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POINTSPREAD PROGNOSIS NEWSLETTER
By: JOE GAVAZZI, WINNING SPORTS ADVICE
WEEK 10, WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 29, 2014, Issue 1
Thursday, October 30, 2014
Troy at Georgia Southern (-24) 7:30 ET ESPNU
You will want to play this one early, as I can see the line going nowhere but up in this contest. In the last 25 years, my college football STEAMROLLERS have been based on dominance at the point of attack. Generally speaking, I can use my statistical categories of the 200 Club, the Double Rushers, the Defensive Dandies, and the Defensive Duds to isolate these plays. More specifically, the key numbers come with offensive vs. defensive running yards and yards per rush. When it all comes together, there can be but one side.
Troy St. 25th year HC Blakeney is retiring after this season, at the end of an illustrious career. The Trojans were the toast of the Sun Belt in the early 2000’s with Blakeney leading them to numerous Sun Belt titles and Bowl games. This year, however, the loss of 4-year starting QB Robinson has led to a downward spiral on the offensive side of the ball. The defense, which has allowed 30 or more PPG and 400 or more YPG in the last 4 seasons, is also in a tailspin. The result is a 1-7 SU, 3-5 ATS mark in which they have failed to the number by 108 net points. In next week’s article of the Pointspread Prognosis, I will deal with “Super Surgers vs. Towel Tossers.” You can be assured that Troy will be on the list of the latter, while GA Southern will be on the list of the former. To statistically note Troy’s offensive ineptitude, it should be pointed out they average just 19 PPG and 355 YPG. But, it is the defensive side of the ball which has made a serious downturn. The Trojans now allow 39 PPG on 461 YPG and 6.4 YP play. But, their biggest undoing will come at the point of attack, where their front 7 is allowing 245/5.7.
Last week, I used GA Southern as my STEAMROLLER OF THE WEEK. In that analysis, I spoke of the ascent of the Eagles’ program in the previous 4 seasons. Under former HC Monken, Southern had a record of 38-16 SU. With 15 RS this year and loads of experience in the OL and RB positions, there is reason to believe they could be successful at the Sun Belt level under 1st year HC Fritz. After all, the bread and butter of this team was a ground attack that in each of the previous two years, had rushed for 360/6.3 or better. That is expected against the Savanah States of the world. But, when the Eagles closed out the 2013 season with a 26-20 win at Florida (as +28) and rushed 54 times for 429 yards, the buy signal was flashed.
The linemaker was quick to make adjustments after the 5-0 ATS start. Though 2 defeats dot their resume, note those were a by a combined 5 points at ACC teams, Georgia Tech and NC State. Last week, in our STEAMROLLER OF THE WEEK vs. GA State, the Eagles soared to a 69-31 win in which they outrushed GA State 63/613 to 23/47. THAT IS NOT A MISPRINT, 613 running yards. What do you think they will do against Troy’s defense? Me, too! … Especially with the ESPN cameras on a Thursday night football stage!
Florida St. (-4) at Louisville 7:30 ET ESPN
In late September, I promulgated my AFP theory. As you will recall, AFP stands for “away from the pointspread.” Simply stated, we look to play ON any college football team who has a negative AFP vs. an opponent who has a positive AFP, when the sum of those numbers is 50 or more points. This has been highly successful in Games 4 through 7, the heart of the CFB season. This year, that success has continued into Weeks 8 and 9. The record since Week 4 is 45-24 ATS, including 16-7 ATS the last two weeks and 9-3 ATS last week. Consider this to be of significance! Since although defending champion Florida St. is 7-0 SU, they are 1-6 ATS, falling to the number by 62 net points. Louisville, conversely, is 5-3 ATS +37 AFP. That -99 net AFP has resulted in a number that is more than 10 points from where this line would have been opening week. I am well aware that the Florida St. run game averages 126/4.0 and that the Sems were outgained 470-323 in their recent survival of Notre Dame (31-27). Working in favor of Louisville is their 10-1 ATS dog log, the return to the offense of QB Gardner and WR Parker, along with the experienced coaching of HC Petrino. Throw in the Defensive Dandy status of Louisville, and you can see why handicappers the world over are knee-jerking to the Louisville Cardinal as Thursday Night defensive home dog. But, the most important consideration in any matchup is line value. So before you knee-jerk to this Thursday Night home pooch, maybe it would be good to consider that Florida St. has won 23 straight games and that when handicapping CFB games in which the line is 6 or less points, we note that picking the SU winner results in ATS success over 90% of the time.
