first season as an official FBS member after dominating in FCS over the past five years. They won 12, 12, 9 and 10 games from 2013-2016. Last year they played a schedule that featured 11 FBS teams to get them prepared for this season.
They went just 3-9 last year, but there were some highlights, and evidence that they were better than their record would suggest. They went 1-5 in games decided by 8 points or less. But they won their final two games against Idaho and Georgia Southern outright as underdogs to give them some momentum heading into 2018.
Now they have 12 returning starters after having just 9 back last year. And one huge factor is that head coach Joe Moglia, the former FCS Coach of the Year, missed the entire season last year with a lung infection. He’s back healthy now and will be on the sidelines coaching this team up.
Perhaps Coastal Carolina’s most impressive effort last season was in a loss. The Chanticleers went on the road as 23-point underdogs and nearly upset SEC foe Arkansas 38-39. That effort showed that they could play with the big boys, which is a big reason why I think they can hang with South Carolina, or at least stay within this 29.5-point spread.
South Carolina overachieved last year by going 9-4. They were opposite of Coastal Carolina in terms of luck in close games. The Gamecocks went 6-1 in games decided by 8 points or less. They didn’t beat anyone by more than 26 points. They only beat Wofford 31-10 as 27-point home favorites, and they only beat Louisiana Tech 17-16 as 9-point home favorites.
So now expectations are high for the Gamecocks heading into 2018 when they really shouldn’t be because they simply were lucky in close games last year and were really closer to a 6-7 or 7-6 team rather than a 9-4 one. They do have 14 starters back and return some key playmakers, but they should not be 29.5-point favorites here in the opener.
That’s especially the case when you consider South Carolina won’t be able to help but overlook Coastal Carolina. They have their ‘game of the year’ on deck next week hosting Georgia. They will want to make sure that everyone is healthy for that game, which means they will likely pull the starters or limit their snaps at the first opportunity they get. They are just looking to win this game, not win it by margin. Bet Coastal Carolina Saturday.
|08-31-18||Colorado State v. Colorado -7.5||Top||13-45||Win||100||84 h 50 m||Show|
20* Colorado State/Colorado CFB Late-Night BAILOUT on Colorado -7.5
The Colorado Buffaloes won the Pac-12 South in 2016 despite being picked by most outlets to finish last. Head coach Mike MacIntyre always gets the most out of his teams. They were due for some regression last year, and they did at 5-7, but still came within one win of making a bowl but lost their final three games. They had just 12 returning starters last year, including only 3 on defense.
I realize they only have 10 returning starters in 2018, but this is actually a better team than the ’17 version. I love the offense led by Steven Montez, a junior who threw for 2,975 yards and 18 touchdowns with nine interceptions, while also rushing for 338 yards and three scores. The offense boasts nine junior and senior starters and will be better than what you would expect for having just four returning starters.
Improvement will come from a defense that returns six starters, including each of the top three tacklers from a year ago. This unit slipped big-time last year going from nine returning starters in ’16 to just three in ’17. But they still only allowing 28.2 points per game, a respectable number considering all they had to replace. This should now be one of the better stop units in the Pac-12 again.
Colorado State is one of the single-least experienced team in FBS, ranking #130 in terms of returning experience. They have just nine starters and 39 lettermen returning. They lost QB Nick Stevens (3,799 yards, 29 TD), leading rusher Dalyn Dawkins (1,399 yards, 8 TD) and leading receiver Michael Gallup (100 receptions, 1,413 yards, 7 TD) on offense. Defensively, they have just five starters back.
I think you saw everything you needed to know about how bad Colorado State is going to be this season in their opener against Hawaii on Saturday. They were favored by 17 over a Hawaii team that brought back just 9 starters this season. They trailed 37-7 as their offense couldn’t get anything going against an awful Hawaii defense. And by the time they did get their offense going, it was too late as they lost 34-43. Their defense gave up 617 total yards to the Warriors.
Colorado is 8-2 in its last 10 meetings with Colorado State in Denver. Those eight wins have come by an average of 16 points per game. The Rams were better the last two seasons than they will be this season, yet the Buffaloes crushed them 44-7 in 2016 and 17-3 in 2017.
Colorado State is at a disadvantage here having to play on a short week after facing Hawaii on Saturday, Meanwhile, the Buffaloes had all offseason to prepare for this one, and now have some actual game film to do so all week. The Rams are 0-8 ATS in their last eight games overall. Colorado State is 0-6-1 ATS in its last seven neutral site games. Bet Colorado Friday.
|08-31-18||Utah State v. Michigan State UNDER 51.5||31-38||Loss||-107||81 h 25 m||Show|
15* CFB Friday Total DOMINATOR on Utah State/Michigan State UNDER 51.5
I expect a defensive battle tonight between Utah State and Michigan State in the season opener for both teams. Both squads have experienced defenses returning, which will be the strength of both teams in 2018.
Michigan State went 10-3 last year despite averaging just 24.5 points per game. That’s because they won a lot of close games and their defense was tremendous, giving up just 20.0 points and 298 yards per game despite having just four starters back on D last year. Now the Spartans have 9 starters and 10 of their top 11 tacklers back on defense and will have one of the best stop units in the country.
Utah State gave up 26.9 points per game last season with just 5 starters back on defense. Now they have 9 starters and 19 of their top 21 tacklers back on defense and will have one of the best stop units in the Mountain West. This should be one of Matt Wells’ best defenses yet as he enters his 6th season wit the Aggies. In his first three years, they surrendered just 339.6 yards per game. It’s the most returning experience he’s had on any defense yet.
Utah State’s offense isn’t anything special, either. The Aggies played two Power 5 teams last year and managed just 10 points against Wisconsin and 10 points against Wake Forest. Both teams have a lot of experience returning on offense as well, but that’s not necessarily a good thing considering both offenses were sub-par a year ago.
Plays on the UNDER on all teams where the total is between 49.5 and 56 in a game that features both teams having 8 or more defensive starters returning, in the first month of the season are 42-12 (77.8%) over the last five seasons. Michigan State is 9-1 to the UNDER as a home favorite over the last three seasons. Take the UNDER in this game Friday.
|08-30-18||Wake Forest -6.5 v. Tulane||Top||23-17||Loss||-110||79 h 48 m||Show|
20* Wake Forest/Tulane Non-Conference KNOCKOUT on Wake Forest -6.5
The Wake Forest Demon Deacons just get no respect. They went 8-5 last season and 8-3-2 ATS in their 13 games. Dave Clawson has now gotten the Demon Deacons to back-to-back bowl games and enters his 5th season in Winston-Salem.
Clawson has 14 returning starters this season. He has eight starters back from an offense that set a school record with 454 points last year and averaged 35.3 points and 466 yards per game. They were competitive in every game last season due to the offense and did not get beat by more than 14 points once all season.
The offense is led by an offensive line that returns all five starters and a whopping 132 career starts. This will be one of the best units in the ACC. Each of the top two receivers are back from last year in Great Dortch (53 receptions, 722 yards, 9 TD) and Scotty Washington (45, 711, 3 TD), as is leading rusher Matt Colburn (904 yards, 7 TD). That will help ease the transition of the new quarterback.
Wake Forest does have only six starters back on defense, but should be improved from a unit that gave up 28.3 points per game last season with just five starters back. Their weakness last year was against the pass as they gave up 272 yards per game through the air. But that won’t be a problem against Tulane, which runs an option attack. And the Demon Deacons have a huge advantage getting to prepare all offseason for the option.
I like what Willie Fritz is doing at Tulane. He enters his 3rd season here from a team that went 5-7 last year and fell just a few yards shy of beating SMU in the season finale and making a bowl game. Fritz has 14 starters back and the Green Wave should be competitive again against most AAC teams, but this is a different story here against one of the most underrated teams in the ACC.
With nine starters back on offense, the Green Wave should be able to match or exceed last year’s 27.5 PPG in which they had eight starters back. But they do lose leading rusher Montreal Hilliard (1,091 yards, 12 TD). QB Jonathan Banks is back to run the offense and should be able to have a decent senior season, though he competed just 56.6% of his passes last year and accuracy will always be an issue for him.
The reason I really love Wake Forest is because I believe their high-powered offense will score at will against this suspect Tulane defense. The Green Wave return just 5 starters on defense from a unit that gave up 29.2 points and 436 yards per game last season. This defense is clearly worse off than it was a year ago as they lose their top three playmakers in Rae Juan Marbley, Jarrod Franklin and Parry Nickerson (6 INT). The lose 3.5 defensive line starters and 7 of their top 12 tacklers.
The Demon Deacons are 10-4 ATS in their last 14 road games. Wake Forest is 12-5-1 ATS in its last 18 games overall. The Demon Deacons are 8-2-1 ATS in their last 11 games on fieldturf. Tulane is 2-11 ATS in its last 13 vs. ACC opponents. They are losing by 27.7 points per game in this situation. The last time Tulane hosted a Power 5 team to open the season they lost to ACC opponent Duke 37-7 back in 2015. Bet Wake Forest Thursday.
|08-30-18||New Mexico State v. Minnesota -20||10-48||Win||100||78 h 22 m||Show|
15* NMSU/Minnesota BTN No-Brainer on Minnesota -20
Unfortunately, I took New Mexico State +4 against Wyoming in their opener. I couldn’t have been more wrong. But I’m willing to realize my mistakes and correct them. After watching just how ugly New Mexico State looked against a mediocre Wyoming squad, I have no doubt they are going to have many of the same issues against Minnesota Thursday night.
New Mexico State had negative yards on offense in the first half against Wyoming last week and themselves trailing 15-0. It didn’t get much better in the second half as they trailed 29-0 before getting a garbage TD in the final seconds to lose 29-7. They were outgained 450 to 135 for the game, or by 315 total yards.
Wyoming ran wild on the NMSU defense for 313 rushing yards and 5.6 yards per carry. Now the Aggies must play on a short week having just four days to prepare for Minnesota, another team that loves to run the football as they averaged 182 rushing yards per game last season. The Gophers should be able to move the ball on the ground at will on a tired NMSU defense.
PJ Fleck enters his second season at Minnesota. He has more of his players in place to take on bigger roles this season. He has 14 returning starters as well and this should be one of the most improved teams in the Big Ten after a 5-7 campaign in his first season.
The Gophers can only be better offensively as they return seven starters, their leading rusher, top two receivers and four starters along the offensive line. The problem last year was QB play as it was atrocious. That means it can only get better, and Fleck true freshman recruit Zack Annexstad will get the first crack at the job. He beat out fellow freshman Tanner Morgan, who many expected to win the job.
Fleck turned an inexperienced defense that returned just five starters last year into one of the Big Ten’s best units. The Gophers only allowed 22.8 points and 347 yards per game. Now they return seven starters, led by leading tackler Thomas Barber (115 tackles, 10.5 for loss) at linebacker. This is an experienced unit that is expected to have nine junior or senior starters. One of the sophomores is Antoine Winfield, who got a medical redshirt and will be one of the best safeties in the Big Ten.
