College Football betting trends, odds and predictions for Saturday, October 14th, 2017 from various handicappers and websites
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College Football Week 7
Texas Tech is 4-1, with road wins at Houston/Kansas; Red Raiders are 8-2 vs spread in last ten games as a road underdog. West Virginia scored 56 points in both its I-A wins, 24 in both its losses; under Holgorsen, Mountaineers are 12-19 vs spread as home favorites- LW was fist time this year they ran for less than 200 yards (142). West Virginia won its last three games vs Texas Tech, by 31-5-3 points; underdogs are 3-2 vs spread in those games. Teams split two meetings here; average total in five series games, 64.0.
TCU is 5-0 with road wins in Arkansas/Okla St and a home win over West Va; Horned Frogs are 6-13 in last 19 games as a road favorite, 1-0 this year. Kansas State lost in OT at Texas LW; since 2011, Wildcats are 8-2 vs spread as a home underdog. Over their last 3 games, K-State is just 31-68 (45.6%) passing the ball. Underdogs covered three of last four TCU-Kansas State games; Horned Frogs lost 30-6 at home to K-State LY, gaining only 280 yards- they split last two visits to Little Apple (underdogs 2-0 vs spread).
Florida State is 1-3 for first time since 1976; they lost to rival Miami LW for first time in 8 years. FSU is playing a true freshman (backup) QB- they completed only 28-49 (57.1%) of their passes the last two weeks, their only win was 26-19 (-7.5) at Wake Forest two weeks ago. Seminoles won their last 14 games with Duke, covering last six; they won last six games in Durham, all by 24+ points. Duke is 5-2 vs spread in its last seven games as a home underdog; they lost 31-6 (+5.5) at home to Miami two weeks ago. ACC home underdogs are 3-6 against the spread.
Wyoming (-4) hammered Utah State 52-28 LY, snapping 5-game skid against the Aggies; favorites covered last five series games. Cowboys lost last three visits to Logan, all by 28+ points. Wyoming is 8-7 vs spread as a road dog under Bohl; they lost 24-3 (+12) at Iowa in their only road game this year- Cowboys’ RB/WR’s aren’t as good last couple of years. Utah State is 11-8 vs spread as a home favorite; this is their 3rd week in row at home- they lost 27-14 to Colorado State LW, after beating BYU 40-24 the week before. MW home favorites are 3-1.
USC is 5-1, losing 30-27 at Washington St; they’re 1-3 vs spread as a home favorite this year, after being 23-12 as a HF from 2011-16. USC’s last four games stayed under the total, as have four of five Utah games. Utes lost 23-20 at home to Stanford LW, its first loss of year; they’ve got road wins at BYU (19-13), Arizona (30-24). Utah covered eight of its last ten games as a road underdog. Home side won last four Utah-USC games; Utes lost last three visits here, by 18-16-9 points. Utah did win their last two home games vs USC.
Oklahoma lost LW as a 31-point home favorite to Iowa State; since 2009, Sooners are 14-7 vs spread in game following a loss. Oklahoma had beaten Baylor only 49-41 the week before, so they have defensive issues giving up 831 passing yards in those two games. Underdogs covered last four Oklahoma-Texas games; teams split those four games, last three of which were decided by 7 or less points. Texas beat K-State in OT last week; they outgained Wildcats by 152 yards. Longhorns are 7-9-1 vs spread in last 17 games as an underdog.
Florida was held to 17-16 points in its two losses; they scored 28+ in their three wins. Gators are 5-6 as a home favorite under McElwain, 1-1 this year- they lost 17-16 at home to LSU last week, throwing for only 106 yards in first game since QB Del Rio was lost for year. Texas A&M was outgained only 355-308 in 27-19 loss to Alabama LW; Aggies lost 45-44 at UCLA in their only other road games, blowing a 44-10 3rd quarter lead. Teams haven’t met since 2012, when Gators (+1) won 20-12 at A&M. Home favorites are 4-7 vs spread in SEC conference games.
Navy gave up 621 yards in winning its rivalry game 48-45 over Air Force LW, after blowing a 31-10 lead. Since 2007, Middies are 21-11 as a road underdog- they were 0-2 LY. has given up 29+ points in every game this year, including a 44-31 win over a I-AA team. Tigers hung 70 points on UConn last Friday, week after losing 40-13 at UCF. Memphis is 4-7 vs spread in its last 11 games as a home favorite. Navy won its two AAC games with Memphis by 45-20/42-28 scores, running ball for 374-447 yards- Middies were underdog in both games.
Auburn lost its last eight visits to LSU, covering one of last four- their last win in Baton Rouge was in ’99. Home side won 7 of last 8 series games; LSU is 7-3 in last ten series games- they ran ball for 631 yards the last two years vs Auburn. LSU s 4-2; their last two games were decided by total of four points- three of their last four games stayed under total. Since ’08, LSU is 2-3 as a home underdog. Auburn won its last four games, scoring 51-49-44 points the last three weeks; they covered four of last five tries as a road favorite.
Underdogs are 10-3 vs spread in last 13 Michigan State-Minnesota games; Spartans won last four series games, but lost four of last six visits to Twin Cities- they held to Gophers to total of 13 points in last two meetings. MSU played ND-Iowa-Michigan last three weeks; they beat rival Wolverines 14-10 LW, despite throwing for only 94 yards. Spartans are 0-6 vs spread in last six games as a road favorite. Under is 4-1 in their games this season. Minnesota lost to Maryland-Purdue last two weeks, giving up 31 points in each game; Gophers are 6-2 in last eight games as a home underdog.
Oregon was never an underdog from 2012-14; since then, they’re 5-2-1 vs spread in last eight games as a road dog. Ducks lost two of last three games, giving up 37-24-33 points. Stanford won its last three games, but is 1-3-1 vs spread in its last five. Cardinal are 2-7 vs spread in last nine games as a home favorite, 1-1 this year. Stanford is 3-2 in its last five games with Oregon, after losing 9 of previous 10 games with the Ducks. Teams split last four meetings played here- Stanford gained 500+ TY in last two series games.
San Diego State is 6-0, covering four of last five games. Aztecs are 11-13 vs spread in last 24 games as a home favorite, 1-1 this year- they’ve beaten ASU/Stanford from Pac-12. Boise State is 3-2, giving up 40+ points in losses to Wazzu/Virginia; since ’08, Broncos are 4-2 as a road underdog, 1-0 this year, losing 47-44 in Pullman when they led Coogs by three TD’s. Underdogs covered last four San Diego State-Boise State games; teams didn’t play the last two years. Teams split those four games; Aztecs’ two wins were by total of 5 points.
Miami beat Florida State for first time in 8 years LW, now have to prep for Georgia Tech’s option attack, which can be hard to do. ‘canes gave up 203 yards on ground to FSU last week; they won only I-A home game 52-30 over Toledo. Miami is 12-4-1 vs spread in last 17 games as a home favorite. Yellow Jackets ran ball for 436-403 yards in easy wins over Pitt/UNC the last two weeks; Tech covered six of its last eight games as a road underdog. Favorites covered 7 of last 9 Georgia Tech-Miami games; Tech lost last four visits to Miami, by 17-15-17-16 points.
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College Football's Biggest Betting Mismatches
By: Monty Andrews
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Miami Hurricanes (-6.5, 52.5)
Georgia Tech's third-down defense vs. Miami's drive extension struggles
The Hurricanes have done a fantastic job dealing with adverse circumstances, remaining unbeaten and leading the ACC-Coastal Division despite already having three games postponed or cancelled due to weather. Last weekend's pivotal 24-20 win over host Florida State made a major statement, but Miami could be in tough this weekend against Georgia Tech; not only did the Hurricanes lose leading rusher Mark Walton for the season, but they face a significant mismatch when it comes to third downs.
Georgia Tech has made a name for itself on offense by averaging a stunning 396 rushing yards per game; only Navy (414.2) averages more in Division I. But the Yellow Jackets have also made a major impact on the defensive side of the ball by limiting opponents to 11 third-down conversions on 46 opportunities - a 23.9-percent success rate that ranks fourth-best in the nation. North Carolina went just 2-for-12 on third downs in last weekend's 33-7 loss to Georgia Tech.
For all that Miami has done well this season, it has been slightly below average in converting on third down; the Hurricanes are 18-for-46 on the season, good for a 39.1-percent conversion that ranks 68th nationally. That includes an 11-for-29 stretch on third downs in wins over Kentucky and Florida State; the Hurricanes escaped with victories in both games, but a similar showing against the Yellow Jackets could result in this game being closer than oddsmakers anticipate.
Michigan Wolverines at Indiana Hoosiers (+6.5, 45.5)
Michigan's ground struggles vs. Indiana's stout run D
The Wolverines' national title hopes took a significant hit with last week's 14-10 loss to rival Michigan State; not only did Michigan lose the game, but will also be without starting quarterback Wilton Speight for "multiple weeks" as he recovers from a back injury. A solid bounceback effort against the Hoosiers is imperative for head coach Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines, but it won't be easy - particularly on the ground - against an Indiana defense that just pitched a shutout against Charleston Southern.
You can point to several areas in which Michigan underwhelmed against the Spartans, but the ground game was among the most disappointing. The Wolverines gained just 102 yards on a whopping 39 attempts - good for a paltry 2.6 YPC average. That dropped Michigan's YPC average below 4.0 yards for the season, while its six rushing scores rank higher than only the Spartans and Purdue Boilermakers. And with the switch to QB John O'Korn (505 yards, TD, 4 INT), the Wolverines need that run game even more.
Indiana has opened conference play with one-sided losses to Ohio State and Penn State, but is on a high after limiting Charleston Southern to 134 total yards - all on the ground - in a 27-0 triumph. The Buccaneers needed 44 carries to amass that yardage total, as the Hoosiers run defense continued its impressive stretch. Indiana is limiting foes to 3.6 YPC - tied for the sixth-best rate in the defense-heavy Big Ten - and has surrendered just five rushing touchdowns through its first five games.
Washington Huskies at Arizona State Sun Devils (+17, 62)
Huskies' relentless pass rush vs. Sun Devils' shaky O-line
The Washington Huskies are making a run toward the College Football Playoff - and it's thanks to sensational play on both sides of the football. The Huskies enter this week's showdown at Arizona State ranked tied for 11th in points per game (43.0) and third in the nation in points allowed (10.2). Arizona State is no slouch in the passing game, averaging nearly 300 yards per contest - but if it doesn't do a better job of protecting QB Manny Wilkins, it could be a long night at Sun Devil Stadium.
The Huskies have been the class of the Pac-12 in the majority of statistical categories, and are getting to the opposing quarterback at a breakneck pace. Washington is one of only seven Division I schools to have amassed at least 20 sacks so far, and its 3.33 sacks-per-game average ranks 10th nationally. As a result of that relentless pressure, teams are averaging just 150.3 passing yards per game against Washington, which has surrendered just three passing scores through six games.
Wilkins has been strong through his first five games of the season, ranking third in the conference in passing yards per game (290.3) and sixth in quarterback efficiency (153.9). But you have to wonder how much better he would be if the Sun Devils offensive line were stronger. Arizona State has already surrendered 22 sacks - fourth-most in Division I - and is averaging 4.4 sacks against per game, the second-worst rate in the nation. Look for that trend to continue against Washington's vaunted defense.
Kansas Jayhawks at Iowa State Cyclones (20.5, 68)
Jayhawks' possession issues vs. Cyclones' terrific turnover rate
Iowa State might have single-handedly ended Oklahoma's quest for the national title, posting one of the most notable upsets of the year with last weekend's 38-31 triumph over the Sooners. Next up: a home date with a Kansas Jayhawks team allowing the third-most points per game (44.0) in Division I. This one is expected to be a high-scoring affair, and that heavily favors the Cyclones - not only because they're the superior team, but because they have a significant edge in the turnover department.
The Jayhawks are hemorrhaging points like few other teams in the nation, and haven't done themselves any favors on the other side of the football. Kansas has already committed 13 turnovers - tied for seventh-most overall - while only six other Division I teams have racked up more interceptions than the Jayhawks' nine. Kansas has a minus-seven turnover differential on the season, with seven of their turnovers coming in their last two games.