Friday, October 31, 2014
Tulsa at Memphis (-24) 8:00 ET ESPNU
Referring to our AFP article as outlined in the Florida St. analysis, note that Tulsa sports a 2-5 ATS -69 AFP against a Memphis team who is 5-2 ATS +91 AFP. That has led to an adjustment of nearly 3 TDs in this line. Few programs have made bigger U-turns than have these two in recent years. It was just 2 short years ago in 2012 that Tulsa was 11-3 SU, 8-5 ATS, under then 2nd year HC Blankenship. Nearly two years later, we find the Hurricanes to be not so golden, as they are on a 2 year slide of 4-15 SU, 5-14 ATS. For Memphis, the opposite has occurred. In 2012, 3rd year HC Fuente took over a Memphis program that had gone 3-21 SU the previous 2 years. Coaches often show their biggest improvement in year 3. Such is the case for Fuente, whose strong recruiting classes are paying dividends. In those 3-21 SU seasons, Memphis was being outscored 37-15 and outgained 476-280. This year, the Tigers are outscoring foes 36-19 and outgaining them 451-342. In fact, the Defensive Dud status of Tulsa and the near 200 Club status of Memphis adds further statistical fuel to Tiger backers. But if you are not paying attention to the line value in this game, you are not going to win. Value side is clearly with the underdog!
Cincinnati (-3-) at Tulane 8:00 ET ESPN
Despite noted improvement under 3rd year HC Johnson, from 2-10 SU to 7-6 SU from his first to second year, the Green Wave is far from a premier program. Consider their 2-5 SU pedigree in which they are averaging just 19 PPG on 354 YPG and 5.0 YP play. Clearly, they are on the verge of being an Offensive Oaf. Every season in college football, there is a team who makes a late season turnaround. Could that be this year’s Cincinnati Bearcats (a team who went 29-10 SU the previous 3 seasons)? A disastrous defensive start, including allowing 146 points in consecutive weeks of a 0-3 SU ATS run vs. Ohio St., Memphis, and Miami, FL left the Bearcats as unwanted road kill. I know it was only SMU and USF, but against that weaker competition, Cincinnati allowed just 20 points in wins of 34 and 17 including early game competition that resulted in wins of 24 vs. Toledo and 7 vs. Miami, OH. It means the Bearcats are 4-3 SU with victories against every team they should beat. Whether it’s QB Kiel at the helm or former starter QB Legaux, look for a resurgent Bearcat team to continue their success against lower echelon teams.
CFB POINTSPREAD PROGNOSIS BEST BETS
45-23 ATS since 2013, 18-9 ATS this SEASON
Saturday, November 1, 2014
Notre Dame (-15) vs. Navy (FED EX Field) 8:00 ET CBS
With Notre Dame 5-2 ATS +26 AFP and Navy -5 ATS -36 AFP, we will confidently lineup with an extra TD of value in this annual mid-season classic. Must note that the Irish had their 6-0 SU bubble burst in the 31-27 should-have-been upset of No. 1 Florida St. A closer look at the stats, show the Irish with a 470-323 edge in that game. That letdown is aided by team personality profiles that showed Dame to be just 3-9 ATS as double digit favorite, while the Middies enter at 14-5 ATS as regular season underdog. Though not in love with this year’s edition of the 28/411 Navy defense, must note that in last year’s 38-34 Notre Dame series victory, Navy rambled for their usual 70/329 overland. Last week, QB Reynolds returned to lead a Navy ground game that outrushed San Jose 423-100 with Reynolds accounting for 251 of those overland yards. The value, the situation, the stats, and the technicals all point to Navy coming inside this impost.