Minnesota should be able to shut down a New Mexico State offense that lost its top three playmakers from a year ago. They lost the school’s second all-time leading passer in Tyler Rogers from a passing offense that ranked 3rd in the country last season. They also lost 1,000-yard receiver Jaleel Scott (1,079 yards, 9 TD) and star RB Larry Rose, who accounted for 1,471 yards and 12 touchdowns from scrimmage last year. It was clear NMSU misses this trio when they managed just 7 points and 135 total yards against Wyoming last week.
New Mexico State is 10-30-1 ATS in its last 41 games following a double-digit home loss. The Aggies are 3-15 in their last 18 road openers, and 0-12 in their last 12 against Power 5 schools. The Gophers have won 19 of their last 23 home openers, and five of their last six with their only loss coming to #2 TCU 17-23 as 16-point underdogs in 2015.
NMSU having to play on a short week off a very physical game and against another physical opponent here is such a huge schedule disadvantage for them. That’s why I’m willing to lay this many points with the Gophers. Doug Martin is 0-11 ATS after gaining 225 or less total yards in their previous game in all games he has coached. Take Minnesota Thursday.
|08-25-18||Wyoming v. New Mexico State +4||Top||29-7||Loss||-105||11 h 29 m||Show|
20* Wyoming/New Mexico State ESPN 2 Late-Night BAILOUT on New Mexico State +4
New Mexico State went to a bowl game for the first time since 1960 last year. Not only did the Aggies get to a bowl, they actually upset Utah State 26-20 in overtime. Head coach Doug Martin has done a tremendous job of turning this program around as he enters his 6th season here.
Now the Aggies return 15 starters and 49 lettermen in 2018 while losing only 13 lettermen. The strength of this team will be a defense that gave up their fewest points per game since 2003 last year. They have nine starters and 10 of their top 11 tacklers back on D. They were an attacking D last year that set a school record with 43 sacks. Frank Spaziani, the former Boston College head coach, is a big reason for the turnaround. He enters his second season running the defense.
There are questions for the Aggies offensively as they return 6 starts and lose their top three playmakers. However, they have a junior back in Jason Huntley that is ready to take over for Larry Rose. Huntley averaged 6.0 YPC last season compared to 5.1 for Rose. Four of their top five receivers are back, so that helps soften the loss of 1,000-yard receiver Jaleel Scott.
The biggest loss is QB Tyler Rogers, who was third in the country at 334.7 passing yards per game last season. However, the Aggies signed JUCO transfer Matt Romero in the offseason. He threw for 5,873 yards and 49 touchdowns over two seasons at Palomar College in California. It’s a great fit for Romero, who ran the exact same offense at Palomar. And six offensive linemen with starting experience return this season, helping ease Romero’s transition.
Wyoming does have a lot of experience back as well with 17 returning starters, but many of those players are hurt. Two projected starters along the offensive line will be out with injuries. WR CJ Johnson, who led the team with 7 TD receptions last year, is out. LB Cassh Mauluia (74 tackles last year) is also out. So technically, they have just 13 healthy starters for Game 1 from last year.
And the biggest loss is QB Josh Allen, who was taken as a first-round draft pick of the Buffalo Bills. They even traded up to get him. I know his numbers weren’t great last year, but he’s the biggest reason the Cowboys were able to make bowl games each of the past two seasons. You simply don’t replace a talent like Allen at a school as small as Wyoming. The Cowboys will now be starting a freshman QB this year.
New Mexico State is 5-0 ATS in its last five games vs. MWC opponents. The Aggies are 18-9 ATS in all games over the past two seasons. Bets on home underdogs of 3.5 to 10 points (New Mexico State) - team that had a winning record last season, in non-conference game are 67-27 (71.3%) ATS since 1992. Wyoming is 10-22 ATS in its last 32 games as a road favorite. The Aggies are 8-1 ATS in their last nine non-conference games. Bet New Mexico State Saturday.
|01-08-18||Alabama -175 v. Georgia||Top||26-23||Win||100||115 h 24 m||Show|
20* Alabama/Georgia National Championship No-Brainer on Alabama -175
I backed Alabama -1.5 as my 25* College Bowl Game of the Year in a 24-6 win over Clemson in the first round of the college football playoffs. I’m not about to buck them now as they still fit many of the same reasons I backed them against Clemson.
I thought Alabama came into the four-team playoff grossly underrated for the first time ever. It’s because they were the No. 4 seed and barely got in after not winning the SEC Championship thanks to their loss to Auburn in the regular season finale. They actually came in as an underdog by perception because they were the No. 4 seed going against the No. 1 seed Clemson.
Let’s just think back to the National Championship last year. If Alabama hadn’t gave up a touchdown on the final play of the game to lose to Clemson, they would be going for their 3rd straight national title. And if that was the case, which it easily could be, Alabama would be upwards of a 7-point favorite or more here against Georgia. Instead they are only 3.5-point favorites and -175 on the money line, which I think is the better bet in this matchup in case they do win by 3. But I’m confident they will win this game.
Alabama has the best defense in the country, and that showed in limiting Clemson to just 6 points and 188 total yards last week. They match up very well with Georgia, a predominant running team that only averages 173 passing yards per game. The Crimson Tide only give up 92 rushing yards per game and 2.7 per carry, with the latter being the best mark in the entire country. The only teams the Crimson Tide struggle against are ones with mobile quarterbacks, and Jake Fromm doesn’t fit that category. He has rushed for just 94 yards on the season and 2.0 per carry.
I think the situation is better for Alabama having more time to get ready for this game. They played in New Orleans, made easy work of Clemson, and have a short trip up to Atlanta for the National Championship. Meanwhile, Georgia played all the way out in California and as a result will have the tougher travel schedule. They also needed to exert more effort as they went to double-overtime in a 54-48 thriller. And I think the Bulldogs are just happy to be here, while Alabama is on a mission to make up for that devastating loss in the national title game last season.
Alabama has been favored in 112 of its 113 games. The only time it wasn’t a favorite was as a 1.5-point underdog at Georgia in 2015. Well, the Crimson Tide rolled the Bulldogs 38-10 in that game. Rarely ever do we get to back them as small as -175 money line favorites. This is basically free money in my opinion because they aren’t going to lose this game.
My favorite trend in this game is that Nick Saban is 11-0 SU & 9-2 ATS when facing his former assistants. This is a big brother, little brother phenomenon. Saban has won by 14-plus points in all 11 games and by an average of a whopping 29 points per game in this spot. Kirby Smart will be overmatched in this matchup.
Saban has also had great success in games that are expected to be low scoring, which this game is considering the total is only 45 points. Alabama is 45-19 ATS in its last 64 games with a total set of 50 points or less under Saban. This goes back to the point I made before that the only teams that give the Crimson Tide trouble are teams with dual-threat quarterbacks when shootouts are the expectation. This game will be a grind-it-out, hard-hitting game that plays right into Alabama’s hands. Saban and company live for these kinds of games.
Saban is 21-11 ATS vs. good defensive teams that give up 17 or fewer points per game as the coach of Alabama. His teams are winning these matchups by 15.1 points per game on average. The Crimson Tide are 5-1 ATS in their last six neutral site games. I think we are getting a nice discount here with the Crimson Tide on the money line because a very large amount of people who are betting Georgia are betting them on the money line. Bet Alabama on the Money Line.
|01-01-18||Alabama -1.5 v. Clemson||Top||24-6||Win||100||654 h 29 m||Show|
25* College Bowl GAME OF THE YEAR on Alabama -1.5
Nick Saban with revenge and extra time to prepare. Sign me up. The Crimson Tide get a chance to avenge their 35-31 loss to Clemson in the National Championship last year. I fully expect them to take advantage of their opportunity, and this time around they won’t have to deal with Deshaun Watson.
This is the third straight year these teams will meet in the playoffs. The Crimson Tide were 6-point favorites two years ago and 6.5-point favorites last year. So the fact that they are only 1.5-point favorites in the grudge match shows that there is some line value here.
Let’s look at those last two meetings. Alabama led 45-33 two years ago with two minutes left before Clemson got a meaningless touchdown with 12 seconds left to cover as 6.5-point dogs. Then last year, Alabama led 31-28 with only two minutes left, only to watch Clemson score on the game’s final play on a pick play that wasn’t called to win 35-31.
That sick loss has sat in Saban and the Crimson Tide’s stomach for a full year now, and they can’t wait to get the taste out of their mouths. And they won’t have to deal with Watson this time. Kelly Bryant is a good quarterback, but he’s certainly no Watson and isn’t battle-tested in these big games like Watson was.
I think Alabama actually comes into the four-team playoff undervalued because of the fact that they are the No. 4 seed and they ended their season with a 14-26 loss at Auburn, which was their only loss of the season. It’s the first time in a long time I can remember this team being as undervalued as they are right now.
Conversely, Clemson comes into this game overvalued due to being the No. 1 seed. They were last seen beating a banged-up Miami team 38-3 in the ACC Championship. I think that Saban will feed off of the fact that they are the higher seed and cement in his players’ minds that they are the underdogs, despite the fact that Vegas disagrees, and I agree with Vegas.
The Crimson Tide were banged up on defense down the stretch this season, but they are expected to get several key players back along the defensive front seven and in the secondary for this game. They should be about as healthy as they’ve been since the start of the season. And I’d put this defense up against anyone.
Alabama gives up just 11.5 points per game, 258 yards per game and 4.0 yards per play this season against teams that average 27 points, 382 yards per game and 5.7 per play. Clemson has an elite defense as well, but it’s not as good as this Alabama unit when you compare the numbers.
Alabama also has the edge on offense, and it’s not really even that close. Clemson has taken a big step back on offense this season. Yards per play is the most important stat in my opinion. Alabama averages 6.9 yards per play against teams that give up 5.7 per play, while Clemson averages just 6.0 yards per play against teams that give up 5.7 per play. So essentially the Crimson Tide are 0.9 yards per play better than Clemson offensively.
Saban is 15-4 ATS after failing to cover three of their last four against the spread as the coach of Alabama. The Crimson Tide are 42-21 ATS in their last 63 road games following one or more consecutive ATS losses. Alabama is 10-4 ATS in its last 14 games following an ATS loss. The Crimson Tide are 4-0 ATS in their last four games on fieldturf. The Tigers are 2-7 ATS in their last nine games on fieldturf. Bet Alabama in the Sugar Bowl Monday.
|01-01-18||Georgia v. Oklahoma +2.5||54-48||Loss||-110||80 h 34 m||Show|
15* Georgia/Oklahoma Rose Bowl ANNIHILATOR on Oklahoma +2.5
The Big 12 has put together an impressive showing in these bowl games with a 5-2 record thus far. And Oklahoma was the class of the Big 12, and it wasn’t really even close. Once again the Sooners won the conference and will get another shot at the four-team playoff here, and they’ll want to redeem themselves after losing to Clemson in their last appearance.
