College football is back and with it comes some controversy. In southern California, the USC Trojans will host the Fresno State Bulldogs on Saturday night in a rematch of the Las Vegas Bowl of last year in which the Trojans easily defeated the Bulldogs 45-20 as a favorite by 5 points.
The point total cashed on the UNDER as the line was 65.5 and the teams combined for 65.
In that game, Cody Kessler the Trojans quarterback had 345 yards passing with four touchdowns.
He returns to lead the Trojans under new head coach Steve Sarkisian.
The Fresno State Bulldogs have had to replace Derek Carr a starter at quarterback for three years who moved on to the NFL. Brian Burrell a junior and Brandon Connette a senior transfer from Duke will share the duties early.
On Bovada and sportsbook.com, the current line has USC favored by 21.5 points. While on betonline and topbet, the point total is sitting on 58.
Interesting trends in the matchup:
The UNDER has cashed in 12 of the past 16 games USC has played non-conference opponents.
The Bulldogs are 13-4 against the number in their past 17 road games.
The UNDER was 6-2 last year for Fresno State in the last 8 games after the OVER had started 4-1.
Controversy took hold at USC this week when a story broke that Josh Shaw the starting cornerback injured himself when he saved his nephew. However, it turned out that his story was a lie and he hurt his ankles doing something else.
Anthony Brown also quit the team amidst reports that he said Sarkisian was racist.
USC has changed its offense to a more up-tempo formation with Sarkisian. The key to the Trojans this season will be if their offensive line can hold up.
Fresno State will certainly miss Carr but will continue using its own up-tempo offense. Last season the Bulldogs were sixth in the nation in scoring was 43.4 points per game.
Defensively the Bulldogs were weak finishing No. 95 in yards allowed. Eight starters have returned and there should be some improvement over last season.
For USC, Shaw and Lamar Dawson a linebacker are out and Jabari Ruffin a linebacker will miss the entire season.
Dillon Root a kick returner for Fresno State is suspended.
This could be a big beat down on USC’s part over Fresno State. The Bulldogs have a big uncertainty at their quarterback position, while USC has Kessler securely entrenched as their quarterback.
Sarkisian wants to impress everyone at USC, especially the alumni and that could mean lots of scoring on the Trojans part.
A big win by USC will make the two controversial incidents of earlier this week disappear.
I gave you the the Mountain West Mountain Division on Sunday so today I turn my attention to the West Division.
Fresno State 7/2 – The Bulldogs need to replace the two-time defending MWC Player of the Year in Derek Carr who is off to the NFL. Coach Tim DeRuyter will wait to announce his new QB though. Fresno has 13 starters back including eight on defense. The opening three games are not going to be easy. They open at USC and Utah and then host Nebraska before heading into conference play. The biggest game in the MWC is likely the Bulldogs’ date at Boise State in October.
Nevada 7/1 – The Wolf Pack returns 17 starters including 10 on defense and that could be the difference in terms of whether they can dethrone Fresno State or not. The offense took a step back last year averaging less than 4 yards per carry. The schedule opens with two winnable games before Nevada travels to Arizona. The good news is they get Boise State, Colorado State and Fresno State at home.
San Diego State 12/1 – The Aztecs lost 1,000 yard rusher Adam Muema and return just ten starters (6 Off/4 Def). The schedule doesn’t help much either with road trips to North Carolina, Oregon State Fresno State in their first five games. They also have to play at Boise State later in the season. This could be a real struggle for Head Coach Rocky Long to get to .500 in 2014.
UNLV 30/1 – The Rebels have to replace their all-time leading rusher in Tim Cornett who started for four years in Sin City. Head Coach Bobby Hauck enters his fifth season and does have 51 lettermen returning including 13 starters (7 Off/6 Def). Like SDSU, the schedule does the Rebels no favors. They have seven road games this season including four in the first six games with Arizona and Houston being the big match-ups there. UNLV also heads to BYU later in the season.