Wisconsin (NL) at Rutgers Noon ET ESPN
Still waiting for a line on this game, pending an update on the status of Rutgers’ QB Nova (knee)! With his presence, this line could be a manageable TD favorite on Wisconsin. Last week, this bureau used Wisconsin as the rare and vaunted 6% Play. The Badgers, at a bargain price of -10, responded with a 52-7 wire-to-wire whipping of Maryland in which they outrushed the Terps 311-46 and outgained Maryland 527-175. 6% PLAYS are now on a 36-4 ATS (90%) RUN including 4-0 ATS THIS YEAR as we approach NOVEMBER NOCKOUT. Meanwhile, Rutgers needed a late line move and backdoor coverage in their 42-24 beat down at Nebraska. They were outrushed 292-143. While the Wisconsin running game, which averages 338/7.2, gets all the ink, they have become a Defensive Dandy. After 7 games of action, the Badgers allow just 16 PPG on 270 YPG at 4.6 YP play. When you have a running game and defense such as that, you will always be in contention for the 2014 CFB STEAMROLLER PLAY OF THE YEAR. Should this be a 6% play, note the recent record of 36-4 ATS (90%), including 4-0 ATS this season (100%) on such plays.
Maryland at Penn St. (-3-) Noon ET ESPN2
The 14-5 ATS road dog mark of Terp ’s HC Edsall did not discourage my selection against his Maryland team last week. In a 6% (52-7) Wisconsin thumping of his Terps, the offensive fortunes may not improve much today at Happy Valley against the Penn St. defense that was brilliant in the 2nd half against Ohio St. last week and allows just 17 points, 285 yards and 4.4 YP play in 2014. Though Penn St. continues to have OL issues resulting in a weak ground attack that averages just 2.5 YPR, that unit may appear to resemble Wisconsin when they face a Maryland stop unit that has allowed 45 PPG L3 games and is allowing 212 or more yards, both rushing and passing this season. Note that 1st year HC Franklin remains underrated with a 29-17 ATS log and that Penn St.’s 2ndhalf comeback vs. Ohio St. is about to pay huge dividends in the month of November.
UNDERDOG PLAY OF THE WEEK
N. Carolina at Miami, FL (-17) 12:30 ET
The UNDERDOG OF THE WEEK suffered its first loss of the year, after beginning the season with 8 consecutive victories. To be honest, the loss was well deserved. The Texas Longhorns were never in the game in their 23-0 loss to Kansas St. I can assure you, however, that this week’s underdog, N. Carolina, will not go scoreless.
Last week, Miami, FL added insult to injury on the fading Frank Beamer resume. Led by 249 yards rushing from RB Duke Johnson, Miami outrushed the Hokies 364-120, outgained them 456-262, and profited from a +3 net TO margin in a 30-6 Blacksburg bashing. Just to the East, N. Carolina was profiting from the questionable but successful onside kick, called by HC Fedora, that preserved the Heels’ 28-27 upset of Virginia.
Miami certainly does appear to be an improved football team. Yes, there are road losses at Louisville, Nebraska and GA Tech, but playing on this field, Miami has won by 34 against Florida A&M, then gone 3-0 ATS in a 21 point victory vs. Arkansas St., 12 point win vs. Duke, and 21 point win vs. Cincinnati. Young QB Kaaya continues to benefit from the thrusts of RB Johnson, aiding in a balanced offense.
But the real story in this game is N. Carolina. In 2013, the Tarheels began the season at 1-5 SU ATS, following their 27-23 loss to this Miami team. When the smoke cleared, however, the Tarheels responded with a 6-1 SU ATS finish, culminating with a 39-17 Bowl win vs. Cincinnati. Again this season, N. Carolina started slowly. At 2-3 SU, 0-5 ATS, they entered the Notre Dame game in desperation mode. The Heels covered easily in that one (50-43) as 16 point pup. Yet, they still could have tossed the towel with 4 consecutive losses. Rather, they have responded with wins against GA Tech and Virginia, to make themselves once again relevant. Tarheel QB Williams is a dual threat, who leads an attack that is averaging 37 PPG and 443 YPG. It is that unit that we can count on, along with the innovative offensive philosophies of HC Fedora, to keep the Tarheels competitive in this contest the whole way. An outright victory? Probably not, but N. Carolina has once again proven their late season mettle, making this bloated line, which is nearly 2 TDs more than opening week, a must take as our UNDERDOG OF THE WEEK in a series that has seen the short cover 8/10 recent games.