The Cyclones have had an up-and-down season to date, and have failed to string together consecutive victories. But they're on the right track following last week's upset win over Oklahoma, and have the turnover ratio to suggest that their success is sustainable. Iowa State has forced nine turnovers through five games while committing only five itself - good for a plus-four differential that ranks inside the top 30 nationally. Even more impressively, the Cyclones have yet to lose a fumble.
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College Football Betting News and Notes Week 7
By Adam Burke
Here are the college football news and notes for Week 7:
Clemson has a pretty brutal situation this week against Syracuse. It is a no-win game for the Tigers, who make the long trek as a three-touchdown favorite. Junior quarterback Kelly Bryant has been dealing with an ankle injury. Per Dabo Swinney, he is good to go. It might not be a bad spot to get Hunter Johnson some reps against a porous Orange defense, but Bryant is slated to go.
James Blackman needs all the help he can get at Florida State. The loss of wide receiver Keith Garvin doesn’t help. Garvin has 23 targets this season and 14 catches, but his year is likely done, as he is in a boot and on crutches with a leg injury.
We haven’t had much ACC news this season, which is good for the purposes of this column. Unfortunately, we have some with Miami this week. Star running back Mark Walton is done for the year with an ankle injury. Travis Homer will take over and is a little bit of a downgrade.
Illinois running back Mike Epstein is questionable this week with a leg injury. Epstein has been the lone saving grace of what is a horrible offense. He has 57 carries for 346 yards and three touchdowns. Illinois hosts Rutgers this week in what could end up being a really awful loss.
Don’t go to Maryland if you are a quarterback. The injury epidemic in College Park has been astounding. With Tyrrell Pigrome and Kasim Hill already out, third-stringer Max Bortenschlager is also now dealing with an injury. Caleb Henderson is likely to get the nod this week.
Wilton Speight is still out, so John O’Korn remains the starter for Michigan. There really isn’t a huge difference between the two at this point. Keep in mind that Indiana is now going with Peyton Ramsey at QB.
The Michigan State Spartans face a traditional letdown spot against Minnesota this week, but the Golden Gophers are in rough shape. Antoine Winfield and Kiondre Thompson will both be missing from the secondary and Phillip Howard and Nick Connelly will be missing at WR and OT, respectively. Those are four starters out for Minnesota, who is a four-point dog at home.
Nebraska needs all the help it can get this week against Ohio State. The return of Tre Bryant would be a step in the right direction. Bryant practiced on Tuesday, but left early. It seems unlikely that he will be able to go, but at least he’s back on the field.
Baylor punter Drew Galitz is out with a torn ACL. His replacement could very well be James Lynch, who averaged 43 yards per punt as a high school senior. Here’s the catch: Lynch is 6-foot-4 and 285 pounds. Baylor has other options, including the kicker and a backup walk-on, but let’s do this instead because it would be awesome.
Jacob Park is still out for Iowa State, which means that Kyle Kempt, who orchestrated the upset win over Oklahoma, will be the quarterback this week against Kansas. Kempt threw for 343 yards on just 18 completions in the upset.
Bar none, the biggest injury note this week is that Kansas State quarterback Jesse Ertz is out for the Wildcats. Ertz means everything to that offense. The line has been taken off the board and Ertz probably calls for a four or five-point adjustment to the number.
Not sure what the decision is here, but Khalil Tate and Brandon Dawkins are listed as co-starters for Arizona this week against UCLA. Tate was 11-of-12 for 142 yards and a touchdown against Colorado last week. Oh, yeah, and he ran for 327 yards and four touchdowns. Dawkins was hurt last week, and you generally don’t lose your job to injuries, but Tate should probably start after that performance.
The Oregon offense looked awful with all of its quarterback injuries last week against Washington State. It doesn’t help to be playing with an unhealthy Royce Freeman. Freeman played last week and had 12 carries for 62 yards, but after having 23, 29, and 30 carries in the first three games, he has 15, 6, and 12 over the last three. He didn’t practice on Tuesday. It seems like he’ll be able to go, but his effectiveness is a big question mark.
Oregon State finally covered a number last week, but it has been a challenging week for the program. On the injury front, Ryan Nall is questionable for this week. On the coaching front, Gary Andersen walked away and left a lot of money on the table to do so. The Beavers are catching double digits at home against Colorado this week. Cornerbacks coach Cory Hall is the interim head coach. After Andersen placed a lot of the blame on his assistants in a set of texts that probably shouldn’t have gone public, we’ll have to see how Oregon State’s players respond.
Stanford brought Keller Chryst back into the lineup over KJ Costello, which led to a line move against the Cardinal last week. He was 7-of-14 against Utah for 106 yards and has been named the starter this week against Oregon. Chryst is 46-of-89 with a 4/2 ratio this season.
Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen had an MRI and the results came back negative, but his status remains up in the air. Arkansas is going to lose to Alabama this week, but if Allen cannot go, redshirt freshman Cole Kelley will and thoughts and prayers go out to him just in case.
The Florida Gators would love to start this season over again. The credit card fraud scandal took away a couple key skill guys in Jordan Scarlett and Antonio Callaway and also took away some depth. This week, Florida could be down as many as five starters and a couple other depth pieces. WR Tyrie Cleveland, S Chauncey Gardner, OG Brett Heggie, LB Jeremiah Moon are all doubtful. Safety Nick Washington is out. Freshman back Kadarius Toney may also be out. Woof.
Speaking of teams that would love to start the season over, the soap opera in Knoxville has gotten worse. Tennessee defensive tackle Darrell Taylor has been suspended for an incident in practice with teammate Trey Smith. Taylor, who was already suspended for a fight in a game, kicked the freshman in the face. Butch Jones needs to go.
The bigger story at Tennessee this week is that Quinton Dormady is no longer the starter. Some rumors are swirling that he outright left the program. Jarrett Guarantano is now the starter for this week’s game against South Carolina.
James Morgan will get the nod again this week for Bowling Green. The Falcons got their first win of the season in emphatic fashion by beating Miami of Ohio as a big dog. Morgan was just 11-of-25 in the win, but threw for 222 yards and three touchdowns.
Buffalo had that insane game last week, so it is already a tough spot for the Bulls this week against Northern Illinois. To make matters worse, it looks like Tyree Jackson is still not ready to go with his leg injury. The Bulls are catching 4.5 at home against the Huskies.
Louisiana will go with Andre Nunez again this week on a short week against Texas State while Jordan Davis continues to heal. Davis is getting closer and could be available off the bench, but Nunez has played well in Davis’s absence.
Miami of Ohio lost more than a game last weekend. Star quarterback Gus Ragland is out for this week and likely more with a lower body injury. He was 16-of-26 against Bowling Green before leaving the game with an injury. He had accounted for three touchdowns and has accounted for 15 so far this year. This is a huge loss and a big adjustment to your power ratings.
Big news for Old Dominion this week that Ray Lawry may be healthy enough to return. Lawry is the program’s all-time leading rusher and he has missed every game against an FBS opponent so far with a hamstring injury. He ran for 947, 1,136, and 1,255 yards over his first three seasons.
South Florida is getting healthier. Both D’Ernest Johnson and Darius Tice are out of their walking boots and should be ready to contribute at close to 100 percent again. If this is less than 100 percent, that’s impressive, since Tice has 75 carries for 438 yards and seven touchdowns and Johnson has 92 carries for 432 yards and four touchdowns.
Chad President may have been impeached at Tulsa. There was a big question coming into the season of who would win the job between President and Luke Skipper. President was 2-of-6 for 17 yards with a pick before Philip Montgomery sat him down. Expect Skipper to go this week against Houston.
Toledo’s high-powered offense will be without WR Cody Thompson for the rest of the season and his college career is over. Thompson suffered a broken leg in last week’s win over Eastern Michigan. Thompson’s production can be replaced by a committee effort, but he is a home run hitter with over 20 yards per catch the last two seasons. Hopefully he finds a spot on an NFL team.
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ACC Report - Week 7
By Joe Williams
North Carolina State at Pittsburgh
The Wolfpack continue to build their resume, and ever so slightly around Raleigh there are whispers of a potential ACC Championship Game appearance, and possibly a trip to the playoffs. It's not inconceivable if they can continue to tick off signature wins like last weekend against Louisville. And, of course, they must slay the dragon known as Clemson in the Atlantic Division. First things first, though, as they cannot suffer any additional losses along the way. N.C. State enters as a double-digit road favorite at Pitt. The Wolfpack are 4-0 ATS in their past four road games, and 5-2 ATS in the past seven inside the ACC. Pittsburgh enters a dismal 1-5-2 ATS over the past eight, 7-19 ATS in their past 26 at home and 0-4 ATS in their past four at home against a team with a winning road record.
Florida State at Duke
This is just unchartered territory, as Florida State heads to Durham at just 1-3 SU and 0-3-1 ATS through four games. The loss of Deondre Francois in the opener really hurt the makeup of this club, which has also had their schedule interrupted by Hurricane Irma. The Seminoles were stunned in the final moments by rival Miami last week, and it will be interesting to see how FSU comes out on Saturday. Duke started out 4-0 SU/ATS and they weren't showing many chinks in the armor. However, they were exposed a bit in a 31-6 loss at home to Miami back on Sept. 29, and then Virginia edged them 28-21 last weekend in Charlottesville. One thing that has been consistent for Duke is the 'under', cashing in each of the past four outings. This is the first meeting between these schools on the gridiron since 2013, and FSU enters as a seven-point favorite with heavy public support.
Boston College at Louisville
Louisville is looking to bounce back after a trip to N.C. State last Thursday went awry. They'll look to take out their frustrations on a Boston College team which hasn't put up much resistance in the ACC so far. The Eagles are also just 4-9-1 ATS over their past 14 conference games, although they are an impressive 7-1 ATS in their past eight on the road against teams with a winning home record. That includes a solid showing at Clemson earlier in the season before the national champs pulled away late. Louisville hasn't handled themselves well as big favorites, and they're 0-6 ATS in their past six at home while going a dismal 3-12-1 ATS over their past 16 overall. They also seem to play down to the competition, going 3-7 ATS over the past 10 against losing teams and 5-16 ATS over the past 21 home games against a team with a losing road record.
Georgia Tech at Miami-Florida
This is a critcial game in the Coastal Division for both sides, and will put either in the driver's seat, or at least keep them in the hunt, for a potential appearance in the ACC Championship Game. That's a position that has eluded Miami ever since joining the league, as they have never won a divisional title in the ACC. The Yellow Jackets enter with an 8-0 ATS run over their past eight dating back to last season, and they're 4-0 ATS in their past four in the conference while going 4-0 ATS in their past four against winning teams. They're also 4-1-1 ATS in the past six on the road. Miami has been no slouch against the number, either, posting an impressive 6-0 ATS mark across their past six ACC games, including stealing one at Florida State last weekend. They're 10-1 ATS in their past 11 following a straight up win, 4-0 ATS in their past four against winning sides and 8-1 ATS in their past nine overall. They've protected their half-filled house well, too, going 4-1 ATS in their past five appearances at Hard Rock Stadium.
Virginia at North Carolina
The Cavaliers and Tar Heels lock horns in Chapel Hill, and UVA looks to keep up their winning ways. UNC has been awfully banged up and they continue to search for bodies to fill the voids. Since a 34-17 humbling from Indiana back on Sept. 9, the Cavaliers have rattled off three straight wins and covers, including an impressive 42-23 win at Boise State on Sept. 22, and a seven-point win at home against Duke last weekend despite closing as short 'dogs. The offense is averaging a respectable 36.0 PPG over the past three outings, something the Tar Heels will have to be mindful about. UNC's SID would have an easier job posting who is 'not' injured before each week's games, as they have a laundry list of key guys on the sidelines. They haven't tasted victory since Sept. 16 at Old Dominion, and they have lost their first three ACC games by an average of by an average of 16.0 PPG. They were also thrashed by Notre Dame last weekend, 33-10, despite the fact the Irish were using a backup quarterback.