San Jose State 30/1 – The Spartans have to replace record-setting quarterback David Fales offensively and have journeyman defensive coordinator Greg Robinson taking over the defense and he is switching the scheme to a 4-3 so that worries me in terms of getting prepared. Head Coach Ron Caragher was 6-6 last year and repeating that will be difficult. Like UNLV, SJSU has seven games on the road in 2014 and the first one is at Auburn. They also have trips to Minnesota, Navy and Fresno State.
Hawaii 30/1 – Head Coach Norm Chow enters the season with one of the hottest seats underneath him in the nation. He is just 4-20 in two seasons on the island and things do not look much better with another new quarterback taking over and a new defensive coordinator trying to rebuild one of the country’s worst defenses. The Warriors don’t leave the islands until September 30th when they play at Colorado but the three home games prior include Washington and Oregon State. They finish the season with three of four on the road. Three wins would be a nice step this year.
The Pick: Fresno State will be hard to pick against but with Nevada returning so many guys on defense I’m going with the Wolf Pack. I think they’ll fix their offensive issues and I like their favorable home schedule.
The Mountain West Conference is my first stop outside of the Power Five which have already been covered. Today I’m looking at the Mountain Division which in a conference called the Mountain West makes this a little weird.
Boise State 7/5 – Bryan Harsin takes over for Chris Peterson who has left the Broncos for Washington. BSU comes off an uncharacteristic 7-5 season in 2013. The good news is that the Broncos return 15 starters (7Off/8Def) and that should help the Broncos return to normal prominence. The schedule is very favorable once they get past the opener in Atlanta against Ole Miss. They get Fresno State, Utah State and BYU at home.
Utah State 11/4 – Matt Wells enters year two following a 9-5 campaign last year. This year will be a challenge with just eight starters (3Off/5Def) returning. The road schedule is no picnic as the Aggies have to open at Tennessee, play at Boise State in the finale and have trips to Arkansas State and BYU as well. This is a solid team defensively and don’t forget they took USC down to the wire before losing 17-14 in 2013.
Colorado State 18/1 – Garrett Grayson returns following a year where he threw for over 3,500 yards and 23 touchdowns from his quarterback position. He’ll need to be good right out of the gate as they open with rival Colorado in Denver and the travel to Boise State the week after. Following a bye, they head East to play at Boston College. Should they get through that, the rest of the schedule isn’t to bad.
Wyoming 30/1 – The Cowboys went 5-7 last season and that resulted in a coaching change. Craig Bohl takes over in Laramie and does so with 16 starters (7Off/9Def) coming back. The offense will be more of a pro style rather than the spread run in past seasons. Wyoming’s road schedule is tough and that’s putting it mildly. They have trips to Oregon, Michigan State, Colorado State and Fresno State.
Air Force 30/1 – For the first time in six seasons the Falcons didn’t go to a bowl game. In fact they went just 2-10. The defense has seven starters returning but this unit gave up over 40 points per game last year so maybe that isn’t such a good thing. The offense will go back to more of a ground game after flirting with the pass more than usual. The Falcons get Boise State, Navy, Nevada and Colorado State at home.
New Mexico 75/1 – The Lobos return seven starters on an offense that ran the ball almost 80% of the time last year. Head Coach Bob Davie will stick with the triple option attack in 2014. The larger problem was the defense that gave up an average of almost 43 points per game. The Lobos will host UTEP and Arizona State in their first two games and then have six road trips in their final 10 games.
The Pick: I have to believe Boise State is the cream of the crop in the Mountain Division of the Mountain West Conference. They have more talent than anyone else in the conference. Challenges will come from Utah State who has a very good defensive unit and if Colorado State gets hot behind their quarterback then who knows? The bottom of the division is not a threat in my opinion.
This season of college basketball continues to throw surprises at us from every direction. Last weekend alone we were railroaded by Miami’s first conference defeat and Georgetown’s Big East-topping win over Syracuse.
Monday night saw both #6 Kansas and #13 Kansas State take care of business in the Big 12, while #22 Marquette unexpectedly handed #12 Syracuse a second consecutive loss.
Here at Casino Review, we’ve scoured the remainder of this week’s schedule to pick out 10 of the most unmissable games out there. Our findings? This Saturday really is going to be a super Saturday.