The Pointspread Prognosis welcomes Ross Benjamin as a weekly contributor. Ross is a highly successful veteran of the pointspread wars. He operates RB Wins.com and also appears on thewinningsportsadvice.com website, where his winning selections are available daily at value prices. Each week, Ross will contribute a technical situation to the Pointspread Prognosis, following it with a game on the weekly card that pertains to the situation. I know you will welcome Ross to these pages, as you experience his technical expertise which is just a small part of the arsenal he uses to author his highly-successful selections. Should you wish to purchase selections from Ross Benjamin, you may access them at RB Wins.com or winningsportsadvice.com.
North Carolina @ Miami Fla. 12:30 PM ET
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Georgia St. at Appalachian St. (-10-) 3:30 ET
A Sun Belt game as my STEAMROLLER GAME OF THE YEAR, fading a Georgia St. team who is 7-1 ATS as road dog! Why not? The stats are certainly indicative of the play. App St. enters in their 1st year on the big board at 2-5 SU, 1-2 ATS. One thing the Mountaineers have proven, however, is that they can light up the scoreboard. They average 34 PPG with a perfectly balanced offense that runs and passes for 227 YPG at 6.3 YP play. Clearly, a 200 Club Member! In their most recent outing 2 weeks ago, they ran for 441 yards overland in a 53-14 road win at Troy. Georgia St. proved why they are among the worst teams among the CFB landscape last week. They are now 1-7 SU for the season with their lone victory in Week 1 (38-37) vs. ABC. Last week, they rolled over as commanded in my STEAMROLLER selection on Georgia Southern. In that game, they were outrushed by the Eagles 613-47 (THAT IS NOT A MISPRINT). If the Mountaineers approach anywhere near their capabilities in this game, this is an easy double digit victory and potential STEAMROLLER OF THE YEAR victory for this bureau.
Purdue at Nebraska (23-) 3:30 ET ABC
Why not a 7-1 SU ATS team, such as Nebraska, who has covered by a net 59 points as our STEAMROLLER OF THE YEAR? They are a clear member of the 200 Club with an offense behind RB Abdullah and QB Armstrong that averages a balanced 515 yards on 6.9 YP play, good for 41 PPG. Is there any doubt, they will get their points against a Purdue defense that allows 31 PPG on 429 YPG? The Huskers are averaging 46 PPG on this field, while HC Pelini is 12-7 ATS as home chalk. It is an underrated Nebraska defense that has also caught my eye. The Huskers are allowing just 20 PPG and only 4.9 YP play. Best of all is the fact that it is rare at this point of the season that a Top 10 team is laying the same number as opening week, despite those gaudy stats. In last week’s 42-24 win (an opening line cover) against Rutgers, Nebraska was clearly the dominant team. But, love is flowing from all circles for the Purdue offense. With QB Applebee at the controls, Purdue has put up triple 30s against Illinois, Michigan St. and Minnesota in the last 3 weeks. With coverage in all 3 of those games, value has remained in this line. No surprise if Nebraska comes elevated Saturday morning as our 2014 CFB STEAMROLLER GAME OF THE YEAR. Did I forget to mention that Purdue has allowed over 6 YPR in their last 2 outings vs. Michigan St. and Minnesota?
Kansas at Baylor (-36) 4:00 ET FS1
36 may seem like a big number! But, not when you consider that Baylor HC Briles is 19-3 ATS on this field, including 11-0 as -10+ for a Bears’ team who has averaged 60 PPG their last 10 home starts. Two weeks ago, the Bears undefeated bubble burst in a 41-27 loss at WVU. But with few undefeated teams (Florida St., Mississippi St. and Marshall), there is plenty of room for a 1 loss team in the final 4. Well aware that Kansas is 3-0 ATS under the guidance of interim HC Bowen. Clearly, however, on Saturday the Jayhawks are in the wrong place at the wrong time.
W. Michigan (-6-) at Miami, OH 2:30 ET
This is a Miami, OH team who went 0-12 SU last season and entered 2014 on 6-17 ATS run. Enter 1st year HC Martin, who is best known for leading Grand Valley St. to national championships. The entirely new coaching staff has led the Red Hawks to a slow resurgence. Last year, Miami was outscored 36-10 and outgained 484-226. This year, Miami has decreased that margin to 31-23 and 437-393. Victories have come on this field against lowly Kent St. (10-3) last week and U Mass (42-41). Yet, against all other opponents losses have been by 7 or more points. That Miami improvement pales in comparison to that offered by HC Fleck in his 2nd year at Kalamazoo. Much like Miami, the Broncos were 1-11 SU, 4-7 ATS last year. They were outscored 35-17 and outgained 419-327. This season, a pair of outstanding recruiting classes have turned around Bronco fortunes. Behind the offensive leadership of QB Terrell and RB Franklin, the Broncos have gone 5-3 SU, 8-0 ATS. Losses are to Purdue, VA Tech and Toledo, while all but one victory has come by 12 or more points. The offense is alive at 34 PPG, 452 YPG and 6.6 YP play. Last week, in a 42-21 victory vs. Ohio U, they won the yardage battle 530-372. Did I forget to mention, the Broncos have covered every contest by a cumulative 97 points and are laying just a TD more than opening week against a Miami team who, although improved, is not yet at the level of this Western team.
Auburn at Mississippi (-2-) 7:00 ET ESPN
Well aware of the Ole Miss bubble burst, following their 10-7 loss at LSU last week, when the Tigers outrushed the Rebs 264-137. But, with just 2 undefeated quality teams (FSU and Miss St.), there is still plenty of room at the top for an Ole Miss team who plummeted to No. 7 in the rankings following last week’s defeat. Well aware that Auburn is 5-0 ATS as dog of late and that HC Malzahn is on a 14-4 ATS run. A closer inspection of those numbers finds that the Tigers peaked 6 weeks ago at 13-0 ATS. Since that time, the number has caught up with them and they have gone 1-4 ATS. Last week’s 42-35, hang-on-for-dear-life, victory against S. Carolina saw the Tigers allow 535 yards, including 416 through the airways. Behind QB Wallace, the Rebs are averaging 269/8.2 up top. But, the real clinchers here come in the form of the Rebels’ defense, which continues among the national leaders at 10.5 PPG, 118/3.2 overland, and just 4.3 YP play. In a battle of explosive offenses of 1 loss teams, we side with the better defense and HC Freeze, who remains on a 34-12 ATS surge.
Arkansas at Mississippi St. (-10-) 7:15 ET ESPN2
Never tough to fade the No. 1 team in the land come November! For the pressure begins to mount on these undefeated teams. Clearly, that is true for a Miss St. team who is not accustomed to this stratosphere. Sure the Bulldogs have achieved a level of success under 6th year HC Mullen, but never anything like this season. Behind the offensive leadership of QB Prescott, the Bulldogs have 200 Club status with 257+ both running and passing, 42 PPG, and 6.8 YPG. Speaking on behalf of the defense, we find a 118/3.4 front 7. That would appear to be ideally suited to stop the offensive steamroller that is Arkansas at 259/5.9 overland. Last week, the noose began to tighten around the necks of the Bulldogs. They barely escaped Lexington with a closer than expected 45-31 win, no cover, against our 5% play on Kentucky. They allowed the Wildcats 504 yards. Arkansas enters on a 0-16 SU run in conference games. But, they have rung up pointspread victories in 6 of their last 7 contests by a net 55 AFP. Yet, this line remains intact, considering Miss St.’s recent 11-2 ATS surge. Time is right once again this week to fade No. 1, using a capable and very hungry foe!