Virginia Tech, Wake Forest
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Big Ten Report - Week 7
Purdue at Wisconsin (-16.5)
The Boilers coming off a bye picked up a big home win last Saturday over Minnesota. While the final score was 31-17, it was much closer than that. Purdue actually trailed 17-16 with under 2:00 minutes remaining in the game. A 12-yard TD run with just over 1:00 minute remaining (plus 2-point conversion) and a 76-yard pick-six with just 10 seconds left made it a 14-point final margin. It was a game that saw an hour and 28 minute weather delay in the fourth quarter. It was also a game that was dominated by Purdue on the stat sheet. They had 4 more first downs, outgained the Gophers by 111 yards despite running 7 fewer offensive plays.
It was amazing the Boilermakers were down only 14-6 at half after turning the ball over on 4 of their first 5 possessions. They were happy to get starting RB Markell Jones back on the field for the first time this year as he finished with 52 yards on 12 carries. Defensively this could be a tough match up for Purdue as they allowed Minnesota to rush for 227 yards last week and now they face a Wisconsin team that ranks first in the Big Ten averaging 257 YPG on the ground.
The Badgers walked into Memorial Stadium last Saturday and put an end to the Huskers 20-game winning streak in night home games. The game turned very early on Nebraska’s first offensive possession. The Huskers took the ball 58 yards in five plays inside the Wisconsin 20-yard line and their opening drive looking promising. A tipped pass and Badger 78-yard interception for a TD took a potential Nebraska lead and turned it into a Wisconsin 7-0 score just 2:30 into the game. UW started fairly slow again as they were outgained at halftime and minus the pick-six played even on the scoreboard (17-10 halftime lead).
In their second drive after halftime, Wisconsin QB Hornibrook threw an interception for a TD and the game was tied at 17. After that the Badgers absolutely dominated. Hornibrook threw the pick-six with 10:43 to go in the third quarter and Wisconsin passed the ball a grand total of TWO times after that. From that point on they outscored Nebraska 21-0 and ran the ball 29 times for 177 yards en route to their 38-17 win. They finished with 353 yards rushing led by freshman RB Jonathan Taylor who had 249 yards on 25 carries. Taylor now leads the Big Ten in rushing averaging 153 YPG a mile ahead of Ohio State’s JK Dobbins, who is second averaging 111 YPG. The Badgers continue to excel in the second half outscoring opponents, 119-21.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS – These two met last year in West Lafayette and Wisconsin was favored by 27.5 points. The Badgers covered a tight one winning, 49-20. Wisky has absolutely dominated this series as of late winning 11 straight (10-1 ATS). The average score in those 11 Badger wins was 36-12. Bucky has covered just 2 of the last 9 times they’ve been a double digit home Big Ten favorite. This is just the second time this season Purdue is on the road (won at Mizzou). The Boilers are 13-3 ATS their last 16 road tilts.
Ohio State (-24) at Nebraska
OSU just continues to roll over their opponents. Last week, they faced a formidable Maryland team that has road wins this season over Texas and Minnesota. The Terps didn’t look formidable at the Horseshoe as Ohio State throttled them 62-14, while outgaining Maryland by a ridiculous 518 yards. The OSU defense played great allowing just one offensive TD on paltry 66 total yards. That was the fewest yards allowed by a Buckeye defense since the 1960 season. Maryland completed just three passes the entire game and averaged only 1.2 YPP in the game.
On the other side of the ball, the Buckeye offense is now officially clicking under new offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson. After a slow start their first two games of the season, they have now outscored their last four opponents, 210-42 outgaining them by a combined 1,645 yards or 411 YPG! They now lead the Big Ten in total offense and are the only team in the conference putting up more than 7 YPP (7.4). The only low point for the game was when the Bucks lost starting right guard Brandon Bowen for the season with a broken leg.
It will be interesting to see how Nebraska responds after last Saturday’s huge home game vs Wisconsin. The Huskers actually played well in the first half outgaining the Badgers. If not for a Wisconsin pick-six on the Huskers first drive of the game, the score would have been 10-10 at half. The Huskers were run into the ground in the second half and could be a bit demoralized and gassed after allowing Wisconsin to run for 353 yards on over 7 YPC. Offensively, they were actually pretty good putting up 381 yards on 6.2 YPP vs a very good Wisconsin defense.
The Huskers simply couldn’t capitalize and they had plenty of chances getting into Badger territory on six of their seven first half drives and coming away with only 10 points. How is this team going to get back up and attempt to slow down an OSU offense that has been absolutely unstoppable as of late? They could use the pointspread as a motivator as this is officially the largest home underdog number in the history of Nebraska football. The largest before this weekend was last weekend when they were +11.5 vs Wisconsin. Not only that, they’ve only been a dog of 24 or more (home or away) only one time EVER. That was in 2004 at Oklahoma where the Huskers were +30 and covered losing, 30-3.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS – OSU is favored by a full TD+ higher than they were at home vs the Huskers last year. Last year, the Buckeyes (-17) rolled over Nebraska 62-3. Nebraska has been a dog of 21 or more only twice in their HISTORY (both road games). They are 1-1 ATS in those games. The Bucks have been a conference road favorite of 21 or more 28 times since 1980. They are 28-0 SU and 18-10 ATS in those games. The Huskers are just 4-8 ATS as a double digit dog dating back to the 2006 season.
Michigan (-6) at Indiana
Michigan was upset by arch-rival MSU last weekend, 14-10 in a game that was played in heavy rain and wind during the second half. It was the eighth time in the last 10 seasons that the Spartans have topped the Wolverines. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh is now 1-4 against rivals MSU and Ohio State. Michigan had more first downs, more total yardage, but were -5 in turnover ratio in the game. Their first turnover led directly to a Spartan TD. On top of that, one of their two fumbles came at the MSU 1-yard line as the Wolves were going in to score. The other 3 turnovers were all in their own territory and the Michigan defense stood strong and held Michigan State scoreless after those mistakes.
The defenses dominated allowing a combined total of just 552 yards and an average of only 4.0 YPP. Of the 29 offensive possessions in the game, 23 either ended in a punt (18) or a turnover (5). The Wolverines went into halftime down 14-3 and the defense did their part after the break holding MSU scoreless on just 34 yards of offense. John O’Korn took over at QB for an injured Wilton Speight at struggled big time with three picks and just a 45% completion rate. Speight is out again this week and will most likely be sidelined for a few more if not longer due to a back injury.
Indiana had a non-conference home game last week against Charleston Southern. The Hoosiers dominated by rolling to a 27-0 win, while outgaining the Buccaneers by over 300 yards. The defense was dominant holding CS to 134 total yards on 54 plays (2.48 YPP). The Bucs didn’t complete a pass the entire game (0 for 10)! Offensively, the Hoosiers made a change at QB starting true freshman Peyton Ramsey (first career start) in place of senior Richard Lagow. Ramsey has thrown 89 career passes and 41 of those came last week against Charleston Southern. He was great last week completing nearly 80% of his pass attempts for 321 yards and two TD’s. However putting up those numbers against Southern and facing the Michigan defense are two entirely different situations.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS – Since Harbaugh took over at Michigan in 2015, the Wolverines have won four of their five games SU following an outright loss. Since 1980, these two Big Ten foes have met 29 times. Michigan has won 28 of those games (17-12 ATS). The last time IU topped Michigan was back in 1987. Going back even further, Michigan has won 36 of the last 37 meetings dating back to 1968! Our ATS database goes back to 1980 and Michigan has been favored in all 29 games vs IU since then. This current spread of Michigan -5.5 is the lowest number in the last 30 meetings.
Michigan State (-4) at Minnesota
MSU pulled the upset at Michigan last week but it wasn’t without help. The Wolverines actually outgained Sparty but they also turned the ball over a whopping five times (0 for MSU). One of those turnovers led to a MSU touchdown and another basically took away a Michigan TD with a fumble at the Spartans 1-yard line. Michigan State took a 14-3 lead into halftime and then came out to a monsoon in the second half with heavy wind and rain. They did next to nothing offensively in the second half with their initial first down after halftime coming with just 2:25 remaining in the game.
They did hold on to win 14-10 despite gaining barely 30 yards the entire second half. It was MSU’s 8th win in the last 10 years over their arch rival. While the offense struggled, the defense played great again holding Michigan to 300 total yards, their lowest output of the year, on 4.0 YPP. The Spartans now rank second in the Big Ten in total defense allowing only 258 YPG. MSU is now off three huge games (Notre Dame, Iowa, and Michigan) and we’ll see how they respond on the road this weekend.
The P.J. Fleck era started with a bang as the Gophs won their first 3 games of the season. The problem was, none of those wins were against a significant opponent. Those three victories came against Buffalo, Oregon State, and Middle Tennessee State who rank 104th, 110th, and 107th respectively in the Football Outsiders efficiency ratings. Minny has since plummeted back to earth quickly with two straight losses to start the Big Ten season. They were beaten at home by Maryland two weeks ago and then lost 31-17 at Purdue last Saturday. The game was much closer than that as Minnesota actually led 17-16 with under 1:30 remaining in the game.
After those two losses to start the conference season, this obviously becomes a huge home game for Minny. The defense, which looked very good after their first 3 games, has now allowed back to back 400+ yard games in league play. They may get a reprieve here facing an MSU offense that has scored 18, 17, and 14 points there last three games. Offensively they can run the ball (190 YPG). However, if they are forced to pass we’re not sure first year starting QB Rhoda can be a guy that carries them as Minnesota ranks 12th in the Big Ten in passing yardage. The Gophs are banged up at WR and in the secondary where they enter this game with only 2 healthy scholarship cornerbacks.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS – Minnesota has covered 11 of the last 15 meetings in this Big Ten battle dating back to 1995. However, the Gophers have only won six of the 26 meetings SU since 1980. Since 1997, MSU has been favored 9 times in this series going just 1-8 ATS in those contests. Minny is 19-10 ATS overall the last 29 games they’ve been tabbed a home underdog.
Northwestern (-3) at Maryland
Northwestern has faced off against two of the Big Ten’s and country’s best to start the conference season losing to both Wisconsin and Penn State. Last week, they played host to the Nittany Lions as a 14-point home dog and were walloped 31-7. The Wildcats continue to struggle running the ball which they considered a probable strength entering the season. After rushing for just 25 yards on 34 attempts vs Wisconsin two weeks ago, the Cats ran for just 67 yards on 30 carries last week vs PSU. Thus, in their two Big Ten games, NW has a total of 92 yards rushing on 64 attempts (1.4 YPC). For the entire season, they sit dead last in the conference in rushing (114 YPG), a full 10 yards per game behind 13th-place Illinois.
Defensively they’ve played quite well. While they did allow 33 points to Wisconsin and 31 to PSU, they held both in check on the stat sheet. Last week the Lions had just 381 yards on 4.8 YPP. The Cats rush defense in particular has been outstanding holding PSU to just 95 yards rushing and Wisconsin to only 109 yards on the ground a week earlier. Those are two of the better rushing teams with two of the top RB’s (Barkley & Taylor) in the country. Now they face another top notch rushing attack as Maryland ranks third in the Big Ten in rushing offense.
The Terps have had a roller coaster week to say the least. After beating Minnesota on the road two weeks ago they turned around and were absolutely destroyed at Ohio State last week. The Buckeyes rolled to a 62-14 win and outgained Maryland by over 500 yards! The offense literally couldn’t do anything last Saturday putting up 66 TOTAL yards on 55 offensive plays. Starting QB Bortenschlager, who played so well in his first start at Minnesota, completed THREE passes the entire game for 16 yards. He also had -43 yards rushing (sacks included) thus Bortenschlager accounted for -27 yards in the game. Maryland was held to less than 10 yards in 9 of their 14 offensive possessions.
Before hitting a wall last Saturday, the Terps rushing attack had been very good. Even after last week’s debacle, they still rank third in the Big Ten in rushing and Ty Johnson (102 YPG rushing) remains one of the top backs in the conference. They now face a NW defense that has shut down two of the top rushing attacks in the country the last few weeks so this one may fall on Bortenschlager and the Terp defense which ranks 13th in the conference allowing 420 YPG.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS – This is the first meeting between these two since Maryland joined the Big Ten a few years ago. Northwestern has been a road favorite in the Big Ten only 17 times over the last 38 seasons (10-7 ATS). Of the last 21 times Maryland has been a home underdog, they’ve lost 19 of those games outright pulling only 2 upsets. The Cats have been a road favorite already once this season losing at Duke 41-17 as a 2-point favorite.