Read on to find out which games you need to be following.
#7 Georgetown @ Connecticut (Wed)
If #7 Georgetown (21-4, 11-3 Big East) is to hold on to the Big East top spot it snatched this past weekend, John Thompson III’s side will need to handle a tough Connecticut (19-7, 9-5 Big East) team. Marquette served a notice of intent by defeating Syracuse on Monday night, so the Hoyas have to win to stay atop the conference.
San Diego State @ #14 New Mexico (Wed)
Having handed Colorado State a loss last weekend, #14 New Mexico (23-4, 10-2 MWC) controls its own destiny. Thanks to a tiebreaker advantage over the Rams, the Lobos need just two wins from four games to lock-up the Mountain West regular season title, and with MWC bottom-feeders Wyoming and Nevada on the schedule, that looks a dead cert. A win over San Diego State (20-7, 8-5 MWC) on Wednesday might not be essential, but it would go a long way in the eyes of the selection committee.
#2 Gonzaga @ Brigham Young (Thu)
Having leapt into second place on the AP poll, Gonzaga (27-2, 14-0 WCC) has just two games left to impress. A trip to Brigham Young (20-9, 9-5 WCC) represents the toughest remaining game on the schedule for the side from Spokane. The Cougars would like nothing more than to avenge an 83-63 loss on Jan. 24, putting a big dent in the Zags’ season in the process.
#5 Miami (FL) @ #3 Duke (Sat)
Undoubtedly the biggest game of the week, and one nobody is going to want to miss, takes place in Durham on Saturday. Having succumbed to a first conference loss of the season this past weekend, all eyes will be on #5 Miami (22-4, 13-1 ACC) and whether or not the side can rebound. The Hurricanes will get a first chance to do at home to Virginia Tech on Wednesday, before a trip to #3 Duke (24-3, 11-3 ACC) on Saturday. The Blue Devils will be looking to make amends for a 90-63 loss in Coral Gables, and with an unbeaten home record, could well make this year’s ACC race even more interesting.
#10 Louisville @ #12 Syracuse (Sat)
Back-to-back losses for #12 Syracuse (22-6, 10-5 Big East) all of a sudden has the Orange looking vulnerable. Louisville (22-5, 10-4 Big East) meanwhile is slowly ascending the Big East standings thanks to a favorable schedule. That schedule takes a turn for the wicked this weekend, beginning with this trip to the Carrier Dome and followed by home games against Cincinnati and Notre Dame. Winning on Saturday is essential for both schools.
#21 Notre Dame @ #22 Marquette (Sat)
Thanks to its streaky record this season, #21 Notre Dame (22-6, 10-5 Big East) needs wins to impress as well as climb the Big East ladder. The Irish has fared well of late but #22 Marquette (20-7, 11-4 Big East) has proved a tricky opponent. Whichever side loses will be out of the regular season picture and the road to a Big East title will be that much tougher.
Alabama @ #8 Florida (Sat)
#8 Florida (22-4, 12-2 SEC) has been the class of the SEC this season but losses to Arkansas and Missouri means the conference is still there to be lost. After traveling to Tennessee on Tuesday, the Gators will host Alabama (18-9, 10-4 SEC) on Saturday. The Crimson Tide is currently two games back of Florida (and tied with Kentucky) so a win this weekend would be huge. In all likelihood, the regular season title will go to Florida, but with a trip to Kentucky still on the schedule, the Gators can’t afford to lose.
#11 Arizona @ UCLA (Sat)
A win for UCLA (20-7, 10-4 Pac-12) on Wednesday night against Arizona State would see the Bruins enter this game with an identical record to Arizona (23-4, 11-4 Pac-12). That record could be – depending on Oregon’s result against Oregon State on Friday – enough to top the Pac-12. Add to that the fact that the Bruins defeated the Wildcats 84-73 on Jan. 24 and you have the recipe for a game Arizona must not lose. If the Wildcats do drop this one, it’ll be tough to win the regular season title.