W. Kentucky at LA Tech (6-) 3:00 ET FSN
First year WKY HC Brohm has instilled his offensive philosophies with the Hilltoppers. Groomed as an offensive force at Louisville and tutored by HC Petrino, Brohm has the Hilltoppers lighting it up for 46 PPG with a passing game that is averaging 410/8.7. But, it is the other side of the ball that has Western backers concerned. The Toppers allow 41 PPG, 242 YPG, both running and passing, and 6.8 YP play. In their 66-51 victory against defenseless ODU last week, they allowed the Monarchs 643 yards. Only a 14 point swing on a 96 yard fumble return made the game appear to be non-competitive. LA Tech continues their dramatic turnaround under 2nd year HC Holtz. After a dismal 4-8 SU, 4-7 ATS 2013, the Bulldogs are beginning to bite. Last week, in their 31-21 victory at S. Miss, they allowed just 348 yards. With by far the superior defense and the momentum of a 3-game win streak, we ride this 5-3 SU, 6-2 ATS team at a value price.
LA Monroe at Texas A&M (-32-) Noon ET SECTV
On 2014 CFB STEAMROLLER WEEKEND, what could be more appropriate than to use a team which has already recorded victories of 73-3 (Lamar) and 58-6 (SMU) when in this price range? Last week, I mentioned that Arkansas was ready to smack somebody (45-17 vs. UAB) after 3 brutal conference losses. This week, it is the Aggies’ turn as they face this outmanned foe, after having gone 0-3 SU ATS vs. a trio of top 7 teams by combined scores of 142-51. The Aggies’ explosive offense will have its way all day against a ULM team who is on a 0-6 ATS slide and locked into OFFENSIVE OAF status, after tallying more than 22 points against only lowly Idaho this year. This one is over early … as the Aggies roll up points in a confidence building victory.
BYU (-3-) at Mid Tennessee St. 3:30 ET CBSC
Three-point mid-week line crash has me backing off the strength of this play just a bit. But the situation is strong, as are the fundamentals. BYU enters on a 0-6 ATS slide, including 0-4 SU since the loss of QB Taysom-Hill. That, however, is only part of the story. For defensive injuries have wreaked havoc on this once proud Cougar stop unit. Under HC Mendenhall, the Cougars’ defense is normally sound. In the previous 4 years, opponents have averaged 22 or less PPG. This year, however, defensive injuries have led to a landslide of points. In the last 5 games, all opponents have scored 31 or more against BYU, including the 55 points dropped by Boise last week in a 55-30 victory, in which the Broncos ran and passed for 637 total yards. Now, BYU at 4-4 SU, finds themselves on the brink of a disastrous season. They most probably need this game for a winning mark. But, with need you bleed, particularly at a price point that is just a TD less from where this line would have been opening week. Strong preference is for a Mid-Tenn St. team who is in an ideal situation. In the month of November, it has been like money in the bank to play inferior, rested, home teams, following a win when playing with revenge. With Mid Tenn St. off a momentum building home win (their 7th straight on this field) vs. UAB and possessing a 200 Club offense that averages 36 PPG and 6.2 YP play, we look to combine these fundamentals with a strong situational play for an outright home dog victory.
Florida vs. Georgia (-13) , Jacksonville, FL 3:30 ET CBS
This is a frightening double-digit rivalry dog play against a Georgia team, who has a STEAMROLLING running game averaging 266/6.1 and a Defensive Dandy status, allowing just 20 PPG on 4.7 YP play. RB Chubb has filled the void at the running back slot with 352 RY in the previous 2 games. QB Mason has 69% efficiency and the Bulldogs have averaged 44 PPG L11 games. Florida HC Muschamp continues under the gun on a 6-18 ATS slide. Inserting frosh QB Harris in place of veteran QB Driskel, is a bit of a gamble. Following a disheartening 4-8 SU, 4-7 ATS season of last, the Gators are just 3-3 SU in 2014, following consecutive losses to LSU by 3 and Missouri by 29. In their defense, a closer look at the Missouri stats showed that they allowed just 119 total yards to the Tigers, but were victims of 6 offensive TOs. In the final analysis, Florida is playing with the advantage of a -82 net AFP and a Top 10 defense allowing just 313 YPG on 4.6 YP play. With a defensive front allowing 113/3.0, it may be enough to slow down the Georgia running attack and come in under this number.