Rutgers at Illinois (-2.5)
Rutgers is coming into this game off a bye week. They are 0-2 in the Big Ten with losses at Nebraska and at home vs Ohio State. While they look like they are improved with more playmakers offensively and simply better athletes than they’ve had across the board, they are still potentially the worst team in the Big Ten. If it’s not them, it’s Illinois so we’ll find out who will most likely bring up the conference rear after this game. Rutgers has been outgained in every game this year with the exception of FCS Morgan State. That just happens to be their only win in the last 13 months! In fact, if you throw out FCS competition, the Scarlet Knights are just 2-19 SU their last 21 games. They have lost 16 consecutive Big Ten games.
For the season, Rutgers is getting outgained by 61 YPG and 1.0 YPP. Along with Illinois, their opponent this weekend, Rutgers ranks dead last in the Big Ten in total offense at 303 YPG. They hope to have one of their top offensively playmakers back for this game as WR Janarion Grant has missed the last few weeks with headaches and concussion like symptoms. If he plays, who will be throwing to Grant? We don’t know. Head coach Chris Ash said this week he is opening up the QB competition for this week’s game vs Illinois. While Kyle Bolin has started every game thus far, Ash is also open to freshman Johnathan Lewis or Gio Rescigno taking the snaps on Saturday.
Illinois has been outscored 73-22 in their two Big Ten games this season, losses to Nebraska and Iowa. While Rutgers is winless in their last 16 Big Ten games, the Illini have won just 3 of their last 18 conference games. Last week’s final score at Iowa (45-16 loss) was a bit deceiving. It was a one score game going into the fourth quarter with Iowa leading 24-16. The Hawkeyes scored TD’s on three of their first four drives in the fourth quarter, putting the game out of reach. Even with the wide margin win, the stats were surprisingly quite close with both teams accumulating 20 first downs and Iowa outgaining the Illini by just 5 yards.
Illinois did have four turnovers which led to 17 of Iowa’s 45 points. New starting QB Jeff George, Jr. struggled throwing three interceptions and 0 TD’s. QB play has been a huge issue for Illinois as neither Chayce Crouch nor Jeff George has been very good. Those two have combined to throw just two TD passes and nine interceptions through the first five games. Illinois currently ranks last in total offense in the Big Ten (tied with Rutgers) and they also are dead last in total defense.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS – Last year Illinois traveled to Rutgers as a 4-point favorite and beat the Scarlet Knights 24-7. Since 2011, Illinois has been a Big Ten favorite only 12 times. They are 3-9 ATS in those contests. The Illini are just 18-27 ATS their last 45 as a home favorite overall. Rutgers is surprisingly 26-16-1 ATS the last 43 times they’ve been an underdog of seven points or less.
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Big 12 Report - Week 7
By Joe Williams
Texas Christian at Kansas State
The Horned Frogs continue their ascent up the rankings, knocking off West Virginia last weekend. Now they face another test against Kansas State. The Horned Frogs are 4-0 ATS over their past four road outings, but just 3-8 ATS in their past 11 conference games, 5-13 ATS in their past 18 overall and they're 2-5 ATS in the past seven against teams with a winning overall mark. The Wildcats are 6-2 ATS in the past eight home games against a team with a winning road mark. Total bettors will find the trends for each team are like night and day. The under is 4-1 over the past five conference games, 6-2 in their past eight road games and 9-3 across the past 13 overall. On the flip side, the over is 5-1 in K-State's past six home outings, 8-3 in their past 11 overall and 5-2 in the past seven league contests.
Texas Tech at West Virginia
The Red Raiders and Mountaineers do battle in Morgantown, as both sides try to avoid their second loss inside the league. Texas Tech has managed a 6-0 ATS mark over their past six against teams with a winning overall record, while going 5-1 ATS in their past six road games, 4-1 ATS in the past five league games and 23-9-1 ATS across the past 33 overall. West Virginia hasn't been as fortunate against the number lately, especially against teams with a winning overall mark. They're 5-14 ATS across the past 19 vs. teams with a record better than .500, while going 6-21 ATS in their past 27 at home against teams with a winning road mark. While it might seem the scoreboard operator at Milan Puskar Stadium should be busy, the under is 4-1 over the past five meetings. The over is 6-2 in Texas Tech's past eight road games, and 19-7 across their past 26 road games against a team with a winning home record. The over is 4-1 in West Virginia's past five at home, but the under is 21-7 in their past 28 conference tilts.
Kansas at Iowa State
The Cyclones host the Jayhawks looking to build on their huge upset in Norman last weekend. Will Iowa State be able to carry over the momentum or will they have a letdown? That's the big question. Kansas heads to Ames with a 5-1 ATS mark across their past six league games, but they're a dismal 11-31-1 ATS in the past 43 road outings. The Jayhawks are also 6-14 ATS in the past 20 against teams with a winning overall mark. Iowa State is 7-2 ATS in the past nine home games while going 5-1 ATS in their past six at home against a team with a losing road mark. The over is 6-0 in the past six for Kansas, while going 5-1 in their past six conference tilts. For Iowa State, the over is 10-1-1 in their past 12 following a straight-up win, while going 6-2 in their past eight overall and 4-1 in the past five inside the conference. This is the first time Iowa State has been favored by 20 or more since Oct. 3, 2015 when they hosted Kansas.
Oklahoma vs. Texas
It's time for the latest Red River Rivalry battle, and the Sooners are going to be awfully angry after losing last week against Iowa State at home. Quite the opposite, Texas enters feeling pretty good about themselves after an overtime victory against Kansas State. The Longhorns are 3-0-1 ATS over their past four outings, while going 5-1-1 ATS in their past seven against a team with a winning overall mark. Texas is also 4-1 ATS in the past five neutral-site games. The Longhorns have dominated this series lately, especially against the number, going 4-0 ATS in the past four meetings, with the underdog hitting in each of the past four. Texas is an eight-point underdog as of early Thursday morning. Can Texas slow Baker Mayfield and the Oklahoma offense? The Sooners have posted at least 30 points in a team-record 15 straight outings.
Baylor at Oklahoma State
In past seasons this was a marquee game, but this year it's the haves and the have-nots. Baylor heads into the game rested after a bye, but they're also hitless in five games to date. Oklahoma State had their national championship hopes dashed with a loss against Texas Christian on Sept., 23, but they bounced back with an impressive road victory at Texas Tech on Sept. 30. Still, OSU is 0-2 ATS over the past two outings since opening 3-0 ATS. Quite the opposite, Baylor opened 0-3 ATS, but they have covered each of their past two. While Baylor is 4-1 ATS in their past five against teams with a winning mark, they're a dismal 2-7 ATS across their past nine on the road. The favorite has covered 14 of the past 18 in this series, while the Bears are 1-8 ATS in their past nine trips to Stillwater.
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Pac-12 Report - Week 7
By Joe Williams
Colorado at Oregon State
The Buffaloes roll into Corvallis looking to take out their aggressions on the doormat Beavers, who will have a new coach patrolling the sidelines after Gary Andersen walked away from his job after 2 1/2 years. Colorado opened the season 3-0 SU, but they have fallen on hard times with three consecutive losses to fall into the basement in the Pac-12 South. The Buffaloes are 7-1 ATS in the past eight road games, while going 4-1 ATS in the past five against teams with a losing overall mark. However, Colorado is just 1-4 ATS in the past five inside the league. The Beavers are 1-5 ATS in the past six overall, but they have covered eight of their past 11 conference tilts. Total bettors might like the way the under looks. The under is 4-1 in Colorado's past five road games, 6-1 in their past seven against teams with a losing record and 7-2 in their past nine overall. The under is 4-1 over the past five inside the conference for the Beavs.
Utah at Southern California
The Utes try to pick themselves up off the mat after a disappointing home loss against Stanford last week at Rice-Eccles. The Trojans try to keep it going in a positive direction after their disappointing loss at Washington State on Sept. 29. USC might be 5-1 SU, but they're a dismal 1-5 ATS overall with just one cover in four tries at the L.A. Coliseum this season. The 'under' has cashed in four in a row for Sam Darnold and company, while the under is 4-1 across the past five for Utah. The Utes are 4-0-1 ATS over their five games this season, but their defense has been a little more leaky lately than earlier in the season. They allowed 15.0 PPG over the first three outings, but they're allowing 23.5 PPG over the past two. The home team has cashed in six straight in this series.
UCLA at Arizona
After a bye week, UCLA hopes they are a bit healthier and ready for a stretch run after some tumultuous times during the early going. It all started with a loss at Memphis, followed by a trampling from Bryce Love and Stanford on 'The Farm'. The Bruins are a dismal 1-4 ATS overall, and they're 0-2 SU/ATS in two road trips. So can they take down the Wildcats for their first road success of the season? The Bruins are 2-8 ATS across their past 10 road games and 0-4 ATS in their past four league outings. They're also an awful 7-18-1 ATS over the past 26 on a grass surface while going 3-8 ATS over their past 11 against teams with a winning overall mark. Arizona is 5-14 ATS in their past 19 overall, so they haven't exactly been lighting the world afire, either. UCLA has covered five in a row in this series, and the favorite is 9-1 ATS over the past 10 meetings.
Washington at Arizona State
The playoff-hopefull Huskies look to keep the train rolling in Tempe against the Sun Devils, and Vegas feels they'll easily be able to stay on track. As of Thursday morning Washington is a 17 1/2-point favorite. They have outscored Pac-12 competition by a combined 117-24, covering all three outings while posting a 3-0 'under' mark. Washington has also scored at least 37 points in each of the past five contests. They powered past Arizona State by a 44-16 count last season in Seattle. Arizona State has won just one of the past four, but that victory was an impressive 37-35 victory against Oregon on Sept. 23. They have covered two in a row, while the 'under' has hit in four of five this season. The favorite is 9-2 ATS in the past 11 meetings in this series, although Washington is a dismal 2-14-2 ATS in the past 18 in this series while going 0-6 ATS in their past six trips to Tempe.
Oregon at Stanford
The Ducks head to Palo Alto looking to avoid another loss. A third conference loss would mean all of the good feelings from earlier in the season are gone. The Cardinals have picked up the pace after two early-season losses at USC and at San Diego State, and they have found a superstar along the way. Bryce Love is a beast and no one has been able to stop him lately. Stanford has won three in a row, averaging 38.3 PPG. That's good news, too, because the defense has struggled, allowing 20 or more points in five in a row. The Ducks are just 3-7-1 ATS over their past 11 against teams with a winning record, while going 3-10 ATS in the past 13 conference tilts. Something's gotta give, as the Cardinal are just 1-5-1 ATS in theri past seven against winning teams, while going 1-5 ATS in their past six at home. Oregon has covered five of their past seven trips to Palo Alto, while the over is 5-1 in the past six at Stanford. The over has hit in 10 of the past 12 meetings overall.
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The Dozen: Pac-12's South Show
By Tony Mejia
The second Saturday in October delivered a pair of upsets few saw coming. Iowa State took down Oklahoma despite starting a quarterback that has been a backup all season, sprinkling in a backup who had previously switched to linebacker. Michigan falling to Michigan State wasn't as big a shocker given the rivalry factor, but the Wolverines saw their national title hopes go up in smoke against a young Spartans team nowhere near as polished as others Mark Dantonio has assembled in East Lansing. This week's top matchups feature dangerous games for national contenders.
1. Utah at USC: Both of these schools suffered their first loss last week, which means the Pac-12's only undefeated teams reside in the state of Washington and play in the North Division. These two remain the favorites to claim the South and ultimately get back to a conference championship game. Potentially, a spot in the four-team playoff remains possible for the Trojans despite their Friday night loss to Washington State two weeks ago.
Sam Darnold rebounded from a rough outing by throwing for 328 yards and three scores in a 38-10 rout of Oregon State where they were up double-digits for the final 53:11. The Utes squandered opportunities to really capture national attention by taking down Stanford to come into this one undefeated. Although Utah's defense did a nice job against Heisman hopeful Bryce Love, holding him to "just" 152 yards, its offense couldn't punch it in the end zone on an 11-play drive and a 15-play drive, paying for settling for field goals by losing 23-20. They now have to respond in the Los Angelses Coliseum as Utah plays its first game of the season outside its home state. Kyle Whittingham has defeated the Trojans in two of the last three seasons and will definitely have a great game plan in store for Darnold, who is under pressure to demonstrate he can continue to put up prolific numbers while taking better care of the football.