Now they have the best quarterback in the country in Baker Mayfield. He leads a high-octane Oklahoma offense that is putting up 44.9 points per game, 583 yards per game and 8.4 yards per play. The Sooners are scoring 17 points per game, averaging 181 yards per game and 3.1 yards per play more than their opponents allow on average this season. This offense is simply unstoppable.
TCU has a comparable defense to Georgia. The Horned Frogs were one of the best defensive teams in the country this season. And Oklahoma beat TCU 38-20 in the regular season while putting up 533 total yards. Then they backed up that win with a 41-17 win over the Horned Frogs in the Big 12 Championship Game. Georgia isn’t going to be able to stop Mayfield and company, either.
I think Georgia benefited from an extremely soft schedule this season. The SEC East was arguably the worst division of all Power 5 conferences. And they draw Mississippi State and Auburn from the SEC West, and actually lost to Auburn 17-40 in the regular season. The Bulldogs were able to get revenge in the SEC Championship against Auburn to get into the four-team playoff, but it doesn’t mask the fact that their schedule was rather easy this year outside of a 1-1 split with Auburn.
Oklahoma is 4-0 in its last four games against SEC opponents, which includes a bowl win over Alabama a few years back. The Sooners have been able to step up to the plate against the better teams, and they have been able to handle the SEC. That’s evidence by the fact that they are 11-1 ATS when playing against a team with a winning record over the last two seasons, and a perfect 7-0 ATS when playing against a team with a winning percentage of better than 75% over the last two years. Roll with Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl.
|01-01-18||Central Florida +10 v. Auburn||Top||34-27||Win||100||75 h 5 m||Show|
20* UCF/Auburn Peach Bowl No-Brainer on UCF +10
Let’s take a look at the history of how these Group of 5 teams have done against the Power 5 opponents dating back to the BCS era and currently the New Year’s 6. In the last 19 meetings, the Power 5 team has been favored 16 times. Well, the Group of 5 team has actually gone 13-6 straight up in those 19 meetings.
I think there’s an obvious explanation for the success of the Group of 5 team holding that 13-6 straight up edge. The Group of 5 team is almost always max motivated, as will be the case for UCF in this game as they are 12-0 and feel like they belong in the four-team playoff.
Conversely, the Power 5 team is not motivated. It’s a lose-lose situation for them. If they win the game they were expected to win anyways. If they lose the game, it looks really bad. And that Power 5 team likely just missed out on the four-team playoff or a bigger bowl game dating back to the BCS era.
That is the case for Auburn here. The Tigers would have made the four-team playoff had they beaten Georgia for a second time in the SEC Championship Game. Instead, they lost that game and now have to settle for the Peach Bowl. They will still be disappointed that they aren’t in the playoff, and they won’t be fully motivated for this game.
UCF has made me a lot of money this season, going 12-0 SU & 7-3-1 ATS. The Knights were really undervalued early in the year going 5-0 ATS in their last first five games while winning each of their first seven games by double-digits. I think the fact that they went just 2-3 ATS in their final five games has them undervalued.
The schedule got tougher and the pressure mounted down the stretch. They beat South Florida 49-42 to get in the AAC Championship Game, then had to face a revenge-minded Memphis team that they had beaten 40-13 earlier in the year. Memphis gave them all they wanted in a 62-55 overtime win.
I think the experience from those two close games will pay dividends for them in this game against Auburn, which I expect to be close as well. And instead of having a huge target on their backs like they did during their 12-0 run, they get to be the hunters in this game. All the pressure is on Auburn, a big-name team from the SEC with the target on their backs in this one.
I also love the fact that Scott Frost has remained with the team and will coach this game. He will keep his assistants with him before they move on full time to Nebraska after this game. It shows a lot about the character of Frost in wanting to see this unbeaten 13-0 season through.
"There's some unusual circumstances, but our staff is completely committed and we're going to do everything we can for this football team," Frost said. "It's an honor to be invited to this game. These players have poured their hearts out to accomplish a lot this year."
The Knights lead the nation in scoring offense at 49.4 points per game. They also have an elite defense, giving up just 25.2 points per game. They won’t be overmatched athletically as Frost did a tremendous job of recruiting athletes that can compete with SEC teams. The Tigers are 0-4-1 ATS in their last five non-conference games. Take UCF in the Peach Bowl Monday.
|12-30-17||Wisconsin v. Miami-FL +6||34-24||Loss||-103||83 h 54 m||Show|
15* Wisconsin/Miami Orange Bowl ANNIHILATOR on Miami +6
No Power 5 team played a softer schedule than Wisconsin this season. The Badgers played in the weak Big Ten West Division and took advantage. That is evident in the fact that they were double-digit favorites in 11 of their 12 regular season games this year.
We saw that weak schedule catch up to them in the Big Ten Championship in a 21-27 loss to Ohio State, which is also a team that I think is overrated. But that game was a bigger blowout than the final score showed. The Badgers were outgained by 151 yards by the Buckeyes and should have lost by more.
Now the Badgers will have to deal with either the first or second-best team they have faced all season in Miami. The Hurricanes went through the gauntlet this season in the ACC, and they also beat Notre Dame 41-8 out of conference. I think they come into this game undervalued due to losing their final two games to Pittsburgh and Clemson on the road after their 10-0 start.
I like this matchup for the Hurricanes. Their front seven is loaded with athletes that will be able to slow down Wisconsin’s running game. The Hurricanes only allow 146 rushing yards per game and 3.5 per carry this season. And they have a ball-hawking secondary, forcing 22 turnovers in their last seven games. That could be a problem for Wisconsin QB Alex Hornibrook, who has thrown 15 interceptions this year.
Wisconsin didn’t handle the most athletic team they’ve seen this season in Ohio State very well. They gave up 449 total yards to the Buckeyes and were held to just 298 total yards themselves. They gave up 238 rushing yards to Ohio State. I have no doubt Miami’s athletes are going to be a problem in this game on both sides of the ball for the slower Badgers.
I also question Wisconsin’s motivation in this game. It’s the second straight year that the Badgers have had to play in a second-tier bowl game. Had they beaten Ohio State, they would have made the four-team playoff. After letting that opportunity slip through their grasps, I don’t think they’ll be nearly as motivated to win the Orange Bowl.
This is going to be a home game for the Hurricanes being played at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. That is a huge advantage for their team as this has become a rabid fan base once again now that Mark Richt has put the program back on the map. And Richt has proven to be a quality coach with extra time to prepare, going 10-5 SU & 9-6 ATS in his career in bowl games.
"It means a lot," defensive lineman Kendrick Norton said. "Obviously, it's going to be like a home game for us, so we will be comfortable. Miami hasn't been (in the Orange Bowl) for a while, so we have a lot of pride in getting there and doing well.”
The Hurricanes went 7-0 at home this season and outscored opponents by 18.0 points per game. Miami is 4-0 ATS in its last four home games vs. a team with a winning road record. The Hurricanes are 6-2 ATS in their last eight non-conference games. I believe the wrong team is favored in this game. Take Miami Saturday.
|12-30-17||Washington v. Penn State -1.5||Top||28-35||Win||100||79 h 35 m||Show|
20* Washington/Penn State Fiesta Bowl No-Brainer on Penn State -1.5
Penn State is good enough to be a playoff team. Their two losses this season came by a combined 4 points to Ohio State and Michigan State both on the road. In fact, they have now lost three games over the past year and a half by a combined 7 points when you factor in their 52-49 loss to USC in the Rose Bowl last year. I would argue that they are the best team in the Big Ten right now.
The Nittany Lions are loaded on offense with Trace McSorley, Saquon Barkley and four receivers with 40-plus receptions this season. They average 41.6 points per game. They also have an elite defense that gives up 15.5 points per game. I think the Nittany Lions are the more battle-tested team playing a much tougher schedule in the Big Ten East division.
I’m way down on the Pac-12 in these bowl games. I’ve faded several Pac-12 teams with success up to this point. Washington played a very soft schedule this season and isn’t battle-tested. The Huskies lost to both Arizona State and Stanford on the road this season, managing just 7 points and 230 total yards against ASU and 22 points and 315 total yards against Stanford.
And that’s the problem for the Huskies and why I don’t trust them. Quarterback Jake Browning has come up short time and time again in big games. He was off the mark against Stanford and ASU this year, and he was overwhelmed against both USC and Alabama last year. He has thrown for only 2,544 yards and 18 touchdowns on the season.
McSorley has upped his play in the biggest games with what he did against USC last year and at Ohio State this year on the road, leading the Nittany Lions to 49 and 38 points against those two teams, respectively. He has accounted for 37 total touchdowns this season with 26 passing and 11 rushing. I simply trust McSorley more than Browning at the all-important QB position in what is otherwise a pretty evenly matched game elsewhere on the field.
The Nittany Lions are 16-4-2 ATS in their last 22 games overall. They have been extremely undervalued for two straight seasons now. James Franklin is 7-0 ATS off two consecutive wins by 10 points or more over conference opponents as the coach of Penn State. Franklin is 7-0 ATS off a road win as the coach of the Nittany Lions. Franklin is 9-0 ATS off three straight conference wins as the coach of Penn State. Take these three 100% never lost systems straight to the bank today. Bet Penn State Saturday.
|12-29-17||USC +8.5 v. Ohio State||Top||7-24||Loss||-115||59 h 25 m||Show|
20* USC/Ohio State Cotton Bowl No-Brainer on USC +8.5
This is a classic case of Urban Meyer and Ohio State getting way too much respect in another bowl game. There’s no way this line should be 8.5 or even over a touchdown. It should be close to Ohio State -3, and I wouldn’t be surprised if USC won this game outright.
I question the Buckeyes’ motivation a little in this game because they thought they did enough to make the four-team playoff by winning the Big Ten. But a 16-31 home loss to Oklahoma and a 24-55 road loss at Iowa as 18-point favorites did them in, and I 100% agree with the committee they aren’t one of the best four teams in the country. They have to be deflated a little playing in this second-tier bowl game.
USC, on the other hand, was never going to make the four-team playoff after losing two games to Washington State and Notre Dame both on the road midseason. But I like the way this team fought back by going 5-0 over their final five games. I think they’re more than happy to be playing in the Cotton Bowl after beating Stanford in the Pac-12 Championship because they were never talked about for the four-team playoff down the stretch.
It seemed like every time Ohio State took a step up in class this season they did not play well. They lost to Oklahoma and Iowa as mentioned before. They needed to erase a 19-point deficit at home to beat Penn State 39-38. They trailed Michigan most the way before winning 31-20. And they couldn’t put away Wisconsin in a 27-21 win in the Big Ten Championship. I would argue USC is the best team they have faced since Oklahoma, so I don’t know how oddsmakers can expect them to beat the Trojans by more than a touchdown.