Stanford at Oregon (-7-) 7:30 ET FOX
On the basis of a 4 point Stanford move, there is plenty of love for Defensive Dandy, Stanford, who has defeated Oregon in each of the last 2 seasons. With Stanford HC Shaw a perfect 6-0 ATS as underdog, the Cardinal could soar with their Defensive Dandy status. They allow just 12.5 PPG, 251 YPG, and 3.7 YP play, all among the best in the nation. Following a 1-10 ATS regular season run, Oregon dipped to the nadir of their discontent. In the last 3 weeks, the Ducks have played better on both sides of the ball. It has resulted in 3-0 SU ATS against UCLA, Washington and California, in which they have totaled 146 points. Credit Heisman contender QB Mariota for the offensive resurgence. With a 24/1 ratio, Mariota has led a Quack Attack that has added no huddle and read-option elements to an explosive attack, that averages 46 PPG on a balanced 535 YPG and 7.5 YP play. Unlike the previous seasons, the Stanford ground game, with diminished OL and RB, will be unable to control the ball and deny Oregon their offensive rhythm. Once that happens, the flood gates could open with Stanford offering little recourse.
PERCEPTION/REALITY PLAY OF THE WEEK
Oklahoma State at Kansas State (-14) 8:00 PM ET ABC
In this very column last week, South Carolina gave Auburn all they could ask for in a very similar Perception/Reality situation. The premise of these games is to isolate teams who have been a bit down on their luck in recent games vs. an opponent with whom the public has fallen in love because of their recent ATS success or high profile victories. When the linemaker and public are in accord, the betting line rises and we step in with the value with a quality underdog in its return to form. Such is the case once again today in my Perception/Reality winner of the week.
Look no further than a net -97 AFP differential for part of the reason why no one will be interested in backing these Cowboys this week. For pure momentum players will be all over the Wildcats and why not? Under the veteran leadership of HC Snyder, Kansas State is winners of 4 straight standing 6-1 SU with a 5-2 ATS +41 AFP. Snyder’s brand of mistake-free football has resulted in a recent 32-14 ATS log including 14-6 ATS on this field. With a 23-0 shutout of Texas last week, in which the Wildcats allowed just 196 total yards, it means Kansas State enters with 4 consecutive victories and 5 consecutive covers. An offense that averages 37 PPG on a productive 6.1 YPP is backed by a defense that allows just 19 PPG, 330 YPG and is on the verge of Defensive Dandy status.
Of equal significance to momentum players is the disastrous mid-season slide of Oklahoma State. The Cowboys have now failed to cover since a September 13th victory against UTSA. The last two weeks, they have failed at TCU, 42-9, and 34-10 last week on their strong home field. Before you sell them short, however, note that the Cowboys were only outgained 448-336 in that WVU defeat. Nonetheless, the 2 week tally is 0-2 SU, ATS with failure to the spread by 51 points.
Clearly, this is not the same Oklahoma State team as previous editions as they average only 30 PPG on 402 YPG. But at a price that is 2 touchdowns higher than opening week and in a series where Oklahoma State is 4-1 SU, ATS with no loss greater than 10 points. I look for a strong bounce back at a value price in this Perception/Reality Game of the Week.
South Alabama at LA LaFayette (-6-) 5:00 PM ET
Plenty of respect for the job done by 6th year South Alabama HC Jones. Last year, his Jaguars went 6-6 SU, 8-4 ATS. Jones had a penchant for playing them close as 7 of the first 8 games on his schedule were decided by 7 or less points. With 15 returning starters, the Jags are one of the contending teams in the Sun Belt. Entering this week’s play, they are 4-1 SU in Conference action. Their 4 victories, however, have come against arguably the 4 weakest teams in the league in Idaho, App State, Georgia State and Troy. Must note, however, that when asked to step up in class against the league leader they were dumped 28-6 by Georgia Southern (we were right there). We have waited patiently for 6 weeks for our next spot to fade the Jags. Now, we are ready to step in. Following a 3 game losing streak to La Tech, Ole Miss and Boise State, LaFayette is 3-0 SU in league play including consecutive covers in 34-10 victory against Texas State and 55-40 win vs. Ark State. Both of those came on Tuesday making them well rested for this game. Note that in that Ark State win, LA LaFayette ran for 419 yards. There will not be a lack of motivation as LaFayette plays for the league lead as they well remember the 30-8 loss to the Jags in Mobile to close the regular season last year. With 16 returning starters, the Cajuns look like the front runners for league superiority. We play them in what may be their toughest test for the balance of the season to continue their recent momentum.