Utah QB Tyler Huntley will start if he's able to, but Whittingham called him a "maybe" on Wednesday and had senior Troy Williams and Alabama transfer Cooper Bateman vying to start in splitting practice reps. Huntley will likely be a game-time decision after leaving the Sept. 22 road game at Arizona and returning with is arm in a sling. Williams squandered a lot of chances last week, while Bateman has yet to play. USC should have right tackle Chuma Edoga back in the lineup.
2. Auburn at LSU: One of the projected games of the year isn't quite what it was expected to be due to the early losses LSU suffered and the fact Auburn was so soundly beaten soundly at Clemson. Both do come off victories and feature talented defenses filled with players who are going to proceed to the next level. This battle of Tigers also features at least one national title contender since Auburn gets to host Georgia and Alabama in November, which means it essentially controls its own destiny if it can avoid a second loss. After an uninspiring start that included a 24-10 home win against FCS lightweight Mercer, Gus Malzahn's team has beaten Mizzou, Mississippi State and Ole Miss by a combined margin of 144-47.
Head coach Ed Orgeron's seat in Baton Rouge grew scalding hot following a Homecoming loss to Troy, but his Tigers went on the road last week and pulled out a victory over Florida. This is definitely a crossroads game for his staff and young roster, who will now put their goods on display against the most talented opponent they've seen to date. The home team has won 15 of 17 in the series, so Auburn is going to have to overcome a rough history at Tiger Stadium to keep its championship dreams alive. It hasn't won there since 1999, but is favored in Baton Rouge for the first time this century. QB Jarrett Stidham has thrown five TD passes since throwing his last interception on Sept. 16. He threw for just 79 yards in the loss at Clemson, so getting him off to a strong start on the road should be a major focus. Kerryon Johnson, who has scored 11 TDs over the past three weeks, will remain Auburn's top RB ahead of the injured Kammryn Pettway, who has carried only once since injuring his ankle on Sept. 16.
3. Georgia Tech at Miami: Malik Rosier found fellow junior Darrell Langham on the final pass he was going to throw in regulation against Florida State in Tallahassee. If it was incomplete, the plan was to send one of the nation's most effective kickers out for the game-tying field goal. Instead, Langham caught it, reached for the goal line and was ruled to have crossed it before his knee hit. Replays proved too inconclusive to overturn the ruling on the field, which rightfully prevailed and the touchdown was deemed good. Miami won and covered as a road favorite, snapping a seven-game losing streak in the rivalry as FSU's disastrous season continued.
This matchup was originally expected to be played on Thursday night, but the ACC moved it back to Saturday because the 'Canes would've been put at too great a disadvantage playing just days after what was originally scheduled to be a day off but instead wound up being the date for the matchup with the Seminoles to be rescheduled for following the Sept. 16 cancellation due to Hurricane Irma. The Yellow Jackets will still be the more rested team since they haven't played since dominating North Carolina on Sept. 30, but at least Miami won't have to turn around and play a mid-week game. Considering UM has to replace top rusher Mark Walton, who is now out for the season after ankle surgery, this is going to be a huge challenge given the lack of preparation time for the fairly unique offense Georgia Tech runs. Sophomore Travis Homer is expected to get the first crack at replacing Walton. Three other starters, OL Navaugh Donaldson, S Sheldrick Redwine and CB Dee Delaney will all miss this game for Miami, testing its depth.
Both teams top the ACC's Coastal Division at 2-0, so the winner here moves into the driver's seat to secure a spot opposite Clemson or N.C. State in December's conference championship game. Miami has won seven of eight meetings in the series, losing in Atlanta in 2014. This will be Georgia Tech's first true road game. It is 1-6 in these over the last two seasons. The 'Canes are beginning a stretch where they'll play five of six games at Hard Rock Stadium, with Virginia Tech, Notre Dame and Virginia all coming to town next month.
4. Oklahoma vs. Texas: This year's installment of the Red River Rivalry would've topped this list if not for what transpired in Norman last Saturday. Iowa State had lost 18 consecutive games against the Sooners and was a 31-point underdog considering its starting QB had walked away from the team abruptly, citing medical reasons, before what promised to be their toughest road game of the season. There's no way to deny that Oklahoma was caught looking ahead to this annual showdown in Dallas, which is where they've grown most accustomed to blowing undefeated seasons, having dropped games to the unranked Longhorns in two of the last four years.
Texas has lost to Maryland and USC already and narrowly avoided coming into this one under .500 by rallying to hold off Kansas State in double-OT on Saturday night. This matchup will feature coaches tasting this rivalry game for the first time in the head seat with Tom Herman and Lincoln Riley squaring off. Two first-year head coaches haven't squared off in this series since 1947. Oklahoma dropped from third to No. 12 in the AP poll and has its work cut out for it to try and get back in the college football playoff mix. Former Heisman favorite Baker Mayfield had a rough second half against the Cyclones, contributing to OU's demise by leading only one drive that ended in a touchdown over the game's final 30 minutes. He's thrown 15 touchdown passes and has yet to be picked off this season, but failed to generate a play longer than 30 yards against Iowa State. The Austin native has only defeated the Longhorns once in three tries, losing as a true freshman at Texas Tech and splitting a pair of matchups while at OU. He accounted for four TDs in last season's 45-40 win.
Texas true freshman QB Sam Ehlinger passed for over 300 yards and ran for over 100 to spark the comeback win over K-State, continuing to separate himself in the race for snaps between the many talented options Texas has at the position. Although Shane Buechele was listed as a potential starter, look for Ehlinger to get the nod. A head-to-head matchup against Mayfield offers him an opportunity to remove all doubt, not to mention moving to 3-0 in Big 12 play before Oklahoma State arrives in Austin for another showdown.
5 TCU at Kansas State: With the Sooners favored over the Longhorns, there's a good chance that the Horned Frogs will be the only undefeated team in Big 12 play when Saturday's action is in the books. To make it happen, they'll need to find a way to survive this trip to Manhattan, something they managed to do in 2015 on a 55-yard score with 1:10 remaining to win 52-45. The Wildcats won in Fort Worth 30-6 in last year's regular-season finale and have prevailed in three of five games in the series since TCU joined the conference. Gary Patterson is a K-State alum who gets mentioned as a potential successor to the legendary Bill Snyder, but that doesn't seem likely given the success he's managed at TCU, especially since he survived a lull and appears headed for a third season with double-digit wins in four years.
K-State senior starter Jesse Ertz is dealing a knee issue that has lingered all season, so sophomore backup QB Alex Delton is expected to get the start. Ertz is tough and a solid field general, but the speedy Delton is a dynamic runner, coming off a two-touchdown game against Texas. He's not the passer Ertz is, so we'll see if the Horned Frogs can capitalize and force Kansas State to be one-dimensional. The Wildcats are hoping to take out a Top-10 team for the first time since '06. TCU senior QB Kenny Hill became the fourth player in Big 12 history to score TDs via pass, catch and run in Saturday's 31-24 win over West Virginia.
6. Oregon at Stanford: Love legitimately has a chance to win the Heisman trophy despite his Cardinal already having suffered a pair of losses. He's already run for 1,240 yards, but it's key that he performs well to help Stanford take care of business against the banged up Ducks here since a bye week is up next and immense games against Washington State, Washington and Notre Dame will keep him in the national spotlight in November. Stanford still controls its destiny in the North Division and can drop Oregon to 1-3. The Pac-12 is monitoring potential air quality issues due to the awful wildfires that have spread in the area.
If the game isn't affected, the Cardinal will have to overcome the absence of DT Harrison Phillips and LB Peter Kalambayi, who were each tossed in the final few minutes of the win at Utah. First-year Ducks head coach Willie Taggart, who came up as a Stanford assistant before leaving the conference for head coaching stints at WKU and USF, returns to the Farm with a true freshman starting quarterback making his road debut. With Justin Herbert out a few more weeks with a broken collarbone, Braxton Burmeister will get the call as he looks to improve from a rough first outing in a 33-10 home loss to Washington State. Getting top WR Charles Nelson back from an ankle injury should help his chances of finding a rhythm. Stanford won last season's game 52-27, snapping a two-game losing streak in the series.
7. Navy at Memphis: The Midshipmen avoided what would've been a devastating loss to Air Force, scoring on a Zach Abey TD pass to Tyler Carmona with 16 seconds left. Navy had led most of the afternoon before a stunning Falcons comeback in front of the largest crowd at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. There may be a hangover here given the emotion expended in the win, and it doesn't help that this will be the Academy's toughest road game to date.
Abey ranks second in the country in rushing yards per game (174) behind Stanford's Love (206.7), racking up 870 yards, by far the most among quarterbacks. His ability to dominate running the triple option has been the driving force behind the 5-0 start, but the Middies are about to be tested through the air by Memphis' Riley Ferguson here and UCF's McKenzie Milton next week as they get the two most prolific passing attacks on their schedule back-to-back. Navy has won consecutive games in this series the past two years, scoring over 40 each time. The Middies spoiled the Tigers' 8-0 start on their last visit in '15 and have rushed for over 900 yards combined in the two wins.
Despite being winless against Navy since it joined the American, Memphis is favored. They've got a number of key defensive players out but hope to have LB Curtis Akins and DT O'Bryan Goodson available to help slow down the triple option.
8. Boise State at San Diego State: If the Aztecs win this one, an undefeated regular-season would be a near certainty if they stay healthy. Their remaining road games will come in Honolulu and San Jose, while the toughest team to come through town based on what we've seen so far will be New Mexico, which rolls in for the regular-season finale post-Thanksgiving. With wins over Arizona State, Stanford, Air Force and NIU already in their pocket, they could end up as the highest-ranked "Group of Five" team if the USF-UCF winner doesn't wind up undefeated.
These teams haven't played since 2014, and in that time San Diego State has won consecutive Mountain West Championship games, replacing the Broncos as the conference power. Boise State suffered only their second loss on the blue turf in a 43-game span back in 2012 and is just 2-2 against SDSU all-time. Center Mason Hampton missed the team's last game, adding to a lack of cohesion up front since the offensive line has had to juggle pieces all season. The defense will have to key on containing Aztecs star RB Rashaad Penny, who ranks second behind Love with 993 rushing yards, scoring nine touchdowns.
9. Texas Tech at West Virginia: These teams are each enjoying strong seasons and have played at an extremely high level. The Red Raiders are 4-0-1 against the number, while the Mountaineers have lost 31-24 decisions against Virginia Tech and TCU and scored 56 or more points in blowout wins against overmatched East Carolina, Delaware State and Kansas. The winner of this avoids a second Big 12 loss and gets to hang around in what looks like a wide open Big 12 race.
Kliff Kingsbury defeated West Virginia in Morgantown in his first season on the Red Raiders' first trip into town but hasn't beaten his old coach Dana Holgorsen's team since, dropping three straight. Holgorsen was on the offensive staff at Texas Tech when Kingsbury was the school's quarterback nearly two decades ago. It's Homecoming week for the Mountaineers, who will wear throwback gold uniforms as they aim to bounce back from their loss in Fort Worth. The Red Raiders are nationally-ranked for the first time since '13 but are a slight underdog on the road. Both offenses are capable of putting up big numbers, so look for the play of QBs Nic Shimonek and Will Grier to decide things.
10. Ohio State at Nebraska: For the second straight week, the 'Huskers are a dobule-digit home underdog, which is going over as well as you might expect around that proud program in Lincoln. The 24 points the Buckeyes are laying makes them the heaviest road favorite ever to take the field at Memorial Stadium. Whether that speaks more of what the books think of Nebraska's current team or their respect for the Buckeyes as a bully is a worthy debate topic but the facts are that NU is 0-4 against the spread at home this season, while Ohio State has defeated each of its five victims by 28 more points, dropping its last two, Rutgers and Maryland, by a combined margin of 118-14.
Nebraska lost 38-17 against Wisconsin, surrendering the final 21 points after wearing down on the defensive front. The Buckeyes won last season's game in Columbus 62-3 as a 17-point favorite, but this is only their second-ever trip to Lincoln, where the 'Huskers hadn't lost a home night game since 2008 prior to last week. Urban Meyer's Ohio State teams have averaged 62.5 points in their two victories over NU, which won 34-27 in 2011 the only time it hosted a game in this series.
