As Thursday Night Football Winds Down, There’s Still Plenty of Action

Forte
Forte
Matt Forte needs more carries for many reasons in order for the Bears to defeat Dallas.

One of the worst parts about college and pro football seasons coming to an end is that we lose our Thursday night fixes. Thankfully, we still have a good one in the NFL and a very competitive one in the collegiate ranks.

Dallas (-4) at Chicago (O/U 51.5) – Dallas enters the Windy City coming off a rather embarrassing performance on Thanksgiving Day in a home loss to Philadelphia. The loss dropped them to a game behind the Eagles with Philly of course having the victory in hand.

What I find fascinating is that the Cowboys will play in Philly next Sunday while the Eagles will be coming off of a tough home contest with Seattle. If Dallas can find a way to win this win and then take advantage of some extra rest, that could go a long ways towards a win against the Eagles.

Although the Bears have pretty much been eliminated from playoff contention, I don’t think you’ll see them just roll over for the Cowboys. Despite a defense that at times looks like it rolls over for everyone, Chicago will play hard especially with the game being on national television.

Bears’ Head Coach Marc Trestman said this week his Bears have to get back to running the ball. This might be a good week to do just that as the Cowboys rank 22nd in the NFL in stopping the run. That could mean heavier doses of Matt Forte which in turn takes pressure off of Jay Cutler.

Key Injuries: DAL OT Tyron Smith/Illness-Probable, CHI WR Alshon Jeffery/Hamstring-Questionable

Trends: The Cowboys are 1-4 against the spread in their last five game… Chicago is 3-11-1 ATS in their last 15 games at home… The total has gone UNDER in five of Dallas’ last seven games on the road in Chicago… The Bears are 4-2 straight up in their last six games at home against Dallas.

The Pick: My problem here is that I just don’t have complete faith in either team. That said, I have to go with the one playing better overall and that’s the Cowboys. Take Dallas to cover and the UNDER.

O'Leary
George O'Leary's UCF Knights can grab a share of the AAC title with a win at East Carolina.

Central Florida (+7) at East Carolina (O/U 56) – Both teams are 8-3 but UCF is 6-1 in the American Athletic Conference while East Carolina is 5-2. Memphis is already in the house with a completed regular season and a 7-1 AAC record. If the Knights can win on the road here, they’ll get a share of the title.

Central Florida and Memphis did not play against each other this year and there is no conference title game either.

One other outside factor will be Cincinnati. They are also 6-1 and can clinch a share with a win Saturday against Houston.

Regardless of the outcome in this game both teams are heading to bowl games. What matters though is which bowls because the better the bowl the better the payout. UCF is 2-2 on the road while the Pirates are 5-0 at home.

Trends: Central Florida is 9-2 straight up in their last 11 games on the road… East Carolina is 1-4 against the spread in their last five games against the Golden Knights… UCF is 1-4 straight up in their last five games on the road against the Pirates… The total has gone OVER in four of ECU’s last six games when playing against Central Florida.

The Pick: I like the Pirates to win the game but take UCF getting seven and take the OVER.

NFC North Rivals Clash While Arizona and Oregon Highlight the College Schedule

Peterson
Peterson
With no Adrian Peterson, the Vikings will have make do with a rookie QB and an unknown running game.

Thursday night once again offers us some great games in both college and professional football.

Minnesota (+9) at Green Bay (O/U 48) – The good news for both teams is that they each won games last week. The bad news is that Rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater has a gimpy ankle for the Vikes and the Packers gave up three sacks and nearly 400 yards offense. It looks like Bridgewater is a ‘go’ for tonight at Lambeau.

Green Bay is 28th in defense so with all due respect to Aaron Rodgers and his “relax” comment, there are issues on this team. The Vikings have problems too and that’s why I would expect a sloppy game. I fully expect Packers’ defensive coordinator Dom Capers to ring up all kinds of different looks and blitzes in an effort to confuse the rookie Bridgewater.

Trends: The Packers are 7-2-1 in their last ten games against the Vikings… Minnesota is 1-4 against the spread in their last five games at Green Bay… The Packers are 0-3-2 ATS in their last five home games… The total has gone OVER in five of Minnesota’s last seven game at Green Bay.