TCU (-5) at West Virginia 3:30 PM ET ABC
This game is slotted for ESPN Game Day on Saturday. In the deep south, Saturday College Football is a religion. Go to notable Big 10 venues such as Ohio State, Michigan or Penn State and you will see 100,000+ avid fans. But if West Virginia wins this game on Saturday, you will experience the most raucous College atmosphere courtesy of the immature attitude of Mountaineer fans. Figure every couch in every fraternity house to be a blaze within an hour of a Mountaineer victory. Fortunately for the Morgantown Fire Department, this opinion says that won’t happen. The Mountaineers are having quite a season at 6-4 SU, 5-3 ATS. It is a long way from the debacle of last year that was a 4-8 SU, 3-8 ATS nightmare for then 3rd year HC Holgorsen. The Mounties gave up 33/454 on defense while their offense dipped from 39 to 26 points. This year, there is resurgence on both sides of the ball as the Mounties are again averaging 37 PPG on the strong arm of QB Trickett. There is defensive improvement as well at 25/389. Yet the Horn Frog story is even more compelling. Last year, the Frogs had their own dip to 4-8 SU, 4-7 ATS. This year, under 14thyear HC Patterson, the bounce has been even bigger. Last year’s 39 PPG defense has improved to 25 PPG while the Frogs have doubled last year’s 25 PPG. Nowhere was that offense more on display than in last week’s 82-27 rout of TTRR in which, led by QB Boykin, the Frogs put up a balanced 785 yards. This team is now 7-0 ATS for the season covering by 118 points. Mountaineer resurgence simply is not in that class.
STEAMROLLER OF THE WEEK
Illinois at Ohio State (-28) 8:00 PM ET ABC
It is 2014 CFB STEAMROLLER OF THE WEEK time. You know the drill in selecting these games. We look for balanced, explosive members of our 200 CLUB who have the ability to steamroll outmanned opposition at the point of attack. It clearly helps our cause if the opponent is a DEFENSIVE DUDS. The trick in these is to always assure that line value remains in the selection. Such is the case in this contest tonight. The following paragraphs will outline the reasons why.
This week, we go to Columbus, Ohio where 100,000+ fans will pack an Ohio stadium under the watchful eye of the ABC cameras. I envision only 1 result in this game. Last week, I used a big play against the Fighting Illini who suited up in “Gray Ghost uniforms” in honor of Red Grange. The Illini unveiled some read-option under the watchful eye of OC Cubit. The result was a 28-24 home field upset of the Gophers. The stats were totally opposite from that final score. As had been the case in so many recent Illini games, they were outrushed and outpassed by a combined 411-263 yards. They trailed in the 4th quarter 24-21 with Minnesota possessing the momentum. Then it happened! The Illini returned a Minnesota fumble for a touchdown and the game-winning score. Prior to that game, the Illini had been allowing Big 10 foes an average of over 400 RYPG. That is clearly not a surprise as the Illini is one of our DEFENSIVE DUDS. For the season, they allow 34 PPG including 259/5.1 overland, 217/7.7 through the air and 475 YPG on 6.1 YPP. Clearly this defense has the lack of ability to contain balanced, explosive attacks.
Later in the evening, Ohio State went to half time with a comfortable 17-0 in Happy Valley. When the dust cleared, the Nittany Lions had tied it at 17 at the end of regulation. An eventual 31-24 OT escape will allow HC Meyer to garner plenty of the Buckeye’s attention this week. I do note that in that contest, Ohio State outrushed Penn State 219-16.
With Illini HC Beckman posting a 2-9 ATS mark as road dog and Ohio State having defeated Illinois, 60-35 last year, a game in which Ohio State ran for 447 yards, look for the Buckeyes to receive prime consideration as the 2014 CFB STEAMROLLER GAME OF THE YEAR. All who subscribe will know at 10:00 AM ET Saturday.
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