11. Washington at Arizona State: The Huskies are right there with Penn State, Alabama, Georgia and Clemson among the country's top ranked scoring defenses, surrendering 10.2 points per game. They have won road games at Rutgers, Colorado and Oregon State, who are a combined 5-12 and have yet to win in conference play in its respective leagues. As a result, we won't really know how seriously to take this team until after their bye week.
This will be Washington's final game before it settles in for a season-defining stretch against the Pac-12's most talented teams not named USC. This also happens to be their next-to-last true road game, played against a Sun Devils team that had won 10 straight in the series before last season's 44-18 defeat. The Huskies haven't won in Tempe since 2001 and will count on their defense to hold down a speedy ASU offense that helped take down Oregon in its last home game on Sept. 23.
12. Clemson at Syracuse: Junior QB Kelly Bryant rolled his ankle in last Saturday's win over Wake Forest, and although there had been no update on his availability for Friday night's road game at the Carrier Dome until late in the week, he's finally been cleared to start. Bryant is the team's leading rusher and has accounted for 11 touchdowns.
Backups Zerrick Cooper and Hunter Johnson each played against the Demon Deacons, with Johnson completing all five of his passes and throwing for a touchdown, but Dabo Swinney hopes to be able to rely on his veteran presence on the road. The Orange have already danced with a few big boys in losing on the road at LSU and NC State, covering each time by hanging within single-digits as a double-figure underdog. Coming off a 27-24 home win over Pitt, Syracuse is attempting to win consecutive games for only the second time under Dino Babers. It did upset nationally-ranked Virginia Tech at home last season as a 20-point 'dog.
Others: Purdue at Wisconsin, Washington State at Cal, NC State at Pittsburgh, Texas A&M at Florida, UCLA at Arizona, Michigan State at Minnesota, Florida State at Duke, Vanderbilt at Ole Miss, BYU at Mississippi State, Baylor at Oklahoma State, Arkansas at Alabama, Missouri at Georgia.
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Saturday's SEC Tips
By Brian Edwards
Before perusing the SEC slate in Week 7, here are my rankings for the conference:
South Carolina (4-2 straight up, 3-2-1 against the spread) will travel to Knoxville to take on Tennessee at noon Eastern on ESPN. As of late Friday afternoon, most books had the Volunteers installed as 3.5-point favorites with a total of 47.5. The Gamecocks were +145 on the money line (risk $100 to win $145).
Will Muschamp has beaten Butch Jones in all three head-to-head matchups between the two head coaches, including last year’s 24-21 win as a 13.5-point home underdog at Williams-Brice Stadium. Jake Bentley, a true freshman at the time making his second career start, completed 15-of-20 passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns without an interception. Rico Dowdle, another true freshman, rushed for 127 yards and one TD on 27 attempts. The win for USC snapped a three-game losing streak in the rivalry.
South Carolina is 2-2 in SEC play after capturing a 48-22 win over Arkansas last week as a three-point home underdog. The 70 combined points soared ‘over’ the 45.5-point total. The Gamecocks scored three defensive TDs in the second half, including a 34-yard pick-six by fifth-year senior LB Skai Moore that extended USC’s lead to 27-10 midway through the third quarter.
Bentley connected on 16-of-31 throws for 199 yards and three TDs without a pick. Dowdle rushed for a team-best 61 yards on 11 carries. Hayden Hurst had two receptions for 76 yards, including a 62-yard TD catch. Bryan Edwards had two grabs for 20 yards, including an 18-yard TD reception with four seconds left in the first half.
For the season, Bentley has completed 60.6 percent of his passes for 1,456 yards with a 12/4 touchdown-to-interception ratio. The sophomore has a 21/8 TD-INT ratio in 13 career starts. Ty’Son Williams, a transfer from North Carolina who sat out the 2016 campaign, has run for a team-best 281 yards and one TD while averaging 5.7 yards per carry.
Star junior WR Deebo Samuel was playing like a first-team All-American in USC’s first three games. He had scored six TDs before breaking his leg in the second half of a 23-13 home loss to Kentucky. With Samuel sidelined, Edwards and Hurst are Bentley’s main targets. Edwards, yet another true sophomore, has 27 receptions for 357 yards and one TD, while Hurst has 19 catches for 297 yards and two TDs.
South Carolina defeated Arkansas without three starting offensive linemen in uniform. Junior OT Malik Young is ‘out’ again this week, but Muschamp is optimistic that junior OT Zack Bailey and senior OG Cory Helms will play. Both are ‘questionable’ and will likely be game-time decisions.
USC is 1-0-1 ATS as a road underdog this year, 3-0-1 with three outright wins in four games as a ‘dog this season (regardless of the venue). Meanwhile, Tennessee has compiled a 10-14 spread record in 24 games as a home favorite during Butch Jones’s five-year tenure.
Tennessee (3-2 SU, 1-4 ATS) has had two weeks to prepare for USC, but it lost another player during the open date. Sophomore DE Darrell Taylor was suspended indefinitely after reportedly kicking a teammate in the face at practice. In UT’s first five games, Taylor had 20 tackles, one sack, one TFL, one QB hurry, one forced fumble and one PBU. The defense is already without its three projected starting LBs and one of the nation’s best safeties in Todd Kelly. Also, 2015 SEC Special Teams Player of the Year Evan Berry is listed as ‘doubtful’ with a leg injury that’s had him sidelined for the last month.
UT started the season 2-0 with wins over Ga. Tech (42-41 in overtime) and Indiana State (42-7), but it has lost two of its last three contest. Butch Jones’s squad was run out of its own house at Neyland Stadium by Georgia two weeks ago. UGA dealt out cream-cheese treatment on the Vols in a dominant 41-0 win. UT had not been shut out since a 31-0 loss vs. Florida in 1994.
Jones has benched junior QB Quinten Dormady, who started the team’s first five games. He’ll turn to redshirt freshman Jarrett Guarantano, who will make his first career start. Guarantano has hit on 12-of-24 passes for 54 yards and one TD without an interception in three games. Dormady has completed 55.5 percent of his throws for 925 yards with a mediocre 6/6 TD-INT ratio.
UT’s stud on offense is workhorse RB John Kelly, who has rushed 97 times for 494 yards and six TDs. The junior is averaging 5.1 YPC. The Vols have won two of their three home games, but they’re 0-3 versus the number at Neyland.
The ‘under’ is 4-2 overall for USC, 2-0 in its road outings. The Gamecocks have seen their games average combined scores of 47.8 points per game. The ‘under’ is 4-1 overall for UT, 3-0 in its home games. The Vols’ games have average combined scores of 49.8 PPG.
Ole Miss (2-3 SU, 0-4-1 ATS) returns home to face Vanderbilt in a 3:30 p.m. Eastern kick on the SEC Network. Since starting 2-0 with wins vs. South Alabama (47-28) and UT-Martin (45-23), the Rebels have dropped three consecutive games by double-digit margins. They’re 0-2 in SEC play following losses at Alabama (66-3) and at Auburn (43-22).
However, Ole Miss did manage to hook up its backers in backdoor fashion as a 22-point underdog on The Plains. Auburn led 38-3 early in the third quarter and 44-17 late in the fourth, but Jordan Wilkins’s one-yard TD plunge with 2:57 remaining gave the Rebels the spread cover. Shea Patterson threw for 346 yards and two TDs without an interception. A.J. Brown had 10 receptions for 109 yards, while Van Jefferson hauled in eight catches for 89 yards.
For the season, Patterson has completed 66.3 percent of his passes for 1,792 yards with a 13/6 TD-INT ratio. Brown has 27 catches for 504 yards and four TDs, while D.K. Metcalf has 23 receptions for 320 yards and four TDs.
Ole Miss has issues galore on defense, ranking No. 111 out of 130 FBS teams in total defense. The Rebels are No. 124 at defending the run and No. 118 in scoring defense (37.4 PPG).
Vandy has lost three consecutive games since its first 3-0 start since 2011. The Commodores have lost all three games by double-digit margins, failing to cover in all three outings. They weren’t even competitive in home games vs. Alabama (59-0) and Georgia (45-14).
Although it’s been a tough three-week stretch, on that also included a 38-24 loss at Florida in a game that was closer than the final score indicated, junior QB Kyle Shurmur continues to play outstanding football. He has a 12/1 TD-INT ratio for the season.
As of late Friday afternoon, most spots had Ole Miss favored by 3.5 points with a total of 55. The Commodores were +145 to win outright.
The ‘over’ is 4-1 for the Rebels, 2-0 in their home games. They’ve seen their games average combined scores of 64.2 PPG. As for Vandy, its totals have been a wash overall (3-3) and in its road assignments (1-1).
The marquee SEC game on the docket is Auburn at LSU. This is a 3:30 p.m. Eastern kick on CBS. As of late Friday afternoon, most betting shops had Gus Malzahn’s club listed as a seven-point ‘chalk’ with a total of 44. LSU was +230 on the money line (risk $100 to win $230).
Ed Orgeron’s team bounced back from a disastrous home loss to Troy by a 24-21 count two weeks ago last weekend at The Swamp. LSU (4-2 SU, 1-4-1 ATS) went to Gainesville and won a 17-16 decision over Florida as a 1.5-point road favorite. Bettors who took LSU early in the week cashed tickets as short underdog, but the line moved from UF as a six-point favorite on Sunday night, down to 3.5 by Monday afternoon, down to 2.5 on Thursday and then to LSU as the slim favorite by late Friday. But in terms of the closing line, LSU failed to cover for the fourth consecutive game.
Derrius Guice returned to the field after missing most of the two previous games. He ran for only 50 yards on 17 attempts, however. For the season, Guice has rushed for 364 yards and five TDs while averaging 4.4 YPC. QB Danny Etling doesn’t strike fear into many DC’s, but he’s not making mistakes. The former Purdue signal caller has completed 60.2 percent of his passes for 1,046 yards with a 6/1 TD-INT ratio.
As noted earlier, Auburn (5-1 SU, 3-1-1 ATS) allowed a backdoor cover at home to Ole Miss last week, but it dominated the game. RB Kerryon Johnson stole the show by rushing 28 times for 204 yards and three TDs. Johnson missed a pair of games with injuries last month, but he has 11 rushing TDs in the last three games to bring his total to 12, which is tops in the nation.
Jarrett Stidham completed 14-of-21 passes vs. the Rebels for 235 yards and two TDs without an interception. The transfer from Baylor has five TD passes without an interception in the last three contests. For the season, Stidham has connected on 71.2 percent of his throws for 1,345 yards with a 7/2 TD-INT ratio. Johnson has rushed for 504 yards with a 5.9 YPC average. WR Ryan Davis has 31 receptions for 251 yards and three TDs.
As a road ‘chalk’ since Malzahn took over in 2013, Auburn has compiled a 6-3 spread record in nine such spots. On the flip side, LSU is 0-1 ATS in its lone home ‘dog situation since Orgeron took over, losing 10-0 to Alabama as a seven-point puppy.
Auburn is ranked 13th in the nation in total defense, 20th against the pass, 22nd versus the run and sixth in scoring defense (13.0 PPG). Totals have been a wash for AU both overall (3-3) and on the road (1-1). AU’s games have averaged combined scores of 48.8 PPG.
The ‘under’ is 4-2 overall for LSU, but the ‘over’ is 2-1 in its three home games at Tiger Stadium. LSU has seen its games average combined scores of 44.2 PPG.
Moving into the night games, Florida will host Texas A&M for the first time since the Aggies joined the league. In that first year (2012) of SEC play for A&M, it lost to Florida by a 20-17 score as a one-point home favorite in the collegiate debut of Johnny Manziel. These schools meet again at 7:00 p.m. Eastern on ESPN2.
Both coaches need a win in the worst way. As of late Friday afternoon, most books had Florida listed as a three-point ‘chalk’ with a total of 50.5. The Aggies were +130 or 135 on the money line.
UF has just been downright atrocious on offense all season. In fact, this unit has been stuck in the mud since Jim McElwain arrived from Colorado State. Remember, Florida averaged 30.3 PPG in Muschamp’s last season at the helm. Since then, the Gators have averaged 23.2 and 23.9 PPG.