The Pick: The Packers are too explosive on offense to lose but I like the Vikes and the points and I like the OVER.

Rich Rod
Rich Rodriguez brings his Wildcats to Oregon as 23-point underdogs.

Arizona (+23) at Oregon (O/U 77) – It’s pretty unusual to see two 4-0 teams go at it and one of them is a 23-point underdog but that’s exactly what we have tonight in Eugene, Oregon.

Neither team has what I’d call a dominant defense which I have to believe means you’re going to see some serious scoring in this game. The Ducks will go as QB Marcus Mariota goes and last week he rallied Oregon to defeat a very game Washington State on the road in Pullman.

Arizona Head Coach Rich Rodriguez has seen these unbeaten starts before only to see his teams falter once conference play got rolling. Freshman QB Anu Solomon has been pretty good so far throwing for 13 touchdowns and just three interceptions. Playing in Autzen Stadium however will be a new experience for the youngster.

Trends: Arizona is 1-7 straight up in their last eight games on the road at Oregon… The Ducks are 3-6 against the spread in their last nine games against Arizona… The total has gone OVER in four of Arizona’s last six games when playing the Ducks… Last season, Arizona beat Oregon 42-16 in Tucson. That was their first win at home over the Ducks since 2007.

The Pick: The Ducks will remember what happened in Tuscon last year and I think they take advantage of an average defense and they’ll cover. I also like the OVER.

Central Florida (+3) at Houston (O/U 53) – Central Florida is 4-1 against Houston with the Cougars only win coming back in 2006. Both teams have had their share of good opponents and bad already in 2014. The Cougars best game may have been a loss at BYU while the Knights lost to Penn State on a field goal at the gun.

Trends: UCF is 2-4 against the spread in their last six games on the road… The total has gone UNDER in eight of Houston’s last nine games… The Knights are 7-1 straight up in their last eight games on the road… The Cougars are 2-4 ATS in their last six home games.

The Pick: The UCF roster has big game experience so I like them getting the points and I like the UNDER.

 

College Football Championship Picks

Having handled Georgia Tech last weekend, Georgia now looks to upset Alabama in the SEC Championship Game.

It’s championship weekend in College Football and CasinoReview has the inside track on who’s likely to take home titles and bolster their BCS hopes along the way.

 

Pac-12 Championship Game: #16 UCLA @ #8 Stanford

With the two teams battling it out for the Pac-12 championship meeting just one week earlier, it would be easy to dismiss the game as uninteresting and missable. Been there done that. But the Bruins’ trip to The Farm Friday night is anything but.

UCLA (9-3, 6-3 Pac-12) has played tough for much of the season and will play tough this weekend despite losing to Stanford (10-2, 8-1 Pac-12) last weekend.

Odds: Stanford is a 10-point favorite at home. Only Florida State has a larger advantage in any championship game this weekend. The over/under is 52.

Take: Stanford – While this game shouldn’t be written off just because the sides faced off last weekend, it’s hard to see the result being any different. The Cardinal has taken four straight from the Bruins, by an average of nearly 22 points. Take Stanford to cover the spread with the total going under.

 

SEC Championship Game: #2 Alabama vs. #3 Georgia

If you listen to most, Alabama (11-1, 7-1 SEC) has one more hurdle to leap before heading to Miami to take on Notre Dame in the BCS Championship Game. That has to have Georgia (11-1, 7-1 SEC) seething.

The Bulldogs are not traveling to Atlanta merely to make up the numbers. The side believes it has a real opportunity of knocking off the Crimson Tide and securing its first SEC championship since 2005.

Alabama was victorious the last time these two sides met (2008) but that win snapped a three-game Bulldogs winning streak.

Odds: Alabama is favored (-8) over Georgia, with the over/under at 51.

Take: Alabama – This might not be the cake walk some think it will be but Nick Saban will have his team ready to play in its first SEC title game in three years. The Tide will roll on, covering the spread. Take the total to go over.

 

Big Ten Championship Game: #12 Nebraska vs. Wisconsin

Wisconsin (7-5, 4-4 Big Ten) fulfilled bookies’ predictions by winning the depleted Leaders Division in the Big Ten and advancing to the championship game. The Badgers’ path to Indianapolis could be considered less than successful though, what with both Ohio State and Penn State finishing ahead of the Badgers.