#20 Butler @ Virginia Commonwealth (Sat)
Losing to Saint Louis for a second time this season this past Friday was a huge blow for #20 Butler (22-6, 9-4 A10). Now the Bulldogs face a Virginia Commonwealth (22-6, 10-3 A10) side that, along with the Billikens, sits above them in the Atlantic 10 standings. A Butler loss on Saturday would be fatal.
#9 Michigan State @ #4 Michigan (Sun)
We have to wait until Sunday to enjoy the second biggest game of the week, when Michigan State (22-6, 11-4 Big Ten) travels to Ann Arbor to take on Michigan (23-4, 10-4 Big Ten). Back-to-back losses to Indiana and Ohio State last week means the Spartans are only one-half game ahead of their bitter rivals, while Michigan has won two straight since falling to Michigan State. Michigan will need to avoid a slip-up against Penn State on Wednesday before taking to the court on Sunday. The Wolverines are unbeaten at home, which adds another dimension to this one. It’s not quite winner takes all, but it’s not far off.
Worth Keeping an Eye On
If we’ve learned nothing else this season, we’ve certainly learned that nothing can be taken for granted in college basketball. Here’s a choice selection of games that could prove interesting this week. Whilst we expect the ranked sides to come out of these games with the ‘W’, that upset bug could strike at any time.
Big games. That’s what we like at this time of the year and this week’s college basketball schedule has been chock full of them.
Five unranked teams have knocked-off AP ranked sides this week, continuing a trend that has proved prevalent this season. Underdogs are having their way so far this season, which means the NCAA tournament is going to be particularly interesting this year.
Big games continue to come thick and fast, so Casino Review has picked out the three biggest on Saturday’s schedule and broke them down for you.
#11 Georgetown @ #8 Syracuse
4:00 PM ET
With the Orange shipping out to the ACC at the end of this season, this will be the last time the Hoyas visit the Carrier Dome, for a while at least. What happens with the ‘Catholic Seven’ could change that in a few years. You never know.
#11 Georgetown (20-4, 10-3 Big East) will look to make it a triumphant final visit, while #8 Syracuse (22-4, 10-3 Big East) will look to remain unbeaten at home and against AP Top 25 teams.
The Hoyas have won eight straight and 10 of the last 11 on the way to securing a share of the Big East lead. The Orange meanwhile has won two straight, and four of five. Georgetown handed DePaul a 90-66 loss on Wednesday, while Syracuse defeated Providence 84-59 setting up this top of the table clash.
Both sides will look to solid defenses in this one. The Hoyas ranked 10th in the nation in both points allowed (56.1) and opponents’ shooting percentage (.376). Syracuse is 30th in points allowed (59.3) but limits opponents to .370 shooting, good enough for sixth in the country.
This game is almost impossible to pick. Both schools have fared well against the spread this season, at home and on the road, and as favorites and underdogs. Both have identical conference records. Both have fared well against ranked sides, with Georgetown going 4-1 and Syracuse going 4-0.
Perhaps the main separation point is Syracuse’s current 38-game home winning streak. The side has been unstoppable at home for more than two years, having not lost at the Carrier Dome since Feb. 9 2011. However, that last loss – a 64-56 affair – came at the hands of these very Hoyas. There really is little to choose from here.
This Season: This will be the first time the schools meet this season. A second game is scheduled for Mar. 9.
Last Season: Syracuse defeated Georgetown 64-61 in overtime at the Carrier Dome in the only meeting between the sides last season.
Favorite: Syracuse Spread: 7 Total: 122
Take: SYRACUSE – Ultimately that impressive home winning streak has swayed us in the direction of the Orange, but a win for Georgetown really wouldn’t be a surprise. Take the Hoyas (13-7-0 ATS, 5-1-0 ATS) to cover the spread in a close, emotional game. Even though these sides are defensively orientated, there’ll be enough offense on display for the total to go over.
#16 New Mexico @ # 22 Colorado State
4:00 PM ET
#22 Colorado State (21-5, 8-3 MWC) came unglued on the road in Las Vegas this past Wednesday, losing 61-59 to UNLV and dropping a game back of the conference leading Lobos. The Rams will need to win on Saturday afternoon if they’re to stay in this particular race.