USC has played Big Ten teams each of the last three seasons in bowls. They went 2-1 with their only loss coming 21-23 to Wisconsin. They beat Penn State 52-49 last year in the Rose Bowl, the same Penn State team that had beaten Ohio State. They racked up 575 total yards on the Nittany Lions behind 453 passing from Sam Darnold. He’ll be ultra-motivated to put on another lasting impression and improve his draft stock. He threw 14 touchdowns with just 3 interceptions over his final seven games this season.
The Buckeyes are 0-4 ATS in their last four non-conference games. Ohio State is 1-4 ATS in its last five games following a win. The Buckeyes are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games vs. a team with a winning record. They padded their stats against weak Big Ten teams this year. Now they take a massive step up in class in the Cotton Bowl. Bet USC Friday.
|12-28-17||Michigan State +1 v. Washington State||42-17||Win||100||43 h 35 m||Show|
15* Michigan State/Washington State Holiday Bowl BAILOUT on Michigan State +1
This line is moving toward Michigan State for good reason. Washington State opened as a 4.5-point favorite and now is only a 1-point favorite and even underdogs in some spots. I totally agree with this move as I currently lock in Michigan State as a 1-point underdog in the Holiday Bowl.
For starters, Mark Dantonio is 17-4 ATS in his last 21 games as an underdog. I realize the Spartans may not be dogs by the time this game goes off. But it’s still worth noting and just goes to show how he has been one of the most underrated head coaches in the country. He almost always exceeds expectations.
That was certainly the case this season as nothing was expected from Michigan State after they went just 3-9 last year. They returned only eight starters from that squad. It was a young team, and Dantonio worked his magic by getting the Spartans to 9-3. Now they have a chance for their fourth 10-win season in the past five years and will be highly motivated to get it.
It wasn’t a fluky 9-3, either. Michigan State actually outgained 10 of its 12 opponents this season with he only exceptions both coming on the road at Ohio State and Michigan, and they beat Michigan 14-10 as 13-point dogs. They are outgaining opponents by 80 yards per game on the season. Their defense has been very good, giving up just 298 yards per game.
I really question Washington State’s motivation coming into this game. The Cougars had a chance to get to the Pac-12 Championship in their season finale against Washington for a second consecutive season. And for a second straight year, they fell flat on their faces with a 14-41 loss at 9.5-point underdogs. Luke Falk was overwhelmed and played one of the worst games of his career with 3 interceptions. After playing for such high stakes and coming up short, I can’t see the Cougars being all that motivated to play Michigan State here.
Now Falk’s job gets even tougher due to the losses of his two best receivers in Tavares Martin Jr. and Isaiah Johnson0Mack, who have both been dismissed from the team heading into the bowl game. These two combined for 130 receptions, 1,386 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns this season. The fact that both aren’t playing helps explain this line move in Michigan State’s favor.
Washington State hasn’t fared very well in the three bowl games under Mike Leach over the past four seasons. Despite being favored in all three games, the Cougars have gone just 1-2 SU & 1-2 ATS. They lost as 5-point favorites to Colorado State in 2013, barely beat Miami 20-14 as 3-point favorites in 2015, and lost 12-17 to Minnesota as 10-point favorites last year. The Spartans are by far the best bowl team that the Cougars will have faced in the Leach era.
The Spartans have been impressive in bowl games over the last six years under Dantonio. They have gone 4-1 SU & 4-1 ATS despite being underdogs in all five. They lost to Alabama in the four-team playoff two years ago, but upset Georgia, TCU, Stanford and Baylor in their previous four bowl games.
Dantonio is 6-0 ATS in road games off a double-digit road win as the coach of Michigan State. The Spartans are 12-1 ATS in their last 13 games after allowing 150 or fewer yards in their previous game. The Cougars are 1-5 ATS in their last six vs. Big Ten opponents. Take Michigan State Thursday.
|12-28-17||Virginia Tech v. Oklahoma State -4||Top||21-30||Win||100||69 h 54 m||Show|
20* VA Tech/Oklahoma State Camping World Bowl No-Brainer on Oklahoma State -4
The Oklahoma State Cowboys were a national title contender coming into the season. So their 9-3 record is a bit of a disappointment, but it also has them coming into the bowl season undervalued. This team is among the Top 10 in the country talent-wise, and I think the price is cheap here as only 4-point favorites over the VA Tech Hokies in the Camping World Bowl because of it.
The Cowboys were a very public team after a 3-0 SU & 3-0 ATS start with three blowout victories. But they couldn’t live up to the expectations after that, going just 3-6 ATS over their final nine games as they were consistently laying big numbers that they couldn’t cover. But now they are in the type of price range that’s easy for them to cover as they basically just have to win the game by a touchdown or more here.
The three losses came to Oklahoma, TCU and Kansas State at home, and they were competitive in all three games. Most impressively is the fact that Oklahoma State went 6-0 on the road. The Cowboys averaged 42.7 points and 532 yards per game on the road while giving up just 25.5 points and 345 yards per game on the highway. They outscored teams by 17.2 points per game and outgunned them by 187 yards per game on the road this season.
Everyone knows about Oklahoma State’s high-powered offense that averages 46.2 points, 576 yards per game and 7.3 yards per play on the season against teams that allow 28.7 points, 420 yards per game and 5.9 per play. They are topping their opponent’s season averages by 17.5 points per game, 156 yards per game and 1.4 per play. Mason Rudolph is one of the best quarterbacks in the country, completing 65% of his passes for 4,553 yards with 35 touchdowns and only 9 interceptions while averaging 10.0 per attempt.
But most folks don’t realize how improved Oklahoma State’s defense is this season. The Cowboys are allowing only 400 yards per game and 5.5 per play against teams that average 415 yards per game and 5.9 per play. Their defense fell off toward the end of the year against Oklahoma, and then with hangover games against Iowa State and Kansas State. But this defense is loaded with speed and talent and will be re-focused for this bowl game against Virginia Tech.
The Hokies have a great defense, there’s no question, but their offense is just average. They score 28.7 points pre game and average 5.4 yards per play against teams that give up 5.6 per play. They struggle to throw the football, and they are stubborn trying to run the ball. They average 44 rushing attempts per game, but only 167 rushing yards per game and 3.8 per carry.
Virginia Tech’s offense won’t be able to keep up with Mason Rudolph and company in this one. That’s especially the case now that they are going to be without two of their best playmakers in WR Cam Phillips and RB Travon McMillian. Phillips is the leading receiver on the team by a landslide with 71 receptions for 964 yards and 7 touchdowns, so his loss is huge. McMillian leads the team in rushing and is a significant loss as well.
Oklahoma State is 28-12 ATS in its last 40 games after scoring 50 points or more in its last game. Mike Gundy is 19-10 ATS as a favorite of 3.5 to 10 points as the coach of Oklahoma State. Gundy is 15-4 ATS after two straight games with 40 or more pass attempts as the coach of the Cowboys. The Cowboys are 5-0 ATS in their last five non-conference games. Bet Oklahoma State Thursday.
|12-27-17||Purdue +3.5 v. Arizona||Top||38-35||Win||100||203 h 40 m||Show|
20* Purdue/Arizona Foster Farms Bowl No-Brainer on Purdue +3.5
Jeff Brohm seriously deserved coach of the year consideration for the job he did at Purdue this season. He took a team that was 9-39 over the past four seasons and got them to 6-6 and a bowl game in the rugged Big Ten. This team was undervalued all seasons with their 8-4 ATS record, and I think they remain undervalued as underdogs here to Arizona in the Foster Farms Bowl.
What the Boilermakers did down the stretch shows how badly they wanted to make a bowl game. They went 3-1 over their final four games, beating Illinois 29-10 at home, Iowa 24-15 as 6-point road underdogs, and Indiana 31-24 at home. That Indiana game was a 31-10 blowout late in the fourth quarter before giving up two garbage touchdowns late. And in their lone loss, they put up 438 total yards against a very good Northwestern team in a 13-23 road loss. They outgained the Wildcats in that contest.
So there’s no question that Purdue wants to be playing in this bowl game. It will be their first bowl game since 2012 and only their third bowl appearance in the last 10 years. And Brohm is 2-0 in his career in bowl games. At Western Kentucky, they beat Memphis 51-31 as 7-point favorites in 2016 and USF 45-35 as 2-point favorites in 2015. I trust Brohm and his players to come forth with a big effort in this game Wednesday.
Brohm was known for his offense at Western Kentucky, and while they do have a solid offense that averages 5.6 yards per play against teams that only allow 5.3 per play, the real improvement on this team has come on defense. The Boilermakers only allow 19.3 points per game and 5.2 yards per play against teams that average 28.6 yards per game and 5.7 per play. They are holding opponents to 9.3 points and 0.5 yards per play below their season averages. That’s the sign of an elite defense.
I think Arizona remains overvalued due to the Khalil Tate factor. He has taken the college football world by storm. And he started off tremendous against some bad teams, but then teams got film on him and the Wildcats struggled down the stretch. Arizona went 1-3 SU & 1-3 ATS over its final four games with its only win coming against terrible Oregon State. The Wildcats lost all three games by double-digits.
No question Purdue has a massive edge on defense in this game. And the matchup favors this Purdue defense because stopping Tate and the running game is the key. The Boilermakers are equipped to do just that. They give up just 132 rushing yards per game and 3.6 per carry against opponents that average 174 rushing yards per game and 4.5 per carry on average. They are holding teams to 42 yards and 0.9 per carry less than their season averages.
Arizona has one of the worst defenses in the country. They give up 34.1 points, 464 yards per game and 6.0 yards per play against teams that average 28 points, 420 yards per game and 5.7 per play. The Wildcats have allowed 37 or more points in six of their last eight games coming into this bowl game. It’s a defense that cannot be trusted, and certainly one that can’t be trusted to lay points here.
While Brohm is 2-0 SU & 2-0 ATS in bowl games, Arizona head coach Rich Rodriquez has been terrible in bowl games. Rodriquez is just 3-7 ATS in his career in bowl games. Arizona barely beat New Mexico last year and barely beat Nevada a few years back. The Wildcats lost when they took a step up in class in recent bowl games against Oklahoma State and Boise State. And I think Purdue is a step up in class for them here. The Wildcats are also 1-5 ATS in their last six bowl games.