Nebraska (10-2, 7-1 Big Ten) meanwhile put forward a strong showing, holding off Michigan in the Legends Division, rewarding punters that took 3/1 preseason odds.

Odds: Nebraska is a 2½-point favorite, with the over/under at 48.

Take: Nebraska –The Cornhuskers bettered Wisconsin in September and will do so again, spoiling the Badgers’ hope of two straight titles. Take the Cornhuskers to cover the spread with the total going under.

 

Quick Picks…

MAC Championship Game: Both #12 Northern Illinois (11-1, 8-0 MAC) and #17 Kent State (11-1, 8-0 MAC) made some late season BCS noise before heading off to Detroit. The winner of this will truly be the best in the conference, going undefeated in conference play. Take Northern Illinois, winners of five straight and 16 of 19 all-time against Kent State.

CUSA Championship Game: Not the most glamorous of conferences, the CUSA will culminate with a close contest between Central Florida (9-3, 7-1 CUSA) and Tulsa (9-3, 7-1 CUSA), two sides that have played good conference football this season. Take Tulsa, winners of three straight against UCF, with home field advantage.

ACC Championship Game: In what may well be the least interesting of all six championship games, take #13 Florida State (10-2, 7-1 ACC) to defeat Georgia Tech (6-6, 5-36 ACC) who didn’t make this game on merit.

Deciphering What’s Left of the Season: the Non-AQ Edition

Colby Cameron's Louisiana Tech Bulldogs are just one of the teams looking to take a non-AQ conference title.

Following on from Wednesday’s look at the AQ conferences and how each is likely to pan out this season, CasinoReview takes you to the non-AQ conferences in search of finding those teams looking to take home a division title, or even conference title, this season.

 

CONFERENCE USA

East Division

Central Florida (8-2, 6-0 CUSA) – The Knights need to win one of their two remaining games this season to be awarded the East Division crown. Thanks to a head-to-head win over East Carolina, UCF can still win the title even if it loses both games, providing the Pirates lose two also.

East Carolina (6-4, 5-1 CUSA) – First the Pirates need to win out to have any chance of taking the division and then they need help from Tulsa and UAB, who would both need to win against UCF for East Carolina to be awarded the title.

West Division

Tulsa (8-2, 6-0 CUSA) – The Golden Hurricane can afford to lose this weekend against UCF, but only just. This race will go down to the final game of the season – which has Tulsa traveling to SMU – if the Mustangs win at Rice this weekend. If the Mustangs lose this weekend, Tulsa takes the West.

SMU (5-5, 4-2 CUSA) – The Mustangs need to defeat Rice this weekend in Houston to be in with a shot at the division title. A victory sets up a winner-takes-it-all clash with Tulsa next weekend.

 

MID-ATLANTIC CONFERENCE (MAC)

Eastern Division

Kent State (8-2, 6-0 MAC) – Ohio’s loss to Ball State on Wednesday means the MAC’s Eastern Division will be decided between Kent State and Bowling Green, who conveniently play each other on Saturday. A Kent State win gives the Golden Flashes the division title. A loss means not only would Kent State need to beat Ohio next week, but Bowling Green would also have to lose to Buffalo, in order for the Golden Flashes to head to the championship game in Detroit.

Bowling Green (7-3, 5-1 MAC) – The Falcons must defeat Kent State this weekend or it’s game over. A win would give Bowling Green a huge advantage going into the last week of play. The Falcons would merely need to match Kent State’s result to win the division.

Western Division

Northern Illinois (10-1, 7-0 MAC) secured a spot in the championship game with a 31-24 win over Toledo (8-3, 5-2 MAC) on Wednesday night. With one game to go, neither Toledo nor Ball State (8-3, 5-2 MAC) can catch the Huskies.

 

MOUNTAIN WEST CONFERENCE (MWC)

The MWC does not use a tiebreaker to determine the conference champion should two or more teams finish with the same record. Those in a tied position at the top of the table would be considered co-champions.

San Diego State (8-3, 6-1 MWC) – The Aztecs can win outright with a victory over Wyoming (Nov. 24) so long as Fresno State loses to Air Force and Boise State loses one of its last two. In a best case scenario, a loss would likely generate a co-champion scenario.