#16 New Mexico (22-4, 9-2 MWC) have had a week to rest since handing Boise State a 60-50 loss last Saturday. The Lobos will hope that this break will prove enough of an advantage going into Fort Collins, where the Rams are undefeated this season.
The Lobos have won two straight and five of six, while the Rams’ midweek loss put the breaks on a six-game winning streak.
Both teams enter the game with top 50 defenses, which means this should be a bruising affair. The Rams are second in the nation with 41.9 rebounds per game, something that could prove vital against a Lobos team that does not shoot the ball well.
This Season: New Mexico defeated Colorado State 66-61 in Albuquerque on Jan. 23.
Last Season: The schools split a pair of games with each winning on its own court.
Favorite: Colorado State Spread: 6 Total: 129
Take: COLORADO STATE – Home court has proved advantageous in this series and it will do so again on Saturday, although a well-rested New Mexico side certainly has the potential to steal one. Take the Rams (12-8-2 ATS, 7-3-1 ATS home) to cover the spread. Take the total to go under, a trend familiar with both these teams.
North Carolina State @ North Carolina
4:00 PM ET
It’s rare Casino Review steps outside of the AP rankings for its weekly betting tips but this one more than warrants it. With both teams underachieving this season, this game is huge.
North Carolina (18-8, 8-5 ACC) will look to avenge January’s defeat in Raleigh on Saturday afternoon, hoping to throw its hat in the NCAA tournament picture at the same time. North Carolina State (19-7, 8-5 ACC) would like nothing better than to ruin its rival’s chances.
The Tar Heels have two straight after dropping a pair of road games to Duke and Miami (FL). Roy Williams’ side has won five of the last seven. The Wolfpack defeated Florida State on Tuesday to build its win streak up to three, following three straight losses and five in seven.
Expect a high-scoring affair as two top 10 offenses collide. The Tar Heels will need to fend-off the sharpshooting Wolfpack, which shoots .497 from the field (fifth in the nation) and .406 from three-point range (sixth).
This Season: NC State handed the Tar Heels a 91-83 loss in Raleigh on Jan. 26.
Last Season: North Carolina handed the Wolfpack three defeats last season, including a 69-67 loss in the ACC tournament.
Favorite: North Carolina Spread: 5 Total: 158½
Take: NORTH CAROLINA – The Tar Heels cost us big time the last time we backed them (against NC State, nonetheless) but that 12-1 home record looks too enticing this week, particularly against an inconsistent NC State side. Take the Tar Heels (15-9-0 ATS, 9-4-0 ATS home) to cover the spread also. Although both sides can score the basketball, 158½ seems a little too much, so take the under.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
On Tuesday CasinoReview took a look at the biggest rivalry games still to be played this season. There’s a whole chunk of them and College Football is going to be exciting down to the last play of the season.
Today we’ve trawled through the remaining schedule and picked out the biggest (non-rivalry) games left on the slate, most of which focus on those teams looking to play their way into a conference championship game or a conference title itself.
Below is a list of the top ten(ish) fixtures left on the schedule.
Editor’s Note: Much of the content is based on assumptions that the formbook will remain true. Of course, College Football is all too good at throwing upsets out there, so there’s (always) a chance that those games played towards the end of November may take on a whole different meaning. For now, let’s play nicely in the world of theoretical football. As a final note, the games included on this list generally feature two sides that will be impacted by the same game. Yes, we know Alabama-Texas A&M is going to be a big game, but more so for the Tide than the Aggies.
Wisconsin @ Indiana (Nov. 10)
Big Ten: Indiana could represent the Leaders Division at the Big Ten Championship Game. This might seem a little beyond the realms of plausibility, but it’s true. Due to both Ohio State and Penn State – the two table-toppers – being ineligible, Wisconsin currently fills the ‘top’ spot, one-game ahead of the Hoosiers. If Indiana beats the Badgers, in theory it has an ‘easier’ schedule (at Penn State, at Purdue) than Wisconsin (Vs. Ohio State, at Penn State). That means this Saturday’s game could ultimately decide the Leaders Division’s representative. Shocking.