Rodriquez is 1-10 ATS in road games after three straight games where 60 or more points were scored in all games he has coached. Brohm is 10-2 ATS versus good rushing teams averaging 4.75 or more yards per carry in all games he has coached. Arizona is 0-7 ATS in road games off two straight conference games over the last two seasons. The Wildcats are 0-6 ATS in road games in the second half of the season over the last two seasons. Purdue is 6-0 ATS in road games off one or more straight overs over the last two years. The Wildcats are 0-4 ATS in their last four neutral site games. The Boilermakers are 4-0 ATS in their last four non-conference games. These seven trends combine for a 47-3 system backing the Boilermakers. Bet Purdue Wednesday.
|12-27-17||Boston College v. Iowa -2.5||20-27||Win||100||45 h 56 m||Show|
15* Boston College/Iowa Pinstripe Bowl ANNIHILATOR on Iowa -2.5
Let’s just start out with the fact that Iowa is going to be highly motivated for a victory in this bowl game. The Hawkeyes have lost five straight bowl games and really want to end that streak. But there’s a reason they’ve lost five straight because they have been underdogs in all five against superior competition.
The five losses have come to Oklahoma as 13-point dogs, LSU as 7-point dogs, Tennessee as 3-point dogs, Stanford as 6-point dogs and Florida as 3-point dogs. Now they finally get to take a step down in class after a 7-5 season against 7-5 Boston College. And they’re favored for a reason here because they are clearly the better team. And these Iowa seniors will be motivated to taste their first bowl victory.
Iowa closed it season with a 56-14 blowout at Nebraska. Four of Iowa’s five losses this season came by single-digits, and the one exception was a loss at Wisconsin the week after their 55-24 win over Ohio State. That was arguably the best win of the season of any team in college football against the Buckeyes, and it was clearly a massive letdown spot the next week against Wisconsin.
Boston College had a very impressive season with one of the youngest teams in the country. But a big reason for the Eagles’ success was freshman quarterback Anthony Brown. This offense isn’t nearly as explosive without Brown’s dual-threat ability. He has missed the final two games of the season.
I think people will see that Boston College blew out its final opponents so the Brown loss isn’t that big. But one of the wins was against one of the worst teams in college football in UConn 39-16, and the other was against a Syracuse team that was without starting quarterback Eric Dungey by a final of 42-14. UConn and Syracuse have terrible defenses, and this will be a big step up in class for backup QB Darius Wade against this Iowa defense.
Boston College only averages 163 passing yards per game and 5.7 per attempt. So the key to stopping the Eagles is stopping their running game, which averages 224 yards per game and 4.7 per carry. That makes this a perfect matchup for head coach Kirk Ferentz and this Iowa defense. His teams have always thrived against power-running teams, and that will show in this next trend.
Ferentz is 36-15 ATS versus good rushing teams averaging 200 or more rushing yards per game as the coach of Iowa. The Hawkeyes gave up just 19.9 points per game this season, and they allowed just 142 rushing yards per game and 4.1 per carry in the rugged Big Ten. Iowa is 55-28 ATS in its last 83 games after failing to cover the spread in two of its last three games coming in. The Eagles are 2-6 ATS in their last eight bowl games. The Eagles are 1-4 ATS in their last five vs. Big Ten opponents. Boston College is 1-8 ATS in its last nine December games. Take Iowa in the Pinstripe Bowl Wednesday.
|12-26-17||Kansas State v. UCLA UNDER 60.5||35-17||Win||100||25 h 31 m||Show|
15* Kansas State/UCLA Cactus Bowl BAILOUT on UNDER 60.5
Josh Rosen, the potential No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, is doubtful to play in this game with a concussion. The line moving from K-State -2.5 to -6.5 indicates he is not going to play. That completely changes the complexion of this game, and I think the UNDER is a great beat tonight.
Rosen means everything to this offense. He is completing 62.5 percent of his passes for 3,717 yards with 26 touchdowns and 10 interceptions on the season while averaging 8.2 per attempt. Backup Devon Modster hasn’t been nearly as effective in spot duty for him. Look for the Bruins to go to more of a run-first approach without him.
Running the ball certainly isn’t a strength of the Bruins. They are averaging just 120 rushing yards per game and 3.9 per carry. Kansas State been tremendous at stopping the run this season, holding opponents to just 122 rushing yards per game and 3.6 per carry.
The Wildcats once again feature a methodical offense that likes to churn yards out on the ground. They only average 182 passing yards per game. They rush 39 times per game for 187 yards per game and 4.8 per carry. They will keep the ball on the ground in this game and churn out yards and burn clock.
Kansas State is also likely to go with a redshirt freshman at quarterback due to injuries to starter Jesse Ertz and backup Alex Delton. He went 10-of-21 for 152 yards in the season finale against Iowa State. He isn’t likely to handle this big stage that well, and the game plan will be conservative with him under center.
Plays on the UNDER on neutral field teams where the total is between 56.5 and 63 (UCLA) - off a home win against a conference rival against an opponent off a win against a conference rival are 28-9 (75.7%) over the last 10 seasons. The UNDER is 4-1 in Wildcats last five December games. Take the UNDER in this game Tuesday.
|12-26-17||Utah v. West Virginia UNDER 57||Top||30-14||Win||100||172 h 41 m||Show|
25* College Bowl TOTAL OF THE YEAR on Utah/West Virginia UNDER 57
I expect a low-scoring affair between Utah and West Virginia today. The biggest reason is that West Virginia is going to be without starting quarterback Will Grier, who means everything to their offense. They will have to go to a more run-first approach without him.
Grier was one of the better quarterbacks in the country this season. He completed 64.4 percent of his passes for 3,490 yards with 34 touchdowns and 12 interceptions while averaging 9.0 per attempt. Backup Chris Chugunov completes just 54.8 percent of his passes and averages 6.6 per attempt in limited action in Grier’s place.
Utah boasts an elite defense once again this season that gives up just 23.9 points, 353 yards per game and 5.2 per play against teams that average 29.5 points, 405 yards and 5.8 per play. They are stout up front and will be able to limit WVU’s run-heavy attack in this one.
Utah also insists on running the football more than it throws it. But the Utes have struggled to run the ball this year. They average 39 attempts for 161 yards per game and 4.1 per carry against teams that give up 188 yards per game and 4.6 per carry on the ground. They are a below-average running team.
Utah is 29-10 UNDER in its last 39 road games after gaining 6.25 or more yards per play in its previous game. The UNDER is 5-1 in Utah last six games following a win by more than 20 points. The UNDER is 7-1 in Mountaineers last eight December games. Bet the UNDER in this game Tuesday.
|12-24-17||Houston v. Fresno State OVER 49||27-33||Win||100||131 h 42 m||Show|
15* Houston/Fresno State Hawai’i Bowl BAILOUT on OVER 49
I think the fact that both Houston and Fresno State were heavy under teams during the regular season is giving us value to pull the trigger on the OVER in the Hawai’i Bowl. The Cougars went 2-9 to the under this season, while the Bulldogs went 3-9-1 to the under this year.
But we’ve seen this story in bowl games before. Offenses pull out new tricks with all of that extra time to prepare, and I think that will certainly be the case here. Both head coaches in Jeff Tedford and Major Applewhite are great offensive minds who got their jobs because of the work they’ve done on the offensive side of the football.
Fresno State made its run to a trip to the MWC title game after quarterback Marcus McMaryion took over the reigns after the non-conference portion of the schedule. He went on to complete 61.1 percent of his passes for 2,384 yards with 14 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions while averaging 7.9 per attempt. He also rushed for 250 yards and two scores on 5.1 per carry.
The same thing happened for Houston once D’Eriq King took over at quarterback four the final four games of the season. He has completed 69.8 percent of his passes for 991 yards with a 6-to-1 TD/INT ratio while averaging 10.3 per attempt. King also brings a big rushing element to the offense, rushing for 341 yards and eight scores while averaging 5.4 per carry. He has 15 pass plays of 20 or more yards, including touchdowns of 61, 62 and 75 yards despite such limited action.
Tedford is 17-5 OVER in non-conference road games in all games he has coached. We’re seeing an average of 61.6 points per game on average in this spot. The OVER is 12-5-1 in Bulldogs last 18 non-conference games. Perfect conditions inside Aloha Stadium in Hawai’i will also help aid this OVER. Bet the OVER in the Hawai’i Bowl Sunday.
|12-23-17||Army v. San Diego State -6.5||Top||42-35||Loss||-115||102 h 52 m||Show|
20* Army/San Diego State Armed Forces Bowl ANNIHILATOR on San Diego State -6.5
Despite being 10-2 this season, I think the San Diego State Aztecs are actually being undervalued because they didn’t win the Mountain West. But they basically gave the game away to Boise State, and they suffered a hangover the next week against Fresno State, the two teams that played in the Mountain West Championship.
Rocky Long has done a great job of refocusing the Aztecs and getting them to finish the season strong following those two losses. This is a team that beat both Arizona State and Stanford earlier in the season, and then they finishes the year by going 4-0 SU & 4-0 ATS over their final four games with four straight wins all by 19 points or more.
Now Rocky Long gets extra time to prepare for Army’s triple-option. I always like fading triple-option teams when their opponent has extra time to prepare. And Long is used to facing triple-option teams having to play Air Force every season. And boy do his defenses know how to stop them. In his time at San Diego State, Long’s teams are 13-2 SU & 12-3 ATS in 15 games against triple-option teams.
I really question Army’s motivation in this bowl game. They just upset Navy for a second consecutive year with a late touchdown to win 14-13. That game was their Super Bowl, and they won’t nearly be as motivated to face San Diego State as they were to face Navy.
Army was a very fortunate team this season, going 5-2 in games decided by a touchdown or less. I don’t think the Black Knights are nearly as good as their 9-3 record would suggest. And they played a much softer schedule than that of San Diego State. Seven of the Aztecs’ 10 wins came by double-digits, while only four of Army’s nine wins came by double-digits, and those were against Fordham, UTEP, Rice and Air Force.
Rocky Long’s teams always get after it defensively, and this year has been no exception. They only give up 18.4 points, 299 yards per game and 5.1 yards per play this season. They have been extremely good at stopping the run, allowing just 111 rushing yards per game and 3.5 per carry. That makes this an excellent matchup for their defense.
San Diego State actually has one of the best offenses it has had in years this season. The Aztecs average 30.4 points per game. They are led by a ground attack that produces 253 yards per game and 5.5 per carry. Army gives up 5.0 per carry, so this is also a good matchup for their offense. Rashaad Penny, one of the most underrated players in college football, rushed for 2,027 yards and 19 touchdowns this season while averaging 7.4 per carry. He’ll be primed for a big game in this one.
The Aztecs have won their last two bowl games in blowout fashion with a 34-10 win over Houston as 4-point dogs in the Las Vegas Bowl last year, and a 42-7 win over Cincinnati as 2-point favorites in the Hawai’i Bowl in 2015.
Plays on any team (San Diego State) - excellent rushing team averaging 4.8 or more yards per carry against a terrible rushing defense giving up 4.8 or more per carry after 7-plus games, after outrushing their last two opponents by 150 or more yards per game are 37-10 (78.7%) ATS since 1992. The Black Knights are 1-5 ATS in their last six vs. MWC opponents. Bet San Diego State Saturday.
|12-22-17||UAB +7.5 v. Ohio||Top||6-41||Loss||-110||75 h 43 m||Show|
20* UAB/Ohio Bahamas Bowl No-Brainer on UAB +7.5
The UAB Blazers have gone from not fielding a team the last two years to playing in their first bowl game in 13 seasons. Financial reasons forced them to close the football program after the 2014 season. But fundraising helped bring back the program in 2017, and the fan base has been behind them 100%.
Head coach Bill Clark did not leave the program after the 2014 season. He came back and led the Blazers to a school-record 8 wins. They went 8-4 overall and finished 6-2 in Conference USA’s West Division. Now they’ll be playing in their first bowl game since 2004, and it’s safe to say that no team will be more happy to be playing in a bowl this year than them.
Clark is deserving of winning Coach of the Year honors, and many speculated that he would leave for greener pastures. But Clark has shown his loyalty to the program by recently signing a five-year extension. That will give the team a huge boost and eliminate any possible distractions.
While UAB is happy to be here, I think Ohio is still suffering a hangover effect from losing its final two games of the season. Those losses cost the Bobcats a chance to play for the MAC Championship. They were upset 34-37 at Akron as 15.5-point dogs, and then watched Akron go on to get blown out by Toledo in the MAC Championship and by FAU in the Boca Raton Bowl. The Bobcats also lost 24-31 at Buffalo in the finale.
The Bobcats’ ground game is their strength, but that takes a big hit now that leading rusher A.J. Oullette (985 yards, 7 TD) is doubtful with a shoulder injury. That will allow UAB to focus in more on stopping QB Nathan Rourke (877 yards, 21 TD). And UAB only gives up 188 passing yards per game and 51.4% completions this season, so they are equipped to stop Rourke if he decided to air it out more.
Head coach Frank Solich hasn’t been very good at pushing the right buttons with players leading up to bowl games. He is 4-9 in his career in bowl games, including 2-6 at Ohio. The Bobcats have lost three straight bowl games, and the opponents haven’t been very good in East Carolina, Appalachian State and Troy. I don’t trust Solich’s ability to regroup this team after such a deflating finish to the season losing out on a chance at a MAC title.
Plays against any team (Ohio) off two straight losses to conference rivals, allowing 31 points or more in each, in a game involving two good teams winning 60% to 80% of their games are 28-8 (77.8%) ATS over the last 10 seasons. The Blazers are 5-0 ATS in their last five games vs. a team with a winning record. Bet UAB in the Bahamas Bowl Friday.
|12-20-17||Louisiana Tech +5 v. SMU||51-10||Win||100||34 h 13 m||Show|
15* LA Tech/SMU Frisco Bowl ANNIHILATOR on LA Tech +5
The LA Tech Bulldogs are one of the most underrated teams heading into bowl season. That’s because they went just 6-6 this season, but they were better than that record suggests. In fact, three of their losses this season came by a single points, and they went 1-4 in games decided by a touchdown or less.
But give head coach Skip Holtz and the Bulldogs credit for continuing to fight. They needed to win each of their final two games to get into a bowl, and they did just that with a 42-21 win at UTEP as 16-point favorites, and a 20-6 home win over UTSA as 1-point favorites. This team will clearly be happy to be playing in a ball after the way they fought for it down the stretch.
"The competitive nature of this team and the will to fight, that's been consistent all throughout the season." Louisiana Tech senior running back Boston Scott said. "We're going to go out there and play hard -- we know what's at stake. We have to have that single-elimination mindset; it's win or end with a loss. I'm looking forward to seeing this team compete."
Holtz has certainly been a coach you want to back in these bowl games. He is 3-0 in bowl games as the head coach at Louisiana Tech. They beat Illinois 35-18 in in the 2014 Heart of Dallas Bowl, topped Arkansas State 47-28 in the 2015 New Orleans Bowl, and then won a wild 48-45 game against Navy in the 2016 Armed Forces bowl.
No doubt SMU players were happy to clinch a bowl berth back on October 27th with their 38-34 win over Tulsa. But they struggled down the stretch to stay motivated, going 1-3 SU & 1-3 ATS in their final four games overall. They were fortunate to beat Tulane 41-38 as 8-point favorites in their season finale at home as the Green Wave came up inches short of a game-winning TD in the closing seconds.
Now I really question the motivation of this team. Head coach Chad Morris has abandoned the team and left for the Arkansas job, and he took a handful of assistants with him. New head coach Sonny Dykes hasn’t had time to install his preferred Air Raid offense, so he will just sit back and let some of the team’s remaining assistants call the game and let his new team play to their strengths. That sounds like a disaster waiting to happen, and I just can’t imagine these SMU players being as focused as they normally would be coming into a game.
It’s just hard to trust SMU in this game with the way they play defense. They give up 35.5 points, 487 yards per game and 6.7 yards per play on the season. Compare that to LA Tech, which allows 26.7 points, 395 yards per game and 5.8 per play, and it’s easy to see which team has the superior defense in this one. I think that will be the difference in this game, plus the fact that the Bulldogs will be the more focused, motivated team.
SMU is 1-9 ATS in its last 10 games off a close home win by 3 points or less. LA Tech is 8-1 ATS versus poor rushing defenses that allow 200 or more yards per game over the last three seasons. The Mustangs are 1-6 ATS in their last seven games overall. The Bulldogs are 4-1 ATS in their last five bowl games. Bet Louisiana Tech Wednesday.
|12-19-17||Akron +23.5 v. Florida Atlantic||Top||3-50||Loss||-110||9 h 14 m||Show|
20* Akron/FAU Boca Raton Bowl No-Brainer on Akron +23.5
For starters, this is the biggest spread in college football bowl history. I’ll gladly take the underdog in this situation as this 23.5-point spread has gotten out of hand for a number of reasons. The value is clearly with Akron in the Boca Raton Bowl Tuesday.
This is an Akron team that has been underrated for most of the season. Nobody expected them to go to the MAC Championship, but that’s precisely what they did. The key was their 37-34 win over Ohio as 15.5-point underdogs. There was nothing fluky about that win as they outgunned Ohio by 48 yards.
I like the fact that in the MAC Championship Game, they could have packed it in when they fell behind big early. But they kept fighting and wound up covering as 20.5-point underdogs in a 28-45 loss to Toledo, which is a better team than Florida Atlantic.
The Zips are very happy to be playing in a bowl game and will be motivated to try to pull the upset and finish their season with a winning record. After all, this is only their third bowl game in the history of the program. It’s only their second bowl appearance in the past 11 seasons. They now get to head down to some warm weather in Florida and couldn’t be more excited to be here.
I think Florida Atlantic comes in way overvalued after going 9-0 SU & 7-2 ATS in their last nine games overall. The betting public has caught on to this team and has driven this line all the way up to 23.5. Their season is a success no matter what happens in this game, because they just won Conference USA with a 41-17 victory over North Texas.
They won their conference, and there really isn’t anything more to accomplish. And what is Florida Atlantic’s reward for winning a down Conference USA? They get to play another home game here. The betting public will look at that as a good thing, but I don’t believe it’s a good thing at all. They would much rather travel somewhere to a better destination. These players won’t be excited at all to stay home. Their lack of motivation in this game will make it very difficult to cover this 23.5-point spread in spite of their big talent edge.
Akron is 6-0 ATS after covering the spread in two of their last three games this season. Florida Atlantic is 25-42 ATS in its last 67 home games. The Zips are 21-8 ATS in their last 29 games versus good rushing teams who average 4.75 or more yards per carry. Akron is 6-1 ATS in its last seven vs. a team with a winning record. The Zips are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games overall. The Owls are 2-6 ATS in their last eight non-conference games.
Plays against home favorites (Florida Atlantic) - an excellent offensive team averaging 6.2 or more yards per play against a defense that gives up 5.6 to 6.2 yards per play after 7-plus games, in non-conference games are 22-5 (81.5%) ATS since 1992. Bet Akron Tuesday.
|12-16-17||North Texas v. Troy -6.5||Top||30-50||Win||100||68 h 23 m||Show|
20* North Texas/Troy 2017 Bowl Season Opener on Troy -6.5
The Troy Trojans are 10-2 this season. Their only losses came to Boise State and South Alabama. The Boise State loss was on the road and they were in it the entire way, and the South Alabama loss was a letdown spot following the biggest win in program history at LSU the previous week. Both losses were understandable.
This is a Troy team that is loaded with seniors. They will be motivated to win their 11th game and end their careers on top with a win in the New Orleans Bowl. And I certainly believe they are far and away the better team in this matchup with North Texas.
This is a North Texas team that was extremely fortunate to post a 9-4 record this year. The Mean Green went 5-0 in games decided by a touchdown or less. Every time they took a step up in class, they were blown out, and this is a step up as well. They lost by 22 at SMU, by 17 at Iowa, by 38 at Florida Atlantic and by 24 to FAU in the C-USA Championship. They trailed that game 34-0 before getting some garbage time scores.
Since that loss to South Alabama, Troy has gone 6-0 with five of those wins coming by 7 points or more. They are playing well and will be the superior team at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. They give up just 3.0 yards per carry on defense, and they average 4.8 yards per carry on offense.
North Texas hasn’t been able to run the ball since losing arguably their best player in running back Jeffery Wilson. He was hurt in the Army game in their 11th game of the season. Wilson has rushed for 1,215 yards and accounted for 16 total touchdowns. The Mean Green managed just 81 rushing yards on 35 carries against Florida Atlantic in the C-USA title game. They are one-dimensional now, which will make the task much easier for Troy in this game.
Another big difference in this game is on the defensive side of the ball. Troy has one of the better defenses in the country, giving up just 17.5 points per game and 4.9 yards per play on the season. North Texas is one of the worst defensive teams, giving up 33.8 points pre game and 5.9 yards per play. That’s more than a 16-point difference.
The Trojans have a coaching edge in this game. Troy defensive coordinator Vic Koenning held the same title at North Carolina when North Texas head coach Seth Littrell was the offensive coordinator of the Tar Heels. The Trojans will be prepared for what they’re going to face defensively Saturday.
"He's a really good friend of mine. I respect what he's done," Brown said of Littrell. "Vic's got an understanding of who Seth is and what he's about.”
"I really like what those guys do on offense, so I've watched them quite a bit as the years have gone on," Brown said of North Texas. "I've got a good feel for what they're trying to do offensively. The Fine kid ... they recruited him hard here at Troy. He's doing a really good job."
Plays on neutral field favorites (Troy) after allowing 8 or more yards per passing attempt last game, with 8 offensive starters returning are 23-4 (85.2%) ATS since 1992. North Texas is 1-9 ATS in road games vs. good passing teams with a completion percentage of 58% or better over the last three seasons. The Mean Green are 3-13 ATS in their last 16 road games vs. good offensive teams that average 5.9 or more yards per play. Neal Brown is 13-3 ATS in Saturday road games as the coach of Troy. The Trojans are 9-3 ATS in their last 12 games vs. at team with a winning record. Bet Troy in the New Orleans Bowl Saturday.
|12-09-17||Army v. Navy -2.5||Top||14-13||Loss||-115||13 h 25 m||Show|
20* Army/Navy CBS Saturday No-Brainer on Navy -2.5
Navy had won 14 straight meetings with Army before finally losing to the Black Knights 21-17 last season. But that was an awful situation for the Midshipmen, to recently moved into the AAC. They played for the AAC Championship against Temple last year and lost that game.
Normally, Navy would have two weeks to get ready for Army. But that wasn’t the case last year as the Midshipmen had to play on Championship Week, while Army got two weeks to prepare. The Black Knights took advantage of that break and pulled off the upset.
That won’t be the case this year as both teams have two weeks to prepare. And you can bet Navy wasn’t happy about having to hear about losing to Army for 365 days. Look for the Midshipmen to be playing with a chip on their shoulder this week and to have a big brother mentality where they never want to lose to their little brother.
Let’s look at this game from a line value perspective. Navy has been favored by at least 6 points against Army in 14 consecutive meetings. They have been a double-digit favorite nine times during this stretch. Now they are only 2.5-point favorites this year, and I think the value is clearly with the Midshipmen because of it.
Sure, Army is improved at 8-3 this season, but the Black Knights have played an extremely soft schedule. They haven’t beaten a team with a winning record all season! The best wins they have are against 6-6 teams. And they’ve lost to Tulane and North Texas.
Navy has played the much more difficult schedule, and they’ve been in every game they played. They are 6-5 this season, but all five losses came by 10 points or less, and they came to five bowl teams with four of them on the road to Memphis, UCF, Temple, Notre Dame and Houston. They played all five teams right down to the wire, including a 17-24 loss at Notre Dame as 21-point dogs.
Army outgained teams by 38 yards per game on the season while Navy outgained teams by 39 yards per game, and that’s important when you consider how much more difficult Navy’s schedule was. This game will come down to which team stops the run.
Navy gives up 4.6 yards per carry against teams that average 5.1 per carry, holding them to 0.5 yards per carry below their season averages. Army gives up 4.8 per carry against teams that only average 4.3 per carry, actually giving up 0.5 per carry more than their opponents normally average. It’s clear that the Midshipmen have the better run defense.
Army is 6-21 ATS in its last 27 vs. poor pass defenses that allow 8.5 or more yards per attempt. Navy is 22-6 ATS in its last 28 road games after having lost two of its last three games coming in. The Black Knights are 14-35 ATS in their last 49 games following a bye week. Bet Navy Saturday.
|12-02-17||Ohio State v. Wisconsin +6||27-21||Push||0||42 h 29 m||Show|
15* Ohio State/Wisconsin Big Ten Championship No-Brainer on Wisconsin +6
Wisconsin just can’t get any love despite being unbeaten. Sure, they have played a softer schedule than most Power 5 teams, but they’ve also taken care of business and have outgained all 12 opponents during their 12-0 start. Nothing about their 12-0 record has been fluky as all 12 wins have come by 8 points or more, including a whopping 10 wins by 14 points or more.
The oddsmakers just haven’t been able to catch up with Wisconsin down the stretch, either, because the public perception on them has been so poor. All the Badgers have done is go 4-0 SU & 4-0 ATS in their last four games, covering the spread by a combined 45 points to absolutely demolish these spreads.
Now the Badgers are getting nearly a touchdown against Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship. I really think the value is with the Badgers in a game they probably win outright. You can bet head coach Paul Chryst is going to be playing the no respect card with this team. I think they are ready to take that next step and make their way into the four-team playoff.
Ohio State just gets love from the betting public because of the name on their jersey. But the Buckeyes have been far from impressive in their ‘step up’ games. They are just 2-7 ATS in their last nine games vs. a team with a winning record. The Urban Meyer ‘mystique’ is no longer there when playing these bigger games.
The Buckeyes lost at home to Oklahoma, needed a huge 4th quarter comeback to beat Penn State at home, and trailed Michigan most of the way last week on the road. Not to mention, they lost 24-55 at Iowa and were outgained by 116 yards. That’s the same Iowa team that Wisconsin beat 38-14 the next week while outgaining the Hawkeyes by 316 yards.
J.T. Barrett suffered a knee injury against Michigan last week that forced him to leave the game. He then had surgery on his knee this week, but he is expected to play. That’s not a quarterback I’d want to be backing with my money with the fact that he actually had surgery the week of a game. Barrett won’t be anywhere near 100% for this game.
It’s also a revenge game for Wisconsin after losing in overtime at home to Ohio State last year. The underdog is 12-3-1 ATS in the last 16 meetings in this series. Ohio State is 0-6 ATS off three straight conference wins over the last two seasons. Wisconsin is 10-1 ATS off one or more consecutive unders over the last two seasons. The Badgers are 7-0 ATS after allowing 17 points or less in four straight games over the last two seasons. Take Wisconsin Saturday.
|12-02-17||Troy v. Arkansas State||32-25||Win||100||42 h 44 m||Show|
15* Troy/Arkansas State Sun Belt ANNIHILATOR on Troy PK
This is a huge revenge game for the Troy Trojans. Last year, they were expected to win the Sun Belt and only needed to beat Arkansas State to do so. They fell flat on their faces and lost 3-35 at home despite being 10-point favorites.
This is a Troy team that returned 14 starters from that team and a ton of experience. They are the best team in the Sun Belt in my opinion, and this is a scary team when they are motivated. Now they prove they are the best team with a win over Arkansas State here.
We saw what they could do when they were motivated when they beat LSU outright on the road as 20.5-point underdogs earlier this year. That’s an LSU team that has since gone on to go 5-1 with its only loss coming to Alabama in a game where they actually outgained the Crimson Tide.
The Trojans are the fresher team as they had a bye two weeks ago before crushing Texas State 62-9 last week. Meanwhile, Arkansas State has had to play three straight weeks and is coming off a draining 67-50 shootout win over Louisiana Monroe. I like the freshness of Troy better and the motivation of Troy better in this game.
Troy has played the tougher schedule this season, yet still has put up the better numbers. The Trojans are averaging 6.4 yards per play on offense and giving up only 4.7 yards per play on defense. To compare, Arkansas State is at 6.2 yards per play on offense and giving up 5.4 yards per play on defense. With the Trojans having by far the superior defense, giving up 16.8 points per game this season compared to 24.2 for Arkansas State, that’s where this game is going to be decided.
Troy is 9-1 ATS in its last 10 games after outgaining its last two opponents by 125 or more total yards each. Plays on all teams where the line is +3 to -3 (TROY) - off a win by 10 points or more over a conference rival, with 4+ more total starters returning than opponent are 30-6 (83.3%) ATS over the last five seasons. Roll with Troy Saturday.
|12-02-17||Georgia Southern -2.5 v. Costal Carolina||Top||17-28||Loss||-115||35 h 14 m||Show|
20* CFB Saturday No-Doubt Rout on Georgia Southern -2.5
Quietly, the Georgia Southern Eagles are playing their best football of the season down the stretch. They opened 0-9, but have since put together two huge efforts the past two weeks. They beat South Alabama 52-0 as 6.5-point home dogs and LA Lafayette 34-24 as 4-point road dogs, covering the spread by a combined 72.5 points!
It’s clear to me that Georgia Southern is being mis-priced in the market place right now as only 2.5-point favorites over Coastal Carolina this week. Coastal Carolina is also 2-9 on the season, but this team is nowhere near as good as Georgia Southern right now. They are getting too much respect for beating Idaho 13-7 last week, but that was an Idaho team without starting QB Matt Linehan, who means everything to the Vandals.
Coastal Carolina is now without its top two quarterbacks in Tyler Keane and Dalton Demos, who are both doubtful to play Saturday. That leaves 3rd stringer Kilton Anderson to take the snaps Saturday for the Chanticleers. Anderson went just 11-of-23 for 100 yards against Idaho last week. I see no way they can put up enough points to match Georgia Southern, which has scored a combined 86 points the past two weeks.
The Chanticleers have zero home-field advantage and there certainly won’t be many fans who turn out to watch this 2-9 team. Coastal Carolina is 1-4 SU & 1-4 ATS at home this season, scoring just 18.6 points per game and giving up 35.2 points per game, getting outscored by 16.6 points per game. The have failed to cover the spread in each of their last four home games.
Plays against home teams where the line is +3 to -3 (COASTAL CAROLINA) - after a game where they committed one or less turnovers against opponent after two consecutive games with a turnover margin of +2 or better are 28-5 (84.8%) ATS over the last 10 seasons. Bet Georgia Southern Saturday.
|12-01-17||Stanford v. USC -3||Top||28-31||Push||0||92 h 8 m||Show|
20* Stanford/USC Pac-12 Championship No-Brainer on USC -3
The USC Trojans are doing it again. After a slow start to the season just like last year, they have now reeled off four straight victories to close the season with three of those coming by double-digits. They are now 10-2 and easily the best team in the Pac-12. They prove that with a second victory over Stanford this season.
What has been most impressive about this strong finish by the Trojans is that they didn’t have a bye week all year. Their bye week came after their 12th game in Week 13 last week. That gives them a massive advantage in rest and preparation heading into the Pac-12 Championship Game getting two full weeks to prepare for Stanford.
Meanwhile, Stanford had to play a physical game Saturday night against Nortre Dame. The Cardinal won’t hat game 38-20, but that was a completely misleading final. The Fighting Irish actually outgained them 405 to 328 for the game, or by 77 total yards. But they lost the turnover battle 3-0 and that was the key difference. I think that misleading 38-20 final has Stanford overvalued coming into this game now.
USC already beat Stanford 42-24 in their first meeting this season to end a 3-game losing streak in this series. That game was an even bigger blowout than the score showed. USC racked up a whopping 623 total yards on this Stanford defense, limiting the Cardinal to just 342 total yards and outgaining them by 281 total yards. Expect more of the same in the rematch.
The Cardinal are 2-7-1 ATS in their last 10 games following a win. Stanford is 0-5 ATS in its last five games following an ATS win. Simply put, the Cardinal aren’t nearly as good as their 9-3 record suggests. They are actually getting outgained by 7 yards per game on the season. USC is outgaining foes by 79 yards per game on the season and is legitimately one of the best teams in the country. Bet USC Friday.
|11-25-17||Washington State +10.5 v. Washington||14-41||Loss||-110||23 h 44 m||Show|
15* Washington State/Washington Apple Cup No-Brainer on Washington State +10.5
|11-25-17||Duke +12 v. Wake Forest||Top||31-23||Win||100||66 h 18 m||Show|
20* ACC GAME OF THE WEEK on Duke +12
|11-25-17||Indiana v. Purdue -2.5||Top||24-31||Win||100||70 h 37 m||Show|
25* College Football GAME OF THE YEAR on Purdue -2.5
|11-24-17||Virginia Tech v. Virginia +7.5||10-0||Loss||-120||32 h 15 m||Show|
15* VA Tech/Virginia ESPN Friday No-Brainer on Virginia +7.5
|11-24-17||Iowa -3.5 v. Nebraska||56-14||Win||100||28 h 13 m||Show|
15* CFB Friday No-Doubt Rout on Iowa -3.5
|11-24-17||Ohio v. Buffalo +4||Top||24-31||Win||100||52 h 44 m||Show|
20* MAC GAME OF THE WEEK on Buffalo +4
|11-23-17||Ole Miss +15 v. Mississippi State||31-28||Win||100||44 h 20 m||Show|
15* Ole Miss/Mississippi State ESPN No-Brainer on Ole Miss +15
|11-21-17||Bowling Green v. Eastern Michigan -12.5||31-34||Loss||-105||8 h 18 m||Show|
15* MAC PLAY OF THE DAY on Eastern Michigan -12.5
|11-18-17||LSU -15.5 v. Tennessee||30-10||Win||100||128 h 49 m||Show|
15* CFB Saturday Big Chalk BLOWOUT on LSU -15.5
|11-18-17||Purdue +9 v. Iowa||Top||24-15||Win||100||133 h 22 m||Show|
20* Big Ten GAME OF THE WEEK on Purdue +9
|11-18-17||Central Florida v. Temple +14||45-19||Loss||-110||92 h 48 m||Show|
15* UCF/Temple AAC Early ANNIHILATOR on Temple +14
|11-18-17||Virginia +19.5 v. Miami-FL||Top||28-44||Win||100||92 h 50 m||Show|
25* ACC GAME OF THE YEAR on Virginia +19.5
|11-18-17||UL-Monroe +37 v. Auburn||14-42||Win||100||92 h 39 m||Show|
15* CFB Saturday Undervalued Underdog on Louisiana-Monroe +37
Auburn is 2-10 ATS in its last 12 games as a favorite of 20 or more points. College football underdogs of 30 or more points this season alone are 57-23 ATS. Bet Louisiana-Monroe Saturday.
|11-16-17||Buffalo -20.5 v. Ball State||40-24||Loss||-110||75 h 29 m||Show|
15* Buffalo/Ball State MAC Thursday No-Brainer on Buffalo -20.5
|11-15-17||Eastern Michigan v. Miami-OH -3||Top||27-24||Loss||-115||69 h 20 m||Show|
25* MAC GAME OF THE YEAR on Miami Ohio -3
|11-11-17||Kentucky v. Vanderbilt -2.5||Top||44-21||Loss||-110||58 h 33 m||Show|
20* CFB Saturday No-Doubt Rout on Vanderbilt -2.5
|11-11-17||Georgia v. Auburn +3||17-40||Win||100||57 h 13 m||Show|
15* Georgia/Auburn CBS Saturday No-Brainer on Auburn +3
|11-11-17||Virginia Tech v. Georgia Tech +3||Top||22-28||Win||100||54 h 54 m||Show|
20* ACC GAME OF THE MONTH on Georgia Tech +3
|11-11-17||Michigan State +16.5 v. Ohio State||3-48||Loss||-110||54 h 39 m||Show|
15* Michigan State/Ohio State FOX Early ANNIHILATOR on Michigan State +16.5
|11-11-17||NC State v. Boston College +3||17-14||Push||0||54 h 34 m||Show|
15* CFB Saturday UPSET SHOCKER on Boston College +3
|11-11-17||Oklahoma State v. Iowa State +7||49-42||Push||0||54 h 33 m||Show|
15* Big 12 PLAY OF THE DAY on Iowa State +7
|11-11-17||Rutgers +31 v. Penn State||Top||6-35||Win||100||54 h 35 m||Show|
25* Big Ten GAME OF THE YEAR on Rutgers +31
James Franklin has been a front-runner when things have gone good, but he hasn't had that same magic touch when things are going bad. I look for them to continue to go bad for Penn State this week off those two crushing losses to Ohio State and Michigan State. Bet Rutgers Saturday.
|11-10-17||Temple v. Cincinnati +3||Top||35-24||Loss||-115||67 h 48 m||Show|
20* Temple/Cincinnati AAC GAME OF THE MONTH on Cincinnati +3
|11-08-17||Toledo -3.5 v. Ohio||10-38||Loss||-107||19 h 49 m||Show|
15* Toledo/Ohio MAC Wednesday No-Brainer on Toledo -3.5
|11-07-17||Akron v. Miami-OH -6.5||Top||14-24||Win||100||23 h 22 m||Show|
20* Akron/Miami Ohio MAC GAME OF THE WEEK on Miami Ohio -6.5
|11-04-17||LSU +21.5 v. Alabama||Top||10-24||Win||100||137 h 1 m||Show|
20* SEC GAME OF THE MONTH on LSU +21.5
|11-04-17||Texas +7 v. TCU||7-24||Loss||-115||127 h 26 m||Show|
15* Texas/TCU ESPN Saturday No-Brainer on Texas +7
|11-04-17||Nevada +22 v. Boise State||14-41||Loss||-110||64 h 1 m||Show|
15* Mountain West PLAY OF THE DAY on Nevada +22
|11-04-17||Oklahoma v. Oklahoma State -3||Top||62-52||Loss||-115||133 h 1 m||Show|
25* CFB BLOWOUT GAME OF THE YEAR on Oklahoma State -3
|11-04-17||South Carolina +25.5 v. Georgia||10-24||Win||100||133 h 40 m||Show|
15* CFB Saturday Undervalued Underdog on South Carolina +25.5
Georgia coach Kirby Smart and Muschamp were teammates in college at Georgia. Smart won't be looking to run up on the score on his former teammate. And it's also worth noting that Georgia has an even bigger game against Auburn on deck, so this is a clear lookahead spot for the Bulldogs.
|11-04-17||Penn State v. Michigan State +9||24-27||Win||100||57 h 7 m||Show|
15* Penn State/Michigan State Big Ten Early ANNIHILATOR on Michigan State +9
|11-04-17||UMass +28 v. Mississippi State||23-34||Win||100||58 h 34 m||Show|
15* CFB Saturday Non-Conference KNOCKOUT on UMass +28
|11-03-17||Marshall v. Florida Atlantic -9||Top||25-30||Loss||-110||87 h 12 m||Show|
20* Marshall/FAU C-USA GAME OF THE WEEK on Florida Atlantic -9
|11-02-17||Northern Illinois +9.5 v. Toledo||17-27||Loss||-110||63 h 2 m||Show|
15* NIU/Toledo MAC Thursday ANNIHILATOR on Northern Illinois +9.5
|11-01-17||Central Michigan +6.5 v. Western Michigan||35-28||Win||100||41 h 13 m||Show|
15* CMU/WMU MAC Wednesday No-Brainer on Central Michigan +6.5
|10-31-17||Miami-OH v. Ohio UNDER 54||Top||28-45||Loss||-105||18 h 35 m||Show|
20* MAC TOTAL OF THE MONTH on Miami (OH)/Ohio UNDER 54
|10-28-17||USC v. Arizona State +3||48-17||Loss||-115||125 h 38 m||Show|
15* USC/ASU ESPN Late-Night BAILOUT on Arizona State +3
|10-28-17||Texas Tech +19 v. Oklahoma||Top||27-49||Loss||-110||103 h 15 m||Show|
25* CFB DOG OF THE YEAR on Texas Tech +19
|10-28-17||Minnesota +8 v. Iowa||10-17||Win||100||121 h 30 m||Show|
15* Big Ten PLAY OF THE DAY on Minnesota +8
|10-28-17||Florida Atlantic -6.5 v. Western Kentucky||42-28||Win||100||34 h 26 m||Show|
15* CFB Saturday No-Doubt Rout on Florida Atlantic -6.5
|10-28-17||Oklahoma State v. West Virginia +7.5||Top||50-39||Loss||-115||114 h 1 m||Show|
20* Oklahoma State/WVU Big 12 No-Brainer on West Virginia +7.5
|10-27-17||Tulsa v. SMU -8.5||Top||34-38||Loss||-110||45 h 19 m||Show|
20* Tulsa/SMU AAC GAME OF THE WEEK on SMU -8.5
|10-26-17||Stanford v. Oregon State +21||Top||15-14||Win||100||22 h 30 m||Show|
20* Stanford/Oregon State Pac-12 GAME OF THE WEEK on Oregon State +21
|10-21-17||USC v. Notre Dame -3.5||Top||14-49||Win||100||124 h 47 m||Show|
25* CFB Rivalry GAME OF THE YEAR on Notre Dame -3.5
|10-21-17||LSU v. Ole Miss +7||40-24||Loss||-110||69 h 9 m||Show|
15* SEC PLAY OF THE DAY on Ole Miss +7
|10-21-17||South Florida -11 v. Tulane||34-28||Loss||-110||69 h 55 m||Show|
15* AAC PLAY OF THE DAY on South Florida -11
|10-21-17||Southern Miss v. Louisiana Tech -2.5||Top||34-27||Loss||-110||69 h 55 m||Show|
20* Conference USA GAME OF THE WEEK on Louisiana Tech -2.5
|10-21-17||Central Florida -7 v. Navy||31-21||Win||100||65 h 25 m||Show|
15* CFB Saturday No-Doubt Rout on UCF -7
|10-20-17||Air Force v. Nevada +7||Top||45-42||Win||100||47 h 3 m||Show|
20* Mountain West GAME OF THE WEEK on Nevada +7
|10-19-17||UL-Lafayette +13 v. Arkansas State||Top||3-47||Loss||-115||22 h 40 m||Show|
20* Sun Belt GAME OF THE WEEK on Louisiana-Lafayette +13
|10-15-17||Akron +13 v. Western Michigan||Top||14-13||Win||100||4 h 52 m||Show|
20* MAC GAME OF THE WEEK on Akron +13
|10-14-17||Washington v. Arizona State +17.5||7-13||Win||100||83 h 53 m||Show|
15* Washington/ASU ESPN Late-Night BAILOUT on Arizona State +17.5
|10-14-17||Auburn v. LSU +7||Top||23-27||Win||100||125 h 12 m||Show|
25* SEC GAME OF THE YEAR on LSU +7
|10-14-17||South Carolina v. Tennessee -2.5||15-9||Loss||-110||87 h 28 m||Show|
15* CFB Saturday No-Doubt Rout on Tennessee -2.5
|10-14-17||Texas Tech v. West Virginia -3||Top||35-46||Win||100||88 h 35 m||Show|
20* Big 12 GAME OF THE WEEK on West Virginia -3