Fresno State (8-3, 6-1 MWC) – Fresno State can win outright with a victory over Air Force (Nov. 24) and losses for San Diego State and Boise State. The latter would need to lose both of its final games. A loss leaves the Bulldogs vulnerable to a co-champion scenario or losing out on the conference title altogether.

Boise State (8-2, 5-1 MWC) – The Broncos can win the division outright with two wins accompanied by losses for San Diego State and Fresno State. One loss could generate a potential three-way tie with both San Diego State and Fresno State.

 

SUN BELT

Arkansas State (7-3, 5-1 Sun Belt) – In all likelihood, the Sun Belt championship will come down to Arkansas State’s game against Middle Tennessee (Dec. 1). The winner of that game is likely to be crowned champion. Before that, the Red Wolves need to beat Troy.

Middle Tennessee (6-3, 4-1 Sun Belt) – If the Blue Raiders can navigate their way past South Alabama and Troy, they’ll likely set-up a conference championship game with Arkansas State. A loss to either of those sides could prove very costly.

Louisiana-Lafayette (5-4, 3-2 Sun Belt) – The Ragin’ Cajuns’ only hope of winning the conference is to win out and finish tied at the top of the table with Middle Tennessee at 6-2. The two teams do not play this season so further tiebreakers may play out in Lafayette’s favor. It’s unlikely though.

Louisiana-Monroe (6-4, 4-2 Sun Belt) – Although not mathematically eliminated, ULM faces an uphill struggle. That struggle would include winning out in the division and then hoping the other contenders continue to lose leaving ULM and Middle Tennessee tied at the top of the conference with a 6-2 record. ULM holds the tie-breaker in that scenario, and that scenario only.

 

WESTERN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE (WAC)

Utah State (8-2, 4-0 WAC) – A win for the Aggies over the Bulldogs this weekend is enough to take the WAC title thanks to the fact that Utah State has already beaten San Jose State. A loss to Louisiana Tech would end all hopes of a division title.

Louisiana Tech (9-1, 4-0 WAC) – The Bulldogs play both their remaining rivals to close out the season. A win over both ensures an undefeated season in the conference and a WAC championship. A win over Utah State this weekend, and a Utah State win next weekend is also enough to take home the championship. A loss to both eliminates the Bulldogs.

San Jose State (8-2, 4-1 WAC) – Spartan hopes are pinned firmly on Louisiana Tech defeating Utah State this weekend. If the Aggies are victorious, San Jose State cannot win the division. A Bulldogs win however would set up a showdown with the Spartans next week. San Jose State would need to win that game and hope the winless Idaho can defeat Utah State. Don’t count on it.

 

So there you have it (almost). There’s still an awful lot up for grabs on the non-AQ side of the BCS. Some champions may be decided as early as Saturday, while others might not be crowned until December 1. One thing’s for sure though; the excitement really starts here.

Week 12 College Football Tips

Marcus Mariota and the Oregon Ducks will look to win the Pac-12 North Division title this weekend, setting up a potential rematch with the USC Trojans, who can claim the South Division on Saturday.

The thing with Week 12 on the college football schedule this year is that there are a lot of bump games that are of very little interest to anybody. That is to say that there are plenty of high-profile teams taking on schools so far down the pecking order, they’re practically starving. Of course, much of this has to do with the incoming Rivalry Week which will see fierce games galore next week.

Regardless, CasinoReview has taken a look through the schedule and picked out some choice cuts for you to take a look at, starting with both Pac-12 divisions, which could be decided by the end of play on Saturday. After that, we’ve thrown in a few of the less high-profile but very relevant games to give you a jumpstart over the bookies this weekend.

 

#13 Stanford @ #2 Oregon

With a win on Saturday, Oregon (10-0, 7-0 Pac-12) will take the Pac-12 North Division. Were the Ducks to unsuspectingly lose to Stanford (8-2, 6-1 Pac-12) however, they would need to beat Oregon State in the Civil War game next weekend, or allow Stanford to possibly sneak the title.

So, there’s plenty on the line before you even take into consideration Oregon’s National Championship aspirations.

Oregon will enter the game confident knowing that the team has won the previous two outings against Stanford, as well as nine from the last 10 and 10 from the last 11. In short, over the past decade, Oregon has had Stanford’s number.