Through five games, Florida (3-2 SU, 2-3 ATS) is currently ranked No. 103 in the nation in total offense and No. 93 in scoring with a 25.0 PPG average. But if you take away the three defensive TDs scored by UF on pick-sixes, it would only be averaging 20.8 PPG. That’s deplorable!
Making matters worse, Florida might not have its two best WR’s in uniform. Tryrie Cleveland (ankle) and Kadarius Toney (shoulder) were downgraded to ‘doubtful’ on Thursday and neither player has practiced all week. However, Cleveland was upgraded to ‘questionable’ on Friday and OG Brett Heggie, who was the SEC O-Lineman of the Week in a win over Vandy two weeks ago, was upgraded to ‘probable’ (concussion).
Also, UF’s best pass rusher Jabari Zuniga is ‘questionable’ after injuring his ankle at practice this week. Starting sophomore safety Chauncey Gardner is listed as ‘questionable,’ but he sent out a tweet Thursday night saying he was good to go. The other starting safety, Nick Washington, is ‘out’ with a shoulder injury.
UF has wins vs. Tennessee (26-20), at Kentucky (28-27) and vs. Vandy (38-24). Luke Del Rio was lost to a season-ending shoulder injury vs. the Commodores, so redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks was back in the starting lineup vs. LSU. For the season, Franks has connected on 63.3 percent of his passes for 665 yards with a 3/1 TD-INT ratio.
The major bright spot on an otherwise pedestrian offensive unit has been true freshman RB Malik Davis, who has run for 409 yards and two TDs with a 7.2 YPC average. RB Lamical Perine has rushed for 218 yards and five TD with a 4.4 YPC average.
Texas A&M (4-2 SU, 4-1-1 ATS) saw its four-game winning streak snapped in last week’s 27-19 loss to Alabama as a 25-point home underdog. Kevin Sumlin’s squad easily took the cash and became the first foe to play the Crimson Tide to a one-possession game. The Aggies committed three turnovers to finish minus two in turnover margin, essentially ending any upset hopes.
Kellen Mond threw for 237 yards and one TD with one pick. The true freshman QB also had a rushing score. For the season, Mond has thrown for 1,045 yards with a 7/3 TD-INT ratio. He’s also run for 266 yards and two TDs.
Sophomore RB Trayveon Williams has rushed for a team-high 422 yards and five TDs with a 5.2 YPC average. Keith Ford has run for 321 yards and seven TDs, averaging 4.7 YPC. A&M’s best playmaker is two-time All-American Christian Kirk, a junior WR who also thrives on special teams. Kirk has a team-best 27 receptions for 316 yards and five TDs. Kirk also has a 100-yard kickoff return for a TD this year, brining his career TD total on special teams to six.
During Sumlin’s tenure, Texas A&M owns a 5-7 spread record in 12 games as a road underdog. UF is 6-5 ATS as a home ‘chalk’ on McElwain’s watch.
Totals have been an overall wash (3-3) for the Aggies, but they’ve seen the ‘over’ cash in both of their road assignments (one was actually a neutral-field game at Jerry World). Their games have averaged combined scores of 62.2 PPG. Meanwhile, UF has seen the ‘over’ go 3-2 overall, but the ‘under’ is 2-1 in its three home contests. The Gators have watched their games average combined scores of 49.2 PPG.
Alabama (6-0 SU, 3-3 ATS) will play host to Arkansas at 7:15 p.m. Eastern on ESPN. As of late Friday afternoon, the Tide was installed as a 31.5-point home ‘chlak’ with a total of 54.5. This is the biggest underdog situation for the Razorbacks during Bret Bielema’s five-year tenure. In the richest previous ‘dog spot, Alabama rolled past Arkansas 52-0 as a 29.5-opint home favorite in 2013.
Arkansas (2-3 SU, 0-5 ATS) has cashed tickets at a 7-1 ATS clip in its last eight games as a road underdog. On the flip side, Nick Saban’s team is 9-15-1 ATS in its last 25 contests as a favorite of 25.5 points or more. The ‘over’ is 2-1 in Alabama’s three home games, but totals have been an overall wash (3-3) for the Tide. They’ve seen their games average combined scores of 53.3 PPG. The ‘over’ is 3-2 overall for the Hogs, 1-0 in their only road assignment. Their game have played to an average combined score of 64.0 PPG.
Austin Allen inured his shoulder in last week’s aforementioned loss at South Carolina. Nevertheless, the senior QB has been upgraded to ‘probable’ and will get the starting nod. Allen has completed 56.4 percent of his passes for 850 yards with an 8/4 TD-INT ratio, but he’s constantly been under heavy pressure due to poor play from his o-line up front.
Arkansas uses a trio of RBs – Chase Hayden, Devwah Whaley and David Williams – that have each run for at least 235 yards. Williams has a team-best five rushing TDs, while Hayden has four and Whaley has two. With top wideout Jared Cornelius sustaining a season-ending Achilles tear vs. Texas A&M, Allen has been throwing to WRs with inexperience galore. Jonathan Nance has emerged as his favorite target by catching 23 balls for 374 yards and five TDs.
Before sneaking past A&M in College Station last week, Alabama destroyed Vanderbilt 59-0 in Nashville before smashing Ole Miss, 66-3.
Along with Alabama and Auburn, Georgia (6-0 SU, 5-1 ATS) is a third SEC school in the hunt for a CFP berth. Kirby Smart’s second team is a monster favorite of 29.5 or 30 points for its 7:30 p.m. Eastern kick at home vs. Missouri. The total was 56.5 early Friday night.
UGA is 3-0 in SEC play and also has quality non-conference wins at Notre Dame and vs. Appalachian State, which is probably the best team in the Sun Belt Conference. The Bulldogs blasted Vandy 45-14 last week as 17-point road favorites. Jake Fromm threw for 102 yards and two TDs without an interception, in addition to rushing for 36 yards on four attempts.
Sony Michel ran for 150 yards and one TD on 12 carries, while Nick Chubb produced 138 rushing yards and two TDs on 16 attempts. For the season, Chubb has rushed for a team-high 618 yards and eight TDs while averaging 6.8 YPC. Fromm, the true freshman who took over at QB when Jacob Eason was injured in the first quarter of the season opener, has thrown for 836 yards with a 10/2 TD-INT ratio. He’s also run for a pair of scores.
Eason has taken snaps in mop-up duty the last two weeks, so he’s ready to go if Fromm falters or gets injured. Three UGA defensive starters are injured this week. DT Trenton Thompson and LB Natrez Patrick are ‘doubtful’ vs. Missouri, while LB Lorenzo Carter is ‘out.’
Missouri (1-4 SU, 1-4 ATS) has lost four in a row but did pull out a backdoor cover in last week’s 40-34 loss at Kentucky as a nine-point underdog. The Tigers had previously taken three straight beatdowns (at home!) vs. South Carolina (31-13), vs. Purdue (35-3) and vs. Auburn (51-14).
The ‘under’ is 5-1 overall for UGA, 3-0 in its home games. The Bulldogs have seen their games average combined scores of 45.0 PPG. UGA is ranked second in the nation in scoring defense (10.0 PPG), fifth at defending the run, third in total defense and 10th against the pass.
The ‘over’ is 3-2 overall for Missouri, 1-0 in its lone road contest.
B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets
Current Iron Bowl spread at 5Dimes.eu: Alabama -9.5 at Auburn.
Other Games of the Year number of note include Georgia -12.5 vs. Florida (Jacksonville), Alabama -22 vs. LSU, Auburn -4 vs. UGA and LSU -7 at Tennessee.
Butch Jones, the not-for-much-longer ‘caretaker’ of the Tennessee football program, produced another stellar Butch-ism at Monday’s presser in Knoxville. “You don’t have to get a physical rep to get a rep – you can get a ‘leadership rep.’ Gotcha!
One of Vandy’s best defensive linemen, Nifae Lealao, is ‘questionable’ at Ole Miss.
SEC Hot Seats
I obviously left Ole Miss interim head coach Matt Luke off the list. He has zero shot of keeping that gig for the long haul.
Candidates for the jobs that will open: Mullen, Louisville’s Bobby Petrino, Purdue’s Jeff Brohm, Washington State’s Mike Leach, Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables, Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy, Penn State’s James Franklin, USF’s Charlie Strong and Va. Tech’s Justin Fuente.
If Peyton Manning becomes the point man on UT’s coaching search, Duke’s David Cutcliffe could be in play. Knoxville sports radio titan Tony Basilio suggested on my Games Galore podcast two weeks ago that Manning wants to be involved in the next hire.
To be clear, I don’t think PSU’s Franklin is going anywhere. As for Mullen, I think he would jump but he’s already making nearly $5 million per season, so it’s going to costs a lot of cash to yank him out of Starkville. Bo Bounds of the Out of Bounds Show in Jackson, MS., has stated on twitter, on his radio show and as a guest on other shows that Florida AD and former Mississippi State AD will not hire Mullen to come to Florida. I haven’t heard Bo gets into many details on that matter, but he knows everything that goes on at MSU and Ole Miss, so I’ll take him at his word.
I believe it’s an absolute given that Petrino will be in the SEC next season. A clause in his contract stipulates that his buyout is reduced in half if AD Tom Jurich fired. Although that isn’t completely official yet, it will be soon. At that point, Petrino’s buyout will “only” be $4 million.
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Saturday's Week 7 Top 25 Betting Cheat Sheet
(16) Michigan Wolverines at Indiana Hoosiers (+7.5, 46.5)
* The Wolverines have converted 14-of-15 red zone trips in 2017, but only five of those scores have been touchdowns. Michigan leads the nation in yards against per game (213.0) and opponent third-down conversion rate (18.3 percent).
* The Hoosiers run an average of 81 plays per game, tops in the Big Ten and 10th in the nation. The Indiana defense has one interception through five games, making it just one of eight teams in Division I with one or fewer picks this season.
LINE: Michigan opened as a 6.5-point road favorite with that spread bet up to -7.5. The total opened 47 and is down to 46.5.
* Home team is 4-1 ATS in their last five meetings.
* Wolverines are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games following a loss.
* Hoosiers are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 conference games.
(20) North Carolina State Wolfpack at Pittsburgh Panthers (+11, 54)
* The Wolfpack rank tied for third in the nation in fewest turnovers (three) and are one of only four teams that have yet to throw an interception. The NC State defense is allowing 296.3 yards per game, 121st out of 129 Division I teams.
* Panthers starting QB Max Browne will likely miss a couple of weeks with a right arm injury, while No. 1 RB Chawntez Moss has been suspended indefinitely. Pittsburgh allows 280.3 passing yards per contest, tied for 115th in the nation.
LINE: NC State opened -10 and has been raised to -11. The total has dropped from 56.5 to 54.
* Wolfpack are 4-0 ATS in their last four road games.
* Panthers are 1-5-2 ATS in their last eight games overall.
* Over is 7-1-1 in Panthers last nine home games.
(7) TCU Horned Frogs at Kansas State Wildcats (+6.5, 49.5)
* The Horned Frogs TCU have converted 58.3 percent of third downs in 2017 (42-of-72), the top mark in Division I. Running back Darius Anderson averages 123 rushing yards with five touchdowns in his previous three road games.
* The Wildcats are tied for 11th in the nation in turnover margin (plus-6) and have lost just one fumble in 2017. Kansas State has outscored opponents 120-54 in the first half of games.
LINE: Texas Christian opened as a 4.5-point road favorite and has jumped to -6.5. The total dropped from 53.5 to 49.5 with action on the Under.
* Horned Frogs are 5-13 ATS in their last 18 games overall.
* Wildcats are 15-7 ATS in their last 22 games following a loss.
* Over is 8-3 in Wildcats' last 11 games overall.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at (10) Miami Hurricanes (-6.5, 51.5)
* The Yellow Jackets are one of only four Division I teams to rank in the Top 20 in total offense (479.3 yards per game) and total defense (260.0). Georgia Tech has forced a three-and-out on 53.1 percent of defensive series, the nation's second-best rate.
* The Hurricanes rank inside the Top 40 in rushing yards per game (198.3) while racking up 6.4 yards per carry. Miami has converted 16 of its 17 red-zone trips into points, the 12th-best rate in Division I.