San Diego State @ Air Force (Nov. 10)
MWC: It should be duly noted that the Mountain West isn’t simply about one big game; there are plenty to follow. With five teams still in the hunt, this weekend’s clash between the Aztecs and Falcons will not decide the conference, but it will make a massive dent. As well as this meeting with the San Diego State, Air Force still has an impending clash with Fresno State (Nov. 24) which puts the impetus firmly on the Falcons’ side of the field. Nevada’s games with Fresno State (Nov. 10) and Boise State (Dec. 1) could prove to have a huge impact too.
Arizona State @ USC (Nov. 10)
Pac-12: USC hosts the Sun Devils this coming weekend aware that a loss will effectively mean the end of the Trojans’ hopes for the South Division title. A win for USC sets up a must-win game with UCLA the following weekend, although Lane Kiffin’s side will still need to hope Stanford can knock off the Bruins in the last week of the season.
Oregon State @ Stanford (Nov. 10)
Pac-12: Big strides can be made in the Pac-12 North this weekend also, as the Beavers travel to the Farm to take on Stanford. Both sides currently have conference records of 5-1, and are within touching distance of the undefeated Oregon. A loss for either side will see those championship chances extinguished. Both sides still have to face Oregon, which brings us to…
Stanford @ Oregon (Nov. 17) or Oregon @ Oregon State (Nov. 24)
Pac-12: If Stanford beats Oregon State, the North Division title will be decided in Eugene, Ore., on Nov. 17. If the Beavers win, a Civil War showdown in Corvallis on Nov. 24 will be for all the marbles. Yes, we realize that this list wasn’t supposed to include rivalry match-ups, but this is one hell of a three-way dance.
Kent State @ Bowling Green (Nov. 17)
MAC: Bowling Green’s 26-14 win over Ohio on Wednesday night looks to have turned a three-horse race for the MAC’s Eastern Division into a two horse race. Providing the team wins this weekend, the Golden Flashes will visit Perry Stadium knowing that a win will all but secure the title.
Utah State @ Louisiana Tech (Nov. 17)
WAC: The Bulldogs of LA Tech have been bothering the rankings for what seems like the better part of the season now. Only a loss to Texas A&M mars the school’s record. But Louisiana Tech isn’t guaranteed a second straight WAC title. Utah State, still unbeaten in the conference, will have a say in who is crowned the final conference football champion. Essentially, barring any hiccups down the stretch, this game will determine who takes the prize.
Toledo @ Northern Illinois (Nov. 17)
MAC: Currently one and two in the MAC’s Western Division, the Rockets and Huskies will meet in DeKalb, Ill., next weekend in what could be the division decider. Toledo’s loss to Ball State on Tuesday night has given Northern Illinois the advantage for now, but a head-to-head win would propel Toledo above the Huskies.
Louisville @ Rutgers (Nov. 29)
Big East: With both sides facing two conference challenges between now and this New Jersey showdown, a lot of scenarios can arise. For now, it’s simple: if both teams steer the course, this clash will determine who closes out the season as Big East champions.
Arkansas State @ Middle Tennessee (Dec. 1)
Sun Belt: Finally, with four weeks of play left, the Sun Belt Conference is completely up for grabs. No fewer than seven teams (Arkansas State, Louisiana-Monroe, Middle Tennessee, Western Kentucky, Louisiana-Lafayette, Troy, and North Texas) are still mathematically in the mix, which makes this a bettors’ paradise or nightmare, depending how you look at it. Let’s keep it simple then; if the remaining schedule is true to the formbook, this clash between the Red Wolves and Blue Raiders could well decide the division. This weekend’s rivalry clash between Arkansas State and ULM could have a huge bearing also.