But complacency had better not slip into Chip Kelly’s side or they’re sure to face a rude awakening.

Odds: Oregon is the favorite to take this one by a big margin, opening with a 21½-point edge. The over/under is 66.

Take: Oregon – Nothing that has happened on the field this season suggests that either Stanford or Oregon State can stop Oregon on its march to the National Championship Game. Of course, college football was made for upsets, but this doesn’t look like one of them. Stanford simply isn’t accomplished enough offensively or defensively to handle the Ducks. However, 21½-points is a huge margin this late in the season, so take Stanford to cover the spread. Take the total to go over; this is the number one scoring team in the league.

 

#18 USC @ #17 UCLA

Whilst it’s likely the Pac-12 North Division will be decided this weekend, the South Division will definitely be decided, as the two teams in contention take to the field against one another.

USC (7-5, 5-3 Pac-12) would take the title with a win over UCLA (8-2, 5-2 Pac-12) and vice versa. It’s that simple.

USC’s off-color season has been well-documented, while the Bruins have either side of the BCS rankings most of the season. A showdown at the Coliseum is a just way for the title to be decided.

Odds: The line opened with USC as favorites (-3) to win a close game. The over/under is 63½.

Take: USC – There’s no denying that seeing the Trojans fall to the Bruins would be a rewarding end to a season that has seen far too many ridiculous and underhand tactics coming out of Los Angeles this season. Alas, the Trojans will take this one though as they have the last five and 12 of the last 13 (dating back to 1999), setting up a rematch with the Ducks for the conference championship. Take USC to cover the spread and the total to go over with these two high-scoring offenses.

 

Quick Takes…

#10 Florida State (9-1, 6-1 ACC) can win the ACC Atlantic Division with a win over Maryland (4-6, 6-1) this weekend. A loss opens the door for Clemson (9-1, 6-1 ACC) who plays North Carolina State (6-4, 3-3 ACC). Both the Seminoles (-31) and Tigers (-17) are favorites in their respective games. Take: Florida State and Clemson, giving the Seminoles the division crown.

#20 Louisiana Tech (9-1, 4-0 WAC) hosts Utah State (8-2, 4-0 WAC) in a game that will in all likelihood decide the winner of the WAC, although San Jose State still has a shot. The Bulldogs open as three-point favorites with the over/under at 68. Take: Louisiana Tech.

Despite not being postseason eligible, Ohio State (10-0, 6-0 Big Ten) can win (even though it won’t feel like a win) the Leaders Division with a win over Wisconsin (7-3, 4-2 Big Ten). Wisconsin is favored (-2½) at home. Take: Ohio State to play spoiler and to finish the year unbeaten.

In theory, both Tulsa (8-2, 6-0 CUSA) and Central Florida (8-2, 6-0 CUSA) could win their respective divisions in Conference USA this weekend, but for the Golden Hurricane it’s a little simpler; win on Saturday and win the division. UCF will still need to rely on help from elsewhere. Tulsa is a narrow favorite (-2½). Take: Tulsa, thanks to home-field advantage.

A win for Kent State (9-1, 6-0 MAC) over Bowling Green (7-3, 5-1 MAC) is enough to secure the MAC’s Eastern Division. Bowling Green is favored (-2) at home. Take: Kent State for the upset.

 

 

BCS Top 25 Schedule (Week 12)

#1 Kansas State @ Baylor

#13 Stanford @ #2 Oregon

Wake Forest @ #3 Notre Dame

Western Carolina @ #4 Alabama

Georgia Southern @ #5 Georgia

Jacksonville State @ #6 Florida

Ole Miss @ #7 LSU

Sam Houston State @ #8 Texas A&M

Wofford @ #9 South Carolina

#10 Florida State @ Maryland

North Carolina State @ #11 Clemson

#12 Oklahoma @ West Virginia

Minnesota @ #14 Nebraska

California @ #16 Oregon State

#18 USC @ #17 UCLA

Utah State @ #20 Louisiana Tech

Iowa @ #21 Michigan

#22 Rutgers @ Cincinnati

#23 Texas Tech @ #24 Oklahoma State

#25 Washington @ Colorado

#15 Texas – Bye

#19 Louisville – Bye