LINE: Miami has moved from -6 to -6.5 while the total dropped from 52.5 to 51.5.
* Yellow Jackets are 1-7 ATS in their last eight meetings.
* Over is 4-1 in the last five meetings.
* Favorite is 7-2 ATS in their last nine meetings.
(12) Oklahoma Sooners vs. Texas Longhorns (+9, 64.5)
* Sooners QB Baker Mayfield has thrown for 280 or more yards and multiple touchdowns in each of his first five games this season. Oklahoma averages 6.8 passing plays of 20-plus yards per game - the best rate in the nation.
* The Longhorns have limited opponents to a 25 percent third-down conversion rate, good for ninth in the nation. Texas also ranks in the Top 10 in time of possession, averaging better than 33 minutes per game.
LINE: Oklahoma opened -7.5 for the Red River Rivalry and money on the Sooners pumped this line to -9. The total moved from 62.5 to 64.5.
* Sooners are 0-4 ATS in their last four meetings.
* Over is 5-2 in the last seven meetings.
* Sooners are 1-6 ATS in their last seven neutral-site games.
Baylor Bears at (14) Oklahoma State Cowboys (-26, 68.5)
* The Bears have 37 tackles for loss so far in 2017, tops in the Big 12 and 35th in Division I. Baylor has converted just 21 of 71 third-down opportunities, ranking 122nd in the nation.
* Only UCLA has been more prolific through the air than the Cowboys, who average 399.2 passing yards per game. But Oklahoma State ranks outside the Top 100 nationally in opponent third-down conversion rate (46.3 percent).
LINE: Oklahoma State opened -23.5 and has been bet up to 26, while the total moved from 72 to 68.5.
* Favorite is 14-4 ATS in their last 18 meetings.
* Home team is 11-4 ATS in their last 15 meetings.
* Over is 5-2-1 in the last eight meetings in Oklahoma State.
Purdue Boilermakers at (6) Wisconsin Badgers (-17, 50)
* The Boilermakers have scored on 19 of their 20 trips to the red zone, tied for the eighth-best rate in the country. Purdue completes a pass to an average of 8.8 receivers per game, fifth-most in Division I.
* Badgers RB Jonathan Taylor has scored a rushing touchdown in all five games this season, and he leads the Big Ten in yards per game on the ground (153.4). Wisconsin ranks fourth in rushing defense (81.4 ypg).
LINE: Wisconsin opened -17 and has remained steady at that spead. The total has dipped from 51.5 to 50.
* Favorite is 9-1 ATS in their last 10 meetings.
* Road team is 4-1 ATS in their last five meetings.
* Boilermakers are 1-10 ATS in their last 11 meetings.
(11) Auburn Tigers at LSU Tigers (+7, 43.5)
* The Tigers have won three straight SEC games by 20 or more points for the first time in 30 years. Auburn is a perfect 14-for-14 in the red zone in conference play, with touchdowns accounting for 12 of those scores.
* LSU LB Devin White averages 10.2 tackles per game in 2017, the best rate in the SEC. The Tigers' defense has held foes to five touchdowns in the first half of its previous 11 games dating back to last season.
LINE: Auburn opened as a 6-point road favorite and is now giving a touchdown at LSU. The total opened at 47 and has moved to 43.5.
* Home team is 7-1 ATS in their last eight meetings.
* Auburn is 4-1 ATS in their last five meetings.
* Under is 12-5 in the last 17 meetings.
(24) Navy Midshipmen at Memphis Tigers (-3, 71)
* The Midshipmen trail only Army in rush attempts (317) and yards (2,071) and lead the nation in yards per game (414.2). QB Zach Abey has accounted for 10 touchdowns (three passing, seven rushing) over the past three games.
* The Tigers have 12 takeaways through five games, good for 21st in the nation. But Memphis ranks 93rd in run defense (187.2 yards per game) while allowing opponents to gain 4.6 yards per carry.
LINE: Memphis opened -2.5 and is now at a field-goal favorite while the total plummeted from 76.5 to 71 points.
* Midshipmen are 5-1 ATS in their last six road games.
* Tigers are 2-9 ATS in their last 11 vs. a team with a winning record.
* Over is 12-4 in Midshipmen last 16 conference games.
East Carolina Pirates at (21) Central Florida Golden Knights (-36, 70)
* East Carolina ranks 124th out of 129 Division I teams in rushing yards per game (94.0), while only four teams average fewer than the Pirates' 2.85 YPC. Receiver Davon Grayson has 16 catches for 299 yards and three scores in two road games.
* The Knights are one of only two teams to average better than six touchdowns per game, and one of just three schools to boast a yards-per-pass average in double digits. Central Florida ranks second in the nation in turnover margin per game (plus-2).
LINE: This spread has moved an entire touchdown from UCF -29 to -36. The total has also moved from 74 to 69.5.
* Over is 5-1 in the last six meetings.
* Pirates are 2-6 ATS in their last eight meetings.
* Pirates are 10-29 ATS in their last 39 games overall.
Arkansas Razorbacks at (1) Alabama Crimson Tide (-31.5, 54)
* Redshirt freshman QB Austin Allen is optimistic he'll play this week after suffering a shoulder injury last week vs. South Carolina. Arkansas is allowing teams to convert nearly 42 percent of third downs, ranking just inside the Top 100 nationally.
* The Crimson Tide are allowing an NCAA-low 73.3 rushing yards per game and have limited foes to just two rushing scores through six games. Alabama has rushed for 140 or more yards in all six games this season, and 29 times in its last 36 contests.
LINE: Alabama opened at -29.5 and has been bet up to -31.5. The total has gone from 55 to 54 points.
* Razorbacks are 1-5 ATS in their last six road games.
* Crimson Tide are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 conference games.
* Under is 27-13 in Crimson Tide last 40 vs. a team with a losing record.
Missouri Tigers at (5) Georgia Bulldogs (-29.5, 56.5)
* The Tigers average 15.97 yards per completion in 2017, the best mark in the SEC and good for eighth nationally. Missouri also sits fifth in Division I in average tackles for loss allowed (3.20).
* Georgia outgained Vanderbilt and Tennessee 717-126 on the ground over the previous two weeks and averages 268.3 rushing yards for the season, ranking 11th in the nation. The Bulldogs are a perfect 23-for-23 in the red zone through six games.
LINE: Georgia has moved from -28 to -29.5 while the total has stayed steady at 56.5 points.
* Road team is 4-1 ATS in their last five meetings.
* Tigers are 4-11 ATS in their last 15 conference games.
* Bulldogs are 2-6 ATS in last eight vs. a team with a losing record.
Cincinnati Bearcats at (15) South Florida Bulls (-23.5, 65)
* The Bearcats have been outscored 62-24 in the first quarter of games. Cincinnati has led for only 53:57 so far in 2017, while trailing or sitting tied for 344:57 of total game time.
* The Bulls are allowing just 74.4 rushing yards per game - second-fewest in Division I - and lead the nation with 14 interceptions. RBs Darius Tice and D'Ernest Johnson and QB Quinton Flowers have accounted for 16 of USF's 17 rushing scores.
LINE: The Bulls opened -24.5 but action on the underdog has slimmed this spread to -23.5. The total dropped from 70.5 to 65 points.
* Over is 4-1 in the last five meetings in South Florida.
* Home team is 4-1 ATS in their last five meetings.
* Bearcats are 9-4 ATS in their last 13 meetings.
(8 ) Ohio State Buckeyes at Nebraska Cornhuskers (+24.5, 58)
* The Buckeyes have allowed fewer than 100 passing yards in four consecutive games and rank first nationally with 57 tackles for loss. Quarterback J.T. Barrett's 16:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio is second-best in Division I.
* Nebraska has five individual 100-yard rushing games in 2017, one more than it had all of last season. Receiver Stanley Morgan Jr. leads the Big Ten in receiving yards (510) and receiving touchdowns (five).
LINE: The Buckeyes opened as 24.5-point road favorites and have stayed steady entering the weekend. The total has moved from 54.5 to 58 points.
* Buckeyes are 44-20-1 ATS in their last 65 road games.
* Cornhuskers are 0-4 ATS in their last four home games.
* Under is 11-3 in Cornhuskers last 14 conference games.
(22) Michigan State Spartans at Minnesota Golden Gophers (+4, 40)
* The Spartans have a plus-7 turnover differential in their last two games (seven for, zero against) after a minus-6 showing in their first three contests. Michigan State is one of 14 Division I teams allowing fewer than 100 rushing yards per game (97.2).
* The Golden Gophers have picked up just 21 penalties through five games, with its 4.2 penalties-per-game average good for 11th nationally. Quarterback Conor Rhoda ranks second in the Big Ten in yards per completion (14.56).
LINE: Michigan State has stayed as a 4-point road favorite at Minnesota while the total has moved just half a point from 40.5 to 40.
* Underdog is 11-2 ATS in their last 13 meetings.
* Under is 5-2 in the last seven meetings.
* Spartans are 1-6 ATS in their last seven meetings.
(23) Utah Utes at (13) USC Trojans (-13, 52.5)
* Utes QB Tyler Huntley is questionable after he suffered a shoulder injury Oct. 2 in Arizona. Utah is also one of 10 teams with at least 14 turnovers so far this season, racking up nine interceptions and five fumbles recovered.
* The Trojans average 13.2 points in the fourth quarter, easily its highest-scoring period. Southern Cal has limited opponents to a 68-percent red zone conversation rate, best in the Pac-12 and 12th in the nation.
LINE: Southern California has stayed steady at -13 since opening while the total has dropped from 53.5 to 52.5.
* Home team is 6-0 ATS in their last six meetings.
* Utes are 14-3 ATS in last 17 road games vs. team with winning home record.
* Under is 7-3 in Trojans last 10 home games.
Boise State Broncos at (18) San Diego State Aztecs (-6.5, 46)
* The Broncos rank 18th in the nation in run defense (105.8 yards per game) while limiting foes to a 3.1 YPC average. But Boise State is drawing just four penalties per contest, the fifth-fewest in all of Division I.
* The Aztecs' plus-8 turnover margin is tied for fifth-best nationally, and they lead Division I with a plus-44 margin since the beginning of the 2015 season. Running back Rashaad Penny has at least 139 all-purpose yards and a score in all six games this season.
LINE: San Diego State opened as a 7.5-point home favorite but money on the road team has this spread at SDSU -6.5. The total slimmed one point from 47 to 46.
* Broncos are 0-4 ATS in their last four meetings.
* Broncos are 5-12 ATS in their last 17 games overall.
* Aztecs are 18-6-2 ATS in their last 26 conference games.
(4) Washington Huskies at Arizona State Sun Devils (+17.5, 56)
* The Huskies rank third in the nation in touchdowns (35), with QB Jake Browning responsible for nearly half of those (17). Running back Myles Gaskin is heating up, rushing for 406 yards and six scores over his last three games.
* Defensive end Alani Latu, who has 5.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks in five games, will be moved into a pass-rush position; the Sun Devils have struggled in that area since losing top pass-rusher Koron Crump in Week 3. Arizona State has forced just five turnovers.
LINE: The Huskies opened as 17.5-point road chalk and have remained there entering the weekend. The total opened at 60 points and is down to 54.
* Under is 5-1 in the last six meetings.
* Favorite is 9-2 ATS in their last 11 meetings.
* Huskies are 2-14-2 ATS in their last 18 meetings.
Oregon Ducks at (25) Stanford Cardinal (-10, 55.5)
* The Ducks are one of only two teams to rank in the Top 20 nationally in rushing yards (239.3) on fewer than 5.0 YPC. Oregon's 24 sacks lead Division I and are just one shy of the Ducks' entire 2016 tally.
* The Cardinal offensive line hasn't surrendered a sack in three straight games, all Stanford victories. Running back Bryce Love has 150 rushing yards and a touchdown in every game this season, and leads Division I by nearly 250 rushing yards.
LINE: The Cardinal opened as 12-point home favorites and have been bet down to -10 with action on the Ducks. The total moved from 57.5 to 55.5.
* Over is 5-1 in the last six meetings in Stanford.
* Over is 10-2 in the last 12 meetings.
* Ducks are 5-2 ATS in their last seven meetings in Stanford.
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