List of Conference Championship Games
ACC: Sat., Dec. 1 – Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte, NC)
Big Ten: Sat., Dec. 1 – Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis, IN)
C-USA: Sat, Dec. 1 – Hosted by team with highest winning percentage
MAC: Fri., Nov. 30 – Ford Field (Detroit, MI)
Pac-12: Fri., Nov. 30 – Hosted by team with best conference record
SEC: Sat., Dec. 1 – Georgia Dome (Atlanta, GA)
BCS National Championship Game: Mon., Jan. 7 – Sun Life Stadium (Miami Gardens, FL)
Ahead of the weekend’s busy NCAA and NFL football schedules, Friday night provides bettors with some captivating matchups. We start with the race for the American League Wild Card, a contest that continues to get closer by the day, before heading to Vegas for a college football teaser.
MLB: Tampa Bay Rays @ New York Yankees
Tampa Bay (77-66, 39-32 road) arrives in New York on the back of Thursday afternoon’s 14-inning epic against Baltimore. The Rays came out on the wrong end of a 3-2 scoreline, losing a third-straight against the Orioles. They now sit four games out of the second Wild Card place, behind Oakland, New York, Baltimore and Los Angeles Angels.
The Yankees (81-62, 40-34 home) arrive home from a 5-5 road trip that concluded with a 2-0 win in Boston last night. It was the first time in close to a month that the Yankees had recorded back-to-back wins. The win was enough to keep pace with the Orioles at the top of the AL East, after the Birds’ win earlier in the day.
Tampa has had New York’s number this season, winning 9 of 15. New York though has gone 4-2 against the Rays at the Stadium. Home advantage could well play a part not just tonight but throughout the weekend.
Both teams send their aces to the mound on Friday as David Price (17-5, 2.54 ERA) faces C.C. Sabathia (13-5, 3.56). Sabathia took the win when he faced Price in New York on May 10. Price beat Sabathia, again in New York, on June 7.
Sabathia and New York start as favorites with the moneyline reading -130 (New York) and +110 (Tampa Bay). The over/under is set at 8 runs. Take New York, both to beat the spread and win straight up, whilst going with the under.
MLB: Baltimore Orioles @ Oakland Athletics
Baltimore (81-62, 39-30 road) makes the long trip to the West Coast after Thursday afternoon’s marathon victory over the Rays. Oakland (82-61, 45-26 home) fell to the Angels Thursday and will be looking to bounce back from the rare defeat.
Baltimore has held its own in the race for the AL East and a Wild Card berth but Oakland has been otherworldly. The team is 56-26 (.683) since June 10, and has only lost 15 games since the All-Star break.
Both teams send LHPs to the mound. For Baltimore, former-D’Back Joe Saunders (8-11, 4.22) will start. He’s 2-1 since joining the Orioles with a 4.24 ERA. Tom milone (12-10, 3.90) goes for the A’s. He’s limited opponents to two runs or less in three of his last four starts.
The A’s are -1.5 favorites with a +145 to beat the spread and +145 to win straight up. It’s hard to see a tired Baltimore team that has traveled 3,000 miles with a beat-up bullpen getting much out of this one. Put your money on Oakland. The 7.5-point over/under could really go either way. If it goes over, it’ll be because of Oakland’s bats, not Baltimore’s. Let’s say a tentative over.
NCAAF: Washington State @ UNLV
Away from baseball, get ready for NCAA football on Saturday by taking a look at this Friday night (9 PM ET) fixture.
Washington State (1-1, 0-1 road) heads to Sam Boyd Stadium to take on UNLV (0-2, 0-2 home). UNLV has had a disappointing start to the season and will be looking for a home win at the third time of asking. For the record, the Rebels open the season with four straight at home.
After being dismissed by a Brigham Young side on its way to the AP rankings, the Cougars notched a victory over Eastern Washington last weekend. The Pac-12 side enters the game as 8-point favorites. Take the road team to beat the spread and win outright, while taking the under at 55.5 points.
That’s it. You’re all set. Friday’s night’s action should get you well and truly in the mood for Saturday’s full slate of college football and Sunday’s NFL action. Of course, Major League Baseball continues all weekend with some vital matchups.
If you’re looking for something interesting in each, go ahead and give these a try: